August 2015, I married the man of my dreams. God delivered everything that I had prayed for and more. I prayed for a man that would be patient, kind, generous, and loving. I wanted a man that would love my daughter, Kai, just as much as he loved me. Seven years earlier, I met Bakari at a wedding in Cancun, Mexico. My daughter Kai was 3 years old and I was two years separated/one year divorced from my previous marriage. I had a major fear of marriage but I also knew that I did not want to lose Bakari. So, after 7 years of dating and a year and half engagement, Bakari and I married. I literally woke up one day in June of 2015 and told Bakari that we were going to have a wedding in August. And in August that is what we did. Our wedding was an intimate ceremony/reception with our closest friends and family. It was perfect!
Once married, we knew we wanted children right away. We both talked about having another little one around the house. Kai was 3 years old when Bakari and I met and he was so great with her. I knew Bakari would be an amazing father to our other children. So the practicing began! We had lots of sex just as many newlyweds would and nothing happened. I just knew that I would be pregnant within months. We were both healthy people with no major health concerns. Bakari is 8 years younger than me, so I just knew everything would work out. My pregnancy with Kai was fairly easy and I got pregnant in the second month of trying, granted that was 10 years prior. Frustration slowly set in as I saw other friends getting pregnant and having babies. This was not supposed to be me. Not supposed to be us. With my maternal clock ticking, I was having regrets of waiting so long to marry. I told myself we could have had 3 babies within the 7 years of dating. Finally, after a year of practicing, I gave in and went to my OB/GYN for a fertility consult. My OB/GYN did the normal examination and then referred me to a reproductive specialist.
August 2016, Bakari and I went for consultation and testing. We both checked out with no major issues and we were diagnosed with “UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY”. I guess that is the diagnosis when they can’t exactly tell you why you are not getting pregnant. Of course, age was a slight factor on my side, but my ovarian reserve was that of a 35-year-old and all of my reproductive organs looked normal and functioning. I had normal, regular menstrual cycles, and I ovulated every month, but things were not connecting. So, our Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) told us to go home and track my ovulation and keep trying. He said, “ When you are tired of trying then come back and we will take the next steps”.
We made a plan to give ourselves until the New Year before we made any steps toward assisted fertility. I tracked my cycles, and sure enough February 2017, we got pregnant! We were thrilled. We couldn’t wait till our first appointment. It was scheduled for Monday, April 17, 2017, the day after Easter Sunday. I spent Easter Sunday with my family in Lancaster at my parent’s home. Being my second pregnancy, my stomach got big fairly quickly. Monday morning came, our appointment was at 8am, Bakari and I patiently waited for the Ultrasound Technician to come in to do the ultrasound. He held my hand and we both looked at each other with so much hope and excitement. She started the process of scanning me and she asked “how many weeks are you?” I replied “almost 9 weeks”. She said “one-second”, she leaves and goes to get the doctor. The doctor explained that there was no heartbeat on the ultrasound and that the baby was not vital. From there, it was quite a blur and I don’t quite remember all that he said. Bakari and I scheduled the D&C for that Wednesday. Bakari had to travel for work that week but would be home with me the evening after the surgery and all day the following day. My sister, Ione, took me on to my D&C appointment and brought me home. Bakari came home that night and we both just cried. I told him that I was ok with him traveling for work and being with me after, but deep down, I wanted him there. Weeks later, I was angry at him for something else (I can’t even remember what it was), but I brought up the fact that he had not been there for my surgery. I was so heartbroken over the miscarriage that I needed to take it out on someone, and he is the closest to me. You see, the ups and downs of infertility are not pretty. It is difficult on your family in every way imaginable: financially, emotionally, and physically. It tests your faith, your marriage, and your strength in self. We were determined to not let it break us.
By June 2017, we were back to trying for our baby. Everyone said to stop thinking about it and have fun. We tried really hard to do just that. We traveled — just the two of us– and had an amazing summer. I refocused on working out and eating right. I tracked my cycle. We had plenty of sex. Every time I knew I would be ovulating, I drove Bakari crazy about sex almost to the point that it became a task instead of fun. I questioned God and asked why not us. Had we done something wrong and were we not deserving of a baby. I asked for forgiveness of all of our prior sins and healing of my womb. Every month, I would buy pregnancy tests in hopes that the double line would eventually show again. It never did. By summer’s end, we were back at our Reproductive Endocrinologist. Funny how August always seems like our starting point. Bakari and I met August 2008, we married August 2015, we consulted for fertility August 2016, and now August 2017 we were back in the RE’s office. Where do we go from here?
3 Failed IUI-2017
Our RE doctor at the time recommended IUI. The procedure is supposed to put the sperm closer to the egg to help with fertilization. He also started me on Clomid, which is to help stimulate my ovaries to produce more than one egg at a time. The Clomid almost drove me insane. It made me feel so different. My doctor explained that it is an artificial stimulant and that I was just super sensitive. The Clomid worked and I had 2 follicles. We did the IUI procedure August, September, and October. Going back to the RE, every few days to give blood work and more tests. Bakari and I were several thousands of dollars into fertility treatment by now and felt like we had gotten nowhere. Every month, I was devastated when Aunt Flow arrived. Bakari would just comfort me that it would happen and to not be so upset. We decided to take a break from treatment over the holiday season. We said that we would do IVF in the New Year.
IVF Cycle #1
We decided to stop playing around and go for the “sure thing”! Well, if you know anything about fertility treatments, nothing is for certain. My RE recommended that I start on birth control medication to have a controlled cycle of IVF. The birth control medication shuts down your ovaries so that they are nice and rested before stimulating the heck out of them. Well, I stayed on birth control for about 6 weeks. On January 29, 2018 I started my first IVF stimulating medication. We had payed a truck load of money for this medication and I was going to do everything possible to make sure I was doing it right. My acupuncturist had recommended a high fat diet, so I went out and bought all of these ingredients for high protein bone broth, high fat coconut bars. I hated every bit of the diet but I was determined. So I did my shots, 13 days straight at 10 p.m. every night. It was like clockwork. I turned down dinner with friends and vacations to make certain that I was home right at 10pm to do my shots. I went every few days to have blood work and ultrasounds done and because it was my first go at this, I thought we were on a good path. Looking back now, I think we should have cancelled the cycle altogether. After suppressing these ovaries, they were just not waking up and responding like they should have been…I had 5 follicles growing. One on my right ovary and four follicles on the left. On February 12, 2018, two days before Valentine’s Day, we went for the egg retrieval. After the procedure, our doctor came and said that he had retrieved 2 eggs. I said, “Two eggs….Really!”After all of the medication I had put in my body, after all of the money we had spent, 2 eggs! Trying to stay optimistic, I thought well these two eggs will be my miracle babies. Ok, these two eggs are my miracle babies. Until they were not. The Embryologist called the next morning to report that the 2 retrieved eggs had not even matured. I was so disappointed. Being that Valentine’s Day was the next day, Bakari had to literally pull me off the couch to go out for dinner. I had a glass of wine and tried to relax and enjoy the day even though it was so hard. A few days passed and I knew I needed to take a different route. My current doctor had mentioned doing another cycle, but I knew that we needed a new doctor with a different approach. So I scheduled a consultation with a different doctor and we started talking about our second IVF cycle.
IVF Cycle #2
The awfulness of major pain and constipation from my egg retrieval passed and I was more determined to find someone to help us. I remember my friend suggesting a different RE. I called and made a consultation with a new RE. She was younger and a female. She was open to trying some other medication and vitamins to prepare my body for IVF. So, I started on progesterone cream. It was messy and made cuddling with Bakari a task because he was not supposed to be near it, but I stuck with it. I also started on CoQ10 and DHEA supplements. I continued with my prenatal vitamins and low dose aspirin. My new RE tracked my cycle for two cycles to see my hormone levels at different points in the cycle. This required lots of blood work and many visits to the doctor. On April 17, I started my stimulation medication. She did not recommend suppression, rather simply started it with my natural menstrual cycle. I took stimulating shots for 12 days straight and my egg retrieval was scheduled for 2 days later. I had 12-15 follicles, 8 mature eggs. My numbers were not amazing but much better odds then my first round. The next day they called and said that 5 had fertilized, then a couple of days later 4 had made it to day 3, then 2 Blastocysts had made it to Day 5. The embryologist said they looked great and recommended that we put both back in during a fresh transfer. On Cinco de Mayo, our doctor placed both of our beautiful embryos back into my uterus as Bakari and I watched in amazement.
Dreadful 2 Week Wait
My two week wait consisted of pure relaxation at home. I did the bare minimum. My family really helped with taking Kai to her activities, cooking me meals, and helping with the housework. I read everything I could about what to do and what not to do during the implantation period. And I followed every old wives’ tale….no cold beverages, lay on your left side, no stimulation, no sex, eat lots of avocados, eat leafy greens, no exercise, wear socks 24/7. I prayed a lot and asked God to allow my womb to accept my embryos. After all of my obsessing over what to do and what not to do, things turned in our favor. On May 17, I went in for my first Beta blood test. The Beta test just shows whether you have HCG in your system. The baseline is 25, well mine was 770. I went back a few days later and it had jumped up to 3200. My doctor was satisfied with the numbers and scheduled me for my first ultrasound. June 4 came and I was so nervous. Bakari was there holding my hand just as before. My doctor turned the screen to show us two little flickering heartbeats. I looked at Bakari and I thought he was about to fall out. Both of our embryos had taken, or one had split, we aren’t quite sure at this point, but we have twins! And, we are so excited! We feel so blessed, God willing, that we will have two bundles of joy coming in the New Year 2019.
I have been so hesitant to share our pregnancy with the world because of our difficulties in the past. I have been hiding behind others in pictures, but I want to share my bump…and oh what a bump it is! Our babies are healthy so far and growing rapidly and all of my tests are looking great. I truly think it is time to share our wonderful news with our friends! We are out of the most risky stage of our pregnancy, but we still have so far to go. I hope that you pray for our success as I pray for other women everywhere dealing with infertility.