I liken our fertility journey to the story of the woman who thought she was traveling to Oakland, California but got off the plane in Auckland, New Zealand. We, too, thought we were in for a much shorter trip! We had achieved a pregnancy naturally the very first time we tried, a pregnancy that ended in a painful miscarriage five weeks later. Despite the emotional setback, I followed the lead of my gynecologist and other friends and family members who said that the fact of conception was a very good sign. My husband and I overcame our grief and assumed the stance that having a baby would come rather easy for us. At the time of our pregnancy, I was 33 years old and he was 37. We tried to conceive again on our own for a year following the miscarriage. Then we sought external help.
We underwent fertility analyses to determine what might be getting in the way of another pregnancy and discovered a problem with sperm motility and morphology. We engaged in Eastern medicinal treatments, using herbs and acupuncture to augment fertility as we geared up for an IUI
In addition, I would have to undergo a procedure to remove a large uterine polyp that might get in the way of a developing embryo and hence create another miscarriage. My biggest fear- that we would have to undergo invasive and painful procedures to have a baby- had come true. I felt robbed of my dream of a natural conception. My husband felt only lucky that there was a solution to our fertility problems. Our differences in the way we regarded this situation created tension in our relationship. But at each step, he gave me courage and showed me that we would get through this together.
In early January 2010, I checked into the surgery department at the hospital. My husband held my hand tightly and wiped away my tears as we waited for my turn in the operating room. I looked around the surgery prep room and reminded myself that a polyp removal was minor compared to what other people were going through. However, it was the very first time I had an IV in my arm, much less been in the hospital. I was terrified. The polyp removal, which went well, was a test of my strength. I felt proud of myself for getting through it and began to see it as preparation for the procedures that lay ahead.
A few weeks after the removal, we returned to see Dr. Herbert. My uterus had been cleaned out and prepared, and had time to recover. Or so I thought. I was ready to move forward with IVF but the results of the ultrasound showed that my uterus was still not ready. The months to follow were ones of great introspection for me. For the first time in my life, I was at the mercy of a situation that was completely out of my control. I was humbled. I come from a family of doers who put a great emphasis on perfectionism and achievement. Because of my background, I had always pushed myself hard and been very self-critical, never knowing when I had given enough.
The process of conceiving a child is so different. You dont get to choose when or how quickly things happen, as the body has a rhythm of its own. The more you push the worse you make the situation. After waiting for a child for almost two years, the final months leading up to IVF felt impossibly long. I was terrified that I was never going to have a baby, and felt unspeakably frustrated and anxious. I had no choice but to master these feelings and allow my body the time to prepare and heal. I also had to trust that this was all part of a process. We would have our baby, but it was going to take time.
In April we were finally cleared to begin using the fertility drugs. The results of our egg retrieval were very fruitful: 30 eggs and 9 embryos. Unfortunately, the results of our embryo transfer were less so. I remember getting the call from the nurses at PFC. We are so sorry. We know how much this means to you. To make matters worse, another polyp had formed in my uterus that needed to be removed before we could try again. I took a huge step back from the fertility process at this disappointing news. I let go entirely and shifted gears, getting back into hobbies and activities that I enjoy but had been pushed to the side in my pursuit of a pregnancy. I hiked, I read, I cooked, I traveled, and I reveled in my relationships with my husband, friends and family. Sometime in late summer, when I felt whole again, I went back to the hospital and had the second polyp removed.
A few months later, my husband and I decided it was time to try another embryo transfer. This time, I was greeted with a Congratulations by the nurses at PFC. After two and a half years, we had achieved another pregnancy! Our baby girl is now 6 weeks old. Difficult as it was, I feel blessed to have gone through what we went through to have her. It taught me the value of patience, and the hard lesson that we dont always get to have what we want when we want it. It has also allowed me to be more kind to myself, which helps me be more in the moment with my baby. Most importantly, I learned that sometimes you need to take steps back to move forward, and that all steps, no matter how small, are still steps in the right direction. Now thats something even our baby girl will appreciate!