1 in 6 stories

Jennie and Nick

Jennie and Nick

Hannah Margaret was born on December 9th, 2011, and it was the greatest day of our lives.

My husband and I are high school sweet hearts, who moved to Ottawa with big dreams of building our perfect life together. We started building careers and had a beautiful wedding to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. About one year after that, we decided to start trying to have a baby. Sure enough, 3 months later we were pregnant and after a fairly easy pregnancy, our beautiful daughter was here!

When Hannah was about 6 months old, we decided to try for another baby so they could be close in age and be best friends like my siblings and I. During the first year of trying to conceive, it didn’t occur to us that anything could ever be wrong since Hannah was conceived so easily and we were not in any huge hurry to get pregnant. It was July 2013 when my family doctor suggested that we be referred to a fertility centre since it had been a year without a pregnancy. We agreed, although friends, family and coworkers assured us we were obviously healthy, active, and fertile enough to make a baby.

In September 2013 we met a wonderful doctor at OFC who helped us understand the many tests we were about to go through, and later that fall, we were told contributing factors to my infertility were an unpredictable cycle, ovulation late in my cycle, and possible progesterone issues. The official diagnosis was ‘unexplained infertility’… Nick’s basic sperm test came back great! Lots of sperm! This was great news, but I was suffering from such failure and self- blame that I couldn’t focus on anything other than guilt.

Over the next 6 months we tried progesterone, and a few months of Clomid. Nothing worked, and I suffered almost every side effect from Clomid possible.

During this time, we experienced what most people who suffer from infertility experience- the constant ‘advice’ and from friends and family. We kept being assured by many people in our lives that we should just ‘take a vacation’, ‘stop trying’, ‘not stress’, and my personal favourite ‘be happy that you already have one child’. Anyone who has ever lived through these well-meaning comments knows that the ignorance of other people can be the most painful and isolating part of infertility.

As Nick began to accept our infertility, I was not having such an accepting approach. Through an online support group and some personal therapy, I struggled with the grief and loss I was feeling every month when I failed to be pregnant. Failed myself, failed my husband, failed our incredible daughter who so much deserved a sibling. Hannah had started asking for a sister to be just like her friend who has a sister. Such a innocent request, but one that devastated me each time.

As Hannah passed her second birthday, our basement was filling up with items we were saving for our next baby. It was full of baby equipment, maternity clothes, baby toys and some of the cutest baby clothes I’ve ever seen.

My therapist suggested I start purging and stop beating myself up every time I entered the storage room. Sometimes going down there would bring me to tears with the reminder of my failure. I felt so prepared for this baby, so done with letting myself down each and every month.

I started selling and giving away baby items, and, although there were so many tears, it helped me grieve the loss of my fertility. I kept my most favourite baby clothes and sent them away to have a quilt made for Hannah, partially as an apology for never being able to give her a sibling.

In the spring of 2013, we decided to take a break from all things fertility. It was consuming me. We had a big decision to make- accept our life and start enjoying it, or pay for expensive fertility treatments. We took 6 months to talk it over. I deleted my favourite baby name list on my phone, deleted my period tracker, purged the remaining baby stuff from the basement, and began to feel more and more accepting of my reality.

In September 2014 we decided to pay for the more advanced sperm testing to ensure if we went ahead with treatments, we had a good handle on what we were facing. Sure enough, Nick’s results were not good. His motility numbers were not ideal, and we both were devastated all over again. Our rates of success for treatment just dropped even further.

After some thought, we decided to buy a 3 round package of IUI and agreed to give it a try. If for no other reason, we did it so we could look back in 20 years and know we didn’t give up before trying treatment.

We spent November doing injections and trying to be positive while we prepared for our IUI procedure. Mostly, we prepared ourselves to settle in to one child, and I went in to the treatment process with the thought that we would not be successful. At least we could be at peace when telling our daughter someday that we really did try everything we could.

November 16th was ‘the day’. We nervously dropped Hannah off at a friends’ for the morning, and we headed to the clinic. The procedure itself was quick and easy, and Nick kept the mood light and funny as usual.

The next few days were so nerve wracking and yet I started to get excited as I did every month. I was excited with possibilities and even calculated what my due date would be. I started to plan life once again in my make believe world where this would work. I didn’t share these thoughts with anyone but Nick. No one else would understand.

The blood test at the clinic was booked for the morning of December 3rd, but I started home pregnancy testing on November 27th, and every single day until the clinic appointment. All positive. When the nurse called us to tell us the blood test confirmed a positive test, we could hardly believe it. We were shocked. We had prepared for the worst far more than we had prepared for the best, so we really were genuinely shocked.

Now, 24 weeks along with our second baby girl, I still sometimes expect a call from the clinic to say this has all been one big mistake and that I’m not really pregnant. When I think like that, I rub my big tummy and feel our daughter moving around and it calms my nerves.

We are the poster couple for high school sweethearts who fell in love and made big plans… then suffered from infertility. We are among the countless couples who suffer from secondary infertility. We are the 15% success of IUI for our circumstances.

We know how blessed we are and that every single person on this journey of infertility is different and has a different experience. I thank God every single day for the blessing of parenthood and still weep for the men and women we have met along our journey who are still trying to achieve that. We want nothing more than for every person who wants to become a parent to have the ability to do that.

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