The first time around it was over 2 years. All of the failed attempts were so difficult; living life in two-week increments became the norm—first, waiting to ovulate and then waiting and hoping to see that elusive second line on the home pregnancy test. I lived this way for nearly a year with no luck, and then pursued fertility treatments with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) for a little more than the next year.
My husband and I learned all about the alphabet soup of making a baby: IUI, IVF (with or without ICSI) and PGD were all things we had to consider. I have no problem speaking in acronyms with my RE or ObGyn anymore (see what I did there!?). It seemed the whole world was getting pregnant, I couldn’t walk to the subway station in the morning without seeing at least 8-10 baby bumps (yes, I counted).
First step at the RE was IUI (think turkey baster ). We tried nine IUI cycles which took a little over a year’s time. One chemical pregnancy, and no other success, we decided it was time to move forward onto IVF (sperm meets egg in a petri dish—very romantic). It took us a very long time to agree about pursuing IVF. I was always on board, because it seemed to be the most efficient method of getting pregnant; my husband had a more difficult time philosophically.
He spent a long time considering his views about the creation of life in a lab and mostly about his comfort level messing with the process. He finally agreed and we started. Six weeks later . . . BINGO, I was pregnant on our first IVF attempt and we were even able to store three embryos in the freezer to grow our family later on–very lucky girl! Next, we waited to see whether I was pregnant with one or two little darlings.
Much to our surprise at the first ultrasound, there were three little blinking heartbeats in there—babies A, B, and C—turns out, one of the embryos divided into a set of identical twins. While we were thrilled and terrified, the doctors were not happy with the risk associated with a triplet pregnancy, especially where an identical twin set was involved. From the beginning, we were prepared for the possibility that this would not end well for all or some of these little ones. I was completely numb and didn’t really have any emotion about potentially having three babies at one time.
I ultimately lost the twin set at around 9 weeks but remained pregnant with one embryo—Baby B-my little guy, Chase. In the midst of all this I developed a rare complication from the IVF medication which resulted in several blood clots in some major veins in my neck. I had to inject blood thinners twice a day for the rest of the pregnancy to protect myself from a pulmonary embolism and protect the baby from a blood clot in the umbilical cord.
As I reflect on all of this, I realize how stressful it was, but at the time I was so focused on keeping appointments and trying to keep my medical life under wraps at work, I didn’t dwell on the details. Once the clots were diagnosed and managed, I had an uneventful pregnancy and a fabulous delivery—with only three pushes, nine minutes later—Chase was born!
The first year of his life was the greatest of mine. After Chase’s first birthday, we decided to try for baby number two. We were hopeful that it would be less of a struggle the second time around, but it hasn’t been the case. We’ve been on the fertility merry-go-round for the past 20 months. We used two of our frozen embryos (affectionately known in our house as the totsicles ) and have gotten pregnant “spontaneously” once (although I can tell you there was nothing spontaneous about achieving that pregnancy!).
I have had two miscarriages resulting in D&C’s both times. With one pregnancy I was more than 10.5 weeks along and had seen and heard the baby’s heart beating twice on ultrasound. My husband and I have had a full work up of testing, and it all comes back fine. So what now? With an official medical diagnosis of “bad luck” we just keep trying. I am committed to being a mom again and am willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that dream.
In the beginning of the quest for my second child, I was able to deal with the failed attempts and the losses pretty well. I was sad, but thankful for the family that I have and for the fact that we are all healthy and love each other. I didn’t want to sound greedy and pity myself over an early miscarriage or two. But now, as the months turn to years, and all of my friends are having their second and third babies I’m starting to feel the strain of the grief.
Recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility are very lonely and isolating problems, and they are not really a subject that is discussed in polite company, after all. I grieve for all of the estimated due dates that never turned into birthdays for my children. I’m sad for the fact that I will never truly enjoy the first moment I realize I am pregnant because I know all too well that pregnancy doesn’t always work out the way you planned.
I wonder how much longer I can handle this gracefully and smile though pregnancy announcements (even those on Facebook are a killer sometimes), buying new baby gifts for friends and the myriad of baby bumps that are staring me in the face again (they only get to me when I want one for myself, I guess!). While I am truly happy for people I love getting pregnant, it highlights my own struggles and that part makes me sad.
I want another child for myself, sure, but mostly I want one for Chase. I want to see him bounding down the hallway in the maternity wing wearing his brand new “big brother” tee shirt and sitting with me in the hospital bed to meet his new sibling. I want him to have the special relationship that only siblings share.
I also want another baby for my husband who is such a great dad. It’s back to IVF for us in the new year. We will use our last embryo and keep our fingers crossed that this little one is our golden egg (pun intended!). I do believe that I will be a mom to another baby, I’m just finding it hard waiting . . . . again.
Do you have any words of encouragement for Allison or can you relate to her journey?
This is an original World Moms Blog post by Allison Charleston of New York, USA.
Photocredit of woman waiting to http://www.flickr.com/photos/w00kie/225861208/. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.