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After 3 years of trying and a round of IVF, I am finally pregnant

It was as if I lived in a world of successive failure. Month after month, benchmarked by my inability to get pregnant. I would break down at every pregnancy announcement.

After 3 years of trying and a round of IVF, I am finally pregnant

"Your chances are about 5-7%," the doctor said flatly. After meeting with two infertility specialists, I found out about my slim chances of a biological pregnancy with IVF.

John, my husband, and I had been trying to conceive for nearly three years. We had baby names picked out before our honeymoon. During the first year of trying, doctors told us to "just be patient, you'll be pregnant by Christmas." Well, Christmas came and went and I wasn't pregnant.

I tracked my ovulation, basal temperature, took Pregnitude, ate royal jelly, and any other possible recommendation, but still never saw a positive pregnancy test. We bought a four-bedroom house in faith that we would eventually have children running around. Friends announced their third, fourth, and fifth pregnancies. We decided to take a trip to Europe.

It was as if I lived in a world of successive failure. Month after month, benchmarked by my inability to get pregnant. I would break down at every pregnancy announcement.

While I was happy that they were able to start a family, it always felt like a reminder of what I wasn't able to do. John would comfort me every time and listen to my irrational rants, usually cueing up a favorite movie to take my mind off of the hurt.

I switched to a new OB/GYN who recommended a rapid fertility screening, before potentially prescribing Clomid to help us conceive. My husband and I went together for the full screening. Two days later, the doctor called me with the results. My AMH level was alarmingly low.

AMH levels are detected with a blood test and represent a woman's ovarian reserve or how many eggs are available. This is rarely tested outside of fertility screenings. A normal AMH level ranges from two to seven. Mine was 0.17.

"I'm so sorry," he said repeatedly.

The doctor wanted to run additional tests on my thyroid because he believed that could explain the low AMH. I immediately went for a blood test that would identify my thyroid levels. Sure enough, I had hypothyroidism in addition to antibodies that resulted in the autoimmune disease, Hashimotos. According to his theory, my thyroid had been attacking my ovaries, resulting in the low ovarian reserve.

At this point, the doctor said that IVF was the only fertility treatment available for our situation. They said that my ovarian reserve was so low, that I was basically running against the clock, at 31 years old.

We spent the weekend absorbing the shock of our new reality.

While the doctor recommended starting treatment as soon as possible, I needed a month of hormone therapy to jumpstart the process. For the next 30 days, I was sneaking away to the bathroom at work to apply testosterone gel to my upper arms and taking estrogen and progesterone pills to help boost my hormones. Ovaries produce hormones and since I had a diminished reserve of ovaries, all of my hormone levels were extremely low.

Thankfully, my body responded appropriately to the hormone therapy and I was cleared to begin a cycle of IVF.

On my 32nd birthday, a large box of injections arrived with my name on them. We unloaded the mini-pharmacy into our bathroom and waited for the instructions we would receive at the next doctor's appointment.

I was put on the maximum amount of stimulation medications and my husband became my at-home doctor. The concept of IVF is so different from the reality of IVF. There are at least three shots a day, doctor's appointments almost daily, accompanied by an emotional roller coaster of potentially starting a family, or closing that chapter completely.

"If your body doesn't respond after a few days, we will cancel the cycle," said the IVF nurse.

So all of this preparation could literally mean nothing, but we had to try. My husband reached out to friends and family to pray for us because it truly felt like we needed a miracle.

After nine days of stimulation injections, there were eight follicles with potential eggs at a preferred size, so I was cleared for the egg retrieval surgery. And for the first time in three years, we heard positive news from the doctor, saying he was "cautiously optimistic."

They were able to retrieve seven eggs, but of those seven eggs, only two fertilized. Overnight, our chances dropped to two. It was hard not to feel devastated, however, five days later the embryologist called me to let us know that both embryos made it to a 5-day blastocyst. So our two little embryos were now frozen and ready for transfer.

It is counterintuitive to work tirelessly toward something in such an all-consuming way and then, when it comes to fruition, put it on ice. Frozen embryo transfers have a higher success rate, so we went with our doctor's recommendation, but it was strange to drive by a hospital and think about our two potential babies frozen in there.

There was another month of preparation, and then, finally, I was ready for the transfer. I elected to transfer both embryos and followed every IVF superstition. I ate pineapple core leading up to and following the transfer, wore socks 24/7 (not an easy feat in the middle of a Texas summer), drank electrolyte water, ate French fries immediately after the procedure and stayed in bed for nearly two days.

Exactly two weeks later, I went into the doctor's office to take an hCG blood test. When called later with the results, I found out. I was pregnant! I remember thinking that it was all so surreal.

We waited another two weeks to go in for a sonogram that captured the heartbeat, and then, two weeks after that—we transferred from the infertility specialist to a regular OB/GYN. I was (finally!) officially eight weeks pregnant and couldn't have been happier.


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My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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