First, I want to celebrate all the moms, though one day just doesn’t seem like enough, I do hope that you feel extra special and amazing today. I am blessed with an amazing mother but unfortunately, we live about 700 miles apart so we never get to spend it together.
I know that Mother’s Day is a day to be happy day for most moms but it can also be one of the saddest days for others for many reasons, but this newsletter focuses on fertility reasons. I wanted to share my story to “becoming” a mom so that maybe it will give just one person hope or please share it with someone you know that may be going though their own tough journey to motherhood.
I knew from a very young age I wanted to be a mother, I was the girl who played with dolls, planned out my wedding, when I would have kids, at what age, and what their names would be, all by 12! But when it came time to actually start trying to have a baby, my 12-year-old time-line just didn’t go as planned.
I got married just before my 25th birthday and we decided to start trying for a baby soon after, like I said I had a time-line three kids before thirty LOL.
Well one thing you need to have a baby is a period and the ability to ovulate, two things I did not have. I had just finished a few years of figure competitions (think body building for women) so it wasn’t unusual to not have period being so active, I was in the best shape of my life. But after numerous tests and doctors' appointments they figured out I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). After 6 months of clomid, an oral drug to help you ovulate, and a couple more of Femara (another oral fertility drug) I still was no closer to having a period or ovulating. At that point, my doctor send me to a fertility specialist.
We first tried to do insemination (IUI), this is where you take the oral drugs to produce more eggs, give yourself a shot at a very particular time to release the eggs and then they inject the sperm into you. Well before they do that, they do an ultrasound of your ovaries and my were over stimulated I had 32 eggs. They could not inseminate me. I remember clear as day the doctor saying “you will have a litter; we cannot proceed. But you are a better candidate for in-vitro fertilization (IVF).” So, in my head that was, okay we just spend thousands of dollars for nothing, and another month not pregnant.
The next month we started the IVF process. This is much more intensive. Lots of shots, pills, ultrasounds and truly living by a “day count” you have to know what day it is for what pills, what shots, and so on. We were so excited, so positive “this is going to be it, this is going to work.” You go in for the procedure, they put you under and take out your eggs, then outside the body they inject the sperm into the egg, then the egg fertilizes for 3 to 5 days depending on the eggs. Then you go back in, and they inject the fertilized embryo into you. Then the worst part you go home, bed rest or close to it for 3 days, and you wait till day 10 when you can test. When I tell you this is the longest 10 days, I truly mean it.
Well 10 days game, we took a test at home before going into the office and it was negative, our hearts were crushed. But we had so many eggs they were able freeze 12+ embryos, so we had more “chances.”
We waited one month and started the process all over again, this time we got a positive test, but later found out it was a chemical pregnancy the embryo never implanted, it’s basically a very early miscarriage.
Okay time for round 3, we went in as we had the last two times, on day 10 we tested at home and it was positive. We were excited and couldn’t wait to get the blood test done. We got the call later that day, it’s positive numbers look good come back for another blood test in 2 days to make sure it doubles… and it did! We still had not told anyone because we didn’t want to jinx anything, we went in for our 6 week ultrasound and we saw two sacks and two babies, but no heartbeats. I had miscarried twins. I had to have a D&C because my body did not naturally miscarry. The doctor wanted to wait a few months before tying again due to the scar tissue.
Three months later we went in for round 4. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take a pregnancy test at home this time, we are very superstitious and thought “maybe if we don’t know it will be better news.” I went in for my blood work and it was positive, I went back two days later and had great numbers. This was it, this is our time. We went in to our 6-week appointment and heard the best sound we have ever heard, our baby’s heartbeat and it was strong. Everything looked great. We were so excited but decided to wait till we were further along to tell our family, we went in for our 8-week ultrasound, after this is when the fertility specialist will release you to your regular obgyn. We got into the room, and they search and search for a heartbeat and nothing. The ultrasound showed the baby stopped growing the week before. I had lost another baby. This also meant another D&C.
I was sad but also angry at this point, what was I doing wrong, what was wrong with my body, why can’t my body do what it is supposed to do and why can’t I be a mother. I did a lot of research on why people have multiple miscarriages and when I met with my doctor, I asked to be tested for MTHFR a genetic gene mutation, they were hesitant to test me for it, but they did, and I did in fact have it. This changed the course of prep for my next round of IVF. I would not be on an injectable blood thinner called Lovenox that I would inject into my stomach with all the other fertility drugs.
It was time for round 5, this was the last of our embryos, we went in on that October day with so much hope and a little fear because this was our last chance. Unfortunately, the test was negative.
I remember that day like it was yesterday, I called my mom and just cried, it was the first time I allowed myself to actually cry. I did not know what I was going to do but I was determined by the following Christmas I would be a mother. I started researching adoption agencies and other fertility doctors. We did all of our background checks, home visit, and interviews for the adoption process and at the same time went up to Cincinnati to meet with a new fertility doctor. I made two promises to myself and the universe that day, “I promise I will not complain not even once about being pregnant and when I am a mom I will be an exception mother.”
Later that month, the new doctor gave us hope but also said I had a lot of scar tissue that he wanted removed before doing another round of IVF, so I had another surgery to “clean me up” and that January we started the 6th round of IVF.
Two weeks later we found out I was pregnant again and that there were a couple pregnant moms that were interested in us for adoption. I remember telling the adoption agency, “I am pregnant, but I still want to continue down the adoption path because most likely I would lose the baby.”
After our 6 week ultrasound everything looked great, then our 8 week ultrasound came (probably the longest 2 weeks of my life.) and the baby still looked great. This means we get “released” and can start our pregnancy checkups with my obgyn.
I am excited to say this little baby is now 12 years old, healthy, happy, still adorable, soccer loving, motivated, kind, smart kid.
Because we thought it would take 3-4 years to have another baby we started the process all over again when Braxton was just 6 months old and I got pregnant on the first round of IVF with Easton, who is a 11 year old healthy, smart, sensitive, kind, fun, baseball and soccer loving, active little boy.
But let’s go back to those two promises I made to myself. The first one was easy it was 9 months, okay no complaining about being pregnant, and luckily I had a very easy pregnancy both times. The second promise is so hard…. Be an exceptional mother…. What was I thinking? That is a lot of pressure. I strive for this every day but I am going to be 100% honest it is exhausting and most days I feel like a failure. I am very hard on myself when it comes to that promise I think because I finally have what I always wanted and maybe it’s because I made that promise so what happens if I don’t strive for that every day? Don’t put that pressure on yourself.
When I was in this fertility “life” I will call it, it was beyond painful, it brought about all kinds of emotions, sad, angry, failure, envy, resentment, jealousy etc. But I would not change any of it. Let me say that a second time, I would not change any of it as painful as it was. I say this because if any of this had gone a different way, I would not have the two beautiful sons that I have. I was meant to be their mother and I am beyond grateful every day for that. I would not want it any other way.
The reason I wanted to share this story is because I know Mother’s Day should be celebrated and I love doing that. I worked hard for those babies and spent many Mother’s Days questioning why this was happening to me. So please celebrate! Also, if you know someone who is struggling this Mother’s Day for any reason, reach out and check on them, they need support whether they know it or not.