Our Journey to Micah Lee
First and foremost, I am writing this in hopes that it can bring insight, solidarity, hope, or awareness to anyone who reads it. It has taken me quite a while to feel confident in sharing these details. I wanted to wait until she was here, and I knew she was healthy. I guess I just didn't want to "jinx" it. There was still too much doubt and thoughts of "what if something's wrong?"
If you know me you know it has been quite the journey to bring Little Miss Micah Lee into this world. As I sit here writing this, I look to my right and see her precious little 1 month old self napping away in such peace and bliss. I still can’t even believe she’s actually here! I honestly never even let myself think this far ahead for fear of being disappointed, once again.
Let me start from the beginning. My wife Jaime and I were married in Sept of 2017. We began looking into the fertility process at the Women’s Specialty & Fertility Center in Clovis, CA in March of 2018. I knew there were no guarantees, so many contributing factors, and had no clue what the financial commitment would be. I was 35 at the time, which labeled me as “Geriatric Obstetrics”, wtf?! I had no idea that at 35 my chances of getting pregnant were already working against me. I didn’t care, I am a perfectly healthy 35 year old woman, why wouldn’t this work? SIGN ME UP!
I then had to have quite a few medical screenings, including a full blood panel (finding I am borderline hypothyroidism), and a hysterosalpingography, or HSG test, to see if there was any blockage to my Fallopian tubes (not the most pleasant thing I’ve done). They also did an ultrasound to check for any cysts or abnormalities in my uterus and ovaries. All was clear! Phew!! So we scheduled the first round of IUI.
Wait, we needed sperm! So we were directed to a few different resources and landed on CA Cryobank. The database of sperm donors was mind blowing! It was like a crazy dating app where we could enter certain filters….I’d like brown hair, blue eyes, and over 6 ft tall….BOOM there was 50 donors at our disposal. Crazy right? Honestly, our needs were simple, we wanted a healthy, well rounded donor with similar features to either Jaime or myself. Spoiler alert: we ended up using 3 different donors by the time it was all said and done, sperm is a tough market, the good stuff goes fast! So we found our donor, purchased the sperm, and scheduled the shipment.
Our first IUI (intrauterine insemination) went as smooth as imaginable. I was prescribed Clomid to help stimulate ovulation, each ultrasound looked perfect, my uterine lining was thick, no cysts, and I had perfectly growing follicles to house an egg ready to be fertilized. The night before the IUI Jaime gave me the trigger shot to make me ovulate at the perfect time, and had insemination the next day. 2 weeks later, a negative test.
Repeat that process 4 more times…..only each time adding more hormones, more medication, more hope, and more disappointment.
This process went on for over a year. Each cycle, each negative, I wasn’t ready to give up. It was so hard mentally and emotionally to keep enduring negative test after negative test. My poor wife just had to keep trucking with me, stay strong, and be there to pick me up off the floor after each negative test. Finally, after 5 failed IUI’s my doctor suggested IVF. I NEVER thought we would get to that point. Why? If I’m perfectly healthy, with no medical issues, no visible road blocks, why isn’t this happening for us? That was when my doctor stated it perfectly, she said “we can do everything medically possible to set your body up for success, but in the end it’s not up to us.”. Again, if you know me, you know how hard this was for me to swallow. I’m a “get shit done” kinda gal. If something needs to happen, just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. That didn’t work in this case. So, IVF was the next step.
In Sept of 2019 we proceeded. IVF (in vitro fertilization) was a whole different ball game. This time it involved 3 times the meds, Jaime had to give me shots in my hip every day, I gave myself shots in the belly, oral meds, suppositories, ALL of it. We also had 1-3 ultrasounds per week through all 8 cycles. a HUGE thanks to all of my amazing clients who gave me such grace through this time of last minute rescheduling due to ultrasound appointments. OK, first we had the egg retrieval. This was full blown surgery under anesthesia and had quite the recovery time…all of this preceded by FSH’s (follicle stimulating hormones) to ensure the optimal amount of eggs produced for retrieval. My abdomen felt like it was going to burst by the day of retrieval, I was FULL of eggs…25 to be exact. By the end of the fertilization process we came up with 10 viable embryos, TEN! I was shocked we got that many! Ok, here we go! A few weeks, and tons more meds and shots later, we proceeded with the embryo transfer. Oh wait, how could I forget? There was also a procedure beforehand called a “uterine scratch”, yep, its exactly what it sounds like…they literally scratch the walls of my uterus to create a “wound” which triggers my body to send all the care and attention to my uterus and create a cozy place for my embryo to implant (again NOT the most pleasant thing I’ve been through). Ok, the IVF transfer, easy peasy, I show up and they implant the embryo through a tiny tube in just a few minutes. I could actually see the little embryo enter my body on a tv screen in the OR. Now we wait 2 weeks…for the 6th time. Note: the 2 week wait is pretty much the longest 2 weeks of your life!
After 2 weeks I head to the lab for a blood test to be sent to my doctor. I had my doctor call and leave my results on my voicemail. A) So I could have the recording of her telling me I’m pregnant and B) I was going to be at work and I didn’t want to get the results without my wife being next to me. When that call came in I almost threw up. It was so hard to wait hours to listen to that voicemail, so many thoughts and emotions running through my head and heart. I pull into the driveway that night, and before I can get out of my car Jaime jumps in to listen to the voicemail. We held hands and pressed play. NEGATIVE….again. I was instantly enraged. It wasn’t even sadness this time, I was pissed! What do I have to do!? Why is my body broken!? Whats wrong with ME!? Again, the cycle of emotions..hope, disappointment, guilt, and shame….but this time add utter anger. I was crushed, and so was Jaime. At that point we had to have “the talk”. What was our end point? How much money, time, and emotion are we willing to keep throwing at this? Jaime was so heartbroken for me over and over again that it was really starting to wear on her. I told her “one more, I can do this, I know I can”. Plus, at that point we still had 9 embryos frozen. I wasn’t just going to stop there.
We decided we both needed a break. It was October, we were heading into the holidays, and we had just purchased our home. We decided to wait until the spring to try again. Fast forward to spring of 2020, the world shuts down due to COVID-19. No elective procedures were being performed. So we wait. I focused on taking care of my body until I could try again. In June we were finally able to try again. So in May I geared up, started meds again, daily shots, hormone surges, multiple ultrasounds, the whole shebang! IVF transfer number 2 in June, followed by another grueling 2 week wait. Another voicemail…again I wait until I get home from work to listen with Jaime. POSITIVE!!!! Holy crap!!! We did it! FINALLY!!! One caveat, yes my test was positive…BUT my hcg levels were a little low and my doctor warned not to be surprised if this pregnancy wasn’t viable. All heard was POSITIVE. In the weeks to follow my HCG levels kept rising and I was nothing but hopeful. Until the day I went in for my first ultrasound at 7 weeks. I headed to Clovis, this was the first time I had to go by myself, Jaime had to work. I could feel it in my gut, something wasn’t right. I was literally shaking when my doctor came in for my ultrasound. She turned off the lights and got to it. Sure enough…we saw the fetal sack, but no fetal poll. There was no growth, it was not viable. Again, crushed. What the HELL was wrong with me?! I cried the whole drive home from Clovis. I then had to just wait to miscarry. Just wait, knowing the baby inside of me wasn’t growing, and waiting for it to leave my body. At 8 weeks I miscarried. It lasted 4 days and was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. I know this is something that happens more than anyone speaks of, and it’s heartbreaking to think of how many women just suffer in silence and are expected move forward as if nothing happened.
The sad thing is, that’s exactly what I did. Not because I felt any social pressure to but because I was determined and I wasn’t ready to give up…I just wanted to keep going. Reminder, I had told Jaime I would only do 1 more. Well, that didn’t happen. This time around I asked my doctor if we could have the rest of the embryos genetically tested. I lost that baby, I had a negative before, what if there were problems with my embryos? I didn’t want to keep spinning my wheels if there were abnormalities. So we had a PGD test (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) done on our remaining 8 embryos. 6 came back normal, 2 came back abnormal. In doing this test we now knew the genders of our remaining embryos. We had 4 boys and 2 girls. GREAT! Now we know what we’re working with, we have more confidence, and already a little more peace of mind.
Here we are Sept. of 2020. Another IVF transfer. Another 2 week wait. Another voicemail. Side note: while I go through another taxing IVF cycle we also had my mother in law living with us, on hospice while battling a brain tumor, still living through the craziness of COVID-19, my cousin (who is like my sister) was in the hospital terminally ill and unable to have visitors due to COVID, and one of my best friends had just lost her father to suicide days before my miscarriage. To say it was a stressful time is an understatement. Why on earth I decided to go through this again at that time is beyond me, but I didn’t want to stop, I didn’t want a break. I could do this!
Oct 2 2020 I headed home from work, voicemail waiting on my phone. We had plans to head to Tahoe that weekend with friends. It was either going to be a celebratory weekend, or a weekend of drowning my sorrows in wine. As soon as I get home I grab Jaime and we head upstairs to our bedroom. We sit on the bed and play the voicemail. I knew it. It was POSITIVE!!! Like full on, no questions asked, high hcg levels, POSITIVE!!! We were in shock and completely overjoyed. Tears all around!! We were pregnant! We headed downstairs to tell my sweet MIL and call my momma. It was the best day! We headed to Tahoe and were able to just bask in this joy the whole weekend.
Ok, 7 weeks later, I head to my first ultrasound. I’ll admit, it was terrifying. I couldn’t go through another let down. Thankfully, everything was perfect. She was growing and thriving. Each ultrasound after that, perfect! I will say, my pregnancy wasn’t the easiest. I was so sick almost the whole time, and had a little placenta scare. None of this mattered as long as SHE was healthy. Admittedly, once you go through as many disappointments and a loss like I had, you just expect the worst. It kinda robs you of the joy of pregnancy. I’m sure anyone who has gone through a loss can attest. You’re just terrified, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I wasn’t going to be able to really celebrate that joy until she was here and I knew she was healthy. During my pregnancy we sadly lost my Mother in law, we lost my cousin Carly, we endured another industry shut down for 2 months due to COVID, BUT we used that time to completely remodel the salon that is now Volition Hair Co.
June 17 2020, one week past my due date, I go in to my OB to be checked. Not dilated, baby hasn’t dropped, but her amniotic fluid has. My doctor informs me that she has 24 hours, we need to get her out, TODAY. I had planned for a vaginal birth, a C Section wasn’t even on my radar! Immediately my brain thinks “once again, my body fails me, I can’t even give brith to my child on my own”. STOP IT JORIE! Stop shaming yourself. You’re here about to have this miracle of a baby, YOU DID IT! I went downstairs where Jaime was patiently waiting outside during my appointment (she was unable to attend ANY of my ultrasounds/appointments due to COVID restrictions) and said “well, today is her birthday”. Jaime was in shock, and relieved…..it was finally time. We headed home, got our stuff together and headed back to the hospital. My C Section went smooth, and at 5:16 pm Micah Lee DiMeco was here. She was actually HERE. 7lbs 6oz, 20.68 inches. She was beautiful, she was perfect, most of all she was HEALTHY. It was time to feel it all. Feel all the joys, awe, and gratitude for this precious girl. We were immediately in love. Every single step we had taken up to now was more than worth it! The night she was born we woke up to a lightening storm around 2 am…a lightening storm, in June…the sky lit up for sweet Micah’s arrival.
I'm not looking for any sort of kudos or sympathy by sharing our story. Our journey is more common than you might know. I know people who have endured longer, harder, and more devastating fertility journeys than I, and let me tell you...it is lonely, draining, and tests you in ways you can't imagine. Everyone’s story is their own, each story is different, and they don’t all end the way we want them to. I am forever grateful for our story. Micah was no accident, we worked hard for her, and she is loved like the little miracle she is.
If you are going through something like this, have been through this, or are wanting to start your own fertility journey, I am more than happy to connect. Please reach out to me, I am an open book. I am so thankful for the amazing women in my life who had walked this road before me, or were walking it right along with me. Having connections and resources makes all the difference.