From a young age, I knew that I wanted to be a mom. I come from a large family as does my husband, as we are both one of five children. My siblings all have three or four children. The thought of needing fertility treatment or interventions had never really crossed my mind as something that would be necessary to have a family. However, as time progressed, and I did research on our situation, I realized that it would be the best option for us. It was a little unnerving, as the likelihood of it working for us was not great, based on my age.
In 2016, we were referred to Brown Fertility by a colleague at my school. In October, we drove from Orlando to Jacksonville for an informational session. We were one of only a few couples in attendance that night, and we were able to speak with Dr. Brown directly to ask our questions and address our concerns about the IVF process. We also won a $1,000 prize to be able to help with the cost of IVF. Those two circumstances encouraged us to sit down and set an appointment to begin the journey. Those first few appointments were a bit overwhelming with all the information and questions, but Camie (our nurse at the time), was able to answer questions and give direction as needed.
It took us a little while to be ready to move forward–we had to work through the mental or emotional struggles, as well as physical and financial, to be able to be ready to begin. Part of the mental and emotional struggles is that it is uncharted territory. Many women don’t assume that IVF would be their path to motherhood, and when you realize that it is the best or only path, it can feel isolating. During the time we were preparing for IVF, I joined a few support groups on Facebook. I knew the basics of the process, but I wanted to hear from others who had been or were going on an IVF journey. In the ‘real’ world, many people don’t talk about infertility–they don’t talk about the struggles you may face taking the path of IVF to motherhood. I wanted to know the good, the bad, and the ugly. I needed to hear from others to know what could be in my future to prepare myself for whatever may become of our journey. Knowing that they had been where I was helped me process through all the questions and doubts I was having.
Another emotional struggle with IVF is the waiting. Waiting is the hardest part in IVF–and patience is so important. Waiting for the time to begin the meds; waiting for the phone call to know if our process was moving forward–and how many embryos we had; waiting two weeks to know if the embryo attached; waiting for the ultrasound to know that we were still in it. You will have to find something to do to help you with that waiting process. The beach, for me, was something that helped me find peace and relaxation during those waiting periods. There’s just something calming about the ocean.
We also had to overcome some physical barriers as well. I have a “trifecta” as one doctor called it, of clotting issues. I found out about this when I was 24 and not even thinking about having kids. As time progressed and I learned more about the clotting factors, I realized how difficult it could be to carry a baby to term. I met with my hematologist to discuss how pregnancy could be affected by my clotting factors. Based on my medical history of blood clots and pulmonary embolism, I was told I would have to take blood thinners my entire pregnancy due to the increase in blood volume. She would monitor me during and after my pregnancy to make sure I was not developing clots or other blood related complications.
In September of 2017, we were officially ready to start medication to begin the process. Just before Thanksgiving (and just a few days after our anniversary), we were able to see our miracle girl for the first time–and June 21st, 2018, we were able to hold her for the first time. Lexi Rae was born on the first day of summer and has been ‘Rae’ our sunshine ever since.
I’d love to say that the pregnancy for Lexi was smooth sailing–but it was not. IVF is the start to the pregnancy journey–but it’s just the beginning. I was concerned about my clotting factors–but there are other issues that started to creep in. The blood thinners were more than I anticipated. At first, I thought, no big deal; I had to do IVF meds to be able to become pregnant. And it wasn’t a big deal, until it became time to give the shots…twice a day…for eleven months. They were not pleasant, burning as they went in. The bruising, if I wasn’t super careful (and sometimes, even when I was), made it painful to move. I also developed gestational anemia, which required b-12 shots and iron infusions to be able to keep myself and Lex on a good path. Thankfully, I had a hematologist who was knowledgeable and tracking these iron levels long before I knew it would be an issue for me.
We knew when we began this journey that we wanted to have at least two children–we wanted them to have each other to walk through life in this crazy world. We waited a little over a year to start on that path to baby #2. In the fall of 2019, we tried again, but were unsuccessful in that transfer. We didn’t anticipate it not working as we had been successful the first time–emotionally, physically, and mentally–it took its toll. I needed a break to process through the loss I felt. I questioned whether or not to move forward, as I didn’t think I could handle another cycle that didn’t work. We waited a little bit long to regroup and mentally prepare for another cycle. We were ready to begin again in February 2020.
We met with Dr. Cabrera and Mena and discussed the process and plan moving forward. In March, Covid hit and we didn’t know what we were going to do, as it seemed the world around us was shutting down. We are thankful that they were able to keep their doors open and we officially began the process again–in June–in the middle of a pandemic. While the circumstances happening in the world were new, I was thankful that I knew what to expect in the IVF part of the journey. I still had a support group of ladies who were also going through IVF at the same time. I didn’t feel as nervous as I did the first time around.
In August, we were thrilled to know that our journey to completing our family had officially begun. This pregnancy also had its challenges pandemic included, but each step of the way, we made it through. Each ultrasound, hearing her heart beat, seeing her profile, watching her move–the challenges that I faced physically seemed insignificant. We finally welcomed Allie Rose March 30th, 2021. She was perfect–and such a welcomed blessing during such hard times.
Going through IVF can be a difficult process–and during a pandemic, it can be overwhelming. I am thankful for the expertise of those at Brown Fertility. Every baby is worth the journey you take to have them–and we are so thankful for the two miracle girls we have from our journeys with Dr. Brown and Dr. Cabrera.