Erica | Infertility Story
From a young age, I always had a strange fear that I would have trouble getting pregnant. Maybe it’s because it was my greatest desire to be a mother and therefore it became my greatest fear that it wouldn’t happen.
After a year of marriage, I started to nudge Shane about wanting to have a baby. At that point, we decided we wouldn’t actively try to have a baby, but we wouldn’t avoid it either. We thought, “Oh, it will just happen when it’s supposed to”. Within that first year, it didn’t “just happen” and my biggest fear became a reality.
Soon after, at one of my regular OBGYN appointments they noticed that my thyroid seemed enlarged and they sent me to an endocrinologist for some testing. They diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s. My TSH was still completely normal; however, I had very high antibodies in my body and she told me I would most likely, eventually become hypothyroid. I told the doctor I was trying to conceive so she prescribed me levothyroxine to see if it would help. Needless to say, it didn’t help and that’s when the worry really set in. The doctor told me the diagnosis was probably not related to my infertility and recommended I see an infertility specialist to see if there were other issues going on.
I felt kind of silly going to see an infertility specialist when I was only 26 years old. I did about a month of testing and everything came back completely normal! In a way, I almost wanted them to find something so I had some sort of answer. Finding out that nothing was wrong actually made it more difficult.
The doctor recommended that we try intrauterine insemination (IUI). For this procedure, a sperm specimen is given and then washed and placed inside the uterus to hopefully fertilize. She said that because of our ages and the fact that everything seemed normal, we would have a good chance of it working. We did our first IUI in November of 2013. I took a medication called Clomid and was closely monitored through ultrasounds to find the optimal time to trigger a mature egg and then I would go in for the IUI. I was hopeful during this first month of treatment because I knew I was a good candidate because they didn’t find anything wrong with my body. As far as I knew everything went according to plan, but a few weeks later when I took the blood test, it came back negative for pregnancy. The first day of bad news is always the worst. You feel such loss at what could have been. On top of that, you get your period and your emotions get the best of you.
The doctor said that my lining was thin this time and that it sometimes happens with Clomid so the next month we did another medication called Femara. Everything looked wonderful that cycle, which gave me even more hope! Still, my blood test came out negative. This was the most difficult thing by far that I have ever gone through. Mostly because every few days you are going in for appointments and you can’t help but have it on your mind. One moment I had such a positive outlook on the whole thing and the next I had such gripping fear. I was an emotional wreck and it was definitely taking it’s toll on me. On top of that, I was feeling so guilty for Shane having to deal with my emotional instability. I also felt guilty about not being content with my life. I knew that there are so many people out there who go through so much worse.
In January we decided to try one last time. This was one of those times where I felt like everyone was having babies but me. I have always been extremely happy for people when they share the good news but for anyone that has gone through infertility, you can’t help but feel so much pain when it keeps happening to others but not to you. My niece was almost a year old at this time, who I absolutely adored, my younger sister just had a baby and my other sister was about to have a baby. It felt like life just skipped over me. This cycle I took Femara and I tried Follistim injections because I just couldn’t take another disappointment. Again, my blood test came out negative after everything looking textbook perfect. I was so down on myself at this point, that I just knew the test would be negative. My hope was gone and I felt completely out of control. I didn’t feel like anyone understood or could relate to what I was going through.
At this point the doctor could sense my frustration and recommended that we look into IVF. I couldn’t believe that I was 26 years old and having to think about doing IVF. I knew several others who tried for several years to get pregnant and when they were just looking into IVF, boom, they got pregnant! I was just waiting and waiting for this to happen to me. I had seen and believed for God to do so many miracles in others, and I couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t just perform this miracle for me. Writing this has been tough for me because I knew/KNOW that God can perform these miracles but going through this experience really tested my faith. James 1:2-4 was what I held onto, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance if fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing”.
Shane and I decided to take a break from treatment because we couldn’t afford IVF and I just couldn’t handle it emotionally. We decided to make a life change and move to Texas. Honestly, I think we just needed something to keep our mind off things and it did for awhile.
We got settled in Texas and Shane got a job with an airline and we started to travel a lot (almost every weekend). It was really good for us to have this time together and it definitely kept our minds occupied and away from our obvious desire to still have children. Although it was always in the back of my mind, we waited until December of 2014 to see a new infertility specialist. This time we knew that we didn’t want to waste time and we wanted to go straight into IVF. I had very high hopes this time, thinking IVF has to work!
At the end of January, I started birth control, which was the first step in preparing for IVF. I took it for two cycles and then began injections in mid February. I had no idea what I was in for. I started the additional injections at the end of February and they kept an eye on my follicles through ultrasounds. Finally, retrieval day came! They give you anesthesia for this and you sleep for about a half an hour while they go in and retrieve all follicles. They retrieved 25 eggs on March 11, 2015! 14 were mature and 13 fertilized. By the end of it all, we had 6 embryos, that all looked great. Five days after the retrieval they are supposed to do the embryo transfer. However, because I had so may follicles, they told me that I needed to wait until next month until my body calms down to do the transfer. I was so disappointed. We had waited and waited for this day and to be told you have to wait some more is a lot to handle in a moment like this.
On April 15, 2015 (over a month later!) I went in for the frozen embryo transfer. We decided to transfer 2 embryos because we were so done waiting and wanted to increase our chances as much as we could. A week later, not thinking anything would come up either way, I took a pregnancy test and it was finally POSITIVE! I started jumping up and down and couldn’t control my excitement because for the first time, after so many pregnancy tests and disappointments, the words PREGNANT appeared on the test! A few days later, I had my blood test and it also confirmed that I was in fact pregnant! I told my family right away and I couldn’t believe my dream was finally coming true!
3 days later, I went in for an additional HCG test to confirm that my pregnancy was progressing. I had to wait until the next day to get the results and when I finally got a hold of them, the sweetest nurse ever, had to break the news to me that I was going to lose the baby. Trying to hold onto all hope, I asked if one of the embryos could still be there but she said that it could have only been one due to my levels. I was a mess and I left work and cried the whole way home and didn’t know how I was going to make it through this. My biggest fear was that it would never happen and something was seriously wrong with my body.
I just wanted to try again after a few days because I knew we still had more embryos. They started me on birth control right away and I had to wait almost two months to try again. It felt like so long before the day finally came. I went into this next cycle guarded and without expectation. I had been so let down so many times and didn’t know how I would handle it again.
On June 10, 2015, I went back for another frozen embryo transfer and we decided to transfer 2 embryos again, just like last time. A week later, I took a pregnancy test and it said pregnant again! This time it was one that told you how many weeks it had been since you probably ovulated and it said 3-4 weeks. I knew this couldn’t be possible because I just had the transfer the week before. My confidence grew a little bit because I knew the HCG levels had to be high. I went in a few days later for my HCG test and this time it came back at 670! The time before it was only 60. The nurses shared that I was probably pregnant with twins! I went back three days later and this time my levels were over 2000! I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t help but be ecstatic but after everything we’ve been through up until this point, my first reaction was to be guarded because I didn’t want to get hurt again! So for the next 2 weeks all we could do was wait for the ultrasound.
At 5 weeks and 6 days, I went in for my first ultrasound and we saw not 1, not 2, but 3 sacs!! I was in total shock and in such confusion as to how this could have happened because we only transferred two embryos! The doctor shared that either one of our embryos split and there would be two identical and one fraternal or only one embryo implanted and split into three, creating three identical! He said there was a 1-2% chance of this happening! It was still early and we couldn’t really see anything yet or hear heartbeats so they told us to wait a week and half and come back. I was in total awe at what was happening and from the moment I saw those three sacs, I began to pray over each one of them. At 7 weeks 3 days, we went in for another ultrasound and heard 3 healthy heartbeats!
I share this story with you because I know that there are so many people out there struggling with infertility or you can relate to having a suffocating fear about something in your life. . God has shown me His faithfulness through this process and has done immeasurably more than I ever could have asked or imagined! Here are some verses that I hope comfort you and help you find peace.
Phillipians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Romans 5:3-5 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope in salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
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