“Growing up many girls have their lives planned out for themselves. I was no exception. I knew exactly how my life was going to play out (insert God hysterically laughing here). I had my life checklist all printed out and my red pen in hand ready to check off each milestone. I went to college, got my degree and soon after landed my dream job. Check, check and next on the list was to find a good man, get married and start a family. Thankfully the first two items were completed pretty quickly. I found my perfect southern gentleman and had my dream wedding. On to my last item… starting a family. Since everything else went off without a hitch this should as well, right? My husband Adam and I went through the traditional motions of family starting. It was fun, and exciting. Until it wasn’t.
We had other friends who were at the same place in their marriages as us and they were popping out kids left and right. I still had the naïve notion that everything was ok. We tried all the ‘old wives’ tale’ methods, we tried holistic methods, and we tried some truly out of the box thinking. After about a year of our many futile attempts, we decided it was time to go to the doctor. I went to the OB and started my cycle of CLOMID, or as we liked to call it in our house, the ‘crazy pills.’ When that didn’t work, my OB referred us to a university hospital fertility clinic.
We set up our first appointment were immediately overwhelmed. The acronyms and processes and THE COST! We were so scared, so anxious, so excited, so EVERYTHING. We left the first meeting in a fog. I needed to process it all. I went to friends and family pleading with them for advice and suggestions on what I should do. The best advice I got was from my mom. She told me to pray on it and leave it up to God. I did and made our second appointment a week later. The next two years were filled with test after test, never yielding an answer. We believed in our doctor and we believed in the process.
While my belief was strong my hope was weakening. I started to become bitter and angry. I wore a mask of happiness. I cringed when someone would utter the sayings, ‘Just have fun with it, you are stressing out and that is what is causing your infertility.’ or ‘Have you thought about adoption?’ or my personal favorite, ‘Be happy, don’t have kids.’ I would don my mask at baby showers and then go home and cry. I would hit that ‘like’ button on Facebook when a pregnancy announcement would come up, and then I would cry. I would cheer and clap when those pink or blue balloons popped out of that mystery box, and then I would cry. I would get mad at myself for being so mad all the time. I started to feel like less of a woman. What was wrong with me? I started to worry that my wonderful southern knight would leave me because I couldn’t give him the family he wanted as badly as I did. I started to break down, slowly. I felt so alone.
I finally voiced my feelings to my husband. I sobbed about my fears and anxieties. I unpacked years of worries and trepidations on him. He, like the amazing man he is, took it all in. He held me and listened to me. He cried with me and told me I was not alone. He too had the same fears and worries. He had those same bitter emotions and baggage. We held each other for hours and decided then and there we were going to change our path. We decided we were going to get much more aggressive. We said good-bye to our old doctor and scheduled a new appointment with a doctor who was notorious for his aggressive approach to infertility.
Our first appointment with the new doctor was fast and to the point. The doctor looked through our charts and tests and said, ‘Well you have done most of the leg work and I am not going to lie to you, the only path you have is IVF.’ We sat in silence for a bit and then took a deep breath. We wanted a family more than anything. We rolled up our sleeves and rolled out our pocketbooks. This was happening! The next several weeks were a blur of shots and appointments galore. We did everything by the book. I wanted this so badly that I was not going to let some silly mistake ruin my chance at a family. I now had a different check list in front of me — consisting of medicines and doctor’s appointments.
Check, check, and check we followed the protocol to the last letter. We knew each process inside and out. We did the research and knew what was ahead of us. When the time came for the blastocyst transfer we had no questions, we were ready. The doctor only had one blastocyst to transfer and all of our hope was placed in that little ball of cells. The procedure went off without a hitch. I was told I couldn’t take a pregnancy test until two weeks after the procedure, so like all women going through IVF, I did one right away. I saw what I had been waiting for. I saw that faint, thin, pink line. I immediately swelled up with tears and wanted to call each and every one in my contact list. I also did the other thing that women going through IVF do — I gave myself about 10 other tests. I couldn’t believe it. I was pregnant. I was finally able to check my last box off. I was going to have my family. I was going to be the girls that posted on Facebook, and had the gender reveal, and could wear the cute outfit to show off my tummy. I walked into my doctor’s appointment with the biggest smile. Adam and I got the great news officially and shouted it loud for all to hear. We were on cloud nine. Everything was fun and exciting. Until it wasn’t.
On May 12, 2016 (I was 12 weeks at this time), at 12:52 I woke up from a dead sleep. I felt this strange cramping and a warm sensation between my legs. I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom. I checked to see what was causing the warm sensation. I pulled up a handful of bright red blood. I didn’t know what to do. I started shaking and yelled Adam’s name. I felt dizzy and nauseous. I fell to my knees and uttered a silent scream. Adam looked at me terrified. Neither of us knew what to do. This wasn’t in any of the research we did. He picked me up and put me into the bath tub. He called my mom and told her what was going on. She told him to take me to the hospital and she would meet us there. He grabbed a towel, wrapped me up in it and whispered in my ear it was time to go. The car ride to the hospital was the longest trip I have ever taken. We didn’t speak to each other. The only sound to be heard were my quiet sobs. Adam rubbed my hand and stared at the road. The nurses took me back right away. They were so gently and kind to me. They helped me into the bed and helped clean me up. Their calming voices soothed some of my anxieties. They talked to Adam and didn’t just stick him in a corner. They confirmed our greatest fears. We had lost the baby in a spontaneous miscarriage.
I had joined a club I never wanted to be a part of. I wasn’t a mommy any more. I now had a new list of checks. Bitter, anger, depression, frustration, searching. Check, check, check and check. I was lost. A storm was growing inside of me. A storm of horrible thoughts and emotions. This was not supposed to be happening. I was supposed to be the happy mommy-to-be. I was angry at everything. I would yell like thunder at everyone. Horrible thoughts would strike my heart like lightening. Tears would fall like rain. All of my past fears and anxieties slowly began to creep back into my mind like fog. I struggled to do the simplest thing. I was not me anymore. I was a shell. Nothing was fun or exciting. Until, my mom grabbed me hard by the shoulders and shook me to my core. She said if I wanted to have a family then I needed to get my stuff together (she used some other choice words that I will let you use your imagination to figure out) and make it happen. I knew she was right. I wanted a family. I wanted a baby and I was going to make that happen. I told Adam I wanted to try IVF again. We pulled all of our remaining resources together. We called family and told them our plan. Everyone rallied around us. We were able to pull together enough funds to try again.
The doctor was amazing and tried their best to calm any of our fears going into our second attempt. I was a mess. At every appointment I asked if everything was ok or if there was something I could be doing better. I cut out everything that could potentially be bad. I stopped all caffeine (even chocolate). I didn’t eat fish or red meat. I drank my body weight in water. The time came for our second transfer. We only had one blastocyst to transfer again. We called her (we knew it was a girl because we did the genetic testing) Nemo because she was the only egg to survive. This time, instead of giving this little miracle all our hope, we gave her all our love. We stopped pretending we had any control in this situation. We gave it all to God. We were just happy that we had the opportunity to try again. We were just happy.
After the transfer you have to wait two weeks to see if it was successful. I followed the rules this time. I didn’t do any tests, not a one. I cautiously walked into my doctor’s appointment to hear the results. He sat us down and took a deep breath. So did we. He told us that my HCG was double what it should be. I didn’t know what that meant, I assumed it meant something bad. He wanted to do an ultrasound to see what was going on. I was shocked and confused at what I saw on the monitor. I saw two little blobs twitching away, TWINS! Adam and I immediately started sobbing. The doctor explained that the embryo had split. The two heartbeats were identical twins. Two little girls. We couldn’t believe it. We were back on cloud nine. That being said, we were petrified. We were so afraid this was just a fleeting moment. We didn’t tell anyone the results. Our doctor has his patients check in for the first 13 weeks. Each week I saw our little cells grow. I saw their two little heart beats at 8 weeks and melted. I saw two little blobs twitching at 10 weeks. It was fun and exciting. Until it wasn’t.
At my 13-week appointment I didn’t see two heart beats. I only saw one. The nurse tried adjusting the monitor to see if she could pick up any sign of a second heartbeat. She couldn’t, and time stood still. My mind began to go to the worst scenario. My eyes began to swell up with tears. Was I having another miscarriage? Was I going to lose my other baby? The doctor came in and took my hand. He allowed me to calm down. He explained to me that things like this happens with identical twins. Sometimes one is just stronger than the other one. I choked out the questions that were plaguing my mind. ‘Is the other baby ok?’ He reassured me that the one heartbeat was strong and steady. I could breath, but barley. He gave me some time to compose myself. I barely remember getting dressed or walking back to my car. I know I called Adam to tell him the news, but I don’t remember what his response was. I started to slip back into my shell. Then I realized I was holding something in my hand. It was the ultrasound image of the strong heartbeat. It was my baby girl. I realized I needed to be strong and positive for my baby girl. I needed to be happy. I wiped away my tears and drove home.
The remainder of my pregnancy I was a hot mess. Every ‘odd’ thing that occurred, I freaked out a little. I was constantly calling the nurse to see if what I was feeling was ‘normal.’ I continued my check list of banned things. I still didn’t consume any caffeine (still no chocolate), no soft cheeses or fish. I took lukewarm showers and continued to drink my body weight in water. I was the model pregnant woman. I bought my own fetal Doppler monitor and used it every night. I am not going to lie, I even thought about renting an ultrasound machine (Adam stopped me there).
I found it hard to talk about baby things with people. I was constantly asked about names or nursery themes and I never had an answer for them. It was like I wouldn’t let myself go there. It was like I was protecting myself from the possibility of that hurt. I put keep putting off maternity pictures, I only took one belly selfie (the day before I was induced). I didn’t want to document the journey. Now keep in mind, I had the ideal pregnancy. Nothing went wrong. I never had a scary moment. It was all in my mind. I tried to stay in the moment, but I would find myself slipping into my shell. When that would happen I would grab my belly and breathe. About a month before our little star made her appearance I felt the cloud part. I scheduled my maternity session, I unpacked that crib, I washed her clothes and I packed a hospital bag. Things started to get fun and exciting. AND THEY STILL ARE!
We now have a beautiful little rainbow. Our storm has passed and all we see are clear skies. Our little rainbow baby is ONE. She is the happiest, sweetest little thing this side of the moon. I think God knew how hard it was to get her here, so he gave her the sweetest disposition. I often just stare at her awestruck that she is here, and mine. I hold and kiss her as much as possible and she has a whole village that loves her to bits.
My mother commented the other day how genuinely happy I am. How could I not be, I am able to check baby off my list. I now have a whole new list: diapers, pacifiers, headbands, wipes and so on. It is fun and exciting, and I can’t wait to see what is at the end of our rainbow.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Shanon Wright of Arkansas. Do you have a beautiful rainbow baby? We’d love to hear your journey. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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