Jessica and Zak went into IVF treatment with high hopes, and they were not disappointed. Jessica got pregnant on their first cycle of IVF.
In the Spring of 2012, Jessica and Zak welcomed baby Adriana into their lives, and they have never been happier. “It’s been incredible,” beams Jessica. “I am loving every minute of it. It was definitely worth everything we went through – and I am seeing a whole new side to Zak. Adriana is definitely ‘daddy’s little girl’.”
Looking back on her IVF cycle, Jessica says she had very few difficulties. “Everything went pretty well,” she remembers. “The education Dr. Khan and our nurse, Chris, gave us about what was going to happen during the cycle was really excellent, so there was never a time that I felt confused.”
Though she had been apprehensive about it, Jessica mastered the task of giving herself the daily injections required during the ovarian stimulation phase of her cycle. Zak, however, was not game for giving her the last injection, the intramuscular Trigger shot, before her egg retrieval. “Zak was really worried about hurting me or doing the shot wrong,” Jessica recalls. “My nurse had given me the number of a service that would provide a nurse to do injections at our house, so I just hired the nurse to come and do it. It worked out well.”
The only issue Jessica had during her cycle was related to her inventory of medication. She says, “The dosage of one of my medications was increased, and I suddenly realized I wouldn’t have enough to do the shot that night. Of course, it had to be a weekend! So, we ended up flying up to Rockville because the pharmacy at the Shady Grove Fertility office was the only place that was open and able to fill my prescription.”
Jessica had a very successful egg retrieval, with 29 eggs retrieved. Because the couple had had a low sperm count on some of their previous cycles, the laboratory used ICSI to fertilize the eggs. ICSI is a special procedure where a single healthy sperm is injected into the center of each egg, allowing fertilization to take place even in cases of severe male factor infertility. Fortunately, 27, almost all of the eggs fertilized and developed.
Jessica was surprised when Dr. Khan called her himself to let her know how everything was going in the laboratory. “None of my other doctors have ever called me themselves, so I was so really impressed that Dr. Khan took the time to call me personally and talk to me about how our embryos were doing,” she says. “He told me they looked really good and that we would do a day 5 embryo transfer.”
Because Jessica is young, had a high number of quality embryos developing and was on her first cycle of IVF, Dr. Khan suggested that the couple consider doing elective Single Embryo Transfer or eSET. In patients like Jessica, eSET does not reduce the chances of pregnancy but greatly reduces the chances of high risk multiple pregnancy. Jessica says the decision was an easy one for them, “We were in favor of it because we really did not want to have twins.”
Jessica and Zak ended up with 13 high quality blastocysts that could be frozen. If she had not gotten pregnant on this cycle, she would have had 13 more chances to get pregnant with Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) cycles. FETs are less expensive than a fresh IVF cycle and much simpler to perform. Since they did get pregnant, the frozen embryos give them options for growing their family in the future.
After her embryo transfer, Jessica had to wait the standard 2 weeks before she was able to take a beta pregnancy test. “That was the longest two weeks of my life,” Jessica says. “It was definitely the hardest part of the cycle for me. I went back and forth between feeling sure it wouldn’t work and sure I was pregnant. I questioned all of my symptoms, which I probably wasn’t really having anyway. The day of my beta test, I was so preoccupied, I could barely fill out the sign-in sheet at the lab – and then waiting that day for the results seemed like eternity.”
Jessica had learned from her previous IUI cycles to be home when the test results came in. “During one of my IUI cycles, I was out when I got the call that I had a negative on the beta test, and I was really upset. So, I learned that it’s best to stay home and wait for the call there.”
When her nurse called with the positive results, Jessica says, “It was all I could do not to cry. I was so excited.” Her next two beta tests showed a healthy growth in the embryo and were followed up by an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy. “We saw the heartbeat at 6 weeks and then, shortly after that, we graduated from Shady Grove.”
Jessica had used the Shady Grove Fertility Facebook page throughout her fertility treatment to get support from the community of patients who are active there. Now, she’s also using the Shady Grove Fertility Graduates Facebook page to talk to other women who became moms through fertility treatment. “I think all new moms want to talk to other moms,” she says, “but to be able to talk to moms who also went through IVF is really special. They give me a lot of great advice.”
While she extols the virtue of the Shady Grove Fertility Facebook community, Jessica still believes that the Internet can be stress-inducing for fertility patients. “I still say – stay off of the Internet – especially during the 2 week wait. You can drive yourself crazy reading websites about symptoms and pregnancy. It’s better to get support from people you know and trust.”
Looking back, Jessica says she has no regrets about fertility treatment. She’s even found a silver lining. “Even though I had to do more to get pregnant than a lot of my friends, I got to see my baby as an embryo. That was such a cool moment and that’s not something other parents get to see.”