why I’m a blogger

Posted on August 23rd, 2006 by John.
Categories: Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological).

I have to confess, I don’t really understand blogs. What I do understand a little more is the value of journaling, both for catharsis and to help myself remember in the future the sort of road I walked along in the present. This is a challenging time in my life, but I would never want to forget it, though I can’t say for sure why. And why rent out a slice of cyberspace to post my rambling thoughts for some random and not-so-random visitors to read?

Well, maybe I should start from the beginning. My name is John, and for the past 3 years my wife, Abby, and I have been trying to start a family.

And the worst part of it, even worse than not conceiving a child, is something that feels like an erosion of my faith. I do love God. I love how perfect His will is, and how His ultimate manifestation of grace is accomplished in the sacrifice of Christ for sinners. I do hope in the end this blog will reflect more hope than despair, and that all of this hope would be cast upon God and not any drug or procedure at an infertility clinic. The tension is that I believe it is God who has shut the womb, but also that if it ever will be opened it will be by His hand.

I am certain there are other Christians who would affirm the truth of God’s sovereignty as it relates to their own infertility, and who struggle intensely with the apparent injustice of their own infertility. And I have this sense that by recording my thoughts maybe someday down the road I might be able to better emotionally support someone else in their own battle for faith in the midst of a long and painful road.

If you, too, are childproof, you are not alone.

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infertility journal, part 1

Posted on August 25th, 2006 by Abby.
Categories: Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological).

January 2005: Been trying to conceive since September ’03. My PCP referred me to an ob/gyn. From here on, insurance covers none of our expenses.

January 20, 2005: Consultation with ob/gyn 1. Orders semen analysis, blood work, endometrial biopsy, and HSG.

March 8, 2005: John’s semen analysis came back normal. My high school friend Evaleen, who is also an ob/gyn, cautions us against getting the endometrial and HSG so quickly; advises new ob/gyn.

March 21, 2005: Appointment/consultation with ob/gyn 2. Prescribes special vitamins, no more herbals.

March 28, 2005: Blood work – FSH, LH, Prolactin, TSH, Estradiol. All normal. We wrangle with CIGNA, who refuses to pay anything.

May 15, 2005: Progesterone levels in blood test low (7.7)

May 20, 2005: Endometrial Biopsy. Very painful. Prescribed Prometrium (progesterone) in pill form (400 mg).

We have trouble getting test results & interpretations from ob/gyn 2. She finally diagnoses me with luteal phase defect due to progesterone levels falling during the second half of my cycle, and causing a short (26-day) cycle.

Summer 2005: I go to Oxford, England and we let it drop for a while.

Fall 2005: We make two visits to a friend Bernice in Paisley, FL. She uses reflexology to untip my uterus (!) and strengthen my thyroid.

November 2005: I have a 28-day cycle with high basal body temperatures through the end. I don’t think I have luteal phase defect.

December 2005: I read online that progesterone cream was more effective than the pills, so I get a couple kinds.

January 25, 2006: We start going to the Center for Reproductive Medicine, on Evaleen’s advice again and her recommendation of Dr. Devane. We have a very satisfying and informative consultation. They knock the prices down because we’re paying out of pocket, and explain everything thoroughly, including all our former tests. We start to feel more hopeful with a “plan.” The also check my progesterone levels.

February 8, 2006: Hysterosalpingogram (HSG). Everything looks fine with the tubes. John got to watch on a tv monitor outside the room but said none of it made much sense to him.

February 10, 2006: I use Ovidrel, a $70 hypodermic needle which pinpoints an LH surge/ovulation, and then an ultrasound is done to check the follicle. It’s ready to go (20 mm).

February 11, 2006: Post-coital exam. Something is wrong – the sperm aren’t getting through my cervical mucus. Why? Is this the problem? We send this to CIGNA, just for one last try. No payment.

March 13, 2006: Sperm antibody testing. We are both fine, no antibodies.

Next step is IUI, inter-uterine insemination. This should bypass the cervical mucus with John’s best, washed, sperm.

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how our journey started

Posted on August 28th, 2006 by John.
Categories: Our Journey, Our Journey (chronological).

We expected to be expecting about three years ago. And, like most couples, whether fertile or infertile, we learned pretty quickly that this was not about us having control over our reproduction. Though this was difficult, it was also affirming of how much our God was in control of all things, and, as Psalm 127:3 says, “children are a reward from him.” Every month was still a hopeful one, and the disappointment of each negative result quickly faded into hope for the next.What we understand now is that after twelve months of trying unsuccessfully to conceive, at our age, we automatically fell into the clinical definition of infertile. At the time, though, this was pretty hard to accept.

On the one hand, the word sounds so final and harsh, like it means there is no chance we’d ever have children. (Abby, who helped name this blog, incidentally preferred the “childproof” label) It doesn’t, in fact, mean that at all. It just means that from a statistical point of view, we were far enough to one side of the bell curve to indicate there is a high probability there there may some other factor at play. And so we, like 12% of all couples in their childbearing years are who were unable to conceive in a year, were labeled as “infertile.”

And from an insurance point of view – in most states, including our own – it is painful from a financial perspective as well. I remember well in the early days we would try to get doctors to code the visits differently — we believed at the time we weren’t necessarily infertile but just trying to find out if we were or not — to no avail. No coverage for any diagnosis or treatment very quickly became just a way of life. God has blessed us with two good sources of income. This could have been way more difficult with less resources, but as it was, it was a tough pill to swallow.

But over the course of the months and years that followed, the feeling that our health insurance had turned their back on our problem was overshadowed by the larger pain that maybe God had as well.

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