I have wrestled with writing this for a while now as it is a very sore spot but I know that God can work through this whether to help me heal or to help others know they are not as alone as we often feel in this situation.
My story starts not after I got married to my amazing hubby but a few years before. I was about 20 when I found out that I had a tumour on my pituitary gland (under the brain in the centre of the skull). This tumour, thankfully not cancerous, created havoc with my hormones and gave my body the impression I was pregnant without actually being pregnant but with many symptoms including all day sickness (not just mornings), weight gain, lack of periods and even milk production when the tumour got quite large. I ended up having brain surgery to remove the tumour and was under the impression that all was good and I no longer had to worry about tests and tumours.
My now husband and I then got engaged and later married and at this time had discussed that we would both love to have children but we felt (due to our younger age but also due to seeing other marriages fail from not building a strong foundation to the marriage) that we would wait 5 years before trying for kids so we could build a good solid marriage with God at the centre so we would have a good foundation to bring our kids up on.
Six months into our marriage I started feeling sick again with all the same symptoms and my first thought went to the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy which was scary but we knew we’d be ok and even though I was on the pill if I was pregnant then it was part of God’s plan for us. After going for all the necessary tests and more we found out that unfortunately my tumour had grown back again. I then went through medication that did nothing except make me feel worse, a second brain op and radiotherapy to try get rid of the tumour of which none of these gave a permanent solution. I changed Neurosurgeons for the 3rd time and was put onto a new medication which would shrink the tumour and keep it under control but I would have to stay on it the rest of my life to keep the tumour under control as it would not kill or get rid of the tumour but as long as I stayed on the meds I would have no problem falling pregnant and should also have no complications in a pregnancy according to the dr’s.
We’d been married for about one and a half to two years at this stage but decided that with everything that had happened we would rather start our family sooner. Month after month went by and all we had was disappointment after disappointment. Months turned into a year and still nothing. We eventually consulted with a fertility specialist and blood tests showed that my hormones were not all at the levels they should be at. we tried medications to get me to ovulate and to try balance my hormones but each time we’d try something it would seem to mess the hormones up even more. After a few more tests the fertility specialist told us that the only way we would be able to have a child of our own was to go the IVF route at a cost of something like R45 000 excluding medication. We agreed that there was no way we could afford that or go into debt by taking out a loan and then bring a child into the world that we couldn’t afford due to the debt.
For much of this time we didn’t say much to many of our friends or family as each time we would say anything we would be told to “just relax” or told about so and so who went on holiday and fell pregnant. What none of them understood was stress had nothing to do with it. We tried to “just forget about it” and “relax” but still nothing happened, we even agreed that we would put it aside and said maybe God is telling us to wait till we were married for 5 years as we had originally decided. We never did anything to prevent pregnancy and decided that if I fell pregnant then I did but if I didn’t then in time we would maybe go for another opinion.
Our 5th wedding anniversary came and went and still there was no pregnancy. Thankfully the medication was still working on the tumour and I was living a normal life with no restrictions or problems. We discussed things again and went to see another fertility specialist as well as an endocrinologist to see if we could sort out the hormones and try fall pregnant without going the costly IVF route. All we got was more and more bad news, my hormones were at worse levels than before and now medication is not even an option. IVF was still the only option given by the fertility specialist and even then he said he doesn’t see that we would have a very good chance, according to him we have a less than 1% chance of falling pregnant and even then it will be a very high risk pregnancy. So now we have agreed since we have a slim chance of falling pregnant even with IVF we are not going to keep going to dr’s and getting bad news but rather now are trying to build our marriage even stronger than it is. We shared with my hubby’s family what the dr’s have told us and even though it was difficult I’m glad we did as my Father in law reminded us that even though we have a longing to have kids of our own we didn’t get married to have kids, we got married because we love each other and that will never change as God has walked us through so much more than just these issues I’ve mentioned. We do in all this praise the Lord for His healing hand over my life as about 18 months ago I went for my annual MRI to make sure the medication was still working and that there were no changes to my tumour when instead we got a surprise and were told that the tumour the dr’s said I would have to live with for the rest of my life had now disappeared, unfortunately due to the affects the tumour had on my body and my hormones over a number of years this has not changed the chances of pregnancy and my hormones are still very low and bordering on menopausal at the age of 30.
Over the years I’ve battled with wishing I could fall pregnant just so I knew it was possible for my body but having seen friends go through miscarriages at different stages of their pregnancies I prayed that I would never have to deal with that.
People don’t understand what you are going through at times like this and so often try the “just relax” approach or the “I have a friend or a friend who was struggling and as soon as they adopted they fell pregnant” approach. It also becomes difficult to discuss what’s going on with people who have not experienced infertility as they think they should protect you by not involving you in their children’s lives or exclude you from functions because there will be kids there. For me I know I often battle with wanting to be able to make my own decision about whether I am strong enough to attend or not but this is not always possible as people try “protect” you by not involving you which often hurts more than dealing with infertility hurts.
We’ve just recently celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and I don’t know what God’s plan is for our lives and our marriage but we know that through Him we are made strong to deal with the situations that come our way. Some days are definitely easier than others and yes I get angry when I hear about another teenage or unmarried pregnancy. I have even often shouted at God and told Him it’s not fair that we did things that we’d been taught was the right way and yet other people who do things the wrong way get blessed with a child. I’ve shed many tears for the children we may never have but I have also been able to say that I have been blessed with friends who don’t exclude us from their childrens lives and even though they are not our own children we still get to experience the joy of a child being happy to see their “other mommy”. We will continue to take things one day at a time and continue to try leave the situation in God’s hands as only He can really say when and if a life will be created.