I try to do things as naturally as possible (with the exception of Chic-fil-a and Starbucks, of course) so Natural Family Planning was an easy choice for us. In October of 2013 we had one "mishap" and afterwards we laughed and joked about wouldn't it be funny if. Two weeks later and BAM! There were two pink lines and Jackson Reed Soong was on his way! We were "surprised" and SO happy.
Six months after Jack was born we had a condom break and yet again, BAM. I was pregnant. This time I was overwhelmed, babies 15-16 months apart sounded so hard. Josh and I laughed about how crazy this was trying to mask the fear of two kids so close together has us feeling. 11 days later, while I was getting dressed for church, blood starting running down my leg. All of those insecure feelings of how hard this would be immediately turned into grief and guilt for not celebrating every second of the 11 short days I had with my baby.
About three months later, Jack was 9 months old, and the grief of losing our second baby turned into a need for another baby. I begged, and we started trying to get pregnant. We had gotten pregnant twice in two tries so I knew this would be fast and easy and I would be pregnant the next month... but I wasn't. Then I wasn't pregnant the month after, or the one after that. What was happening? Why wasn't this working? My mom had 3 babies in 3 tries. Then I had had two babies in two tries. So, what the heck?
Fast forward a year and still nada. I was still trying to stay calm and nonchalant about it because Jack was still a baby. I grieved the baby I had lost but I was just starting to grieve my infertility. We kept trying and... nothing. I went to the doctor, started clomid, and... nothing. Except for clomid sending me to crazy town, nothing. Overall, I'm a pretty optimistic person but at this point I started losing that optimism. This sucked.
In January of 2017, I got pregnant! I realized I was pregnant before I even took a test. I just knew. I waited until well after my missed period, took a few deep breaths, and then took the test. Before I could even go back and look at the results, blood started running down my legs. Blood just everywhere. I started mopping it up with Frozen paper towels covered in Elsa and Ana and tried to pull myself together. I had just doula-ed two births and I had another mom that was just admitted to the hospital. Doula life isn't always fun and glamorous. I blocked on what was happening and went to welcome the third beautiful baby boy of the week into the world, and came home to find the positive pregnancy test still on the floor of the bathroom.
Before, even though I just knew I was pregnant, I hadn't actually seen the positive test. Getting home and finding that, nearly killed me. I picked up the phone, called my mom, sister, and best friends and told them what was happening. That I had been pregnant with a baby we would soon name Madison and that I had lost them. The outpour of love and support was overwhelming and like putting on a warm blanket. If there's one piece of advice I can give you, it's share your heartache with those closest to you. You need the support. If they are who you think they are, they won't disappoint you.
I would love to say that I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and kept pressing on, but that's not the case. I started to spiral. This was SO hard. It had been two years of timed sex, bookmarked with a miscarriage at each end. My optimism was gone and without my friends and bible study group, I don't know what I would have done. Depression set in along with guilt, anger, and jealousy of everyone around me. It was not a great time. I took a big step back from attending births and tried to stay as positive as possible, but I'm not going to lie, I was pissed.
By this time, Jack was a two and half year old and everyone was all over us about when we were having another kid. Unfortunately for me and my bitter attitude, it's not socially appropriate to say, "We've been trying for over two years and I've lost two babies, back the hell off." This has taught me to be careful with my words to other people, because you really never know what's happening behind closed doors.
A close friend asked me how I was doing while standing in preschool carline. The correct response was, "Good! How are you?" It’s the polite response, the expected response, but today I couldn’t do it. I sucked back tears and just flat out said, “I’m really bad. I’m really struggling.” Then, I proceeded to just pour my heart out. The words she chose to use hit me like a ton of bricks. She said, “Infertility is a fight fought behind closed doors.” This is unbelievably true. It’s something that’s not talked about and when it is talked about, it’s done quietly and secretly. That day, I was done with quiet and secret and lonely. I started sharing more with my friends and the more I did, the more support I received. The women in my life, gave me life.
After the second miscarriage and two years of trying, we decided it was time to go see a fertility doctor. They ran more intensive testing and I found out that I had borderline low progesterone and Thrombotic Factor II- a blood clotting gene that could be causing the miscarriages. They started monthly blood work and ultrasounds to make sure everything looked good. I started taking hyper-ovulation meds and they worked wonderfully.
The first month, I had 3 big follicles and was green-lighted for our first IUI- intrauterine insemination. This is a super sexy process where Josh goes into a back room, then comes back with a cup of semen, gives it to a nurse to be washed (a procedure that separates healthy sperm from semen), and then they shoot it through my cervix, into my uterus with a catheter. Then they flip me upside down, we hang out for 15 minutes, and then they send us on our way.
Everything looked perfect and with three big follicles we were prepped for the possibility of multiples. I was so sure that this was it! This was going to work! So when I got the call that my blood work was negative, I was crushed. In infertility world, you have 2 days to pull it together and then it's back in for more ultrasounds and blood work. We did a second round of meds, hcg trigger shots, and an IUI. I thought for sure it was going to work this time, nope.
It had been 2.5 years and a massive flood that caused us to lose our home since we started this journey. I was defeated. I told Josh that I needed a break from the hormones because they made me feel crazy. He agreed and I skipped my next blood work appointment.
During all of this, I was having ridiculous back pain. I finally scheduled with my chiropractor and was diagnosed with a herniated disc. She explained that since it was behind my ovaries, that my body's pain receptors were confused and there was no way I was going to get pregnant like this. What?!? Back pain could be causing my infertility??? I started getting adjusted once a week and doing decompression twice a week. A month later I was feeling great and the doctor went to adjust me and said, "You look great! You are ready for a baby!"
I left the office optimistic and pain free. That night I had this intense dream that I was pregnant and in labor. I woke up to lots of cramping and felt nervous about another period. I took a pregnancy test just for the heck of it, left it on the counter, and started getting ready for the day. I walked back past it... and... TWO PINK LINES!!!!! I couldn't believe it! I immediately called the fertility doctor, went in for blood work, and they confirmed, I was pregnant!
Very early on in the pregnancy, they saw a second yolk sac on the ultrasound. It was significantly behind in gestational age and the doctor used phrases like "disappearing twin syndrome" and "not viable". For me, a tiny yolk sac or a 39 week baby, they are both equally my children. I held onto hope for a few more weeks but never got the news I hoped for. The medical community can be cruel and when we got the definitive answer that we would only be carrying one of our identical girls to term, I was crushed. Everyone around me celebrated the joy of my pregnancy but there was/is still a hole in my heart. I know after delivery holding one baby will be both heartbreaking and immensely joyous. There are so many mixed emotions. We'll be meeting Caroline so soon, but the wait to meet Evelyn will be a lifetime.
I'm now 23 weeks and so thankful for this baby. We are having a little girl and naming her Caroline Elise. So far, she is healthy and thriving and we are praying for a safe delivery. We can't wait to meet her! Her big brother Jack talks to her all the time and always wants to know when she's coming out of momma's belly.
I won't say that the pregnancy has taken away the 2.5 years of pain of infertility and the grief of losing three babies, but it has it's own bittersweet joy. I will always miss the babies I never got to hold. For me, naming them helped the grieving process. I feel reassured knowing that one day I will get to meet Jamie, Madison, and Evelyn in Heaven. Reassurance is great, but it can't take away a mother's sadness and longing for her babies.
If you are struggling with infertility or miscarriage, please reach out. Talk to your friends, your family, or talk to me. This is an impossible journey to do alone.