Written by Janelle Sarver, Guest Blogger
My husband and I had been married for just under a year. We were in the process of building a new house and I had a great job as a labor and delivery nurse. It seemed like the perfect time to start trying for a baby. I had stopped my birth control, and the practicing began! I’m not going to lie, after the first month of trying and no pregnancy I was shocked. I was a healthy 25 year old, why wouldn’t I get pregnant right away? The next few months passed and still nothing. I finally reached out to my OBGYN at work one night. I told her it had been six months of trying and no results. She called me the next day and had me scheduled for a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). She explained to me what the procedure was because I was clueless! Remember, I am an L&D RN, we see the patients when they’re already pregnant! Right away I thought this would be the answer, surely my fallopian tubes would be blocked or something right?! After the procedure was complete, right away the doctor told me everything looked great. I remember walking to the car thinking that’s terrible news! All I wanted was a little blockage that he could clear out and all would be fine, and then the first of many tears started. I called my husband and let him know the results, and informed him that it was now his turn to go get checked out. Of course he wasn’t thrilled, but he went without complaining. Little did we know this was his first of many trips to the doctor. A few days later we learned his results were just fine, so back to the OBGYN I went.
This time she spoke to me about Clomid. Again, I didn’t know much about Clomid other than a fellow coworker had triplets from Clomid. That didn’t scare me, I just wanted a baby so one baby or three babies would be just fine! The first month on Clomid I was pumped, I just knew this would be the answer. I’m pretty sure I was already dreaming about my maternity leave! But then the disappointment came, again. At this time, I was working night shift and my turn had finally come to move to day shift. I was so excited because again I figured maybe my body was just out of balance because of my weird schedule. I was grasping for anything! Another month or two passed, still no pregnancy. I started talking with another OBGYN about my fertility issues and she had some suggestions that my current OB doctor wasn’t doing. So I switched doctors! Talk about awkward when you see these ladies everyday at work, but I had to do it. From there I still took clomid, but at higher doses, had many ultrasounds to look at my follicles and even did some trigger shots. Nothing, every month passed and still nothing. My doctor could sense the frustration settling in and that is when she referred me to a fertility specialist.
I’m not sure that the reality of our situation had settled in too much at this time. I knew people had trouble getting pregnant but not at 26! I was too young to be having such issues. Also, 11 years ago I don’t feel like anyone talked about the issues. A few of my close friends knew we were struggling, but for the most part I kept this a secret. I was embarrassed, I felt something was wrong with me and I just felt so bad for my husband-who by the way was a rock during all of this. He was so supportive, always seemed to lift me up and would constantly remind me that no matter what, we would figure it out.
Our first visit with the fertility doctor is one that I will never forget. They drew what seemed like 10 tubes of blood, I had an ultrasound that seemed to last forever, and then the dreaded consult with Dr. F. I can remember her telling us that my FSH levels were high, they reflected FSH levels of a 40 year old. That’s when the ugly tears came, I was so embarrassed. She suggested we could try an IUI, but she didn’t think it would work. We still opted to at least try, because there was a nurse I worked with that had an IUI and it worked so – why not try? We tried and again no pregnancy, just disappointment.
We knew that IVF was our next step. I can remember having so many ultrasounds, but the one that sticks out the most was the last one before they started to stimulate my ovaries. Dr. F. was in my uterus looking around and despite the million vaginal ultrasounds that I had in the past, this time they saw something. At the very top of my uterus there was a septum. I didn’t know whether to be happy or angry that no one had caught this earlier. Nonetheless, I had to have surgery before the stimulation of my ovaries began. I had the surgery rather quickly and then the injections and every other day ultrasounds began in order to produce good quality eggs. This is the part where things got a little tricky. You IVFer’s all know how many doctors appointments are involved in this process, they tell you when to be there, you don’t get to come in when it’s convenient for you. I had kept my infertility a secret from almost all of my coworkers. At the time I was a fairly private person, I was embarrassed and sad, I didn’t want the whole unit knowing my business. I can specifically remember one older nurse saying “well if you can’t get pregnant on your own then maybe it’s a sign”. (I was livid, but at the time Iwas too weak and scared to say anything, if she was still here and said it to me now, watch out, I’d let her have it!!). I was able to let my nurse manager in on what was going on, and thankfully she was so understanding. At the time my father was newly diagnosed with cancer so I was able to use him and his doctors appointments as reasons why I was late or why I had to move my shifts around.
We had finally made it to retrieval day, after what seemed like an eternity. I think they retrieved 8 eggs that day and by day 5 we had 3 blastocysts. I can remember the statistics that that Dr. F. had gone over with us, the success rates of IVF, they weren’t all that great but we were hopeful. Day 5 came and they implanted 2 of the blastocysts and froze our only remaining embryo. I was a nervous wreck the next few days at work, I wouldn’t lift any patients or push any of our beds. I tried to be as lazy as possible-totally out of my nature. I will never forget the day they called with the results. I was in a nursing conference with one of my friends who knew about our fertility situation. Dr. F. told me that my HCG level was 0. I didn’t understand how that could happen. I left the conference sobbing and I didn’t even tell my friend. I went to work the next day, I had no business being there. I was still a mess. I remember thinking “Why can’t I get pregnant?” I think the anger was finally settling in because I started to ask the standard questions; why can drug users get pregnant, teenagers, people in less than ideal situations? My husband and I did everything right in our minds, it was such an unfair battle. Clearly I was having a pity party for myself but one day it just clicked in my head. I told myself everyone has their own battle to fight and this was our battle. At the time, this was an awful battle but I know there are so many worse battles to be fought.
We went through the next few weeks doing what we were told to do as far as prepping for our next transfer. This time it was going to be our only embryo left, our frozen embryo. I will never forget the day they implanted her! It was April 20, 2009, and a few days later we found out I was pregnant! It was the best news ever! I had just left the hospital with my dad, and I’ll never forget where I was driving when Dr. F called. I immediately called my husband, we both cried tears of joy. Even today, over 8 years later, it still makes me tear up. To say I was a nervous wreck during this pregnancy is an understatement. We kept this pregnancy a secret for many many weeks. The only person we told was my Dad. We were admitting him to hospice and we felt like he needed some good news. I don’t know how much he understood, as the cancer had gone to his brain, but he must’ve know something because he had the biggest smile I had seen in a very long time. My Dad passed away when I was around 9 weeks pregnant. It was awful, and I was afraid to let myself grieve too much. I was fearful that too much stress and emotion might make me miscarry, I know I’m nuts. Finally around 19 weeks, the rest of the world knew. I can tell you all, the worry never went away. I was fearful the whole pregnancy that something would happen but I tried to remain positive. On December 30, 2009 at 39 weeks we welcomed a healthy 9lb baby girl! I can’t even describe what we felt but having my husband and my favorite doctor and one of my best friends deliver our miracle was the BEST!!
We always knew that we wanted 2 or 3 kids and close in age but we were so thankful for the one that we had. I know it sounds crazy but once we were all cleared to resume “business” as usual we did. We weren’t preventing but if it happened we would’ve been so thankful. Needless to say nothing happened and we found ourselves back at Dr. F’s office. Things went a little smoother this time with IVF, we managed to get 4 blastocysts! On December 20, 2010 they implanted 2 fresh embryos. I got the phone call a few days later and was told my HGC was low but that there was still something going on, so we jumped on a plane to Colorado and enjoyed a cold Christmas! One of the perks of working in L&D is the ultrasound connection! I can remember being back at work shortly after our daughters first birthday and seeing my OB. She said “Come in on Saturday and lets do an ultrasound!” So we did! I can remember her exact words “Oh Janelle” – I knew exactly what she meant, I said “It’s twins, isn’t it” she said “yes!” I’m pretty sure my husband said that’s awesome, me, I know I said oh Sh*t!! This pregnancy was very complicated and I was on bed rest the whole time, but on August 6, 2011 at 35.4 I delivered my healthy 7lb boy and 6.5 lb girl!
For those of you who are still trying for your miracle don’t lose hope! Keep trying whether it’s through IVF, adoption or surrogacy. This process was one of the most trying times for my husband and myself. It was one of the most physically, emotionally exhausting experiences that we had gone through at the time. As I write this, I am reminded so much of the pain that we went through, the injections (that I couldn’t even do on myself after a while) the ultrasounds, the doctors appointments, the finances. I can’t even begin to explain some of the situations that I had to go through at work while we were trying for a baby. There were days I would just get into my car and cry on my way home. I wish that when I was dealing with my fertility issues I had had a community to talk with. I didn’t know anyone who had been through any of this, I was the first in my group of friends trying for a baby. There is no way I could’ve written this 10 years ago, it would have been way too painful. I will tell you all, after going through all that we have, I am a better nurse. When patients come in and are scared because they are bleeding or because they’re having preterm labor and tell my they were IVF, I fill them in on our story. It’s an instant bond and I know it helps calm them. Those of you still fighting your battle, stay strong, don’t give up, we are all fighting with you!