It’s been a long time since I have written a post. Just a few minutes ago I opened my computer and logged into my WordPress, and I thought to myself. I miss this.
I feel anxious as I start to write this because this post is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. So grab a cup of coffee, a tea, a glass of wine because it’s a long one.
I feel like I’m finally in a good enough place to share my journey. Some of you might be like who are you, why, and who cares, and that is okay. However, I feel like everyone has a right to share their story and this post might really help, impact, inspire, interest, or even support someone else.
If you are the latter, keep reading.
The other day I was scrolling through Instagram while I was enjoying my coffee, like most of us do every morning, and I came across a post from a woman I know, I actually taught her child. What caught my attention was what she said in her post and I quote, “I’m here to tell those that feel like they *should have* accomplished more at their age, that it’s all a bunch of BS that society has created.”
She goes on to explain her post and how she has always felt *behind* when it came to others including her peers. I liked her post and moved on.
I felt weird being her daughter’s ex-teachers by commenting thank you for saying that and that I too have felt the same. I thought about that post all day, and I’m still obviously thinking about it.
Why was I was afraid to speak my truth? She was opening up to her followers, why couldn’t I open up to her. Well, it’s definitely not easy and I felt afraid to. You know what, I think most of us are afraid. Afraid about what others will think of us, even if it seems like they are truly opening up.
Society has really done a number on us all.
Well, I don’t what to be afraid or ashamed anymore. I want to share my truth, and to whoever reads this post, please know that you are not alone. There is always someone going through something similar to you.
My husband told me this and it’s so true. What people mostly put out into the World is a highlight reel of perfectly edited photos of a not so perfect life. Life is not perfect and it’s not supposed to be.
Okay, so where am I going with this. I guess I will start from the beginning.
I moved to the city at 26 and fell in love with everything about it. I was looking for a teaching job but instead settled for a front desk position at a digital marketing agency. I enjoyed it so much that I quickly forgot about teaching. I excelled at my new position and learned everything I could from digital marketing to accounting to HR. I was soon promoted to Front Desk Coordinator. I also met new “city” friends (I felt very cool) and had so much fun exploring and living my dream life.
Okay and I should also mention this… since he is a HUGE part of this. That I became very close friends with my boss and after being really good friends for a while, about six months later, we started dating.
I know, I know. Classic.
Because I worked in digital marketing, I started a blog and it was thrilling and I was so proud of it. I was actually one of the first blogs in Chicago and I got invited to everything and I LOVED it. I was going out most nights and got to experience some amazing things like private chef-prepared dinners and free stays at hotels. It sounds all very glamorous and it sort of was. But it soon became a little phony and I didn’t like the person I was turning into.
I stopped blogging after about three years.
I felt sad for ending my blog but I didn’t know where to go with it. Other than trying to get a job after college, this was a time when I felt like a truly was giving up and failing at something.
Photo Above: Here’s a little peek at my old blog. Found this while searching on Google. Fun little memory.
Anyway, I dated my
boss boyfriend for a little over three years before we got engaged. We had some bumpy times which were caused by us living and working together. I had just stopped blogging as I mentioned, and one of my favorite people in the world, my grandmother, nanny as we called her, had recently passed.
I was feeling a little bit lost.
I was thirty at the time, and I realize now, that I was not mature enough yet to separate work from home life and the emotions I was going through. So, we decided that I would leave my job and I soon started subbing at a preschool in Lincoln Park.
I needed a change and a fresh start.
Problem solved. We were back on track.
I loved this new job right away and was anxious to get a permanent position. In the meantime, I worked when I could and planned our destination wedding.
I was feeling like my old self again.
We got married in May, a year and a few months after being engaged, and I can honestly say it was my absolute dream wedding. To us, our wedding was perfect, it was beautiful, and I’m still obsessed with my dress.
Candid photo from our wedding. One of my favorites.
However, as much as my memories of our wedding are happy ones, something I overheard my husband’s uncles said while we were lounging at the pool has always stayed with me.
Let’s make a bet on when they will have kids.
Over the summer, I continued to sub at my school. I ended up getting a part-time position as an assistant teacher in the fall and I was thrilled.
At this point, you are probably thinking everything sounds pretty perfect in my life.
Well, keep reading.
That spring, I turned 32. We were coming up on a year of marriage and that question started coming.
When are you guys having kids?
Of course, I wanted kids, we wanted kids. When I was young, I always thought that I would have kids really young, live in the suburbs, and that be it. Life doesn’t go the way you had envisioned.
I knew in my mid-twenties that I didn’t want to live in the burbs but at age thirty-two I suddenly realized that omg I don’t even have kids yet. Since I had moved to the city, life had been fun and an adventure and now I felt like life had gone by way too fast.
The pressure hit me like a ton of bricks.
I had stopped taking the pill when we got married and it had almost been a year. We definitely weren’t trying but we were not, not trying. I did some research and it said to give your body a year after you stop taking the pill. So, I finally made an appointment at the end of the summer.
I had been off the pill for about 15 months.
My gynecologist said to start really trying and to start tracking my cycle and to make an appointment in six months. I gave it six months and now I was 33, and I still wasn’t pregnant. At this point, I started noticing that people I knew in high school all had kids. Every time, I looked online a celebrity was pregnant and now co-workers were getting pregnant. I went back to the doctor and she ordered some tests. I was so nervous for my results to come in, and again I googled everything that could be wrong. Not, a good idea.
Everything came back normal. Phew. But, now what?
My doctors suggested that we look into fertility. The word fertility terrified me. I can’t believe I’m one of those women. I didn’t tell a soul. I kept my feelings to myself and carried on.
Meanwhile, at work, I passed up many lead teacher positions because in my mind I wasn’t going to be working full-time that much longer. I would be home with our baby for a few years and then go back to work. My career could wait. I was also still working on the side for my husband’s company and I was content with things the way they were.
We made an appointment at the fertility clinic and things quickly became a whirlwind. Test, more tests, ultrasounds weekly, and blood tests. My doctor said let’s try an IUI. She explained what it was and said we could do one next month.
That’s exactly what I felt like. I didn’t feel like she really had sympathy for us and I felt like cattle in and out for our appointments.
I was really nervous but my husband was by my side the whole time. I know I haven’t talked about him a lot yet but it must be noted that he is the most supportive, caring, and most loving husband. He is my best friend in the whole world and at that point, I didn’t’ know in the next few years how much I would need him. As I was having my IUI he put in his notes of his iPhone the time and date. She showed me afterward.
He said this is the time and date our baby was conceived.
The ten-day wait is a long one. You try and spend your time trying not to think about what could be happening inside your body. After ten days, I went in for a blood test and we spend the day going to lunch and shopping, trying not to think about the phone call we were waiting for. We were coming out of Starbucks with our holiday peppermint mochas, a tradition we still do to this day, when my phone rang.
I couldn’t listen, so my husband of course took the call for call for me. Our pregnancy test was negative.
It was a feeling of loss that I couldn’t explain. How could I feel this way about something that I never had to begin with?
So we, unfortunately, started the process again, and again our pregnancy test was negative. They like you to do three IUI’s before you started IVF and again it was negative. They asked me if I wanted to start IVF and I said I would let them know. I was filled with failure and disappointment. My heart was so heavy and after that last IUI, I sat at dinner and couldn’t stop crying. I told my husband I wanted a break. Plus our insurance at this time was not covering much and it was expensive.
The guilt of it all was eating at me. I felt miserable and depressed.
Thirty-four passed and thirty-five came and my husband always being the supportive one never pushed me. Our insurance didn’t cover IVF and I did not want to go back to that doctor.
Also, wishful thinking. I was hoping it would one day just happen for us. It didn’t.
However, we did have some good news. We weren’t pregnant but we got a puppy! A Mini Australian Shephard named Bella, and we instantly fell in love with her. She was a tiny little chuck and she looked like a bear. She was our daughter. She brought us so much joy (and she still does), along with my cat (that I got when I first moved to the city), Gracie.
Bella Bear, our adorable little one.
Then suddenly out of nowhere, I felt like the last few years I had wasted on not focusing on my career. I had focused too much on being content at work, and the what-if I was going to be pregnant soon. I could never do too much because we were going to have a baby and I was just comfortable with the way things were. I wasn’t obsessed with getting pregnant but I would have to say it was always at the back of my mind.
Now I just thought about all the things I could have been doing and I imagined I would have this amazing career by now. How could I have wasted so much time?
I truly did love my job but I decided to take a year off my job so my husband and I could travel and I told him that I wanted to start blogging again and to write a novel. I wasn’t interested as much in teaching at the moment as I was doing something bigger for myself to feel more accomplished in life. I had always wanted to write a novel and since I was fortunate enough to take some time from work, I poured my heart and soul into starting my blog, Girl’s Guide to Chicago to set up the novel I was working on.
I pushed the thoughts of IVF aside and poured my whole self into writing. I loved it. I woke up every day and wrote. My husband and I did some traveling and actually lived in Nashville for a month. It was great. We were having fun and the only thing that mattered was that we had each other, we were happy, and we were together.
I decided to write my novel loosely based on my first year of moving to the city. I love Chicago, this city has my heart. My first year living here was so exciting and such a fond memory. Plus it was how I met my husband. I didn’t want to ever lose those memories, I wanted to cherish them forever. I also made my book a kind of how to survive your first year in the city and I included all my favorite places in the book. I also added a checklist at the back so you to can do all the things I loved and enjoyed doing.
Writing my novel was the most challenging and most rewarding thing I have ever done. I hired an editor to help me, I hired a graphic designer for the cover, and I hired someone to format my book for printing. I read everything about publishing and self-publishing.
I was thrilled. I was going to be an author!
Being interviewed for my book.
I decided to self-publish since I was a first-time author and set my publish date for the end of spring 2018. When A Girl’s Guide to Chicago was “released” it was so exciting. I got a little buzz in a few blogs, was interviewed a few times, and made more sales than I thought I would. I had a release party at The Drake, which was a bigger turnout than I expected. I even got some bad reviews which I thought was cool and made me feel like a real author.
I was very proud! I had worked my ass off on that book!
At the end of the summer, I was starting work at school again. I was excited to go back and to figure out what to do next. Would I work more on my book and see where that lead me or start a totally new career? Once back at school, I was chatting with my boss who had just gone through IVF and she mentioned that even though I was part-time (I worked the other half of the day on promoting and marketing my book), I could go on my school’s health insurance, and it was really, really good coverage.
Tick, tock. Tick, tock.
I thought about it and I added myself to their health insurance and told my husband I would make an appointment. Soon. I definitely would soon.
A few more months passed and I was thirty-six.
At this point, he was getting anxious to try again. He was forty and so I understood and I said I wanted the same. I truly did. I was just absolutely terrified to start IVF. I was even more afraid of it not working. He made the appointment after he had researched a few doctors and found a doctor that sounded incredible and had a great reputation online. He sounded familiar and I found out that he was my friend’s doctor and was also a few celeb’s doctor. That wasn’t important but I thought it was pretty cool.
I did all the pre-IVF stuff I needed to do and then we decided to fly to Europe before we got started. We went to Barcelona, Paris, and London. It was wonderful. We flew home on Friday, had our first IVF appointment that Monday.
It was basically the same as before, bloodwork and ultrasounds and then they would start you on meds.
Okay, let’s do this.
A few weeks later, I got a box of medications in the mail and I was about to start my calendar in preparation for my first egg retrieval. When I opened the box, I burst into tears. It was so much medication. It was overwhelming and I couldn’t believe all that would go into my body.
All the shots, every day! How would I even do this all!
One of my many boxes of IVF meds.
My husband helped me organize it all and we made a plan to just take it one day at a time. So we did. I marked off my calendar day by day and we slowly made it to right before the retrieval date. I was tired and uncomfortable. I had been coming home from work most days and I just had to take a nap or I would feel sick.
Marketing my book was put on hold.
I will say the worst thing about this egg retrieval was the trigger shot. The morning of the egg retrieval, I really felt like there was something wrong. I felt like my uterus was going to burst. I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital. They said that was normal and I would feel relieved after the procedure. I was so uncomfortable, I didn’t have time to be nervous.
I woke up from my anesthesia and I even asked my doctor had he even done the retrieval yet? He laughed and said yes, we got 16 eggs.
This was great news!
Now we had to wait until we heard about the embryos. Would they be healthy or would we have to start again?
It honestly took me a few days to recover after my egg retrieval so I took more days off work than I expected. One of my friends had just gone through hers and she was literally back to the next day. I felt like a baby. But the last few weeks had been really tough on me.
We got the call that we ended up getting three really great quality embryos. We didn’t do any more testing on them since the tests for both of us had come back good. Our doctor didn’t think we had to either. Everything seemed healthy and we were ready to move forward to our transfer. We had a few weeks off before I started meds again for the transfer since we were doing a FET, a frozen embryo transfer. So I just tried to relax and enjoy some of the summer.
I started the next set of meds and I instantly felt exhausted again. I hadn’t told my Mum what we were doing and I know she was concerned every time that she saw me or heard from me. I felt like a zombie. I know she was worried that something was really wrong with me. I slept most days after work. I didn’t feel like doing much else.
We did my transfer and it was quick, easy, and went well. We drove home and I spent the next few days relaxing. I was more upbeat after my transfer because of was excited about the possible outcome. We did what we could do to get our minds off the ten-day wait. I went in to get my blood draw like I had before with my IUI’s and after I went into work.
My nurse called me while I was at work and left a voicemail. I text my husband and told him and he came and picked me up after work. We listen in the car together.
We had great news! We were pregnant!
I immediately starting crying, we were so happy! We went out and celebrated, thrilled that this had worked and we were excited to start this new chapter as parents. IVF wasn’t so bad and it had worked the first time. We were so lucky!
We told my parents and his parents and I told a few people at work that knew and were going through the same thing. We had to wait another week for a second blood test. That one also came back that my hCG levels were increasing. We told our siblings.
The third week was the ultrasound. My husband came with me and we couldn’t wait to see everything and hear the heartbeat. We went in and our normal tech started the ultrasound. We saw the baby on the screen but it wasn’t really moving and she couldn’t find the heartbeat. Then she heard a low heartbeat but it could also be mine. What was happening?
We were crushed. My levels were still good. So what was happening?
My nurse called and told me to really rest and limit what I was doing. We had to go back in a week to see if things improved. A week? How could I wait a week? Well, it was a long week but we anxiously went back for another ultrasound.
No heartbeat. We were heartbroken. I had failed again.
We met with our doctor and he said we could take a pill or have a D&C. I decided to try the pill because I just wanted to be at home and stay in bed. I didn’t want to go to the hospital for another procedure.
I went home and took the pill and waited.
They said things would start to happen in a few hours. And, omg they did. I was having the worst cramps of my life and was in and out of the bathroom for hours. I later found out that these cramps mimick labor so it was incredibly intense. Finally, after hours of pain and discomfort. My cramps were going away and I was finally able to fall asleep.
Miserable and feeling gross because of everything I had just encountered, I reluctantly went back to work. A few days later I had to go back into the clinic to get my blood draw to make sure everything had worked the way it should have.
Once again, my nurse called and told me that my pregnancy hormone was still elevated. What did that even mean? Well, the pill I took didn’t quite work as it should and I had to either take the pill again or have the D&C. We had a wedding that weekend so we wanted to make sure I was okay for the celebration. I could take that pill again today and we all really thought there couldn’t possibly be much more tissue left. The whole thing just made me feel overwhelmed and sad, and my hormones were making me a wreck. I just desperately wanted to put this behind me and figure out what to do next.
After work, I once again took the pill, got all cozy in bed, prepared myself for what would come next.
Then again, I had to get my level checked a few days later. Well, guess what? My hCG level was still elevated. This time I lost it. I sob for a long time. I felt incredibly sorry for myself. I really didn’t want to have to go through anything else. I just didn’t have the energy for it. But, I didn’t have a choice this time, I went in for my procedure.
I was super nervous, especially for any more pain. However, it was very seamless and I even knew my anesthesiologist. Small world. She was a parent at my school and she was so wonderful to me. She even checked on me numerous times while I was in recovery.
A few days later my blood came back clear and I was finally started to feel more like myself. The medications were getting out of my system and my hormones were also getting back to normal. Now, we just had to figure out when we were going to do another transfer. We had two good embryos left. It was important to stay positive.
I could go into all the ins and outs of it all but it’s not really that necessary. Unfortunately, our next two transfers. One in December and one at the end of February both failed.
The one thing I will say about both of them, and I don’t know how much of this information is relevant but I want to try and be as open as possible. If you find yourself in my situation, this might sound silly, but make sure you really drink a whole liter of water. You will do want your bladder as full as possible and even though you think you will pee, the valium will take that urge away and you will be relaxed and ready for your transfer. I’m telling you this because one of the times I didn’t drink enough and it was a struggle to get the embryo in and I’m not sure if that affected things or not. But you just naturally go over and over everything in your head and what you could have done or should have done. Also, really take the time to relax and do you during those ten days. Stay positive and that’s all you can really do.
Anyway, I was now feeling beyond upset and frustrated. We had to start over with an egg retrieval. Little did we know the whole world would change in just a few weeks.
A few days after my 38th birthday, Covid 19 shut down everything. My clinic informed us that all IVF treatments along with everything else in the world would be put on hold.
So we patiently waited.
I used quarantine as a time to take care of myself. I had been through a lot and I just felt exhausted. I started doing yoga every day. Yoga with Adriene was and is my go to. I fell in love with yoga and it was the first thing I did after I had my morning coffee. It left me feeling so refreshed. I was feeling stronger emotionally and physically. I was feeling great. I was also anxious to get started with my IVF treatment. It was going to work this time! I just knew it!
Also, I must note that it felt like the whole world was getting pregnant during quarantine. It was very frustrating that we did not have a quarantine baby.
By mid-June, my clinic was opening again to existing patients. We ordered my meds and eagerly started my treatment. This time the medications for the egg retrieval were more tolerable and I was less tired. I definitely think it was the yoga, the fact that I had, had time to feel better and recharge, and I also knew this time what to expect.
We had a successful egg retrieval and ended up with four embryos. We were thrilled! And what was also exciting is that we were going to do a live transfer. So about a week after my egg retrieval, my embryo was ready and so was I.
I felt great, happy, and positive about this transfer. We anxiously waited for our results. Well, unfortunately again we had another negative test. We took a few days, waited for my period, went in for blood work and ultrasound, and started to get ready for yet another transfer.
Once again another negative pregnancy test.
Ugh why! I didn’t understand! Why was this happening to us?
My doctor suggested that I go in for a procedure to make sure everything really looked okay after all the things that had happened last year with our miscarriage. I had had other tests and everything looked good but this would really look at everything in my uterus. Everything always looked good on the surface for us and he couldn’t really explain why the first transfer technically worked and the others had failed. Maybe this procedure would give us some answers.
On the day of my procedure, I signed paperwork saying that if they found something, they would remove it and so I would be put under for longer. They would take care of it so I wouldn’t have to go under twice. Made sense but I didn’t think they would find anything.
Well, they did. I had scar tissue under the first layer of my uterus. It would be hard for an embryo to implant into the wall of my uterus. Made sense to me. That was obviously the issue. I felt positive that was the case and I again started the process for my next transfer.
This time was going to be different.
And also, this time I was doing my transfer with one of my friends. We had the exact same transfer date, same appointment schedule. This time was going to be great. I was actually very excited. My friend also talk me into doing something new this time. Acupuncture.
I was very nervous to try it and I had been turned off before because I already do so many shots, why would I want to put more needles in my body?
However, I had read that it really helps with transfers. I wanted to make sure I did everything possible to make this transfer a success. I was eating right, taking tons of vitamins, and still doing yoga. So I made an appointment.
I ended up loving acupuncture. I felt amazing afterward and I was excited to do the whole treatment. Plus I was struggling with another life decision and doing something to help me feel good was just what I needed.
Other life decision? Isn’t IVF enough? Well, yes it is. However, in the last few months, since my school had opened up after quarantine, I was struggling with loving what I was doing. My two co-teachers in my room, who I adore so much, were both doing new things and I was feeling incredibly stuck. I was working at my job to get my health insurance but I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Of course, I loved the kids, I always did.
But, I was worried that if IVF didn’t work would I still be happy working in the same job. I wasn’t going anywhere and I was getting really bored. Well, the answer was no, I needed to do something more. I needed more in my life regardless if I had children or not. I was super anxious to make a decision and I had to make sure that I could COBRA out my health insurance. I found out I could COBRA my insurance and it was affordable enough that I could quit my job and do something else.
So I did. The day before my transfer I quit. I had a wonderful conversion with my boss. I had been there for seven years and she completely understood me wanting to pursue something else. Since I was taking days off for my transfer and with Covid, we just decided that I wouldn’t go back after my transfer. If I was pregnant I didn’t want to be there with Covid and if I wasn’t well, it was giving me a chance to really figure things out. We would only have one embryo left.
It was sudden, and I felt sad but I knew I had made the right choice. Because I really felt relieved.
Without a job to go to I really enjoyed my full ten-day wait. I did more acupuncture and watched movies. I read books and just relaxed. I knew in my mind and my heart that everything was going to work out.
It was Friday, blood test day.
I knew by now that when my nurse called. I for one, always let it to go to voicemail, and two if it was a 30-second long message, it was negative.
Well, it was negative. Again. I could NOT believe it.
That was almost a week days ago. Yep. In true transparency. I started writing this post during my ten-day wait because I wanted to tell my story. I still want to tell my story. The ending is just different than I envisioned a few days again.
And you know what. It’s all okay.
We still have one embryo left. And you never know. It could work. However, I’m not waiting for that or hanging all my dreams on having a child. Of course, I would love to have one. Just one.
However, I have a great family. My husband. We have a wonderful life together. He’s truly my best friend. We are very lucky to have each other. IVF has made us stronger. We are both healthy and happy and that’s all that really matters.
I love us.
I have great friends, wonderful parents and in-laws, two brothers (my brother and his husband), and a sister (my husband’s sister). I moved to the city. A dream I had since I was a little girl. We have a beautiful house, I’ve written a book, and have so many wonderful memories.
My life is definitely not going the way I imagined. But does anyone’s life go exactly the way they planned?
Things don’t always feel great for me. I have good and bad days. A little part of me does feel like I have failed. I have definitely struggled with feeling like I haven’t done enough.
I feel the pressure of society.
I definitely have felt behind in my career like I talked about at the beginning of this post and I definitely feel behind in having children.
The bottom line is that I’m learning not to care about what others are doing and what they have. So what if we don’t have kids yet. So what if my career is not this huge crazy career. I’m learning to be proud of what I have accomplished and I’m learning that is better to be happy in life and enjoy what you do and what you have. Who knows what is around the corner and that is what I need to focus on.
Now I have a chance to figure out a new chapter. I don’t know what direction I want to go in but I will keep you posted. I am excited for a new challenge in my career and like I said, to focus on the good things I do have. I have a lot of things to think about and I honestly question if I want to continue with IVF and maybe I’m just ok with the way things are. We have a few months before IVF starts again. so until then, I will continue to focus on myself.
If you read this and you are also struggling, I hope you will find that you are not alone. It might sound strange but you might have found some comfort in this post. If you feel lonely in this world of IVF please know there’s plenty of women to pick you up and support you. I can definitely be one of those girls. You can always email me with any questions, and please reach out if you need anything.
This was not easy for me to share but thank you for reading my story,