In 2017, Natalie thought her family was complete. She was married with two beautiful daughters, including a baby, Sabrina, born from IVF. But in July of that year, her life was turned upside down when Sabrina was killed in a tragic car accident.
Natalie shares her brave story of building her family in the face of countless obstacles and unspeakable tragedy:
I had my oldest daughter, Aileen, as a teenager. I was only 17 when I got pregnant with her. I got married a few years later, and we struggled to get pregnant. My OB-GYN put me on Metformin, Femara, and Clomid. When that didn't work, I was told to see a reproductive endocrinologist, and that's when my IVF journey began.
At first, we thought I'd be pregnant in no time. But after two failed IUIs, I knew that wasn't the case. I went through Laparoscopic surgery to check for endometriosis. As it turns out, my right fallopian was blocked.
I also had PCOS, something I wasn’t diagnosed with until my early twenties, when I began to have only about 4 periods per year. I didn’t do much about it at the time, since I was otherwise healthy and wasn’t planning on having another child anytime soon. But now, PCOS in combination with my blocked fallopian tube was making it impossible for me to get pregnant.
After successfully unblocking the tube with surgery, I decided to start IVF and got pregnant through my first transfer. That’s when my beautiful baby Sabrina was born.
My world felt complete — until tragedy struck on July 21, 2017. We were hit by a negligent driver and my Sabrina passed away. She was four days away from turning three months old.
It was the worst day of my life.
In an instant, the world I felt was complete came crashing down around me. I felt like a big part of me died with her that day, and I struggled to cope with her loss. I didn't know what to do. She was my miracle baby. I felt like I was stuck in this dark hole and couldn’t get out. Soon after, my marriage fell apart.
Despite all of this, I knew I wanted to try again to have a baby, but because of my history of PCOS, I felt like it was nearly impossible. Also, I was single — how could I have a baby?
So I shifted my focus to rebuilding my life and career. But the better I felt, the more I longed for a baby.
Finally, one day I said, “I don’t need to be married to have a baby.”
After reading many stories about women who’d made the choice to become single moms, I decided I could do this alone.
Having gone through IVF treatment before, I knew IVF would be my only choice if I wanted to have another baby. I knew what to expect and was prepared for all the ups and downs this journey takes you through.
But this time was different. I was entering a new journey as a single mother by choice, and had just lost an infant. I knew this would not be an easy journey, but I was strong.
I made an appointment with the doctor who helped me get pregnant with Sabrina. But after two unsuccessful frozen transfers using the remaining embryos from my last retrieval, I was truly devastated.
I almost lost hope. Then, I found CARE Fertility.
At first, I decided to go to CARE Fertility just to discuss my options. I really did not plan on making a decision about having a baby that day. But after speaking with Dr. Doody, I left the office filled with hope for the future. I immediately started looking through a list of sperm banks for the perfect donor.
In the meantime, I started the process for retrieval so we could freeze my eggs. Thankfully, I was blessed to have great medical insurance that covered so many of my IVF treatments, and I was able to start right away.
I was confident my first transfer with this donor would work, given my previous IVF experience. But the day my eggs were thawed, I found out most of my eggs did not survive the thawing process. I ended up with only two low-grade embryos. I decided to transfer both and received great news after my beta:
I was pregnant! I was so excited that everything was working out. This was it: I was going to have a baby!
But unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. My first ultrasound revealed two empty sacs. I was devastated. I would have to start from scratch again.
I decided to heal from my miscarriage and build up the courage to start again.
We took things slower with round two, and I ended up with 20 embryos! I was thrilled. We chose the best-looking embryo and transferred it. Beta came, and again, I was pregnant. The numbers looked good, but when my ultrasound appointment came, there was no heartbeat. The embryo had Trisomy 16, a genetic abnormality that results from an extra copy of chromosome 16.
I decided to try a third time, and after another pregnancy resulting in miscarriage, we decided to have a procedure to check for fibroids. Dr. Doody removed one huge fibroid and some scarring.
On round 4, the ultrasound again showed no heartbeat.
Somehow, I didn’t give up. I was able to maintain hope throughout all of this by reading about other people’s IVF journeys and joining support groups.
My mom and daughter, Aileen, were always very supportive, too. I knew if they could see hope, I could believe my dream of having a baby was possible, too.
At this point, I had been seeing Dr. Doody for almost two years with no successful pregnancy. My gut kept telling me to get my embryos tested. In my heart, I just knew it was my embryos. Dr. Doody agreed, so we sent them for testing, and 10 came back normal. I knew this was the answer, and I was filled with hope as I prepared for another transfer.
The transfer went great, and I was pregnant!
I was so nervous on my ultrasound day. I had reached this point so many times before. But to my surprise, we had a heartbeat!
So many emotions ran through me at once: Happiness, grief, excitement, and most of all, hope.
I named my baby Daisy Hope. If you say it fast enough, it sounds like you are saying "they see hope".
My journey made me stronger. Nothing in life is guaranteed, and sometimes plans don't work out. The journey to give Aileen a sibling was riddled with obstacles, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I believe in my heart I made the best decision to continue my journey as a single mother by choice.
This experience taught me that hope and family are the most valuable things we can hold onto in our darkest times, and that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
After the loss of a baby, whether it be from miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss, the clouds of grief will always remain. But the sun will shine through those clouds.
And if you look closely enough, you can see the rainbow of hope.