“Have you ever had a dream or desire that was placed in you so young that growing up it’s all you could think about? That was me. At five years old I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be the greatest stay at home mom there ever was, and I was learning from the best. Being the oldest girl of eight children, my mom was teaching me everything I needed to know. I fell in love with caring for little ones, spending time in the kitchen, watching them grow, and helping provide them with opportunities to succeed.
My husband and I have always been the type of couple who knows what we want and will stop at nothing to get there, but here we are waiving a white flag, still childless. After almost three years of trying, 14 failed medicated cycles, and countless pauses due to complications; we fall defeated but rise to survive. Our journey together began on April 9, 2016, and it was the absolute best day of our lives. We may have been young, but at twenty and twenty-three we could finally begin living out our greatest dreams. We were naive but very much in love and the desire to share that love with children was undeniable. They say it happens so easy, you don’t even have to try, and before you know it you’ll be pregnant. Coming from big and fertile families why would we be any different? We were ready and fully expected to see two lines within the first couple of months, or so we thought.
Six months in to trying to conceive naturally I knew something was not right. I always had irregular cycles growing up, but the doctors always said becoming sexually active would straighten things out; it didn’t. I went from maybe having two cycles a year to one every other week, knowing well enough we could not get pregnant like this. This lead to my first appointment with a new doctor. After expressing my concerns in hopes of getting some answers all I received was laugher, an obvious anatomy lesson, and no exam. His exact words before leaving the room, ‘Come back in a year, and if things haven’t worked themselves out we can talk again. Go home and enjoy your life.’ I walked out of that room confused, angry, mortified, and embarrassed. How is this normal?! When will it work itself out?! I left that day with nothing, and the problems continued. At this time Aaron was furious. He did not agree with the way I was treated, and ready to find a new doctor right away.
As badly as I wanted to search out other opinions I was also terrified of being mocked and laughed at again. I continued to cycle every 7 to 10 days for another six months and in June of 2017 I said enough was enough. I reached out to my old doctor and sacrificed an hour drive to get some honest answers. After telling her my story and the results of the previous appointment, she was in shock. ‘This is NOT normal, there must be something wrong.’ This made Aaron and I uneasy yet comforted all at the same time. After she completed an exam we found the cause for my frequent cycles, but nothing clear leading to infertility. She agreed if everything was working properly we would have conceived, and recommended taking action. We were excited and unsettled all a once, two emotions that became all too frequent. After all of Aaron’s test came back normal it was now up to me. My doctor was confident by putting me on Clomid in one to three months we would finally see those two lines we had desired for so long. Moving forward was such a great feeling and we were so positive and confident it would work. We even got to the point where we calculated when the baby would be due, thought of names, and even brainstormed ideas on how we could tell our families! I even spent the extra money on one of those digital test so I could see the word…..not pregnant. Wait..what?? It had to be a mistake. I was late, we did everything right, this was supposed to work. Treatment was supposed to be a sure thing…or so we thought. I have never been much of a crier and to be completely honest I could probably tell you the amount of times I have cried since being married on one hand. Every single time those tears have flowed, were a result of another failure. I felt hopeless and was constantly reminded that my body could not do the one thing it was made to do; I continually and repeated had to let my husband down. Aaron and I were confused yet again, but not willing to give up. ‘Sometimes it takes a couple months, don’t worry it will happen.’ My doctor continually reassured us. Month after month, 50mg to 300mg, and even cycles of Femara; we continued to be defeated. When we came up on a year of trying with my OBGYN I’ll never forget my last appointment. Tears filled both of our eyes as she spoke the words, ‘There is nothing more I can do for you here, you need to see a specialist.’ My heart broke. How was this real life? I was only 22 years old, how was my body failing at the one job it was supposed to do, the only job I wanted it to do. How were we supposed to go on?
Clinging to our faith we decided it was best to take a break. Give our mind and bodies time to heal in hopes it would lead us down the right path. Two months went by, and we were ready to take action. My previous doctor had several clinic pamphlets but only gave us the ‘best of the best.’ We called to make an appointment right away and so our hour and a half long commute to a specialist began. Leaving our first consultation, we were more hopeful than ever. With our history on fertility medications combined with more testing we found out my body does not produce estrogen as it should. Although my case was rare the doctor was positive in a couple months injections would work. I mean it had to, right? Menopur injections were it, the end of the road, our LAST option. Starting right away, I began on a low dose of Menopur nightly with routine scans to track my progress. The thought of giving myself shots was terrifying. I’ve never been afraid of needles but I was never the person giving the shot. Now I was supposed to stick MYSELF every single day. When I was finally able to force myself into it, I realized it wasn’t so bad; sure it burned like hell, but the pain without a child was far worse. Twenty one days later, 75ui soon became 300ui, as my body was slow to react and my stubborn follicles would not grow. Thankfully they eventually did, and we were able to pull the trigger.
A few days later I was struck with pain I had never felt before. I looked six months pregnant and with every step I took felt like knives stabbing my abdomen. Calling my doctor in fear, we learned my body overreacted to the drugs and put me on bedrest for a week. The overstimulation of my ovaries made them over four times larger than the normal woman; and an ultrasound couldn’t even tell the difference of which was left or right. Due to fluid build up the pain was excruciating, and I felt like my abdomen was going to explode. Seeking comfort, I slept on the coach for days praying it would all be worth it. However, as unfortunate as OHSS may be, my doctor reassured us it often leads to many positives. We were hopeful. Then it happened, I didn’t even get to the point where I could test this time before I was reminded motherhood was not nine months away. Broken hearted and confused, we remembered to keep faith and patience on our side. One failed round led to two and soon the third. You would think after so many heartbreaking months it would get easier, but the longer you try, the more invested you become. This last time my numbers started off slow but were better than ever, almost to the point where our chances of conceiving multiples were too great. As if another failure wasn’t bad enough I ended up with a severe case of OHSS. This lead to not one, but two weeks of bedrest this time.
Confusion is the only word that comes to mind at this point. Why does all this bad stuff keep happening to us? What did we do to deserve this? Sure we could point fingers and blame, but we knew the only way we were going to get through this was to come together. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t more tension between us, the anger from all the set backs mentally takes a toll. Thankfully we have always been on the same page, and believe it or not have never fought throughout the entire process. We are blessed together and as a couple have only grown stronger, but apart we crumble.
The first week of my bedrest we were hopeful there was still a chance. However, when the second followed with a single line I ended up on the floor. To make matters worse my doctor claims treatment other than IVF is too dangerous and potentially no longer an option. Talk about kicking someone when they are already down. How were we going to survive this one? As a couple we had decided IVF was not an option, so now what?? We are broken and defeated, lost and confused, but strong and willing. Sharing our story to educate, enlighten, and destroy the taboo infertility so often brings. We know our openness makes others uncomfortable but this is not about them. As tears too often fill our eyes, we share this because we know we are not alone. Infertility can feel like such a lonely place. We can pray, be patient, and ‘relax’ all day long, but in the end sometimes all a couple needs is support. I promise you are not going to catch it, and the stares and assumptions from afar hurt much worse than any questions that can be asked. Infertility has so many causes, and the pain and suffering it bears is brutal.
For a lack of better words this journey sucks. Seeing so many negative test cause more heartbreak than I ever could have imagined. Sometimes you just want to quit, pack up and leave, be mad at the world, and scream at God; but where would that get us? Some days I am not okay, but in time I have learned to pick up the pieces and continue on. Our lives are worth living, and we may not understand why now but someday we will. No matter how hard it may be, if sharing our story can encourage or give support to at least ONE person in this space, it is beyond worth it. No one has to walk this journey alone, and we may not have our children now but soon enough God will lead us to a greater light providing us with a life brighter than we ever could have imagined. As for now we will continue to wait, pray, and let our mind and bodies heal before seeking further treatment. God knew well before we did how much we needed each other and it is the only thing that has kept us alive. The love we felt for each other three years ago is nothing compared to what we have now. This unfortunate circumstance has allowed us to not only grow as a couple, but as a couple in faith. Our vision in life looks far different that we originally planned but the amount of wisdom and clarity we have gained is more enlightening than we ever could have imagined. This journey has opened our eyes to the true meaning of life and marriage, as we two, have truly become one. It is not my health problems, but ours; I am not infertile as much as we. Our journey does not end here, and although patience is never easy we are strong enough to know we will never quit. We will have a family one day. Biologically or adopted, we fully intend to share all the love in our hearts with children one way or another. This may not have been the way we imagined it, but this is just a chapter in our story thats just beginning.”
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