Guest Writer Wednesday: "I'm so sorry."
Ashley shares her infertility journey through multiple miscarriages, a unicornuate uterus diagnosis, infertility treatments (IUI), and the eventual birth of her daughter and sons! Let's welcome Ashley to the Unicorn Mission!
January 2009. I get dragged to a psychic expo 6 months after my mom passes away. This crazy lady tells me that I will meet my husband whose name starts with M in 2011 and that we will have twin boys and a little girl.
Matt and I met in May 2011 and this is our fertility journey.
“I’m so sorry.” The words still ring in my ear like I heard them yesterday. That’s how the doctor started the conversation when he was telling my I was most likely miscarrying…the first time. It was the day before my first OB appointment. I was 12 weeks pregnant. I had just celebrated my 24th birthday the week before. I had started spotting and didn't think anything of it until I saw red. I took a trip to the ER. The doctor came out to tell me that my numbers were off and that there was either something wrong with the baby or I was having a miscarriage. He booked me for an ultrasound the next morning before I had my scheduled appointment. I went home that night hoping that this was all a bad dream. I woke up the next morning and drove myself back to the hospital.
The woman doing the ultrasound wouldn't say anything, wouldn't show me anything, and I knew something was wrong. I then drove straight to the OB office hoping that they would tell me that everything was okay. That was the exact opposite of what happened. My doctor opened the door and very solemnly said, “Ashley, I’m so sorry but there was no heartbeat.” My world shattered. I chose to have a D&C because he could get me in immediately. I went there absolutely terrified but wanting nothing more than for this nightmare to end. I only had one question. When can we start trying again?
We waited a couple months to try again like our doctor had suggested. I became obsessed. Obsessed with the idea of having a baby. Obsessed with figuring out our best chances of getting pregnant. It consumed me. I was lucky to get pregnant and those little lines were amazing and terrifying at the same time. Two weeks later I was sitting on my couch at home and had to go to the washroom. There it was. Blood. I headed for the ER. This time I was able to have an ultrasound right away. She didn't say anything, didn't show me the screen and I knew. “I’m so sorry. There was no heartbeat,” and my world fell apart all over again. I was early enough that I didn't need a procedure. I didn't know what to do with myself so we decided it was time to take a break.
A couple months later, I had started a new job. We started planning our wedding, and we let things be. By the time we decided to try again, I was hesitant but quickly fell back into the obsession. It took a little longer this time to get pregnant. Then it happened. Those two precious lines…we were thrilled. I was terrified. Constantly checking the toilet paper every time I went pee. And when I was eight weeks pregnant my reoccurring nightmare emerged. It was back to the ER, back to the “I’m so sorry,” and this time it was back to the hospital for my second D&C. Two years later, almost to the day. Right after my 26th birthday. My only question once again was “when can we try again?”
The next month before I even had a cycle I was pregnant. And two weeks after that I was miscarrying. It was my 4th miscarriage in two years. I was so confused. My doctor just kept saying, “You are young and healthy. There’s no reason for this to happen.” I gave up. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. We were just done for now. So,we got a dog. A beautiful golden retriever named Axl who quickly consumed our lives. The next month was my husband's 30th birthday. I focused on that, and then two weeks after his birthday I felt off.
I knew this feeling. I knew I was pregnant before I even took the test, and I was terrified.
I called the OB right away, and he started me on progesterone suppositories and baby aspirin. He said if there was anything we could do that this would be it. At six weeks the blood came. I called the OB this time and explained and saved myself the heartbreaking trip to the ER. He scheduled me for an ultrasound only this time she showed me the screen. That beautiful beating heart lit up and I almost fell over. How is the heart beating? I’m bleeding? What happening? Three weeks went by, and I was still bleeding. He had taken me off work and I spent every day praying that my baby was okay. At nine weeks I had another ultrasound and was cleared to go back to work. The baby - it looked like a tiny baby and not a blob- was going strong. 20 weeks and they were asking if we wanted to know the gender. 36 weeks and I woke up soaking wet. I made my way to OB triage and was told that the baby had barely any fluid left. I had a slow leak that I was unaware of and the baby needed to come now. Within 30 minutes I was in the OR and heard my baby cry for the very first time. A little baby girl named Isabella Edith was born at 9:58 am on Saturday, October 31, 2015. My entire world made sense when I held that precious baby. While they were closing my incision the doctor noticed that something with my uterus wasn't right. She wrote in the report that Isabella was only in one half of my uterus and that she didn't see the other half.
She explained this to my husband and me in the OR but we were so confused we didn't understand how that was possible. I left it alone until my 6 week checkup. I was told by my OB that if my uterus was abnormal that it COULD be the cause for miscarriages but we would never know for sure.
I started seeing a fertility specialist name Dr. Victory. How amazing. Right off the bat I knew I was in good hands. He decided to investigate further into what my uterus actually looked like. After having an HSG (ultrasound with saline being injected into your uterus) and an MRI we found out that I had whats called a unicornuate uterus. Exactly half of what a normal uterus looks like. He said it belonged in a text book when he stared at the image on the screen. I was in shock but I FINALLY HAD AN ANSWER.
It all started to come together. By the time we had every answer it was a year later. A year of us trying on our own and not getting pregnant at all. He had told me to get a surrogate, that having a baby with a unicornuate uterus was high risk and I shot it down. I wanted to carry my own baby. He then suggested IVF and I shot that down. I knew that I could become pregnant but my problem was miscarriage so why spend so much money only to most likely lose the baby. Finally, he suggested IUI. I said yes. We decided to do medicated cycles to increase our chances and be monitored as closely as possible. It was hard. Hard to inject myself multiple times a day. Hard to have all of this anxiety while not only working two jobs but also having a one year old at home.
We went though IUI #1 with me being convinced that this was happening. I would get pregnant and all would be perfect. Wrong. I got those two beautiful lines but just as quickly as they came they left. Chemical pregnancy is what they called it. We did IUI #3, and I stalked my own body. I took a test every day to test out my trigger shot and then every day after waiting for those two lines. They appeared. Dark. Darker than normal. Almost immediately I felt symptoms and I was elated. Something was different this time. My blood work showed higher hCG levels than any pregnant I had previously had.
Then, like always, it came. The bleeding started and it was heavy. I had blood work done and it showed extremely high numbers and the nurse tried to tell me I was fine. I demanded an ultrasound. I went to two places and after thinking that I was about to have surgery for an ectopic pregnancy he started to shake his head…then he started to laugh. I was furious. How on earth could you possibly laugh right now? “Ashley… I see a heartbeat.” Cue heart in throat. “Ashley, you're not going to believe this but I see two heartbeats.” I looked at the man like he had three heads. What do you mean you see two heartbeats? “Ash, I see a third baby but theres no heartbeat.” I almost died right there on that damn table. Triplets. This little 5 foot girl with half a uterus was pregnant with triplets. But lost one. All I could say was, “Are you fucking kidding me?” He sent me home. I took it easy. As easy as I could with a toddler at home but I wasn’t prepared for the mayhem that was about to ensue.
At 23 weeks pregnant I was off work. At 24 weeks and 5 days pregnant, I was admitted to the hospital. At 25 weeks pregnant, I was sent two hours away to a hospital with a NICU equipped for preemies born before 28 weeks. 35 days after being admitted at 29 weeks and 5 days pregnant my 2.7 and 2.8 lb perfectly premature baby boys entered this world. Matteo and Maxwell.
My pregnancy journey ends here. I went above and beyond to have my babes and I don't regret any of it. I pushed my body to do things that it was just not meant to do and I am beyond grateful and lucky that all three of my children are doing exceptionally well.
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Q & A with Ashley
What would you say is your primary infertility issue?
Before I knew there was a problem, I miscarried 4 times. The longest time in between us trying to get pregnant and actually getting pregnant was over one year. From first pregnancy to the birth of the boys was six years. After finding out about unicornuate uterus, we did an IUI. We got pregnant naturally five times before that.
What are the top 3 things you want the reader to take away from your story?
1. You are not alone.
2. It is not your fault.
3. Whatever your journey ends up being, you have to have peace with it and with yourself.
What do you wish you knew back in 2011 when you started this journey that you know now? What would you have said to yourself 7 years ago?
You have to be your own advocate. Deep down if you think something is wrong, there is a good chance you could be right. I knew something was wrong, but I listened to my doctor tell me I was young and healthy and fine. Doctors can say whatever they want, but you know your own body better than anyone else. I would have told myself that you’re in for one hell of a ride. That none of this is your fault. That without all of those losses, you wouldn’t have the children you have now and I can’t wait for you to meet them.
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