A while ago, we saw our primary doctor at the clinic for the results of Chad’s analysis and all of my tests. Despite the drama that happened during the HSG (by the way, it was priceless to see my doctor’s face when I told her.) everything was looking pretty good in both my procedures so I had prepared myself for somewhat good news. We had already gotten some preliminary results on Chad’s testing and a big part of me was thinking that perhaps he was really the root of the problem, as he has so ardently wished to be. That’s love, people, a husband who wants to be the problem because he knows how hard it will be for me to hear that it’s really me that has the issue.
So, drumroll please……it’s BOTH of us that have issues. Immediately, my mind flashed to the show of my adolescence, Friends, to the episode where Monica and Chandler hear the results from their doctor of why they are not getting pregnant. “Chandler: Apparently, my sperm have “low motility” and you have an “inhospitable environment.” Monica: Oh. Well, uh, what does that mean? Chandler: It means that my guys won’t get off their Barcaloungers and you have a uterus that’s prepared to kill the ones that do.” You know you are a product of the 90’s when you get not great news and instantly your head fills with a Friends quote.
I have always, always wanted to be a Rachel. But the truth is, I am a Monica. I become more Monica with every day. Cleaning products excite me. Organization is sexy. My voice sometimes gets this high pitch quality to it that hurts even my own ears. I am fiercely competitive. None of those things are Rachel. Apparently, we Monica’s have a hard time having babies. (Not to fear: I understand that they are all fictional characters!)
Similarly, I remember during my 20’s hearing that everybody wanted to be a Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City but nobody was a Carrie. Darren Starr, the creator, flat out said that. She encompassed too many facets to be contained in one tiny body. It was sadness that I realized, not only am I not a Carrie, I’m a Charlotte. I’m more prudish than I’d care to admit. I love a bow. I believe in social graces and I love a good King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. I just realized that both these characters had infertility written into their roles. How appropriate.
Why do I digress and tell you about my similarities to two fictional (though amazing) characters from the late 1990’s? To show you the fact that finally, at 32, I know myself. I am old enough to understand that though I always wish I was the fashion icon with effortless hair and perfect blue eyes, I can finally grasp the beauty in being who I am. I feel better able to be myself and own the things about myself that I like and don’t like. Monica’s run the freakin’ world, people!! Monica is who you want in a crisis. Charlotte has a heart of gold! This knowledge of myself only fuels the fire of wanting to be a mother. It’s no longer the hubris of youth that makes me think I’ll be great at it. I’m genuinely terrified of screwing up my kids. I also know it’s going to happen. Wanting to have kids and struggling to have them can really clarify things for people. I don’t want to be pregnant because it is so on trend right now. I want to be a mother because it feels like there is something missing in my life.
My friend, Alexandria, has this beautiful story of her mom walking with her family and looking around and saying “someone is missing”. She could just feel it. This feeling led to her having IVF at an advanced age to make Alexandria’s younger brother who is currently climbing the New Mexico high school tennis rankings. I feel the same. I walk hand in hand with my husband and feel this surplus of love that we have that I want to give to someone else. Someone is missing and I can feel it and it hurts.
Ok, so back to the results. We are not exactly Chandler and Monica but we bear some resemblance. Chad’s sperm has slow motility and they are shaped funny. His count is really, really high which he refuses to admit but I think is a source of pride for him. Men and their sperm?? Who gets it? Their tales are not straight as they should be, they rather have a little curly-cue tale which I will always and forever attribute to his deep and profound love of bacon. The good laugh that we had making fun of his sperm with the doctor was highly inappropriate. With his ADHD and extreme extroversion, we have joked that his swimmers were all just partying amongst themselves swimming in circles rather than doing the job they were supposed to do. He has joked a couple of times that if my ovaries were pork-scented, I would’ve been pregnant much faster.
My womb is not “inhospitable”, it’s just not functioning how it should. We saw a picture of the ultrasound and, man, did that uterus look small and empty!! This is where Chad said “I’m probably more of the glass half-full one in our relationship.” Which is very true. The results for me were that two of my aforementioned players were doing great, pulling their weight. And two were firmly stuck on the bench. The bad part was that the two players that we need to be the MVP’s are the ones who are riding the bench. Therefore, my ovarian reserve is actually looking older than a 32 year old woman’s ovarian reserve should be. I have just read that sentence four times as I just typed it. Hearing it was not worst case scenario. Hearing it was confirmation that we were wise to come to the clinic when we did. But hearing it also meant that there is absolutely something wrong with my body. It doesn’t work how it should and as a result, it isn’t getting pregnant despite our efforts. It brought the truth into startling clarity, that there is some part of me that is broken. I have tried my hardest to avoid this thought as I clung to hope in the midst of trying each month to conceive. I have read and re-read Psalm 139:14 throughout this journey. I have wept to the prayer that God would show me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And for a moment, when I heard these results, it felt like I had lost some battle that I wasn’t even very aware I was fighting.
I have a bit more perspective now. Fearfully and wonderfully is not perfectly made. It doesn’t imply without defect. Being a Christian does not guarantee me from pain and suffering or infertility. The long-held belief that trouble comes to Christians because of sin in their life is so over-used and incorrect when we look at the revolution Jesus created on this earth. Just as Jesus was not, we are not immune to the state of the fallen world we chose. Childbirth hurts. Man has to work. Being naked causes insecurities. Kids are orphaned. Wives and husbands die. And sometimes, wombs lay empty though you desperately want them to be filled. And undeniably for this woman, God is still very good and very faithful simultaneously.
The result of our results is that our doctor is going to try a more aggressive approach than she normally would. A big part of establishing the ovarian reserve was to see how I would respond to fertility treatments should they decide to give them to me. Rather than starting with just trying to get me to ovulate and conceive on my own, with the problems Chad’s sperm presents, the better option for us is going to be insemination. That way, Chad’s ADHD sperm has no option but to go where it is supposed to. It’s like the IEP for sperm! If there was a way I could get some tiny airport crew into my fallopian tubes to wave lighted cones to show them where to go, I would. And if I could will my egg to be in a good place without injections and medication to receive them, I would. I would put a huge X on the egg and lock on their location (think Star Trek) and beam them into my uterus! Man, I’ve been married to a nerd too long!
Essentially, this is what the insemination is going to do. We will try three rounds of insemination with our chances of conceiving growing each time. If those don’t work, we will then try in vitro fertilization which has a higher success rate. In my glass half-empty mode, I was sad. It was difficult to hear that our conception story would be in a sterile doctor’s environment. Not that I’m that big on conception stories anyways! I had a high school friend who’s mom would always tell her kids where they were conceived and thinking about your parent’s having sex is gross. Chad, in his glass half-full was just grateful that we live in a time where this science exists and there is still a chance that we can have a biological baby.
And so we venture on in this journey. There is a plan. And there is renewed hope. We have more people who are taking it seriously that we want to have a baby. All of that feels good. But hope can be a dangerous thing. Hope is a beautiful, powerful, devastating thing for a believer but it is a word that I am clinging to. Not because I know that I will emerge from this time with a baby in my arms. But because I feel it to my core that at the end of this journey, as I am saying in the middle of it, I will be able to look back and realize that everything God created is fearfully wonderfully made. Because with David, the Warrior King, a sinful man after God’s own heart, I will be able to say that I know this truth full well. Whatever God is knitting in my womb, whether it’s preparing me to have biological children or love someone else’s, my broken body still bears His thumbprint. It is indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made.