“The moment you decide as a couple to take the next step in your relationship and bring a child into the world is a momentous one. I remember so clearly my husband (Chris) and I driving home from San Diego and deciding on that drive we were ready to try. We were finally in a place where we felt settled and ready to start a family. We had been together for over 8 years, owned a house, both had great steady careers, had 3 cats and 2 dogs and were happy and in love. The time just felt right.
I had spent my whole life trying NOT to get pregnant. I guess in my mind — I would go off birth control and poof! I would be pregnant. And for some, that is the case. However, that was not our journey. I went off birth control and a couple of weeks later had extreme pain in my uterus. In the past, I had ovarian cysts burst which landed me in the hospital, and I thought this was the same. However, this time there was concern about how the cyst was impacting my ovaries and I had to have emergency laparoscopic surgery. I went into that surgery not knowing if I would come out with any ovaries. I had to sign a form saying I knew this could happen. I just remember my heart sinking… I had no time to prepare — no time to process.
I woke up from surgery not knowing anything. Did I still have my ovaries? The doctor told my husband and I that both my ovaries were intact. Thank goodness! However, during the surgery they discovered I had severe endometriosis and from that my Fallopian tubes were clubbed. The doctor said I could still get pregnant naturally, but it would be much harder. He also said I needed to take a drug called Lupron in order to go through a state of menopause to give my reproductive system a break and help the endometriosis.
All the dream and plans we had made got turned upside down. I had endometri what? Clubbed Fallopian tubes? Menopause? It was a lot to handle. Little did we know this would be just the beginning of our fertility journey.
I did the Lupron shots, I went through menopause for 3 months. A sneak peek into my future I wish I never had. To be honest, those 3 months were the hardest in our marital relationship. I was impossible to be around. Basically I was crazy. We fought more than we ever have, and were just unhappy. At the end of the 3 months we went to see the doctor. He suggested I do another 3 months of Lupron shots. We chose not to in order to preserve our relationship and sanity.
Since we chose not to continue the Lupron shots, he had me take Clomid, a fertility drug, to help me produce more eggs and increase my chances of getting pregnant. We did that for 3 months with no results. Over 7 months had passed and we had made no headway in getting pregnant. At this point, we went to see a fertility doctor.
We met with the fertility doctor and he reviewed my history and surgery photos. After reviewing everything, he told us we had a 2% chance of getting pregnant naturally, a 15% chance through IUI and a 90% chance with IVF. We decided to do IVF. Again, we were feeling positive — finally we were taking steps toward having a baby! As upset as we were that this was our new reality we were also thrilled to be moving forward with a new plan.
We ended up doing 2 rounds of IVF. So many shots, so many hormones, so many bruises and so many tears. However, we got 7 mature embryos out of all that. Now, a new challenge arose. This challenge ended up being the biggest challenge of all. It turned out on top of all my other issues, I also had a thin uterine lining. During both rounds of IVF we were told we could not do a fresh transfer because my lining crashed to 2mm after the trigger shot to get the eggs. The doctor told us we would have to do a frozen transfer in order to get my lining thick enough to hopefully have a successful transfer. Every month that passed my lining would get to a 4mm– still not thick enough for a transfer. It became a waiting game. We tried so many different interventions to get my lining thicker. One of them being Viagra suppositories which are insanely expensive. I remember lying on my office floor at work multiple times a day for 15 minutes after putting one in. All of this to no avail.
We decided to get a few second opinions. We went to 2 other fertility doctors to see if we should switch doctors. One of them informed us that Chris had ‘rock star sperm.’ I remember thinking ‘Wow, this is all me. This is all my fault. If he had just married someone else they would already have a baby.’ It was a very low moment for me. Both the second and third opinions told us they would not do an embryo transfer unless my lining was at least 8mm– something I had never gotten remotely close to. Ultimately, we decided to stick with our original doctor since he was willing to take a chance and do a transfer if I could just get to 6mm.
Through many interventions we were able to get my lining to 6mm and we did the transfer! We transferred 2 embryos and hoped we would have twins so we could be done with this nightmare. It took us so long to get here and finally I was going to be pregnant! The transfer failed. I remember the heartbreak and tears that were shed when we received the call from the doctor as he told us the news. I remember feeling beyond defeated.
More months passed. My lining was not getting to 6mm again. Since nothing seemed to be working, we decided to try no hormones and I saw a herbalogist and tried herbs instead. My lining got to 6mm! We then decided to do a natural transfer — with no hormones. We transferred 2 embroyos again in hopes of having twins. My hopes were low, but still there.
When I went in 9 days later to get the blood work to find out if I was pregnant or not, I cried all day. The thought of hearing bad news was more than I could bare. The nurse said to me during that time if the doctor calls it means you are not pregnant, if a nurse calls it means you are. I had not realized that was how they did it. I just assumed that the doctor called either way. I remember praying to hear a nurse’s voice.
That afternoon as I was driving home from work, I received the call we had been waiting for. It was the nurse, and she said, ‘Are you happy to hear my voice?’ Her voice truly was the voice of an angel. I remember asking her, ‘Really? Am I really pregnant?’ She said YES. It was the best moment of my life. I wanted to wait to tell Chris in person since he had left work early to be home with me when we found out. But, I couldn’t wait. I called him immediately and told him the news. When I got home he was outside waiting for me, we ran to each other’s arms and held each other tight and cried. All this time all, all this pain, all this money, was worth it for this moment.
When we went in for our first ultrasound we hoped to find 2 little babies on the screen. However, only one stared back at us. Although there was a moment of disappointment, we were so happy and thankful for that one little babe!
Our precious daughter Tenley June Clevenger arrived on June 8, 2016. The day I became a mom and Chris became a dad. It was a whirlwind, and one of the best, craziest, most stressful times in our lives. Being a parent is no joke! But, one we happily embraced and I would like to think tried our best to cherish, given our journey to get there.
Flash forward to November 2016. I was feeling tired and nauseous. I told Chris I was feeling sick and he said, ‘Did you eat?’ I said, ‘Oh!,’ ate and felt better. Wait a minute… the only other time that had happened was when I was pregnant. The thought flashed in my mind and then immediately went to, ‘You are crazy, it’s not possible. You have a 2% chance of getting pregnant.’ Since I thought I was being crazy but couldn’t shake the thought, I decided to order some pregnancy tests off Amazon. No rush to get them since clearly I was delusional. The tests came 2 days later. I took one. It was POSITIVE. POSITIVE?! How could that be?! I took another one. POSITIVE. I told Chris. He thought I was joking. We started googling, ‘Can you get a positive test if you just had a baby? NO. Can you have a positive test if you are breastfeeding? NO.’ I texted my best friend who has 3 kids and asked her if it was possible to have a false positive. Her response: ‘Congratulations! You are having another baby!’ I was in utter shock and disbelief. The next day I went into the doctor to take the blood test to confirm I was pregnant. The results were in — I was indeed pregnant.
I had a 2% chance of getting pregnant naturally. With all the interventions modern medicine had to offer, I still had a hard time getting pregnant. I had 1 period at 3 months postpartum and here I was 8 weeks pregnant. After we got over the initial shock and fear over getting pregnant again so quickly, we started to get truly excited about this miracle baby. It took us years and 4 embryos to get Tenley, and 3 months later, we were expecting another baby July 2017.
Brodie Mae Clevenger was born on July 19, 2017, just 13 months after her big sister came into this world.
Watching the two of them meet for the first time was surreal. I felt like I left my body and was watching someone else’s life. How did I go from not being able to get pregnant to having 2 perfect baby girls in basically 1 year? Although Tenley was initially confused and unsure of our new family member, she came around pretty quickly.
When Brodie was born, Tenley could not even walk. To say it has been challenging is an understatement. But, already their bond is so special. They have truly grown up together. Both girls will never know life without each other, and that is something I would not change for the world.
I often think about the what-ifs. What if I didn’t go to the doctor when I first had the uterine pain? What if my fertility doctor was unwilling to take a chance and do a transfer at 6mm like most the doctors? I know I would not be sitting here with my 2 perfect baby girls — now 21 months and 8 months old.
I wish our journey had been easy. I wish our journey had not cost thousands upon thousands of dollars. I wish our journey had not impacted our marriage, lives, family, friends and careers. I wish a lot of things. However, this journey is what made us a family of 4, and I would not wish to change that for anything.
The universe works in funny ways. We wanted twins. The universe gave us Irish twins.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amy Clevenger of Southern California. She was connected to Amanda Naor Photography, creator of the #WorthTheWait series, which highlights couples who’ve battled the infertility journey, just like her.
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