The Story of Us
This is a compilation of all my posts on The Story of Us…hope you enjoy.
The Story of Us…The Beginning
This is the first installment of “The Story of Us”. I wanted to share our journey through infertility and miscarriage so I have been going back and telling our journey through four miscarriages, too many doctors appointments, and too much medicine!
So we are expecting a baby girl…now…but that’s not where all of this started. Liz and I have been on a long road dealing with infertility and this has just been one of the stops. So where did it all start…
Boy meets girl, yes…boy falls in love with girl, yes…boy and girl gets married, yes…boy and girl decides to start a family, yes…they all lived happily ever after…errr…not so much.
Yes, it is true that we met, fell in love, and got married. Liz and I met in college at Mississippi College. That was way back in 1998 – yeah, seems forever ago, huh!? It was interesting in the sense that Liz and I had not been together long and we started talking about marriage. We were married on October 7, 2000. We knew from the beginning we always wanted children, but both knew that we wanted to wait so we could have the “just us” time. We would talk about the idea of kids from time to time, but one of us would be ready and the other wouldn’t. We went back and forth like this for a few years actually. Never giving any thought to if we’d have any problems actually trying to have children. We were both in relatively good health – no major health problems, maybe just a few extra pounds to lose.
The details now are honestly a little fuzzy. I am not sure if we had decided to start trying, but something had prompted Liz to go to the doctor for a check up. We had only been married a few years at this point. I remember asking Liz if she wanted me to go with her to the doctor or not, and she said it wasn’t necessary. For anyone that knows us personally, you know we rarely do anything separate from one another. I was working at a local prison at the time and remembered getting a call from Liz in the middle of the afternoon. I could tell something was wrong. Liz tells me that the doctor informed her that she thought it would be very difficult for her to get pregnant if at all. This was very difficult to hear on several levels. I was upset for Liz because I knew she wanted kids; I did too for that matter. I was mad at myself because I wasn’t at the doctor with her when she got this news. To top it all off, Liz even received similar news from another doctor that she went to for a second opinion – only this one said she would NOT be able to get pregnant. Doctors had told her that she was dealing with PCOS – something we had never heard of before. We began to do a little research about it and the symptoms, descriptions did seem to fit her but we never thought it would be impossible to have children from what we were reading. One of the two doctors also found that Liz had a septum in her uterus, that actually divided it almost completely in half. One of these doctors told her that she could have surgery to remove it, but she would have to go through three miscarriages before she would operate. This made no sense to us, but we didn’t really act on any of the information the doctors had given us at that point and actually a couple of years passed, along with a couple of moves and job changes.
So, Liz decided to get yet a third opinion. This would be one doctor’s appointment that I would not miss. I was not going to be sitting at work when Liz got more bad news possibly. We would take all of this information to the new doctor and try to begin sorting it all out and trying to figure out what it all meant. This doctor would lead us through several more tests and procedures….and our journey down this road called “infertility” was just beginning.
Part 2 coming soon…
The Story of Us…Just Another Step
Continuing with our story here, I realize how much I wish I’d done this all along the way with this. I’ve read other blogs of similar people, dealing with similar problems – emotions and feelings are still raw. It’s funny – in a way I feel guilty. See, before it’s almost like you are part of this club – and believe me it’s not a club you want to be part of. Now, Liz and I are on the other side of the fence – we’re pregnant, in the third trimester, and everything appears to be going great! I read these lady’s posts and really feel guilty. I do understand what they are going through, not completely, because I’m a guy – and, well, a guy’s perspective is totally different. I hope if any of them are reading this, or if any of you reading this are dealing with infertility, that hopefully this will provide some ray of hope to your situation – and that I’m not the outcast now because my wife and I are expecting.
Before going to this third doctor, that I mentioned in my previous post, Liz and I had tried to have a baby “on our own”. Due to the PCOS, Liz’s cycles were crazy, which made things very difficult to – well, let’s just say it made things difficult. This third doctor that we would go to though was awesome! She was a caring, Christian doctor and definitely a breath of fresh air! It was with this doctor that we would start fertility drugs.
FERTILITY DRUGS?! What!?
Wait – people that take fertility drugs end up with 8 kids at once! I didn’t want that! I only wanted one, maybe two at a time. Besides I didn’t know how we’d afford one, much less multiples! The doctor reassured is that it was considered a mild drug and the chance of multiples was very low – she didn’t know our luck – if it can happen, it will happen with us!
Our first round on clomid would have been October/November of 2007. Looking back now, Liz and I had discussed most of the usual stuff – did we want to take medicine, what about the septum in her uterus, but we really didn’t discuss WHAT IF it actually works? We, well she, took the medicine on the days she was supposed to and all – this was a little foreign to us too, to me anyway. You get into this mode of counting days, and taking temperatures and on and on – let’s just say I would learn more about things dealing with “trying to conceive (TTC)” than I would EVER want to know.
We were beginning to realize this wasn’t normal – we weren’t normal. Most people decide to have children and they HAVE children. This was only the first of many things to come that would make us realize we weren’t normal. Liz was dealing with more emotions with this than I was. Oh, not to mention side effects from the medicine. I’m sure that didn’t help either. But we were taking it one day at a time – and waiting until it was time to take a test. Liz had always told me that she had thought of some unique way to tell me she was pregnant, but when you are on medicine, and counting days – it sort of ruins those surprise moments like you see on TV.
One of our first surprises would come one Saturday morning…
The Story of Us…Surprise and Heartache
The day had finally come – it was time to take a test. As I had said before, it wasn’t exactly how I thought we’d be finding out. I sort of expected the usual scene you see on TV where I’d come home from work and Liz would surprise me somehow with the news. She’d either give me a little baby diaper or a bib – something like that. Well, as mentioned before when you’re taking fertility meds and counting down days, not much is a surprise.
I was standing outside the bathroom door – waiting. How long is 3 minutes anyway? Liz finally opens the door and tells me IT’S POSITIVE!
Wait, what? Positive! Really? We’re going to be parents..we’re having a baby, uh, what, what do we need, what do we do, umm…So many thoughts, so little brain power to actually process them!
Liz and I were actually getting ready that morning to go to a funeral in New Orleans. So what do we do? We head to the store to get another pregnancy test just to make sure the first one was right! The second one was just as positive as the first! Also in typical “Brian and Liz” fashion – we head to the book store for pregnancy and baby books. We bought What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Figured there wasn’t a better one to get, right? We had a 3 hour car ride ahead of us and lots of time to think. It had finally started sinking in – I was going to be a dad…We were going to be parents. Our lives were about to totally change.
Over the next week or so, we would tell our parents, several of our closest friends, and then pretty much everyone. We couldn’t keep it a secret anymore. We were excited and we wanted everyone else to be too!
Then something went wrong.
Liz noticed that she was bleeding. This couldn’t be normal could it? By this time we had read a LOT….and we knew this more than likely was not normal. The doctor had Liz come in for some blood work – to see where her hcg level was. This first test basically told us nothing. She would have to repeat it in two days to see if the number was going up or not. In a normal pregnancy, that number doubles about every 48 hours. Those were two of the longest 2 days of our lives. We thought the two weeks waiting to take the pregnancy test were bad – that was nothing.
We finally got a call from our doctor – she wanted us to come in to the office. I felt like I was walking around in a fog – a constant knot in my stomach and lump in my throat. I could only imagine what Liz was feeling.
We got the news that I think Liz and I were both expecting. The numbers were going down – meaning that Liz was having a miscarriage.
That was one word we never thought of when we got that positive test two weeks ago. The doctor explained our options at this point – none of which sounded good at all. We left the office that day just feeling empty. All the dreams for a baby were dashed in just a few short words. The doctor explained that these things just happen sometimes. There was nothing we could have done to have prevented it. That didn’t seem to help.
I would try and figure out how to handle my emotions and take care of my wife that had just lost our baby. We thought that was such a empty expression – lost – we knew where it was. It wasn’t like misplacing a set of keys or phone.
Over the next few weeks and months, we’d try and pick up the pieces, sort all of this out, and try and make the decision to try again…
The Story of Us…Starting Over
It was December of 2007 – people were getting ready for Christmas. Presents were being purchased; decorations were being hung.
This was not the case in the Worthey house.
The last thing Liz and I were thinking about was Christmas parties, gifts or any holly-jollies. We were still sorting out and picking up the pieces after having our first miscarriage. Essentially, we were told that these things happen sometimes. Of course, that was of little comfort. We were now in a place that we never thought we would be in.
We were told it would take a little time before we could try again. I was not sure what to expect from Liz – would she want to try again, would she be worried of what might happen if we did? Well, pretty much all of the above was true – she did want to try again, but yes, she was worried of the “what if’s”. Both of us were.
So it was time for the medicine again, counting days, and hoping and praying. This was around February, 2008. Many conversations were had of what if it works and what if it goes wrong. For some reason I was confident everything would work and that everything would be fine. It was hard for Liz to be so hopeful – she was scared and rightfully so.
Two weeks doesn’t seem like a long time – until you are counting every day and waiting to take a test. But the day finally came, and it was positive again! Excitement would be the normal reaction here – but it was not. Worry was overwhelming emotion. We again told friends and family and asked for their prayers during this time. The first miscarriage came at about the 6 week mark – so we were just holding our breath as each day went by.
We made it again to the 6 week mark and Liz called for me. Bleeding – again. Could this really be happening again? We made a frantic phone call to our doctor who told us to come in to the office. We went in for an ultrasound to see if they could see anything.
Talk about holding your breath! As the tech and our doctor looked at that little black and white screen, we heard those words again that we still could not believe. There was nothing there – called a blighted ovum. A huh? I had never heard of such!
Liz and I had now experienced two miscarriages. Instead of holding one child, we had now lost two. We didn’t understand. We had more questions that we had answers! Why did this keep happening? What would the next step be? How far would we go….how far could we go?
The next few days would not bring any answers to those questions. Liz would go through extreme physical pain and indescribable emotional pain as a result of this miscarriage. We knew something could possibly be wrong – where would we begin to find answers?
Over the next months we would begin to start putting some of the pieces of the puzzle together…
The Story of Us…Double Trouble
Again, Liz and I had suffered a miscarriage – left with more questions than answers. We had talked with our doctor about the reasons why this happened again. She revisited the issue of the uterine septum. This was something that we knew was there and she had discussed with us previously. It essentially divided Liz’s uterus into two sides – which put her at a higher risk for pre-term labor, low birth weight, and miscarriage. The only remedy was surgery. We were referred to a reproductive endocrinologist who did surgeries to remove these septums.
Now things were just getting a lot more interesting. First, I never thought we would be taking fertility drugs to get pregnant and now we are looking at surgery as a way to hopefully sustain a pregnancy. It was a bit much to take in.
Our initial visits with the RE were at least a little reassuring. Liz had to endure some rather painful procedures to determine exactly what was going on and what course of action would be best.
Liz had surgery to remove this division in her uterus around April/May of 2008. The recovery from this was not fun. I hated seeing her in pain, but all Liz kept saying was if this would help her to be able to have a baby it would all be worth it. It would take some time before she was completely healed and we could try again though.
The RE started taking a little more aggressive approaches to us getting pregnant. We attempted 2 IUI’s, as well as increasing the dose of Clomid. By this time, it was a new year – and we wondered if this would be OUR year. Around March of 2009, we got another positive pregnancy test!
Again, not much excitement – just worry. The doctors gave Liz more medicine to take to help sustain the pregnancy, citing that in much research there was not overwhelming evidence that it does in fact help – but hey, we wanted all the help would could get!
Things were progressing well with this pregnancy. We went into the doc’s for an appointment at around the 6 week mark and were able to actually see and hear a heartbeat! It was so awesome! This was a first for us, as we never made it to this point in the other pregnancies.
We go back in another week, at around the 7 week mark – farther than we’d ever made it – and the sonographer could not find the heartbeat right away. Seemed like an eternity! I know I was holding my breath until we finally heard it! Then we got the surprise of our lives!
She was taking an extra long time it seemed, and the words “think I see something else” was mentioned. She sends for the doctor to come in. I’m reading every expression on their faces, trying to figure out what exactly it is. Is something wrong? Is it twins? What is it!?
We left that day without any real answers – they really couldn’t determine and said they would do another sonogram in a week. We left thinking that it possibly was twins!
That next morning, Liz started having complications again. She called the RE’s office and they were very laxidasical about it – basically telling her that if it got worse to go to the ER, etc. Well, that didn’t set well with Liz – she wanted to know that her baby(ies) were okay, so she calls her regular doctor who tells her to come in for an ultrasound.
She was able to find the baby’s heartbeat and then….another heartbeat!
Baby A’s heartbeat was great – Baby B’s heartbeat – well, not so great. It was only 69 beats per minute. By this time, they want to see it around 100, at least! We were reassured that she had seen cases like this and baby B could bounce back. But there was something else…
These twins were possibly sharing the same sac, which could lead to major complications during the pregnancy. She just wasn’t sure because of how the babies were positioned what type they were.
Talk about the worry meter going through the rough – how could we afford twins? Would Baby B be okay? Would both of them be okay? TWO of EVERYTHING! While many friends and family were freaking out a little at the possibility of twins – Liz and I loved it and approached it with our usual attitude: “We’ll figure it out, we always do”.
Little did we know, we would have much more to “figure out”…
The Story of Us…MoMo Twins and Heartache Yet Again
It was around March of 2009, Liz and I had just found out that we were pregnant with twins. Then quickly found out that “Baby B” was not doing well – this baby’s heartbeat was only around 69 beats per minute. Doctors want to see it at least over 100. This was only part of our worries however – yes, we were concerned about how we’d afford double diapers, formula and double everything, but that was not the main concern. We had learned that our twins were what were called “momo twins”. Basically, they could touch each other while they were in my wife’s belly! This isn’t how it always happens. Being this way brings it’s own complications. The twins cords could get wrapped around each other’s necks more easily, cord compression was possible, as well as twin-twin transfusion syndrome – as always I had read too much.
We focused on getting baby B’s heart rate up. Of course, there was nothing we could physically do to improve this – but we prayed. We dreamed of what it would be like to have twins. We loved the idea while everyone around us thought we were absolutely crazy. I’ll admit, I was panicking a bit because of the financial side of it, but we would make it work. Liz and I have always been this way – any difficult situation we know we’ll make it through. We know God will first see us through, but we know He will give us the wisdom, as well, to figure it out. We believed he would do the same in this situation.
However, this pregnancy would end just as the previous two had. Liz began having complications and called her doctor. They told her to come in – again, they could not find either heartbeat. I think at this point we were really beginning to think this just isn’t going to happen for us. We could not believe this was happening again. We thought we had found the answers with removing the septum – that this was the problem for Liz, but apparently not! Unfortunately, Liz now faced a difficult decision. In the next few days, Liz would have a D&C to remove the babies from her body. This was absolutely one of the hardest days for us – driving to the doctor’s office, knowing what we were going in for.
To this day, we still talk about the twins – what they would have been like, what it would have been like to have twins. Losing any pregnancy was bad enough, but for some reason that left a deeper mark.
Soon, Liz and I would be making a big move – could things turn around then?
The Story of Us…Change of Venue
The loss of the twins hit us probably harder than any others, I think. I think at that point I was honestly done. I was perfectly fine with not trying again – it was not that I didn’t want children of my own – I just did not want to see my wife experience any more pain, both physically and emotionally.
In the middle of all of this, there were some major changes coming for Liz and I outside of the baby and infertility realm. Around May of 2009, I had made the decision to surrender my life to ministry. In the next few months, I would go on a few interviews for church positions and in June of 2009, I would be hired as the youth minister of Louisville Baptist church in Louisville, AL. Louisville was six hours from our home in Florence, MS so this was a huge move for us. So we packed up all of our stuff to start another chapter of our lives in LA – “lower Alabama”.
We arrived in Louisville in July and settled in as quickly as we could and hit the ground running at the church. Our first week there was VBS and this gave us a good opportunity to get to know many of the kids and adults! As we got settled in, our thoughts turned back to having a baby. I was a bit overwhelmed by trying to get Liz established with another doctor that knew none of her history – and there was plenty! We made the decision that we were going to try again and see what happened.
Around September of 2009, Liz found out she was pregnant again and we quickly went to the doctor. We weren’t very happy with the doctor or the office. It was a huge practice and we just didn’t have that personal touch that we had remembered with Liz’s previous doctor. Liz was being treated as a “normal pregnancy” and there has never been anything normal about her pregnancies, but we were just going to go with the flow and see what happened.
Unfortunately, Liz’s fourth pregnancy was much like the rest. Around that 6-7 week mark, it all happened again. It ended in miscarriage. I remember going to the doctor and her telling us – “I don’t know what else to do/say”. I will never forget those words. She was the doctor – she was supposed to know, she was supposed to have the answers, she was supposed to tell us what to do next! Later, much later, I would realize what she meant, but at the time her words infuriated me.
We now faced the decision on what to do next – Liz had experienced every possible scenario after a miscarriage and decided to just wait and let her body work and run its course. This miscarriage was extremely difficult – for reasons, well, reasons just too difficult to share in public.
Again, we’d faced heartache – 4 miscarriages, 5 babies lost. As always, we would pic up the piece together and decide where to go and what to do next. The doctor that told us she didn’t know what else to do – did tell us one thing. She gave us a referral to a doctor at the ART Fertility Program – a practice that specialized in infertility and pregnancy loss. It was like we were upping the ante with this next step.
We’d soon meet with the new doctors and we’d get a bit of a surprise.
The Story of Us…Back to Square One and Success
After the fourth miscarriage and sometime early in 2010, Liz and I began meeting with the doctors of the ART Fertility program. We read about their success rates and how many people they’d worked with and on and on. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I had some reservations about it. Again, Liz had more blood drawn for tests than I knew she had and was put through test after test. We discussed our entire history and journey with the doctors and nurses and they began to develop a course of action. Prior to attempting another cycle of clomid, the doctor sent Liz and I for one more round of tests.
We had to travel to Birmingham for this one and I wasn’t allowed to go back with her – I hated it. I had been with her for everything else and pretty much every other procedure or test she’d ever had done. I waited in this huge waiting room for a what seemed like half the day, and I finally saw Liz walking back in – I could tell by the look on her face something was wrong.
The septum in her uterus had grown back.
We were left with questions – how could this happen, what do we do now? We talked with doctor about the situation and I do believe his words were that it was definitely unusual. In his opinion, it seemed rare for a septum to grow back and he’d never seen it happen. Our option now was basically for Liz to have surgery again to remove this division. My question was if Liz wanted to do this again – to go through surgery again and worry that it might grow back before she could get pregnant and potentially lose yet another baby.
In the meantime, test results were coming back and more of the puzzle pieces were coming together. It was discovered that Liz had two factors that affected how her blood clotted. One was that her blood showed lupus anticoagulant antibodies and she also was positive for what is called MTHFR gene mutation. The lupus antibodies does not mean that she has lupus or will ever develop it, but that it affected how her blood clots. The MTHFR gene mutation affects how her body absorbs folic acid. The question still remained whether she wanted to go through will all of this – the medication list was getting longer and she faced another surgery.
I honestly was at a point that I didn’t want her to go through all of this, but she kept saying, “one more time, I want to try one more time”. Liz had surgery to remove the septum, again, and recovered quickly from it. We continued with doctor’s visits and got the list of medications she would have to be on before and during a pregnancy. It looked like the shipping list for a small pharmacy! I had to learn how to give Liz 2 shots a day of heparin, she’d need extra folic acid, a baby aspirin, metformin, and progesterone – in addition to the clomid.
Liz and I were on our first trip with our youth group in June 2010 and were counting the days yet again. She should be able to take a pregnancy test that week to find out if it was positive or not. I never will forget that day – we took some of the youth with us to Wal-Mart to pick up some snacks, and well, for Liz to buy a pregnancy test. We were trying everything we could to do secretive about it. What does Liz do? She goes in the bathroom at the store to take the test! I was standing outside Subway, waiting on her to come out. Finally ,I see her walking towards me.
It’s positive?! Now what – call the doctor, what about your shots, start taking your medicine – all of these things are running through my head – not to mention, will it work this time?!? Over the next days and weeks, Liz and I would fall into a routine of giving shots, taking medications, and talking about the possibility of it working this time. We’d travel to the doctor in Montgomery weekly for blood work and ultrasounds.
The weeks crawled by. We reached the 8 week milestone – as far as we’d ever been. We reached 12 weeks – first trimester over. We kept counting and the days kept on moving by. Before long, it was time. February 9th, 2011 at 12:52 p.m. we welcomed Madilynne Elizabeth into this world! Almost 10 years of waiting, worry, heartbreak, and doctor’s visits had finally paid off.
Liz and I truly believed it was in God’s perfect timing. God has used all that we have been through to connect and hopefully reach so many other people – people that had never even shared about their miscarriage with other people, people that needed someone to talk to. It has been so awesome the journey Liz and I have been on. It has strengthened us individually and as a couple! So, this brings “Our Story” up to where this blog starts, I guess you could say! Thanks for reading!
Oh, we’ll be welcoming our second daughter into the world on September 13, 2012! Guess I’ve got some catching up to do here!