Today, my friend Tawny Crawford, FCPI, shares with us her experience struggling for over 5 years with infertility.
Our NaPro story begins before my husband and I even met. From a young age I experienced irregular cycles, pain, and frequent migraines. I was told this was perfectly normal, but placed on the pill to 'help'. Time went on and symptoms got worse. At one point my hair began to fall out! It was a never ending cycle of doctors telling me that everything seemed normal and changing the brand of pill I was prescribed.
Shortly after my husband and I met, we learned how the pill worked and some of the side-effects associated. We were horrified by the things we were never told. I immediately stopped The Pill. After we were married, we began practicing NFP using a self-taught Sympto-Thermal Method. As my symptoms began to worsen, we again sought medical treatment. We were told over and over that nothing was wrong, that my pain was normal, that my lack of regular cycles was nothing to worry about, and that short of ‘the pill’ there was no way to treat the irregularity. My cycles continued to be wildly irregular, often going more than 3, 6, 9, months or even a year between periods. We saw our regular OB/Gyn yet again who recommended we try Clomid. After 3 rounds of Clomid without conceiving, we were done.
We felt our doctor was not listening to us. We tried other doctors only to find the same. There was nothing to do, other than getting a referral to an IVF doctor. According to them, there was no reason for the pain. We began to experiment with alternative therapies: chiropractics, herbs, teas, crazy old wives tales, anything and everything with no luck.
By chance, I saw a card for a “FertilityCare Practitioner.” I posted in an online group asking if anyone had heard of FertilityCare. It so happened, that the practitioner was a member of the group and that night we talked. Creighton Model FertilityCare was so different than anything I had heard of before! We truly had no idea how much we did NOT know until we completed our Creighton Intro Session. The knowledge was amazing and so empowering. We began charting my cycle the next day. 3 months later it was clear we needed to see a NaPro Medical Consultant. My husband and I had vowed early in our journey to NOT see a doctor for infertility. We didn't want to undergo invasive and ethically questionable procedures. We didn't want to know who was to “blame” for our infertility. We did NOT want to pursue IVF or feel pressured to do something we didn't feel comfortable with. I shared these concerns with my practitioner. She assured me we would be treated with dignity and that our views would be respected, so I made an appointment. Regardless of what she had said, I felt so defeated. I felt broken. I was flooded with emotions and cried for several days. I was so sure the experience with this doctor would be a repeat of the pain we had experienced so very many times before.
We arrived at Caritas Clinic and instantly realized that this was going to be a different experience. We were greeted by a warm receptionist. There were beautiful pictures and comforting images of the Madonna and Child. Dr. Jemelka was so welcoming and attentive. Within minutes I was at ease and knew we had made the right decision. Dr. Jemelka took over an hour speaking with us, explaining things to us, and really getting into our history. For the first time, I felt like a whole woman with a whole husband and a whole marriage- not just a uterus!
With NaPro, we were never pushed into anything. Every procedure was ethical. Our marriage was respected. Our mutual fertility was addressed. There was never a feeling that anyone was to blame or that anyone was broken. What was once a nightmare and strain on our marriage, was now opening up communication and bringing us closer together.
It was determined that I had PCOS and endometriosis. Dr. Jemelka took time to explain the surgery she was recommending, why she was recommending it, and why she thought is was the best course of action. I was given time and resources to discuss the procedure with my husband and for us to make our own decision.
In July of 2014 we traveled to Houston, about 5 hours away, to undergo treatment. I had an Ovarian Wedge Resection, which is a procedure in which part of the enlarged ovary is surgically removed and repaired using the minimally invasive da Vinci Robot. I also had excision of Endometriosis. After the surgery Dr. Jemelka told my husband that one of my enlarged ovaries was the size of a grapefruit and the other was the size of an orange. It was healing to know there was a reason for my pain. I fully recovered in just 2 weeks.
Our adopted daughter was placed with us exactly 2 weeks after surgery. I ovulated 21 days later and had consistent, textbook beautiful 28-30 day cycles from that point on. The pain that had once been near debilitating during my period had vanished. The constant waiting game of if I was going to see a peak, if I was going to have a period, if I was fertile, all the anxiety and “ifs” were gone.
The menstrual migraines were gone! I felt good! I felt normal for the first time!
We used the Creighton Model system to avoid pregnancy and give ourselves time to bond with our daughter. When we were ready, we continued to meet with our practitioner and sought treatment for low progesterone. Bio-identical progesterone became my best friend!
A few short months later, I took a pregnancy test 12 days post ovulation, just out of curiosity. It was positive! In well over 7 years and hundreds and hundreds of pregnancy test, I had never seen a positive! I scoured the box to be sure it wasn't a 'trick' test. For most of my marriage I had planned how I would tell my husband we were pregnant, but I couldn't contain my excitement!
I screamed, “Come LOOK AT THIS!!” I thought I would pass out. Very groggily, my husband crept into the bathroom. Through squinted eyes he looked at the test and said, “I see two lines.” He started to walk back to bed, then stopped. “Two Lines?” he asked.
I replied, “We are pregnant!”
We hugged, both in shock and disbelief. We immediately called our NaPro doctor to confirm the pregnancy. We are now 18weeks into that pregnancy, and things are progressing wonderfully. It still feels so unreal.
After 7 years, after giving up several times, after a journey of heart break, we are pregnant! Our daughter is going to be a big sister! This is something we never imagined could happen.
None of this would have been possible if Pope Paul VI had not answered the call of Humanae Vitae for men and women of Science to create better methods of family planning. None of this would have been possible without my kind and patient FertilityCare Practitioner. None of this would have been possible without Dr. Jemelka and the amazing staff at Caritas. If we had not found NaProTECHNOLOGY and Creighton Model FertilityCare, I would still be hurting and my disease would be progressing. We would have continued to try to wade through the daunting sea of infertility looking for help, not knowing what was wrong or that anything could be done.
Creighton Model FertilityCare truly changed my life, improved my health, and healed my marriage.