Any time I’m able to tell our story I jump at the chance. If it is able to help one person cope or learn something about infertility that’s enough for me, and to spread awareness about infertility and miscarriage. It is a real, hurtful, emotional, trying disease and doesn’t have enough awareness. Each time I tell it I have this burning hope that maybe, just maybe the next time I tell it, it will have a different, happier ending.
Our story starts like a lot of couples, DJ and I got married in September 2009. We’ve talked about starting a family for some time so it didn’t take long for us to start trying. I couldn’t wait to have my own little family. I never had dreams of having a hugely successful job and a crazy busy life. I’ve always wanted the white picket fence, dog, horse, and kids.
We tried on our own thinking nothing of it for about a year. I thought it would come so easy. Everyone else around me never even had to think twice about getting pregnant, so why would I? After we were unsuccessful in getting pregnant that year I saw my DR and he suggested I try Clomid. He said because of our age and no significant history we should be successful in no time! We were excited to try something new and hope our dream would come true. First month on Clomid, negative result. But on our 2nd round of trying it I found out that I did get pregnant and we were overjoyed. Pregnancy #1 unfortunately we miscarried a few days later. I was heartbroken. How could so much joy and happiness be so devastating in just a matter of a few days? After a break of a few months we continued on Clomid, we did 6 more rounds, and were unsuccessful. I knew what was next. I can remember sitting in the car crying saying we’re going to have to go to see a specialist. We’re going to have to do IVF….I can’t do that...I just can’t.
Our 1st consult at with a reproductive Endocrinologist the Dr was very confident that we would be very successful with an IUI and there would be no need to go further into IVF. We had to do the typical testing before we could start any treatment. All of the tests were normal and we were ready to go. Before we started our IUI journey we became pregnant naturally! Pregnant for the second time in February 2012. Sadly, again we lost the pregnancy.
Back at it… They started us off by doing 3 cycles of Monitored IUI each cycle was negative. We did not get pregnant. After those cycles didn’t work we went for a consult on what to do next. That answer was IVF.
Our 1st IVF Retrieval was July 2012. They were only able to retrieve 4 follicles from my right side. The Dr could not get to my left ovary so none were extracted from the left. I was upset by this and thought that this wasn’t supposed to happen. But like everyone says. You only need one! Only 2 fertilized and made it to day 3 so we had a fresh transfer of 2 day 3 embryos. NEGATIVE
I was numb. I thought for sure this was going to be it. So we went on to Retrieval #2 Sept 2012. We got a decent amount of eggs this time so I was relieved. We also had enough to freeze for future use.
Transfer #2 two five day blasts….NEGATIVE
Transfer #3 11-20-12 Frozen 2 day 5 blasts..NEGATIVE
Transfer #4 frozen 3 day 5 blasts.
I know, what were we thinking? Transferring 3 embryos! It was the last 3 frozen embryos we had left. Just do it, right! My beta was to be done the following Friday 11 days to wait and see if this would work. I couldn’t wait. That Wednesday I tested at home. For the 1st time on a home test I finally saw 2 pink lines. I had a positive pregnancy test!!! Pregnancy #3 I ran in our bedroom jumping on the bed to have a very sleepy husband follow me to the bathroom and confirm what is saw. A positive test. My 3 betas were wonderful. Each test doubled like they should. I was on cloud 9.
While at work completely glowing and happy getting ready for my 1st ultrasound in a day or two, I felt a sharp tugging pain and I was bleeding. I was terrified and I called my drs office. They had me go home and rest and come in 1st thing in the morning for an ultrasound. During that ultrasound the nurse had me look at the monitor and said, You see these 2 circles? (Now I would know they were the gestational sacs) these are we call circles of hope.
You still have a good chance.
I was pregnant with Twins. Sadly, we miscarried.
We took a little break, we bought a house and moved.
Since that was the last of our frozen embryos we did another IVF Retrieval October 2013. While this one we got plenty of eggs, way more than expected I also got OHSS. I was ordered extra meds to take to help ease the symptoms. I had to have daily ultrasounds to monitor the fluid building up in my abdomen, and to monitor my “kissing Ovaries” They were talking about doing a puncture to drain but the fluid started to go down. I could barely sleep. My abdomen was so swollen and distended I looked pregnant, couldn’t move couldn’t tie my shoes…So this is what it will feel like when this next transfer works!
Transfer #5 two day 5 blasts…. Positive!!!
This was it! It had to be it! Pregnancy #4 Everyone said once you get a house you’ll get pregnant. This had to be it! Again all the labs did what they should, all was great….until I started bleeding. I called the office because not only was I bleeding, but I passed a sac. So I knew that this pregnancy was over. To ease my mind she called me in for an ultrasound. At that ultrasound she showed me the gestation sac. My pregnancy was right there, she reassured me it was ok and a lot of women bleed in the 1st trimester. I was so confused leaving the office later that night, I passed the 2nd sac. My twins were gone. It was confirmed by blood and ultrasound. I had lost my babies again.
Transfer #6 3-27-2014 two day 5 blasts- NEGATIVE
Transfer #7 11-19-2014 - two day 5 blasts- NEGATIVE
Transfer # 8 4-21-2015- two day 5 blasts- NEGATIVE
Transfer #9 7-28-2015- three day 5 blasts- NEGATIVE
How is this even possible??
I was lucky enough to conceive again on our own again. Pregnancy #5 Our levels rose to a great number and we were so happy. The best looking one yet! I went in for my ultrasound so excited. I couldn’t wait for that moment when I would see my baby after all this time. But that didn’t happen. The nurse’s face said it all. Something was wrong, she was taking too long, then she looked at me and said there was nothing there. Nothing there!?? What do you mean nothing there?! After waiting and tests we found out we had an ectopic pregnancy, or Pregnancy of unknown location. For my health and safety I had to take a medication that would terminate the pregnancy so that nothing would happen to me. That was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I still cry about it to this day!!!
We had 1 more retrieval covered by my insurance. So we decided to go and see a new Dr. see if they would do anything different and maybe get a different outcome.
We did our 4th retrieval at UIC. Probably the worst experience as far as IVF goes. I was informed as I was going into the room that they don’t put you under, you’re given twilight sedation. I learned that day, I don’t respond well to that. I was very much awake and watched the whole process. I even helped at one point. Unfortunately they could not retrieve all my eggs. My Ovaries were to full and high. I had so many and we only got a few, I was so heartbroken. I begged to keep going, I tried to help by added extra pressure to my side and abdomen to try and get them down so they could reach with the needle. It didn’t help, they were all wasted. Not only that but I developed OHSS again, only more severe. Instead of going in for a 3 day transfer this time I was admitted overnight for severe dehydration and observation. Fun, Right?
Transfer #10 two day 3 embryos- NEGATIVE
This is where our IVF journey ends….
After all that my insurance changed and we decided to see another dr at UIC. Dr Stephenson and she is the head of the Recurrent Loss Program. Our hope was that with her help we can find out the cause of our Infertility and our inability to stay pregnant. She ran a lot of tests, and they have been normal. With one exception. My AT3 level was slightly low. I have seen a hematologist for further work up and was told that the level is just slightly low. Borderline Deficiency. Not enough to treat with medication, and if I did get meds the side effects may be greater than not having them. So still no answer as to why I can’t get pregnant or keep a pregnancy. Also she has said no more IVF. It doesn’t work for me or my body. I have to agree with her on that.
Sept 2016 the day after my 34th birthday I got a positive home pregnancy test. I went and had blood drawn and it was positive low result but positive. Went in the following day and it doubled. Pregnancy #6! We were very excited. Again the thoughts of THIS IS IT we’re there and we were hopeful. It was natural, no meds! Timing seemed perfect. Then a few days after, like always I started spotting. It was ending and I had a chemical pregnancy.
Fast forward a year. I turned the lovely 35. The dreaded year for us interfiles. Same week as before. Not feeling right I asked my Dr to run a blood test.
POSITIVE. Pregnancy #7 what!!!
How perfect. Again, without fail. It ended before my 6 week mark. My levels dropped.
2018. New year...Give it all we got. We decided to try something a little different. Along with continuing with my diet change and doing Keto we added Fertility Massage and started a fertility Tea. We started in January. I had one round of tea and massage. I noticed a difference immediately I ovulated early and even had the best CM ever!! (At this point there is no TMI) I told the massage therapist she had magic hands. The rest of the month was crazy I had to get a root canal and I was living on IB Profen. I looked at my calendar and realized I was a few days late. Thinking no way. I took a cheapie test and instantly saw 2 lines. I couldn’t believe my eyes so I rummaged through my cabinet and found my trusty First Response. OF course they’re on hand for moments like these BOOM! Instant 2 lines.
Betas were beautiful!! Again I started spotting the next week. Right on time. The difference is my levels didn’t drop, they continued to rise. I thought maybe just maybe this is the normal bleeding I hear so much about. I had had some sharp pinch cramping so I was sent to the ER. That was a Thursday. Waste of time I knew, my levels were not at that magic point yet to see anything on an ultrasound. Close, but not there yet. So after 4 hours, discharged to keep an eye on everything and continue the betas. Friday I felt HORRIBLE. I felt the same way when I had OHSS. I was bloated and in pain. I went and saw my OBGYNE. He even said if he didn't know any better my symptoms are like OHSS. Impossible since I didn’t do any treatment. So I was sent home. Saturday. A little sore but better. So I was relieved, cramping eased and so did the spotting. Then Sunday came. I woke up super early and felt abnormal cramping on my right side. I ended up pacing the house for an hour and 45 minutes, till I woke my husband up. We decided to go to Urgent Care. I didn't want to over react. I had an appt at UIC the next day for my 1st Ultrasound, but something was off. I couldn't wait. At urgent care they did the US and after waiting a few minutes the Dr came in and said... There’s nothing in your uterus, it’s not there. Looks like you have a mass on the right side and you have fluid so I believe it is ruptured. Great! Just fucking great!!! Not only do I hear, it’s not there but it’s ruptured. He walked out I turned to DJ and said I need surgery. They transferred me to the hospital and I had surgery to remove my right Fallopian tube.
Since this is the 2nd ectopic we have been advised to not try naturally and more because my risk of another one is greater. They recommend IVF. Well after doing 4 retrievals, 10 transfers and 22 embryos, that ship has sailed. For now we have decided to close the book on TTC and live life the way it is.
SURPRISE Update!!! Well, well, well here we go again. I should know by now life does NOT go as we plan!! July 7, 2018 for a reason I can’t explain I took a pregnancy test. I wasn’t even thinking I was on auto pilot. I sat down grabbed a test from under the counter and though, wait what the hell am I doing!? I am like a day late. That’s normal.
My eyes have got to be playing tricks on me. They have too. I searched the cabinet for my emergency digital. (We POAS Addicts have stock) so I waited the time…empty screen. It was defective! WTF! Seriously? So I grabbed my keys and bra and ran to Walgreens.
My husband called me as I was out, I said oh I’m getting you breakfast. I got home and asked if he saw the test. I said well I’m going to do this one, go on the porch and have coffee with the cats, you tell me what it says in 3 minutes. He said “oh no, that’s not my job.” Well it is today!!
He came on the porch and said…” I don’t know that line is really light, it hasn’t made up its mind yet!! (Men)
As we all know a line is a line, no matter how dark. It’s Positive. We are pregnant. Pregnancy #9.
I felt sick. Instant anxiety and fear!! How will this one end? Called the dr and set up an appt that Monday morning.
7/9/18 Beta #1 213
7/11/2018 Beta #2 601
7/13/2018 Beta #3 1929
Ok we’ve been here before. Cautiously optimistic. When will the other shoe drop?
7/18/18 ultrasound for placement. We have a gestational sac and yolk sac. Perfectly placed in my uterus! Tears! Just tears!
7/30/2018 Ultrasound to check if we have a heartbeat to confirm viable pregnancy. Can I just say the whole morning leading up to this appt was a giant panic attach. I was so scared. I was shaking I threw up. Just plain ol’ FEAR.
We go to the appt the tech turned the screen and there it was the brightest little blip I’ve ever seen. We had a heartbeat measuring 149 bpm. I cried so much! I cried the whole rest of the day! We have never seen that before. This is it! We have our baby!
8/7/2018- Immediate care visit! I started spotting. Due to my past that was always the beginning to the end. I went to immediate care to see if this was indeed that Magic spotting that so many people talk about. Thankfully it was. The heartbeat was there and strong and all was good.
SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS.
8/8/18 as mentioned before we had seen a hematologist about my AT3 deficiency. So because of that as a precaution we started our blood thinner injections. Just because IVF is gone doesn’t mean I don’t have to stab myself twice a day J
9/12/2018- results from the genetics test came back. All Low risk for trisomies. And
IT’S A BOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This roller coaster journey and cycles of IVF and treatments have not been easy. Aside from all the medication you have to take it’s the side effects that are a killer. Weight gain, Stress, Depression, Anxiety. Not fun!
It’s not all bad! During this journey I have re connected with childhood friends and bonded over our struggles. We started an Infertility Support group
Being a part of the Honey Bees has been my saving grace. I can’t explain how much this group of women have helped me through this Journey. It’s great to have people that understand this emotional roller coaster that we ride. I don’t know what I’d do without this group!!
One way or another. A family you will have. I love the word HOPE. It doesn’t always mean that you’re holding on to that hope that you will get pregnant, you will have a baby. It also means Hold On Pain Ends! You can have HOPE that in some way you find peace in whatever way you make your family fostering, adopting, or living a child full life thru others and being ok with being childless yourself. Any way you do it, hold on to HOPE.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story.
If you'd like to follow Jennifer's journey on Instagram, you can find her at JMOR928