I want this story to serve as a beacon of hope for all of you reading this and still praying for your miracle. I used to scour the internet (and still do) looking for hopeful stories to provide me with the strength and inspiration to keep moving forward. One step and each day at a time. My husband and I met in high school and have been together ever since. We married in 2014 on our ten year dating anniversary.
It was love right from the start—that kind of love that you know can get you through anything and I’m more thankful than ever for that love.
Not long after we got married we started trying to expand our family. After a year or so with no luck I went to a gynecologist for some help. We tried some medicated, timed cycles and then they discovered I had a diminished ovarian reserve. What this means is that for my age I don’t have very many eggs left and the ones I do have may not all be of good quality.
This was devastating to hear as we were told IVF was our only option to have a biological baby. We then proceeded to have a multitude of testing done which showed I also have a very retroverted (flipped backwards) uterus with a small septum and the DNA fragmentation of my husband’s sperm showed some low motility. All of this together meant IVF with ICSI was our only option. But this was okay because IVF will work and we will get a baby right!?
I mean, no one told us otherwise or prepared us to expect that IVF may not work or that we may be in for a much longer journey than we originally anticipated.
We got the call to start our IVF funded cycle in November of 2017. My husband and I were so excited and now I realize so undereducated and underprepared. Right away our cycle was cancelled before even getting to start because my FSH hormone levels were too elevated. They said this would lead to poor outcomes with IVF so we could try again next cycle. We were devastated as we did not know a cycle could even be cancelled. But we picked ourselves up and got ready for the next cycle. Then finally in December 2017 we got to start stimming (taking medications) for our egg retrieval that would bring us the child we longed for.
Just days before egg retrieval date, I got the call that the doctor was cancelling our cycle.
He felt it would be a waste to proceed as only three or four follicles were growing. We converted that cycle into an IUI just as a Hail Mary but unfortunately we did not get pregnant. This is the moment I remember realizing things were going to be much more difficult than either of us had anticipated. I also got very sick after this first round of stimming as I have an autoimmune disorder called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the stress to my body from all of the hormones brought on a flare- up requiring me to have my heart monitored for several weeks.
Alas, what do we do…we pick ourselves right back up because that’s what we do in this community of men and women struggling to overcome infertility.
We are all warriors and as warriors we get back up and continue to fight.
The next month we started stimming again on much higher doses and now we were unable to cancel as OHIP (provincial health insurance) will only let you cancel once. We had our egg retrieval in February which resulted in four eggs being retrieved. We thought this was no big deal and that we could definitely get at least two embryos from that as we were told to prepare to lose 50% of the amount of embryos you start off with.
Well we got zero. On Day 5 only one embryo had survived but it was barely even a morula. The doctor suggested we go ahead and transfer while hoping for the best as it would never survive being frozen. Unfortunately, the transfer was unsuccessful and we were not pregnant, yet again. Here we were at the end of our funded cycle with nothing to show for it. Four months of cancellations and medications and heartbreak and we ended up with nothing. No one ever prepared us for this outcome.
We didn’t know what to do next.
We took a few months off and we proceeded to pay for a second cycle of IVF which resulted in nine eggs but again on Day 5 we had no embryos. Why was this happening to us?! Were my eggs so terrible that not even one could continue to make it? Panic began to set in as the reality that this may never happen for us began to be a very real possibility.
So we decided to take a few months off to clear our minds and we went on a much-needed vacation to the Bahamas. When we got back home we set up a consultation at another clinic for a second opinion. My gut told me this is what we needed to do. I knew I needed to try every avenue and we weren’t ready to give up. Right away this new doctor and clinic just felt right. It meant I would have to drive almost two hours one way each day for my monitoring and procedures but after everything we’d been through that just didn’t seem like a big deal to me anymore.
We were past worrying about “convenience.”
She also suggested we have genetic testing done to ensure that wasn’t the reason why our embryos could not seem to survive growth past Day 3. We agreed and waited the agonizing nine weeks to receive the good news that our genetic testing came back clear. We were okay to proceed with a third paid cycle of IVF with our new clinic.
Now this brings us to November of 2018—an entire year since we first started our IVF journey. We were excited to get started with stimming for IVF lucky number three. This doctor changed up the medications I was on and did what she called a “modified min-stim” protocol. We ended up with seven mature eggs and all seven of the fertilized.
We were off to a good start.
By day three all seven continued to look strong and we chose to transfer two of the strongest looking embryos to see if putting them back into their normal environment (my uterus) sooner would make the difference and they would continue to grow. Unfortunately we found out in December that we were again not pregnant. But the silver lining was for the very first time we had one embryo survive until day six and was frozen.
This was remarkable to us. We had never had embryos make it to be frozen before. They said the embryo’s growth was slower to start off with and they actually thought they would be discarding this embryo but it surprised them and continued to get stronger as the days went by.
I call it my little embryo that could. Our fighter.
We had a hysteroscopy done in January of 2019 to ensure my uterus looked good, which it did, so we then proceeded to prepare for our first frozen embryo transfer in February. We chose to do a natural cycle as my cycles have always been regular and my lining has always been thick. On February 25th we transferred baby Frostie as we’ve name him or her and we prayed for a miracle. We only had one embryo, but I knew it only took one. We only needed one.
On March 6th, 2019 we found out we were pregnant. After 1650 days (almost five years trying to conceive), hundreds of needle pokes, blood draws, ultrasounds, and kilometers driven on my car not including the cost of a university degree that we’ve already paid for our child, we could finally say we were expecting a baby and that it was worth every tear, dollar, and procedure. I finally saw two pink lines appear on a pregnancy test.
That is the day I started to believe in miracles again.
For so long I doubted because all we ever seemed to get was bad news followed by more bad news. I started to truly believe motherhood was not in the cards for me. But not that day, that day we got the best news of our lives. That day we beat infertility. And today I can call myself a Mom.
Now we still have a very long road ahead of us filled with anxieties, fears, but more importantly so much hope. I wanted to share our story with you so that it may bring hope back into your heart that miracles do happen. That your miracle will happen. Sometimes they just take more time than we hope or ever expected. Please don’t let low numbers discourage you because it truly does only take one good embryo. Much love to you all.
By: Fairen Balogh, https://ababyforthebaloghs.wordpress.com/