A different kind of IVF story.
My husband and I have been married for 4 years, but even before we were married I had questions about whether we would be able to have children. You see, I fell in love with a boy in a wheelchair, and I knew from the very beginning that we would probably need some extra help in the baby making department.
Six years ago while on spring break my husband was injured in a body surfing accident. His injury left him as a C6 quadriplegic paralyzed from the chest down with no hand or leg function. On top of that, there are a lot of secondary issues that come with paralysis. One of those is that my husband isn't able to ejaculate. Trying to make it “work" doctors had us try all kinds of different things, and it was hard on my husband's body.
Some of the attempts were so extreme that due to potential health concerns (stroke, aneurysm, and risk of death) we had to stop using the recommended methods and pursue other routes.
At that point fear settled in.
The worst part of infertility is the UNKNOWN! You don't know if the medications, tests, recommendation of the doctors, or your body will work for you.After trying all the suggested options, and talking to our doctor, IVF was the final attempt towards us starting a family.
This began the hardest part of our journey.
I started birth control which I had never had to be on (due to our situation) and those hormones alone really messed with my body. But I needed to control my period cycle so we would know when I was ovulating. Then came the hormonal injections. Each morning I had to muster up the strength and courage to inject myself - many women have their spouse do the injections for them, but because my husband's hands don't work, it was on me. Part of the mustering up my courage routine was listening to a song by Sasha Sloan called “Keep on”. The words and music would help me find the courage, and was a great reminder to "Keep on rolling even on the bad days." I did 3 injections in my stomach for a period of ten days. This was to prepare my body to produce as many eggs as possible so we could harvest them in hopes of making good embryos. After the egg retrieval we were successful in getting 5 embryos. Wanting my body to have time to recover and be at its healthiest, we decided to take a two month break from hormones and procedures. Once we were ready I started a progesterone hormone that I would have to inject into my bum to get my body to think it was producing the right kinds of hormones to make a baby. Since we weren't getting pregnant the regular way we had to make my body think it was pregnant before doing the embryo transfer. I was also on medications to help give this embryo its best chance possible once we implanted it. Ten days after having my body on progesterone we were ready for transfer day, the day we get to implant our baby into my uterus. After implanting it's just more waiting, more shots, and more time for your mind to wander. You sacrifice so much, and you're willing to do anything. It's HUMAN to think “why me?” or “this isn't fair.” And those feelings are valid.
This process can be long, dragged out, and not knowing if anything will work makes the journey that much harder.
Surprisingly though, I have never had resentment towards my husband. We are a team. He is my partner, and I chose to go through life with him. So even though my body is healthy and ready to make a baby there has never been blame towards him. We have always tried our best to stay open minded, hopeful, and adaptive to the situation realizing that it might mean not having a child of our own flesh and blood.
There are so many feelings and emotions that come with dealing with infertility. As I learned more of other couples stories and struggles it caused different emotions to settle in at different times throughout the journey.
I remember the first time I saw my own positive pregnancy test there was a rush of excitement, happiness, and relief! Quickly it changed to guilt, fear, and sadness. You want to tell everyone you know the exciting news, but then you're held back in fear of “well maybe the baby won't make it”, or you’re afraid to hurt others feelings that you know struggle with infertility. Pregnancy guilt is real, because I felt so guilty that we were blessed to have the treatments work on our first try! However, along with that guilt I am also recognizing that each of us are on our own journey. What, when, how “it works” or it doesn’t work will be different for every couple. Each of our experiences and our stories are special & uniquely tailored by a loving Father in Heaven. All the hardships, fear, pain and sadness. Give it to God!
There have been, and will be many obstacles that come with my husband's spinal cord injury, but despite it all, we have had a very blessed life, and we are so excited to welcome our first miracle baby October 2021.
-- Sloan Bowen