“June 19, 2016 at about 9:00 a.m., my babies’ lives began. How do I know? Let me take you back to the beginning. Our son, Grant, was 5 years old and still an only child. We were blessed to have him. We had no idea he was a miracle. Amazingly, we didn’t need medical intervention to become pregnant with him. So here we were, 5 years later and no new baby to join our family. I saw my gynecologist about it. He wasn’t very concerned and gave me Clomid—few questions asked. No tests nor serious concerns. Fast forward several months and no success with Clomid. This was 2015.
I made an appointment with an IVF clinic. I had my records transferred. They ran a battery of tests from blood work to scans. The result was the news that I didn’t have many eggs, and their quality wasn’t great. It would be a time game we’d play against my 35-year-old body. Every month was a strike against us. Also, I was found to have a small polyp in my uterus, which likely could have made a pregnancy unsuccessful. I had surgery for it in 2015. I also had a mock transfer to see if my tubes were open. They were fine. We couldn’t do anything about our infertility in 2015. Results in hand, but no options.
It was such a hard wait knowing it decreased our chances of success. I was on a group insurance plan with my employer, and it did not have benefits for infertility. In November that year, we signed up for insurance with my spouse’s employer. It would take effect on January 1, 2016. Our fertility clinic was aware and plans were made for me to begin injections for IVF on January 5th. I couldn’t pre-order meds. My insurance began January 1st, and of course, offices were closed.
So on January 2nd, they sent the order and within minutes I was on the phone with my insurance’s preferred pharmacy trying to get medications ordered. There was a weekend in there and it also factored in. I literally waited for the FedEx truck to arrive with my $4,000 of meds on January 5th. I paid for them with our credit card. I also had to order more than 5 days in because my body was responding. Another large amount of money. So there it was, the first full week of January, and I met my max out of pocket for the whole year!
I began twice-a-day injections of multiple medications. Also, I began intermittent FMLA. I would be traveling to a neighboring state every 2-3 days for scans and blood work. I’ll leave it to your imagination and only say the scans were internal. This was a nerve-wracking time. Waiting to know how many ‘follicles’ there were and their sizes. 13 days into injections, and I was given the go-ahead to inject HCG. This made my body ready for retrieval of the eggs. When I say retrieval, I mean being put out for surgery and having 2 long needles poked through my vaginal walls to get to the eggs.
Four were retrieved. Three were fertilized in the lab and transferred to my belly on January 23rd. These little loves did not stay. Being pro-life, I fully believe those are my babies. They had everything they needed to grow into beautiful children. We waited two weeks. Praying. God had other plans. On February 2nd, our adventure began all over again. First, the time we had a Lupron cycle (Lupron, Follistim, Menopur). This second time, we had a new protocol and new meds (Menopur, Ganirelix, Follistim).
By this time, I bet Mr. FedEx was wondering why he was bringing me giant coolers to work every week or two. This cycle went on until February 11th. My eggs didn’t look good, so this became an IUI cycle (insemination). Cycle 3 was a new protocol again. We began on April 21st. This time with Follistim, Menopur, Femara, and Ganirelix. So many meds and each has a job to do-some grew eggs, some kept from releasing eggs too soon. Either way, I had between 2 and 5 injections every day and continued going to Evansville every few days.
My stomach was full of bruises and welts the size of baseballs. I put lots of miles on the car and lots of holes in my arm for blood work, and I spent lots of time watching HGTV in a waiting room and waiting for my turn for scans. This was again not our cycle. Six eggs. Four fertilized but were abnormal. They could not survive. This is where I’ll share some of the emotions—there were so many ups and downs daily. My hormones were all over the place. Then at a scan, I would become hopeful only to have my hopes pushed back at my next scan.
But I knew it was bad news when my call was directly from my doctor. I cried. Heartbroken again. And you know what? At my next appointment, as I was gathering info for the next new cycle, my nurse cried with me. She was shocked. They became invested in the process right alongside us. At this point, I nearly gave up. I was tired and tired of traveling. Tired of my body being exhausted. Tricking it into thinking it might be pregnant. Tired of hormones. Tired of missing work. Tired of hoping and crying. It was so worth it. I just didn’t think my body could go through it much longer.
We tried again on June 1st. I was pretty sure this would be our last attempt for a while. In this cycle, I had low estrogen the whole time. I was given notice we might end up canceled again, and we just did IUI, so we didn’t use up one of the 4 retrievals insurance would pay. They will only pay 4 retrievals, and this was our third cycle. We kept going. I told them if there was a chance at all, 2 embryos were better than another canceled cycle. During this cycle, I had a day where I just couldn’t. I couldn’t keep it together anymore, I couldn’t cry anymore, and I couldn’t pray any more than I already had.
Friends cried and prayed with me. I was broken and told myself, ‘It is well, however this turns out.’ This brings us to June 19th and another surgery. Five follicles were retrieved. They didn’t all grow to embryos—three didn’t make it, which left us with two embryos. One grade 3, 8 cell; Not likely to survive. One grade 3, 18 cell. The doctor called this one our superstar because it was nicely dividing. But still, my old body likely wouldn’t cooperate. We would transfer both and neither were expected to make it.
They were also to be day 5 transfers, but we got word they were not going to make it to day 5. So on June 22nd, both embryos were transferred into my uterus. Then another 2-week wait began. The plan was, in 2 weeks we would have blood work to see if I was pregnant. However, I tested at home. I admit it! And the line got stronger every day. The bloodwork confirmed it. I was pregnant! We would have a scan a couple of weeks later to see if the baby was healthy and had good placement.
It took only a few seconds on the day of our scan for the sonographer to say there were 2! We were shocked. She was shocked. Our Dr. was shocked. And we were twice blessed! Libby and Alaina arrived on January 20, 2017. Our family was complete. Infertility can be stressful and a real joy stealer. The mamas going through this are exhausted. Hot flashes and hormones waging war on their bodies. The dads and family are there riding the wave too and grieving each time the blood work says no baby.
Why do I share? Because this shouldn’t be a taboo topic. People you love are going through this and feel they can’t talk about it. One in 8 couples experiences infertility. Without even thinking much, I could name 15 couples who have struggled. If I really thought about it, I bet I could double the number.
How can you support your friends and loved ones? If they want to share, let them, and give them extra grace. Likely their heart is riding a roller coaster only to crash at the end of the ride every month. It is hard. Those were their embryo babies who God and a whole practice of specialists worked so hard to create. And they may be doing it all over again next month. Their lack of a baby isn’t for lack of trying or praying. They have exhausted every resource they can to make their family grow.
‘You can adopt.’ ‘I wondered what was going on.’ ‘You already have one child.’ ‘It’ll happen when you least expect it.’ I think hurtful reactions are a big part of why people don’t talk about infertility. Also, the loss month after month hurts. They can’t share. It hurts too much. If they don’t want to share don’t make them. Just remind them often you are praying for them. Let them draw strength from it. People are embarrassed. Not ashamed. Don’t confuse the two.
There are lots of things involved in IVF. It is pretty invasive. So talking about male and female bits and pieces and procedures is hard. Do you know what I had to send my husband in a room to do while I was in surgery having needles placed through my vaginal walls? Lots of private things. Lots of words we don’t use in everyday language. But I share this because I am not embarrassed. If you wanna know, just ask. I had four friends pregnant while I was. Two of those friends had IVF babies.
Since having the girls, I have also had the opportunity to share with many different couples looking into treatment for infertility. I started out writing this to document it for our girls. Then I realized other people could benefit from knowing our story. God bless all of you still trying to grow your families. Whether it be through IVF, IUI, natural means, fostering, or adopting!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Dawn Wiles from Fairfield, IL. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories like this:
‘What kind of woman carries a baby for two men?’ I decided to help a stranger. They say it takes a village to raise a baby. Sometimes, it takes a village just to grow one.’: Woman becomes surrogate to help couples battling infertility
‘One more time, just one last time,’ he said. And on our final cycle, we successfully had our twin girls.’: After 8 cycles of IVF, triplet loss, couple welcome twin girls with autism, ‘We love without limits’
Provide beauty and strength for others. SHARE this story on Facebook with friends and family.