Tess’ Story

My husband and I got married in September of 2019. We were having so much fun being young and in love that we decided to wait on growing our family. In 2021 I was on a birth control that was giving me horrible migraines. We decided that it was time to stop contraceptives all together. I’ll never forget calling my husband in March 2021 and telling him that we could start trying for a baby. 

We tried naturally for about 8 months before I started to think something might be wrong. Our next step was using ovulation tests. We were so sure that was our answer, but the pregnancy tests continued to be negative. After over a year of trying I was sure something wasn’t right, so I went to my gynecologist who told me that I was young and should try for 6 more months before she would refer me to a fertility clinic. In that time I did every fertility enchancing thing I could find online. I took my health super seriously and lost over 30 pounds even though I was never overweight. I bought supplements. I tried mucinex. I propped my feet up after sex. I even got super spiritual and wrote affirmations about pregnancy that I placed all around my house, but still the tests were negative. 

6 months came and went and we had our first appointment at our local fertility clinic in September of 2022. After conducting various tests on my husband and I, the Doctor decided to try medicated IUI procedures with us. Again, I was sure this was our answer and the end of our journey. We were not so lucky. After 4 failed IUI procedures we knew that IVF was our reality if we wanted to have biological children. We started researching clinics and doctors and found an extremely successful clinic based out of North Carolina. They would monitor us at an office 3 hours from home, but we would have to travel to their main location 6 hours away for my larger procedures. We had a zoom meeting with the head doctor at the clinic and began IVF testing and prep there in April of 2023. 

IVF is not easy. Saying that feels like an understatement. It’s a profound challenge for your mind, body, and soul. It’s hard to explain just how tough it really is unless you have done it yourself, but I will say that during this process I was completely isolated with my sole focus being timing medications and getting through appointments. After many miles of travel back and forth to the clinic and countless scans, pills, and shots we had our egg retrieval in June 2023. We made 6 embryos, and our first embryo transfer was set for July 18. We drove the 6 hours to our clinic and had the procedure. We were so hopeful. 6 days after our transfer I took a pregnancy test. It was my first ever positive pregnancy test in over two years of trying. We couldn’t believe our luck. Our first embryo transfer had worked! We laughed and cried so relieved that our tough road was ending and that we would finally get to be parents. I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. 

After some blood draws to confirm the pregnancy, I was scheduled for my first ultrasound on August 7th. We woke up that day to horrible weather with tornado watches all over the state. Driving 3 hours to get to the clinic was so tough, but we were eager to see our long awaited baby. The mood was good and my husband and I were joking and laughing so hard in the exam room before my nurse practitioner came in that I remember I couldn’t stop giggling even when she entered. She was excited for us too, but when she started the ultrasound her demeanor quickly changed. She told us that she wasn’t seeing what she was supposed to at this stage in pregnancy and that I had experienced a spontaneous abortion. This meant that I had lost the baby. I had no symptoms of a miscarriage leading up to this. My husband and I were shocked. I was then sent to the hospital down the street from the clinic so that they could determine if my hormone levels were dropping appropriately. After our results came back I was told to stop all medications and let my body do what it needed to do at home.  Driving home 3 hours in terrible weather with the news that our baby was gone was brutal. My husband took off work and stayed home with me for a few days while we grieved the loss of the baby we had sacrificed so much to create.

The day I found out about that pregnancy I saw a hummingbird in our yard for the first time. We lived in our house for four years prior to that, and I had never seen one there before. The few short weeks I carried our baby I saw hummingbirds everywhere. After my miscarriage I got a hummingbird tattoo in remembrance of our first baby and all the love and hard work that went into creating them. They were so wanted and so loved. 

After the miscarriage our infertility journey changed. I had already been struggling immensely, but loss broke a piece of my heart that will never heal. Prior to loss I always told myself that as long as I could keep pushing through all the tests, medications, procedures, and travel that everything I had gone through would be okay in the end. It would be worth it. This changed my perspective. This was something that would never be okay. Nothing would ever be worth the loss of our baby. Despite feeling so low, I quickly decided that I would keep pushing with fertility treatments. Everyone in my life encouraged me to take a break and focus on my mental health, but I truly couldn’t. I felt like a woman possessed. I was obsessed with becoming and staying pregnant. After a few cycles of extra testing we prepared for our second embryo transfer. Based on my results, I was placed on a new immune protocol. This protocol was intense and included blood thinner shots twice a day, steroids, and weekly IVs of intralipids on top of the normal transfer meds and intramuscular progesterone shots. The weekly IVs were brutal. My veins were torn up and my stomach and butt were so bruised and knotted, but I would have done anything to bring home our IVF rainbow baby.

Our second embryo transfer was set for October 19th. Again we traveled 6 hours one way to get to our clinic. This transfer was different. The excitement wasn’t there. I felt guilty for being  apathetic, but I was so beaten down. My soul was tired, and I doubted that this would ever happen for us. A week after the transfer I took a pregnancy test. I was scared to be pregnant again and scared not to be pregnant again. When I saw that the test was positive I felt mostly nerves instead of excitement, and I wondered if I would be able to carry this baby. My body never did what it was supposed to, and I didn’t expect anything different this time. Our first ultrasound was terrifying. I prepared for heartbreak the entire 3 hour ride to the clinic. When the nurse showed us our healthy, growing pregnancy I was shocked. I went to every ultrasound appointment after that thinking it would be the last. I knew something would go wrong. I had been conditioned for so long to expect bad news surrounding my fertility that I felt like it was too good to be true, but every week we showed up and our baby had grown. When we heard her heartbeat for the first time I was in disbelief. It was the best sound I’ve ever heard. 

By the time I reached 13 weeks of pregnancy I was weened off of all IVF medications, shots, and infusions except baby aspirin and metformin which I will continue throughout my pregnancy. I became a regular pregnant person with a growing belly and monthly OB visits to a local doctor. At 15 weeks we were shocked and overjoyed to find out that we were having a baby girl. Although I am so grateful to finally be pregnant, the anxiety and fear I have felt in pregnancy after infertility and loss has been overwhelming. I am 32 weeks pregnant and still getting used to the idea that a pregnancy can result in a baby. I am always hyper-aware that my circumstances can change at any time. 

Our battle with infertility and loss has changed me forever. I hope to become better for it instead of bitter. I realize that many others have had a more difficult road than us and that it is a privilege to be able to do IVF. With this in mind, I will still never forget what we have been through and all that we have lost in our struggle. I will never forget our first baby, and I will miss them forever. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember our little hummingbird and wonder who they might have been. 

I am still working toward healing with therapy and the support of my husband, family, and friends who have shown me that love is not at its greatest in the highs of life but in the lows. Anyone can sit with you in life’s celebrations, but it’s about who will sit with you in your grief. Every day that I am able to carry our sweet girl a piece of my broken heart is put back together. Part of my healing has also become sharing our story with others. The infertility and loss community is the worst club with the best members, and reading about their journeys while in the thick of my own brought me comfort and helped restore my waning hope. It made me feel more understood and less alone. It means the world to me to hopefully do that for someone else with my own story. It’s worth sharing if it can make even one person feel less alone. I got a hummingbird feeder a few months ago that I plan to hang on our back porch. I hope to watch them come and go with our baby girl. I will honor our struggle while moving forward into motherhood. 

Tess wears a black dress and the rainbow skirt. She holds her pregnant belly with both hands. She stands with hills and trees in the background.

Tess wears a black dress and the rainbow skirt. She holds her pregnant belly with both hands.

Tess wears a black dress and the rainbow skirt. She holds her pregnant belly with both hands.

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