About Sadia

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

My Story: Taking Our Infertility One Step at a Time

(This post was submitted anonymously.)

I got married young, at 23, but the plan was for us to focus on our careers for a while. We worked hard, and we played hard. We loved those first few years of marriage.

As I entered my late 20’s, having been married five years, and having reached a really good place professionally, we started thinking about having a baby. The time was right, and we were ready.

As a Type A person, I had everything planned out. I stopped taking birth control in late 2004. We waited a few months to officially start trying, and in the meantime, I stopped drinking caffeine and started eating by the Food Guide Pyramid. I read the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility[although I skipped the chapter on infertility; that didn’t apply to me]. I was charting my cycles, taking my temperature each morning. I wanted to be pregnant by the time I turned 30, in February 2006.

One step

After charting my cycle for a few months, I noticed my cycles were really long…55 to 60 days. I didn’t want to believe anything could be wrong, though. It was just my body adjusting to being off the birth control, right???

The books said that a woman at my age should be pregnant within a year. I vowed to be patient…but after six months, given what I was seeing with my cycles, I made an appointment with my OB/GYN.

He ran some preliminary tests, and my husband had a sperm count done. Everything checked out, so my doctor put me on Clomid. Again, I vowed to be patient, not to stress about it. It would happen, right???

After six rounds of Clomid, my OB/GYN referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist in the nearest metropolitan area, about 75 miles away. I got to know every stretch of that 150-mile round trip all too well.

During my first vaginal ultrasound, I heard the term “string of pearls” said by the technician to the doctor. My heart sank. By that time I’d read the chapter on infertility, and I knew that meant something was wrong. I was diagnosed with PCOS.

My husband also underwent more testing. While his sperm count was normal, an SPA test revealed a low penetration rate. The normal range begins at 5.0, and his was 1.7.

At least we had a diagnosis, though. It was validating to know that it wasn’t just me “not having been able to relax”. (That makes my blood pressure rise just to type it!) Having a diagnosis meant we could move forward, right???

Psychologically, a big part of my coping mechanism was taking things slowly…believing it would happen for us…forcing myself to step back from the calendar, from my biological clock. In stark contrast to my Type A personality, I vowed to be patient, to go with the flow.

Ultimately, we did six rounds of Clomid…then four rounds of Clomid + IUI…followed by three rounds of injectables + IUI…before we considered IVF. I wanted to follow the least-invasive method. We gave it our best shot.

With those options exhausted, we met with our doctor and decided that IVF with ICSI was the next step for our family. It was a huge relief to have made that decision. I felt like we had “paid our dues” through the process (part of the psychological game I played with myself). I felt confident. I felt excited.

We had a couple of setbacks leading up to IVF. A problem was discovered with my thyroid, and then I had an abnormal blood screening. That was my lowest point. We’d taken all the steps, and then made the Big IVF Decision.  I broke down. I went from feeling confident, to feeling defeated. What if this wasn’t in the plans for us???

Although that news delayed our progress for a couple of months, we were able to control my thyroid pretty easily, and the abnormal blood screening turned out to be a fluke. Finally, we were ready to take the plunge in May 2008.

We implanted two embryos, and in January 2009, I gave birth to our twin girls.

It was a long, hard road. Not only has motherhood changed me, of course, but that experience did, too. I never would have asked for that to be our path, but I am a stronger, more compassionate person because of it. That long, winding road brought us to our children, and we are eternally grateful.

My Story: Our Infertility Journey, Complete with ICSI

(This post was submitted anonymously.)

We were a bit later to the marriage party, both 33 when we got married. I was itching to stop birth control as soon as we tied the knot. My husband wanted to wait just a little bit. We kind of accelerated the whole courtship process. We were engaged after just 10 months after our first date, closed on our house 3 months later and got married just 3 months after that. He thought we might want to slow down a bit. I think I held out for about 4 months after we said “I do” to start trying.

I thought it would just happen instantly. You know, like they tell us in health class, but it didn’t. I remember crying every damn time I got my period. I quickly became frustrated. I made an appointment with an ob/gyn before the first year of trying was even up.

Then the testing started… We quickly figured out what the problem was, but that didn’t mean we needed to keep having more tests and see more specialist, looking for something to fix it, looking for an answer. We knew we were dealing with male factor. My husband was producing few healthy sperm. I was devastated. I was quickly imagining all the pain and heartache that lay before us, never mind the potential to spend thousands and thousands of dollars. We had no idea what we were getting into.

One of the biggest supports to me was an online support group at www.dailystrength.org and the infertility board. I watched women’s stories unfold and learned about the tests and procedures we were in for. I asked questions and shared our story. By the time we got to the fertility clinic I knew what to expect, what questions to ask and what the risks were. We chose a hospital in a state where infertility coverage is mandated so they were doing it a lot. In fact they had the highest success rates in the state that year.

Hurdle #2 was finances. Unfortunately, neither of our employers’ health care policies covered the treatment we would need. There was the some coverage for testing and diagnosis. Every time some minor claim went through it was a victory. So we saved and we saved and we saved. I would feel guilty buying two boxes of tampons and I jumped down my husband’s throat when he joined a golf league that summer. Our clinic takes back medication that women don’t need, like if they have to stop mid cycle. The nurses started saving what we would need because they knew we could use it.

#ICSI (intra-cytoplsmic sperm injection) was the answer to this couple's infertility.

We dived in big time – IVF with ICSI – or in vitro fertilization with intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection. I wore patches, I used vaginal suppositories, and my husband shot me up with drugs. We held our breath as the doctors harvested 16 eggs and were able to fertilize a dozen. After day 3 we implanted 2 eggs and froze 3.  After day 5 we froze 2 more. At that point, it is all about the numbers.

It worked! We got pregnant! And we had some in storage!

In June of 2009 we welcomed our amazing little boy into the world. While I was home maternity leave I knew I wanted another one. I couldn’t just do this once. Besides, boy clothes were dumb. I wanted pink frilly dresses. So a couple of years later we looked into FET or frozen embryo transfer. A few more tests, some faults starts and some more money, we did it again!

A son and daughter after infertility

Our baby girl will turn two this summer! It was by far the most difficult journey I have ever been on. The biggest challenge our marriage has ever faced. And it has the most amazing reward. Those snuggles and smiles and kisses and sweet smells make it all worth it. Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves when both kids are screaming at dinner and we are exhausted at the end of the day!

Kristin’s Story: From Endometriosis to IVF Quadruplets

This story was submitted by reader Kristin.

KristinG2I met my husband in an area of Illinois known as the Quad Cities. We were both working at a TV station. I was a reporter. He worked behind the scenes in production. We were friends for a long time and then a romance blossomed.

When we married in 2001 we knew we wanted to have children, but we didn’t want them right away. By this time we were living in Ohio and working in a town that had been suffering from a lockout at a major employer. Morale throughout the town was low and we had no desire to begin our family in this particular area. We moved to Michigan in 2002, became homeowners and knew we were ready to start our family. If only it were that simple.

During a “routine” check up with my new OB/GYN it became clear that something wasn’t right. The doctor told me I either had ovarian cysts, endometriosis or ovarian cancer. Having lost my mother to breast cancer about a year before this check up, I felt myself slipping into panic mode.

Not cancer. Surely it can’t be cancer. Fortunately it wasn’t, but it turns out endometriosis is no walk in the park.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus (the endometrium) grows outside your uterus. In endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would. It thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions.

Growing up, my friends always complained about how bad their menstrual cramps were. Mine were ridiculously painful, but I just assumed all females had at least one day of the month where their cramps were so bad they didn’t want to move. My lower back would ache all through my cycle.

On the advice of the obstetrician I had laproscopic surgery to remove the buildup of scar tissue caused by endometriosis. One year later I was no closer to being pregnant and we were referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE).

Endrometriosis to Quads. Infertility with a happy ending!

I went through yet another laproscopic surgery to remove the scar tissue that had built up during our year of trying to become pregnant on our own. Then we turned to Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). Fortunately, our insurance covered most of the tests and medication leading up to each IUI attempt. After three failed IUIs the RE told us In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was probably our best chance at conceiving.

It took us time to decide what to do. We knew IVF would be expensive. We knew there were no guarantees. We had already started exploring adoption and had attended an initial meeting with an agency that works with other agencies outside the United States.

In the end, I decided to give IVF one go. I didn’t want to live with the “what ifs” of not doing it. The process leading up to the actual embryo transfer was brutal. The hormones made me a mess. I was either in tears or yelling at people. I had night sweats from the medications. One of medications had to be injected in my lower back/hip area, so my husband, who hates needles, had to give me the shot.

Like IUI, the majority of tests and medication leading up to the embryo transfer were covered by insurance. But there were other expenses to consider… the 2 ½ hour drive to the clinic for every appointment, the hotel room we had to stay in the night before the IVF procedure and the cost of the embryo transfer.

When my embryos were removed to be fertilized there were three viable ones. All along the plan had been to transfer two embryos. On the day of transfer the RE recommended transferring all three because the third one likely would not survive being frozen and thawed. He pointed out that this would increase our chance of multiples, but said the chance of triplets was slim. We transferred all three and then played the waiting game.

After the transfer I spent three days on bed rest, bored out of my mind, hoping to never spend this many days in a row in bed ever again. About a week after the transfer I went in for a blood test and then the call came. I was pregnant!!!! Don’t ask me what else was said in that phone conversation. I know the nurse said my hormone levels were high, but I can’t tell you the number. I focused on the important part of that phone call… I was pregnant!!!!

Three weeks into the pregnancy I became very ill. I can’t call it Morning Sickness because it was All Day, Round the Clock Sickness. This coincided with my first follow up with the RE. On the way to the appointment I told my husband we should be prepared for twins because of how fast and hard my Morning Sickness came in. (I realize this may in no way be a sign of multiples, but my skills of logic and reasoning were severely distorted due to constantly vomiting).

At the appointment the woman who did the ultrasound didn’t initially point the screen in a way that I could see it. A funny look crossed her face. “How many embryos did we transfer?” she asked. My heart sank. I knew she was going to tell us something was horribly wrong. She left to get the RE. He came in, looked at the screen and said “Yep, four heartbeats.” Four? Yes, four heartbeats. I would love to tell you my husband and I had some epic freak out or spouted profound words of wisdom but really, we didn’t say much, although we smiled a lot.

Three embryos transferred and four heartbeats? That’s right. One of our embryos split into two viable embryos, going on to become the identical pair among our otherwise fraternal quadruplets.

Becoming pregnant was just the beginning of the story. I was diagnosed with severe hyperemesis and was put on bed rest 5 weeks into the pregnancy. For most of the pregnancy I would go to the hospital every other day for IV fluids. Luckily I only spent one week of the pregnancy on hospital bed rest. At that point I begged my obstetrician to admit me because I couldn’t even keep down Twizzlers. Fortunately, after a week of round the clock fluids in the hospital I was able to go back to my own bed, where I would spend the duration of the pregnancy.

Our plan was to get to 32 weeks. My water broke at 28 weeks and 2 days and four teeny tiny wonderful girls began the fight of their lives. They weighed between 1 ½ pounds and 2 pounds at birth. Two girls left the NICU after 63 days. A third came home after 74 days and the fourth one finally left the NICU after 89 days.

These quadruplet sisters were born at 28 weeks.

Here we are 8 years later and I know I am truly blessed. I have four amazing daughters and a husband who is an equal partner in raising them. When diapers needed changed he would do it. We both worked during their first year of life so he readily took on some of the overnight feedings. Even now he pitches in to make school lunches or help with homework. This life would not work if we were not both on board.

8 year old quadruplet sisters. You'd never guess they were born at 28 weeks and spents months in the NICU!

It annoys my husband to no end when people ask how we ended up with quadruplets. I get his annoyance. It’s really no one’s business. But I’ve found more often than not after I answer I tend to find myself talking to someone with similar struggles. If I can lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on to another woman or couple struggling with infertility, then I do what I can.

Keep in mind as you contemplate my story, it could have had a much different ending. The area where my husband and I met was originally called The Quint Cities!

The Roller Coaster of Emotions: The Things that Hurt When You’re Infertile

(This post was submitted anonymously.)

Infertility Roller CoasterLet me tell you about the emotions that come with everyday interactions with the outside world when you are trying to get pregnant.

It is really difficult when you are going through infertility, not just because of the desire to be pregnant and the loss when you find out you aren’t, but also for the day-to-day life and troubles that causes.

First, you have to deal with people talking to you about having kids:

  • Oh, you’ll understand when you have kids of your own” used to be a phrase of which I would roll my eyes and say okay. Now, that phrase makes me tear up and want to scream, “I WANT TO HAVE KIDS OF MY OWN! I CAN’T HAVE KIDS OF MY OWN AND IT’S KILLING ME!
  • When do you plan on having little ones?” was once an innocent, curious question. Months ago, people would get the response, “We’re trying,” and they would be so excited for us. Now, they still get the affirmative “Hopefully soon,” but it is with a sad, despondent look in our eyes.
  • I bet your mom is really anxious to have a grandbaby!” Yes, as we are excited to have one of our own. So is our doctor, who would really like to be able to tell us some good news for once. So are our friends who have been walking on eggshells for months around us. So are our siblings. So are our extended family. So are the strangers who get dirty looks when I am in one of my moods. Everyone wants us to have a baby, but us most of all.
  • Oh don’t worry, don’t stress. You just need to relax and it will happen to you.” Oh really? Relaxing is going to get me pregnant? I wish you had told me that months ago. Oh, and can you tell my doctor that this is the real reason why I’m not pregnant, because I haven’t been relaxing? I’m sure he just didn’t realize it. Oh that’s right, because RELAXING WILL NOT GET YOU PREGNANT! Well, for some it may, but we unfortunately cannot just wave a relaxation wand and POOF I’m pregnant. I wish it were that easy. I could have saved a fortune.
  • Do you have something to tell us?” People don’t actually ask that, but they do have this excited, questioning look on their face whenever you sit down to talk to them. It’s like they are excitedly waiting for you to announce your pregnancy, only to have to start every conversation with “I’m not pregnant.” Do you know how difficult that is to say out loud, when it is what you want more than anything?

Then, you also have to deal with the outside world.

  • Babies are all around us. Snookie is pregnant. Princess Kate is pregnant. Stupid Kim Kardashian is pregnant. So are all of my friends. Yes, all. Every single day, someone else is popping up on my Facebook newsfeed announcing their pregnancy. Woo. Good for you. This is actually really difficult, because I truly love my friends. I wish them the best, and I am truly happy for them. And then the wave of bitterness, anger, and upset washes over me, and I want to shut myself off from the world.
  • It’s amazing how often you see mention of babies. See pictures of (or real life) babies. See pregnant women. Hear about pregnant women. You don’t realize it until you are trying and failing. It becomes physically painful over time. I can attest that I actually have been in pain because of this. At a health insurance informational meeting, for example, I was in one of my especially sour anti-baby moods. I actually did a tally chart to see how many time babies were mentioned in the 1.5 hour meeting. The total: 7. Seven times, there was the mention of babies, having babies, getting pregnant, healthy childhood, etc. The hardest part of these baby mentions are that each time, I want to scream out “Stop talking about that!” or I just want to burst into tears. I’ve gotten really good at keeping my tears in check, quiet, and contained. I usually let it out once I get home. Again, poor hubby has to deal with this. He is a saint, especially because he is going through all of these emotions right along with me.

What are other things that hurt when you’re infertile?

The Two-Week Infertility Cycle

(This post was submitted anonymously.)

When you are trying to get pregnant (and constantly failing), you live your life in 2 week cycles. You run through a series of emotions from positive to negative to numb. Here is an outline of what I went through every two weeks:

Infertility CycleFirst 2 Weeks

  • Day 1: start of the cycle
  • Day 3: have an ultrasound to see if the follicles have collapsed and if I have any “large” or “huge” cysts remaining (cysts are normal during the cycle, but at the start of the next cycle, they should be gone)
  • Day 3-7 (PM): take Clomid and watch out for HORRIBLE mood swings, forgetfulness, tiredness, soreness, and overall self-pity

Week 1 emotions: hope, excitement, wishing, positivity that this WILL be the month I get my BFP!

  • Day 10: start checking for ovulation

Week 2 emotions: anxiety, worry, fear of another missed cycle. Will I miss ovulation? Will there be stress again that prevents me from implanting? Is everything right? Will we be in the 20% success this month, or will we be one of the 80% negatives?

Second 2 Weeks

After ovulating, then comes the official 2 Week Wait. Wait to see if I get my period (no pregnancy) or I get the amazing pee-on-a-stick BFP (“Big Fat Positive”).

Week 3 emotions: I think we got it this time. I think it’s working. Oh, there’s a cramp! I think that was implantation! Can I implant this soon/this late? Oh, my temperature dropped slightly. I think that’s my implantation dip. Oh my gosh, when will I start to feel these pregnancy symptoms? I am cramping SO much! This has to be a good sign that Baby is making room in my uterus for itself.

Week 4 emotions: It didn’t happen. It couldn’t have happened. Another month gone, another month not pregnant. I’m sure my temperature is going to drop. Not good. Not good. This stinks. 

Week 4 is a particularly tough week, as all of the symptoms of early pregnancy are also the exact same ones as when you start your period. So, along with the hope comes the complete devastation.

You look up every little twinge and cramp online. You get really good at pinpointing where you feel the movement, cramp, pain, pinprick, flutter. You use vocabulary words you never thought you would know, because you have to be very specific about the way you describe everything.

And then, you become even more confused, because for every case of a woman having the same matching symptom as you and being pregnant, there are an equal number of cases where the woman is not pregnant.

Christina’s Story: The Six-Year Journey to Motherhood

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:

  1. 50mg of Clomid
  2. 100mg of Clomid
  3. 100mg of Clomid
  4. 100mg of Clomid
  5. 100mg of Clomid/IUI
  6. 100mg of Clomid/IUI
  7. 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!

Medication for a single IVF cycle.

All my IVF cycle meds!

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.

Perfect embryos ready for transfer.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.
Positive pregnancy test!

I was just a little overwhelmed and freaked out. I wasn’t sure what to do or think! Wes went and bought me a digital. Here you have it.
Pregnant!

I was pregnant.

Babies!

6 years of trying, and I was PREGNANT.

After all the blood work to make sure everything was going smoothly, we had our first ultrasound. The tech started in and Wes immediately saw the second sac. Twins.
Twin ultrasound

That was the day my life was changed forever.  That was the day I fell in love with 2 tiny dots on a screen. They were born on March 19th, 2008.  Abigail was 6lbs 5oz, and Alexandra was 5lbs 8oz.
Newborn twins

And here we are now.
Big twins with mommy!
Our journey was long and hard, but we never gave up. I knew in my heart I was going to be a mother someday.

I leave you with this.  Never give up. Never stop fighting. Infertility sucks, but there is always hope.

Miracles. #infertilityChristina 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/

Mandy’s Story: Conceiving Despite Male Infertility — Working as a Couple

Why I’m Here

When I was offered the opportunity to write a piece about our infertility experience, I jumped at the chance!

I started my blog Hoping For Hoberts to document my experiences for myself and met some pretty incredible people along the way. It’s been an amazing support, especially as I crossed the bridge to parenthood. I was often reminded by people in real life (IRL) that I’m not infertile, but those online understood that the battle of infertility (IF) is fought as a couple. This is something I wish I had understood from the beginning and still struggle with today. The secrets of male factor infertility have yet to be unlocked and in the end, I think it was more chance than technology that brought our daughters to us.

I can’t say that male factor infertility is the worst. I don’t think there are levels of hell in the IF world, but being a fertile in the IF world is so very trying on a relationship. It’s hard not to point fingers.

Dealing with infertility takes a strong couple working together

Discovery

After a few years, and a gut feeling, I asked a few questions at my yearly OB/GYN visit. I later received a call at work from my OB/GYN after our basic work-up stating that I was completely normal but that my partner had no sperm and that “there’s always adoption. Click!

After I cried my eyes out to a very sweet and very 18-year-old stock boy, I went home to deliver this fantastic news. These urban legends about men not crying, they’re a big lie. Tell them they’re sterile and have been blowing money on condoms for 20 years. Suddenly I was in an infertile relationship, and all I ever wanted to accomplish in life was motherhood.

IF-1, Mandy-0.

Like every other sane person, I googled my heart out! Go ahead and google all the depressing facts about Male Infertility. I was practically begging to be the problem in this equation. There have been great advancements, but five years ago there was virtually nothing.

Diagnosis

I made a firm decision before we went in for our reproductive endocrinologist (RE) consult. I would do work up. I would do everything up to IVF. That was my cut off, I would not subject my perfectly fertile body to hormonal chaos in the name of having biological children. I had read those blogs. People got sucked in, they tried and tried and tried some more. They blew their savings and went into debt. I drew my line in the sand. NO IVF. We left our consult with an IVF work-up pending urology results.

IF-2, Mandy-0.

We were referred to a wonderful, head-of-her-field urologist. At Hopkins. If she couldn’t help us, there would be no babies. (No one warned me how horrifically uncomfortable it would be to watch someone else come face to face with your husbands manhood!) There were blood tests, ultrasounds, semen and sperm analyses, and finally a diagnosis of Non-Obstructive Azoospermia (NOA). The worst of the worst. 1% of the population.

I had begged for an obstruction, for something that could be treated. My googling was for naught; no blogs, no experiences existed. I was deciphering medical journals and snippets of papers and reports. There was lots of speak of “try.” Try was something we’d been doing for quite a while.

Lines in the Sand

We were told that if sperm was found, the chances of it being viable were slim. It was our only option. The holiday season was approaching, and since we were fortunate enough to have complete IVF coverage we decided to try. What’s the worst that could happen? It could work?! The fertile could conceive?

Initially we were told we had to have donor back up, and I was fine with this. I saw it as a consolation prize. Not my husband’s baby biologically, but only we had to know. No big deal, right?

Wrong!

The man who cried his eyes out over the thought of never being able to conceive temporarily suspended the IVF because he decided it would be his baby or no baby. I can still feel the burn 6 years later. There were many tears shed because in my eyes all I had to do was go through with the IVF and presto, we’d have a baby. I only saw Baby, I didn’t see biological claims because either way it would be linked to me.

To know that the person I chose to marry, the person I chose to conceive with, the infertile of this equation was preventing ME from having a baby was more than I could handle. I contemplated ending my marriage. I contemplated sleeping with an undergrad who was a dead ringer for a 20 year old version of my husband. I researched donor embryos and adoption. Ultimately I decided to take a break and went to the beach. The IF monster was after us.

IF-3, Mandy-0.

As we sat in a diner on a cold October night, we each pleaded our cases to each other. I asked how donor sperm is different from adoption; he asked if I would leave. I desperately tried not to view him as the obstacle between me and our baby, but it was hard.

I slowly came to understand that through his eyes it would be unfair to him to not be biologically linked to our child if I were. We agreed to move to adoption if this didn’t pan out. We became closer as a couple in those 45 minutes than we had been to that point. We found the common ground we should have started on.

Conception the High Tech Way

Thankfully when we got home our RE had a change of heart and agreed to drop the donor sperm requirement. This became a super high tech method of conception. IVF with ICSI via mTESE. Or in vitro fertilization with intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection via male testicular sperm extraction.

My googling was in vain. I just had to trust that we would find ourselves on the right side of the abysmal success rates. My husband agreed to have his manhood surgically dissected, under a microscope, in the hopes of finding a single sperm. The big day of retrieval and mTESE came and went with no sperm. Three hours of microsurgery and nothing. Everything was for naught.

I followed his wailing to the back of the recovery ward. That was the darkest day of our relationship. We didn’t speak. What was there to say? The good doctor offered to try again, after a year of recovery time had passed.

IF-4, Mandy-0.

The next morning the familiar number of my nurse appeared on my phone. I almost didn’t answer. She was calling to check on me and I was going to be a blubbering fool. I was going to be forever trapped in an infertile relationship, what could she possibly offer me?

She offered me my children.

She told me that two techs worked for six hours sifting through samples and found two sperm. Two sperm, that thanks to ICSI produced two embryos, that developed into our beautiful ladies. Call it a miracle, call it luck, call it whatever you will − we won by knockout.

Today

I couldn’t consider myself any more fortunate to have two happy and healthy little people running my life. I appreciate my journey to them, and am thankful for the experience that has brought my husband and me closer.

However, I’m still marked. IF doesn’t leave; we aren’t cured. I will forever be trapped by my husband’s infertility. I’d love to have more children. Call it greed, if you must. From time to time I do have a chip on my shoulder. I don’t think I could handle the stress and anxiety of another equally complicated try. I know the odds haven’t changed to our favor. As I’ve started to tell my ladies, life isn’t always fair and you just have to make the best of it. So make the best of it we will!

Succeeding to Fail: The Hope and Pain of Infertility, a His- and Her- Perspective

Hope and Pain of Infertility

Candace

Hope

Sunday, the night before our beta was like the day of emotional turmoil. Nervously, and with heavy hearts we both knew what the outcome was. I mean it’s kind of obvious when you blazed through close to 7 or 8 boxes  of home pregnancy tests. Each one, hoping to grasp for some sign that the one before was wrong. This is where hope comes in, although all of these home tests were negative, we still tried to convince ourselves that just maybe they were wrong. You start to develop a myriad of excuses to yourself why it maybe positive. Late implantation? Low betas? Factory workers at the 1st Response plant went on strike and sabotaged the tests? But having so many of these “Sunday’s” in cycles previous, this 5th one stung so much more. So we hung on, barely dangling by a thin string with a glimmer of hope and a lot of praying.

Pain…

is when on Monday you go in for your blood test and our favorite nurse takes one look at our faces as we walk in and knows. With tears also in her eyes, she just knows. She knows that she is going to take my blood, and it will be the same result as before and that she is the one who is taking the sample that will devastate a still childless couple for the next few weeks or whenever we can start crawling out of our hidey hole. So we go home and we wait, we cry, we pray, and we hope for some kind of relief from the pain of this life we have been living for the past 5+ years. I have felt pain, trust me fertility procedures hurt like hell. I have also endured emotional pain from life’s journeys.

It is when you can’t breathe from the weight of the pain on your chest when you get the call from the Dr. that says “I am so sorry Candace, it didn’t take this time… again” the pain is unimaginable. It’s hard to swallow that lump of pain in your throat. I mean, I did everything I could have! Truly an empty feeling when you know you are back at ground zero and all of your money, efforts, bodily sacrifice were for nothing. Our knees buckle from under us and with tears streaming we know it is at this moment we are back to putting our life and future on hold. Trying to find a way to make the pain recede so you can function through your day, at work, at the store when you run into yet another friend that tells you she is pregnant.  We will bounce back, we always do. But after falling so many times, it is harder to get back up. No shots, no surgeries, no painful procedures can compare to the pain of the loss of hope again, I hate you infertility.

Infertility: the hope and pain

Chris

Hope

If there is one thing that fertility challenges have taught us it us that we can quickly disregard the expectations based on normal circumstances. It is normal for couples trying to conceive to go several months before conceiving a child. It is normal for this timeline to extend slightly longer if birth control has been used for several years. 5+ years is not normal. That is why it is so easy for us to ignore negative pregnancy tests. “Well, it normally will show up 5 days passed your missed period. We are not normal so it must be that the IVF did work this time…it’s just not showing up yet.” How does this equal hope you ask? I took a picture of the results window of a pregnancy test that we took and zoomed in to see if there was a faint line on it. On some level, I knew it was not a positive test, I know that it should be positive if our procedure had been successful. But that is all under normal circumstances. My HOPE came in the form of us being the exception to the rule. Our desire to start a family has become so great that we are putting hope in anything we can. Even if it is the hope that our fertility journey will never be described as normal, well that is enough for us. So, I took the picture and zoomed in on the area that should show a positive line with the HOPE that my eyes were just not able to see the line that must be there this time.

Pain

My pain came when we finally had to face the fact that this last round was not successful. I went into the room that had all of our shot and fertility paraphernalia in it and knew that we would not be continuing the treatments this round. I quickly packed up all of those things and put them in a dark corner. We do not know yet what our next move is, whether we will face that pile of syringes again or what. I knew I could not face all of that stuff and all of the pain and sacrifice it represented and not be knocked back down in the muds of failure we will start desperately trying to climb out of. I would rather go back to the couch that Candace is crying uncontrollably on than face my own despair, disappointment, and growing disenchantment with the thought that this will ever work for us. Cowardly, sure, but it was all I had in me.

Candace and I are in a difficult pattern right now. It is easy to stay heartbroken, depressed, and certain that all has failed. We are hungry, not wanting to eat, and certainly not energetic enough to cook anything. We want to go out, don’t want to decide where to do, and definitely not interested in expelling any energy to get there. It is much harder to climb out of this. Although the “climb” is emotional, it requires great physical resolve, because at this moment, all of our energy has been consumed by the pile of negative pregnancy tests and those few words from the doctor’s office, “Sorry it did not work this time.” For now, we will look to tomorrow. Not the future “tomorrow,” simply the day after today. Time heals and infertility is no exception. Damn though! Time sometimes seems to move soooooooo slow.

Infertility: hope and pain

This post was originally published on Candace and Chris’ blog Our Misconception. Watch MTV True Life: I’m Desperate to Have a Baby. Check in later this week for a wonderful update!

Clare’s Advice: 14 Things Your BFF Would Tell You About Fertility Treatment

(Submitted by Clare of SuperMommyClub.com.)

Falling pregnant should be the most natural thing in the world, but unfortunately for some of us that isn’t the case. When you want to have a baby finding out you or your partner have fertility issues is heartbreaking, and it can make you feel very alone.

I didn’t know who to talk to when we discovered that it wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be to get pregnant. Luckily my fertility clinic had an online forum set up. Overnight I went from having no one to a whole new list of complete strangers friends who knew exactly what I was going through. Over the following months and years we have experienced each other’s lows and highs through our treatments

I asked a few of them to help me out with this article, and between us we have compiled a list of things your BFF would tell you if you told her that you needed to have fertility treatment.

Infertility BFF

  1. Try not to let it take over your life.  It’s easier said than done, but the more relaxed  you are, the more likely the treatment will be successful.
  2. Be prepared for your mood to be affected by the medication you might need to take, and make sure your partner is prepared too! You might find yourself arguing more than usual, but it’s not you. It’s the drugs talking.
  3. Prepare to lose your dignity.
    • You will have to talk about elements of your sex life with a doctor, in front of your partner and you will also have to undergo a number of internal scans, which can be a bit of a shock the first time.
    • Don’t worry though because once you’ve gone through your cycle, you’ll not care a jot when you’re prodded and poked during pregnancy and labour!
  4. Involve your partner as much as you can. Have him administer your injections (if he’s not too squeamish) and encourage him to attend your follicle scans.
  5. Find someone to talk to, even if it’s a complete stranger on an internet forum. Infertility is a taboo subject, but it doesn’t need to be. I was surprised to discover an old friend was going through treatment at the same clinic as me!
  6. Be prepared for the treatment to be unsuccessful the first time. Sometimes it can take a couple of attempts for the clinic to perfect your treatment plan.
  7. Before you start your treatment sit down with your partner and discuss how many attempts you are willing to have. Once you are on the roller coaster it is hard to have that conversation and think rationally.
  8. Stay away from Google. During your treatment do not look up your symptoms or your follicle count etc. as you will only cause yourself unnecessary stress.
  9. Make sure you are emotionally ready. A treatment cycle can take a toll on you emotionally and is exacerbated by the drugs you have to take.
  10. Once you start your treatment cycle do not make plans for anything. You need to be available to go to the clinic as often as they need you to for scans.
  11. Don’t worry about the embryo scores. A poor quality embryo can still result in a precious baby, and unfortunately a top quality embryo does not guarantee a pregnancy.
  12. Be aware that getting that precious BFP (Big Fat Positive) is just the start. Many of us fell pregnant only to miscarry. Hopefully that won’t happen to you, but as your BFF it’s only right that we tell you.
  13. Be prepared for a number of ‘hurdles’ that you have to cross during treatment.
    • First you have to wait for your period to arrive (and this is the one time she won’t be bang on schedule!), then you have to go through a number of scans as you wait for your follicles to grow.
    • Then the day of Egg Collection arrives and you’ll nervously await your results, how many were collected, how many fertilised.
    • Then there’s the sleepless nights and anxious days waiting for the calls to say how the embryos are progressing.
    • Then there’s the dreaded two week wait as you wait not very patiently to see if you got that priceless BFP.
    • And that’s just the start of it, because if you do fall pregnant you will worry every minute until that baby is safely in your arms. (Then you still worry because then you’re a mama and that’s what mamas do!)
  14. Do everything you can to give your body the best possible chance.
    • Lose excess weight before your treatment.
    • Get fit and healthy.
    • Use acupuncture or hypnotherapy to relax.
    • Take time off work during your treatment cycle if that’s a possibility. Or if you think you’ll get more stressed at home by yourself then go to work but take things easy.
    • There is nothing scientific that says if you don’t drink alcohol, tea or coffee and stay on the sofa after the embryos are implanted that you will fall pregnant, but if you think that will help you then do it.
    • The real key is to do what you can to stay relaxed and keep positive, because remember it’s not over until the fat lady sings!

If you’re about to embark on fertility treatment then we wish you all the luck in the world and hope that you have a positive outcome.

Clare Swindlehurst is mommy to fifteen month old Girl/Boy twin toddlers who are already partners in crime and like to run rings around their mommy! She blogs at SuperMommyClub.com and can also be found hanging out on Twitter and Pinterest, looking for activities to keep her kiddos occupied.

Stacey’s Story: Coping with Infertility

This story of her path to parenthood comes from Stacey Skrysak. She gives voice to the many silently coping with infertility. This post was originally published in June 2013 when Stacey was expecting her triplets, Parker, Abby and Peyton. Stacey is a news anchor, MoM, and loss survivor. You can find her blogging about life with her surviving triplet at Perfectly Peyton.

It’s a topic that people don’t really talk about, infertility. For some reason it’s a taboo subject, yet so many people go through it. So why am I sharing my personal struggle? This isn’t a pity post… it’s not a “woe is me” moment. I want to share my story to help others going through a similar situation. Looking back at the last few years, having people I could relate to made my journey so much more bearable. Now I know the way that I got pregnant might go against some people’s morals, but I’m OK with not everyone approving. I am finally pregnant and happy to shout it from the rooftops!

Anyone that knows me would tell you I’m a strong girl. I’m happy and positive about 90% of the time. And while I wear my heart on my sleeve, I never want sympathy. I simply brush off anything that has happened to me as no big deal. But after years of heartache, I finally reached a breaking point. I remember visiting our close friends in Michigan last fall. When the topic of pregnancy came up, I cracked. I broke down and cried to them. Not just watering of the eyes. I’m talking big fat rolling-down-your-face tears. After years of telling people I’m fine, I finally realized it’s OK to let your friends in on your problems.

So how did I get to this point?

About three years ago I went in for a routine exam. A few days later I was in the hospital for surgery, missing parts of my ovaries due to massive cysts. The recovery was a long and painful process: 6 weeks at home recovering and complications ever since. Our doctor thought we should start trying to get pregnant, so I went on fertility drugs. No luck. I have had a surgery every year since then because my body just doesn’t want to heal. So on top of chronic pain, I was having trouble getting pregnant.

It’s funny… you spend so many years worrying about getting pregnant. I never thought in a million years that I would have trouble when I was ready. But month after month, that pregnancy test came back negative. And every month, my heart sank a little deeper. It became such a routine—I’m probably one of the few people that actually clip coupons for ovulation kits and pregnancy tests! (Yes, I’m a frugal shopper!!!)

Over the years I went through a roller coaster of emotions. It started out as frustration, then I started taking pity on myself. Why did God deal me this hand? So many nights I would lie awake as Ryan was sleeping next to me, sobbing in the dark. I was meant to be a mother, so why wasn’t it happening? I would cry because I didn’t understand why I was the one chosen to have neverending health problems. I would cry because of the financial burden of ongoing hospital bills. I would cry because I felt like no one understood. I would cry because I felt empty. I had a wonderful husband, a dog we treated as our child, yet I still felt all alone and empty, sinking further and further into a deep pit of sorrow.

And let me tell you, Facebook is not a place to be if you’re struggling to get pregnant. I’m in my 30′s, so just about everyday, an acquaintance was posting their wonderful news. Every time I saw a post like that, it was a blow to my gut. I would turn red in frustration and tear up. I’m not a person that gets jealous, but deep down I was. It is such an amazing moment in life… getting to share your pregnancy with your friends. And while I was genuinely SO happy for all of those people, I would cry because it wasn’t me. I’m not proud of that. I was secretly jealous, feeling like such a bad person. With years of trying, even my close friends would fear having to tell me their exciting news. And that, too, would break my heart.

Last summer, our doctor told us he thought we had an 8-10% chance of getting pregnant on our own. Rather than going through each option of fertility treatments, he thought it was best to go straight to IVF. So we signed up in the fall and had a few months of anticipation.

It was an exciting time, knowing that we finally would have a decent shot, but it was also a time of anger for me. I had already spent tens of thousands of dollars on medical bills and surgery, only to find out my insurance does not cover fertility treatment. WHY?!?! So, after hearing wonderful news that IVF might work, we have to scrounge up $10,000-$15,000 to pay for it? People get pregnant every day by accident and couples who are not trying end up with an “oops” child. Yet, I’m someone who longed to have a child and had to pay thousands of dollars just to try. It didn’t make sense. It still doesn’t.

The part that made me even more angry is that I live in a state where it is mandated that insurance companies cover the cost of fertility treatment. But, there are enough loopholes that most companies don’t end up paying.

Ryan and I began IVF at the beginning of the year. I won’t bore you with the details, but I can tell it is an emotionally trying and sometime painful process. You don’t just pay up and instantly have a child. I gave myself daily shots, my hormones went through the roof and I went through a lot of pain, not to mention the stress of whether it would work or not.

Needless to say, we were SO lucky. I am pregnant with triplets from our first round. So many couples go through it time and time and get with no luck. I had the best experience at the SIU fertility clinic in Springfield IL. Dr. Loret de Mola works magic. Plus his staff made my husband and me feel like we were all family.

As I write my story, tears are rolling down my face as I think back at all of the heartache over the years. But every time I see the babies’ heartbeats, those tears slowly turn to tears of joy. So what’s the moral of the story? I may be missing parts of my ovaries and have tubes that are blocked, but look at me.

I’m pregnant. What seems to be impossible can happen.

If you’re reading this and have gone through a similar situation, there are ways to get help. There are grants out there for financial help, as well as support groups. Just send me an email and I would be happy to help! May 7 is Advocacy Day. It’s a day where thousands of people will bring up the issue of infertility to Congress and raise awareness about the need for accessible medical treatment. Just look at Resolve’s website for more information.

For more of Stacey’s infertility story, read her more recent post “Infertility Woes“.

Thoughts on coping with infertility from a mother who has been there.