These days our house is filled with toys, laughter, and absolute chaos as we prepare for Christmas. I’m running out of places to hide presents and our elf on the shelf, tripping over Abby’s little people reindeer thanks to her insisting that they “take off” in the middle of the living room, and loving the million different ways my kids pronounce Feliz Navidad (Denise Nady Na is my favorite) each time they hear the song on the radio! However, a few days ago as I was hanging ornaments on our Christmas tree I was reminded of a Christmas not so long ago when I was longing to be a mother and that dream seemed beyond my reach.
Growing up I was a goal setter. I knew right away that I wanted to be a teacher. Not just a teacher, but a first grade teacher. With hard work and a little luck I was hired for my first job the June before I graduated college to teach first grade the following year. My next goal was to be a mom. My husband Rob and I had been married for a little over 2 years and figured it was a good time to start trying to start a family. When month after month turned into over a year and the little white stick was still showing not a sign of pink I knew something was wrong. We tried using ovulation predictors and monitors on our own and nothing seemed to help.
Testing came back labeling us as “unexplained infertility” and 3 intrauterine inseminations (IUI) later I was still not pregnant. By now I couldn’t hide the fact that we were doing infertility treatments to try to have a baby. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and it was clear that we were having a problem. I was also being so closely monitored for egg production that I had to miss school a lot for the insemination schedule that I was on. Now that I look back, I am thankful for all of the support that I received from everyone who knew what Rob and I were going through. I saved every card, St. Gerard medal, and well wish that was given to us during our journey and would often joke that I felt like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life from the end scene when he is on the bridge and everyone is praying for him…except everyone was saying…Dear God please give Robyn and Rob a baby! I had a co-worker who told me over and over that the baby that was meant for me wasn’t ready yet. I knew she was trying to be helpful, but when you want nothing more than to be a mother RiGhT NoW you don’t want to hear anything like that! In hindsight…she was right.
After the 3 failed IUI’s we decided to go straight to in vitro fertilization (IVF). This just had to work. How could it not? They take healthy eggs and healthy sperm, put them together, implant them into the perfect location in your uterus and all they have to do is implant. We did the injections, the 6:00 am blood-work and uterus scans every morning, egg retrieval, and then the big day…the embryo transfer. I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting it is to lay on the table with a photograph of the embryos that the doctor is transferring in hopes that one will implant. In the days that followed my transfer I carried around that photograph like I had just been to Portrait Innovations with a newborn! After the transfer comes the wait. For a week we waiting hoping those little embryos had nuzzled in to stay, but we were saddened when my blood-work came back to show that I wasn’t pregnant.
Moving on we had to wait one cycle before we could begin another round of IVF. By this time I felt like a professional at the infertility group. I sat in the same chair each morning for my monitoring, had become friends with all of the nurses, and knew which parking spots were the best to get out of the hospital lot the fastest to get me to work on time. My doctor changed my medications a little to get more eggs to fertilize this time and I had 26 eggs retrieved and 13 that went on to fertilize and become embryos. Getting the call that I had produced 13 healthy embryos had us on cloud 9…we were sure this round would get us the baby we so longed for. The next morning by a horrible twist of fate, we received a phone call from my Dr. notifying me that due to a “Catastrophic error on the part of the lab” all of my embryos had been lost because there was something wrong with the gel that holds the embryos. There are honestly no words to describe the pain we felt that day. Even today when I think of 13 potential lives lost it kills me. We didn’t even know what to do with the news, we just knew that we wanted a baby and we needed them to get one.
We went ahead with a 3rd round of IVF and by now we were going on 2 and a half years of infertility. I was emotionally drained and depressed. I went for my egg retrieval and transfer and I honestly didn’t have much hope this time. I had been through so much heartbreak that the naivety of the “This is definitely going to work” was LoNg GoNe. I went for my blood-work the morning of my pregnancy test, but I was already spotting so I figured that it hadn’t worked. I went back home after my blood-work and put my pajamas back on and laid in bed waiting for the phone call from my nurse. Rob and I answered the phone together and were shocked to hear, “Robyn, you’re pregnant!” We both cried along with our nurse who had been through all 3 cycles with us. My pregnancy wasn’t easy but I delivered a healthy baby boy and finally understood what my friend meant… All of those missed opportunities to conceive didn’t happen because Nicholas was the baby that was MeAnT FoR Me! If I had gotten pregnant any of those other times I would have had a baby that I would have loved, but I wouldn’t have Nicholas, and knowing that makes all the years, all the heartbreak, and all the lessons learned worth it. Nicholas is 5 years old now and I still call him my little miracle. When I meet couples going through infertility I try to remind them of this and to NeVeR GiVe Up HoPe.
Those of you who follow Suede Sofa know that besides Nicholas I have a daughter named Abby who is two years younger. As shocked as I was the day I found out I was pregnant with Nicholas, multiply that by 100 the day I figured out that by some either miracle or complete fluke we conceived Abby on our own!
If you or someone you know is struggling to conceive this Christmas season please share my story with them. I know how hard it is to put on a brave face when you want nothing more than to be a part of what it seems like everyone else around you has. Remember the words of my friend…Maybe the baby that is meant for you just isn’t ready yet!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year…
~Robyn (Jersey Girl)