Hi Folks, thanks for coming back. You might be here for a while. I was expecting to have this story posted in three installments. Now I’m thinking it might take five, or even a week. And I’m ok with that. It can take as long as it needs to.
Tonight I’d like to share with you how I became pregnant, after all the years of being childless and wanting to have children join our family so desperately. After all the years of unexplained infertility. After all of the heartache, feeling left out and isolated, feeling like there was something incredibly broken about me and us. When you hear about these miraculous stories of pregnancies coming after years of being wanted, often you’ll hear (usually the mother declare) “Don’t give up, keep the hope, have faith”. Well, I’m not going to tell you that. Because honestly, I kind of gave up. I did. I really did. I was done. I was sick of my heart hurting. I was sick of feeling the monthly ups and downs of excitement, anticipation, let down and grief, over and over again. No one wants to live with that month after month, year after year. So I was done.
The research study actually pinged to my phone. I know, strange and serendipitous, as it was, I trusted it. We went through the preliminary testing at UCSF and qualified. Three months of a supplement, not a medication, but a supplement. I was floored. This was healthy! This was promising! A vitamin supplement was being tested for it’s effectiveness on helping couples achieve pregnancy. And they accepted us! After three months, if I was not pregnant, we could have up to three IUI treatments as part of the research study. And guess what, I didn’t even have to take the supplement, it was for male fertility. It all seemed too good to be true. The least invasive possible, in my opinion. I think my blood was drawn once during the preliminary testing to see if we qualified, and that was it.
We started in October 2016. I can’t believe that was two years ago. This all seems like it was yesterday and at the same time, a lifetime ago. The three months went by and I did not get pregnant. The next step was to move on to the first IUI treatment. That’s when it started to get real, and I was full of anxiety and apprehension. Everyone at UCSF was so lovely, they really were. Nothing like our experience with the reproductive endocrinologist in LA. They were positive, kind, and so down to earth. They truly wanted the best for us, even though we were not paying patients. My faith in humanity was restored quite a bit through this experience. No doctor yelled at me or pushed me to make the decision to do IVF. And they were so laid back about everything. Besides the anticipation of going through an IUI procedure again and my own mental ups and downs, it was a very stress free and easy going process. I’m not sure I can say for certain if this helped me to get pregnant, but it sure made me feel a lot better about the whole experience. And that is a success to me, pregnancy or no pregnancy, to have peace of mind and to be able to reconcile my terrible experience with Western medicine 8 years prior.
I also went through regular acupuncture treatments and really cleaned up my diet. I was eating whole foods, plant based, high raw, low fat and mostly grain free. I took fertility friendly supplements and tried to do all that I could without it feeling too invasive or like a full time job. After so many years of putting myself through endless weeks and months of slaving away over taking care of my health, it got to a point where it was unsustainable for my well being. I didn’t want to spend all of my waking hours completely devoted to my health. In that place and time, it wasn’t mentally healthy for me. I fully acknowledge that there are times and places in life when full devotion and attention to your health and well being is absolutely necessary. I was trying my best, and also trying to keep my stress levels down and keep my expectations low. Really, I was! Lowered expectations are so helpful. When you don’t expect anything or you expect the worst, and something miraculous happens, it completely shifts your perspective and allows for true gratitude.
It was a Wednesday towards the end of January in 2017 when our IUI appointment took place. I had taken the preparatory medications (only 2 of them, so easy!) the week before and when we went in for the ultrasound, we were told to come back tomorrow for the procedure. We had to drive to the doctor’s office separately because of our work schedules. I think I taught a class in the morning and took the rest of the day off. I also went to an acupuncture appointment the day before the IUI, and the day after. We met before the appointment for lunch and got some tacos, I remember so clearly. We kept it chill and easy, and I felt pretty good about everything. I honestly did not have the expectation of getting pregnant. My mind was in a place thinking “We’ve been here before, and nothing has helped us, so I’m not expecting it to happen.” When we talked out of the appointment, the nurse told us “Good luck”. I just laughed because I didn’t know what to think! It was so kind of her and I was certainly not thinking that luck was on our side.
On February 4th, five days before I was supposed to, I took a pregnancy test. I took it because I felt a cold coming on, and I had started to kick back some of my herbal remedies. The next day, I thought “Oh, what if I’m pregnant, I shouldn’t be taking this stuff!” but again, I laughed at myself because I honestly did not think it was possible. Ryan was out of town on a snowboarding trip with some of his co-workers. I felt kind of guilty, but I wanted to kick the cold I was feeling and I needed to know for sure that I could keep taking my herbal remedies.
Two pink lines. They were there. One was a little more faint, but there were two lines. I waited a few hours and tested again. It was a Saturday and I was binge watching movies and nursing a cold, so what else was I going to do. Two pink lines. I took one the next morning, darker lines. I took one that afternoon, two lines again. Oh my goodness, I was pregnant. To say I was in shock is the understatement of the year. I had been waiting for over 10 YEARS to see these two pink lines. And there they were, and it was so easy! It had been such a smooth, stress free experience. I could not even cry because I was so astounded, so shocked, so in awe!
Ryan came home Sunday night. I was trying to think of a creative way to reveal to him. I felt bad for testing without him there, but I had to know! Of course I stopped taking the herbal remedies and just kicked back more vitamin c and other pregnancy friendly things. I had no idea what to do. Neither one of us is very creative in the tricking or pranking each other. So I put the tests in a small gift bag and tied the gift back around our cat Zoey’s neck. She walked over to him and he looked at me and said “What the heck!”. I told him to look in the bag because Zoey had a present for him. His reaction was … skeptical I’d say. We were both excited of course, and he said he wanted to wait and see if I was actually pregnant because it was so early. It felt pretty unbelievable, so out of character for our lives together. Nothing like this had ever happened to us. We have wanted it and talked about it and tried so many ways to make it happen, and up until this moment, it just hadn’t happened. So you can see that it was hard for us to accept and fully embrace.
The next day I went to the doctor’s for a blood test. Actually it was super early in the morning. They said the test would take about 4-6 hours to get the results. LONGEST DAY EVER. The two week wait was actually fine for me. I had been through so many two week waits that it didn’t even feel like a thing anymore. But this, waiting for the blood test, was grueling! I checked my email about every 5 minutes! And once it came, we were not together so I didn’t open it. It was so tough!! The minute Ryan got home we opened the email together. The hCG results were in, over 100, in fact, somewhere around 120 if I can remember right. I was pregnant, we were pregnant, we were going to have a baby! We both cried and held each other for a while. It was so incredibly unbelievable and magical and spectacular.
I went back every other day that week to get my blood tested. By the end of the week I believe my hCG was over 500. It was definitely doubling every 48 hours. When I went to acupuncture, the acupuncturist said those numbers were pretty high and she checked my pulse. She asked me if my doctor thought I was having twins and I just laughed. Yeah right, I thought. There’s no way, they gave us like a 3-5% chance of having twins. There is definitely only one baby in there.
On February 22, 2017, across the screen showing the ultrasound were two distinct embryonic sacs and two teeny tiny sesame seeds with beating hearts. We were pregnant with twins, and they were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.