My husband and I met online and were instantly inseparable. When dreaming of what our family would look like, we never imagined that Shady Grove Fertility would be part of our story. We started trying for a baby soon after getting married and assumed it would come easily. I had a first-trimester miscarriage from a previous relationship but had gotten pregnant quickly and never considered that it might not come easily for subsequent pregnancies.
After almost a year of trying, we reached out to SGF for a consultation. My husband was adopted so we weren’t sure of any of his medical history or familial medical history that could have been a factor. We were nervous and anxious and had no idea what to expect. Dr. Swelstad made us feel at ease immediately. He made us feel heard and talked through our options and answered every single question we had. We completed genetic testing in addition to the preliminary testing. We agreed to start with intrauterine insemination (IUI) and, at first, we thought our first round was successful!
Unfortunately, our HCG didn’t rise appropriately. It actually fluctuated up and down, causing us a lot of concern. The pregnancy was not viable, and it was heartbreaking. We were hopeful that the process worked but concerned that we couldn’t stay pregnant. Our second round of IUI was also unsuccessful.
Then, we thought the third time was the charm. I was pregnant, but again, our HCG fluctuated and was ultimately not viable. Dr. Swelstad sent us for Recurrent Pregnant Loss bloodwork, which came back normal.
We were stumped. We felt so defeated.
Baby showers for friends were painful. Pregnancy announcements felt personal. It was SO lonely to see pregnancy and birth come so easily to others while it seemed like our world was standing still.
We felt left behind and forgotten.
As we were facing infertility, it felt important to hold on to hope throughout the process. We took it one step at a time, and we embraced every moment of it. By that I mean we allowed ourselves to really and truly feel the emotions of what we were experiencing. It wasn’t easy. We gave ourselves and each other the space to really process it. Some days were better than others. There were a lot of tears. But we agreed not to live in those moments. We felt them. We talked about them. We experienced them. But we didn’t want to be stuck in them permanently.
Having a clear plan really helped. We had a roadmap of what that month looked like and what steps we were taking next. And plans B and C just in case. Our care team never gave us any indication that we shouldn’t be hopeful. We followed their lead. They were honest and educated us but met us where we were with empathy and kindness.
After Dr. Swelstad consulted with other doctors, we attempted a hysteroscopy to fix a very small curvature and a biopsy. We were shocked to learn there was no curvature to repair but our biopsy revealed cervicitis. We believe the infection was preventing implantation and causing the fluctuating HCGs.
We agreed to attempt one additional IUI before moving to IVF and had started to emotionally and mentally prepare ourselves for the next steps. Our first three IUIs were heartbreaking and confusing and traumatic but our SGF care team truly kept us going. They made us feel less alone, and that was truly a gift. Especially when we were in limbo with no diagnosis and more questions than answers. They never allowed us to give up hope and were always available to listen and support us. We never could have done this process without them by our side.
After two weeks of heavy antibiotics, we attempted our fourth and final IUI, which would eventually result in a beautiful baby girl.
Throughout the pregnancy, I felt a lot of anxiety. Every day simultaneously felt like a gift and like we were waiting for the other shoe to drop. We decided, no matter the outcome, this baby deserved our hope. They deserved our belief that everything would be okay.
I had a subchorionic hematoma around 9 weeks. I started bleeding when we were on our way to Disney World. It felt cruel and unfair. The doctors in the ER were kind but firm in stating that we should prepare for the worst. It felt like the world was crashing in around us. Again.
Then, in an even crueler turn of events, I started bleeding again the morning of our gender reveal party. We had invited all of our friends to our home for a cook out and had planned to not only announce our pregnancy (they all knew how hard we had been trying), but we also wanted to find out the sex together. That morning, instead of setting up for our party, I spent a few hours in the ER preparing to cancel. But, our sweet baby was still there and hanging on.
The hematoma healed itself around 12 weeks and the remainder of my pregnancy was perfect. No morning sickness, no headaches, or “normal” pregnancy symptoms. If we hadn’t gone through treatments, I likely wouldn’t have known I was pregnant until I started showing. I was so grateful for a glimpse of ease in the sea of hurdles we had experienced.
Our daughter was born at 41 weeks + 3 days after 26 hours of labor. We chose to pursue an unmedicated water birth – mostly so we could try to claim “some” control in our story. Her birth brought our story full circle. Even thinking about it now makes me teary. Everything we had been through had been worth it. And we would have done it a hundred times if it meant we could get here.
Our daughter made her way into the world healthy and happy, and she is everything we could have ever hoped for.
I wish I could go back and tell the Taylor and Dan in the midst of their third loss that this is the outcome and show them what they were fighting for. The tears and the shots and the loss led us to a perfect baby girl and every single day with her is a gift.
And that’s what I would tell anyone in the trenches of treatments. One day, you’re going to look back and wish you could have shown yourself the future — the bright, bright future with the incredible sound of baby giggles. And I wish I could give you a hug, because this part is hard. It’s so hard but you’re showing up and future you and your future baby will thank you for it.
Family photos by Sierra McCray Photography