Infertility Journey

My husband and I got married in 2009. I was 34 at the time and he was 37. We decided to wait just a little while to make sure we had things lined up before trying to start a family. We worked on setting up a new business, getting health insurance, etc. We wanted to be “responsible” and have all of our ducks in a row.

In 2011, we were ready to move forward and started trying in August.

A couple weeks later, my sister-in-law called to tell us they were expecting and got pregnant the month they started trying. I thought, “Awesome. We’ll get to it and the cousins can be a couple months apart.”
Month after month, nothing happened. I tried acupuncture. I tried ovulation detectors. I was told I had a thyroid disorder, with which I may never be able to have children.

I met with a fertility specialist who told me that if I didn’t get on with it “now,” then I’d never have kids (I was 36 at that time).

I left that consultation in tears and didn’t do anything for several months. My heart shattered. I felt broken. I was sad. For as long as I could remember, I had always planned on having children. It’s what I was meant to do.

When people would ask “why are you so committed to building your own business?” The answer was simple. It was so that when I finally had children, I would be in a position to be home with them, to not have to go outside of the home and work 60-hour weeks to give them the life I dreamed of for them.

So, ironically, all that I had worked toward for the last 15 years was useless!
It was almost a year and a lot of “Googling” later, when I found an educational seminar that was being held in the area. My husband and I went.

After the informational session was over, we made an appointment to see the doctor, Kaylen Silverberg. I had asked the staff how long a cycle of IVF would run. When she told me about 45 days, I made up my mind that we’d be pregnant in 60 days!

We went to our initial meeting full of questions about IVF and when we could start the process.
The doctor kind of talked us down and suggested we do a few tests first and that IVF may not even be necessary. He removed a fibroid and cleaned up my endometriosis (which I was completely unaware of before) and suggested we try on our own for a few months because that could have been the problem.

Nothing happened…

Then, we stepped it up a notch to Clomid and IUIs (intrauterine insemination). I thought for sure that we were going to get a positive pregnancy test in just a few days. I mean, all the tests were fine. My ovarian reserves were good. My tubes were open. My husband’s sperm wasn’t bad (not great, but not bad), and I was otherwise healthy. We just needed a little push, I swore!

Well, the first round didn’t work…

The second one didn’t work…

And we were growing more and more impatient and frustrated.

Our next step was to try an IUI with injectable medications. But then, I got a positive reading on a pregnancy test the next month, on our own! We were over the moon!

I called the nurse, and she had me confirm it with a blood test.

She called back, “Congratulations! You’re pregnant!”

Woo hoo!!! We were having a baby! We couldn’t have been more excited. We looked at the calendar and were expecting a baby in November.

Two days later, we went in for a follow up blood test. The nurse called that afternoon and told us she had some bad news, and that I was going to miscarry. She noted that if we hadn’t been paying such close attention, I would have simply thought my period was late and thought nothing of it.

I was CRUSHED. I had no idea that was even possible. The nurse didn’t tell me what to expect, and it didn’t occur to me that we could have an issue. I cried a while and then dusted myself off. We went on with our evening plans and figured we’d proceed with the plan we’d put in place with our doctor.

A week later, we got a call from my husband’s brother to tell us the news that they were expecting. He told my husband first and then wanted to tell me himself. I tried to sound happy for him. I shared that we had just miscarried. But he was too excited to really absorb it.

Next, my mother-in-law asked if we heard the great news. My heart felt like it had been stomped on. I had barely finished telling her we’d miscarried our own.

I desperately wanted to be happy for them, but I wasn’t. I was angry. I was hurt. I know it wasn’t rational, but I couldn’t help it. I was furious with my mother-in-law for not being sensitive to our loss. It was weeks before I could talk with her again (and we had been super close). I didn’t know if I could ever rebuild that relationship.

I couldn’t even talk to my husband that night. I was angry that he even let his brother talk to me. How could he do that knowing how badly I was hurting. Why did he make me do that? I think I spent the next few days and nights locked in our guest room, barely coming out.

As the days passed, we tried to dust ourselves off and keep taking steps forward.

We met with the doctor and planned to proceed with IVF. However, there was a study that was coming up for which we would qualify, saving tens of thousands of dollars. So we waited…and waited…and waited.

After about five months, we figured out how to get our health insurance to cover the IVF treatments and decided to forge ahead instead of waiting for the study to be approved.

In September of 2013, we started our first round of IVF. To this day, I remember getting dizzy and nauseous for those first few days as I tried to stick a needle into my stomach. Each time, I felt like I was going to pass out. It must have taken me 10 minutes for each of my first shots as I got used to injecting these hormones.

I set my alarm to wake me up in the morning and again at night, so I wasn’t a minute late on my meds.

Everything was moving forward. We had our egg retrieval scheduled and were waiting to find out if we’d be transferring on Day 3 or Day 5. We were planning our weekend around that answer.

Then, I got a call from the nurse to tell me that we would not be having any embryos transferred that month, that my progesterone was too high. I didn’t understand. This was not brought up to us as a possibility. But apparently, the guidelines had changed literally a week before our transfer, and we would have to freeze them all and transfer during my next cycle.

Once again, I was angry and frustrated. How could we not have been warned about this? I almost didn’t do the egg retrieval and thought to myself, “Maybe we can just have sex and one of the eggs will just work on its own.”

I cried some more. I just didn’t understand why we couldn’t catch a break.

I was already tired of sticking myself with needles, going to the lab to have my blood drawn, and all the visits every other day to the doctor, sitting in the waiting room for hours at times.

Little did I know that we were only just beginning.

A month and a half later, we transferred three embryos. We watched the clock. I spent a bunch of money on pregnancy tests and…BIG FAT NEGATIVE.

By this time, I was getting used to disappointment. I was starting to think we weren’t meant to have kids, that I wasn’t good enough to have children. I even told my husband that I’d understand if he wanted to leave and find someone who could give him children. And I meant it. It wasn’t fair…

But, we met with our doctor and went over our expectations, what might have gone wrong on our first round of IVF, and a plan for moving forward.

The next month, we tried again. This time, we wound up with three embryos and transferred two. Days later, I started testing (even though I was supposed to wait nine days, or something like that!). I got a POSITIVE!

It worked!!!

I kept getting blood work done and the numbers were skyrocketing. I visited Doctor Google and was convinced we were having twins. Their due date would have been my grandmother’s birthday. We had finally been successful!

We went in for our first ultrasound and the doctor asked what we thought about triplets. One of the two had spilt into identical twins. We both looked at each other and had a temporary freak out!

He then looked for a third heartbeat and there wasn’t one. It was only twins…and we were thrilled!

And then, I saw the look of concern on the doctor’s face as he looked at our chart and sat down and said that it didn’t look good. Yes, there were heartbeats, but they were slower than they should be at this stage. We would have to come back in a week to see if they were viable.

The next week, after searching online for anything to give us hope, our biggest fears were confirmed. The twins had died, but NOW the second embryo had a heartbeat, which was also too weak given the stage. We had to come back again in a week to confirm that the third embryo was no longer viable. Meanwhile I was sitting at home mourning my two babies whose tiny hearts I just heard beating. I was crushed.

We opted to have a D&C in order to get some information and to rule out something bigger that was causing the problems. It was then that we found out our babies, who were due on my grandmother’s birthday, were twin boys. I was so sad. I was certain that with the due date on her birthday there was no way it couldn’t NOT happen! I was wrong again.

Every time we got one step further than before, we still ended up with the same result…no baby.

We ultimately had to speak to a therapist for the sake of our marriage. This infertility deal was consuming me. It was literally eating me alive. I ate, slept, and dreamed about babies. Whenever I’d see someone with a little baby, or got an invite to a birthday party or a shower, I would wind up in tears…angry, jealous, hurt, __ (fill in the blank with any negative emotion you can think of).

When we started on round three, we opted to have screening done to tell us which embryos were chromosomally normal. It was expensive, but neither of us had it in us to let our hearts be broken again.

This time, we wound up with multiple embryos that made it through to testing and two came back normal. We knew we really wanted two children and the doctor told us that he was pretty confident that out of two, we would get at least one baby. There was no guarantee, however. They both could work. Neither could work. Or one could work. There was something about this cycle…I felt optimistic. I felt confident. But each time before that I felt like things were going in our favor, that we’d managed to get over another hurdle, and then we were met with another, bigger disappointment. So, we stopped getting excited at this point.

We talked long and hard and decided to do another round of IVF so we could have better odds of two children by freezing more good embryos.

I did two more rounds of medication…two more retrievals…two more rounds of testing for chromosome abnormalities and both times, we ended up with no embryos.

I remember standing on my front porch, talking to my doctor on his cell phone on his way home. I was exhausted and had tears in my eyes. I just told him that I didn’t have it in me anymore right now. My body needed a break. It had been a solid year that I’d either been pregnant, having a miscarriage, or taking fertility drugs. I just couldn’t jump into another round. Plus, my body just wasn’t responding.

I know the science says that there’s no link to back-to-back cycles decreasing results, but I needed a break, whether it was physical or mental. It wasn’t working right now.

It was also at this time that my husband and I decided we were going to try to transfer one of the two embryos from our third round. If it didn’t work, I’d pull up my big girl pants and go for a few more rounds of IVF. If it did work, then we were done. We would be thankful for whatever we had. If we had one baby, or two…we would just be happy, and it would be what our family was meant to be.

On December 8, 2014, we transferred our first embryo. We had already picked out her name before we went in.

Four days later, I got a faint positive line on a home pregnancy test. I was happy, but not excited. We’d been down this road previously. We knew that there were a whole lot of steps before we could breath a sigh of relief.

I finally got to the date of the blood test and, yes, I was in fact pregnant.
We’d been here before a couple of times. I knew it didn’t mean anything. Sure, I was a little more confident because we knew that chromosome abnormalities were not going to be the problem, but even so, I couldn’t relax.

I continued to do the blood tests, and numbers kept rising like they should, but they’d done that before too. I knew better than to be enthusiastic. The road ahead was still quite long and winding.

We had our first ultrasound, and everything looked good.

This was the furthest we’d made it, so I was convinced that on our next visit, we’d get some sort of bad news because every time we’d made it one step further, it was the next step that came back to hit us.

Ultrasound after ultrasound, things looked good, but I wasn’t convinced.

When we were released from the Reproductive Endocrinologist to our Ob/Gyn, I was terrified. It was like I was going to be fed to the wolves. I was so scared that something was going to go wrong.

We didn’t even let ourselves buy anything more than a blanket and stuffed animal until week 27, when the survival rate was on the positive side! I was so terrified that we didn’t even paint the nursery or buy her furniture until I was well into my third trimester. I just felt that if I did ANYTHING to show that I was excited or that I believed this was going to actually happen, she’d be ripped away from me. And I didn’t know if I would be able to handle the pain one more time.

This continued until August 31, 2015, when I finally saw my baby girl and held her in my arms. She was my world, and I couldn’t believe that I was finally a mom. I lived for this moment. I ached for this moment, and I finally felt like our prayers had been answered and everything was going to be okay.

We embraced every moment and every milestone as we grew as a family and watched the world through her eyes.
We desperately wanted to give her a baby sister (we knew from the chromosome testing that both normal embryos were female). So, on January 26, 2017, we went in for the transfer of our second embryo. We understood that it might not work but we had this calmness about us, like we just knew that this was going to work and complete our family.

Again, just four days later, I got a positive home pregnancy test and everything sort of went along the same path as our first, except I was so busy chasing my toddler and moving into a new home that I couldn’t obsess over everything. I didn’t have time to think about the negatives. Although in the back of my mind, I couldn’t fully believe that we’d get to the finish line without something going wrong.

But, on October 1, 2017, we welcomed our second miracle baby into the world, and I couldn’t have ever imagined how much my heart would grow. Within minutes, I couldn’t imagine life without both of my girls.
The journey was long. The journey was painful. But the journey was beautiful in that it made me appreciate my family so much more. I don’t take the little moments for granted. I love hard. I hug them often. I hold them as much as they let me.

It wasn’t how I expected to have a family, but life seldom works out exactly as you have pictured in your mind. In this case, it was so much more. Things do happen when and how they are supposed to. And I wouldn’t change a single moment in the process because it got us to where we are now.

It also led me to the Fertility Foundation of Texas, to many of the people you will meet in the chapters that follow, to new friends and opportunities, to the knowledge gained through firsthand experience that enables me to help other couples facing similar struggles.

I am not unique. My story is not “one of a kind.” Infertility is scary. Infertility is lonely. And while the journey may be different for everyone, the goal is the same, and the pain is real when you realize that you need help!

The positive is that in most cases, if you stick with it, infertility can be cured. You can have your family. It may not be in the way you thought when you were 20 years old dreaming of 2.5 kids and a white picket fence, but if you want it bad enough and you stay the course, there is a path to family.


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