For a very short time I felt like all was right with the world. I felt like my future was clear and that my most distant, far-off wishes had finally been fulfilled. My heart was full, and for a very short time, so was my uterus.
After almost a decade of wanting a child with the man I love, five years of actively trying to conceive, four failed IUI procedures, two failed IVF procedures, and nearly six months break from the rollercoaster that is infertility, Jacob and I decided it was time to try again.
On November 16th, 2017, Jacob and I put all of our doubts and fears on hold, took another leap of faith, and called upon two of our most precious cargo out of the deep freeze and into a swift catheter ride back home into my uterus. For six of thee longest days in the history of the world, I waited, wished, hoped, and had warm, fuzzy, motivational pep talks with the microscopic little love bugs that were existing inside of my uterus— half me and half Jacob. I took all of my medicines religiously (progesterone shots in the butt, estrogen patches, inserts, pills, vitamins, etc.) and even ate the ever important, implantation aiding, bromelain-rich pineapple core for 5 days after transfer.
Something unbelievable happened on the sixth day after the embryo transfer. While teaching during 5th period (about noon in non-teacher land), I knew. I cannot explain the feeling, but I knew. My body told me that everything worked and that I was pregnant. I debated for hours if I should torture myself by taking a home pregnancy test. I also knew it was very early and that I could get a false negative and be all upset for no good reason. At this point, my beta hCG blood test wouldn’t be for five more days. The chances of my hCG being elevated enough to be detected from a urine test were very low. I could wait it out or be stubborn. I kept this mostly to myself because I knew the risks involved, but I cracked under the pressure. On my way home from work, I stopped at Walgreens and bought nine home tests. As soon as I got home, I took a test. I was barely able to set the test down before that first pink line started to form. Before knots started twisting my stomach, tears welled up in my eyes and I nearly began to hyperventilate and scream. But then I remembered this could not be broadcast news. So instead of jumping and shouting from the rooftops, I cried real and genuine tears of joy through muffled sobs and overwhelmingly constrained (whispered) exclamations of excitement. I could not believe my eyes. This was not a test result that I had to hold under a microscope to see if there was a faint pink line. The line was real. It was clear. It was bright. This was real life.
I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked at my body’s understanding of itself. I was out of breath and speechless. My determination had once again paid off. I felt five years of stress and heartache lift off of my shoulders. I felt comfort wash over me like a warm ray of sunshine. But then I snapped back to reality…now what?
My mind, frenzied, shooting off in a bazillion directions, tried to figure out what I was supposed to do. I knew the first person I wanted to tell. I didn’t know what to say and I worried he would be angry that I tested five days before my blood test. We have been down that road before and decided that it wasn’t a good idea. But I cracked under the pressure. After all, I already knew. My body knew. And I was right! My excitement won out. I knew Jacob couldn’t be mad. I wrapped the test up like a little present. I took a handy dandy blank hallmark card from my drawer and began writing words I never really, truly thought I’d ever get to write. I put the wrapped up present in the envelope and waited patiently for Jacob to come home from work.
When the sweaty, elevator dust-covered, grimy, greasy, hard-working, worn out husband came home, he proclaimed he needed to take a shower before anything else. I waited this long, I could wait a few more minutes for him to freshen up, so that we could cuddle and laugh and smile together. This quick shower felt like it took an eternity. At this point I was literally ready to burst at the seams. After I told him I had a gift for him, we went and sat on the couch. He knew something was up. He opened the envelope and saw the ridiculously wrapped, oddly shaped rectangle. I told him to open that first. He looked puzzled for a minute, but then a warm, bright realization washed over him. The biggest, cheesiest, happiest smile I have ever seen took over his face. All he could muster, as his eyes welled up, was a squeaky, “REALLY?”
And I said, “yes.”
For five days straight, I kept my mouth shut and the home tests lined up. I had to make sure each morning that he/she/they were still with me. I watched and waited, day by day, as that test line became darker and darker. I had heart-to-heart conversations with my growing fetus (or two) each and every day, multiple times per day. I told my fetus(es) how much I had always wanted to have them growing inside of me. I told them how long I dreamed of having these moments. I encouraged them to stay with me and keep growing big and strong. Jacob and I had him/her/them all to ourselves for five whole days.
That Monday morning I had my first beta hCG test. I was nervous all day. I mean, my home tests told me that it was positive, but it didn’t feel official until the doctor said so. I was so nervous I could neither sleep nor eat nor concentrate on anything. I waited and waited all day to hear the results that I have waited to hear for literally years.
Finally. An email. 707. My hCG number was 707– POSITIVE. I have never cried so many happy tears. I couldn’t breathe from crying so profusely. I was finally able to share the news with my mom and dad— of course my mom was in tears before my words were all the way out. I was able to tell Jacob’s mom, too, that we were cautiously and optimistically (very early) pregnant. I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it. And to see the looks on the parents’ faces and to hear the happiness in their voices was just perfect. I had been waiting for that moment for so long.
A few days later, I had to go back for my second blood test. It went up! 2365! It more than doubled, so we were looking good.
That same day I began to cramp and bleed a little. My nurses told me that was normal, but that I should increase my water intake and put my feet up. I followed instructions because I didn’t want to take any chances. That Saturday I had a dance competition with my team. It was a really long day and we were on our feet for most of it. Towards the end of the day, I went into the restroom and found that I had blood again. This time it was brighter in color and it really freaked me out. I called the on-call doctor and she told me the same thing as before. This could all be very normal; drink more water and put your feet up. I was having another blood test in two days, so I had to relax and hope for the best. It seemed to me that every time I had a long, busy day, I would cramp and/or bleed. I thought I just had to be easier on myself.
Tuesday came and I got up early for my blood test. It was 7am and I was at the doctor’s office. After my blood test, I felt like I peed in my pants a little and I ran to the rest room only to find more blood. Again, it was brighter and heavier than the last time. Now I was panicking. I tried to go to work because it was an important day, but I made it until about 5 minutes before the 1st period bell rang before I couldn’t keep it together anymore. I was cramping a lot and it was painful. I called my nurse and they told me to take it easy until I felt better. I went home for the day. I tried to relax as best I could for as long as I could. Around noon I was no longer bleeding, but still had some pain. I decided that I would do whatever I had to do to keep from bleeding and cramping. I was chugging water and laying around with my feet up… for two whole days. The doctors told me my numbers went up (4865), they doubled, but they would have liked them to have been a little higher. Just keep the hope… My baby was as big as an apple seed… grow baby, grow.
On Thursday morning, I was feeling so much better. I was sure this was all my body’s way of saying “Hey, take it easy, we are growing people in here!”
I was all ready for work and was walking out of the door when it happened. I will never forget this moment because it was one of the worst of my life. It was 7:15 in the morning when I felt blood dripping down my legs.
The hysterics started at about 7:20 because it took a good 5 minutes for me to realize that it was all over.
In a blur— in a moment of panic— miraculously, my brain was still functioning. I called work and said I wouldn’t be in again. I called the doctor and said I needed an ultrasound because I’m sure the unthinkable was happening. I got Haley off to school and drove myself to the doctor. While the ultrasound was happening, I could tell by the technician’s face that things were not looking the way they ought to. There was something in my uterus that could either have been blood or a gestational sac. But, by this time, they should have been able to see more. By this time, the gestational sac, yolk sac, and fetal pole should have been visible. No heartbeat. A blood test was needed to see if the unthinkable was truly happening.
I went home and tried to keep it together, but the bleeding and pain continued. My whole body hurt. I was passing clots and clumps— the visual of it was gut-wrenchingly sad. My heart was breaking and my body was trying to fight it. I felt that fight with every ounce of my being, but it was futile.
The next morning I got the news that my numbers were indeed going down. If the blood, pain, and clots were not enough to tell me with certainty, the numbers told the truth— I was miscarrying.
The physical pain pales in comparison to how heavy my heart was. I cannot put into adequate words how I felt (and how I still feel today as I write this). This poor attempt at expressing myself will never be able to describe the real emotions and true pain the last few weeks have held for me. After 5 years of trying, 4 IUIs and 3 attempts at IVF, I was 5 weeks and 5 days pregnant and I lost my miracle. And I only got to experience “knowing” for two weeks and one day. In those two weeks and one day, I experienced true happiness and true devastation. I’m still struggling with this loss and how unfair life can be.
That fateful day we lost a lifetime of hopes and dreams, aspirations and plans. We lost a piece of our future, a piece of our family, a piece of our hearts.
Precious Little Baby, I will always wonder who you would have become. I will always imagine what you would have looked like, how wondrous your laugh would have sounded, how amazing it would have felt to hold you in my arms, and how proud I would have been to watch you grow. I will always wonder every day of my life and I will dream of you every night. The only comfort I have right now is that you never experienced any fear or suffering or loneliness. You were loved and cherished every second of your existence.