My husband and I struggled to get pregnant with our first child. Unlike the majority of my friends, we just couldn’t seem to get it right. We suffered through (and I say suffer because we truly did suffer throughout our journey) countless months of stark white pregnancy tests, obsessive cycle tracking, crazy diets, and roller coaster emotions before we set foot in a fertility clinic.
My Infertility Story
That was just the beginning. The fertility clinic wasn’t exactly the wave of the magic wand I had assumed it would be. After our consultation and tests, we were told that our options were slim. We had less than a 1% chance of becoming pregnant on our own, and because I had been so diligently charting my cycles, tracking ovulation and timing sex, it didn’t appear that there was any “easy fix”. Five rounds of fertility drugs and trigger shots had proved that to be true.
I knew in my gut that a treatment like IUI (intrauterine insemination) was not the answer for us; so we took a leap and chose to try IVF. We didn’t really have the money for it, but we knew we could manage by taking out no-interest credit cards and with some help from our families.
IVF Take One
IVF is a PROCESS, to say the least. Eight weeks of pills, perfectly timed shots multiple times a day, estrogen patches, regular visits to the clinic for ultrasounds to check progress and two procedures – one for the egg retrieval and one for the embryo transfer. Not to mention the hysteroscopy and cervical dilation procedures I had to have in preparation.
The 4-5 days between retrieval and transfer were agonizing; sitting at home, waiting for any update on fertilization and the status of our hopeful babies. It’s amazing how you can go from the excitement of retrieving a dozen or so eggs to anxiety because less than 3/4 fertilized and then only three of those progressed to a quality worth transferring. We transferred two, day 5 embryos and the third, of average quality, went to freeze.
I spent the next 10 days being violated by 1.5” PIO (progesterone in oil) needles, insane emotions, and constant symptom analyzing. On October 20, 2015, my father and best friends’ birthday and the day I had circled on my calendar as “baby day”, we received the news that we were not pregnant. It was one of the worst days of my life and a day I will never forget. But it is also the day I started telling the world my story in hopes to not only comfort others, but to comfort myself and to help break the stigma of infertility.
IVF Take Two
At our follow-up appointment, we decided the best plan of action was to completely start over. The one frozen embryo that we had did not look promising. This time we were going to have our embryos genetically tested. We went through another retrieval, which brought us only 9 eggs (which was depressing when I kept hearing of other women having 20+ collected) and 5 made it to freeze. They were sent off for testing and to our surprise, all but the ONE we transferred were abnormal.
We had ONE shot. And it was likely to be our last because after spending $30k+, we likely couldn’t afford a third round of IVF. I spent the 10 days after that transfer looking into applying for grants and began researching adoption agencies. My mind was made up that this wasn’t going to work.
Our First Positive Pregnancy Test!
Much to my surprise, on February 1, 2016, our beta came back positive at a 697! The number the doctor likes to see is 100, so that was AMAZING. I even managed to surprise Nick with a pregnancy announcement while he was at work because I got the results earlier than expected. We were over the moon. Our second beta (which should be at least double the first number) came back at 2003! It had nearly TRIPLED. We were officially pregnant.
A Big Surprise
Our first ultrasound at 6w3d revealed not just one healthy baby, but TWO! In a twist of events and a blessing from God, our one embryo had miraculously split into two. We were expecting identical twins.
Mono-di twins (this means two amniotic sacs but only one placenta) are very high risk as there is a chance that they could develop twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. This is when there is an unequal sharing of the placenta and is very dangerous with a high mortality rate. I had some heavy spotting that landed us in the ER early on and horrendous morning sickness for the first 18 weeks, but besides that, we were blessed with a very healthy and comfortable twin pregnancy.
Becoming a Mom, Becoming ME
The twins were brought into the world at 36w2d on September 12, 2016, via c-section. They were perfectly healthy and required no NICU time. I was finally a mother and I knew from the moment I laid eyes on my two perfect little girls that being a mother was my purpose.
I now run a successful blog, thepatientmom.com. What began as a private way to share my infertility journey evolved into a public space for sharing my life. It includes information on TTC and infertility, motherhood, raising multiples, crafting and more. My infertility journey was the most difficult period of my life. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. However, looking back on it now, having come out on the other side with three beautiful children (something I know so many other families do not and whom my heart aches for on a daily basis), I am able to see the beauty in the struggle and reflect on the many ways infertility changed me for the better.
The Many Ways Infertility Made Me a Better Person
Through Infertility, I Found My Voice
And now I won’t shut up (haha). In all seriousness, writing has always been a passion of mine but I never had the courage to share it. The day I decided to speak my truth and share my story was the day I really became myself. I am a woman with battle wounds, scars, regrets, and fears; just like so many others. Writing about that and letting others in, built me up and made me stronger. I have a gift for telling the truth without regret and for making others feel safe enough to confide in me.
I am Devoted to Helping Others
Since opening up about my struggles I have had countless women (and even men) reach out with me to share their own. Some have just wanted to talk and relate, others have sought advice. There is power in numbers and knowing you are not alone when walking this path makes such a huge difference. If you have a question or a story to share, I am always ready to listen and offer advice. I know far too much about ovulation, foods that help with fertility and the best times to have sex to keep that all to myself!
Self-Forgiveness Is SO Important
For a long time, I blamed myself for my inability to get pregnant. Even when the doctors couldn’t find anything physically wrong with me, I blamed my mental health, my anxiety and panic disorder. I blamed my years of birth control pills and college drinking binges. It was so difficult for me, being a woman, to not be able to do what my body was ultimately “made to do” and reproduce. I felt like a failure.
Only when I decided to forgive myself for past mistakes and focus on the future, did I really begin to heal and have hope. I accepted that things were out of my control. I vowed that I would have a family someday, whether it be through IVF, donor eggs, surrogacy or adoption. Having made that realization has continued to help me in the present day. I continue to forgive myself for my past mistakes and try to accept that I can’t control everything.
I Have a Stronger Relationship with My Husband
Infertility brings out ALL the emotions: the good, the bad and the ugly. Not just for me but for my husband as well. It took me some time to realize it was just as much his struggle as it was mine. That he was allowed to be angry, stressed and upset. We took turns being each other’s rock and really got to know each other on a deeper level. It’s definitely not all sunshine and daisies every day, but we are better in tune with one another’s needs which has really helped our relationship in the long run.
I Have a New Appreciation for Science and Modern Medicine
Holy crap, science is amazing! Before infertility, I had never really thought about it. But now I have such a huge appreciation for doctors, nurses, scientists, and engineers. They helped me to MAKE A BABY OUTSIDE OF MY BODY. What a freaking miracle! I now go out of my way (as I think everyone should) to show my appreciation to everyone in the medical and health fields.
Don’t Be Quick to Assume and Stay Out of Other Peoples’ Business!
Just because someone doesn’t currently have children does not necessarily mean they do not WANT them. You can’t possibly know the full story. They could be silently struggling like I was for so long, or perhaps they have tried and tried, reached their breaking point, and had to come to terms with being childless. Or maybe they just don’t want kids. Kids are not for everyone! Either way, what I have learned is not to ask couples about children at all. From experience, it is like putting salt in a wound. This same lesson can apply to so many other walks of life!
Don’t Take Things for Granted, Count Your Blessings, & Appreciate What You Have
If my infertility struggles taught me one thing, it is to be so dang thankful for the three children I was blessed with. Because of that, I know that I am a better person and a better mother than I think I would have been if getting pregnant had been easy. My children are my everything! I might be a little extra when it comes to #momlife, and perhaps I overcompensate, but no one can ever say I did not love my children enough or that I did not spend enough time with them.