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!


Alexis D. said...

I appreciate you sharing your story. I was a FertilityCare teacher for 6 years, and know how much it helped soo many couples. The method has helped us, in soo many ways, as well as the wisdom of Dr. Hilgers.

Anonymous said...

It is so encouraging to hear that you have dealt with fertility challenges and been able to conceive. I am 22, newly engaged and recently diagnosed with PCOS. Similar to you, I had irregular cycles all throughout my teens and was put on the BCP as well. I know that with God all things are possible but it is challenging right now since they are telling me that their is little to do other then take the BCP again which I do not want to do! Did you take anything to help with your PCOS or did they go straight to surgery? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

antonina31 said...

I did try several different medications to help the PCOS, but they either had side effects that were intolerable or did not regulate my cycle. I was offered an opportunity to try medication again after my endometriosis was removed, but since I had another condition at the time that required surgery, I chose the surgery for both things.

I can't stress enough how different the Creighton Method trained doctors across the country/world treat women's fertility than most OB/GYNs. You really should find a doctor who understands this type of treatment, as the philosophy is amazingly distinct from what the medical schools teach.

But, that said, I also know that some women with PCOS, with proper diet, exercise, and health are able to conceive without treatment, despite all the doctors' pronouncements of the alternative. Just trust in the Lord and take things one step at a time.

You should also check out Naturally Knocked Up for great tips on overall health relating to fertility! This link is about PCOS specifically - - I have not tried her advice to conceive, but I am working towards overall health with her tips!

Write me back if you have any other specific questions! I'll keep you in my prayers.