“I daydreamed about a life with Stephen Archibald from the day I met him. He has been in my life since I was a teenager, but we didn’t start dating until we were in our 20’s. We dated through college and were married the week after I graduated.
We moved to San Francisco as newlyweds and I started my career as an elementary school teacher and he as an investment banker. We lived a perfectly dreamy happy life. I remember saying to him that something must be brewing for us because our life had been too easy!
In 2015 we started trying to get pregnant. We were happy to be patient and wait for a little one, not knowing that it would be something that was just not going to happen. A while and a lot of tests later, we were told we had a 1% chance to conceive, naturally or with help. Infertility is a topic that most people aren’t comfortable talking about or sharing, it is a ‘suffer-silently’ experience. I want to share so that others feel comfortable talking about it or so they can read it and not feel so alone. You are not alone.
We started our In Vitro Fertilization process in November 2017. I had an egg retrieval surgery and had 20 healthy mature eggs removed from my ovaries after a long process of injections of hormones. 16 of those eggs were fertilized and grew in a petri dish for five days. Only 4 of them made it to an embryo stage.
We transferred one of those embryos during the week of Thanksgiving and waited. Negative. We started the medications and appointments for another embryo transfer which was done on December 21, 2017. I really hadn’t been feeling well the week prior to our transfer and had made multiple complaints to our doctors but was told it was just side effects of all the hormone injections. It wasn’t.
Christmas Day rolled around, and I couldn’t keep any food down. A few more days pass, and I didn’t have the strength to get out of bed. By New Year’s Eve I had lost 25 pounds. January 3rd, we had a blood test to see if the embryo had stuck and if I was pregnant. I knew something serious was going on. I could feel it in my bones, so I took myself to the emergency room. A doctor came in and said to me, ‘I spent the last twenty minutes researching and wishing this could be something else because I really don’t want it to be this.’ I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. And I was pregnant.
I spent the next few days in the ICU and the rest of January was a blur of grief and anger. I have a lifelong disease—one that is demanding of me 24/7 and will never be cured. One that was caused by IVF. One that made me miscarry the baby I was finally pregnant with. I heard the heartbeat of that little baby we had worked so hard for and then it was gone by February.
Living with Type 1 Diabetes is a full-time job. There are so many frustrating misconceptions around diabetes that I sometimes find it easier to just not talk about. 90% of diabetics have Type 2. 10% of diabetics have Type 1. They are not the same. Type 1 is life and death, wear robotic parts to keep you alive, check blood sugar levels every 5 minutes, give yourself insulin multiple times a day, for the rest of your life. Every time I give myself a shot of insulin it is a reminder of why I have to. Every time I check my blood sugar it is a reminder of the baby I lost and may never have. I don’t know that I will ever understand these ‘one-in-a-million’ chances of getting this horrible disease while doing IVF. But I am the lucky one!
In October 2018 we were preparing for another round of IVF and everything was looking great. We transferred our third embryo and soon found out I was pregnant! The elation was quickly followed with heartbreak when I miscarried a few weeks later. When they were preparing our embryos for transfer, the last and final embryo didn’t survive the thawing process and was non- viable. And that was it. We were out of embryos.
I started medications and injections for another egg retrieval in January of 2019. On the exact year mark of my diagnosis of Type 1. I had surgery and had 10 healthy mature eggs removed from my ovaries for a second time. 7 of those eggs were fertilized and were growing into embryos that will be our future babies!
On our day 3 update we were told that 5 of them were looking really good… 5!! A few days later came the time for our final results. Zero. Zero embryos had survived. Zero embryos were waiting for us. I have never felt such an empty feeling.
We have no hope for future biological children. We have spent well over 70,000 dollars trying (that’s also the part people never talk about, the money!) and we are tired and heartbroken.
But together we are tough. We have survived. We choose to be happy. I have been teaching for 6 years through all of this and my students are my heart and soul. They make it easy to do my job and they are worth every single hard part of being a teacher. Through my grief and anger, I created a website that I have always wanted to create. One for parents and people of all ages who need a good book recommendation: travelthroughtext.com Through our grief and anger we restored our beautiful 123-year-old home and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the United States. (check out #the1895revive on Instagram. It’s pretty cute!) Stephen is my life. We have worked side by side and traveled the world hand in hand. Life currently isn’t the one we dreamed of or imagined but it is still a happy one.
All I know is this— ‘You were made to be this brave little human who does not back down to the things in life that try to tidal wave over you and force you to be small’ You are not small. You are also not alone. Whether you’re a teacher, a type 1 diabetic, a sufferer of infertility, a home restorer, a book reviewer, or none of the above — I know that you are fighting, and your soul is being tried. I know you have dark moments that you could never put into words. I know that when it rains, it pours harder than you ever thought possible. I know it feels hopeless. I also know that you are tough. I know that you will find your way out of your darkness. You will somehow survive. And I will be cheering you on the whole way.”
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