Words by Kelsi Burley  | @myjourneywithivf | 

My husband and I met in 2011. It’s so funny because when I first met him I remember thinking, “He is so cute and tall, we would make some cute babies.” 

We had an instant connection and began dating in 2011. We married in 2017 and knew we wanted to start trying to have kids. It only took two months and I got a positive pregnancy test. We were so excited. Little did I know, this would be the pregnancy that would turn our whole life upside down. About 6 weeks in I had some heavy bleeding and excruciating back pain. I knew something wasn’t right so we made a trip to the ER to be safe. It was there I waited and cried because in my heart, I just knew that I was miscarrying.  They brought me back and did an ultrasound and the whole room shifted energy. Doctors started scrambling and talking fast, saying words I wasn’t familiar with, “You’ve had an ectopic pregnancy, were going to rush you into surgery.” Was the only thing I remember. 

Everything else was a blur. I remember looking up at my husband so scared wondering what was going on. I could tell he was scared too but was trying to hold it together for me. It seemed like in no time at all I was wheeled up to the surgery center and was getting prepped for surgery.

The doctor told me it was good that I came in as soon as I did because I could have had my fallopian tube rupture, it could have damaged my organs or could cause life-threatening loss of blood. I woke up from surgery and was no longer pregnant. All my hopes and dreams were taken away from me. I bled for almost four months. Every time I went to the bathroom it was a constant reminder of my loss. My HCG levels took months to get to zero and every week I had to go to the lab to monitor it. This miscarriage took everything out of me. We gave my body a good few months off then we began talking about trying again. We tried for almost a year, spent hundreds on dollars on ovulation tests and pregnancy tests. Every month we were let down and were feeling so discouraged. We made an appointment to see my OB and he suggest we get a HSG test to check my fallopian tubes and make sure they weren’t blocked. They were blocked. Both of them. Completely. I was mortified. The results were sent to my doctor and we got an email from him explaining he was sending us a referral to see a fertility specialist. We made an appointment pretty quickly and in the week leading up to our appointment, I just enjoyed myself because I knew we may have a long road ahead of us.

When I met my husband he had just moved back from Vegas where his job was different than most. He was a professional high stakes poker player. In the years we were together he had started to teach me and I grew a love for the game. So the week before my appointment, I spent my days in the card room doing something I loved to do. “JACKPOT!” Someone at my table yelled and ran up to me and gave me a high five. Everyone started clapping and screaming and they’re like, “YOU HIT THE JACKPOT HAND!” To put in perspective, the odds of hitting a jackpot are 0.00002359% or about 1 in 42,391. I hit it and didn’t even realize it. The floor man came over and said, “Congratulations, you just won $16,000!” I couldn’t even believe it, it didn’t feel real.

About a week later was my appointment at the fertility clinic.
My doctor explained we would have to go the in vitro fertilization (IVF route).

We were terrified. We didn’t know anyone that had gone through it and weren’t really sure what it entailed. She told us that I would be administrating about 2-3 shots in my belly daily. It hit me like a ton of bricks. My stomach dropped. This was going to be my reality if we wanted a family. You can never prepare yourself for something like this. The lady from the financial department came in and talk to us and gave us a breakdown of cost and said we’re looking at about $16,000. We couldn’t believe it. IT’S A GOOD THING I WON 16k earlier that week. A true gift from the fertility gods. A few weeks later, we began the treatments. 3 shots a day for 12 days with ultrasounds, doctor visits and blood draws along the way. We were so naive going in to this, thinking we will do a round and it will be tough but then we’ll be pregnant.

We go into egg retrieval surgery after the 12 days of shots and they retrieved one egg. One egg.
I had started sharing my infertility journey on Instagram and had followed other IVF warriors. They were collecting 15, 24, 33 eggs. These were the numbers I was seeing. How could I only have one? The egg fertilized (thank god!) and I waited 5 long days on a report from my embryologist to see if it made it to blastocyst (embryo). It didn’t make it. We did all that for nothing and we were back at square one. We were heartbroken and feeling so discouraged. This first round was a true test to our strength and our marriage. When you’re injecting hormones in to yourself three times a day you’re sometimes not very pleasant to be around. We were so determined to start our family that we pulled our savings together and went straight into round 2. This time, double the medicine. Round two and 11 days of injections in and thousands of dollars later (because we had double the dosage) my body had a fluke and ovulated on it’s own so whatever eggs my body was holding had dropped and we did a whole round for absolutely nothing.

So upsetting and devastating.
My body had just gone through 2 rounds of IVF and I had nothing to show for it. My body had just endured so much, not to mention the physical but also the emotional toll it takes on you. I’ve always been a woman that will fight until she gets what she wants (just ask my husband) and I just went straight into round 3. I was so determined to get some eggs. Did all the injections and made it to egg retrieval. I was hopeful but also so scared to be let down again. Round 1, 1 egg, no embryos. Round 2, nothing. Why would round 3 be much different? I woke up from egg retrieval to my husband standing over me, tears rolling down his face. I couldn’t tell if they were sad tears or happy tears. I was so out of it but I remembered him whispering in my ear, they got 7 eggs babe. I felt like I was drowning for so long and finally had come up and got a gasp on air.

I couldn’t believe it, our luck was turning around.
They called us later with a fertilization report. I remember thinking these seven eggs were too good to be true and I was sure they were going to tell me bad news. Nope! 7 eggs retrieved and ALL 7 fertilized! After all the pain and suffering, there was some light at the end of the tunnel. Now we waited until the day 5 report to see how many made it to blastocyst stage. We got the call that we had two and they were watching others to see if they would catch up. I was so happy with those two, I had never even had a single embryo before, so to have two was like a dream come true. The next day, they called us and said “You have two more!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. We were so happy.

A month later we took our frozen embryo and transferred it. It was such a big milestone for us. We were going to become parents. This was our time. When we arrived they gave us a photo of our embryo and I cried so much. You feel so silly looking at a picture of this blob on a picture. That blob was what we fought so hard for, paid tens of thousands of dollars for and was our hopes and dreams. We watched the monitor as the doctor inserted it into my uterus where we prayed it would snuggle in and stay for the next 9 months. There was a two week wait where we had to wait and see if it stuck and my husband held his hand over my belly every night and we prayed. After the two weeks, we went and took a blood test at my clinic. I had so many nerves, excitement and worries all at the same time. Hours later I got the call. “Kelsi, I’m so sorry, you’re not pregnant.” It felt like a miscarriage. I lost my perfect embryo, I lost my dream. It was devastating. I had been going, going for so long. I needed a break and so did my body. We have three more embryos and we weren’t ready to give up. We took a little break and decided to move forward. This next transfer we decided to put in two embryos in hopes that at least one would stick. We went through all the motions again and were back in the two week wait. I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing, so my hopes were shattered. 

I figured I would feel SOMETHING, a twinge, a cramp? Nothing.
We go in for our beta test and got a call a few hours later. My doctor called me herself to tell me… “KELSI, you’re PREGNANT!!!” We couldn’t not believe it. All of our hard work, heartbreak, blood, tears and it had all paid off. Until we went in for our second ultrasound on our wedding anniversary at 7 weeks and there was no growth. Our sweet baby stopped growing. I felt so lost, broken. 5 steps forward and ten steps back. A few days later I took pills to induce miscarriage and I watched golf ball sized clots that was my baby, coming out into the toilet. I will never forget that traumatic experience. We were heartbroken and feeling more lost than ever. 

From our experiences we know that things can not go your way and we also know your luck can turn around and surprise you when you least expect it. All I know is, whenever or however it may happen, I will be a mama one day and I’ll make my husband a father and we will he great parents. Until then I know I am so strong and have so much willpower. I know all of these experiences also came with lessons and have shaped me into a better person

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