Over the following months, we found out I had a hernia from the pregnancy and that my stomach muscles had torn. We decided I needed to have that fixed so that my back would stop hurting and I could regain my strength. I had diastis recti and hernia repair surgery in December 2011, six months after the twins were born. I don’t remember much as they say you forget trauma, but I wasn’t allowed to pick up the babies for six weeks. Thankfully I had stored enough milk (since I was producing 22oz every 3 hours) to last them for an additional three months post-surgery.
Life went on. We were beyond grateful for our girls. But when they turned six, we knew we had to try for another baby. We stayed hopeful and tried to conceive on our own during the summer of 2017 and, sure enough, I ended up back at the fertility clinic for help. This time we would be jumping into IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation) right away. I was elated. I thought IVF meant I would be pregnant in four months! I would get to choose the gender and we would have this baby by the end of the coming summer. I was very wrong.
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We paid for this first round. Unfortunately, here in California insurance doesn’t cover fertility treatments. It cost almost $30,000 per round, meaning from egg retrieval to transfer was what we had to pay up front. Forms were signed and we were on our way. We had our first egg retrieval and they collected eight eggs. Only three made it to full embryos and, after sending them to get tested (PGS testing to make sure they were normal babies), we only ended up with one. But we only needed one, right? So, hopeful and (honestly) naïve, we transferred the one in December 2017. This transfer failed. We were back to square one and devastated.
I felt so guilty that we had spent so much money and time
We tried again: signed the forms, paid up front and went through another retrieval and transfer. We had the same results. We transferred one embryo, along with one other that was not normal but could potentially grow to be (termed a mosaic embryo). They too failed. I didn’t understand. I felt like I had all the pregnancy symptoms. But that’s the thing with IVF. You are on so many hormones and fertility drugs that your body almost mimics pregnancy symptoms. It was such a mind game. I started to feel very depressed. I felt so guilty that we had spent so much money and time going back and forth to the doctor, doing shots, blood-work and exams for nothing. I had taken so much time away from my twins (or so it felt) and I couldn’t handle that guilt.
After trying an IUI and having it fail, we decided to take a break. We needed a break financially, mentally and physically. We were disconnected as a couple and my mind couldn’t focus on anything other than IVF. We took the summer off to cleanse my body. I started fertility acupuncture treatments regularly to help with my fertility and I trained to become a yoga teacher. We traveled and I was as present as I could be with my girls.
September 2018 came quickly. We switched clinics because we weren’t happy with our old one and tried for our third egg retrieval and third transfer. This time we decided not to test our embryos. We had three and thought, due to the controversy of testing, we would take our chances. We were pregnant! It worked!! I remember crying on the floor of my closet – so many tears of joy and relief. We didn’t tell the girls right away. We waited until six weeks to tell them, once we saw a heartbeat. They were so excited! They cried and we could not stop talking about that baby. A couple of weeks later, it was time for me to “graduate” from my fertility clinic and onto the OB. “I’m sorry, Erin, but the baby has stopped growing.” My world collapsed. We had miscarried. I remember holding on to Nick’s shirt so tightly as he held me up so that I wouldn’t fall out of the bed. I couldn’t even pull my pants up. How would I continue about my day? How would I tell the girls? But we did. They sobbed and we had to explain that the baby had died in my tummy. The guilt ate me alive.
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