3 Years, 1 Miscarriage, 2 IUIs, and 5 Lessons Later
As I write this post, I feel very fortunate to be 8 months pregnant with my first child. After three years of trying, a miscarriage, and two rounds of IUI, I understand that not everyone is able to get to this point -- and my heart goes out to those who are still struggling and have struggled in the past. I do believe, however, that the more we as women, and as families, share our fertility challenges and stories, the more we will get through them together. In that spirit, here are the top 5 lessons I learned on my unique path to pregnancy.
Our official baby bump announcement pic. A little bit harder to orchestrate in quarantine but we figured it out!
1. Oh how little I knew
When my husband and I first started trying, I was convinced (convinced!) that we would get pregnant right away. The day we started trying, I stopped drinking, I had a mini melt down over having had one piece of raw sushi earlier that day, I started bookmarking pregnancy books, and began charting out what astrological sign our little one might be. Oh how little I knew.
Turns out we started trying way after it was even feasible for us to get pregnant that month. Who knew you only have two days a month you can actually get pregnant? And at 32 years old (that’s how old we were when we first started trying), I hadn’t paid much thought to the biological clock working against us. Let’s just say that I’ve learned a lot more about the female body since then -- and I’ve consumed a lot more wine and sushi as well! One book and one app I recommend for along the way: Taking charge of your fertility and Ava.
2. Fertility testing can really help inform the best game plan for you
Most insurances will deem you “infertile” after one year of trying, so that’s when coverage for fertility testing usually kicks in. After about a year and a half into trying, my husband and I decided to meet with a specialist.
This process was super informative. On the first day we went in, it turned out I was on day 3 of my cycle which meant they could get started right away. 8 vials of blood (for hormone and genetic testing), 1 ultrasound, and 1 hour later, we left eagerly anticipating our results.
About a week later we were informed that all our tests looked normal. Huge relief! And a huge turning point for me and my data-driven doctor of a husband! A big motivating factor behind our decision to start trying for a baby had been our age. Now that we knew we both looked like 26 years olds reproductively-speaking (the doctor’s words, not ours), we decided to hold off on fertility interventions for another year. Had the testing looked different? I’m sure we would have moved forward earlier.
3. Miscarriage may be commonplace, but that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking
I had just arrived in Seattle for a work summit and I still remember excitedly and nervously (I was paranoid that my boss was suddenly going to show up behind me in line) sneaking into the CVS near Pike Place to purchase two pregnancy tests. I was about a week and a half late and also into week two of travel -- so my husband had no idea.
That night at the hotel room, I took the pregnancy test and couldn’t believe it was positive.
After so many negative pregnancy tests, it was hard to believe this one would be any different. So I decided to wait another day. The next night I took the second pregnancy test. Positive again! That’s when I allowed myself to get excited. At this point, it had been close to two and a half years of trying to get pregnant, and I thought this was finally it. I decided to wait another week before telling anyone, and set about planning (in true Moira fashion) what my surprise announcement to my husband would look like. I ordered a cute card and a “My Dad is Amazing” book for said purposes and tried to keep mum -- well, except to my mom. I couldn’t help myself.
Fast forward to the day I was set to hop on a plane back to Boston. During the ride to the airport, I started getting pretty bad cramps. When I got through security, I felt a rush of liquid. It was blood. While I’m generally pretty good at keeping my emotions in check in public, I was taken aback by just how hard this was for me to handle. Through tears (which are pretty hard to hide in a crowded airport), I called my mom and then my doctor’s office...and then my husband. I tried to collect myself in the ladies room, but it was difficult.
Despite knowing the high miscarriage rates, and risks that come in that first trimester, I had let high hopes get the best of me. I delayed my flight and took yet another long Uber to the emergency room at University of Washington. They confirmed what I knew to be true about the miscarriage, and I did my best to re-shift my mindset. The doctors were amazing. Miscarriage, they reiterated to me, is incredibly common, particularly when so early on in a pregnancy like mine.
What I remember most, however, is that they didn’t make me feel bad about my tears either.
Picture of the restaurant I treated myself to after being discharged from the emergency room in Seattle, before my 11 p.m. flight home. Note the glass of wine featured front and center. Thank you to the Goop app for the great restaurant recommendation -- it was just what I needed after an emotional day.
4. Stress matters
There are a lot of studies that show the link between high stress and low fertility. During the time I was trying to get pregnant, my husband was in the most stressful years of his medical residency in NYC. Meanwhile, I was in a high-pressure, fast-paced, globe-trotting marketing role at a big tech company. My miscarriage was on the heels of two of the most intense weeks of my career. I know plenty of couples get pregnant while balancing high-stakes jobs, but I am convinced that stress played a critical role in my pregnancy timing.
My husband and I relaxing and letting go of all our stresses in Miami Beach. This was a week before we found out we were pregnant.
5. The universe has a funny sense of timing
I used to joke to my friends and family that I felt like I wasn’t going to get pregnant until I left my job. Though I loved the people I worked with and the opportunities presented to me on a daily basis, it was hard for me to envision how I was going to balance having a family and keeping up with the time and travel demands of that job. Especially with a husband in such an inflexible work environment. I think my body knew it.
But then. Lo and behold. The week after I left my job and accepted the Head of Marketing role at Kudos, I got pregnant on our second round of IUI. I got the amazing news from my doctor three weeks later (after an incredible Miami Beach vacation with my husband, pictured above) on my first day (!) at Kudos.
It’s hard to take that as anything other than the universe sending me a message that everything will work out when and how it’s supposed to. I find a lot of comfort in that.
It’s our goal at Kudos to make sure no one ever feels alone on their path to parenthood. Interested in sharing your unique story with the Kudos community? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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