I get asked all the time, “do you want more children?” and comments like, “wow, you waited a long time to have another!” Sometimes those questions and comments are hurtful and hard to hear, but they’ve never been hard to answer thanks to the CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare System and NaProTECHNOLOGY
Some of you may know my husband's and my journey and others may not, so I thought I would share where we began, where we found ourselves, where we thankfully landed, and where we are going from here.
When I was 19, I was officially diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). At that time all I knew was that my cycles were irregular, but I didn’t want to be on the birth control pill and that having biological children would be difficult. In 2001, I got married. My new husband, Chris, and I began trying to start our family. I thankfully had a local OB/GYN that was respectful of my decision to only use natural methods to help us conceive. At that time, I only had cycles with the aide of Clomid, but never successfully achieved pregnancy. After six cycles of Clomid and 2 ½ years of “trying,” she referred us to an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) doctor with the premise of, “I know you don’t want to do artificial technologies, but this doctor does other things.” Reluctantly we went to see him and it turned out exactly as we thought it might. He claimed that our issues were both male and female and that artificial technologies were our only option for biological children. We said, “thanks but no thanks,” and left the office. We were devastated and felt broken. We needed to go home to take a break and process what we had just been told. I struggled to accept this as reality. I had days where shopping at Target surrounded by pregnant women was unbearable. Chris always validated my feelings. We allowed ourselves time to mourn the children we would never have. Accepting the fact that we may never have children of our own was incredibly difficult. Family and friends were beginning to have their first babies and we felt like we were being left out. We began talking and praying about the possibility of adoption and even started researching. I landed a better paying teaching position and we started moving forward. Much to our surprise, six months later, with no intervention, I conceived our oldest daughter, Catherine.
Catherine’s pregnancy was an awesome surprise, but not easy. At 10 weeks, I had a placental hemorrhage and was told that we had a 50% chance of losing the baby and that we just had to go on pelvic rest and “wait and see” . Thankfully God was on our side and in 2005 Catherine came into this world at 38 weeks and a healthy 8lbs 7oz. Shortly after her birth our family relocated to Perth, Australia.
While in Perth, my cycles declined and my PMS was unbearable. Much to my surprise, the parish we attended advertised the local FertilityCare Center. I made an appointment, Chris and I attended our Introductory Session, and our CREIGHTON journey began. We worked with our practitioner and a medical consultant and began Progesterone supplementation to regulate my cycles and control my PMS. The treatment of bio-identical Progesterone was life changing!
In 2007, our family returned to Houston. At the time, there weren’t any NaProTECHNOLOGY medical consultants locally, so we began working long distance with Dr.Thomas Hilgers. We began a course of Clomid again to help ups achieve pregnancy. After 4 cycles, we were successful, but unfortunately that pregnancy ended sadly in miscarriage one week after getting the positive test. This experience was devastating. In our excitement, we had told friends and family and even Catherine that we were expecting. It was difficult, to say the least, to have to explain to a 4 year old that their sibling would not join us here on Earth. After the miscarriage, Dr. Hilgers wanted us to come to Omaha for a complete consult, but that was not feasible at that time. So we made the decision to move forward with progesterone treatment to keep my cycles regulated and PMS under control.
In 2008 I also started my FertilityCare Practitioner Internship! I contemplated and prayed about becoming a practitioner for at least a year before making the decision. I needed to have support, especially financially to complete the 13-month internship. God swung open doors for me and I received amazing support. Becoming a practitioner helped me spread the word about the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and NaProTECHNOLOGY. It also enabled me to heal emotionally from my own infertility and find purpose in our journey in helping others.
Now moving forward meant learning to accept the cross of secondary infertility. Chris and I were able to reach a place of acceptance together and start parenting and preparing Catherine for being an only child. I focused on giving her my all and quit focusing on giving her a sibling. But it was a struggle. Catherine talked about and prayed for a baby sister everyday. When friends or family members announced their pregnancies, we all had to learn how to deal with that news, but Catherine struggled the most with trying to accept God's plan for our family.
Fast forward to 2012. I found out that Dr. Kathryn Karges was completing her surgical fellowship and coming to Houston to begin a NFP only and NaPro OB/GYN practice. I went to see her in January 2013 and scheduled my NaPro surgery shortly after that. In May 2013 I had a laparoscopic and robotically assisted bilateral ovarian wedge resection, endometriosis removal and hysteroscopy for fallopian tube clearing. I was also given a diagnosis of uterine inflammation. Exactly four weeks post-surgery, I had my first natural (medication free) cycle in six years. Chris and I were excited to see how my body was responding to the surgery. After recovering from surgery, we began discussing the possibility of getting pregnant again. We had to consider the emotional toll of trying, sustaining a pregnancy and the implications of adding another child to our family. How would Catherine accept and adapt to having a sibling? We decided that we didn't want to regret anything and decided to try to achieve pregnancy with a healthier body. We both agreed that we didn't want to do medication and that we would give ourselves about a year timeline. Jumping back on the roller coaster ride of trying to conceive was overwhelming and we knew how exhausting it would be. We were given the all clear to begin trying to achieve pregnancy the very next cycle, and much to everyone’s surprise, we succeeded! So exactly six weeks post surgery, we were expecting our NaPro miracle! The pregnancy was closely monitored and I was on Progesterone support for 37 weeks. Baby Sarah made her arrival at 40 weeks and 1 day and weighed a healthy 8lbs 8 oz. As if that was not exciting enough, I experienced a life-threatening uterine hemorrhage post partum. We knew that I was in good hands with Dr. Kathryn Karges, but we didn’t know how truly special and talented she is. She, along with a team of doctors, worked tirelessly on me and was able to save my life and also prevent me from having an emergency hysterectomy. I remember during the emergency situation, Dr. Karges taking a moment to explain to me what was happening, refocus, and pray for me. I know that God was guiding her hand in repairing the damage that had been done to my body. After a successful procedure, I was able to recover and take my baby home.
Since a successful surgery and pregnancy, my cycles have been almost perfect. I was treated for post partum anxiety with Progesterone therapy for 6 cycles, but since then I have not had the need for medicinal treatment and am cycling regularly on my own. For the first time in my adult life, I finally feel like a "normal" woman. I do not have to rely on hormones to keep my cycles regulated. Looking back to the beginning of our marriage, I remember having to try to accept that I may never experience pregnancy. Now I've been granted the opportunity to bring two amazing daughters into this world. Due to the post partum uterine hemorrhage, we have been advised not to achieve pregnancy again. This advice has required its own time to accept, but we are accepting it and have been able to use the Creighton Model FertilityCare System to successfully avoid pregnancy. To say that we are grateful would be an understatement. God gave us infertility as our cross to bear. It has built us up and torn us down at times. It has brought Chris and I closer together and made us who we are. This journey has never been easy, but it’s been ours.
Many ancient cultures spent months, or even years, preparing women (and men!) of child bearing age for fertility and conception. This wisdom had been passed down over the generations and these people knew that conceiving a healthy baby starts long before conception. Just like soil needs to be mineral rich and healthy before the seed is planted to produce a healthy plant, couples that would like to start a family should consume a nutrient rich diet before getting pregnant.
In this country, 62% of American women are using some form of contraceptive. Of those, almost 50% are using some form of hormonal method including the pill, patch, or injectable. The most popular form being the pill. While many women choose the pill to prevent pregnancy, it is also frequently prescribed for irregular cycles, acne, severe PMS or other hormonal imbalances. Many women prescribed these oral contraceptives are warned of potential side effects like blood clots, weight gain or breakthrough bleeding, but are woefully ignorant of some of the other detrimental effects that can be brought about by prolonged pill usage.
As a former college athlete and a current elite CrossFit competitor, I never considered that my hormonal birth control could have potentially detrimental side effects on my athletic performance. It wasn’t something that was ever discussed by any physician that I ever saw with regards to gynecological health. When my performance, sleep, mood and energy levels started to suffer a few years ago, I never thought that my birth control might be to blame.
When we are first married, we go through what many call the “honeymoon phase.” We make our spouse a priority and we long to spend our days with them. This helps to solidify our love and our new life together as a married couple.
Then life happens. We get sucked into the everyday craziness and let it consume us. Whether that is jobs, outside activities, or children, life can sometimes put a wedge in our relationship with our spouse.
We live in a world that promotes self and individual needs over other’s needs.
The challenge we have is to continue to make our marriage and spouse a priority even amongst the busyness of life.
Marketing companies give us one solution: just buy things to show your love for your spouse. You can’t escape the push from marketing companies to buy this or that to show your love.
Companies tell us the things that MUST be bought to show our deepest appreciation for our loved ones.
I get asked frequently if the Creighton Model FertilityCareTM System (CrMS) is good for single women. The answer is, YES! I would even take it a step further and say that it is essential for the single woman.
You may wonder why having a woman chart her cycles who isn’t trying to get pregnant is a good idea and encouraged. There are so many benefits to charting. The CrMS is a fertility awareness system that enables a woman to have an accurate record of her gynecological health. A CrMS chart allows women to monitor, maintain, and evaluate their health for their entire reproductive life! The system is tailor made to each woman and her specific needs and can be adapted for each phase of life.