For years as an adolescent girl, I was told how easy it is to get pregnant and that birth control was the answer to ensure no “accidents” happened. Over five years ago, my husband and I unlearned what we always thought to be true, and realized just how difficult conceiving can be for some couples.
When I was 33 years old my husband and I had been married for a year, I had started my nurse practitioner career and all of our close friends were calling us with their joyous news, they were welcoming a child (or number two or three) into their lives. Wanting a family of our own, we began our fertility journey.
After a year of no positive results, confusion, stress, and anxiety we met with a reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Shomento. She suggested our chances of conceiving on our own without any help were minimal given how unsuccessful we had been thus far. Our reason, like many others, was “Unknown”. We opted to try some minimal, non-invasive fertility treatments and sadly, again, no success. Our next conversation was around the topic of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). At this time, I was feeling very hopeless and very unready to embark on that intimidating journey. It seemed so daunting at the time. Physically and mentally I felt very unprepared for the IVF process. I started to ask questions, is the Universe saying “this is not for us?”. Are we supposed to live without children and travel the world footloose and fancy-free? It started to not sound all that bad, but something continued to nag at me. I wasn’t done fighting for us to be parents and to have a family.
At this time, I had begun to venture down the infertility rabbit hole, searching for answers for why my body was not cooperating. I dove into podcasts, books, blogs, YouTube videos, and eventually came across a fertility podcast that focused on the Functional Medicine approach to improving fertility. Their conversations and listener education consumed me. They talked about gut health and infertility, hormone health and stress, inflammation and autoimmune disease. Everything made so much sense to me as a patient and a practitioner. After signing up for a free phone consultation with them I was convinced I needed this work to get my body back on track. For years, I had lived with uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms and had monthly migraine headaches, brain fog, and fatigue. I was also under increased work stress and found out that I was teetering on the edge of developing full-blown autoimmune thyroid disease. I knew I needed help.
Long story short, after 6 months of working through my own personalized functional medicine protocol, I felt better than I had in years. No more gas, bloating, abnormal bowel movements, brain fog, fatigue, and no irritability. During this time, my husband and I took a break from trying to conceive, but once I finished the program we decided we would give ourselves 6 more months of trying on our own before we decided to reapproach the idea of fertility treatments.
Even though I continued to feel better and better, we continued to be unsuccessful conceiving on our own. In July 2019, we drove to Bozeman, MT to visit with Dr. Shomento again. I was now 36 years old and (after learning just how dramatic egg health declines are between the ages of 37 and 38) we decided IVF was the best route to start the family we continued to desire. I was confident that my body was in a much healthier state to receive and accept an embryo transfer but continued to worry that we might not successfully conceive.
Despite our concerns, we started the IVF process a short time later and upon retrieval, we were blessed with two healthy embryos. Hope for a family started to reappear. In June 2020, we implanted the first of our two embryos and for 9 agonizing days we hoped, prayed, let go, and told ourselves that what will be, will be.
On July 1st, 2020, five years from when we first started trying, we got the call that we were finally pregnant. Our tiny embryo decided to attach itself and was holding on strong. With a due date of March 10, 2020, we ventured down the 10 months of pregnancy receiving healthy and happy news along the way that our little one was growing and developing well.
I’m writing this with just 1 week until our due date and it is an understatement to say we are blessed, elated, and overjoyed. We can’t wait to meet our little rainbow.