Once You Are Real – Our Infertility Journey

Have you ever wanted something with every fiber of your being? I mean you think about it all the time, you read about it, you even change old habits so that you can achieve it? If you know me even a little bit, you may have deduced that I, Katie Smith am a very stubborn person.  Even if I am deathly afraid of something and you dare me to do it. 9 times out of 10 I am going to find a way to.

But here is the catch. There is one thing I just can’t seem to manage to do. That’s what I want the most.

Cam and I have been married for 4 years this May and he is my knight in shining armor. No, seriously that is how he proposed to me. White horse, the whole shebang. You get the picture. People said the first year would be the hardest and that flew by. I remember on our 1stanniversary Cam turned to me and told me he thought people were crazy. He loved every part of that first year and so did I. I am not trying to pull your leg or anything, we fight and we disagree and we do NOT agree to disagree. We both like to be right. We both like to win. But we both try to give 100% all of the time. All I want is for him to be happy and all he wants is to spoil me rotten. It totally works for us and we can still laugh, dance in the kitchen while we make dinner, go on adventures, and make inappropriate comments just by giving the other person “that look”.

Rewind…

Around late middle school/early high school I started getting really painful periods. I know TMI and I am sure you get really painful ones too. I always just smile and nod when people say that in response to my story. I want to ask… “and how many times have you been to the hospital for your painful period?” I am not trying to be rude but when you hit a dozen then you’re in my playing field. Honest to God truth. They tried all sorts of medication to get the pain under control but finally graduating High School, I had had enough. I was tired of the side effects, the bloating, and it NOT working. Fast forward to sophomore year of college and I found an article that compared Endometriosis and PCOS.  I immediately took it to the doctor I had been seeing and he actually believed me. He had looked at numerous tests and blood work but told me the only medically definitive way to diagnose Endometriosis was through surgery. It would not only be diagnostic but palliative as well. Well SIGN ME UP! Quick definition from Mayo Clinic:

“Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond your pelvic region. Fertility problems also may develop.”

November 2010 was my first laparoscopy. And guess what I got the rare part of the disease, woot woot. Cam and his family took care of me in AZ and he proposed 4 days after the procedure. That’s a whole other story here. I was pain free and seriously wanted to cry (probably did) because I had no idea that life was this great. We got married, finished undergrad and moved to AZ. I was introduced to an amazing doctor that I love and was thrilled that he could continue treating me.

Fast forward again, early 2014 and I was back in the hospital with pain. We made the decision to have a second laparoscopy in March and had talked with my doctor a lot about infertility and getting pregnant with my condition. I am not going into the details of how bad the endo was but it was basically preventing us from getting pregnant without having surgery. He said that after the surgery would be when I would have the best chances of having a baby before the endometriosis could start growing back.

I struggled for a long time with this. I knew that Cam wanted a baby but inside I knew this was going to be a long emotional and hormonal journey. I would probably not get pregnant right away and I would really have to commit to this process. I was so scared but finally after praying and thinking so much about what I wanted and what the Lord wanted we began trying. I wanted to give my 100%.

It was easy and stress free at first. We had a timeline for how long we would try  and we hit the mark and now needed to start medical intervention. We started with that in November and Doc wished us luck as we traveled to the islands of Fiji. Well low and behold it WORKED! We were so excited and we were going to announce to the family at Christmas. But no dice and we were back in the hospital with our first miscarriage. I had been at work and it was awful and embarrassing and some of my clients still don’t know that I hid under the front office table crying while Cam rushed from school to pick me up. No one talks about miscarriages. I feel that as women someone should have prepared me for what that would be like. How I would feel and what would happen. Like a sweet angel an old high school friend posted something on Facebook, she had no idea what I was going through but it helped me get through a really bad place in my life.

The last part read from the Velveteen Rabbit: “Once you are real, you can’t become unreal. It lasts for always.”

I loved this. I knew it had been real and no one could ever take that away from me.

We decided to keep trying and think positive. The mind is such a powerful tool and I was determined to be happy. The next month was positive again! I was so excited and felt like everyone at the doctor’s office was rooting for me! I told Cam on video which I still cherish that moment to this day. I bought books and went crazy on Pinterest. I was thrilled. For 6 days. This time I refused to go to the hospital. I waited hours until I ended up calling my dad at 5 in the morning crying. Back en route to the hospital we were. This time we received more answers. I had an infection probably from the last time I was pregnant and I was Rh-. I was given a shot and I thank God every day that I went in. If my body had built up antibodies to the baby’s blood it could have prevented all future pregnancies. I knew that I was being looked after from God.

I don’t know if that time was harder or if I just had a buildup of hormones but I was a wreck. Cam would find me crying all over the house, curled up in a little ball and basically losing control of myself. Let me add in that everyone in my life is pregnant right now and let me also add that I am beyond thrilled for each one of them. I just really want to join the club. Things went from bad to worse when Doc told me that I had a suspicious physical. Words like surgery, cancer, abnormal tissue were all thrown around and to top it off it was Cam’s birthday. So I lied to him. I told him that everything was okay and then broke down the next day and spilled the beans. I am not that good at keeping secrets from the man. After more labs everything came back saying that basically the endometriosis has blocked my left side again. Cam jokes we just need to choose the right. I love his smalls ways of helping me feel better.

So here we are. 2 years later, 2 miscarriages, no baby and I feel like I am back where we started. Surgery is on the table again but I just can’t wrap my head around it. It doesn’t feel right and I have learned to go with my gut feeling; Cam supports me.

We both pray every day for that one thing that we have no control over. I asked Cam last week while on a walk through the desert, “how do you trust in the Lord with all your heart?” He told me that you just keep trying. Some days will be harder than others but there is a plan for us and right now I am okay with that.

The hardest thing to hear is when someone asks me when we are going to start trying to have kids. Cam gives a wink and says we try every night. He uses humor to deal and it is just what I need too. But today I decided that I also needed to talk about it. I needed to share my story, my experience and my journey because this IS making me stronger, it will make me stronger.  I go back to my Velveteen Rabbit quote but in a different light: “Once you are real, you can’t become unreal. It lasts for always.” I think I am just ready to open up with everyone. This is me being real and this is our struggle.

If anyone even reads this crazy blog and is struggling with infertility, endometriosis, miscarriages or just hard times know you are being looked after too and are loved. I know that as women we all are strong silent pillars of strength and if we knew what our neighbor was going through we would criticize a little less, hug a little more and be a little kinder.

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