•By Tamara Van Happen, Guest Blogger
Ohhhh the ugly world of infertility. From the start we knew IVF was our only shot at ever having a biological child. My husband has Cystic Fibrosis. As if that weren’t bad enough, 98% of men with CF are born without a vas deferens (basically it’s like having a vasectomy to begin with!) We had little hope we would be in that 2% as John doesn’t present as a typical CF patient. And we weren’t. So the first step to making Baby Van Happen was to undergo genetic testing. When the results came back that I didn’t carry the gene for CF, I took it as a sign that we were on the right path.
Next step, was the referral to a fertility clinic this took a very long 18 months. The clinic we started at though couldn’t preform the TESA procedure (Testicular sperm aspiration is for men who are having sperm retrieved for IVF) so onto a new clinic another….5 month wait. The waiting the endless waiting was definitely one of the hardest parts. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity the big moment of the TESA procedure arrived we held our breathes as they extracted the sperm and we had swimmers!! Now with the healthy sperm, we got the “go ahead” and finally had our first IVF cycle! The cycle went well we got 8 embryos and transferred a beautiful fresh 4AA blastocyst. We would know by Christmas if it was successful.
In the 6 years John and I had been together, this was the closest I had ever been to being pregnant. Sadly and naively it didn’t happen that first try. I was feeling so positive, I never thought maybe this wouldn’t work. When we got our first negative beta, it hit me hard. For the first time I felt that it was my fault. That I was letting my partner down. I don’t know why I had these dumb thoughts though because I was never upset with John for his part in our struggles. Upset that we have to go down this path? Yes! But upset with John? No. I knew before I married him, when we said our vows, that we were walking this path. When you love someone and truly love them, you love all of them.
I feel I should mention I have a very “Type A personality” to have things out of my control doesn’t work well. I hated not having control of any of this situation. It was so frustrating that someone else was in charge of my life and something so very important to me such as starting a family. After taking some time to grieve, we got ready for our frozen transfer. I gave up all alcohol, my precious caffeine and followed a healthy diet plan religiously. I took prenatals, juice plus, vitamin D…if it was healthy- I was probably taking it. I was drinking Pom juice for my uterine lining and eating an avocado a day. I even cut back on my normal fitness routine because I felt too tired. I also wanted to create a more “womanly” home for this embryo.
Then came April 25, 2016 we transferred another 4AA perfectly thawed, hatching blastocyst and we hoped and prayed it would work. After the transfer, I ate pineapple core each day for 5 days along with Brazil nuts. I only drank warm drinks and tried to eat just warm foods. I kept my socks on for three days and I didn’t shower for five days!! Like I said, I’m Type A and these were the things I could control. If it failed this time, atleast I’d know I did everything I was able to do to make it work.
Ironically our beta draw was Mother’s Day, I was praying that it wasn’t going to be another terrible Mother’s Day for me. And it wasn’t. Results came in and we were pregnant!!
And now set in the worst anxiety of my life. I was thrilled, but also equally terrified-terrified this baby was going to be taken away from me. I had some early bleeding which in the moment felt like our whole world was crumbling down. This turned out to be normal and I was fine. Besides the anxiety and worry, I had a great pregnancy. Although before each scan I would hold my breath, but thankfully it all went perfect.
On December 27, 2016 my water broke and December 28, 2016 at 9:48pm our beautiful baby girl entered this world. Our beautiful, healthy and perfect Briar-Rose. She was here. We both fell in love instantly and I was filled with gratitude. The journey to get here, all the waiting, the needles, the pills, the anxiety- it was ALL worth it. It made me stronger. It made my marriage stronger. It has made us damn good parents and so very very grateful.
However, that ugly world of infertility is still there at the back of my mind. We will NEVER get pregnant naturally…giving Briar a sibling is going to be another process. When do we start it? Do I take the time away from her to stim and be a hormonal mess? Will it work? If it doesn’t will we do it all over again? At what age are we too “old” to keep trying? All of these questions swirl through my brain and weigh on my mind. Already we have to start planning for baby #2 while still holding our newborn in our arms.
For those still trying, I get it. You’re jabbing yourself with needles or tracking each cycle religiously. I know to hear it’s “worth it” coming from the other side isn’t enough. When your dreams of parenthood look far away or seem impossible, it’s hard to keep your head up. Especially as friends and family constantly ask, “When are you guys having kids?” Not to mention the classic, “oh you two enjoy that sleep while you can” or “your house is so clean and nicely decorated!” Don’t forget “you’re so lucky to have time to go to gym and work on yourself.” I know; you’re dying to say, “if only you knew how much we were trying for a dirty house, sleepless nights and a mom body with no time to work on it.”
I can tell you now though as I’m staring at my child who was up every 3 hours last night, my too tight PJ pants with a belly hanging over it, dog prints all over my floor and the smell of seriously needing a shower- it truly was worth it!