Sharing stories is at the core of human nature — we love hearing stories for so many reasons, but something that is often forgotten is that sharing one’s personal story is important because of so many reasons, but we will only highlight three of them — (1) it is relatable, (2) it is cathartic for the ones doing the sharing, and (3) it lets the readers know that they are not alone in what they are going through.
When we first contacted Kim to share her pre-and post-pregnancy story, she told us that she would love to share her story “to help people going through it remain hopeful and also feel less alone. I know I was always searching for stories to relate to as I went through my journey.”
Kim’s story is one of incredible resilience — when life threw obstacles at her and her husband Jake, they kept getting back up ready to fight. They kept coming back stronger.
Kim’s story is one that truly embodies one of our favorite sayings, “a setback is just a setup for a comeback.”
“For my 30th birthday, one of my sisters put together a compilation of home videos from each year of my life. Watching through them, it is nearly impossible to find me without a doll attached to my hip. Growing up, I always loved pretending to be a mom and took on an early job babysitting children in our neighborhood. I daydreamed about the day I would have children of my own and it was never a question whether or not I would.
When I met my husband, Jake, we both had similar goals and decided to wait a couple of years after marrying before getting started on a family so that we had a little time to ourselves and to devote to our careers. Although I was eager to have children, I felt comfortable waiting because never imagined we would face the difficulties that we ultimately did. We were both healthy, young (we married when i was 26 and Jake 28) and my cycles were always regular, never indicating that there was a problem.
After a couple of years we casually tried without any success. I wasn’t worried at that point, but decided to visit a new OB/GYN to make sure I was in a good spot to really try conceiving. My OB examined me and assured me that I was the “perfect candidate to get pregnant” and had nothing preventing us from achieving this. Soon after, and excited, we began focusing more on taking this next step forward and starting our family. Month after month, nothing happened. A couple of friends of mine at the time had also started trying, and we would excitedly chat here and there about going through pregnancy together. The months continued to pass by, as I watched friend after friend fall pregnant, go through their pregnancies…have their babies…& we were left with only one pink line as each month passed. It became extremely frustrating and defeating. I saw an OB again, with the same advice. “Everything looks great, I’m sure you’ll be pregnant in no time!”. We began tracking cycles, using ovulation predictors, everything imaginable . Something had to work. But still, nothing. To say I felt embarrassment is an understatement. I avoided the topic around family and friends as often as i could and the thought crept in for the first time that something may actually be wrong.
We finally decided to get another opinion and see a fertility specialist. Anyone who knows me, knows I research everything important to me, to the core. I read everything I could about clinics and doctors in our area and settled on making our first appointment with Dr. Sharara. We had also scheduled two other consultations but something felt different about VCRM to us. We didn’t feel like we’d get lost in the numbers. His office felt warm and personal, & the staff was so responsive and nice. We decided without hesitation to begin testing at VCRM. Initial testing showed I had slight hypothyroidism. Dr. Sharara started me on medication for this as well as supplements for Jake and I. I felt confident that this may be our answer – thyroid disorders are known to cause difficulty with conceiving and we were once again feeling excited that once I got that straightened out, things would fall into place.
A few weeks later I showed up to the office to complete more testing, an HSG, that would show the health of my Fallopian tubes. Fully expecting it to go well, I had a rude awakening. Not only were both of my tubes blocked, but it also showed that I had a uterine septum. Results had also come in this same day from blood-work done days before, and Dr. Sharara informed me that my AMH levels were also very low for my age, indicating I likely had Diminished Ovarian Reserve. My ovaries were functioning somewhere around the level of someone in their 40s. It was a lot to swallow at once and is the first time I remember crying while getting ready to leave that day. We would also learn soon after that Jake had a low percentage of normal sperm, and suddenly it felt like everything was standing in our way.
Dr. Sharara thoroughly explained everything in detail to us and recommended IVF as our best shot at conceiving. With my damaged tubes, I had a high percentage of an ectopic pregnancy, which seemed like too much of a risk. Within a few weeks I was in surgery to correct my septum (which Dr. Sharara performed) and began IVF a couple of months following this.
Our first shot proved that my ovaries weren’t in the best shape. I produced only three eggs and none fertilized. We again felt defeated and worried. Each time we’d attempt to start again, my body would retaliate and grow a cyst preventing us from moving forward. Finally, months later, everything seemed to finally fall into place and we began another cycle. I felt confident this time. I was a pro at self-administering my shots and Jake also quickly learned how to help me. We spent our nights having to be home by 8pm to make sure i could give my Injections. This time, right smack in the middle of the cycle, I randomly decided to take a pregnancy test and for the first time ever saw two pink lines pop up. How in the world could this happen? After all this time I fell pregnant naturally while I was injecting myself full of hormones? It felt like my body was playing a cruel trick and I hesitated to get too excited. I was instructed to stop the injections and get blood-work done to check for pregnancy. Sure enough, Jo (one of our favorite people/nurses in the world!) called me the following day to let me know, cautiously, that we were pregnant. Our numbers were very low, so we had to check again in a couple of days to see if they’d increase. We got the news those days later that our beta levels were in fact decreasing and I was having a chemical pregnancy. Jake remained extremely strong throughout all we had been going through, but broke down the day we got this news. We were both heartbroken and felt like our chance had been ripped from under us.
On our final cycle of IVF, my hopes had diminished some. I started to feel that maybe this wasn’t in our plan after all. It was something I wasn’t willing or ready to accept. I didn’t know how to shift my view of my life to one without children in our family. I wanted so desperately to be a mother and knew Jake would be the best dad. I felt inadequate that I couldn’t give this to him. We started another round feeling that it may end the same as the first. But this time things went a bit more smoothly! I was producing more eggs and Dr. Sharara seemed so hopeful at every appointment I had leading up to egg retrieval. We retrieved 7 eggs! This isn’t a large number by any means for most IVF patients but I was ecstatic.
The next day we got a call that only 4 had been mature and only 3 of those had fertilized. When we showed up for our embryo transfer we were told that only two had made it. We made the guided decision to transfer them both for our best odds at a pregnancy. We weren’t sure of the health of the embryos given my diagnosis so felt this was our best chance. I was terrified to get too excited or hopeful. I didn’t want to be let down again and It didn’t seem that it would ever be a reality for this to actually work. No matter how hard i tried not to become hopeful though, I couldn’t help but develop an attachment to the two little embryos now inside me. We were hoping for one to stick and suddenly we were rooting for them both.
Jo called me after our first blood-work was completed a couple of weeks later. I will never forget that moment. I was at work but knew she would be calling and made sure to step out once she did. Not only were we officially pregnant, but our beta levels were phenomenal. I was in shock and disbelief. At each blood draw they continued to double and triple. We finally felt like we could breathe a little.
At our first ultrasound with Dr. Sharara, we didn’t know what to expect. Although our numbers were looking good, I was convinced only one had taken. What were the odds? Dr. Sharara then pointed out to us, “Here is baby number one’s heartbeat…& HERE is baby number TWO’s heartbeat”. (My one regret is not getting Jakes face on camera when we heard this news!;)). We were absolutely ecstatic. The first few weeks we worried about both continuing to stay strong. But week after week, they both grew and proved to us they were both here to stay.
Today we have two incredibly perfect 10 month olds. Maverick and Harper. They are our entire world. I can’t imagine life without them now and will never be able to articulate our gratitude to Dr. Sharara and his entire staff. They have completed our family and there is nothing greater in this world.
Looking back on it all, it is such a bittersweet feeling. You’d think I’d give anything to be finished with those dark days of infertility and the anxiety and sadness that came with it. I am. I’m so happy to be past it, but I miss everyone at VCRM daily. It became a second home to me. That’s how you know you’re with the right people. To look back on the hard times with a smile that there were so many people rooting you on along the way. We will never forget each and every person there. Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving us our greatest gifts.”
Kim, you are an incredibly strong woman, and we just want to say, this story was written for women like you. So, here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them!