So I should start with a little background and introduction of myself and that man of mine. Trevor and I (Whitney) were married in June 2004. Although I hate the phrase, we started“trying to get pregnant” in 2006. I thought for sure since I am such a planner I would be able to plan this parental adventure pretty perfectly. I could get pregnant and have the baby shortly after or before Trevor graduated from the University of Utah. I have always wanted to be a mom, I am the favorite aunt (seriously) of all my nieces and nephews, I was a nanny after high school and I babysat a ridiculous amount from the age of 11 to 18. Being around kids has always been fun and easy for me and I knew I was meant to be a mom. But as we all know – we can’t assume we can plan everything. I mean infertility happens to other people, but not me. I mean, right? One of the most important things I have learned through our struggle with infertility is that you have to make the most of it and keep moving forward and find the humor where there might be none. Otherwise you will drive yourself even crazier.
I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at 19 and to get pregnant, I went off almost all my medications due to the dangerous affects they would have on the baby. Unfortunately, it has been 6+ years since I went off my stronger and more helpful medications. It turned out that when my husband, Trevor, was a baby, he had a surgery to repair a severe hernia but the surgeon was not very careful and inadvertently damaged the vas tube. In other words, he was essentially given a vasectomy – whoops. It took many tests (for both of us), time and money to find out that our only option to have biological children would be through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). IVF is an amazing process that is ridiculously expensive, exhausting, uncomfortable, and funny. (Yes, funny. One of the funniest questions I have ever been asked was at my first trans-vaginal ultrasound, “Would you like to place the probe?...Or would you prefer that I do it?...Um, you are the medical professional – let’s see if you can do it.)
Our biggest obstacle initially was the cost. Who has $12,000-$15,000 to pay upfront for the possibility to maybe get pregnant? But miracles do indeed happen. With the generosity of strangers, our family, and our savings, we were ready to move forward and try. It was all we could do. The next obstacle was obviously the emotional and then the physical toll. It started with a consultation, an initial medical evaluation and we were on our way. The doctors and staff are amazing, so thorough and genuine.
I should say that I am sure this process varies at different clinics but this is what we experienced at the Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine (UCRM). First, I attended an injection class so I could learn how to give myself the many shots this would entail. Then, as counter intuitive as it may seem I was put on birth control, which stopped my natural cycle so they could manipulate my ovaries and get everything to behave. Several weeks later, I started daily Lupron shots along with the birth control pills. Then I stopped the pills and just continued on with the daily Lupron shots. After another week I added daily FSH injections along with the Lupron. Poor Trevor had to take an antibiotic (I guess we both had to sacrifice). He did have to provide samples for freeze and store purposes as well. After a week of the Lupron and FSH shots, I went in everyday where they did an ultrasound to see how things were looking. When they liked what they saw they instructed me to give myself the HCG shot (and stop the Lupron and FSH) and return 2 days later for the egg retrieval. I am not going to lie, the retrieval is not particularly pleasant, but it is not horrible either. I started on an antibiotic the night before the retrieval and continued until the morning of the transfer. I also started on the progesterone shots the evening after the retrieval (these are the worst and use the biggest needle). They were able to get 7 eggs and were able to fertilize 4 of them and 2 survived to be transferred into my uterus.
I was then on bed rest for 5 days (I opted for the longer option) and continued with the daily progesterone shots (the progesterone shots continue for the first 6 weeks of pregnancy to try and ensure a hospitable uterus J), and stopped the antibiotic. We went in for a blood test 2 weeks later and we found out I was pregnant, but my numbers weren’t great. I went in the next day for another test and my numbers had doubled and continued to do so with subsequent tests that week. Things were looking good and we were hopeful. We went in for an early ultrasound 2 weeks later and unfortunately it was not good news. I was miscarrying or would shortly thereafter. It was possibly the worst day of our lives. We had put so much into this effort. So much prayer, love, thought, time, money, and hope all seemed wasted. We thought we had been tried and tested even before this. It was an awful time. Words of comfort were given by everyone around us, but most of these comments were (inadvertently) making things worse. Just a word of advice, when someone’s going through something like this, it doesn’t help to say “it just wasn’t meant to be” or “God has a plan, and it will work out in the end”. All I could think was that I failed somehow and it was my fault. Why was this so hard for us? It was a “righteous desire” and we would be amazing parents, but it wasn’t happening.
We didn’t know what to do next and felt lost and alone. We looked into getting the adoption process started, but that is expensive too and we all know that just because you want to adopt doesn’t mean you will be chosen. We tried not to think about it, and ended up adopting a kitten shortly after. We both prayed and fasted a lot about what we should do next. We didn’t know how we were going to be able to afford to try again or when we would be able to. Shortly after this I got a new job, which paid significantly more and had a lot more flexibility. I am still not sure how it happened, but 6 months after my miscarriage it was tax season and between our refund and my new job we had enough to pay for another IVF attempt. It still doesn’t make sense, but it worked out. We started this cycle very quickly in February 2011. They adjusted my doses this time and were able to get 14 eggs, 10 were fertilized, 2 were implanted and 4 embryos were frozen to hopefully use later.
This IVF was successful and while they thought we were having twins for a while we were blessed with our miracle baby girl November 29th. She is amazing and even though I have had a crazy post partum with multiple surgeries, sepsis, ICU adventures and more – it has been well worth it. By the way, these issues are not normal for IVF, I am just lucky, I guess. We don’t know what will happen with the remaining 4 embryos, but we feel so beyond blessed to have Bailey. It is worth it and you are not alone. Unfortunately, we are members of a large community who don’t talk about it enough. We need to comfort each other more and get through this infertility fun together – with faith, prayer and sometimes even a little laughter.