K’s Birth Story – Part 1 – Our (in)Fertility JourneyPosted by Moira on Jun 19, 2013 in Fertility, Pregnancy & Birth | 1 comment
Our (in)Fertility Journey
After 22 months, it is probably time to finish putting our son’s birth story down on paper. It was such a long journey, that his birth story would not be complete without rewinding to December 31, 2006…
Over champagne at nearly midnight I looked at Nate and said that I really wanted to have a baby. I thought we were ready and had overcome some of the big hurdles in figuring out how to be married. At that point we had been married for 2.5 years and had worked really hard at our marriage. Nate was stunned to say the least, but he smiled and said that sounded great. We pitched the birth control, patiently waited 3 months like the OB requested to give my body a shot at normalizing it’s hormones and then April 14 we started “trying”. At the end of that cycle I rushed out, just sure I would be pregnant, bought a test and learned the hard way that it doesn’t always happen the first time around. Nate didn’t know I had bought the test, but I fessed up later.
We kept trying to conceive, Nate kept working to support our family, and I kept working on my dissertation, but month after month we were not blessed with conception. By the following January (2007) I was getting antsy and nervous. We went to see the “reproductive guys”, as we have now called them for 6 years, and after some conversations and a ton of bloodwork we figured out my hormones were out of whack. Ok, easy fix right? Take some Clomid and off we go to spend “quality time” together. It turns out that Clomid was not my friend…nor were many of the medications we tried along our journey. We stayed pretty minimal with our interventions until October of 2007. That month I had surgery and we figured out a big part of the problem was endometriosis. Endometriosis is something that isn’t curable and greatly decreases fertility. In a way, the diagnosis was terrific, we now understood the battle we were facing and were open to the idea of adoption if we didn’t conceive. We tried a hyped up set of medications and I grew a gazillion follicles (remember the goal is one baby in the belly at a time which means just one follicle is needed). That cycle was a bust and we celebrated another New Year’s wishing that this next year (2008) would bring us the joy of growing our family.
We tried a different hyped up version of what we tried after the surgery, and then went on vacation to Disney World. It was at the happiest place of earth that we figured out our latest attempt wasn’t successful.
We called our amazing nurse, Amy, and she expressed her genuine disappointment and told us to go have fun and drink some wine! On our drive back we talked about the fact that we were done with medical interventions for a while, this last attempt cost us (get ready to open your eyes wide) a whopping $3,000. The day after we got home (February 18) I started charting my temperature again and realized that it was pretty high for being at the beginning of a cycle. I called Nate and told him to go buy a test that I thought I was pregnant. Sure enough, shaking and crying I showed Nate the “Pregnant” word on the test. I called Amy and told her my great news. She was very surprised and we started the bloodwork to see how the pregnancy was progressing. The numbers came back and were low but we weren’t supposed to lose hope yet, we went back a couple of days later and realized that this pregnancy wasn’t viable. To make it worse, we had an ectopic pregnancy that could lead to emergency surgery for me. On February 28, 2008 we made the painful, but necessary decision to end the pregnancy. This day was filled with so many emotions. After that doctor’s visit we went to see my best friend, Hailey, in the hospital to welcome her first child. He came in to this world just one day before our baby became an angel. What should have been the hardest thing to do, walking into her hospital room and smiling, turned out to be the easiest and best thing that could have happened. Despite her own traumatic and scary birth experience she hugged me, her husband hugged me, and I spent the next 6 months healing by helping her care for her son. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent holding her beautiful boy without a moment’s heartache. I’m not sure how we would have gotten through those months without their openness to including us in raising their own family.
Nate and I spent a long time grieving and trying to heal. At the same time I defended my dissertation, graduated with my Ph.D., we celebrated our fifth anniversary, and I started my first “real” job. By the time November 2008 rolled around we were kind of ready to try again, but weren’t willing to risk conceiving on our own so we tried IVF. I produced tons of follicles, but only a handful fertilized and none were a good quality. On New Year’s Eve we found out we weren’t pregnant and were once again at a loss of what to do and how to heal. We were running out of time – the endometriosis was coming back.
We didn’t try again until May of 2010. We decided to give IVF one more shot. We finally had insurance coverage with minimal out-of-pocket costs. This time, we decided to pair traditional medicine and IVF protocols with acupuncture. The first acupuncturist I tried was, in a word, awful. Nate felt strongly that this was really something that could be beneficial so we tried the person our reproductive guys recommended. Kathryn was AMAZING! When you walk into her office she exudes peace, genuinely cares about you, and wants to make your experience as relaxing and fulfilling as possible. She was a blessing in a time when we were feeling pretty low. I thank God that Nate pushed me to try another acupuncturist. If you keep reading, you’ll find out that without her, our son probably wouldn’t be here and you wouldn’t be reading this lengthy preamble to his birth story. We paired acupuncture with the IVF cycle and had amazing success. Lots of follicles, the follicles fertilized, we transferred two beautiful babies, and we ended up with 6 frozen embryos. The only thing is that we didn’t get pregnant…again. Everyone was shocked – the doctors, the nurses, the embryologists, Kathryn, and us. We went into mourning, avoided our friends even more, and tried to regroup.
We met with Dr. Forstein (one of our reproductive guys) and we made plans for a frozen embryo transfer in March of 2011 – about 6 months in the future. My last question for him during that appointment was whether or not he actually thought we could get pregnant. He said yes, and he truly meant it. After a couple of months I went back to Kathryn – we needed a new plan – one that didn’t involve reproductive medicine just yet. We had those 6 frozen embryos, but I was tired of being a pincushion. She suggested that we tried acupuncture combined with herbs. Nate and I discussed it and agreed that we would give it a shot. Our first cycle was good, but still no success. We tried again, I ate/drank only warm foods, put cinnamon on anything cold that I wanted to consume, kept my feet warm (we even trained the dog to sit on them to keep them warm), did nightly foot baths in warm water, and we waited. A day or two after Christmas I thought I was pregnant (now we have been there before, I would be embarrassed to tell you how many pregnancy tests I wasted between April of 2006 and Christmas of 2010). I tested, without Nate’s knowledge – after all I was embarrassed that yet again I crumpled and bought tests – and thought it was positive. It is surprisingly hard to decide if there are two lines when you desperately want to see two lines. I rushed to the store and bought a digital test. It was negative. For some reason I just wasn’t convinced. I waited another day and tried again. Still negative. As we were watching the ball drop on December 31, 2010 I fessed up to Nate that I had tested and they were negative. He looked at me and said “tomorrow is a new day and a new year, try again, you never know.” I tested the next morning and guess what? It was a new day, it was a new year, and the test was positive. Even now, writing this, I am crying – it was an amazing moment and a scary moment.
We called the doctor – yes you get to call reproductive guys on New Year’s Day, any day of the year in fact and get called back within 20 minutes. We went for bloodwork the following morning. Susan, the nurse on duty, had gone through our ectopic with us, and was excited for us and nervous with us. The chances of another ectopic are super high especially given my endometriosis. Everything came back looking good and continued to look good and I started on my blood thinners that would keep us safe during the pregnancy. We didn’t tell anyone about the pregnancy, not a single soul. We just couldn’t share until we knew more. We couldn’t do that to our family and friends again.
We told my parents just before we celebrated Nana’s 90th birthday, morning sickness hit that same weekend (of course Nana figured out we were pregnant, but we lied and said I had a migraine), and then on January 21, 2010 we had the ultrasound. The ultrasound that would tell us if our baby was nestled in safe and sound or if we were in for more heartache. Nate and I couldn’t breathe we were so nervous. The ultrasound tech started the ultrasound and within seconds we heard our son’s beautiful heartbeat. Strong and steady. I, of course, was crying. The tech looked at us, smiled, and said that she had turned it up so loud because the doctors and nurses were all out in the hallway listening. You see after being in their office day in and day out for years they are like family. They hurt when you hurt; they hug you, offer comfort, and offer hope when you can’t find any way to be hopeful anymore. Dr. Miller came in the room and listened to the heartbeat. He looked a little more closely and we figured out that I have ovulated from the side of the ectopic pregnancy. This baby had already fought through scar tissue to implant in just the right spot. We went back for several more ultrasounds, and were finally released from the reproductive guys at 10 weeks. For the first time since 2006 I was going to an “ordinary” OB, I was going to be “normal”. Except, how can you be normal after all of that? You can’t and we weren’t. Here starts our son’s birth story…(part 2)