I want to welcome everyone to my new website and blog. As a newborn photographer in the Quad Cities area, I will be sharing a lot of birth stories. For many first time parents everything goes so smoothly when starting a family, but for some it is just not quite that simple. 1,607 days is a long time to wait to hold that precious gift you have been praying for.
Here is the story of Dustin and Molly's journey...
After dating for eight years, Dustin and Molly were married September 21, 2013. Soon after, they started trying to have a child, as they were eager to welcome a little one into their lives.
To their excitement they became pregnant in December 2013. The couple was elated that they conceived so quickly and were thrilled to start their family together. Eager to hear their baby’s heartbeat at their first appointment on March 10, 2014, the unthinkable happened. They were absolutely devastated when they were told that unfortunately the baby did not have a heartbeat anymore.
In the midst of becoming pregnant and losing their baby, life had to go on. What made that challenging was that Molly faced happy families and their newborn babies through her work as an OB nurse. Molly shares, “It was very difficult to work as an OB nurse and deal with infertility. It was especially hard when I had patients who had unplanned or unwanted pregnancies."
After mourning their loss, they were able to start trying again in July 2014.
A few months went by with no luck and Dustin and Molly decided to seek help from their OB doctor. Their doctor started them on medication, and the couple was hopeful that this would be the answer to their prayers of conceiving.
Many more months went by with the couple on medication and no success getting pregnant, the next step was to try Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). In January 2016, they found out they were pregnant again after a successful IUI.
Dustin and Molly waited a few long weeks only to find out that they had an ectopic pregnancy. They were, once again, completely devastated.
In July 2016, Dustin and Molly sought out help from a fertility specialist in Davenport, Iowa. The doctor did many ultrasounds and extensive testing, but seemed optimistic they could get pregnant. They did two more rounds of IUI with medication assistance and got pregnant in September 2016.
However, during their first ultrasound at six and a half weeks, they found out that the pregnancy was not progressing normally and they suffered another loss.
After enduring six rounds of IUI, Dustin and Molly, with guidance from their fertility specialist, then decided IVF would have to be their next step.
The IVF process is long and challenging, as the preparation and process takes a toll both physically and mentally. Molly had to have many ultrasounds, take numerous pills and give herself too many shots to count. The egg retrieval process even involves being put under anesthesia.
Molly admits, "The progesterone shots were not my favorite. Those shots were started after the transfer and continued daily until I was 14 weeks pregnant. I ended up having an allergic reaction to the shots and switched to a different medication after about six weeks, thank goodness!"
After the eggs are retrieved, fertilized, and transferred to the uterus, it is then a waiting game. They had to wait a very long two weeks until lab work would be done to see if the embryo implanted correctly into the uterus.
In June 2017, it was time for Molly to complete lab work to see if all the hard work had paid off.
"I took a pregnancy test the night before my blood work to see if I was pregnant." Molly shares. "That was the longest five minutes of my life. When the screen displayed ‘pregnant’ I immediately told Dustin! We were definitely excited, but also nervous due to our previous losses.”
Molly had labs drawn every two days to make sure the HCG levels were rising appropriately. The first level was good and the second level rose but did not double like they hoped it would. Her heart instantly sunk. This is how all the other pregnancies had started. She had labs drawn again in two days and the levels rose again but not as much as they wanted. The nurses told them they would just have to wait for the ultrasound to see what happens but it could go either way at this time.
Molly had an ultrasound a week later and they could see the gestational sac but no fetal pole or heart rate was seen. She followed up again in 10 days for a repeat ultrasound.
Molly reveals, "I was a nervous wreck for those 10 days. The ultrasound tech during my repeat ultrasound had been there with me through all of the other pregnancies. She was praying for a good outcome. After about five minutes, she said the best thing ever. ‘There is a heartbeat.’ I was instantly in tears. That was the best news ever. At the end of the ultrasound, we asked again to hear the heartbeat. Dustin and I could not get enough of that amazing sound. All of the office staff were in tears after hearing the good news. They had all prayed for us during this long journey.”
“The hardest part of the IVF journey was the waiting. It was about an 11-week process from starting meds to hearing our baby's heart beat for the first time. During this time, work days seemed long and time just seemed to drag." Molly remembers.
Molly says another difficult part of IVF was not being able to be excited. They had suffered so much loss that they didn’t want to get their hopes up just to be crushed. They were cautiously optimistic the whole time but very reserved.
She continues, "I was definitely nervous during my pregnancy. I would make short-term goals. Get to 14 weeks, then get to 20 weeks, then 24 weeks, then 28 weeks, then 34 weeks, then 36 week, and finally 38 weeks.”
Molly was induced at 38 weeks due to having Type 1 diabetes. She went in at midnight on Tuesday, February 13 and had two doses of induction medication at 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The doctors started to see progress around 10 a.m. At 5 p.m., it was finally time to start pushing! The baby’s heart rate started to drop as Molly was pushing so forceps were used to help pull the baby out.
At 7:15 p.m. on February 13th, 2018, Leo Michael Cardwell was born at seven pounds and 19 inches long.
Due to the use of the forceps, Leo was immediately taken to the warmer to be evaluated. After about 10 minutes, he was finally placed on Molly's chest. "I was instantly in love. My heart just melted. This was the moment I had been waiting for."
Molly and Dustin tried for a baby for 1607 days.
When I asked Molly about advice she would give to others struggling with infertility, she said, "The best advice I can give is to remember they are not alone. 11% of couples have fertility problems. Many people don’t share their struggles through infertility and end up feeling like they are alone and don't have anyone to rely on for support. I had a really good friend who was also going through fertility treatment that I could share good news, bad news, tears, laughter, and advice with. It is very important to find someone going through the same journey as you."
Molly explains, "It was a long haul but I am so thankful to have had Dustin being very supportive and by my side through all of it. We laughed, worried, and cried. It was definitely an emotional roller coaster. During the infertility process, we kept a lot to ourselves and didn’t share much with friends or family. We didn’t want to share good news, just to then share bad news. We just stuck together during this crazy ride.”