This post is written by guest contributor Nicole Maxam. She’s sharing a detailed glimpse into her fertility journey in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week!
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent your whole life dreaming of starting your own family and becoming a mom. In a perfect world you get married, you buy a home for your future family, you get pregnant by the love of your life and the rest is history.
In a perfect world…
It’s unfortunate that not everyone's world is perfect. In fact almost no one's world is perfect. We all have hopes and dreams. But they don’t always work out the way you would like them to though.
At least, that’s how it was for me.
MY FERTILITY JOURNEY
My husband and I had wanted to grow our little family. Little did we know that it wasn’t going to be as easy for us as it is for most.
After a few months of trying to conceive a little one, I went to see my doctor to get some advice.
The truth is in my gut I always had this weird feeling something was wrong... I don’t know why, I just did. It shouldn’t have been so hard, right? To make a baby?
My doctor proceeded to tell me that I was young and healthy, and that I would become pregnant within a few months if we just kept trying. He told me not to stress about it or think about it too much.
Well, if you’re someone who has been through infertility that's probably the worst advice someone could give to you.
All you do is think about it! You can’t not.
Every new pregnancy announcement you see on social media just rips your heart out of your chest. You’re happy for people that get to have their little family so easily and fast, but you wish so badly for it to be you.
I always knew that I wanted to have a big family, but in my mind my clock was running out. After 6 months of no luck, I went back to that same doctor and he proceeded to tell me that it can take healthy, normal couples a year of trying before they get pregnant.
So we continued on with our life and when it had gotten to a year without conception, I marched myself back into the doctor’s office and told him that I wasn’t getting pregnant. I told him that before we even started “trying” to conceive we hadn’t used protection and never had any accidents.
That’s when he finally took us seriously. He sent me for blood work so that my hormone levels were reviewed and my husband had been sent for a semen analysis.
To our surprise, all of our results came back normal.
MY ROUND OF INTRAUTERINE INSEMINATIONS
After our results came back normal, I was referred to a fertility clinic. Unfortunately, there was a 9 month wait before we would be able to see our specialist. Once we met with our specialist, we were told that our situation was “unexplained”. They couldn’t find anything wrong with either of us, but for whatever reason conceiving a baby wasn’t working for us.
To start my fertility treatment, I started with 3 Intrauterine Inseminations (IUI).
My heart broke month after month with no success.
After those three grueling months, I went for an Exploratory Laparoscopy. This was to make sure that I wasn’t suffering from endometriosis. Minor lesions were found, but nothing that should get in the way of me becoming pregnant.
That’s when we decided our best option would be In-vitro-fertilization (IVF).
MY IN-VITRO-FERTILIZATION (IVF) JOURNEY
Before we started the IVF treatments, we decided to take 3 months off for the summer to simply enjoy ourselves and not think about our continued heartbreak.
When the end of summer rolled around, I was sooooo ready to start fresh and get going with my treatment. My cycle ended up lining up perfectly for us to start at the end of August.
I started my shots, and whoa, that was hard. Every single shot needed to be taken at specific times. I’m not afraid of needles, but when you have a line up like I had it was really scary. I didn’t think I would be able to do it myself, but with my husband's work schedule I had to suck it up and commit to inserting the shot myself.
The first shot was the hardest. It’s so weird standing there with a needle knowing you have to poke yourself in the tummy. I had a few meltdowns, but I finally did it.
It wasn't so bad at first. But the more shots you have, the more bloated and sore you get (as well as crazy as hell).
Shout out to my husband, Tay, for having to deal with my crazy hormonal self.
Within two weeks we had my egg retrieval. During that time, 17 were retrieved. And of those 17, 14 fertilized. In the end, we were lucky to have 8 little embabies!
On day five, we did a fresh embryo transfer. The transfer went amazing!
We were told it was a really high-graded embryo and that they had a really good feeling.
About three days later, I felt off and decided to take a pregnancy test. You know, I had taken hundreds of tests, and I mean hundreds of tests over the years, and never did I ever see the slightest line.It was always negative.
I looked at the test and there was the faintest line.
My first thought was that I was imagining it because I wanted it so badly. I thought, “There's no way. It was so light it couldn’t be.”
I took another test the next day. And it was positive, like really positive!
I showed my husband and we both cried because we were so incredibly happy.
After 3 exhausting years we finally got our first positive test! Sadly, that wasn’t our happy ending. We lost the baby 4 weeks later.
I was devastated. My body had failed me yet again.
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I did two more IVF transfers. But both ended up negative.
That’s when I decided I was done. I was so done. I thought, “If this hasn’t worked for us there's no way it's going to.”
I wholeheartedly believed I would never be a mom. That my husband and I would never get the family we have longed for.
MY PREGNANCY JOURNEY
I went for our fourth IVF transfer, but I was so emotionally checked out from all of it.
A week after our transfer I thought I would take a test to prove that I wasn’t pregnant again. I felt so normal that there was no way. That's when the darkest line came up instantly!
I took a digital test right after, and a big fat YES came up.
My heart was so full, but also scared.
I hoped and prayed that this was it for us, and yet my guard was still up.
I went for blood work and my levels were around 500 (for context they look for your levels to be at 100 so things were looking really good for us). Days after the initial blood work, my levels jumped to 14000. I still remember how the nurses joked that I might have been having twins with how high my levels were.
But then at 6 weeks, I started bleeding really bad. I thought, “this can’t be happening. Please God, not again.”
I went in the next morning for an ultrasound and that's when we discovered I was pregnant with twins but one had stopped growing. And yet, I still was able to see this little flicker.
They turned up the ultrasound screen and we heard our sweet baby girl’s heartbeat. Nothing else mattered. There she was with this beautiful strong heartbeat. Each week she continued to grow strong and healthy, right on track.
At 24 weeks, my blood pressure skyrocketed and they continued to monitor me closely to ensure it wasn’t pre-eclampsia.
Immediately, I was sooo scared that something was wrong. My blood pressure continued to stay within range without me needing to be put on medication.
Once I hit 34 weeks, my blood pressure was starting to creep up slowly here and there.
At 36 weeks and 3 days it spiked and we went to the hospital. That's when they decided I would be booked in for an induction two days later.
I was put on blood pressure meds for a few days and when it came to the day they were going to induce me they did an ultrasound to check to make sure the baby head was still down. Well, the little miss had turned herself breech.
Just my luck, right?
We decided the safest option was to do a planned c-section. An hour later, we were suited up and headed into the surgical room.
I was soooo scared. I couldn’t believe we were finally having our baby.
About 15 mins later at 4:54 PM on October 20, 2019, our sweet Ivy James was earthside with us weighing 7 pounds 2 oz.!
The second I heard her scream, I lost it. Nothing else mattered. She was here with us, healthy and roaring.
After four long years of struggling, we finally had what we had forever longed for. She was perfect, our little rainbow babe. Another great product that Smiling Tree Toys has to offer is a Baby Keepsake Birth Block! It commemorates your little one's arrival into this world. I'll link it here for you.
Truthfully, motherhood is better than I ever could have imagined. I will never forget our journey, but I would do it all over again a million times to have this beautiful baby girl of mine in my arms.
Want to hear something funny? I look at her most days and start bawling. I feel so blessed to be able to experience this, to have her. I’ve never loved something or someone so much in my life.
There’s one message I want to leave you with, if you’re still waiting…
Don’t give up. Be gentle with yourself as much as you can. There is light at the end of the tunnel for you. Some way or somehow it will work out for you.Just promise me, you won’t give up.
Nicole is 29 years old and lives in Langley BC, Canada. She’s been married to the love of her life, Taylor, for 5 years, together for 7. She is the happiest mama to Ivy James. You can connect with Nicole on Instagram at @nic.maxam where she shares glimpses into her beautiful life after infertility.
If you're seeking more insight on National Infertility Awareness Week, consider checking out this link.