“I remember it vividly – December 31, 1992. I was 8 years old. My parents shared with my two older brothers and me we would be welcoming the newest member to our family at the end of the summer. I was beaming from ear to ear! I couldn’t believe I was going to be a big sister and could not wait to shower my baby sibling with all the love I had to give. And 7 months later, I did just that. My little brother was my world and anything I was asked to do to help with him, I did so willingly and lovingly. I was so proud to be his sister and loved every bit of him. My mom would often refer to me as his second mom, a title I so proudly owned!
Many years later, 20 to be exact, my eldest brother announced he and his wife were expecting. My first niece or nephew. All of the excitement I felt two decades earlier came roaring back. I was going to be an aunt?! There would be a baby in the family? I was going to be able to shower this tiny human with all my love! On July 9, 2012, my life forever changed and I became Amtu (auntie) Rima, a title I’m so proud to own. The love for my little angel was instantaneous. My niece gave my existence a whole new meaning. My love for her, unconditional. Dirty diapers? No problem! Babysitting? Yes please! Daycare pick-ups? Gladly! I can’t imagine the love I had for my niece would be any less than that of a mother for her child. I couldn’t wait to one day give her a cousin and relive all the excitement with a child of my own…
Fast forward 6 years, June 30, 2018 – the day my soulmate and I solidified our love and began our marriage. We were both 33 and knew we wanted to build our family as soon as possible as we always dreamed of having a large family. The first couple of months of our fertility journey were filled with excitement and naivety. I would foolishly purchase early results home pregnancy tests, thinking we would conceive just as quickly as everyone else around us. But month after month, negative after negative, something didn’t feel right. I was now 34 and into our sixth month of trying with nothing but wasted money on fancy pregnancy tests. I asked to be referred to a fertility specialist who I met for the first time in January of 2019. He was attentive and hoped to help us find answers to our challenges. We began a slew of tests. Blood work, internal ultrasounds, sonohysterogram – all came back clear for my husband and I, and the cause of our infertility was unexplained.
My fertility specialist suggested laparoscopic surgery to investigate whether or not I had endometriosis which may have been causing my inability to conceive. I couldn’t wrap my head around surgery and possible side effects, not to mention the time required for healing, so we decided on an IUI instead. Intrauterine insemination. I went in for my baseline monitoring appointment for our first IUI on October 25, 2019, my 35th birthday. I was excited that we were moving closer to our dream of becoming parents. One week later, I was back at the clinic, with my husband by my side, ready for insemination. We left the clinic hopeful that in two weeks’ time we would finally see a positive result.
But, we didn’t. And, we didn’t the following month, either. We decided two IUIs were enough and IVF would be our next option. After the stress of the last two months, we planned a getaway for the holidays and hoped to begin IVF in the New Year. Once we returned from our vacation, we had a message from our clinic stating our plans for IVF in January were going to have to be postponed due to emergency roof repairs that needed to be done at our clinic. We were told this would delay our plans by two months and we were looking at a start month of March 2020. I was crushed to learn we’d have to wait two more months after having already suffered through a year and a half of negative tests. And so, we waited. Not for two months, but seven, as the pandemic reared its ugly face and shut down the entire world for months on end. I was overwhelmed with sadness and desperation. I was not only suffering from being isolated from my loved ones, colleagues, friends, and the outside world, but from being halted from continuing our journey to becoming parents.
Fast forward to August 2020 – we received the call that our clinic was finally able to resume treatments and we were at the top of the list. I couldn’t contain my excitement and was ready for IVF, needles and all. Or so I thought. I read, researched, and spoke to a couple of friends who had already been through it and thought I knew everything I needed to know. I was wrong. I knew I’d have to do daily injections, but I didn’t quite understand how these injections would impact my moods. I didn’t understand how they would affect my psyche and physical body. I didn’t expect to gain 20 pounds. I didn’t realize having a low ovarian reserve would mean my results would be poor. I didn’t know fear, joy, worry, sadness, and excitement could all coexist.
On August 19, 2020, I had my first egg retrieval where only two eggs were retrieved. It was around this time I created my infertility Instagram page and was following the journeys of many IVF warriors around the globe. I saw many in the community have retrieval results that blew mine out of the water; 20, 30, 40, and sometimes 50 eggs. I had two. I was crushed and could not stop the tears. My husband was my rock and held my hand every step of the way. We waited patiently for our fertilization report and on August 22nd, we learned both of our eggs had fertilized and were growing beautifully! Cue the happiest of tears! We were scheduled for our fresh embryo transfer the following day. August 23rd was the beautiful day where our beloved embryo was transferred into my body and intended to remain for the next 9 months…
But, God had other plans and two weeks later, we learned our embryo did not implant and our dream of becoming parents was still just a dream. We also learned our second embryo had arrested and we would have to start all over again, which I eagerly wanted to do. However, this time my specialist urged me to go under the knife and see if endometriosis was playing a role in all of our agony. Although I wanted so badly to move onto another round of IVF, I knew deep down we needed answers and agreed to go ahead with the surgery. In January of 2021, after two hours under the knife, I was diagnosed with stage 3 endometriosis which was all over my ovaries, bladder, and rectum. I had tons of inflammation and lesions. My doctor removed as much as he could and told us to try for a few months before moving on to our next round of IVF.
So, we tried and tried and tried with each cycle ending without a pregnancy. Then came June 14, 2021. Two weeks shy of our 3 year wedding anniversary. I was feeling a bit tired and nauseated. My husband encouraged me to test despite me swearing off any form of testing for at least two years at that point. I decided waiting for my period allowed me to soak in the optimism of the unknown rather than be disappointed with a negative result prematurely. But on June 14th, one day after my expected period start date, my husband encouraged me to take a pregnancy test and that we would go out for dinner and a walk on the beach regardless of the result. So, to make him happy, I agreed to test, and off I went to our washroom where he joined me once it was time to see the results. Little did we know we would be in for the shock of our lives! TWO PINK LINES! Cue screams, tears, hugs, and the ultimate joy! The relief was indescribable. After 3 long years of infertility, we were pregnant! Two days later, my blood test result confirmed our pregnancy and solidified our excitement! We excitedly looked up our due date: 2/22/2022.
The following 4 weeks were filled with the ultimate excitement. We began plans on how to tell our family and friends. We talked about names and nursery ideas. We watched video after video on where our baby was in their development at the onset of each new week. It was finally happening and we loved every second of it…
On July 15, 2021, we learned we had identical twins. We also learned they stopped growing. To say we were gutted is a gross understatement. We stared in silence at our technician as she shared the news with us: We had miscarried. My husband squeezed my hand and I avoided making eye contact with him for fear of collapsing in the examination room. I was carrying not one, but two of our babies, and they were no longer alive.
On July 17th, our babies were removed by way of D&C. We had planned to tell our families about our pregnancy on July 22th, on Eid, one of Islam’s holiest of days. Instead of celebrating our miracle pregnancy, we grieved our excruciating loss.
The next 7 weeks were filled with sorrow and questions. I hated we had to go through all of this and wondered why!? Weren’t we worthy of joy and parenthood? Would I get to give the love I once gave to my baby brother nearly 30 years ago and to my niece nearly 10 years ago to my own child? Would I be able to give the gift of fatherhood to my husband? The worry and sadness were debilitating. But then, on September 10, 2021, for the second time in over three years of trying, I saw two beautiful pink lines! We were pregnant, again! This time, we were much more cautious with our excitement. I was much more careful with what I ate and how much I moved. I believed this pregnancy was God’s way of showing us He takes but also gives and although He took back our angel babies, He was giving us a new gift. Just one week later, we learned we would be miscarrying, again, two months to the day that we lost our miracle twins.
This journey has brought me to my knees more often than not. It has rattled me to my core and has given me some of my darkest days. It has taught me a lot about perseverance, resilience, and strength. It has taught me how to self-advocate and has strengthened and emboldened me in ways I never knew possible. I’ve become increasingly more empathetic and compassionate.
I may not yet have my miracle or rainbow baby and I don’t know if I ever will, but one thing is for certain: I am not finished fighting for our family. I’ve learned to recognize all the good in my life and all of my blessings – my incredible husband, supportive family and friends, my health, my faith, my freedom, and my privilege. I’ve always loved a good thunderstorm, not just because of the rain that rejuvenates the nature around us, or the calming nature it has over my mood, but because of the beautiful rainbow at the end of the chaos. Our storm may be raging for now, but I hold onto hope our beautiful rainbow is waiting for us on the other side, Insha’Allah (God-willing).”
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