On January 20, 2016, I found out I was pregnant. My husband (then fiancé) and I were 22 and 21 years old, and set to finish up our last year of college in the fall. Even though we weren’t exactly trying for a baby, I was so overwhelmed with emotion when I saw that positive pregnancy test. I sank to my knees and cried tears of joy. I had had difficulties with my reproductive system ever since I was 14, and I had a sneaking suspicion that it would be difficult for me to have a child. So naturally, I was looking forward to seeing my belly grow, feeling tiny kicks, and everything that would come.
I had been spotting since before I tested positive, which became stronger and turned bright red a couple of days after the test, so I managed to get an appointment scheduled for the following Monday. The ultrasound at the appointment absolutely shattered me. The doctor couldn’t find anything in my uterus, and only found a cyst in my tube (which I had had since 2014) and another cyst in my ovary. They insisted that I was probably too early and the embryo would be way too little to see if it had even formed yet. I went home and cried for the rest of the day. I cried harder when I got a call saying that my levels put me at around 2-3 weeks along, because that just didn’t make any sense to me based on my cycle. I was sure I was miscarrying at this point, which my doctor warned I should be prepared to deal with. Two days later, I got more blood drawn and I got happier news back: my levels were going up, but not as much as they would have liked. I had another ultrasound and more blood work scheduled for the following Monday. I didn’t make it to then.
Sunday night, Jan. 31, I had the most severe cramps I had ever had in my entire life. It got to the point where I couldn’t get comfortable no matter what I did. I felt extremely bloated, and when I walked, I couldn’t put weight on my right side without pain shooting into my lower right abdomen. My fiancé took me to the ER, where I got more blood drawn and had another ultrasound done.
The ultrasound showed a possible ectopic pregnancy outside my right ovary in my tube.
When the doctor told me this, I shut my eyes tight to hold the tears back. I couldn’t breathe. I wanted this to just be a nightmare. He told me that there was nothing wrong with me or my fiancé that could have caused this. It just happens sometimes. I didn’t feel any better, obviously. I crumpled into a little ball and sobbed until I couldn’t feel anymore. I was discharged around midnight in stable condition. The next night, I felt the same exact pain. I couldn’t get comfortable. I wanted to go back to the ER because what if my tube was rupturing? I was able to fall asleep, but the next morning, the pain was back and my fiancé took me to the doctor for another ultrasound and even more blood work. Once again, no sac in my uterus, and a suspected ectopic pregnancy on my right side. The results from the blood work showed that my levels went down, and my doctor said I would get an injection of methotrexate to end the pregnancy and my tube would be less likely to rupture. The worrying had finally reached its peak. I cried on the couch while my fiancé held me. I had barely made it to be about 6 weeks pregnant before it was all over. I wouldn’t get to see my belly grow with this baby. I wouldn’t get to feel its kicks. I wouldn’t get to give birth to this baby and hold our love incarnate in my arms. I wouldn’t get to raise this baby to be the most wonderful human being in existence.
I got the injection on the evening of Feb. 2 and then the pain came back full force later that night. I went back to the ER in more pain than ever. I was sure my tube had ruptured. I had my first IV ever and the painkillers they gave me did the very trick—I couldn’t feel anything. I had another ultrasound done, and they had me stay overnight to watch the pain. The nurse said I should be prepared for surgery in the morning depending on what my doctor thought. I was terrified. The pain didn’t bother me too much for the rest of the night. Thankfully, they found no blood in my pelvis or abdomen, and I was discharged the following afternoon. We picked up my pain meds for the coming days, which would be undoubtedly tough for me to get through.
I continued to bleed for 40 straight days and I also had blood drawn every week to monitor my hCG levels until they went down to 0. Seeing the numbers decline was bittersweet, because it meant that the pregnancy hormone was leaving my body, but also that my body was healing normally.
I was severely depressed following this experience. I gained 30 pounds and started seeing a therapist. We also decided to name our baby Micah Kiran—Micah means “gift from God” and Kiran means “ray of light.” I wanted this baby’s name to mean exactly what it meant to us.
In 2017, my husband and I got married, then moved to Florida to participate in the Disney College Program. In 2018, we decided to make Florida our home and we officially started trying for a baby that August, knowing that it may still take a while before any success. Over the next year or so, I scheduled diagnostic appointments with my GYN to sort of make sure everything was working well to begin with. I had a saline ultrasound, an EndoSee (my cervix was dilated and a camera was inserted into my uterus to scan the lining for polyps), then I had surgery to remove a large paratubal cyst that had caused me great pain since about 2014. Part of my tube went with it, so I was down to one tube by the time I was referred to my first RE. I had an HSG done to check if my other tube was open, and was heartbroken to find out that it was blocked. I started being seen at a new fertility clinic, then had another surgery done to remove both tubes completely, which automatically meant the next step would be IVF. We decided to save up to pay for the procedure with cash, which meant months of saving everything we could, even several sessions of donating plasma.
Then, the COVID shutdown happened and my clinic unexpectedly closed permanently. In my spare time, I’d feverishly complete applications for every IVF grant I could find, and research adoption procedures as a plan B. I have a vivid memory of feeling so overwhelmed that I sat in my backyard patio and wept as I clutched my stomach, wondering why this was happening to me. Why couldn’t I just have a baby the way normal people can? Why can most everyone have a baby for free (and/or by accident) and I have to go through so much effort and spend SO much money for the chance to have one?
We continued to save money and began creating a plan with a third IVF fertility clinic in another state, then in June 2021, my husband was offered a job in our home state of Texas and we jumped at the chance to go back home. Once we got settled in, I scheduled a regular annual checkup at my new OBGYN clinic and was welcomed with the words “Fertility Center” when I stepped off the elevator. My heart leapt at the prospect of this new chance, so I asked my GYN about it, who then personally walked me over to the clinic to schedule a consultation. It turned out that they offered an IVF package for $6,000, which was about half the cost of other clinics in town. Needless to say, we agreed to start our journey with this clinic and I began treatment at the end of January 2022. My egg retrieval resulted in 3 embryos, and one little embryo was transferred in mid-February.
Almost 4 years, several diagnostic exams, tests, and scans, 2 surgeries, both tubes lost, several consultations from fertility clinics in 3 different states, 90 injections, tens of thousands of dollars, countless tears, limitless heartache, and endless wishing and praying all led to the moment I once again saw two red lines on a pregnancy test, nice and dark this time.
Even though my heart was bursting with happiness and excitement, I still let anxiety cloud my pregnancy. Don’t be mistaken—I enjoyed every moment I could, every growing pain and every kick. I loved being pregnant. But it’s as though my subconscious would not allow me to be fully aware, and I felt like it was all a dream. I didn’t prepare myself, mentally or physically, as well as I wanted to, or as well as I always thought I would. Here I was, finally pregnant after a decade of being so desperate for a baby, and yet I felt like acknowledging the baby in my belly would somehow jinx a healthy birth. It took a long time for me to personally buy anything for our baby, and even then I kept price tags on all the baby items even well into the third trimester, because I understand that anything can happen.
I’d spent so long imagining what I would do or say when I finally gave birth, but the moment they put my slippery little girl on my chest, I surprisingly didn’t feel the need to cry. I was just so relieved that she was here—the rainbow after our very long storm, and we named her Eliana Marisol. Eliana means “God has answered” and “daughter of the sun,” and is a tribute to her late great-grandparents; Marisol is a tribute to the Virgin Mary, as well as three of her great-grandmothers. She has definitely assumed her namesake’s role as our sunshine, the center of our universe. I am forever changed and endlessly grateful that I get to be her mama.
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