Infertility looks different on everyone. It can range from the inability to get pregnant to the inability to stay pregnant along with everything in between. The one thing we all have in common is the ups and downs of infertility, taking us on a roller coaster ride we never wanted to be on in the first place.
For me, infertility began as the inability to get pregnant. Knowing that I had a previous diagnosis of Endometriosis, I knew something was wrong after only three months of trying to conceive. I was unable to get a positive ovulation test to even know when to try. I went to see my gynecologist to start the testing process. I was sent directly to a reproductive endocrinologist after my HSG showed a blocked right tube and a semi blocked left tube. And so, the ride began.
We jumped right into IVF because it made the most sense with my diagnosis giving me low odds of getting pregnant through any other route. Our first round of IVF landed us with five PGT normal embryos. The day that we found out we had our five perfect embryos, was the day “elective procedures” were stopped in our state due to the covid-19 pandemic. This lasted about three months, before we got the call to officially start our first transfer protocol.
We transferred our first perfect embryo only to find out that it failed after our first naïve, optimistic, two week wait. Then, we transferred our second perfect embryo, then our third perfect embryo, failing time after time. We of course, were doing testing and making tiny adjustments along the way, all of which were giving us the same outcome.
While I was in the middle of my third frozen embryo transfer, the pandemic continued, and I was traveling for work through it all. My mental health had hit rock bottom, and I was barely keeping my head above water between appointments and jumping on an airplane each week. I saw a therapist and I begged for her to completed FMLA paperwork, which she denied. That afternoon, I was released from my job. While it was devastating, a weight lifted. One thing I did not have to juggle or put on a brave face for any longer. I tried all the holistic approaches to infertility while I had time off. I filled my time with acupuncture, prepping healthy meals, magnetic therapy to help with blood circulation, heating pad on my feet, you name it I tried it, and still, my transfer failed.
Thanksgiving passed and my doctor asked me if I wanted to try to fit in one last transfer before the end of the year. Of course, that sneaky glimmer of hope crept in and allowed me to keep going, so the week before Christmas, we transferred our fourth perfect embryo. The two week wait passed a little quicker this time since it was filled with holiday celebrations. On January 1, 2021, we saw our very first two pink lines. Our blood tests confirmed we were pregnant, and the numbers were doubling as they should! We shared our good news early with family and friends, many extended family members that did not even know our struggles.
Then, things took a turn. I started to feel extremely sick and almost passing out. After multiple scans over the course of ten days, I was diagnosed with a blighted ovum. A d&c the next day would confirm our first miscarriage.
It took about seven and a half weeks for my HCG to come back down to zero, and longer than that for my mind to heal from the blindside we experienced during our very first ultrasounds. When spring came around we were ready to transfer our final embryo. This two week wait that felt like the most pressure ever, led us to another positive pregnancy test. This time, the first beta started out low and I was told I may be experiencing a chemical pregnancy. We waited another weekend and to our surprise the HCG levels caught up to where they should be and we were officially on our way to a healthy pregnancy. This time I had no extreme sickness but again at our first ultrasound they saw an empty gestational sac and gave me a “working diagnosis” of a blighted ovum. We waited another week to check again. This time we saw a strong heartbeat. Our baby was a fighter, and this was what we needed to keep our hope alive. For the next two weeks, I enjoyed my time being pregnant and I could not wait to see that heartbeat again. At 9 weeks, our greatest fear came true again, our baby continued to grow but there was no longer a heartbeat. We waited one more weekend to be diagnosed with a “missed miscarriage”. At nine and a half weeks pregnant, our second d&c confirmed another miscarriage and a new diagnosis of recurrent pregnancy loss.
Insert round two of IVF. Our second egg retrieval was similar to the first but unfortunately, the outcome was ONE healthy pgt normal embryo this time. I knew that I had to do more before transferring this one and only embryo so I began seeing a reproductive immunologist. I was diagnosed with some immune and clotting issues that help explain the miscarriages. I began medications and stabilized many of my abnormal labs before our next try. After months of testing and treatment, we transferred our healthy embryo, which ended round two in a chemical pregnancy. Another loss, another broken heart.
So here we are, gearing up for a third round of IVF and again filled with hope that this round will bring us our rainbow baby. What we have experienced over the last several years are the highest highs and the lowest lows. This story is all too common among those within the infertility community.
I share my story because I know how isolating it can feel when you are blindsided by the hardest news you may ever receive, but you are not alone. If you are in need of connection, you can find me on Instagram at @searchingforapositive where you continue following my story and connect with other warriors that may be going through the same thing you are!”
IVF- in vitro fertilization
PGT- preimplantation genetic testing
hCG- human chorionic gonadotropin