By. SRM Patient, Nicole Harding
My story begins June 2010 standing on my deck in Seattle on a nice summer day. I get a phone call from my youngest brother telling me that he and his girlfriend of one year “are pregnant.” Of course I said all the sisterly things, “Congratulations, how exciting.” I hung up the phone and burst into tears!
This was my first emotional moment since my fertility journey had started one year prior. I was angry, mad, frustrated, and playing the victim. I lost something I didn’t even have yet. Why was the world doing this to me? This is what I asked myself every time I heard that someone got pregnant easily. I was in a loving relationship, we were financially stable, I was a healthy girl. Why not me? Nothing made sense!
I was devastated at my brothers news because he reminded me of what I thought were truths. My truth growing up was that getting pregnant was easy. Many of my family members got pregnant young and before marriage. So I spent my early teen years expecting that it would be simple and that in the meantime it was all about prevention.
Every little girl dreams of her wedding day, this little girl dreamed of becoming a mother.
I was raised in a close-knit family with 3 brothers, one older and two younger. The order in my mind should not have been my baby brother pregnant first. I envisioned myself at 26 years old with 4 children, picture perfect! SURPRISE! Life is NOT perfect or fair.
For some reason, I was always worried that I was going to be the only one in my family that couldn’t get pregnant because I wanted it so badly. This thought was always in the back of my mind. Thoughts are powerful and later it felt like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
At the young age of 15 I met my soulmate. We started dating at 17 and married ten years later. When I turned 29 I threw the birth control away and for the first time in 11 years it was time for my body to stop preventing and start creating because that is how easy it is, right? For 8 straight months my life consisted of a 15 day roller coaster. The first 15 I peed on ovulation sticks hoping for the smiley face. Once that happened then I put the pressure on my husband to perform on demand. The 2nd 15 were the hardest. The dreaded period that was looming like clockwork for me.
Hope was always high for me no matter how many disappointing months had past. The hope would start at the beginning of another month…maybe this was it….thoughts of excitement came flooding in of what month I would be due IF I got pregnant this month. The anticipation was a killer. I tried convincing myself to forget about it every day but that was pretty much impossible. My period would come and with that I was angry and frustrated with my body.
I was mad at the world…why me? Why not me? My biggest fears were coming true…was I not going to be able to have children?
Luckily I met my girlfriend and she told me about Seattle Reproductive Medicine. She was much further along in the process of IVF but encouraged me to at least meet with Dr. Lin and do some initial testing. All of my tests put me in the “unexplained” category, which was super frustrating because there was no specific problem to solve. I probably should have been elated that there wasn’t a problem but it made me more hopeless.
I felt alone.
Don’t we have a god given right to have babies? Isn’t this something we as women are born to do? These were questions I continually asked myself.
In my desperation of searching for answers and support wherever I could find it, my girlfriend suggested acupuncture. It felt wonderful to have a counselor and a nap all in one. It helped me feel like I was gaining some sort of control over a helpless situation. I also went to a naturopath to run allergy tests to find out if there were other stressors on my body. Turns out I’m allergic to cheese which had nothing to do with my fertility! I even took my temperature every morning for a month to see if that spiked indicating my hormones were actually working and turns out they weren’t. I was feeling on the crazy end of the spectrum.
At this point I was still hopeful that I could conceive naturally because I held the belief that things happen for a reason, I wasn’t sure I was ready to play God. Dr. Lin acknowledged my moral dilemma and made me feel more human, he was so understanding. He spoke to me as a friend who empathized with my struggle about freezing my embryos as opposed to keeping it strictly scientific.
After my first meeting with Dr. Lin I didn’t feel as alone. I finally felt like I had an advocate and more importantly a plan.
We decided to do all six IUI’s because we wanted to exhaust every option before committing to IVF. I was also very grateful to have the support of my husband along the entire journey. After six unsuccessful IUI’s and mounds of frustration we took a break from trying. During the break I was going to try and practice all of the advice I received from the “experts” in my life. Here is just a sampling of what I was told to do to be successful:
- Don’t stress!
- Just don’t think about it!
- It’ll happen
- Once you stop worrying about it, it’ll happen
- Apply for adoption, then you’ll get pregnant!
- So my friend’s sisters boyfriends cousin…..did XYZ and got pregnant
Once we had exhausted all the options, taken a break, my husband and Dr. Lin were the instigators and encouraged us to go ahead with IVF. Again, I felt hopeful that this would work.
Once I started down the IVF road, most every moment was positive for us. It felt good to be “high maintenance” and by that I mean going into the office and getting the blood work every few days and receiving a progress report on my growing eggs. This was HUGE because I felt like we were finally moving in the right direction and every nurse, Darla, and doctor I saw were really encouraging.
It helped me to feel that this was finally going to be successful. We had an incredible egg retrieval and then the hard part of patience came. Waiting two weeks for our results felt like eternity. The minute by minute emotions from feeling super positive that we were going to finally hear the best news that I had never heard or trying to protect myself from more heartbreak that it had failed.
The results phone call for the 3 times we did IVF will NEVER be forgotten!
The first one was followed by CRAZY tears of joy! My husband at first thought it was bad news….I finally heard what I had been longing to hear those three little words….”you are pregnant!” Everything changed. We got to envision being parents to TWO babies and plan for their due date.
After a great pregnancy and two amazing boys and TONS of family support we felt our family was not finished. And so the emotional roller coaster ride began again. I never lost that hope that we could conceive naturally and without science…but we ended up back at SRM to implant our frozen embryo. This time it felt too easy. All I had to do was implant…no shots….well I guess I deserve EASY…was what I believed.
On that memorable 2nd results phone call day I had started my period and all the while kept thinking that maybe just maybe I was still going to hear good news. In my heart I knew it wasn’t going to be good and that call confirmed that I was not pregnant. All of my emotions of anger came flooding back from when I was trying on my own and doing IUIs. I was so disappointed with my body. I picked myself up and reminded myself that everything happens for a reason and maybe it wouldn’t have been a healthy baby, who knows?!
I told family and friends that we were done! I couldn’t put myself thru any more…so I thought. There was still a hole that I felt my family wasn’t complete. Again my husband and Dr. Lin were incredibly supportive to do it again and so we did. And I am beyond glad that we did because that cycle was another successful process and we got our little girl, Sophia. She is now 6 months old, chubby and the smiliest little baby I know!
We feel so blessed with twin boys, Jack and Smith, now 4 and a 14 month old baby girl, Sophia.
I realized after my experience that one of my purposes in life is to share my fertility story with those who are struggling with the same issues and to give them hope.
I finally answered the discouraging question “Why me?”.
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