Infertility

I struggle with the word “Infertility.” I’d much rather call it my “Fertility Journey,” because I believe there are many ways to have a fertile soul and body and because ultimately I believe that I’ll become a mother naturally even though circumstances seem to dictate otherwise.

I never thought I would be someone who struggled to get pregnant because I always imagined myself as a grown up, surrounded by kids. My mother is Puerto Rican and I felt for sure as a Latina I’d be popping out babies everywhere. My first pregnancy was a fluke. My husband and I weren’t trying, we were just having fun and I happened to be on medication in Uganda at the time for a tropical illness that interfered with my birth control.

We came back to the States in August of 2012 and I found out I was pregnant. I was in shock, but I was delighted, even though we weren’t fully prepared. What followed was something of a nightmare as around the 8 week marker I began to have some bleeding. The nurses assured me that some bleeding was normal. I was speaking at a church about our ministry in Uganda when I went to the toilet and knew that something was drastically wrong. I still remember being in that hospital room praying that everything would be alright, but knowing deep down that it wasn’t. The first hospital I went to did not diagnose me properly. After much waiting, and many tests that were difficult, I found out I had an ectopic pregnancy and my liver was too shot to take the oral treatment. I was scheduled for emergency surgery and as my husband and I said goodbye to our blueberry baby I knew that I would never be the same again. As devastating as it was to lose him, I remember thinking that it was a miracle we were even in the States at that time, otherwise there was a high chance I would have hemorrhaged and died in Uganda because we were six hours away from any legitimate hospital. At that point, splintered and broken I asked God the questions and I felt like He clearly gave me a promise to hold onto from Ruth: “And the Lord enabled her to become pregnant.” And I knew that this was much bigger than me.

At the advise of our doctors, we moved back to the states to San Francisco where my husband had consulting work in the tech industry. But I had left my beloved Uganda and my work, my ministry, my friends, and my purpose behind. I struggled over the next two years to really know what my place was here. All of a sudden I was a “housewife” assuming that I would get pregnant and have a “real” reason to stay home, but I struggled with feeling worthless and my identity. In the midst of that I began writing my memoir.

In July of 2013 my husband and I were settled enough to start trying to have a baby again. We had wanted to wait until things were healed because the doctors saw no reason why I shouldn’t get pregnant. We went to do tests anyway and that was when after fifteen vials of blood we found out that my AMH hormone was very low and through a hysterosalpinogram we discovered my left tube, which had been saved, was completely blocked, reducing our chances of getting pregnant by 25%. I was devastated.

We then spent the next year trying without success. Every month was a deep disappointment. But during that time I had been doing the hard work of getting healthy. I hadn’t realized all the damage that living in Africa and enduring such stress and trauma had done to my body. I was working hard on losing weight and eating healthy, reducing my stress, doing regular acupuncture and herbs, and taking a million vitamins, and adopting the little light of my life, a dog named Rosalita Chiquita Banana Pants.

In July of 2014, a year after trying consecutively and peeing on a bazillion Ovulation predictor kits, I decided to follow my intuition and seek out a naturopathic doctor (ND.) I was not very comfortable with how quickly my doctors had referred me to IVF and I truly believed my body was capable and it just needed to come back into balance, but instead of listening to me, most people pushed me in the IVF direction. I firmly believe in following your own intuition and not being forced into something you’re not comfortable with, no matter how much doctors try to scare you. The best advice I can give, is find someone you trust. It’s not that I have an issue with IVF it’s just that I’m not sure it’s right for me yet and I want to follow the path that makes sense for me.

One issue that cropped up in my most recent tests, through 23andme was that I am heterozygous for the MTHFR gene mutation which affects the body’s ability to properly use folic acid, which is a huge issue for women trying to get pregnant. (It also told me that my ancestors were African which totally substantiated not only all the junk I’ve got in my trunk, but also my pull towards Uganda) MTHFR also affects the mythelation pathway which I’m not sure I fully understand, but it can cause a host of other issues such as repeat miscarriages, depression, Down syndrome, blood clotting, and a host of other problems. Unfortunately my original doctor had treated me with Folguard and baby aspirin, which is the direct opposite approach of what you want to do,since my body needs the original form of folate and any folic acid actually depletes my reserves. Since then I have done a lot of research and found numerous treatment plans on Dr. Ben Lynch’s website, although I highly recommend working with a ND to develop a plan specific to each person. While you can’t affect your genes you can affect how those genes are expressed and in that I find a lot of hope.

I also did not realize how much my gut health was affecting my ability to get pregnant and have since started a gluten-free and anti-inflammatory diet (ugh, mostly) and a regimen of probiotics.

Most recently, in August of 2014 I found out I was pregnant again and was shocked and overjoyed. My two years of waiting had paid off. I was going to be a mother. My joy was short lived however, and I lost my second baby to another ectopic in my left tube at five weeks. They attribute this to the scar tissue which partially blocked the left tube. I am still processing through this loss, recovering from the surgery, and dealing with the resulting chronic back pain.

I truly believe that our psychological and emotional state has so much to do with our fertility, and I have started seeing a life coach, a counselor, and making sure I am processing through the emotions because I feel it’s important even as I’m trusting God for the fulfillment of His promises.

While I completely believe in the beauty of adoption and have helped other women adopt, I don’t yet feel this is the right path for me yet. My current goal is to find contentment and joy in the simplicity of being grateful for what I have here and now. Thanks for connecting and being on this journey with me. I am happy to help as I continue to learn and grow myself.

Update May 2015: We finally got a full thyroid panel done and I’m hypo thyroid. We also had a consult with Dr. Braverman, a leading specialist in the field of reproductive immunology who helps women who have had recurrent pregnancy loss, conceive. With my low AMH levels, hypo thyroid, adrenal fatigue, and ectopics, he is led to believe I might have something called silent endometriosis which is left undiagnosed by most doctors and may be caused by auto immune issues. We are having lots of immunology tests done and then will get a protocol to follow, but for the first time, I feel like I’m getting answers. Dr. B is the first doctor to not just tell me, “These things happen,” but to really find out the underlying cause behind why this is happening. I know he won’t give up until he finds the answers and we have a baby. I’ve had surgery for endometriosis and we’ve started the IVF process which I struggled with for a long time. I kept wanting to believe God would do this for me miraculously. But this is the direction we’ve felt led. No matter what happens, I want to continue thriving after loss and continuing to rise strong knowing there is still so much beauty in life to be had. But I still struggle with Mother’s Day. I speak out about infertility mostly because I want other women to know they are not alone. You can message me if you have more questions.

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