Sunday, April 6, 2014

Our (In)Fertility Journey - Part Four, Conclusion

Read "Part One" here.
Read "Part Two" here.
Read "Part Three" here.

Every part of the July cycle was exactly the same, except instead of doing timed intercourse, when I was ovulating Tim would go in and provide a sample. Then they would wash his sample, pulling out the strongest 5 million sperm from around 20-30 million to give us the best chances. I would go in and have his sample inserted, past my cervix and directly into my uterus with a catheter. The procedure itself took less than a minute and felt very similar to a pap smear with a bit more discomfort. I told the doctor to make sure to "aim left" since that's where my mature follicle was, he said he'd try! ;) Then they had my lie on the table for about 15-20 minutes, and then I was free to go about my normal activities. Two weeks after the procedure, I would take a pregnancy test to see if it worked.

My IUI happened to fall on the morning of the first day of Country Thunder (four day long country concert in Wisconsin), so as soon as the procedure was over, I spent four hours driving north to see the first night of performers. (Unfortunately, I took too long to get there & traffic was horrible, so I decided to skip the concerts and head back to my friend's cottage to relax). Thankfully, I was preoccupied all weekend, and of course very relaxed, which was nice because it kept my mind off of the fact that I could be growing a baby inside me!

Thirteen grueling days later (yes, I tested a day early - I couldn't wait!), I took a pregnancy test. Shortly after I took it, there was no second line (negative), so I threw it in the bathroom garbage can. A couple hours later, I went to use the bathroom and decided to pull the test out of the garbage and look at it again...just in case. To my surprise, there was a faint second line! I couldn't believe it! I thought for sure it was just an evaporation line because it had been a couple hours, but just to make sure I took another test. This time I followed the directions on the test and waited the entire five minutes before allowing myself back in the bathroom to look at it again. Longest five minutes ever! When I went back in....there were two pink lines!!!! I was absolutely shocked!! I called the fertility clinic to see if I could come in for blood work within the next day or two, and they told me that I could come in right then! So of course I hopped in the truck and drove there as fast as I legally could! :) A couple hours later, they called me back and told me that for a viable pregnancy, my hcg level should be above 20 and mine was 25. They said that we should be "cautiously optimistic" and come back in two days for a repeat blood test. So, in the meantime, I was trying to decide how to tell Tim. I didn't want to tell him over the phone because I wanted to see his reaction. I went to Target to buy him a new hamper (since his broke during the move - oh yeah, we had just moved into our first house a couple weeks prior) and I bought a St. Louis Cardinals onsie. I kept the onsie in the bag and put it in the hamper. When Tim got home and saw it, he was completely shocked! He said, "I didn't think about how I'd react when it actually did happen." Needless to say, we were extremely excited!

Two days later, the day of my bestie's rehearsal dinner, I went back to the fertility clinic first thing in the morning to get repeat blood work. They told me they'd call me in the afternoon with the results and then we'd go from there. When I got the call from the fertility clinic only an hour or two later, I knew something was up. The head nurse was on the other line and told me that my hcg level actually went down to a 19, which means that this was not a viable pregnancy (it should have at least doubled). They suspected that the egg probably fertilized, but never implanted. She explained that its extremely common and that if I wasn't being monitored so closely, I probably would have never known. This being a Friday, they wanted to see me back on Monday to make sure that my levels continued to drop and get back to normal. She suggested taking the month of August off from any treatment to let my body/hormones regulate, and then we'd try again in September. I was crushed. I had no idea what to say. I couldn't believe it. For the past two days I was on the biggest high of my life and it all came crashing down in that moment. When I got off the phone, I cried. I tried to compose myself enough to call Tim. I wasn't going to see him the rest of the weekend because I was going up for my friend's wedding and Tim had to work all weekend. I couldn't keep my composure on the phone with him for very long, and it was so hard doing it over the phone. I decided to pack up my things for the weekend quickly, stop by his work on the way up north and see him. I couldn't go all weekend without seeing him. I brought lunch and we sat in an empty apartment where he was working for the day, just wondering why it happened this way. *Looking back, I understand it's very common for women to miscarry (especially this early on), but at this time, I just couldn't wrap my mind around it.* Something we had been working so hard for years on, and wanting so bad, was just at our finger tips and ripped away from us. While I was with Tim, my CF doctor called me (I texted her to call me) and I told her the news. She was extremely understanding and was an amazing person to talk to about this. She reassured me that in the month of August, she would do everything she could to get me on Kalydeco because she really felt it would help me get healthier and might even help me get pregnant - this, at least, gave me a little something to look forward to. After Tim's lunch break, I headed up north, put on my happy face and watched my best friend get married! It was a great distraction, but it was still pretty difficult. Over the weekend, my period started, only about a day later than it would have typically, so the nurse was right - if I hadn't done any tests or blood work, I would have never known I was pregnant.

Looking back, it was actually pretty nice having the month of August off of any fertility treatments because the beginning of a school year is very busy and stressful. At the end of August, I started taking Kalydeco! When my cycle started at the end of August/beginning of September, I started another round of the same treatment. I was determined to do another IUI. We knew the procedure would work, we just had to try again! This month my mature follicle was on my right side - the side with no tube - so the chances of me getting pregnant were extremely slim, but I pushed for another IUI anyway. Not a huge surprise when it didn't work two weeks later, but I was still bummed. Tim and I agreed to not go through another IUI until my mature follicle was back on the left where we needed it to be. In October, my follicle was on the right side again, so we didn't do anything that cycle. Again, it was kind of nice to have a break and not stress about it, but it was still another month gone by that I wasn't pregnant. In November, my follicle was finally back on the left side!! I was so excited to finally go through another IUI with better chances this time.

My IUI was on Thursday, November 21st, first thing in the morning. It was the day of my first graders' Thanksgiving Feast put on by our partner church, so I decided to take a 1/2 day in the morning for the procedure and then go back to work for the afternoon. The IUI went well, same procedure as last time. While I was having the IUI done, the head nurse was asking why Tim and I didn't just go for IVF. I explained our situation and how, really, this was our second "good" IUI and that I didn't want to go for IVF until I knew these IUIs weren't going to work. I told her that I thought the IUI was just what I needed, but she said she was going to sign us up for a IVF consultation meeting in March/April to do a summer IVF in case these didn't work. I just brushed it off and didn't think about it too much after.

Twelve days later, on Tuesday, December 3rd, I took a pregnancy test. Tim was annoyed that I did it two days early because of what happened last time only a day early, but I just couldn't wait any longer! My boobs were killing me, so it had me thinking...

This leads me to this post!

The test was positive!!!! I took another test Wednesday morning, Wednesday evening, and then again Thursday morning before getting blood work later that morning. My hcg level was 189....much, much stronger than the first time. The following Monday, my hcg level rose just as it was supposed to, to a nice strong 1,015! Two weeks later, Tim and I went to our first ultrasound at six weeks, three days, and saw our little peanut (blob) for the first time - it was so unreal!

It took me a long time to accept the fact that I was pregnant. I kept telling people I was pregnant, and I saw it on the ultrasound, saw it on the million pregnancy tests I took, but it took a long time for it to sink in! It really took the physical changes to my body and then finding out it was a girl for me to start bonding with her and accepting that this is reality. Even today, at 20 weeks - halfway through my pregnancy - I still find it hard to believe. Sometimes I wonder if I'm going to wake up from this crazy dream only to find out it's not really true. But I try to push that aside and embrace what is happening! This little miracle child is growing perfectly inside me and will be our daughter in only four more months!

There is absolutely no way I would have made it through this process without my amazing husband, Tim. He has been an amazing support and trooper, going through his share of testing, too, to make this happen. There were times over the last three years where I just wanted to throw in the towel and give up (ask him about the time I trapped him in the bathroom and cried...). There were plenty of times where I thought this was never going to happen for us. But he was always there, with a level head, to keep me pushing through. I couldn't have asked for a better person to be at my side through all of this. I know he is going to be an AMAZING dad to this little girl. He already loves her so much. It's absolutely amazing to see how involved he already is and I can't wait to see him interacting with her once she's here. :-)

I know this sounds so cliche, but I hope this helps people who are going through similar experiences to never give up!! Also, don't be ashamed or embarrassed by what you're going through! Thankfully, along the way, I felt more comfortable sharing bits of our experiences with some family and close friends. This really helped me realize it was nothing to be ashamed of, but I also didn't publicly document it as we went along because it was very emotionally tolling for us. PLEASE, please, please ask me any questions if you or someone you know is going through a similar experience and I will gladly share more of our experiences with you.

And if you have some friends or family who you think should start having kids, maybe this will help you be a little bit more sensitive to why they don't yet...
When people would ask when we were going to have kids while we were going through all of this, I would just brush it off as "hopefully soon" or "eventually", when all I wanted to shout at them sometimes was "I CAN'T!" or "We've only been trying for ____ months/years!" You have absolutely no idea what people are going through in their personal lives. Please try to be sensitive to others, especially during such an emotional process.

The reason I titled this series "(in)fertility" is because I feel like the word infertility has such a negative connotation to it, but that's often what it's referred to. I prefer to use the word fertility because I feel like it gives me hope. No one wants to hear that they're "infertile". But going through 'fertility treatments' at least gives me the outlook that we're a work in progress. Clearly our journey was not short or easy, but it was absolutely, positively, 100% worth it. Here I am, halfway through my pregnancy already, but I will never forget what we had to go through to get to this point. This little girl has been so deeply wanted and loved well before she was even created. 

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you've learned something from me sharing our story. :)

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