The experience of infertility is not linear, and if you are going through it currently, you are very much not alone. The words that come to mind to describe the process over the past seven years are grief, joy, frustration, sadness, elation and fear, all at once.
The first time we ever got pregnant was before Keegan in 2012. We suffered a miscarriage and were devastated, but quickly were blessed again only a few months later. I had an exceptional OBGYN that tested tissue and said that I lacked enough progesterone to sustain a pregnancy. When I tested positive for pregnancy a few months later with Keegan, this doctor immediately put me on progesterone and we were able to carry Keegan full term. It wasn't until Keegan was four years old that we decided to try again, naively thinking we would be pregnant within a few months.
To our dismay, this is when our experience with secondary infertility began.
We attempted to get pregnant for 14 months to no avail, and were funneled into the fertility clinic world. Per the advice of the doctors around us and given our age (I was 36 at the time and Keith was 38), we were booked into a fertility specialist. We dropped thousands of dollars with them on inconclusive tests that showed we were both "fine."
To our shock and joy, we were finally blessed with a positive test only three weeks after our initial visit with the clinic in September 2018. Since we had conceived naturally, we were over the moon! But then, nine weeks later, we suffered a miscarriage. We were both devastated but now that we knew we could conceive a baby again, we were ready to figure out how to sustain a pregnancy.
Obstacles, followed by heartbreak
However, none of the doctors were proactive like our previous doctor as to why we couldn’t sustain the pregnancy which was beyond frustrating. I was demanding progesterone and was told “it did not work” from numerous doctors even though I knew it did as I had a seven-year old to prove it! Instead, we were told that our miscarriage and delay in conceiving was unexplained. We knew we didn't want to go the IVF route at that moment because we had been able to conceive naturally.
Simultaneously, White Leaf began to get some legs and we began to scale quickly. We had gone from a regional small brand to a national brand overnight and with that the stress ensued. To add insult to injury, the anxiety of not being able to conceive was piling up and the "time clock" that the medical professionals around us had started was starting to really affect us. In retrospect, definitely not a conducive environment to raise a baby or carry one to term! Yet, about a full year later, we had another positive test, we were elated. 10 weeks in we suffered yet another miscarriage. And then another after that.
Finding peace and surrender as a family
By the time summer 2020 came around, Keegan had just turned seven, White Leaf was in full motion and we both had come to the realization that our family was perfect just the way we were, if this was what was meant for us. We had decided to stop the journey to a second child. While we hadn’t given up, we decided to move forward and put our fertility journey behind us. Instead, we began to dream about our next chapter, our travels, where White Leaf was going, and how far we had come with it. We felt the path had been made clear to us. We surrendered to it, and we were at peace.
It was Keegan's 7th birthday in July and I threw out all the pregnancy contraband, the ovulation sticks, the progesterone sticks, and for some reason kept two pregnancy tests handy. Then in September 2020, I felt "off." I dug out a pregnancy test strip and took my second to last pregnancy test strip and low and behold, a positive presented itself. I was speechless. I immediately felt total elation, then sadness as I knew I didn't have it in me to suffer yet again.
About an hour later, I used the last strip, and there it was again, positive. I couldn’t keep it in and I quickly ran to Keith and showed him the strip. We both teared up and just smiled, hugged, and asked if we both were ok doing this again. And, we both considered "doing this again" not the journey of carrying a baby to term, but the tumultuous journey of going through yet another loss.
The gift (& anxiety) of a second pregnancy
I was in serious denial that I was even pregnant this time around. I didn't download any apps, I didn’t dream of names, I didn't even schedule my first OBGYN visit to confirm the pregnancy until I was 12 weeks along.
After each week that would go by, I felt relief but still didn't acknowledge that I would carry to full term. I actually didn't even feel that I was going to have a baby until after our 20-week gender scan! I mentally detached from the physical. And still, now, I suffer from "what still can go wrong." I am hyper-vigilant about ensuring I feel the baby move, and have slight panic attacks when I don’t feel him move.
With the encouragement of Keith and a dear friend, I booked therapy sessions after 20 weeks with a therapist who specializes in postpartum depression to help me clear up all the past trauma that still affects me from Keegan's birth, my PPD as well as the unaddressed trauma of secondary infertility.
Through my work with the therapist and my physician, I discovered that a lot of previous losses were also due in part to my high level of stress with running the business, my previous bout of postpartum depression and my traumatic birth experience. With these invaluable resources, I have been able to make more emotional space and begin to reprogram fearful feelings from the past for this new littlest family member.