Thanks for stopping in to read our story- pregnancy after loss and infertility. We cannot thank you enough for your well wishes and kind messages after we posted our announcement this morning. It was a hard decision to make an announcement like that, but we felt like it was time. I wish I knew where to begin…
Where We Are
We are just about 15 weeks with our rainbow baby boy, and we couldn’t feel more grateful or blessed. Baby is due February 18th, which is the same week we lost our baby boy last year. I get goosebumps just typing that out. While I’ll never understand the reason, I believe this was always part of God’s plan for us. While science played a big role in creating this baby, this whole experience has deepened my faith in God. This baby has been growing strong, and kicking my butt all summer. We continue to pray that this little boy arrives safely in our arms in February. I’m just starting to wrap my head around preparing for his arrival. Thank God we’ve got 20+ weeks to think about it.
Navigating the First Trimester
In the middle of May, I felt completely broken. We had another failed IUI, and we knew that an egg retrieval and IVF would be our only other option at that point. I have diminished ovarian reserve which means natural pregnancy is possible, but after almost two years, this was our last shot before IVF. I am very lucky that my body responds well to fertility meds, but for some reason, we couldn’t get our IUIs to stick. We decided to do one final IUI during the last week in May. There was an issue with my meds being called in on time. After a minor breakdown and some extremely stressful moments, I started on Letrozole four days late. I was terrified we would miss ovulation or my body wouldn’t respond. I went into our final IUI feeling anything but hopeful. But then, it actually worked.
Around June 8th, I started testing positive on home pregnancy tests. I took 17 tests in four days, but I still wasn’t convinced. Thank you, infertility. On June 11, we got the call from our clinic with my first HCG test. My number was nearly 300 at just 13dpo! 48 hours later, I was over 1,000. I was pregnant! We had to wait to go in for an early ultrasounds at 5w5d. I was numb during those days. Thank God it was the last week of school, so I had every reason to be fully distracted. This was yet another example when the kiddos in my class helped me survive the year. My school days were busy and filled with all the fun things- Field Day and end-year celebrations. And yes, for the first time, I bawled on the last day of school. As I walked out of my classroom on the last day of school, I knew life would be different when I returned in the fall. I also spent those days waiting to start bleeding. Waiting for something bad to happen. I woke up every morning assuming my body would fail us again. What would be my plan if I started bleeding while I was working? I thought of every horrible scenario. I still do that. Neither Ben nor I could let ourselves believe it was really happening.
At our 5w5d ultrasound, we were told to expect to see nothing more than a gestational sac and a fetal pole. My HCG was so high they even suggested twins could be in there. How crazy would that have been? We knew the drill, and we told ourselves it would be okay if we didn’t hear the heartbeat quite yet. The reality is, we were terrified either way. Within thirty seconds of starting the ultrasound, our doctor proudly said, “Not only do I see a everything I need to see in there, but there is a strong heartbeat of 151 already! This baby is an over-achiever!” I breathed out and looked at Ben. I remember thinking, Aren’t we both supposed to be crying? Instead, we stayed there completely numb. I was told that my ovaries were overstimulated and very swollen. I was put on pelvic rest and unable to exercise beyond walking for about a month.
It was this moment that I felt like infertility and loss had really robbed us of something else. I felt so angry that we couldn’t be blissfully unaware like we once were. Here we were again listening to the miracle of our own baby’s heartbeat, and we couldn’t even be excited. We were paralyzed by fear. We knew the pain of getting excited only to be let down a month later. We knew that sometimes a baby’s heart can just stop beating. We would wait another 10 days before our next scan, and I remember convincing myself that this baby had also stopped growing. No matter how hard I tried to think positively. I just couldn’t. I also wanted to punch anyone who told me to “stay positive.” I know it was well-intended, but it was all I could focus on trying- and failing- to be positive. I remember even looking at the calendar like I was going to plan for a miscarriage. I remember asking Ben to make sure his phone was always nearby, because I would call- not text- if it happened while he was working or out. I can’t imagine the pressure he felt during those weeks. He held it all together like he always does and reminded me we had to keep going. We would get through the next few weeks and months no matter what.
10 days later we had another ultrasound. A friend asked me if I was ‘excited’, and I shared how terrified we were. I felt like such a Debbie Downer for confessing our truth. We were still desperately trying to guard our hearts in case the unimaginable happened again. When we arrived at the doctor’s office, I shared that I truly felt like something was wrong. It wasn’t an irrational fear. I really and truly believed something had happened to this baby, too. As the ultrasound started, I squeezed Ben’s hand and felt our nurse’s hand on my arm, too. It was yet another moment where I felt so incredibly supported. I kept my eyes closed until the doctor told me I could open them. It’s hard to put into words what that feels like to close your eyes during what is supposed to be an exciting moment. There was our baby on screen again- growing and strong. In that moment, Ben and I both lost it. I think we cried for a solid five minutes. For the first time, it started to feel real.
In the subsequent weeks, we had several more scans and even got to see baby kick around 9w. At our 13 week NT scan, we found out it was a boy- an incredible moment as I was convinced this baby was a girl. Anyone who visited our house this summer saw about 30 different sonogram pictures displayed on our fridge. I’m sure our electrician really enjoyed the view of a 10w placenta next to the ice machine. These pictures became our biggest source of strength. Looking at the pictures and saying out loud, “This baby is strong,” really helped me get through it. Graduating from our clinic at 10w was an indescribable milestone, too.
What I’ve Gained
I never realized how much anger I was holding on to after our miscarriage. I continue to see a therapist, and she has been a godsend. She has never pointed it out to me, but she is the one who challenged me to see it in myself. Even in the first few weeks of being pregnant, I was truly sad that we couldn’t allow ourselves to be excited. We are optimistic people! I never imagined it could be this hard. I watched friends have their moments of surprising their husbands with a positive pregnancy test and a cute little onesie. I felt like infertility and loss had robbed us of that. My reveal to Ben was a nervous lunchtime text message that said, “HCG is 300. It’s really good. Needs to be over 900 in 48 hours.” I was angry about it. Why did our baby have to be made in the doctor’s office without my husband even being allowed to be present in the room? (Thanks, Covid.) Why didn’t we ever have that at-home positive pregnancy test moment of pure bliss? I couldn’t help but focus on the negatives.
Around Week 9, I noticed a big shift in how I was feeling. I’m pretty confident that fear will always be there when I am pregnant. And that’s okay. At this time, extreme feelings of gratitude overwhelmed me. It felt like my heart completely burst open for the first time in my life. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably thought I was nuts as I posted about our house quite literally falling apart. I was flooded with messages of “Oh my gosh! That is devastating!” And yes, we cared about our house, but we just couldn’t worry about it. “It’s just stuff,” I said to Ben one night. Yes, albeit, expensive and annoying stuff. But, at the end of the day, we felt blessed beyond words to be pregnant nothing else seemed to matter. I think about my fellow infertility friends and I used to feel guilty. Why are we the lucky ones? But then it occurred to me. I owe it to them to allow myself to feel happiness over this pregnancy. I do not want to waste the rest of this time paralyzed by fear, guilt, or bitterness. Those feelings can be there, but I do not want to be consumed by them.
I find myself having many teary moments, and I sort of like that about myself. Those moments where I look at Ben and just start crying, because I still can’t believe I get to be his wife and carry his son. I went to deliver some thank you gifts to our team at our fertility clinic and found myself overcome with emotion. It’s an incredible gift to be able to look a group of people and say, “You made our dream come true. You were there for us on some of our darkest days, and we are so grateful for your support.” Our team will always hold a special place in my heart. We are incredibly privileged to know them.
Infertility made me have no shame which I choose to believe will help me during childbirth. You’re sticking a catheter where now? I’m totally fine with it. Infertility made us strong. I can probably draw my own blood at this point. Infertility taught us the biggest lesson in gratitude. In our season of darkness, I was reminded how much love and support we are surrounded by. I never felt alone. Losing our baby boy in February taught us to believe in angels. I am 100% confident that he will watch over us forever. My heart still aches knowing he will never walk the earth with us. Infertility taught me that it is okay to cry. I no longer choke back tears or apologize for needing a tissue to dry my eyes. Infertility taught me that 1 in 8 women know this pain, and many of these warriors have become forever friends. These are the women I haven’t known for long, but I can text them and we’ll get giddy excited over a great progestrone number. Infertility taught me that while we feel God had His part, a lot of this was sheer luck. Infertility will always be with us a little bit. Our doctor’s parting words were, “Go have this baby and call me Cycle Day 1 so we can start working towards an egg retrieval for when you want Baby#2.” Infertility doesn’t just ‘go away’ when you become pregnant, and I’ve learned that’s okay. We will certainly be back at the clinic someday, and I feel lucky that we have the privilege of modern reproductive medicine. I no longer fear fertility treatments. I count modern medicine as one of our blessings. I am beyond grateful for where we are today- no matter how we got here. I truly believe that our scars will make us the best parents we can be. Two years ago, I could have never imagined this is the path life would take us on, but I am grateful for where we ended up.
The infertility community welcomed me with open arms last year when I started to share publicly, and I realize many of you are here over that connection. As I mentioned on Instagram, I do not intend on sharing any specific ‘pregnancy updates’ beyond what I post this week or make this space a ‘bump-centered’ place. I’m happy to talk privately about all things pregnancy and baby! For us, the last two+ years have taught us how triggering posts like that can be for many people, and it doesn’t feel right to post about that knowing many of you are fertility friends still in your season of waiting. While I hope our story inspires others to keep going, I fully realize that often inspiration is not what those in the midst of infertility need. It just doesn’t sit right in my heart to now inundate you with sonogram and bump pictures. Although we pray this healthy baby arrives in February, the scars are still there. I still have lots of feelings I try to process each day. The trauma wasn’t magically erased as I naively thought it would be. So, as I mentioned before, we wanted our “cupcake and confetti” moment. I know that we deserve to marvel in this moment. We hope you will marvel in it with us this week, but completely understand if you can’t. We will continue to blow-up our family texts with way too many ultrasound pictures, but that is where those things will stay. We are so grateful for all the love and support in this community. To anyone still fighting the fight, “if you wings are broken, borrow mine so yours can open, too.” My inbox is always open.