If I can remember one constant in my life while growing up, it was that I always knew I wanted to have kids. When I started dating women in high school, I wasn’t sure how that was going to affect my dreams of becoming a mom – all I knew was that dream had not changed.
When I met my current wife Jessi, we had to discuss things about becoming a family that may look different for other couples (like who would carry the baby if one of us got pregnant, which donor would we use, would we find the donor through a cryobank or a known donor, which last name would the baby have, how many kids would we have – and would they be from the same donor, etc.). Honestly, the list goes on and on and it did take some time for us to come up with answers to these questions. After lots of research, and realizing how much money we would need for donor vials, a fertility clinic, medication, and more, we were finally ready in early 2017 to try and get pregnant.
I had bought enough vials (or so I thought) of the donor we would want to use from a cryobank to eventually have 2 kids.
At this point, I was 27 years old and had NO CLUE if I could even get pregnant or what this whole journey was going to look like for us. We decided to go with IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), which is a type of fertility treatment that involves placing sperm (in this case, our donor sperm) inside of my uterus.
After some initial testing and getting the green light, our first IUI was in early February 2017. We ended up doing back-to-back IUI’s because we had heard that it was supposed to raise your chances (so we used 2 vials from our reserve at the cryobank).
To our surprise, it actually worked on the first try! We were over the moon excited, and shortly after found out we were having a girl.
Fast forward to October 2017 and we welcomed our daughter, Shiloh, to the world. She is now four and a half years old and literally the center of our world. She is everything I’ve ever dreamed of and our family has felt so incredibly full of love since her birth.
Last year we started discussing the possibility of getting pregnant again. Now Jessi had already made it clear that she did not want to get pregnant, which made my life easy because I was the one who always wanted to be pregnant.
We had 8 vials left of our donor sperm at the cryobank, and because our IUI with Shiloh worked the first time, I can honestly say we thought it might be the same way this time around.
It wasn’t. Far from it actually. This journey for baby #2 would bring us into 2022 with a lot of hard lessons learned, and me being brought to my knees by this whole process.
At this point we started the journey again for baby #2 in May 2021 (while Shiloh was 3 years old at the time). We met with our fertility doctor in May to get some testing done, and we ended up doing our first IUI (back to back again) in June.
We were so excited, because we were so ready to add another baby to our family and to also give Shiloh a sibling.
I took a pregnancy test (actually, many pregnancy tests) and it was negative. I had never experienced this before, so it was a new feeling for me, and for us.
I was determined, and at this point we had 6 vials left of the same donor we used with Shiloh.
We scheduled another IUI for July (back to back again) and the result was the same. Another negative pregnancy test.
Speeding up a bit, we did one more IUI, with back to back inseminations, which also ended in negative pregnancy tests. At this point I was freaking out because not only was this taking way longer than we thought, but also I had started some medication that had some really horrible side effects for me. We had 2 vials left from our donor, so we decided for our next IUI to only use one vial and to change up the medication slightly.
Well, after this IUI we got our first positive pregnancy test.
We were OVER THE MOON excited because this baby was so wanted and we had been trying for months at that point to get pregnant.
We told our families, we told our friends, we shared on our social media platforms because we had been sharing our IUI journey so publicly to hopefully help others who were going through similar situations.
We had built such an incredible, supportive community on instagram that I immediately shared the news with them and everyone was ecstatic along with us.
Now, at our 2nd or 3rd fertility clinic appointment we knew something was kind of off, because our HCG numbers weren’t going up like they should and at our ultrasound when we should’ve heard the heartbeat the doctor said we would listen to it “next time.”
There was no next time.
The next time I went in for an ultrasound was the time I had to say goodbye to our baby.
It was one of the hardest moments of my life, and the weeks that followed.
As I was grieving, I had a hard decision to make. We had one vial left from this donor, and it was the month of December, end of 2021. Now I could wait and start our last IUI in 2022 and give myself a few months off, or I could jump right back into it and do our last IUI in December when my period came back.
I decided to just go for it.
I scheduled my IUI, decided to go med-free on this one, and waited the excruciatingly long 2 weeks to find out if we were pregnant with our rainbow baby.
Just one month after losing our baby, I found out I was pregnant again – with our last vial from the same donor we used with Shiloh.
Now, you would think that I would feel relief and joy being pregnant again, but this time was so different for me. I struggled to feel any kind of happiness around this pregnancy, because I had just gone through a loss. I waited on pins and needles for my HCG number results after every test, and after every ultrasound I found myself still holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I am currently 24 weeks pregnant and it has absolutely gotten better; I can feel our baby kicking and moving around and that has been so incredibly helpful for my anxiety. I have just started purchasing baby items, because I couldn’t bring myself to do it before this point. I think it was a mixture of PTSD, anxiety, and just honestly the reality of me being pregnant had not set in, even as my belly continued to grow.
Every family has ups and downs, struggles that they go through and this was definitely one of those seasons for us. We are absolutely stronger and more unified because of this experience, and it has really connected me with so many other women who have gone through a loss.
Miscarriage is not talked about enough. Early pregnancies are not talked about enough.
My hope is that more of us come out and speak about the struggles and victories of our individual fertility journeys.
We found out we are having another girl, so we will be a house full of four girls. Shiloh has started to feel the baby kick on my stomach, and she talks to her regularly. Jessi and I are working on choosing a name for her, and starting to put together items for when she arrives.
Everything we did was 100% worth it. We can’t wait to meet our little rainbow baby in September.
This story was written by Rachel from @bigpictureplay for our Hello Parents series. Our mission is to create a community of extreme inclusivity. Appreciating what makes us different and what we all have in common. No judgment. Just a village of support.