I have DREAMT about writing and saying this out loud for the past three years. To be honest with you all, I still cannot believe I am able to share this wonderful news with you.
I am pregnant and well into my second trimester. ::insert smile::
My journey to getting pregnant has been a struggle from the beginning, one in which has instilled in me more strength, resilience, and gratitude for absolutely everything around me in more ways than I ever could have imagined. My wish is that sharing this journey with you all will help someone out there that is struggling too.
For those of you who know me intimately, you know that I am generally an open book. I love nothing more than to communicate, to advise, and to help others through sharing my own personal experiences. Despite that being how I am naturally wired, this pregnancy journey was nearly impossible for me to talk about while I was living through it. It was all just so foreign to me. I didn’t know much about infertility, no one in my inner circle had ever been through it, and probably most importantly, I was in total shock that this was actually MY reality and for a while it had broken me.
I have wanted children for as long as I can remember. I absolutely adore kids’ curiosity, unique personalities, and their innocent admiration for adults. I would often joke with my best friend about how I cared more about having kids than I did about planning for our wedding.
But in the summer of 2019, I received a call that nearly crumbled my spirits. I was driving over the Sagamore Bridge en route to our planned vacation on Cape Cod when I was told that the only way I could give birth to a child was through IVF.
I immediately began sobbing uncontrollably and was in complete disbelief. This can’t be happening, I said to myself. I didn’t know how to wrap my head around this news. What the hell was happening? This reality impacted me emotionally, psychologically, and physically in ways I couldn’t even begin to describe. I was afraid to even post on my website or through social media because I was not in a place to be my authentic self and didn’t want to contribute to a false highlight reel when on the inside I was crumbling.
Please know that if you are reading this and still struggling to create your own family, I see you, and I feel you. Remember that I too have walked in your shoes and just know that one day their will have light at the end of the tunnel. As you read, I hope our story gives you encouragement, hope, and peace in wherever you are on your journey to parenthood.
My wish is that our journey will empower you to understand that no matter what path you decide to parenthood it is yours and is so unique and special to you!
Here is the testimony of our 2020 miracle. It was nothing short of a wild, bumpy emotional rollercoaster but one that has changed my life.
Taking It Back To The Beginning:
After a year of marriage, Andy and I began to try and grow our family in late 2018. While we were first trying, we felt excited and nervous. But month after month of us not getting pregnant was also just…confusing. I would say to Andy, “Oh, you know what, maybe it’s because I’ve been on birth control my whole life,” or “Maybe this just wasn’t the month for us.”
Being an impatient person for as long as I can remember, it is safe to say that being unable to conceive successfully, as quickly as I envisioned it would caused me to really hit rock bottom. I remember being so locked in on planning when my ovulation windows were, and managing when Andy would be traveling for work which was so exhausting in itself. I would frequently have conversations with myself, pray, and just ask, “What is going on?” Friends, family, and coworkers would all ask me–with the best of intentions– if Sofia wanted siblings and/or what our plans were for having kids.
When you are trying to conceive and hitting barriers, these questions cannot only become frustrating, but can also become unbearable to hear. Truly asking someone when they are starting a family is such a personal question that I know comes from a good place but it reminded me of the constant state of disappointment I was living in. Seeing others birth announcements constantly on social media was just another reminder daily of the uncertainty I was faced with and what I so badly wanted for our family . I would look at Andy and say, “Why is this not happening for us?” and “What did I do?” I finally broke down and when I went to our OBGYN –who came highly recommended in the Boston community– after 6 months of trying to conceive naturally, she confidently told me, “Oh, you are so young! You’re going to be fine.” But my intuition told me otherwise. I left her office STILL not feeling 100% in the conversation both Andy and I had with her. Shortly after I left her practice because I didn’t feel heard.
This too began to take a toll on Andy, who wanted to be able to expand our family and give Sofia a sibling just as much as I did. For those of you that don’t know Sofia is my wonderful bonus daughter.
I remember on one of his international work trips he sent me a text that read, “Jordan, you’ve done such an amazing job with Sofia and I know it’s going to happen for you one day. I’m really sorry that you are dealing with all of this, but you will always have Sofia.” I was uncontrollably crying out of defeat with not being able to get pregnant. Sofia–the angel that she is– came into my room and said to me, “It’s okay, Jordan. You are like my mom,”… and I just lost it. I looked at her–as I do daily– feeling so incredibly thankful to have her in my life. During a moment of complete weakness and despair, I wanted nothing more for her than to give her the gift of being a big sister.
Part of the challenge with infertility is a feeling of isolation. No one at work really knew what was transpiring for me in my personal life, but on a work trip in summer 2019 I broke down to one of my colleagues. I had gotten my period again and at this point it had been almost a year of trying. She looked at me–woman to woman– and said, “Jordan you need a second opinion.” She took the time to research an IVF doctor in the Boston area with me and helped me get through the emotional breakdown; for that, I am forever grateful.
Advocacy → Discovery
My intuition told me that the cause of our inability to conceive must not be Andy; he had already had Sofia. Infertility happens for so many reasons, but in my case, it actually WAS ME. For months I endured the optimism from those who loved me. My family kept telling me, “Jordan, it’s because you do so much!” and my friends would echo the same message of: Slow down. Relax. It will happen when it’s supposed to happen. For anyone that has gone through similar struggles I will tell you the worst thing to say to someone struggling with infertility is those words.
Over and over I refused to listen because I wanted answers. I quickly realized that I had to become my own advocate. It was my body & soul that I had to listen to, so I gathered the courage and booked my first appointment at Boston IVF with our doctor.
When Andy and I initially met with Dr. Rita Sneeringer in Summer 2019, we endured a slew of intake appointments and blood tests to try to get an explanation for our struggles with fertility. From semen analysis, ultrasounds, genetic screening and more you name it both of us were screened for. It was ultimately a blue-dye HSG test–a test that screens for potential fallopian tube blockages–that ultimately gave us the answer to our unexplained infertility. That day I had gone alone to the appointment. I had thought it would be a routine check in like the previous ones had been. WAS I WRONG. Even though this doesn’t happen for all women, the HSG test caused me to faint immediately after the procedure. I knew after I fainted that something was not right. It was extremely painful for me and it was because my fallopian tubes were blocked.
The nurse’s tone on the follow up call indicated right away that the results from the blue-dye test were not good. She informed me that I had a condition called hydrosalpinx. Hydrosalpinx is a condition that causes fluid buildup to block the eggs passage through the fallopian tubes, causing women to be unable to conceive naturally. I had to snap out of my shock and force out a question that I was scared to know the answer to, “Will I ever be able to have children?”
Her response broke my spirits: “Yes, but only through IVF.” Shortly after my infertility diagnosis of the hydrosalpinx I had both fallopian tubes removed. I had them removed per my doctors recommendation because they didn’t want the fluid from my fallopian tubes to end up harming the baby when I got pregnant. I did a lot of research in my IVF support groups and the common answer seemed to go ahead with the removal of them which was emotional because it was another reminder that IVF would be the only way I would become pregnant.
Science Is Unreal: The Ups & Downs of IVF
In February 2020, a box of my required IVF medications arrived. Nothing quite like getting a box filled with needles delivered to your doorstep that have to be signed for! The day that the box came things started getting real. Dr. Sneeringer had met with me to prescribe a cocktail of medications that would help my body create follicles (eggs) in my ovaries. Throughout the next three weeks, I was on the medications prescribed to me. I was fortunate to not experience many mood swings, but while I was on these medications I had to constantly go back and forth from the IVF clinic for blood and ultrasound checks. About every three days. They needed to monitor whether or not follicles were growing large enough and if my blood levels were ok. Once Dr. Sneeringer gave me the green light for my eggs to be retrieved, I was put under anesthesia for about 20-30 mins and the procedure began. What was crazy about this was that is was a week before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down. Andy was traveling for work in Hawaii and I had to go alone. Luckily my in laws were able to bring me to and from.
That day the team retrieved 21 eggs. Out of those 21 eggs, 10 made it to day 5 blastocysts–which means they looked good under a microscope and were deemed healthy for embryos. I was very happy with our number but also still very apprehensive about what was to come.
Shortly after our eggs were retrieved the doctors and nurses plan what they call a transfer date. This is essentially when the doctor transfers your embryo into your uterine lining. Once it is placed into your uterine lining you hope and pray that after ten days you get a positive blood test back. Fast forward sadly our first two transfers did not take after that. I was pretty gutted and the day before my second transfer didn’t take my uncle who I was very close to passed away in May of last year.
A total of the three largest losses I had ever had in my life in the matter of just three months completely depleted me. I would cry uncontrollably and at this point I felt completely helpless. May of 2020 was easily one of the lowest points that I had ever been in my life. Not only did I lose someone who I loved and was very close to, but I was also coping with all of this during a global pandemic which added another layer of sadness and hopelessness.
One day after we met with our doctor virtually I looked at Andy and said “I am not doing anymore transfers until they run more tests on me”. Similar to the year prior I said to myself I think they need to run more testing they may be missing something. I also knew I could NOT do another back to back transfer. My body, my mind and mental health needed a clear cut break. I had gained about 15lbs from the fertility drugs and just felt completed depleted. I knew I needed to seek some sort of talk therapy at this point and get back to taking care of me. Luckily with summer around the corner I was able to dive back into bootcamps and I did find a wonderful reiki master who I worked with holistically on my mindset and other things I was dealing with.
Sure enough my intuition was right. The next time we talked to our doctor via Zoom I told her I simply couldn’t handle another failed transfer without running additional testing. I belong to a lot of IVF support groups on Facebook and kept doing further research on what could be the reasoning for why the embryo wasn’t implanting and I discovered an ERA. ERA is short for Endometrial Receptivity Analysis. It is a genetic test performed on a very small sample of a woman’s endometrial lining to determine which day would be the best day to transfer the embryo during an IVF cycle. Well sure enough my body needed a full day in a half longer on progesterone than I was getting compared to the last two cycles. Again being my own advocate got us the answers that we needed.
I will never forget how happy I was when my doctor came back and told us the results. I had a great feeling that our third transfer would be the lucky one.
How I coped with infertility
IVF is something in which I never in a million years thought I would do. I didn’t even know what it was really until it became our reality. The tears, the heartache, the worry, and sadness are now a part of who I am even more so. It is hard. It is really hard but you know what YOU can do hard things. That phrase is one I would tell myself daily as I injected myself with a 6 inch needle. DO NOT let the needles, the ultrasounds, the blood draws scare you. The way I looked at it each time I did it was that I was one step closer to hopefully one day getting a miracle baby.
I will be the first to tell you going through IVF has forever changed me as a person. Not only has my outlook on life completely shifted but the greater appreciation I have for science, doctors, and children is one in which I can’t put into words. The woman along the way that I have met that have walked the same path as me you know who you are and for you I am forever grateful. YOU are the ones that picked me up on my hardest days. YOU gave me hope.
Below I listed out a few resources in which I used and still do while I was going through IVF
- Facebook fertility groups-ALL the questions you are worried about asking or just want a second opinion on from someone who has been through what you have this is a great resource. If you just type in IVF Support Group hundreds come up.
- Seek talk therapy or Reiki. I cannot recommend my Reiki master enough she truly saved me this past summer when I was at my lowest of lows and she found me on Instagram right around the time my uncle passed away. It was as if we were meant to be .If you aren’t familiar with Reiki it is a method of relaxation, stress reduction and a holistic method of spiritual healing that originates from Japan. Reiki is a non-invasive, hands-on healing technique that gently balances life energies and brings health and well being. Here is the link to her website if you are interested in reaching out. I LOVE HER! https://www.bemindbodysoul.com/about
- Acupuncture. I LOVE it so so much. This is absolutely life changing and so incredibly relaxing. Look into a studio near you and I am telling you it will be something you can’t get enough of. Acupuncture is great when you are under going fertility treatments but also amazing in so many other ways for your body. Back pain etc.
- Talk it out with your friends. I am so lucky to have such a solid group of woman who were on this journey with me. They knew how to make me laugh when I was sad and also when to give myself grace and to NOT beat myself up. It can be so hard to live your life normally when you are struggling with infertility so seeking that support is so so important.
- Podcast away. I listened to a lot of podcasts about fertility to get second opinions because it is so so important to educate yourself on what is going on with your body when you are going through it. It is a topic you do not learn about in school. Here are some of the podcasts I really liked. They are so informational and real: The Egg Whisperer Show, Fab Fertility (I was on episode 20 with Blair talking about what a hydrosalpinx is!) and As a Woman with Natalie Crawford.
My hope in sharing this story with you all as I mentioned above is that even if this story can help one person I will be happy. Infertility is so incredibly common and something that as a society I think we can do better to talk about and normalize. You will be ok that I know. It will be your own unique journey that you can share someday.
What I want any of you going through this to remember is that other paths to creating a family are so incredibly common. Take a deep breath and know that whether it is IVF, surrogacy, an embryo donor, adoption, etc. The blessing in all of this is that there are other options and there’s a miracle waiting for you somewhere.
Where we are today
We transferred two embryos on October 1st, 2020 and one miracle baby stuck with me:) I cannot wait for Sofia to be a big sister and to see her hold her sibling in her arms is a moment I have been waiting for so long.
Although at times infertility can feel like a never ending maze that you will forever be on, continue to be your OWN ADVOCATE this I can really not stress enough. Do not be afraid to ask questions, and know that it is okay to have bad days. It is okay. Sit in your sadness for a bit then pick yourself up and keep moving. You can do it.
I want our story of how I got pregnant to be one in which you look to for hope if you are reading this and struggling with infertility. I remember on my darkest days I would feel lighter when other people would share their own struggles because you are reminded that you are not alone. For me seeing all of my close friends getting pregnant made me so incredibly happy for them but was also a reminder of something that felt so out of reach for me and those feelings are okay.
For those of you still hoping, dreaming, and wishing on the day you will get your own miracle baby you are always in my thoughts.
Thank you all EACH and everyone of you for following along and consistently giving me endless amount of love and support especially when I need it the most. Truly it means more to me than you will ever know.