Meet today’s guest blogger, Alyssa from On Stims and Needles!
Tell us a little bit about you and your infertility journey: My husband and I began trying to get pregnant shortly after our wedding in October 2014. After a year of unsuccessful attempts we were referred to our local fertility clinic for further testing toward the end of 2015, where it was found that my husband had low sperm count. In normal procedure, the clinic also wanted to ensure I was healthy and free from any diagnosis that could affect fertility. I had a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy completed in August ’16 due to my disclosure about my irregular periods (I also have PCOS) and painful cycles. It was determined after the surgery that alongside the PCOS I also had Stage IV Endometriosis and our RE at the time felt our best chance of success was through IVF. We completed our first round of IVF in November 2016, which resulted in poor embryo quality and ultimately a failed cycle. We transferred a morula (developmentally a “day 4” embryo) on Day 5 and had no other embryos make it to freeze. We ended up switching clinics and our new doctor started us on a new protocol for our June cycle. We had one embryo make it to freeze and decided against a fresh transfer due to having high progesterone levels. We completed back to back cycles and just finished our third egg retrieval in July. Our RE changed up our protocol again to address embryo quality and we were able to produce three beautiful embryos, who joined the one from the prior cycle in cryopreservation. We prepped for a FET and transferred two embryos in August, which resulted in another failed cycle. We scheduled a mock cycle in September and completed a receptivity analysis of my lining and another biopsy to check for the presence of the beta-3 integrin, which is a protein integrin needed to facilitate implantation. Little did we know, a lot of women with Endometriosis often lack this sticky molecule and I was one of them! After a quick round of antibiotics to treat Endometritis and adding Letrazole to address the absence of the beta-3 integrin, we transferred another embryo last week and are toughing it through the dreaded, two-week wait!
How did you and your spouse encourage each other while on this journey? My husband, Cory, has been my greatest support throughout this journey. He has always done a really good job maintaining the positivity and uplifting me when I am feeling down. He has taken on the role of nurse, caregiver, and often the therapist when I need to vent, cry, or talk things through. He was committed to giving me every injection, and this truly made this journey feel like “teamwork”.
Do you think your infertility journey is going to or has shaped the way you parent? Absolutely. I think those that battle infertility become parents before they even lay eyes on their children. We spend most of our cycles worrying; Worrying about follicle growth, egg retrieval, fertilization reports, embryo development, blastocyst stage, transfer, two week wait, beta test, ultrasound, delivery. The list goes on. The wait and worry never ends. Isn’t that what being a parent is all about? We are fighting so hard for a gift that others are given so freely. We spend days, weeks and months for another chance at having babies. We have learned to love children who’s hearts haven’t even begun to beat yet. I look at my husband and I already see him as a Daddy and I hope when we have screaming, wild kids running around, I always remember the feeling I had just waiting for those moments of pure insanity.
Some patients change doctors several times. Did you? What made you choose your doctor and or clinic? We chose to change doctors and clinics after our failed cycle last year. We had very little follow up after our first cycle and no changes to our medication protocol. Although I continued to practice patience, I also worked on my ability to trust my gut when it was telling me something. I was working on losing weight, creating healthier habits, and preparing for another future cycle. Something was telling me to get a second opinion. I didn’t believe we would receive contradicting information, I just wanted to solidify that our (then) RE was on the right page. I also desperately wanted more detailed answers about potential issues with our first cycle, since our RE at the time did not deliver as much detail as my obsessive self would have liked. I reached out to a friend, who is also an IVF nurse in the St. Louis area, and scheduled a consult with the doctor she works for at her clinic. The new RE was so attentive, warm and inviting. We instantly connected with her on a level we never felt with our prior RE. She reviewed our medical records in detail and disagreed with prior recommendations. She was educated and confident in her practice and in her explanation as to how she could provide the level of care that Cory and I craved.
What would you like couples or women who don’t struggle with infertility to know about infertility? Infertility is a disease. It doesn’t go away if you, “stop worrying about it” or “just adopt”. I truly believe people hope the best for Cory and I, however, those that struggle with infertility appreciate hugs and well wishes and not advice. Those with infertility also often put their own feelings aside because we feel guilty. This directly relates baby showers and pregnancy announcements. We are happy for those that are experiencing pregnancy, but we may have a difficult time expressing it. We also respond better to 1-on-1 announcements, especially if you have a close relationship with the mama to be. Simply put, I am happy for you, but sad for me. Being told in a group often brings glares to those struggling couples in worry of their reaction. We don’t want others to pity to us, and do still want the opportunity to be involved in things. Some days are better than others.
What is/was the hardest part of this journey for you? Although infertility is only a small part of your life, often it can feel like it consumes every second of your day. Waiting for test results, consults and cycle baseline appointments turns into wishing days, weeks and months away in hopes of nearing that start date sooner. I found myself wasting so many precious days with the ones I love waiting for the next fertility focused appointment. I didn’t plan fun outings, or even spend much time with friends. I isolated myself and planned for the next step. We have received much disappointment throughout our journey, much like all my TTC sisters have, so finding the strength within to congratulate those celebrating what we so deeply desire, took a lot of practice and sometimes, failure. It’s hard to dedicate so much of your physical and emotional being to the CHANCE of being a parent. Seeing those around you celebrating pregnancy and children has a sting that lingers, despite how much you love and support them.
What brings you hope during this journey? My husband and I have great faith in God’s timing. Throughout our journey we have we continued to focus on our marriage and we reinvested ourselves into Church. We walked into our first service angry with God. We haven’t missed a Sunday since. We know we will be parents one day, our babies are just taking a little extra time being handpicked from Heaven!
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’d like to share with our readers? You need to remind yourself of this each and every day: You are not broken. You are not less-than. You are whole. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Be kind to yourself and love yourself. Know that you are enough and that you matter greatly. You are not alone.
Want to be a guest blogger? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Instagram @ivftwinmomadventures