I remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting in the hospital room during my perinatal stay, I wondered to myself, “How did I get here?” We spent five years trying to get pregnant. We had multiple miscarriages, surgeries, and double-digit IVF cycles. But when we found out we were having twins, it made that wearisome journey well-worth it. All those years spent waiting and wanting, and we were finally able to find meaning. It made everything so much easier, knowing how blessed we would soon be.
Then tragedy struck. I went into early labor, and that “bright side” was now a looming shadow. I woke up in the recovery room after having my second traumatic delivery.
A traumatic delivery
After an emergency c-section, I worriedly looked at my husband. Where was my baby? Was she okay? He delivered the news that we now had a beautiful baby girl. She came into this world at 23 weeks, almost 17 weeks early. I had given birth to her twin brother four weeks prior, before the point of viability. She was truly a miracle. Having an “interval” twin birth is very rare, but for whatever reason, my little girl was not about to give up without a fight.
Nothing felt like it should
Here I was, a new mom, but nothing felt right. Instead of joy, I was filled with stress and worry. In place of congratulations, I was met with looks of doom and gloom. This isn’t what it’s supposed to be like. After everything we had been through to get pregnant, it felt unfair that she ended up in the NICU.
If I learned anything from my infertility journey, though, it was resiliency. The same strength I needed to endure those five years would get me through each new day in the NICU. I had fought and advocated this long for her, and now was not the time to throw in the towel. I became that light I knew my little girl needed, and I fought.
Was it scary? Absolutely.
Did it feel like it would never end? Yes.
Did I ever lose hope? No!
Staying strong for her
And so, during her 135-day stay, we fought. We fought for her and us. We blocked out all the negativity and focused only on what we could do in each moment. Were there dirty dishes in the sink, beds unmade, and our house an overall mess? Most certainly. But we were there alongside her celebrating all the little milestones because they all mattered, and they all held value. Even the littlest things like changing her diapers and taking her temperature kept us involved. We never stopped advocating for what we felt was best. While the doctors are knowledgeable, they don’t know everything.
During the times we couldn’t be there in person, we did everything we could to stay hopeful. The Zaky was one such lifesaver. This weighted, hand-shaped pillow can be positioned on your baby and be scented by you to calm her. I would buy her pretty new clothes that I knew she would like.
Hope for the future
Having something to look forward to gave me something to hold onto and hope for the future. And while I may not be a very religious person, I do believe in a higher power. It may not be for everyone, but staying connected through prayer helped me on my toughest days.
And on that final day, as we were bidding farewell to the NICU, I had a rush of emotions come over me, and I thought to myself once again, “How did I get here?” After all the years of trying, the miscarriages, surgeries, IVF, and these harrowing months in the NICU, I knew. The answer was staring back at me from that car seat. She has a mother who never stopped fighting for her, and there will never be a child more loved.
If you find yourself in the NICU, too, after going through the infertility journey, know that you are not alone. It takes a powerful woman to persevere through infertility treatments, and that strength will be your greatest asset.
Caryn Rich is an Infertility Coach, with experience helping women who want to get through the infertility journey using the expertise of someone who has experienced success. Through her courses, challenges and one-on-one coaching, she helps women shake up their approach to the process with support, making every step feel calmer and more understandable.
After spending 8 years going through double digit ART cycles, 5 miscarriages and the loss of one of her twins, Caryn was able to fulfill her dream of completing her family. It was during that time that she earned her PHD in Infertility. She has helped many women with a step-by-step framework based on her own journey. She believes that having the right mindset, advocating for yourself and keeping your sense of humor are the most important aspects for success.
When Caryn is not teaching women the ABC’s of Infertility, you can find her enjoying time with her family and indulging in her favorite bulletproof coffee.