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Finding Hope in the Heartbreak {Infertility Awareness}

Years ago in my 20s, I must admit that I thought fertility was practically guaranteed. My husband and I married relatively young at 23, and our plan was to have a handful of years to play before we even thought about kids.

Our plan.

So that’s just what we did – we traveled some and mostly just enjoyed being a childless couple :: date nights whenever we wanted, sleeping late, taking naps, with no real commitments except to work and each other.

Again, our plan.

At around age 28, I started experiencing a lot of problems with ovarian cysts. After multiple trips to the ER {and let me just tell you, I should have frequent flier miles or something} and a couple of painful surgeries, my OB/GYN finally said, “You need to get pregnant, so we can get these under control.” Well, then.

I remember my husband and I looking at each other and thinking…”Wait, we have been trying.” We weren’t getting super intense about it but definitely had thrown precaution to the wind. And actually for most of our marriage because of my intolerance to birth control hormones, we had. Yet, not one positive pregnancy test. Until my doctor had said something, I really hadn’t given it too much thought to be honest. I had pretty irregular cycles, so I just figured that we weren’t trying at the right times. So I gave in to my A-type tendencies and purchased a couple of ovulation kits. A couple of months later, still nothing.

After speaking with my OB/GYN again and telling her that we virtually had been trying for well over 2 years, she referred me to a Reproductive Endocrinologist {RE}. Eager to get the show on the road, I immediately made an appointment. Whoa, boy – and then my body was thrust into the wringer with multiple blood draws, an HSG test where they shot a special dye through my uterus and tubes {it’s as much fun as it sounds}, a hysteroscopy, and more. Every single test kept coming back normal. No problems with ovulation, no blocked tubes or adhesions, a well-shaped uterus although a bit tilted, yet no baby. During all this, my husband was sent for a little special “test” as well — I’ll leave out the personal details here, but I’m sure you know the test I’m talking about. <grin>

After reviewing everything with my RE, he wrote me a prescription for Clomid to see if that would get things moving. Finally. A step we could take. I was over the moon to have a plan. We were still waiting on my husband’s test results, but honestly we never even gave that much thought – I mean, he was a strapping, healthy 29 year old – never smoked, only drank socially, worked out regularly. Literally, later that day I was driving to the pharmacy to drop off my precious prescription when my phone rang. It was the RE.

He told me in no uncertain terms that the results were not good. So much so that Clomid would do absolutely no good and artificial insemination was out. Our chances at natural reproduction were estimated at less than .1%. Not 1%. POINT 1. He pinned our only hopes with in vitro fertilization {IVF}, more specifically IVF with ICSI which would allow the doctor to pick out the best sperm and inject a single one into an egg for fertilization.

In a five minute conversation, our worlds turned upside down. We went from paying for a $25 prescription to looking at a $15,000 investment. And clearly, it wasn’t just about the money, although significant. It meant a rigorous schedule of shots, hormone injections, and endless testing. It meant our dreams of “Hey, let’s try to make a baby tonight” went right out the window.

Definitely not our plan.

{Disclaimer :: Let me just stop right here and say a couple of things. My husband is totally fine with me sharing this information. And MOST IMPORTANTLY, couples face infertility, not individuals. We didn’t assign blame to each other or whose fault it was. There was NO FAULT. It just was. And who knows that even if everything had been fine on his end, there easily could have been something they hadn’t found with me given all my irregularities.}

We spent the next few months exploring other options to increase Matt’s count, which meant multiple appointments with a urologist. All I can say is that through all of this, my husband was the definition of a TROOPER. Nary a complaint. Never a “why me?” He handled everything with such grace, and I’ve never been more proud to be his wife. This is what I’ve always admired about him :: he just rolls with the punches, even when they keep coming. And my very favorite thing? His sense of humor through it all. Surprisingly, we had some great laughs during that time – sounds strange, I know. But sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying, right? We still refer to his sperm today as the “Navy Seals.” A very elite troop, small in number, but oh, they are a mighty force to be reckoned with when trained properly. <wink, again>

At any rate, subsequent testing and consultations did not bring better news. The urologist confirmed that IVF was our best hope at this point. We took another few months to digest the news and begin preparation for treatments to begin in the fall of 2009. During that time, we intentionally made a lot of memories, traveled 10 days cross country on what we still recall as our best vacation ever, and began to financially ready ourselves. Y’all. Infertility treatments are a HIT to the wallet. Have you ever opened a 0% interest for 12 month credit card in order to pay for your babies? Ha. We did. Oh, but the reward points!!! Seriously though, we were blessed to be able to make it work financially. I know many couples can’t or have to overextend themselves for the opportunity to become parents. We figured we were going to pay for the kid for the next 18 or so years of their life – we were just getting a jump start 10 months early. So be it.

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And during that time, we didn’t stop praying for a miracle. We are both Believers, and we KNOW in our hearts that God can do anything, trump any conclusion a doctor may have. But we both accepted that as summer came and fall approached that infertility treatments were His Plan for us and we had complete peace with that.

With prayerful hearts and clear minds, we began the IVF process. Overwhelming would be one word. Emotionally draining would be another. But I kept trying to choose JOY as often as possible. JOY. That all of this would ultimately lead to finally hearing “Mama” and “Dadda” echo in our ears.

For those of you reading who may be in the trenches of infertility, I wish so much I could just sugarcoat the in vitro process for you. I can’t. I wish so much I could. But it’s a beast. However, it’s a beast that is totally doable. I never thought I would be able to give myself a shot in the stomach day after day. By day 3, I didn’t even give it a second thought. It’s amazing how you can train your brain when you keep the end goal in mind. Baby. Baby. Baby. Just give me a shot. Literally.

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With my husband by my side every.single.step of the way, I harvested some eggs {11 if I remember correctly}, had them retrieved for fertilization, and then subsequently had them implanted 5 days after retrieval. We were fortunate that most all of them survived the process and had a good lookin’ crew to choose from. Then came the big question.

How many embryos to implant?

We had {no joke} about 10 minutes to decide. Our doctor ran through some stats with us :: If we chose 2, 20% chance of twins, 60% chance of a singleton, and 20% chance of nada. Of course, we had thought about the particular scenarios and given some friends who had chosen to implant 2 embryos and ended up with one baby – we went with the two.

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Well, hello GAME CHANGER.

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Leaving the clinic that day, the nurses proclaimed me PUPO – Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise. I expected to feel elation, but I must admit those next few days were some of the most difficult of the journey. All I could think about was the 20% chance that this wouldn’t happen for us – at least not the first time out. I had read enough infertility blogs to know how many people endured multiple rounds of in vitro with no success. And since I was officially on bed rest for 3 days, all I could do was think. Think about our future. Think about how I was carrying these marvelous embryos that I could only pray would continue to develop and grow in their new home. Think about how this may not be our shot. And how I would deal with that.

Safe to say, the waiting period until my blood test to confirm pregnancy was the LONGEST two weeks of my life. And even though the doctors told me not to, I just had to know early. Patience has never been my strong suit. So around day 10, I snuck out to Walgreens and purchased a couple of pregnancy tests. Not the line ones that I had grown to hate. But the official {expensive} ones that would shout PREGNANT if I was. With shaking hands, I took the test and laid it carefully on the bathroom sink as I had done so many times before, only to be disappointed. Then I went into a corner and knelt down, pleading with God. Let it be. Please let me see those magic words. After all the tests, the needle pricks, the endless shots and blood draws, I wasn’t sure if I could stand a NOT. Gathering my resolve and steeling my nerves, I peered up onto the sink and tilted the test just so, not even sure I wanted to see. But there it was. Plain as a good ‘ole day.

PREGNANT.

And oh, my. How the tears flowed. Me? Pregnant. After all this time. After all the disappointments each month when the tests seem to mock our efforts. My friends, God is good. He IS faithful. His plan may just not look like your plan.

It was a couple of weeks later when we had the second miracle of our lives occur – both embryos had hung on, and we were now expecting TWINS. I remember lying on the table in a state of shock, even though I knew it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. To be pregnant with one blessing was a miracle – to have TWO beautiful children growing was almost more than my heart could take. In the best way possible. The doctor mentioned to me softly after pronouncing the two heartbeats, “Meagan, I can’t even tell if you are excited or not.” I thought about it, looked at my husband with tears in my eyes, and squeezed his hand.

“I’ve never felt more blessed at any moment in my life.”

While the pregnancy was not without complications {horrific migraines, moderate bed rest from 18 weeks until delivery, early dilation, and a life-changing diagnosis}, we were thrilled to discover that we had both a little boy and a little girl on the way. I couldn’t imagine anything more perfect and longed for the day I would cradle them in my arms and tell them how much they were loved, from the first injection until they were born.

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On a Thursday afternoon in June, Ryan David Greenwood and Quinn Eugenie burst onto the scene and stole our hearts forever. I became a mother. We became parents. It was a fulfillment of all of our daydreams so many years before. In the moment I saw my husband tenderly hold our little ones, my love for him just exploded all over again. He was just meant to be a dad. And this was God’s plan for us – our journey to having a family.

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Months ago, a friend who was beginning their own infertility journey, asked me, “Is it worth it?”

My answer :: “There’s no doubt in my mind. YES. A thousand times YES”.

I would do it all again in a hot minute. It was worth every painful procedure, every needle in my weary body, all the hormonal changes. It has been the single greatest pleasure of my earthly existence to be called “Mommy.” The final culmination of all of my childhood desires come true.

better happy fourth (3)

{Author’s note: I couldn’t possibly write our entire journey here. Number one, 4 years of raising twins has taken a little toll on my memory. And number two, it would be a NOVEL. If you are interested to read all the specifics – no holds barred, you can visit my blog  and check out the archives from 2009 and 2010. I’m also a complete open book — if you have any questions about our journey or want to share yours, please email me at [email protected]}

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, we are dedicated to raising awareness and educating our community about the varying types of infertility and the many options available.  Our hope is that this series will open your eyes and inspire you in a really dynamic way, so please join us as real local moms open up and share their stories all throughout the week.  To read more, please click here.

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7 Responses to Finding Hope in the Heartbreak {Infertility Awareness}

  1. Amanda April 21, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    Thank you for sharing your story! Ours is very similar and I think talking about it gives so many people who are in the middle of these struggles hope that while it is hard, there can be success at the end of it!

    • Meagan C
      Meagan C April 21, 2014 at 9:52 am #

      Thanks so much for following along, Amanda! So appreciate your comment. And yes, there is HOPE!!! 🙂

  2. Kelly T April 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing! We suffer with infertility as well (our story will be on here sometime this week) and I understand just how hard it can be. I’m so happy you have your beautiful babies! Ditto the novel statement too, my “short version” is SO not short but our full story could truly be a book!

    • Meagan C
      Meagan C April 21, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

      Kelly, I just read and re-read your story. SO much good stuff in there. AHHH-mazing and I love your quote about strength. YOU are a complete rock star. Praying that this cycle will be the one that brings your beautiful little girl a sibling and an even happier ending to your story. Thank you for being so brave to share!!

  3. Vanessa June 16, 2017 at 1:38 am #

    I needed to read that tonight. In a moment that i had given up all hope, this renewed my hope and gave me the strenght to keep going. Thank you for sharing your story.

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