Written by Shelly Blanco, guest blogger
My husband and I are high school sweethearts. We met when we were 16 years old and I knew instantly he’d be mine forever. We married in our early 20’s and spent the first 5 years of our marriage building a home and traveling the world together. It wasn’t until we turned 28 that we decided to begin our journey to be parents. After only 6 months of trying, I had a feeling something wasn’t right.
We were referred to a fertility specialist where we were both put through the barrage of testing. The testing revealed I had what they called “low ovarian reserve” and my husband had low numbers. For some reason, since both of us were “broken” in the Doctor’s eyes it made us bond together to prove them wrong. We started the grueling fertility treatment journey. Ultrasounds, injections, blood work, appointment after appointment, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, wheat grass shots, we were knee deep in this fight! We started our first IVF cycle in February 2008. To our surprise it was canceled as soon as it began, I didn’t produce any follicles that cycle. The morning we had the ultrasound to tell us there was nothing, we had to fly out to be at my nephew’s baptism, we were his Godparents. I felt like it was God’s way of helping us cope, to realize we had a family that loved us and needed us. While on that trip, I got a call that one of my best friends was pregnant. Isn’t that how it always works? While we are in the midst of a struggle we seem to see everyone else who ISN’T struggling? It was just so easy for everyone.
We started our second round of IVF as soon as the Dr would let us. Again, it was weeks of injections, blood work, ultrasounds, “samples” (someday my hubby should write about his experience!), etc. This time it worked and we had 2 beautiful embryos! The day of the transfer they gave us a picture of them, I rode home laying down in the backseat staring at these two babies that were now in me trying to “stick”! My husband brought me 2 roses, one for each embryo and we waited. I started my period before the dreaded 2-week wait was up, I knew, it didn’t work.
It was at that point I gave up. I met with the Dr after the second failed IVF cycle and he sat across from me telling me our chances of conceiving naturally were less than 1%, he talked about using donor eggs and that because of my husband’s numbers we were not candidates to try IUI. After spending over $20K and hundreds of hours at the fertility clinic, I was done. I physically felt a huge burden be lifted as I prayed to God that He take control, I couldn’t do it anymore.
Around this time, my husband decided he would get a surgery that would potentially help his numbers. It was not a simple procedure and I watched my husband suffer through it so he could help our chances of being parents. We also attended a fertility support group through our church which was probably the best thing we did during this entire ordeal. We sat in the room listening to testimonies and as we listened we realized these stories ended with almost everyone in that room having a child in one way or another. I looked over at my husband and saw him wiping tears away, it was then I realized the toll it was taking on him too.
6 weeks after my husband’s surgery, I realized my cycle was late. Of course, I didn’t believe it. So, I waited. And waited. I took a pregnancy test at 6am on September 11th, 2008. I didn’t see a line so back to bed I went, this was nothing new. But then my husband came storming into the room, “There’s a line! It’s faint, but it’s there!”. Unbelievably we were pregnant, naturally, miracle #1. A month later, my husband had a follow up appointment with his urologist, so of course we took him cookies and took a picture with him as a thank you for this miracle. It wasn’t until a week after that appointment when we got the results of my husband’s post-surgery sample that we realized the surgery did nothing to his numbers, they were exactly the same.
On May 1st, 2009 our son Isaac was born. He was conceived with no medical intervention. We loved on him and spent the first year of his life in utter disbelief he was ours. We told our story to anyone who would listen. I was blessed to be able to nurse him for 13 months. Then, one day after I weaned him from nursing, on May 28th, 2010, we found out, by the grace of God, we were pregnant again. Our second son, Xavier was born on January 11th, 2011, again he was conceived with no medical intervention, our miracle #2.
We lived the next 5 years watching these babies turn into boys, watching brothers play and fight with each other. I felt done, I knew the odds were against us, I was tired too, but my husband felt a pull. He kept saying he wanted a daughter, he could envision himself walking her down the aisle at her wedding. A few years after my 2nd son was born, my husband has his numbers tested and once again his numbers were very low, the same as before. So, in November 2015, after we had “not not tried” for the past 5 years, I got tested again. The Dr called and said, your eggs are “fair” and scored a 3 out of 10….30%, my eggs failed the test. We were grateful and content with our life so we let it be what it was.
One month later, December 30th, 2015, it happened again, miracle #3, we were pregnant. I was certain it was another boy, it was all I knew! On September 7th, 2016, our daughter Valentina was born.
A few things struck me as we were going through all of this, especially during my last pregnancy. I had almost every person I told ask me if we were trying to have another child. It was such an odd question for people to ask me. I know I was older and my boys were older but these people didn’t know our story and didn’t know how hard we had tried to have these children. Every day I realize how we have truly experienced miracles and I am forever grateful for the chance we have had to be parents. It’s hard for me to hear others going through struggles to conceive, I want to reach out to them however I am sensitive to the fact that I have children now and they don’t. But, I do pray that my story will in some way provide a ray of hope to those in the trenches!