Each year, the last full week of April is recognized as National Infertility Awareness Week as a way to shed light on the challenges, misinformation, grief and hope surrounding infertility. It’s through personal stories and experiences that we’re able to learn and be inspired, and this year, we’re honored to share Lyndsay Kalista’s story in her own words.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a mother. I would rock my baby dolls to sleep with a lullaby and change pretend diapers. As I got older, I became the neighborhood babysitter and spent my weekends watching the children on my block. It only seemed natural that I found my way into a career as a nurse, caring for mothers and babies. The one thing that didn’t feel natural though, was my inability to become a mother myself. This is where my journey to become a mother began.
I had planned it all out: the month to start trying, the pregnancy test I would take, the day I would test and even how I would tell my husband. My husband, Brandon, and I were married for three years before we began trying to get pregnant. We had settled into our dream home and finally decided we would grow our family. We had saved money, planned ahead and thought we had control over the situation, but we were so very wrong.
When I didn’t get pregnant right away, I was a little surprised. Contrary to what I remember from high school sex education, getting pregnant may take a few months. Well a few months turned into a few more, and week by week my frustrations grew. I had tracked every cycle, checked my basal body temperature at 6 a.m. and peed on countless ovulation strips all to result in another negative pregnancy test at the end of the month. At the one-year mark I sat in my general practitioner’s office in tears as I handed her a color-coded calendar of our failed attempts at pregnancy.
I felt as if I was broken. I had based my entire career on caring for mothers and babies during their pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum period. I even taught childbirth classes for expectant families — Growing my own family should be something I was good at. I saw hundreds of babies born week after week and getting pregnant seemed so easy for these families. Countless mothers asked me if I had children, as if my education would only be trusted if I were a mother myself. Friends and family began to make comments about why we had not gotten pregnant yet. If only they knew how hard we were trying.
At about 15 months of trying to conceive, my husband and I met with Dr. Albert Hsu at MU Health Care. We were nervous and unsure of what the future might hold for us, but Dr. Hsu reviewed our case and a smile of hope crossed his face. He provided us with many options, answered our questions and confidently stated that we had a good chance of achieving a healthy pregnancy. I remember leaving his office feeling like a weight was lifted off of us. For the first time in months we had a plan to move forward and a glimmer of hope at becoming parents.
I underwent a routine in-office procedure to clear my fallopian tubes and rule out any blockages, had multiple blood draws taken and began a medication called Letrozole. I was very nervous about starting this medication, but Dr. Hsu reassured me with evidence and stories of success. He was right; my second month on the medication I found out I was pregnant. I fell to the ground in tears when I saw the positive pregnancy test. When my husband came home from work, I could barely wait to share the news. We hugged and cried in the kitchen, dreaming of what our new life together as a family of three would look like.
A few weeks later we arrived for our first ultrasound. The technician gazed at the screen in silence for what seemed like an eternity and with each passing second, my heart began to sink. When she finally spoke, she said, “I want to show you what I am seeing. I see two amniotic sacs, but both are empty. It may be that your dates are off and the babies have not grown yet. We will need to re-measure in two weeks.” My eyes filled with tears. Working in obstetrics, I knew what this meant. I had meticulously tracked my dates and I knew they could not be wrong. My well-meaning husband wanted to cling to the hope that our babies would grow. I unfortunately knew it was already over.
The two weeks of waiting were some of the hardest weeks of my life. I knew in my heart that the babies were not growing. Each day I went to work terrified that I was going to begin bleeding at any moment. All day long I was celebrating other women and their babies while grieving the loss I carried in my womb. When I came home, I would cry. My husband would pray over us, prayers of hope for our babies. He told me he would never give up hope that they would grow. I admire him for his positivity and strong faith.
Finally, the two weeks ended and we arrived at our second ultrasound. Unfortunately, the image looked the same. We sat in silence as we waited for Dr. Hsu and his team to discuss our options. I was sad, angry and scared all at the same time, but Dr. Hsu was compassionate and understanding. We decided I would take a medication at home to initiate a miscarriage. I was tired of waiting for the bleeding to start and ready to move on from this nightmare. I was 10 weeks pregnant when we lost our sweet babies who never grew past about 5 weeks gestation.
My faith in God is what got me through. I recently found a journal entry I had written shortly after our miscarriage:
“Words cannot describe the pain I have felt through this time but I find comfort in knowing God has gifted me with peace; His peace, which is a peace unlike anything the world can offer us. God never promised me a child, but He has promised to walk with me. He understands my pain.”
After a few weeks of healing and waiting for my hormones to regulate, my husband and I decided we were ready to try again. Our first month back on Letrozole we were shocked to discover that I was pregnant again. We cried tears of joy but this time we were so scared. We couldn’t bear the thought of suffering through another miscarriage. Most people are excited to go to their first ultrasound, but we were terrified of the news we might receive. As I lay there I closed my eyes and braced myself for the news but this time a large smile came to the technician’s face. She quickly turned the screen towards us and we caught the first glimpse of our little baby squirming around. I will never forget the joy I felt in that moment.
Thankfully, my pregnancy went smoothly. It took a while for me to bond with the new life growing inside of me, and I often fought off anxious thoughts about the health of our baby. Over time I began to relax and finally enjoy my pregnancy. Feeling the kicks and movements of our little babe made my heart so happy.
On June 4, 2019, two and a half years after we began our journey, we welcomed Owen Michael to our family. I have never felt a love like the love I have for this little boy. Owen is the perfect addition to our family and we thank God for him each and every day.
Thanks to the team at MU Health Care, we were able to make our dream of becoming parents a reality. They have seen me through the darkest season of my life and have celebrated with me in the brightest. I am thankful for the care and compassion they showed us every step of the way.
*Lyndsay is a nurse and IBCLC lactation consultant at MU Health Care.