infertility


Life before children was a dark, dark place for me. The minute that Josh and I were married the questions began flying at us like high-speed baseballs during the World Series. We weren't ready to have children yet; we just wanted to enjoy being married. Only a month into our marriage I was diagnosed with Endometriosis. For more about Endometriosis visit the Mayo Clinic.
Endometriosis was an ugly word in my home as a child. My mother had a severe case of it, and it was the sole reason that I was an only child. No siblings. None.
Although we weren't quite ready to start our family, at only one month of being married, we began having the necessary conversations with our doctors. We were told that it would take us a while to get pregnant so it wouldn't be a bad idea to start trying. Trying to get pregnant should be fun, right? Romantic, passionate, good 'ole baby making. WRONG! Well for the first 6 months, maybe. Then the worry set in, and temperature taking, charting and peeing on ovulation sticks replaced the excitement of, spontaneous, not trying but not preventing to make a baby.
Months went by quickly; either we were waiting for ovulation around CD14,  we were in our two week wait (TWW) or I was emotionally depressed because my cycle had started, once again. Trying to get pregnant is like wanting a new car, everyone around you has your dream car and it's literally on every corner. It seemed like everyone we knew was getting pregnant. Every conversation revolved around pregnancy, children, or being a mom. All of the things I longed for.
I had regular blood tests done through my OB and did three or four rounds of Clomid (it's been a while so I don't remember exactly.) That stuff made me crazy. I mean a blood boiling, bipolar, crazy person. Josh also had a semen analysis done that was within normal ranges. Before we knew it a year of trying to get pregnant had passed to no avail. By then I wanted to be pregnant. I was ready. More than ready. I always wanted to be a mother, but at this point I had a longing, deep in my soul, to be pregnant. I wanted to be a mom. A mother. Mama to be exact.
At our next doctor appointment, Dr. W suggestion I complete further testing. So we did. hysterosalpingogram was the ugly name of the, awful, test that I had to have performed. The best part? It was my birthday. Cruel, I tell ya!
It hurt. Agonizing. Excruciating. Whatever word you want to use for hurt really, really bad. My mom took me for the appointment and she could hear me screaming in the waiting room. Yup, it hurt that bad. Many women compare it to labor. I would say it is comparable. Results: Tubes clear, just a build up of mucous.
You are suppose to be a fertile Myrtle the two months following a hysterosalpingogram. So we proceeded with fingers and toes crosses, along with a lot of prayers. Months passed and with no luck. We decided that it wasn't a bad idea to have Josh's fertility checked-out again before I endured any further testing. His testing was way easier and much less invasive. Semen analysis Results: below normal in all areas. He completed a second test to make sure it wasn't a fluke. Result: Normal. Then a third test to give us an average. Results: below normal. His results varied so much that it was necessary to see and reproductive endocrinologist (RE); and that we did.
Our first visit was January 2011. They did further testing on us both. Blood work to check our hormone levels, ultrasounds to look at my ovaries prior to ovulation and more semen analysis' for Josh. Then it was explained that we have what is called Male Factor Infertility and my endometriosis wan't helping the situation either.
What to do? We weren't candidates for intrauterine insemination (IUI) due to motility and mobilty issues. In-vitro ferilization (IVF) was looking like our best option. We had a lot of talking to do. We were young and healthy. We were the perfect candidates for IVF and were given a very positive likelihood of success. We decided that we needed a few months to time out everything perfectly, especially our finances.
 IVF isn't free nor is it cheap. Insurance doesn't cover it so we were looking at spending thousands of dollars on our child before it was even a fetus. We waiting for a few months and decided the summer was the perfect time, financially. My due date would be just a couple of months after graduating with my bachelors.  The news of my brother-in-law and his wife expecting their first child solidified our decision to move forward with the process.
July rolled around and it was time to start the process. My first cycle was your typical agonists protocol or long down-regulation protocol using Lupron. I cycled July into August and was cancelled due to ovarian cysts at my baseline. Then we waited for my period. I cycled September in to October using the same protocol hoping it was a fluke that such as thing happened. Cancelled. Another stupid cyst. Then we changed protocols. My RE suspected that the Lupron was causing me to flare prematurely with cysts; this happens in a very small percentage of women- it has the opposite effect of its intended us. We switch to an antagonist protocol using Ganirelix to suppress instead of Lupron. I also used a birth control patch instead of pills.  Everything looked great and got the go ahead to finally trigger. The REs were very optimistic. Finally. I was so nervous and anxious about the egg retrieval. They retrieved 15 eggs. 13 were mature. 12 fertilized. Day 3 transfer. Non of the fertilized eggs made it to day 5. The embryologist noted that my eggs were hard to penetrate. The two week wait felt much longer than two weeks, and I was a ball of nervous energy the entire time. Did I mention that NO ONE knew we were going through all of this. Nope. Nada. We kept it a big fat secret. For me it was hard enough that I didn't randomly miss my period and get to surprise Josh with a, freshly peed-on, positive pregnancy test.
The day was December 23, 2011. Josh took me to get a pedicure to help relax me after the in-office blood test; he got a pedicure also. We went home and I laid on the couch hoping that the call would come before my in-laws arrived for Christmas vacation at our house. It was 1:00 and the sun was beating down on me through my living room window when my phone rang. I nervously answered the phone and my PA said, "Hi Natasha. I'm so sorry but the blood test was negative." I quickly thanked her and hung up. Why did I thank her? She gave me the worst news ever! Josh was outside working in the garage and I just laid there, crying... it didn't work! My whole heart crumbled. I saw pictures of my embryos. They were mine and Josh's DNA. Together. As one. For two weeks I felt like I was pregnant. I knew that the sperm and egg had come together; all it had to do was implant. Why didn't it work?
By the time Josh came inside I was hysterically crying. He knew what the tears meant. Just moments later his parents pulled in our drive.
Not only did we have to tell his parents that we were going through IVF but we also had to tell them that we had went thru the entire process and it didn't work.  We never expected that we would have to share with people that we had went through all of this hurt in the middle of experiencing more hurt but how else were we to explain my lack of excitement for Christmas and what should have been the most exciting Christmas announcement ever? So we chose to wait until that evening when his immediate family gathered at our house for an impromptu dinner. Honestly, we didn't want to repeat the words over and over again. I will never forget that conversation... we were all gathered in our living room sitting together, chatting and catching up on each other's lives. Josh spoke softer than normal (he's a loud whisperer usually). He said Tasha and I have something we would like to share with you... as excitement came across many of their faces he quickly redirected and said, "It isn't good news." Then shared our journey in his short and sweet version explaining that we both were in a really bad place emotionally. It was a very quiet evening as everyone mourned what could have been with us. My sister-in-law, Bri cried a lot... she was 37 weeks pregnant with a surprise baby girl and had a new found understanding of the desire to have children. It was the most I had felt connected to her in many months because I wanted more than anything to be in her shoes, blissfully pregnant at 37 weeks. I was so excited for my coming niece but it definitely made our situation more painful. I am so thankful that they didn't have to experience the pain that naturally comes along with being childless and struggling with infertility... honestly I wouldn't wish it on my worse enemy.
Three days later my niece was born. It was such an exciting day but I spent most of the day worrying. My hormones were balancing back out and I was worried how I would handle myself if and when the flood of emotions hit. I did pretty well and only cried when I held her. She was a miracle. Pregnancy and children are the biggest miracles and blessings in this world. That was one thing that was crystal clear to me.
 In many ways I cut off my emotions and feelings from that day forward. I wanted to enjoy my niece and not mourn what I didn't have. I did exactly that. I made the decision that I didn't want to do another round of IVF anytime soon and I wanted to just enjoy life in general... including spending time as an aunt. Me making the decision was different than life making the decision for me. Josh and I enjoyed life by traveling and dating each other, something we had forgotten how to do in the midst of the stressful IVF cycles. We bought our dream boat and traveled to Mexico, Seattle, Florida and many other fun places together. Other than a diagnostic laparoscopy in May of 2012 for severe pain to "clean out" my endometriosis, there was no testing, no poking or prodding to jumble up our days. We were just us for a year traveling and living life one the lake, and it was really nice.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't still emotionally broken inside. Every time someone announced their pregnancy via Facebook, I cried. Every time I saw a woman with a beautiful, blossoming belly, I cried. I cried myself to sleep many, many nights and Josh would just hold me and tell me it would all work out. He believed in his heart that we would have children of our own on day.
Throughout that year we had family and friends praying for us and that things would happen in God's time. My relationship with Jesus Christ became so much stronger. Every Sunday during worship service I cried may way thru the words of every song and felt like God had chosen each one of them specifically for me and how I was feeling that day or week. I started to gain clarity and emotional strength when one day on my way to work I was listening to my favorite morning show in Atlanta, the Bert Show, and one of the cast members, Jenn Hobby, shared her infertility journey. That day she said, "I feel in my heart to share my journey because someone who is listening needs to hear this. Don't give up! Infertility is an emotional road and takes a toll on everyone involved but don't give up!" She said many other things that I don't remember verbatim but I felt as though she was speaking to my heart. Could anyone else hear her words? Was this message just for me... probably not but it felt like it. God speaks to us in many ways and I believe with all of my heart that he was speaking directly to me through her.
I went home that day and told Josh I was ready to give it another go. At this point it was November.... I know the same time we had unsuccessfully done IVF before. You think I would have learned my lesson before! I made an appointment with my RE to start the process. We met with the RE and made a few choices about protocols and he decided to pull out the "big guns" so to speak. The Mac Daddy protocol for poor responders called Microdose Flare protocol. We started around Thanksgiving and they did a trans-vaginal ultrasound before stimulating because of the protocol type and how I had previously responded. I had cysts all over my ovaries. The birth control pills were causing them and was probably the cause of the cysts in my prior cycles as well. What did this mean? Another cancelled cycle.
This cancelled cycle really hurt my energy. I had decided to keep a very positive attitude. I prayed every night for nothing but positive thoughts. I had been receiving acupuncture for months leading up to the start of the cycle for reproductive health, to better embryo quality and for positive energy. I increased my frequency of acupuncture visits and practically prayed myself to sleep once we were cancelled. I kept telling myself this is going to work and Christmas time is not the right time for us, obviously.
Let me tell you, waiting for CD1 is like waiting for Christmas in July! CD1 came and went since there were lab closures due to the holidays. BUMMER! Then we had to wait another 35 days... darn 35 day cycle... like clockwork it was always 35 days. It was infuriating that I had to wait 35 more days. The holidays came and went and on January 2nd CD1 appeared 15 days early!! I praised the Lord so many times that day it's almost comical. During this cycle I received acupuncture twice per week. We stimulated off of my natural cycle (meaning that we didn't use birth control in the beginning of the cycle) using Lupron and then did a retrieval 1 day earlier than planned due to one follicle out growing the rest. They retrieved 11 eggs, 7 were mature, 6 fertilized and 5 made it to day 3. We transferred 2 and had none to freeze in the end. On transfer day I received acupuncture before and after the transfer to calm me and to increase blood flow to my uterus. The quality of our embryos were much better than the cycle a year earlier meaning that the acupuncture must have helped in that category. Throughout this cycle I also ate clean, drink wheat grass juice twice daily and added daily servings of Chia seeds to my diet.... I would have eaten poop if it guaranteed a baby in my arms. Yuck, I know... but truth!





Our two embryos. Day 3 transfer
The two week wait was the slowest two weeks ever. It felt like months had passed. My HcG test was on Friday, February 1, 2013. I took the day off work and had the blood work done that morning. Josh and I left for North Carolina around 11 am to visit family and patiently waited on the phone call. Josh received a work call and minutes later my phone rang and it was my RE. He never called me. I was always his PA. He said, "Well Natasha, I'm finally getting to give you the news we've waited so long to deliver... You're Pregnant!" I just cried.... and said Thank you so much and hung up. I was in shock. Josh quickly ended his call and I clarified that my tears were joyful tears and that we were finally pregnant with an HcG level in the 200s. Praise the Lord!!! Then our first ultrasound revealed that we were expecting TWINS!!!



We didn't find out the genders of our babies and I had an uneventful pregnancy up until it wasn't at 29 weeks. I delivered two healthy babies at 32 weeks and 4 days{Pre-term Labor & Delivery}. Although   I had many complications afterwards,  they only spent 17 days in the NICU with normal preemie monitoring and are now thriving 18 month olds now.







Going through infertility changed me in so many ways, but I wouldn't change one detail of our story.  I am the mother I am today because of it, and my marriage is stronger and my faith is unshakable.  Although, we have two beautiful girls I can't say that our struggle with infertility is over and I'm afraid that it's about to become all too familiar again as attempt to grow our family more. 



SHARE:
 photo facebook_zps8d483e9e.png
 photo twitter_zps1a2a45e0.png
 photo pinterest_zps549d2941.png
4 Comments »

4 Responses to “infertility”

  1. Your IVF story has many parts that sound very similar to mine! We had many cancelled protocols and I ended up having 3 retrievals and 2 transfers (one round all died before day 3) before getting pregnant with our son. They put 3 embryos in the time it worked and I still only was pregnant with one child. I too had to switch to ganirelix but not because Lupron was giving me cysts but because it just wasn't working. What a hard process huh? But it's totally worth it in the end! Your children are beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is such a hard process but SO worth it. I wouldn't change it for the world. Thank you, they are pretty special to us.

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. We suffer from MFI also, <1% morphology, and did IVF to conceive our now 2.5 year old twins. We're getting ready for a second fresh cycle in a couple months. It's always great to read another sucess story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so awesome!!! That sounds like the perfect spacing for babes. Good luck! I hope everything goes smoothly. Are you hoping for twins again or no way!?

      Delete