“No one prepares for infertility. For me, it was always something I would read about or see in movies. I remember having conversations saying ‘I could never go through infertility, those poor women.’ I am certain the words which came out of my mouth were, ‘If it takes me that much effort to get pregnant, then it’s not meant to be. I will never do IVF.’ Well, that didn’t go as planned!
From almost the start of my cycles I had always had issues. My mother passed away when I was two and my stepmother and I did not have a very close relationship, so I never asked questions or knew anything was wrong. I just thought when I got my period it was normal to have pain and for it to be irregular. Like many girls I was pushed onto birth control and told not to worry about things.
It wasn’t until after I was married to my husband Ken at 26 I decided to have serious talks with my doctor. I was sick of doctors putting band-aids on things and not getting to the root cause. I learned these doctors wouldn’t act until I was ready to get pregnant. As soon as I told them I wanted to, they took blood work, sent me for tests to see if my tubes were blocked, and also took a look at my ovaries. I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). I wasn’t shocked, I was relieved! Finally, an answer! And from what she told me, she could give me meds and I could get pregnant soon. This turned into over a year of no results, so I found a new doctor at the recommendation of a co-worker. This doctor took all the same blood work and told me I was ‘borderline’ PCOS (which in years to follow I would learn this is not a thing—you either have it or you don’t), and he could have me pregnant in no time.
This began the most treacherous journey. I spent almost two years with this doctor. Taking meds to get my period to start—when it did, being monitored and taking more meds (Clomid) to make my ovaries produce eggs. Then when ready, I would do an injection to release the egg and hope for the best. We did this for three rounds and still did not have results. When the three rounds of Clomid did not work, we were then told to try an IUI (intrauterine transfer) where my husband’s sperm would be injected into my uterus after being monitored for ovulation. I was so stressed. I left the office shaking and three days later ended up in urgent care with shingles. Yes, at 30 years old I contracted shingles. The urgent care doctor explained the virus comes out under duress and stress. I never went back to that gynecologist.
In the early spring of 2016, we were still without a baby. I had heard an ad on the local radio station advertising a contest to win a baby. The name of the contest was ‘Mojo Gives You a Baby’—sounds crazy right?! I knew about this contest from prior years. IVF Michigan would give three lucky couples the gift of a lifetime—a free round of IVF. I was the girl who said I would never do IVF and if I entered, what were the chances they would even choose us? We didn’t have insurance coverage for IVF and the cost of one round is $15k, not including meds and other expenses. Ken told me to go for it. I waited until the very last day to enter. I will never forget the small text box asking us why we felt we should win—it cut me off before I even had one point written out! I closed my eyes and hit submit. Two days later I received a call which would start our IVF journey.
The contest was simple, the doctor narrowed the candidates down to ten couples and the three who got the most votes at the end of week would win! That week, I never used social media more. And we won!! I finally was with a professional doctor, and he confirmed I did have PCOS along with an extremely tilted cervix. A month later I was turned into a human pin cushion and preparing my body for egg retrieval. They retrieved 41 eggs (A LOT). Of those, 36 were fertilized and produced embryos. After five days of growing we had a final count of 16 embryos frozen—16 chances at bringing home a baby.
Our first round ended in a chemical pregnancy. We paid out of pocket for another transfer a month later. My numbers came back as pregnant! But the next test showed they began to drop and we lost the baby. I needed a break at this point. I was drained and so full of hormones. My body need to restore itself, so I took a year off. Traveled, started running again, and stopped taking anything that wasn’t a natural supplement. I felt great going into our third transfer.
I now have a beautiful 2.5 year old boy, named Camden, from the transfer. I will never forget holding my breath at the ultrasounds. He is a true miracle and proof hard work and persistence pay off. I am so glad I didn’t give up after all those years of trying.
Life likes to surprise you when you least expect it. We had discussed going in for another transfer to give Camden a sibling to grow up with. Time passed and we just kind of had the, ‘If it happens, it happens,’ mentality—and then, it happened. Two pink lines one morning! I was in complete shock. How could it be after years of trying everything, my body decided to do it on its own? We learned I was indeed naturally pregnant with our son Ashton.
It was such a smooth and boring pregnancy. I had aches and pains but otherwise, smooth sailing…until it wasn’t. At 32 weeks I stopped feeling him move. I would lay on the couch every night after putting Camden to bed and Ashton would do his nightly kicking and stretching. One night I didn’t feel a thing—I tried everything. A hot shower, an ice cube, shaking my belly, eating sweets—nothing. I drove to the doctor’s office (alone because of COVID) and watched in horror as they confirmed his heart had stopped. The ultrasound screen was so still, I will never forget the masked faces with panic in their eyes. Our natural miracle was gone.
Ken and I drove to the hospital knowing we were about to have the worst day of our lives. I was induced and he came quickly. And when he arrived the cause was apparent, his cord had become tightly wrapped around his tiny neck. The doctors and nurses were amazing. Even though they were masked due to the virus, their eyes were all so kind and caring. We got to spend 12 hours holding our boy. I don’t think we set him down for more than 10 minutes. He was perfect. Dark hair, the opposite of his big brother. A button nose with a dimple in his little chin. We didn’t get to have professional pictures taken (again, COVID), so the nurses did their best to take some for us. No visitors were allowed, so our family never got to meet him or say goodbyes. We had to make a final decision about his remains before we left the hospital. We were not prepared for that—is anyone? We decided to have him cremated and finally have him home after five long months of waiting.
So here I sit. Writing out my journey. And it really has been quite the journey. I can tell you this journey has changed me as a person. I have lived through so many ups and downs. In every failure and heartbreak was a lesson to be learned. And I am still here, still fighting. The future is uncertain but one thing is clear— I was meant to use my voice and experiences to help others. When I get a message from someone telling me they have been following me and they are so thankful for my openness, it reminds me to keep pushing forward. If you are reading this and are going through any of the same things, know you are not alone and please never stop fighting.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Elizabeth Bean of Macomb, Michigan. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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