Written by Lisa Paesano, Guest Blogger
Most women probably can’t remember the exact moment that they decided they wanted to be a mother, but I actually can. The majority of women I know have ALWAYS wanted to have a child one day. Me? Not so much. Babies were cute, but kids were kind of loud and always had ice cream on their faces, so I wasn’t sure. However, the first night of my honeymoon at Disney World on our way to dinner, I saw the sweetest little family – Dad, Mom, and their son, probably around eight years old. Dad was sitting in the middle and had his arms around Mom and his boy, and they were all smiling at each other, laughing and talking and very much happy. That was when I knew I wanted a family. So the ironic thing is this; a year later I got a negative pregnancy test, the first of many, in our hotel room at Disney World again. Thus starting my infertility journey…at the most magical place on earth.
My husband Will and I started trying to conceive November of 2015, the night before Thanksgiving, when we had been married for over a year, but together for almost eight. I was very optimistic; a doctor had told me when I was 20 that I had PCOS, but I thought hey, my mother never had trouble conceiving, my grandmother didn’t, and neither did my half-sisters. And I got my period every month, so I must be ovulating! I was 100% prepared to see a positive test. I researched positions, downloaded apps that predicted ovulation, ate fertility friendly foods…I was set. So the negative test at Disney? No big deal. Lots of people don’t conceive their first cycle trying. I read it on the message boards, and I’d heard it from my friends. I work for a large OBGYN practice, so I see girls get pregnant with PCOS all the time. Oh, and the next month when my period came again? No sweat. It takes lots of couples a few months to get pregnant. We’re fine, I said to my husband in the bathroom of our apartment. It’ll happen soon.
And so began the next 24 months.
I consulted the doctors at my job, and started a full fertility work up after six months of trying with no success. Will’s semen analysis came back perfect, my tubes weren’t blocked according to the hysterosalpinogram procedure I underwent, but my progesterone around ovulation time was low. I was started on the fertility drug Clomid in July of 2016 in order to amp ovulation. I was still optimistic, but getting a little frustrated; it was hard seeing those negative tests every month. But lo and behold, after four cycles of Clomid and timed intercourse, I was pregnant.
I was PREGNANT! I couldn’t believe it. 11 months after we first started trying, we were going to have a baby! And we were doubly ecstatic to find out that I would be exactly 12 weeks pregnant on Christmas day. I literally had tears in my eyes thinking about announcing to our families that day, getting to tell my mom she was going to be a grandmother…I fantasized about that for weeks. I made my very first pregnancy appointment on, get this—the day before Thanksgiving, exactly a year to the day that we started trying. It was all coming full circle. It would finally be our time.
Except it wasn’t yet.
According to my last menstrual period, I was seven weeks and three days pregnant, but the baby was measuring small at five weeks and five days. The doctor I saw thought I may have just ovulated late, so told me not to give up hope, and to come back the next week. I was so upset I couldn’t even sleep. I anxiously scoured message boards, reading any post that could give me a little hope, and to be honest some actually did – there were lots of stories of women whose babies were measuring small, and then caught up. But no dice for us unfortunately; the next visit, baby was still measuring five weeks five days. And the visit after that too. The whole “am I pregnant, am I not pregnant” process dragged out for three weeks, and I never saw one drop of blood, never had one cramp. I had a “missed miscarriage”, which made things a lot harder to accept, because I still felt pregnant. They gave me my options, and I chose to have a D&C. It was two weeks before Christmas, my favorite time of year…and I was broken.
But miscarriages are common! My doctors said. This was a fluke! So we got back on the TTC horse, but for me, things were different. I was different. I started wondering what I had done to deserve this misery. I blamed myself, and decided this was the universe’s way of telling me I shouldn’t be a mother. That this was karma because I wasn’t sure if I wanted a kid at one point. Add to the equation that two of my best friends were pregnant, and I was around pregnant women all day at work…two and two doesn’t equal four in this equation. It equaled me not being able to go to my friend’s baby’s christening, me sobbing outside of my cousin’s baby shower, me leaving a restaurant and eating my burrito in the car because two pregnant women came in, and me basically shutting myself off from everyone in my life including my husband. The jealousy ate at me. I could barely breathe when I would see yet another pregnancy announcement on Facebook. I started to hate and resent everyone around me, and most of all, I hated myself.
The worst part? Six months later, we got to do it all again; June of 2017 I had another missed miscarriage. Same scenario, the baby didn’t develop past five weeks five days. I thought going through it already would have prepared me, but it didn’t. It was worse. The first time was supposed to be a fluke, so why do I have to go through this again?? I stopped eating. I took a month off from work because I couldn’t handle seeing yet another beautiful, glowing, happy expectant mother. I refused to speak to any of my friends that had kids. I couldn’t be around anyone except for Will and my sister Laura for months. I wanted to give up.
But luckily for me, my intuitive doctor (who is also my boss), well, this whole missed miscarriage business got his wheels turning. His name is Dr. Vito Alamia, and he is one of the best doctors I’ve ever known, and working in the medical field for the last 12 years, I’ve known many. He convinced me to get testing done on the fetus after my second D&C, and informed me something like 95% of the time that this test comes back saying the fetus has a chromosomal abnormality, and that really is a fluke. So weren’t we all surprised when I was in the other 5%? The fetus came back normal. Even though it didn’t seem like it then, that was when our luck started to change, because that was when Dr. Alamia leapt into action.
He sent me for an extensive round of testing; I’m talking 22 vials of blood here. And, he told me, if nothing came back, that he’d send me for even MORE testing. This is the one time in my life that I’d ever hoped that something abnormal would come back on my bloodwork, because that meant that there might be something that could be fixed. In my head, however, I had already convinced myself that I would never have a baby. I was so sure the test would come back with everything perfectly normal, and that we’d be stuck with even more questions.
But I was wrong. I am now the proud owner of not one, but TWO formerly undiagnosed blood clotting disorders; Lupus Anticoagulant Disorder, and the MTHFR gene mutation. To sum up quickly, Lupus Anticoagulant Disorder essentially means your blood is sticky and clots too quickly. The MTHFR mutation creates a problem with your body’s regulation of folic acid. According to Dr. Alamia, both can lead to blood clots in the placenta, and both can cause recurrent miscarriage. He consulted with an infertility specialist on my behalf, and they came up with a plan; I was to start aspirin and folic acid supplements right away, and was told to come back in the day I got another positive test, so that I could be started on a blood thinner called Lovenox.
Three months later, on November 16, 2017, I stood in my bathroom with yet another positive test, and all I could think about was how unbelievably scared I was. I was started that day on Lovenox, which by the way, did I mention this was an injectable drug? Meaning that I would have to inject it? Every day?? INTO MY STOMACH?? If that isn’t a testament to how much I wanted a baby I don’t know what is; I was TERRIFIED of needles. I have no pain tolerance. I am a big, giant wuss. But, I told myself, if it works then I’ll do it. And to my surprise, after 24 months, 11 cycles of Clomid, two miscarriages (and two chemical pregnancies sprinkled in between), two D&C’s, tons of negative tests, dozens of bruises from the injections, thousands of shed tears, and a million why me’s, on December 7th, 2017, I got to see my baby’s heartbeat. I’ll never forget that moment. After hearing “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat” TWICE, I can never full explain how seeing that little flicker changed my life.
Our rainbow after the storm was born on July 10, 2018. We named him Seth after Seth Avett from the Avett Brothers; we listened to their song “No Hard Feelings” probably a million times while we were struggling, so we wanted to remember that. He just turned a year old, and he is the absolute greatest joy of our lives; he is the sweetest, most snuggly, happiest baby I’ve ever seen. He is always laughing, and people say he looks just like me. His beautiful face is enough to make everything I went through worth it. He is the most amazing gift I’ve ever received, and has healed my heart a thousand times over. Infertility and miscarriages are nightmares, and what we went through to have him was the hardest time of my entire life…but I would do it again 100 times if I knew that I’d get to be his mom at the end. I still mourn those two angels I never got to meet, but I know now that Seth and I were waiting for each other; I was always supposed to be his mom. There were so many times in those two years that I wanted to give up, to stop trying, to just get another dog…but now I get to see my baby boy smile every day. I get to smell his head and kiss his soft cheeks and cuddle with him on the couch and there is no better feeling than that in the whole world. Despite our hardships, I know that I am the luckiest mom in the world because I have him.
Walk through the night, straight to the light, holding the love I’ve known in my life and NO HARD FEELINGS…— The Avett Brothers