Mandy is the next guest blog post for my infertility series, You Are Not Alone – National Infertility Awareness Week.
Thank you Mandy for sharing your story!!
Mandy and I go waaaaay back. We met in the 4th grade and she was my first very best friend. I can’t tell you how many sleepovers we had dreaming the night away about our pretend “boyfriends” and future husbands and family. Anything we could play make-believe about – we did it! We both went on to meet our dream guys, got married right out of college, and had our first babies a couple years later. Neither one of us thought infertility was in our plan. I remember a specific play date we had this past summer and Mandy telling me about her miscarriages and the struggle she was having. I shared with her how I was having difficulty getting pregnant again. We both shared with each other how strange and confusing it was for both of us to go through this when we’ve already had a baby! Mandy, I want you to know that our talks over these past months have comforted me so much to know that I’m not the only one who has struggled with secondary infertility. Thank you for being there for me sweet friend, I love you!
Here is Mandy’s story in her own words:
HI! I’m Mandy Castro. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband, Jason, three year old daughter, Madeline, and our crazy bull terrier, Ziggy. I’m a lover of date-nights, toddler giggles, kombucha, polka dots, and Jesus. I am currently 33 weeks pregnant with a precious little girl. This is my fifth pregnancy and it hasn’t been an easy journey getting to this point. I never thought infertility would be a part of my story but God had a different plan.
My husband and I got married in January of 2010. A year later, to our surprise, we found out that we were expecting. This was the first time to ever take a pregnancy test, and I remember calling a close friend asking if two pink lines really meant “pregnant” or if there was some chance that because the second line was very faint that I wasn’t actually pregnant. She confirmed that two lines – no matter how dark or pale – meant that I was pregnant. After the initial shock wore off, I was honored and excited to become a momma. Nine months later I delivered a healthy little girl who steals our hearts every day.
I had Madeline at a birthing center in Dallas and my labor and delivery went very smoothly. After Madeline’s first birthday my husband and I were both ready to start trying for Baby #2. Since my first pregnancy happened so effortlessly, I assumed Baby #2 would be conceived just as easily since this time we were actually “trying.”
When I did not become pregnant, I attributed it to my husband’s tour schedule as a traveling musician. After six months of regular periods, I decided to become more serious about trying to conceive. I purchased an ovulation kit and began tracking. Again, months were passing and nothing was happening. Then finally, six months later, I saw the sight I had been longing for – two pink lines! My prayers had been answered and I was pregnant. I immediately called my midwife and set up my eight week prenatal appointment. I had never even considered that this pregnancy may not make it full term, but one week later I experienced light spotting. This was the beginning of my first miscarriage.
I recall being extremely sad but still hopeful that we would get pregnant again soon. After researching online, I was comforted to find that many women suffer one miscarriage and go on to have one or more healthy pregnancies. Statistically, the chance of another miscarriage was low and my midwife was not too concerned. She advised me to take a break from trying to conceive for one month and let my body “reset,” then we could get back to business. 🙂
Two months later, to my delight, I took another pregnancy test and it was positive! Yay!!! I immediately began progesterone and completed blood work to confirm the pregnancy. All my levels looked great. I was so excited and thankful to be pregnant, but this pregnancy felt different from the previous two. This time I experienced some fear and anxiety alongside my joy. Every time I went to the restroom I was scared I would see blood. I was afraid I was miscarrying with every cramp or tummy rumble. At six and half weeks, my nightmare came true. The spotting started and did not stop. I miscarried my second sweet baby. This time, my heart was shattered and I sat in disbelief. “Was infertility becoming a part of my story?” I wondered. I was a healthy 26 year old woman with no family history of multiple miscarriages who already had a two year old daughter. “What was going on? Maybe it was just bad luck,” I thought.
I saw my midwife shortly after miscarrying and she still did not seem too concerned. She offered to run a few tests but since they were not covered by our insurance my husband and I decided to wait and just keep praying and trying. Let me include here that my husband is the kind of guy who likes to wait things out. So wait we did. I waited another month for my body and hormone levels to reset. It felt like I was constantly reading online message boards until midnight, analyzing any little change in my body to see if it was a pregnancy symptom, counting down days, and waiting. Waiting was really hard for me sometimes. It was emotionally draining. Thankfully, I had my husband and a great group of friends around me to love me, pray for me, and remind me to trust God even on my darkest days. I had to surrender my plan for my family to God knowing that He will take care of me and that He was enough.
Four more months went by, four more pregnancy tests were taken. On the fourth month, I got a positive test. I was thrilled, but the fear was overwhelming. At this point, I knew my body was able to get pregnant, I was just having trouble sustaining the pregnancy. I was terrified of losing this baby. Once again, I was put on progesterone and took blood tests to confirm the pregnancy. Everything checked out but I knew we were not yet in the clear. I made it one week further than my previous pregnancy, but I miscarried my sweet baby at seven and a half weeks gestation.
My sadness cannot be explained. I have three angel babies in Heaven that I am so excited to meet, but my heart aches that they are not with me here on Earth. At this point, I doubted I would be able to have another biological baby. My midwife ran some tests but everything came back normal. This was good news but troubling news since it provided no answer.
Several months went by and I decided to get a second opinion and set up a consultation with an obstetrician who was referred by a close friend. My plan for the appointment was to discuss my medical history and infertility options and treatments. Three days before my appointment I took an early detection pregnancy test because it was around the time I should’ve started my period, but it was negative. Because I like to torture myself and the package of pregnancy tests came with two, I decided to take the second test the morning before my consultation. To my utter shock, it read ‘positive.’ I went to my appointment and as soon as the doctor introduced himself I began crying uncontrollably. I was scared to even admit that I was pregnant because I didn’t want to go through losing another baby. My husband was by my side trying to console me as we met with the doctor for the first time.
We got through the appointment and the OB immediately put me on progesterone and a baby aspirin. A few weeks later, after a strong urge from a friend who is a nurse, we decided to get a full panel of blood work done. Finally we received some answers. We learned I have MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) gene mutation and Protein S deficiency. MTHFR means my body is unable to break down folic acid like it should and the Protein S deficiency is a blood clotting disorder.
While I was glad to know what was to likely to blame for my miscarriages, I was concerned about what this meant for the baby I was carrying. To help symptoms of these issues, I was put on a blood thinner called Lovenox. Lovenox is a daily injection meant to be administered in the stomach. Have I mentioned that I am the biggest wimp and absolutely hate shots?! By the grace of God, so far I have given myself 170 shots in my tummy and only have a few more weeks to go. It is with indescribably joy that I say my baby girl, Hazel, is doing well and growing right on track! While this has not been the easiest pregnancy, I would not trade it for an “easier” one. I have learned so much and my faith has increased as I continue to rest in God knowing that he is the holder of my family, and he is enough. I am so grateful and cannot wait to meet this little blessing who has challenged me to be so brave and step out of my comfort zone these past eight months.
I do not know what the days ahead of me hold, but I do know that I have a God who is faithful and always with me – and who is with you too. Infertility is a road I would not have chosen but it is now part of my story. I have learned what God does through our stories and struggles and how we do not always get to choose our ministries.
Infertility can leave you feeling isolated but know you are not alone. There are millions of women who are in a similar situation who know what you are going through. Let us be here for each other – even if it is simply by being willing to share our difficult but beautiful stories on the Internet. Thank you for reading!
For more information about infertility click here.
To learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week click here.
One of the reasons I decided to write about my own infertility experiences and share my friends’ stories as well, is because I’ve found a lot of comfort from reading other online posts from women going through the same struggles. If you ever want to chat with me on a more personal level, I’d love to connect over on Facebook or Instagram! Follow me on Facebook at We’re the Joneses and @werethejoneses on Instagram