Shan pens love letter to rainbow baby Mila – Jamaica Observer

Motherhood for many is hardly a walk in the park! Just ask Shanice “Shan” Mia Gore, who six years ago experienced her first ectopic pregnancy and after undergoing emergency surgery, the result of a ruptured fallopian tube, the doctors discovered that she had endometriosis on the remaining tube. A year later another test was done to verify if she could conceive with the remaining tube. It came back positive. She got pregnant again but had another ectopic pregnancy, followed by yet another emergency surgery because her tube had ruptured!
“This left me heartbroken, scared, with a sense of emptiness… my dream of becoming a mom [I thought] was now out the window. Every pregnancy announcement I would hear of would make me feel so gutted on the inside. I yearned to have that feeling… my OB/GYN Dr Wayne Harvey recommended in vitro fertilisation (IVF). He mentioned that it was done here locally and I wouldn’t have to travel abroad to have the procedure done.
“This made me hopeful but also fearful of the road ahead. On a positive note I thought to myself, it was just my fallopian tubes that were the issue so this was indeed possible,” she shared with SO.
Nothing could have prepared Shan for the emotional upheaval that lay ahead. Understanding the process of IVF, a form of assisted reproductive technology in which the egg is fertilised with the sperm in a laboratory and the embryo (fertilised egg) is returned to the womb to further grow and develop, started with Shan seeing one of the specialist doctors who in turn recommended her to the Hugh Wynter Fertility Management Unit, at the UWI.
Intensive blood work studies ensued. After blood results are cleared by the team of doctors and files identify you as a good candidate for IVF, you then have to wait on your menstrual cycle. Thereafter, it’s back to the unit for ultrasounds and prescribed medication. The nurse demonstrates how to proceed with injections.
STEP 1: Stimulation
Fertility medications will be given to boost egg production. Regular transvaginal ultrasounds of the ovaries and blood tests to check hormone levels will also be conducted.
STEP 2: Egg Retrieval
Eggs are collected through a minor surgical procedure, where a thin needle is inserted through the vagina into each ovary. This is usually performed under local or general anaesthesia. If you do not or cannot produce any eggs, donated eggs may be used.
STEP 3: Sperm Production
Your partner is asked to provide a semen sample which is prepared so that only the healthiest sperms are used.
STEP 4: Insemination and Fertilisation
During insemination, sperm is mixed with the eggs and incubated. Fertilisation takes place later. If chances of fertilisation are low, the sperm may be directly injected into the egg, in a process known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
STEP 5: Embryo Development
Fertilised eggs develop into embryos and grow in the incubator for up to six days.
STEP 6: Embryo Transfer
After egg collection, hormones are given to prepare the womb lining for the embryo. Embryos are placed in the womb with a catheter.
This procedure does not usually require anaesthesia. Pregnancy occurs when an embryo attaches to the lining of the womb and grows.
Unused embryos may be frozen and implanted or donated
About 12 to 14 days later, you are asked to do labs again to test your HCG levels (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin), a hormone your body produces when pregnant, and this will confirm whether you are pregnant. The hormone medicine is continued for eight to 10 weeks after the embryo transfer as it helps the embryo grow and become established in the womb.
Shan’s journey continues…
“Everyone’s case is different! Mine comprised a series of injections. I was injecting myself in my thigh at 7:00 pm every evening and my abdomen area every morning at 6:00 am. This was no walk in the park! I did it for two weeks. This was a roller-coaster ride. I would give myself an hour to get in the frame of mind to inject myself and some days I would cry wondering why the one thing my body was supposed to do, [it] couldn’t. But it was something I wanted more than ever so I continued through my pain. After two weeks of injections my retrieval was a success. I had 14 mature eggs of which 11 were fertilised and became embryos.
“However, the downside was that I had now developed ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which is an exaggerated response to excess hormones. I needed treatment and had to be monitored immediately. I was in hospital for two weeks. A very challenging period for me, as not only was I facing these complications but I was also alone! This was during the height of COVID-19. But I didn’t lose hope even though extremely terrified I wouldn’t be able to do my transfer right away.
“IVF can be so lonely with so many high and low moments all at once. You need all the support you can [get]. For me, I had support from my husband, family and my girlfriends. Friends who went to every doctor’s appointment with me when my husband couldn’t. Called me every day even sat outside the hospital when they weren’t allowed in. My brother and cousin would leave school drive from Kingston with me and drive back the next day. Therapy sessions were a must for me… they literally kept me sane.
“After I was released from the hospital. I took a break from my treatment to get my body and mind back to centre. I wanted to have a healthy body and mind to do my transfer.
“A friend who had gone through IVF recommended acupuncture. I’d seen quite a few stories online which mentioned it was helpful, so I did acupuncture once a week.
First Transfer
“Soon, I was ready to start my journey again to becoming a mother. I now had to wait on my menstrual cycle to start. After it did I had to go in to check my uterus lining and collect my series of medication I would need. During my routine ultrasound a cyst was found on my ovary. Another hurdle!
I had an ultrasound every two days for almost a month; before this I never had cysts. My doctor then said we can’t continue with my transfer if it wasn’t an active cyst. So he advised a blood test be done right away to rule it out, which I did. I had the longest drive back home due to emotions and the feeling of why my body was not doing its job.
“I got home and received the call from my doctor which was good news. He told me to start my medications as it wasn’t an active cyst and would disappear soon. Good news!
“The news from my ultrasound after 10 days of medication was positive. Everything was going well… my uterus lining was getting thick.
“I was advised to come back in a couple of days and by then I would have gotten the okay for my transfer. But, then came another obstacle. My doctor saw that my uterus lining was not contracting well. He then said I couldn’t do a transfer with this happening. Again, another disappointment. I was advised to go home and stay off my feet for two days and then return for a check-up. I got the recommended rest and upon return the contractions stopped and I was given a transfer date, time and more medications. I was elated. I was getting closer to my dream!!
“The medication was no joke, I was constantly sick. But I would take it knowing my transfer was just a day away.
“On transfer day I was both nervous and happy. I had an acupuncture session in the morning. I remember replaying prayers and promises for supernatural childbirth and saying the prayers and drinking my water as you need a full bladder to the point [of feeling like you’re] gonna urinate on yourself.
My transfer was done and I was happy and positive that I was going to be successful; my embryo was excellent. Now I had to wait 10 days for test day.
“I waited and waited. This was by far the worst of the experiences. Just sitting and waiting not knowing what was happening, knowing you wanted nothing more in the world.
“Was I pregnant or not?!? This was the only time during my journey that I cried endlessly. Having to wait around for test day. That is a mind game that no one should have to play.
“I was impatient so I did an over-the-counter drug store test. Which you’re told not to do!
“I was pregnant! I created a cute way to tell my husband, and we were both so very happy! Finally test day came I went in for my lab confident that it was positive. Till I got a call from the unit saying I am pregnant but my HCG is not as high as they would like. Another roller-coaster ride once more. My happiness crashed while I prayed my pregnancy would be viable. My doctor advised me to have more blood work done in three days to see if my HCG would double, which it didn’t but did go up which still had me on my roller-coaster ride. I did additional blood work to see if my HCG doubled. It had not! It had fallen to 4mIU/ml which means I was not pregnant and I could stop taking my medication and bleeding would start soon.
“The most heartbreaking news! There was no reason as to why the embryo just stopped growing. I was broken. The feeling of getting pregnant and losing it had become an oh-too-familiar feeling. Maybe motherhood was not on the cards.
“I mourned the loss of my pregnancy; took some time to clear my head; picked myself up and got on the ride again.
“My doctor had mentioned he wanted to do a procedure called Endometrial Receptivity Assay (ERA). A biopsy was done on the lining of my uterus. The findings were normal so it was just a matter of having the embryo stick and continue to grow.
“I took another break after that procedure for my mental health and also gave myself a break from all the medication I was on.
Second embryo transfer
“January 2022 my journey recommenced. My acupuncture sessions resumed and, too, my diet. I was in a better place this time around because I had no expectations.
“Everything with my body was great.
“My first routine ultrasound was good, my mind set was good… I was just going with the flow.
“My transfer date was set for February 16, 2022. I had my acupuncture in the morning. While waiting to go in for my transfer the embryologist told me my embryo had collapsed. The word “collapsed” wasn’t good; I was now back on my emotional roller-coaster ride. I thought for sure this wasn’t going to work. But in some cases “collapsed” doesn’t mean bad. I went home worried that it wouldn’t work again. But I did everything I could to help the process. I followed all the old wives’ tale. Doctor Harriott assured me that my body was in a good state. I prayed and kept the faith.
“While I waited and waited for test day, given how anxious I was I did an over-the-counter test. Which I should not have done. To my knowledge, once more I was pregnant. But from the last transfer I knew that getting a positive test result did not automatically translate into a viable pregnancy. I prayed hard every day that my HCG levels were higher than 100. They were 104! When I got my lab work back it was high and I never had to repeat my blood work. I was now finally getting my greatest desire. I was pregnant!
“My first ultrasound was scheduled for March 14, our second wedding anniversary. What timing! I was scared out of my mind. Leading up to that date I had started bleeding and I thought to myself here we go again. I’ll never be a mom. I called my doctor immediately. I was told to increase my medication and stay off my feet.
“On March 14, I saw and heard my baby’s heart beating. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
“I was on bed rest for four months of my pregnancy and also sick for the first four months.
“Nine months of being pregnant was nothing short of a miracle. I was nervous with every second each day. Watching my body grow and change day by day, week by week. From a six-day-old embryo to a baby growing and kicking in my tummy. I was so grateful for everything. Every moment felt right; I was giving life to a human that is part-me and part-my husband.
“Our love had finally created our own bundle of joy. Our rainbow baby.
“On October 25, 2022 at 8:50 pm my baby girl, Mila Holly Gore, was born. She weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces and was 20 inches at 38 weeks and a day; healthy and the most beautiful baby.
“I immediately fell in love with this little person. My forever memory of Mila’s eyes meeting mine was the most beautiful feeling I ever had. I melted in her eyes. Finally, I was a mother! I could never have prepared for a love like this.
“A type of love so potent that it feels heavy. I fall deeper in love with every second.
“Mila, you are worth every tear I cried for six years, every injection I had, every medication I took. I would do it all again in a blink of an eye.
“My heart will never open wider and I will never have to do more letting go than I will on the journey of being your mama.
“It is my job to be your anchor, to love you as deep as love can go. And it is your job to find your wings and fly one day. What an honour it is to be the one to meet your soul in such tenderness.
Thank you for choosing me to walk you into this world.
Love, Mom
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