Author’s Note: I have sat on this blog post for a while, and finally decided to post it. It’s rough and leaves a lot out, and that’s not usually my style, but it’s here if you need it.
As open as I am, there was a part of my life where I couldn’t tell barely anyone about what was going on. After almost a year of trying, we realized we couldn’t get pregnant. As a woman, having trouble doing something that your body is supposed to do, made to do, is a horrible feeling. It makes you hate yourself, and it can strain your relationships due to the stress and pressure. Aren’t you supposed to fall in love, get married, then start your family? I sure wanted to. We tried, and each month nothing happened. I would spend half the month waiting to ovulate, and half the month thinking I might be pregnant. Month by month time went by, no positive tests. I sought out and I began to go to therapy. My life felt like it was falling apart. I felt like a failure, and nothing was good enough. These were really, really tough times. I needed help beyond therapy.
At a friend’s recommendation, we went to see a fertility specialist at the Reproductive Science Center of NJ. Dr. Bromer was our doctor and sometimes our therapist. Together we quickly figured out that IVF (in vitro fertilization) would be needed to have a good chance at getting pregnant, and I started processing what I was about to go through to bring a child in to this world. The month before starting the IVF process we tried Clomid, a drug that helps you super ovulate to try and get pregnant. It didn’t succeed in getting me pregnant, but it was amazingly successful in turning me in to a crazy person with a bloated belly. I gained somewhere between 5 and 8 pounds in a month and was ready for it to be over. At the end of the month, we moved forward with the IVF procedure. The holidays were coming, and I was hoping pregnancy would be too.
Before I could blink an eye, my insurance sent me a box filled with the medications necessary to take just to get to the starting line. I opened the large box and methodically unpacked its contents. As I unloaded more, I began to unravel. By the time I had unpacked the entire contents, I was in hysterics. I was supposed to put all of these medications in to me in the next few weeks. How could I possibly handle all of it? What had I gotten myself into?
The first month of treatment was full of shots in my belly at the same time every day. There were morning meds and there were night meds. I am not and have never been a diabetic needing insulin, so the idea of injecting myself was incredibly frightening, but I got over it quickly. Over a few weeks, I some how evolved into more of a crazy hormonal mess and I had gained 8 more pounds. I combed the internet for support and found an amazing group that saved me. I also had close friends reach out to help, but even with all of this I felt alone. I didn’t want to talk to many people about what we were going through, so I isolated myself and gave myself the required injections.
The medications helped me to basically super ovulate, like I had done before. When I had cooked and the time was right, I went in for a procedure. They put me under anesthesia and harvested my eggs on December 14, 2011 and fertilized a bunch of them. The embryos were allowed to grow for 5 days before the blastocyst (a 5 day old embryo) was transferred back in to me. 2 embryos, one graded A- and the other B+, were transferred in to me on December 19, 2011, and I had to go home and be on complete bed red for 2 days. They would not put more embryos in to me due to the risk of carrying multiples, so that night me and my two little blastocysts went home and put our feet up. We weren’t allowed to get up for anything but the bathroom, so we watched a lot of reality TV and sloth documentaries (because sloths are so cute and funny and they didn’t make me cry!).
Christmas came and I was just on the brink of finding out if I was still pregnant or not. It was a welcome distraction from everything going on. I was so anxious and worried, I could barely enjoy the holidays. I remember my sister visited and had to leave the day after Christmas, so she would miss my first blood draw a few days later. On the 27th, I couldn’t wait any longer.
Were my hormones just up from the medication, or was I really pregnant? I didn’t even know how to process this. A couple days later, I went early in the morning to get my blood work. If you have ever passed a fertility clinic early in the morning and you’ve seen a line of women, they’re getting their blood drawn to see their hcg levels (the “pregnancy hormone”). If your hcg levels continue to rise exponentially, you’re pregnant. Mine rose, but very slowly at first, which is disheartening. Finally they began to double and triple and quadruple, and it was thought that I was pregnant with twins! We made our first ultrasound appointment with Dr. Bromer and there it is – one tiny, strong heartbeat! I couldn’t believe it, I was looking at my baby. It was nothing then, just a little oval with a fluttering heart beat right in the middle, but it was mine. I followed up with weekly ultrasound appointments until week 12 of my pregnancy, where I was turned over to my regular OB/GYN. It felt so strange to not be followed so closely, but it also felt like a graduation. I was a normal pregnant woman with a normal baby growing inside of me!
The rest of the pregnancy went by without a hitch, but I felt strange. It was my first pregnancy, my only, so I didn’t know how to feel, but because of its beginnings the whole thing felt very scientific. It also felt like it could be taken away at any point. I didn’t feel sad when I only saw one heartbeat instead of two, I felt relieved I wasn’t having twins. Then again, I felt guilty for feeling that way. The first trimester was daily blood draws with meticulous analyzing of my results. Compound that with the fact that I had an anterior placenta (in the front up against my belly button, totally normal but a bit more rare), which made me not feel the baby as easily, and it was a strange pregnancy. I wasn’t nauseous, I barely gained any weight, and I felt great. It wasn’t until Harry’s second day of life that I really felt like a mom. Writing that now makes me realize how crazy that is, but it’s the truth!
Let me tell you, even writing this blog and revisiting these dark times is so incredibly tough. Even after everything I’ve gone through with Harry, I would mark this as some of the toughest moments in my life. Most of that was compounded by being a fat, hormonal woman, but you get my drift. If you are reading this right now and you’ve gone through it too, I’m sorry for bringing it up. If you are currently going through it, I will discuss every detail I’ve left out with you or I’ll just listen, but either way I know how f’ing terrible it is and I feel for you, and I love you. There are wonderful message boards and support groups out there that got me through some terrible, terrible times. I joined Fertile Thoughts and loved it. I mostly trolled and read everyone’s info, and I felt really guilty after I got pregnant after try #1 as I watched so many others try and try again, but it really helped.
Many people ask me now if I’m going to have another baby. Isn’t it weird – you’re dating and you’re being asked when you’re getting engaged, when you’re engaged then when is the wedding, after the wedding when’s the baby, after baby #1 where’s baby #2, etc. I don’t know if we will ever have another child. Part of it is me struggling with having Harry and having a “normal” child. Part of it is waiting for genetic testing on Harry. I have to admit, a big part of it is never wanting to go through IVF again, but that thought lessens as time goes on. Who knows? Only time will tell. All I know is in 2011 something brought me to Dr. B, something linked me and that little embryo, and here I am with the most amazing little man in the whole universe. It was all worth it.