i’ve had this post written for the better part of the past year and *spoiler alert* now that our son, lochlan, is almost 6 weeks old i figured i should probably stop staring at it in my drafts and post it already!
after we received the news that the transfer of our last embryo had failed in january of 2016 and the realization that our whole first round of ivf was a complete bust, we grieved. we had so much faith that ivf was our answer and were losing hope that continuing treatments would yield us the baby we so dreamed of. we had the diagnosis of unexplained infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss, yet all our testing was completely normal – none of it made sense.
we prayed so hard for direction and hoped 2016 would be good to us.
we didn’t waste much time before we started thinking about our next step. another ivf cycle was recommended and despite not having any answers we were told we simply needed to keep trying.
that wasn’t good enough for me. i felt very strong that i needed to attempt to find some answers before another ivf cycle. i made the drive to chicago multiple times in february of 2016 to see a reproductive immunologist who has spent her career working with patients who have experienced recurrent losses and immune issues effecting fertility. it was hard to proceed with another opinion knowing the financial burden it could incur, but i just could not move forward with more treatment until i felt like i had tried desperately to find an answer why we were going through what we had and finding a way to prevent it from happening again. the doctor recommended more blood tests and a uterine artery flow ultrasound study. my follow up consult came and i got the news that absolutely everything came back normal. i should’ve been happy to receive those results, but yet again we had no answers. the reproductive immunologist told me she did not recommend any more testing because i had exhausted everything. there was not a problem with my eggs, my cycle or my uterine environment. she could not recommend changing treatment or adding anything to my protocol because there was simply nothing she could find wrong.
all my normal tests left me assuming we needed to look at my husband further. his semen analysis results had previous come back with great numbers, but there was another test available to look at the dna fragmentation of his sperm, another expensive test out of pocket. we were preparing ourselves for the worst, even looking up sperm donor profiles online, partly as a joke but deep down inside knowing that could be our reality. the results were in and they were completely normal. as much as we wanted an answer i think we both were relieved this time.
it was time to move forward with our second ivf in march of 2016. we felt like it was just us “going through the motions,” not truly having much faith left that we could expect a different result than we had been getting, but not willing to give up yet. we wanted closure and if this cycle failed, at least we could move on. we had been trying to have our first baby for 2.5 years at this point and couldn’t keep coping with the constant disappointment. trying to conceive had consumed our entire marriage since we said “i do” in october of 2013.
my reproductive endocrinologist did not suggest doing anything different this cycle, but did change my protocol to one i was familiar with when i was an egg donor, the long lupron protocol. this tended to yield more eggs than the antagonist protocol, but it also put me at a much higher risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (ohss), which if i got, there was a high chance our fresh transfer would be cancelled and a frozen transfer would be months down the road, more waiting.
my baseline ultrasound went great and i was ready to start the cycle! i had begun a gluten and dairy-free diet this time, which had me feeling great, and i even had an acupuncture appointment for the first time. i may have had less faith at this point in our journey, but i was still giving the cycle all i could.
i begun an aggressive dose of injections to stim as many follicles off the bat, then they were decreased and i was responding well. my estrodiol was increasing much more rapidly than they liked and we were warned our fresh transfer was at risk of being cancelled.
egg retrieval was scheduled for april 17 and we were very happy to get 23 eggs compared to 15 eggs our prior cycle! i was sent home to recover and we eagerly awaited fertilization results the following day. the call came and out of 23 retrieved, 20 were mature and 19 had fertilized – we could not believe it! i felt like i was recovering well and our transfer was scheduled for april 22, but we were again warned that if i showed up and had fluid in my abdomen or had any other signs of ohss, the transfer would be cancelled.
on day 3, we received the fertilization report that all 19 of our embryos were still growing – we were in complete disbelief!
april 22, transfer day. i was feeling great and a quick scan showed no pockets of fluid in my abdomen, much to the doctor’s surprise, and although her recommendation was to wait and do a frozen transfer, she said she’d allow me to proceed with transferring one embryo that day. there was no question in my mind, we were proceeding with the transfer. our previous ivf cycle i had at least gotten pregnant from our fresh transfer, but all our frozen cycles had failed.
one absolutely beautiful embryo was transferred. the whole way home i clenched the photo of the most beautiful day 5 blastocyst i had ever seen and could not stop commenting to my husband on how perfect it looked. we also received the news that in addition to the embryo we had transferred, we had 15 more grade A embryos that were being frozen. from getting 4 blastocysts our first ivf to 16 our second we could not believe it.
just 5 days past transfer, i took my first pregnancy test and there it was, two pink lines looking right back at me. we were pregnant! it was hard to not get a little excited as this was our first hurdle and it had been nearly a year since we had gotten a positive pregnancy test, but in the same moment we were also terrified. historically, a positive pregnancy test was the beginning of the end for us and if this was anything like the 7 previous times we had gotten pregnant, it was not going to end well. i proceeded to test every 2 days with great progression in my lines until beta day and continued with my daily progesterone in oil intramuscular injections.
first hcg on may 2 at 10dp5dt: 414.8
second hcg on may 4 at 12dp5dt: 814.6
third beta on may 6 at 14dp5dt: 1840
these were numbers we had never come close to before. we were scheduled for a viability ultrasound and were told as long as they saw what they needed to then we could schedule an appointment with an OB. this was all new to us. we had never gotten this far. we prayed so hard and i learned to celebrate each day as a milestone.
this was it. after years of waiting, so many tests and fertility treatments, tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket – we were having our baby.
we may never find out why we went through what we have. why we had 7 chemical pregnancies or why we had trouble even getting pregnant at times, but one thing i know is true. we were waiting all this time for this baby. we were waiting for lochlan.