Friday, January 28, 2011

My Basic Fertility Journey

Note: I have written and told this story in many different versions but not yet here on my blog. I recently revised this version for a few people and thought it's about time I post my story here. This is certainly not a polished piece, basically just the facts.

When you’re fifteen and having irregular cycles, you do whatever your mother’s doctor tells you. When I was fifteen and naive, after my doctor tried one hormone shot, which was ineffective, Mom’s doctor quickly put me on the birth control pill. In fact, if you ask around, I think you’ll learn that is what most doctors do for women with irregular cycles. At first glance, the pill solved the problem. As far as I knew, now that my cycles were textbook normal, all was well.

Fast forward seven years. In college, I was blessed with a Catholic student center that provided solid formation and catechesis, something I lacked growing up. By age 22, I was adamantly pro-life, engaged to be married to a fellow faithful Catholic, and knew the pill had to go. So, I stopped taking it. And, the same irregular cycles returned. Since I had learned a bit about the birth control pill by then, I was only slightly surprised.

My fiancé and I started consulting gynecologists for answers while learning to chart using the Creighton Method of Natural Family Planning, the method taught at our student center. One laughed at me for wanting to use NFP instead of the pill. One tested me for a variety of thyroid problems and found nothing. At the advice of our NFP teacher, we traveled in-state to see a doctor trained in Creighton.

He immediately suggested several different medications that could regulate my cycles. The plan was to try a pharmaceutical for three months to see what happened, and if the drug didn’t work, we would switch to another one. After three medications, seven months later (one gave me such horrible side effects I stopped after a few weeks), we had no solution, and I gave up on that doctor.

We agreed to have our NFP teacher write Dr. Thomas Hilgers of the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Nebraska about our case. He is the inventor of the Creighton method of NFP and of NaproTechnology, a method of treating reproductive diseases that includes NFP charting as a vital component.

Our teacher sent Dr. Hilgers three months worth of our NFP charts and a letter detailing my medical history (not actual medical records). Dr. Hilgers wrote back within a month with his opinion on what three diseases were causing my irregularity and an explanation of the tests needed to confirm his diagnosis.

Since the previous five doctors had not ever given us any proposed diagnosis and only a couple had run any tests at all, we were overjoyed and promptly sent my blood to the laboratory at the Pope Paul VI Institute to, finally, get some results. Those initial results confirmed Dr. Hilgers’ theories, and we knew in our hearts we needed to go to him for the more invasive laparoscopy and other testing to begin to treat my reproductive problems.

The short story: Dr. Hilgers performed my laparoscopy in November 2000 in Omaha, Nebraska, removing the endometriosis he found and confirming the presence of polycystic ovarian disease. I returned to Omaha in January 2001 for an ovarian wedge resection to correct the PCOD, knowing that we could trust Dr. Hilgers to do what other doctors did not. Within one month of my surgery, my cycles were textbook normal with NO medications, and I felt healthier than I had in many, many years! To see the change in my charting is absolutely amazing.

Exactly one year to the date of my major surgery, we received our positive pregnancy test, and I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl in September 2002. Subsequently, with remote guidance from Dr. Hilgers and continual charting using the Creighton method, I conceived and delivered two healthy baby boys, born in June of 2005 and June of 2010.

I’ll share the details of conceiving and carrying to term my three babies, mourning the two we lost, and the miraculous healing of another reproductive illness at a later date. But, please know: whether your cycles are textbook normal or all over the place, the Creighton method of NFP, the researchers who created the method, the doctors who faithfully use the method in their practices, and the teachers who teach the method, all have one goal: your overall reproductive health.

Dr. Hilgers has recently published a book titled The NaPro Technology Revolution: Unleashing the Power in a Woman's Cycle, which I have not read but hear is excellent! If you have further questions regarding my experiences with Creighton Natural Family Planning, Dr. Hilgers, and/or the Pope Paul VI Institute, please feel free to contact me at anytime. God bless!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dear My Sons & Daughter,

I want to tell you something important. You are a child of God. You are really not all mine. I love you oodles and caboodles, but He loves you infinitely more. And, His love is perfect. It will never, ever fail you. Mine is imperfect, and I fail you daily. But, that is what God has created - the imperfect trying to lead the imperfect to His perfection.

All of your lives you will seek a greater union with God. Sometimes you will be consciously aware of this desire, but sometimes it will be an empty ache for which you cannot identify the cause. The search never ends. Each day is a new beginning. The Christian life is entirely about perseverance. We sin daily, but we pick ourselves back up, dust off our clothes, and begin again. You and I are blessed to run this race together and help each other up when we fall. We seek the same eternal reward of His ultimate love.

Never stop desiring God. If your heart feels cold or dry, ask Him to light it with His fire. For we face daily struggles and overcome some of them through diligence and virtue, but God is the one who changes hearts. It is our job to simply allow Him to be present to us, always giving Him opportunities to shower His graces upon us, not attempting to endure on our own strength.

As I sit here in the early morning darkness, I offer prayers for you. I ask God to bless your lives, to guide you gently towards Himself (more gently than He has and is guiding me, if possible). You belong to Him, not to me. You were His child long before you were mine, conceived in the mind of a generous God before being conceived in my womb. He has simply honored me by allowing me to be a vessel of His love for you. I pray you daily see His love despite my weak will.

Love and prayers,
Your Mom

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Deer in Headlights

That's me! I am suffering from New Year's-itis. A couple of weeks ago, I almost "sat down and made a list about everything that's wrong. What's wrong with me. What's wrong with you. And how that list went on..." (Marie Bellet) I have been reading Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project and trying to figure out how to modify her ideas to make my own Holiness Project! Surely, if I just make myself a to-do list of all the things I want to change about myself, that will work, right?

Yikes! Listen to me! No wonder the priest started out with "You know yourself very well" during my Confession last weekend!

It is the New Year. In fact, I have spent the past 25 days pondering this fact. Wise women are discussing resolutions, sharing changes that workedMany other bloggers are choosing a "Word for the Year" to guide their thoughts. And, I have been stuck in indecision.

I have been trying to figure out where to start. What goals are reasonable for this year? What fault do I need to correct first, because I certainly cannot fix them all at the same time!?

And, so, I have spent almost all of January trying to figure out how to have a better year than last year (and last year was pretty good), how to be a better person than last year (never-ending process), and I have failed miserably. I have failed in making resolutions and amending my life, because it is all too overwhelming. I can not seem to prioritize and just start something, anything.

Then, in the darkness last night, nursing and praying, inspired by Elizabeth's post, I asked God for a word. Words, you see, are very important to me. I love words! It only took a few minutes, and I am very surprised by the result (I'll explain its meaning in my next post) ....