The road to starting a family did not go as smoothly as I always envisioned. Chris and I were married in 2012 and immediately everyone began asking, "When are you having kids?" I understand this is a natural question to ask, but after the crazy ride we have been on, I ask you to think twice before asking anyone this question. I say this because starting a family is not really a question of timing and for those of us who have had to seek alternate routes to getting pregnant, we just don't have an answer to that question.
It took me a while to process, but I am now ready to share our journey to getting pregnant because I think it's something that should be talked about more. So many women are dealing with infertility issues and choose to keep quiet for multiple reasons, but honestly it's so much more common that I ever realized. Here is the story of our long and winding road.
Chris and I met and got engaged in less than a year so I knew that I wanted to wait a little bit before starting a family. There were things that we wanted to accomplish as a couple and I wanted some time to be selfish and just enjoy my marriage. So we did that! We traveled, worked, got a dog and built a house. In 2014 we decided that it was time to pull the goalie and in 3 short months I got a positive pregnancy test. It was on Chris's birthday and we couldn't have been more excited. About a week later it all ended and we went from the highest high to the lowest low in a matter of moments. It happened so quickly that I didn't really have time to process everything. Nothing had been purchased, the nursery wasn't designed and we hadn't heard a heartbeat. But we still had planned that our family would be expanding and now that wasn't happening anymore.
We took a few months to chill and decided we would try again in the summer. I was tracking my cycle, using an ovulation kit and doing everything according to plan. Month after month went by and nothing was happening. This was so frustrating and became such a pain in the butt. The fun that comes along with trying for a baby was not so much fun anymore. It became a job and a process and I was putting entirely too much pressure on that tiny window of opportunity that came along each month. So finally in May of 2015 we decided to seek help and made an appointment with an IVF clinic. We immediately clicked with our doctor and we were excited to move forward after a year of nothing. The first step was testing for both of us. This required lots of blood work, an ultrasound for me and a semen analysis for the hubby. The worst part was the HSG test I had to have to see if there was anything blocking my fallopian tubes. This required a dye to be put in the tubes and then pushed through. I heard horror stories about how painful this was so I was very nervous going in for this test. Mine was a little uncomfortable, but I wouldn't say painful.
It was a little nerve wracking waiting on the results, but I think more frustration came once we got the results. I never wished for anything to be wrong with either of us, but I think it would have been easier for me to process if there was a reason that we weren't able to get pregnant naturally. The results showed that we were both fertile, healthy and didn't have any issues. They call it 'unexplained infertility'. You would think there could be a better name for it, right??
So we had our answers, for now, and in June 2015 we began our first round of treatment. Our insurance required that we start at the bottom and work our way up to IVF. The first month we tried Clomid, which is a pill that is used to stimulate ovulation. I was definitely hopeful that this would be our ticket. I heard horror stories about Clomid and many called it the 'bitch pill' but I didn't really have many side effects. I felt a little different but I also think I was being overly sensitive because I read about the possible side effects. Well after 2 months of this treatment, and no baby, we moved on to the next level which was IUI or Intrauterine Insemination. This process controls the timing and the doctor will insert the sperm at the time of ovulation. There wasn't any pain. It just felt like a pap smear. Not a fun procedure, but not painful. Again, we did two months of this and still nothing so it was time to move on to IVF or In Vitro Fertilization.
We decided to wait until after the holidays to start because it is a commitment and you have to stick to the schedule once you begin. In February the calendar looked good and I didn't have any travel planned so we began once my cycle revealed itself. There was a lot of monitoring and testing that went along with IVF. Oh and there were shots.....lots of shots and I don't mean the fun kind. The box that came with all my supplies was a bit overwhelming. I have never given myself a shot before so this was very intimidating. The first few I had to get friends to help with, but finally I convinced myself that if I was going to give birth then I should be strong enough to give myself an injection. It started with one a day but by the end of the week I was up to three shots a day in the stomach. I was bloated and just felt awful, but I kept reminding myself that this was worth it and I wouldn't remember the negative parts. Every two or three days I went in for blood work and ultrasound so the doctor could monitor my ovaries and measure the eggs that were developing. Once they were ready, I scheduled my trigger shot to release the eggs and we went in for the egg retrieval surgery. This required anesthesia, but I was only out for about 30 minutes. When I woke up I was so happy because Chris told me to think of something happy before they put me under. This totally worked! Then they gave me animal crackers and I was super excited. Great snack! It's the little things that make me happy apparently. The egg retrieval was definitely the hardest part. I was very uncomfortable, super bloated and it took me a few days to feel good again. They say you should be fine the next day, but I was on the couch for about a week after.
The doctor retrieved 10 eggs and we waited five days so they could fertilize and turn to embryos. After the five days we ended up with 4 viable embryos that were ready for transfer and the ones we didn't transfer could be frozen for future use. We went back in for the transfer and the doctor chose to implant one embryo. This was a quick procedure and again similar to a pap smear. The coolest part was watching the embryo go into my uterus. We got to watch the entire process, which took about two minutes, on a screen and we left with our first photo. Following the transfer we had another waiting period. Lots of waiting with IVF and really the entire process so be prepared to find some patience and inner peace to keep from going nutty!! About 10 days later we went in for blood work and received a phone call that afternoon that we were pregnant!!!
I will never forget that phone call. We were sitting in Chris's truck and it was the week of his birthday. Very ironic because just two years ago we were experiencing similar feelings when I found out I was pregnant the first time around at the exact same time. I still wake up some mornings and can't believe this is happening. We waited until I was about 8 weeks along before telling our family, just to make sure we were closer to being in the clear of another miscarriage. Now the world knows and I am happy to finally share the journey that got us to this point. It was a long and winding road, but worth every step!