My story begins only a few years ago, but Baruch Hashem today, it feels like a lifetime ago. I was married to the first boy I dated, and we were living the dream of spending our shana rishona in Eretz Yisrael. I knew that my mother had trouble conceiving, ultimately needing fertility medications, and with my irregular cycles, I knew in the back of my mind that I could possibly follow in her footsteps. However, like every starry-eyed newlywed, I was optimistic that I would get pregnant right away, just like everyone else around me did (or so it seemed that way).
After a few months of negative pregnancy tests, I started to get concerned. My cycles were getting longer, and because of my family background, I decided to move quickly to begin blood work and monitoring. The year of fertility treatments in Israel was a blur, due to the language barrier and lack of research on my part. My personal pain was only exacerbated by the social stigma of not having a child while girls who got married after me were putting on maternity clothes and “sensitively” offering us to be their kvatter.
At the end of the year we decided to return home, which is really where my fertility roller-coaster began. After 3 failed IUIs, we decided to move onto IVF. We arrived excitedly for a day 5 embryo transfer, certain that our dreams to have a child would finally come true. We were shocked and horrified to learn that there were no embryos to transfer!!! Although we had an appointment with the doctor, he refused to see us or speak to us, and we left the office shocked, confused, and broken. It only got worse when we had a follow up meeting with him a few weeks later. There he concluded that the only plausible reason why none of the embryos grew to maturity was because my husband MUST have a missing protein in his sperm that is responsible for embryo maturation. Although this could not be tested , he was certain this was the case, and told us my husband would NEVER be able to have biological children and we should start looking into sperm donors.
It is literally impossible to describe what this news did to my husband and our marriage. He was literally broken, feeling like his masculinity has just been ripped out from under him. As we had heard amazing reviews of this doctor, despite the doctor’s negative diagnosis, we continued to do 2 more IVFs at this clinic, all with my husband’s sperm; all unsuccessful.
Our next doctor was much more optimistic, and actually did not blame the issue on my husband, but rather said it was my eggs that were preventing me from getting pregnant. After one unsuccessful IVF with him, he recommended ovarian drilling, a procedure which is not typically done in the US anymore, and we were advised by many experts in the field to avoid it, so we did. Now we were on to doctor number 3.
Our third doctor was amazing! She was brilliant and kind, and humble enough to recommend that we go elsewhere. Since my husband and I both had the summer free, she advised us to use our summer break to try an IVF at one of the top centers in the country, which happened to be 1,000 miles away. So just before tisha ba’av, we packed up our car with clothes, some pots and pans, a George Foreman grill, and were off for our summer adventure. We actually did have an amazing vacation in between the doctors’ appointments! To say this trip was an emotional roller coaster was an understatement, as we had so many “scares” in which we thought the cycle would be unsuccessful. We saw yad Hashem so clearly as each “scare” ended up resolving itself.
On day 3, there were so many growing embryos, that the embryologist recommended that we push the transfer off to day 5. When we came in for transfer, we heard the dreaded news once again- none of the embryos made it to blastocyst. However, there were 2 morulas (day 4 development), and they would transfer those, hoping they would develop and implant. My husband and I were filled with hope that this could be our nes, and we davened for those morulas like we had never davened before.
After the days of bed rest, we got back into the car for our return home. On the road, we received a phone call from the nurse- another nes had happened. On day 6, 2 more embryos had made it to balstocyst and would be frozen!! We felt like Hashem was smiling down on us. And this smile was confirmed when 2 weeks, later, I got the long-awaited phone call, I was pregnant! I literally couldn’t believe it, and it actually took me a few weeks to wrap my head around the idea that I was going to finally have a baby! Our perfect, beautiful miracle was born a few months before our fifth wedding anniversary, followed by another one about a year and a half later.
The pain of what we went through, although mitigated one thousand fold, still exists and creeps up when people make insensitive comments (…wait you were married when you were how old? But your oldest is only a few years old!) But when I look at my two miracle children, I literally feel that they were gifts from Hashem, and every year, failed cycle, and tear was worth the wait for them.