So honored to have you back for the final installment to my infertility and invitro journey. If you missed Part 1 click here, and if you missed Part 2, click here. One thing I want to add about my posts… All of my posts, especially my personal stories, I write from the heart. I write like I talk. It’s not always proper, it’s not always perfect… it’s just me being me. :)
This picture makes me smile.. Because I moved around so much after college I didn’t have a close set of friends who lived near me to throw me a baby shower. I was a flight attendant to top it off and most of my friends lived all over the world. One day Jeff’s cousin, Kymmie found out that nothing had been planned for me. She said there was NO way I wasn’t having a baby shower so she threw me the most special celebration. I’ll never forget that. I felt like Emma’s life was even more special on that day.
Before I begin Part 3 of my IVF journey I have to mention that I had really intended for this story to told in just one or two parts… but every little detail means so much when you are going through something like this and every emotion weighs on you. In Vitro was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to go through in my life. Don’t get me wrong, Jeff and I appreciate everything and everyone in our lives. We are so happy, we have wonderful families, we are healthy and I know that there are far worse problems in the world… however, with that being said… it’s soul crushing when you find that you can’t have a baby with the one person you love more than life without medical help and a ton of luck.
For those of you who haven’t experienced this personally.. going through infertility immediately separates you from everyone else. Everything in our society is centered on family. It seemed that as soon as I found out I couldn’t get pregnant, everyone around me became pregnant. Even those who didn’t want to get pregnant got pregnant. I couldn’t win.
For Jeff and I to find that there was nothing more that we could do to get pregnant except to pay for the most expensive, high-tech procedure and still have just a 20-30% chance of it working… was unbelievable to us.
After everything we went through to have Emma it breaks my heart to hear of someone going through infertility now. It’s such a lonely experience. If you know of anyone going through this please give them a hug and let them know that you are there to listen and support them. Whether it be IVF, surrogacy, adoption or whatever avenue, it’s never easy…
A week and a half or so after my embryo transfer, and the day before I was due to go in for the blood test to see if this last IVF treatment worked… I didn’t feel well. Normally I would think this is a good thing… maybe I’m pregnant but the reality was that it was way too early to show any symptoms at that time. Most don’t experience morning sickness after just a couple of weeks.. I really felt that our IVF had not worked and I must be getting my period. I was so upset I called the clinic and told them that I was cramping and felt like it was a waste of everyone’s time to go in for the blood draw. They listened to me then told me that I needed to come in anyways.
The following morning, Jeff and I drove to San Francisco. The entire way there I was so upset. Poor Jeff. I cried and kept saying that I just knew I wasn’t pregnant. The strange thing is, while I felt in my heart that there was no way that I could be pregnant (I really thought I knew my body), I was also bloated beyond the norm. I looked like I was three months pregnant in my stomach area which was atypical. Of course being the type of person to always research everything I flipped through the infertility books the entire way to the Doctor’s office. I read that there was a chance that my body was undergoing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. In basic english, it’s your body’s negative reaction to taking a ton of hormones to produce a ton of eggs, especially one who has undergone a multitude of IVF’s, within a couple of months of one another. My body was obviously having a hard time.
When we walked into the Dr’s office, I felt horrible because there were so many couples sitting in the office waiting. I waltzed in looking like I was a few months pregnant. It looked like I walked into the wrong office. I’ll never forget how bad I felt as they looked at me thinking I must be pregnant. When I was called to the back the nurses began to tell me, “The good news is, the fact that you feel this sick could mean that you’re pregnant. You may be showing signs of OHSS (hyper-stimulation) and we are going to take a blood draw to find out.”
Before they could even begin to take my blood sample for the pregnancy test, I began to throw up. I then fainted so they rushed me across the street to the hospital, UCSF (University of California San Francisco). I was immediately admitted and they gave me an IV because of my extreme dehydration. Not very long after the IV was administered, they came into the room and told us that we were pregnant. I’ll never forget (even being as sick as I was) that it was the happiest moment of our lives. Mind you, Jeff and I were sooooo elated we barely had time to really consider what was happening to me at the time. I was showing signs of distress and my chest began to hurt. The doctors were concerned because my body was showing all the signs of extreme hyperstimulation. (BTW, this happens to very few people… but of course it was happening to me)
The doctors explained that they were in a conundrum… They needed to hydrate me but the pain I was beginning to experience was from fluid building up within my abdomen. The pressure of the fluid was pushing on all my organs to the point where I was having difficulty breathing. The doctors had to take extreme measures to allow me to breathe by inserting a tube into my chest (and yes I was awake) and proceeded to remove a liter or more of fluid. They had hoped that this would resolve the problem, but what none of us knew at the time was that I was pregnant with twins. This explained a little more of why my body was hyperstimulating. I was on estrogen/hormone overload and my ovaries were having a hard time adapting to everything. (once again, this is a rare occurrence) At the time (1994) they said less than 1% of women have had this happen to them.
Unfortunately for me the ovaries didn’t settle down so the doctors had to repeat the above procedure several times while they began making calls to Johns-Hopkins and other research clinics to try and figure out the best way to handle the situation. They had never had a case like mine before at UCSF. It had only happened in this extreme way a few other times (up to that year) and some didn’t have good outcomes. It was all very scary but all I could think of was the fact that I was pregnant. I was in the best of hands. My dad, who also happened to be a surgeon and chief of staff of a hospital was on top of everything with the doctors. My Mother-in-law who was a cardiac nurse was also with us. While this was all very serious, and people were rushing in and out all the time I have to tell you that I began to feel like I was on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Because UCSF is a teaching hospital, hoards of medical students often take part in situations like mine for learning experiences. Suffice it to say, the doctors and students came into my room with their clipboards quite a few times to discuss my case. I had officially become a case study at UCSF.
After a few days of working on my case the Doctors told me that if my body did not begin to accept the pregnancy, then I was going to lose the babies. That’s when my situation really hit home. After everything that we had gone through how could we possibly end up with nothing? I couldn’t believe it.
It’s so strange how things happen in life… Just as we were being told that we might lose both babies, the doctor came in and said that the pregnancy levels (I’m going to leave this using basic terms) were dropping fast. It wasn’t a good sign. Everything that he had said could happen looked like it was happening… I was devastated and I’ll never forget Jeff’s face as I cried my heart out.
About 30 minutes-1 hour later the nurse came back in and told us that the numbers were going back up again but they were rising at a slower rate. We were shocked. What did that mean? They believed that one of the twins did not make it. This is so early on in the pregnancy… remember with IVF they check you immediately after the embryo transfer. Far earlier than anyone would normally be able check with a standard pregnancy test. While we were sad to hear that the numbers reflected that one of the embryo’s didn’t make it, we felt so fortunate to still have one embryo holding on. It was truly a miracle after everything that had happened.
The main focus at this point was to keep the remaining baby happy and healthy. I had to stay at the hospital for another week until my body was able to calm down. It wasn’t easy but my body finally settled and they told me that it looked like our baby was going to make it. I was released to go home. You may find this hard to believe, but because of what happened – I was so bloated… I could not fit through a door without turning sideways. I had gone from 110 lbs to 152 lbs in just a few days. To get me out of the hospital I had to lean back in a large wheelchair then lay in the back of the SUV in order to drive home. I couldn’t sit up fully yet due to the pressure on my chest but once I arrived home, my body slowly but surely became it’s old self again, only this time, pregnant.
While getting pregnant was hard for me, being pregnant was a piece of cake. As a matter of fact, I had never felt better in my life. Once my stint in the hospital was over I was able to enjoy every moment and every pound of my pregnancy.
Horrible picture I know… What on earth am I wearing and Jeff? I can’t figure out what we were thinking.. LOL What I do know? We were so happy!!!!
My Mom gave me this snow globe with an angel inside that Christmas I was pregnant. Everyone always said Emma was an angel sent from heaven…
Having gone through IVF a few times, including a frozen transfer, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would have always wondered if it would have worked had we not tried. I am also so happy that we pushed for the one last try because we almost didn’t. I can’t even imagine my life without Emma.
So many things were learned through my situation. After my Doctor (the Director of my clinic at the time) held my embryos out a day or two longer than what the normal practice was before transferring them back into the uterus (because she said she wasn’t impressed with their growth, lol), IVF clinics began looking into making this a standard practice. They changed the protocol to wait until the blastocyst stage for the embryo transfer. Waiting for that last stage makes a world of difference. I wish they had known that the first time around. But then again… I may not have had Emma if those attempts had worked.
Emma was the most beautiful baby in the world… ;) She wasn’t red in real life. I don’t know what’s up with all these pics. Where were digital cameras back then?Emma’s First Christmas… She cried so much because she didn’t want to be left alone on the floor in a strange place.. I can’t say I blame her! Poor thing. Her eyes were so red! Btw, I never made her wear one of those headbands with bows again.. ;)Emma loves her Daddy… Those two laugh and laugh
If you are experiencing infertility and going through this sort of thing, don’t give up hope. If we had not gotten pregnant with Emma on that last try than we would have called it a day and turned to adoption. I always knew that. We never felt the need to approach adoption though once we had Emma. We truly felt like all our prayers and wishes were answered. It felt like closure of the best kind. The only regret if you can call it that.. is that Emma doesn’t have a sibling. That’s the only thing that hurts sometimes. I know she would have loved that. I would have gone through IVF again had they let me but because of my experience there was no way they would ever let me into another program. I also knew that I would never push Jeff into trying for adoption. We already felt so lucky… He was always so supportive of anything and everything that I ever wanted. I knew it was hard for him to see me upset and to become as sick as I had become during the process. We had our family.. we were happy… we were ready to move on.
Emma always smiles… Then and now.
On this day Emma was taking a bath after her last day of Kindergarten. She was crying so hard I ran into the bath and pulled her out. She couldn’t catch her breath for the longest time then she finally told us that she was going to miss her teacher, Mrs. Biasotti so much she was terribly terribly sad. I’ll never forget the sadness she felt. Jeff and I were there during that moment and I told her she would always know Mrs. Biasotti for the rest of her life. We weren’t going anywhere. She smiled then I brushed her hair and Jeff took this picture. I still adore Barbara Biasotti and we see her in town every once in awhile. There are some people who touch your lives forever and she is one of them.
Our tiny family of three..
Emma never loved this picture but I did… I always wanted to look as tall and elegant as she did here when I was in HS. Such a fun moment being nominated by our town for the Mother/Daughter look alike contest after this shot was taken at Emma’s Senior Ball. We came in 2nd place. ;)