An Introduction to Tabitha Renee: Her Conception Story by Heather Bowles
I am 36, and Tabitha is my only child. I have struggled with my fertility for years. I suffer from PCOS, which among other nasty symptoms, causes weight gain and low metabolism, which puts pressure on all those vital internal organs that are necessary to make a baby. Hormonally speaking, it’s rather unpleasant, as well. Higher testosterone levels lead to unwanted hair growth, mood swings, and an inability to have normal expectations for a monthly cycle. The medical community has only in recent years begun to develop effective treatments, and it’s still not a widely understood condition, although if recent research pans out, it is believed to have roots in insulin resistance. Naturally, I’m a carbohydrate addict, which only makes it worse. Tabitha’s conception story is therefore nothing short of amazing.
In September of 2010, I suffered a spontaneous miscarriage. I didn’t know until it happened that I was even pregnant, so I didn’t spend long crying about it. I was more stunned than anything else. I had always wanted a child, but by age 35, I had decided it just wasn’t happening. If one could call miscarriage a blessing, this one certainly was, because it was just the push I needed to get healthy and start trying to make pregnancy happen. My husband had recently gotten a job offer from a local dairy company, and the benefits were good. I started seeing a specialist 6 weeks after the miscarriage.
The first thing he did was put me on The Pill. I was so confused. I wanted to have a kid, not stop my chances. Somehow, this doctor managed to convince me that it would “even me out” and make conception possible. The next 3 months were so irritating. I chafed at the thought of getting older while I waited for the doctor to decide it was time to try.
After 3 months, my specialist put me on an experimental cocktail of hormone changing drugs. For the first 5 days of my cycle, I took a pill originally used to treat breast cancer. It caused my estrogen level to drop, which in turn prompted my ovaries to form a handful of follicles that could be cultivated as eggs. Then I went in for an ultrasound where they measured their size for viability. Assuming I had at least 1 good size egg popping out, the nurse would call this little apothecary shoppe down the street from their office where I would pick up a syringe of freshly mixed hormones and deliver it back upstairs and endure having it shot into my hip.
After that, it was about timing the sex for maximum exposure to my husband’s sperm. Sex suddenly turned into work instead of romance. For 5 months, we went through the ritual, and every month, the bloodwork would come back disappointingly negative. If anyone thought I was moody when my PCOS was untreated, they certainly wouldn’t have liked me on the hormones. I could barely stand being in my own skin. I was quick to anger, and even quicker to cry. At the end of 5 months of treatment, the doc said he could do nothing more for me, but if I wanted to consider in vitro, or some alternative therapy, he knew an endocrinologist that specialized in tough fertility cases. I walked out of his office with her number, and the next morning, I scheduled my first consultation with her.
As luck would have it, I never got to go to that appointment. Three days after scheduling it, my husband came home from work with news. Bad news. He had been laid off from his job. Being the most recently hired driver, he got the axe when they lost a driving contract with a regional chain of grocery stores. So now we were broke, had medical bills to pay stemming from co-pays and deductibles not met, and no way of paying our rent. I spent weeks crying about it. I just knew in my heart that it had all been for nothing. Still, some stubborn piece of me went through the motions. For 2 months, I charted my periods, which started getting further apart almost immediately after my body was left to regulate it’s own hormones with no medical intervention. Without my husband’s knowledge, I timed our sexual encounters to land as near the center of my cycle as I could estimate. In August of 2011, after several mornings of being unable to keep breakfast down, I bought a set of two over the counter pregnancy tests. The first one came back negative, but I continued to throw up for 5 more days. I took the second test, and there they were: two perfectly pink lines.
Tabitha was seven weeks old on Tuesday. She has started smiling this week, so we’re excited about that. Her smile lights up her whole face, and makes her even prettier, if that’s even possible. She only grows more beautiful each day, and we’re so blessed to have her. I hope I never forget it.