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I got married in July of 2016. I was 29, and we were the couple that wanted to wait a year before slowing down to have kids.
So when my annual physical came up in April the next year, I told my primary care physician (PCP) that I wanted to stop preventing pregnancy. She told me to end my birth control after my next period, and that I was one of the healthiest patients she had. She told me to go pick up some prenatal vitamins, and to see her in a year if it hadn’t happened yet. She didn’t foresee us having any issues.
Summer happened, but not a baby.
Between October 2017 and June 2018, I turned 30, purchased all of the wearable fertility tracking devices, and scheduled out our intimacy for the foreseeable future. When my temperature dipped, my depression spiked, but I still took that pregnancy test, walking it over to every light source in my house looking for that second line.
I called my PCP at the 1-year mark, and they referred me to the only fertility specialist (reproductive endocrinologist or RE) in my network in Pittsburgh. June 2018 was the first appointment at our first clinic. We met the RE feeling hopeful and excited, only to leave with orders for blood work, a semen analysis, and a date for a sonohysterography (saline infusion sonogram or SIS) procedure.
Everything came back normal, and Brian and I were officially diagnosed with “unexplained infertility.”
From June 2018 to November 2019, we cycled through 3 REs at the same clinic (because they all got pregnant at some point). We kept trying on our own, did multiple medicated intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycles that all failed, and had every suggestion to improve our chances of success shut down.
No one was listening, so in February 2020 we went in for our in vitro fertilization (IVF) consultation and 3 weeks later, the world shut down due to COVID. Our IVF cycle was pushed to August.
I had a standard protocol for my first cycle that resulted in 1 normal (meaning it went through preimplantation genetic testing or PGT) day-6 embryo. It was a girl, and we planned to transfer her in January 2021 after my endometrial receptivity array (ERA). The short story is, it worked until it didn’t. I had my first ever positive pregnancy test and blood work to confirm, but my first ultrasound showed that her gestational sac was measuring small and they prepared me for the high possibility of a miscarriage, even though there was a strong heartbeat.
A week later, there wasn’t.
In March 2021, I miscarried naturally and refused to go back to that clinic. I spent all of March bleeding and April switching insurance and researching clinics in order to figure out how we could even afford to do another round of IVF and where that would be.
We ended up at an out-of-state clinic 2 hours from home. We met our new RE in May 2021, and by June I was doing a second retrieval. That entire year was dedicated to banking embryos through back-to-back retrievals. In total, I did 4 egg retrievals at my new clinic, each time adjusting the protocol because each time, I was a poor responder.
After the 3rd retrieval, we met with our doctor to talk about what she believed was going on. We left there with a diagnosis and an extremely aggressive protocol that I researched on my own. She said she was all in with me.
At 34, I was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). When my doctor said the words, the nurses in the room gave me a sad look, but I was so happy. I finally had the why after 4 years of being “unexplained” AND a doctor who listened to my input.
I finally had the why
after 4 years of being
“unexplained” AND a
doctor who listened to
In August we did our 4th retrieval under the new protocol and I had totally different results. We decided to do one more in October with the exact same protocol, and again, great results. 2021 was the year that changed everything. It started with a pregnancy that resulted in a loss of my one and only embryo from a clinic that didn’t support me, and it ended at a new clinic with a phenomenal doctor and 5 genetically normal frozen embryos.
After another ERA that December, we finally transferred our highest-grade embryo in February 2022. On November 2, 2022, 8 days before my 35th birthday, I gave birth to my baby boy, who’s currently napping in his crib as I write this to you. There are no guarantees, but there’s always hope.
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