Chris and I married in July 2010 when we were both 31. We knew we wanted to be married for a full year before having kids. So many people that we knew got pregnant quickly and easily, so we never thought we would have any trouble. I always thought that getting pregnant would be like the KC and the Sunshine Band song – you know, do a little dance, make a little love, and nine months later have a baby. I could not have been more wrong!
Chris and I started trying to get pregnant and at first it was really fun. But every month when my period came, it got more and more frustrating. Why wasn’t it happening for us? My mother told me that it took her 14 months to get pregnant with my brother. I remember thinking, “If it takes me 14 months I’ll die!” Little did I know! So many people kept telling us to relax, not think about it, or even get drunk! Let me tell you – if those things were all it took to get pregnant, I would have had 25 kids already!
We were working very closely with my OB/GYN; I was charting temperatures, had a normal HSG, and even started on Clomid. After six months of this, I called my OB/GYN in frustration. We met and he told me that he highly recommended Shady Grove Fertility. After exploring their website and learning we could meet with them after a year of trying, we made an appointment three months later.
In April 2012, we met with Dr. Eugene Katz, who went over all of our medical history with us. He carefully explained some of the procedures that were options for us, and we decided to start with IUI the following month. In the meantime, Chris would complete a semen analysis. Secretly, I hoped that there was something wrong with Chris. I mean, I needed to be able to point my finger at something. But when his test came back basically applauding him for his wonderful sperm count, I sank further into despair. And then came the word that neither of us wanted to hear: unexplained.
As we were waiting for our genetic testing to come back, my temperature charts indicated a possible pregnancy. Could it be true? I waited until the weekend and then took a test. Positive! I took another one. Positive again! We could hardly believe it! I called my nurse at SGF and told her what happened and made an appointment with my OB/GYN. A few days later we got word from our insurance that they would cover six IUIs. “Haha,” we thought. “We don’t need that!” I asked Chris if I could tell my parents, and in what now seems ironic, he said, “Only if you want them to know if something goes wrong.” And it did.
Two weeks later I lost the baby. I remember spotting and calling the doctor, whose receptionist advised me to get an ultrasound the next day. That night there was lots of blood and I knew what had happened, but we had the ultrasound anyway. I remember looking at Chris’ face to see if I could read anything, but he was serious. The technician didn’t say anything either. After what seemed like hours, she told us that she couldn’t say for sure but she didn’t see anything, and that I should confirm with my doctor. I didn’t need to. I knew what had happened.
That was on a Friday afternoon, and by Monday morning I called back my nurse at SGF. Without blinking an eye, she got me set up with an appointment to start my first IUI cycle in August 2012. I remember the day of the results call from my first IUI. I was beyond confident. Hey – I was working with fertility experts and they were giving me fertility treatments. Why wouldn’t I get pregnant?! I was out with my mom when they called to tell me that I wasn’t pregnant. I was devastated. As I was crying, she called my husband and told him to meet us at home. Luckily, we had a vacation planned for the next day and it was just the distraction that we both needed.
When we returned home, I got right back on the proverbial horse and had my second IUI. And again, it failed. The third one was strange – I was technically pregnant but with low numbers. Nothing like going to have your blood taken every day just to get the count down to zero. Our fourth IUI failed right after Thanksgiving 2012. Even though our insurance covered six IUIs, I couldn’t do it anymore. We would take a break to wait for our insurance to cover IVF. In the meantime, I decided to join a support group. It was the best decision I ever made.
We went to our first support group in December 2012. I remember really liking the people and it was so nice to have a place to share our story where everyone knew exactly what we were going through and could truly relate. I think Chris also liked that there were men that knew what he was going through as a partner. We connected with two great couples whom we are still friends with!
Moving to IVF
In May 2013, we prepared for our first IVF cycle. We were nervous and excited. My friends told me it was easier if I gave myself the shots. Turned out that was true, but watching a needle coming at you from your own hand was tough! In June we went through the retrieval and did a day 3 transfer. On July 3, we heard that it did not take. I remember watching the fireworks and knowing that we had to try again.
We went on vacation in August and we are so glad we did. It was a wonderful distraction and we ate and drank without care. When we returned, we started the next round of shots. This time, Dr. Katz had decided to do ICSI, so we were hopeful for this new part of the process. Right away our nurse called and said they were pushing us to a day 5 transfer. I was so excited! We had beautiful embryos that were all surviving and dividing. On September 1, we watched as an embryo was transferred into me. I will never forget when the embryologist handed me the picture and said, “Here’s your first baby picture!” I clutched it so tightly.
That 2 week wait was especially hard. I am a teacher and had just gone back to school, but was trying not to stress. Our insurance covered three IVF cycles, so I kept thinking that if this one did not work, we only had one last chance. On September 17, 2013, I got permission to leave work early and Chris met me at home. We were so nervous waiting for the call. Unfortunately, my nurse was not working that day so I did not recognize who called. But she said, “You are very, very, very pregnant!” Chris jumped in the air and I tried to stay calm as she told me when my next appointment needed to be. I got off the phone and burst into tears. We had done it! We had finally gotten pregnant like we had dreamed!
Today, we have a beautiful 4 ½ month old daughter, Gretchen, who is just perfect. She was beyond worth the wait! And we also have three frozen embryos for the future. Believe it or not, the other two couples that we met in our support group have babies too! We are still in regular contact with them and they are great resources for information. We all love our miracles so much!
What would you tell a friend who was having trouble conceiving?
Don't give up! Do anything you can to stay positive. Trust in your partner - this will make your relationship stronger. Talk to people who understand. The BEST thing we did was join a support group. You are stronger than you realize and you will be a better mother because of your journey. I didn’t want to talk about infertility when I was going through it, but now I want to share my story with everyone, because if I can help just one person get through part of their journey, it will be well worth it!