***Disclaimer-gratuitous use of the word uterus, and other medical terms for “female” stuff***
Three words. Even a doctor with a southern accent could say them in less than two seconds, but those words have sent us on a journey that has lasted ten years so far.
“You have fibroids.”
That’s what the OB/GYN told Wendy. We didn’t really know what that meant. Some kind of fibrous tissue on Wendy’s uterus that can keep eggs from attaching to the uterus or even getting through the fallopian tubes. That would explain why we had been having trouble conceiving so far.
You need to understand something about us. Both of us have always known that we wanted to be parents, even when were kids ourselves. John has been an uncle since the age of four, and has always just seemed to have a way with little kids. Little kids love him, probably because I’m not above making a complete idiot of himself to entertain them.
Wendy has been a mother-in-training probably since birth. She would dress her cats in baby doll clothes and put them down for naps in her toy baby bed. If anyone nearby had a baby, she would annoy the living daylights out of them until they let her hold it. We talked about our mutual desire for children even when we dated and discussed names before we were even engaged.
Considering we didn’t meet until we were both 30 and got married at age 31, time was a factor, and we knew it. We started trying to conceive in early 2004, after three years of marriage. Things didn’t happen right away, but everyone told us to be patient, and so we were, for about a year. Then one day the OB/GYN told Wendy she had fibroid tumors which sent us on this lengthy journey.
There were several rounds of infertility drugs and doing everything the doctor suggested, all to no avail. Finally we got a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist (try saying that three times fast) who told us that he could remove the little tumors using laparoscopy, which is where they cut three tiny incisions and then send us home to have lots of babies. Even if we weren't trying to conceive, the tumors had to come out. To be so small, they sure caused a great deal of trouble! Since the doctor wouldn't know whether the surgery could be done laparascopically or if he would have to make a big incision until the surgery began, we had no idea going in what we would be facing. The tumors (fibroids are benign tumors) were pretty large, enlarging Wendy’s uterus to the size of one in the 16th week of pregnancy. They were too large to remove using the tiny incisions, so they had to make an incision approximately six inches across, larger than a c-section incision, remove the three large tumors, and piece her uterus back together. The good news was, assuming that there was little or no scar tissue, everything looked good to conceive, although they wouldn’t let her give birth naturally, for fear of rupturing her uterus.
So we brought her home, she healed, and a few months later, we were cleared to begin trying again. Nothing. The next step, artificial insemination. If you are a person and not a farm animal, this means you both go to a doctor’s office, and while the woman sits in the lobby, the man goes into a little room with a little cup and, well, let’s just say it’s a bit embarrassing. Next, the woman gets undressed from the waist down, lays on a table, puts her feet in the stirrups, and the ordeal goes from a little embarrassing to very humiliating. The nice doctor told us to go home, have a nice dinner, a little wine, and to use a sports metaphor, score an insurance run, so to speak.
We lost count of how many times we went through this over the next three years, but at some point they added shots to the mix. John had to learn how to give two different kinds of shots to Wendy. One was a pen-type syringe, similar to what diabetics use, and it had to be given in the stomach. Once a month, however, there were real shots with a real needle in the hind parts. This was supposed to stimulate more fertile eggs, but nothing seemed to work. Eventually, neither of us could bear the thought of going to the doctor’s office anymore, especially not for $2,000-$4,000 per try. It just seemed fruitless, both literally and figuratively.
If you have never gone through it before, it’s hard to explain how it makes you feel. You watch the children of your childhood friends grow up. They play sports, become cheerleaders, get sweethearts, go to the prom. You watch coworkers have kids, and watch as they leave early to go to little league practice, or pick them up from school. Nieces have children, cousins have children. When you hear the news that someone is having a baby, you’re happy for them, but every announcement is another reminder of your fading hopes. We stopped going to church on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. It was just too painful.
Wendy had a total hysterectomy in March of this year. Her reproductive system was in about the same shape as 10 years ago when she had the first surgery. Now that that's out of the way and she's on the mend, we're ready for our baby/babies!! God has not brought us this far along in the journey to leave us!!