TW - Pregnancy loss
“Why do you want to be a mom?” After two failed IVF cycles, I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression and started going to therapy. My psychologist asked me that question and I just looked at him thinking, what kind of question is that?? I’d never thought about it before; it was just always something I wanted. I doubt people who didn’t deal with infertility had to ever answer that question. At this point in our journey, we were just about to start another IVF cycle at another clinic with a known egg donor. I wasn’t always open with our struggles, I was embarrassed, but after tiptoeing around all the questions about when I’m having kids, why don’t I have kids, etc., I made a Facebook post telling all our friends and families what we were going through – and my cousin asked how she could help. We told her all the dirty details of IVF and even after all her different facial expressions as we told her, she still wanted to help by donating her eggs. I got pregnant on the first transfer with her egg and my husband’s sperm, but I miscarried just 8 short weeks later. We tried again, and again, and again, but never got pregnant.
A year later, friends of ours who had completed their family through IVF offered to donate their leftover embryos to us. And again, I got pregnant on the first transfer. Given my age and how many years we had been trying, we decided to transfer 2 embryos. At my first ultrasound at 7 weeks pregnant, the tech said, “I see two little heart beats, two little heads, and two little bums – you’re having twins!” I couldn’t believe it, it worked. And get this, they were identical! One embryo didn’t take while the other split. I couldn’t wait to tell my husband who was waiting in the parking lot, since the pandemic prevented him from going to the ultrasound with me. By the time we had our 12-week ultrasound, restrictions had lightened up a bit and my husband could come. But there weren’t any heartbeats. The babies were gone. Five minutes earlier we were discussing announcing these little people; we wanted to be sure before telling anyone our big news. Then it was all over. They stopped growing a week earlier. I had been carrying around my two dead babies for a week – all while still having pregnancy symptoms. I was still sick, I was still super tired, my body still thought I was pregnant. I was showing – I had a cute little twin pregnancy bump. And I had to wait a whole other week before my surgery to take them out of my body. A whole other week of all the symptoms and the belly. A whole other week of carrying my dead babies inside me. I cried non-stop after my surgery. I just couldn’t believe we lost these two precious babies. They were already so loved. And just like that, they were gone.
We had told a few people about the twins. One of my close friends (and co-workers) had previously asked if we’d ever consider surrogacy or was being pregnant and giving birth something I really wanted. At that point, I told her I just wanted to be a mom, I didn’t care how. She said she’d do it. Not really thinking it would come to that, I eagerly said, “Okay!” She texted me later saying she was serious if it’s something we wanted to consider. After losing the twins, she brought it up again, and we decided to move forward. We lost the twins in June 2020 and our surrogate had her first frozen embryo transfer in August 2020. Unfortunately, it resulted in a chemical pregnancy, but she graciously offered to try again. This second time was a little tougher on her emotionally. It was 6 weeks of medications before the transfer and she had some other big stuff going on in her life, so she told us that if this wasn’t successful, this would be her last transfer, she wouldn’t be up for a third. We totally understood. She started testing at 5 days post transfer and got a positive home pregnancy test. She continued to test, and the lines kept getting darker. Her beta numbers were climbing. Her 7-week ultrasound went well. Strong heartbeat. Then her 12-week ultrasound went well. And at her 20-week ultrasound, we found out we were having a boy! On July 18, 2021, at 8:51 a.m., our breech baby boy, Ciaran (pronounced Keer-an) J. was born via scheduled c-section! It was the most incredible and surreal moment of our lives. It’s still so surreal for all of us – our families, and our surrogate. This actually happened, and we have the most precious, adorable, charming, and happy little boy – and he’s ours.
Ciaran wouldn’t be here today if we weren’t open with our struggles. We kept our struggles a secret for a long time. But it ate away at me. I had social anxiety, fearing people asking if I had kids, when I’m having kids, why I don’t have kids. I avoided social gatherings, especially baby showers or events with kids. I avoided pregnant friends. My heart sank every time I saw a pregnancy announcement on social media, or when someone at work announced they were pregnant. Why them? Why not us? My mental health suffered for years before I got help. I was embarrassed – of my infertility and my anxiety. I felt like less of a woman, less of a human. This isn’t something anyone should go through alone – and that’s why I joined this patient-advisory panel. I hope this program helps others who are dealing with infertility and everything else that comes with it.