‘You should leave me. Be with a woman who can give you a child.’ I’d go from screaming to sobbing on the floor. I felt broken.’: Couple battling infertility welcome IVF baby, ‘Never lose hope’

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“It pains me to even have to write this. 21 exhausting months into motherhood, it’s still extremely emotional to think about this journey. I wouldn’t wish this journey on anyone, and yet I would do it a thousand times over, every single year for our little one.

I was like most little girls growing up. I wanted a husband, a white picket fence around my house, and lots of kids running around as I yelled from the porch dinner was ready. I, never in my wildest dreams, ever even entertained the idea there would be any sort of issue getting pregnant. I mean, really, who does? My husband and I met in 2009, got engaged in 2012, and got married in 2014. I remember having a conversation with him 6 months before our wedding about how we were okay with getting pregnant, so we were going to stop preventing a pregnancy. Even then I knew, in the back of my mind, something wasn’t quite right. I mean, I’ve never had a predictable cycle.

I remember when I finally got the courage up to start talking to my doctors about my missing cycles and how we wanted to have kids, it would feel like they didn’t believe we had an issue. The first conversation was with my endocrinologist about everything in February of 2015. Thyroid issues run in my family, so I have always been really cautious. They found a precancerous nodule on it back in 2013, so we just keep an eye on it now. He ran a bunch of blood tests, told me he thought I had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and I should give it a year to try and eat healthily and lose some weight. When I went back to him in 2016, he told me he couldn’t do anything to help me. I remember marching into the OB’s office for my April 2016 appointment with one thing on my mind—we were going to come up with a plan to have a baby. Looking back, I realize how naïve I actually was about what a ‘plan to have a baby’ would entail.

Courtesy of Brigitte Bahre

I started on Clomid in May of 2016, and when that cycle didn’t work, we did a cycle at the end of June, and when that cycle didn’t work, we did a cycle in August of 2016. It wasn’t until the August cycle my OB decided to do a blood test and ultrasound to see if I was even ovulating. Let me just stop here for a second, and say Clomid was hell. There is no way to sugarcoat it or make it sound any better. It was absolutely awful. I would go from SCREAMING at my husband because he looked at me in a way I perceived as wrong to SOBBING on the floor because I felt like a broken woman. The entire time we were going through this, my husband had been such a rock. So, when we found out we had never even ovulated on Clomid, it was such a blow. I think it was then I started to realize maybe having a baby was not in the cards for us.

My OB gave us two options at this point: we could try another round of Clomid or she could refer us to the Fertility Clinic and let them take it from here. Considering how rough Clomid had been on my mental health and our marriage and we couldn’t get a guarantee another round was going to even work, we decided we were going to move on to the Center. I was really lucky. When I called, they had just had a cancellation and were able to get us in for our very long and very intense new-patient visit on September 1, 2017—just a few short weeks after the failure of our third round of Clomid. When you start at the Center, you go in and do close to a two-hour visit, where they get a very detailed history and family history, a physical exam, and a complete round of blood work—which included roughly twelve vials of blood. When we finished all of this, we were told our chances of an IUI working were good. We jumped in with two feet right away.

Courtesy of Brigitte Bahre

Again, my only thought process was, ‘Okay, here we go, this is going to give us our baby!’ I started to once again think we weren’t going to have a baby when we were on day 28 of our 10-day IUI protocol. I was simply not responding to the medication the way they expected or wanted, and it wasn’t looking like I was going to even ovulate. On day 22 of our protocol, I pulled my doctor aside for a conversation during a very busy morning monitoring session. I basically looked him dead in the eyes and said, ‘Listen, this isn’t supposed to take this long. Is it even going to work?’ This was the first, and only, time in our entire process he seemed to not be as confident about our chances to get pregnant. We decided to continue with the IUI, since we were so far in it at this point, and there was a slim chance we might get pregnant—but it was still a chance.

We were scheduled to go to Cape Cod for our fourth wedding anniversary right as we were finishing our medication and having our IUI. Do we cancel the trip? Do my parents go? Do we just go, because the IUI probably won’t work anyway, so we don’t even go through with the IUI? We ended up going and also going through with the IUI. We took all our stimulation medication—most of which had to be kept on ice, and, of course, our room didn’t include a mini-fridge. We used a cooler with ice to keep medication cold, went to an ultrasound and blood draw as we were leaving for vacation, and tried to not think about how it felt like we weren’t any closer to having a baby than we were 4 years ago. We came back from the Cape and headed straight to the Center for our IUI. I tried so hard in the following 10 days to stay as positive as possible. I was hoping I could will the universe to defy the odds and we would end up pregnant. It didn’t work.

Even though we fought for them to even do the IUI and even though we had the potential for four babies, we still had none. This wasn’t even the worst of it. I found out we weren’t pregnant, and then 8 hours later, sat in the back of a truck holding in every tear I had as friends of ours told us they were expecting. I have never felt so defeated, so broken, so less like a woman in my entire life. I have never wanted the Earth to open up and end my misery as much as I did at that moment. We had the decision then of deciding if we were jumping straight into a round of IVF or taking a break. I had decided early on in this journey I was going to soak up every single moment I could with our niece in case I never got those moments of my own. I wanted to see her every second I wasn’t working. I wanted to watch my husband feed her, change her diapers, play with her, and snuggle with her. I wanted to have as many moments as I could with her to remember, in case I never got to have them with my own kids. When I suddenly no longer wanted to have interactions with her was when my husband stepped in and decided we were putting IVF on hold.

I had gotten withdrawn and depressed. I kept telling him he should leave me and go be with someone who could give him a child. I was so broken and defeated at this point, I honestly thought it was best for everyone around me if I was no longer around. We (and by we I mean my husband) made a decision rather quickly—we were going to stop all fertility treatments until I could get into a better headspace. We asked the Center for a recommendation of a therapist I could see privately and we could see as a couple. During our IVF consult, our doctor gave us her name and we started seeing her weekly. During this meeting, we also signed all of the IVF paperwork.

This was when I realized I needed to put on my armor and push the emotion away. I would let myself break down in the car by myself, but I would no longer break down in front of anyone. This was my new mindset. (Of course, this didn’t happen!) We took the winter of 2017 off from any fertility treatments to give my body a break and to allow myself to mentally recover and focus on therapy. It was a difficult decision to come to terms with because I wanted to have a baby. Deep down I knew if we continued down this path and didn’t get a baby, it would be far worse for us. In the spring of 2018, when we picked IVF back up, there were feelings of nervousness, overwhelm, stress, and excitement. I was ready to have a baby! All of our medication was delivered after a fight with the shipping company who briefly lost thousands of dollars of medication. I got it all organized in a cute box I picked up from Target, and I was ready.

Courtesy of Brigitte Bahre

We started our egg retrieval process on April 2, and because our IUI round took so long, my doctor instantly started us on much higher doses right away. I was pretty sick the entire time. My entire body ached, I always had a headache, and was so emotional and hormonal it was almost unbearable. But on April 15, we had our egg retrieval. We got 24 eggs, and of those 14 fertilized and made it to embryos. We did a fresh transfer on April 20 which did not result in a viable pregnancy. Personally, I believe my body was too exhausted for a fresh transfer coming off of my retrieval. I tell anyone I know who is starting an IVF process to wait and do a frozen cycle for transfer. We jumped right into a frozen transfer cycle and had our transfer on June 22, 2018, which resulted in our baby boy being born on February 24, 2019. It was the hardest most amazing thing I have ever gone through.

Erika Katherine Photography
Erika Katherine Photography

If you are starting the process of fertility treatments, here are a few of the things I learned along the way: you have to tell people you are going through it—you need the support. But be careful about how many people you tell, because you don’t want to be telling a lot of people it didn’t work if you don’t get pregnant. You are allowed to skip birthday parties, gender reveals, and baby showers because they are too hard. Don’t put added stress and pressure on yourself, because it’s just going to make it worse. Allow yourself to cry and be angry, but also understand you can’t let those emotions control you. It took me 259 injections to get pregnant, so don’t allow yourself to lose hope, because you never know if your next cycle will be the one that sticks! But also know your mental limits—find someone to talk to, and be honest about how you are feeling—especially to yourself.”

Courtesy of Brigitte Bahre
Erika Katherine Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brigitte Bahre of Connecticut. You can follow their journey on Instagram. 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.

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