They say "Every cloud has a silver lining."
Follow us on our journey, as we discuss our struggles with infertility. One baby step at a time...
It was August of 2007. I can remember waking up in a very startled and confused state. I was in a large room surrounded by hospital beds and strangers in gowns. Some of the strangers were sleeping and, like me, many were just waking up in a daze. I was approached by a woman who said “Honey I’m sorry…The surgery was much more complicated than I ever expected. Unfortunately, you will never be able to get pregnant naturally.” This was the beginning of my “dark cloud” experience.
Now let me explain…
For as long as I can remember, I had unbearable cramping during my “womanly cycle”. When I say unbearable, I mean it. I would experience such significant pain to the point of getting dizzy and fainting. I remember complaining to my mother about this pain, and she told me to “suck it up and get used to it because it’s something you’re going to deal with for the rest of your life.” It was no fault of my mom's. Like everyone else, she had no idea what was really going on inside my body. It was just assumed that I was experiencing the normal, monthly pains that all women deal with. So I dealt with it the best I could, and believe it or not, got used to the pain.
A few months after I graduated college, I went to my doctor for a regular check-up only to find out I had a cyst the size of a grapefruit on my right ovary. Yikes! My doctor had instructed me not to worry. She stated that with a simple surgery, she would remove the cyst and I’d be back to good health in no time! I went into the surgery scared but still very optimistic. Unfortunately, I was awakened by those horrific words mentioned in the opening paragraph. As you can imagine, hearing the news that I’d never get pregnant naturally crushed me. Anyone who knows me knows that my ultimate goal in life is to be a mother. If I couldn’t get pregnant naturally, what would that mean? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This couldn’t be true. I told the doctor I wanted to see my family right away. The nurse finally wheeled me into the room where my parents, grandparents and boyfriend (who is now my husband) were all waiting. I couldn’t control my tears. My family immediately assumed I was in pain and asked if I was hurting. The only response I could give was, “I’m just very very sad. Why is this happening to me?” I could see the fear and hurt in my family’s eyes.
Now let’s fast forward…
I married the wonderful love of my life and decided we wanted more than anything to start a family. I was still unsure of the battle that was ahead. I figured people just got pregnant when they wanted to. But those “dark” words from the doctor in 2007 still loomed in the back of my mind. We tried the old fashioned way and month after month, I was disappointed by the visit of my monthly friend ("period"). We then began exploring options during a routine visit with my new OBGYN. He reviewed my charts and pictures from my 2007 surgery and again he said, “You have quite a bit of damage in there, I think your doctor was right.” A second time now, those “dark” words resonated.
It wasn’t but a few months after that and I began feeling a bit under the weather. My severe pain had returned, worse than before, and I could feel something was not right. I called my doctor and explained the pain, and he got me in for an appointment right away. I remember thinking the reason for all the pain was because I had another cyst.
I arrived for my appointment right on time, and the nurse called me back. She checked my weight, blood pressure, and asked me to give a urine sample. I remember writing my name on my cup in big bold letters, and placing it in the designated cabinet, alongside of another patient’s. I then walked back to the exam room and waited for the doctor to come in.
Before long, I hear a knock at the door and in walked my doctor. He looked puzzled as he asked me, “So were you trying to get pregnant?” I responded, “Ha. I wish. Remember, I’m your infertile turtle?” He sat down and proceeded to tell me, “Amanda, you’re pregnant.” I felt my entire body starting to shake. I was extremely confused. I then looked at the nurse and said, “There’s no way. Are you sure you have the right patient’s urine because when I set mine down, there was someone else’s cup in there!” Both the nurse and the doctor chuckled and said, “We are sure. You are definitely pregnant.”
My doctor was familiar with my history of complications with cysts, scarring and adhesions as a result of my first surgery, so he instructed me to head over to the ER section of the hospital for bloodwork and an ultrasound. He wanted to make sure we rule out an ectopic, or tubal, pregnancy. Apparently, with all the scarring and adhesions in my pelvis, I am considered high risk for ectopic pregnancies (i.e. pregnancy outside of the uterus).
Our First Pregnancy:
As I was getting my things together to head down to the ER, still frazzled by the unexpected yet super uplifting news, I attempted to call my husband. I remembered he had a very important meeting at work that day and asked that I not bother him until after work. This couldn’t wait though. I had to tell him right away. I tried him on his cell, no answer. I then tried his office line, no answer. So I texted him, “Call me ASAP. Emergency.” Still nothing. I sent one final text, “I’m PREGNANT.”
He called right away, “You’re what?” And I said, “I know. I still don’t believe it either, but they said that I am, so I am.” I then explained that I was being admitted to the ER right away to check for an ectopic pregnancy. My husband said he’d leave work right away and meet me at the hospital.
Luckily, my husband’s office wasn’t too far from the hospital, so he was there before I was taken back to see a doctor. After several blood tests, an ultrasound, and hours of waiting, we were sent home with a “Pregnancy Guide” from the hospital. My blood levels did in fact prove pregnancy, and the doctor guessed I was right around 5 weeks pregnant, which was too early to detect anything through an ultrasound.
Over the next several days, I was monitored with blood tests to make sure the pregnancy was progressing as it should. I remember being overjoyed by the fact that I was indeed pregnant, but undesirably crushed when my doctor informed me that my blood HcG levels were not rising in a manner that would prove a successful pregnancy. Again, I was called back to the ER for an ultrasound, only to find that the pregnancy was ectopic. (It is important to understand that ectopic pregnancies cannot result in a live birth; rather, pregnancies outside of the uterus can be extremely dangerous and even life threatening.)
Our dream was crushed. I remember the sad look in my husband’s face as we got the news. I could tell he was holding everything together, to be supportive towards me, but I knew it, I could see it. He was devastated.
We were immediately transferred to a special section of the hospital where I was given 2 injections of a drug called, Methotrexate. As soon as the second injection was administered the nurse asked me if I was in any pain. I couldn’t even muster up enough energy to respond to her. As tears were streaming down my face, I fell to my knees on the hospital floor. It was over… Our pregnancy was over.
I don’t remember too much after that, as it was all a blur. I believe I slept for days, as that seemed to be the only way to rid myself of the sadness and pain. I thanked God every day that my husband was by my side. I asked God why he put us through so much pain. Why would God allow us to get pregnant, only to take it away just a few short days after?
SilverLining – Although the pregnancy only lasted a few days…we were able to get pregnant.
Moving On…Exploring Our Options:
It took both my husband and I a significant amount of time to cope and heal from our ectopic pregnancy. After many thoughts and consideration, we decided to seek out a Reproductive Endocrinologist (Fertility Doctor). As much as we loved my OBGYN, he had informed us that once a woman experiences an ectopic pregnancy, her risk of that happening again increases drastically. Ectopic pregnancies can be life threatening, so my doctor referred us to a Fertility Doctor for more options.
There are a number of different procedures to assist couples struggling with infertility (IUI, IVF, etc). The question becomes “what procedure is best for our situation?” After extensive (and costly) diagnostic testing, we were told that In-Vitro Fertilization (“IVF”) would be our only option for getting pregnant. IVF is a procedure that involves extracting eggs from the female, fertilizing them outside of the body (in a lab) to create embryos, and transferring the healthy embryos back into the female’s uterus for implantation.
We had done our research. We knew we had a $10,000 lifetime maximum limit on Infertility Coverage. We also knew that IVF would be expensive, but we weren’t sure exactly how expensive. We had hoped there would be other options for us to get pregnant (instead of jumping right into IVF), but unfortunately, IVF was the only answer.
Our IVF Journey:
I remember meeting with our Fertility Doctor to plan our IVF cycle. The cycle consisted of oral and injectable medications. I wasn’t thrilled about having to administer injections on myself, but Dustin was a great help!
The egg retrieval came in no time, and five days following, we would be transferring 2 beautiful embryos. The transfer was painless, and I was officially “Pupo” (Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise). 12 days after the transfer, I was called back to my doctor’s office for a blood pregnancy test. I remember the nurse calling me later that afternoon saying, “Congratulations, you are pregnant!” Dustin and I had both taken the day off of work, anticipating this phone call as we would either celebrate or mourn together.
Having been through the ectopic pregnancy, we knew we weren’t out of the clear yet. Together, we decided that we would cherish every day and take things one day at a time. Today, we were pregnant. I would be returning to the Doctor’s office every other day until my blood levels hit a certain point, at which I’d be able to go in for our first ultrasound.
Our ultrasound appointment was finally here. Again, Dustin and I took the day off of work. I remember being so nervous. The last time I had an ultrasound, it showed the pregnancy was outside of the uterus. This time, it showed one beautiful sac with a little tiny baby inside. We cried tears of joy. I couldn’t have been happier to see that all was well. The pregnancy was exactly where it should be, and everything looked perfect. The pregnancy was measuring right on track, 6 weeks 4 days.
I remember going to work the next day as happy as could be. Towards the end of the day, my stomach had started cramping a little bit. I figured it was because I had been on my feet all day, and that my uterus was stretching for the little baby that was growing inside of me.
I remember calling my mom on my way home from work saying, “Did you feel like this early on in any of your pregnancies?” She said a heavy feeling was pretty common, but to lie down with my feet up as soon as I got home, so I did just that. When Dustin got home, I was getting more uncomfortable. I asked him to lie down with me because I wasn’t feeling well.
About an hour passed, and the cramping was becoming very painful. Slowly, I got enough energy to stand up and walk to the bathroom. As soon as I stepped foot in the bathroom I felt a huge gush. Without looking down, I knew exactly what was happening. I screamed the most piercing scream, that woke Dustin from his deep sleep. He came running into the bathroom, and when he saw me fall to my knees in a pool of blood, he knew it was over too.
How could this happen? Just yesterday we saw the baby in the ultrasound and everything was perfect. The nurse told us everything was perfect. Why was this happening to us again?
Dustin immediately rushed me to the closest hospital’s ER as I frantically tried to reach my mom on the phone. I don’t know what good she’d do from 4 hours away, but I needed to talk to her, as she was always there from me.
We arrived at the hospital, and they got me into a room right away. The cramping (what I later found out was contractions), was coming back and as the nurse was checking my vitals and gathering the very important information (eye roll) such as my insurance information, I felt another gush and everything inside of my uterus splattered on the hospital floor. As I’m sure you can imagine, the last thing on my mind was which insurance carrier I had. I was miscarrying. I was sobbing uncontrollably, with Dustin at my side, hurting and so helpless, and all the nurse cared about was seeing my insurance card.
Hours later, after a series of ultrasounds and blood tests, a nurse comes into our hospital room and has the audacity to ask me, “Are you SURE you were pregnant, because your uterus is empty.” My response to her was, “Yes I am sure. What the Hell do you think is all over the floor right there? That was my pregnancy.”
Dustin and I thought suffering an ectopic pregnancy was painful…this miscarriage was ten times worse.
Again I couldn’t help but ask God, “Why? Why did we get pregnant only to lose it a few short weeks after? This is so very painful. Why is this happening?”
SilverLining – Using IVF, we were able to get pregnant successfully…even if it only lasted a few short weeks.
It was months later, and we still had 3 frozen embryos in storage. We decided to proceed with a frozen embryo transfer (FET). A frozen embryo transfer is a much less invasive process than a fresh IVF cycle. Again, the process required more pills and injections to prepare. My husband and I made the decision to give all 3 embryos a chance at life.
None of the embryos implanted.
No more 'babies on ice'. No more Infertility Coverage. We were heartbroken. We were numb.
Moving On From The Past and Finding Our SilverLining:
Days, weeks, and months have gone by and I still find myself driving in my car, alone, crying. Nobody ever intends on battles as tough as what Dustin and I have fought in our lives. Some people can get pregnant so easily. Some people don’t want to get pregnant, and yet they get pregnant anyway. I often find myself asking, “Why did this happen to us?”
Unfortunately, that’s a question we will never be able to answer. We do the best we can, and we focus on the positive things we have in our lives. I am forever grateful to have Dustin in my life, as I don’t think I would have made it through this battle without him. We are also grateful for our loving family and friends that have supported us throughout this entire battle.
The past is behind us, and we now find ourselves moving forward, stronger than ever. We kindly invite you to follow us along our journey through another cycle of IVF. It is important to us that we share this with all of you, not only to give us strength, but also to give strength to others battling infertility. We have renewed faith, hope and light. We cannot wait to see what our future holds as we continue this journey.