A journey to motherhood | A series on amazing women
I met Jenn forever ago at a bridal show, we connected, and I became her wedding photographer. We stayed in touch did a few shoots after her wedding and then she told me they were trying to have a baby!
Fast forward a year, and she told me things were not going as they had hoped.
I remember her telling me I am DOING maternity photos when I finally get pregnant and just did them about two weeks ago. I am in awe of the power and determination of women who struggle with infertility and the physical pain they will go through to get pregnant.
How long were you trying to get pregnant before you started fertility treatments?
"Overall, we were trying about 11 months before beginning any significant steps toward treatment. After about eight months, my regular ob-gyn suspected my ovaries might be polycystic, which means covered in tiny cysts. The cysts are generally harmless but can prevent you from releasing an egg, because some different hormone levels in my blood were elevated. My OB-GYN sent me to the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services through Uconn for further testing. They are of the best fertility clinics in the country, so we were fortunate it was so local for us.
Jeff tested fine, so we continued with my testing. They did a test called a Sonosalpingography where the fertility doctor used a catheter to push an ink dye into my uterus and to my fallopian tubes (OUCH), and it comes up on a monitor. Unfortunately, mine was blocked.
He said it was dangerous to do any treatments with a blocked tube because toxins can back up in the blocked tube. Worst case scenario I would miscarry the baby.
Next step was surgery to clear the blockage. Unfortunately, the doctor removed my left tube because it was utterly twisted and tangled. He thought he might going to have to remove my left ovary, but found that I didn't even have one. He thinks the tube wrapped itself around my ovary and strangled it, and it just absolved itself into my body.
After that surgery, they had me do IUI (artificial insemination), and all three attempts failed.
Then I had another surgery because some polyps grew, and they knew our next step would be IVF. They would not start the IVF process until the polyps were gone.
When I woke up, and they told me that I probably would be able to have children naturally but was a good candidate for IVF. I remember sobbing.
For IVF, I had heavy-duty fertility drugs I was using. Every other morning before work, I had a blood draw and ultrasounds at the fertility clinic. The doctors need to check how my body was reacting to fertility medication. I needed an injection in the morning and evening in my stomach to develop as many eggs as possible.
When the bloodwork and ultrasounds showed I had enough eggs measuring at the right size, and my hormones were in check, I did a "trigger shot." The shot is to ready the eggs for harvesting. The day I went into surgery for my egg retrieval, they were able to get 12 eggs. It may or may not sound like a lot, but for one ovary, it is an outstanding amount. Of the 12, 6 of them fertilized and made it to the embryo stage. A couple of days later they implanted 1 of the embryos (they froze the rest). I started doing those huge ass shots you took pictures of at our home. Those are called PIO* shots to make sure I had enough progesterone in my body to support the pregnancy.
*(progesterone in oil)
I also had to wear estrogen patches to make sure I had enough estrogen in my body to support the pregnancy. I kept going for the bloodwork to track my dosage of those two hormones. Then five days after the implantation, I took a home pregnancy test. They want you to wait for the blood test, but I could NOT wait.
I could not believe there was a faint line where I had seen ZERO before, which was pretty awesome.
Do you feel any different about yourself now than you did when you first started trying to get pregnant?
I feel like I know myself more. You can not go through this and not get to know yourself on a whole other level. I learned that I could feel two completely different emotions at the same time, and it doesn't make me a hypocrite. I would feel ecstatic for my friend who was pregnant, like really really genuinely happy for her from an authentic place, and at the same time, feel crushed and broken because it's not me going through it.
I never knew how much I could balance and handle until this experience.
What advice would you give a woman who is going through a similar experience?
Please keep believing, keep hoping, and keep trying. It sounds cliche, and I know how hard it is to take that to heart when you feel like it will never happen. It might not happen when you think or how you think, but that next try might be the try that works. You have to keep the "what if" in your mind. It feels impossible to get up and look like everything is normal when it is all you can focus on, but you will get through it. Mostly, you are going to learn SO much about yourself.
Thank you so much for reading and celebrating this soon to be mama.
I would love to chat with you about your maternity session to celebrate you and the little one/s you are growing!