Infertility and Modern Day Miracles

When you are twenty-five, fresh out of college and a newlywed, you think the world is your oyster.  It is a time of innocence that will, for most couples, be a fond memory in later years.  The idea of starting a family is an assumed right of passage.

 Our journey to parenthood began when I was thirty years old.  We were college graduates, we owned our own home, and we both had steady jobs. My biological clock was ticking and we were finally ready for a baby.  But after a year and half of trying to get pregnant, I started to worry and knew we needed to seek medical advice.  My husband’s health insurance at the time offered infertility coverage up to $10,000, which is almost unheard of in the world of health insurance.  With unexplained infertility, we knew we had a good chance of getting pregnant, but that it would take medical intervention. 

 My husband and I took to the Internet to research our fertility options.  Not wanting to jump right into in vitro fertilization, we chose to pursue the less invasive Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) treatment.  IUI treatment often begins with a medication to help stimulate egg production.  After a couple of weeks of taking fertility medicine and monitoring my eggs growth, my husband and I eagerly drove to the fertility doctor’s office in hopes that all our dedication would finally pay off.  The procedure seemed easy enough, thankfully, because the emotional stress we were going through at the time was enough.   The nurse would use a tiny catheter to place my husband’s sperm directly into my uterus.  The procedure took only minutes, however we would have to wait over a week to hear if it was successful or not.  With a hopeful heart I answered the nurse’s phone call only to hear, “I’m sorry, the blood test was negative.” 

 Two more failed IUI’s led to feelings of not only sadness, but also envy while we watched all of our friends start families of their own. 

Feeling the need for a new start, we decided to switch fertility doctors and pursue in vitro fertilization, commonly known as IVF.  It all seemed pretty foreign to us, but in simple terms, our doctor would take my eggs and my husband’s sperm, inject one sperm into each egg, and then place the fertilized eggs back inside my uterus with hopes that at least one of the embryos would attach to my lining. 

For most couples, the thought of IVF is scary. It is an invasive, time consuming, and expensive option.  However, after three years of heartache in trying to create our own family, we decided it was time.  Also, the fact that my husband’s company was switching insurance plans and we would soon lose our infertility coverage, gave us the push we needed to move full steam ahead.

Looking back, IVF is really not that bad; however, when you are afraid of needles, the thought of being stuck and injected with hormones every morning and night for weeks or even months can make the bravest girl queasy.  My husband gladly took a “how to give a shot” class offered by our doctor’s office and when the big box of medications arrived at our home, I ran out the door to happily greet the delivery driver.   Morning after morning and night after night, I bravely took each shot followed by my husband thanking me for doing whatever it took for us to be parents.   The weeks of hormone shots and ultrasound appointments were filled with so much emotion, from laughter to frustration, that we were exhausted and relieved when it came time to retrieve my eggs.

Having never been “put under,” I was really nervous about the egg retrieval process.  Using a long, thin needle, our doctor carefully extracted the eggs from my swollen ovaries.  About thirty minutes later, I woke up in recovery feeling just fine.  My fertility doctor informed me that he had retrieved a whopping 32 eggs from my ovaries! From this one IVF cycle, we were able to create 19 healthy embryos.

While the retrieval of multiple eggs is great for IVF, it was not good for me.  A few days later, we transferred three freshly created embryos into my uterus and hoped for the best.  Our remaining 16 embryos were cryogenically frozen for future use.  I was sent home for a week of bed rest and a high protein diet in hopes of avoiding ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS), a serious side effect leading to excessive fluid build-up in the abdomen.   Later that week, I was at the hospital having four pints of fluid drained from my abdomen.  When our doctor called a week later giving us the sad news that we were not pregnant, we felt defeated.

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