Written by Whitney Ellis, Guest Blogger
My mother reminded me a few years ago about a conversation we had while I was in Nursing School. I had told her that my dream job would be to work with moms and babies in their homes. I was fascinated with breastfeeding and wanted to support new moms. I ultimately fulfilled that dream by working for 10 years as a Public Health Nurse, visiting first-time (mostly young) pregnant moms and their babies in their homes. I loved my job and as challenging as it was, it was very rewarding. I did not have children of my own at that time, but I had no doubt that being a mother was in my future.
10 years ago this February, my husband and I danced our first dance to “God Bless This Broken Road”. The song was fitting for us and how met and ultimately got married. Little did we know that a few years later as we began trying to start our family that our wedding song would take on a whole new meaning.
Our journey to having a baby started soon after we got married. I was 33 and he was 35 at the time and we really had no reason to believe that we’d have any trouble getting pregnant. A year went by and then 6 more months before we went to see the Reproductive Endocrinologist my Ob/Gyn referred us to. We sat in a waiting room with one door on the right for those who were already pregnant and another door to the left if you couldn’t get pregnant. Several tests later and we had a reality check.
My husband had “very bad” sperm and I had “old eggs”. Ouch! Is this how healthcare professionals in this field speak to their patients? We moved forward with hope. Clomid, IUI, two-week waits, clomid, IUI, two-week waits…and over again. Finally, standing at the nurses’ station reviewing my lab results, our RE declared that I will not be a mother on my own without donor eggs or adoption.
This was not at all what we envisioned our path to parenthood to look like. Needless to say, even though I still loved my work, it soon became difficult being surrounded daily by pregnant women. We did our best to stay positive. I joined the local RESOLVE support group where I met so many inspiring women. I heard stories of heartbreak and disappointment. I also learned so much about the world of IF. There were so many paths to becoming a parent.
We found a new RE and I went through more tests and procedures. I most likely had endometriosis. This new clinic was a breath of fresh air. The RE was very positive and felt that getting pregnant through IVF with our own eggs and sperm was possible. I sought out support from other women who had gone through the rigorous schedule of painful injections and blood tests. I found an acupuncturist who specialized in infertility. My husband was supportive and became an expert at IM injections. I was open about our plan and received nothing but love and support from friends and family. For us, we wanted to assure that we would be cared for emotionally if the outcome was no baby.
The MDs, nurses, embryologist, and anesthesiologists we encountered at the IVF clinic for the retrieval and transfer were so incredibly kind. I will never forget that. We waited for 2 very long weeks to find out if we could possibly be pregnant. We’ll never forget sitting at our favorite breakfast spot in East Sacramento when we received THE phone call from our nurse. We were pregnant!
Our smart, funny and sweet boy turned 7 this year. Fast forward 2 years later and our attempts to have a second baby began with a failed Frozen Embryo Transfer and a polypectomy. Then my father suddenly passed away and we were sidetracked with unimaginable grief. Just months later, to our complete surprise, we saw 2 pink lines on a pregnancy test! We were pregnant and it brought much-needed joy to the family, only to turn to another painful loss when I miscarried at 9 weeks.
We went on to try one last IVF. We both agreed that if this did not work out, we would feel we gave it our all and we would focus on what we had…Our marriage and our beautiful boy. When that cycle failed we were crushed at the thought of our son growing up without a sibling. Our view began to change though as we saw him creating so many friendships. A child doesn’t necessarily have to have a sibling to be happy.
It was on a cross country flight as I looked over at our family, the 3 of us, and realized it was perfect. I let go of my desire to have another baby. When we got home I packed up the baby gear we had saved up and drove it up the hill to a donation center. I drove away and the tears started streaming down my face. I called my mom and told her that I donated all our baby gear and I still recall hearing my grandmother’s voice in the background saying “you know she’ll get pregnant now”.
2 weeks later, on the morning after my 40th birthday celebration…we saw 2 pink lines! Today we have a beautiful 2 year and a half-year-old girl. So yes, that “Broken Road” lead us straight to our 2 precious children. My relationship with my husband was only strengthened as we encouraged and comforted each other. We received unconditional love and support from family and friends. And it has changed how we relate to others who are starting their families.
I truly believe we all go through difficulties in life so we can be there for each other. I have since continued to fulfill the dream I discussed with my mother years ago. I have become an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). I will never forget the IBCLC that spoke to a room full of us women who went through fertility treatments to get pregnant. So many of us were unsure if our bodies would create enough breast milk since we had difficulty conceiving. Some moms were carrying multiples and anticipated some time in the NICU. We all benefited in different ways from our time with the IBCLC. Most of what I took away was confidence.
As an IBCLC, I strive to understand my client’s goals and assist them in identifying and addressing their breastfeeding concerns. I want to hear about their prenatal history. I want to hear about their birth experience. I provide them with evidence based information and tools that empower them to meet their individual feeding goals. I encourage them and let them know that many women who experience IF go on the have long breastfeeding relationships with their babies. I give them the same compassion I received years ago by the health care professionals that will always be a special part of my family’s story. Most importantly, I want the women I consult with to walk away feeling confident in their ability to give their babies what they need.
If you’d like to connect with Whitney, you can find her on Instagram