I debated about telling the story of this part of our life, but I’m generally an open book, so I can’t imagine not sharing. It’s the same reason most people I know are aware of my stomach condition, know about our crazy labor and emergency c-section to bring Isla into this world, and aren’t hidden to most parts of our life. I don’t like secrets, so there’s no sense in keeping this one. (And sorry if you don’t like TMI. If that’s the case, you should probably stop reading now.)
At the beginning of the year, Dom and I decided we were going to get off the pill and start trying for a little brother or sister for Isla. We’ve always wanted two (or three) kids, and we always wanted them close enough in age that they could have a relationship like I have with my sisters. We weren’t really hiding the fact that we were trying from those who asked, but we haven’t been advertising it on social media, either.
For a couple of months, all was going well. My body was seemingly regulating, I was feeling better than I had in a long time, and though I was nervous for the journey to come, I was excited more than anything else. I got pregnant so easily with Isla that I naively thought I would be seeing two pink lines by April and baby number two would have a birthday close to their big sister’s. Fairytale complete? Check.
When April came, I was late. It was right around my mom’s birthday — the same day we found out we were pregnant with Isla a few years ago — and I thought I was pregnant again. I had many of the symptoms and it took everything in me not to take a test. That being said, I’m not the most patient person in the world, so I did take a test. And another one. And another one. I just knew something was up, but they were all negative. My friends and I talked about how the tests had to be wrong because why else would I have so many symptoms? My less optimistic friends — especially those who had experienced infertility and its treatment — gently warned me that maybe this cycle was a fluke. Maybe I didn’t ovulate. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Just because you’re late doesn’t mean you’re pregnant.
A week went by and I had a doctor’s appointment, my yearly pap. While there, I told my doctor what was going on. Blood work was ordered, and this included a beta (blood pregnancy test). He didn’t think I was pregnant and discussed with me the few things it could be instead, but, optimistic as I am, I still hoped for a positive test. I wanted it to be easy. I wanted the plan I had thought out in my head to come to light.
A few days later, my tests came back, and I was not pregnant. That being said, my other levels were off. I had a high prolactin result — a level that was back to normal a week later — and a high FSH result. High enough that it almost indicated pre menopause. This result is determined by where you’re at in your cycle (and we didn’t know where I was), but my doctor still seemed to focus on it quite a bit. I’m not great with all things related to the human body, so I didn’t worry too much. Plus, I’m hopelessly and relentlessly optimistic. Like everything else, I assumed it was a fluke. A mistake. A false negative. My doctor ended up putting me on Provera (a hormonal withdrawal pill that induces your period) that I was to take for ten days. Within seven days after that pill (and already almost two months past when my period was due), I was supposed to start my period.
And then I didn’t. And then I found out I have secondary infertility.
I went in for another blood draw yesterday and had a long conversation with my doctor. In a nutshell (omitting plenty of details), we are still waiting for blood results and will know by Friday (Monday at the very latest), but my doctor is fairly certain that given my results for the past couple months and many additional symptoms I am having, I have premature ovarian failure, otherwise known as primary ovarian insufficiency, or POI. This can be caused by any number of things, but after speaking with my doctor and from the research I’ve done on my own, it looks like it could be because of my autoimmune disease (ulcerative colitis)…or something different all together. In short and if the results I will get back later this week are consistent with what they were previously, I will likely not be able to get pregnant again without doing IVF and using donor eggs. Skip Clomid and go directly to the worst-case scenario. Do not collect $200.
With all of the recent information, we’ve had a lot to think about. Depending on what my doctor says when he calls, we have some options. If the results come back as he expects they will, we can get a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) and discuss treatment options. As POI has a very low chance of pregnancy no matter what and Clomid generally won’t help, we would go straight to IVF, most likely with donor eggs. The real deal. The incredibly expensive, hardly-any-insurance-covers-it deal. The our-insurance-doesn’t-cover-it deal. The deal that, like all infertility treatment, isn’t guaranteed…and costs thousands and thousands of dollars for ONE round. It’s enough to make you light headed.
If results come back favorable, we could do Clomid. We could take 3-6 rounds, monitored, and we could then move on to IVF if that didn’t work. We could potentially use my eggs, and we would have some months of scheduled everything in order to make infertility work with our life.
But that isn’t what we want.
After watching one of my best friends suffer emotionally and more through infertility and its treatment, we knew that it wasn’t for us. After initially speaking with my doctor, I thought I would do whatever it took. I would find donor eggs, I would go through as many IVF rounds as the RE would allow, I would risk the miscarriages and the heartache and the uncertainty. I would do it all. I wouldn’t question it, I wouldn’t look back, and I wouldn’t second guess myself. Isla WOULD have and share flesh and blood with a little brother or sister, and we would make it work. But then I knew, deep down, that it wasn’t what we wanted. That wasn’t the hand we’d been dealt or the card we were meant to play.
If we didn’t have such an incredible little girl already, then maybe treatment would be for us. Maybe we’d push and pull and tug all aspects of our life until they fit the mold of “Parents Going Through Infertility Treatment in Search of a Baby.” But we do have Isla, and we just aren’t the type of people who can imagine our lives being so dictated by the scary world of infertility treatment. We want to focus on our little girl instead of the what ifs. Realizing this initially made me feel guilty. What mother who wants more than one child of her own wouldn’t do anything and everything to make that happen? Why would I turn down the chance to do treatment when some women don’t have that chance at all? What was wrong with me?
But then Dom and I looked at Isla and we looked at our life and we knew that wasn’t our journey. It wouldn’t be our road to walk down.
By no means was this an easy decision. It came with a lot of tears and anxiety, but we’ve decided that we will not try to get pregnant again or anymore in the future. If it happens by some crazy meant-to-be situation, then we will be ecstatic, but trying for it isn’t our plan.
A lot of this decision stems on what I just mentioned, but some of it also comes from fear. After a good pregnancy with our girl but a terrible year of following it (including a horrible emergency c-section with an infection and fever, mastitis so severe it turned into abscesses and became infected with MRSA, the flu, getting my wisdom teeth out, having the worst ulcerative colitis flare up I’ve ever had, plus my second colonoscopy, a month-long dose of steroids, and a lot of other fun diagnoses), I think I’m understandably terrified of ever getting pregnant again. I don’t know if my body could take it. Many mothers may think this is crazy and you do what you need to do to bring children into this world, but not me. I’m afraid of what could happen, I’m afraid (especially with this potential diagnosis) of miscarriage, and I’m afraid of treatment. I’m afraid of going into massive debt to afford a treatment that probably won’t even work. That could destroy my body even further. Almost every issue I’ve had in the last year and a half has been issues that happen to less than 10% of people (I think the percentages are even smaller), so who’s to say the worst things wouldn’t happen again? I can’t take my chances.
But more than anything else, we just know that we are meant to take a different route. And I suppose we’ve always known.
So this is our road. We will not have any more biological children, but after long, deeply personal conversations, we feel so happy, thrilled and, quite honestly, lucky to be pursuing adoption. We can’t wait to one day (most likely in several years) grow our family by one more.
We can’t wait to bring a child into our home who we could never make on our own. A child special in so many ways, and we can’t wait to meet them. We can’t wait to share this with Isla.
We already have several ideas of what type of adoption we want to pursue (something we’ve thought about, oddly enough, for years now), but that’s a post for another day. Until that day comes, we feel so grateful that we’ve been led down this road and have been able to make this decision, and we are so glad to have so many amazing, supportive loved ones by our side.