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Infertility, St. Veronica, & Me

Infertility, St. Veronica, & Me

Welcome to the new web page, newcomers, and welcome to the Simple Rosaries blog. New website, new me? Probably not, I'm still not on my writing game. Onto the blog, the meat and potatoes of it if you will. I'm here to talk about something that is not fun to talk about, but I truly hope that somehow my experience can and will help someone, whoever that may be.

We're talkin' about infertility. Specifically, my infertility.

Big Yikes. This is personal and vulnerable and I'm not into sharing stuff like this, but I recently read something that struck me. It was about not waiting to share your experience when you're healed, but sharing it where you are. Where I'm at is not pretty, put together, or perfect. No, no, no. In fact, it's downright debilitating most days.

So where to start? I first became aware that something was wrong with my reproductive system during my Natural Family Planning classes in 2014. My husband and I took these classes before we got married with some family friends (thanks, Maureen, Mark, and the Couple to Couple League!). Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a form of pregnancy planning that allows a couple to know the days of fertility and infertility in a cycle. If you're interesting in learning more about NFP, click here, I swear it has been the best and most interesting thing I've ever learned about.

Fascinatingly enough, we learned that a woman isn't always fertile throughout her cycle! Wild, eh? The instructor in this class noticed that I tended to have quite a bit of mid-cycle bleeding, which is considered abnormal by those who practice NFP. Even more fascinating was that my mom, primary care physician, and obstetrician had told me that what I experienced was normal, despite my persistent questioning and feeling like something was wrong. Word from the wise? TRUST YOUR GUT! It won't steer you wrong.

So I began my research, but it wasn't until I was married for 4 months and started thinking about starting a family that I found Creighton Model FertilityCare. Creighton Model is a method of Natural Family Planning that is helpful specifically in determining reproductive-related issues, such as mid-cycle bleeding. To learn more about Creighton, click here, again, this type of NFP has been so helpful. There is a type of doctor dedicated specifically to this method, and they practice what is called NaPro Technology. NaPro Technology is an alternative to IVF, and is actually more effective than IVF. For more information on the success of NaPro Technology in many areas of reproductive health, click here. All of it is mind-blowing! I'm linking all of this for the benefit of anyone who wants more information, so I apologize for the 800 links.

What Creighton and MANY blood tests determined was that I had something called a Luteal Phase Defect. Essentially, I do not have enough of the hormone progesterone to get and stay pregnant, hence the unusual mid-cycle bleeding. This can sometimes lead to early miscarriage, so knowing this allowed me to prepare and plan in the case I did become pregnant. My doctor gave me progesterone and sent me on my way. Now, I won't go on and on with the details, but traditional progesterone supplementation did not work for me. I was sick, gaining weight rapidly, exhausted, and bleeding even more than before. It took a few different NaPro doctors, a completely unnecessary laparoscopy/ hysteroscopy/ chromotubation (but now I know I don't have endometriosis, ayooo), a medicine that gave me false positive pregnancy tests every.single.month., and some much needed breaks in between to find out what's really going on with my fertility.  

What I found at the end of it all was a doctor who truly listened to me who wanted to help me after feeling hopeless after almost 3 years of TTC. What she determined was that I have something wrong with my digestive system and I did not process/eliminate hormones normally, hence the bleeding that was now worse than ever, the low progesterone, and the medicine that gave false positives staying in my body longer than it should. And that issue was later diagnosed as Leaky Gut Syndrome

Oh, my leaky gut, what did you do? Let me count the ways... Well, leaky gut is responsible for me being allergic to 40 different foods. Yes, 40. Look it up, it happens, and I have the allergy test to prove it. And most of those were the foods I ate every single day. Most of these foods did not present themselves like a traditional allergy, but as gastrointestinal issues diagnosed as "normal" by my doctors. Some people don't believe this is a real condition, and to them, I say GET LOST because by cutting those 40 foods out of my diet, my life was changed. No wonder I felt so crappy! No wonder I couldn't process progesterone! No wonder why I was exhausted and bleeding! No wonder my vitamin levels sucked despite taking them constantly! Hormone supplementation wasn't even a blip on my body's radar. My body was probably just trying to make it through the day without imploding because I kept giving it almonds (SUPER allergic to those). Suddenly, things felt clear for the first time in years, and I felt truly hopeful.

Which brings me to now. Truthfully, not every day feels hopeful. Some days, I cry and feel just as lost as I did the last three years because healing is not a straight line. Repeat that one a few times because, baby, it's true. There are good days and bad ones, and there are a lot of days where forgiving myself and my body for infertility is the only option I have left. For the first time in a very long time, I feel better. Infertility is a cross that I still bear, but I am consoled by Jesus and the Gospel, by wonderful friends, and by actual medical evidence that I was not doing great and now I'm getting better. Recently, a friend shared this passage from Luke with me, saying it reminded her of me. It goes like this:

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
The woman, desperate because no one could heal her, reached out in faith to Jesus. She knew if she just touched his cloak, she would be healed. At this point I am grabbing the cloak of Jesus daily and giving Him a good shake because this road to wellness is LONG. There's a lot of moments where my trust is not with Him, but with myself and what I want. I want to be better now, today, please. But look at what the power of faith can do! She is instantly healed, and Jesus even feels His power leave Him. And she stops bleeding, too. I like that part. I wanted to know more about this story--who was this woman? What was she all about? Well, interestingly enough, it is St. Veronica! Also known as the woman who wiped the face of Jesus on the Way of the Cross. 
An Orthodox Icon for my Orthodox husband!
How ABSOLUTELY cool, right? St. Veronica wiped the blood, sweat, and tears off the face of Jesus. She knelt down to Him in His suffering to console Him, to clear His sight, as He headed toward the Cross.
I've been reading Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC (10/10 WOULD RECOMMEND), and thinking a lot about the Sacred Heart. How could I be like St. Veronica? How could I wipe the face of Christ and console Him in HIS suffering so as to make clear my suffering? How can I reach out with faith to Jesus? I thought about it for awhile, and then I decided to share this not fun story.
If anyone is struggling with infertility and feeling unwell, please reach out to me! Let's walk this road together because infertility is a suffering that most people will never understand. Let's reach out to Jesus in faith that we can and will be healed.
To find a Creighton instructor in your area, click here. If you are in the Massachusetts area, I HIGHLY recommend Marianna Josephs, FCP. Drop her an email at marianna.rose7@gmail.com.
To Jesus through Mary,
Marian Eno

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