Meet today’s guest blogger, Stacy!
My story begins with… I always knew I wanted children and a family. However, given the culture we live in, I was encouraged to take birth control by my GYN in my early 20’s. (Please know- my GYN is FABULOUS!) So, I did what most do and took the tiny little pill every morning after brushing my teeth. Every day for 10 years!
At age 22, I met my husband at a bar. Yes, a bar. We dated for about 2-2.5 years and I married him at age 24, two months shy of 25. We were living away from home in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina the first year of our marriage. At the end of that year, we returned home to Maryland to be closer to family. During that time, I talked about “when we have children.” A lot of our decision-making included “when we have children.” We bought a big home, in a nice neighborhood, with good schools, with nice size extra bedrooms, room to play, a yard to play in, etc. We were trying to settle into our new house, make a home with our two dogs, and begin our careers. We were paying off debt and unconsciously preparing for the “right time to have kids.” I remember telling my GYN we just weren’t ready yet. He said we’d never BE ready and always asked when we would start trying. So, as time passed by and those around me started having babies, I thought we better get started before too long. I was approaching 30 and didn’t want to wait any longer. I stopped taking the pill and we began trying to conceive. Little did I know… we were in for a long journey.
Once I was off birth control, I was not stressing the immediacy to have children. I knew the Lord would give us children in his timing. But, as annual GYN appointments came and went and still no pregnancy my GYN said we better start narrowing down why. He started with a referral to Shady Grove Fertility in the Baltimore area for my husband to get a sperm count. No man is excited when you come home with a brown lunch bag with a sterile cup inside and tell him your GYN says you need to make a deposit for this test! Hahaha! But, he did and every thing came back wonderful. Good news. But still, no pregnancy.
Since the seed had been planted (hahaha no puns intended) at Shady Grove Fertility, I began looking at their website and what they could offer us. I made the initial appointment online and within a few days, was in the office talking about things I never knew I’d be talking about. We jumped right in to our 1st IUI which failed. We immediately went into IUI #2. To our great joy- I was pregnant! I had made it through all those early morning appointments, blood draws, my first self-administered shot, and lots of feet-in-stirrups appointments. I went to my last appointment before graduating from Shady Grove to my regular OB/ GYN and expected to see a heartbeat and proper growth. Instead, I immediately saw my worst nightmare. Nothing had changed. I was looking at the screen and instinctively knew what I saw was not right. The doctor checked several times and said he was sorry. I knew. I had to make that phone call to my husband to tell him. I was encouraged to have a D&C, which I did. After surgery, I woke up and a tear rolled down my face. My nurse and medical staff were so kind. We had testing done and found out we had had a boy and he was diagnosed with Trisomy 13.
After healing it was right on to the next cycle. I had a meeting with my doctor to see where we were in our plans and he patted his heart and said, “How are you in here?” Whew. That was hard. But, I knew we must move forward. One more IUI, making it #3. No luck. Insurance protocol was to move on to IVF. I always said I’d never go on to IVF, but when faced with that fact, I made that hard decision.
IVF Round #1- No luck
More early morning appointments, more blood draws, more at-home shots… it was a vicious cycle. Baby-making is supposed to be FUN, right?!?
IFV Round #2- PREGNANT!!!
We again, made it through all the appointments, heard a heartbeat, and saw it on the screen. But, over the next few appointments, I began bleeding and knew it wasn’t healthy implantation bleeding. We had already told my family we were pregnant because… my sister was two weeks behind me in pregnancy and was already showing. She had announced her early pregnancy to our family. So, seconds announced to everyone that she was the only one pregnant. We were all so excited to be pregnant together and cousins on the way! But, the Lord had other plans for us. We made it to another appointment and the heart beat was gone. Before the monitor probe was even back in its spot on the cart, my doctor said, “How do you want to take care of this?” Ummm, hello, you just told me there is no heartbeat. There were tears, lots, and lots of tears. I was encouraged to have another D&C, more tears, and an email that said a healthy baby girl. No further problems.
There was some time between this cycle and the next, but we moved forward when I was cleared by my doctors. So…
IVF Round #3- My body stopped responding positively to the medication (four self-administered shots every day for 14+ days) and ultimately only had three possible eggs for retrieval. Since the number was not conducive to a successful egg retrieval, my doctor submitted a form to the insurance company to change the cycle from IVF to IUI for medical reasons. The insurance accepted his submission and the insurance company allowed the cycle to be considered a IUI for medical purposes, leaving me with the last IVF. #3. Still an open option.
(Side Note: Insurance would only cover 3- IUI’s before they would no longer pay the coverage. From there, if there was no viable baby, they would only cover payment for up to 3 cycles of IVF. After that, the insurance company would be done and out of the pictures. From there we would have to pay 100% out of pocket.)
I leaned heavily on my husband, my faith, my family, and the Instagram family of sisters facing the same journey. I stumbled upon a recommended book, Unsung Lullabies- Understanding and Coping with Infertility by Dr. Janet Jaffe, Dr. Martha Diamond, and Dr. David Diamond. It was the first time I gave myself permission to not be okay. It was the first time I gave my self permission to consider stopping treatments. The first time I gave myself permission to stop being a patient. I wanted my body back. I wanted my privacy and intimacy back. And a weight was lifted from me. My husband has supported all of my decisions (aka OUR decisions) from Day 1. He always stated he was okay with or without children. We had been on the roller coaster of emotions, feelings, and heartbreak. We allowed ourselves to enjoy our quiet time, our interests, travel, and the normal routine of life again.
We discussed egg donor, surrogacy, more out-of-pocket IUI’s & IVF’s. We moved on to discussions of adoption. However, our hearts were lead to ending our journey. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about having children in our future. We have left our hearts open to the Lord’s plans. We are birth control- free, so it could happen. People wish and pray that we do have children. I get asked all the time if I have children, or when will we have children, or why don’t we have children. I have no rehearsed answers. It’s still take one day at a time and it’s been 4 years since we lost our last baby. I still have the email from my doctor stating- “Normal female- maternal cell contamination has been ruled out.” I don’t delete it, because it is a reminder that we did have children, if only for a little while.
In the end, I have what I need. I have a family we created. It just looks different than the one I imaged. But doesn’t life always look different than we imagined?
Life is mysterious. Life is a miracle. Life is a blessing. And I don’t cry because it’s over. I cry because it happened. Love and strength to you all. May God’s journey touch your heart and make you the person you are supposed to become.
Want to contact Stacy? email@example.com
Want to read more infertility stories from guest bloggers? You can find those here. Or do you want to be a guest blogger? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org message me on Instagram @MyTwinMomAdventures