We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
My Journey with Infertility
I’m a teen mom, I’m not ashamed of that. I had my oldest son when I was a sophomore in high school, I was only 15 years old. His dad was about to be 18 the very next month. We had no business having a baby, none. Did we make it work? Absolutely. I was young, naive, scared and totally unsure of what was going on with my body. I didn’t have a close relationship with my mom or my sister so I didn’t go to anyone. No one ever taught be about the birds and the bees! I still had somewhat of a “period” for several months and I didn’t even know I was pregnant for months! I grew up with my son, we learned together, we grew strong together, we relied heavily on each other and our extended family after his dad was killed. I swore I would never get married and I wouldn’t have any more kids. Never did I think infertility would become an issue later in life when I decided I did want more kids.
I started dating my husband when I was 26. I spent years as a single mom, dating on and off, never anything serious. This relationship was different, much different. Time passed, we got very serious and we ended up moving out-of-state together, he took a job transfer from Illinois to Michigan. I realized after not being so careful a few times that there were never any close calls. Not that we were trying to get pregnant but we were not trying to prevent it either. I knew something was amiss and decided to find a doctor. It was 2005-2006 and it was much easier than I had ever imagined it would be to find a doctor, explain the situation and get the tests ordered. I was told I would have to see a reproductive endocrinologist at the University of Michigan and they would order the proper test.
The Worst News
The first test done was a Hysterosalpingogram also known as HSG. The first person I called was my sister. She had previously worked for a fertility doctor and I knew she could give me an idea of what to expect. The HSG is ultra sound with dye that examines the inside of your uterus and Fallopian tubes. This test will determine if your tubes are blocked or not. This type of test can be very helpful, since blocked tubes are one of the more common causes of infertility. I had the test done and a few days later we had an appointment with that same endocrinologist in his office to go over the tests. I was incredibly nervous and terrified to hear the results.
We were engaged but I feared he wouldn’t want to go thru with the wedding if I couldn’t have kids again. He is an only child and his parents WANTED grandchildren. They were not very fond of me already and this would just be the icing on the cake. I remember going into not the doctors actual office with his desk but a room with a round table. We sat there and waited for him to come in. He arrived, sat down with my records and said, “Your tubes are blocked. Severe scar tissue and they can not be opened. Your only chance to conceive is to do IVF. I will send in my nurse with information on IVF and payment plans.”
White as a ghost, sitting there in disbelief, I immediately needed to throw up. I got up and ran out of the room to the bathroom across the hall and threw up everything inside of me. Then I wept. I couldn’t stop crying. I was broken and he wanted kids. How did this happen? Why did this happen? What’s wrong with me? Why me? I’m too young. I couldn’t shut my brain off. I only told my sister and my best friend. I made him swear to not tell anyone. This was too hard to talk about without getting all worked up and crying. I still had a wedding to plan after all, I had no time to mope and cry. I’d deal with it later, I knew it had to be dealt with at some point.
The Wedding, The Move, The first IVF
We were still living in Michigan and planning our wedding back home in Illinois. My mom and sister were coming back home for my shower so I left work a couple of days early and headed back home to Illinois. Al would meet me that weekend for the shower. I remember sitting across from my sister at my Grandma’s kitchen table. Al called and said he had some news. “We’re moving? Again? But We’ve only been in Michigan less than 2 years. Wait, what? Where? Canada? You’re joking. What did I say about moving to Canada? Where the hell is Prince George, British Columbia?” My sister goes running into my Grandma’s living room for the atlas, comes flying back into the kitchen flipping thru the book…..points, looks at me and mouths, “OH MY GOD!”
Thirty days before our wedding he was transferred to Prince George, British Columbia. Thirty. Days. My oldest and I stayed in Michigan, I kept working, he kept going to school and I kept planning my wedding back home in Illinois while my future husband was over 2,000 miles away. There was no time to worry about my female issues, no time at all! We married in November, my son and I joined Al up in Canada the following February.
We get settled in the house, get Anthony in school and we start talking about possibly doing IVF. I couldn’t work in Canada, they wouldn’t give me a VISA. I had a LOT of time on my hands. I started my research, after all we are in the land of free health care, let’s see what it can do for us. Turns out, nothing, nothing at all. It’s NOT all it’s cracked up to be and the services for anything “special” had incredibly extensive waiting times. Also, you can’t see any type of specialist outside of a primary care giver until you are established with a primary care giver. The issue? Not one doctor in the entire town, in the middle of the mountains mind you, was accepting new patients. So we couldn’t do anything but go to the clinic or ER. Obviously NOT going to get IVF in Canada.
We decided to tell his parents when they came up for their first visit. His Mom cried when I told her. She discussed it with his dad and they proposed a plan for us. They would cover the cost of IVF for us if I wanted to come home for the summer and see a doctor there. Newly married and I left that summer for home. I’d spend several weeks back home in Illinois prepping and going through with IVF all on my own. We chose a doctor that was recommended to us by his cousin. I had an initial surgery to try to remove my tubes as a precaution, only one would come out. A couple of weeks later I started my shots and the IVF process. Still alone. Al came home once when it was time for him to “do his thing”. I didn’t see him again until Anthony and I went back to Canada at the end of the summer. Our first round of IVF had failed.
Back to the States & A New Doctor
In 2008 I moved back home to Illinois with Anthony, I couldn’t handle living in Canada anymore. Al followed a couple of months after he pushed for a transfer home. We were in our new house for about a year when friends of ours were getting ready to start IVF for the first time. Every time I was invited to a baby shower or someone announced they were pregnant, a little bit of me broke inside. Infertility is really an awful feeling. The first time through IVF was so bad. I was so emotional, suffering alone, giving myself shots and hoping like hell it would work. When it didn’t, I swore I wouldn’t do it again. It cost my in-laws $20K+ because we had ZERO insurance coverage. I felt like a failure and I could never ask or even expect them to foot that bill again. But a small part of me was wanting a baby. I wanted to know what it felt like to be excited for a pregnancy and not be terrified.
I decided to see a new Gynecologist, someone who came highly recommended in Chicago, she was the resident doc on Oprah and Windy City Live. She was like the Gyne to the rich and famous of Chicago! She is a women’s specialist out of Northwestern and I figured she could point me in the right direction for a new Fertility Specialist. I talked it over with Al, we decided to give it one last try. I quit working so I could do whatever I needed to do for appointments and to remain as stress free as humanly possible. She told me who to see, Dr. Kaplan at Fertility Centers of Illinois. I made my appointment and made sure Al went with me!
Dr. Kaplan was so wonderful. Kind, friendly, passionate and everything we asked for in a doctor. He took one look at my records and said, “I’m just the doctor, success rates are based on our labs, not me. We’re not doing any of this and we will definitely change the medications. Oh, you are cash pay? Here, I will give you meds from my office at no charge.” Al and I were very happy and relieved to be in good hands. He discovered something wrong during my first monitoring appointment. Labs and ultrasound were not matching up and he knew exactly how to correct the problem. Something he said could have been wrong for a very long time which makes me think played a part in why the first round was not a success.
11 months later, at 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant, I was wheeled in to the O.R. for a scheduled c-section to meet my twins. Yep 2 of them. We didn’t know what they were but found out that day Baby A was a girl and Baby B was a boy.
Healing, Sharing & Advocating
When I was pregnant with the twins, I was very open about how they were conceived. I wasn’t afraid to tell my story. It was therapeutic for me to talk about it. There was no explanation for my scar tissue that we later found out covered 80% of my abdominal organs. Dr. Kaplan said it was Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, there was no real way to find out what caused it. All I know is I was dealt a hand that I had to deal with. I couldn’t get over that there were more than likely women like me suffering in silence. So I healed by talking about it. I was never ashamed and I was wiling to talk about it with anyone who would listen. I ended up needing a couple more “female plumbing” surgeries after the babies came and I now no longer can carry children. At my age I shouldn’t even be thinking about it BUT I wish every day that I could have had more. I suffered for so long, physically and emotionally. I don’t want to see women suffer when there are amazing doctors out there to help you.
Infertility Awareness, Never Walk Alone
2018 marks the year I start advocating for the 1 in 8 couples who struggle to build a family. I intended to walk in the Chicagoland Walk of Hope on June 9th but it ended up being cancelled due to weather. I created my own team, The Doom Crew, which comes from the nickname I gave my twins before they were born. I want them to grow up to help transform how others view infertility and let them know they are a product of it! Not everyone’s story will be the same, infertility doesn’t care what your race, religion or sexual preference is. I want to make a difference. No one should walk alone on this journey.
Here are a couple of links to some great websites!
NIAW – National Infertility Awareness Week
RESOLVE – National Infertility Association
FCI – Fertility Centers of Illinois