“I always had a strong suspicion it wouldn’t be easy for me to have children. I had long, heavy, and painful periods. But, unless someone tells you otherwise, there’s no way to know what isn’t normal. I tried birth control, but it never controlled my cycles. I just had a continuous never-ending period. I saw an advertisement for an egg donation program while in college. They provided all the fertility and genetic testing to make sure you were qualified, so I went for it. There’s a lot of testing to it: family history, genetic history, a physical exam, a psychological exam, blood work, and a follicle ultrasound. The company I worked with, RBA, did frozen cycles. I didn’t have to wait to be chosen and sync cycles, so I could donate on my schedule. I was approved and I was told I should be very fertile.
For my first donation, I took Follistim to mature multiple eggs and ganirelix to prevent early ovulation. I had daily ultrasounds to count how many eggs were maturing and to prevent ovarian hyperstimulation. When the time came, I took a Lupron shot to force ovulation and the egg retrieval happened 36 hours later. I produced a little over 30 mature eggs for the cycle. I responded great according to the doctors.
Something about the egg donation changed my periods. Afterward, I had no more pain, a regular cycle, a normal length, and flow. It was like it corrected something I didn’t know was wrong.
I went on to do two more donations. I figured if I had been in the situation these women were in, I would hope someone would do the same for me. After the third donation, the company froze eight eggs free of charge for me which are still frozen at their facility. I figured you never know what could happen, so why not?
I took medication in such high doses, I would stay extremely fertile for three months. We decided to try for our first baby right after my third donation and I was pregnant right away. My pregnancy with Lincoln seemed to confirm everything the doctors from my egg donation told me. Everything seemed fine.
The whole pregnancy was uneventful, to the point my appointments felt like a waste of time. I worked up until the day before my due date when I called my work and told them I needed to go ahead and take my leave because he was on my sciatic nerve. A few hours later, I felt my first contraction and he came right on his due date at 2:50 p.m. He was the perfect baby, so easy and happy all the time.
We always wanted our kids close in age, so when Lincoln was 9 months old we decided to start trying for another baby. We knew the chances of it happening right away again were not realistic. The first few months went by and I thought ‘Okay, this is normal.’ Six months in, I started BBT tracking & ovulation tests. Turns out, I ovulate late in my cycle, so we were missing it by a week. We fell pregnant the next month.
I was nauseous immediately, and it progressively got worse each day. The last day I felt nausea was so bad I couldn’t do anything. Then the next morning, I felt nothing. I knew a disappearing symptom wasn’t a good sign. I had a gut feeling something was wrong, but I was too early for any doctors to see me. So, I drove myself crazy googling everything on the internet for some hope. Another week went by, and I was spotting. I called my doctor’s office and demanded to be seen that day. By the time I got in, I was fully bleeding. The doctor confirmed my cervix was open, but they didn’t explain what that meant. She did blood work and told me to go home and relax. The next day, my HCG came back at 1,100 at six weeks. They said this was low, but I was still pregnant. What they didn’t tell me was my progesterone was at one. I came in for more blood work and waited a week for results just to find out what they knew the day I came in: I was miscarrying.
I had to go in for blood work every two days until the HCG fully left my body. It felt like everyone around me was either pregnant or just had a baby, so I called off work for a week and just laid in bed.
I kept tracking my cycle because I wasn’t going to miss a chance to try again. I knew the only thing would take this pain away was another baby. Not long after my first 0 HCG test, I felt a need to take an at-home test. I’ve always been able to sense when I’m pregnant, and the test came back positive. I had a bad feeling about this one, though. I went to the doctor right away. She did blood work and my HCG came back at 69. She said we must’ve caught it super early and wanted to repeat bloodwork. My progesterone came back at 5.1 and my HCG at 90. My doctor wanted to repeat the bloodwork again and put in a prescription for progesterone. It was the weekend and I was away from home in a small town that didn’t have the progesterone. Not only could I not get my prescription filled, but I also had to wait days to know if I’d miscarry again.
I started spotting the next day. I was devastated, the chances of this happening again were 2%. Over the next 8 months, I saw a different OB-GYN at the same practice each time I went in because they were always so booked up. The first doctor told me to wait three months to try again. I refused. I felt there was no medical need to justify the wait. The next doctor told me I had to wait until my next miscarriage before I could be seen by a specialist. The next doctor tested my hormones, which came back normal. They offered a referral to a specialist, saying there was no point in waiting for another miscarriage. I felt stuck at this point because not only was I not getting answers, but I also wasn’t getting pregnant anymore. And on top of that, I had no insurance coverage for the specialist. It was the next doctor I saw at that practice who came into the room and said she refused to help me anymore. Though she was a jerk, she was right, so I called the specialist.
I had to wait a month for my appointment with the reproductive endocrinologist. I was so nervous when I got there I was sweating and shaking. I brought in all my testing from the egg donations, and after looking it over my doctor, we agreed on paper I shouldn’t have any issues. His only thought on the issue was my late ovulation. He had been researching late ovulation and was finding success rates were lower if this was happening. He immediately diagnosed me with recurrent pregnancy loss so my insurance would cover diagnostic tests.
We began treatment immediately and combined it with more testing to get as much covered under insurance as we could. After the first ultrasound, the doctors found I have a tilted uterus and a very curved cervix; neither of which should cause problems. My husband’s testing came out good as well. I was started on Clomid and Ovidrel. Clomid is to mature more eggs to increase chances and Ovidrel to force ovulation when enough eggs are mature to better our odds of early ovulation. He started me on the low dosage of Clomid, which did almost nothing for me, so I had to have my dosage upped. I tried Clomid for three months and responded well with 4 mature eggs every time. Nothing. After doing my own research I decided I’d give every medication three tries, after three the success rates start dropping.
Next, we tried Femara and Ovidrel with the same reaction. I had to have a higher dosage. After one month my doctor convinced me to add in IUI. The second try with Femara, I didn’t respond well and the doctor refunded me my money. I was ready to move on again.
Next, we tried Femara, Follistim, and Ovidrel. I responded well again and the IUI was set for my birthday, and my husband had his highest numbers yet. I tested out my trigger shot, and two days after it was gone, I got my positive. The next day my husband was hospitalized with an emergency appendectomy. We had waited too long to go to the hospital and his appendix had burst. By the time I could make it to my doctor, my HCG was at 17 and I was spotting again. It felt like my whole world was crumbling around me.
We decided not to take time off from trying even though my husband just had surgery and was in a lot of pain. My doctor’s office was joining another large practice and was doubling their prices come January. Plus, we just added a very expensive new med. It was October, so that gave us three more tries before the price increases.
We did the same protocol, Follistim, Femara, and Ovidrel with IUI. I had three mature eggs and my husband’s sperm count was great. I didn’t get pregnant, but what I got was another cyst. When this happens, the doctors make you take a break because the medication could make the cyst worse. I was so angry because we had a vacation planned the next month that fell on my period so we wouldn’t be able to try. So, I was basically being forced to take two months off.
It ended up being a much-needed refresher, and my period came late enough that I only had to take one month off. I had to see a new doctor because mine had a family emergency. This doctor changed my prescription to a higher dosage, and when I came in for monitoring I had six mature eggs. The cycle was canceled due to the high risk, and I was told we should move on to IVF because we had exhausted our IUI success rates. My husband and I decided to take the risk. It was our best chance and the money I put aside for this was gone. I took my last shot that night and two days later, my Ovidrel shot. I knew deep down this time worked. I impatiently waited until I could test on New Year’s Eve, basically running to the bathroom, and I got my positive. I showed the test to my husband crying because I knew this one was it. I finally didn’t have a bad feeling in my gut.
When I went into my doctor’s office I got called out immediately for not abstaining, which I figured would happen. My HCG came back at 191 and my progesterone 80 at 12DPO. Then, my repeat HCG was 516 at 14DPO. That weekend, I lost my nausea.
I called the second the doctor’s office opened on Monday and got in right away for repeat bloodwork. My HCG came back at 1,874. It more than tripled. The baby was fine. I was more relaxed, but not confident. I needed to see the heartbeat to be calm. The doctor said I could do an ultrasound as early as five weeks and five days.
I had been comparing my HCG levels to other pregnancies on betabase.com because I was suspicious it was more than one. My numbers were above even the triplet numbers. The second the ultrasound wand hit my belly, four sacs appeared on the screen, two of which had babies with heartbeats. I wasn’t shocked because I thought, ‘Surely, it’s just two.’ I came back a week later for a repeat ultrasound, and that’s when all four were there with heartbeats.
I didn’t have time to be shocked, four days later I woke up to bleeding. I went straight to the doctor, the ultrasound showed the babies were still fine. I had a subchorionic hematoma and a fifth sac that never developed.
From then on, the pregnancy went pretty well. Willis had a VSD, while Willow and Otto high amniotic fluid. I had severe nausea. I threw up almost everything I ate along with having low platelets and iron threatening a sedated cesarean, but if I was awake I could bleed out.
I made it to 28+4 when I lost my plug. Two days later I woke up to pee and one baby’s water broke. I cried because it was too early, and reached up to check, feeling a foot move. I went to get my husband crying and yelling we needed to go to the hospital. I must’ve been in denial because when we got there I didn’t tell the nurse about the foot. It wasn’t until I was getting into the bed I mentioned it. The nurse immediately jumped on me to check, started screaming, ‘There’s a cord!’ I was surrounded by screaming nurses and being pushed into surgery. All I remember is crying hysterically, asking for my husband while the nurse, still on top of me, told me she was keeping the cord from being clamped and could feel my baby moving. I woke up four hours later to four beautiful 2 pounds, 14 ounces and 3 pounds, 2 ounces babies all in their isolates waiting for me.
My best advice to women struggling with infertility: just stay patient, and your time will come. It just may not be how you pictured it. To mothers of multiples: schedule is key!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Dayna Childress. You can follow her journey on Youtube here and Instagram here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more stories from moms of multiples here:
‘I kept crying out, ‘Please wait! It’s too early!’ I was 19, pregnant with quadruplets. My water broke at just 24 weeks and wouldn’t stop.’: Teen mom births miracle micro-preeme after losing 3 of her quadruplets
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