The years following Arlene and Lydia’s birth were awesome. They were growing and changing and developing personalities. And I got to be a part of it. To them, I’m their mom’s friend, ‘Aunt Amber’. And I love being an aunt!
But when the girls were about 2, I started wanting to be more than an aunt. I wanted to be a mom – to my own kiddos. So I went off the pill. (To date, Billy hasn’t commented on this series, but he has been an active participant in the entire process. He has shared some comments with me through the course of this series, but nothing that he feels like publicly sharing yet.)
About three months after I went off the pill. I was late. I was never late. You can set your clock by me. So, I instantly thought the best. I even, stupidly, told a few people I thought I was pregnant. The weeks went on and my visitor never came, but tests never told us what we wanted to hear either.
About a month later than expected, my visitor came – with a vengeance. I was pretty upset. Billy was calm. Billy was always calm.
I went back to the OB/GYN, who I liked as a person, but would came to hate as a doctor, and was told to kept trying. As the year wore on, I started getting more and more concerned. Billy stayed calm and the OB/GYN stayed practical.
Typically, infertility isn’t official until a couple doesn’t become pregnant after at least one year of trying, but because of my success as an egg donor, the year didn’t count. About 10 months after I went off the pill, the OB/GYN suggested Billy and I undergo some tests.
This is where I turn into Shallow Amber.
Tests? Why? Nothing’s wrong. After all, I went through test after test after test when I was an egg donor. An egg donor that helped her bestie successfully give birth to two beautiful, healthy girls. There was nothing wrong with me four years prior. Why would things be different now?
But we went through the tests. The humiliating, sometimes painful tests. My OB/GYN thought I was ‘interesting’. He couldn’t understand the results of my tests. Some numbers were high. Some numbers were low. He didn’t think I had polycystic ovary syndrome at this point, although he strongly considered it at one point. So he scheduled more tests.
My favorite was the HSG, a hysterosalpingogram. This ridiculously painful test (I am not exaggerating the pain associated with this test) looks at the inside of the uterus and fallopian tubes and surrounding areas to identify injury or blockage or abnormalities. It didn’t find anything. Other than a small cyst on one of my ovaries, which had been discovered before and was not a part of my problem, my insides looked good.
The months wore on, the tests continued and I got more mad and less positive and more difficult to live with (Billy didn’t say this, but it’s true).
After a year and a half of trying, we finally decided to go to the Fertility Center of Northwest Ohio, the same place I went locally for my part in the egg donation process three and a half years earlier.
When I requested my records be transferred from my OB/GYN to the Center, I was scoffed at. ‘You don’t have a problem,’ one of the nurses at my OB/GYN’s office said, ‘You’re impatient’. Even the OB/GYN wasn’t concerned. He was more intrigued. He admitted, ‘I’ve never seen numbers like this,’ but he never consulted with another doctor. He never did research. He just thought things would work out.
It took me about five weeks to get into the Fertility Center. Five long weeks during which I questioned myself. Maybe I was being silly. Maybe this was nothing. Maybe I was being impatient. Maybe I should cancel my appointment so that a couple who really needs Dr. Karnitis’ services could get in faster. But I knew that something wasn’t right. And I was mad that something wasn’t right.
I admit it. I didn’t then, but I do now. Why was this not working for us? I’m not a religious person, but I am spiritual. I believe in right and wrong and good and evil and compassion and understanding and karma. Karma. How is it that the one thing that I had that could help Wendy and Mike have children, my eggs, not work for me and Billy?
Walking into the Fertility Center after all those years was a strange feeling. A good feeling. A calming feeling. Because of my experience with egg donation, I spent some time there before and remembered a lot of the people. And the place. And Dr. Karnitis.
I can’t say enough good things about him. Our first meeting was in his office where he walked me through my file. It was obvious he had already read it. And it was obvious he knew what was wrong. Yep. No new tests needed. He knew why my numbers were wonky. He had seen it before. He could fix it.
After Dr. Karnitis drew pictures and folded paper and acted out what was going on in my body, I understood what was happening. And how to fix it. Basically, I had pre-pre-diabetes and my ovaries were not functioning normally due to an excess of insulin in my body. Dr. Karnitis prescribed Glucophage, which helped my body manage its insulin, therefore helping my ovaries function more regularly. A small change, but one that was necessary for me to get pregnant; it wouldn't've happened on its own.
After only a little more than a month on Glucophage. I got pregnant! I was lucky. It was an easy fix. It was also a diagnosis that my future OB/GYN, the awesome Dr Bishop, said would add 10 years to my life.
My pregnancy went well up to the end. Around month 6, I started having pains. Around month 7, my blood pressure started climbing. Around month 8, twice-weekly non-stress tests and weekly blood tests were ordered. Bed rest immediately followed and then, one day shy of 37 weeks, I was induced and gave birth to the most beautiful 6 lb. 10 oz. baby boy you’ve ever seen.
So, once again it all worked out. It wasn’t a textbook conception. Or pregnancy. Or delivery. But, I’m not sure there is such a thing. I’ve let go of the pain and anger and frustration I felt when I couldn’t conceive. I never felt right feeling it in the first place. It embarrassed me. It made me feel guilty. But it’s gone. All that’s left is joy.