(***This is part one of three in Kathy’s fertility story. To see Part 2, go here.***)
Devin and I were married on September 6, 1991. I had our whole lives figured out with a nice little timeline. I knew that we’d have our first child exactly 2 years after we had been married, close to the same time Devin would graduate with his bachelor’s degree. I knew we’d then go on to have 4-5 more kids with about two years in between each child and I would be done having kids bythe time I was 30 years old (Yes, do the math, I was married young and I don’t regret it!). Little did I know that this whole scenario would just be a dream.
I went off birth control after we had been married about6 months. I thought for sure I’d be pregnant within a month or two, but the months turned into years. After about two years of trying to get pregnant and taking fertility drugs, I finally had a positive pregnancy test (***if you’ve struggled with infertility, you are probably like me and should have taken stock out in e.p.t. home pregnancy tests. I can’t tell you how many of those darn tests I’ve taken and how much money we spent on them!***). I was ecstatic! I proceeded to call everyone and tell them I was finally pregnant. Our families knew, our friends knew, and people at our work knew. I was over the moon with excitement! The many nights of crying myself to sleep were over, I thought. Instead, I miscarried two weeks later. I was devastated. I had this internal struggle going on, “What could I have done differently? Why was this happening to me? I had waited so long, why did it end up in a miscarriage? One of the numbers I’ve seen says that 25% of pregnancies end up in miscarriage, but why did mine have to be one of them?
Crying myself to sleep became a normal occurrence for the next 3 years. It was rough. Friends and family were having babies and had multiple children over the years of our trying to have one. It seemed as though everyone was pregnant. While I was so happy for them, inside I just wanted to be part of the pregnancy club.
In 1996, we decided we would try an endometriosis treatment of Depot Lupron injections. They thought it was my endometriosis that was not allowing me to get pregnant. So, they put me through a drug induced menopause hoping to keep the endometriosis at bay and hoping after coming off of the Depot Lupron I would be able to get pregnant. Finally, the six months of feeling insane, hot flashes, mood swings, and just feeling not great paid off. I was pregnant! To me it was a miracle. This time I had told my sister and sister in law and no one else. I just didn’t want to have to go through having people feel sorry for me if this ended up in a miscarriage. We finally told our family, friends, and coworkers. I was so sick. I can tell you the first time I vomited, where I was at, and what we were doing. But, I’ll spare you the gruesome details, while hilarious now, it was horrible to live it. I was sick most of my pregnancy and took Phenergan to keep the sickness at bay. I slept whenever I could. I also developed horrible back problems which caused my left leg to go out from underneath me all of the time and ended up in a back brace for the majority of my pregnancy. They thought the baby was on my sciatic nerve. Later found out I had a herniated disc and a disc bulge. It was a rough pregnancy to say the least. I hated complaining about it, because I wanted this more than anything and I would go through it all again if the outcome were a sweet little baby.
At about 16 weeks we had the Alpha-Fetoprotein test done. Back in the day, there was a huge number of false positives. But, I didn’t think anything of it. If this could help us to know if our baby had Spina Bifida or Downs Syndrome, I wanted to know. I got a call from my OBGYN and he said the test was positive. I needed to go to the University of Utah Hospital and meet with a geneticist and have an Amniocentesis. To say I freaked out would be an understatement. The test showed that our baby may have Downs Syndrome. How could this be happening to me? I’d waited so long, shouldn’t our baby be healthy? I called Devin at work in tears. He happened to be working at a clinic right by our OB’s office. So, he walked over and talked to the doctor. The doctor again told him about the false positives and not to be too concerned. It was easy for everyone else to say, I was a wreck.
At 17 weeks we were meeting with the geneticist and he said if we find that the fetus has Downs Syndrome, you’ll need to decide whether or not to terminate the pregnancy. What in the world?! That was never a question or answer in my mind. I hadn’t considered aborting this child. This baby was going to be born and we were just going to be more prepared with how to take care of this child. It was shocking to me that this was something that had to be discussed. We did the amniocentesis and were told the geneticist would call with the results in a couple of weeks.
I remember that call like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my office at work and the phone rang. When I picked up, the geneticist told me that the baby did not have Down’s Syndrome! “Would you like to know the gender of your child?” he asked.
He then told me that my child was 100% a girl! I was jumping up and down in my office. My co-workers had gathered outside my door wondering what all of the commotion was about. I was thrilled that my little girl wouldn’t have the struggles of Downs Syndrome. I left work, went to the florists and picked up a bouquet of pink flowers and went to Devin’s work. This is how I told him we were having a girl. It was a wonderful moment in time.
Our sweet little girl, Lauren Elizabeth was born on August 19, 1997. I loved delivering her. While it was rough, I would do that a million times over. It was amazing and I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity of being able to have a biological child.
Lauren Elizabeth was about 1 ½ years old. I had been on birth control again after she was born. I thought that now that I’ve had one child it should be super easy to have another. That was not the case. The nights of crying myself to sleep began again. Anxiety and, looking back on it now I have no doubt, depression filled my life.
A year and a half later, we found out we would be moving to New England. My husband had finished his Master’s Degree and was taking a job in Boston. We felt like we needed to leave our comfort zone and head there. Lauren Elizabeth was 3 years old at this point. My “life plan” was clearly not happening. I was already 28 and only had one child. There was no way I was going to make it to 30 and have 3-4 more kids in two years. It just wasn’t going to happen, barring a miracle.
We had no idea that moving to New Hampshire (my husband commuted into Boston) would give us some opportunities for infertility treatments that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. You see, Massachusetts health care regulations made it mandatory that insurance cover infertility, including In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). We’re talking about a $10,000 procedure, and all we had to do was pay $35 for each cycle. What in the world? We were stunned. Could this be why we needed to be in New England? We had to begin the testing all over again. Which meant Devin also had to be tested again. This whole time, we had thought it was my endometriosis that made it so we couldn’t become pregnant. The results came back and we were stunned. Devin had what’s called Varicoceles. This was causing him to produce less sperm. We were told the quality of sperm was great, but the quantity was lacking. They reminded us, it just took one sperm to get pregnant. Quality vs. Quantity, right? Well in this case we really needed both. We decided to not have the Varicoceles repaired and to go right into trying fertility treatments. We started off with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). If I remember correctly, we tried 3-4 IUI’s. It didn’t end up in pregnancy.
My hopes were dashed again.