“I’ve dreamed of becoming a mom ever since I could remember. You’re taught early on from your parents, from school, from your sex education classes that getting pregnant is easy and natural. I spent my entire teenage and adult life preventing pregnancy with no clue about the journey ahead of me. That it may not ever happen for me.
My husband and I met at our college in 2009 but we didn’t start dating until 2012. We got married on January 9, 2016. We had decided to enjoy married life and each other before starting a family, but I did stop taking birth control because I really disliked most of the side effects. That’s when trouble arose.
I went 9 months without a period, which began to worry me. I went to my OBGYN, who did the whole workup and said I just need to gain weight and I’d be fine. I was a competitive figure skater and always had sporadic periods earlier in my life, so I wasn’t too concerned. Months went by and I slowly felt like there was a bigger issue in my heart. My OBGYN wasn’t listening to my concerns and I felt like more of a burden than anything.
I referred myself to a Reproductive Endocrinologist who immediately diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The multiple cysts on my ovaries were preventing me from ovulating, which would explain the lack of a menstrual cycle. How could my OBGYN miss this? After the various blood tests and ultrasounds, I was angry but thankful for the answers. My husband and I went through genetic testing and additional testing for him to ensure everything was in line before starting a treatment plan.
That’s when we felt our whole world crumble around us. I remember the call from the nurse with his semen analysis results like it was yesterday. She said, ‘There’s no sperm in the sample.’ What did she mean?! She continued, ‘There’s maybe about 300. A normal count should be in the millions.’ My husband went through additional testing to see if he had an issue potentially fixed with surgery. But it was a genetic condition and there was nothing more they could do. He was healthy and young. We never thought male factor infertility was even a possibility.
We sat down with our Reproductive Endocrinologist on November 30 of 2017, a day I will forever remember. He told us we would have a .0001% chance to ever conceive naturally. IVF, donor sperm, or adoption were our only options to build our family. At this time, we were both 27. We were young and naïve about what IVF entailed and thought it was our answer. All we knew at the time was IVF success stories, so we decided to go forward with it in January of 2018 with a freeze all cycle due to Hyperstimulation. Because of my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, I was at risk of ovarian hyperstimulation, which could’ve landed me in the hospital with swollen ovaries. After 11 days of injections and daily early morning monitoring, they retrieved my eggs and we ended up with 14 mature eggs and nine fertilized with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where one sperm is carefully selected and injected directly into my egg to hopefully achieve fertilization. Six embryos made it to the frozen stage. We were elated!
We began prepping for a frozen embryo transfer, FET, in April. One of our embryos did not survive the thaw, but we were able to transfer one beautiful 5-day embryo. Unfortunately, our first FET was unsuccessful. We were heartbroken and devastated. I remember everyone telling us IVF would be successful. We were young and healthy. How could it not work for us? Confused and broken down, we knew we had four more embryos waiting for us. We were still filled with hope our miracle baby was waiting for us in one of those four remaining embryos.
We prepped for another embryo transfer in June. After a long wait, my blood test came back positive! It was successful! We were finally pregnant. My human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, came back a little low at 52 but they were optimistic because my levels rose as they should. Our first ultrasound was at 7 weeks on July 25th. I knew by the look on our doctor’s face something wasn’t right. At 7 weeks, there should be a heartbeat. All we saw was an empty sack. The room was silent and ice cold. Our doctor gave us our options to let the miscarriage happen naturally at home, by ourselves, or have a dilation and curettage procedure, commonly referred to as D&C.
We opted for the D&C but I had to continue the progesterone for another week until they could schedule my surgery. This was the worst part. It was a constant reminder, twice a day, of the miracle we lost. I had the surgery on August 2. The recovery was more emotional than physical, but I felt blessed to make it through everything with my health. The fetal tissue was sent away for genetic testing to hopefully find some answers about the cause of the miscarriage. Our embryo came back with the results of a perfectly healthy genetically normal little girl. We were left with no answers or explanation about what caused the miscarriage.
We transferred our last two embryos on February 2, 2019. Another embryo, unfortunately, did not survive the thaw. Devastated again, we received another negative pregnancy test. I remember laying on the bathroom floor crying out to God. I couldn’t it. My body had been through the wringer, our hearts were left in pieces we never fully picked up every heartbreak prior. My husband, who I thank God daily for, picked me up off the floor like he did every time before, and convinced me the fight wasn’t over yet.
We moved forward with a second IVF cycle in March of 2019. This time they were able to retrieve 24 eggs! However, only six fertilized, and then three embryos made it to freeze. We walked into our fourth frozen embryo transfer in May 2019, only to have them walk us back to the doctor’s office. We didn’t go where the procedures were normally performed, and I immediately knew we were going to receive yet another bout of devastating news. All three frozen embryos had not survived the thaw. We left once again with broken hearts and empty arms. I remember looking at each other, thinking, ‘Maybe this isn’t ever going to happen for us.’ Do we give up on our dreams of biological children, not knowing how much more either of us could take? Did we hear God right when we thought He was guiding us this way? We decided to go through one more round of IVF, knowing this would be it. We were going to hope and pray with every ounce of our being for the third time to be the charm.
We began our third round in July of 2019. They were able to retrieve 15 eggs and 14 were fertilized, resulting in four beautiful frozen embryos. We prepped for our fifth frozen embryo transfer and transferred two perfect embryos on September 23, 2019. Then we walked into our doctor’s office full of fear and doubt, holding onto the trauma we endured before. I remember the embryologist coming out to the waiting room and our hearts dropping, preparing for the bad news. But instead, she showed us a picture of two picture-perfect embryos and said, ‘I hope you’re ready for twins.’ We laughed. Honestly, all we wanted was one healthy baby.
I took a pregnancy test four days past my transfer, which is a big no-no. I just couldn’t wait any longer. I felt different and hopeful for once in our two and a half year journey. I dropped to my knees when I saw two lines, shaking and crying, begging God to let this baby stay. After my blood tests were all positive and seemed promising with rising hormone levels, we went in for our first ultrasound 6 weeks later. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the screen, but I heard the doctor yell, ‘There’s two! Two heartbeats!’ Two sweet babies! My excitement immediately changed to fear, though, when the doctor said, ‘You might still lose one or both of them. It’s the risk that comes with twins, so I suggest you wait to tell people until we confirm growth at your next ultrasound.’
That’s when my paralyzing fear began. I counted the days between each appointment, spending most days on my knees, praying we could take these babies home. I never truly allowed myself to believe they were going to make it earthside. I still don’t know if I was just protecting my heart, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst because of all we had been through. They were fighters. During every appointment, they showed us how strong they were. A twin pregnancy came with a lot more appointments and monitoring, but I was so thankful because it meant I got to make sure they were okay. Everyone was so excited for us, but I truly lived in fear every day. I wished away my pregnancy just because I needed to hold them in my arms to know everything was okay. I couldn’t bring myself to think about a baby shower, the nursery, or even what life would look like with them. I managed to take weekly bump pics, but I hid them in a private album on my phone. I was so scared of the carpet being ripped from underneath my feet at any moment. I found myself being envious of other women living carelessly during their entire pregnancies.
In addition to the fear and anxiety that came with my pregnancy, we added on a pandemic. I was about to bring these babies into a world but I wasn’t even sure how to navigate myself. My husband wasn’t allowed to attend any more appointments with me, so I was forced to put on my brave face and go to every appointment, sometimes two or three times a week, alone.
Physically, my pregnancy was incredibly easy. After we stopped progesterone injections at 12 weeks, I had minimal symptoms which I am so grateful for. The mental aspect of my pregnancy wasn’t something I ever prepared for. No one prepares you for what pregnancy after loss feels like. How hard it is to navigate the ‘what-ifs.’ My C-section was scheduled for 38 weeks and at my last doctor’s appointment, I begged them to do it because I read the risk of stillborn with twins rose after 37 weeks. Let me tell you: never google anything while pregnant, or experiencing any kind of sickness for that matter.
On May 27, 2020, still convinced they might not make it earthside, we headed into the hospital. At 12:21 p.m. and 12:22 p.m., Brooks Michael, our baby A, and Blake William, our baby B, let out their first beautiful cries. I’ve never felt love like I did at that moment. All the heartache and tears were all worth it and I would walk through it all again for them. The fear I felt immediately was gone, my emotions changing to just extreme unbelief and gratitude because they were here. Our two miracle rainbow boys, our #11 and #12 embryos. We were here holding them in our arms. A moment we never thought we come.
I experience a different kind of fear now, which I am sure every parent understands. There’s a fear you’re not doing enough, or fear you’re not doing everything ‘right,’ fear you can’t always protect them, but I’ve chosen to push the fear out and enjoy every moment with them. In this season, we know we have no idea what tomorrow brings. But we know we have today and right now, that is enough. I try to soak in every moment, even the tough ones like the sleepless nights, and every amazing milestone they go through. I stare at their sweet faces, still in awe of the miracles they are.
Through our infertility journey, I have met so many incredible women and it’s so encouraging to know we are not alone. I think there is this stigma around infertility and miscarriage. We feel like we should be ashamed, and our bodies are somehow broken. We are not defined by our diagnosis and we are not just a statistic. We can fight alongside each other and share the encouragement we all need. I lead the Moms in The Making fertility support group in Fort Myers, which has been so healing for me. To be a part of Moms in The Making is indescribable and I am forever thankful for each woman. Our stories may not look like anything we thought they would. But every promise will be fulfilled and there is purpose in our pain.
For every woman out there struggling and walking this journey, I want you to know that you are seen, loved, and not alone. Be kind to yourself and give yourself grace. Allow yourself to feel the feelings you’re experiencing because they are valid and real. Infertility, pregnancy after loss, and motherhood after loss doesn’t come with a manual as much as we wish it did. No matter what, you’re going to make it through this season and the light waiting for you at the end of the tunnel is worth all the darkness.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kaitlyn Kusky. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, and at Moms in the Making. 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.
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