Hannah Bunker »

Waiting for Grace: A Little History

I have high-maintenance ovaries. For educational purposes I’ve written out a timeline of my ovarian history to allow you to follow this post more closely.

  • 1986-My ovaries were made.
  • 1997-My ovaries “matured.”
  • 2007-My ovaries went hay-wire.
  • Present day-My ovaries. Well, they’re still here.

I’ve spent most of my posts telling you about my spiritual and emotional feelings toward infertility and not as much time actually talking about our physical battles with the subject. Not only is infertility an emotional battle, it’s a tremendous physical battle as well. I consider myself a tough person, physically. However, after going through close to a year of fertility treatments, I have to say that what your body goes through is just as much of a tornado.

I grew up never having issues with my reproductive system which was always surprising to me considering I have a family history of female issues. The only thing that might have been considered abnormal were that my periods were life-altering painful. Not life-altering in the sense that I turned into a werewolf (although some may disagree), but life-altering in the sense that when I started a period my cramps would be debilitating and I would miss out on life for a period of time (“Period” of time…get it?).

Once we started seeing a fertility specialist we found out that a nasty case of endometriosis was playing a huge part in my excruciating menstrual cramps. The endometriosis I have since had removed in surgery. I’d like to say that my periods are now pain-free after having the endometriosis cleaned out, but that’s just wishful thinking; although, surgery did help a lot.

The first in-your-face experience I had with my reproductive system was in 2007, my senior year of college, after I was engaged. Aaron and I would carpool to school every morning so we could take the HOV lane. This particular September morning I woke up and was getting ready and I was almost finished when Aaron arrived at my house to pick me up so we could head to campus. I quickly ran to the door to let him in and as soon as I opened the door, a shooting, piercing pain shot through my lower abdomen that immediately brought me to the floor. I started moaning in pain and couldn’t move from the fetal position. I was glad that I had already opened the door because I couldn’t move. Aaron scooped me into his arms and carried me to my bedroom and laid me in the bed while, through my sobs, I managed to tell him what happened.

After a lengthy debate about whether or not to visit the ER, Aaron cradled me in his arms, carried me to the car and drove me toward the emergency room.

Emergency rooms are like purgatory. There are so many levels to go through. During our two hour wait I was finally able to sit up although I was still experiencing some shooting pains and major cramps. Aaron called my mom at work and by the time we made it back to the exam room, she had arrived.

If I could give you any one solitary piece of life advice it would be this: NEVER allow your mom and your fiancé in the same room while you’re being interrogated by doctor after doctor about your sexual activity, especially if you are an unmarried college student still living at home. It was the perfect setup for my mother to find out if Aaron and I were fooling around; I was under oath by the doctors. I was completely innocent, since Aaron and I didn’t have sex until we were married, but the awkwardness of that situation is giving me the shivers even now, four years later.

“Is there any way you could be pregnant?”

My eyes darting between my mother and my future husband. “No.”

“You’re engaged?”


“And you couldn’t be pregnant? Say, have an ectopic pregnancy?”

Seeing my mother’s raised eyebrow and Aaron’s look of terror, “Only if you believe in immaculate conception.”

They asked me a million times, “Are you SURE you can’t be pregnant?” determined that pregnancy was the issue.

“NO! I can’t be pregnant! Please stop asking!”

Every person who came in the room did an exam. Hopefully none of them was the janitor. Or another patient.

I kid.

The doctors decided to do an internal ultrasound. I may be a pro at ultrasounds now, but at this point in my life, it would be my first experience. And as if questioning me about my sexual activity wasn’t enough, I was subject to being probed with both my mother and my fiancé present in the same room. I wish I would have asked everyone to leave during the exam, including the doctor.

It was quite an ovation into my reproductive experience. At the end of a million questions, 50 ultrasounds, exams by every doctor in the hospital, and an uncountable amount of awkwardness, they determined that I had a cyst on my ovary that, at the moment I felt the knife-stabbing pain, made my ovary twist (and shout) and caused the cyst to burst. Thankfully that was the extent of the damage at that time. They prescribed me ibuprofen and Vicodin and sent me home.

Though this experience was very small in the grand scheme of all the medical issues I have been through, with it being the first I remember thinking that maybe this experience was foreshadowing that we were going to have a hard time having kids. I didn’t dwell on it much at the time since having kids was light years in the future. Now, I’m looking back and thinking that maybe it was a warning sign.

But what could we have done?

It’s not in our hands

It’s in His.

To read more about our infertility struggle, visit my Waiting for Grace series.

  • Kyla - I had a ruptured ovarian cyst once and OMG worst pain ever!! It actually ruptured almost right after Josh and I had (oversharing alert!!)…well, you know…and he could not have felt worse about it. Then we got to tell EVERYONE from the triage nurse to the interns to the residents to the attending what had transpired. Then they had us act it out using shadow puppets…okay, that last part is an exaggeration. But at least my mom wasn't there. 😉 ReplyCancel

  • Maddy - I hear you on the awkwardness! Once I was on vacation with my dad in Dominican Republic – just the two of us. We were out in the middle of nowhere, when I literally passed out from pain in my abdominal area. We went to a village doctor who suggested to my dad that I might be pregnant and that I should check with my doctor when I returned home. Mind you I was a freshman in college and even though my dad was very good about not showing it, I knew he was freaking out inside. I was not pregnant, but I did have some ovarian cysts that were causing the pain. Luckily, I've never experienced that pain again, but I have that awkward moment with my dad to share for a lifetime 🙂 ReplyCancel

  • Taylor - Hannah. I've suffered through endometriosis since I was 16 (part of some of my absences in high school). Mine would happen so severely, I would have to pull over and the pain would cause a panic attack as well. I've had a laparascopy in 2008 but mine was simply a "cleaning out" where they removed four baseball sized masses of scar tissue. I've seen several doctors who all tell me that when I turn 30, I'm banned from getting pregnant and a total hysterectomy is recommended in my case. It gets worse every year and with every child. I don't understand your fertility issues on a personal-experience basis but I AM able to sit with you on the endometriosis.

    I've just read your entire Waiting for Grace blog and I finally feel able to comment on something. We aren't close friends but I wish you and Aaron everything you're seeking for and that when you do get pregnant, you're one of the lucky ones that endo goes away for (some women are so lucky, after a child the scar tissue never grows back- I'm not one of them). ReplyCancel

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