My Journey As An IVF Mom + Infertility Warrior

3,530. That’s how many days I waited to finally see a second line on the pregnancy test. My journey to become a mother was anything but easy. It was filled with countless highs and lows but, in the end, we finally had our Victory.

Tim and I got married early and we never thought we would have any problems having children! Besides, I didn’t know anyone who personally struggled with infertility (at least no one who spoke openly about it) and at this time, a procedure like In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was still foreign to me! We tried it all and two years later we still had not gotten pregnant. After further testing we learned that I had uterine fibroids and my husband had Male Factor Infertility (MFI). Soon after, my husband underwent a varicocele surgery in hopes of increasing our chances of conceiving! We attempted an Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), but I could tell by the nurse’s voice when she called me that it was unsuccessful. The Clomid medication made me a sweating, hormonal manic. Nevertheless, we tried another IUI. This time when the sweet old lady nurse called, I already knew I wasn’t pregnant because my uterus felt like six toddlers were repeatedly punching it and I felt “Aunt Flo” would be rearing her ugly head soon.

After trying naturally for five more years, I made a difficult decision and had a myomectomy to remove my fibroids. This is major surgery, y’all! The recovery was taxing. I needed help to just get up and pee! It took me almost two months to fully recover!

In 2017, we found a new doctor who reviewed our history and immediately suggested IVF.  I began to wonder if we would ever have a baby. 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 actually prepare you for IVF. In my mind I was like, “Oh yea, take a few pills, give yourself a few shots, they make the baby in the lab and then you get pregnant, right?!” What they don’t warn you about is that you’ll spend a crap 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, after you’ve spent your life savings and done all of this work, you’ll have a baby! Also, your whole life revolves around shots! And the mental anguish, let’s not even talk about that! 

As I began to prepare mentally for our IVF cycle, I had no idea I would be entering into another tough battle. My mother called to tell me that she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Now, living almost 2000 miles away from my hometown of Detroit, I felt incredibly helpless. I decided to continue my IVF cycle AND care for my mother. Over the next several months I traveled to Detroit once or twice a week to be a caretaker for her. The week before I was set to begin my first round of shots, I saw her take her last breath. There are no words to describe the emotion that I was feeling. Sad about the loss of my mother but still trying to remain hopeful about the possibility of finally having a baby. What an emotional roller coaster!

I’ll 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! I had to set an alarm so I wouldn’t forget and 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. It was also the morning of my mother’s memorial service, so, there’s that. This whole season of my life is still a blur, and I have no idea how I got through two of the toughest journey’s I’ve ever been on –  simultaneously. 

We were overwhelmed during our first IVF cycle (spoiler alert: there was more than one IVF cycle). Each medicine had a different dosage and needed a different syringe and a different needle than the other. There was one point during the cycle where I was giving myself five shots a day. My stomach was so bruised and tender, I could barely touch it. Also, since the injections are meant to help you make tons of eggs like a queen bee or something, my stomach was huge! Our IVF cycle ended and we were grateful to have two embryos. We did genetic testing on our embryos and found out they were both boys! We transferred both embryos and began to daydream about our life with twin boys! Sadly, our dreams were shattered ten days later when we learned that we would never get to meet either of our boys as my pregnancy blood test revealed the transfer was unsuccessful. I may as well have taken $15,000 and flushed it down the toilet because after spending all that money, I had nothing to show for it. NOTHING.

Another thing they don’t tell you: you may need more than one IVF cycle to get pregnant. Great! Not only do I have to go through all of this physical and mental pain, but I get to do it all over again?! We did a second IVF cycle and ended up with three viable embryos! We were excited, but cautiously optimistic! We geared up for another frozen embryo transfer, but this time we decided to only transfer one embryo! I knew this time around I would not wait the ten days for the blood test as the doctor suggests, but I would take a home pregnancy test! I hadn’t taken a pregnancy test in over five years!  I walked down the “family planning” aisle like some kind 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 my surprise 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 almost 10 years of marriage, we finally got our first positive pregnancy test – I was in disbelief! I couldn’t believe I was finally about to become a mother, after all I’ve been through!

On December 21, 2018 we had a baby girl and we named her Victory!  She was the most gorgeous baby I had ever seen, of course, I may be a bit biased because I worked so hard for her! When I held her in my arms, all of the disappointments we had experienced over the past 10 years faded away. Becoming a mother has been the most amazing, yet, most difficult thing I have ever done, but I wouldn’t change a thing about the journey! 

Having a baby, which many couples take for granted, is something millions of us have to work hard for! Luckily, our story has a happy ending but I feel so sad for all the couples who are still on their journey! Many holidays, especially Mother’s Day, can be incredibly tough for those still fighting the battle! Even after celebrating my first Mother’s Day as a mom, the pain of infertility has never left me. I still recall the heartache I felt every year that my arms were empty and longing for a child!

Infertility is a difficult and isolating journey, but I hope that every couple whose story is still being written, ends with a Victory! I remain very active in the trying to conceive (TTC) community, sharing encouraging messages and tips on my YouTube channel, Fruitful. The saying “You have been assigned this mountain so that you can show others it can be moved” by Mel Robbins is exactly how I would define my journey as an infertility warrior! I vowed that even after having our daughter, I would remain an advocate for all of my sisters still on a journey to conceive. I wanted to use my story to show others that persistence and faith mixed with a little bit of science, helped me to realize my dream of becoming a mother and if I had to, I’d do it all over again!

A guest blog post written in collaboration with EatbyChloe and Kindbody.