Meet Elena from Baby Ridley Bump!
Tell us a little bit about you and your infertility journey…
I was born and raised in a small town in north central Illinois. My husband Joe and I met in high school. My best friend of 25 years happens to be married to Joe’s younger brother Jon so I knew Joe and his family for many years, but it wasn’t until my senior year of college in 2008 that we reconnected and started dating. We got married on September 24, 2011.
Our journey to become parents started as soon as we were married. We started trying for babies right away, in fact, I thought I was possibly pregnant on our honeymoon (joke was on me!) because my period was late for the first time ever. Little did I know it would take us almost five more years to get pregnant. We tried naturally for 2 years and in that time period we had some initial testing done, blood work, semen analysis, and I had an HSG. Everything came back clear so in September of 2013 we were referred to our first RE.
We jumped right into an IUI after they performed a laparoscopy on me which revealed some minor endometriosis, but nothing too concerning. Our first IUI failed and our second resulted in a chemical pregnancy. We were devastated but we were still so enthusiastic about treatment and thought maybe IVF would be what we needed instead. In July of 2014 we went through our first fresh cycle of IVF which ended up as a failed cycle along with 2 subsequent failed frozen IVF cycles.
We were exhausted from doing back to back cycles with such heartbreaking results each time. We decided to take a break and regroup and got a second opinion in January of 2015. It wasn’t until July of 2015 that we did our second fresh cycle of IVF with our new clinic. Although the protocol was drastically different and we felt a renewed sense of hope, we ended up with only 2 poorly graded day-3 embryos that we transferred and none left to freeze. The cycle ended in failure and we were back at square 1. We still had 4 frozen embryos at our first clinic so in October of 2015 we decided to try again with them and unfortunately we ended up with another failed cycle and more questions than answers at that point.
We decided to seek out another opinion and switched to our third doctor. We did our final fresh IVF cycle in December of 2015 and although the retrieval and fertilization was perfect, none of our embryos progressed into blastocysts and we transferred 2 embryos on day 5 in hopes that they were just slow to progress. Again we were left with no embryos to freeze as the other 5 had arrested. On December 26, 2015 I found out that cycle had also failed.
In the midst of our last cycle I had received a Facebook message from a total stranger. She said she had been following my Facebook, Instagram, and blog for some time and felt a calling to reach out to us with an offer to be a surrogate for us. I was in total shock and couldn’t believe this gracious gift that was being offered to us by a total stranger. Unfortunately, I was not ready for that step yet and was leaning towards pursuing egg donation. I told her this was the path that I envisioned next for us and without hesitation, she offered her eggs to us.
In March of 2016 we flew from Illinois to Georgia to meet our donor Amy, and her family. We felt an instant connection with them and they felt the same towards us. We also met with our new clinic and doctor at that time, and by May we had begun meds for our donor egg cycle. On June 16th, 2016 we transferred 1 perfect embryo & found out we had 5 more frozen. 11 days later on June 27th, 2016 we got our very positive beta of 967 and found out on July 11th that we were expecting one perfect little baby with a strong heartbeat.
My pregnancy went perfectly and on February 22, 2017 we welcomed our DEIVF miracle baby Georgia June into the world.
What led you to the decision of the route you are pursuing or pursued? We chose donor egg IVF (DEIVF) because we were fairly certain that egg quality was the culprit too all of our failed cycles and poor embryo progression. We did a total of 6 cycles with my own eggs, 3 fresh, and 3 frozen, and transferred a total of 9 embryos before moving forward with donor eggs. None of those embryos ever resulted into a pregnancy so I knew it was time to close the door on my eggs and move forward with something different. I knew that I wanted to try to carry a pregnancy so donor eggs was just the next logical step for us. It was the best decision out of the many that we made on our journey.
Who offered you support during this process that really stood out to you? What did they do? We have been overwhelmed with support throughout our journey not only by our family and friends but by total strangers thanks in (most) part because of being very open and transparent about our journey. Not only did I blog about our entire journey to get pregnant, even before I knew we were infertile, but I shared very openly on Instagram and through any opportunity I could whether it be an interview on another blog or a video that I was asked to make for Advocacy Day. Going public with our journey created a massive support group of people who have been cheering us on since the beginning.
Are you going to share your infertility journey with your children? Absolutely! Not so much yet, but it will as Georgia gets older and we share her roots with her. She already has quite the tale to tell about how she was conceived, but we will also be very open with her about her biological mother, sisters, and brother. We never want her to feel shame about where she comes from and we hope that as parents we can ease her into the truth behind her DNA by initiating the conversation at an early ago so it becomes like second nature to her.
Some patients change doctors several times. Did you? What made you choose your doctor and or clinic? Yes, we went to a total of 4 different clinics and sought a total of 5 opinions. We received an opinion from CCRM in Colorado but ultimately decided against it. We saw 3 doctors in Illinois and 1 in Georgia for our donor egg cycle. We chose our doctors based on referrals from others and their stats. What I learned is that every clinic does things SO different and I think having different outlooks from different doctors in this profession can certainly help lead one to a path of success. Treatment is 100% trial and error. Sometimes it only takes 1 cycle, sometimes it takes 10, other times you may never get to have a cycle.
Did you choose an open egg donation? Why? We used a known donor thanks to the amazing woman who offered her eggs to us and we are so thankful for the relationship that we have with her and her family today. Her and I talk regularly and we have become good friends. I love that our children, being that they are biological siblings, will have the opportunity to know each other one day.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’d like to share with our readers? Don’t ever give up on becoming a parent if that is what you truly desire. It may never work with your own biology, but that does not mean that you cannot pursue other avenues to become parents. The biggest lesson I learned from using a donor to conceive my baby is that DNA is so unbelievably irrelevant and means absolutely nothing to me. Georgia is my baby and I wouldn’t trade her for a biological child of my own any day.
Want to contact Elena? Instagram @lenaridley, www.babyridleybump.blogspot.com & email@example.com
Want to be a guest blogger? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message on Instagram @ivftwinmomadventures
Women who have successfully had kids need to stop telling those who haven’t to “never give up” and start respecting individual journeys more. Just because it happened to her with DEIVF does not mean that a) it’s right for everyone, or b) that everyone has access to it legally or financially, or c) that it will work. “Never give up” tells the couple that they aren’t really serious about being parents if they need to end their journey.
This mother was extremely lucky to have DEIVF work – I went through 6 failed rounds of it with a proven donor including a devastating miscarriage at 9 weeks, $60,000+ emptying out our bank accounts, and saw our International Adoption program with Ethiopia end after a 2 year wait because they closed their doors as a country to waiting parents. Most people can’t even afford this many attempts, so for people on the other side of the fence to think they can disrespect those without kids like this and flippantly say they shouldn’t give up? It’s not cool. There are so many who ache to become parents and never end up with the chance… whether it be for financial, legal or mental/physical health reasons, not everyone’s journey ends because they don’t want to be parents as much as she did. Not even close.