‘Oh my gosh, there’s a HEARTBEAT! I’m a MOM!’ The doctor looked puzzled and NOT happy.’: Couple experiences infertility, NICU, ‘I’m enjoying life as a mom’

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“After a year of trying to conceive, my husband and I visited a fertility doctor in a desperate attempt to begin our family. Once all the initial testing was complete we were advised to try IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) with Clomid. After 3 failed attempts we were then told IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) was our best option. The thought of IVF sent my anxiety into overdrive! How is a person that is deathly afraid of needles supposed to work them into their daily routine? I wasn’t sure how I would survive this process. I remember after receiving the huge box of medication and needles I carried it into the doctor’s office and just bawled my eyes out to the nurse. I was so scared and maybe it wasn’t just of the needles that I would have to do daily but more of the unknown. What if I did all this and it still wasn’t enough to make my dream come true?

Round One: After going through the long process of my first round of IVF I was so certain it had worked. I waited with excitement for the call from the nurse after going in for a blood test. The test came back NEGATIVE. How? Why? What now? Luckily I still had 5 frozen embryos so I didn’t have to go through the whole process all over again. It still meant lots of medication and needles but no retrieval.

Courtesy of Calynn Rosano

Round Two: After the transfer I decided I didn’t want to wait for the blood test. I wanted to know the answer before anyone else. I didn’t want to be blindsided like the first time. That was too hard to handle. I took my first pregnancy test and waited a long three minutes in pure fear. It was POSITIVE! I was pregnant! I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Of course I still had doubts. I took probably a total of 14 tests just to make sure. We wanted to wait for the blood test to confirm before we got too excited. Blood test was POSITIVE! We are really PREGNANT! We were so happy we told our close family after a few weeks. The blood test numbers continued to rise perfectly. We went in for our first ultrasound and the Doctor seemed happy with what was visible at the early stage. We were overjoyed!

The next ultrasound was a different story. They weren’t sure but said there wasn’t much progress from the previous week. They said we will check again next week. That week felt like a year. We went in and I was told I would miscarry in the next week. I was pretty upset to say the least. A week and a half went by and I hadn’t started to miscarry yet so I called the doctor and they said to come in for another ultrasound and they would see what was going on. Unfortunately I told Dominic I didn’t need him to come. The worst had already been confirmed so I felt it couldn’t possible get any worse. Well I was wrong. During the ultrasound I saw a flicker. I said ‘Oh my gosh there’s a HEARTBEAT!’ A million thoughts went through my head at that moment! Oh my gosh a baby! I knew they were wrong! I’m a MOM! Dominic missed the first heartbeat. It was just pure happiness of witnessing a miracle. After I caught my breath I had asked the doctor ‘Is that a heartbeat?’ He was completely puzzled but didn’t look happy. I couldn’t understand. He then answered ‘Yes, but I’m sorry. The heartbeat is so faint the baby will not make it another week. After seeing a heartbeat the baby became so much more real. It was hard being the only one to see the heartbeat. The next week when I returned hoping for another miracle my world crashed down and the heartbeat was gone. I was completely numb with grief. I had never felt such a huge loss in my entire life. Dominic was very upset but remained my rock and helped me prepare for the next step.

Round Three: We still had 3 frozen embryos after the first 2 rounds so we proceeded with a frozen cycle and made a huge decision to transfer all 3. It was super scary but I didn’t feel like transferring just two was working out for us. We discussed the possibility of triplets but focused mainly on getting to that point before worrying. So I tested at home and it was POSITIVE. This time I didn’t even get a little excited because there was so many hurdles we still had to overcome. Once I had blood test it was confirmed but my number was on the low side. Then I had to go back the following week and my numbers weren’t doubling. I felt like we were just cursed. How can this be happening again? I miscarried around 6 weeks. At this point we were completely defeated. I had no embryos left. I would have to start over from scratch. I was at the lowest point of my life.

Courtesy of Calynn Rosano

Every single moment of the day I thought of the babies I lost. As crazy as this sounds, Not only did I think about the babies but I thought about my husband. I thought about how I couldn’t give him the joy of becoming a father. I didn’t want to hold him back from that experience. These were feelings I never really brought up but feared I would need to discuss with him after we spoke with the doctor.

We had a follow up meeting with the doctor and because of the two miscarriages our insurance would now cover another round of testing. One of the test was of both of our chromosomes (Karyotype). When the nurse called with the results she said Dominic’s tests came back fine. My tests showed that I am a carrier of a genetic condition called ‘Balanced Translocation’.  She went on to explain what it meant and said it only affects fertility. I finally had an answer to what was going on but I wasn’t sure how we would proceed. She then went on to say we would meet with the doctor to discuss the next steps in the process. A Balanced Translocation is basically two of my chromosomes had a piece break off  and swapped places. So for me a large piece of my 15 chromosome and a large piece of my 18 chromosome broke off and reattached to the wrong chromosome. Since I have a large break that means I will most likely miscarry early in the pregnancy. Some women with small breaks can carry further into pregnancy to full term and baby will then pass away of medical complications.

Once we met with the doctor he had discussed doing IVF with PGS (Preimplantation Genetic Screening) and said this is basically a way to screen the embryos to help prevent future miscarriages of embryos that are unbalanced.  The goal when doing IVF with PGS is to get the most eggs as possible to be screened. They increased all my meds. I was told with my condition 1 out of 10 eggs is probably balanced or normal. During my retrieval only 14 eggs were retrieved. I was pretty devastated with such a low number.

The next day only 9 had fertilized and then we had to wait five days to see if any were still growing. On the fifth day I was told only 4 embryos made it to be biopsied and sent to a lab for testing. At this point I was beyond crushed and already felt defeated. At the same time I knew this was my only option and I had to put my faith in this process. It was the longest three weeks of my life waiting for the results. I remember the day they called. I couldn’t even take a breath as the embryologist said ‘I can’t believe I’m saying this because I have never seen this happen’.  I still couldn’t breathe! What was he about to say? This can’t be good. He then finished with ‘Out of the 4 tested, 3 are Normal/Balanced Embryos’. At this point I was jumping up and down screaming. Since we had the PGS done the gender of the embryos is shown on the test results. Of course I had to ask. All 3 of the embryos were… GIRLS!

Once we heard the amazing news of having THREE ‘normal’ embryos we were so excited to start our next cycle. Of course we were scared but we went in to the process with so much faith in this amazing science. After having two miscarriages my brain was programed with so much doubt. I’m already  cursed with anxiety so adding these doubts on top of anxiety was a recipe for disaster. The only thing that kept my faith high was knowing we never did the PGS testing on the other embryos I had miscarried so this time was … DIFFERENT.

We started our frozen cycle and basically I was on a ton of medication to trick my body. Transfer day came and I was pretty nervous to say the least. The plan was to thaw the best quality embryo and transfer. There is always a chance the embryo will not survive the thaw. It is a low percentage but obviously we don’t have the best of luck. During this time after transfer I tried to watch funny movies and look up Pinterest DIY projects. It was a very difficult time because it was just me and my thoughts most of the time. It sounds so crazy now to say out loud but I would hold my belly and wish her to life. I needed her to know how much I already loved her and needed her in my life.

On day four after the transfer I had a gut feeling I was pregnant. I decided to take a test and as soon as I saw the two lines I didn’t get as excited as I had in the past. I had been down this road before and I wasn’t in the clear just yet. So as good as it felt I just couldn’t be happy. I had blood work every 3 days for two weeks. My levels continued to rise perfectly. During this time were lots of emotionally bad days. Each time I felt at my worst something crazy would happen. I would come across a ladybug. Once in my car, the house, and even at work. This doesn’t sound that crazy but it was currently December in New Jersey so not typical any bugs would be out. I took it as a sign of hope.

We were scheduled to have an ultrasound at 5 weeks. It was really hard because at that point it was too soon to see a heartbeat but the doctor seemed happy with the progress and we scheduled our next ultrasound for the following week. It was the HEARTBEAT ULTRASOUND. This was a HUGE milestone for me. I saw our first baby’s heartbeat and it was an appointment that had continued to haunted me. It was such an amazing sight with the worst news of my life attached. I wasn’t sure how I would handle this appointment. Of course my anxiety completely took over. I couldn’t sleep the night before. We went into the office and I told myself I wasn’t going to look just incase it was bad news. I didn’t want to see another heartbeat if it was only going to end. I kept my eyes closed the entire process as the doctor inspected my uterus and the embryo’s progress. After a few minutes of inspecting the doctor flipped a switch which turned on the sound and my ears heard the most magical sound of my life. My baby’s heart was beating and it was strong and PERFECT. In that special moment my heart began to feel hope again. A feeling I wasn’t sure I could ever let myself experience again. I turned to Dominic and asked, ‘Can you record it on your phone?’ He said, ‘I already did!’

Courtesy of Calynn Rosano

July 11, 2013, I was 35 weeks pregnant. It was a scorcher of a day. All day I felt lots of front pressure and slight cramping but just thought I had overdone it and the heat wasn’t helping. Several coworkers asked, ’Do you think you’re in labor?’. It was too early. I’ve heard usually your first comes late. I hadn’t even thought about labor at this point. When I got home that night I realized I was contracting. I called the doctor and they said to call back when the contractions were 5 minutes apart. They then had me come to hospital to be checked. Once we arrived at the hospital we were the only ones in the waiting area at 10 p.m. My husband was freaking out because it was nothing like in the movies where everyone is rushing around and helping you. We were finally taken back after about 35 minutes of waiting (pacing in the waiting room contracting). Once in the back I was checked and was 5 cm dilated. My husband asked, ‘What does that mean?’ and the doctor said, ‘It means you will be leaving with a baby!’ I couldn’t believe the day was here. Earlier than expected but that was ok because I didn’t have time to panic or obsess over the different out comes. She was about to create her own birth story!

Courtesy of Calynn Rosano

Going into this process I was very nervous because she was a little early so I had to meet with a NICU doctor to go over the possible issues that she may have coming this early but was advised it shouldn’t be anything too serious.I was told she probably weighs 5 lbs and that didn’t seem too bad considering I’m pretty petite myself. I didn’t expect to have a big baby. I was determined to have a vaginal delivery.

July 12, 2013 I was given Pitocin when I was not making much progress around 8 a.m. I did ask for an epidural because Pitocin is no joke! Once I was able to push, I pushed for 2 1/2 hours. I finally said to the doctor, ’If you think I need a c-section I’m ok with it because I physically can no longer push.’ She asked how I felt about forceps and I said, ‘If you’re ok with it, I’m ok with it.’. So with forceps and one big push Brynn was welcomed into the world. She weighed 7 lbs 1 oz and was 19.5 inches long!

The moment I heard her cry was the moment I sobbed uncontrollably. A HUGE, ugly cry type of sob. I waited so long for this moment! She was brought over to be cleaned up and checked out to make sure she could breath on her own and her vitals were fine. At that point I went white as a ghost and was given oxygen. I had lost so much blood my hemoglobin dropped to a 4. I was advised to get a blood transfusion but for some reason did not feel comfortable with the idea and asked if I could just be monitored and if it was life threatening I would go through with it but if there was improvement I’d like to avoid it. Finally I was able to hold Brynn and just stare at the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. After such a horrible storm we had endured, finally a rainbow baby!

Courtesy of Calynn Rosano

After a couple years we decided to try again for our next daughter. After having so much success with the first PGS tested embryo I kind of just envisioned my life with 3 daughters. That was how I saw our future.We went in for the transfer and it was a little different this time having a two-year-old. Not as much time to think and prepare yourself. A few days after transfer, I knew I was pregnant and I kind of just felt so confident planing the months ahead. Little did I know my world would be rocked once again. After six weeks, I miscarried. It seems like every miscarriage was so different. This time I knew it was a girl and she was supposed to be one of my 3 daughters. This was a really hard loss that is talked about the least because I honestly didn’t let myself grieve properly and jumped into the next round of IVF. I knew the last embryo was the lowest quality out of the three. In my mind, I thought if I couldn’t carry the second embryo there was no hope for the third, and I wanted to finalize this chapter in my life. I wanted to enjoy life as a mom of one if that was my fate.

I wanted Brynn to have a sibling and I wanted another daughter so bad and I hoped for this to work but in my mind it was already over. I never let myself get excited. At 8 weeks I started bleeding bad and I said to myself,I knew it! I drove myself to the hospital expecting to hear bad news but was told baby was fine and I had a hematoma on my uterus. In that moment of fear I fell so in love with her and from that moment wanted to fully love her the way she deserved.

One day when I was at work I felt a ton of pressure. It just didn’t seem normal. I was only 33 weeks along but the doctor advised me to go to the hospital to be on the safe side. I drove myself to the hospital and once admitted found out I was in active labor. I was given a shot for the baby’s lungs and was extremely scared. Over the next few hours I spoke to many doctors advising me of all the risks and complications that were ahead. They informed me they were unable to stop my labor and once she was born she would be rushed to the NICU. She came very quickly and I told my husband to stay with her. It was the weirdest feeling having a baby and not being able to hold her or know anything about her or her condition. Once I was able to leave Labor and Delivery, I was wheeled to the NICU.

Nothing can quite prepare you for the sight of your child covered in tubes and needles. I immediately cried for her because I felt so bad, but then cried more because she was here and fighting for her life. I was unable to hold her for 3 days while they tried to stabilize her. Three days may not seem like a long time but it was a very hard time. I spent most of the time by her isolette just staring and crying. Listening to her oxygen and heart monitor beep watching her vitals improve and decline and improve again. She weighed 4 lbs 15 oz and was 16 inches long.

Courtesy of Calynn Rosano

IVF was a huge roller coaster for me but the NICU was a whole new meaning of roller coaster. She spent a month in the NICU. She may have been the lowest quality embryo but she was the strongest! We named her Nora meaning ‘light’ as she was the light after a very dark road. Once we were home she began to thrive and has been doing great ever since.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Calynn Rosano from New Jersey. Follow her on Instagram here. 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 infertility journeys here:

‘Your best course of action is IVF.’ Surely this wasn’t real. I didn’t know anyone who had gone through this. We told everyone.’: Couple advocates for infertility awareness, ‘I never lost hope’

‘Would you take a second baby?’ Two babies? I had ZERO control over the system. We said yes.’: Mom of 6 details infertility, foster care journey, ‘It’s our honor to love these children’

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