Mom. A title I've dreamt of having for my entire life. From constantly carrying around baby dolls at 4 years old, to becoming the neighborhood babysitter at 11 years old, to hosting my own summer day camp for little girls at 12 years old, to becoming a Pediatric Registered Nurse, children have always held a special place in my heart. I've always felt that becoming a mother is my purpose here on Earth; little did I know what it would look like to get there.
My sweet husband, Ben, and I got married in 2017. We had always had discussions about starting a family, but it never felt real until we were laying by the pool in Maui, Hawaii, enjoying our first honeymoon cocktails together when we started talking about timelines and planning. It made me so giddy to imagine my dreams becoming a reality! Yet, as much as I had always longed to become a mother, I always felt a hesitation that it would be a hard journey for me.
I was born as a triplet and grew up with two amazing sisters. Growing up, every time I told someone I was a triplet, they would ask "were you natural triplets?" and I would have to share that my parents struggled with infertility for years and that we were their "3 for 1" pregnancy deal. So I wasn't surprised when I was diagnosed with PCOS* at age 16, like my mother, for having very erratic and irregular cycles. I was put on the birth control pill for 10 years before finally getting off of it after those cherished honeymoon conversations with my husband.
*PCOS is known as poly-cystic ovarian syndrome
A few months later, we decided it was "officially" time to start trying. We waited and waited for some normalcy to my cycles, but often 100 days would go by with no sign of my body cooperating with me. Of course I spent those 100 days wondering if maybe I wasn't getting my period because I was indeed pregnant! But as test after test after test came back negative, I grew so frustrated with my body. What is wrong with me? Why can't my body do what women are supposed to do? Will I ever be able to have children?
As a very proactive person, I could not just sit back and watch this happen to me. After about 6 months of trying, I made an appointment with my OB/GYN to discuss my history with PCOS and my lack of menstrual cycles. But, more importantly, I really started to listen to my body. What can I do to improve my outcomes? I cleaned up my already-healthy diet and eliminated gluten, dairy, and most sugar. I focused on organic products as much as I could, and I started to look around my entire house for ways to continue this trend of cleaning up my life. I was showering one morning when I thought "what chemicals are in the shampoo that I'm using?" and that started a trend that has been transformative over the last 2 years.
Who knew how many horrible and harmful chemicals were in our every day products? Our cleaning products, deodorant, makeup products, perfume, skincare products, water bottles, pots and pans, furniture!?! I dove into research and was blown away to discover that these chemical-containing products can be detrimental to many aspects of our health, but especially our fertility! One by one, I started switching to healthier alternatives (and stumbled upon Earth Mama Organics, thankfully!). I started incorporating more yoga and meditation into my schedule, and strove to be as healthy and happy and possible. With each switch, I felt a sense of control over my well-being, despite the roller coaster of infertility I was still riding.
Time continued to pass, and the negative pregnancy tests continued. After trying multiple cycles of medications to induce periods and force ovulation, we were referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. This was my fear. Although I knew my body needed help to conceive, it was so discouraging to get to this point. After going through multiple tests and blood draws with my husband, we were cleared to start formal fertility treatments. For us, that included more medication to induce periods, grow multiple egg-containing follicles, and force ovulation, but was much more controlled in the setting of an RE. Every other morning I would re-arrange my work schedule to go into the clinic for blood draws and trans vaginal ultrasounds, and pray that my body was finally cooperating in hopes that it would lead to ovulation. When it was time, I'd give myself a "trigger" shot to force ovulation, and then would spend a lot of "time" with my husband over the next few days. That began the dreaded two week wait until our HCG blood draw, or the pregnancy test, which was the hardest part. Questioning every tiny symptom "Am I pregnant? Was that the egg implanting? Should I not go for my morning run? What if I eat something that will ruin my chance this month? Will we be financially responsible for having to do another cycle after this if it doesn't work?" and on, and on, and on.
Infertility really is all-consuming. Something that is supposed to be a natural body process becomes a scientific experiment with your entire life's goal wrapped up into it. Answering the questions
"When are you going to start a family?"
"I've heard if you just relax, you'll get pregnant! Take a vacation!"
"You're so young, you have time!"
Each stung a little harder over the course of our two year battle. It was so heartbreaking to watch my social media feeds flood with pregnancy announcements when I longed for that so badly! Infertility is an over-thinker's nightmare, definitely not suitable for the Planner/Type A personality I possess, because it is something that is so vastly out of your control. Which is actually a great lesson in itself, when looking at it from a more positive perspective. It is so ironic, hoping with all your might to be a mom, but also realizing that this was the journey that was meant for me, and taking those lessons learned to heart.
After another few unsuccessful cycles, we moved onto intrauterine insemination (IUI). This entailed the same routine of medications and monitoring as before, but my RE would add and adjust medications each time in hopes of having a successful cycle. Then when my follicles and hormones and everything looked just-right, my husband and I would venture into the clinic to have our IUI procedure, followed again by the two week wait. Our first two IUI cycles unfortunately resulted in negative pregnancy tests. Such a letdown, but I was used to the heartache and tears. After a series of setbacks, we were cleared to start our third IUI cycle in December 2019, and it felt so right. It lined up perfectly before Christmas, was free since we met our yearly deductible, and our two week wait would be while we were on Christmas vacation in Minnesota with my family. The stars felt like they were aligning, and although I had learned not to get my hopes up anymore, this time felt different. On New Years Eve, after waking up from a dream that I had taken a positive pregnancy test, I rushed to the store to buy (yet another) pregnancy test as I awaited the normal HCG blood draw. I could not even believe my eyes.......PREGNANT.
It still gives my chills and instant tears in my eyes. Me? Pregnant? My body did it!?!!
And now I sit here, on the other side of this crazy two year journey, 21 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby boy who is currently kicking in my belly!!! It is still so surreal. I am so grateful for each and every day that I am still lucky enough to be pregnant, and I do not take it lightly. I look back on our infertility journey and there are so many good things to take away from it. A strengthened relationship with my husband, a healthier outlook on life, a sense that everything happens when it is supposed to, and best of all: the appreciation I have for my body. What beautiful lessons I've learned, all teaching me and preparing me for the ultimate adventure: becoming a mother.
Looking for more? Follow Morgan on Instagram here.