I cannot begin to express my gratitude for this next post. I asked my very dear friend, Blair, to share her story many months ago, and I have been patiently (maybe not so patiently) waiting for her to write about her journey. Blair, you have inspired me and overwhelmed me with the strength you have demonstrated, not only through IVF, but throughout all of the trials and tribulations you’ve conquered. You have overcome some of life’s most challenging situations with more grace and humility than we deserve. You are truly an angel, and I thank God for you each and every day. Thank you for being so open, honest and willing to share. I love you!
My husband and I had been together for 7 years before we got married. We heard the phrase, “When are you going to get married?!” about a million times before he popped the question. And then we heard, “When are you going to have kids?!” shortly after the wedding. We knew we wanted a family and I was excited to get off birth control and get to work. Then April 2014, I was rushed to the hospital with what seemed to be a stroke. I had lost vision in half of my right eye, my speech completely went away, and my arm was going numb. Three hours after being at the hospital, my vison and speech came back
and I was ready to leave. But 3 hours turned into 3 days and with every EKG, MRI, ultrasound and blood test, doctors couldn’t tell me what happened, only that I had blood in my brain and we needed it do another MRI in a few weeks once the blood dissolved.
Meeting with the Neurologist a few weeks later, he calmly tells me, “You have a brain tumor on your pituitary that ruptured, and we need to perform brain surgery ASAP to have the tumor removed.” I instantly froze. Looked at him in disbelief and confusion. The blood from the ruptured (benign) tumor had touched my optic and speech nerve endings, causing the issues I originally experienced. But what I didn’t know, was that the pituitary controls all your hormones, which made the next 4.5 years of trying to conceive, heartbreaking and painful.
I had brain surgery July of 2014 and all seemed normal and fine after that. I didn’t have a period but figured I had been on birth control for so long that it would take some extra time to get out of my system. We waited and waited and my body wasn’t doing what “normal” women’s bodies do. I took boxes of ovulation tests to see when my body was ovulating since I didn’t have a period to help track it. But to no avail, every ovulation test came back negative. We thought maybe with the trauma my body went through with the brain surgery, I just needed a little extra time to be “normal” again. So, we waited and we waited. “It’ll happen when you stop trying and stop thinking about it,” was the next most
common phrase we heard from people when we told them we had been trying to conceive. Although we wanted a family so badly, we took the advice and stopped “trying” and “thinking” about it for at least a year. Of course, it was always in the back of my mind, but I honestly felt like we weren’t focused on it as much, yet it still wasn’t happening. We decided to see a fertility specialist.
This particular fertility specialist was the only one in our area. We were optimistic and eager to hear what he had to say, but his demeanor was off. His office equipment seemed old and outdated, he couldn’t give us answers and he was a bit rude. Something just didn’t feel right. Ladies trust your gut! He wasn’t someone I wanted on this journey and he was all about the money. So, we left his office and never looked back.
Luckily for us, my best friend had recently gone through a fertility specialist to help her dreams come true, and highly recommended her doctor. While he was over an hour drive away, we met him for a consultation and instantly felt a connection. He was optimistic, extremely helpful and wanted to go with a plan WE were comfortable with. Through some tests, he diagnosed me with PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome. There are so many symptoms of PCOS you don’t have to have all of them to be diagnosed. A
lot of my friends have PCOS but our symptoms vary. Other doctors had always speculated I might have it, but no one actually diagnosed me. With this diagnosis, we were told we had a few options to try and conceive, so we decided to first try IUI or Intrauterine Insemination. I purchased the expensive trigger shot and started on clomid. We were excited to try something new! The first round of clomid didn’t work. So, he upped the dose. The second round didn’t work. We increased the dose again, which was
the max amount of clomid you were allowed to take. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. My body wasn’t responding to the ovulation medication and IUI was no longer an option for us. Our optimism quickly turned to worry and heartbreak.
The next best option with the highest success rate was IVF, or in vitro fertilization. As the most expensive and invasive process, it took a LOT of time for my husband and I to process this. Having PCOS and messed up hormones from my brain tumor, we really needed to figure out if this was the right route for us. My husband and I didn’t see eye to eye at first. There were a lot of tears, a lot of arguments and a lot of nerves. What if my body doesn’t respond to these meds like the IUI meds? What if it doesn’t work? What if we have to do more invasive surgery? The “what if’s” were consuming. We weighed the pros and cons, and after much debate, we decided to give IVF a try.
While it was a blessing to have a best friend who recently went through IVF, our journeys were not exactly the same. Where she had fear, I had confidence. When she was brave, I needed extra encouragement. Everyone’s experiences are different. Blogs, apps and forums are a good learning tool but always remember your journey will be unique to you.
We started the IVF process July 2018. We had a huge calendar on the back of our bedroom door reminding us of appointments and when to begin certain medications. This was very helpful as there is a LOT to remember! Having PCOS, I had a higher chance of creating more follicles. More follicles mean more eggs, which means more chances to have more embryos, right? Wrong. Unfortunately for us, that wasn’t the case. While I had over 50 follicles removed from my ovaries, only 22 of them were strong enough to be met with sperm, and 11 of them created embryos. Of those 11 embryos, 7 made it to the first stage, 4 made it to the stage after that and only 2 made it to the blastocyst stage. TWO? I cried with the news of only 2 making it from over 50 follicles being removed, but I was also grateful we still had a chance. We decided to transfer the strongest embryo at the end of October, and at the end of November, we were able to tell our family we were 5 weeks pregnant. In the weeks following the implantation, there’s still tons of medications you’re taking, doctor appointments and don’t forget those progesterone butt shots which are NOT fun (but necessary… also, don’t try it in your thigh if your butt starts to get sore, it’s NOT worth it. The thigh hurts worse and was super itchy!). My work was incredibly supportive and I was able to work from home to make up time from all the appointments. My biggest advice when it comes to work is be transparent. Let them know what you’re doing and what to expect –it made it a lot easier and they appreciated it.
While we have some of the most amazing friends who would have been nothing short of supportive, we decided to keep our journey to ourselves and only tell immediate family. We felt as though it wasn’t fair for us to expect our friends to know what to say when they really couldn’t relate. It was much easier to explain what we went through, answer questions and share our journey after we had tangible news to share with them. This is what we decided was best for us but might not work for others. July 26, 2019 our sweet miracle girl was born! The tears, pain, money and time are 100% worth it. It’s trying – trying on your mental, physical and emotional health, on your marriage and relationships. You’ll be happy, you’ll be sad, but you’ll 100% come out stronger. Stay positive and optimistic!