First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby….... well at least that is how we have always dreamt it would be like. My husband and I knew very early on in our relationship that we wanted to be together and start a family of our own. But it wasn’t until a year after our marriage that our plan was not working out as we hoped it would have. No couple ever imagines they would ever have to go through such a hardship like infertility. We struggled for 2 ½ years until we were finally blessed with twin boys after going through In Vitro Fertilization. After almost a year of keeping our struggle private, we finally were open with our family. Believe me it was not easy, but after a while, you get sick and tired of lying to family who ask “when are you going to start a family.” That is a very personal question, and people really should not ask couples that. You really never know if someone is struggling to get pregnant and it’s just best to avoid that awkward question.
The choice to be open about our infertility and IVF treatment was not an easy decision to make. It is very a personal thing to go through. But I’m not ashamed of it and I also know that there are many couples who face this same challenge. When we first began our journey I wish I had known other women who had gone through this. It would have been nice to hear their experiences and be able to relate to their struggles. So for that reason, I want to share our story. Many people have been through this struggle, and many have succeeded. We are proof of that.
After months of being on a fertility drug called Clomid we were having zero success, and my doctor suggested we see a specialist. So our journey brought us to The Fertility Center of Grand Rapids where we met an amazing team of doctors and nurses. It really did not sink in that we were really undergoing fertility treatments. I personally could not wrap my mind around it because they could not find any reason as to why we could not get pregnant. After discussing all our options with our doctor, we decided to attempt 3 rounds of Intrauterine Insemination, or IUI. We had very high hopes it would work and we would be pregnant within a few months. We built up so much faith and excitement. I felt so sure we would be successful, but sadly I was wrong. God had other plans for us. In those times of constant disappointment, I could not help but be angry with God and wonder why he wouldn't let me get pregnant. I began to go down a very dark path after a while. I became angry and sad every time someone became pregnant. I began to distance myself in order to protect my feelings. I know my husband could not fully understand the hurt I felt, but I knew he was feeling his own pain. We just could not understand the reason for all the hurt and disapointment. It wasn’t until the end when we fully understand why God did it. We look back at it now and understand why we went through what we did, and now we appreciate the hard journey and struggle we took to get pregnant.
A feeling of deep hopelessness washed over us after our third IUI failed. I knew we were going to have to go through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant, and it just did not seem fair. I feared the whole process of going through IVF. I knew the procedure itself was going to be a rough road, and I had no idea where we were going to come up with the money. Unfortunately insurance companies view infertility and its treatments to be elective procedures, similar to plastic surgery. So that meant we were going to have pay 100% of the medical costs. I felt sick to my stomach the day we discussed proceeding to IVF with our doctor. I almost wanted to break down and cry in his office. I was completely overwhelmed and felt defeated. Although I knew at that moment I needed to be the strongest person I have ever been and it was going to take all of my courage and strength to make it through. I have to say my husband and I needed a couple adult beverages after that appointment. How else do you swallow the fact that you need to come up with a minimum of $10,000 to start a family? I knew we were both, in our own way, very scared. But my husband reassured me that we would find a way, no matter what. And we did. Through multiple fundraisers, we were able to raise money and save for our IVF. We were so blessed by the outpouring of love and support from our family and friends. Four months after our decision to proceed with the procedure we put down our $1,000 deposit and began the process.
The IVF process took just over a month and consisted of shots, shots, and more shots. Most of them were in the stomach, which wasn’t too bad after the first couple of times. The other shot was intramuscular, which were administered in the muscle just about my butt. Thankfully my husband was my hero and administered all my shots because there was no way that I would have been able to do it. Yes, I will admit, I did have a nurse draw bull eyes with a permanent marker on my butt. I wanted to make sure my husband knew where he had to give me the shot. It was quite the tattoo for a few weeks. On the morning of my first intramuscular shot I simply had a meltdown. I just sobbed in the kitchen as I told my husband I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was scared to death to do the shot that I was trembling. I am thankful that I have an awesome husband who was my strength and helped get me past my fear. He, and a frozen container of hummus to numb the injection site, helped me through the whole process. I thank God for giving me such a strong man in my life. I would not have done it without him.
So, for 16 days I was given 1 shot in the stomach, and then it increased to 2 shots for 12 more days. These shots had different purposes. One shot literally took over my body’s natural instinct while the other instructed my body to produce multiple eggs. The goal was to get as many mature eggs as possible before they extracted them. Two days before they extracted the eggs my husband had to give me the ‘trigger shot, or what I referred to it as, the dreaded butt shot. We were almost to the end and the egg retrieval was just a couple days away. On the morning of the egg retrieval I was instructed to take a Valium to calm my nerves and to help me relax. I was so nervous that I couldn’t eat, and a banana was not enough to stop me from ending up in la la land. Yes, I admit, I was very high when I went for the procedure, and my doctor knew I was when we arrived in the surgical room. The egg retrieval was all quite a blur for me, and I don’t remember much after they administered pain meds into my IV. My husband (who was able to be present in the surgery room) said that it was interesting watch on the ultrasound as they literally sucked out all the eggs. There was very little pain after the procedure, just some mild pelvic cramping.
|Our morning ritual for 12 days.|
|The syringe in the middle and to the left were |
abdominal shots, and the syringe on the
right was for intramuscular.
Starting that day we had to start the intramuscular, or butt shots, again. Those shots, which were the hormone progesterone, were done every morning for two weeks or up to eight weeks if we became pregnant. We had to wait two days after the retrieval before we returned to do the embryo transfer. It was an exciting and much anticipated morning for the both of us. I wasn’t nervous or scared at all, I was ready! It was love at first sight when they handed me a photo of the two embryos they were transferring. I knew they were going to make it and we were finally going to be parents. From that moment on we had to be positive as much as possible. Deep down we both knew we were at the end of our struggle. I personally put myself on strict bed rest for 3 whole days and eliminated stress as much as possible.
About a week and a half later I came down with a condition known as Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome. It is a very uncomfortable condition that causes severe water retention, bloating, and difficulty breathing. I had the severe side of the symptoms, and was told by one of the nurses that it was a very good sign because my ovaries were also making progesterone. A day before Thanksgiving I went in for blood work that would tell us if we were pregnant or not. It was the longest 3 hours of my life as I waited for the phone call with the test results. I swear my heart stopped when my phone rang and the nurse said to me “congratulations, it came back positive. You are pregnant.” I just couldn’t believe it. Am I in a dream or did she really say I’m pregnant? I could not help but cry as she told me the good news. For over two and a half years I had been waiting to hear those words and I finally did the day before Thanksgiving. We had a lot to be thankful for that year. We made it through infertility, we were pregnant, and our marriage became stronger than ever before. I think what I cherish the most, was not hearing that I was pregnant, but the look of excitement on my husband’s face when I told him the news. That will be something I will never forget. One long and hard journey had ended and another new, exciting one was about to begin.
Infertility is something no couple should ever have to go through alone. Even though it is a very personal and private matter, I encourage couples to reach out to family and other couples who have gone through the same thing. Having someone to talk to really helps during a very hard time in a couple’s life.