We’re delighted to introduce you to one of our successful applicants of our recent Fertility Clinics vs. Covid campaign initiative. Jenn has been successful with a free round of IVF at CNY Fertility and, for NIAW in the States (National Infertility Awareness Week), she shares her story of baby loss and the heartache and pain she and her husband have had to endure during their infertility journey to date.
Words by Jenn
A Rollercoaster of Infertility
I never thought much about (in)fertility growing up; I just always assumed you could get pregnant whenever you wanted to try to conceive. After all, that is what I was told in high school health class. I saw people having babies all the time, late into their 30’s, so I knew I had nothing to worry about. How naive a thought that was. After getting married, my husband and I took some time before we started trying to conceive, as we thought it was going to happen straight away. Right? WRONG.
After three and a half years of trying to conceive, losing twins at twenty-two weeks, three chemical pregnancies and a six-week baby loss, the nursery we set up for our boys still remains untouched and without a baby.
Our infertility journey has been nothing short of a roller-coaster. Diagnosed as “unexplained”, with no fertility answers, has been nothing short of frustrating. Infertility is mentally, emotionally and financially draining. We were lucky enough to have coverage for our IUI (Intrauterine insemination), so that seemed like the ideal place to start.
After two unsuccessful IUI’s at my OBGYN, we were referred to our current fertility clinic, with the understanding we would be moving on to IVF. We were so hopeful with talks of moving onto IVF. We had a timeline, a plan and it was all going to work out, or so we thought.
Our initial fertility specialist consultation took a few months, but leaving that meeting, we were feeling hopeful, slightly defeated because of the cost of IVF and nervous about all the IVF shots (injections). But we knew with each other’s support we could do it. We also had another option, since our insurance covered gonadotropins cycles, we could start there with an IUI and see how I would react to the fertility drugs. After much thought and deliberation, we decided to give IUI one last shot; after all what could it hurt?
Related Article – A Letter to Myself Before Infertility and Baby Loss
However, we were never short of roadblocks – one of them being that our insurance stated they would not approve the gonadotropins cycle because we’d never used Clomid. Our first two IUI’s were natural cycles. Frustrated and getting ready for vacation, we decided to take the Clomid (so as to not “waste” another fertility treatment cycle), and then left for vacation. We both had little hope it would work, holding onto a small glimmer of hope, but largely not paying much attention to it.
When we got home from vacation, I had a mid-cycle appointment and, much to our surprise, we had three large follicles ready to go. We were told to trigger that night and come back in 36 hours for our IUI. Both of us were beyond excited but nervous, what if we ended up with twins? What about triplets? Were we ready for that? Unsure, we still did not care, we just could not wait for the possibility of finally being pregnant after two years of infertility and trying to conceive.
February 2020 was the month we had our IUI and right before the pandemic. My husband was allowed to be there for the IUI; boy do I miss those days. We got his sample and the nurse enthusiastically stated as she read the numbers; “you win the best sample of the day! 100% motility and 18 million sperm.” We looked at each other and said this has to be our time, right?
The IUI procedure was fairly simple and then the dreaded 2WW (two-week wait) started. I continued with my normal routine; working out, going to work with not a worry in the world. I took an at-home pregnancy test nine days after the procedure, assuming it was going to be negative. I set it on the bathroom sink and got in the shower.
When I got out I briefly looked at it and was so disappointed, but something told me to look again. Is that a line? I picked up the pregnancy test, turned on my phone flashlight and, lo and behold, there was a faint line. I could not believe it!
I wanted to call my husband and share the good news, but I was also terrified that I could be just seeing things. ‘What if it all ends? I do not want him to feel the pain’. I tested a few more times that weekend and the line kept getting darker. I thought ‘This must be it’! So, I surprised my husband with a letter board and all the pregnancy tests I took. We were so excited we just hugged and cried. Baby loss was the furthest thing from our minds. After all, I had never been pregnant and all the tests were “normal” so why should we be worried?
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Pandemic Complications and Twins!
Beta number one confirmed what we already knew, we were officially pregnant. By Beta two, our numbers not only doubled, but quadrupled! Next up, a viability ultrasound. We told our close family – we could hardly contain the excitement.
And then the pandemic hit. I was now going to be working from home, as my job was closed. We were nervous my husband would not be allowed in the ultrasound, let alone all the unknown of what would happen in the pandemic. Time seemed to crawl before the ultrasound, but at six weeks and one day we went in. My fertility specialist was the one who conducted the scan and, after the probe went in, we heard, “Congratulations it’s twins”.
I thought I was going to faint, while my husband hugged the fertility specialist in excitement and then quickly apologized because of Covid! On April 1st, we heard two perfect heartbeats and we officially graduated from our fertility clinic. I could not believe it – how could it be this easy? Why didn’t my OBGYN try this? How lucky were we that we did not have to go through IVF?
The pregnancy was uncomplicated. I was able to maintain working out, I had very little morning sickness and I had some food aversions during the first trimester, but overall I could not really complain about how things were going. We did all the genetic testing, because again, why not?
All our testing came back good and it was another opportunity to see our growing babies. At the twenty week anatomy scan, we were told everything looked perfect, heartbeats were great and they were growing a few days ahead. We left with the gender in an envelope and had a gender reveal that weekend (with family). We found out we were having two boys.
We could not be more excited. I was also starting to feel more comfortable buying things – we bought all the nursery stuff and set it all up. We went back in two weeks later to finish the anatomical scan (as some things were missed).
This scan did not go as well as the first one. The tech left the room and was gone a long time and then the doctor came back. I knew it was not good news. She told us that she was concerned at the rate at which Baby A was growing, stating that sometimes it is normal in twins, but she wanted to keep an eye on it and asked us to come back in two weeks, “just to check”. We would never make it back for another check-up.
Losing Our Boys
It was a normal Sunday for me; I did some cleaning, I worked out and went grocery shopping. I was feeling extra tired, but just figured maybe I overdid it. Later that night I asked my husband to rub my back a little and I got up to go to the bathroom in hopes I would not have to get up multiple times in the night.
When I went to lay back down I felt a huge gush. I knew my water had broken. I panicked. I called my OBGYN on the way to the hospital. They confirmed at the hospital that Baby A’s water had broken and told us we could go home and wait for me to go into labour. I could not believe what I was hearing.
Do you know how long it has taken me to get to this point and you’re just going to let me go home and what? Have my babies die? I demanded to stay and they agreed. We were quickly met by the NICU and Maternal Fetal Medicine, who told us, based on the last scan, there was no chance that either twin was going to survive. We were in shock, we could not even speak, we just cried.
The next morning, we were met with another group of specialist doctors who had a better prognosis for us and we knew we were in for the long haul. They told us medical intervention could not be performed unless we got to twenty-three weeks; we were two and a half days away from that. I was going to do anything I could to keep my babies safe for as long as I could. Unfortunately, the tales of hope told to us by the doctors and nurses would not be for us.
At twenty-two weeks and five days, Connor Micheal was born sleeping. The doctors checked on Baby B and his waters had not broken, his heartbeat was strong and it seemed he was going to stay put for another twenty-four hours. But twelve hours after Connor was born, Gavin Thomas made his debut at twenty-two weeks and six days (twelve hours before any intervention could be taken).
We spent the next few days in the hospital holding our babies, telling them how much we loved them and notifying family of our tragic ending of baby loss. And, all because of Covid, nobody could come and be with us. Every time I thought I was in an okay place I was quickly reminded, I was no longer pregnant, I was going home empty-handed to a nursery that was ready to receive our boys.
Related Article – Parenting/Life After Baby Loss
Dealing with Baby Loss
The summer was all a blur. I had little hope, I was numb and I was angry. I was angry that my body could not do the one thing I wanted it to and now it was trying to feed two babies who were no longer with us. I had all the symptoms of a postpartum mom, but no babies.
We had decided we would not try again until we got the autopsy and placental reports back. We wanted to know if we had to do more fertility tests or whether to take a different approach (before we endured more heartache).
Unfortunately, all the reports came back with no news and no fertility answers. Again, we were told there was no reason we could not have a healthy normal pregnancy. Feeling defeated but hopeful, we called the fertility specialist to discuss next steps. I was concerned they were going to push us right to IVF, but they suggested we start with IUI, as they saw no additional risk. It worked the last time, so why wouldn’t it work again?
Our first Clomid cycle back failed and the second Clomid IUI ended in a chemical pregnancy, so we moved onto a gonadotropin cycle and, much to our surprise, it worked! This tragically ended in a six-week baby loss. Cue more testing, but again nothing to be found. After holding onto all the hope with each cycle, we were again defeated. We discussed finally taking the plunge into IVF, while also discussing switching fertility clinics for a second opinion.
Clinging onto our last shred of hope, I received a text one day that would change our worlds for the better. We found out we have been successful with a free round of IVF through Fertility Help Hub’s recent Fertility Clinics vs. Covid Initiative! And even more of a sign, with the fertility clinic we were anticipating moving to anyway (CNY Fertility).
After all the pain and loss this year has brought us, we finally have received the best news anyone could get. We are beyond blessed for this opportunity and although our hearts know pain and loss, we are choosing hope. Every storm must come to an end, and we are optimistic that the new beginnings and opportunities we are about to embark on will do just that, end the storm and bring us our double rainbow.
If, like Jenn, you have experienced baby loss and/ or a fertility struggle, then join our free infertility support app, Fertility Squad. You can connect with thousands of others around the world experiencing similar feelings and challenges.
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