This week marks two very special anniversaries for me. Today is my three-year wedding anniversary and on Friday it will be exactly one year from when I found out I was pregnant with Amelia. I think back to one year from today and it was a sad world we were living in, I had lost all hope of having a baby. After everything we had been through up to that point it was gone. The statistics stacked against me, and my hope was crushed. I now realize how important it is to keep the hope alive, without it you are just left with doubt, which turns in to stress, which hurts your chances of conceiving. Tonight as I held Amelia and rocked her to sleep, after one of only two nights out without her, I thought back to this week last year. To our anniversary dinner at the same restaurant we went to tonight, how we smiled and had a good time and didn’t talk about TTC. Tonight we smiled and had a good time and talked about what a blessed life we have and how happy we are to be in this place three years after our wedding.
When going through the journey of infertility it is so important to have support. I was so lucky; I had that support from Steve first and foremost. Then it came from my parents, Sophie, Ed, Stephanie and my friend Laura. I also found support online. There are so many places you can go and find people in your situation or that have been in your situation. You can find people with both positive and negative outcomes. My favorite place to go was the what to expect message boards. I found so much support from women that had all of my issues, there was a PCOS thread, there was an infertility board, there were threads for every topic you will ever encounter. If I didn’t have the support I did I can tell you for sure that I wouldn’t have come out of this on the other end the way I did.
My biggest outlet was Sophie. We emailed every day, sometimes more than once a day. The funny thing is that we are in the same city and we didn’t even meet in person until a year after we started emailing. We just knew that what we had was so special, it’s so much easier to put your true feelings out there if you don’t have to look someone in the eye. Sophie and I discussed every appointment, every test, every drug, every feeling, every tear. I would email her and as soon as I hit send I felt like I could breathe again. I am a night owl and Sophie is an early bird so I would write her right before I went to bed and I knew that I would have an email waiting when I woke up. If you are going through infertility my number one suggestion above all else is to find someone to talk to that isn’t your husband. Preferably someone you can write to. It is like therapy.
I am by no means suggesting you don’t talk to or confide in your husband. He should be your number one confidant. But the comfort of speaking to another woman is un-matched. I had this amazing community of women surrounding me, each one giving me something different. Stephanie gave me hope, Laura gave me faith, my mom was always there to listen and Sophie gave constant unwavering support. Husbands tend to take a lot of pain and hurt on themselves and hold it in. I tried to spare Steve of some of my pain. I didn’t always let him know exactly how much heartache I was experiencing. I didn’t want to hurt him any more than he already was. After all was said and done we ended up telling each other how much we had kept to ourselves in order to help the other one get through the whole experience. We are so lucky to have each other and care so much about the other’s feelings.
After all of the tests and being officially classified as infertile we were on a roll. It was now a matter of trial and error. Dr. R started me on clomid. I was so so so excited because I just knew that adding clomid would guarantee a pregnancy for me. That month I was on the lowest dose and it did the trick! I ovulated about a week earlier than I normally did. I had taken my estrogen, clomid and metformin. This was my month! We did the trigger shot and the IUI and I went home to suffer through my two week wait. I didn’t really suffer, we did everything possible to keep our minds off of the waiting. I made it 13 days before I knew for sure I wasn’t pregnant. I wasn’t devastated, I was confused. Why didn’t it work? We did everything right. There was no reason for this to not work.
It was time to jump right back in. Dr. R decided to start my clomid earlier in my cycle and up the dosage. It kind of back fired. The higher dose of clomid made my cysts go crazy. They grew so large that there was no room for the follicles to grow. I did finally ovulate that cycle but it was about two weeks later than the cycle before. I didn’t give up hope. I waited and waited 13 days, 14 days…negative pregnancy test but no period. 15 days, 16 days negative pregnancy test. 17 days, 18 days, my hopes were so high and then finally there it was, a big red slap in the face! It was hard to know what to do next. It was hard to stay positive. Then Dr. R told me the last thing I wanted to hear. He wanted me to go on birth control for a month to give my ovaries a rest and see if the cysts would go down.
I didn’t want to stop, I didn’t want a break, I wanted a baby!! This was horrible news. I was devastated. A month felt like forever. I distracted myself with work and friends and travel. I counted down every pill in the pack. I continued with my fertility monitor so at least I felt like I was keeping up with something. When the month finally ended I was at Dr. R’s office ready to go and he had a new plan. I again started the clomid earlier, we upped the dosage again and I took it for a longer amount of time.
It was during this time that Sophie said to me “Hope floats”. I had heard this expression before but I never really gave it any thought. Sophie seemed to know the exact right things to say to me. I meditated on those words, hope floats. I pictured it in my head, the word hope tied to my heart keeping it up. Then I thought if I lost that floating hope my heart would sink and I couldn’t go on. So, I let hope float.
That cycle was the weirdest cycle I ever had. I followed along with my fertility monitor, you get a reading of low when nothing is happening, a reading of high when ovulation will happen soon and a reading of peak telling you that you will ovulate within 48 hours. Normally there are several low days followed by 2-4 high days then two peak days and back down to 2 high days then low again. I never had a problem with the monitor telling me all of the right things in the right order until this month. I got my low readings then instead of the normal 2-4 high days I got 16 high days!!! Then it got even worse, it went from high to low and skipped peak! WHAT?!?! What does that mean? Did I not ovulate at all? Did the eggs disappear? I went in for an ultrasound and there were still a couple of decent sized follicles so Dr. R gave me the trigger shot that evening and two days later did the IUI. The day of the IUI he did an ultrasound to confirm that the follicles had popped, they weren’t there so at some point they had to have popped. He also did a blood test to check my hormone levels to confirm ovulation.
About 5 days later I was with Stephanie at a book signing for Tori Spellings new book. We were waiting in line for our chance to meet Tori, being silly with her son Sam when I got the call from Dr. R’s nurse. She told me that my blood tests had come back and my levels were so low that there was no way I ovulated. The follicles must have just shrunken down and not popped. Another month, another batch of bad news. I felt numb. I didn’t know what to think. Oh, did I tell you that two days earlier Stephanie and Ed told us they were pregnant with their second child? If you remember, she was pregnant with her first when I started TTC. I was of course happy for Stephanie but I couldn’t help but be a little jealous. Our hearts did break a little when we heard their news. But it wasn’t something to focus on, that was them and we needed to focus on us.
The next week we left for Syracuse for Steve’s sisters wedding. After Syracuse I went to NYC for a week to visit a friend so I had plenty of distractions from my failed cycle. I knew that when I got back the next step was to see a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) and start daily hormone injections. I really wasn’t looking forward to giving myself a shot every day but I would do whatever I had to do. I had a surgery scheduled for a couple of days after I got back to remove a cyst from my wrist. It was July 3rd, the morning after I got back from New York when I realized it had been 15 days since my IUI and I hadn’t gotten my period. I knew I couldn’t be pregnant but I knew I would feel better about going under for surgery if I saw the negative pregnancy test with my own eyes. Steve was still asleep when I took it. I laid it on the bathroom counter and brushed my teeth and washed my face and I looked over to grab it and throw it away when I saw the second line! I started having heart palpitations (literally!) and felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was worried I would pass out. I wanted to take another test. The digital tests were easier to read and less likely to give a false positive so I grabbed the box (yes, I had several boxes of pregnancy tests under the sink) and I shook as I tore open the test and waited. It only took about 5 seconds for it to pop up as PREGNANT!
OH CRAP!!! I have dreamed of this moment. I have prayed for this moment. I have planned for this moment…..what do I do now?!?!?! Then it hit me, I HAD planned for this moment. Months and months ago I ordered a custom made onesie to hand to Steve as my way to tell him I was pregnant. I had stashed it, still in the envelope in the bottom of my pajama drawer. I quietly went back in to the bedroom and dug through the drawer desperate to find it without passing out and without waking Steve up. Finally my hands found it. I walked over to Steve’s side of the bed and sat down. I just started poking him over and over until he woke up and saw the envelope sitting on his chest. He said, “What’s this?” I said, “Open it” He pulled out the onesie and said “Oh, that’s really cute. Where did you get it?” I just stared at him and handed him the pregnancy test. He sat up so fast and just started repeating, “Are you kidding me?” over and over. His eyes filled with tears and then he looked really serious and said, “Are you sure?” He jumped up out of bed and made me take about four more tests. They were all positive!! It was the best 4th of July weekend of our lives! Little did we know what would lie ahead.