I am so fortunate to have a number of fantastic women friends. Barb and I first became acquaintances when we attended National Louis University together. We were aspiring writers passionate about the written word (We still are by the way.) In 2006 we became friends when a small group, including Barb and I, banded together to create the University’s first literary anthology titled Mosaic.
Over the years, we’ve learned more about each other. Little did I know that Barb had her own infertility story to tell. I only began to realize it when I revealed my own inability to conceive. I asked Barb to share her story with us. Included here is the first part of her journey. Thanks Barb!
I was 33 before I really thought about becoming a mother. I’d been married for a year and had been helping care for my three stepchildren. I suppose that, more than anything else, prompted the thought of having my own children.
I’d had a number of gynecological issues in the past, starting with a pregnancy “scare” when I was 19, that was in reality, an ovarian cyst. The doctor put me on birth control pills that eventually shrunk the cyst. When I was 29, I had what at first defied diagnosis, then was considered a probable appendicitis. However, after exploratory surgery, it turned out I had a ruptured ovarian cyst.
My husband already had three kids from his first marriage–ages thirteen, eight, and six. By the time we had “the conversation” he’d already decided he didn’t want any more children. I was hurt and angry, feeling he had misled me since he didn’t verbalize not wanting kids, but then again, neither had I verbalized wanting to have kids. We decided not to decide for the time being.
Three years later, unfortunate circumstances led to all three of his kids moving in with us for a period of five years. I was finishing my bachelor’s degree, working part-time, and taking care of the kids and the house. My husband was teaching full-time and working a part-time night school teaching job to earn extra money so, in actuality, I was a full-time mom to my three stepchildren. Having my own kids didn’t even figure into the equation.
After a couple of years, when circumstances for the children changed, I’d begun teaching full-time and each child was older and enrolled in a number of extracurricular activities. Their time away from home gave me time to reflect again on having my own child. By this time I was 39 and wanted to find out if I was even able to conceive a child. I hadn’t been on birth control for four years since my OB/GYN had told me it was inadvisable after age 35 and in all that time I hadn’t even come close to getting pregnant.
I made an appointment with my doctor and the first thing she did was order a Follicle-Stimulating Hormone test (FSH) to check my ovarian reserve. I’d had increasingly heavy periods and she thought I might be perimenopausal. The word “menopause” threw me into a tizzy as I jumped from it to infertility, a word most women wanting to have a child, never want to hear. The findings on the FSH did confirm that I was perimenopausal but there was still hope, my doctor said.
She also did a physical exam and determined I had a tilted uterus, also known as a retroflexed uterus. Some of the symptoms of a tipped uterus are pain with sex, incontinence, and dysmenorrhea or pain during menstruation. I didn’t have the first two symptoms but I did have dysmenorrhea. Sometimes my periods sent me to bed and the older I got the worse those symptoms got. For the tipped uterus, the doctor suggested knee-chest exercises as a temporary solution.
As a result of the handicapping periods, I eventually I had two D & Cs—dilation and curettage, which is a surgical procedure that scrapes the uterine lining. It can also help diagnose conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis, and uterine cancer.
Since my purpose was finding out if I could get pregnant, I questioned the doctor about the chances of that happening considering my tilted uterus and perimenopausal status. She was optimistic, nevertheless. The doctor said I was in good health and had neither fibroids nor endometriosis. She said that there were other tests she could do but she suggested I try a fertility drug, Clomid, first before we went to extreme measures. I had to take the drug once a day for five days, around day five of the menstrual cycle. I took the drug for three months, without my husband’s knowledge. I figured that if I didn’t have a period and became pregnant, then I would just tell him he was going to be a father again. As it turned out, Clomid did not help me to get pregnant. I was disappointed and feared the worst—never having a child.
moved from Illinois to the Southwest and graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a Bachelor’s in Education, launching her teaching career in Las Vegas and until recently, Chicago. However, it was the desert climate that nurtured Barbara’s writing creativity, prompting her to earn her Masters in Written Communications from National-Louis when she returned to the Midwest. Barbara published and edited NLU’s anthology, Mosaic, followed by the publication of her first novel, Fulfillment. She is currently shopping its sequel, Legacy, and writing a variety of short stories while working on other projects. In addition, Barbara has opened a design business called Home Chameleons so if you’re in the market for a little redo from a resourceful designer, email Barb for more info at email@example.com.
Part 2 will be posted soon.