This is Erin’s story…
For as long as I can remember I have always wanted 4 kids! I know, it’s crazy! Right? But I have these ideas of a big family and all the amazing traits that each bring to unite us all. Big dinners, big events, big family stuff… I, myself have one older brother.
I thought it would be easy to have children since my mother is from a family of 10 and my father from a family of 7. That should be an easy venture wouldn’t you think?
My husband and I met at work, we are now 12 years happily married and been through so much, he is my rock and I cherish us.
I was 27 when we were married, lots of time to think about having kids, but I always had a plan and that was to start after a year married, so that is what we did. So, the first month trying turned into the first year and some red flags went up. I felt ashamed, but I sheepishly mentioned this issue of one year to my doctor and he immediately referred me to his trusted colleague for fertility testing. I felt guilty and broken and like I was letting my husband down.
Our Extended Family
I called the fertility clinic to see if I could go in alone to check things out? Under the husband radar kind of thing… but they said no, both need testing to rule out preliminary factors. I let this resonate with me for about 2 weeks, thinking of how I can fix it. But I realized I couldn’t do it alone so I had to find my humility to ask my husband to go to the fertility clinic with me.
The night I asked him is still clear in my mind like yesterday. We sat quiet on the couch watching news, and I asked if he would mind going through this with me and… without a second of hesitation of awkward inference he said “of course!, when do we go?”
These were the first of many situations I fell deeper in love with this man I am privileged to journey with.
About a week went by and we went into the clinic to meet the staff that we now fondly look back on as family. We spent 7 years with them all and this is how it went.
At 29, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) a very common condition in women as it happens. My Doctor said, “We will have you pregnant in one month” confidently. BUT even still nothing happened. I felt so many feelings in those days.
Years of continuous testing and cycle to cycle hopes came and went, ups and downs on an emotional roller coaster most could never understand.
Loss after loss. I had to forgive myself and move on. Often there were losses that I didn’t have time to process before I was getting ready to try another cycle, new drugs and more testing. Intimacy felt like a job. Science and comparing results took much away from the fun and replaced it with duty (to the kids we were determined to get).
Trying All The Things
I went on diets (Organic, no coffee, no sugars. Etc.) I did acupuncture, massage therapy, psychotherapy and more to ease any stressors I may not know could impact my having kids…. Still … nothing.
Moving on To IVF
It was the 5th year I would say (possibly the 6th?) that we decided to start IVF (Invitro Fertilization) after many IUI’s (Intrauterine Injections). The First IVF we were so sure would be the answer, I got lots of eggs so knew that was not an issue, we cycled through and it worked! … Kind of … it was lost in a miscarriage with Kidney stones too. OUCH!
I remember accepting my Degree at convocation walking across the stage. I carried Extra strength Tylenol in my bra that day. Now I know all the pain and stress was worth it, but the process was draining! We suffered another set back but I had my eye on the ball now and knew that this IVF thing would work and this is going to be the end of the chapter soon, I could just feel it.
For the next cycle the Doc hit us hard with every drug and high dose he could to get the best results. We had 18 follicles that matured! I felt like a stuffed chicken that was running for a goal. They wanted to cancel our cycle due to overstimulation and I said “like HELL!” we are doing this! If I have to move out to a farm with 11 kids so be it! (Not all at once of course). So … we did.
We had 11 fertilize out of these and 2 fresh kiddo’s were put in, POSITIVE with high Beta levels! I was so excited I cried, only a little and not long, as it may not process as we had learned before. But I felt different and of course hopeful that it all worked so I put everything I had into the positive of it all, and just let go, enjoying it this time.
In December we had our Son, a healthy baby boy full term with no issues at all in the whole pregnancy. He was 1 of 2 embryos put in. OH BOY did we just cherish every second with him, took him everywhere, got him everything we could, and just loved being parents.
My husband was a rock and so amazing through this entire journey for us all, we worked hard to keep things open and positive but wow it was hard, but worth everything!
Ten months later we went to start the next cycle. We had 8 frozen embryos. Newer drugs were made and they worked with this cycle and that next year we had our first Daughter, a healthy girl who was also 1 of 2 embryos.
We cherished every moment again with this family of 4 we were amazed to have! Well now we had 6 left in the freezer and once the time came we knew we wanted more so we started again and went to pick up two more kids. Our last cycle was 2 of 2 embryos that were the survivors of a thaw and transferred back to me. We had TWINS! Another full term 38 week pregnancy without issues or complications. We had our two girl twins join our family happy and healthy, and were in our dream life.
All our embryos were used and we had 4 kids after 7 years in the Fertility family life. There is nothing in this world that I would do differently. We have our family of 4, just as it was meant to be, but in a way I didn’t understand at first. Our 4 kids are all twins separated by time. I feel that was the coolest part of all.
I was one of the lucky people who had a family to support me on this journey. I could have had no kids at all, and my life would be very different. I’m sure it would work out just differently. The experience of infertility is an empty unlike anything anyone would understand.
Our Happy Result
Our kids are now 6, 4, and 2 and life here is crazy. Many days we are so busy and just passing each other by getting so much done. But wouldn’t trade one moment in for anything in the world. We tried so long and are so proud of the family we were given and that is what I wake up thinking every day.
Many … Very many, people see me with the 4 kids (6 and under) and state, wow! You have your hands full, and you are still smiling!!? (they mean no harm, they don’t know my story); it always makes me laugh a little more because when I hear that I think … yes, I’m SO tired, life IS crazy and I have my hands full and I am so grateful for all of it. I SMILE because I can; because my option was none, but I got to have 4!!!
Wow You Have Your Hands Full
I will never, not smile with this life. How lucky are we?!
This has not been a topic I openly discuss to many, I am an advocate for IVF, and love to support and hear of parents who are on their journey to encourage them and tell them – Don’t give up, it will happen and keep on going!
If my story helps to strengthen any one at all then I’m happy to have helped even just a little.
Thank you and good luck,
(Erin’s IVF story happened well before Ontario’s Fertility Program was in place. She wanted to share her hopeful journey so others would know they are not alone.)