6 Angles & a 7th Successful Pregnancy | Fertility Out Loud

6 Angels And a 7th Successful Pregnancy

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.

The beginning of our story takes us back to 2018. Blake and I had just gotten married in August, and we were so excited at the possibility of growing our family together. We definitely had a “glorified” view of what that process would look like. 

Pretty quickly we noticed my cycles were irregular. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) runs in my family, so we saw an OBGYN to discuss that potential issue and make sure everything was “normal.” We were told to “come back in a year if we were unsuccessful.” I now know that you can push back on these guidelines if you suspect ovulatory dysfunction. But at the time I didn’t know better. 

So we spent another year trying, month after month, negative test after negative test. About a year later, I found a new OBGYN, and was put on medication to induce ovulation. After a few months, I still wasn’t ovulating, so we kept increasing my dose. It took awhile but finally on the highest dose I ovulated. This was so exciting, and we thought, “soon enough we’ll surely get pregnant!”

Several months passed and I was ovulating, but still getting negative pregnancy tests. We were referred to a fertility clinic to get an HSG (hysterosalpingography) to see if my tubes were blocked. My right tube cleared perfectly, but my left tube had some mucus that they were able to push through and clear. We then got pregnant on that exact cycle and we were absolutely over the moon.

Unfortunately, that dream didn’t last long. We miscarried at 6 weeks. To this day, I think that first miscarriage was the hardest for me. It changed me as a person. It introduced a whole new set of feelings and grief that I had never felt before, and I would never be the same again. Some for the worse and some for the better. 

We decided to take the leap and officially connect with a fertility specialist at the fertility clinic.

Fast forward: we decided to take the leap and officially connect with a fertility specialist (reproductive endocrinologist) at the fertility clinic. They discovered a uterine polyp, which was removed, and then we decided intrauterine insemination (IUI) would be our next step. The first two rounds of IUI were unsuccessful. We were just about ready to move onto in vitro fertilization (IVF) when our third IUI was successful. We were cautiously optimistic. After all, the chances of consecutive miscarriages at my age were very unlikely. But we miscarried again at almost 7 weeks. 

We did testing and discovered that the baby had an extra set of chromosomes (triploidy). After that, we knew IVF would be our best bet to get on the other side of this storm. So we saved and prepared. In July of 2021, we did our egg retrieval. At every step of the way we were anxiously waiting for the ball to drop. But to our surprise, every step of the process went great. We retrieved 34 eggs. 23 matured, 21 fertilized, and 16 became day 5 blastocysts (early embryos). We sent 10 off for preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), and 9 of those came back genetically healthy. We were so grateful to have had such great results. 

But this is where things really start to get interesting. We did our first embryo transfer in November 2021, with a sweet baby boy, and found out that it was successful and we were pregnant. Once again we were cautiously optimistic and felt as though this would lead to a live birth. But we were again let down, with no heartbeat at 7 weeks. After confirming the loss, we moved on with a D&C (dilation and curettage). We decided to do more testing on the baby to make sure it was indeed genetically healthy. Everything came back normal, so why did we miscarry?

At that point we knew we had to look at my body and began lots of testing. Nothing came back abnormally. We had no answers. We then decided to try another embryo transfer. We were completely unsure of what would happen but just expected the worst while still trying to remain hopeful. We kept thinking, “maybe this will be our time.”

At our baseline appointment everything looked great, so we started injections to thicken my lining. At our first check, we received news that there were pockets of fluid in my lining, and that the cycle would likely be canceled. My doctor tried to drain the fluid. I went back a couple of days later and unfortunately the fluid came right back. That cycle was canceled. 

We once again were left wondering, “what in the world is going on?” All we could really do was turn around and try again, so we did just that. And once again the same issue arose with the fluid in my lining. At that point we suspected adenomyosis (a gynecologic condition that causes endometrial tissue in the lining of the uterus to grow into the muscular wall of the uterus). This was a really difficult “diagnosis” to wrap my head around. It could have been an explanation for the previous losses. But it also made the future even more unknown. 

I started to think, “would I ever be able to carry?” I was young and healthy, there was no other reason why I shouldn’t be able to hold onto a genetically healthy embryo and if my body already wouldn’t do that, would it ever? This brought up the discussion of surrogacy between my husband and I. But my doctor had a plan of action to try and suppress the adenomyosis with medication. So that’s exactly what we did. Things were put on “hold” for another 3 months. Dealing with menopausal symptoms (from the medication) during that entire time was difficult, but I still tried to use that time to do the things I love as much as possible.

We finished the suppression therapy and jumped right into another embryo transfer. It was time for the lining check and I was physically shaking going into it. We started the ultrasound and right away could see that it was much better. But there was still a tiny bit of fluid and I was sure our cycle would be canceled again. My doctor wasn’t ready to give up just yet. He said that the little pocket of fluid remaining didn’t seem to be in a place that would affect an embryo implanting and he wanted to give it more time to see how it progressed.

We went back two days later and the pocket of fluid had shrunk. We were cleared to move forward with our embryo transfer. We decided to transfer two embryos in hopes that at least one would find a good spot to snuggle in for 9 months. By some miracle we did not see any fluid in my lining on transfer day and we were on cloud nine. A few days later I got a positive pregnancy test (yes, I’m a test early kind of person) and the line progressed beautifully. We confirmed through blood tests that our pregnancy levels were rising and we felt confident that both embryos stuck. Then severe morning sickness started and I had never been so happy to be so sick. This had to be it! My numbers were amazing, I was having all the “good” symptoms, we were covering all of our bases with the kitchen sink protocol so what could possibly go wrong? 

I started bleeding. This couldn’t be happening. I spiraled immediately and called my clinic in hysterics. I went in to check my levels (as it was too early for an ultrasound) and to my surprise my numbers came back great. So we thought it must be a subchorionic hemorrhage but couldn’t confirm that for another week. So we held onto hope. 

Fast forward and it’s time for my next intralipid infusion. As soon as I walked into the infusion center something didn’t feel right. I felt a gush of something. In the restroom I discovered the bleeding was quite a bit heavier than before. During the infusion, I started cramping. I thought, “this can’t possibly be happening, it’s all in my head. Just relax.” I finished my infusion and called my husband. He said he’d meet me at home. By the time I got there, the bleeding was out of control. My clinic was closed and the next day was Thanksgiving, so our only option was the ER. 

With tears in my eyes we checked in. All of the bloodwork results and my pregnancy levels were high, but not as high as they should be, and at that moment we already knew what to expect. We went back for an ultrasound to confirm we had lost the twins. The bleeding had yet to stop and was still going strong. So they gave me medication that would clot the blood. 

After a couple more hours and passing the twins, everything was finally under control and we were discharged, left to our own devices to grieve this huge loss and traumatic event on Thanksgiving. We were done. We would no longer try with my body because we couldn’t go through this anymore. And we started to save for a surrogate. We also decided that since that would take a while, we would focus on healing and finding ways to enjoy life again. 

I found happiness in challenging my body physically. I had hated my body for so many years for letting us down time and time again. I found it healing to push myself and achieve goals. I grew up playing sports and working hard and when I wanted something I could always work harder and achieve that desire. Infertility and loss isn’t like that. It doesn’t care how hard you work. It’s an extreme type of helplessness, not having any control over this thing that is controlling your life. It’s an extremely humbling experience where you ultimately have to give up control, whether you want to or not.

I wasn’t ready to give up trying for our family, but I had to put it on the side burner next to the things that made me happy. That’s something that I do have control over. And that’s one thing I’ve learned: grief and happiness are not mutually exclusive. They can co-exist. So I started seeking happiness because I learned that the grief was there to stay and I could choose to drown in it, or I could choose to tread the water and hopefully someday make it to shore. 

Grief and happiness are not mutually exclusive. They can co-exist…I learned that the grief was there to stay and I could choose to drown in it, or I could choose to tread the water and hopefully someday make it to shore. 

The next several months were focused on strengthening my relationship with my husband. We focused on ourselves, and our relationship, and work, and taking care of our bodies. Fast forward a few months and things felt different hormonally. I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. Shocked doesn’t even begin to describe what we were feeling. I immediately went in for bloodwork, thinking “maybe a natural pregnancy is what my body needed to carry.” But my levels came back low, and then started going back down. That was seemingly a once in a lifetime shot of a natural pregnancy ever happening for me, and yet it still didn’t work out. Another loss under our belts. 

But if my body was capable of a natural pregnancy, I thought I should track ovulation and at least try to time things right. So I began testing, never getting a positive. By cycle day 22 I gave up, thinking “it’s not happening, it really was just a fluke.” About a week later things felt different again. I took an ovulation and pregnancy test. The ovulation test was pretty dark, maybe I was finally ovulating?

Then I uncovered the pregnancy test. Two lines. Here we go again. I thought, “buckle up, there’s no way this is going to turn out good.” Maybe that was pessimistic of me to think, but with 6 angel babies, I really didn’t think my body was capable. Somehow this time felt different. I can’t explain it. Bloodwork levels came back amazing. Then we saw a heartbeat for the first time ever. I thought, “wow this might really be it, but I’m not going to say it out loud in case it jinxes something.”

I was so sick. My brain could not process the good news we continued to receive. Baby was growing strong, it was a boy, and the bleeding I experienced was a subchorionic hemorrhage that healed perfectly. We made it to the second trimester and graduated from our fertility clinic. I thought, “but surely I’ll be right back when this goes south.”

Week after week the baby was growing, my belly was growing, I started to feel him move, our NIPT testing came back great, our scans with the high risk maternal fetal medicine doctor (MFM) were textbook.

And now I lay here as I type this, at 28 weeks pregnant, feeling our baby kick, and preparing to welcome him in a couple months. FINALLY believing that we are actually having a baby. By some miracle my body has carried when we had lost all hope and had grieved that we wouldn’t get to experience this exact moment and all the moments to come. I’m not going to say never give up because everyone’s story is different and in some cases it’s not realistic to never give up. 

However, I will say that sometimes things happen in the most unexpected way. Grief is hard. But if there’s one word of encouragement that I can give, it would be to also do things that make you happy. Find that happiness that can coexist alongside the hardship. It’s the best thing you will ever do for yourself. And just remember that you are not behind in life. You are on your timeline and that can not be compared to anyone else. 

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