During my third pregnancy, I was under tremendous pressure from family to make this my final pregnancy. My ex-husband had made it very clear that he had never wanted ANY children. I thought the wisest course of action would be to eliminate any possibility of bringing any other children into this difficult and tense atmosphere. However, from the moment I awoke from surgery (c-section/tubal ligation), I knew that I had made a HUGE mistake.
I tried to bury my feelings concerning this decision for the next few years as my marriage continued to deteriorate. Eventually my husband became physically abusive toward me. At one point in time, I suffered a beating so severe that I remained hospitalized for over 3 weeks. It was at that time that I packed my three children and moved to Nashville, TN to begin a new life. I decided to reach for a dream in the music industry. A few months after arriving in Nashville, I met the man that I thought could only exist in a romance novel. It was his love, patience, and understanding that caused me to contemplate marriage again. He has taught me that love involves the desire to SHARE a part of yourself. I had my first three children because I wanted children to complete my life ... it was all about me and the love I had to share! For the first time in my life, I found myself wanting to share the wonderful experience of giving life with someone else. I wanted a little piece of both of us intertwined together into one little being!
Randy and I married in 2/99 ... and life was almost perfect with the exception of my deep desire to have a baby. The stronger our love grew ... the greater my need deepened. I began researching the tubal reversal procedure on the internet. The trail slowly led me to Dr. Levin's doorstep. I sent an email in the early morning hours on a night that I could not sleep ... and within a few hours I received a heartwarming response from Dr. Levin. I was amazed to find a physician that not only responded in such a caring fashion, but with such speed!! From the very first email, he exhibited such a great compassion. It seemed he felt the desperation that resided deep within me ... it wasn't just about the physical possibility of a successful tubal reversal. I sent my medical record of the tubal ligation to Dr. Levin's office ... then we scheduled a telephone consultation. I was so nervous about having a telephone conversation with Dr. Levin for several reasons. I was afraid of a negative response ... and I am basically a quiet, shy, reserved person. It's really quite ironic that I am capable of performing in front of thousands of people, but it is nerve-wracking to have to participate in a simple conversation. However, Dr. Levin quickly made me feel at ease ... and we were deep in conversation in no time at all. At the end of the consultation, I was soaring with hope! I knew that I had found a physician that truly wanted to help women have babies!
I discussed everything with my husband over the next few days. I spent many hours on my knees praying for God to lead in the right direction. Randy and I held a family conference with our four children (ages 12, 11, 8, & 7 at that time). We decided as a family to proceed with the surgery after many hours of discussion about how much this decision could potentially affect each and every one of our lives! The next morning I mailed a check to Dr. Levin's office. The surgery was scheduled for 4/13/00.
I grew more and more nervous as we were awaiting our scheduled surgery date. I gained 20 pounds in less than two months due to nervous binging ... then the day to travel to Louisville was upon us! My husband and I went to Louisville while my parents stayed with the children in Knoxville, TN. We stayed at The Inn for Jewish Hospital. The hotel stay was included in the package offered by Dr. Levin. I must say that our stay at this establishment was a huge disappointment! I will not elaborate on any details, but it was definitely one of the most miserable hotel experiences that I have ever had!!!
The morning after arriving in Louisville, we checked in at the Jewish Hospital. After all the pre-operative orders were complete, I came face-to-face with the compassionate doctor that has been the catalyst in making our life complete! It was a little strange to only meet a surgeon just moments before going to the operating room, but Dr. Levin reassured me. I knew in my heart that we had made the right decision. I remember asking the transporter to stop for a moment as I was being wheeled out the pre-operative room. I searched my husband's eyes and asked if he was sure that he wanted this ... was this surgery something we BOTH wanted? I had already had three children with a man who really never wanted children. I wanted to be sure that I had not pressured Randy into my dream. He smiled such an endearing smile as he whispered a resounding "YES". I think he was amazed that I had stopped to inquire about his wishes.
The surgery lasted for approximately 1 1/2 - 2 hours. After the surgery was complete, Dr. Levin informed my husband that the operation went "perfect" ... although he did not particularly care to use that term because it tends to raise expectations! In recovery, I requested a private room ... but the main hospital had no private rooms available. The nurse kindly informed my husband that a separate wing (The Trager Pavilion) had private suites available for an additional fee. Randy chose the additional cost, and we are so happy that he did agree. We were taken to a quiet secluded patient suite that could have easily compared to that of a 5-star hotel ... elegant decor, luxurious baths, gourmet food service, and comfortable accommodations for my husband! I was unbelievably pampered from the moment the elevator doors opened until the moment I was discharged. I would have even paid the additional funds in order to have spent the following 4 days recovering in this room instead of The Inn at the Jewish Hospital. However, I was discharged after one night to recover for 4 days at the Inn. I returned to Dr. Levin's office to have my staples removed ... then sent home to TN to begin the journey of making a beautiful baby!
I sent my first temperature chart to Dr. Levin via email. It was basically a flat line ... but I wasn't overly concerned because I knew that was something that could be fixed with medications. Dr. Levin called in CLOMID to my local pharmacy, and we could see a difference in the temperature chart immediately. My mind kept telling me that I should be patient because it should just be a matter of time. My temperature chart resembled that of a pregnancy on several occasions ... and my heart would just break when my cycle would eventually start! The mind can play such terrible tricks on the body!!! Dr. Levin was wonderful during this time ... I think he felt as much disappointment and frustration as I did. He ordered some diagnostic tests, but concluded that everything was normal and that there wasn't any reason that pregnancy was unattainable.
I truly believe that God has perfect compassion. He gives us just what we need exactly at the time we need it. My 16-year-old niece called me in November 2000 to inform us that she was pregnant. She asked if we would consider adopting her baby as our own. I wanted a baby in the worse way, and I believed we could offer this baby a better life than what he would have had otherwise. Randy and I agreed that we would put our dream of having a biological baby on hold for a couple of years once the adoption was final. I drove to SC for every doctor's appointment ... then as the due date approached, I moved to SC in order to be close for the baby's arrival. However, my niece informed me that she had changed her mind and wanted to keep her baby on the baby's due date (4/12/01) ... almost one year after my tubal reversal. This was such a devastating blow for me ... the impending arrival of this sweet baby had diverted my obsession with getting pregnant.
After returning to Knoxville, I immediately contacted Dr. Levin. My husband and I made the journey once again to Louisville in order for Dr Levin to perform a post-colital test. It revealed that my husband's sperm was having difficulty penetrating my cervical mucous. I listened as Dr. Levin told me the results, and my heart sank as tears rolled down my cheeks. Dr. Levin suggested the possibility of IVF ... yet I knew that the cost of that procedure would probably eliminate that avenue. We had used most of our savings on the failed adoption. This realization caused me to fall into a deep depression. Randy and I began to argue all of the time about everything. At that point, I emailed Dr. Levin to let him know that we needed to put our dream on hold. I wanted this experience to be a happy time for us ... not so full of stress. I decided that if I miraculously achieved pregnancy then we would be happy ... but we needed a break from the stress of trying, or we were going to lose each other in the process. The reply I received from Dr. Levin was full of understanding and reassurance that he would be available to us when we were ready to proceed again.
A few weeks later (June 5), my niece called once again. She had tried to care for the baby, but she finally realized that she was much too young to raise a baby. She had changed her mind once again. She now wanted us to adopt the baby after all. Randy and I agreed ... but this time we wanted the legal documents signed before we got too involved again. The legal papers were signed by both biological parents, and a couple days later we brought our baby boy home to Knoxville! I was just thrilled! Our attorney petitioned the South Carolina courts for adoption. Randy was adamant that this would be our last baby, but I still wanted a biological child to share. We both agreed to wait a couple of years before making a final decision. Randy commented on one occasion that he did not want to have a newborn AND a pregnant wife. I laughed at the idea, because I was convinced that we would never get pregnant without the IVF. I made an appointment with my GYN to discuss some type of birth control. Unfortunately, between his busy schedule in labor & delivery and my busy schedule with a new baby, we had to reschedule the appointment on three separate occasions. I was finally able to keep my appointment on 7/17. We agreed that I would come in for a Depo shot once my next cycle started. In the meantime, Gage's adoption was proceeding without incident. We appeared in court on 7/31/01 ... and it was final - Gage was now our son. We returned to Knoxville to begin getting our life into some sort of routine. I had switched shifts at work in order to avoid daycare. I truly believe that an infant needs the security of home if at all possible. By the second week of August, I was so exhausted - but I assumed it was because of the shift change. However, I began thinking about my cycle and realized that I was a few days late ... so I bought a pregnancy test. As unbelievable as it was, I had a positive pregnancy test on 8/9/01 ... just 9 days after Gage's adoption was final. I sent my husband a "baby package" to his office to let him know that Baby #6 was on its way. Needless to say, he did not respond with the excitement that I had envisioned! I could understand his apprehension, but my heart was just soaring. My husband was concerned that I would have to stop working at night ... and we had just spent all of our savings on Gage's adoption. He hated living paycheck to paycheck. I assumed that I would breeze through this pregnancy as I did with all the others. I assured my husband over and over again that this pregnancy would not interfere with anything ... especially my work schedule. I could not have been more wrong ... my entire pregnancy was a nightmare. I suffered from severe migraines that affected my vision and causes severe hyperemisis. I was admitted to the hospital for 2-3 days for dehydration on numerous occasions. I was determined to continue working, because I felt so guilty about the assurances I had made to my husband. Finally, my body gave completely out about one month before our daughter was due to arrive. I suffered a moderate stroke (CVA associated with migraines). I woke up one morning and one side of my body was completely numb. I was admitted to the hospital again ... but simply refused to allow my baby to be taken so prematurely if I still had a breath in my body AND the baby was healthy! I struggled through that last month ... mostly in bed. There was no possibility of working. My mother moved in to care for my family, because I simply was not capable of doing so! However, I knew it was worth every moment that I suffered the moment that Dr. McCollum held our baby in front of me to see. She was absolutely perfect ... all of my hopes and dreams were wrapped up in that little girl. I knew this dream became a reality due to the skill, compassion, and faith of a very special doctor . Dr. Levin.
It has been a long recovery, but after 11 months of recuperation (and 3 surgeries to include a complete hysterectomy), I am relatively healthy again and have resumed my normal routine in life. Words from our heart and soul will never be able to describe the gratitude that Randy and I feel toward Dr. Levin .. He was instrumental in turning a dream into reality!