“It all began a year ago this week. My cell phone rang on March 28, 2018, at 4:42 p.m. from ‘No Caller ID’ — it was my doctor. ‘Well, Sydney, it worked. Congratulations…your HCG levels look great.’ Or at least I think that’s what he said. My mind went blank. After hearing ‘Congratulations,’ I don’t really know what he said. How could I? I had just found out the very thing I have wanted to find out. I was pregnant. It had worked.
But let’s start at beginning.
My wife and I met in high school. It wasn’t love at first sight, or even attraction at first site. In fact, I wasn’t even into women. We had become friends our senior year, eventually traveling to Israel together on a gap year program, and both ending up at the same college. After some time spent together, curiosity struck. That’s all it took. We started dating and we instantly knew this was it — we’d be each other’s last first kiss.
Time flew by. 1 year turned into 7; we moved in with each other; adopted a dog; and started a company. Then, during Valentine’s Day Weekend of 2015 we proposed to each other. That next year came and went as we planned our dream wedding. It was everything we had wanted to be, as our Rabbi and Cantor married us in our temple that I had grown up in, surrounded by our family and close friends. In addition to a few traditional registry items, like fine China and a blender, we asked that people instead give money to what we called our ‘Future Family Fund.’ We shared that the money would be put away into a savings account until we were ready to start our family.
In January of 2017, we began our next chapter into the journey of parenthood. We met with a few fertility specialists so we could become better educated and equipped at making the best choices for our family: we considered costs, weighed the pros and cons of IUI and IVF, planned, searched for the right donor, the list goes on. It was a trying time for the two of us and we hadn’t even started trying to get pregnant. But by the end of 2017, we had our plan. We chose our doctor, bought a dozen vials of sperm (as we wanted to ensure the same donor for all of our future children), and decided we’d start trying by my February/March cycle.
I went to my first appointment when I was on Day 4 of my menstrual cycle so my doctor can perform an exam to ensure everything looked good. From there, I would have another 4 checkup appointments to track my egg growth, take Clomid, pee on 7 ovulation test strips, pick up the vial of sperm from the Cryobank, and be given an injection of HCG. All of this occurred within 13 days.
On day 12 of this journey, I was given the HCG shot. Brit had come with me to every single appointment. And as a side note, our doctor was about an hour away from where we lived — that’s 2 hours in the car, there and back, for a 30-minute checkup. So when it was time to take the shot, I knew I would have to go back in the next day. Brit had already put so many things on hold, and I think we both thought it wouldn’t really work the first time anyways, that we were both comfortable and okay with my mom taking me to my insemination appointment. So that night, after my shot, Brit and I went home and had a romantic evening with each other, wine and all.
The morning of March 12th had arrived. I was jittery and anxious — two things everyone tells you not be when trying to conceive. My mom picked me up from my condo and drove me to my appointment. As we waited in the waiting room to be seen, I counted 40 weeks from my first day of my last period. December 1st. My thoughts were interrupted. ‘Sydney,’ a nurse said at the door separating the waiting room to the rest of the medical offices. My mom and I took a deep breath, gathered our belongings, and headed back. ‘Take your pants and underwear off and put this blanket over you. The doctor will be with you shortly.’ As I lay half naked on the medical table, waiting, all I could hear was my heartbeat. I didn’t know what to think. It felt like hours had passed until the doctor finally came in. He shook my mom’s hands, he asked me how I was feeling, and then said, ‘It’s time.’
The actual IUI procedure was easy and painless. The doctor inserts a teeny tiny flexible syringe-like tool through my cervix and released the sperm. That was it. It was done. I got dressed, paid for the services, and went out to dinner with my mom.
The next set of instructions I was given before I had left the doctor’s office was to NOT take a pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests are not 100% accurate and they didn’t want me to experience a false positive … or a false negative. That’s the type of stress that should be kept at bay. Instead, I was supposed to carry on with my days, as worry-free as possible, until 16 days post IUI. On day 15, March 27th, I called the doctor’s office. ‘Hi, it’s Sydney. I was just inseminated a couple of weeks ago and was told to call if ‘IT’ hasn’t arrived. I know I probably sound crazy, but I don’t want to say ‘IT’ in case ‘IT’ does come in the next 24 hours. I don’t want to jinx myself. Anyways, tomorrow is day 16 and I haven’t taken a pregnancy test.’ The woman at the other end of the phone laughed in a sympathetic and empathetic way and reassured me. ‘Of course, Sydney. Let’s have you come in tomorrow.’
March 28, 2018. A day I will never forget. I went to the doctor’s alone. I told Brit it was silly for her to miss work when this particular appointment was just for a blood draw. I went in, they drew my blood, they wished me luck, and told me that one of the nurses or the doctor would call when the results were in. I went home, cuddled with my puppy and watched TV. Hours went by. The phone rang. It was the doctor’s office. At the other end of the line, I heard my doctor’s voice. ‘Well, Sydney, it worked. Congratulations…your HCG levels look great.’ (Or something to that affect.) Needless to say, I was indeed pregnant.
I went on to have a healthy pregnancy. The weeks came and went – all 40 of them. In fact, December 1st began like any other day. Granted this was the estimated due date all my doctors gave me, so I was a bit more excited that I had reached a full 40 weeks. Otherwise, my mom had gone to her annual eye doctor appointment and my dad and wife left for the office for their monthly philanthropic clinic. I had woken up around 8 a.m. with the family to see them off. Once they had left, I went back to bed. Being 40 weeks pregnant, getting crappy sleep, and the pending arrival of our baby girl looming, I was exhausted. Around 11:30 a.m. I woke up suddenly with an immediate urge to poop — to the extent that I thought if I didn’t run to the bathroom, I’d have an accident in bed. So I made my way to the bathroom, peed, and went back to bed. Minutes later I woke up again. ‘Wait! I am 29 years old. I won’t poop my pants. That’s ridiculous.’
At this point, I texted one of my friends who had just given birth 8 weeks prior, ‘What do contractions feel like?’ After a quick texting conversation, I decided I was in early labor, but wanted to be sure. I started timing the contractions, made a snack, took a shower, napped, and went for a walk. Sure enough, my contractions kept coming, closer and stronger. It was now 1 p.m. and it was time to call my mom. I didn’t want to bother her earlier as I knew her appointment would be over soon anyways, and I definitely didn’t want to bother my wife because I didn’t want her to panic that I was home alone. ‘I think it’s time. I think I’m in labor.’
Within an hour, my wife, mom, aunt, and mother-in-law were all back at home with me. It was all very exciting and equally nerve-racking. My contractions were lasting about 45 seconds and were happening every 9 minutes. It was nearly 3 p.m. and I was officially in active labor. I was desperate to be in water. Our birthing tub hadn’t yet been set up so I went into our Jacuzzi, butt naked, with my mom. By this point, my dad and another aunt had shown up. While talking in between contractions and relaxing during them, Brit had decided to call our midwife, Leslie, to inform her that I was in labor. ‘Sydney’s contractions are 6 minutes apart, lasting over a minute,’ Brit told Leslie. When the phone call ended, we noticed the water in the hot tub became murky. My water had broken. It was time to move to another location to continue my labor. So into my parent’s bed I went. It wasn’t planned that way. But in the moment, all I wanted was to feel safe, and there is no place greater than my parent’s bed. So my caravan of a team helped me out of the water, dried me off, and walked me upstairs.
By this point our dear family friend and shiatsu massage therapist, Steve, and our photographer/videographer, Rebecca, had arrived. During our birthing classes, we had learned about back labor. My mom had it with all three of us kids and the best solution is counter pressure. When I had initially asked Steve to be apart of my birth team, he was more than willing and happy to be my counter pressure expert. And thank goodness for that. Between my back labor and rectal pressure, I needed every ounce of natural relief I could get. Steve’s job was to apply as much pressure as possible to my lower back, while my mom’s job was to make sure I stayed relaxed through deep breathing and guided imagery. I labored on the bed. And on the toilet. And on a yoga ball. My contractions were on top of each other lasting about 1 minute and 40 seconds. All of a sudden, I threw up and had the chills. I had started moaning, or what was later described to me as my birthing song. I was in transition. And still no midwife. I could feel it in my bones — I knew I was close.
By 6:30 p.m., Leslie had shown up. She came right upstairs and began examining the baby’s heartbeat, my vitals, and eventually, checked to see how dilated I was. 9 centimeters. I was already at 9 centimeters. She asked me if I wanted to push. ‘YES!’ I cried out.
The birthing tub now was set up in our living room, an appropriate room to bring more life into. I was now being helped back downstairs to push in the tub. It was just after 7 p.m. The water was warm. Brit held onto me with all her love and might. After 30 minutes or so, I wasn’t making any progress getting our little girl out. The water was too high and gravity was working against me. My mom suggested to me that I try laboring and pushing outside of the tub. At this point I wanted the baby out more than I wanted a water birth. I went out of the tub and onto the couch. My team had propped me on my side with pillows and helping hands. My mom stroked my head and continued coaching me through my pushing while my dad held onto my mom. Brit held my right leg and right hand while showering me with love as her mom held her hand. One of my aunts held my left leg to give me something to push against. My cantor played guitar while I pushed and pushed and pushed. My midwife was in the end zone.
The room was dark and warm. The fireplace was lit. The twinkle lights were on. My family gathered around me and sang songs as our little girl’s head began to bulge. My midwife coached me on how to push and when to push. Brit told me the head was out and encouraged me to reach down and touch her head. I did. It gave me the extra focus I needed. The next thing I heard was, ‘the shoulders are out!’ Everyone is encouraging me to reach down and pull my baby out. I did.
It was 8:46 p.m. on December 1st. And just like, that our baby girl was born. On her due date. In the comfort and warmth of our home. Surrounded by family. There she was, in all her glory. She was perfect. She lay on my body as I rubbed in her vernix while we waited for her umbilical cord to stop pulsing. Our little one came into this world fast and furious. 7 pounds 9 ounces. 20.25 inches long. 10 fingers and 10 toes.
All of this – the tears, the choices, the timing – it all had worked. And it brought my wife and I the very best gift: Thea Madison Quinn.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sydney Sharon of Calabasas, California. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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