Friday, April 24, 2015

NIAW "You Are Not Alone" - Mrs. E's Story

***April 19-25, 2015 is National Infertility Awareness Week and the theme this year is "You Are Not Alone". I am taking part by sharing stories from women that I personally know who have experienced infertility first hand. Did you know that 1 in 6 couples experience some form of infertility? Someone you know is probably struggling with infertility and you may or may not even know, since it is often a taboo subject. Help break the silence and raise awareness by sharing these posts on social media or with friends and family. For more information about NIAW, please click here. This post is the fifth in my 2015 NIAW "You Are Not Alone" series. To see more stories, scroll to the bottom of this page for links.***  

When Jenn asked me to write my ”fertility story,” the first thing that came to mind was how my story is so much more complicated than that, and that I’m unfortunately not alone in feeling that way. My story is not just about infertility, but about loss, fear, and grief.

We started TTC in September 2011. In January 2012, I found out I was pregnant. Looking back, that was the best day of my life. I was so happy. I bought cute little baby socks, and a card in which I wrote “Congratulations, Daddy!” and gave them to my husband. He smiled, laughed, hugged me, yelled “It worked!” and we started planning for our new baby. 

Six weeks later, I had a tiny bit of spotting. I called the midwife, who told me to stop worrying. But I couldn’t. I felt in my heart that something was wrong. I went in for an ultrasound, where they kept telling me spotting is normal. But when the doctor was looking at the screen, she wasn’t smiling. ”I see a sac,” she said, “but it’s not eight weeks.” The sac was empty. I cried. My husband and I grieved. ”This is common,” they said, “it’ll work the next time.”

Grief turned to fear a few days later when I found out the empty sac was right at the entrance to my left tube. They said I might need surgery, but that I could try a methotrexate injection first. But they had to admit me overnight, in case I started bleeding to death. Now, not only did we lose our baby, but my life was threatened. Fortunately, the methotrexate worked and I did not, obviously, bleed to death.

After having to wait for six months, we were able to try again. It took eight months, but in February 2013 I was pregnant again. This time, we thought, will be different. At first, my betas looked good. But after a few weeks, we saw that the sac was empty yet again. This time, it was less complicated, but I still had to take medicine to induce the miscarriage since my body wasn’t taking care of it. It was painful, physically and emotionally. We had to cancel a vacation to go to the hospital and miscarry a baby. ”Next time,” they said, “it will work.”

After that loss, they ran some tests, and realized my uterus was a little bit heart-shaped. Long story short, I had three hysteroscopies and they removed most of what was a septum, hoping that would solve the problem, but it didn’t. I stopped one of my medications I was taking, hoping that would solve the problem. But it didn’t. I went to see an RE (reproductive endocrinologist), and we ran some more tests, but everything looked ok.

In December 2013, I found out I was pregnant again. A few weeks later, an ultrasound showed nothing in my uterus. I started bleeding a few days later.

In March 2014, I was pregnant yet again. An ultrasound showed a small, empty sac. I started bleeding a few days after that, too.

All this time, the doctors kept reassuring us that since we were able to get pregnant “so easily”, we should be grateful for that and that, eventually, it will work out. However, a year went by, and I didn’t get pregnant again, despite doing everything in my power to time things optimally. Back to the RE we went. We tried an IUI cycle, which ended with me getting my period 10 days after ovulation (way earlier than ever before), and no pregnancy.

Then we tried IVF, which resulted in my ovaries responding too much and producing too many follicles. After an excruciatingly painful few days, the end result was a cancelled transfer and 4 embryos in the freezer. We are currently in the process of trying to transfer one of those before I move across the world (and my husband can’t join me for another six months or so), making this our last chance for a very long time. If this doesn’t work, it’ll be at least another six months before we can even try the old-fashioned way (which obviously doesn’t work for us).

In the meantime, it seems like all of my friends have had babies. Many have joked about how easy it was to get pregnant. Many have complained about how awful it is to be pregnant. Many have complained about how terrible life is with a newborn. Many have told me how lucky I am that I don’t have kids.
In the meantime, my brother-in-law has met a girl, proposed to her, married her, and has (almost) had a baby less than a year after getting married.

In the meantime, I have been asked several times a week when I’m going to have kids, or why I don’t have kids yet, or don’t I know it only gets harder when I get older? I am 30 after all, it’s time to start thinking about kids! I have been told by my father, who I love dearly and am very close to, that I wasn’t “really pregnant” since the sac was empty. 

In the meantime, I have faced tougher challenges than I ever thought imaginable. In less than four years, I have lost four babies, none of which were ever more than empty sacs. My body has been through hell and back. It has been tough on our marriage, especially since we grieve in different ways. I do believe I am a stronger person after having gone through all this, but it is certainly not worth it. The devastation I have felt, and still feel every day, has left irreparable scars on my heart.

In the meantime, my heart hurts every day. Every time I see a pregnant woman. Every time I see a baby. Every time I see the hurt in my husband’s eyes. Every time we hit yet another setback. I hate that I feel jealousy towards pregnant women and mothers, but I can’t seem to make it go away. I want to feel nothing but happiness for my pregnant friends, but all I can seem to feel is hurt and emptiness.

This experience has completely changed me. Instead of squealing with happiness when a friend announces her pregnancy, I have to excuse myself to the bathroom to go cry. Instead of happily discussing baby names for hypothetical babies with a friend, I quickly change the subject. Instead of talking about “when” I have kids, I talk about “if.” I have hit rock bottom, crying uncontrollably on the floor from grief and physical pain in the middle of a miscarriage, unable to be consoled by my husband. 

One of the hardest things for me to deal with has been the feeling of letting my husband down. He wants to be a father just as much as I want to be a mother. And yet, I keep losing our babies. And now I can’t even get pregnant. I feel like a failure as a woman, a wife, and a mother, and that just adds another layer of pain.

I think everyone dealing with infertility/pregnancy loss asks themselves the same questions over and over again: What did I do to deserve this? When is it going to be my turn? I certainly ask myself those questions all the time. I try to focus on the positive things in my life. I really do have a lot to be thankful for. I have a wonderful husband, a strong marriage, an awesome career that is just taking off, and a loving family. But I want a baby more than anything. So I just keep hoping. That one day, maybe, just maybe, it will be my turn.

If you would like to read more about my journey, please fee free to take a look at my blog, Adventures Abound Abroad.


2015 NIAW "You Are Not Alone" Series

Katie's Story
J's Story

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I can't even begin to imagine the pain and heartache you have been through and still go through.