‘For 6 months I would be 23 and go through menopause’: Military spouse’s heartbreaking journey to get pregnant

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First Pregnancy

“The hardest question to answer is when people ask me, ‘How long have you guys been trying?’ It is not because the question hurts, but because I believe there are so many answers. For me, we started trying the second we found out the pregnancy we thought we had was gone.

In 2016, just a few months before our big wedding, my husband and I were convinced we were expecting. I had all the telltale signs of being pregnant, starting with my breasts changing. For a week I went through the motions of nausea, loss of appetite, and fatigue. We ended up calling a doctor in town and they too believed I was expecting. They asked me to wait a couple weeks to come in, and I obliged. Another week went by and my symptoms got more and more prevalent, I even had friends thinking it was happening. I gave in and took a test, but it was negative. I called the doctor back and after crossing numbers, we decided I was still probably pregnant but too early to test. On the third week of thinking we are pregnant, I started cramping and bleeding. Unbearable and paralyzing pain. My husband had to carry me down the stairs and to the hospital. When we arrived, they concluded that they did not know if it was a miscarriage or ruptured cyst. I was sent home with paperwork on ‘spontaneous abortion care,’ and orders to rest, never given a blood test to confirm what had happened.

young husband and wife who went through medically induced menopause smile in selfie
Amanda Desme

For my doctors, our journey probably began when they started pumping so many different medicines into me to make me ‘work right.’ However, for all intents and purposes, we say it all started when we decided I would go through 6 months of medically induced menopause. This 6 months would basically reboot my reproductive system by tricking it into thinking I am going through menopause, coming off it ‘endometriosis free.’ It was two injections into the bum, three months apart. That is where our Journey to Baby D truly began.

In 2007 at 13, I got my first and last period. From then on, I would need medical help getting them (birth control, infertility medicine). In 2013 at 19 I was diagnosed with PCOS, meaning I did not ovulate and had cyst-ridden ovaries. In 2017 I was diagnosed with Endometriosis as well, after undergoing a laparoscopy and D&C following what we believed was our failed pregnancy. In 2018 at 24 I began my relationship with In Vitro Fertilization.

Woman holding a needle to a vile of fertility medication
Amanda Desme

Our Love Story

I married my amazing husband in 2015 after being together for 3 years and before he left to be stationed in North Carolina. It did not take long for our original living plans to change. Just 3 months after being married I packed up my life, quit an amazing job, switched my major, and moved from my parents and Florida for the first time in my life. I never felt like I was giving up my dreams, I was chasing them. Now, he is about to sign for his second enlistment in the Marine Corps, I am a preschool teacher, and we have everything we want, except a tiny piece of both of us.

Bride and soldier kissing on wedding day surrounded by veil
K Ro Wedding and Event Photography

You never imagine that the one thing a woman can do that a man never can would feel impossible to achieve. You never wake up and think, ‘Will I ever be able to have a child?,’ until you hear a doctor tell you, ‘I think we should try something else, this isn’t working.’ You do not know what it feels like to feel empty, to feel broken, to feel like you fail as a wife and as a woman.

Medically Induced Menopause

After finding out I had Endometriosis and 24 cysts on my ovaries, I was left with two options; we could attempt to get pregnant in the month that we had until Nick’s departure, or I could undergo medically induced menopause. The two opposite options each had such unique ways of helping me. By becoming pregnant I would ultimately suppress the endometriosis and be ‘free’ of it for the 9 months I was pregnant. I could suppress it even longer if I decided to breastfeed. All the hormones in my body from a pregnancy would have made the extra misplaced tissue (the endometriosis) go away for a bit.

The menopause was tricking my body in another way. The medication would communicate with my pituitary gland, to my ovaries, to the endo tissue, and stop the growth. With that, my estrogen levels would increase, menopause symptoms would start, and then my period would stop and my levels would decrease. My doctor warned me that many women cannot make it to the second injection, that the symptoms are too much to handle. I took that as a personal challenge to do this. With my husband leaving for Syria just a month later, we were not left with much of a choice.

Nick and I started our infertility journey February 17, 2017, with one shot to the bum! For 6 months I would be 23 and go through menopause. Yes, hot flashes, weight gain, acne, mood swings, you name it I had it. Having my husband worlds away contributed to the downfall of my sanity. We decided we would start sharing our Journey when I started menopause. It was an amazing way for me to release all my emotions while Nick was gone and to be open and spread awareness of infertility. Thus, Journey to Baby D was born.

Needles of fertility medication held in woman's hand
Amanda Desme

New Medications

I was supposed to go through 6 months of menopause and as my body came back from the ‘reproductive reboot’ I would get a period and be able to conceive upon Nick’s arrival back home. As with everything else to that point, it did not go as planned. My body rejected the medicine a week before the 6 months and the endometriosis returned. That was a shot to the gut that I was not prepared for — feeling like I had wasted 6 months of agony and my body had failed my soul. I had failed my husband. So, we waited. We waited for Nick to return and we waited for a period. Seeing my husband walk off that bus was the biggest relief I had felt. I was not alone. I was not broken, I had him to help me be okay again.

Wife smiles holding hands to her face at return of soldier husband
Kitzman Photography
Army husband in camouflage uniform smiling at wife in parking lot
Kitzman Photography

When 4 months had passed, and no progress had been made, we took the next step and began at home medications and injections. For another 4 months I went through an emotional and physical change that I can only describe as feeling like you have lost control. My pills to get my period gave me migraines, anxiety attacks, and depressed days. My injections gave me bruises, shooting pains, and backaches that kept me bedridden. None of it gave me a baby, or even a follicle big enough to try and make one. I was broken.

Husband injecting fertility medication into wife's stomach
Amanda Desme

Each doctor’s appointment I was reminded of the uncooperative uterus and hostile ovaries God had given me. I was told I was the poster child for PCOS, I win at cysts, and I was textbook article worthy. Text. Book. Article. Worthy. Ouch. Nick and I weighed our options, and with another upcoming deployment, we knew time was not in our favor. We made the decision, with the adamant advice of our doctor, to go the IVF route. It was our only option. It took me a day to make a consultation appointment because I knew this was going to work. This was our chance. That office held the tools we needed to be parents. The appointment was amazing. Science is beautiful and magical and hopeful. The excitement of the chance was slowly attacked by the astronomical cost that insurance would not touch. $15,000 – $20,000 to have a child, the cost of a new car to be a parent, 400 packs of pampers. How can you bring yourself to be excited about that? How do I let the anxiety and stress not overpower the happiness? Right now, we just do. We just wake up every day and focus on the goal. Knowing Nick will not be here for the end of our pregnancy, or the birth of this child that we are working so hard to have, is a thought I must put aside. It is one that weighs on me more than I wished it did. But knowing why he is going to be gone makes me that much prouder of him.

Woman who struggled to get pregnant wearing t-shirt in selfie that says," IVF got this"
Amanda Desme

Desire To Be A Mom

I was the little girl growing up who grabbed a baby doll and played mommy while everyone else wanted to be a princess. I took every opportunity and chance to pretend to be a mom. I babysat for cousins and volunteered at my aunt’s preschool class. For as long as I can remember, being a mom was all I wanted. Meeting my husband only solidified that feeling. I knew this amazing man was going to be my partner in bringing a tiny human into the world, and I knew he was going to be amazing. Going through all these struggles for something that comes so naturally to some people has had me question my faith, but has made my love for my husband and my marriage stronger than I had ever imagined.

Husband getting blood work drawn for wife who has fertility issues
Amanda Desme

I have cried over the thought of feeling like I was not enough. I have been told I did not pray enough or want it enough. Every bad doctor’s appointment, every seemingly wasted month, every painful injection has only made me want this more. I wish I could adequately describe the pain and emotional burden that comes with infertility. The constant wants for more, the need for answers, the questioning of everything you thought you believed. I have cried countless tears during this journey, I have prayed endless prayers, I catch myself smiling at just the thought of this working and getting the chance to be a mom. We know the cost for us to have this, and it is worth every penny. The feeling of wanting to be parents could never be measured by any monetary value. We have started a t-shirt campaign to help offset the cost of IVF, but mostly to spread awareness for infertility, for the silent suffering. By wearing our shirts, we are reaching people. By posting on my blog, we are helping people. By being so vulnerable and open, we are spreading love. I was born to be a mom, to give my husband a child, and I know it will happen. We will do what it takes to make it happen. We have faith and one day we will have Baby D.”

Close up of husband and wife kissing on their wedding day covered in veil
K Ro Wedding and Event Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda Desme, 24, of Jacksonville, North Carolina.  Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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