05 September 2011

From Fertility Friends to Belly Buddies

Starting just a couple of years ago, this is what I saw every time I took a PT.  I had been blessed with a husband who was my rock whenever the laughter erupted from a box of First Response.  But I felt that I needed a girlfriend--someone with the same internal reproductive parts--with whom I could walk this troubling road.  And out of left field came exactly that... 

This is Katy.

Katy Mac.

Katy likes camping, UGA football, good beer, and llamas.  As is obvious in this photo, her Hollywood doppelg√§nger would be Eliza Dushku.  Yet, in my opinion, Katy's way prettier.  Her chariot is a boxy Jeep Grand Cherokee, which comes in handy for all those camping trips.  And while she can sport cocktail dresses and heels with the best of them, she is most comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt.  Her life was made complete when she married her high school sweetheart, Ryan.  They are currently raising their first child: a loyal dog named Lola.

How the heck do I know this spunky individual?  She and I met many moons ago when we were a part of the wait staff at Up the Creek: Fish Camp and Southern Grill in Snellville.  We share the same list of interests--just subtract llamas for my list and insert manatees.  While she and Ryan have Lola, Michael and I have Mojo.  In place of her Jeep, our sport vehicle is the GMC Sierra.  But the college life and grown-up life got in the way of keeping in touch with Katy, putting roughly 9 years between first meeting and eventually reconnecting.  It was the summer of 2010 when our casual Facebook friendship took a turn for companionship via a message she wrote me:

Hey Vikki... I know it's been forever since we last talked and saw each other, but I wanted to let you know that I just read your blog post and I am currently going through the same thing. It's been about 10 months since I last took BC and so far… nothing…
I had been writing about our fertility struggles for a few months and posting them on Facebook as a mere outlet of my frustration.  While most of my friends who read the blog (all 6 of them, at the time) were trying to make sense of our infertile-due-to-no-ovulation situation, Katy had been on the same boat and knew its course as well as me.

Over the next several months, we messaged back and forth, exchanging stories of our visits to the doctor and the status of ovulatory patterns.  When hormone test results came in, we immediately contacted each other:
Me: My TSH levels are apparently normal.  So why can't I have a dang period?
Katy: My testosterone levels are through the roof.  Bad androgens!
When it came to how far we were willing to go in starting a family, we couldn't have been more equally matched:
Katy: I'm hoping all it will take is a round or two of fertility meds to "reset" our hormone button.  IVF won't be an option for us.  Adoption would be a far better fit.
Me: Couldn't agree more about IVF.  The costs and injections involved are more than I could handle, and neither guarantee a baby.  Plus, if 5 embryos take, what then?
Then it came time to actually make the big decision in our infertile lives.  We had both endured months of testing, retesting, and getting absolutely nowhere.  Was it finally time to start fertility meds?  The question of "do we or don't we" loomed like a black cloud overhead.  She and I both had witnessed friends and acquaintances suffer through multiple miscarriages or deliver a baby still.  Were we taking the "easy way out" by going on meds when we hadn't experienced such tragedy?  Did our end of the fertility spectrum--not having a regular period, that is--really count as "suffering"?  It felt as if we were comparing apples to oranges when considering all of our IF sisters out there.

But wasn't wanting to be a mommy a good enough reason?  And didn't the year plus a few months of trying to make a baby with our devoted husbands mean something?

So we jumped.  Katy started on progesterone injections and daily doses of Metformin.  Not too much later, I began Clomid.  We found it funny that we had almost exactly the same fertility issue, but our doctors were treating it with very different methods.  Even with the monthly monitoring, our docs documented differently.  Katy's doc used ultrasound technology to watch for developing follicles.  My doc (actually, my NP) did monthly blood tests to check changes in my progesterone levels.  We both got off to a rocky start.  In fact, even though Katy and I were both able to have our "monthly" cycles while trying various medications, my hormone levels plummeted to rock bottom and her follicles played tricks on the sonogram.

Needless to say, the frustration grew and we continued to rely on one another for support.  Phone calls and text messaging turned into lengthy rants about each other's troubles.  We'd scream and curse and grit our teeth, but just having those conversations with someone who "gets it" made us feel better.  The holidays arrived, and we exchanged addresses for our Christmas card lists.  We made a lunch date so we could chat face-to-face over pasta and salad.

Then January rolled around.  It was a month that would forever change our lives.

It was the month I had my first spike in progesterone levels.  My meds had been switched to Femara and Metformin, and instead of having a pro level down in the 2s, it had jumped to the 12s.  A couple of weeks later, Katy had an ultrasound where a very healthy follicle passed.  We were both getting good news.  Optimism got a hold of the both of us, and we were already pregnant together in our minds.

And when I got a positive on a pregnancy test one morning just after Valentine's Day, I had to message Katy.

Crap, I had to message Katy!  I was prepared for her getting a positive PT before me.  I knew I could handle the news if it happened for her first and not for me.  But how was she going to take it?  Would she be just as excited for me as I knew I would be for her?  So I sent a brief message:
Got a faint positive this morn.  Don't know if it's real.  Going to doc to check it out.
Even I thought it felt a little cold and unfeeling, but I didn't want to sound overly excited when one test didn't prove anything.  I also didn't want to rub it in Katy's face because I was the one with the first positive.  And when her response message came just seconds later, it was full of love and support, proving to me we were in this for better or worse.  Then I got the positive results from my NP.  I was in fact pregnant.  All I could hope and pray for was the same for Katy.

On my birthday, Katy called me as Michael and I were picking up our new VW from the dealership.  It was only my second time using the bluetooth function, but I took to it like a duck to water.  Katy's voice didn't seem too cheery as it filled the Jetta's interior.  She said she had started having migraines again and was feeling under the weather.  Concerned, I asked what she thought may have been causing her malaise.
Katy: Um, well, it's most likely due to the fact that I'm PREGNANT!
Me [almost running off the road]: WHAT?!?!  Holy cow, this is the best birthday present EVER!
Katy talked about how she got a positive home PT and visited her doctor not long after.  They gave her a confirmation that she was definitely pregnant and most likely due in November.  Come to find through our technologically-advanced conversation, our due dates were exactly 3 weeks apart.  Laughingly, we started planning play dates and baby showers.  We even covered the idea of "if you have a girl and I have a boy, we'll have to talk wedding".  It wouldn't be until the summer that we would find out that she was the one having a boy, and I was going to have a girl.  And even with getting the happy news that Katy was going to be a mommy, she asked me not to make any of her news public via the blog until she and Ryan told their families.  It was a tough secret to keep, but so very worth the wait.

As for nicknames for our growing babes?  Everyone is familiar with ours, Baby Nerd, considering Michael and I are nerdy to a fault.  Katy and Ryan have nicknamed theirs McBaby, as their last name is McLaughlin.  So very cute!

Just because Katy and I were able to reach pregnancy status doesn't mean our journey is over.  We are now each other's direct contact for new pregnancy symptoms and ailments, pictures of the nurseries, and shares on new baby gifts we have received.  Our lunch conversations are aglow with hopes and plans for our upcoming arrivals.  We will get to be mommies together as we hold tight to the very issue that renewed our friendship in the first place: infertility.

And maybe one day, we'll be in-laws.  Katy and I could plan one heck of a UGA-themed wedding for our future Bulldawgs.

The mothers-to-be!  Katy is happily housing McBaby, and I'm housing Baby Nerd.

1 comment:

Jen Stanton said...

I really think it's the coolest thing ever that you were able to lean on each other in the tough times and then celebrate with each other when you were both blessed with pregnancies. I'm very happy for the both of you.


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