I have received a few email recently asking the reason for our infertility and what treatments we did before finally resorting to IVF. I decided to write a post about it today. I added links to all of the highlighted words for some of my readers who are unfamiliar with infertility.
After deciding to start a family, Mike and I suffered a few miscarriages in 2007. At first it seemed like we had little to no problem getting pregnant, but staying pregnant was a different story. Our last miscarriage was in May of 2007, when our Dr discovered at 9-12 weeks (not sure on dates) via ultrasound that our pregnancy was actually a Blighted Ovum. Due to the fact that my body was not miscarrying on it's own, we decided at my Dr's recommendation to have a D&C. After that, despite out best efforts, we just couldn't get pregnant again. My Dr did a ton of test on both of us, but when the results offered no answers he put me on Clomid. It was then that we were diagnosed with the dreaded "unexplained infertility."
I produced 2 eggs that first month on Clomid, but no pregnancy. The following 3 months on clomid, I produced around 2-4 eggs each cycle, but never even got a hint of a second line. Trust me it wasn't for a lack of testing, I could probably put London through college with all of the money I wasted on pregnancy tests during those 2 years. After 5 cycles on Clomid, we moved on to Femara. I did one and only one cycle on Femara. It made me a CRAZY woman. Looking back it could have been the fact that I had been on infertility drugs for 6 months straight, but all I know is that I was an emotional train wreck that month.
The following month we were taking a trip to Europe with Mike's family during the time I was expected to ovulate. My Dr agreed to allow me to do one more cycle of clomid (unmonitored) while we were gone. I mean, after all, what better souviner to bring back from Paris and Rome then a baby. Unfortunately that didn't happen.
Upon our return and another negative pregnancy test, my Dr started talking to us about IUI. We decided to give it a try (or three). 3 more clomid cycles, and three negative pregnancy test later, we gave up on IUI and decided to go see a specialist.
I had my first appointment with the specialist (a reproductive endocrinologist) on April 1st, 2008. Looking back, April fools day seems like an appropriate day to have had that appointment. I was 27 and Mike was 28, we were supposed to be FERTILE. Every test on me and my husband, came back 100% normal. I was hoping this specialist had some sort of magic pill to fix everything. Sadly, he did not. I will never forget his words that day, "You are going to need IVF". I did all that I could not to burst into tears as he uttered those heartbreaking words. He told me all about the process, which I already knew, but I used the time while he was talking to collect my emotions and thoughts. Then he handed me a price list which listed a big $15,000 for the basic IVF cycle and medications. That did not include ICSI or AH (which I would later find out that we would need). My husband was a 1LT in the Army and I wasn't working at the time, we definitely did NOT have $15,000+ just laying around for IVF. I was devastated that day when I left his office.
When I got home I began so scour the internet for information about IVF. God had a plan though, and he worked his magic that day when I came across this discussion board all about the military and infertility. It had a plethora of information about military IVF. It would be an understatement to say that it was a dream come true. By the time Mike got home from work that afternoon, I had a plan. If we could come up with the money, we were going to do IVF at Ft Bragg (Womack). Mike was amazing and immediately offered a mutual fund that he had started back while he was in college. It was just enough to cover the $6,000 we would need to do IVF through the Army. So I made the call and got an appointment at Womack. On April 28th I had my first appointment, and God worked his magic again that day. They were somehow able to schedule me into the June IVF cycle, just 40 days later. Everything had somehow fallen into place. While we were waiting to do IVF, Dr Doom (AKA: The afore mentioned Reproductive Endocrinologist) did 2 rounds of injectibles (Follistim) and timed intercourse with us.We were really hoping that we wouldn't need to go all the way through IVF, however both rounds ended the same as all of the others. One pink line.
On June 26, 2008, the day of my egg retrieval, we finally got our long awaited infertility diagnoses. After retrieving my 19 eggs (17 mature) and fertilizing them with Mike's sperm via ICSI (11 fertilized correctly) , they realized that the zonas (shells) on my eggs are too thick. Not only could sperm not break though to fertilize them on its own, but the embryo could not break out of the shell to implant in my uterus either. They also found that while Mike's sperm seems perfect, he has low morphology according to the super strict Kruger scale. They assumed that this is what caused our miscarriages. They think that his abnormal sperm probably fertilized my egg, thus creating a abnormal embryo and impossible pregnancy.
After a alot of begging, I convinced the Dr to put back 3 top quality embryos. (For the record, apparently I am quite persuasive when I am all doped up on Valium.) Of those 3 embryos, two of them implanted, but sadly at 11 weeks we lost one of the twins. My pregnancy was far from easy. At 24 weeks I went into preterm labor and spent the rest of my pregnancy on bed rest. Thankfully my hard work (on bed rest) paid off and London Michael was born on February 28, 2009 at 37 weeks. The hole that infertility carved into my heart had been filled and made whole again...temporarily.
We were really hoping we wouldn't have to do IVF again and that next time we would be able to get pregnant without the aid of any infertility treatments. A girl can dream right? However it looks likes IVF might just be our next step.
Currently we are planning to do another IVF cycle in Feb 2011. We are really hoping that the stars align again and IVF #2 turns out to be just as lucky as IVF #1.
If you want to read all about our journey through IVF, you can read about it here starting in June 2008. It's all there.
EDIT: IVF #2 worked! We are now the proud parents of our second little boy Holden Alexander. Our Second IVF cycle can be found here Feb 2011
EDIT: In March of 2012 we got the surprise of our lives. We found out that we were naturally pregnant with TWINS! On Oct 19 (one day before Holden, IVF #2, turned one) I gave birth to two very healthy baby girls. Greysen Elizabeth and Harper Elliot . The moral of this story is even if you are infertile, take the birth control the Dr offers at your 6 week postpartumn appointment hahaha!