Written by Janessa Dade, Guest Blogger
Our kids are 15 years old, 7 years old, and 15 months old. We always get the “wow, you really spaced them out” or the “geez that’s a big age gap” – as if isn’t blatantly obvious, but thank you for pointing it out again! My answer in turn is usually, “well that’s what happens when your body doesn’t work properly” – which usually makes people squirm a little bit and you can see discomfort wash over their face. This “gap” was not planned and neither was the path to creating our family.
Everyone who knows me, knows that I am so indecisive! Don’t take me to a restaurant with a big menu or give me a large amount of options to choose from because it could take years for me to decide! However, there is one thing I have always been certain of and that was wanting to be a mommy to 4 or 5 kids! As a kid, I always played with baby dolls and I remember breaking a wishbone one night when I was 5 years old. My wish was to wake up in the morning and to have my own baby. Imagine my anger and sadness when I woke up and there was nothing…little did I know this was preparing me for dealing with the hardest journey of my life.
My husband and I met in high school, but didn’t date until later in life when he was in the military and after he had gone through a divorce. He had a daughter, Jaelyn, who was almost 4 and lucky for me I was automatically a mom! She was so sweet and cute and I couldn’t wait to have a whole wardrobe for her, a room decorated, and just take care of her. My husband and I married right before she turned 6 and we were so ready to grow our family.
We tried on our own for about a year, which was frustrating enough, but finally saw a Dr for a consult. At that consult, he saw a polyp in the center of my uterus, but nothing to be concerned with. He gave us a round of Clomid and we would reconvene if this didn’t work. Well sure enough it worked! Jianna was born 10 months later, February 23, 2011, despite the year of trying, Clomid worked and was so simple…we knew EXACTLY what to do next time, or at least we thought!
Life moved on and we enjoyed our girls, but Jianna turned 2 and we were ready to start trying again. We knew exactly what to do! I went to my OB and said we were ready, we had tried for 6 months on our own with no success so bring on the Clomid. We did all of the blood tests to make sure all of my levels were okay to begin with and off we went. We started with 50mg and eventually cranked it up to 100mg! I took this for 7 months and NOTHING but negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test. My levels always came back perfect, we even tested my husbands sperm and it was good…so what the heck! I was so frustrated and overly hormonal because if anyone knows anything about Clomid, it makes you feel like your ovaries are each the size of watermelons and it hurts to even laugh…not to mention your hormones are through the roof so you feel like you are going to cry and laugh at the same time. I needed a break…we needed a break!
We took about 6 months off and just focused on our family, but I was so sad and so frustrated! I would cry myself to sleep sometimes because I was so mad! I didn’t want to put that weight of sadness on my husband so I kept to myself, but every day felt like a constant reminder that time was passing. I work in the Pharmaceutical/Medical Device world and I get to see pregnant women all day long. The area I was working in was extremely low income and I can’t tell you how many of those women probably shouldn’t have been pregnant because they were barely surviving themselves or even on drugs. Then there was me, trying so hard with great numbers, healthy, and ready…but I had unexplained infertility! Unexplained Infertility…what does that even mean!!??? It means nothing…basically you are a mystery to science, which is so reassuring! My sadness continued and I couldn’t bear to not do something about it. Finally I caved and went to an Infertility Clinic.
I didn’t want to have to go this route, but then again who does. I remember waiting in the waiting room and almost feeling embarrassed, like I was a failure because I couldn’t make a baby the way I was meant to. We met with the Dr and went over what we had tried and that we needed to be a little more aggressive, but not as aggressive as IVF. I was sure I could do it without that! In the initial exam, he noticed the large polyp in my Uterus so after a DNC, which revealed a uterus COVERED in polyps, we were ready. So off we went on this journey…3 months of timed insemination with Clomid (that devil drug again), then progressed to 4 months of IUI and NOTHING!! Absolutely Nothing!!! We retested my husband’s sperm and my labs were always perfect along with plenty of follicles at perfect size. At this point, the Reproductive Endocrinologist was baffled. I was so drained mentally and physically. I hated my job, I was short with my husband, and I was gaining weight from all this medication. I was done and I couldn’t wrap my head around IVF at this point!
Throughout all of this, friends got pregnant, and my step daughter’s mom got pregnant twice. I remember trying so hard not to cry when she told me. Why was I this unknown mystery of infertility! Why was it so hard for me to get pregnant and why did I feel so guilty for feeling so sad because I had one already?! Shouldn’t I feel grateful?! I was able to carry a baby full term and she was healthy and thriving, but I couldn’t shake that desire deep down in my soul to have a baby. As research shows, this is actually a thing called “secondary infertility”…it’s real and I wasn’t crazy. I didn’t feel alone, but I still ached to hold a new baby in my arms. As the story always goes, we were offered a slue of unsolicited advice and comments from people who had never experienced any trouble getting pregnant-
“At least you have a healthy baby.”
“Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”
“You can have mine.”
“Just don’t think about it.”
“Stop stressing and planning and just let it happen.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
It was everything I never wanted to hear…all I wanted was for someone to just hug me and say I’m so sorry! I didn’t want this, I’m not a planner and I HATE schedules, I enjoy my husband and I didn’t want to be part of a science experiment. So all of the comments just compounded the sadness!
We took another break just to enjoy each other! My husband and I have always had an attraction to each other that I can’t explain. To keep it PG, it’s always been a strong biological connection and with infertility, you lose all of your privacy. Everyone at the office becomes a part of your intimate life, from the stir ups, to the probing, to the “sample” room, to the insemination…everything is so cold and sterile and invasive! Shortly after, my grandma that I was so close with was deteriorating from a relapse in lung cancer. I started a new job and she got worse within weeks and finally passed away. About a month later, ironically I found out I was pregnant NATURALLY and one of my girlfriends was too! I was so nervous because I had just started a new job, but I was so excited! My husband and I sat anxiously at the drs office and waited for that heartbeat…but it never came. I was told I could do a DNC tomorrow or just let it happen, but I was flying to Texas for training with my new job for 2 weeks?! Grief overwhelmed me, but I had to make a decision and I wanted to let nature take it’s course. I researched what you need for a miscarriage and packed it all up in a suitcase for work. I literally felt like a Gorilla was sitting on my chest…I couldn’t breath, I couldn’t focus, I was so heartbroken from my grandma and now this! What did I do to deserve this!!!! The 2 weeks passed and nothing, so a part of me had hope, but Mother’s Day came that 2015 and so did my miscarriage. It was like the ultimate slap in the face and I felt like I was drowning! I went to work through it all because it felt like my only outlet and distraction.
Miscarriage is a weird thing that either people don’t like to talk about because it makes them feel uncomfortable or because they just don’t know what to say. It’s sad and lonely and you never forget it! There are the sides that we experience as women and there are sides that our husbands experience. Our grief, our loss, sometimes gets individualized as we try to cope with loss in our different ways. We both lost something and it seems like we were just constantly being challenged as a couple and as a family.
As I began to talk about it, I couldn’t believe how many women had gone through it! You feel like a part of a community, one that no one wants to be a part of, but a little part of your heart feels some hope after hearing these stories about rainbow babies.
We took a year off and finally March of 2016 we were ready to do IVF. We began all the testing, I had to do another DNC for the polyps that so kindly had returned in my uterus, we ordered the meds and we got that party started. I did all the injections, we did the retrieval (got 18 eggs, 12 fertilized, and 10 were genetically ok…5 boys and 5 girls). The initial transfer was supposed to be in July, but wouldn’t you know my hormones were too high so we had to push it back to September. Finally! Finally, we were there and we did it! We transferred 3 embryos (2 were looking like they weren’t thawing right, but we threw them in just for better odds). I took progression pregnancy tests (against dr. orders) and we finally got the call! I was PREGNANT! I remember calling my girlfriend and crying. She was worried because I’m not a crier, especially in front of people, but I was so scared! I couldn’t deal with anything else and I just wanted this to be real! It was…it was very real and 10 months later Aston was born on his due date weighing in at 7lbs 11oz (which ironically 7-11 is our anniversary).
So that “gap” – it was not intentional and was filled with years of sadness, loss, anger, frustration, uncertainty, and longing. That “gap” tested our marriage, our personal strength, our resilience, our ability to deal with loss, our family unit, and ultimately our true desire. I believe that everything does always happen for a reason, and although I never wanted to be part of a science experiment or have my children so far apart, I know that I was meant to be a voice and support for all of the women and families going through the same thing. In the end, I would do it all over again, just the same, if I knew this would be the outcome!