Courtney's beautiful family picture and gut wrenching story hit my inbox last week as part of the #MoreThan1in8 project. She took me to my knees, both in empathetic pain and in gratitude of her bravery in sharing her story. And so, I asked her if I could share it publicly here with you all. Recently I have found another reason I was chosen to be the mother to my babies, even if only from afar. It seems I have a gift for working with people through not only infertility but also secondary infertility and pregnancy after loss. I don't know what it is as it is hard to even put into words. It is a space I can hold, a love I can share, a permission I somehow can give.
This work is life changing, it is some of the most important work I have ever done.
Here is Courtney's incredible story, make sure to check out her blog at Hope Sweet Hope.
I am more than 1 in 8.
I much more than 1 in 8.
I am a fighter. A survivor. A mother.
I have been through hell and back- yet I stand tall. My journey to becoming a mother has been heartbreaking and tragic. I have been let down by my body time and time again, yet I stay determined.
In 2011 we went through our first IVF attempt. 2 embryos were implanted. Success. We got pregnant.
Sitting on top of the world I remember feeling lucky and grateful. It only took us one try. IVF does a number to your mind and body and I certainly couldn't imagine doing multiple rounds.
A couple weeks after we got the good news we found out we were expecting twins. We were overjoyed to say the least. How lucky are we!? We tried and tried for two years to get pregnant and now that we are pregnant we get TWO! We were thrilled.
A couple weeks later is when our lives changed forever. I went in for a routine ultrasound. While making small talk with my favorite ultrasound tech I remember looking up and seeing a surprised look on her face.
"Oh my...there's three babies in here."
My heart started beating rapidly. Three!? Come again!? How?? I was speechless.
The room was silent and she was looking intensely at the sonogram. Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped.
"Four. There's four babies."
I immediately told her to stop counting. Shock is putting it lightly. How in the hell was I pregnant with four babies!? How in the hell would a whole 5'1" of me carry four babies!? Deep down, I knew this wasn't good.
Hours later my doctor called me. Carrying these babies wouldn't be an option. A selective termination was what he recommended and over the course of a few weeks my husband and I painfully agreed.
We were pregnant with four babies; A, B, C and D. A & B shared a sac and didn't appear healthy. C was by itself. D was by itself however- with very low fluid. We lost D by miscarriage a few days before Christmas.
The termination is hard to talk about. I remember every single second of that day. It is, and will always, be the worst day of my life. We terminated A & B while giving Baby C the best chance of survival.
I talk about my pregnancy in my blog, Hope Sweet Hope. My pregnancy was brutal. I was on bed rest for the entire pregnancy and on June 19, 2012, we welcomed a healthy, happy baby...Olivia Hope.
Since becoming a Mom I have made it a point to take too many pictures, kiss her too many times, brag about her often, and make every moment bigger and better than the last. I have NOT ONCE taken for granted that I am a Mom.
When I was pregnant with Olivia I always said I wouldn't do it again. I was petrified of being pregnant. But once I held her tiny self I made her a promise that I would do everything I could to bring her a sibling.
And that leads us to today. We decided before her first birthday to start IVF for Baby #2. We were naive in thinking that getting pregnant was the easy part. I mean, after all- it did only take one try to get pregnant with Olivia.
So far we have tried for 2 straight years while taking this past year off due to unknown health issues.
In two years I feel I have lost count in the amount of IVF attempts. I have lost count in the number of embryos we have frozen. I have lost count in the amount of injections, pills, blood draws. What I thought would be easy has turned into a nightmare.
So far, during my entire infertility journey, I have lost 5 innocent souls. 2 miscarriages and 3 selective terminations. Each loss has brought me to my knees. Each loss has rocked my faith. Each loss has brought heartache, anger and confusion.
Each loss has taken a piece of my heart.
I have sat up many of nights praying to whoever is there to listen. I've cried. I've screamed. I've begged. I've wondered time and time again what I've done wrong. What we've done wrong. I've looked for signs, begged for signs.
Not only has my body failed me getting pregnant naturally, my body has failed holding on to my babies.
Do you know how much of a failure that makes one feel?
Because I have one child, people don't understand why I don't just give up. Why I'm not "grateful" for one child. When I miscarry I get comments like, "well, that just means the baby wasn't healthy"...or...."it just wasn't meant to be."
The comments are brutal. Relationships with friends and family members have been tested.
I feel an immense pressure to get pregnant with #2. I've always wanted multiple children. I would like to complete my family. Most of all, I would like a sibling for my child. I had 3 siblings and I can't imagine life without every single one of them.
I won't always be here for my daughter. My husband won't always be here. There will come a time that my daughter won't have her parents...so it's important to us that we give her the gift of being a big sister.
Infertility is brutal. The struggle is real and unless you've gone through it you will never fully understand it. Infertility has changed my life.
But, infertility doesn't define me. Being a Mom defines me.
I am much, much more than 1 in 8.