“Infertility is a loss. It’s the loss of a dream. It’s the loss of an assumed future. And, like every loss, it will be grieved.” -Unknown
Do you know how it feels to experience infertility? Like you are standing near the gate at the airport hoping to board a plane, yet, you are watching everyone around you get on the plane and take off. There you stand, just waiting until it is your turn. Every. Single. Month. Infertility is watching friends, family, neighbors, and strangers get pregnant while you are still left waiting, hoping, praying.
My husband and I got married in August 2008, and just like most newlyweds, we were excited to grow our family! After two years of “baby-making” there was sadly still no baby. I knew immediately something was wrong because we were both young and healthy – there was no reason why I should not have gotten knocked up! After further testing, we learned that I had uterine fibroids and my husband had male factor infertility (MFI). In 2012, my husband underwent a varicocele surgery in hopes of improving his sperm quality and increasing our chances of conceiving! We were so optimistic that we would get pregnant right away after his surgery.
In 2012, we attempted our first Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) in hopes of finally getting pregnant. The clomid medication made me a sweating, hormonal manic and I felt so embarrassed as the doctor inserted my husband’s little swimmers into my uterus. After the procedure, the doctor grinned and told me to “think fertile thoughts” as he set what appeared to be a kitchen timer. I lied down on the noisy, stiff, exam paper in disbelief that this was how we had to make a baby! Nevertheless, I crossed my fingers and overanalyzed every twinge and cramp for the next two weeks, holding on to every shred of hope that this would work, and I would get pregnant! I could tell by the nurse’s voice when she called me with the blood test results that the IUI was unsuccessful. I was devastated. The following year, we tried another IUI procedure. I was less optimistic this time, but still hopeful! This time when the sweet old lady nurse called, I already knew I was not pregnant, I just had a gut feeling.
Over the next few years, we decided to take a break from fertility procedures. Now, married eight years, we had tried everything: tracking ovulation, fertility medications, IUI’s, a dozen different supplements, and even some “non-traditional” approaches that I am too embarrassed to mention. At this point I was willing to try anything; I was desperate! I was advised to undergo an open myomectomy to remove 13 fibroid tumors in hopes of finally being able to conceive. This was major surgery y’all; I was sliced from the belly button down to the hoo-ha! The two-month recovery was brutal and I needed help just to get up and pee!
After healing from my surgery, I was ready to try one more attempt at getting pregnant! We found a new doctor who reviewed our history and immediately suggested In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). I was somewhat familiar with the term IVF, but I had no idea what the process was. So, like any smart person does, I Googled it! Let me tell you, IVF is one of those things you can research until your eyes are crossed, but nothing can prepare you for it. In my mind I was like, “Oh yeah, take a few pills, give yourself a few shots, they make the baby in the lab and then you get pregnant, right?!” Little did I know the affect that IVF would have on my body, my health, and my marriage. What they don’t warn you about is that you’ll spend a ton of money, take endless shots, have countless appointments with dozens of vials of blood drawn, and tons of ultrasounds (and not jelly on the belly kind of ultrasound — if you know what I mean) and maybe, just maybe, you’ll have a baby!
As we embarked on our IVF journey, I had no idea I would face yet another battle – my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Now, living almost 2,000 miles away from my hometown, I felt incredibly helpless. I decided to continue my IVF cycle AND care for my mother. Over the next several months I traveled to Michigan once or twice a week to be a caretaker for my mother and then quickly traveled home to Arizona for my IVF monitoring appointments. The week before I was set to begin my first round of shots, I watched my mother take her last breath. I was mourning the loss of my mother, but still trying to remain hopeful about the possibility of finally becoming a mother. I will never forget taking my first shot in my sister’s bathroom, and no, I’m not talking about the kind of shots you take in college that make you let down your hair and dance! It took me longer to gather the nerve to stab myself in the stomach with a needle than it took to actually administer the shot. My first shot was also the morning of my mother’s memorial service, so, there’s that. That whole season of my life is still a blur, and I have no idea how I got through two of the toughest journeys I have ever been on – simultaneously.
Our first IVF cycle (spoiler alert, there was more than one cycle) we ended up with two perfect boy embryos viable enough to transfer. We thought, “This is it!” We transferred our only embryos and we were once again heartbroken when we learned that our transfer was unsuccessful. Those two embryos were all we had left, and we had nothing to show for all the money, time, and painful injections endured. After a few months of grieving both my mom and our two embryos, my husband and I worked on our physical and mental health and decided to do a second round of IVF. Approaching the age of 35 and now married almost ten years, I knew in my heart this was our last chance. I secretly began planning what our life would look like if we never had any children.
We started the second IVF round and this time we had three viable embryos. I was cautiously optimistic and decided to transfer only one embryo this time. I had also decided that I would not wait ten days for the blood test as the doctor suggests to find out if I was pregnant, but I would take a home pregnancy test! I had not taken a pregnancy test in over five years because I was so tired of seeing a negative result – I was beginning to think the second line on a pregnancy test was a myth since I had never seen one before. I walked down the “family planning” aisle at the store like some sort of ninja in stealth mode. I was just shocked that there were still people who could actually plan for a family and not have to make babies in a lab like we did! Imagine, a grown, married woman embarrassed to shop for a pregnancy test. I giggle every time I think about it! I could not believe my eyes when the second line showed up on that pregnancy test just six days after my transfer! It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen (not really, but, you get the point!) I wrapped the test up and later surprised my husband who was overcome with emotion! After 10 years of marriage, we finally got our first positive pregnancy test – I was in disbelief! The nurse finally called with the pregnancy test results a few days later, “Congratulations, it’s positive,” she said with excitement! Although I had gotten a positive home pregnancy test, the pregnancy had to be confirmed by a beta blood test from the doctor’s office. I was finally pregnant and later that year, I gave birth to our daughter Victory and finally beat infertility!
Conceiving a child, which many couples take for granted, is something millions of us have to work for, and unfortunately, one in four couples will experience a roadblock when trying to grow their family. I am so grateful that our story has a happy ending, but my heart aches for those who are still on their journey! Infertility and loss may be a part of your life, but it does not have to define you. My prayer is that everyone receives their “victory” and I hope that my story of perseverance encourages you. My journey has been a roller coaster of emotions – ups and downs, hopefulness, then gut punches, excitement, then sheer disappointment, but if I had to, I would do it all over again!
Written in collaboration and used with permission – https://1in4app.com/
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