Thank you for tuning in to the next installment of the Accidental Okie Expert Series.
Teressa’s expertise is in something not wished for by anyone: infertility.
I asked Teressa to write a post on how to talk to someone going through infertility – what to say, what to not say. What she sent me was infinitely better. Because she sent me her heart. Her emotions. Her experiences.
I hope reading it will help you, should you be on a similar journey, or help you gain insights into the great trials Teressa and Ryan and others like them are muddling through. Stepping into her shoes for a minute, maybe you can be better equipped on what to say to a friend in this same situation.
Teressa and Ryan live in Seattle. Ryan is a teacher and Teressa is the owner of Cashmere Floral Designs.
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They said it would be easy.
We made a plan. Slated five days to fly to Seattle from our home in Sitka, Alaska. Checked into a really fancy hotel. Told our family and friends that we were trying, that we had finally accepted the fact that we were using a sperm donor and that we finally chose one. We had a bastion of prayer warriors. Ryan bought me a pedicure at a spa.
The doctors were going to inject sperm, and this would be the beginning to our lives as parents. So long married life of two… hello parenthood. Statistics show that it takes usually three tries to achieve one pregnancy. We wanted three kids. At $500 each vial, we purchased nine.
We thought it would be easy.
Two exciting and forever-lasting weeks pass, and it’s time to pee on the stick that is supposed to herald the news: Congrats! Your life is about the change. Your someday has arrived!
3:30 a.m. – I couldn’t take the suspense. I pee on the stick, planning to surprise Ryan.
Pee. Wait. Wait. Wait.
As the one bar darkens and there’s no sign of a second, I let out a low moan in denial. Then wake Ryan and tell him that this test must be defective. The dear man rises from a dead sleep, dons his shoes, and heads out the door to the grocery store to buy another test.
It wasn’t broken. I wasn’t pregnant. This was August of 2010, and that was vial one.
Since we were committed to work in Sitka until October, and since my work as a florist allowed only a small window of due dates that avoided wedding season, we held off trying until we moved back to Seattle.
Dec. 24th. My ovulation predictor kit shows it’s time again. Two more exciting and hopeful weeks pass. Pee again. Another silent piece of plastic tells us the news. Happy 29th birthday to me. Vial two is gone.
Family and friends are constantly asking for updates. We’re happy to share because we cannot wait to be celebrating good news together. Early February, try again. Another miss.
The first three vial, all portioned for baby number one, are gone.
At this point, we become a little more private. The doctor is suggesting an HSG test to determine if I have a blockage of my tubes, or cysts or fibroids that could be causing a problem. That sounded great, until we learned what it meant: $800 out of pocket and one of the most painful diagnostic tests available. The second opinion of another doctor is against the test. We decline.
We’ll try for one more time. It’s bound to happen. God is the author of life right? And God can do anything. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with me. And this next try is sure to take.
Another two weeks. We’re house-sitting and dog-sitting because we can’t afford a place to live because God still hasn’t provided a living for Ryan. I’ve felt all the things one’s supposed to feel in pregnancy. I’ve obsessed online over all the symptoms. This is definitely the time. The stick comes out of its sacred foil package. One line.
Neither of us had ever felt that hopelessness. No job. No baby. No silver lining.
The dogs I hate come over to lick my tears off the floor as I sit in the middle of a stranger’s kitchen, sobbing. We didn’t turn any lights on that night. Ryan lay on the peach sofa and stared in the sunset sky. I spoke no works and lay on top of him. Staring. Crying.
He takes a deep breath and hollowly, despairingly mutters, “The only difference between the days for us is that the sun comes up and goes back down.”
I have never seen him that hopeless or distraught. The man who battled cancer, with its consequences and recurrences, who looked forward to each day as progress and hope, had just committed to the dark side. Normally one of us is up when the other is down. But this day, we were both defeated.
That was vial four. Only five chances left.
Fast forward one year.
A blessing of a doctor came into our lives. He learned that my hormones were out of whack. I guess moving from Alaska, having no job or no home, starting a new business, recovering strained relationships after living in Alaska two years, living with in-laws, moving nine times, and having nothing to show for all of the hard work, can place certain stress on a person. Compounded was a five-year-old nephew with a brain tumor, a dad struggling with dementia, and both parents in an airplane crash. As it turns out, this all can upset the reproductive system.
So, we do natural hormone treatment and weekly b-shots. A year goes by, and Dr. Matt says with a smile, “I think you’re ready to try again! Everything looks great!” The hope swelling inside of me couldn’t be contained. I burst into happy tears and he prayed over me. I go home and tell Ryan. This was a good couple of weeks.
In the meantime, my nephew Jack spends his fifth birthday in the hospital for brain surgery. My prayer is for God to save my sister’s baby and knit together a baby for us.
Jack got his miracle. I got my period.
Vial number five. Gone.
With each try and fail, the devastation only deepens. Our eyes and hearts are bloodshot. Our bank accounts and arms are empty. Our home is still quiet, and we’re still hovering over our two-year-old “kitten” because she’s all we have to nurture with our own last name. Our hearts are sick. Our hope, continually deferred. And as we struggle, we are surrounded by 31 pregnant or nursing mothers.
We are in such need of discernment, and feel very alone and very much too tired to know where science and God’s hand meet.
While I detest this period of meaningless infertility, I do pray for and treasure the gifts that are sure to rise up from it.
I will be able to tell a better story.
Whatever the outcome of all of this, I will be able to tell a story about God. He is giving me what I need. Lies of hopelessness are lodged in my direction and God, with his truth and with the strength that comes from his goodness, gives me what I need to dispel them.
Alas, I’m tired.
Three viles left.
That was about a year ago when Teressa penned those words onto a tear-stained journal. During the interim, a doctor discovered one last problem, which was resolved. Here’s an update.
Two vials left.