THIS IS US: Introducing Chelsea
I Don't Remember a Time When I Didn't Want to Be a Mother
Hi everyone! My name is Chelsea Meirose. I was born and raised in Saginaw, MI. I was a "typical" little girl and always loved playing house with my friends. I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a mother (someday).
But, first I had to meet the right guy. Through the dating site, Ok Cupid, I met my husband, David in September of 2013. Our first date was at Harvey's Grill & Bar in Saginaw.
David was an engineer with a major automotive company and I became a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines in 2014. We had secure jobs and were ready to plan our future.
Let's Waste No Time!
David and I were married in September of 2016 and wanted to waste no time becoming parents. We got pregnant the very first time we tried. We couldn't be happier, but we were shocked that I was pregnant after just one try.
I started spotting around 8 weeks, but was assured this could be normal. When I had an ultrasound done to make sure everything was ok, the doctor told me that I was measuring closer to 6-7 weeks. He thought I must have been wrong with my dates, but I knew I was not. I took ovulation tests and knew the exact timing. A few ultrasounds and about a week later, it was confirmed the baby had stopped growing. We were heartbroken and devastated.
Why is This Happening, God?
The doctor told us there was probably something wrong with the baby, and miscarriage was fairly common. In my heart I knew it was more. This was my first baby. I was just 25. I was strong and healthy. We were given our options: wait it out, have a D&C, or take the abortion pill at home. I wanted to have some privacy and closure. It was obvious my body wasn't miscarrying naturally, since it had been about a month since baby had stopped growing. I decided to take the pill at home.
I was told it would be like a heavy period. It was not. For anyone who has had the horrifying experience of taking the pill, the narcotics gave me no relief. My body was forced into labor hours after it was supposed to. I saw everything. I passed everything. I was angry at the deceitfulness and lack of truth I was told. Had I been able to get off the bathroom floor, I would have gone to the emergency room.
As our hearts healed, we waited a few months to try again. I had gotten pregnant so easily the first time, and David's brother was getting married in October of the following year. I didn't want to make their day about us. So after doing some quick math, we waited to try again. On our second month trying, we were thrilled to find out we were expecting again! Our baby was due December 24. What a beautiful Christmas gift! We were so excited, but cautiously optimistic. We knew the past is the best prediction of the future.
I had my HCG levels tested when I started spotting a few weeks later. They were not doubling as they should be at 6-7 weeks. We spent all day crying in bed asking God why this was happening to us. We had purchased a 4 bedroom, 2-1/2 bath home with 3800 sq. ft. of living space so we could fill it with the sound of little cries and tiny feet running through the house. My ultrasound confirmed my pregnancy was not normal. They were concerned about it being ectopic because there was nothing they could see in the sac, but yet my hormone levels were rising. We decided on a D&C because they would be able to tell if there was any danger to me, and if it was ectopic or not.
Not the Life for Newlyweds
Thankfully, my OB said she would refer us to a specialist. GREAT! Now, we would finally figure out what was wrong. We'd be able to start trying again and put this horrifying couple of months behind us. It was not how we expected to spend our first few months as newlyweds. After we saw the RE (reproductive endocrinologist) she did the standard blood work. Nothing was wrong. Obviously, there was something wrong. We lost two babies. No reasons? She told us it could be our egg quality and recommended Femara with timed intercourse after I had a hysteroscopy.
In he meantime, we signed ourselves up to be foster parents with the local Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) office and channeled our energy there. If there was a possibility we would never be biological parents, it was on our hearts to be there for children who needed us and a stable and loving home for however long that might be.
Everything looked great with my hysteroscopy. On our third month trying with Femara, we were pregnant once again. I was due in July of 2018, the anniversary of the day my grandfather passed away. Surely this was a sign he would be watching over our baby. My blood work showed beautifully doubling HCG numbers. My first ultrasound was spot on. My second ultrasound was not. My baby had stopped growing.
Channeling My Energy to Find Out Why
Again, I was angry. I was frustrated. I didn't understand how this could be. We decided on a D&C so we could test our baby for chromosomal abnormalities. Although we were told they don't often yield results, we wanted to know anyway. In the meantime, our doctor here in Michigan told us about 3 different reasons we could be miscarrying: we may need supplemental probiotics (tested mostly in racehorses), there was something wrong with the baby, or that the cause was something immune related. She gave us the name of a few doctors in the US who do reproductive immunology testing. I channeled my energy into finding out why. I found Facebook groups for autoimmune disease and miscarriage. By chance, it was run by the doctor whom she mentioned. This doctor commented on my post that he was confident he could help us. He called me from his son's basketball game! I couldn't believe how much this doctor cared about a complete stranger. He told me to call his office and scheduled an appointment for me right away.
It was December now, and we had met our out-of-pocket maximum with insurance. If I could get an appointment before the new year, the several thousand dollars we shelled out should be reimbursed with insurance. I'm blessed to be a flight attendant when I'm not being an infertility warrior, because ten days after my D&C, I was in a doctor's office in New York. I had dozens of tubes of blood drawn and a sonogram with my new immunology expert. He suspected PCOS and endometriosis, neither of which had been considered before. My blood work came back and confirmed the possibility, as well as a heightened immune system. The doctor advised me to go on a gluten free and Paleo diet when possible. He wanted to do a laparoscopy as well. Thankfully he partnered with another doctor in New York who was in network with my insurance, so I could schedule the surgery with him.
The next day I came home so we could meet with our RE in Michigan about the test results from my D&C. I was nervous because I took it upon myself to jumpstart things with the immunology specialist before finding out the results. As it turned out, we made the right choice. We had a chromosomally normal boy. There was nothing wrong with him!
I flew to New York a few weeks later and met with my fourth doctor. He scheduled a laparoscopy for April of 2018. Fast forward to March of 2018. We have been certified foster parents for almost three months. We had gotten one call for a foster child, but were unable to take him because we had a planned and pre-paid vacation scheduled in February. Luckily, in March we got another call for placement! We accepted and have been full-time foster parents to a newborn for about a month now! I'm not sure how long we are going to be able to keep him, as there are family complications, but he is "Perfectly Imperfect!"
Meanwhile, I still had surgery scheduled for the April 18th. (When it rains... it pours!) Our friends rallied around us and helped where we needed them. David stayed home while I traveled with a friend to New York to have my surgery.
Step by Step... Day by Day
In a nutshell, the laparoscopy showed, I had a bunch of adhesions on my left side from something before... maybe an infection? I don’t ever remember having any infections so I might have been very young. My left Fallopian tube and intestines were basically all mushed and together as one. I have an anomaly on my left ovaries. Essentially it doesn’t really exist. When I was growing and developing I never got the ligaments that feed my ovary so it never developed. I have “remnants of a segment of my left ovary." If he had permission from me, he would have just taken it out. It did flush and fluid ran through, but it’s not really an ovary, which explains why they can never find it. Basically, I had adhesions and endometriosis everywhere, which the doctor removed with through laser treatment. Stage 3-4 Endometriosis.
This “should” improve my ovarian reserve, inflammation, and implantation. I was told this was a really good surgery for me. Now, we wait to talk to my other doctors to determine where we go from here. In the meantime, we are loving being foster parents. We are Christians and believe God has a plan for us. Although we don't understand this journey, we're taking it step by step and day by day. We probably wouldn't have made the foster care journey without this struggle. We are stronger than ever as a couple and are continuing to fight this battle the best way we can.
Twists and Turns of Our Journey
The lowest part of my journey was hearing the ultrasound tech ask me if I had "gone through loss before" during my second ultrasound for my third pregnancy. That was when I knew there was something wrong again.
Fighting with insurance has been a nightmare as well. It's hard enough to have to suffer losing three babies, but to have to fight for insurance coverage just dredges up all the losses and emotions again. It's the final blow.
Thank God my neighbor, who had also struggled with infertility, told me about RESOLVE. I joined this amazing group of infertility warriors and am so glad I did. I have met incredible people and have found a true sisterhood, who have shared the ups and downs with me.
I've learned how important it is to trust in God and be your own advocate. No one cares as much about your health and fertility as YOU do. Only you can be your own voice. If you are struggling, don't wait. If you are between 25 and 35 and you feel like something is wrong, seek help.
In a strange twist, without our infertility struggles, we wouldn't have accepted a foster care placement. This little precious guy would not have been placed in our home. Although we do not know how long we will get to have him, we will always love him and it feels good to know we were there for him from the very beginning of his life. Our story certainly has had its ups and downs, and nothing has gone the way we had hoped and planned, but in the end, we know... somehow, someway... we will be parents one day.
Love from your "perfectly imperfect" fellow warrior,