The story I was always afraid of, the story I never wanted for us, but yet here we are. Today, on the blog, I am sharing a new chapter in my life as the husband, and I, navigate the journey of hopefully becoming parents someday.
Fertility is such a funny thing. You do the most to avoid a pregnancy when you are not prepared for one, and then you’re finally ready, but destiny has other plans. The more I learn about fertility, the more it makes sense yet my irrational (and selfish) mind doesn’t want to make sense of it sometimes.
It’s a lonely journey.
And yes – I have my husband, and he’s a wonderful husband, but the stress of being the woman takes a different toll on the mind, body, and soul. The only thing that keeps me going, and helps me end my days on a positive note is, my faith.
My faith is unshakable. I trust that God’s plan is greater than ours will ever be. Because I place all my trust in His hands, I am committed to trusting His timing. I know that once I hold our beautiful baby in my arms for the very first time, it will all make perfect sense.
I imagine that day every single day.
The Original Plan
Jose and I got married in July 2017. Before we got married, we talked about our future babies all the time. We envisioned our lives with our “little nuggets” from the very beginning.
Like some couples do, we chose to wait to have children. We thoroughly wanted to enjoy our honeymoon stage for a while – at least three years to be exact.
We had a few goals to accomplish before welcoming tiny little humans to take care of. I mean, after all, we felt it was necessary to figure out our new lives as newlyweds before adding more newness to the mix.
Some of those goals included paying off credit card debt, moving to the city, traveling to new places, saving money, and of course, purchasing a home. Needless to say, by 2020, we were ready to welcome those babies! After all, for the first time, we were forced to stay home. We thought to ourselves, “What a perfect time to make a baby!”
And so, the journey of trying to become parents begins.
We would try one month without getting pregnant and would change our minds. Then, we would try again a couple of months later, but then again, no luck. We took this as a sign that we needed to wait a little longer. But then we would feel like trying again, and we would, but nothing. We brushed it off thinking it was simply not our time.
I knew I was ovulating because I was very much in tune with my body, so I didn’t think much about it. After all, I wanted this to be a fun and exciting experience for the two of us. I didn’t want to think negatively about the idea of not being able to conceive naturally.
That year, 2020, was a blur. It went by SO fast that I often forget to include it as part of our fertility journey.
I dismissed our attempts of trying to become parents that year because I wholeheartedly wanted to believe that it wasn’t our time. Also, there was another part of me that refused to acknowledge that infertility could be a part of the equation.
I remained hopeful. That is until I met with my obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) doctor.
The Doctor Visit
In March 2022, I had an OBGYN appointment with a new doctor I found via Google. This appointment was long overdue and needed to see someone because it was time to check-in with a doc to make sure everything was looking good with my health and wellness.
Out of curiosity, I started to ask questions around fertility. I indirectly asked her, “When should we start to worry?”
After she determined that we had been married for almost five years, with no birth control in the mix, she said, “We should start testing now.”
And so we did.
We started with Jose because it is naturally easier to test the male first. The female reproductive system is much more complex. And the good news was that he was good to go. His results came back normal – and boy, oh boy, was he proud of his exceptional results.
And I don’t blame him for that. In fact, I was happy to hear he wasn’t the issue.
But everything else pointed at me.
After a full blood panel to test various hormone levels, it was determined that my anti-müllerian (AMH) levels were lower than the average female for someone my age. She considered this to be a case of diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). DOR is a term used to describe a condition in which a woman’s ovaries have fewer eggs than expected for her age.
I was utterly devastated. The journey of becoming parents seemed so far out of reach.
Our First Appointment with a Fertility Specialist
These revelations occurred between April and May 2022. I went through several blood draws to determine hormone levels during different times of my menstrual cycle. Like I said, the female reproductive system is very complex and requires a lot of testing. In case you are not aware, hormone levels vary dependent upon the day of your cycle. And these tests are necessary to try to pinpoint what is happening inside the woman’s body.
My OBGYN doctor suggested to meet with a fertility specialist, so she referred me to a couple in the Houston area. After picking a fertility specialist, we made our first appointment.
The fertility specialist restored my confidence in our journey to becoming parents someday.
The first appointment was to bombard him with questions. He educated us about our options even though I felt confident about moving forward with in vitro fertilization (IVF).
I felt somewhat well-versed with infertility, and IVF, because someone close to me went through it. This person was very open about her journey, which ultimately helped me become comfortable with the idea of possibly going through the same thing.
Just to be clear – the doctor presented other options first. However, I was set on the idea of going through with IVF because it seemed like the most promising option for us. IVF is also considered to be the most effective option when it comes to conceiving a baby.
On top of that, I knew that if we were having problems conceiving our first baby then we would most likely struggle to conceive the second, and the third. And as a woman, our chances of having a baby decreases with age. Time is working against us.
During that first appointment, he went over the IVF process in detail. After going over the process with us, we scheduled more blood tests + an antral follicle count, which is a test to evaluate the woman’s ovarian reserve (aka eggs for the future). This procedure is also used to assess the likelihood of a successful conception by IVF.
After all the tests were completed, he reassured us that he felt confident that I would get pregnant through IVF.
Everything felt promising.
The In vitro fertilization (IVF) Chapter
In July 2022, I knew it was almost time to embark on a new journey of trying to become parents. I decided that we would begin the stimulation process in August 2022.
For those that are not familiar with IVF – it is a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) that involves the fertilization of an egg outside of the body in a laboratory setting. IVF is used to help couples who are struggling with infertility, or who have a higher risk of passing on genetic disorders to their offspring.
The IVF process typically involves several steps. First, a woman’s ovaries are stimulated with medications to produce multiple eggs. These eggs are then retrieved using a minor surgical procedure and combined with sperm in a laboratory dish. The fertilized eggs are allowed to develop into embryos for several days. Afterwards, one of those embryos may be transferred back into the woman’s uterus to implant, and potentially result in a pregnancy. (I’ll create a follow-up blog post with more information about IVF.)
It can be a gnarly process. And although it is proven to be an effective process, it may not work for everyone. You really never know.
Up until July 2022, no one knew what we were going through.
I wasn’t open about this topic with my parents, or siblings, because I didn’t want them to worry about us. Also, when it comes to challenging chapters in my life, I keep those things to myself until I work through the emotions, and feel open to share.
There was also another part of me that felt this was something Jose and I needed to figure out together without the input, or influence, from the outside world.
And then something changed.
In July, I finally told one person. It was the person I mentioned earlier that gave me the confidence that I could go through with IVF. Prior to telling her, she had NO idea I was also experiencing infertility problems.
She was very supportive and poured so much love and empathy. I am forever grateful for her. She mentioned a few resources, supplements, and other things that I could be doing to increase my chances of having a successful IVF process.
I was overwhelmed with information, but in a good way. In fact, I decided not to move forward with IVF in August because I wanted to ensure I did everything I could to increase my egg quality and quantity.
And for the next six months, I made a few lifestyle changes.
We decided that March 2023 would be the month that we would visit our IVF fertility specialist again. Prior to that month, I started to wonder if there was a different approach.
The truth is – I was dreading the required medications for a successful IVF procedure.
You can say that I have a holistic approach and way of life. I mean, after all, I was not even on birth control the last 5+ years of my life. So the thought of injecting, or ingesting, medicine to help our chances of becoming parents, really scared me.
I thought to myself, “Is there another way?”
The [New] Journey to Becoming Parents
In February 2023, just a few weeks before our appointment with our IVF fertility specialist, I reached out to one of my really good girlfriends. She and I bonded a few years ago because we discovered we were both using natural family planning methods to prevent pregnancy.
To me, it was rare to discover other couples utilizing natural forms of birth control to achieve (or avoid) pregnancy. To learn more about natural birth control methods, check out this blog post that I wrote.
Natural family planning (or NFP) is a form of birth control that involves tracking a woman’s menstrual cycle to identify the most fertile days when sexual intercourse is more likely to result in pregnancy. NFP is based on the understanding of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and involves observing and recording changes in cervical mucus, body temperature, and other fertility signs to determine the time of ovulation.
Based on the desired outcome, whether it is pregnancy, or not, you know when to try, or when to be careful. This is how Jose and I avoided getting pregnant during the first three years of our marriage. Or at least that is what I thought.
The truth is – we will never know.
Whenever I reached out to my friend, she encouraged me to reach out to her health educator, Pam. The natural family planning method she was using was The Creighton Method, which is typically taught by certified instructors, also referred to as health educators.
The reason my friend suggested to get in touch with Pam was because she was aware of a term called NaProTechnology (or NaPro). Using this method, my friend knew that it somehow helped couples get pregnant. She wasn’t fully aware of NaPro but she knew that Pam helped couples struggling to conceive.
Nonetheless, I listened to her advice and connected with Pam for our first discovery appointment.
During our first appointment, Pam explained The Creighton Method in greater detail. Overall, the information sounded familiar because I used similar approaches to track my fertility. However, with The Creighton Method, there is more depth when it comes to tracking and charting menstrual cycles.
How is The Creighton Method different?
The Creighton Method is different from other natural family planning methods because it uses a standardized system of charting and observation. This information can be used by couples trying to conceive or avoid pregnancy. It also includes the use of biomarkers to identify potential gynecologic issues, such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis, or infertility, and can be used to track a woman’s health over time.
Also, like I mentioned above, the Creighton Method is typically taught by certified instructors (or health educators). That said, this method requires a new level of commitment and effort to track fertility signs accurately.
Why did The Creighton Method stand out to us?
The groundbreaking moment for us was that utilizing the data collected from my personal chart, we could leverage NaProTechnology (NaPro) to identify and treat underlying causes of infertility. This medical approach focuses on the root cause of reproductive issues in order to address the real problem, instead of just treating symptoms.
I was intrigued by this new information and it shed a new light on our journey of trying to become parents. Up until that appointment, no one talked to me or Jose about NaPro.
I felt a new sense of hope for us.
We decided to work with Pam to teach us about the Creighton Method so we can better understand my menstrual cycles. She also referred us to a doctor that specializes in NaPro, and using my Creighton Method charts, we are going to get to the bottom of this.
The Latest Update
As I am writing this, it is March 2023, which means I have completed one full menstrual cycle using The Creighton Model, with Pam’s guidance. She has been an incredible resource to have, and I am forever thankful for her knowledge and expertise. The good news is – I definitely show signs of fertility. The bad news is – we are still in the early phases of figuring out what is happening internally because I have yet to get pregnant.
She has her suspicions – as do I, but it is only a matter of time before we dive deeper into the data.
I have my first appointment with my NaPro doctor in May. I can hardly wait to meet her to determine next steps.
This new approach is very exciting to me because it aligns with my holistic way of life. Not to mention, it is an individualized approach, which means that whatever this new doctor suggests to do as the next step, it is going to be based on MY biomarkers.
I have all the faith in the world that we are one step closer in our journey to becoming parents.
After opening up about our struggles to conceive on Instagram earlier this year, I was flooded with messages from other young women who were experiencing the same issue. And because I like to keep it real about what’s happening in my life, I knew it was time to open up in greater detail about this new chapter. Hence, why I wrote this blog post.
The intention of sharing our journey to becoming parents is to provide the same hope I felt after learning more about NaPro. If you are struggling to conceive, I encourage you to research this approach and see if it’s something that aligns with you.
Also, are you interested in learning more about The Creighton Method? I will link a helpful resource here. To find a certified instructor near you, I’ll link their search tool here.
If you have any questions about our fertility journey, email me at email@example.com or send a DM on Instagram. I am always an open ear.
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