‘I knew why they were there. Our child appeared on the screen, only this time something was different.’: Wife documents ups and downs of infertility journey 

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“My husband and I met in college and married a few short years after I graduated. Our plan was to enjoy our first years of marriage, buy a house and get settled in before having children. After finishing renovations to our house, we decided the time was right and we would start trying. We started trying without using any sort of ovulation kits because we assumed we knew when I ovulated and would just do the deed during that week. After a few unsuccessful months, and people around me getting pregnant much quicker, I started to get worried but thought maybe we just weren’t doing it right.

After a year of being unsuccessful, I started to panic and my OB suggested I go to a fertility specialist. I remember arguing with my husband about this route of treatment. I thought there was something wrong with us and he felt we were young and healthy and nothing could possibly be wrong. After some persuading, I made an appointment and we went. I remember walking into the doctor’s office, feeling embarrassed and looking into the faces of other women. I knew why they were there, I just wondered what their story was. Our names were finally called and when we entered the room, the doctor stared at us and I remember bursting out into tears and feeling like there was something wrong with us. I started the process of fertility treatments that began with multiple tests and cycle monitoring. In that particular office with that particular doctor, I felt like a number, not a name. Before my cycle was up, I had already put a call into my doctor expressing my disappointing experience and how I did not want to go back.

Courtesy of Corrine Unterstein

As we waited for my period to come, and start a new cycle, my husband and I realized that our wait was a little longer than usual. There was no way this could be possible. We hadn’t received any treatment, we were just doing what we normally did every other unsuccessful month. Only this month, when I peed on the stick, I saw words I’ve never seen before… ‘pregnant!’

We couldn’t believe it! We immediately shared the news with those who were aware of our situation, but waited until we saw the heartbeat to tell our parents and siblings. Well, come 7 weeks later, we saw our beautiful baby with that undeniably cute flicker of a heartbeat. After another successful appointment at 8 weeks, my doctors directed us to come back at 12 weeks.  I asked if we could come back at 10 weeks and my doctor agreed we could. Our 10-week appointment came and as I anxiously laid there, holding my husband’s hand with a big smile on both of our faces, our child appeared on the screen, only this time something was different. I immediately noticed that beautiful flicker that I loved seeing so much, was no longer there. I frantically scanned the screen, but could not find it. Before I knew it, I heard myself say out loud, ‘where is the heartbeat.’ The silence from the doctor gave us the answer we did not want to hear.

Why me? I did my time, I waited for this to finally happen. And when pregnancy finally happened, it was taken from me.  The plans I had already made up in my head, the memories we were going to make, were all gone! My doctor explained how sorry he was and how when there is something ‘wrong’ with the baby, the pregnancy terminates itself. He told me this wasn’t my fault, and these things happen. I didn’t want to hear any of it.

With tears rolling down my face, hand in hand with my husband, we walked out of the office facing our hardest loss, our baby. We had to schedule our D&C, as I was told I was too far along for any other option. I decided not to get the procedure done the following day as it was my last day of the school year and didn’t want to miss the day. Honestly, going to work felt normal to me, and at that point, all I wanted to do was feel normal. My D&C was scheduled for that Tuesday, but of course the weekend before the Tuesday came, my body started the process I was hoping to avoid. This made it feel real, but I was also prepared. I couldn’t imagine if I didn’t push for a 10-week appointment and be completely surprised by the sight of blood.

The day had inevitably arrived. The day I had to get a D&C. My husband and I quietly went to the hospital, holding hands and tears running down my face. I would look at my husband and cry harder. He is so strong. He’s strong for me, but I know he’s just as hurt as I am but makes the choice not to show it so I can lean on him. At this point, I feel selfish, I feel a lot of things, but mostly selfish. I am so wrapped up in my own feelings that I haven’t given my husband the chance to grieve.

I put on the ugly gown, the ugly socks and continue breathing techniques as I quickly learn the cramps I’m experiencing are actually contractions from a suppository I was instructed to take the night before and of my procedure. My husband kisses my hand, kisses my forehead, and holds my hand the entire way to the OR room. As I moved over from the bed to the table, I cry through my last contraction and savor the last moments of being pregnant. The mask goes on and I slowly close my eyes.

The next few weeks, I spent a lot of my nights awake on the couch. I was angry, sad and anxious. All I could do was focus on our loss and getting pregnant right away. I lost sight of a lot things. I forgot how to be happy for other people, I lost sight of what was important in my marriage, and I was completely unmotivated at work. I honestly felt like I was going through the motions and time was just passing me by which made me very anxious because I still was not pregnant.

Courtesy of Corrine Unterstein

My husband and I, together, decided to give fertility treatments a shot again. This time, we were recommended to another doctor. Our due date was coming up this month, and we were eager to feel confident in our next steps to becoming pregnant. This time our experience was much different! We sat down, waiting for the doctor to come in and I was preparing myself for the uncontrollable tears as soon as I sat down. Instead, the unthinkable happened… my husband and I were laughing! This doctor made us laugh! He was energetic, he was positive, he was motivated to make our dreams come true. Most importantly, we felt normal, because for the first time, this doctor told us that a lot of people have unexplained infertility and he promised us he had the answer for us. And just like that, our journey started again and we were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Three days later, my husband and I are back at the doctors’ office, ready to start our first IUI cycle. After closely monitoring the size of my eggs and how they were responding to the medication, I was given the go on a trigger shot and we received our first treatment two days later. I impatiently waited the dreaded two-week wait, I tested and saw the results I was all too familiar with, one line… negative. I was surprisingly OK. I felt that we were finally where we needed to be. With a doctor we loved, we had a plan and we remained positive. We start the process again for the second time. Again, the dreaded two-week wait stands between me and testing day. It’s testing day, but I had a feeling I wasn’t pregnant. I peed in a cup, dipped the test in, laid the strip on the bathroom vanity, shut the lights and walked away. Five minutes later, I came back. Is that a faint second line? It could still be from the trigger shot, so I decided to wait and test again. I’m up at 4:45 a.m. for work and the first thing I do is pee in a cup and dip the test in. I lay the strip on the vanity, shut the lights and walked away. After five minutes, I turn the lights on, and there that second line is, AGAIN! This time it’s darker!

I immediately call the doctor’s office and make an appointment for blood work. CONFIRMED! I am pregnant! I go in for my first sonogram at 6 weeks, and there it is… a flicker. I go again weeks 7, 8, 9 and 10. It seems excessive, but it’s what I needed to help ease my mind. I go again at weeks 12, 14, 16 and 20. During this time my husband and I find out we are having a healthy baby boy and we are due Thanksgiving Day!

Courtesy of Corrine Unterstein

Our journey was emotionally difficult for us. There were days we were mad, there were days we showed support for each other, and there were days we felt lost. But, this journey was ours and it lead us to our dreams of becoming parents. Someone once explained fertility to me and compared the journey to a tunnel. Some tunnels are short, and some tunnels are long. But at the end of every tunnel, there is a light. We are almost at our light! 27 weeks pregnant now and 13 weeks until we reach the light of our life, our baby boy Michael.”

Courtesy of Corrine Unterstein

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Corrine Unterstein, 30, of Long Island, New York. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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