I spent a significant portion of my young adult life caring for children who experienced a great deal of trauma and pain. I became a foster parent in 2006, and even adopted 2 sets of sibling from the foster care system. I brought my 4 children into my union with my husband, Daniel. He also brought his biological son.
Daniel and I were married in October 2014. Because of the needs of our adoptive children and subsequent foster children, we choose to delay pregnancy. In fact, I had an IUD. As some of the children began to enter adulthood and venture out into the world, we decided we wanted to have a child together.
We removed that IUD in July 2019 and got pregnant in December 2019, but then subsequently miscarried.
When we decided to seek fertility treatment in the spring of 2020 with Dr. Edelstein at Shady Grove Fertility Richmond, we found out my IUD had caused a possible infection that damaged my left Fallopian tube. Since my other Fallopian tube was open and I had a good ovarian reserve, we decided to seek fertility treatment and first move forward with intrauterine insemination (IUI).
We had one failed cycle resulting in miscarriage in March 2020 and one canceled cycle that July. Ironically, that canceled cycle did result in a natural pregnancy that ended in miscarriage.
Each miscarriage brought devastation.
Days after my third miscarriage, we began the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF). We knew I could get pregnant, but we also knew I wasn’t maintaining pregnancies. At 38 years of age, my miscarriages were likely a combined problem of egg quality and Fallopian tube issues. My husband and I decided we didn’t want to wait around and chance missing the opportunity to carry, deliver, and raise our child from birth.
Thus, we took the money we had been saving to add a deck to our house and put it towards a far more important project. My husband deserved “the husband of the year award” or “of a lifetime” for his words the day we decided to pursue IVF. I felt bad about taking money away from a project my husband and I had agreed upon in order to pursue “my” heart’s desire.
He assured me that a baby was his heart’s desire as well and he said, “We can save for a deck later. In 10 plus years, our little one can help me build a deck.”
All concern about selfishness was cast aside, and Daniel and I were in this together — our eyes were on the goal.
Our story from there was seemingly ordained — the puzzle pieces falling perfectly into place.
My egg retrieval cycle was delayed a week because of a cyst. While I was upset, it didn’t take me long to appreciate how all things began to align. My shots to prepare for egg retrieval began on the due date of my miscarried angel from December 2019: August 28, 2020.
During this time, I began a teaching position at a new school where one of my co-teachers had successfully gone through IVF with Dr. Edelstein and my same nurse team. My retrieval occurred on the first day of school — I later wore my co-teacher’s lucky “hatch and attach” socks to the transfer.
We decided to do genetic testing of our embryos, and froze them in the meantime. In that process, we got LOTS of answers.
My first frozen embryo transfer was scheduled for Wednesday, October 21, 2020 — my father’s birthday.
I was on pins and needles for the 10 days following our transfer. So much hope. So much fear.
Well, on Friday afternoon, October 30, 2020 while at Great Harvest Bread Company with my women’s small group from church — a group who fervently prayed for this process, for my husband and me, for our daughter who already was being referred to by name, Tessa Michelle (meaning Harvester/Gatherer in the Image of God) — I got a call from Dr. Edelstein’s nurse, Lisa, that I was pregnant.
Tessa reached 8-weeks gestation on Thanksgiving Day, 12-weeks gestation on Christmas Eve (also the day we got to see her fingers and toes on an ultrasound), and the end of the first trimester on the one-year anniversary of the day I had miscarried our December 2019 angel.
The puzzle pieces continued falling into place.
Tessa, our developing miracle, was bringing healing to our hearts little by little. I was blessed. I LOVED being pregnant. Even when I experienced morning sickness, I was just so grateful to be pregnant. Each morning sickness episode brought about thoughts of, “Okay, she is growing; I am still pregnant.”
I treasured every movement, every hiccup, every opportunity to see her via ultrasound, and every opportunity to hear her heart via Doppler.
Tessa liked her mama being pregnant as well. Twelve days past due, I was induced. Tessa arrived at 4:57 a.m. on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.
These were verses sent to me by one of those wonderful women who surrounded me through my miscarriages and who was present for the news that I was pregnant at Great Harvest Bread Company on October 30, 2020: Haggai 2: 1 and 9.
Those verses state: “On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying, ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place, I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.'”
The greatest desire of my heart — to feel every movement, to labor and deliver, to hold my newborn, to raise her from birth — came to fruition. Our family — our household and extended family — has been blessed with deep joy and intangible peace with the addition of Tessa.
We will be returning to Shady Grove Fertility in the upcoming years for each of our other awaiting embryos. We hope to have a house full of little girls and a little boy. We want each of those embryos to have a chance to “hatch and attach.”
The same goes for parenthood, we are learning that although we may disagree from time to time (and being sleep deprived doesn’t make it easier), we’re on the same team. We both fought so hard to have this baby girl and we are forever grateful!
Throughout our journey, I learned that the desires of my heart are important, and it is good to go after them. I learned to simultaneously trust my medical team, ask questions, and advocate for myself. I also learned that there are far more couples who have struggled with infertility than I could have ever imagined.
Infertility is heart-wrenching. It isn’t embarrassing or something to hide. It is just what it is: a stroke of bad luck. If you are facing infertility, don’t put aside your desire for a child. Seek answers. Seek help. Don’t wait.