Painful Path to Parenthood… A Second Time Around
I’ve run this race before… only six years ago it was 26.2 miles in the Philadelphia Marathon. Now as I prepare to run a similar route at the Philadelphia Half Marathon this Saturday, I’ve worked fours times as hard to go half the distance… but this time it means exponentially more to cross the finish line while fundraising for Baby Quest Foundation. This is the story of my personal struggle with secondary infertility, and why offering fiscal assistance to individuals/couples in need may change their lives forever…
To join in my fundraising efforts for Baby Quest, donate online by clicking HERE.
MEMORIES BEHIND MY MILES
Silently sobbing and shaking as I curled into a ball, I wailed at a whisper’s volume in the one-person bathroom just outside of the waiting room in Shady Grove Fertility Center. On this day my tears of agony and anguish were equally filled with hope and joy. In my hand I held a sheet of paper with an answer to questions I had been in search of for months and months and months that had turned into a year and a half. Why was I not conceiving? Furthermore, when I did, why was I repeatedly losing pregnancies?!?
Through my 20s and early 30s I was near others who struggled to have a baby, but always assumed that was the closest I would ever get to understanding what 12% of hopeful parents-to-be face with their fight with infertility. Until... until it happened to me.... when I least expected it.
FED UP WITH INFERTILITY
For my husband and me, having a child the first time around was easy peasy pumpkin pie. With a wink and a smile, I immediately found myself craving mashed potatoes, ice cream, and pickles. From beginning to end, the pregnancy and birth of my now 8-year-old son was a piece of cake - literally and figuratively. After such a sweet experience, when we began trying for baby number 2, we assumed we could simply hit the “repeat” button and would instantaneously be nursing a new addition to our family in 9 months. However, the journey to be parents the second time around grew rancid and rotten. It spoiled our appetites to almost think of how simple it was previously to have a child.
Armed with a type A personality convicted to grow our family further, you name it, I had tried it. Morning basil temperature taking, and daily ovulation readers logged into my cell phone app with charts and graphs had become a morning “Project Mini Me” ritual. Cutting cold beverages and foods from my diet, driving to farms for fresh milk and eggs, ridding gluten from my plate, consuming my own weight in yams and salmon, reducing stress levels any way possible, and ceasing running were merely examples of the myriad of adjustments I made. Acupuncture with needles down my spine, Thai acupressure massages, ancient Chinese teas tasting of puréed leaves, an alphabet of supplements and vitamins, and reiki sessions all became a norm. But nothing proved to be the magical key to pregnancy.
Little did we know we were a part of 30% of all infertility cases - called secondary infertility. By the time I reached the doors of Shady Grove Fertility Center (SGFC), constant failed attempts at getting pregnant and multiple miscarriages had worn me down and beaten me up emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.... with a looming fear of how financially depleting this path to parenthood a second time around could quickly become.
A RUN FOR OUR MONEY
Stepping through the doors of SGFC, I was warmly welcomed into a family of miracle workers during my first visit. My assigned nurse and doctor asked every question imaginable and mapped out the tests/exams that would be run over the next month analyzing my pressing pregnancy problems. To conclude, the time came for me to undergo one-on-one financial counseling based on our healthcare provider. As the potential scenarios of a diagnosis were explored, dollar signs quickly accrued. I grew dizzy and nauseous.... sickened to the core not merely for me, but for how fiscally devastating infertility treatments are for the thousands and thousands of parents-to-be facing mounting bills in the tens of thousands of dollars with surrogacy options costing more than $100,000.
RACING FOR ANSWERS
The next several weeks were filled with waiting and wondering – taking a deep breath each time results reached us. We prayed we would unlock the mystery behind our battle, and that there was somehow an affordable solution. However, during that month, test after test did NOT reveal an issue. Then the day finally came... It was the very last of the exams to be conducted before rendering my case as inconclusive. Little did I anticipate at the time it would be the day I would quietly pour out my heart and soul in the bathroom of Shady Grove Fertility Center.
A hysterosalpingography (HSG) revealed what had been perplexing us all on my pregnancy path. I had a faulty Fallopian tube. It was suspected it was due to my appendix nearly rupturing at the age of 22. The damaged state of my Fallopian tube was creating a toxic environment within my body, not enabling me to sustain a successful pregnancy…yet miraculously had not impacted my first child.
Undergoing surgery to remove the damaged Fallopian tube (called a laparoscopic salpingectomy) was done with the understanding this may open a door to conceive. Following the procedure, recovery was vital, but the second I was given the “green light” I raced to reach for recommended fertility medications to increase our odds of becoming pregnant as soon as humanly possible.
Navigating what was and was not covered by healthcare during this entire process was filled with fierce financial fears. Headaches and heartaches were abundant, which became increasingly stressful during this silent struggle for a second child.
GETTING LOST ON PURPOSE
Seven months post-surgery ticked on... a return to feeling defeated, depressed, and drained set in. I was ready to throw in the towel. The procedure, medicine, injections, nor monitoring worked. I stopped it all by the late fall of 2014 and adopted living a simple healthy lifestyle. My husband and I traveled... and I took a vacation from my head.
SURPRISING SECOND WIND
As a VERY last resort, my nurse from SGFC and I agreed in the New Year of 2015 that I would schedule an intrauterine insemination (IUI). Yet in preparing for the holidays that season, I did everything in my power to release myself from feeling obsessed. I no longer felt powerlessly consumed by the thoughts of having another child. I fully focused on the beauty of my existing blessings, and, of course, the precious gift of my first son. As Christmas approached, my nurse reached me to see when I would be coming in to schedule my bloodwork for the IUI. It had honestly almost slipped my mind… and then as I looked at the calendar, it dawned on me. Might I actually be pregnant?
On Christmas Eve I paced and paced all over the place… not just in anticipation of Christmas, but of my bloodwork results to return from SGFC. With the ring of the phone the afternoon of that December 24th, the delivery of the best gift I could ever ask for was received – confirmation that a healthy pregnancy was underway.
SGFC wanted our Christmas surprise closely and carefully monitored. Two days after unwrapping our gifts under the tree, my husband squeezed my hand as we stared at the sonographer’s monitor together as she exclaimed, “Spontaneous twins?!?” To which I responded with tears flooding my eyes, “Trust me - there is absolutely nothing.... nothing at all spontaneous about this pregnancy.”
AFTER THE FINISH LINE… GOING THE EXTRA MILE
As I held my newborn son and daughter twins in my arms in August 2015, I vowed to support parents in pursuit of pregnancy in any way possible in the days and years to come. As a result, this Saturday, November 17, I am fundraising for Baby Quest Foundation at the Philadelphia Half Marathon during my first return to a race since the twins were born. Baby Quest Foundation is a volunteer-run nonprofit organization whose goal is to grant financial assistance to those who cannot afford the high cost of procedures such as egg donation, IVF and surrogacy. With awards of up to $10,000, Baby Quest Foundation has provided 55 individuals/couples with grants, resulting in 25 babies and 8 additional wee ones on-the-way.
As I go the distance this weekend, much like the path to having a child, it may not go quickly or as planned. During each step of the 13.1 miles I run on Saturday, the names of 13 different individuals/families will be with me in my heart, including those who have and/or are currently fighting infertility, along with the recipient who will receive the grant from Baby Quest. Please join in supporting someone else’s journey to spread light and love on their path to parenthood.