When my husband I decided to start a family 4 ½ years ago we initially approached our “let’s make a baby” plan in the most relaxed way possible: didn’t obsess over it, didn’t use ovulation-testing kits or chart my temperature. We planned to be patient and felt it was in the Universe’s hands (it would happen when it happened). Well…that relaxed attitude was maintained for over a year and half…only, nothing happened. And if I am being honest, I didn’t feel grateful for much during that time. I shed a lot of tears, especially as it felt as though so many of those surrounding us became pregnant quickly and easily. I was happy for them, but sad for us.
As months went on, we realized it was time to be more proactive. We sought out a local fertility clinic in search of answers and hope, but our diagnosis (“unexplained fertility”) left us feeling frustrated. Treatment after treatment (3 rounds of IUI and 2 IVF egg retrievals, to be exact) we were finally pregnant, only to miscarry 7 weeks later. The failure to get (or stay) pregnant only triggered irrational guilt within. After all, society’s message heard loud and clear is that we (women) are built to build humans and (for reasons unknown) I could not do that. It was then that we decided to take charge and be our own best health advocates! Knowing the second opinion we needed would be from the very best clinic there is, we headed to Colorado. After many more months of testing, we had hope in our hearts once again! We also now had an understanding of why our journey to parenthood would have always required medical intervention (turns out it wasn’t entirely unexplained). A 3rd IVF egg retrieval and embryo transfer later, we could finally share the good news that was several years in the making…we were pregnant!!!
Looking back, I honestly am grateful for this horrendously hard and yet beautiful journey of infertility. As I held our daughter Arran for the first time, not only did I inhale motherhood in all its glory, but also the exhilarating rush of a broken heart as it pieced its way back together. Being a Mom certainly is my greatest joy, but I feel very lucky that I got to know myself really well first. I have come to better know my own body and the super challenging – yet amazing things it can do (like withstand the hundreds of injections and blood draws over the course of several years of fertility treatments). I am also grateful to have a husband, a partner, who loves me enough to fight alongside me. There are no words for how amazingly supportive he was through it all, I was so consumed by my own sadness at times that it was often hard for me to stop and think about how hard it was for him too. After all, he wanted to be a dad just as much as I wanted to be a mom. But there he was, an optimistic, supportive rock through it all. He made it clear to me time and time again that we would figure this out. His love for me was not dependent on my fertility issues.
I am also grateful to those directly responsible for making me a Mother today, Doctor Schoolcraft and the Embryology team at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine! We had an entire team of people (both local and remote) giving their time, energy and talents not only to help make parenthood a reality for us, but also to be our biggest cheerleaders every step of the way. I am still so in awe of the miracle that is IVF, and thankful to be born in a time where science and technology offer hope to women like me have struggled to conceive! I’m grateful for the little picture that now hangs in my daughter’s nursery of her as a 6-day old embryo on transfer day. Who else can show their kids their first picture, when they were literally 6 days old in the womb? Along the way, I found that in sharing our infertility journey, I was able to be a voice for others who had not yet found their own. I am grateful to the incredible women with whom I’m fortunate enough to share this special bond, my fellow warrior tribe! IVF isn’t for the faint of heart, but because we went through it and survived it, we’re better for it. We have walked through hell and back…and still I would do it all over again! To have the opportunity to long for, fight for and love a child years before she was ever born, it’s the testament of our love for her, and for that I am forever grateful!