Becoming a mother was always something I assumed would happen in my life. One of those things that would naturally occur with little effort on my part and little drama. I was an editor and photographer in D.C. and was ready to have a family of my own, even if it meant going a more untraditional route to motherhood.
Coming to Shady Grove Fertility
For years, I had thought about becoming a single mother by choice. When I finally made the decision to use donor sperm and head to Shady Grove Fertility, I was 33 years old and fairly confident that it would be a simple and easy process. Instead, my journey took me through two heartbreaking miscarriages before I was able to have my little baby girl.
I was disappointed my first IUI with donor sperm didn’t work, but I reminded myself of the statistics–5 to 25% chance based on age. The second IUI failed as well, and then, to my delight, I was pregnant on my third IUI. I went through the beta tests and saw the heart rate, seemingly beating so strongly. I “graduated” from Shady Grove Fertility and had my first pregnancy appointment with an OB/GYN where I saw the baby’s heartbeat again.
Everything was going well until I was 11 weeks pregnant and light bleeding started. That happens, and I had no other symptoms besides back pain. I scheduled an appointment for the next day, expecting to be told “not to worry.” Instead, the doctor paused the ultrasound and said there was no heartbeat. The baby had stopped growing over a week ago. I had a missed miscarriage and would need a D&C.
It’s hard to describe just how painful it is when a life you’re carrying just stops, even at that relatively early stage. The names I had already written out, the pregnancy announcement I was already working on, the phrasing of telling my boss. And the tiny sound of a heartbeat that never had a chance to thrive in the world outside, to live and grow up.
I took 3 months off from trying to get pregnant again, but two IUI’s and several months later, I was once again pregnant. But this pregnancy ended much sooner. I was just over 7 weeks when it happened and this time it was quicker. The bleeding was stronger and more intense, the cramping much more painful.
I would try twice more, several months apart. On what would be my seventh IUI, just over a year from my first miscarriage, I would become pregnant for the third time. And this time, I would carry the baby girl 40 weeks and 3 days, and she would be born a healthy 8 lbs and 13 oz a few weeks after I turned 36.
Throughout the process, Dr. Doyle would call me and check in on me. We discussed moving to IVF before my last IUI, but I am thankful I was able to get pregnant successfully with an IUI. Aside from the painful miscarriages, the months and expenses of trying to conceive have run together, the memories have faded into blurry recollections. They have been overshadowed by new memories and moments of my beautiful little girl I get to hold in my arms every day.
Being a new mom
Being a new mom has its challenges, and a first-time mom more so as you try to figure things out. Between worrying if the diapers are too tight or too loose, or if the baby is getting enough food if her room is too warm or too cold, there are the little moments that make your heart swell. The toothless smile, the laughter that can stop a room. And just lying on the floor next to her, helping her discover her toys – and hands and toes and learning to sit up and rollover.
You know priorities will shift before the little one is born, but only poets have gotten it right in describing just how much bliss can be achieved from a sloppy, wet hand touching your face or how it feels when your daughter smiles at you when you get home from work. So being a new mom is chaotic, exhausting, filled with worry and anxiety, but also eclipses any other moment.
Staying strong throughout treatment
After the physical aspects of the miscarriages were over, the emotional healing took a long time. Even now I can still struggle to describe the emotional toll the first one took on me. But my family has been a never-ending support system.
As a single mom by choice, I didn’t have a husband to share my grief with. But my parents and siblings were there for me the entire time. They texted and called for updates on procedures and test results, offered advice, and opened ears. I leaned heavily into comedy shows like Schitt’s Creek and Brooklyn 99 for mental distractions at night, the light-hearted comedies a welcome reprieve from the darker feelings of failure.
Dr. Doyle was also amazing and supportive throughout the process, always taking the time to answer questions. He never rushed me, and we talked about all my options and how they would go and proceed. With miscarriages, it can feel like a successful pregnancy will never happen. But Dr. Doyle’s calm assurance that it would happen, that we would find a way for me to have a child, was a great support. The last two nurses I had before my successful pregnancy, were kind and supportive, answering all my questions quickly even as I sometimes barraged them with emails.
Advice to future patients
There are times when trying to conceive can be difficult and frustrating. And there are times after conception during pregnancy that are scary. None of my pregnancies, even the one that lasted until 40 weeks, were blissful walks through forests of flowers. But the little girl I get to read to sleep every night, that I get to hold in my arms and soothe away tears and watch her laugh at peek-a-boo and see her eyes widen as she tries a new solid food, those moments make everything worth it.
So, during the times when it gets bleak, take a short break if needed, take a deep breath, treat yourself to something you may not have, and then take a step forward again to trying. And repeat if needed. The end goal is worth it, trust me.