As an elementary school teacher, it has always been my passion to inspire youth. My husband and I always dreamed of having children of our own to inspire and teach. Prior to my diagnosis, Nate and I were enjoying life as a newly engaged couple, spending most of our free time planning our dream wedding in Baltimore, Maryland. Little did we know at the time that we would continue making that trip regularly as our trying to conceive journey began.
Prior to my wedding, I noticed that my acne was getting out of control. In an effort to get that under control, I visited a dermatologist. At that time, my dermatologist examined my symptoms and inquired about my menstrual cycle. The doctors recommended that I follow up with my OB/GYN because the pattern of acne that he observed was typical in women with hormonal imbalances. I took his advice and visited my OB/GYN, where I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Coming to Shady Grove Fertility
I began my journey with Shady Grove Fertility on the recommendation of my OB/GYN, Dr. Martini. After completing three unsuccessful Clomid cycles in his care, he suggested that we receive further care from a fertility specialist. He recommended a couple in our area, including SGF. Nate and I feverishly began our own research into his suggestions. We found that SGF had not only the best reviews from patients, but moreover, the highest pregnancy success rates. We knew SGF was our best option.
I had my consultation with Dr. Bromer on December 26, 2013, the day after Christmas. He reviewed my history and concurred with my diagnosis of PCOS. We planned to begin a timed intercourse cycle with injectibles. To our surprise, we discovered that we had gotten pregnant before we were able to start our cycle. We were shocked and thrilled.
Dr. Bromer had us take a beta blood test and our numbers came back low. We were hopeful that we caught the pregnancy early and that the numbers would rise, but our pregnancy ended with an early miscarriage. For the next cycle, we did timed intercourse. We had four mature follicles and there were concerns with continuing with the cycle, due to the risk of multiples. We gambled on it, but unfortunately no eggs were fertilized.
In March of 2014, we moved to an IUI protocol. On a snowy day on March 25, we had our insemination, and to my surprise I was pregnant! My beta climbed steadily and our numbers doubled. Petrified to get our hopes up again, we were cautiously optimistic. Until one day my numbers flatlined and eventually began to decline. I knew what was coming, another miscarriage. Except this time, my pregnancy did not resolve on its own. Eventually Dr. Bromer determined that he believed it to be an ectopic pregnancy. For my safety, I was given two shots of MTX to resolve the pregnancy. This prolonged my treatment until August of 2014.
Eager to get started again, Nate and I progressed into the Shared Risk 100% Refund in vitro fertilization(IVF) protocol. My egg retrieval yielded approximately 40 eggs; my nurse exclaimed that it was the highest number of eggs ever produced by any of her patients. I thought for sure that this would bring me my baby. Our cycle progressed nicely and by Day 3 I had many embryos continuing to divide and grow. On Day 5, Dr. Bromer called us with shocking news: all embryos stalled in development and I had nothing to transfer. We allowed the embryos to keep growing and one made it to blastocyst on Day 6. It was sent for preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and came back abnormal.
At that point I was thinking the worst: all my eggs are bad, I'll never carry my own child, I'll never be able to give my husband a family. Dr. Bromer assured us that he was still hopeful and we got ready for our next cycle. I fearfully went into my second round of IVF, and the results were all too similar. On Day 5, we had no blastocysts, but we had two morula stage embryos that we transferred, which resulted in no pregnancy. We did have one embryo make it to blastocyst, which was then frozen. We transferred that and I suffered another chemical pregnancy. Again I was losing hope; I feared that all of my eggs were bad. I even began looking into donor egg treatment. Dr. Bromer was not ready to stop fighting for our family, though.
We switched from an antagonist protocol to a luteal Lupron protocol. New meds, new timeline, new outlook. Quality over quantity and slow and steady. I had the best stimulation of all three cycles of IVF. On March 11, the day of my egg retrieval, we prayed for the luck of the Irish as St. Patrick's Day was approaching. My egg retrieval went smoothly, but afterwards I felt pretty lousy. Dr. Bromer has always been concerned with ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), and we decided no matter what that we would not do a fresh cycle. Again on Day 3 our embryos looked great, we even had some early blastocysts. However on Day 5, March 16, no blastocysts again.
My spirit was crushed, I wept when I got that call. I truly thought my chances of having my own biological child were over. On St. Patrick's Day, Dr. Bromer called us back with an update: four of our embryos reached blastocyst and were sent for PGD; the luck of the Irish was with us. On Saturday March 21, Dr. Bromer called us with the first good news we had heard on our journey so far: three embryos tested normal! I’m more hopeful than ever that we will receive the miracle that we have prayed so long and hard for.
Working with Dr. Bromer
Dr. Bromer has been open and honest with us from the beginning. Throughout all of our setbacks he has never stopped fighting for our family. Even after all of the times that I lost hope, he never lost hope that we would find success. It has been an absolute pleasure working with such an intelligent, practical, and caring doctor. I appreciate so much that he has the compassion to give me a hug when I cry, listen to my fears, and is available to answer our endless questions.
Alicia’s Advice for Future Patients
Although the road seems tough, never give up on your dreams. There were many times that I thought that I could not go one more day, but I am so glad that I did not give up. I truly believe that my miracle will occur; it's on God's time not mine.