Maybe I’m the only one, but when I was little I used to make my Bratz dolls pregnant. I would stuff clothes in their shirts and pretend they were having a baby. On Saturday mornings I would wake up extra early to secretly watch “A Baby Story” on TLC. For as long as I can remember, my life has always revolved around becoming a mom one day. I didn’t know how challenging that journey would be for me until much later.
I started my birth control horror story when I was 16. “You have some acne that I think birth control can help with,” isn’t that what they told everyone? It was fine I guess, I was only going to be on a low dose. It will help my acne and my moodiness. Those were the things I told myself. That was normal. Who wasn’t on birth control? For the next 11 years, I spent so much time in fear of getting pregnant because I was so convinced it would be that easy. As I got older, anytime I was on antibiotics, I would panic. If I took my pill even 1 hour later than normal, I would panic. I was surely convinced that I could get pregnant at any time and my life would be over because it wasn’t time for me to be a mom yet. I loved watching 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, but I did not want to be one. Flash forward to 2020, I was getting ready to get married. My husband and I talked often about kids, baby names and when we would start trying, etc. It was exhilarating. My time is finally coming, soon I will become a mom! We talked about wanting to wait a year before trying because we wanted to travel and buy a house. Let’s be real though, traveling was off the table three months into 2020.
During this time, I was starting to get sick. I began sleeping more often which was unlike me. Maybe I was stressed at work. Maybe it was the weight of the pandemic. I was slowly slipping away into a mild depression because I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. The only thing I knew was that I had zero energy to do anything. The strangest part was that I was starting to get winded. Walking upstairs made me feel like I had just run a mile. I thought to myself, “Why am I so short of breath after only a few stairs?” It seemed to be persistent, but I tried to put it past me since we were planning a wedding for the end of the year. Months went by and I wasn’t getting better, I was getting worse. Intermittent chest pains, continued shortness of breath, leg cramps, dizziness, and severe fatigue. I was constantly going in to see my primary care which led to further testing. She was checking for a plethora of things, but what became most concerning was one particular blood test. This test indicated potential blood clots. The tests are vague, not really giving us an exact answer, but we continued to monitor.
It was a week before my wedding and I spent whatever spare time I had on the couch. I was still just exhausted. My doctor rechecked the lab and sure enough it was still elevated. She told me to go to my wedding and that we would reconvene when we got back. Sure enough after the wedding, it was still elevated. My doctor told me that my next step was to rule out anything serious with a CT scan. “I don’t think anything will be wrong, we just have to make sure.” I remember that exact sentence. It was a Monday. It was the week of Thanksgiving. I had my CT scan scheduled for the following week, but I never made it. By Saturday, I was in so much pain and it felt like my husband was sitting on my chest. After a lot of convincing, we went to the ER. I told the doctor that I had a CT scan scheduled because of elevated D-dimers. He ordered the scan, and it was time to wait.
Several hours into being at the ER, there was a shift-change. My nurse came in randomly to start checking my vitals and I remember looking at my new husband thinking something was wrong. The provider came in to tell me my scan results…
“It seems you have blood clots in both of your lungs, do you smoke cigarettes?” To make a long story short, I was sent home with a new prescription for blood thinners and to stop using my NuvaRing. That’s another story for another day. At this point, I had to take a lot of time to rest and heal. Babies were not yet on our radar…even as newlyweds. After 6 months I was cleared by my specialists. July 2021, I stopped taking progesterone birth control, but it would take another 6 months to get a period.
Maybe it’s just from all the stress, no period after birth control is normal right? To spare the details, it’s not. It’s not normal to not have periods. I knew something was wrong. After the 6th month of no period, I went to my OBGYN. I needed to follow up with her anyways after the pulmonary embolism. I went through lots of tests and ultrasounds and she came to the conclusion that she thinks I have PCOS.
Really? Another obstacle, what else? I was defeated. She offered to start me on fertility medication to induce ovulation. I started my first round of letrozole in April of 2022 after we had started trying in February. I was ovulating with the medication, we were intimate at the right times, why was I not getting pregnant? I tried my second round of letrozole in June of 2022 and yet again, another failed cycle. Something in my gut told me to ask for more help. I reached out to my OBGYN and asked her opinion on getting a consultation with a fertility clinic. She told me to try another cycle while I wait for an appointment which I was informed may be several months.
I think it was meant to be. I called the clinic and got an appointment within 2 weeks. We met for a telemedicine visit and we talked about everything. The PCOS, the pulmonary embolism, my thyroid issues. I had literally started my period that morning and the day before I was crying at yet again, another negative pregnancy test. She said, “let’s get the ball rolling.” She recommended a medicated cycle with increased dosing of letrozole, trigger shot with Ovidrel and ultrasounds. I was so excited. This was it; THIS is my turn. She wanted to make sure everything else was okay, so she ordered me to have an HSG test (hysterosalpingogram) which is common in the infertility world. July 19th, I went in for my appointment optimistic for good results. I left that appointment feeling defeated again. I was told that my fallopian tubes were completely open (that’s relieving!) but that she wanted to talk to me once I was off the table and dressed. I got dressed and sat in her office. I remember thinking to myself, more bad news?
“Sara, your tubes look great, but your uterus is abnormally shaped. You have what we call a uterine septum, and it seems there are some spots in your uterus that didn’t take the dye which may indicate you have polyps. To increase your chances at a safe and successful pregnancy, we recommend getting scheduled for surgery.” Wow…it really couldn’t get much worse. Literally, what else could go wrong?
It didn’t take long for me to decide that I want to go through with the surgery, and my husband agreed. After months of negative tests, many tears and so much frustration, we decided that our best shot would be surgery. August 23rd, I’ll go in for surgery to fix my uterine septum, remove the polyps and continue our fertility journey.
Baby Stewart, we are so ready for you. Mom has been through a lot, but this is the journey worth the wait.