Monday, July 23, 2012

Women and Children Series: Adventures of my fertility by Kate

When I was 'big as a house pregnant' or when I am pushing Jack and Mark around in their stroller I am often asked by strangers, "Do twins run in your family?"  Although simple on the surface, this loaded question brings up so much emotion.  My response is usually, "Yeah, they run in my husband's family.".  This is true (in Adam's extended family), but has nothing to do with Jack and Mark.  Twins who occur based on heredity run on the mother's blood line.  Jack and Mark are a true blessing, the outcome of IVF.  How do you respond to someone's simple question of "do twins run in your family?" by saying, "No, after a year and a half of pure agony, heartbreak, and physical and emotional turmoil they are the outcome of IVF."  It's not what people want to hear.  Most of my close friends and family know what Adam and I went through, but there are still some close friends who have never asked and I have unfortunately never had the chance to tell them the details.  It's so emotional, but that journey is a part of who I am.  I am not ashamed of the decisions Adam and I have made and feel that the reason we experienced fertility problems is because we were meant to have twins.  Jack and Mark are the absolute best things that could have happened to us.

I always wanted to be a mom.  It was more important to me than a career, but I wanted to do things "right" in my mind.  I wanted a college education, a strong, happy, fulfilling marriage, a successful career, and then children.  After a few wonderful years of marriage my husband and I said, ok lets have some kids.  I finished up my pills and that was that.  I've always been healthy, I was in my late 20s (young in my mind), why would there be any problems?  My body didn't quite go back to normal after I stopped taking my birth control pills.  After 3 months of things not quite being right, I talked to my doctor and she said that some women take longer to adjust back to normal.  She gave me a prescription to jump start things and get me to ovulate.  The medication worked well and we continued trying.  When the medicine ran out, my body still didn't adjust.  I could ovulate fine on the meds, so what is the trouble?  No one knew.  The gave me a refill and sent me on my way.  More trying, no luck, negative test, negative test, negative test.  Eventually my OB/GYN suggested seeing a reproductive endocrinologist.  She said they could test me out a little more and see what was going on.

The meeting with our fertility doctor went well.  Both Adam and I were sent for a lot of tests and everything came back fine.  Besides my body not wanting to ovulate without medication, we were both in great health.  We were thrown into the "Unexplained Infertility" category.  Basically they didn't know what was wrong, but those with unexplained infertility have the highest success rate of conceiving vs.other fertility issues.  Our doctor suggested IUI (an insemination) to increase our chances of conceiving since the old fashioned way wasn't getting us anywhere.  This seemed sooooo intrusive and I was a wreck.  Yes, I wanted a child, but I didn't need this...I am young, I am healthy.  "We have no reason to believe this won't work," they told us.  Three attempts later and still no luck, negative test, negative test, negative test and a call from my doctor saying, we need to try IVF.

I was devastated.  I had never felt so much pain.  How did it come to this?  I am young, I am healthy, there is nothing wrong.  Why do we have to go to such trouble to have a child?  This sucks!  It took a while for everything to sink in, but I wanted to be a mom more than anything in the world, so eventually I said, let's go for it.  "We have no reason to believe this won't work," they told us.

IVF is intense.  I won't get into all of the ugly details, but for a couple of weeks, I had to have my husband stab me with a couple of needles of medicine in my abdomen (sometimes a couple of times a day) and every single morning I would drive 20 mins to the doctor's office, get blood taken and get probed to see how my eggs were growing, then i would drive 20 mins to get to work on time.  For the egg retrieval, you are given general anesthesia and end up asleep most of the day while it wears off.  Then you get a phone call everyday telling you how your embryos are growing.  Finally a transfer is scheduled and a few days after the retrieval you go back into surgery for the embryo to be transferred.  A week and a half later blood work told us, sorry....negative test.  Talk about hitting an all time low.

Looking back, I think we were crazy jumping right back into a second round of IVF immediately after the first one failed.  It is essentially a two month process, so at the beginning of November 2010, we started over.  So many needles stabbing me, hoping our neighbors didn't see our trash and think we had become drug addicts.  So many early mornings to the doctors office.  Ugh.  The whole thing was so draining.  Adam and I insisted we transfer two embryos this time.  Sure, we might have twins, but we didn't know how much more of this journey, of the excruciating heartache of bad news we could take.  We needed to increase our chances, despite the risk.

I went in for my pregnancy test on Dec. 23rd 2010.  After they took my blood we jumped in the car to go spend a week of Christmas vacation with our families.  While we were in the car my nurse called.  "I have good news.  You're pregnant."  We were so elated.  I couldn't believe we finally had this bumpy road behind us.  It was all worth it.  Our Christmas miracle.

It wasn't until a couple of doctor's appointments later that they realized that Jack and Mark were in there.  That's another story.

But when acquaintances or strangers ask me straight out if my boys are the outcome of IVF or if twins run in my family, I don't get into it.  How can I casually talk about it when I had days sobbing uncontrollably on the floor of my bedroom wondering if I would ever get to be a mom.  Having twins is the best and most unexpected thing that could have ever happened in my life. If we would have changed any decision along our journey Jack and Mark may not have been the outcome and they are the most amazing little guys. Do you have twins in your family? Well, we do now!


  1. This is a great post! I'm sorry you had to go through all that but what a wonderful outcome. :) Such sweet little babes you have!

  2. Thank you for sharing this story and being so open and honest. I'm so happy for you and your husband, that you were able to have your boys despite having to take a different path. You are so strong.