Apologies in advance, this is a long one!
Despite deciding to create a blog, I’m actually a pretty private person. You may have noticed, I don’t spend too much time on Instagram stories or snapchat and my Instagram account tends to stay away from a ton of detail about my personal life.
When I first started the blog, I used it as a creative outlet from my less creative day job and thrived on the ability to push this “alter ego” out to the public without truly revealing too much about myself. The truth is – just like most “influencers” out there… I’m not all that interesting! I’m not so different from you, or your friends, and I don’t want to pretend that I am. You won’t find me sitting out on a rooftop terrace sipping on an extravagant cocktail at 3pm, because instead, I’m on the sixth floor of a massive office building sitting on a trading desk. My shoes are probably off because I don’t like wearing flats in the office and my feet hurt by 11am, (this definitely carries through to my blogger “alter-ego!!”) my space heater is on because it’s always freezing in there, and I’m probably laughing with my friends who sit next to me about something ridiculous about the bureaucracy we work for. Lunch consists of a quick walk around the building to a rotation of four different make your own salad shops – and you’ll definitely catch me with ugly sneakers on so I don’t have to ruin my heels on the pavement! When the day is over, I am usually exhausted – like many working women out there – and love going for a quick dinner with friends or cooking a low key meal with my husband. Although, if you ask any of my friends, my cooking typically begins with some low key idea but ends up pseudo-gourmet as I get overly ambitious reading Bon-Apetit off of my phone in the grocery store which leads me to whip up some three course meal featuring a homemade aioli on a Tuesday night. I write to tell a story about the ordinary, for the ordinary. We don’t need to be at a rooftop bar at 3pm on a Tuesday to lead a meaningful – and stylish – life, and that should be celebrated! (Obviously, no offense intended to those who do get to sip cocktails at 3pm! There are many days that I wake up wishing desperately that my afternoon could consist of a bellini!)
So what changed?
For the first time in my life, something personal took over. I became unable to separate what was going on in my personal life from anything else – the blog, my job, my friends. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic here, but over the past year, I’ve been dealing with one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through – infertility – and I finally decided that instead of hiding behind it, I should tell my story to try to help others.
If you and your friends are nowhere near the mindset of trying to get pregnant, you do not have to read this! But, if you are struggling or know anybody else who is struggling, it is so important to know that you are not alone (in the words of Offred from the Handmaid’s tale – my latest binge-worthy TV addiction!) Infertility can feel very isolating. You feel like you have this big, dark, embarrassing secret on your shoulders. You lie about the doctor appointments. “Overslept this morning, so sorry!” was my most used excuse, although “plumber has to fix something in the apartment, I’ll be in at 10” and “the leak is still there…” definitely popped up from time to time. For a month or two, the secret is fun. You feel like you know something that the rest of the world doesn’t. You’re working on making a baby – an incredible feat – as you’re sitting at your desk formatting a powerpoint slide. Eventually for me, though, keeping this secret became too big a burden and the weight on my shoulders became too heavy when my friends would ask how everything was and why I’ve slowed down with the blog.
So now, I’ll share with you that story that has taken over the past year of my life. The story that I will not allow to be a dark secret anymore. Friend to friend. Apologies in advance if any of this is TMI!!!
I got married in October 2014 and was one of the first of my friends to do so. We decided that we wanted to be married for at least a year before thinking about growing our family. For us, it was important to enjoy each other before moving too quickly into the next phase in our life. I decided to stop my pill in December 2015 just to “see what would happen” and unfortunately did not get a period for about 5 months. My OBGYN brushed this off saying its not a big deal, BUT should I want to be treated properly, I should see a fertility specialist. “You’re young, this will be so easy for you. The specialist will put you on a little Clomid to spark ovulation, and you’ll be fine!” We had a big summer trip planned with my family and were certainly in no rush, so decided to wait until the end of July to make an appointment.
I remember the first day I walked into the specialist’s office. We were filled with excitement as if I was already pregnant. “This is really happening!!” we said to each other grinning ear to ear. The doctor reviewed the paperwork from my OBGYN and ordered an array of additional tests and exams. You get very used to the blood tests…
She told me my story was simple, a pill would be use to get my cycle back on track and I should be “an easy one.”
The first month was exhilarating. I spent all my free time on Google and was fascinated by how much I didn’t know. I taught myself female anatomy, how to monitor a cycle, how fertility treatment works… I started reading the message boards and quickly figured out all of the terms that I hope whoever is reading this never needs to know (TTC, BFN, BFP, DPO, DP5DT, BD… the list goes on and on and if anyone wants a breakdown of all of my findings I can happily write NOT ONE but a series of posts on them! Seriously though, if you’re interested, shoot me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org so I know to get writing!)
I tried to smile at the others in the waiting room. You’re in the doctor’s office a lot – at least once or twice a week, if not more – so faces become familiar but stories remain distant. I was surprised by the office etiquette. Nobody wanted to get to know me or share stories. At that point, it was hard for me to understand why.
I remember the very first home pregnancy test I took. The doctors tell you to wait until the blood test taken at 14 DPO (days past ovulation… in case you didn’t know!) to measure your HCG and determine whether or not you are pregnant but the second you enter the online boards you realize that everyone “cheats” and you can actually start testing around 10 DPO for an accurate result.
Keep in mind, the average person my age has a 20% chance of conceiving each month. Because I wasn’t ovulating on my own, they think my chances were more like 5 – 10% on a medicated cycle.
First month passed, no luck.
Second month passed, no luck.
Third month we decided to change gears and “up” the treatment to an IUI. No luck. (Again, I’ll write more about what all of this means soon if you’re all interested.)
Fourth month IUI – nada
Fifth month IUI – nada
Sixth month IUI – nada
Seventh month IUI we introduced “injectables.” This should have upped my chances to 15%. Instead of taking pills, you start injecting medicine into your abdomen every morning and night. It sounds worse than it is but the doctor’s felt certain “this would be it!” – BFN (Big Fat No… but I’ve started to call it Big Fucking No)
Eighth month IUI with injectables – BFN. I was starting to feel like a failing science experiment.
Mind you that every month has the same rhythm we slight tweaks. No gluten this time, no alcohol the next. Night sweats and insomnia from the medication. 5 pounds to my waistline. Try not to work out. Excitement. Hope. Disappointment. Repeat.
The ninth month we decided to move on to IVF. I will write about the IVF process (and egg freezing process, as they’re very similar) in another post, but my advice to anyone going through it is don’t waste your time on more than three IUIs. IVF is expensive, and invasive, but it is even more expensive (and frustrating) after six IUIs! The odds of an IUI working significantly declines after the third – so if you’re a finance nerd like I am, you’ll see the risk adjusted return just isn’t there to do more than three. Spare yourself.
So, the ninth month we embarked on IVF. I changed doctors, and felt rejuvenated and excited again. IVF upped my chances to about 60% each month and if I had any leftover embryos that I could genetically test, my chances could go up even higher to about 70%. In my heart, I felt like this was my time. The retrieval process (same as egg freezing) was fine. Not the most comfortable – you blow up like a balloon and aren’t allowed to work out – although I’ll admit it was sort of a nice break. My doctor advised against using an embryo the same month as the retrieval and instead waiting another month to do a frozen embryo transfer (FET) that could be screened for genetic issues:
LESSON! What are the primary causes of implantation failure and miscarriage?
- Genetically bad embryo (most likely cause, by far)
- Blood flow issue (less likely)
- Autoimmune issue where your body attacks the embryo (even less likely)
I was sick of waiting. So on the ninth month, against my doctor’s suggestion and right after egg retrieval, we transferred a 5-day fresh embryo – BFN (which I was mentally prepared for…)
The tenth month would be “my month.” The doctor felt great, I felt great. We had a genetically perfect day-5 embryo, a perfect lining (very important for implantation) and near perfect hormone levels. THIS WAS IT. My husband and I initially decided to wait until the blood test (at 9 days post 5-day embryo transfer) but then I broke down at 5 days post 5 day transfer (5dp5dt.) I HAD TO KNOW. For the first time in almost a year, I saw those double lines on that pregnancy test that anyone faced with fertility issues dreams of. This wasn’t leftover HCG from a trigger shot, this was for real. It was a real, dark, indisputable line. I was finally pregnant.
I won’t get into how I was hysterically crying (happy tears, of course) when I found out, or the way my mom looked at me and just knew only a few days later. I won’t get into how relieved my husband and I felt that we could put all of the treatments (aside from those awful progesterone shots that you have to continue through the first trimester…) behind us and begin to enjoy day to day life without this burden on our shoulders, I won’t talk about how our two families celebrated together and toasted to the future… because unfortunately, it didn’t last long.
Only two short, blissful weeks after we heard the good news, I miscarried. I was out in LA and not feeling well. All pregnant people are superstitious and paranoid, but I just knew something was not right. After hours at the ER, a flight back to New York and two appointments with my doctor, a miscarriage was confirmed.
There is only about a 5% chance of miscarriage of a PGS (genetically) tested embryo that implants. I was in the bottom 5%.
This was two months ago, and was a very dark time for me. I’ve since seen a miscarriage specialist (yup, that’s a specialist to the specialist), gotten a second and third opinion, and watched my HCG levels drop, go back up, and drop again ultimately resulting in a saline sonogram, endometrial biopsy and hysteroscopy surgery, but can finally see the light again.
If you’ve made it this far into my story, I don’t want to disappoint you! I know it doesn’t seem like a happy ending, and I can’t lie, it has been hard for me to find the good here. As cheesy as it sounds though, I’ve learned a lot about myself through this whole process and have had the chance to think about my goals and ambitions. My husband and I grew closer together and I feel so lucky to have a true partner in all of this (I’ll stop the cheesy comments soon, promise!!!) I realized how important this forum really is to me and how empty I felt over the past few months without it. Above all, I am now determined to share my stories – and not just this one.
I know this forum is just a blog where I post pictures of what I wear to work. But I have been searching for a long time on how to make it more than that. Hopefully, this isn’t the end of my story, and hopefully one day (soon) I can share a happy ending with you. Until then, this has taught be to be open with my emotions and my writing and that I don’t need to keep everything so close to the chest any longer.
As I always say, please reach out to me if you have any questions or thoughts on either my recent experience with fertility treatments or on the future of this site!! I’ll plan to write posts on the specifics for anyone interested as there is just a ton of advice I have for those going through anything similar.
PS – I know an abundance of vacation pictures can get annoying, but my husband and I booked a big celebratory trip when we heard the news that we decided not to cancel!! (I have a feeling we need it more now than when we do get pregnant one day!) So…. Stay tuned, I’ll be traveling to Italy, Greece and London in July and will be posting tons of outfit inspirations and travel tips.
I’d also love any recommendations for restaurants that anyone has!! We’ll be in Lake Garda, Venice, Mykonos, and Santorini – email me if you have favorite spots!!
I am so excited to be picking up the blog, and my life again. For anyone who is still reading this, THANK YOU. THANK YOU for caring about me and my story. Sometimes falling down creates the best endings and I’m excited to keep sharing mine with you.