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How IVF & A High-Risk Twin Pregnancy Made Me A More Resilient Mom

Infertility, IVF, a high-risk twin pregnancy, preterm labor, hospital bed rest, a vaginal birth turned emergency c-section, and a terrifying postpartum hemorrhage—that’s what it took for me to become a mom. Writing those words down is surreal and almost makes it feel like it happened to someone else. It is both a distant memory and …

Written By
Expectful
Kristyn Hodgdon
Instructor
February 24, 2020

Infertility, IVF, a high-risk twin pregnancy, preterm labor, hospital bed rest, a vaginal birth turned emergency c-section, and a terrifying postpartum hemorrhage—that’s what it took for me to become a mom. Writing those words down is surreal and almost makes it feel like it happened to someone else. It is both a distant memory and a fresh wound all at the same time.

When I was 27 years old and newly married, I came off of the birth control pill after 11 years. My husband and I weren’t necessarily ready to start trying for a baby yet. I really just wanted to flush the hormones out of my system in hopes of restoring my “normal” menstrual cycle so that we could start trying in a few months. But my experience turned out to be anything but normal.

3 months after stopping the pill, I still hadn’t gotten my period back. I went to my gynecologist and after a blood test and ultrasound, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. She explained that we would probably need the help of a Reproductive Endocrinologist to get pregnant and referred us to one right away.

As someone who has always known I wanted to be a mom, I was devastated by this news and quickly made the first available appointment with the fertility clinic. In a matter of days, I had gone from not being “ready” to feeling like I was against the clock. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen.”

I had so many questions for the fertility doctor. What exactly is PCOS? What would it take for me to get pregnant? Would I have to do IVF? What would the timeline be? Would I ever be a mom? I didn’t know it then, but the answers to those questions would not be so straightforward and I was in for a year-long fertility journey that would both challenge me and change me.

Looking back now, I realize that when I walked into my initial consultation with the fertility doctor I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know at the time that committing to fertility treatments would be like having a second job on top of my full-time career. I had no clue about the physical and emotional toll that IVF would eventually take on me. No one had warned me about any of it. In fact, no one talked about it at all. 

The next year of my life was a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, blood draws, ultrasound wands, hormones, shots, tears, and failed cycles. I learned very early on in the process that infertility is all-consuming. It took over my life and made me feel like my body was failing me. It was the ultimate life lesson in giving up control and learning to embrace patience as one of my virtues, whether I liked it or not. 

I also had to treat myself like I was pregnant undergoing treatment, which was incredibly difficult. The activities that brought me joy before trying to conceive became off-limits during treatments, and when I got yet another negative pregnancy test at the end of it all, it felt like a cruel joke someone was playing on me.

Can’t do what you love? Find the next best thing. For me, high-intensity training was always my go-to way to relieve stress and that was a big no-no during IVF, so I turned to yoga, acupuncture, and meditation to maintain my sanity. I have no idea if they ultimately contributed to my success, but on my second IVF transfer, I finally got pregnant–with twins! 

I wish I could say that it was all uphill from there, that the scars of infertility faded the minute I found out I was pregnant–but they didn’t. On one hand, I was terrified for my entire first trimester that my pregnancy was too good to be true. In the infertility community we are all-too-aware of the miscarriage statistics, so I found myself guarding my heart until I surpassed the 12-week mark before getting too excited. On the other hand, I realize now that the strength I gained from infertility is what gave me the resilience I needed for what came next on my journey.

When I was 26 weeks and 6 days pregnant with my twins, I went into preterm labor for the first time. At that point, all of the fears I initially felt upon finding out about my pregnancy came flooding back. Would my babies be born early? Would they have a long NICU stay? But if infertility taught me anything, it’s how to roll with the punches and be strong when it’s the only choice you have, and I knew I had to be strong for my babies.

Miraculously, after 10 weeks on bed rest, 25 total nights spent in the hospital, and a vaginal birth turned emergency c-section, I gave birth to my twins at 37 weeks exactly. They avoided the NICU entirely, which is something I never thought I would be able to say. Despite some scary postpartum complications–including a postpartum hemorrhage and a postpartum anxiety diagnosis–I truly consider myself one of the lucky ones. And if I had to, I would do it all over again because it gave me my two greatest gifts, my children.

So, why do I share all of this? I share it because I wish someone had done that for me. I share it because it’s my story—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Despite the images of pregnancy and childbirth that we are used to seeing on social media, for every person who has a “normal” experience, there is someone like me who does not.

The truth is, the road to motherhood isn’t always straight. Pregnancy isn’t always easy. Birth doesn’t always go according to plan. Healing isn’t linear. Those stories need to be shared. Those experiences need to be normalized. That’s why The Fertility Tribe exists–to redefine the conversation surrounding all things fertility. 

So, what’s your story?

Expectful
Kristyn Hodgdon
Instructor
Kristyn Hodgdon is the Founder of The Fertility Tribe, an online community that is redefining the conversation surrounding all things fertility, from infertility and IVF to pregnancy and postpartum. She lives in Island Park, NY with her husband Dan and their 16 month old boy/girl twins Brooke & Charlie, who were conceived via IVF. Kristyn believes that the more we talk about our experiences, the less isolating they become. That’s why Fertility Tribe’s mission statement is, “Redefining Fertility Together,” because, honestly, who can do this alone?! Join the tribe on Instagram at @thefertilitytribe.