‘After a year of disappointment and failed tests, I was diagnosed as ‘infertile.’ INFERTILE. It crushed me.’: Wife discusses experience of infertility, IVF and pregnancy 

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“Since I can remember, the one thing I wanted most out of life was to be a mom. I watched my friends get married, have babies, and then more babies. While I was extremely happy for them, it was slowly killing me on the inside.

In 2012, a flicker of hope had appeared. At a golf outing for my high school sports boosters, I would meet my eventual husband. We both had attended the same high school years prior, and had several close mutual friends, but we had never met before this day. We became Facebook friends and he quickly invited himself to a local trivia night I was coordinating. Less than a year later, in front of our family and close friends on a private beach in South Haven, Michigan, we said ‘I do.’

Bride and groom stand smiling with Lake Michigan in background
Courtesy of Amy Harris

Mike knew my desire to become a mom and was 100% on board. He had two sons already but loved being a dad and loved the thought of welcoming a new baby into our family. Even with no pregnancy symptoms or missed periods, I would still take a pregnancy test month after month with the hope I’d see a positive one (I never trusted the test with the lines, I needed the words, ‘Pregnant’ or ‘Not Pregnant’). And month after month, more disappointment: ‘Not Pregnant’ blaring back at me.

After a year of disappointment and failed tests, I was diagnosed as ‘infertile.’ INFERTILE. It crushed me. There was no basis for the diagnosis (other than I couldn’t get pregnant) as the fertility clinic couldn’t find anything medically wrong with me causing the infertility. We spoke to our doctor about our options and decided we would try IVF.

So many women go through IVF and know the emotional and physical toll of the process. A color-coded monthly schedule with the types of medications needed to take each day, their dosages, the times to take them. Pills, syringes, shot after shot. In the leg, in the abdomen, in the butt cheek. Hoping and praying that after all of this, the end result would be a baby. When the day came for my egg retrieval, we harvested over 20 eggs. From those, we had 6 embryos. On the day of our anticipated implantation, we drove the hour to the clinic expecting to have two embryos implanted. I was excited, nervous, scared. But this was it. This is exactly the moment I had been anticipating for SO LONG. Through the heartache and disappointment, we were about to be pregnant with twins.

When we arrived, we were informed only one embryo made it to day 5. ONE. What if we implanted it and it didn’t work? Then what? All of this for nothing? Mike reminded me it only took one to have a baby. He was right. It did only take one. And if this was my chance and it worked, it would all be worth it. My doctor checked me out and delivered the news: I was over stimulated, and she would not implant the one remaining embryo. I was crushed. I arrived there expecting to go home with two embryos implanted, and I left with nothing but heartache.

We discussed our options and our doctor suggested another round of IVF. After all, we only had one embryo and if it didn’t work, we’d be back to square one. ANOTHER ROUND OF IVF? I didn’t know if I could put my body (and marriage!) through it again. But I knew it would greatly improve my chances of becoming a mom. Sure enough, after round two, we had an additional five embryos. I’m a competitive person and was so proud of myself and my body for really pulling through that round…I had won! Now let’s do this!

Husband and wife who are infertile stands smiling with Lake Michigan in background
Courtesy of Amy Harris

Back we went for our implantation. Even though I knew we had six good embryos, I tried not to get my hopes up. Surely something would be wrong again and this wouldn’t happen for me. It just wasn’t in the cards. The doctor checked me out and again, ‘you’re over stimulated.’ WHAT? AGAIN? How? Did you give me too many meds? Why is this happening over and over? Couldn’t you figure it out the first time and adjust accordingly? But she wasn’t done. ‘There is no way I’ll implant two, but, you’re healthy otherwise and I’m willing to implant one.’ My heart sunk down to my stomach with excitement. This was happening. Right here, right now. This was going to happen.

We were guided to the room and witnessed (via an ultrasound) the miracle of an embryo being implanted. And just like that, I had heard the words I had longed to hear. ‘Congratulations! You’re pregnant.’

Ultrasound of embryo being implanted
Courtesy of Amy Harris

Anyone who has been through IVF knows the first couple of weeks are the hardest. If you take a test, it could show a false positive. I tried to wait until my official blood test for confirmation, but I couldn’t. While on vacation in a hotel room in Minnesota on a hot July day, I FINALLY read the word on the test ‘Pregnant.’

I had a textbook pregnancy. And on March 16, 2016, 2.5 weeks early, our beautiful little strawberry-blond, Mali Rae, made her debut via C-section (Mali is pronounced like Sally but with an M). While they were closing me up, I looked over at this gorgeous girl of mine on the scale. I was overcome with emotion. I was a mom. This little tiny miracle was my baby and she was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen.

Mother who just had c-section lays in operating room looking at newborn who is being held in front of her
Courtesy of Amy Harris

I was fortunate to stay home with her the first five months of her life. When I went back to work, I found myself overwhelmingly tired. I attributed it to a newborn, being back in the office, and getting up early to workout. I started paying a little more attention to my symptoms and noticed I was also experiencing some mild dizziness. On a whim, I grabbed a pregnancy test while I was grocery shopping. They didn’t have the ‘ones with the words,’ so I settled for the lines. I went home, took the test, and got the shock of my life. I saw the lines. There’s NO way this was right. I can’t get pregnant on my own. Plus, I have a new baby. I can’t raise two of them. Convinced the ‘lines’ test wasn’t accurate, I went to a local Walgreens to find a test with ‘the words.’ PREGNANT. There it was again! PREGNANT. Oh my God. It was true. I was having another baby. Shock quickly turned to happiness, gratefulness. We made an appointment that week at my local OBGYN and heard the heartbeat. I was already nine weeks along. On May 17, 2017, our son, Casey Alexander, completed our family. To say that my heart was extremely full would be understatement. No words could accurately describe the happiness I felt. All the years of heartache and disappointment had quickly been overshadowed with sincere gratitude for the life I had been given.

Grandmother holds toddler while they stand above newborn in hospital room
Courtesy of Amy Harris
Toddler sits while her new baby sibling is in her lap
Courtesy of Amy Harris
Little girl lays on ground resting on large stuffed animal beside her baby brother
Courtesy of Amy Harris

We were ecstatic we were able to conceive on our own, without going through the process of IVF again. At the time of our IVF cycles, I never considered we may have unused embryos. My goal was to become successfully pregnant, and I didn’t know how many that would take. We looked at our options for the remaining 5 embryos: destroy, donate to ‘research,’ or give them up for adoption to someone who was unable to conceive on their own.

Destroy was not an option for me – after all, these were actual embryos, not just an egg. I asked what ‘research’ meant, thinking it may be stem cell research or ways to help find a cure for cancer. Nope. It meant they would train staff how to thaw frozen embryos. No thanks.

Then we found Snowflakes, an agency that works with donors and recipients on embryo adoption. The process included blood tests, medical releases, countless pages of paperwork, legal jargon, and so much more. It was grueling. But deep down, my husband and I both knew this was the right decision for us and our babies.

We filled out our preferences for the receiving person/couple. We didn’t care about if he/she was married, their religion, their sexual preference…we just wanted to make sure it was someone who would love these children. Snowflakes indicated that with our ‘requirements’ it wouldn’t be long before we were matched with someone.

Parents who were told they were infertile sit on couch outside with their young son and daughter in their laps
Courtesy of Amy Harris

Within a week, we had a match. We had the opportunity to review the application and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – if we said ‘yes,’ the couple would then get to approve us or pass.

As soon as I opened the application, read their story, saw the pictures… I cried. Not because I was regretting my decision of giving ‘my’ babies to someone else, but because I knew right away they were the ones meant to raise these kids. I laughed, I cried…I immediately fell in love with ‘John’ and ‘Jane.’

Within a week, they had approved us. Final arrangements were made to have all five embryos shipped to their clinic. And shortly after, Jane found out she was pregnant.

Today, Jane is pregnant with a baby boy due in January, just four days after my birthday. We communicate occasionally by email, and she has expressed, repeatedly, we are the answers to all of their prayers. They will let their children know how much we loved them and our willingness to give them a chance at life. It is SO incredible being a part of something so much bigger than yourself.”

Mother who thought she was infertile closes her eyes while kissing forehead of baby asleep on her lap
Courtesy of Amy Harris

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amy Harris of Gilbert, Arizona. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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