When Infertility Became More Than Statistics

When Infertility Became More Than Statistics

During infertility week, in April, I drafted a post about my sister’s experience, but it felt inadequate. It’s her story – not mine. I was a bystander. I held space for her to feel all the feelings and process the new information as it came.

Her journey was long:

  • 2.5 years of trying to conceive without intervention

  • Tracking cycles, ovulation testing

  • Depression and hopelessness

  • Logic no where to be found some days

  • Relationship stressed to the point of almost breaking

  • Deciding on intervention – finding the right doctor and developing a game plan

  • Procedures

  • Ovulation induction agents

  • Unexplained fertility ?!?!

  • Failed IUI

  • And finally IVF – only to have hyperstimulation and transfer delayed several months

  • Another delay because of a cancer scare at a Well Woman exam that needed further breast imaging

  • In the end, 2 pregnancies, 3 babies

Until you are in the thick of it, you can’t imagine how the desire for a baby, for a family, can consume you and lead you down some dark twisty paths.

It’s a long hard road. This is to remind you, you aren’t alone.

This is Sarah. She’s an IVF warrior. She is strong and full of wisdom and I’m often in awe of her.

Today marks the day she became a mother 5 years ago to my precious nieces.

This is Sarah’s story.

Happy birthday to my lovely twin girls! On this day 5 years ago, A.J. and I were driving into the Women’s Hospital in Houston for a scheduled cesarean, quietly holding hands as my patient, calm husband drove us in the dark and I secretly typed an email to him with my one free thumb. I was terrified of having a major abdominal surgery and delivering these babies 5 weeks early – inevitably to end up in the NICU, desparately longing for a more natural birth and bonding, but following the guidance of our MFM (high-risk obgyn). I was also terrified of losing these precious babies that we waited so long for, and due to their twin anatomy (monoamniotic/dichorionic), we were taking extra precautions to monitor and protect these babies from developing typical complications in the last month of gestation.

To anyone else, their arrival wasn’t dramatic: a scheduled c-section and only 2.5 days in NICU, coming home with me and spending my last day in the hospital in our room, both over 6lbs at birth and just needing some assistance stabilizing breathing. We were richly blessed with two healthy, gorgeous baby girls. But my personal reality was far more dramatic: becoming a first-time mom to two baby girls at once after a 5 year infertility battle, separated at birth by long corridors on opposite ends of a massive hospital for 2.5 days, hooked up to a catheter, IV, narcotics for pain, staples in my stomach and incredibly painful hypertrophic scarring, my face puffy and unrecognizable, confusion and difficulty understanding what was going on with the girls, likely due to both overwhelm and mental fog from the meds, trying to nurse and pump to provide breastmilk (which I did for 10.5 months), exhaustion from being constantly monitored by hospital staff, etc.

What I didn’t realize then but, I’ve recently discovered (thanks for exposing my flaws, Covid!) and thankful to have resources to get support is that I also have struggled to varying degrees with generalized anxiety likely my entire life. So this of course played into how I processed this major transition, but I did the best that I could with the resources and knowledge I had at the time the point I’m trying to make is how very significant becoming a mother to these girls was for me, and also how traumatic, yes, traumatic in many ways, our hospital stay was for me as well.

Becoming a mother is a major identity shift to begin with. One that I am now after five years and another baby, really fully embracing my new identity after such a transformative experience. These girls here are wicked smart, sharp-witted, voracious readers, highly sensitive people – in their own ways and just like their mama, extremely affectionate and sweet on their own terms – like cats – and also, a lot like the Mama. Becoming their mother has richly blessed my soul and caused me to challenge everything I’ve ever believed in order to become the best version of myself and the mama they deserve. Thank you to my lovely daughters for making me a mama five years ago. I am eternally grateful and honored to be your mother and will always do my best to support your individual needs.

Keep being awesome and challenging me in ways I never imagined, and I’ll keep learning, growing, and loving you to pieces.

Love, Mama

—written by Sarah Gonzales, @originalmamaof3