So I knew that today was likely to be difficult, but part of me thought that we would just sort of “hammer out” treatment options and everything would be all set. That is simply not how it went.
Let’s start at the beginning. Wednesday I received a phone call from my doctor’s office. When you have pending test results, a phone call is not a good sign. Really, you want your doctor to send you a card in the mail or post the results online – you do NOT want a nurse to leave you a message to call back. And the message was vague, also not what you want. When I called back, the nurse let me know that my testosterone levels were slightly elevated and that the doctor wanted me to come in to discuss treatment options.
What does slightly elevated testosterone even mean??
So I asked the nurse and she let me know that it meant that I likely had Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome. My response at first was, “Oh, ok.” After hanging up, I thought, “Wait a second, I don’t even know what that means!” Using trusty WebMD.com and Google, Frank and I quickly understood that PCOS is what it sounds like – I am growing cysts on my ovaries and this is causing a disruption in my hormone levels and might lead to infertility.
This morning I went in to meet with Dr. K (my ob gyn, not my father-in-law) to discuss the ramifications of PCOS. Frank was kind enough to text me a few last minute questions for the doctor since he couldn’t be there.
Dr. K’s office is very spa-ish. Most doctors’ offices are very clinical, but the practice that I go to is very cozy, in my opinion. Dr. K is a tallish woman – about 5’9″ or so and very thin. She’s probably in her late 30’s and is very professional and collected. I think I like that she is collected because if nothing else, you want a doctor who has her wits about her. She reminds me of my last doctor in Wisconsin (who I LOVED – Dr. L).
Anyway – at first the nurse had me sit up on the exam table and prepared to take notes, but when I let her know I was here for a follow up, she nodded, folded up her lap top and went to get Dr. K. I felt silly sitting up on the exam table, so I opted for the 3/4 size chair. That’s the thing – because I am tall, some of these waiting room chairs seem like they are almost big enough… but not quite. Anyway, I sat there, playing brick-breaker, waiting for Dr. K.
When she came into the room, she was reading through my information. “Ok, well, it looks like you were having irregular periods and your testosterone levels came back slightly elevated. Ok.” She sat down in her doctor chair with her laptop.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“Well, some people just have higher levels of testosterone. And some people who are very heavy can have hormone levels that are not in line. And sometimes people might have PCOS.” That last option she said a little slowly. She said a little bit more about PCOS – all stuff I learned on WebMD.
“So are you saying that you think that I have PCOS?” I finally asked.
“Yes, it would appear that you have a few of the symptoms. Now if you weren’t trying to get pregnant, we would put you on birth control to try to help control the hormone levels. But since you are, we’ll want to get you enrolled in our fertility program and considering clomid and meta (something – can’t remember the drug – but it treats type 2 diabetes).”
“Ok, so is this what you are recommending as treatment? I should enroll in the fertility program?”
“Yes – they will check your insurance and confirm what is covered. Now the fertility program does require that you are able to get ultra sounds, blood draws, and your husband will have to do a semen analysis [joy]. With your husband’s schedule, you’ll need to determine how committed you are to getting pregnant.”
“What do you mean?”
Dr. K: “Well, you will be on clomid and you’ll need to be able to be together on your ovulation days. It doesn’t make sense to put you on the drug and then risk him not being around. You could maybe stagger the months if you know he’ll be around and not take it on the months that he won’t be around. You will just need to see how committed you are to this.”
Me: “Since his schedule isn’t very reliable or consistent, are there other options? I don’t want this to drag on and get expensive and find out at the end of it that we’ll just ahve to do IVF.”
Dr. K: “Well, we can certainly look at insemination [ugh] and try to time it out. We don’t let this go longer than 6 cycles before we refer you to a fertility specialist if it’s not going well.”
There was more to our conversation than that, but that gives the gist of it. I am going to work to control my diet and eat better to help manage the hormone levels, but it sounds like we will need to get the help of professionals in order to have a family.
Writing it down like that sounds so matter-of-fact: We will need to get the help of professionals in order to have a family. Considering how rational that statement sounds, what happened after the doctor’s appointment was anything but.
I made it to my car and sat down, fighting tears. I called Frank to tell him what the doctor said and found it difficult to say the words. Even though I had prepared myself for the conversation with the doctor – even though I knew we’d probably have to start some rounds of clomid and get more blood work and tests, the reality of the situation hadn’t fully sunk in.
The thing about Frank and I is that we have been having the SAME fight for about 7 years. I think he is insensitive and he thinks I am too sensitive. We communicate alright normally, but when it comes to situations like this that are so incredbily emotional for me, I struggle to put my words and thoughts into rational sentences. I also need Frank to talk to me with empathy and emotion. And really, I needed him to be at that doctor’s appointment today and he wasn’t able to be there.
So I started to tell Frank about our appointment with the doctor and started to tell him about the treatment. He asked a question he believed to be totally rational and positive, “Do I need to be there on the exact days you ovulate for clomid treatments?” And like a rocket, I went off.
See, to Frank, he was saying, “This isn’t bad news, even if I can’t be there exactly on the right days, we have a chance.” What I heard was, “I hope you don’t expect me to make this my #1 priority and drop everything to be there for this.”
Even though we were discussing logistics, I was still processing this tremendous amount of sadness in my heart about this whole situation. I wanted Frank to say, “Babe, we are going to get this taken care of. Don’t you worry about it. Whatever we need to do, we will make it work.” And in his way, that’s what he was trying to show me through finding all of the opportunities for this to work.
After having a conversation that was basically Frank telling me not to be dramatic about the situation and me telling him to have a heart, we left it off on bad terms. I went to get my hair cut and colored, hoping that beautifying myself on the outside would somehow help lighten things on the inside – but no dice.
I left the salon between scattered thunderstorms and drove home. My cell phone decided not to work the entire way home. I was so annoyed. Ah, the injustice of having to listen to the radio instead of talkin
g on my cell.
When I made it home, Frank called to clear the air. He was right on some things and I was right on others, but in the end, we were still in this place of “what next?”
I recognize that this is not the end of the world. I definitely do. We could get pregnant quickly on clomid. Or maybe we won’t. But there is still a good chance of something working out.
So after I hung up with Frank, I went downstairs to fold laundry and cry. I was crying so hard, that it was difficult to breathe and for a moment, I thought I might throw up (but thankfully, I didn’t).
With the news today, I just have an overwhelming feeling, as though I am standing at the base of a mountain, looking up. The fact that others before me have climbed this mountain is not as comforting as you would think. Yes, the fact that others can do it is fantastic! But there are so many people who get stranded on a summit or at an impasse. There are so many people who start climbing this mountain thinking it’s a day trip and it slowly turns into days, weeks, months and years before they realize that they can’t go back down, either. The costs of infertility are staggering and so many people rack of thousands of dollars in bills before they even get to the cost of IVF.
I don’t want to get caught in the avalanche of fertility. I don’t want to get pulled under and surface, only to find that I am in my late thirties and no closer to having a family than I was 10 years ago.
My mom is always telling me not to be stressed out, or we won’t get pregnant. When she says that, I get even more stressed out. But what if this is because of stress? Or what if it is because I’ve put on some weight? How ridiculous is it that I put cookies and treats ahead of having children?? Or what if we waited too long? I’m still young, but maybe we would have had a better chance a few years ago instead of right now.
Because I am well-read and educated, the thing that came to mind when thinking about this was in one of the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis, the Lion (symbolizing God) says, “I don’t tell people what should have been, but rather what it was.” (totally paraphrasing) And that was comforting to me because there is nothing I can do about anything except what I have in front of me now.
So while I was in the basement, folding laundry and crying, I was arguing with God. Well, at first I was actually arguing with Frank at first. But then I realized that I wasn’t actually arguing with Frank. I was wrestling with God.
Why, God, does this have to happen on YOUR timeline? Why can’t this happen on my time line? Why is this so hard? Why are you making this difficult? Why?
And with that line of questioning, a whole bunch of images came back to me from this past week. God had been talking to me and preparing me for today, all week.
The biggest preparation was in His word. Our small group is reading Gensesis and we were on chapter 32 Thursday. That chapter is about Jacob wrestling with God. At the end of the “match,” God wrenches Jacob’s hip from his socket. See, God loved Jacob enough to wrestle with him.
Here I am, asking God why I can’t have a baby now. God is sovereign, the God of the universe and the Creator of all things. And I am crying in my basement, while I fold laundry, angry that my heavenly Father did not give me a baby today. What?? And God is so gracious that he heard me out before I even spoke. God is so faithful that He prepared me this week to know that it is OK to wrestle with Him. It is OK to be Jacob for a while. And at the end of wrestling, God is still God and I am still me.
After God dislocated Jacob’s hip, Jacob asked for God’s blessing and God changed Jacob’s name (which meant deceiver) to Israel (wrestles with God). And so my thought is that maybe after wrestling with God, I will be changed and I will be renewed. Jacob still screwed up after wrestling with God (we will get to that next week!), but God is still God.
So after I cried in the basement (and ate some ice cream), I came upstairs and grabbed my 2 liter of Diet Cherry 7-up and crawled into bed. I watched Ugly Betty. And then I wrote this post. And the song in my head right now is, “God of wonders, beyond our galaxy, you are holy, holy, the universe declares your majesty, you are holy, holy, Lord of Heaven and Earth. Early in the morning, I will celebrate the Light, and as I stumble in the darkness, I will call Your name by night.”