Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Peek At Infertility: From Infertility To Family

By Heather C.



After suffering two miscarriages and six failed attempts of infertility treatments, we turned our focus on ourselves. We were married, just over a year at this point, and were already talking about divorce. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We redirected our attention to realizing that being a family didn’t have to mean having children, it meant simply having each other. We tried to find new ways to reconnect and we attempted to learn to love ourselves again. This was especially hard on me as I carried a lot of guilt with the infertility being my “fault” and feeling like a failure for not being able to carry a pregnancy.


An early picture of my oldest, Lillian
We joined a local gym and began working out together. We both had hobbies and interests but never attempted to combine them. Working out together was the first thing we did together. We pushed each other to do better. Along with that, Jeremy began doing weight training and I began taking Yoga classes.

With a better self image of ourselves, our moods improved. We didn’t stop there though. We changed our diet. We started eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods. We cut out alcohol and soda and stuck with milk and water only (and later added in juice as well). We reduced our calories, sodium and portion sizes. The more changes we made, the happier we noticed we were.



We saw a counselor to help us deal with the loss of the pregnancies. We saw relaxation therapists to help with the stresses of everyday life. We even saw a specialist to help us improve our “hostile” environments (at one point our infertility doctor told us the lining of my uterus was too hostile and inflamed to have a fertilized egg implant there. With Jeremy’s first sperm analysis, he was also told his sperm were unable to survive because of a hostile environment). Some of the things we changed after these visits included the type of laundry soap we used, the way we washed in the shower or dried off. I even had to change the type of feminine products I used and had to start wearing loose cotton undergarments in place of anything sexy we’d been attempting before. It was hard to make these changes at first as we stopped feeling young and fun but we were involved in an entire life makeover so we kept trucking along.



With all of our changes, we lost a combined 80 lbs and felt better than ever. We started biking together and hiking. We started taking walks in our neighborhood every night after dinner. We’d walk hand in hand and talk, really talk. Our communication vastly improved.



The summer of 2008, about nine months after our last loss, we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary with a trip to Colorado. Being in the mountains was the most amazing, breathtaking experience we’d ever had together. It was on this trip that we made the decision to let nature take its course. We began researching adoption agencies in our area to see if that would be a better route. We soon learned that there were so many rules to follow that maybe this wouldn’t be the right course for us (our top pick for agencies required both parents to be at least 24 years of age and married for five years. I was still a year away on age and we were three years away on marriage). Our hearts were still leading us away from medical intervention though so we continued working on our family by improving our marriage.



We both decided we were carrying a lot of negativity in our lives through some family and friends, and through our jobs.  We had to be upfront with those that were contributing to our pain and most of them took it well, some we lost for good. With our jobs, we both applied for advancements and promotions and within a few months found ourselves both going in new directions with our careers. Finally, we were at peace with where we were in life.



And in October, just 6 weeks after starting a new job, I found out I was pregnant. I went through the same round of blood work and ultrasounds as I had done in the past but this time, each day held new promise. This baby had implanted, had begun growing. We saw and heard the heartbeat. Each new visit we watched our little bumble bee turn into an actual human being. We don’t know why we lost the first two pregnancies but we have faith that those children were our saviors. They led us to where we are now.



Lillian was born in June after a rough early pregnancy and premature rupture of membranes just short of the 37 week mark. She was everything to us and quickly had us wrapped around her tiny fingers. Post-Lily, we did not want to throw off any of my hormones by going on birth control again. We knew we wanted more children and at that time, a lot of the non-hormone based methods were still pretty uncommon. We chose to simply stick with condoms. Many people find this odd and have judged us for this use but it was the best decision for our marriage and for our intentions. There were no accidents or scares. We were grown adults with self-control, simple enough.

Pregnant the second time... with not one, but TWO babies
Just short of Lil’s 2nd birthday, we decided to try again. We had been discussing it for several months now but wanted to get a few more of our finances in line. We also had a family trip to Disney World planned that I did not want to be pregnant for! We stopped using protection as soon as our vacation was over and within just 2 weeks, I felt grossly pregnant. I was tired beyond belief, nauseated, already showing. It seemed impossible. I knew when my last period was and knew I was only 4 weeks along if that.


I joked that this was some sort of half vampire baby with rapid growth as Bella had carried in “Breaking Dawn” from the Twilight series. When I took the pregnancy test, there was no denying it was positive. In fact, the test line turned pink before the control line even showed up.



I was no longer under the care of my reproductive endocronologist so I called my gynecologist and scheduled an appointment. It was 5 weeks away! It turns out in normal pregnancies all that early testing is skipped and you just have to wait impatiently, a nervous wreck the entire time for that late 1st trimester appointment. I’d be lying if I said that I worried during those 5 weeks. Yes, a few thoughts of miscarriage crossed my mind here and there but the early symptoms of pregnancy were so fiercely strong that I had no doubt in my mind that this baby was doing just fine.



Then the moment came; the moment that took our infertility full circle. We not only got pregnant with Lil on our own, but we got pregnant the first month trying once we decided to try again. No, I was not exactly infertile anymore; in fact, I was some sort of super human. I was carrying twins.



And so the story ends. Not everyone’s infertility journey ends the way mine did (Actually, I’m pretty sure no one’s ends this way…). Yes, I now have three beautiful daughters. Yes, my cycles are now normal and I’m confident that if we were crazy enough to try to get pregnant again that we’d have no problems. Trust me though, no amount of pregnancy or family success takes away the past. Infertility and pregnancy loss will always be with me. My heart still breaks for my dear friends that supported me through my journey who are still suffering themselves. I don’t take any days for granted because I know what it took to get here, to get from infertility to my family.


You can contact Heather by emailing her at heatherc@mumblingmommy.com


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