Trigger Warning: This story contains details of miscarriage and child loss that may be triggering to some.
“There are some things in life that people consider a given. Things everyone already seems to have. They have them, so I will have them, right? Children are one of those things. Young girls are being taught how to prevent early pregnancy. Think of those cringy, high school health classes where young men and women are told how easily a pregnancy can happen. We were told about the different forms of prevention, but never about the 12 percent of women (roughly 7.4 million people) who actually struggle to get pregnant or stay pregnant.
My question is: why? Why is there not a more rounded education, when one in eight girls sitting in a health class will have a hard time conceiving? One in four of them will experience a miscarriage. They will be blindsided, just like I was.
Hi, my name is Audra, and I’m infertile. There used to be a small dose of embarrassment that came along with that statement. It felt like I was saying, ‘Hi, I’m Audra and I’m abnormal.’ It took years for me to overcome the taboo that surrounds the subject of infertility. Today, I am proud to say I never hesitate to talk about it with anyone who wants to listen. Luckily, today there is a much larger community of women and men who are open about their own journey through the ups and downs of infertility. They are the people who brought me out of my loneliness. Their courage in sharing what they were going through brought me back to life and gave me purpose. I had nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. It was everyone else who needed to be educated.
My husband, Skylar, and I were married on February 15, 2008. I was 20 and he was 21. We were so young and not ready to have children. We made the decision to wait a few years, which we have always felt was the right decision. It wasn’t until 2013 when we decided we wanted to have a baby. Remember when I said I was blindsided by the fact I didn’t get pregnant as easily as my high school health teacher said I would? That’s an understatement. I had no idea what the next 8 years were going to bring, or what a rollercoaster they were going to be.
After trying for 8 straight months with no luck, we decided to see a doctor. We were living in England at the time because my husband was stationed there in the Air Force. We spoke with a doctor at the hospital on base. This is when I realized I knew so little about everything that has to line up for a baby to be made. Truly, telling anyone pregnancy happens easily is a LIE. They must have no idea how a hundred things need to be timed perfectly for it to happen. If I’ve gained anything over the last 8 years of trying every way to get pregnant, it is a thorough knowledge of my body and how it all works.
We did our first medication-assisted cycle of treatment in 2014, and boom, I was pregnant. First try. We were thrilled and were so glad we didn’t have to wait long. We were naive. It was short-lived, and I went on to have an early miscarriage. It was a really hard blow for me, and it was then I realized maybe it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk after all. I may just have to fight for this. While everyone around me seemed to have this whole having a baby thing figured out, I felt so alone. I felt I had no one to talk to. I remember thinking, ‘I think I am the only person going through this. Why me?’
Over the next several years, there would be multiple doctors, specialists, treatments, tears, trials, and hope. There also came a diagnosis. I have something called PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). It took 2 years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, this is common with infertility. It can be difficult to receive a diagnosis. It usually takes seeing a specialist in the field. In short, I don’t ovulate. There are several other things that come with that diagnosis, like menstrual irregularity, insulin resistance, hair loss, hormone imbalance, etc. It’s a brutal disease. With the sadness of this diagnosis, also came great relief. I finally had an answer. We did treatment after treatment. We used different medications and different processes. All ended in failure.
It wasn’t until the spring of 2020 we decided to move to IVF, or In Vitro Fertilization. IVF is sort of the last stop on the fertility treatment train. It’s the most invasive, the most involved, and the most expensive. It was something I hoped I would never have to do. Luckily, we found a doctor we love, and in July of 2020, after weeks of injections and side effects that still make my skin crawl, we did our egg retrieval. For those readers who don’t know what IVF entails, it’s weeks of injections to make multiple eggs grow at once. Then, a small surgery to extract all those eggs. The eggs are then fertilized and some grow into embryos. The embryos are then safely frozen until they are ready to be used for transfer. I had 28 eggs retrieved, out of which 17 successfully fertilized. Out of those seventeen, twelve grew into embryos. We were so happy with the numbers.
I found out the hard way IVF is controversial. I was very public about my IVF process and my infertility in general on my social media. I received multiple messages and comments condemning what I was doing. It’s amazing how easily I was able to let the hateful words go. After the years of turmoil to get to where I was, I knew what I was doing was where my path was supposed to go. I was confident in that. So, I felt no ill feelings towards those people. I just hoped whatever they were going through that would lead them to harass a complete stranger, would pass and they would find peace in their life.
Our first embryo transfer was on October 9, 2020. It was a beautiful, special day. We were able to watch the embryo being placed via ultrasound. 4 days following my transfer, I got a faint positive pregnancy test. It was confirmed by a blood test a week later. I was pregnant. I was so happy, even if cautiously. Let me tell you about pregnancy after dealing with infertility and loss. It isn’t easy. It’s obsessively taking home pregnancy tests to make sure the line is getting darker. It’s the feeling of dread with every twinge and symptom, thinking something is wrong. I felt like it wasn’t real, even though it was. After years of treatment failures, I had that constant feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Honestly, it was miserable. I had moments of happiness and reassurance, but they weren’t often.
The weeks passed, and I had a few complications. One was a big bleeding scare that ended up with us in the ER. Of course, I assumed the worst was happening. I had been here before. With the Covid restrictions in place, my husband could not come back with me for the ultrasound they did while we were in the ER. The ultrasound tech had a sweet, calming presence. She began the ultrasound, and even though she wasn’t supposed to, she turned the screen so I could see. There was my tiny little peanut baby moving around, with a heartbeat. It was the most surreal moment of my life. Here I was after 8 years of fighting, and I was seeing what I had longed to see for so long. I was devastated my husband wasn’t there with me. I was sent home after making sure that everything looked okay.
A week later, at my 7-week ultrasound, the worst happened. I was told there was no heartbeat. It was an out-of-body experience to hear those words. I felt far away. Surprisingly, my initial reaction was not sadness, but anger. How could this happen? Everything had been fine. We had done literally everything we could to have a baby of our own, and once again, it had been snatched away. My doctor, who was so kind to me, gave me the option of doing a D&C. My body hadn’t registered the loss of the baby yet, as I was having no symptoms of a miscarriage. He told me it would probably take weeks for my body to miscarry naturally. I opted for the D&C. I couldn’t fathom waiting weeks for it to be over. I had the surgery done, but I was alone. Truly, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Luckily, I was blessed with an amazing, caring nurse who I feel was the reason I was able to get through it.
We decided to have genetic testing done on our baby, just to see if the miscarriage had been caused by anything DNA-related. Everything came back clear. Normal DNA. We also found out our baby had been a girl. That knowledge put a clear picture in my head of what could have been. At first, it was torturous, thinking about what I lost and what my life would have been. Now though, I find comfort in thinking about her. I am a religious person. I believe in God. I believe that baby girl will be someone I will meet after this life. I picture her with brown eyes, like mine and my husband’s. I see her with brown hair, like ours. I love her. It brings me peace.
So here I am. Almost 5 months later, and we’re starting the process of another embryo transfer. I feel so many things, but at the forefront is hope. If you had asked me a couple of months ago, hope would have been nowhere to be found. I have learned much about myself in the last few months since my miscarriage. I have learned I am most definitely not alone. The overwhelming amount of support and love I have received has been amazing. I have also learned life moves forward, even when we’re grieving. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘time heals all wounds.’ It’s the truth. Time brings healing, learning, growing. Time allows hope back in.
To the women and men who are in the trenches of infertility, I encourage you to keep going. The feelings of wanting to give up come easily, I know, but keep fighting. My advice is to find community. Find those that can relate and empathize with your struggle. No one wants to feel alone. You are not alone. You are not abnormal. I’m going to keep fighting and sharing my story. If I can help even one person, sharing my hardest trials will be so worth it.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Audra Richards of Mountain Home, Idaho. You can follow their journey on Instagram and their blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more touching stories like this:
‘We made eye contact and I immediately knew something was wrong. ‘Let me get the doctor.’ The doctor said six words no parent EVER wants to hear.’: Mom grievously recounts miscarriage, ‘We find comfort in knowing she’s with Jesus’
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