I’ve always been a late bloomer. I fancy myself to be rather immature which bodes well for having fun and being young at heart but not when it comes to making babies. When you are in your forties there is nothing pleasant about getting pregnant. Or at least that was my experience.
The day I got married I had just turned forty and I foolishly thought all I had to do was go off the pill and I’d get pregnant. My immaturity was failing me. I might have looked thirty-two but my reproductive organs knew otherwise. My husband and I sought out a fertility specialist quickly since the clock was ticking loudly and that scared the hell out of me.
My journey was to be a very sobering, lonely and isolating one and that wasn’t anything I had been used to in my adult life. I was referred to one of the best fertility doctors in NYC and luckily his clinic took our insurance.
My husband and I would sit this large jam packed waiting room with all sorts of couples trying to get pregnant. They were old, young, Hasidic, same sex…you name it. We were all there for the same reason, to make a baby. While it became painfully clear to me I was not alone on this journey, even in a crowded waiting room I felt totally raw and completely alone. How could the woman sitting next to me know what I was going through? In truth, she probably did, but you just can’t grasp that when you are in the thick of disappointment.
The doctor first tried IUI (think turkey basting) which has a pretty low success rate, but requires less drugs and injections. I did five rounds of IUI and all failed. That means I had wasted five months. When we went back to the doctor for our next appointment I was afraid he was going to suggest trying IUI again and I just couldn’t hear that. I had to speak up for myself and say “this isn’t working! What’s next?”
I knew the answer, it was IVF. Things were getting real and now I was scared. IVF was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done and I did it three times! It’s mental and physical hell. You have to give yourself injections (your partner has to give you the ones in places you can’t reach), they have to be injected at just the right time and the drugs make you feel like you are losing your mind…and in a way you are. I had bruises on top of bruises and my heart was in my throat most of the time. The loneliness was palpable.
What If It Doesn't Work?
Even my husband could not help the emptiness and quell the thoughts that were going on in my head. “What if this doesn’t work at all? What if I am unable to have children?” My first round of IVF was a total failure. So was my second. I was freaking out and had a constant pit in in my stomach, but no baby. We had one last chance to make this work before our insurance ran out.
So before the third round my husband and I made a special appointment with our doctor. I had to ask him point blank “do we need to go somewhere else?” Whatever he was having us do was not working. There was a lot of pressure on the doctor as well as ourselves. It was putting stress on my marriage and my entire self-worth as a woman. All I wanted was a baby. Just one single healthy baby. It’s all I could think about.
My concentration and therefore ability to work was nil and every time I heard about someone being pregnant (which seemed like every day) I wanted to be happy for them, but I went home and sobbed. Why was I so unlucky? Why wasn’t I worthy of a baby? Why did I wait so long? Of course I blamed myself and that wasn’t helping matters. The stress could not be good for me.
Finding A Sign Of Hope
Sometime during my second round of IVF I met a very pregnant woman who looked to be in her 40’s. I had nothing to lose at this point so I just walked up to her and started talking to her and then began asking questions. Thankfully she took mercy on me when I almost broke down telling her of my fertility struggles.
She told me she had gone through much the same but found an acupuncturist who had been written up in the NY Times that had amazing success at getting women pregnant through acupuncture. He was supposedly a miracle baby maker. He worked for her. I took his name and number and kept it in my wallet, just in case. So when my husband and I met with our fertility doctor to talk about the protocol for this third and final round he mentioned we may want to also use their on-staff acupuncturist. I immediately told him, “No, I’m going to this one!”
I had the magic phone number in my wallet. I left his office and immediately called Dr. Wu and together with my IVF protocol we all worked together to try to get me pregnant. As soon as I met Dr. Wu I had this feeling in my gut this time would be different. But I certainly didn’t share that with anyone, not even my husband. Between appointments at the fertility clinic I was seeing Dr. Wu three times a week. It cost us a lot of out of pocket money, but I did not care. This had to work.
Something about the acupuncture was different because I had previously produced about ten eggs and this time I had over twenty! My belly was so distended I already looked pregnant. When I went to have my eggs harvested for implantation even my fertility doctor was shocked. The best dozen were placed in a Petri dish and we waited three days when I was told to come in on Valentine’s Day for implantation. That had to be a good sign right?
Getting Pregnant - And Having My Son
A week later I got the call from the fertility clinic telling me my numbers were amazing I couldn’t believe it. They were numbers I had never heard before. And they kept multiplying daily. I was pregnant! Dr. Wu was convinced I was pregnant with twins because my heart rate was so high. I planned to keep seeing him twice a week as I was sure he was the reason this pregnancy finally worked and I didn’t want to do anything to jinx it. Besides, now I found acupuncture relaxing and Lord knows I needed relaxing.
My fertility clinic released me to an OBGYN once I was three months along, but I was not giving up Dr. Wu. In fact, I saw him once a week until I was eight months pregnant. I learned through my amino test I was carrying a boy. Apparently there had been a girl too but she absorbed early in the pregnancy. So Dr. Wu was correct, I had been carrying twins. I was a sad I had lost a girl but still thrilled I had one baby.
My son Liam arrived October 18, 2009 and I was shocked I had this perfectly healthy, beautiful baby boy. They say it takes a village, and apparently it does when you are over forty and struggling with fertility issues.
You're Not Alone
I’d love to say my story is unique or different than everybody else’s because it feels like it when you are going through it yourself. However, being vocal about my struggles now, I know my story is the same as countless other women who want a baby so badly they are willing to do almost anything to themselves to have one. Once the fog lifts and you can see clearly you learn you are not alone. Not by a long shot. That’s why I share my story with anyone who wants to hear it, because I know there are so many out there with similar stories.
Lauren Dimet Waters
EIC of FountainOf30.com