The lovely Lindsey Carlson and Calvin (12 months)
Lindsey says that nothing has ever been easy for her and becoming a mother was no different. She was put on birth control at a young age to regulate her periods and stayed on it into her early 20's. During nursing school, she decided to stop taking it to see if her body could have a period on its own but it couldn’t. PCOS was mentioned but she was never officially diagnosed and the decision was made to go back on birth control until she was ready to have children.
After 6 years of dating, 1 year married, she and her husband decided to start trying to have baby with no success. "Infertility is a bitter, merciless, lonely and despairing disease. It feels like you're drowning, but right before you close your eyes and decide to give up, give in and quit, right when the darkness almost entirely surrounds you, you breach the surface, you get a lungful of air, you feel some hope, you see some light and then, you get pulled right back under". For three years, they tried never finding any answers and everyone around her was getting pregnant.
After 6 rounds of Clomid, and 3 IUIs, they were approved for IVF. They were able to harvest 21 eggs, but only 4 embryos were created. 3 were frozen, 1 was transferred. They got to see a photograph of their perfect embryo but it didn't take. The next month they tried a frozen embryo transfer and she learned she was pregnant soon after. Lindsey was ecstatic but cautiously so. As an ER nurse, part of her job is seeing miscarriages on a regular basis. She knew that up until 20 weeks there wasn't anything they could do to save her baby so she tried to remain cautious. For 10 weeks they continued painful intramuscular progesterone and estrogen shots, and at 14 weeks, they learned he was boy and named him.
She was so thrilled to be pregnant, and though she experienced every symptom in the book she enjoyed it greatly. She dealt with nausea, vomiting, constipation, carpel tunnel syndrome, snoring, and hypothyroidism. At 28 weeks she developed a bronco spasm cough and had random bouts of tachycardia, but no one knew why. At around 30 weeks, she started having pitting edema in her ankles, and gained weight rapidly. She worked full time, 12 hour shifts as an ER nurse until she was put on bed rest at 38 weeks when she began showing signs of pre-eclampsia. At 39 weeks, the night before her planned induction, Lindsey lost her mucous plug, but was only 1 cm dilated. She'd hoped to go into labor on her own but didn’t.
Having had so much time to plan for a baby, Lindsey knew what she wanted. She read about hypnobirthing and practiced relaxation and meditation and breathing techniques. She hoped for a natural birth and wanted to experience everything while she had the chance. Unfortunately, due to her high blood pressure, Lindsey needed to be induced. They tried cervidil over night but she was only allowed to lay on her left side and instructed to sleep. Her water broke in the middle of the night and contractions stated immediately. Lindsey requested an epidural at 5cm and soon after they started Pitocin. Calvin was sunny side up and Lindsey was still in pain so they tried a second epidural. She made it to 7cms dilated before it became clear that Calvin was stuck. Both of their heart rates were increasing and she was taken to the OR for a cesarean.
They needed to start magnesium for Lindsey and told her that Calvin would need to be taken immediately to NICU to rule out infection so she wouldn't be able to hold him when he was born or for the first 24 hours. She was devastated and says that it was the longest 24 hours of her life. When Lindsey finally got to hold him she says the bond was immediate and euphoric.
Calvin spent 4 days in the NICU, and Lindsey was there for 5 days in the hospital. He was fed formula in the NICU, but once her milk came in, breastfeeding came easily.
"I feel so lucky and am so grateful my infertility journey ended happily. Sometimes I feel guilty that it did. I know there are so many others whose journey may continue indefinitely and who may never get to look into the eyes of their own little one. I was lucky. However that doesn’t get rid of the anguish and grief, the scar that infertility leaves behind. My body may still never create life on its own. But that’s ok. I feel like this was how it was supposed to be for me. Remarkably difficult, yet oddly satisfying. I had to work harder than some. But everything happens for a reason. Calvin is my reason."
Lindsey says that she never thought she'd have the strength to participate in something like this but knew she had to. She has always struggled with body image and weight and still has a difficult time but enjoys knowing she isn't alone. "I am learning each day to give myself a break, to love the skin I am in, scars, stripes, stretch marks, all of it. I am trying. This movement has shown me that everyone has a story, every story is unique, but we all have one thing in common, and that is strength, strength to show who we are and tell our stories, in hopes to unite and support each other. It is refreshingly cathartic. And I am so honored to be part of it."