In honor of NIAW, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on our journey to being a family of four. I know our story is written in this blog in much more detail than my brief recap will be here, but I don't want it to be forgotten. Just because this space is mostly about our daily life as parents now, doesn't mean it wasn't a struggle to get here. It also doesn't mean that we forget what it was like to go through infertility. It took us over 14 YEARS to become parents! We will hardly forget.
We started out like most couples, simply abandoning birth control when we were ready to try conceiving. We kept it pretty casual at first, but obviously nothing happened. A few years later, I had a laparoscopic surgery to removed a cyst from one of my ovaries. We spent about a year charting temps and doing timed intercourse, to no avail. Tony submitted a sperm sample, and we were told he had very poor sperm quality. His count was low and they had very slow mobility. We were told that it wasn't completely impossible for us to get pregnant, but highly unlikely. We looked into IUI and IVF, but at that point in our marriage, we weren't in a place that we could afford any treatments. We spent a few more years taking supplements and changing a few lifestyle habits, in our attempt to improve our chances.
Nothing worked, so we eventually stopped "trying." We didn't prevent, but we stopped putting so much effort into trying to get pregnant because it was putting a huge strain on our intimacy. If you've ever spent a significant amount of time doing timed intercourse, you know exactly what I mean! After about 10 years, we finally just started to accept that we were never going to be able to have children of our own.
My sister and her husband were amazing and invited me to be a part of the births of their children, knowing that probably was my only opportunity I would ever get to experience childbirth. I missed my oldest niece being born, because she decided to come early and we were out of state coaching our softball team that had made it to the national tournament for the first time ever! I was there for the birth of their last three babies though.
Three days after my 37th birthday, my second nephew (baby #3 for them) was born. Witnessing that miracle for the second time, along with getting so much closer to hitting 40, was a pivotal moment for me. We had pretty much given up on ever having kids, but after seeing my nephew being born, I couldn't stop thinking about how I didn't want to end up in my 40's/50's regretting that we hadn't tried everything we could to conceive. I didn't want to look back, knowing we never even tried infertility treatments. I shared my thoughts with Tony and we agreed to at least scheduling a consultation with an RE. We still weren't in a place that we could afford treatments, but my student loans were at least paid off, so we could afford to make payments on another giant loan to fight our infertility.
We did one IUI, which we all knew would be a big fat failure, and we weren't wrong. Our first IVF resulted in only 5 eggs retrieved, with 3 embryos barely making it to transfer. This resulted in our first pregnancy! However, the good news only lasted 3 days. Chemical pregnancy. Our second IVF failed, because even after all the meds, I only had one follicle. Diminished Ovarian Reserve.
We spent the summer trying to make a decision about what our next step would be. It seemed like a complete waste of money to try doing another IVF, gambling on whether I would produce enough eggs or not. This is about the time I started this blog, so if you are interested in reading our story more in depth, you can scroll back to the beginning. My sister ended up giving us our biggest gift ever, by agreeing to be an egg donor for us.
Our first donor egg transfer resulted in a positive pregnancy! Just as I was about to graduate to my OB, we found out at 9 weeks 5 days that we had a miscarriage, due to Trisomy 18. Ironically, the abnormality came from the donor egg, which had been about a 1% chance of happening, according to the genetic doctor. Yay us for being in the 1%! Insert eye roll.
A few months later, we moved forward with our last chance Hail Mary, doing a frozen embryo transfer of our last two donor egg embryos. Those two embryos became our Ayden and Rylee. It took us a long 14+ years to grow our family, but we were finally blessed with two of the most amazing little humans!