What’s Love Got To Do With It? by Sandra Ellison ~ Infertility, Pregnancy, & In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Infertility, Pregnancy, & In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I knew it was the one gift from God that made me special and a right he blessed me with.

When all my friends were getting ready to prepare for their first-born babies, I was wishing I was not struggling so hard just to get pregnant. If you have seen movies where they portray couples sitting in a fertility clinic trying hard to pretend like they are not the cause of infertility, and it seemed awkward, and… Well, uncomfortable–IT’S TRUE. I remember sitting in the first fertility clinic and feeling like I was literally in a movie. It was surreal. All of us sitting in there felt uncomfortable. We all knew why we were there, but it was like there was an elephant in the room.

Of course, not understanding why I could not get pregnant was hard enough to take but then the test results told me exactly why I was not getting pregnant. Fortunately, it was an easily treatable condition that I had. All it took was a little teeny tiny, very expensive pill that balanced my pituitary gland and made my body realize that I was not already expecting. Yeah, that’s right, my prolactin levels were elevated, so my body just assumed I was already pregnant or that I was breast-feeding a baby. Prolactin levels are regulated by the pituitary gland. It is the hormone released when you become pregnant, and continues to help produce milk as you breast feed. It is also considered a very natural birth control hormone in your body and for most, will keep you from getting your period THUS help you to not get pregnant right after having a baby. So great, the one thing I have been trying to do all this time for the past year is become pregnant and my body was thinking I already was. 

Once that was in check, me getting pregnant was not a problem. However, I had a second issue going on. My Progesterone levels were too low, which means I could not sustain a pregnancy through the first trimester. Progesterone levels are at their highest in the first ten to twelve weeks of a pregnancy. The levels are what help the baby to thrive until the placenta can take over to provide nutrition to the baby. My body was not able to produce this hormone for some reason. Another easy fix, progesterone supplements.

My first Pregnancy was when we learned I had low progesterone levels, and I miscarried at five weeks. My Second pregnancy was about five months later. This is when we learned I also had a mild case of endometriosis, on my fallopian tubes. The second pregnancy we had to terminate at seven weeks because the baby was growing in my fallopian tube and literally bursted through it. I remember going to the doctor and not feeling right, I was lucky that I was already seeing a specialist at the time, because it was the ultrasound that made us realize, there was no baby in my uterus. I did not feel any pain, but I was definitely in shock…and not a good kind. The doctor was very nice and told me not to worry, the baby, he assumed, was in my tube and he felt he could save my tube. However, when he went into surgery, he found the tube was obliterated and a huge blood clot was formed. I was already bleeding internally. 

So here I am, after one year of trying naturally, one year of ups and downs with fertility testings, a miscarriage at five weeks, and an ectopic pregnancy resulting in a lost right fallopian tube. At this time, the doctor did not want to go near me. He told us our options were adoption or In Vitro Fertilization. I was shocked, I mean, IVF! That is like absolute last resort right? Well, yes, but because my odds for another ectopic pregnancy were double and I only had one fallopian tube, the doctor did not feel it would be right to risk me having another ectopic pregnancy. Well, okay then, so we had a lot to think about. We decided to go through with the IVF.  

You start with a month of birth control pills. Then you start hormone levels of shots. Follistim, Pergonal, Lupron…these are just some of what I took. The weight gain from the hormones is awful, the headaches, the emotional rollercoaster of it all. They check your ovaries for follicles, hoping there are at least ten or more. The hormones will try to mature up to ten or more. The first egg retrieval was awful. I barely remember the procedure. THANK GOD, because my husband said I was screaming in pain. They got ten eggs, seven fertilized, and five went to embryo transfer. This first round did not take and no baby came of it. I was heartbroken. Second round same thing happened again, ten eggs, seven fertilized five went to embryo transfer. I had read about baby aspirin and how it can help with blood flow in the uterus. This time was a positive result! YAY finally pregnant, after two years! Things were going great. I saw a heart beat at six weeks, then again at eight weeks. At eleven weeks along, no heart beat. It was a very upsetting day for us.

It was like our dreams were crushed. There was nothing wrong with the baby, other than it must have been God’s way of saying something was wrong. A-hem, excuse me…God’s way? Do you think any of what can only be called a science project is truly God’s way? Don’t get me wrong here, I am a total advocate for becoming pregnant, even if it means there is no fun in it and let’s face it becoming pregnant is HARD WORK when you are planning for it. 

We took a year off and went to another clinic, but only because we moved out of the state at the time. Third time, same thing, and pregnant again. Okay, so I am pregnant, and I am excited but extremely cautious. Every day took forever to pass. I felt fine for my first two ultrasound visits, at six weeks heart beat, one baby, good, okay, happy day! At eight weeks, I was still feeling really sick up through this day so I felt confident baby was still thriving, strong heartbeat, all going well. The anxiety started to build, as I was getting closer to hitting that eleventh week mark. The time when I lost the last baby and the fear that it would happen again. 

I was crying, nervous the day took forever and my appointment was not until the afternoon. And as if God was punishing me even more, the doctor was behind by a whole hour. Okay, so now I am sitting here waiting with a bunch of people with their children in their arms, watching me do everything I can to hold the tears back, breathing in patterns and the suspense of it all was…. well…. it was agony. Finally, I get in and everything is in slow motion. I had to close my eyes, I told my husband to just tell me if he saw anything. The doctor turned on the monitor and I could hear the heartbeat of the baby! Everything was fine. I was overjoyed and then a mere twenty-nine weeks later, I had my first baby, a girl. It only took me about four years, and I learned a lot about how our bodies work, and though it was hard to go through everything we did, I would not change a thing about it. If it weren’t for what we went through, I would not have my Grace.

Okay, I forgave God for all of it. I did, because I do know of many who have gone through IVF and did not succeed, but I will say that more and more have succeeded in being a mom through IVF. It is a hard journey, but it was worth it for me.

Did you have a hard time getting pregnant? Did you try IVF?  What’s your story?

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Randi
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 08:19:18

    ((huge hug)) Mama, Mama, Mama – do I UNDERSTAND!! We’ve tried forever to get pregnant (my partner and I). Many IUI’s, a failed IVF (by partner) (man, that is heart wrenching!), the emotional ups and downs takes a toll on you. We did an IVF on me (28) at the time and we got 17 eggs – 12 frozen, 2 placed.

    I bled at 6 weeks. BLED. It was HORRIFYING. I was at peace with it for some reason. My partner was a mess. We had friends over at the time and it was all a blur. We didn’t get any if much sleep that night and had called our midwife that night (the panic to find the number was horrendous!) and she got us in the next morning for an ultrasound (which we weren’t planning on doing either!) but we were very thankful that at 6 weeks could HEAR the heartbeat (which the heartbeat is FORMED at 6 weeks) and it was TO THE DATE 6 weeks that we had the ultrasound.

    That scare was horrifying. It is so hard to try to make it until you hear the heartbeat, feel movement, and have the baby come out just to know that they are safe in your arms.

    It is very much a roller coaster of emotions and the money….eeekkk. Our babies are worth a million.

    We now have an 18 month old boy named Rudy :o) and hope to have another possibly someday in the next year or so…(but one knows how THAT planning goes).

    big hugs from someone that UNDERSTANDS!
    Randi

    Reply

  2. Stacy
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 15:23:49

    Totally there with you!!! Two years, many drugs, lots of money, top docs in Seattle, emotional roller coaster, etc. We are IVF/ICSI – which is the insertion of the egg into the sperm by the doc b/c we could never get pregnant with just egg and sperm in a test tube. So, yes, we have test tube babies – and I am darn proud of it! We transferred three and got three! Who would have ever thought??? The odds are so stacked against a couple unable to get pregnant, that you’ll do anything to increase your odds.

    I’ll never forget the day: two weeks after the first blood test (which showed a positive pregnancy) we go in for our first ultrasound. The doc says, “There’s one. Oh, there’s two. (Silence) You’ve got the mother load! All three embryos have implanted.” At that moment, I have never been so sure of something in my life. It was right then that I knew why I had been put here on earth . . . it was to raise these three kiddos!

    My secret mom admission: I’ve gone from not really wanting to be a mom (you know, career woman thing) to uber-mom. It is the best job on the planet. I am thankful every day for the blessings in my life I actually aspire to be as kind, thoughtful, intelligent and honest as our three kiddos. They mean the world to me.

    In addition to that, I can’t wait until my kids are in the 5th grade and have the talk about where babies come from. I’ve already told our kids, “You just raise up that hand of yours and tell your teacher that that may be the case with most pregnancies, but are test tube babies!” And then I secretly laugh at what will have to be the 5th grade teacher’s explanation to that. I used to be one . . . so I will laugh with and not at that lucky teacher!!

    Stacy

    Reply

  3. Ang
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 15:56:13

    I think it is great that you’ve told your story. I have twin boys via IVF (on the second try). They’re 3 ½ years old now and fill my life with such happiness that I’ve sort of forgotten all the years of sadness, struggle, awkwardness, and emotional drama that came with 5 years of struggling with infertility.

    Your blog is a reminder of how difficult it was for many years, and makes me appreciate my boys even more. After thinking about it, the memories of crying each time I got my period came back to me so vividly. And after the Dr’s said the first IVF didn’t work, all I could think was, “What’s next? What in the world am I going to do with the rest of my time? “ I know thinking back this all sounds so dramatic because I have plenty of hobbies, friends, family, career, etc., and would have been just fine. There is just something about knowing your purpose was to be a mom, or at least it is in your head and you just can’t push that out of your mind no matter how hard you try.

    After the first IVF had failed, I wasn’t very eager to go through it again… with the shots, the hormone rollercoaster, the finances, but mostly the potential emotional letdown. My husband begged me to do it again and we agreed that it was the last time and if it didn’t work we had written out a full plan for the rest of our life that included moving to the city, compiling a list of places we would travel to each year for the next 10 years. All planned out in detail. I also walked into the clinic with my mind already set that it would not work because I just couldn’t deal with another emotional letdown like that. But it did… I was now pregnant with twins. Amazing.

    It didn’t get easier after that though. We were so afraid to lose them. And to add to it, my husband traveled overseas for work a couple weeks each month, so a “high risk” twin pregnancy, twin infants (and the lack of sleep that comes with that), and then twin toddler boys running amuck, destroying as they go, was incredibly exhausting.

    I think for the first time in many years, as I’m coming out of the fog of exhaustion that motherhood inevitably is, I know with all my heart it was the most valuable decision I’ve made in my life. And I would have put myself through so much more than that, now that I know how incredible it is to be a mother.

    Reply

  4. kontua
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 00:21:34

    like

    Reply

  5. Megan Vogel
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 11:46:03

    Thank you for sharing your story. I will be staring my second IVF this week and am feeling terrified. My first cycle was in July and was not successful. I have a unicornuate uterus meaning that I was born with only 1/2 of my uterus and one fallopian tube. I have two ovaries, though, and when I did my first IVF, I produced a huge number of eggs – 37 eggs….most of which were immature. During the cycle I got really sick from ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Only 8 of my eggs fertilized and we transferred two. Neither took and none of the others could be frozen.

    I am now at the outset of round two fretting because I feel like maybe I should have done more to get ready for this. I should have lost weight, I should have started acupuncture, I should have eaten better the past month. Ugh. This constant fretting is too much.

    I am glad to hear that in the end everything worked out for you. I’ll be 35 this year and I really want to become a mom soon.

    Reply

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