Many of you will remember reading about my oldest daughter, Jordan, over the years. I began writing "Home Place" when she was 12 and in middle school. I've talked about everything from missing her award ceremony to painfully missing her when she veered East to college.
You read about her wedding more than four years ago -- a lot has happened in the years. Some of it is intensely personal, but we decided sharing this story might bring hope and information to many.
Sheila: Although I wondered if I would ever be telling you this, I am ready to shout it to the skies.
Jordan: I'm expecting my first child on Valentine's Day!
Sheila: Yes! I am FINALLY going to be a grandmother. I've already chosen my title ... wait for it ... Grammie! Is it not adorable?
Jordan: She thinks everything surrounding her grandchild-to-be is adorable.
Sheila: While making this announcement is a thrill for Jordan, her husband Gabriel, and the entire gang, it goes deeper than simply happy news.
Jordan: Like any young and presumably healthy couple, my husband and I thought it would be easy to get pregnant. Many a sex-ed class and after-school special had warned us that pregnancy was no doubt right around the corner as soon as we ceased using birth control.
In November of 2009, we decided we would "see what would happen." However, months passed with no results.
For all my adult life, I'd struggled with controlling my weight and strange symptoms, like excessive body hair and aggressive acne. Now those were accelerating. I was embarrassed by my appearance, uncomfortable in my body and, above all, extremely disappointed in my inability to conceive.
I visited my obstetrician in May of 2010, and the tests results showed something I'd only heard of a few times -- a disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, more commonly referred to as PCOS.
I was devastated. I had assumed my weight was a simple matter of improving my exercise and diet. But PCOS is caused by a massive hormone imbalance in a woman's body -- most sufferers are lacking some female hormones and have excess testosterone. Many also suffer from insulin resistance, the precursor to Type II diabetes. PCOS has exploded over the last 30 years, and there are not yet any conclusive theories as to why.
The most devastating symptom of all can be the inability to conceive a child. The mixed up hormones often keep eggs from developing and releasing. Instead they turn into small cysts over the surface of the ovary
My wonderful husband assured me we would fight infertility together. Unfortunately, treating it takes far more than loving support of close family and friends. Between tests, ultrasounds and medications, my monthly bill for fertility treatments often far exceeded my car payment. . The financial toll was great and the emotional costs even higher.
Each month was filled with a roller coaster of hope and then disappointment as the negative pregnancy tests piled up. My days were filled with appointments to be poked, tested for hormone levels, uncomfortable ultrasounds or discussions with my doctor about new and far more expensive treatments.
My husband and I were fortunate to have the time and resources to devote to infertility; we realized not all people are so blessed.
Most people have little experience with infertility, so we were subjected to heart-breaking comments. "When are you two going to have kids already?" some family members would ask. I wanted to fill their ears with tales of the extreme physical discomforts of my fertility treatments as well as the emotional and financial pain we were experiencing.
For some who knew about our struggles, the comments weren't much better. "Just adopt!" they'd say, or 'Just do in-vitro fertilization!" Neither process is easy nor inexpensive, with IVF treatments costing an average of $12,000 per month and domestic private adoption costing as much as $50,000.
There also was the less frequent, "You two just need to relax, and it will happen." Worst of all were the comments suggesting my husband and I simply weren't meant to be parents in the grand cosmic scheme of things.
It's also difficult to escape all of the pregnant people around you, from strangers in the grocery store to yet another friend announcing her pregnancy on Facebook. My husband and I stopped watching certain television shows because of pregnancy story lines. We changed the channel when a Pampers commercial aired. Babies and pregnant women seemed to be everywhere. It was too painful to have to confront, yet again, that we might never hold our child in our arms
After long and expensive months, we managed to conceive. I give most credit to my doctor, a reproductive endocrinologist. I applaud my wonderful friends, my mother and my mother-in-law, who gave me a lot of shoulders to cry on. However, we won't ever forget the intense struggles that brought us to this joyful place.
Sheila: And it is very joyful. I can't wait to kiss my sleeping babykins or open the dryer to find a tumble of tiny Onesies and impossibly small socks. Can't wait to see a small human running down the hall, arms flailing to keep balance, while shouting out "Grammie!"
Jordan: Oh, Mom ... you're so corny.
Resources on Infertility and Polycystic Ovararian Syndrome: