“Yup, that’s us in the picture. The smiley couple, happy, enjoying a great night out. The ‘newly’ married couple, early thirties, best friends, business owners. Everything to be thankful for.
No, we don’t have kids! Yes, we know we are getting older and losing time! We were getting pressured about babies before we walked down the aisle and now it seems like I’m a magnet for even more questions and thoughts.
Once we got married, we decided to start having kids right away. We wanted to enjoy them while we were young and didn’t see why we needed to wait. We bought a house in a great neighborhood, we both had good jobs, we got a puppy and the only thing missing was a baby.
I immediately came off birth control and the festivities began. I was put on birth control when I was younger for irregular periods, anxiety, random weight issues- the list goes on and on. Once I went on the pill, it was like a whole new world. All the ‘issues’ I was having as a woman were fixed. The first day off the pill, I felt a little strange, probably because my body was just so used to it. Fast forward to 3 months later – my anxiety was back, I gained 25 pounds, had terrible acne and I felt like crap and still wasn’t pregnant.
I was doing ovulation tests and keeping on top of my cycle- swearing I had to be pregnant when I wasn’t getting my period. After 6 months my OB sent me to an endocrinologist. I went to the appointment not knowing what an endocrinologist really was. She asked me a few questions and said she was sending me for blood work and when she had the results, she would call me, but told me to look into PCOS.
PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) -a hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. As I looked at the symptoms, I check off every single one of them and I instantly knew that our journey was about to get really complicated.
The doctor called 2 weeks later and told me I needed to see a fertility doctor because getting pregnant on my own would be impossible.
Excuse me, what? I’m in my early 30’s and have everything I need to start a family; you’re telling me I can’t? This has got to be a misunderstanding. I figured OK, we will see the fertility doctor and it will be obvious I am 100% normal and I don’t need the help.
Walking into the fertility office I felt embarrassed, weird, misplaced, ashamed? I’m not sure I know exactly the right word- but I was ready to get cleared and get the heck outta there. I met with my doctor and he did an internal ultrasound. ‘It’s definitely PCOS!’ He said. WHAT!? And sure enough I looked at the screen and saw my ovaries with a ‘pearl necklace’ looking shape on the outer edge. Are you sure? ‘I’m 100% sure you have PCOS and this is causing you not to get pregnant.’
I wasn’t ovulating on my own, every month was a waste of time. And so it all began- our fun TTC journey took a new path that I wasn’t really ready for.
I immediately had a HSG testing done (my tubes were open) and we went straight to medicated IUI (Intrauterine insemination) cycles, which includes internal ultra sounds and bloodwork 5-6 days a week. After once feeling embarrassed and misplaced- the fertility center was turning into my second home. A place I met herds of women going through the exact same thing as me.
My second procedure I got a ‘slight’ positive test on my blood work. Only to find out it was a chemical pregnancy. What the heck is that? I just thought if you were pregnant, you were pregnant. No one even explained what a chemical pregnancy was- thank goodness for Google.
My third IUI was a year into our journey- This one felt different. I was feeling sick, I was having weird dreams, my boobs were sore- could it be just the vaginal progesterone I was on? On January 19, 2018 I finally got 2 lines- I took one test every hour- yes that is a lot of money and Target must have thought I was nuts for purchasing so many tests. But this was the first month I didn’t need to squint or find better lighting to see a line. It was really there, and it was only getting darker. The blood test came back positive. It really felt like this rough journey was finally over, and we made it to the other side.
I was a girl who never really went to the doctor, hated hospitals, thought needles were super scary and was embarrassed of even going for a routine OB appointment. I was terrified for this entire process but after a long year of heartbreak month after month, it all finally seemed to be worth it.
At 6 weeks, out of nowhere, I had heavy bleeding and they found a subchronic hematoma on my emergency ultrasound visit. Subchorionic hematoma is the accumulation of blood within the folds of the chorion (the outer fetal membrane, next to the placenta) or between the uterus and the placenta itself. The bleeding was endless and beyond scary.
Every single week was a blessing, every ultrasound was a nerve-wracking experience but a miracle to watch our little baby grow. When you are going through infertility, you go for more scans than normal pregnancies. I was going once, sometimes twice a week. We were able to watch the little hands and feet grow and were getting more and more excited. We made it to the second trimester and finally felt confident that we wanted to share the news with our family and close friends. We were finally able to start planning and really enjoy the experience.
At just short of 16 weeks, I heard the heart-wrenching news ‘your baby doesn’t have a heartbeat.’ I was in shock and didn’t even think this pregnancy we fought so hard for, would ever end up in a miscarriage. ‘You can either have a D&E or take medicine to remove the baby.’ It took us what seemed like forever to create the future we have prayed for and in a matter of minutes it was gone.
I had a D&E to remove the baby and get testing done. I went into the surgery sobbing and woke up in the recovery room sobbing, feeling like I failed. It’s the hardest thing to explain to someone, the feelings you feel when your dreams are right in front of you and then ripped away. I not only felt sad for myself but felt like I ruined this for everyone around me.
The results came back a few weeks later- NORMAL- MALE.
All this time I felt my super power as a woman was to create a life. My husband deserves to be a father and to think I am holding him back from that is tough. We had a perfect baby boy and it felt like it was my fault he was no longer here. Did I do something wrong? Did I move the wrong way? Eat something I shouldn’t have? Nothing made sense and as I woke up every day, I had to remind myself it wasn’t my fault.
It has been 2 years since we started our journey. Last week after another chemical pregnancy I was told IVF might now be my only option and is not covered by my insurance. ($18-25K per cycle) After a nice long cry I was mad. Why is it women are being punished for their body not working? When I was younger why didn’t my doctors take the time to educate me? Why didn’t I know my body could even do this?
Since stepping foot in the fertility doctor until right now, I’ve had 1 HSG testing, 1 hysteroscopy surgery, 2 chemical pregnancies, 1 second trimester miscarriage,1 D&E procedure, countless amounts of oral and injectable medications and 13 IUIs done. I’m currently doing ERA testing to see when the best time for implantation would be.
Our story is better than most women having issues getting pregnant. That’s the thing about infertility and miscarriages- No one talks about it, no one knows about it. And if you’re a woman going through it, who hasn’t before, you feel very isolated and guilty. It’s a silent sadness you go through. The task of going to the grocery store or even your nephew’s 5th birthday party surrounded by people your age with children, feels heartbreaking and at times, paralyzing.
Unless you’re going through it, you don’t understand the emotional, mental, and physical strain. The feeling of not being on the same page or feeling very different from friends who have kids. The smile you slap on your face to make it seem like everything is okay. And I’m sure to many people around me, they have no idea what kind of rollercoaster we have been on. I feel very blessed and fortunate to be going through infertility and not something else. Everyone around us is healthy and our journey hasn’t been ideal but it’s not life threatening, so I do thank my lucky stars every day.
I did a lot of thinking and self-reflecting through this entire process. I started out as someone who knew nothing about infertility. I was scared of certain things and was very down on myself. Looking at myself now in the mirror I am more confident than I have every been. I may not be skinny and fit like I once was. But every ounce gained on my body, every bruise, and every single scar is a reminder of what I am going through. I am proud of my strength and courage that I didn’t know I ever had. Explaining our journey to people has really helped me heal and has pushed me to want to fight for what we all deserve.
If you are going through infertility or have gone through it before, know you aren’t alone. I cry with you, I feel your pain and my heart hurts for the same thing yours does. We are in this and we are not giving up. You are strong and a warrior for what you are going through, I see you and I am you.
Every book is different and no one chapter will be the same. Just remember to embrace who you are and surround yourself with people who do the same. Take a deep breath and keep going.”
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