Journey to Parenthood: Jessica’s Story

Written by I.F. community member, Jessica V.

Everything happens for a reason. Ever hear that advice? Sure, people are trying to be supportive, but what reason would there be to make it so difficult for me to get pregnant? I’m a good person, right? Why wouldn’t He want me to have a child?

Maybe I’m not a good person… After all, I was so jealous of my co-worker who, in the first month of trying, was pregnant. Are you kidding me!? Or the pregnant woman in the grocery store. I hated her and didn’t even know her! Why was it so easy for everyone else to get pregnant?!

I have since learned for many families, it’s not. When my husband and I began our infertility journey, we chose to be very open about it. We found for us it made things more manageable. And amazingly, I found out two other women in my office alone, were going through similar journeys. Relief, we’re not alone! And fast forward 5 years, and we know dozens of couples like my husband and I that struggled to conceive. Four in our small neighborhood alone!

My husband and I will never know the feeling of being surprised when the store-bought pregnancy kit shows two lines. But we do know what our journey brought to us as a couple. There is a level of trust involved in having your spouse administer sub-muscular hormone injections. There is a respect for the strength we find in ourselves and each other. There is a joint sigh of relief when the nurse tells us that accidentally injecting the wrong hormone (there are so many medication bottles!), does not mean we’ve messed up the entire IVF process!

And when we talk about our journey, it wasn’t one for only my husband and me.   I have a job that requires travel. I’m sure I violated some sort health privacy or employment law, but fortunately I had co-workers that were part of our journey as well.   They administered sub-muscular injections on business trips and were supportive as I quietly excused myself from business dinners to sneak off to the bathroom to give myself injections. They saw my tears fall when artificial insemination didn’t work. And they saw the agony of late menstrual cycles that artificially made me hopeful.

Even my boss had a front row ticket and provided flexibility that was priceless. After all, the infertility journey requires a gazillion doctor appointments! To even start infertility treatment, we had to complete a checklist of items. Do we really need to get our tetanus booster?   Do I really need to get tested to see if I carry the immunity to chicken pox, since I have never had them? Do we really need to be tested for AIDS? Can you imagine if everyone who had a child naturally had to complete a checklist prior to conception?!

And as I have mild case of Muscular Dystrophy (if you saw me, you wouldn’t even know it – I might have mobility issues slightly earlier than my peers), we were required to meet with a genetic counselor.   I am thankful for that requirement, as my perspective going into that meeting changed following the meeting.   Though I initially felt He should determine if our children were going to be affected by MD, we later decided to have genetic testing done on our embryos.

Much of our journey took place at a fantastic facility in Charlotte, NC.   The staff was supportive, sympathetic and upbeat all at the same time. And responsible. If you are struggling to conceive, you understand the level of desperation you reach when trying to conceive.   The day of our embryo transfer, I overheard a woman say it was her 5th IVF cycle. As soon as I saw my doctor, I instructed him to bump up the number of embryos to transfer to 3. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Let me be the doctor. If this cycle does not work, we can sit down and discuss transferring 3”.

We were fortunate to become pregnant that first IVF cycle (with twins boys). I can tell you as a mother of multiples, that is a journey in itself.   We were elated, of course, but we thank our doctor to this day for being the voice of reason when I had lost mine.

Today, we have 3 kids. When the twins were about 18 months, we decided we wanted a third child. She was a frozen embryo transfer, and to this day, seems to think she is as old as the twins. Technically, I guess she is right!

Last night, I was preparing goody bags for a joint birthday party we’re having this weekend. I paused in recognition that it’s not only a celebration of my children’s birth; it’s a celebration of the journey to get them here. A journey taken any other route would not have brought them to me.   And I still don’t buy into “everything happens for a reason”, but I wouldn’t change a thing about our journey.   It was a physical, emotional and spiritual journey. But I didn’t go through it alone. I found out I was stronger than I thought I was, my husband is an amazing man, and it gave me perspective about what is really important.

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