5.10.2015

Bless The Broken Road

It was honestly beginning to feel like this day would never come.  After two years of trying, and many more of dreaming, for a baby...it's hard to believe that our dream is coming true (we hope!).  This journey has not been easy, and our story is not short.  We've been through too many months of high hopes and crushed spirits.  I've cried behind closed doors and ached to ease the pain somehow.  I've doubted my faith, my friendships, my ability to be a good wife, my worth as a woman, and my love for myself.

Let me start at the beginning.  As a teenager, I dreamed of becoming a mother someday.  I had this aspiration to have 8 children (crazy, I know!), four of my own and then adopt four children later.  As I got older, met the love of my life, and got married, my dream grew more realistic...all I knew was that I was excited to start a family with Ryan, when we were both ready.

In February of 2013, I stopped birth control and we were ready to start trying in March.  In our hearts, we knew it could take a few months...though when you make the decision to have kids, you basically wanted them yesterday!  My hopes were elevated when my monthly visitor didn't come on time...but my pregnancy test was negative.  I waited a few days, tested again...negative.  I waited, and waited, and nothing happened.  For 90 days, I was in limbo, mentally exploring all possibilities.  Could I be one of the rare cases where I AM pregnant, but the tests don't detect it?  I spent those months analyzing my symptoms and it quickly became an unexpected obsession.  I finally saw a doctor, who didn't question it much other than to say it can take up to 6 months for cycles to return to normal after birth control.

Ok...give it more time.  I took progesterone to induce a new cycle and we finally got a fresh start to give it another go.  Another 70 days before my next cycle, and another 75 days after that, and I finally had a doctor pay attention to me.  Turns out I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, aka PCOS.  Without going in to too much detail, this basically led to our discovery that we would likely need some form of assistance with my fertility. 

2014 was filled with many more prayers, 5 rounds of Clomid (a medication that makes you ovulate), 2 IUIs, lots of blood work, changing diets, starting Metformin to regulate my cycles, trying any "tricks" I've read about, and a lot of emotions.

I had friends start trying, announce their pregnancies, and have their babies all in the time AFTER we had started trying.  I started to feel so alone in this journey.  Why was it so easy for everyone else?  What did I do wrong in my past?  What is the lesson I'm supposed to take from this?  Side Note: It is NOT easy for everyone else, their journeys are just different then mine.  I know people who tried much longer than we did.  I know people who adopted (what a glorious miracle that can be!).  And I sadly had friends lose babies, too...an experience I would never wish upon anyone.

I got on Facebook and saw complaints of morning sickness and swollen ankles; I saw comments like, "I can't wait for this pregnancy to be over," and "Well, surprise, we're starting a family before we planned to!"  Each negative comment about pregnancy was like a knife in my heart.  How I longed to be the one "suffering" from the symptoms of creating a miracle baby.

In December of 2014, our conception journey went into high gear when I was referred to a reproductive endocrinologist (finally) to get some serious intervention for my fertility!  I was scheduled for an HSG in January, which was slightly painful, but a pretty quick and easy procedure.  The test came back with clear tubes and I was officially diagnosed with "unexplained infertility."  On one hand, we were glad nothing serious was discovered, but on the other hand, there were still no answers for our struggle.  There was no explanation as to why this hasn't happened for us yet.

As we approached our two-year anniversary of trying, we were ready to jump straight to In Vitro Fertilization.  God's timing allowed us to use my cycle that started right at the end of January.  We ordered our medications and tried not to get overwhelmed!
On Friday, February 13th, I began giving myself injections.  It started with one each night, a few days later it was two injections each night, and eventually, it was three injections a day.
On Thursday, February 26th, I had my egg retrieval.  We drove up to Iowa City during a snow storm.  I was under anesthesia for the procedure and when I woke up, I was in an unreal amount of pain.  The codeine wasn't touching it, and the heating packs barely helped.  The doctor came in and explained that he nicked a blood vessel during the retrieval and I lost a bit of blood, and he had to stitch my ovary up.  I eventually got some morphine and had to spend several hours resting before we could finally leave.

On the plus side, he was still able to retrieve 9 eggs.  We found out the next day that 7 fertilized!  My recovery from the retrieval was pretty rough, I had a fever and lots of pain.  On top of this, Ryan had to start giving me progesterone injections every single day (the needle was long and the location was not a spot where I could inject myself).

On March 3rd, we were back in Iowa City for the embryo transfer.  We found out that we had a great quality embryo to transfer back in, plus four more that would be frozen for future tries.  The transfer was a much smoother process than the retrieval, quick and painless!
Baby Hackbarth's First Picture
We had a long "two week wait" until our blood test, which was to be done on Friday, March 13th (Friday the 13th has always been a favorite day of mine)!  I did cave and test a couple days early.  I was certain it didn't work.  I didn't feel any symptoms...and let's be honest, it hadn't worked for us yet, so why would it would now?  I took a test...
I was pretty much in disbelief.  I went crazy.  I took test after test after test.  I even took more after my blood tests confirmed HCG was rising like it was supposed to.
This isn't even all of them...
It's happening, it's real.  Baby H is due on November 19!  But there's this whole back story that led to the creation of this miracle.  And just because my dream is finally coming true, the pain of the past does not just disappear.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  Do I wish my journey was different?  No way.  This is the baby we've been blessed with and I love him/her so much already...I can't imagine a different story.  But can I just forget everything I've been through?  Can I let go of the pain, the regrets, the feeling unworthy, the jealousy I felt towards others, the strain on my marriage, the questioning of my faith, the moments when I doubted my future as a mother? I don't think so.  I think it will be another long journey to consider myself an infertility success story.  But what I can say is that the promise of this baby gives me this whole other dimension of love and hope and joy.  I doubt I will skate through the rest of my pregnancy without fearing what could go wrong, but I will try every day to choose joy.  
I have been given the gift of motherhood and I can't imagine a better gift, other than that of my amazing husband who has supported me in ways I never thought I'd need him to.
I recently read this blog post that was a letter to infertile women...and it broke my heart.  I could identify with almost every single struggle she mentioned.  If you have time, please read this post from The Courage In Me.  It's a long one, and if you don't have time after reading the novel I just wrote, I think the most important take away for me was the very last paragraph: You are not broken. You are not less-than. You are worthy of love. You are whole. Forgive yourself because you’ve done nothing wrong. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are deserving of acceptance and belonging. Be kind to yourself and love yourself. Know that you are enough. You matter greatly. You are loved. You are not alone.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with infertility, going through fertility treatments, or just needs someone to talk to...please email me or call me.  I felt very alone in my journey for a very long time, I wish I had known someone I could talk to.  If I can be that person for you, I would love to!

3 comments:

  1. Congratulations ♡ so happy for you!! My bestie has PCOS I've walked thru her journey with her and I know how hard it can be...when I got pregnant with Hadleigh I called her crying bc I was pregnant and she wasn't :( infertility is so hard...praying for a smooth complication free pregnancy!

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  2. Jennifer HildebrandMay 11, 2015 at 7:18 PM

    Sarah you are so brave to share your story. I am happy beyond belief for you and Ryan and I am praying for both of you and your unborn baby.

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  3. Congrats Sarah! So incredibly happy for you and Ryan. Praying for a smooth pregnancy!

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