The journey to having children for us was a long one. It began after a year of unsuccessful trying on our own. It led us to one doctor and eventually to a second. (The first clinic was geared more for older, richer people than us... one cycle of IVF cost $20,000 at that clinic!) We found our beloved "clinic", Cooper Institute through my sister. She happened upon a flyer while in PA school advertising current research studies for IF treatments. I called that day.
In a complete whirlwind we were enrolled in a study for a new medication doing IUI's. IUI's are IntraUterine Insemination. It's where the woman takes medications to stimulate the growth of follicles and the man gives a sperm sample which is "washed" and inserted into the uterus. We did this procedure three times and all three were unsuccessful. I responded reasonably well to the medication but it just didn't work. Each cycle was worse than the last emotionally. All of the hope and excitement with the first begins to vanish each time it doesn't work.
It was then time to move on to IVF. We were so incredibly nervous about IVF. It's expensive. It's difficult. It has side-effects and risks and shots that you have to give to yourself. It's not for the faint of heart. We did our first cycle of IVF in May of 2006. When I read my old blog posts (you can see them through archives on the right sidebar) I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I read about my nerves and my excitement. I wish I could go back in time and give my "then self" a huge hug. All that stress...
Anyway, I was SO excited. I KNEW it was going to work. I could feel it in my bones. I knew this was going to be it. My cycle went perfect. I could not have asked for a more routine experience. But, sadly, it didn't work. I can't really explain why but when that cycle failed I felt like I died. I felt like every hope and dream and wish for the future was gone forever. I didn't want to try again. I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning. It all felt like it was over.
But, as we always do we picked ourselves off, brushed ourselves off and got back in the saddle. In June of 2006 we did a Frozen Embryo Cycle (FET) with the remaining embryo's from our first cycle. That cycle was a disaster. My body didn't respond well. The embryo's didn't look great. It was the opposite of the 1st cycle. But... It worked! I was pregnant. From the beginning my numbers were shaky but still I was pregnant. I was over the moon. I felt like I was walking on air. For a couple of weeks I was the happiest woman on earth. Then it crashed and burned. I has a blighted ovum.
Now I was really DONE. I was being tortured and it was obvious to me that I was not meant to have children. Could there be any clearer way for God to tell me to just stop trying. It was a very dark time in our lives. It was the most depressed I have ever felt in my life. Thinking about it now still shakes me to the core. I have never been so sad and so hopeless before.
It took a while to realize that this was the horrible process of IF and for some women it was ugly and horrible and ate a little of your soul each cycle. No one told me that part.
In September we were ready again. It took a very long time to feel like we could put ourselves out there enough to try. We did a fresh cycle and it went okay. Not great, but okay. I over-responded to the medications and was in a lot of pain. My body didn't create good follicles so we didn't get that many eggs. At that point I didn't really believe it would happen for us so it was just like going through the motions.
Two days before Halloween (when my beta was scheduled) I took a test. I knew it would be negative and I wanted to just rip off the band aid and get it over with. I. WAS. SHOCKED. I looked at the test and saw two faint lines and I started to shake. I didn't know what to do. I went for my beta TWO DAYS later (those were two very long days) and my numbers were very high (391... I was only at 27 at that point in my last pregnancy). I found out two weeks later that I was not just pregnant but having TRIPLETS. I nearly passed out at that news.
We lost Baby C at the end of the first trimester and it was very sad. We had a heartbeat one week and did't the next.
So that's our story. It was long and painful and even though we have our "happy ending" you don't live through all of that loss and pain and suffering without it taking a toll. The wonderful thing about surviving all of that is that it teaches you to have true empathy and compassion. You no longer struggle for words when someone you know suffers a loss or a setback. You learn when you need words and when you need to say nothing. You learn that sometimes a hug is all you can offer. You learn that in life you truly must take the ups with the downs.
It's been a long road but I like where I am standing.