My fertility journey feels like the most insane roller coaster ride. Full of ups, downs, twists and turns that have made me feel the highest of the highs while also completely turning my life upside down.
My husband and I have been married since September 23, 2017. While that's not a long time we knew we wanted to start a family right away. On our way to Maui for our honeymoon we even joked that maybe we would get ourselves a honeymoon baby because (duh) of course I had been tracking my ovulation for months already and knew I would be in my fertile window. Super sexy I know... my poor husband.
Well... that didn't happen and while we had fun trying for a few months we both soon became anxious. I am an extreme planner and I was tired of seeing everyone around me get pregnant - why wasn't this working for me??!! I was not vibing with my OBGYN at the time so I decided to switch it up, see a new doc and come up with a plan.
My new doc appreciated my desperation to become a mother and is a planner himself. In looking deeper into my husband's and my medical history the answer was staring us in the face the entire time - my husband has a balanced translocation! We got a call from my new doc after only having one appointment him with the message that we should bypass him, not waste any time and to make an appointment for a consultation with the fertility clinic.
Without boring you too much with the details about genetic translocations this means the chromosomes from a person's DNA have a hard time matching up correctly when conceiving a child and often flip flop. If there is a balanced flip flop you will likely have a normal baby. If the translocation is unbalanced and do not match up properly, however, your baby can have significant health issues and more times than not it will spontaneously abort itself.
We had wasted months DTD (doing the deed) in perfect unison with my body's ovulation just to find out our odds of getting pregnant naturally were virtually zero. We were told that statistically it would have taken us SIX YEARS to conceive.
Enter the fertility clinic. In our initial consultation, it was the best chances of getting pregnant were through IVF (invitro fertilization) and with utilizing PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosing) testing. Again, I will not bore you with science but PGD testing would tell us which fertilized embryos from an IVF cycle were balanced and which ones were not among many other things like gender, etc.
Luckily I was able to get started right away! Stimulation drugs are no joke; there are a lot of them and if you have never had to deal with anything more than a couple of pill bottles in your life they are INTIMIDATING. I remember thinking I was never going to get the hang of it. My husband was amazing during this process and to this day I still have not given myself a single injection because he insists.
After our stimulation cycle ended and my husband gave me the trigger shot - the holy grail of fertility drugs - they were able to retrieve THIRTY FOUR eggs. Seriously insane. I was so proud of my bloated and bruised body! After the retrieval, 31 eggs fertilized and 17 eggs made it to the blastocyst stage (5 & 6 day old embryos that have started dividing rapidly)! I know sounds freaking amazing right?! Our numbers were looking incredible... until PGD testing. We waited for what felt like a lifetime for the results. We learned we had 2 day 5 and 2 day 6 blastocysts come back genetically normal - 2 girls and 2 boys. Despite the disappointing conversion from fertilized blasts to normal embryos (not even 25%) we were thrilled to have the 50/50 gender split.
At that point we began the journey to our first FET (frozen egg transfer). We made a decision together to tell the doctors to transfer the 1 strongest embryo and keep the gender a surprise. Everything went according to plan - it was easy compared to everything else leading up to that moment. I felt so happy, relieved and hopeful. Then the anxiety of the 2WW (2 week wait) set in. What in the hell was I going to do with myself while I waited to see if the embryo implanted?! The day finally came and after many negative HPTs (home pregnancy tests) the blood test confirmed my worst fear... a BFN (big fat negative). I was SO incredibly sad it is hard to find words to describe it. I yelled, I ugly cried, I questioned my womanhood - I went to a local bar with my husband and pounded martinis. It was not a glamorous day for me.
Once the news stopped stinging it was time for us to decide what to do next. After getting as many answers from our doctor on why the transfer didn't work we got comfortable with her answer that "sometimes it is just bad luck" and decided to try again.
Our second FET was on September 7th of this year. This time around we added a blood thinner to my regimen in case I was having blood clotting problems that were interfering with implantation. Again, we did not select the gender. Transfer was seamless! The 2WW was easier that go around; I had a lot planned socially and September is always a busy month for us. I had two of my most fun friends in town for a football game and staying with me during that time. It was extremely hard to fake drink so I decided to take a HPT - again. I finally got the BFP (big fat positive) I had been praying for! My dreams of becoming a mother were finally coming true. I literally fell to my knees and cried the happiest tears of my life and told my husband to come in our room. I asked him not to be mad at me but that I had taken another HPT and I was pregnant. I think that smile on his face was the best smile he has ever had. We spent the next few days on cloud 9 - high on life (literally). Our beta blood test confirmed our happy news and that night at our anniversary dinner we opened an envelope from the doctor that revealed we were having a baby girl! We couldn't believe it - we were over the moon excited. At our first ultrasound after conceiving we saw a gestational sack in the perfect place; everything was tracking well! At our 6 week appointment we got to hear and see our baby's heartbeat - one of the best days of my life. That same week we were packing up to go to London and Paris to continue our celebrating our anniversary birthdays. We called and asked so many thorough questions about whether or not it was ok to travel, what the protocol was with shots and medicine at the airport, could we have sex FINALLY, etc, etc. We got the go ahead to travel, packed all of our drugs and off we went as a family of 3! When we got back to the states we had an appointment the following day - blood in my uterus and a flicker of a heartbeat at best. We got asked to prepare for the worst, go off the blood thinners and wait 3 more days to be checked again. This was one of the worst days of my life. I lost it in the exam room. Once the doctor left I bawled, I threw things, I ripped off my bandage from my blood draw - the pain was excruciating. Three days later it was confirmed that we had lost the baby. I can't explain why but the day it was confirmed wasn't the worst - it was the days walking around with our lifeless baby inside me leading up to that were unbearable. I opted not to do a d and c (surgical procedure where the contents of the uterus are removed) and try to pass it naturally. My body needed a little help so the weekend after we found out we had a weekend at home, I took some pills and waited for my body to respond. I experienced immense sadness but also relief and gratitude that my body was doing what it was supposed to do. It is impossible not to blame yourself. Did I work out too hard at the gym? Should we have skipped our vacation? Should we not have had sex? Did I push myself too hard on vacation? The thing is you will never know why and it will never make sense. All we can do it learn and push forward.
Today, six weeks after the terrible news, my body has healed and finally has an hcg level of <5 which means we can start trying again. Before we do our next transfer, I am going to undergo an Endometrial Receptivity Analysis to determine the best day for transfer. I try and take it one day at a time, realizing each bump in the road makes me and my husband stronger. Until then... we CONTINUE to wait, hoping and praying for our rainbow babies.
We decided to move forward with the ERA procedure (endometrial receptivity analysis) on 12/20/28 and found out I was post receptive. For us this meant we needed to transfer our next embryo one day later than what would normally be scheduled to ensure the perfect environment. After the new year we began gearing up for a naturally stimulated transfer on 1/19/19. This is a different approach than in the past where I used synthetic estrogen; this time I would be using STIM shots like you would for a retrieval so my body could create its own natural estrogen. My body loves IVF drugs for whatever reason so the response was great. Our transfer went smoothly as we listened to instrumental versions of Let's Get it On" and "A Thousand Years" - both very fitting wouldn't you say?! Our two week wait ends with our BETA test on 1/29 and I am losing my mind!
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