I frequently joke that our story is more like a series ending House, rather than an episode of Grey's Anatomy. But... My husband and I were married in July 2016 and we assumed that we would become pregnant right away (we were so naive to the world of infertility). We got pregnant on our honeymoon and then had a miscarriage around 6 weeks. We were devastated, but also hopefully that since it happened right away we would become pregnant again quickly. After a year of trying (temping, OPK pacs, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, diets, no alcohol, no caffeine, no BPA's, etc.) we decided to go to a fertility clinic. I was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve and directed to go straight to IVF and do embryo banking to preserve my fertility. I was crushed and felt like my woman-hood had been given a death sentence. We had our first round and were able to retrieve 2 genetically normal embryos, but they also found a mass on my ovary and I had to go to an oncologist. He suggested that I get it removed because it could be (or become) cancerous. During this procedure they had to remove my ovary and fallopian tube because the mass had taken over, although we were fortunate it was benign. We moved on to rounds 2 (1 normal embryo) and 3 (3 normal embryos). When the time came to transfer them back in, we were so hopeful and optimistic, thinking that the worst was behind us. FET 1, 2, 3 did not stick and they kept saying that we "just had bad luck". I tried recurrent loss testing, sonohystogram, hysteroscopy, uterine biopsy, etc. Everything came back normal. They had no explanation as to why perfectly good embryos were not implanting in a perfectly good uterus. The fourth transfer they suggested to try a different protocol, and that one was positive but we quickly found ourselves in "beta hell" and learned that we were having a "missed miscarriage". They suggested a Manual Vacuum Aspiration, and after that was complete we sought a new clinic. This clinic suggested trying a natural transfer with Lovenox and embryo glue, but before we could do that, I needed to have another hysteroscopy to make sure my uterine lining was clear (routine after any D&C like procedure). They discovered scar tissue on my uterus and I needed to clear that up before moving on to another transfer. I know that scar tissue alone can cause infertility and I was not optimistic of our chances. While waiting for the scar tissue to resolve, we did another egg retrieval (4 normal embryos) and signed up with a surrogacy agency for a gestational carrier. The wait to be matched was 8-10 months and I was starting to feel like I could not take another loss in my own body. 5 months later another hysteroscopy revealed that the scar tissue was still there and at this point we were only 3 months away from being matched. I came to terms with the fact that I was not going to carry my baby and I would not breastfeed, but I was ok with that if it meant being a mom. We were 2 weeks away from the gestational carrier process beginning when my uterus cleared up and our RE suggested that we try one more time in my body. I agreed, thinking that we could at least say we tried everything before we spend over 100,000 on a gestational carrier. That "one last time" led to our sweet rainbow baby, Makena.
At some point during our 2AM nursing sessions, I decided to write a book for Makena about our journey and how hard to we fought to get to her. I began writing down rhyme ideas on the notes page of my iPhone. When I read them back, I realized that these roadblocks on the way to our rainbow could represent just about any path to get there (IUI, IVF, egg/sperm donor, miscarriage, adoption, embryo adoption/donation, surrogacy, etc.) and that many other families could relate.
What quotes inspires you?
"Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the mouth" - Mike Tyson
I feel like this quote sums up our road perfectly. We had a plan, a million times over, and we kept getting punched in the mouth. Changing our plans and expecting the punches became our new normal.
"You don't have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you're holding".
My husband and I were really great at finding joy in the moments in between cycles. We took advantage of flight points and booked trips after each failed round. (Nashville and Napa were our favorites)
I always tried to tell myself that if we did not end up with a baby in the end then we would sit back and wish we did not waste these precious years. OR if we were lucky enough to have a baby, we would sit back and wish we did not waste these precious years. So either way, we have to try and pick ourselves back up and find a way to live and enjoy the other parts of life too.
What inspired you to support a non-profit as part of your children's book?
Throughout our four years, we endured 2 different clinics, an unexplained infertility diagnosis, an oncology scare with an ovary removal, 4 IVF retrievals, 3 failed transfers, 2 miscarriages, multiple diagnostic procedures, a gestational carrier contract, and oceans of tears. Living in Rhode Island, we were fortunate to have infertility coverage, and yet we still paid $20,000 out of pocket. Without our insurance coverage, we would have been looking at $100,000+ and there is no way that we would have been able to financially sustain all it took to finally reach our rainbow. For that reason, I always wanted to find a way to help others who are still waiting and walking their 'road to rainbow'.
What is one question you wished I would ask? What is this question? You guessed it, please provide answer/response.
FUN Facts about Kristy:
Our theme song throughout our years of waiting is/was "Wont Back Down" by Tom Petty. We listened to it while he injected me with shots
My IG handle name is @breakdownandrally and I chose that because that is how I survived infertility. No matter how many breakdowns I had, I knew I always had to find a way to rally.
Thank you Kristy for sharing your incredible story with the Roaring Adventures community and your incredible gracious ongoing contributions through the purchase of Road to Rainbow.
With much gratitude,