Written By, Katherine Goodman
I thought I had it all figured out. I knew exactly what would happen. After being married for 2 years, we would have you, and then every 18-24 months, I’d have another baby, and we’d complete our family with probably 4 children, before I turned 30 years old. You would have dark hair, your dad’s olive skin, my big smile, light brown eyes, and a butt chin (that your dad and I both have). I was in my young 20’s when I made this plan and didn’t realize, sometimes life doesn’t go the way you think it will.
I remember coming off of birth control around my 2 year anniversary mark, as promised, and assuming I was already pregnant. I cried to your dad, ‘Oh my gosh. I am probably pregnant! What if I am not actually ready for this afterall?!’ And then I was incredibly shocked when I ended up not being pregnant, again and again, and again. That’s okay. I was still young and we weren’t actively trying, so no big deal – I knew it would happen soon enough.
After 1 year of not trying, but not preventing, I grew worried. All of your aunts and uncles, and grandparents, and my cousins, conceived so easily. I went into my doctor’s office, and was given the basics on when to properly time everything to try to get pregnant. Your dad and I tried that for another year with no pregnancy.
We were a few years in at this point and you still showed no inkling of coming any time soon. I tried every diet. I lost a bunch of weight. I bought all the proper vitamins. I went to the doctor again and this time I had blood work done on me, and we had your dad checked for some things too. Your dad came back fine but I was told my progesterone was a little low. I was instructed to try taking clomid.
I remember swallowing that pill for the first time and having a similar reaction to when I came off birth control years before, ‘I can’t believe it. This pill is going to get pregnant. And on the first month too!’ But it didn’t work. We tried for 3 months with clomid and nothing came of it (except for me being really grumpy, and having a lot of headaches).
The doctor recommended we move onto inuterine insemination (IUI). Okay – so THIS TIME. Definitely this time. I just KNEW it would work on the first try. My hormones were perfect. Dad’s sample was perfect. I had 3 perfectly sized follicles growing. I left the doctors office that day and wrote a letter to you about how the procedure went, etc. etc. And then… not pregnant. We tried a 2nd IUI and still, not even a whisper of a pregnancy. My doctor said there was no reason that I wasn’t getting pregnant and labeled me as UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY.
At this point, I figured the problem was my doctors office and we consulted with several new doctors (one doctor told me to keep trying IUI’s – fired; another doctor attempted a min-stim IVF but monitored my hormones so poorly that there was no way I could have ever become pregnant – fired). Finally, we found a clinic that we felt confident would help us find you.
We had wonderful family members and friends who helped us save for this expensive treatment. We attempted an IVF through this new clinic. This time, I was not confident like I had been in the past, especially when they told me my embryos were poor quality. 6 years of failed treatments taught me that it hurts too much to get my hopes up. And so this time, especially when I felt no symptoms, I was positive I was NOT pregnant. And then I got the phone call from the doctor’s office. The nurse surprised me when she said, “You’re pregnant!” Tears filled my eyes. Finally. FINALLY. We were going to have our baby. However, my HCG # was low at 21, which wasn’t a great sign. I still felt hopeful, and surprised your dad (even though he knew we’d get the results that day) with a baby onesie. My numbers continued to rise, but over the next couple weeks, I began bleeding. We went in for our 6 week ultrasound, terrified. We could see on the monitor that I had lost the baby. We were crushed. Your dad and I cried into each others arms for many, many nights.
A year passed and my doctor said he suspected I had endometriosis. I went in for surgery to diagnose and clear out scar tissue and the doctor told me, not only did I have endometriosis, but that it was stage 4, all over my insides. He cleared it out and then put me on a drug called Depot Lupron to treat any endometriosis he couldn’t reach. I took the medication for 3 months. We attempted IVF a 2nd time, and were able to fund it thanks to some very kind and generous friends who offered to pay for our medication. Luckily, my egg quality looked so much better. This would be it. All this work. All these years. It came down to this. I waited the 10 days and received the highly anticipated phone call, “You’re pregnant… but your number is low… just like last time.” An HCG over 5 is considered pregnant (though, generally, over 50 is considered a good sign). My number was a 5.1. I begged the nurse to let me quit the meds but she told me to continue. So I did. Maybe we’d receive a miracle. I read of a lot of miracles on the internet. Maybe I’d be so lucky too. My numbers increased for a week, and then plummeted. I miscarried again.
My doctor tested me for a gene mutation MTHFR (which not only did I test positive for, but so did your dad!). We tweaked our vitamins (taking folate instead of folic acid, adding in special b-vitamins, and baby aspirin), and we also tested me for elevated Natural Killer Cells, which I also tested positive for (some say that elevated NKC can cause miscarriage). I didn’t think I could handle another IVF/miscarriage, especially with the hole it was burning in my pocket, but with all these answers, your dad and I said we would give it one last try. At that same time, your dad and I entered an IVF Giveaway and were one of the 7 lucky couples who won. We had to pay for the pricey medication so it took a long time before we were ready to proceed with our final IVF attempt. But we did. We were scared. It had been 9 years of trying to have you. Once again, even after all the attempts to improve egg quality, my egg quality was worse than ever. But we had 1 embryo that fought so hard and it was good enough to transfer (with an additional embryo that was only so-so). The doctor transferred both embryos and once again, we had to wait the dreaded 10 days to see if we were pregnant. I started an intralipid treatment to try to suppress my immunity from miscarriage. The clinic called me on that 10th day and said, “You’re pregnant… but your number is low.” No. No. NO. This time my HCG was at a 38. Better than I’ve ever had, but still low. However, they monitored me for another 2 weeks and my numbers rose beautifully. I hesitantly allowed myself to think, maybe, just maybe, this time it would work.
The morning of our 6 week ultrasound, I began bleeding, as soon as I entered the doctors office. I began hyperventilating and the ultrasound showed a pregnancy, but no heartbeat. I prayed that the bleeding was nothing to worry myself with, but the doctor confirmed, our baby died. Not only had the baby died, but they recommended I do an immediate D&C so that they could take the pregnancy tissue from inside me and test the baby for chromosomal abnormalities (since we had never tested our embryos to see if they were chromosomally normal or not). They worried that if I waited, that I would pass the baby at home, and then I’d never have answers on the health of the baby. I agreed to do the surgery that same day. It was one of the hardest days of my life. At home that night, I sobbed. I had thought it was finally time to grow our family and the reality of knowing it still wasn’t time, crushed me.
We found out later, the baby we lost was a boy, and also chromosomally normal.
So. It’s been 10 years now. Our doctor has recommended we don’t use my eggs for another IVF so we are debating using donor eggs, or trying an embryo adoption, adoption, or foster care. Though we have grieved so much over our losses over the years, we have learned even more that we still want YOU. You weren’t one of the babies we lost, however, you’ve been with us the entire time. I have felt your heart and your spirit surround us, when we have endured some of our saddest moments. One time, during my first yoga class after my miscarriage, in the final pose, I lay down and had my hands resting open beside me and I could have sworn, there was a small hand settled within my hand.
We know you’ll come to us at the right time, and in a specific way. Your story has already begun and you haven’t even been created yet. When you are finally in our arms, I can promise you, it will be the happiest day of our lives. I have no idea what you’ll end up looking like, but I feel confident (this time I really mean it) that I will recognize your heart and spirit when I see you for the first time. Thank you for being with us, and for being patient as we walk this path. The pain of the past, will all be worth it, when we stare into YOUR unique, beautiful face. You’ve taught me that timing is everything, to be kind to others because we’re all fighting a battle, to be patient because good things are coming, and to enjoy each and every day since they are all a gift.
You are so totally grounded for making us wait this long. I am kidding, of course. But please come to us soon. I can’t wait to kiss your cheeks, stare into your eyes, give my entire heart to you, and watch you experience life. From now, until my dying day, I will be thinking of you always.
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