I was 28 when I met Sam, the man who was to be my husband. In less than 4 years we were ready to give parenthood a try. I went off the pill and we were as busy as bunnies. After 8 months without results, I consulted a gynecologist. He took a history, did a pelvic exam and recommended that Sam provide a sample for analysis.
The results were mixed. I appeared healthy. Sam’s sperm count was low and had low motility. But there was a supplement that showed promise.
3 months later Sam’s sample didn’t show any improvement. We consulted a fertility specialist. This time, the same history the same pelvic exam and the same semen analysis. The only way we would get pregnant would be with IVF with ICSI, that is, in vitro with intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
No, we really didn’t know what we were getting into. And no, we hadn’t talked about adoption.
Next step was to start on birth control and then the follicle stimulating hormones. The process involves needles. Lots of needles. And did I mention the hormones? Lots of hormones.
To cut to the chase, the first cycle failed. The second failed and third and fourth cycles never made it to the transfer stage. My body did not respond well to the hormones. I suffered months of migraines and my uterine lining refused to thicken with the treatment. I took a month off. I tried acupuncture, took a few more yoga classes. I relaxed.
August came and the migraines were far enough behind me that I was willing to try another cycle. My uterine lining barely responded to the hormones but there was just enough there for the doctor to approve proceeding with the cycle.
And we were successful. We did it. Nine months later, Chloe made her appearance.
But we weren’t satisfied. Chloe was a delight. Being a mom was the most wonderful experience of my life and I couldn’t wait to try again. 10 months after her birth, we went back to our fertility doctor and asked for another. We had several embryos cryopreserved.
We had been through the process we knew what we were getting ourselves into.
I weened Chloe and started the hormones again. Fortunately my body responded. My uterine lining thickened nicely and we scheduled the transfer.
We took our first pregnancy test and wow, we were pregnant. That was easy, right?
Wrong. Sadly it was a chemical pregnancy.
We tried again. This time nothing.
We had one embryo left. We tried again and again.
Finally our fertility doctor suggested testing me for hydrosalpinx, a blocked and fluid filled fallopian tube. Turns out this is a pretty standard test for women having difficulty conceiving a child naturally. And I had it.
We went through a procedure to correct the situation, essentially a sterilization. Yes, it was surreal.
By now we had used all of our frozen embryos. We were going to have to go through a fresh cycle again. Great, more hormones and a LOT more needles.
We completed the cycle, the transfer, the pregnancy tests. We were pregnant, finally. And then we weren’t.
Our fertility clinic provided ultrasounds for the first 8 weeks of the pregnancy. The initial ultrasound showed one live embryo. The second ultrasound showed a slow heartbeat, but a heartbeat nonetheless. The third showed progress, not excited, not reassuring but enough to qualify as growth. I was released and sent on to my regular OB.
At 9 weeks, I went to my OB, without Sam, for my first appointment. She did an ultrasound and there was no heartbeat. She checked a few times but nothing. I left her office with an appointment for a D&C.
I was in shock when I left, I was in shock when I had the procedure and I was in shock for at least another 2 weeks. I didn’t cry, I didn’t talk about it, I felt nothing.
This effort to have another child has been harder than trying to have the first….because I know what I’m missing.
And yet, I’m still trying.