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Never Give Up {Infertility Awareness}

Our infertility journey started in 2009. We had been married for two and a half years, and we decided to try for a baby. Little did we know at the time that it was going to be WAY harder than we ever expected. After about five months, I headed to my OB for my annual visit and mentioned some things to her which prompted her to take a panel of blood work that day. I got the call a few days later saying my blood work showed I had a Hypothyroid and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome {PCOS} and that I needed to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist {RE}. I was pretty upset. I had no idea how common it was at the time, but I was just scared what this meant for us. So, in January 2010 I met with my new RE doctor in the Med Center, and after an exam he said, “Oh yes, you are VERY polycystic.” Super. Every woman’s dream statement from their doctor, right? I had between 18-25 cysts surrounding each ovary. Over the next six months, we would go through four IUI procedures, all resulting in failed pregnancy tests. It was exhausting on my body, and my body fought back for sure. For the 1st IUI, I didn’t really know what to expect, and we just prayed I got pregnant. The day after the IUI, we went out of town for a family event, and I was just miserable. I still remember sitting down to a dinner to celebrate my cousin’s graduation, and by the end of the dinner, I not only couldn’t button my pants – but I couldn’t zip them either. I was hyper stimulating and didn’t realize it at the time. By the time we flew home the next day, I looked like I was five months pregnant. It was just bizarre and painful. After the 3rd IUI, all of those cysts that surround my ovaries had enough apparently, and they ALL grew MASSIVE around my ovaries. I couldn’t move I was in so much pain, and after an emergency trip to the doctor, I had a cyst aspiration to shrink them all down.

Infertility Awareness - Kelly (2)My meds for one cycle

When all four IUIs failed, we made the decision to move on to IVF. I was used to all of the injections because of the IUIs, but oh wow – I wasn’t used to all of the pain associated with it. Here’s the thing about me and fertility medicine, it takes a LOT to get me to respond, but when I do…BAM! HELLO FOLLICLES! I produce a crazy amount, 33 mature follicles kind of crazy. To say the retrieval was hard on me is an understatement. I was on major pain meds for two days following the retrieval, but we were so excited about the transfer. We just knew it was going to work! We got the call the day after the retrieval letting us know that 25 of my eggs fertilized and were growing! 25! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the IVF process, this isn’t too common. It’s in fact a ton which doesn’t mean they are the best, it just meant there were a LOT of embryos. So a few days later, there we were – excited about the embryo transfer, taking pictures while we waited before I could start bed rest and head home for some catching up on TV time for the next day. I was SO excited!

Infertility Awareness - Kelly (3)Ready for the transfer!

Fast forward to three days later…I suddenly felt a lot of pain in my back. I was still having a lot of pain from my ovaries due to how many follicles I produced, but this was different. It got intense and FAST! It was bad enough that my husband called my RE on his cell phone, and he said for us to head to the ER immediately. I have NEVER in my life experienced pain like that. EVER. After a very eventful visit at the ER, it was determined that I had kidney stones, and since I was three days post embryo transfer, there was nothing they could do except admit me and drug me up. It was devastating; I was scared to death that this ruined all chances of my two embryos surviving. They transported me by ambulance to the Med Center {we were in The Woodlands originally} so my doctor could monitor me, and I spent the next four days hooked up to an IV of the most amazing pain meds known to man that barely got me through the whole thing.

We went home and just knew this didn’t work; it couldn’t have after everything I just went through. The weekend passed, and on the Monday before Thanksgiving in 2010, I went in for my blood work. I got the call several hours later saying I was pregnant! I was SHOCKED!!! I couldn’t believe it! Nine months later our miracle baby Hannah Lee was born and couldn’t be more perfect! Right from the beginning we knew she was special, and she really and truly is. She survived the hardest thing I have ever experienced and is our greatest gift.

Infertility Awareness - Kelly (4)Our beautiful baby girl

A year later we decided it was time to make Hannah a big sister. We thought – This will be easy. We have almost 20 fully mature embryos frozen, and we got pregnant with Hannah through everything, so this is just going to happen. Let me tell you, we were fools. In October of 2012, we went through with our 1st frozen embryo transfer {FET} with two great looking embryos. Our doctor, Austin, and I were all so excited! I was heartbroken when it didn’t work. We just couldn’t believe it, but we had some embryos left over – so we were going to give it a try again in December.

During the thaw in October, not all of our embryos survived, so we didn’t have as many left over. I think we still had 6-7 at this point, plenty to choose from for sure. I geared up once again for a FET but got the call the afternoon before the transfer from my doctor saying that he was sorry but none of my embryos survived the thaw. NONE. How could it possibly be that we didn’t have any left?? We started with 25 embryos! The sadness was just overwhelming. We got through the holidays and decided to try it again hoping that something would be different this time with fresh embryos. I went through the whole retrieval process again, and it was even harder than the first time. This time I produced 25 eggs and 17 fertilized. Again, crazy high numbers. We went through the routine we were getting way too familiar with and had the embryo transfer which resulted in another negative pregnancy test. In May of 2013, we had two embryos left. Just two. I was terrified that they wouldn’t survive the thaw since we had such a terrible history of that happening. We were going to try for our last FET but had to wait until the morning of the transfer to hear if they survived. As we were driving to the clinic, my doctor called to say both embryos not only survived the thaw – they both looked perfect! I cried with happiness on the way to the clinic. This was it. This was our last chance; this was the day that we were going to be able to make Hannah a big sister.

Infertility Awareness - Kelly (1)My bed rest buddies

Nine days later {the Friday before Mother’s Day}, I got the news that it didn’t happen. I have never felt so defeated in my life. It was the hardest I think I have ever cried. This just wasn’t meant to happen for us. We couldn’t afford to try again and what made us think this would ever happen anyways since we had so many failures and only one success?

Ironically, on that same day Austin heard on the radio about a doctor in Houston who treats hypothyroidism with natural medicine instead of synthetic medicine, and there was a testimony about a woman who went through infertility and nothing worked until she saw this doctor. He waited a few weeks and then told me about it, so we decided it was worth the money {none of this was covered by insurance, of course} to try since we were out of options. I went through a pretty rigorous testing process and was taking up to 22 pills a day to “balance” my body out. I’ll be honest, I felt amazing and healthy overall, but it did absolutely nothing to help with my infertility. In fact, I ended up with two of the biggest cysts I’ve had in a while around my ovaries, one being the size of a large orange and the other the size of a lemon.

I quit eating gluten and caffeine. I did everything I could possibly think of that was recommended. I just felt like NOTHING was going to work at this point. I was in pain, and I didn’t know why. After some procedures, my RE discovered I had endometrial simple hyperplasia, and he was pretty sure I also had endometriosis as well. I just didn’t even know what to think at this point. Then something amazing happened right about the same time; my husband was given a great opportunity at work that allowed us to try one more time with IVF. We talked a lot about it and decided this would only happen if we left our comfort zone and RE that we absolutely loved and went with someone else because clearly it wasn’t working with him anymore. So, from the recommendation of my awesome acupuncturist who I have seen since this all started in 2010 {Chris Axelrad}, I started seeing a new doctor, and we are currently on the schedule for our 5th and final embryo transfer. I am terrified, but I really think this will work. I have to think it will work.

Back in 2010 when we were first going through infertility, I found a quote somewhere that said…

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.

I have never heard truer words and have memorized and repeated that quote to myself countless times over the years. Infertility is the hardest thing I have experienced so far in my life. It is heartbreaking. It is emotionally and financially exhausting. It is painful. But it makes you stronger than you ever believed you could be. Ten years ago, my recent college grad self would NEVER have thought I could deal with something like this. After Hannah was born, I know it sounds strange, but I was grateful for what we went through because when she was a newborn and crying for apparently no reason, I was so thankful to have her that it made the hard times a little easier. It’s all worth it. Every single heartache and amount of pain is worth it. Do I wish I could have a child easily? Absolutely. 100%. I would take that any day. But since I can’t, I’m grateful for the scars I have that helped bring my baby into the world. One day Hannah will know just how hard her Mommy and Daddy fought to get her here, and I can only pray that she has a sibling there with her.

Infertility is so very hard, and it doesn’t just go away once your babies are born. A lot of women dealing with infertility also deal with issues and pain their entire lives. If I could give one piece of advice for women dealing with this, it would be to never give up. Sometimes it’s a long and hard road, but it is absolutely worth it in the end. My piece of advice for anyone who knows someone going through infertility is to just be supportive. Be patient with them and understand that infertility often can feel like a lifelong dream is being shattered, so just listen and be a shoulder to cry on. They don’t need advice; they just need someone to support them.

Thank you so much to Houston Moms Blog for giving me the opportunity to share my story and help raise awareness to something so many women deal with every day. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to email me at [email protected]

:: Exciting Update :: 

Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for including us in your prayers and kind thoughts – BECAUSE THEY WORKED!  We are finally ready to announce that Baby T #2 is set to make his/her arrival in February!  As you read in my infertility story above, it’s been a very long journey getting to this point, and we couldn’t be happier or feel more blessed with the outcome.  This is one very loved baby we have!  Hannah is super excited to be a big sister, and we can’t wait to see how proud she is when she gets to hold her little brother or sister in her arms. 
 
If you are currently struggling with infertility, please don’t give up hope because we are proof that even when you feel completely defeated and near hopelessness, miracles do happen.  There were many times when we questioned if this would ever happen for us again – it m
ay have taken us several rounds of IVF for this little one, but it was worth every single tear shed.  I pray for anyone going through infertility that you will get your tiny miracle as well. 
 
Here’s a sneak peak from a few weeks ago of Baby T #2 at 12 weeks as well as a picture of proud big sister Hannah!
12weeks
big1

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.

Kelly Bio About Kelly T.

Kelly is a native Houstonian now living in The Woodlands area. She has been married to her husband Austin since 2007, and together they have one happy and spunky little toddler Hannah {August 2011}. Kelly works full-time during the week and spends most of her free time having fun with Austin and Hannah. You can follow Kelly’s blog over at The Townsend Family or on Instagram as @Kelly28a.

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3 Responses to Never Give Up {Infertility Awareness}

  1. Katie April 21, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story. I contribute on the Knoxville Mom’s Blog and wrote about my secondary infertility today (http://www.citymomsblog.com/knoxville/secondary-infertility/). I’m so glad you have your miracle babies.

  2. Hazel April 29, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    Thank you kelly for sharing your story. You and Austin are amazing people and I hope and pray this cycle work for y’all.

  3. Nicole April 27, 2017 at 11:37 pm #

    Oh boy does this story sound familiar:( I’m currently working on baby #2 and down to our last two, poorly graded embryos, and will likely face another egg retrieval after a very difficult first one (also because of PCOS). Your story is a great reminder not to give up hope, so thank you. Many congrats on your two miracles. On an interesting side note, I went to school with your husband!

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