It all started in March of 2013.
We had just purchased our forever home, complete with lots of bedrooms ready to be filled with kids. We had a TON of fun in our 20’s, building our careers, traveling, and hanging out with friends. But it was time for the next chapter of our lives to begin, and we couldn’t be more excited.
We tried to get pregnant the first month we were in our new house, with no luck. “It was a crazy busy and stressful few months!”, we justified. “Next month will be our month!”, we hoped.
The next month came and went. Then 3 months. 6 months. One year. What the heck is going on??
We visited multiple doctors….and everything checked out with both of us. Not only could they not find anything wrong with us, all of the tests we did revealed we’re both extremely fertile people (at least on paper). We were dealing with “unexplained infertility”.
We tried all kinds of methods next: acupuncture to help with fertility, Clomid, IUI….still nothing. Each month that passed with no pregnancy made me feel heartbroken over and over again.
Fast forward to October 2015, about a year and a half later…..we decided it was time. It was time to pursue IVF. The whole process was daunting and overwhelming. The appointments, the shots, the protocols, the FINANCES. Good lord, the financial aspect in and of itself can be so overwhelming, especially when your insurance covers NOTHING related to IVF (which was our case). But we were determined to do what it takes to become parents, so we dove in head first.
We were thrilled to have 4 healthy PGS tested embryos from our first retrieval. We dreamt of having two children, so it seemed like a perfect number! My first embryo transfer was on January 27, 2016. I took zero home pregnancy tests, because I felt strongly about waiting for the official blood test from the doctors….I didn’t want to get my hopes up or feel defeated if the home tests were hard to read.
After the dreaded two week wait, we got the call – I WAS PREGNANT! We hugged, cried, and immediately started dreaming of our life with kids. We were so ready to become parents, and welcome children into a loving home.
My pregnancy seemed like a normal pregnancy. Exhaustion, food aversions, and lots of nausea in the beginning. At about 8 weeks in, we found out we were having a boy!!! I couldn’t have been more excited. We decided to name him Jack McKinley. We both loved the name and agreed on it immediately. We started getting a nursery and registry together, we were SO READY!
When it came time for our 20 week anatomy scan, everything looked great! He was healthy, I was healthy, and there were no issues. Phew, we made it half way!
Then we hit 22 weeks. I started getting swollen…..INCREDIBLY swollen. I still felt fine, but the swelling never went down (even after I got a full night’s sleep). I decided to go to the doctor to make sure everything was ok.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
The intake nurse took my blood pressure. It was sky high.
She weighed me. I had gained 16 pounds in 1.5 weeks. THAT’S how swollen I was.
Protein in my urine? YUP.
The doctor immediately sent me to the hospital for evaluation. I had pre-eclampsia, very early on. They admitted me to the hospital, to try to regulate my body and keep me there until we could get Jack further along in the pregnancy, so he had a chance at life.
Unfortunately, my body started shutting down and we had no choice but to induce labor if I wanted to survive. It never feels good to have a specialist come to your hospital room, look at your lab reports, and look you in the eye saying “I’m surprised you are even conscious and able to communicate with me based on what I’m seeing”….as I just sit there and shrug my shoulders.
Jack was born on June 17th, 2016, at exactly 23 weeks into the pregnancy. We knew he was too small to be saved. Not only was it super early on in the pregnancy, but he was a bit smaller than most at that week of gestation. We opted to not intervene with any kind of surgery, knowing he wouldn’t be able to be saved. He lived with us here on earth for 2 glorious hours. I like to think that he felt no pain, physical or emotional during his time on Earth. He felt nothing but absolute and unconditional love for his entire life.
I’m so thankful we had that time with him, it was oddly some of the happiest moments of my life. He was my first baby, my first son. I loved him more than life itself. There truly is nothing like the feeling of a mother’s love.
It was clearly one of the most devastating and traumatic times of our life. We were SO ready to be parents, but instead we had to come home to an empty house, after being in the hospital for 8 days.
Also, as a double punch to the gut, doctors strongly advised that I not carry another pregnancy myself. My body did NOT handle pregnancy well, and they suggested there was a high likelihood that the same thing would happen in subsequent pregnancies, even earlier on or worse (and mine was pretty bad). Losing Jack was such a traumatic event in my life, I couldn’t imagine ever having to endure that pain and heartbreak again.
We felt lost, hopeless, and alone.
Read Part 2 of my IVF story!