by Mariann Madden
I have always been a very goal oriented individual. Go to away to college, check. Get a job at a top consulting firm in the big city, check. Get married to my best friend, check. So logically the next step after the married part was to get pregnant. However, I had other plans for myself. I was having too much fun with my career, and too busy having all kinds of adventures with my husband and friends. So we decided to wait until the big 30 to attempt our next challenge, KIDS.
Well 30 came and went and I still had a lot of excuses why it was not an ideal time to get pregnant – new job, big European vacation planned, I’m still really not that old, etc. I finally took went off the pill around my 1st year anniversary at my new job (so I would be eligible for FMLA, of course). I was done with all my excuses and ready to jump into the unknown. Little did I realize that the unknown was going to go on for awhile. Nine months went by and nothing. I was getting my period each month, I was peeing on ovulation sticks, and we were on a great ‘schedule’. At my annual OB exam I gave my doctor my stats and she sent me straight to Dr. Kaplan at Fertility Centers of Illinois.
We were off for another adventure and a lot of testing with Dr. Kaplan. While I thought my novice attempts at pregnancy were a commitment, infertility treatments were a whole new ballgame. The blood tests, the ultrasounds, the phone calls with my nurse instructing me what drug to take and when. And I wasn’t alone. There were a lot of women sitting in the waiting room between 6am and 7:30am waiting for the same testing, week after week. The good news and the bad news that I had unexplained infertility, which basically means the experts didn’t know why I wasn’t getting pregnant cuz my ovaries and hormones were working just fine.
Armed with my diagnosis, I was a woman on a mission. I was going to do everything possible to get pregnant. I went to a nutritionist. I stopped doing spin classes and took up yoga. I started acupuncture treatments that coincided with my weekly fertility treatments.
With all these trips to the doctor, I had to break my silence at work, friends and family. There are only so many times I could tell my leader, the Head of Human Resources, that I was going to be late to work because I had an early morning ‘appointment’ without raising concerns about my health or that was I interviewing for a new job. We told our families, since they aren’t local and there was a chance that we might have to cancel holiday visits because we were “on the clock.” I think it was the best thing we could have done for the journey we were embarking on. The outpouring of support from everyone was almost overwhelming. The reason for this might have been because Matt and I were married almost 10 years at the time and they probably gave up on any chances of us wanting kids.
Dr. Kaplan started me the easy drug, Clomid combined with IUI (Intrauterine Insemination). First round didn’t take. Second round didn’t take. We were on the last round and also had some help from Ovidrel to kick ovulation into gear. Thankfully the 3rd time was a charm because I got pregnant and with my oldest, Kieran. I had a normal pregnancy and if Katie gives me the opportunity, I am happy to share my delivery. It is one for the record books. Here is the short version – water breaks at 3:30am at home, Kieran is born at 5:06 am in triage. Believe me, this might sound like much but there was a lot of drama going on during those 1.5 hours.
My story doesn’t necessary end here because after Kieran arrived, I thought I had the baby and pregnancy thing figured out. Little did I know I was wrong. I won’t bore you with the details, but 6 months of trying flew by with negative pregnancy tests. Three months of acupuncture and still nothing. So I was headed back to Dr. Kaplan and getting psyched up for another round of fertility treatments. I was scheduled to start my first round of drugs, just waiting for my period to start. I was a couple of days late. I didn’t think anything of it. I was at my weekly acupuncturist session and gave her my list of stats. After collecting them, she had me take a test at her office and low and behold it was positive!
I dogged the fertility treatment bullet this time but still needed some help from friends. I now have two little boys, Kieran who is 5 and Owen who is 3. They keep me busy, humble, fill my life with love and laughter. You have probably heard the old African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” (which is so true), but what people don’t realize is that sometimes it takes a village just to get you your child.
about Mariann Madden, Shine Founding Board Member and Vice President
I am a mom to two wonderful little boys, married to my college sweetheart, living in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood. In my spare time I work full time as a human resources strategy consultant where I am an advisor to external clients, organizational leaders, and internal practitioners on global total rewards and organizational development matters. I struggled with infertility with both my pregnancies and was blessed to have the support of friends and family to help me through my journey. This is why Shine is such an important organization for me to contribute to and be a part of.
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