The true pain of infertility can be forgotten once the child arrives

This week I had planned to write about my first IVF; however, I went to an infertility Bible study and realized I had forgotten just how painful infertility can be. Me forget? How could I after all I have gone through, but it is true. I remember all the days I spent crying and the many times I wanted to stay in bed and just pull the covers over my head and not get up; but what I had forgotten is how very deep the pain is embedded until motherhood is achieved. Now that I am a mother, thanks to many, but especially Patty & Jim Cassidy, the very painful memories from infertility are no longer a wound, just a scar. I am so thankful to the women in the Sheltering Tree Fertility Support  group for reminding me how deep the pain is when you are in the moment.

So today I want to challenge those who have extra embryos to go and visit a fertility support group in your area and really listen to those women who are currently experiencing infertility. Like me, you may think you remember what it is like, but have forgotten what a tragedy it can be going through infertility. Those of you who have “extra” embryos can be the answer to such unspeakable heartache.  So please take this challenge and see who really benefits in the end.  Just ask Patty!

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FROM PATTY, FEB. 22

As I blogged earlier, we really didn’t know anyone who was dealing with infertility issues, at least not openly, which made it hard for us to find resources.  At the time, I was working in a library, and spent a lot of time searching the database for reading material to educate us and find inspiration.  This was in the early part of the 1990’s, which I know is only roughly 20 years ago, but the material in print, especially the stories of real life couples, sometimes seemed outdated.  It would be from the mid 1980’s, but advances were being made so quickly, that the previous treatments now seemed outdated.

I can remember reading of a couple traveling to Norfolk, VA for their treatments.  They would spend approximately 2 months per cycle there, and the story went in great detail of their treatment, but more importantly for me, how they felt, what they were thinking and how they coped.  This couple had a happy ending of twins.

I felt overwhelmed enough with the whole infertility issue, and didn’t really spend a lot of time searching for information on the internet.  I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm, and still prefer getting my information in print, on actual paper that is.  Ask my husband about this; he purchased a Kindle for me as a Christmas gift, and he is using it.  I have yet to read anything on it.

from Marti, Feb. 10

While in the hospital trying to grasp that both my fallopian tubes were removed, a portion of my bowel was found in the biopsy, so now I had to prepare for another surgery.  Dr. Keenan came in to tell me this and I was just in shock.  Now, my family and I were not just concerned about me being infertile, but about me surviving.  Dr. Keenan wanted to see if my bowel could heal on its own and thanks be to God it did! After being in the hospital 6 days, I got to go home Christmas Eve with very strict guidelines that I call and report my temperatures, that had to be taken every four hours.  My view point on life changed when I realized how blessed I was to just be alive. Being infertile no longer seemed like the worst possible thing that could ever happen.

from Patty, February 2

As I mentioned in my earlier entry, we didn’t always have success with each cycle while we were undergoing our IVF treatments.  We first began treatment with an IVF doctor that was recommended by Jim’s urologist.  We remained under his care for a few years, taking small steps along the course of treatment.  We were later told all patients started at “Point A,” and progressed as far along the course until treatment was either successful, or discontinued.  We were spending upwards of several hundred dollars a month, on such things as ovulation predictors, medications and procedures, without seeing any results.  It was after one of these failed treatments that I became over-stimulated from the medications, and was home on bed rest.

I wouldn’t always read the morning newspaper, but when you’re on bed rest, you are looking for something to fill the time!  I got into the habit of perusing The Hartford Courant, and saw that  New Britain General Hospital was holding an Open House to welcome a new infertility doctor to their staff.  He was Dr. Claudio Benadiva.  That night I showed this to Jim, and we decided we would attend to hear what treatments were available.  It was here we first heard about ICSI.  Once I heard this, I had a feeling it would work for us.  Jim’s sperm had a low motility rate, and the fact that it had been frozen and thawed just compounded matters.  We spoke to Dr. Benadiva briefly after the presentation, and he said we were perfect candidates for this course of treatment.  He suggested we schedule an appointment for a consultation.  This all came about in the summer and fall of 1995.

from Marti, February 2

The beginning of our infertility journey started with a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). This is a test to see if my fallopian tubes were blocked. For this test they put a tube through the vagina and then put dye through so they can see the dye as it travels through the fallopian tubes. If the dye does not travel through the fallopian tubes then there is a blockage in the tube or tubes. My test showed that one tube was blocked and the other tube was open. My OBGYN, decided to send me to an infertility specialist who would then perform surgery to open the one blocked tube that I had. The blocked tube was due to scar tissue that grew from surgery I had as an infant. My doctor wanted me to have the best surgeon possible because she felt it would be a difficult surgery, so she referred me to Dr. Keenan.

In our first meeting with Dr. Keenan, he told Brian and I that he was not sure what he would find when he opened me up. That it was a 50-50 chance that both my fallopian tubes may have to be removed due to the scar tissue that could be present. We went back to my Mother’s house and I cried fearing that both my tubes would be removed. Brian told my Mom that the doctor did not say that both would have to be removed, that he just had to say the worst possible thing that could happen. We then called my sister-in-law, Tracy Morrow, who had personal infertility experience, and both she and my Mother reassured me that nothing like that was going to happen, that doctors always just had to tell the worst possible outcome.

The surgery was scheduled as an outpatient procedure at UT Medical Center in Knoxville, TN. My husband, mother, and one of our dear family friends, Mary Holmes came to hospital to give support.

When I woke up from the surgery I could not open my eyes or move my body, but I could hear the medical personnel talking about this girl who “lost” both her fallopian tubes and how sad it was because she was so young.  I remember thinking, “How many other people could have had this same surgery that I had?” Then I realized it was ME they were talking about, that I was the “poor, young girl that lost both her tubes!”

The next memory I have is being rolled into a hospital room and my husband waiting for me in the room. Then I saw my Mother gathering herself outside the doorway to prepare to come in, of course I knew why she was so upset, but they did not know that I also knew. Mother came in with Mary and also with Mary’s daughter, Judy along with Judy’s daughter Sara. Judy had grown up with me and I knew that she had been called with the news. Judy later told me she hated to come with her daughter, but did not have anyone to keep her. Judy and I had grown up together and had been there for each other through many things and now she just wanted me to know she was here for me. One of the most painful things for me was to see the hurt and pain on everyone’s face and yet none of them knew that I also knew this “secret” that they knew would devastate me.

Once they left I looked over to my husband and said “They took both of them didn’t they?” and he just nodded with tears in his eyes. At the time, I thought finding out the way I did (hearing the staff talk about me) was the worst way anyone could be told! Several years later, I realized it was God’s way of saving my husband from having to tell me this terrible news. Brian later told me he just did not know how he was going to tell me, but God took that burden away from him knowing we had many more to face.