Sensitive post regarding Child Loss.
The second brave Mommy to share her story with the world, with hopes it will be a comfort to those going through the same thing. It’s been hard for me to actually put this up and share it, not due to fear, but the reality that is this post. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s what happens often and is completely tabled, so women continue to go through their grief thinking that they are alone. Let me shut that down right now. It kills me that this is something we’re not alone in, although not being alone means someone to talk to about it. Being together in this means working through our grief with another. For a healthier life. To continue living, not once being over it, but learning how to continue living despite our heart-ache. These Mommies, who have decided to share their hearts with the world, are here for you. I’m here for you. So please reach out via comment or email with your struggle. Maybe we know something that will help you, maybe we can only say you’re a wonderful Mom and we’re here for you. But we’re here. Below is Andrea’s story. Her life, shared with you regarding her miracle baby from IVF, her Miscarriage and her recent trail in IVF. If you’re going through it, or family of someone who is, or even if you can’t relate yet, I hope you’ll read through to better understand, to find something that would be helpful, or to be a helping hand.
Note* Andrea has to wake up every day. She has to show up for her eldest daughter and for her husband. She has to still be a teacher, and play, and do all the Mom things, without a part of her and while trying for another miracle, amidst the failed attempts. She’s one of the strongest women I’ve met and quite inspirational. Please follow her on Insta @andreakalexander.
Please share your story with us.
After trying to conceive naturally for about a year, we were referred to see a specialist that specializes in infertility. Who knew that we would begin one of the longest and most difficult journeys of our life. After tests, ultrasounds, blood work, etc,. the reason we could not conceived it ended up being because of my diminished ovarian reserve and endometriosis.
Although this wasn't the greatest news, we were still happy because we knew there was a chance we could still get pregnant. From this point on, our only option was going through IVF. Now we had to decide exactly how we wanted to move forward with the egg retrieval. After talking with our doctor, we decided to do two back-to-back rounds of retrievals. Then, if we had embryos, we would do a transfer a couple of months after.
The fun began. Not only were we working full time jobs (for those of you that know us, we have never worked just a 40 hour work week, it's more like 60-70 hours), we were trying to go through this process of IVF. Let me say, I knew this was going to be hard, but I wasn't prepared for the physical, mental and emotional rollercoaster that we went through. For our 1st cycle (retrieval), we retrieved 5 eggs. After fertilization and testing, we ended up with 3 embryos. For our 2nd cycle, we retrieved 3 eggs of which one fertilized and made it through testing. In the end, we had 4 embryos, however only 2 were of good quality (60% chance of resulting in a pregnancy), 1 was of borderline/poor quality (40% chance) and the last was poor quality.
With that being said, the retrieval process was completed and now we had to prepare for the transfer. Again, there were a lot of meds, shots, blood work, ultrasounds. Through the process we stayed positive and had the transfer. The next 11 days are the LONGEST DAYS EVER! This is how many days you have to wait to find out if the transfer worked and if pregnant. This is on one's mind 100% of the day. The day we were to find out, I couldn't wait and took a pregnancy test in the morning. Again, completely nerve wracking! Best news ever!!! We were pregnant! We waited for the call just to make sure but they confirmed what we already knew. We were pregnant on our first shot of IVF. There are no words to express our happiness! We had a beautiful baby girl, Lillian Alexander on May 27, 2016.
Fast forward 2 years and we are set to try to get Lily a sibling. We had our second transfer on May 31, 2018. Again, the longest 11 days ever. We got the call that we were pregnant and were thrilled but the hormone number were lower than they would like so we had to go back in a couple days later for more blood work. More waiting. The call came in. Our number actually decreased. We were told that we were going to have a miscarriage. There was nothing we could do. So for the next almost 2 weeks, I waited. I waited and waited and waited. Finally around 6 1/2 weeks pregnant we lost our baby boy.
I felt tired and defeated and responsible for the loss of our child. I stayed positive by looking forward to the next step. We knew we had one embryo remaining but wanted to make sure that incase we wanted more children in the future, we needed to get more embryos. It was decided to do two more back to back retrievals. So now we had to prep all over again, with a toddler in the house.
I thought the first time was hard, but having a 2 year old and going through this was so much more difficult. Lily was our light that kept us going though. When feeling down, there was nothing more precious than a hug or a laugh from her. Well, we completed our first retrieval on August 27, 2018. We had 3 eggs retrieved. Of those 3, 2 made it through the fertilization. Of those 2, 1 made it through all the additional testing, however when we had the genetic testing done, the results came back abnormal. It was missing chromosome #10. With this being said, we ended up with no embryos. There are no words. No words.
I'm typing this mid October now. We have to stay positive because we have one more retrieval to go at the end of October. We went into these retrievals hoping to get a boy, but at this point, we just want a healthy embryo. For someone that has gone through this process, it's hard not to constantly think about babies, the process, the craving to get pregnant, and just trying not to have a breakdown. Luckily I have an amazing, loving and supportive husband and precious daughter to keep me going day to day.
What are some side effects that you've battled with IVF? What have you done to overcome them physically or mentally? What is your thought process on sticking to the diet you're supposed to have when going through this?!
IVF can take a toll on the body. I've gained over 15 lbs and have had bad reactions to meds. I broke out in hives when taking progesterone. I've had blistering rashes from two different sets of patches. I've had an unpleasant experience with taking estrace. When you want to have a baby so badly, these effects don't matter. You'll do anything. Not being able to have caffeine or alcohol is a bummer lol, but after a couple of weeks it doesn't matter. The funny thing is that this is the healthiest I've ever been but because of the meds and not being able to workout since April, I feel like I'm pregnant with the bloating. The not so fun part of going through IVF. I just have to keep envisioning that baby to get me through these obstacles.
What do you do for yourself, to stay sane?
The 1st and 2nd cycles I had a full time job. Now for the 3rd and 4th cycles I am a stay at home mommy so my 2 year old is what keeps me sane. That and unfortunately shopping (sorry hubby lol) and just spacing out and watching tv to get my mind off of things. I also like to stay sane and optimistic by looking at baby stuff online- I feel like that is a way of me saying, we are going to do this and I have to envision it.
What would you say to someone who is going through the same thing?
Stay positive and have a sounding board. You are going to have really low lows and hopefully some really high highs. Either way, it's always good to have someone to talk, cry and just be you. Don't bottle anything up. If you don't want to tell the world you are going through this, it's okay, we didn't either. We let our family and close friends know.
What have friends and family done that has stood out to you and been so helpful through the trying process?
Just being there to actively listen. During IVF, it's nice to just say some things and have someone say anything back that's encouraging. Even though it might sound silly, any words of encouragement mean a lot.
What are some ways family and friends could help, that you've realized could be so great during this?
Staying involved. There are ups and downs, to the extreme and knowing that there is someone there to reach out to at anytime is helpful. Also, don't be afraid to ask us for certain details if it's confusing to you. We don't mind.
Is there anything you do to keep your lost son's memory alive?
As of right now, we just have our ultra sound pic of him when we did our transfer. We haven't really decided yet, but once we see how the rest of our journey goes, I'm sure we will have decided by then what we are going to do.
Is there anything you'd suggest to those who are starting to try for kids?
Meet with a specialist sooner rather than later if you are having any issues or doubt. It's better to get educated and to find out if there is something that is preventing one from getting pregnant.
Are there any hospitals, doctors etc that you recommend?
Reproductive Partners La Jolla, Doctor V. Gabriel Garzo. Not only is our doctor amazing, but the whole staff is so friendly.
Are there any quotes, verses etc that keep you going? Besides your daughter, what pushes you to keep living amidst hardship?
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“It always seems impossible until it's done.”
That's a hard one because my daughter is my light. She's definitely is what keeps me going. I think it's because she is our little miracle baby. She's a result of what can happen if we stick with it and stay positive. She's our everything.