Annie (USA): Becoming a mom
My annual check-up: where it all began. We had been trying for years, and when I say years, I mean about four or five. Four or five is a lot when you’re 28, almost 29. I asked her, “so we have been actively trying for a while and nothing is really happening, do you have any tips? Should I be worried?” She said, “if it doesn’t happen in the next six months, I want you to see a specialist.” She quickly jotted down a name and gave me a card. I took the card and I left her office thanking her for all her help like I usually did, making my next appointment and leaving the office. I cried the whole way home.
Why? Why at 28, almost 29, do I have to see a FERTILITY SPECIALIST? Is there something wrong with me? Is there something wrong with him? We are an amazing couple, we have been together for six years and we are completely still in the honeymoon phase. This is crazy; maybe we aren’t trying hard enough. Maybe I downloaded the wrong tracking apps, maybe I’m not eating enough pineapple like that crazy Pinterest recipe told me to, maybe I’m not holding my legs up in that karma-sutra weird position like they advise in Cosmo. Maybe it just won’t happen for me. Maybe I’m just not going to be a mom.
Six months fly by, and nothing happens. So reluctantly, I make an appointment with the specialist. I hear a reassuring and welcoming voice on the other end of the phone, helping me make a consultation with one of the doctors. My first appointment was the next week.
She saw us both on a Saturday. A Saturday? She made time for us? Knowing my husband had a crazy schedule and couldn’t get much time off during the mornings, she had an opening and was more than willing to see us then. She was so kind. She had warmth about her and told me, “You will have a baby.” I wasn’t sure, but I tried to believe her. She said that we would start immediately with testing and see where to go from there. Hopefully, we wouldn’t have to go the full IVF route; hopefully we could do medication, or maybe just IUI, possibly ICSI. My mind was racing with all of the letters, statistics and medication names. We left with a packet and a bunch of appointments.
The next week I started with ultrasounds and we eventually found out that we would have to go the full IVF route. I felt a little crushed and disappointed in my own body. I told my husband I didn’t want to look up any stats of failure because I honestly didn’t want to know. I didn’t care to know. I didn’t want to be a statistic. I wanted to be a mom.
She said she would be sending me medications of all different kinds through a mail away pharmacy and we would keep going with the ultrasounds to look at progress. We checked in with each other and took periodic blood work as well. The day the box came I had never been so overwhelmed. There were boxes and boxes of medications, needles, alcohol pads, sharps containers, dry ice (that I burnt my hand on) and Band-Aids. I just started at the box. It was a month worth of medication but it looked like it would last a year.
The first night of my injections, my husband told me that he couldn’t do it. He hates needles. I’m a medical assistant, so I knew what I was doing, but I had no interest in injecting myself! He was a trooper; he held the ice and gave me a kiss. He said, “here’s to having a baby!” That was the first night. There were many more nights to come.
There were tears, awkward injection spots, strange places we did the shots (ever inject yourself in the back of a car?), and lots of thinking, “is this worth it?” After about a month it was all over. It was time to see how much all of our hard work had worked and how many eggs we had gotten.
Eight. Only eight. That number has been haunting me ever since. Even more disappointing is the number fertilized. Two. Just two. I guess in the grand scheme of things, it’s better than none. We are lucky to have even gotten that many.
On the day of implantation, my stomach was in knots and I didn’t think I could do it. My doctor was not on rotation that day, so I had another doctor who would do the implantation. He was so nice and sweet, but not my doctor. I was super nervous. There were about four people in the room along with my husband and I. Six people saw me get pregnant. How many people can say that? I will never forget the words he spoke as he was doing the implantation. “This is my favorite part of my job. If you look closely, it’s like a shooting star. Do you see that? There is your star.”
That night, I held my stomach so close and hoped for my shooting star to stick, to stay, and to be a baby.
After days and days of additional blood work, more ultrasounds, and more stomach holding, my doctor called and said, “Congratulations, I’m so happy to say your numbers are amazing and they keep rising, you’re pregnant. Make an appointment in five weeks so we can see your baby.”
I was a mom.