Thursday, September 27, 2012

Julianne's Story

This Thursday's post is very special to me. I have the privilege of being the sister-in-law to an incredibly brave, talented, loving, beautiful woman named Julianne. Guys, this woman is a powerhouse! She is caring and sweet and kind. She is always on the look out for others, constantly serving everyone. I have been with her on a lot of this journey and I have been constantly amazed at how she has handled everything. 

And, just to add to her awesomeness, she also  runs a successful jewelry business called madebyjewls.  You can see that I wear a lot of her earrings on a regular basis. Her proceeds actually go to pay for her and her husband's adoption. Please, go check it out!

I am so glad that you get to know this lovely lady. And I pray every day with all my heart that the child they have been hoping for will soon be theirs. If you know of anyone who is considering the courageous gift of placing their child for adoption, please visit my Worth a Wish page for more info on how to contact Julianne! 

This was a difficult post to write since it’s so personal, but I feel like it’s something that needs to be talked about and I’m glad that I can share it with everyone.  Our infertility is not a secret, anyone who comes into contact with us or follows either of us on facebook, knows that we haven't been able to have a child on our own and are hoping to adopt. Well, this is my story.

Chris and I had been trying to have a baby for a little over a year before I started seeing my doctor for infertility. There are so many factors that go into getting pregnant and timing is everything. It's more complicated than I had expected because you have to use ovulation predictor kits, take your temperature, track your periods... the list goes on. I guess I had always expected it to be easy. I had friends that got pregnant all the time, some it felt like as soon as they thought of getting pregnant, they were pregnant. Why wasn't it working that way for me? Why did I have to go through all this stuff to even know if I was ovulating? I always had a period every month, but my cycle lengths would always range between 21 and 35 days long. So my cycles were regular, but not. A couple of doctors told me that we just needed to keep trying and it should work out.

In December of 2010, I started having a lot of abdominal pain on my left side (by my ovary). It felt like something inside me was twisting and wanted to burst. I had no idea what it was, so in January, I went to the doctor. He said that it was probably an ovarian cyst so they did an ultrasound and found one on my left ovary and that the pain would eventually go away once the cyst was gone.

That particular cyst went away, but my pain didn't. About three months later, I went back to the doctor and after another ultrasound, they found that I had another cyst and they sent me home to wait it out. 

Around the same time, I found out that both of my grandmothers had hysterectomies (where they surgically remove your ovaries and uterus, or only just your uterus, leaving your ovaries). My Mom's mother had everything removed after an abnormal pap-smear. When I asked her if that meant cancer or something else, she didn't remember (she was in her late 80's and had been through several strokes so her memory was not that great). My Dad's mother had everything removed after almost dying from a burst endometrioma that filled her abdomen with toxic fluid, etc. She passed away before I was born so I wasn't able to talk to her directly about it. My Dad's sister also had a hysterectomy because she had been suffering from endometriosis and didn't want to have to deal with the pain anymore. I gave this information to my doctor and he decided to do further testing.  He decided that I may have endometriosis because of my strong family history of it.

Endometriosis happens when the tissue that lines the uterus (the "blood" that comes out when you have your period) starts growing outside of the uterus on other organs in the body. These growths are not usually cancerous. The growths "bleed" when you have your period and because it has no way of leaving the body, it can cause inflammation, scar tissue and pain. As the endometrial tissue grows, it can cover or grow into the ovaries and block the fallopian tubes. Trapped blood in the ovaries can form cysts and if these cysts continue to grow and eventually burst, they will fill your body with toxic fluid and you will get very sick (this is why my Grandma had her hysterectomy). Endometriosis also can cause inflammation and cause the body to form scar tissue and adhesions, tissue that sometimes binds organs together. This scar tissue may cause pelvic pain and make it really hard to get pregnant.

In September of 2011, I had laproscopic surgery to see if I had endometriosis. My doctor found quite a bit of it on and around my left ovary, on my uterus and behind my uterus and they also found a cyst on one of my fallopian tubes. None of the endometrial growths or the cyst were cancerous, it was just regular old endometriosis. He was able to remove all of the growths and said that I should be able to get pregnant sometime in the next six months.

A couple of weeks later, I started taking clomid to help me get pregnant. Clomid basically forces you to ovulate, often releasing more than one egg, so your chances of getting pregnant (especially with twins) goes up significantly. I hated the clomid. It made my ovaries ache all the time, I had hot flashes, was super moody... it just wasn't good. I felt like I was going through menopause. It totally sucked, but I kept taking it for the whole six months because I wanted to do everything I could to have a baby.

After taking the clomid for the full six months, it had been over two years of trying to get pregnant and we started getting really depressed about it. Nothing was working. Why couldn't I get pregnant? We started considering IVF (invitro fertilization) and other infertility treatments. I had several friends offer to be a surrogate for me (they were so sweet!). Everything seemed so expensive. I didn't have health insurance anymore because of my infertility and all of the treatments we talked about didn't sound like the right thing. I started becoming really angry with life, with God, with everything. It was a pretty rough time for Chris and I. 

This picture was taken around Christmas and although I may look happy in the picture, I wasn’t. This was my “I’m going to fake being happy, even though I’m dying inside and I don’t want to talk about it yet” smile.

Around Christmas of 2011, Chris' sister announced that she was pregnant. And while I was incredibly happy for them and was super excited to have a new nephew, I was so depressed that I wasn't able to get pregnant and it happened so easily for them. I think all of the infertility stuff had been boiling inside me for so long and I couldn't hold it in anymore. It overflowed. I remember sending my Mom a text saying that I was done trying to get pregnant and frankly, I didn't want to deal with anything anymore. I was done. Obviously God didn't want me to be a mother, so this was it. I was going to grow old to be a childless cat lady. It was a bit over-dramatic, but it was how I was feeling. I felt hopeless.

Around New Years 2012, I got a
blessing for comfort. It was beautiful and it changed everything. Before going on, I need to explain that I had never really been an extremely religious person. I was raised in the LDS religion and had gone through times in my life where I practiced the faith and then there were times where I didn't. This was during one of those times where I wasn't really that into it. Before asking for that blessing, I had decided that it was time to ask God for some help and I couldn't be angry at him anymore. This blessing helped soften my heart. I was told many important things that I hold close to my heart. Most importantly was that the "holes in our hearts would soon be filled with what we desired most... but it wasn't going to come the way we had been expecting".

On our drive home, I had the distinct impression that we hadn't considered every option available to us... adoption. I have two cousins that are adopted and another cousin who placed her baby quite a while ago, so adoption is something that has always been close to my heart. I had just had never really thought of that as something we would do. I was never opposed to it, I just thought that I would eventually get pregnant on my own.

sorry for the corny picture, but this perfectly describes how I was feeling 

As soon as Chris and I started talking about adopting, it felt like the sun had come out, all of the weight of infertility was gone, angels were singing, my heart was full with intense happiness... this was it! I had never had an experience like this before. Ever. It completely changed my life. Adoption is what we needed to do and this is the way things were supposed to be. I'm supposed to be a mother and it will happen, just not the way I had always planned. The whole experience was really intense, but I'm so grateful for it. It completely changed my life. How can there not be a God? Why wouldn't he love me? I hadn't really been alone this whole time, he was just preparing me for what needed to come next. This is the way things are supposed to be. For the first time in my life, I knew that there is a God and that he loves me and wants me to be happy. I always have to remind myself that even though I’ve had all these amazing dreams and plans for my life, God sometimes has something else in mind for me. And honestly, the “something else” often ends up being more amazing than anything I could have imagined.

I'm so grateful for my infertility. That's weird to say, but it's true. This is the way things are and I can't change it. I still get infertility stings every once in a while, but in general, I'm pretty okay with it.   Eventually, I will get a hysterectomy to get rid of the pain from my endometriosis. But this is the way it is and I can handle it. I can still be happy even though life gave me “one wish short of paradise”.  My infertility doesn't define me, it just helped shape me in to who I am today. I'm Julianne and I'm a strong and beautiful woman.

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