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Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a mama. I always pictured myself having two kids, a boy and a girl. Since I grew up an only child, I wanted to be sure that my kids each had a sibling. Never in a million years did I think this dream of mine would be so incredibly painful to achieve.
My husband and I were married for about three years before we began trying to get pregnant. I was twenty-seven, and he was twenty-six, which was pretty young as far as baby-making is concerned. We were so excited to give it the old college try! After being “careful” for the first part of our marriage, it was so liberating to finally throw caution to the wind! However, month after month we were met with disappointment from one failed attempt after another. Unlike me, my period was ALWAYS on time. And each time it showed up, I felt a new pang of sadness. WHY couldn’t we get pregnant like all our other friends?
After a year of trying things the “natural” way, we decided it was time to see an infertility specialist to find out just what the problem was. Surely, he could tell us exactly what the deal was and “fix” it. That was his job after all, right?
A multitude of tests were run on us, including sperm analysis, ultrasounds, ovulation detecting, and a hysterosalpingography in which X-ray contrast was injected into my uterus to see if there were any abnormalities in my uterine cavity (and those are just the ones I can remember). After all the poking and prodding, it was determined that my husband’s sperm was a-ok, and that my uterus looked good and I was ovulating regularly. Therefore, our doctor recommended starting with artificial insemination. Perhaps my eggs and my husband’s sperm just needed a little help finding each other. Finally, we felt hope that this would be the way we would start our family!
Per the doctor’s orders, I began a regimen of injectable hormones every day to prepare my body for the insemination. My husband had to administer the shots because I was too squeamish to give them to myself. We had to alternate the injections between my belly and my butt so that one area didn’t get too irritated. And yes, they hurt and were extremely stressful because my hubby had to race home by a certain time every night to give me the shots. We plugged right along though because we were full of such anticipation. Finally, after two weeks, we were ready for our first attempt at insemination. Unfortunately, it was yet another failure – not pregnant once again. We went on to try an additional insemination to no avail. Needless to say, we were beyond DEVASTATED.
By this time, all the hormones raging through my body were making me an emotional basket case. It seemed that babies were literally everywhere I turned. My friends were all either pregnant or talking about having their second babies. I couldn’t help but feel jealousy and even anger. However, I was a madwoman, determined to move on to whatever the next step needed to be in our infertility journey. I was gonna be a mama come hell or high water.
So we went back to the clinic for further testing, and it was determined that my eggs were apparently older than my body. The age of my eggs was actually more like that of a late thirty something year old woman. Turns out that I was the problem. It wasn’t my husband, but rather it was ME. I felt like a ginormous failure as a woman and that I was letting my husband down.
The doctor recommended that we try in vitro fertilization next (which luckily, our insurance would pay for since it is an EXTREMELY pricey procedure.) At the time, I was teaching junior high and constantly having to get substitutes in order to make my doctor’s appointments. My students were starting to notice and asking lots of questions that I was unprepared to answer. So I decided to quit my job and focus on the one thing that meant more to me than anything.
Our first attempt at in vitro was both scary and exciting. We prayed and prayed that this would FINALLY bring us the baby for which we had yearned. Had we not been through enough already??!! I will never forget the pure AGONY of waiting for that phone call to tell us whether or not the procedure had worked. Every time the phone rang, I was sure I would vomit. (And remember, this was long before the days of smart phones.) We also had to fight the urge to do an at-home pregnancy test because they had told us that those aren’t always accurate and could give us false hope.
When we finally got the call, we were OVER THE FLIPPING MOON to learn that we were, in fact, PREGNANT!!! We were finally going to be parents!!!! Of course, we were absolutely paranoid to tell anyone for fear of jinxing it, so we only told our parents. Our dreams of starting a family were finally becoming a reality!!!
Around the eight week mark, however, I started spotting and cramping. Both my mom and the doctor’s office assured me that this sometimes happens early in pregnancies, so I tried to keep the faith. That is until one morning a few days later when I awoke to such severe cramping that I could barely stand up. And when I did stand, an enormous blood clot fell right out of me and onto our bedroom floor. I wailed in absolute horror because I knew this was not at all normal. My husband called the doctor who confirmed that we were likely losing the baby and to let it pass naturally.
I cannot even begin to put into words how traumatic this experience was. All I can say is that it was both terrifying and gut-wrenching all at the same time. I felt like my whole world was crumbling. Once again, I had let everyone down, and I couldn’t figure out why on earth God was doing this to me.
I sunk into a deep depression after the miscarriage, and it made matters even worse that we were told we’d have to wait several months before attempting another in vitro. Nobody, and I do mean NOBODY, in my circle was going through fertility issues, so I felt so incredibly alone. My husband tried his best to comfort me, but I was inconsolable.
When we finally got the green light to move forward with another in vitro, I was filled with both anger and frustration at having to start the stupid shots all over again. My poor body was sooooooooooo sick of being stuck with needles every single day. In fact, I had formed a HUGE callous on my butt cheek from all the needle pokes. Nevertheless, though, I trudged on in hopes that I could once again grow life inside me. This next round, however, was not a success. The devastation I felt at this shattering news started to pull me away from my own husband. I felt like not even he could understand because it wasn’t him that was the cause of our problem. The only thing that could pull me out of this darkness was a baby.
So we tried yet another round of in vitro, even though we were feeling less hopeful and more hopeless. To our surprise, though, this time actually worked! We were pregnant, and my hormone levels all looked very promising! I was even turned over to an obstetrician! This time felt so different – I actually FELT pregnant! We were cautiously optimistic that this was finally the real deal.
We anxiously went into my 12 week appointment all set to hear our baby’s heartbeat. The OB, however, could not detect one after multiple attempts. He informed me that our baby must have passed and that I would have to go over to the hospital for a DNC. I felt like someone had run over me repeatedly with a mack truck.
I vividly remember laying there waiting for them to take me back to the operating room and hearing the sounds of newborn babies in the distance. Did you know that DNC’s are performed in the exact same wing as babies are being born? It’s a pretty cruel realization.
Friends and family members tried to console me and say that maybe this pregnancy wasn’t “meant to be.” Many suggested we “relax and that’s when it’ll happen.” The truth was, there was absolutely NOTHING that anyone could say or do to make things better.
My depression sank to a new level during this time, and I started to question whether I was even meant to be a mom. Maybe this was God’s way of telling me that I wasn’t cut out for motherhood. Or…maybe I was taking the wrong path towards it. It was then that we decided to explore adoption.
We were well on our way in the process of adopting from Vietnam when we secretly decided to try one last attempt at in vitro. (If you’re keeping track, this would be round number four.) I so badly wanted to experience the joy of actually giving birth to my own baby.
This last and final attempt was FINALLY the one that worked! In fact, we learned that I was pregnant with TWINS!!! My hormone levels were so high that the doctor felt that the pregnancy likely started as triplets and that one didn’t make it. Again, we were EXTREMELY cautious about getting too excited until we heard those two heartbeats. We decided to stop the adoption process and focus solely on the pregnancy.
And let me tell you, once we heard those precious little heartbeats, I was an absolute flood of happy tears. I was a nervous wreck and overly careful about every little thing throughout my entire pregnancy. I did not want to do ANYTHING to jeopardize this miracle.
I made it to 36.5 weeks before going into labor and gave birth vaginally to a healthy 6.5 pound baby girl and a 7.5 pound baby boy! I was finally a mama! The twins’ birth story though? Well, that’s a whole other tragic ordeal that’s long enough to be a separate blog post. So stay tuned for that perhaps next week….
** If you are experiencing infertility, I want you to know that my heart and my prayers are with you. Even though it feels like it, you are NOT alone. Reach out to a support group or reach out to ME. Support from those who’ve gone through it can really help. I wish I’d had a social media outlet back when I was going through it because I could’ve anonymously connected with other people who were in the thick of it.
** If you have a friend or a family member who is experiencing infertility, be patient with them. Tell them you are there to support them, but do not tell them you understand. If you have not experienced it yourself, there is no way you can understand it, and it can actually end up alienating your friend or family member. Just be loving and kind, and tell them that you are there for them if they need you.
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