My Fertility Journey: Finding the “Right” Protocol After Infertility & Loss
The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult your doctor for the most appropriate treatment.
Harold and I married in April 2013, and I immediately stopped taking the pill when we returned from our honeymoon. I was thrilled to be finished with the extra hormones and looked forward to becoming a parent soon. I had always dreamed of getting married and being a mom.
After 6 months of not conceiving, my OBGYN ran some tests and diagnosed me with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). A hallmark symptom is the inability to ovulate.
Learning this news was difficult, but only scratched the surface of what we would endure over the next 5 years of our marriage. No one could have prepared me.
We embarked on a tumultuous journey that included many rounds of medicated cycles, 4 intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), 2 egg retrievals, 2 in vitro fertilization (IVF) embryo transfers, 2 naturally conceived pregnancies, lots of genetic and chromosomal testing, and 5 miscarriages.
In addition to all the traditional medical treatments, I also tried holistic options like acupuncture, yoga, gluten- and dairy-free diets, and meditation.
Those 5 years hurt me to my core. I was depressed, angry and frustrated. I didn’t understand why my body continued to fail me. I felt like I was the only person experiencing recurrent miscarriages, and my fertility specialist (reproductive endocrinologist) didn’t know why I kept losing pregnancies.
After my second failed IVF transfer, my doctor suggested an endometrial receptivity assay (ERA). The test determined that I needed an extra shot of progesterone in oil prior to my next transfer. I felt hope and prayed that maybe this would be the answer.
At this point, we had 5 remaining frozen embryos, all deemed genetically normal. We affectionately called them the “Fab Five.”
In November 2017, I had the honor of winning the Mrs. North Carolina pageant, and Harold and I took an entire year off from trying to get pregnant. We both wanted to be present and enjoy my “reign.” I chose infertility awareness as my platform, and spent the year speaking, making appearances, traveling, and preparing for the Mrs. America pageant. I didn’t share my story for sympathy—I had a clear intention and a purpose.
I didn’t share my story for sympathy—I had a clear
intention and a purpose.
I felt compelled to put a face and a voice to this silent, yet pervasive disease that many don’t believe affects women of color. I took my greatest pain and transformed it into my greatest purpose by attempting to inspire hope and resilience in other couples dealing with infertility, and I wanted to help prevent this pain in others. I started a movement aimed at encouraging young women to start asking their doctors for fertility assessments, hence the name #startasking. Doctors can assess egg quality, egg count, and uterine integrity, and measure reproductive hormones, all long before a woman is ready to conceive.
In December 2018, we went back to our fertility clinic to try another embryo transfer with a new reproductive endocrinologist and a new protocol. The third time was a charm, and I got pregnant, stayed pregnant, and gave birth to a healthy baby boy on September 6, 2019. We don’t know if it was timing, fate, or that extra shot of progesterone that finally helped us have a successful IVF cycle, but we were beyond grateful.
In October 2021, we transferred another embryo following the same IVF protocol that had resulted in our son. I gave birth to our beautiful daughter on June 22, 2022. Some days it still doesn’t feel real that I’m a mom of two healthy babies. The journey was worth it. Hudson and Siena are our greatest gifts.