My Pain And My Strength: My IVF Story

In April 2009 I married the love of my life, and we had the biggest dreams of having a family. In particular, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl–Joe wanted her to look just like me. We began trying for a baby right away, but after 2 years we came to the realization that we needed some help. I met with a fertility doctor in April 2011. After testing, I found that my tubes were clear and all looked great. I did have a few small fibroid tumors, but they didn’t seem to be the cause of our problems conceiving. After much discussion, our plan of action was to do 3 months of Clomid. About 25% of female infertility involves a problem with ovulation, which is what Clomid treats. The side effects were a mile long, and I was lucky in that I got every single one. I was incredibly irritable and short tempered. I had mood swings, hot flashes…I was a complete nightmare! Unfortunately, though, after 3 months we still had not conceived. The fertility specialist said that I fell into the small percentage of couples who had no diagnosable reason for why we couldn’t conceive. Lucky us…

Shortly after the failed Clomid attempts, Joe and I moved to Savannah, GA. As soon as we were settled, we found a new fertility doctor. Our first visit was in June 2012 when I was 33 years old. My initial round of testing showed I now had numerous fibroid tumors. I knew I was feeling some pain and discomfort, but I had no idea the amount of tumors we were dealing with. My specialist told me that the tumors were not the cause of my infertility, but if I was to get pregnant they could cause complications and possible miscarriage due to the sizes and number of them. After counseling with our doctor, Joe and I decided that I would have surgery to remove them. In August 2012 I had a surgery where they removed 17 fibroid tumors through 5 small incisions in my abdomen. After a year of recovery from the surgery my body was finally ready to begin our first round of IVF.

In October 2013 we had our follow-up consultation with our fertility specialist. I remember them explaining all of the steps that were necessary for it to be successful. I learned that my percentage chance of success with IVF at my age was 15-20% and that my eggs were considered “geriatric”. I began taking birth control pills the cycle before I actually started IVF to ensure a regular ovulation cycle. On the first day of my period I started the injections,—shots of Lupron and Follistim—in my abdomen. The needles were pretty small, but after time I did experience bruising and soreness. During the entire IVF cycle I had my blood drawn sometimes daily in order to follow my estrogen levels. At around day 14 I did the “trigger” injection, which was a shot of HCG. This was the most crucial of all shots; if given too soon the eggs are not mature enough and if given too late, they can be lost.

After the HCG shot I went in for the egg retrieval and three days later I went back in to have the embryo transfer. Out of 10 eggs retrieved, I had 2 embryos were transferred, but the quality of each embryo was not very good. As expected, my doctor didn’t have a very good outlook on them surviving and developing into a pregnancy. When I returned home, I began injections of progesterone. These shots were by far the most painful of all shots; progesterone is very thick therefore the needle is very large. At week two I had a blood draw to determine if I was pregnant. Unfortunately, I was not.

The disappointment, frustration with my body and sadness were overwhelming. I felt such guilt that I wasn’t able to give my husband a child that he so deserved. We met with my doctor a couple of weeks later and he recommended using an egg donor as he said we had only a 5% chance of IVF ever working. I sat in the office looking at papers with descriptions of egg donors…blonde hair, brown eyes, tall, likes to cook, plays sports…I couldn’t do anything but cry. Don’t get me wrong, egg donors are amazing. They are willing to give the most precious gift to women who are unable to have their own baby, but I wasn’t in a mindset to even consider this. I just wasn’t ready.

Weeks later my husband found out that he would be deploying to the Middle East. With this news, he told me he wanted to try IVF again. He just couldn’t give up on his dream of our little girl. In preparation for this last attempt, I did some research on acupuncture and the benefit it can have with infertility. I decided that this was something I could try and hoped it might make a difference. I did 2 months of acupuncture prior to starting my IVF cycle in order to help increase the blood flow to my uterus and improve the development of my eggs.

In March 2013 I began my second round of IVF.  At the second egg retrieval, we got 11 eggs and 3 days later implanted 2 embryos that were better quality than with the first IVF attempt. Unfortunately, the other 9 embryos didn’t make it. This was our only shot. Ten days later I had my blood drawn and waited to hear the news. I just knew in my soul that it didn’t work. However, right before my 36th birthday, I received a phone call from my doctor’s office…I was pregnant! I literally couldn’t believe it could be true, but on December 10, 2014 via cesarean I had Millie Grace; 8lbs 6oz, 21 inches long and absolutely perfect…with blonde hair and blue eyes. Joe was able to come home from deployment and welcome our sweet baby into this big world before he had to return back to the Middle East.

I am a daughter, sister, wife, friend and MOTHER. I am just like so many other women in the world. This baby saved me, but she will never really know how much. I am a true believer that things happen in our lives for a reason. I was meant to have Millie after all those years so she could bring joy to our family during some recent hard times. I am by far no expert on infertility, and I know others have gone through far worse, but I wanted to share my story of HOPE. I learned that I am much stronger than I ever thought I was or ever could be. I am blessed, and I am fortunate. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of the good things in our lives.

To learn more about IVF click here! To learn more about fibroids click here!