My infertility story
I’ve always known that I wanted to be a mother…I went from playing with baby dolls, to babysitting, to desperately wanting a family of my own. However, deep down, I’ve also always known that I’d have difficulties. After S and I were married for about two years, we decided to go off birth control pills and see what happened. What happened? Nothing. No period. I had had that problem when I was younger (I used to only get it once every six months or so, until the doctors diagnosed me with “low body fat” and put me on BCPs), and I suspected it would still be the case.
So I went to my GYN who, without tests of any kind, gave me a vague diagnosis of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and prescribed Clomid. “Take this and come back in six months if you’re not pregnant.” As easy as that was, their lackadaisical attitude gave me a bad feeling, so I found another GYN who happened to specialize in infertility. After a host of tests (bloodwork, etc.), she confirmed the diagnosis of PCOS, despite the fact that I didn’t have many of the common indications (overweight, excess hair, etc.). She put me on a regimen of Metformin (a diabetes medication), that is used to regulate blood sugar and promote ovulation, and then, with careful monitoring, added Clomid. We did the whole timed-BD (“baby dance” ;-)) thing, but no luck.
At this point, we had reached a year of “trying” which qualified us for the label of “infertile” and the opportunity to be seen by an IF specialist or RE (reproductive endocrinologist). My RE was a wonderful older man who brought us through the next phase of our IF journey. Because of the PCOS, I was not eligible for IUI (intrauterine insemination) – many eggs are developed each cycle, they’re just not released normally – I would have been in line for my own set of octuplets! So we went straight to IVF (in vitro fertilization), with the help of Lupron and Follistim.
On our first attempt, they harvested 16 eggs, about eight of which were mature, and only one that eventually fertilized and developed enough to be transferred. No luck – a BFN (Big Fat Negative). That was one of the hardest moments of my life. In order to give the embryo the best chance of survival, you need to act as if you are pregnant (no alcohol, caffeine, etc.) during the two weeks between transfer and the pregnancy test. So even while trying not to get your hopes up, it does begin to feel very real. When you get that call…”I’m sorry, but…”, it truly feels like you’ve lost a child…even one that never existed.
So after we recovered from that, we decided to go for round #2. This time, at the ER (egg retrieval), I was in the one-in-a-million who suffered from complications. Because of the large number of eggs being retrieved, I ended up with internal bleeding, and needed two blood transfusions. I was admitted to the hospital for two days and then put on bed rest for a week. After I was healed, we did an FET (frozen embryo transfer) with the one embryo that had survived from the previous retrieval, but again, a BFN.
At this point, we were running out of energy (mental, physical, and emotional) and money (my insurance had a cap for IF treatments and we had already surpassed it), so we decided to take a break. That was back in July of ’08, and for about a year, I did acupuncture, dieted (no dairy or sugar for almost 9 months), took vitamins and herbal supplements, and tried to get back into exercising. Basically just tried to get my body healthy again…and spent some time focusing on my husband and our marriage!
Then in August of 2009, we started planning and preparing for round #3 – got a new insurance plan, a new RE, and a new protocol (including ISCI, assisted hatching, and transferring two embryos instead of one). I went back on Metformin and started Lupron in December, but was cancelled in late January because of over-response to the stim meds (Gonal-F and Repronex this time around). We did another cycle in early May (cycle #3.5, or really #4, although I hated calling it that) which unfortunately ended in another BFN.
That negative was extra devastating because I felt so different that I actually, for the first time, believed that I might really be pregnant. In fact, I was so convinced that I was really only thinking about whether we were pregnant with one baby or two! After another negative, we were forced to consider the reality that this might not ever work, which let me tell you, is life-altering. After much soul-searching, we decided that cycle #5 would be our last treatment cycle and slowly started researching adoption.
Amazingly, #5 was our lucky cycle…we got pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in May of 2011! Of course, not even our pregnancy went by without our share of complications…
At 35 weeks gestation, through a routine “let’s-see-how-big-the-baby-is” ultrasound, our little boy (A) was diagnosed with duodenal atresia (a blockage of the intestines). So we spent our last few weeks as extremely high risk, and were induced at 37+ weeks. Luckily, A was completely healthy otherwise and after undergoing surgery at 1-day-old to correct the blockage, has truly thrived. Our little 6lb 2oz baby is now 30lbs at two-years-old. He’s our double miracle!