GETTING KNOCKED UP...sort of.
Written for @fertilegirl a pre pregnancy nutrition website changing the conversation about fertility.
You may notice the bruises on my belly. While at first I was ashamed of them and annoyed that I couldn't wear cute bikinis over the summer of my pregnancy, I quickly became proud of them. They’re a symbol of my story and how hard I continue to have to work in order to bring my first baby into this world. Due to blood flow issues, I have to inject a blood thinner into my stomach every night and the shots cause bruises. The bruises remind me that this is a journey, not a means to an end. It doesn't end once you get the plus sign on a pregnancy test, or when you first hear the heart beat, it’s an ongoing process.
So here's my story...
I remember hearing that once you want to have a baby it goes from 0 to 100 really quick. That’s what my relationship was like with infertility. Starting at a 0 anxiety level and that I was in no real rush, I went off of birth control in November 2015. My husband is younger than me and he was nervous and not totally “ready.” So, I told him we could wait but that first I needed to know that we didn’t have any issues getting pregnant, as I wanted to stay at 0. I was 32 and slightly hesitant about waiting and having a potential issue. So, I got checked and he did too. Sure enough, we found out there were some issues. We were told that we could still get pregnant naturally but that it may take a bit longer. This is when it went from 0 to 100 for me. I soon felt that I couldn’t get pregnant quickly enough and I needed it to happen yesterday. We gave it five months and nothing happened. We decided that with no real remedy for our “subtle” issues, we should visit a fertility doctor. The doctor told us he’d try an IUI. Two failed IUI’s later we decided to move onto IVF. I remember one doctor telling me “you decide how fast you want to ride this train” and I jokingly told my mom, I wanted the freaking ACELA express.
I spoke to a close friend who had done IVF and asked her for advice as I stepped into this uncharted territory. She told me that before I start the process of IVF I should ask for a saline sonogram. I humored her and asked my doctor for one. I got the saline sonogram and the results showed that I had a septate uterus and needed a surgery called a hysteroscopy. Feeling so impatient and as if time was running out, I had to postpone our IVF process for this surgery. Once the hysteroscopy was done, we started egg retrieval. After retrieval and ICSI, we had created successful embryos and were lucky enough to get plenty. We were hopeful and excited for our first transfer. It failed. The same friend who advised me to ask for a saline sonogram mentioned a reproductive immunologist. Due to a family history of immunological issues, we made the tough decision to postpone our next transfer until I visited this reproductive specialist. I couldn’t get an appointment right away so this would mean about a two month delay in this process that couldn’t happen quickly enough. Against everything I felt in my heart, my head told me that I needed to do this, and give this next shot everything I could. Finally, I had my blood appointment, where they had to take a ton of blood and a few weeks later, he put me on a protocol of steroids, blood thinners and intralipids. My next transfer was a success and I was pregnant by March of 2017. I’m now expecting my first child, a baby girl on Thanksgiving.
That's the short story. Now I want to mention the hardest parts and how I got through it...
Waiting was the hardest part. Patience and getting pregnant don’t really go hand in hand when you want it. There were doctors who told us to try for 6 months and come back, or doctors who had “black out” periods, or medical necessities we had to go through (the IUIs, the hysteroscopy, the reproductive immunologist, the intralipid protocol, etc) and the waiting was torture. Not only that, but we had no idea if the waiting would result in a pregnancy and it brought on questions like “am I too old?” or “what if I cant ever get pregnant?” I had never had a pregnancy before in my life so the waiting was especially hard because we were living in this unknown period of “will we ever be parents and how long will it take?”
I got through it by being my biggest advocate and never giving up. Our journey would have taken some couples years, but because I asked for specific things, early on, and had an incredible support person to tell me what to advocate for, my process took us just a year. No matter how many delays and disappointments there were, I just kept trying and kept going. Although a year seems like an eternity during this process, I got through it knowing that by being my biggest advocate, I was already advocating for my future child and moving closer and closer to becoming a mom.
If I could speak to anyone going through fertility issues, I’d say to keep going. Infertility let me know that there are some things that I can’t control. I’ve lived my entire life mapping out when and how things were going to happen and they always seemed to fall into place. Infertility taught me that, just like I anticipate motherhood being, life isn’t always happening according to plan. I’ve learned to accept that and feel stronger and more ready to become a mom because of it. Oh and after a few weeks of accepting these bruises, I ended up proudly rocking bikinis all summer.