You never know just how much you want something until you’re told you can’t have it. At the age of 18, I was told I wouldn’t be able to conceive without the help of modern medicine. Before that, I’d had absolutely zero interest in having a child of my own, and was adamant about adopting. Perhaps the biggest irony was the fact that throughout high school I wanted to be a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Go Figure…
Fast forward twelve years.
Newly married and older than most, my husband and I knew we wanted to have children. Early on in our relationship, I’d told him of what my gynecologist in our hometown had said, yet I was certain I would beat the odds and prove her wrong.
Shortly after moving hundreds of miles away, my new doctor, well aware of the severity of my condition (Endometriosis), encouraged us to try sooner than later but assured us it wasn’t impossible. We took those words and ran.
We tried. And tried. And tried some more.
Six months later we’d seen no positive signs. After a particularly long, heavy period I followed up with my doctor. After hearing of the strange nausea I had (opening the fridge practically sent me to the bathroom gagging), he was certain I had experienced a very early miscarriage. He ran some lab work and diagnosed me with a Luteal Phase Defect, ordered a minimally invasive test (HSG) and sent me on my way. It was a tough day – two of my close friends (one in our hometown and one in our new home, a friend from my childhood) had just given birth to beautiful baby girls and my husband was, par for the course, out of town for work. I went home to wallow in all the emotions by myself, certain I’d be stronger for it.
Six months of Clomid.
After receiving the results of my HSG, showing that my Fallopian tubes were open, my doctor gave me the green light to try Clomid for no more than six cycles. I was closely monitored during this time and after four months was ready to throw my hands up and completely give up. I distinctly remember my appointment at the four-month mark. He said everything looked good and told us to, “have a nice dinner, drink a bottle of wine, and then GET. IT. ON.” He also encouraged me to keep trying and not give up hope, but referred us to a specialist nearby. After his pep talk, I was determined to give it my all.
To the RE I went.
My husband, incredibly busy with work, was unable to go to that first consultation with the specialist, but he did have time to stop by and deposit his sample for testing. At this appointment, after having time to review my history, the specialist told me that he would recommend no more than one IUI cycle due to my conditions and my husband’s abnormal morphology. I was disappointed, hoping that he (one of the highest rated RE’s in the country) would have some sort of magical answer that wouldn’t cost us a ton of money. I was more determined than ever to get pregnant with minimal assistance.
After those six Clomid cycles, all negative, of course, we took a small break before moving on to IUI. As usual, we were presented with obstacles – I had ovarian cysts that wouldn’t disappear. I had those removed. Why this was happening to us? Knowing full well that the odds had been stacked against us from the get-go, we were on our way.
Our first IUI cycle failed
(which we found out on the worst day EVER), we took a much-needed vacation and decided to continue on, reluctant to give up hope. After all, what IF it worked?
Movin’ right along.
In the meantime I spent my free time researching fertility clinics, courses of treatments, looking for support groups, and writing about all of my feelings. Four IUI cycles later we decided it was time to admit defeat.
Not only had I accumulated numerous new diagnoses along the way, but we had given up all hope. We informed our doctor of our decision and started downregulation in preparation for our IVF cycle. Every day presented a new obstacle. Pregnancy announcements on Facebook and Instagram, seeing pregnant women walk by my office, and just hearing of others discuss the struggles of pregnancy.
This was the point where we started questioning ourselves. Why was everybody around us getting pregnant except us? What in the world had we done to deserve this bad hand we’d been dealt?
IVF here we come.
Although I stimulated longer than most, it was finally time for my egg retrieval. I was incredibly desperate to be a mother and terrified we would be unsuccessful, so I adopted a special needs kitten. Since my husband had just started a new job, my mother flew in to help take care of me during my recovery. (Just one benefit of having a nurse mom!)
My egg retrieval came and went, and I was filled with disappointment. After having 16 good follicles, only ten eggs were retrieved. I felt like everything was looking bleak, and the dark clouds started looming once again. In the meantime, I focused on those ten eggs that had been retrieved, and once the 24-hour mark had passed I, impatient as ever, called the doctors office to see if I had any updates.
Out of those ten eggs retrieved, nine had fertilized and were growing strong at the 24-hour mark. They scheduled me for a five-day transfer, and I anxiously waited for my transfer to find out what happened. There were so many what-ifs running through my mind.
What if they all failed between day four and five? What if only one survived to day five? What if they were poorly rated? WHAT IF WE TRANSFERRED ALL OF THEM AND NONE OF THEM WERE SUCCESSFUL?!
Surprisingly enough, all nine continued to thrive and became embryos – even our doctor said that it was quite unheard of, especially given my myriad of diagnoses. My mother, still there to take care of me, was allowed special permission (she is a surgical nurse, after all) to come back to my transfer. We transferred two highly graded embryos and froze the remaining seven.
Ever the nerd, I looked at my body like my very own science project. I became quite concerned 24 hours after transfer as I had spotting and cramping. I decided to test the trigger shot out of my system, and once the pregnancy test came back negative, I knew things were back to normal. If I got a positive after this, it was the real deal. Five days after the transfer I saw my very first, very faint positive pregnancy test.
My specialist, who strongly discourages testing prior to the official blood tests at his office, refused to test any earlier than two weeks after transfer. I watched the home pregnancy test get darker and darker, all while my nausea became worse by the day.
It was the day of my official test. To prepare for bad news, I took the day off and
not so patiently awaited the phone call with my results. The day dragged on and on. Finally, my phone rang…
“Hi, Diana! It’s Patricia. Your HCG came back at 718. Congratulations! You’re pregnant!”
Those were words I never thought I’d hear in my lifetime. I called my husband, crying. Then I called my parents and Grandmother while my husband called his parents. I texted my coworkers and friends and then posted on Facebook and Instagram. So many people had been following our journey and prayed for us along the way, it was only right to share our jubilation.
“Hey guys! What happened?! Guess y’all aren’t getting that Porsche this year!”
We learned pretty early on that it was a single pregnancy, but our very first OB appointment was purely magical. We were in the sonogram room when my doctor came in, with tears in his eyes. The three of us watched the little gummy bear looking thing that we’d been calling ‘Big Bird’ wriggle around in complete amazement, all while my husband and OB cracked jokes together. My doctor had seen us through so much and was now about to see us through even more.
I had severe nausea through the entirety of my pregnancy and was deemed high risk for multiple reasons. I spent a lot of time miserable, wondering why something associated with pregnancy couldn’t be easy for me. Between nausea, growth issues, lightheadedness, and stress I had to cut back on my working hours. I saw a doctor (either OB or MFM, sometimes both) practically every week and had numerous hospital admissions for observation. Finally, at 36 weeks and 6 days, I was induced due to Intrauterine Growth Restriction.
Welcome, Charleigh June!
On Wednesday, May 21st, 2014, our lives were changed when Charleigh June came into the world quickly. Finally, something had been relatively easy during my pregnancy. That feeling, however, was shortlived – Charleigh June was rushed to the NICU due to inability to maintain her body temperature and issues with feeding.
I so badly wanted to be happy with my one child. I’d prayed so many nights to have “just one baby,” promising that I wouldn’t be greedy. I know how incredibly lucky I was to have her after the three years we tried. But that wasn’t the case. As quickly as she entered the world and stole our hearts, she made our hearts yearn for another. I felt more complete than before, yet still incomplete.
Here we go again.
Four months after Charleigh June arrived we found ourselves back in the RE’s office, discussing our options and when was the best time to do this again. Our doctor told us that he usually recommends waiting nearly two years before trying again, but given our circumstances, he’d agree to do it sooner. We waited until she was ten months old to start the process, and by the time she turned 11 months, she was going to be a big sister thanks to a Frozen Embryo Transfer.
Once again, we transferred two embryos. Bed rest was particularly difficult this time around with Charleigh June, but I somehow managed. I was one hundred percent positive the transfer was unsuccessful. I didn’t have any cramping or bleeding, it was completely different than last time. Four days later, I threw the pregnancy test away. I was positive I wasn’t pregnant. When I went through the garbage, I pulled out a positive pregnancy test. Had I not done that, nausea that again reared its ugly head the very next morning would have been my first clue. Thankfully, my RE and OB were willing to help me get on top of the nausea before it got too bad, due to my history of nausea and weight loss with my last pregnancy.
The day prior to my official blood test we received a phone call from my husband’s sister, “Ummmm…I’m pregnant. With twins.” My jaw dropped. It was then I saw the writing on the wall…
My Beta was well over 12,000. They wanted to do a sonogram a few days later. This time, we held the news in until we knew for sure.
There’s Baby A. And there’s Baby B.
My husband’s jaw dropped. “Poor Charleigh, her life is ruined. At least I had three years before the twins were born. Poor girl won’t even get two years.” (Yes, my husband’s sisters are also twins.)
I had a feeling this was going to happen. Two babies. Twins. How in the world would we survive? What in the world had we got ourselves into?
We both called our parents, still completely in shock.
Every week we had them triple check that there were only two in there, terrified that there was another one hiding out somewhere. And every week we were terrified we would find out one hadn’t survived.
It was crazy. We fully expected our life to change when we got pregnant with number two – but numbers two AND three?!
How in the world did we get so lucky?
Our twins were born one month after their cousins, almost two and a half years ago. There have been times in the past two and a half years that we’ve questioned our sanity. We drink a lot of coffee. (And wine.) Our lives are nothing short of crazy, but we love every second of it.
Not everybody is as lucky as we were. Many still struggle with infertility, and in all honesty, we do as well. Infertility, and for some the emotions associated with it never go away completely, regardless of how lucky you are.
Some of us have the ability to have children taken away from us sooner than we would like, and some of us go on to conceive naturally after infertility. Some are never able to conceive and decide whether or not they want to adopt. But, the most important thing in this journey, is to know that you’re never alone.
You are not alone. I am here with you.
It may not help at this very moment, but hopefully, at some point, you won’t feel so alone. So stressed out, sad and hopeless. It’s okay to cry, and okay to be sad.
Some people chose to keep their journey private while others, like myself, want to share it with the world – hopeful everything they went through serves a higher purpose. Maybe, just maybe, their story helps somebody else out there.
I am One in Eight.
Peace, Love, and Baby Dust.