Today, I’m honored to be joining an amazing group of women by sharing my fertility timeline in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week. This isn’t a journey that I ever imagined myself embarking on and it’s certainly one I never would have chosen for myself. Writing out this timeline feels so surreal. Did this all really happen in my life? Did I really live these years of ups and downs, of hope and heartbreak?
I did. And in reading through my own story I can tell you two things- 1) I feel really proud of myself. I feel brave and strong and resilient. 2) I know this isn’t done in my own strength. There is no way I could bear this burden on my own. It’s God’s grace- and the way that he pours out his love to me through my husband, my family, and my friends that have given me the strength to carry on.
And now, I share my timeline with all of you. Believe it or not, this is the short version. I could write chapters and chapters on each cycle. Each one is it’s own story, with it’s own testimony and it’s own trial. And, that, I think is the main takeaway from this post. Not the timeline itself, but the fact that each time stamp represents such a deep, significant moment in my life. Unless you’ve been involved in the infertility world, it’s difficult to understand the unique challenges that come at you again and again with each repeated cycle. It’s like a rollercoaster stuck on repeat and you really can’t get off.
And yet, you can learn to cope. You can learn to deal with the disappointment. And yes, you can even learn to thrive in the midst of the ups and downs and highs and lows of this process. And you can especially do all these things, when you’re involved in a community of people who are aware of the unique nature of infertility. I hope that this post will help to bring further understanding, increased compassion, and a sense of solidarity for those of us fighting this battle and for those of you who stand along side us in the process.
Thank you for taking the time to seek understanding about this journey. I’m honored to be able to share my story with you.
Fall 2010- Andrew and I meet for the first time. We say hello, shake hands, and then occasionally run into each other from time to time.
Late Winter 2011- Occasionally running into each other becomes more frequent- and more intentional 😉
April 2011- Andrew and I officially begin dating!
September 2011- He popped the question, I said yes!
December 2011- We say “I do” — how about that for a whirlwind of a year!
June 2012- Moved to Phoenix after living for the first 6 months of our marriage in St. Louis
August 2013- Stopped birth control… continued precautions because I was very much so against surprise pregnancies. I wanted to be completely in control of when we became pregnant.
October 2013- Start to look for a house to buy and talk about starting our family once we move in.
Nov 2013- Decide to stop all precautions and start trying to get pregnant. I am fully convinced that I will become pregnant RIGHT away. We continue trying next two months. I was a little bit confused I wasn’t already getting pregnant like I thought I would, but figured it was alright because I starting a new job. (Oh and we bought our first house and moved in!)
December 2013- I’m really excited because I’m planning that next year there will be a new baby at Christmas!
Feb- April 2013 – Took a short break from trying because I wanted to avoid a due date too close to the holidays. Yes, I really did this. Yes, I’m totally embarrassed about it now. This just goes to show how much control I thought I had over this situation. Of course, I would now gladly take a baby 365 days a year.
May 2013- Start trying again. Baby is ALL I can think about. I was working as a community health nurse and my clients were all women who were pregnant for the first time or had newborn babies. I was constantly surrounded by pregnancy.
June 2013- First serious future mom tears, why is this not happening for me?
July-Sept 2013- Marked by high expectations, confusion, and disappointment
October 2013- Really starting to get worried something might be wrong. I knew trying for less than a year is still considered normal, but I just felt like there was something not quite right. Made an appointment with my nurse practitioner who ordered a TON of blood work.
Nov 2014- Got my results back from my NP. She suspects I have PCOS and ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed my follicles a little on the small side. She prescribed me some Clomid. I was so relieved. Clomid sounds like an easy fix, plus I always wanted twins, so I figured this was it. I would be pregnant by the New Year!
Dec 2014- First round of Clomid! Ultrasound looked like I had a good response and I’m fully expecting to be pregnant. Feeling a pretty low around the holidays because I had so many times imagined us announcing our pregnancy to our families on Christmas and there was simply no pregnancy to announce.
Jan 2015- Went into the New Year fully convinced that I was pregnant from our first Clomid cycle. I was extremely shocked and confused when I wasn’t. Note to self, Clomid makes you feel pregnant even when you’re not. Got a refill on my Clomid and decided to try again. This time we would make it work.
February 2015- Resisted early testing and ended up getting my period instead. The sadness was immediate, but so was the peace of God washing over me. My NP said I needed someone a little bit more specialized and referred me to an OBGYN with fertility experience. That doc was great and gave me a three month attack plan. I felt so reassured now that we had a plan. She refilled my Clomid, ordered some Metformin (to help me ovulate), more blood work, and a semen analysis.
March 2015- Got the phone call. Irregular uterine lining, irregular progesterone (meaning I’m not ovulating), and irregular semen analysis (never saw that one coming!). I left my office, sat in my car in tears, and called Andrew. You can scratch that simple 3 month plan, we were now referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist instead. We had to wait a few weeks to see the RE, but once we saw him I felt so much more at ease. First he countered a lot of the things the other docs had said– no, I don’t have PCOS, yes, I am ovulating on my own and no, there isn’t anything wrong with my uterine lining. (Proof that a second opinion is always beneficial, especially if the first opinion didn’t come from a specialist.) Unfortunately the SA is still abnormal. Fortunately, our doc was really reassuring. We would do an IUI. It is much less expensive than I was expecting and we have really great chances with it. He looked at me and said “I see absolutely no reason why you won’t leave here pregnant.”
April 2015- Baseline ultrasounds, HSG test, everything checks out, we’re a go for our IUI!
May 2015- IUI take 1 on Clomid, totally optimistic. (Oh and my first time giving myself a shot.) We treated it like it was a date, got dressed up, took “two weeks pregnant” photos before the procedure, had brunch together while they were prepping the sample, brought Starbucks drinks to the whole office staff and just had a great time despite the fact that it was a bit of an uncomfortable procedure. We left feeling excited and optimistic, only to have another gutting negative pregnancy test two weeks later.
June 2015- IUI take 2 (used Clomid again). Certainly it would work this time… It didn’t…
July 2015 – Went in for my baseline ultrasound before IUI #3 and discovered a cyst from the Clomid. The IUI cycle was cancelled and my RE suggested we take a vacation. It was kinda last minute but we decided to book a weekend cruise. Right before our cruise Andrew’s boss talked to him about the possibility of moving states for a new position. We started to discuss the idea on the cruise. Once we got back I had some spotting around day 22. Classic implantation bleeding, right? I figured that I had gotten pregnant during our vacation! (I mean isn’t that what they always say will happen- just take a vacation and you’ll get pregnant?) Turns out the cyst had just shortened my cycle. I got my period shortly thereafter and took it really, really hard. When I went back for another baseline ultrasound the cyst was still there, so I had to wait it out for another cycle.
August 2015- Big News— we’re moving away from Phoenix and to Northern California!! I needed to quit my job, sell our house, pack our stuff, find a place to live in the Bay Area, and fit in an IUI too. We did our 3rd IUI (this time with Femara). Third time’s the charm, right?
September 2015- I flew to Silicon Valley to apartment hunt while Andrew was at his new job. Andrew had been traveling for work, so I waited to take my pregnancy test from the last IUI until we were able to be together for the good news we were both anticipating. No such luck- another negative. I was so sad, so confused, just utter disbelief that we had yet another failed cycle. The heartache was so painful, but I had to literally pick myself up off the bathroom floor and drive around a new city to find a place for us to move. Life had to continue despite the heartache. I also began researching REs in the Bay Area and made an appointment at a good one for after we moved at the end of the month.
October 2015- We’ve officially moved now and had a meeting with our new RE who is the BEST. She is so kind and so knowledgable. I trust her completely. She reviewed all our records and recommended we highly consider IVF as our next step. We knew that was coming and agree that’s probably the best move for us.
November 2015- Final testing before IVF- SHG, bloodwork, etc. Found out that my AMH is low. I didm’t even know what AMH was before and I was shocked and confused and mad that no-one ever tested this before! How am I on my 4th healthcare provider for this issue and no-one ever bothered to check this very important number!? My RE is so comforting. She says my follicle count is still good and that she is still very hopeful that I’ll have a good response to IVF.
December 2015- Take a bit of break over the holidays, but start my birth control for my first IVF cycle. I am still sad that another Christmas has come around without a baby, but really excited and hopeful for my upcoming IVF. 2015 wasn’t the year I expected it to be, but it was still my Year of Victory!
January 2016- Here we go IVF! Overall the cycle went so well. I was imagining the entire ordeal being really outrageously difficult, but it was actually very smooth. I felt a lot of grace on the entire cycle. We ended up with 9 eggs retrieved, 6 were mature, and 4 fertilized. I immediately fell in love with all 4 of them. (You can read all about my journey to becoming an embryo momma.) At the end of the cycle we transferred two and froze two. It was a really beautiful moment.
February 2016- I resisted taking a home pregnancy test until the morning of my official beta. Andrew wanted to be there with me when I took my home test and we both woke up early- super excited to see those two little lines! Things didn’t go as we expected that morning. I woke up to bright red, heavy bleeding… and a positive pregnancy test. My first positive pregnancy test ever, but something was clearly very wrong. My HCG came in positive but low at 20. My nurse told me not to give up hope and that she’s seen numbers this low come up and go on to a viable pregnancy, but the bleeding continued and I just knew in my heart that this pregnancy wasn’t going to last. I don’t even have the words to describe how badly this hurt. Two days later it was confirmed that the HCG level was dropping as I suspected it would. We decided to get away for the weekend and go to Southern California to see my family. While we were there I had more HCG levels drawn at a local lab- and a weird thing happened, the levels came back up… this is abnormal, so I had to continue to be monitored every 48 hours for complications like an ectopic pregnancy. Also while in Southern California, Andrew had a lunch meeting with a company that was interested in hiring him.
March 2016- My beta levels were still bouncing around and I still had to go in for blood work quite a bit. This is getting to be really emotionally draining. We finally end up doing something called an “endometrial pipelle” procedure which is similar to an endometrial biopsy. It hurt like heck. By far the most painful procedure in this journey thus far. But, it did the trick and my beta levels finally started making their way down. I continued to mourn the loss of our embryos and had a next steps appointment with my RE for our frozen embryo transfer.
April 2016- More than 2 months later- beta is finally at zero! Thank God! Other than the 10 days between the transfer and beta, it’s my first week of 2016 not getting poked! What a weird year it’s been. My body needs a whole cycle to recover before they will do the FET (and honestly, I need the time to recover too), so no fertility procedures at all this month.
Oh and that company that Andrew met with hired him. We’re moving to Los Angeles.
And that brings us to today. We’re currently in LA. Andrew started his new job and I’ve been spending my days looking for a place to call home. We’re planning on moving within the next two weeks and getting settled down here. I’m also still planning my FET for May back up in the Bay Area. We’re doing a natural cycle, so it’s a little difficult to predict the dates or know exactly what’s going to happen.
Here’s what I do know- Andrew will continue to stand by my side no matter what. My family will continue to love me. My closest friends will continue to support me. And my God will continue to pour out his Grace over me.
I also know that this story has a happy ending. And I continue to stand in faith that the happy ending is coming soon.
Again, I want to thank you for spending the time to get to know my story. If you’ve written a timeline of your own journey, please leave a link in the comments so I can read yours too.
If you want to read more about my journey- here are a few more of my favorite posts: