MY ADVENTURES WITH INFERTILITY
As October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I thought I should share my story.
My mom always said she got pregnant the minute she decided she wanted to have a child. So naturally I just assumed it would be as easy peasy for me. I apparently failed to factor in PCOS, stress, age and probably a myriad of other issues I am forgetting about right now. Sometimes being a woman sucks but don’t worry folks, this story has a happy ending! Read on to learn about my 7-year journey to becoming a mom.
I was 31 when we decided to start trying to get pregnant. It took about a year of trying and then we were overjoyed with the positive pee stick. Everything was looking great, I was feeling great and then I lost the baby at 12 weeks. We were devastated but hopeful. It had happened once and surely it would happen again, right? Not so much… After another year without success we started seeing a fertility specialist. Let me preface by saying that not all fertility specialists are created equal. This was the only specialist within a 100-mile radius of Grand Rapids, MI, where we were living at the time. It was a thriving practice but I rarely ever saw the doctor and the nurses were often extremely rushed and disorganized. Let’s just say that we spent a fortune and tried every possible option provided to us with very little result. I found that I was often researching and suggesting things to them rather than the other way around. I became frustrated when they kept trying the same thing month after month with no result and no suggestions for creative problem solving. They seemed happy to continue this indefinitely.
To add to our frustrations, they couldn’t find any reason why we weren’t conceiving – and let me tell you – they ordered (charged us for) just about every test imaginable. Hey, tongue depressors ain’t cheap, folks!
I started looking for alternative therapies to combine with my infertility treatments – everything from acupuncture to homeopathy. After one more early miscarriage and a chemical pregnancy, we heard the amazing news that I was expecting TWINS!!! We were beyond thrilled. Even though I was working a crazy job and on the road a ton, I did my utmost to stay calm, super healthy and low-stress. I was on a business trip in Chicago when I started spotting (during a huge presentation to senior leadership). I finished my presentation and calmly alerted my boss and security that I needed a ride to the ER. Once there I learned that one of the babies had died in utero. My wonderful husband drove through the night to pick me up so I wouldn’t have to fly home alone. While we were devastated, we were also hopeful as our doctor assured us that the other baby was just fine.
To add some fun to a stressful situation, we were in process of moving cross-country to Santa Barbara, CA for my husband’s new job. A week after the move we lost the second baby and I needed an emergency D&C. At this point I was utterly devastated and pretty darn despondent. Once we had gotten over the initial despair and my body had healed, we decided to look on the bright side. We were in a new place and had access to new doctors. We found a WONDERFUL fertility specialist in Santa Barbara. He was everything the other doctor was not – attentive, responsive and creative with options. He also diagnosed something none of my other doctors had ever mentioned – I had a number of uterine cysts that were – by the maxim of Sherlock Holmes that “when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth” – may be the cause of the miscarriages. He suggested surgery and my husband and I agreed. I healed and we started up with the IUIs. After several failed attempts we decided to get more aggressive and move on to IVF.
Open up the checkbook!
I should probably mention that during this time my husband and I had both lost our jobs and started our own marketing agency, Creative Butter. Money was tight so we figured we could afford to try IVF a maximum of two times. For anyone unfamiliar with the IVF process, it’s not for the faint of heart. I ended up having an allergic reaction to the progesterone shots and let me tell you, the results were extremely painful. We persevered and our egg retrieval was an overwhelming success – 43 viable eggs from one df! Damn, am I fertile!!!! So, fast forward to IVF first try with 2 day-five blastocysts…no success. While we were sad, we knew we had one more try. We decided to up the ante – our second IVF attempt included 3 day-five blastocysts combined with acupuncture immediately before and after the procedure. A week later we got the news – we were pregnant!!!!
We were thrilled but understandably gun-shy. We had been here before and didn’t want to get our hopes up. Also, we had been trying for so many years that I was now officially considered “geriatric” (must admit I almost punched the nurse in the throat when she said this to my face).
Fast forward again – though stressful due to all of the uncertainty, I had a wonderful pregnancy and an uneventful c-section birth (necessary due to the prior surgery). Happy ending alert – we are now the proud parents to an adorable, precocious and hilarious 2.5 year-old daughter. Let’s hope she gets a scholarship because we spent her college tuition bringing her into this world.
Worth. Every. Penny.
Before starting my journey I had no idea how common infertility and miscarriage is among women. My journey is personal and I share it in hopes of making sure others know they are not alone. Sometimes a “happily ever after” just takes a little longer.
Have you struggled with infertility? I’d love to hear your story and learn what you have tried and what has worked for you.
Carey Bradshaw, Author (& Nursing Aficionado)
Carey Bradshaw is a working mom just trying to balance it all. She runs Hooter Holster by Carey Bradshaw and Creative Butter. In her (scant) free time, she loves yoga, reading, volunteering with All for Animals, and just being outside in the sunshine. Carey lives in Santa Barbara with her husband and business partner, George, their volunteer therapy dog, Buttercup, and their rambunctious and lovable toddler.