Warning: This is my longest and most personal blog post to date…and for once it has nothing to do with Hazel, reality TV or my nieces and nephews. It might be a little TMI too, so read at your own risk 🙂
Chris and I have gone back and forth many times about whether or not we would share our “trying to conceive” experience with friends and family. At first I was worried about what people would think, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to share something so personal with anyone other than Chris. But in the end, it has become such a big part of our lives–and who this baby will be…so it just didn’t feel right to pretend it never happened. I’m not writing this because I want anyone to feel sorry for us–after all, it was obviously a very happy ending. Ultimately, I just want to share our experience in case anyone I know is ever in the same situation. Fertility issues can be a challenging battle, but maybe hearing what we’ve been through will help someone down the road–or at least make them feel like they’re not the only ones. So here goes nothing…
I’m guessing Chris and I weren’t the only couple who spent our dating and engagement days talking about the future. Where we would live, how many kids we would have, when we would have them, etc. Most people go into marriage thinking that whenever they decide it’s time to have a baby, then that’s what will happen…they’ll have a baby! But for me, I’ve always kind of known this wouldn’t be the case. You could say I was a late bloomer…the last of my friends to “start”, and once I had, it never came back. My doctor did what most would do…she put me on birth control pills to help me achieve a regular cycle. And this is what I did for the next 8 years. After our wedding in November of ’09, Chris and I decided it might be time for me to get off the pill. We were by no means ready to have a baby, but hoped that this would be the first step in that direction. That way when we decided it was time, we wouldn’t waste years trying to figure out my issues. I started seeing a new OB in St. Louis who couldn’t figure out just what was going on with me, so she recommended a fertility specialist. The first question the specialist asked me was “so you’re ready to have a baby?” (Insert shocked look on my face.) I explained to her that we were only 25 and not ready yet, but we were hoping to get some answers now so that we would be ready down the road. Apparently that didn’t go over well. She gave me a prescription for birth control and shooed me out of her office. So there went 8 months down the drain.
After that, everything was put on hold as we made the move to Texas in October 2010. I saw this as a fresh start…a brand new OB who could help me get everything figured out. He tried a few different things, but still no luck at helping me achieve a regular cycle. When he suggested birth control again, I knew we had to get serious–and Chris agreed. After 18 months of searching for an answer and lots of discussion, we decided to see a fertility specialist down here in Houston. I found the most amazing doctor, Dr. Chauhan, who seemed to understand what was going on with me immediately. Everything he told me about my situation was exactly the opposite of what the other doctors had said…which I took to be a good sign. He told me that I had some symptoms of PCOS, but the main issue was that my brain was not communicating with my body–which meant that I wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally. He predicted that Clomid and other ovulation medicines wouldn’t work–and he was right. It was disappointing, but Dr. Chauhan assured us that we would get pregnant and we trusted him. After all of these less-involved methods of getting pregnant failed, he suggested we move straight to IVF (in vitro fertilization). It was his professional opinion that this would be the only way that I could get pregnant. IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) was also an option, but we knew that our chances of success increased significantly by moving straight to IVF. We decided we wanted to get right to it, rather than having IUI fail multiple times and ending up back in the same position. Plus, once you know that there is a problem, you just don’t want to waste any time.
So the IVF chapter began last October. I never thought I would be so excited to inject myself twice a day…but we were just happy to be starting the journey. Also, Chris now thinks he’s a doctor because he can fill and prepare a syringe with his eyes closed. He loves it 🙂 My egg retrieval seemed to go very well–we came away with 25 eggs, 19 of which fertilized, and in the end left us with 6 embryos after 5 days. However, shortly after the retrieval, I got very sick. The purpose of the injections was to stimulate the ovaries and help grow the follicles inside…but often times women with PCOS experience ovarian hyperstimulation because they have so many follicles/eggs. And that was exactly what happened to me. I gained almost 10 lbs of water weight in a day and have honestly never felt so terrible in my life. I spent some time in the ER and had to miss a Halloween party (that we were throwing!) and a trip home for one of my best high school friend’s wedding. But I hoped that one day it would all be worth it. However, I ended up on so many medications, I worried what kind of affect this would have after we transferred the embryos. So 5 days after the retrieval, despite feeling the worst I’d ever felt, we went in and transferred 2 perfect embryos. After that, all we could do was wait. The strange thing though was that rather than being excited about the potential babies that could’ve been implanting, all I could think about was how awful I felt. Over the “two week wait” I began to feel better and that’s when I started focusing more on the hopes of a pregnancy. We kept telling ourselves the odds were in our favor…I was young, the embryos were perfect, we had a good doctor, etc. But when I got the call from my nurse saying she was sorry, the test had come back negative–our world was rocked. It broke my heart to think about these little embryos that never got the chance to be our children. And a part of me was scared to death thinking that it was just me, and maybe I would never be a mother. Luckily we had a day to get ourselves together and talk about what was next before we went in to see Dr. Chauhan. He was as shocked as we were that it hadn’t worked, but had all the faith in the world that it would eventually…it just wasn’t meant to be this time. I will never forget something I saw on a message board from a woman who went through multiple failed cycles of IVF. She said “we had to realize that those embryos were not meant to be our babies…ours were just waiting patiently in line”. I clung to that and prayed like crazy.
After a failed cycle, many couples decide to sit it out for a month or more before trying again, but that just wasn’t for us. We decided the best way to cope with the loss was to try again immediately. We were getting ready to host Thanksgiving at our house and I knew that without a plan we would lose hope…and I would have a hard time getting through something that was supposed to be such a happy occasion. So I started my meds for a frozen cycle the very next day after our negative results. One of the many amazing things about IVF is that you have the ability to freeze embryos that are not transferred in your first cycle. So the good news was, we still had four potential babies just waiting for us. I was monitored over the next couple of weeks, and when everything looked good, we were finally given the go-ahead to transfer on December 7th. It seems like there were so many nervous moments along the way, and one of them was driving to the hospital for my scheduled transfer, wondering if any of the four embryos had thawed successfully. When Dr. Chauhan walked through the door and told us that the first 2 had thawed perfectly (and we still had 2 frozen for the future), we were so excited–you would’ve thought he’d told us we were pregnant already! The transfer process is super easy and only takes a couple minutes….and the best part about ours was that the song “Last Christmas” by Wham was playing. It was awesome. We said that if it worked, we would make sure the baby or babies had a huge appreciation for the tune 🙂 Anyway, we left feeling hopeful…with another 2 weeks to wait until we would know the outcome. Just the fact that I felt great made us believe that my body was in a much better place to start a pregnancy than it would’ve been the first time around.
Once again, the two week wait was awful. It’s full of mind games…”I smell something gross, maybe I have a heightened sense of smell?”….”I feel completely normal. I can’t be pregnant.” It goes on and on and on. But lucky for me, I had a group of friends visiting right in the middle of it to keep me distracted. They didn’t know it at the time, but they helped me to keep my mind off of everything and just enjoy regular life again. Believe me, you can get so wrapped up in the whole process that you forget what that is like! Then on December 19th, I went early in the morning to have my blood drawn…and then we waited an even more torturous wait until our 4pm appointment. I started a journal that evening. Here is my first entry…
Wow. That’s it…just wow! After two weeks of analyzing every headache, twinge or wave of nausea….I am pregnant. Just to type those 3 words together feels absolutely surreal.
If I had to describe the car ride to my doctor’s office in one word it would be…miserable. Actually, that’s probably how I would describe the last two weeks…heck that’s the perfect description of our whole “trying to conceive” journey. But seeing my nurse smile and say “it was positive…very positive” made me forget all of that misery in a split second. It’s everything we’ve prayed for–one of our little embryos (maybe both) stuck! Seeing the tears in Chris’ eyes was the sweetest sight ever. He is going to be the most amazing dad and I know he has wanted this just as badly as I have.
When we left the doctor’s office I called my mom–I knew she was waiting on pins and needles. I said, “mom, I’m pregnant” and we both just cried. We called Chris’ parents when we got home and they were just as excited. The snow storm was rolling in in Great Bend so they started a fire and opened a bottle of wine to celebrate. In a normal situation, we wouldn’t have told our families for another few weeks, but that’s just not how it works in the IVF world. We have been leaning on our families throughout all of this and they have been rooting for us since day one. They are just as invested in this baby as we are. I know sharing the news of our pregnancy would be amazing either way, but what a feeling it was to be able to tell the people we love that “it worked” after the disappointments we’d experienced together.
Once we told Hazel she was going to a big sister (she didn’t seem to care), we headed out to dinner to celebrate. Something about not being able to order a diet coke was incredible! I’ve been turning down caffeine and alcohol for the last 4 months…and now I have a reason to do so!!! We spent most of dinner smiling at each other saying “can you believe it??” Then Chris used his new phone to educate himself on hot new baby names. Sorry, I am not naming my child Slade!
I’m still absorbing the news. I have prayed like crazy that we would get this news today, but I didn’t actually imagine it would happen. Pessimistic, I know. Regardless, this is the best day of my life to date and I know Chris feels the same way. According to BabyCenter, this amazing little miracle is the size of a poppyseed today…and I love it already.
So there you have it. That’s how we got to this wonderful place we are today. A few things have happened to me in this process. First, my faith has been strengthened like never before. The saying “If God brings you to it; He will bring you through it” rings more true than ever. Secondly, I’ve learned that I married an amazing, amazing guy. Chris saw me at my worst and still loved me unconditionally. He went through as much pain as I did, but he made helping me through it his priority. For Valentine’s day he gave me the sweetest gift…a day by day journal he kept during the IVF process. It’s just amazing…and something I will treasure forever.
So in a weird way, I guess you could say we’re thankful for our fertility problems. They have made us better people, better partners, and hopefully better parents. I also know that the first time I hold this baby in my arms, it will all be worth it.