Every story counts … and this is Meredith and Jason’s
5 years ago, the idea of blood-work made me cry. Now, I ask with little trepidation, which arm?
In July of 2015, after over a year of trying, I was pregnant. On our first visit to the doctor she warned us that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. I distinctly remember thinking that will NEVER happen to me. On September 23, 2015, it did. Our baby stopped growing at around 9 weeks but we found out close to 12 weeks. Off I went to the “women’s clinic” for a D&C. It was an odd experience, cash only, as if we were doing something illegal. Of course, I blamed myself for this miscarriage, although in reality there was NOTHING I did wrong and this would have happened had I been on bed rest since day 1.
A few months later, in January 2016 we found out I was pregnant again. This time, I was overly cautious. My anxiety got the better of me. Thankfully, my doctor understood and allowed me to get multiple blood tests. At 6 weeks, the ultrasound was normal. A week later on February 9, 2016, there was no fetal heartbeat. Thankfully the ultrasound technician broke the rules and told me, with a very heavy and kind heart, that there was no heartbeat. Although I was devastated, at least I didn’t have to wait the rest of the day to hear from the doctor. The next day, I went to the hospital for another D&C. We were the 1 in 4 twice, lucky us.
At the end of February 2016, we had our first appointment at a fertility clinic. The doctor asked us to each write down on a piece of paper how badly we wanted children. My husband was a “9” and I was a “10”. We really wanted a family. That day, we spoke about some options but didn’t think about it too much because there were plenty of tests that needed to be done in order to determine the course of action. One of the many tests revealed that my husband was a carrier for a genetic disease, 21 Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. Because he was a carrier, it was a good idea to find out if I was a carrier. Lucky us, I was a carrier too!
If you remember Mendelian genetics from high school, there is a 1 in 4 chance we could pass this on to a child, which could be why we miscarried (although we will never know for sure.) As we did not want to knowingly have a child with 21 CAH, the only safe option was to do IVF with preimplantation genetic screening and preimplantation genetic diagnosis. These tests would screen for genetic abnormalities, missing chromosomes and 21 CAH.
Once my period finally returned in July 2016, we started the protocol to get my body ready for the egg retrieval. This meant lots of drugs, hormones, injections, suppositories, needles and ultrasounds to see how many eggs my body was producing. When the doctor was satisfied with the number of follicles, we booked the retrieval for August 10. I think we got 8 eggs. The eggs were then inseminated with my husband’s sperm and “developed” over 5 days. After 5 days, 3 embryos were good enough to have a biopsy sent to be tested for the various conditions. Of those embryos, 1 was a carrier, 1 was unaffected, and 1 was missing a chromosome. So we had 2 viable embryos, better than nothing!
In September 2016 I started the hormones to make my body ready for a transfer, my body did not respond well and my uterus lining did not thicken nicely. Did I mention the D&C’s caused scaring on my uterus which is most likely one of the reasons my uterus did not thicken? I had a cancelled cycle. And then another cancelled cycle.
We decided to switch doctors to THE fertility doctor in Toronto. At our first visit with the new doctor in December 2016, he said we had 4 options, a brand-new treatment he was testing; granulocyte-colony stimulating factor; do a transfer and “hope for the best”; or surrogacy. The thought of surrogacy was not something either of us wanted. I wanted to carry our child.
In January 2017 we started another round of hormones to get my body ready for a transfer and we introduced granulocyte-colony stimulating factor as well. Although my uterus lining did not thicken to an ideal level, the doctor suggested we do a transfer with one of the embryos. He said, there were 2 embryos and that we ought to at least give it a try. I was scared shitless but on January 26, 2017 we did a transfer. A LOOOONG week later, I had a blood test which showed I was pregnant. Before every test, I feared the baby had died. We also had a couple trips to the ER and unscheduled doctors’ visits to confirm the baby was still alive.
Several anxious months later, on September 19, 2017 at 2:04am (a month before my due date) my water broke. My husband quickly packed my bag (life lesson – pack your hospital bag in advance) and off we went to the hospital. 36 hours later, at 2:30pm on September 20, 2017 (almost 2 years after the first miscarriage) we welcomed a baby girl.
Although not everyone has a positive outcome, I am so thankful we did. Some days, I forget what we went through to have our baby and all the disappointment along the way. It is so important to talk openly about this, considering 1 in 4 experience loss and 1 in 6 have fertility complications, chances are you aren’t the only one going through it