Today, March 8, 2017, will be a day I remember for the rest of my life. Not because it was a good day but because it is the day that another piece of me was taken away.
Right now, I’m sitting at the end of the table where we used to have our medications, needles, gauze and alcohol wipes. I’m sitting here at an empty table after putting all those things away. In the Fall of 2016 my husband and I decided to try one last thing in our journey to starting a family. IVF was our last resort at having a child of our own. We have been trying to conceive for the last 4 years and 2 months. We tried naturally for almost 2 1/2 years and then moved on to IUI’s (intrauterine insemination). After 3 failed IUI’s with no explanation why, I had given up. That last negative pregnancy test in February 2016 was enough for me. We decided to get back to living our lives. We traveled a ton and lived without a care. I actually was able to put this baby thing in the back of my mind. I convinced myself that there was so much more to life than this struggle. We decided we would take some time off before making our next move. My husband and I have been together 9 years and been married for 5. Our life together is nothing short of perfect and I thank God for that blessing often. We do what we want and we are best friends. He is my perfect match and we are an incredible team. Last year we traveled a lot and we ended up in Italy. I’ve never really wanted anything more than to go to Italy and see where my family came from. And on our last night there, I couldn’t help but think that I lived an entire year trying to escape from the agonizing yearning to have a baby. I convinced myself that if I did enough, and saw enough and experienced enough, I would realize that I didn’t need kids. We could be happy without them. But on that last night it all came crashing down and my attempt at pushing it all back was met with overwhelming desire to continue to try.
So there we were, back at the fertility office in October 2016. It had been exactly one year since our first meeting there. We met with the doctor and went over our history. We discussed again how there were no issues with either one of us that should have prevented us from getting pregnant. It’s incredibly frustrating to have no answers. I left that day with new hope though because our chances of getting pregnant with IVF were so high. And I’m convinced that hope is the hardest part of all of this. You lose it and it’s devastating, but it always finds it’s way back to you and then you lose it again. It’s a never ending cycle of disappointment.
We started injections on November 30th and at that point I’m ready for whatever is going to come from this. Multiple injections in my stomach were no big deal. My husband gave shots like a pro. Twelve days and 23 shots later on December 11th I was in the waiting room with a huge belly and a ton of eggs that were ready to be retrieved. We had 16 eggs taken that day. The surgery wasn’t too bad but the aftermath wasn’t pleasant at all. I was in a lot of pain for 4 days. But that too went away. We found out that only 6 of those eggs were fertilized with my husbands sperm and all of them were frozen in order to let my body calm down and prepare for the transfer. I healed and the excitement of being this close to our baby was so overwhelming. There were 6 Aubrey/Chelsie’s in a freezer and we had the best chance yet at becoming parents.
Christmas passed and we started prepping for our frozen embryo transfer. I started Estrogen shots in my butt every 3 days. Then came the progesterone in oil shots every night. The needles are scary long and the first few days were rough. But again, I handled it. On January 31, 2017 we transferred two perfect embryos back into me and for the first time I was pregnant. Now we waited to see if they would “stick.” On February 9th, my 31st birthday, I saw my very first positive pregnancy test. The lines were dark and it was for sure a positive. I couldn’t believe that this was happening on my birthday. On February 13th the blood test confirmed it and on February 17th the blood test extra confirmed it. We were officially pregnant. It was kind of strange how both of us reacted. You’d think the excitement would be overwhelming but we were both so shocked and maybe still in disbelief. I pinned some things on Pinterest and talked with my sister about plans but other than that we went on with normal living. I obsessed at night with the details and after a couple weeks I was actually very excited.
On February 28th we had our first ultrasound. I never expected what was coming. I should have been 6 weeks 5 days but the baby was measuring 5 weeks 6 days and had no heartbeat. I tried to convince myself that it was just too early. I let other people convince me of that as well. But I knew it wasn’t right. And that night I cried in the bath tub, in bed and while watching TV. The next day I would randomly start to cry at work as I tried to hide my face at my desk so no one would notice. I grieved for 3 days and then I stopped. I let hope come back in. I read success stories that started off like mine. I convinced myself that the following Tuesday, we’d see something more.
Tuesday, March 7th came and as I laid on that table and looked at the same very small sac with a very small baby and no heart beat I knew it was over. No progress since last week. The baby had completely stopped growing at 5 weeks 6 days and just when we thought it was finally our turn, it wasn’t. I would have been 8 weeks pregnant tomorrow. But today I had surgery to remove what was left of our baby. Yesterday I was pregnant and today I’m not. The dull physical pain is a reminder of everything that’s happened in the last 3 months but the intense emotional pain will continue to be a reminder for longer than I can even predict. I tried really hard and now I’m really tired. I’m emotionally drained. Who knows what physical issues I’ve caused my body by filling it with hormones and other medicines. And this isn’t like any other miscarriage because we can’t just go and get pregnant again. It’s not that easy. There is so much time, money and medicine invested and the thought of doing it all over again is almost unbearable to think about. I am now in a bad place.
I come from a huge family full of cousins with kids. Every year it seems like we are welcoming multiple new babies into our family. And I’ve gotten past the bitter jealous part of infertility and I can now be happy for all those who get to experience such blessings. The announcements on social media don’t cut like they used too. Seeing my pregnant co-workers doesn’t create anguish anymore. But being in this position is not easy. It’s something I think about every day. And everyday I have to move past it. Infertility affects 1 in 8. I’ve connected with great women on Instagram who are all part of the TTC (trying to conceive community). They offer a sense of comfort that no one else can give me because they understand. No one can understand what this is like until they have lived it. Until they have begged God for it. Until they have laid on tables every week hoping for some good news. Until they have been poked with hundreds of needles. Until they’ve cried themselves to sleep because the one thing that comes so easy to others is impossible for them.
I’ve had such amazing family and friends with us through out this process. We had so many laughs, discussions about the future, cry sessions and pure happiness when we found out it was actually happening for us. I’ve appreciated every talk, every text and every bit of encouragement. Part of the reason I write this is to give you an explanation without having to talk about it. This too shall pass and I am no stranger to tragic endings. I’ll move on and we’ll keep moving forward. As my cousin in Italy wrote me just a few days ago after we talked about her infertility issues… “I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. This is life for better or for worse.” And it’s true. I hate sympathy and I don’t need it. I haven’t shared this part of us because I don’t really like the comments, the questions or the stupid pieces of advice from people who will never get it. So after you read this I hope you understand a little bit more about infertility and what people go through. I hope those who haven’t experienced infertility will keep their advice to themselves, because it’s almost always bad advice even though it probably comes from a good place. I hope that the people I interact with every day will understand what’s been going on in my life but won’t ask me about it. We now have many more decisions to make, and although I’m sad, I’m moving on. The reason I wrote this was so I could have some closure. Writing is my closure. And as I finish this last sentence, I’m wiping away tears and reminding myself that tomorrow will be a brand new day.