Baby Gamez & Baby Steinfink
April 2006 & December 15, 2008
I have always known that I wanted to become a mother. I am what you would call an “old soul.” I have been mature for my age for as long as I can remember. Because of this, I have always loved watching, teaching and spending time with children. For whatever reason, this seems to be a mutual connection. No matter where I am, I’m almost always able to connect (on some level) with a child. This has given me opportunity to tutor kids, babysit, mentor and even serve as a teaching assistant. It was because of this amazing connection that I knew (in my heart of hearts) I would definitely want to become a mother at some point in my lifetime. As I grew older, although I still had the desire to become a mother, I also wanted to achieve my dreams. I wanted to finish high school, attend and graduate college and move up the ladder from there. I had big aspirations to become a child psychologist and hopefully someday, help a child in need. It’s funny how your dreams change as time goes by.
In my quest for a successful career, I also became a wife. I did indeed, graduate from college and I couldn’t have been more proud of my accomplishments up to that point. I wanted to follow my ambitions to graduate school and eventually work on my PHD. However, close to the end of my first marriage, I became pregnant. I was in shock; it came at a time when I didn’t expect it and wasn’t even sure if I could handle it. On the other hand, I was completely overjoyed. For as long as I had dreamt of becoming a career woman, I had dreamt of becoming a mom for even longer. I looked forward to the pregnancy with an amazing sense of pride and joy that I had never felt before. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be, at least not at the time. I ended up losing the baby not long after discovering I was pregnant. Although it was tough to comprehend and deal with, I knew it was for the best; my husband and I were crumbling under a failing marriage. Bringing a child into the world as we then knew, was not a good idea. Losing that baby hurt like hell. I wanted to try again and we did; we didn’t get pregnant again. Not too long after that, we split and I knew that there was a silver lining in all that pain. I moved on, still longing to have a child.
It wasn’t long before I (unexpectedly) met the most amazing man. Still hurting from my previous relationship, I approached him with caution. I wasn’t trying to meet anyone new and I wasn’t sure I was ready to love or give my heart again so soon. However, we hit it off so well that all my guards went down and I found myself falling. I was afraid, for many reasons. For one, I was not prepared to fall for someone again so quickly. I wasn’t sure I was completely healed from the last heartbreak. I also knew that if I let my fears take over, I might miss out on the love of a lifetime. Ultimately, my heart won the battle and I decided to take a chance. Our love blossomed quickly and after only a few months into the relationship, I discovered I was pregnant again. I was, once again, on cloud nine. I knew this time was different; everything felt different about this one. I was in a better place with a much better man and I was happy to have a second chance at motherhood.
I went to see my doctor who confirmed the pregnancy and we scheduled a sonogram for a few weeks later. I was ecstatic. Even through the nausea and the fatigue, I could hardly contain my joy. I experienced some cramping and I noticed that although my appetite seemed ravenous, I was hardly eating anything. I simply assumed this was a normal part of pregnancy and didn’t give it much thought. Then one night, I experienced some very unsettling pain. I spent a good ten to twenty minutes on the floor of our bathroom, sweating and trying to get through the uncomfortable feeling in my abdomen. I called my doctor’s office and spoke with the nurse, who assured me that some pain and cramping was completely normal. I wasn’t so sure myself, but in the absence of any bleeding, there wasn’t much I could do but wait. A few days after that incident, I took a shower and found myself bleeding slightly. I called my future husband and told him that I wanted to go to the hospital. I knew that bleeding was not a good sign and even if nothing was wrong, I needed to be sure. Off to the hospital we went. I was examined by an ER doctor (who had a horrible bedside manner) and I had my blood drawn. They wheeled me into a room where a technician performed an ultrasound. I had to do this alone and the technician wouldn’t tell me anything of what they saw on the ultrasound. I was terrified, but hopeful that I was just overreacting. After having my ultrasound looked at, I was told that I was having an ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo is implanted in the fallopian tubes as opposed to the uterus). I was also told that the pregnancy was not viable and it would have to be terminated or it could cause me irreparable harm and possibly death.
My fiancé and I were saddened and more so, frightened. I called my parents who came to the hospital right away. I was hoping I could just go home, but they wanted to admit me in case the tube ruptured. I reluctantly agreed and stayed in the hospital overnight. More blood was drawn and the bleeding was observed all night long. I was beyond relieved that my fiancé stayed by my side all night long and I knew in those moments how much I truly loved him. I was visited by the on-call OBGYN in the morning and my diagnosis was confirmed. Although my hormone levels were rising, they weren’t rising sufficiently to maintain a pregnancy and my tube was thought to be blocked by something. I contacted my OBGYN and advised her of the situation. She asked me to come to the hospital she worked at to see if I would be a candidate for an injection that would “dissolve” the pregnancy. As upset as I was about [losing] the pregnancy, I was even more terrified of something jeopardizing my own life (as was my fiancée). After getting some blood work done, I was determined to be a good candidate for the injection. Once I knew that I was able to get the Methotrexate, the realization of losing the baby began to sink in. I waited around to fill out paperwork and cried in my fiancé’s arms. We were both emotionally exhausted and wanted to get the shot done so we could go home and process what had happened. I finally made it to the hospital room to get the injection and after arguing with ER nurses about not needing an IV or a hospital gown, it was all over. At this point, the medicine needed some time to take effect and I would need to follow-up with my OBGYN to make sure my hormone levels were dropping. We headed for home, no words spoken, but oh, how the tears did flow. After some time, the medicine did prove to be effective and my hormone levels were dropping as they should. I was thankful that I didn’t require surgery, but was still devastated over losing our child. Following the loss, I had a week’s vacation that I took and my fiancé and I decided to get married and allow ourselves some happiness, given all that we had recently been through. It was the brightest spot of that entire week.
Once my hormone levels reached zero, I was anxious to try again and to possibly find out the reason the ectopic happened in the first place. I did some online research and it did not seem that I fit into any of the risk categories (for an ectopic pregnancy). I reasoned that it just wasn’t our time, but forged ahead into possible physical issues. I figured we would start the process with me since I had been pregnant twice (by different men) and had failed on both accounts. We knew that I was able to fall pregnant; it was simply a matter of staying that way and going full term. I spoke with my doctor who wanted to run some tests and asked me to schedule an HSG which would take a look at my fallopian tubes (to check for any blockages). I did some research into the HSG test and I was a bit anxious about setting that up because it was likely to be a painful procedure. I went ahead and had the tests done that my OBGYN recommended.
When the results came in, it was determined that I was not ovulating. I was put on a couple of cycles of fertility drugs and while I did ovulate, I did not become pregnant. Discouraged by the failure of the fertility drugs, I opted to be brave and face the HSG test. I scheduled the test on a day when my husband could go with me in case I was unable to drive afterwards (also for some support). I was nervous the day of the test and became even more nervous when I was told that my husband could not go in with me while I had the test done. I almost chose not to go through with the test when I heard that, but decided it was more important to know. The test did prove to be painful and I almost passed out in the middle of the procedure. However, I did find out that my while my left tube was clear, my right tube was partially blocked. This was fairly disappointing news, but I wanted to wait and see what my doctor had to say about the results. Once I met with my doctor about the HSG test, she let me know that she had done most everything that was in her power and that I needed to go and see a specialist regarding my situation. Being that I did seem to have ovulation issues and combined with the HSG results, I would need to see a fertility doctor who specialized in dealing with reproductive issues. I did some more online research and given that I had a blocked tube, my chances of becoming pregnant on my own were cut in half. Add to that my ovulation issues and I was looking at more of a 30% chance. My husband and I decided that adoption wasn’t right for us and perhaps we should consider in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Being that it is a very expensive option, we looked around and found an institution that seemed to really help with what we were going through. We decided to attend a seminar and gather some information; they were also giving a free cycle of IVF at the seminar, so we figured we had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
All while we were grappling with these difficult decisions, it seemed that everyone I knew was getting pregnant at the drop of a hat. Not that I wasn’t happy for most of my friends and family, but it was so difficult to share in the joy that I knew might not ever find me. I did my best at avoiding baby showers and had a hard time dealing with pregnancy news that seemed to find me every week or so. I wanted so much to be happy for everyone, but it was something I wanted so badly that I couldn’t see through my own pain. I know that makes me sound like a pretty horrible person, but the feelings could not be helped; they were felt no matter how hard I tried to put on my brave face. It’s amazing the kinds of emotions that surface when you are facing certain hardships, such as infertility. I never knew just how emotionally detached and angry I could be until I was facing these issues.
The seminar came and went uneventfully. We didn’t win the free cycle of IVF, but we did get a lot of useful information and learned some things we didn’t previously know. We spoke with one of the doctors at the seminar and decided to make an appointment. Following that appointment, the doctor agreed that IVF might be one of our only options based on reviewing my medical records and speaking with me. He did advise that my husband be checked out for possible issues as well since it wasn’t always the woman’s fault (although, in my case it was pretty obvious that I was causing the problem). I spoke with the office manager regarding financial options and all that seemed to be available were loans. Other than that, we were looking at a big tab (upwards of $25,000) for the IVF process.
Shortly after this disappointing news, my job added an option of an HSA account to help accumulate funds for medical expenses. Since I am a fairly healthy woman otherwise, I jumped at the chance to have this account. As it stood, my employer would add a certain amount and I could add additional funds. Even though IVF had a big price tag, we figured we could save up and spend the time in between becoming better acquainted as husband and wife. It was a short time after this that we learned of a “mini-IVF” through the institution that we were planning on having the full-scale IVF. We attended another seminar to obtain more information and it looked as though I might be a good candidate for it. It was certainly a welcome breakthrough in this painstaking process. This mini-procedure used fewer stimulating drugs since younger women could do better with lower amounts. It changed our price tag to about $7,000 total and we were looking forward to it happening sooner rather than later.
During this time, we were dealing with all kinds of things including my husband’s grandmother passing away. She left behind a decent sum of money and we were entitled to some of it. We were hoping we could add it to the savings we already had and be close to (if not right at) the amount we needed for the IVF procedure. The gift from my husband’s late grandmother proved to be very helpful and after speaking with his mother, we were going to be on our way to possibly realizing the dream we had been holding onto the past couple of years. I remember remarking after all of this transpired that it would be interesting if we got pregnant on our own now that we had the means of making our dreams come true.
It’s funny how things work out; that very weekend, I took a pregnancy test (after feeling nauseous for a couple of days) that was positive! I couldn’t believe my eyes! After everything we had been through, here we were, holding a positive pregnancy test. My husband practically fainted when I told him the results. My joy was overwhelming, but I couldn’t help that little nagging feeling in the back of my head telling me to slow down, as I had been there before.
I went to see my doctor and confirmed that I was indeed pregnant. I had some blood drawn and scheduled the first ultrasound for a week later. I was over the moon with our baby news and I couldn’t help but share it with the whole world. I only hoped that this time would ultimately end in success. I waited for my ultrasound with nervous excitement. I had my mom go with me for moral support and my doctor looked around for signs of a successful implantation. Although she did find the sac and it was in the correct place, she couldn’t tell if anything was inside the sac. She would only say that it looked hazy and she believed there could be something there and perhaps I was a little behind the estimated week of pregnancy. She referred me to a maternal fetal medicine doctor in the area for a level II ultrasound to make sure there was a viable pregnancy. I was disappointed, but refused to give up hope on our little miracle.
The day of the ultrasound came and I made my husband go with me. I was a bundle of nerves and just wanted everything to be ok. The doctor looked around and found the sac my doctor had found at my previous appointment. She zoomed in and asked to look at something. She said, “Do you see that tiny flickering? That’s your baby’s heartbeat.” I almost fell off the table, I was so relieved. With tears in my eyes, I stared at the image on the screen. That was our baby; he/she was alive and had a heartbeat. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and no words could express how I felt in that moment.
I know that I will never take being a mom for granted. It didn’t come easily and I thank God every single day that it came at all. My husband David was my rock throughout the entire process. He is the epitome of what a husband/father should be. He never gave up and never lost faith that we would one day be parents. While I don’t feel that I ever “gave up,” I do feel that my faith slipped a few times and had it not been for him, I might have allowed myself to give in to that hopelessness I was feeling. I am so thankful for my precious miracle and I know I will spend every moment marveling in the wondrous feeling of being a mother. And even though I know that every day will not be a cake walk, I know that those intensely glorious moments/experiences with our son will make up for any rainy days we might face. At this point, we have overcome one of our greatest obstacles and I know we can face anything that life throws our way. We have the support and love of one another to conquer the toughest days, I believe. I will always mourn the loss of my two babies prior to Samuel, but the experience of what I’ve been through has taught me so much about life, love, anger, hope, faith and perseverance that I don’t regret anything that has happened up to this point. I am grateful to be in this place right now and I will cherish everything I’ve gained (and lost) forever.