Since the time I was a teenager, I always had a gut feeling something wouldn’t work right when I would try to have kids. …as they say, go with your gut.
When I was 21 I got off of birth control after having been on it since I was 14 – to regulate my periods. Soon after getting off birth control I had a cyst rupture that was the size of a golf ball. The cyst rupturing was the start of all my issues- my fertility issues, my substance abuse issues, my full blown anxiety issues.
I went to the walk in after my cyst burst because obviously I had no idea what the pain was. Let me tell you, it was worse than labor pain. We confirmed it was a ruptured cyst. They also found many small cysts on my ovaries which is often the first sign of Polyocystic Ovarian Syndrome. The doctor immediately prescribed me some pain killers. The pain killers quickly ran out, and she prescribed me more. I was finding out the pain killers also helped greatly with my headaches! -I remember thinking this was great! I’d suffered with headaches and migraines for years! Soon after this I talked to my primary who began prescribing me pain killers on a monthly basis. …nice huh? This is a different story for a different day.
Anyway, my husband I were trying to get pregnant for a few months and my periods were all funky so I decided it was time to see an OBGYN. Went to the obgyn they did a TON of blood work, and did an ultrasound… it was quickly confirmed I had PCOS. I remember that phone call to this day; I remember thinking- great now what.
My husband and I went to an appointment where we were told we would most likely have a difficult time conceiving. We were presented with multiple options, and we choose the least invasive option, Clomid. After four rounds of Clomid, a hundred doctors visits, a ton of money spent, we were told Clomid was not going to be a good treatment option. It was recommended I have an exploratory laparoscopy done to determine if anything could be found. Not much was found other than some adhesions on my ovaries. We were referred to a fertility specialist.
Soon we met a fertility specialist who gave us 2 options, IUI’s or IVF’s. We decided we would start with the IUI. 6 months later, 4 failed IUI’s, tons of appointments, shots, blood work, LOTS of money spent…we were told this was not going to be a good option anymore. Our fertility specialist explained that the only way I’d have a chance to conceive was through IVF. We took a short break. My husband got a new job and we relocated to an area that did not have any fertility specialists close by.
How would we pay for this? Our insurance only covered such a small part, we were looking at thousands of dollars, tens of thousands. My husband worked hundreds and hundreds of hours of overtime. We finally got enough money. We found an OBGYN 60 miles away from our house who would do monitoring for us, so we wouldn’t have to commute the 200 plus miles to see the fertility specialist for the monitoring. We still would be required to go to the fertility specialist for our egg retrieval and the embryo transfer, but that was it.
I remember when the package of all the medications came, it was incredibly overwhelming. I knew this was my reality. About 2 weeks into the shots, the meds, the daily monitoring, it was time for the retrieval. The fertility clinic retrieved 32 eggs from my ovaries; now it was a waiting game to see how many embryos we would get. We got the phone call we had 3 embryos. I remember being pretty upset that out of all my eggs, only 3 were good enough. We made the decision we would transfer 2 of the 3 embryos in hopes one would take.
TWO WEEK WAITING GAME STARTED.
I HATED the two week wait, usually it was two weeks of waiting, for a phone call telling me our attempt didn’t work.
When the day finally came, my husband and I went and had my blood drawn. We went to our house, and waited… we waited ALL day. It was about 3pm when we finally got the phone call. I was trembling when I answered, my husband Paul had his hand on my shoulders. I remember hearing…
“I’m sorry, but neither embryo took.”
That was all I heard, I heard nothing after that. I didn’t cry, Paul didn’t cry. We were used to this. This time is was harder, we spent so much time, energy, money, hoping, praying that this would work. It didn’t.
About 2 months later we finally had enough money saved again that we could try for our one frozen embryo we had in the freezer. I had to do about a month and a half of more injections and meds to get my uterus up to speed. The time came to do the transfer. We went to the fertility clinic, and were given a picture of our BEAUTIFUL, grade A embryo. I’d never seen anything so precious.
We waited another 2 weeks. This time was different. Paul and I agreed, we were not getting the news from some doctor’s office this time. We would find out the results together. Alone. This time was different. If this didn’t take, we were done. We were not going to go through this again. We’d move on, hope adoption was an option. We were supposed to get a call on a Monday of the results, so Sunday we agreed we would take the test. I woke up early on raining Sunday morning, I went to go pee on the stick, I planned to set it on the counter and leave it, wake Paul up, pray, and read the test together.
Low and behold, while I was peeing on the stick, it already had 2 pink lines.
TWO PINK LINES. DARK LINES.
I was trembling once again, terrified, excited, exhausted.
I went and laid next to Paul, asked him to pray for this embryo. I paitently waited for him to finish praying. Once he was done, with tears streaming down my face…I looked at him and said,
“I already know, it worked.”
We cried and cried in disbelief.
We were going to be parents.
We were terrified we’d miscarry.
We were terrified something would go wrong.
….but nothing went wrong. We had a BEAUTIFUL baby boy.
Michael Steven Sandstrom
7 lbs 10 oz
20 inches long
HE WAS PERFECT.
3 1/2 years later, to our suprise, I ended up pregnant again! This time it was science, this time it was natural. My body was working. I really am a woman! So many times I had a hard time believing I was a woman, my body only failed me over and over again. Again, I was terrified of miscarrying. My husband didn’t believe me.
Sure shootin. I gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
Thomas Mark Sandstrom
8 lbs 2 oz
19 inches long
HE WAS PERFECT.
I KID YOU NOT.
I was pregnant. AGAIN. I was shocked. I was crying so hard I couldn’t breathe. This time I was terrified for a different reason. How would I handle 3 kids, Thomas still was dealing with colic. I was so uncertain. Overwhelmed. What was wrong with me? For so long this was all I desired.
IT WAS A GIRL.
SHE WAS PERFECT.
Miss Julia Jane Sandstrom
6 lbs 7 oz
18 inches long.
My infertility journey was in total a 9 year journey. It shaped me. It molded me. I learned patience. I learned to trust God’s will, God’s timing. I learned over time to breathe and be at peace.
Today I feel like I am living in a dream.
I want people to know that even though my fertility journey is over, it will NEVER leave my heart. I still cry for other moms who tell me their infertility stories. I still mourn for them. Infertility is dark. It’s mean. It doesn’t discriminate.
My biggest lesson that I want others to take away from my experience is that infertility does not have to define you. We write our own stories, we create our experiences. Your journey, your experience is what YOU make it!