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In October of 2012, my partner Jenn and I were looking to start a family. We began the process quite nonchalantly. We saw a fertility specialist and they told us we had a “slam dunk” case. But after months of trying with no success, we decided to switch to in vitro fertilization (IVF), even though it would be time-intensive and expensive.
After the fourth round of IVF, we were pregnant. And so thrilled! Then, six weeks in, Jenn found herself in excruciating pain. I took her to the ER. The doctors thought she had kidney stones. We suspected something worse. When she wound up in the ER again, we learned she was hemorrhaging.
The doctor classified it as a heterotopic pregnancy. One embryo was implanted in Jenn’s uterus—that one could have been a successful pregnancy. But another was in her right fallopian tube, which had ruptured as a result.
I thought I was going to lose Jenn. I prayed to my mother, who had passed away years before, asking her to help keep Jenn with me. Thankfully, Jenn recovered, but the rupture was too traumatic for the remaining embryo to survive. We lost the pregnancy and we were beyond devastated.
It’s uncomfortable to talk about sad things with people
After our loss, we found ourselves retreating from our close-knit circle of family and friends. It’s uncomfortable to talk about sad things with people. You end up comforting them more than they comfort you. We wanted to avoid the awkward dialogue.
But ultimately, we found that not sharing our pain was eating us up inside. Jenn and I began to open up to our friends and family.
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We launched a crowdfunding campaign after Jenn recovered and ended up raising enough money for another round of IVF. After finally discovering that Jenn had an underlying autoimmune disorder, our doctors recommended we seek another gestational carrier. With very little notice, we transferred Jenn’s embryo to me.
Today we have a beautiful baby boy named Taven Jace, or T.J. for short. He shares the same initials as my mother; her name was Terri Jean.
The pregnancy presented mixed emotions for us. Of course we were ecstatic to have a baby joining our family, but we also consciously made space to acknowledge our previous pain. Jenn had sacrificed so much during years of treatment. She wanted to experience carrying a child. We addressed each pang of sadness she felt as it arose, and pain became joy as her genetic child thrived in my body. In the end, we became—and remain—stronger because of it.
Jen Kerns is a creative marketing professional living with her wife Jenn (yes, they have the same name – it’s very confusing), their son Taven, and two rescue pups in Phoenix, Arizona. She enjoys chasing sunsets, riding bikes to local shops and restaurants, and playing endless games of peek-a-boo.
Image Credit: Mark Peterman/The Verbatim Agency for OptionB.Org