Once a month, I host a Guest Blogger who shares about their infertility journey! Meet today’s Guest Blogger, Katie!
Hi! I’m Katie! Also featured in the photo is my husband Pete and 2 year old son Benjamin. Pete and I met in high school and have known each other for about 15 years. We live in a suburb outside of Boston and currently we’re on a ferry to Nantucket for the weekend! We’ve been married for 5 years and after marriage immediately started trying to build up our family.
Our fertility journey is a little different than most. A year had passed of trying and we sought help. We were met with sarcasm and a poor attitude from my then-OBGYN. I pushed to see a reproductive endocrinologist and with an eye roll, got the referral. We went through all the testing and declared as “unexplained”. We felt since they couldn’t find anything wrong, we should keep trying on our own. Another year had passed and we were getting discouraged. We decided to go back to see the RE and because so much time had passed, had to redo all the testing. Still, nothing pointed out any problem. Months later, I got my BFP on the DAY we had an appointment to sign consents for IUI. Our little miracle baby! Our RE was kind enough to follow my betas and do an early ultrasound. I’ll never forget the moments of seeing his heart flicker for the first time.
5 months after I had my son I had chemical pregnancy. 7 months post partum I miscarried at 7.5 weeks and had a really hard time coping. It was one of the worst times of my life…followed by a year of great struggle. With my pushing, the OB followed up on my lab work and noticed my thyroid levels were wonky. I was ultimately diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I had a total thyroidectomy but my follow up lab values indicated I still had growing numbers of thyroid cancer cells in my body so I need further treatment. Post op pathology indicated I had probably been growing that cancer for over a decade. I truly believe this may have been our original source of difficulty those first years of trying.
Given my history, my RE suggested I do a retrieval and cryopreserve embryos before the radioactive iodine treatment because there was a chance it could harm my healthy eggs. So we did just that. We got 19 eggs and 10 fertilized. We opted not to do PGS at the time for personal and financial reasons. We had medical bills up to the earlobes that year. I worked as much overtime as a nurse as I could but I was so tired during recovery. My husband worked two jobs. Our family pitched in with childcare. It was a team effort!
A big thing for me on this journey has been the shocking revelation of how involved it is, meaning mental, physical, emotional…it’s all encompassing. People don’t talk about infertility and we should. We had a family board on the nursing unit I worked on at the time. People put up photos of their families and if there were any expecting babies, a small balloon with their name or something similar was put up. Another nurse, whom I shared my journey with, put my little frozen embryos up in the family board in the form of bottles in a cooler. This little gesture served as a conversation opener to educate others about infertility and it was so special to me for my frozen babies to be considered up on that family board.
I did the RAI treatment for my thyroid cancer last August. We had to flip from actively trying for so many years, to actively preventing. If I got pregnant with radiation in my system, my chances of miscarriage or birth defect were significant. I just got the 1 year all-okay that I remain cancer free and now have the RAI out of my body, giving us the clear to go forward with IVF safely. Yay!
We did all the testing again during the summer. My husband switched jobs, one with a much lower deductible and ridiculously good fertility coverage. We had to wait until October 1st to send for preauthorization with the new insurance company. There is so much hurry up and wait involved in this game…incredibly frustrating. We got word we were authorized to move forward just a few days ago. Now we’re waiting for meds to be delivered and have everything crossed to start FET cycle this upcoming week.
One of the most valuable pieces of advice I can offer is to stick with the mantra, NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP. I have this saying stuck everywhere in my life: car, work, bathroom closet door, nightstand. There are so many days of tears, of being bent over a little stick on the bathroom floor searching for the right angle to see any glimpse of a second line, of feeling “why me?” and begging God for a sign of hope. Keep your eye on the end goal. Change the plan if you have to, but never change the goal. Also, be vocal. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Share your story with friends and family and those who care, will uplift you on your worst days. It takes a village. This isn’t easy.
As part of my village, I was introduced to AGC Scholarship Foundation (check them out on FB) an incredible nonprofit geared towards helping those affected by infertility, and in particular providing scholarships to people experiencing financial barriers. They are the most amazing group of women I know. I was happy to run 7.3 miles in the Falmouth Road Race this summer, on my 1 year cancer free anniversary for the AGC team. Our small team raised close to $70,000. It was an incredible experience. If you are struggling, look into this Foundation. They have a support group that has been my saving grace. Google search others that may be more local for you. They’re out there. It’s impossible to do this alone. Find support, whether it’s instagram, local support groups, a therapist…find someone to talk to.
It’s been a pleasure sharing the Flaherty Family Journey! I’d love to connect with others as we prepare for our first transfer and help others through their journey! Reach out to me on Instagram: kbflaherty or email:firstname.lastname@example.org