Countless injections, ultrasounds, and pills, 7 IUI’s, 3 HSG’s, a sonohysterogram, and 3 surgeries all make for 4.5 years of infertility with little answers until we found NaPro, the Creighton Model and Kristin.
Our journey started the day we got married in May of 2015. We always talked about having a family, a BIG family. I wanted to be done having kids by the time I was 30; I wanted to be that young mom when my kids graduated from high school.
At first we thought, no pressure, this is going to happen, we will just let it happen when it happens. A couple months went by, I thought I was pregnant as I was a week and a half late. I went to the store got all my supplies to make my husband a surprise to tell him we’re pregnant (it’s still hiding for that positive someday)and pregnancy tests! Pregnancy tests said “not pregnant,” but false negatives happen all the time and I was super late compared to normal. Two hours later, my period came. Okay, well then next month is our month.
After 6 months, nothing. I started going through all the wrong things I did in my life. I had a major anxiety attack that lasted for 3 months! Blaming myself for not getting pregnant. I thought I was being punished by God. But was I? I started seeing an OB/GYN who said it’s only been 6 months, sometimes it takes time, nothing to worry about yet, as my pap was normal and I was a healthy young 24 year old.
March the following year (10 months into our journey) I went to see a new OB/GYN who agreed with me it was time to start the testing process as we were just shy of a year of trying to get pregnant. The next week I had an ultrasound. That was normal. Later that month, I had a HSG, or hysterosalpingogram. I heard mixed things about this, it hurts, it doesn’t hurt, it’s the worst ever, etc. The HSG itself was pretty easy, one simple cramping period that lasted 10 seconds. All was normal per the radiologist, no blockages! No big deal, that wasn’t so bad. Right?!
The next day I woke up with what felt like the worst flu of my life! After calling the doctor we figured it was just the flu, coincidence that I just had this test done and to rest, push fluids, etc. Two days later, I was getting worse. And to make it worse now my woman parts HURT! Fever consistently at 103, couldn’t even keep water down, it was time to go to urgent care, which turned into the ED. They decided they needed to do a vaginal exam. Speculum’s will always scare me forever now. They tried to put the speculum in and I screamed so loud I bet you the truck drivers on the interstate could hear me!! Eventually they got what they needed and found out I now had four different types of vaginal infections. Treatment started for that, but a couple days went by and I was still no better. I called my OB/GYN again and we were told to meet the on call doctor at the hospital. Being so sick, it took 3 people to get my IV in and to draw cultures from the opposite arm. Push come to shove, and we found out I had CMV. Then I got treated for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (NO woman wants to hear that diagnosis), as a precautionary measure due to the CMV and vaginal infections. Symptoms were treated and a week later I was finally able to return to almost my normal daily life. Now it is our time to get pregnant, right?
The OB/GYN decided to put me on letrozole to try and help us get pregnant, 6 weeks after the CMV diagnosis. Still nothing. One of my friends went to a fertility clinic close to our home so I self referred and next thing I knew we were there.
First thing we found out, was their was no way we should be even attempting to get pregnant right now because CMV can cause major birth defects. Thank GOD we didn’t get pregnant then!! We had to wait almost 6 months, from the diagnosis, before we were finally allowed to start trying to get pregnant. During that time, my husband had his semen analysis done, which was normal! They drew a bunch of labs, put me through more ultrasounds, and decided letrozole was the best place to restart trying. We opted for 3 months of letrezole and intercourse, as infertility treatments are INSANELY EXPENSIVE!
Well that didn’t work. And here I was a blubbery mess talking to the nurse telling her I’m still not pregnant. Her telling me, “I’m sorry, I understand.” But do you? Do you really? Until someone goes through infertility they never truly understand. It’s not just a cold, or a broken bone. Month after month we’re mourning something that isn’t true, someone who isn’t there. It sounds crazy, but its the reality. Every month there is an anticipation phase, and excitement phase, a stressful phase, a hopeful phase, and so far for us, a phase of complete and utter GRIEF! Yes, grief.
Next up, we start the IUI process. Monthly ultrasounds, medications, belly injections (if I could only stop laughing so he could give them to me), semen donation (from the hubs of course) then comes the speculum with the catheter into the uterus and the 10 minutes of laying there hoping and praying it works. 4 IUI’s later and still NOTHING! $725 a pop, for nothing. Man, we could have went somewhere nice for that. But that’s not our dream. Being parent’s is our dream. So what’s next you ask?
They sent me to a surgeon to see her thoughts, at this whole time I was still having some pain in my abdomen and inguinal regions. I was told I just had pelvic floor muscle spasms. So off to women’s health physical therapy, to let a stranger teach me how to massage out the knots in my pelvic floor. After a couple months and no lasting relief we decided to be done. Back to the doctor’s office, where they want to do more IUIs. We didn’t understand why when the last how many didn’t work, and neither did the intercourse with meds prior. We asked if there was more testing to be done, and we were told, “no.”
So here we are at a new fertility clinic, right down the road. This doctor is a go-getter. She is a golden retriever in a pen of chihuahuas. This is it, she’s going to get us pregnant. First up, surgery. She believes I have pain. She believes there’s something wrong. Surgery came, and I was diagnosed with endometriosis, stage 1. She excised it, now we can get pregnant, right?. She immediately recommended IUI as it should increase the chance of getting pregnant. 3 IUIs later, and still nothing. So now I get to have a sonohysterogram to make sure no fibroids or lesions are growing on the inside of my uterus. That came out normal, so why are we still not pregnant?
At this point, it was time for a break. I emotionally and mentally couldn’t take it anymore. It’s Thanksgiving time, then Christmas time, and I just can’t do this. So we decided to take a break. She told me to lose weight because being overweight doesn’t help (I gained almost 30 pounds during all of this from emotional eating) and to think about IVF ($10,000+).
During this break, my husband, nonchalantly, was talking to a fellow coworker, and he told him about this NaPro doctor that gave his wife her quality of life back.
I was skeptical. I told him that I don’t know if this is for us but if he sets it up and looks into it I will go. So he did! This man did this for us, for me, and we haven’t looked back since. We met with the doctor who was running labs we’ve never had run, looking at symptoms differently and took over a hour with us to explain NaPro and how this could work for us. Not only that, but he explained what was potentially wrong with me and why my body wasn’t allowing us to get pregnant.
We met with Kristin a couple weeks later and we were impressed with her knowledge, her passion for what she does, and her drive to help us. After a short 2 minute discussion, following the introduction meeting, we were game to give the Creighton Model and Napro a shot. Why wouldn’t we want to try and get to the bottom of why we’re going through this infertility journey and get real answers. On top of it, everything we’ve done to fix the problems that were found has been done so naturally. So NaPro it was.
After labs, and a few months of charting, we found my progesterone level was quite low. We started supplements right away. After a couple months my chart wasn’t changing at all, so we increased the progesterone. Still no change, and now my endometriosis symptoms are coming back. So we got in to see a NaPro surgeon. It took three months for that appointment to come and every month my emotions were spiraling worse and worse and I was beginning to lose all hope again. But Kristin was a constant encourager that this new doctor was going to have our answers and be able to help. If it takes 3 months to get in to her, she must be good!
We finally saw the surgeon, who ran even more labs, testing for things I had never heard of, and after chart review and discussion we got set up for surgery which would be 3 weeks later (1 year and 2.75 months after the first surgery). She also put my husband on supplements, because he’s as much a part of this as I am. Prior to the surgery date we found out my progesterone was still low, so she added a higher dose of injections and a suppository, as well as, found out I have hypothyroidism. She taught us how the thyroid affects the reproductive system, explained more of why I am most likely not getting pregnant, and came up with a game plan both including surgery and things outside of surgery. She treated my body as a whole and not just one system, like the other clinics did.
Then surgery. Fingers crossed it’s not so bad, and she can do it all in one! But that wasn’t the case. My endometriosis is now stage 3 and guess what? I have PCOS too. So now we discuss the ovarian wedge resection. She also found that I have two bacteria’s in my cervix/uterus that needed to be treated as they don’t belong there. The cool thing is, is she treated both my husband and I for the bacterias instead of just me. Again, he is just as much a part of this journey as I am. Head is spinning with information and that this doctor found all of this, when so many others just wrote my symptoms off.
Surgery #2 was scheduled, unfortunately almost 4 months later, but it’s worth the wait. In the meantime, we continued chart reviews with Kristin, saw the doctor again who is continuing to monitor and change meds around based on labs I have done monthly. A new semen analysis for my husband was done, as the NaPro doctor’s look at a lot more factors than the other doctor’s we saw. From that semen analysis it was found that his sperm weren’t quite where NaPro would like them to be. So she added a few more supplements for him to take.
Surgery number 2 went great, better than the doctor had expected it to go. She was able to excise all the lesions out, with minimal difficulty, using a laser versus the scissors that were used for my first excision. Both of my ovaries had an ovarian wedge resection done to help with PCOS. During this surgery, more bacteria’s were found in my cervix. We spent the next 12 weeks on antibiotics because they wouldn’t go away. We had appointment after appointment with the surgeon and the infectious disease doctor to get to the bottom of these bacterial infections. After 12 weeks, it was decided to stop treatment of those as my body needed a break from antibiotics. I had developed cysts on my woman parts that had become super painful due to side effects from the antibiotics and emotionally we were starting to get discouraged.
So now, May of 2019, we finally get to start trying to get pregnant. With charting and lab work, it was found that my progesterone levels weren’t getting any better, with surgery the doctor had expected these too. Next on the agenda, is a series of ultrasounds to determine what my body is actually doing during my cycle.
Then we found out that our doctor, this amazing woman who had given us so much hope was leaving Wisconsin. This put our emotions over the top. Here we are, just starting to try again, with her encouraging us and helping us to feel hopeful, and she is leaving. There’s a new NaPro doctor starting at the clinic that will take over our care, but it’s not the same, but what choice do we have right now? So we continued with this new doctor.
Due to a vacation planned we had to wait until July for these ultrasounds. He decided to let us try letrozele to see how that would affect my cycle since we would be doing the ultrasounds. The ultrasounds came, and showed that I had ovulated, way earlier than what my charting shows I did; but they can’t be certain as they believe I ovulated over the weekend between ultrasounds. This left all sorts of confusion going on in our heads. The ultrasounds also showed that I may have LUFS, as I had one follicle that continued to grow but never appeared to rupture.
During this cycle, I was also switched to HCG to see if that would help my progesterone levels at all. After having to call the doctor’s office and the Pope Paul Institute multiple times, I finally got word that my levels were finally above where they needed them to be! One thing finally worked out!!
The doctor would now like us to get another ultrasound series done so we can try to catch ovulation. Due to another vacation this will have to wait until September. In the meantime, we continue with letrozele, HCG, charting, supplements, and sending lots of prayers!
While on vacation I started noticing that I was having a lot of pain again, specifically around the time of ovulation. Per the doctor’s office it is probably just ovulatory pain. So heat pads, Tylenol, and suck it up was the recommendation. When we got back from vacation my labs were drawn again. Progesterone was lower than it should be. At this point, between the roller coaster of good and bad news, the pain, and lack of faith in our doctor it was time to switch doctor’s again.
While we were waiting to see the new doctor I experienced the worst pain I have felt since before I had surgery. My first instinct? My endometriosis is back already or I am having an ovarian cyst rupture. I barely made it through work that day and didn’t want to leave fetal position when I got home. After doing some research I found out that the letrozele could be causing my pain. So the next cycle I stopped the meds on my own. No more pain. Next up, new doctor.
So here we are seeing our fourth NaPro doctor. She has blown us out of the water with her knowledge, faith and resilience. I informed her that I believe the letrozole was causing my pain and she agreed that we could do the next steps without to see if my body truly needs the medication or not. We did another ultrasound and a whole bunch of labs. Labs showed that my thyroid meds needed to be increased and the ovarian wedge affected my AMH levels, but otherwise everything was normal, and the doctor was not concerned about my AMH level based off everything else she saw. The ultrasound series showed that not only did I produce enough FSH only my own to grow my follicles, I ovulated on my own too! Oh, and my progesterone two months in a row now has been over their bottom recommended level!!!!
Now we give my body a few months to try this whole getting pregnant on its own thing. Per the doctor, if we aren’t pregnant, a new semen analysis will be done, and a couple of ultrasounds around ovulation will be done to see if I am ovulating on my own or if my body is skipping months. If I am not ovulating on my own, then the diagnosis of LUFS may be accurate, and we may need to add in trigger shots. I am also having an insulin resistance test done, as PCOS can cause women to become insulin resistant (different than diabetes). If I am, then I get put on metformin to control that, which has proven studies to aid in women getting pregnant!
Finding NaPro has been life changing for us. I honestly don’t believe we would be where we are today without it, or without Kristin. Kristin has been a constant encourager, has become a great friend, and is always there to celebrate our successes and to give knowledge and support for the not so good times. We are very hopeful that with the help of NaPro and the Creighton Model we will become pregnant. But in the words of our doctor, we have to be patient and let God do his work because unfortunately I have multiple diagnoses (endometriosis, PCOS, adenomyosis and endomitiritis) and potentially one more to add with being insulin resistant. Each brings it’s own obstacles to battle, but where there is a will there is a way!