My Fertility Journey: Persevering Through 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.
My husband and I started our fertility journey in 2016. After a few months of trying naturally, and due to our ages (34 and 46), we were referred to a fertility specialist (or reproductive endocrinologist) for testing.
We found out that my husband’s sperm count was low, so we spent the next 8 months working with different medications to see if we could increase his count enough to start the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process.
In 2017, we were able to start IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). We started the process in May, and everything was going well. We had our first transfer that July, which unfortunately ended in a chemical pregnancy.
Later that year, in September, we transferred our remaining two embryos and got a positive pregnancy test, but our blood results did not return high enough, and that pregnancy ended. We were crushed, but since we were blessed with wonderful insurance, we decided to go ahead and start preparing for our second round of IVF and focus on that instead of our losses.
We started the process again in the fall of the same year. We did not change our protocol but decided to do genetic testing with the next round. Unfortunately, we only ended up with one embryo. Since we only had one, with the cost and risk for error, it was decided that we would not test.
We did our transfer right before Christmas. I remember trying not to get our hopes up, but thinking surely this one embryo would be our Christmas miracle child and what an amazing story they would have. We had our first blood test, and I was pregnant! Two days later we went in for our human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) testing to see if it had doubled, and my numbers were not rising properly. The pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.
Again, we tried to pull ourselves out of a sad and negative place. You start to question “why us?” or “what have we done to deserve this experience?” or “maybe it’s just not meant to be.” We started our third round of IVF, but my body was not responding well after the last miscarriage, so we decided to take a few months off.
You start to question “why us?” or “what have we done
to deserve this experience?” or “maybe it’s just not
meant to be.”
We traveled and did things to keep us busy. We finally started our third round 5 months later. We were able to freeze two embryos and send a few off for testing, but only one came back normal. We discussed the option of doing an endometrial receptive assay (ERA) test, but since it didn’t seem like we had any issues getting pregnant, and that it was more of a genetic issue, we decided not to do that, as we had a genetically tested embryo.
We transferred our genetically tested embryo in June of 2018. We just KNEW this was it.
Unfortunately, that embryo did not take at all, and devastated doesn’t begin to cover how we felt. We made the decision to do one last round with both genetic and ERA testing. If this did not work, our journey was coming to an end. We were both mentally and physically exhausted. We started our 4th round of IVF in the fall, and only got one embryo, but it was the best embryo we had gotten in our 3 years of retrievals.
We did not genetically test, but we did do the ERA, which showed my timing had changed. We transferred in December of 2018, and I was pregnant with hCG numbers so high, they thought it could be twins. It turned out to be one healthy, beautiful baby girl.
If you are reading this, I hope our story can bring you hope. The journey for some is short, but for others it’s long and painful and you just want to give up. Surround yourself with anyone who is going through the process or has in the past, and let your friends and family know the best way to support you. It makes such a difference.
The biggest message I can send is that becoming a mother does not define you. I had to learn that we were not less-than because we did not have a child. To the women out there enduring shot after shot, and procedure after procedure, know that you are amazing, and you’ve got this. Sincerely, from one infertility warrior to another, Jennifer and Robert.