Well, it finally happened. After almost three years of IVF, four egg retrievals, several surgeries, one miscarriage, a D&C, and seven embryo transfers, I am pregnant! Obviously, this didn’t come easy. Years of injections, hormones, waiting, supplements, antibiotics, blood draws, and ultrasounds have done a number on me. Don’t get me wrong, I am over the moon and kind of still in shock that IVF finally worked, but sadly, it’s been hard to enjoy this pregnancy as much as I would like to and as much as I know I deserve to.
For one, I have worked very hard to get here. We have spent over 100k on this journey (worth every penny, of course) and the amount of time and energy this has taken has been like a full-time job. I have cried so much, I have taken time away from my twins, I have not been present as much, we’ve changed our travel plans countless times because “what if” we get pregnant, and I have distanced myself from a lot of friends so that I didn’t have to deal with pregnancy announcements or baby showers. In other words, I have changed my entire life for the past three years to focus on trying to conceive.
So, you see, I’m a nervous wreck right now. The thought of having to do IVF again makes me feel sick. I look back, and while I have learned so much through this process, met so many great people, and developed new self-love and a deeper relationship with my husband, I don’t want to relive that nightmare again. I am petrified of having to do another egg retrieval, of having to wait again, of having to transfer another embryo and wait to see if it sticks.
Sadly, all of those fears are constantly running through my mind every single day. Because for us, we can’t just try again. We can’t just have sex and hope it works. Having a baby for us means time, money, tears, surgeries, and more time away from my girls.
It’s funny, as I look back and think about my pregnancy with my twins, I didn’t have a care in the world! I went through one IUI to get pregnant, and after a small bleed during week 7 of pregnancy, the thought of anything going wrong never even crossed my mind. As it turned out, nothing did go wrong, and I birthed them vaginally at 37.5 weeks. I find myself longing to feel that way again.
I suppose my miscarriage has something to do with that, too. It’s not just the nightmare of IVF that haunts me, it’s the miscarriage I had last year at 8 weeks. It was the day I was supposed to graduate from my fertility center. That was probably the hardest day of my life. Not only did I collapse onto the floor and could hardly breathe, but I also had to tell my twins, who were 7 at the time, that the baby died in my tummy.
I relive every single moment of that day in my head the minute I start to worry about my current pregnancy. My brain immediately goes back to my miscarriage—that moment in the doctor’s office where I felt like the world was collapsing around me. It was the moment I knew I would have to wait for months to try again, endure another surgery, and go back to the uncertainty of whether or not this would work again.
Sadly, pregnancy after loss is hard. Every single time I have an appointment with my doctor to check on the baby my heart stops. I feel like I can’t breathe until the moment they start talking about the baby and how great she is doing. I mentally prepare myself for bad news every time I go to a doctor’s appointment.
I’m not excited to see the baby until I know everything is okay; I don’t look forward to my checkups (especially right now with COVID going on and the fact that I have to go to my appointments alone), and I get very anxious a few days after each appointment because I worry that something is wrong.
That’s what having a miscarriage does to you. It scars you. It makes you think that your body failed you. My miscarriage made me feel so dark inside, so lonely and depressed, and going back to that place scares me more than anything. It has taken away the excitement of my current pregnancy. It has robbed me of the sigh of relief I thought I would take when we were finally pregnant. It has made me less eager to talk about being pregnant because I’m worried about getting too attached. It’s not fair. It makes me so angry. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am, and yet I still can’t fully enjoy it.
IVF and pregnancy loss have created a form of PTSD for me. It’s something I never expected to feel. I thought that once I finally got pregnant, I would be over the moon every single day. I didn’t understand why other women talked about how nervous they were during pregnancy after loss, but now I get it. Now I understand.
Erin Bulcao is 36 years old. She lives in Encinitas, CA with her husband of 10 years and their twin girls who were conceived through IUI 9 years ago. Erin is a certified yoga teacher but had to put teaching on hold due to fertility treatments. She loves hot yoga, taking long walks with her husband, which they use as therapy (although she does that, too). Her favorite food is chocolate, eating off of her kids’ plates, and ceviche (but never all together!). She is also a big Bravo TV junkie. Her favorite place to be is in NYC, and she hopes to move there one day once she can convince her husband. In the meantime, they will keep working on that third baby. You can read Erin’s blog here, and follow her on Instagram here.