This post was submitted by reader Christina.
First Came Love
One day, two people fell deeply in love. So in love and so quickly that, after just one month of dating, the boy asked the girl to move in with him. The girl didn’t hesitate for one second. She knew that this was it. The one.
Yes, it’s true. Wes and I did indeed fall deeply in love. From the moment we met, we both knew that it was something special. Never in a million years did we think that we would have to go down the road of infertility.
Then Came No Baby
When we first mentioned to my doctor we had been not careful for quite sometime, he said, “Well, let’s take a look.”
The first thing was to test Wes. If there is anyone out there reading this who is trying to conceive, please make sure testing the male is your first step! Without him, you really have nothing to go on. Anyway, no major problems there, so on we moved to me. We started by testing basically everything! The only thing that came back problematic was my prolactin, which is involved in ovulation and egg maturation.
My levels were not too bad, but I did get put on medication to help with that. During all of this, I had been talking with my doctor about how bad my periods were. I had always had pretty painful, heavy cycles, not knowing that it could someday interfere with my ability to have children. After a lot of thinking and planning, we decided to go ahead with a laparoscopic surgery, to check and make sure my “girl parts” were working properly.
Conclusion: I had endometriosis.
We took a few months off for my healing and then discussed our other options. Our first try on fertility drugs was with the evil drug Clomid. “Yikes” is all I can say about that stuff. We also did a procedure called intra-uterine insemination (IUI) along with the Clomid. An IUI is basically putting the sperm exactly where it’s supposed to be, bypassing any endometrial tissue in my tubes, or helping “lazy” swimmers. This was sure to work, right?
Wrong. 3 months in a row of the Clomid/IUI combo didn’t work.
After almost 4 years of not one single positive pregnancy test, we talked and decided that although we were not quitting, we needed to find another doctor. Not only did I have a new job, but my new insurance covered infertility treatments.
The new doctor’s office staff was amazing. At our first meeting, he said, “We’ll do this.” Simple words, but I knew he meant it and had confidence. We discussed everything with him, and the first thing he suggested was another surgery to see if the endometriosis had come back. We set my surgery date, and I knew this guy knew his stuff!
The surgery went very well, and he removed more endometrial tissue, polyps, and a big, nasty-looking cyst. My dreams of becoming a mother felt right around the corner! My spirits were up and I was already picking out the nursery furniture!
Well, the next several months looked like this:
- 50mg of Clomid
- 100mg of Clomid
- 100mg of Clomid
- 100mg of Clomid
- 100mg of Clomid/IUI
- 100mg of Clomid/IUI
- 150mg of Clomid/IUI (IUI was cancelled)
As you can imagine, I was extremely frustrated. Not only was Clomid obviously not working for me, I was becoming depressed. Cycle after cycle, I cried, asking myself what I was doing wrong, what I had done wrong. I made husband crazy, but he never gave up on me. He never complained, never said, “Hey, let’s just face it. We can’t get pregnant.”
We had talked about in vitro fertizilizaion (IVF), but was it for us? The thought of IVF scared me. Because that was it. That was our last chance for a baby. We discussed our options with the doctor and decided to switch up my fertility meds. The new medication, Follistim, kind of scared me. I had to give myself shots (okay, Wes gave them to me) and there was a chance of overstimulating my ovaries, which could cause all sorts of problems. But we went ahead with it. And it didn’t work either.
The next part was a sure sign that my doctor was crazy and shouldn’t be helping people get pregnant. We decided to try one more cycle with the Follistim. I got on the phone with the nurse to discuss my options. Should we up the dosage? I didn’t respond well to it the first time, so she said we could go ahead. They didn’t have a lot of patients in their office doing the Follistim, so she said she’d pull out the directions. This should of been a huge red flag not to do it! But she said, “We’ll up the dosage to 100 IUs from 75 IUs, after I talk to the doctor.” He was probably busy and said, “Yeah, whatever.” On we went with the 100 IUs of Follistim and IUI.
Now, before I go on, when you are dealing with infertility drugs, there is always the danger of overstimulation. To check on that, your E2 (also known as estrogen or estradiol) levels are measured before you start a cycle, in the middle, and towards the end. This is very, very important information I should have taught myself (because obviously my doctor didn’t have a clue) before I went ahead with my 100IUs of Follistim.
The E2 levels should be 200-600 pg/ml per mature (18 mm) follicle. For each “egg” I have growing on my ovary that is “mature” (18mm) my E2 levels should be in that range. Not staying on top of them puts you at risk for sickness, hospitalization, even death. Obviously you shouldn’t have too many. To make this long story a short one, I ended up sicker than a dog in addition to not pregnant, again. I was overstimulated thanks to my doctor not doing his job right, and was on bed rest for a week. The biggest follicle I had was 56mm. You can Google that if you need to know how bad it was. Trust me. It’s not good.
Bringing in the Heavy Stuff
Again, Wes and I were sitting down to figure out what on earth to do. We went on birth control pills for a cycle to get the cyst (follicles) to go away. It was time to look into our IVF option. I called insurance and called my doctor. He seemed eager to refer me to and IVF clinic. I was to never hear from him again.
We started our first IVF cycle. I went into it nervous and scared. There was so much to do, medication to order, a calendar with my dates of shots, ultrasounds, etc. May ’07 was a very busy month trying to get everything organized.
The nurse at the clinic in charge of my cycle was the most amazing women I’ve ever met. Her name was Malia, and I loved her. She was patient and kind, knew the pain we had been through on this journey, and treated us both with respect. She understood how scared I was.
We talked about when we would be starting this. Should we wait until summer was over? Enjoy it? Go on vacation over the 4th of July and then come home, waiting another cycle? I was due to start Lupron, to tackle the endometriosis, the day we were to arrive in Wisconsin for vacation. I had no idea whether that was a good idea. I really didn’t. I wanted a baby so bad, but packing my medication on ice? Taking a shot every single day?
In the end, we did it. And I’m glad we did. Wes is great at giving shots and the needles were pretty small. I did have terrible side effects though: headaches and dizzy spells. I didn’t really start feeling like crap when we got home (thankfully).
After the Lupron came the fertility drugs, yet again. My doctor changed up my medication. This time I was going to be on a combination of Menopur and Bravelle mixed together, which would also be injected by needle. We did them in my upper thigh. I couldn’t do them in my tummy. I was in a boating accident when I was 17 years old and was hospitalized for a week. They had to give me shots in my stomach to make sure I didn’t get blood clots. I’ve been scarred ever since!
I know that collection is quite scary looking. I can assure you that my IVF cycle was the least stressful of them all, not emotionally, but physically. I was in good hands. My shots were easy. My ultrasounds every other day were quick and painless. It was nothing like the other place. These people were amazing.
The clinic I was going to worked with a hospital in my town where I could do my ultrasounds to check my egg growth. We would have to travel to Indianapolis for the egg retrieval, and the egg transfer (if we got to the egg transfer). That’s about 3 hours away. We found a nice hotel right across from the hospital, and one of my best friends works there, so it worked out
After 11 days of shots, the day arrived! My body had responded well to the medication, and we were on our way to the retrieval! I was knocked out for it and don’t remember a thing. I do remember waking up. The first thing Wes said was they got 8. Eight? That’s it? That’s all? All of that, and 8. I hear of people getting 13-15 eggs!!! I only had 8. I was counting myself out already
My clinic does a 3 day transfer. My babies grew in a dish for 3 days, and then we went back to Indianapolis for the transfer. We decided on 2 embryos. We got in the clinic and got ready. When the biologist arrived, I asked her how they looked. She said, “I never say this but these are 2 perfect embryos.” She told me she never grades them a 4, the highest grade, but gave them both a grade 4. I was all smiles.
The car ride home was intense. Every bump we hit I thought I had lost them. I mean, I was technically pregnant! They tell you to wait a number of days before you take a pregnancy test. I so didn’t wait for that date to come. Six days after my transfer, I tested. I thought I saw something, but didn’t know for sure. I carried on with my day and took a test the next morning. This is what I saw.
I was pregnant.
6 years of trying, and I was PREGNANT.
I leave you with this. Never give up. Never stop fighting. Infertility sucks, but there is always hope.
Christina is a MoM of 6 year old twin girls, and a star diamond coach for Team Beachbody. She loves spending time with her family, and is very passionate about helping others achieve their goals. You can find her on Facebook HERE. And you can also follow her on Instagram @insanemomoftwins and also on her blog! http://noonanfitness.blogspot.com/
This post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.