Raquel and I have been best friends for almost 15 years. She knows everything about me, the good, the bad and the ugly. We are completely different yet totally the same. She has been the calm in every storm I have weathered. She knows me so well, that she actually set me up on a blind date; and it worked out…..two years later that guy became my husband!!! Our friendship is real and raw, and we have made a lifetime of memories; full of genuine fun and laughter.
What are the odds that we would have to support each other; as we each took our turn battling the Goliath that is Infertility? Our journey is not that different than the millions of other women who have faced it, what is different is that we each took our turn being supporting friend, and then terrified patient. We both fought hard, shed so many tears, agonized over every decision, and yet our paths; which started out on the same road veered in very different directions. I want Raquel to tell her own story, in her own words. Today, I want to share my struggle with Infertility. The truth is, this struggle is not something that I want to forget. It is a journey that; tested a marriage, strengthened a friendship, planted a seed for what is today Handcrafted Beauty, and gave me Avery; the biggest blessing in my life. The Struggle is not something that defeated me, it is JUST part of MY story.
How It Began:
Brent and I had been married two years when we decided it was time to start a family. I was 25 years old, had a promising career , and was in good health. I figured I would be pregnant in a few short months.
We had been trying for 2 months when I felt like I needed to see a doctor for infertility; Raquel (who was unmarried at this time) literally laughed and told me to stop being a “Whack Job” (Brent’s favorite term for crazy women). . But the truth is… My gut was telling me I needed to go… so I made an appointment to see my OBGYN. During the appointment I was honest with my doctor about my concerns… with tear filled eyes told him that “I would not leave his office until he was 100% positive I did not have lady part issues.
Thoroughly annoyed my OB begrudgingly obliged (after begging and trying to get him to understand that “my gut” was in fact a symptom of my potential infertility). to several tests which would let us know if there were infact tangible signs of infertility. I would like to say I am very persuasive.. but I just think I am really good at being annoying. Either way… Mission accomplished.
After a quick review of my chart we agreed that there might be a ovulation issue, to which he thought a round of clomid might be able to fix. However, before he could write me the script he would need to complete a sperm analysis.
I went home VICTORIOUS, I would have an answer to the anxiety I had been feeling. I went home to inform Brent….. who had no idea I even went into the doctor (yes I know.. bad wife….okay moving on). As I fixed dinner, I began to let him know what I had been up to that afternoon. And then I waited…. and just like clockwork he said “Lyndsey you need to settle down, we have only been trying for two months, seriously this is so much pressure… you are a Whack Job”. I had been waiting for him to use that phrase.…. I knew it would be the perfect segway into the next topic.
I replied…. “Right, yes…. a whack job… and I am actually glad you said that, because that exactly what I need you to do. I actually need you to do a whack job into a cup tomorrow. And then I will need you to stick that sample under your armpit, and take it to the doctors.”
Let’s just say… I will never forget the look of horror on his face when he realized what he had to do.
The next morning I got to my desk, grabbed a cup of coffee and called Brent to remind him that it was time to do the deed. I made a smart comment and he hung up on me. Awkward…….
That night Brent detailed for me, his total and utter humiliation of dropping the sperm sample to the doctor. Is it sad that I tried to hold back a grin throughout the whole conversation?
Two days later, I was in a meeting when the doctor called, I quickly stepped out, figuring it would be a quick update from the nurse. I was shocked when I heard my OB’s voice at the end of the line. “Lyndsey, I am sorry to tell you but your husband has 0 sperm count.” I remember shaking my head because I did not fully understand the weight of what he was telling me. “So are they dead?” I asked. The Doctor replied “No Lyndsey your husband is sterile”.
I left work early that day, in utter shock. How would I break the news to Brent?!!?!?! How could I support him and be his rock, when I felt like my world was crumbling as well?
As soon as he walked in the door I delivered the awful news, I knew he was going to be hurt, but I was not prepared for how devastated he actually was. My husband: the stable, even tempered, goof ball, cried himself to sleep that night. It killed me. Two weeks later we met with a specialist, who ran some tests and began to give us the answers we needed. Brent was a genetic carrier of Cystic Fibrosis and characteristic of male carriers, he was born without a Vas Deferens. In other words, Brent was born with a natural vasectomy (well a bit worse, since he was actually missing the tube that gets cut during a vasectomy). Our only option for biological children would be IVF; and that was only if
- A panel showed that I was not a carrier for the same gene.
- They were able to cut Brent open and find sperm.. and if they found the sperm.. it was actually enough to complete the job.
- We were able to raise the funds to actually complete the IVF treatment… which to be honest.. was my biggest concern.
I met Raq for lunch the next day to fill her in. I sat there shell shocked. “What am I going to do?” I asked her.
She looked at me; her eyes filled with tears of compassion and she said, “Lynds, you are going to do what you do best, you are going to fight.”.
And that is exactly what I did, I raged a war with Infertility. I became fluent in a foreign language, utilizing words like Lupron, FSH, Trigger shot, follicle and transfer. I studied health and read countless medical and holistic journals. I started yoga classes, and found an acupuncturist. I took a long hard look at my diet, and personal care products, and began to clean them up. I could not find good skin care, so I began to make my own…. .(The beginnings of Handcrafted Beauty). Brent (who works as a Painter) began to work side jobs to help us pay for treatment. Some weeks, he would work over 80 hours. We met with countless specialists, spent hours talking and arguing about “What we should do”… ugh.. that phrase still gives me the weebs.
Our life was consumed with this process.
And slowly I watched all of my friends become pregnant. What hurt me the most, was the special way they singled me out to deliver the news. Handling me with kid gloves, because Brent and I were “going through IVF”. Let’s be clear a side effect of IVF is not extreme disdain and hatred for people who are ecstatic about the gift that God has given them. You do not have to hide your happiness or your child when I walk into a room.
I took IVF one day at a time; outside of the bruised butt, I was so grateful that we had the means to do IVF. Even if that meant that I would get pregnant in a sterile room by some Doctor with a crazy looking comb over.
The day of the retrieval, I spent the day thinking about how I would get pregnant. Meditating and willing every fiber in my body to take hold of that precious embryo. I had meticulously prepped my body for retrieval and transfer, and now it was in Gods hands.
And then there was You:
We transferred 2 of our 9 viable embryos in February 2010; and two weeks later I found out I was pregnant with Avery. To say that I was ecstatic was an understatement; I think I literally giggled during my early bouts of morning sickness. That is right… I was giggling as I was barfing… because this is what I had dreamed about. I was going to cherish every single moment of that pregnancy. I am so glad I took that approach, because I had just assumed that if IVF worked once it would work again… (that topic is for the next blog).
I had a normal pregnancy and a beautifully painful and drug induced (I’m natural but I am not that natural… Epidural all the way) delivery. Avery Ryan was born November 13, 2010 (my nostalgia made me post her adorable infant and nursery pics). Looking back on my journey I am so grateful for the struggle of Infertility; it was a journey about sacrifice, a real setback in an otherwise charmed life. Our marriage beat infertility; Brent and I united rather than divided through the pain. IVF taught me to “let it go” and leave it with God. I am so thankful for the struggle because it is an intricate piece of my story. For those of you who are going through IVF, know that you are in my prayers, and one day you will look back and realize that this very devastating/frustrating/heartbreaking time is part of a bigger story. Keep fighting ladies!!!!