My Miracle Babies:
Bliss at a very high cost
Oliver and Jacob
When I was growing up, I knew I was a little different or that my body was anyway. I NEVER got my period like all the other girls. Until I hit high school, I was always plump. However, I never FELT any different. And, I always thought it was a blessing to not have a period.
When diagnosed with PCOS while I was trying desperately to conceive, my first doctor told me that I would never have kids. I went through many more doctors, all of whom tried to "fix" me. The first year, my husband and I were very optimistic and did everything we were told to do. Eating right, taking pills, taking my temperature and charting my cycle became a daily routine for us. But after a year nothing seemed to happen. I could take pills to induce a menstrual cycle, but the doctors could not get my body to ovulate.
During our second year of trying to conceive, my husband, a Marine, had to deploy for six months. During the period before he left, I hoped, prayed and continued to do what was necessary to get pregnant. Deployment time came and we still had not succeeded.
I was a mess. There were many days I just didn't even feel like getting out of bed. I cried at every little thing. I couldn't imagine going to friends' and family members' baby showers. Heck, I could barely get through a get together where there were babies present. Everything, I mean everything, seemed to remind me of what I couldn't have.
I prayed every night that God would bless us with a baby, yet I always woke up empty handed. I would hear so much advice on how to get pregnant, such as "just relax." But, no one understood that just "relaxing" was not going to fix my body; was not going to get me pregnant.
When my husband returned, we continued to try to have a baby. We prayed and our family and friends continued to pray. Although it felt that our prayers were falling on deaf ears, we hoped to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
After three years of trying to conceive I was FINALLY referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Thanks to our insurance we practically had to jump through hoops to even get to this point. That was in November of 2006.
I was devastated when we found out that we had to repeat most of the tests we had done already.
In February 2007, we finally got the go ahead to start injections. Oh boy, what fun! In the evenings, my husband would give me my shot. At night, as always, before I would drift off to sleep, I'd imagine us with a baby. And, we would pray.
At the end of that cycle I took a pregnancy test only to find it to be negative. I was crushed to say the least. I kept wondering why? Why couldn't I have a baby? I would cry. I felt that God was unfair. I was mad at Him. In that state of mind, I felt that there were women that could get pregnant that would have abortions or abuse their children, or give their children away ... yet I couldn't have just one: just one tiny baby to myself.
You feel as if each month you have failed and a little piece of your womanhood is chipped away, little by little until you have nothing but a thread of hope to hang on to.
I was hurt, disappointed, frustrated and damn angry. But, most of all, I found that I was jealous. When I would hear about a friend or family member getting pregnant, I wanted to feel happy for them, but honestly, jealousy just consumed me.
While reaching to the internet for support, you feel a little strange at first. Then you meet some wonderful women to share your journey with. After many months, maybe even a year, it seems like the women are passing you by. They get pregnant and move on and again you feel all alone. The jealousy eats at you. And you swear that when you finally do get pregnant you will leave no one behind because YOU know how it feels.
Moving forward, about a week or two after taking that initial pregnancy test, I took another one, and then I took another and another. I could not believe the positive sign staring back at me. I think I took a total of 14 pregnancy tests in that one day! To say that my husband and I were ecstatic would be an extreme understatement.
We had our very first ultrasound at six weeks ... and we found out we were pregnant with twins!!
We wanted to tell EVERYONE! I didn't think I could thank God enough.
Unfortunately, I developed Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) an extreme case of morning sickness. I couldn't eat or drink anything!
Around 14-16 weeks of pregnancy, the HG had let up some and it was time to see our Maternal Fetal Specialist (MFS). At that appointment we were told that our babies, our precious little miracle babies would either A) die or B) be born so early that they would be severely handicapped due to an incompetent cervix. He sent me home with nothing more than bed rest.
I think I hit an all time low, a state of depression I could not pull myself out of. And, my poor husband - how do you console a sobbing pregnant woman who won't even get out of bed? Even now, two years later, I still tear up thinking about him sitting beside me on the bed trying to convince not only me, but himself too, that everything would be okay. My big strong man, trying to be strong enough for both us after we were told our babies were going to die. My husband tried to keep my hopes up ... yet I could see the tears in his eyes too. In my entire life, I have never felt so much love than I did on that terrible afternoon. Someone I love, holding his pain in to try to spare me my own pain.
Determined to beat the odds, my husband got online and researched extensively. We discussed the option of a cerclage, a surgical procedure, also known as a cervical stitch, to repair an incompetent cervix.
Our MFS told us that cerclages were not effective and refused to do one. When we mentioned a second opinion, the MFS said "you can get a second, third or fourth opinion, but you will not find anyone else on this planet that knows more than me."
Fast forward a little: my husband was going to have to deploy again and I was to go home to Ohio for bed rest. That was the best thing that could have happened to us. In Ohio, I found a new OB, a new MFS and had a cerclage done in less than two weeks. I still had to remain on bed rest, but I felt a little tingle of hope beginning to form again.
I had doctor's appointments twice a month. That was the only time I was allowed out of bed (other than to shower).
We approached our situation week by week. I kept thinking if I could just get to 28 weeks, then my babies would have a fighting chance. And then it was if I could just get to 30 weeks and onwards until my 34th week. Yes - that is right, at my 34th week appointment I was still very much pregnant.
I thought for sure that I would be taken off bed rest at that time but no (as I sit here and giggle to myself thinking about it). At 34 weeks, I was admitted to the hospital for pre-eclampsia. I stayed pregnant clear up until one day shy of 36 weeks. I had a C-section done and ended up having two PERFECTLY HEALTHY baby boys. They did not need one minute of NICU care.
"Bad" and "hard" are not terms I would use to describe my TTC journey.
No, definitely not. I would say "horrific" and "close to impossible." That is how I felt and looking back I can still feel the pain of it. I know that probably sounds crazy. Sometimes, if I think about it long enough, it brings tears to my eyes. An experience that does that to someone - no, I would not call that bad. I would call that excruciatingly painful.
No, infertility is not a physically deadly disease but I have to wonder if it could be an emotionally deadening disease. I was lucky enough to finally get pregnant. However, I wonder what if my time never came ... would I be dead inside? Would I have lost all hope and be miserable for the rest of my life all the while always wondering why not me?
My heart goes out to women who have to travel down this road. And even though they may have a husband or significant other, the experience still feels pretty lonely.
So when I think about this journey and I think it was bad and terrible, I have to go even further and say no, it wasn't bad, not even terrible. It was the WORST time in my life - although it did lead me to the best things in my life.