I have wanted to share our fertility journey for a very long time now but never felt like I had the courage to share. I wasn’t embarrassed of the trials we went through, or the pain we felt, but I was never at a point where I could openly share or be asked about what we were going through without crying or breaking down. I wouldn’t have wanted to be caught off guard on a day where I wasn’t feeling strong and make the person asking feel horrible if I broke down in front of them. So for the past 3 years we’ve kept our infertility journey to a small circle of close family and friends. I am so thankful for those who have been a shoulder to cry on or given us hope and strength to be blessed with our hearts greatest desire to become parents. I hope that in sharing our journey that anyone out there reading this and dealing with their own struggles whether it’s an infertility struggle or other struggles in their lives can find hope, strength and patience that their prayers will be answered.
Trying to get pregnant isn’t for the faint hearted and when the strongest desire in your heart is to have a baby, it takes over every part of your life. It’s so important when you decide to have a baby that you and your partner are on the same page because that road isn’t always smooth and if things take a turn for the worse, you need someone who is willing to fight as hard as you are to get there together. I am so thankful for Eric because he was, is, and will always be by my strongest supporter. Our hearts are one in this journey of life.
I knew when we started trying to have a baby we might not have the easiest time conceiving, but we were hopeful. I’m healthy and take care of my myself, but when I was 19 I had surgery to have my right ovary removed from an ovarian cyst that had grown to the size of a baseball within a month and was also surgically diagnosed with Endometriosis. I clearly remember my doctor telling me after that surgery, at the age of 19, that once I found “the one” to not wait to have children. Eric and I were together for many years at that point, and I knew he was the one, but we were in the middle of college, a few years from getting married and having babies wasn’t on our radar. So birth control induced I had my period every 3 months for over 6 years to help stop the growth of that ugly monster Endometriosis. We got married in 2013, moved around the country, enjoyed being married and decided to start trying to have a baby the summer of 2015. It took us 7 months to conceive our first baby in January 2016 and we were overjoyed, ecstatic…I was on cloud 9.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that God’s timing is everything, but that wasn’t always easy to see. When we lost our first baby, it didn’t seem like that happened for any reason other than the cruel unfairness of life. This beautiful gift I had hoped and prayed for with all my being was taken from us.
I can still barely say out loud that I’ve had a miscarriage. It is by far the most heartbroken I’ve ever been in my life and I still grieve for that baby. I had what is called a “missed miscarriage”, which basically means we thought everything was going great and I had no signs that we’d lost our baby. At that point I was naive that anything bad would happen, we were so overjoyed to be pregnant that nothing bad crossed our minds. We found out at our 10 week ultrasound that the baby’s heart had stopped beating a week before that awful day and our world of joy, happiness and excitement crumbled around us. To say it was tough is an extreme understatement. I would wake up crying in my sleep from the loss I felt, I couldn’t even look at a baby, see a pregnant woman, or talk about it without being a wreck. I remember tearing up at the gym seeing a new mom proudly walk by me with her new baby, and holding back tears at the doctor’s office when I could hear a pregnant couple in the room over listening to their baby’s heartbeat. I broke down every day for months and Eric would pick me back up, even though I knew he was hurting as well. He is truly my rock.
Every month after my body had healed from 2 back-to-back D&Cs, a nightmare of an ordeal, the second because there was remaining pregnancy tissue stuck in my body, we tried and failed to get pregnant. Every month I would cry in Eric’s arms, it was so hard for me to see why it wasn’t happening, especially since we had gotten pregnant naturally once before. That went on for 10 months and what felt like an eternity. We were stuck in this monthly cycle of joy, hope and excitement when the month would start, thinking we had another chance to try for a baby, and then every month would end in heartbreak when I would start my period. It was tough.
Then, January 2017 rolled around and our trying was put on halt because I had a ruptured ovarian cyst and had to have emergency surgery to stop the bleeding and save my ovary. We were terrified of losing my remaining ovary, and thankfully the doctor was able to save it. After that surgery the doctor let me know that my endometriosis had scarred the entire outside of my uterus and had he tried to remove it he would have taken half of my uterus. He urged us to see a fertility clinic and try IVF if we were serious about having a baby…we were, so we did. We were so scared something freak like another ruptured cyst could happen again and we didn’t want to risk wasting any more time. I will say that IVF is no joke and anyone who has had to go through it has my utmost respect. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and the biggest 50/50 gamble of your life. IVF shouldn’t be taken lightly, like I said trying to have a baby isn’t for the faint-hearted. But, for those who have success I know it’s worth it.
We skipped past any other fertility treatments by the recommendations of doctors because of the scarring on my uterus and potential scarring on my one fallopian tube. There was no telling if my eggs were even getting out to be fertilized. So two months later, dozens of tests, many drives to Spokane to the clinic, a payment the size of a house downpayment, and a crash course in injecting yourself (or your spouse) with fertility medications we were as ready as we’d ever be for IVF. A giant box of needles, syringes and medicine showed up on our door step and we had to become instant nurses versed in mixing medicine and injecting them into my body. One small mistake could ruin our chances and end in a failed IVF… no pressure right? I thought I could inject all the medications myself and Eric had a huge needle phobia…until he didn’t. The night I had to do my first round of shots I had a huge panic attack and couldn’t do it, there was absolutely no way I could pinch my stomach and watch a needle go into my skin, knowing the exact moment it was going to hurt. Eric rushed home from his Spring Game and was my fertility hero by giving me my shots that night in the nick of time and he did so morning and night for the next 2 weeks. He was a champ, even when I had some not so savory words for the shots themselves, he was the one who made it all happen. In the end, we had 4 healthy embryos, one we implanted and 2 that were high enough quality to be frozen for the future. A verrrry long 2 weeks later, we found out I didn’t get pregnant. After all that hard work, blood, sweat and tears, the most intense thing we could’ve done to try to get pregnant didn’t even work. I was defeated. After that we decided we’d hang onto our embryos for the Spring of 2018 to try another round of IVF then. We let trying to conceive take a back seat the rest of that year, enjoyed our summer, traveled, and continued to try but without pressure knowing we had another round of IVF to look forward to. I felt hope that our next round of IVF would work, but I also felt like I’d given up on the chance we’d ever get pregnant naturally. At that point our doctor gave us a 3% chance of conceiving on our own.
In October of 2017 I started seeing an acupuncturist to prepare for IVF because it’s supposed to help you get pregnant when you do IVF. She said I was a bit early to do fertility protocol for my treatments so she was just helping me with getting balance in my body, and reducing pain and inflammation from the endometriosis. She also recommended I start eating dairy and gluten free as an anti-inflammatory diet and so I took her up on it even though it wasn’t always easy. One month later in November I noticed a huge difference during my period, my cramps were so much better than they had been in years. Before that it had gotten so bad I could barely leave the house, let alone get off the couch or be away from my heating pad. I felt like her treatments and my diet were helping and I was excited to see it continue to improve. I was a little bummed in November though because I knew our planned IVF treatment in February 2018 was coming and the closer we got the more anxious I was about it. In the end it could’ve resulted in a baby, but I was dreading all of the shots and medications that were to come. I had been hoping and praying like crazy we would get pregnant up until then but I tried to tell myself IVF was the light at the end of the tunnel and it would all be worth it. In December I continued with acupuncture and my new diet and knew that was our last month before I had to start medications to prepare for IVF.
A few days before my period was supposed to come I had this feeling that something was going on inside my body. I knew deep in my heart I was pregnant, so I told Eric and we tried so hard not to get our hopes up but it was so hard not to. We waited until I was 3 days late before we took a pregnancy test, we don’t take those little tests lightly. Waiting for that test that was the longesssst 3 minutes of our lives. We walked into the bathroom together and looked at that little test and it said “PREGNANT”. Eric must’ve said the word “incredible” a thousand times, and I was in shock. I cried tears of joy, thankfulness and relief – I couldn’t believe it! We did it! All on our own, a natural pregnancy! The weight of the infertility world melted off my shoulders. We celebrated, rejoiced, shared the good news with our close family over Christmas, thanked God and counted our lucky stars. I truly believe that thanks to my acupuncturist, her diet advice and advocating for myself that I was able to get pregnant. I have been thankful every single day for this pregnancy, even when I felt miserable I told myself how thankful I was. I was a nervous wreck for the first trimester just praying that our baby was growing strong and healthy and each appointment proved she was. Every ultrasound we had we were so nervous waiting for the confirmation that her little heart was beating strong, and it was. Our true miracle baby, right at the buzzer.
Now I can feel her wiggling and kicking around inside of me daily and I smile every time. That reassurance that she’s in there doing well is everything I need. I see my reflection in the mirror and light up watching my belly grow and seeing all of the changes my body is going through to grow this precious baby has been amazing. I’m over half way now and we cannot wait for our sweet baby girl to be here in our arms. Every step of this pregnancy has made the journey we struggled through, our losses, the grief, the highs/lows and all the time that passed worth it. My heart goes out to anyone who has dealt with infertility or pregnancy loss and I pray that you get to have the precious family your heart desires. ♥
“He has made everything beautiful in its time…” – Eccliastes 3:11
Here’s a few books that helped me along the way
The Infertility Cure by Randine Lewis
The Couple’s Guide to In Vitro Fertilization by Liza Charlesworth
The Lucky Few: Finding God’s Best in the Most Unlikely Places by Heather Avis
I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy by Angie Smith