As I sit here typing my story, I have the baby monitor on high volume while I listen out for the sweetest sounds my heart has ever known: the hums and coos that will signal when my beautiful one-month-old daughter wakes from her slumber. She will call to me, telling me in the only way she can, that she wants to be cuddled and fed. Sometimes I feel exhausted, but I will never forget how desperately wanted she was. Thinking about it still brings tears to my eyes.
As a nurse, I care for and nurture sick people on a daily basis. As an auntie, I have helped raise my wonderful nephews and niece. As a former nanny, I have warmed and fed bottles, soothed distress, sung lullabies, read books, witnessed the first walk, first word, and elicited the most joyful laughter through play. Given my past, it seemed only the rational next step for me to become a mother myself.
My husband and I were friends for years before becoming a romantic couple. Once upon a time, I regularly served him coffee where I worked as a barista. Even though I had plans to attend university abroad, I always hoped he would ask me out. We became great friends and stayed in touch for years. We were finally in the right place at the right time when I returned home several years later, and we became a couple and married in the summer of 2015. We knew that starting a family was something we both wanted.
Trying to conceive
We tried to have a baby for over a year after getting married, but everyone except for us was falling pregnant and sharing news. Things never seemed to move along for us. I had long suspected that I had polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) because my cycles only came every two or three months. We gave up and decided to get help.
Seeking a diagnosis and treatment
My OB/GYN did diagnose me with PCOS and advised me to seek help from a reproductive endocrinologist. We initially attended a different clinic, where my husband underwent a semen analysis, which we were reassured was normal. After a failed Clomid and timedintercourse cycle, I felt that the experience at this clinic was too impersonal.
I returned to my OB/GYN, who also prescribed me Clomid so that we could attempt further intercourse independently. We continued to actively try to conceive using charting and home ovulation tests, but we were disappointed four more times. My OB/GYN urged me to return to a reproductive endocrinologist, and it was at that point that I decided to try the services at Shady Grove Fertility, where I was scheduled for a consult with Dr. Yazigi at the Towson location.
Dr. Yazigi was warm, calming, and reassured me with unfaltering confidence that he would be able to help us to have a baby. He first diagnosed me with ovulatory dysfunction, and given that timed intercourse with ovulation induction had not worked for us, we were also diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
My husband and I are severely type-A, and we wanted to try the treatment with the highest success rate. As soon as the intrauterine insemination (IUI) failed, we told Dr. Yazigi that we wanted to move along with in vitro fertilization (IVF). He told us about Shady Grove Fertility’s Shared Risk 100% RefundProgram, which is an incredible way of helping people achieve pregnancy through IVF. Through this shared risk contract, we invested our money in the clinic, and in return, our confidence grew enormously because Shady Grove Fertility invested its resources into our success.
Being assigned to one SGF nurse throughout the entire process made it so easy to follow instructions and stay organized. I stimulated with Gonal-F and produced a large number of eggs, and by day six, my husband and I had nine embryos biopsied for genetic abnormalities and frozen.
We chose genetic testing because we were not about to take any chances transferring an embryo that would have miscarried naturally in an attempted cycle. We were delighted to learn the news that the majority of our embryos were genetically normal.
On the day of transfer, my husband and I just felt so right. After years of dealing with irregular periods, our chances of success were statistically high for a change: 60% per attempt, to be exact! The embryologist selected our most mature and developed embryo, and we excitedly watched the transfer take place on the ultrasound screen.
The result: becoming pregnant
Four days came and went after the transfer with no symptoms. I did not feel nauseous or crampy like all the women on the fertility forums who easily became pregnant. My breasts were the same as ever. I trusted the nurse’s discharge instructions though, which basically said that anything could be normal and not to read into it. I was dying to find out at this point, so I took a home test. When I saw the line pop up faintly but quickly, I knew it had to be a defective test. I repeated with a different test, and the same result appeared: pregnant! My husband did not believe it until our scheduled blood test, assuming that home tests could not be trusted. We were both overjoyed when our nurse phoned us to give us the good news fourteen days after the transfer.
Relief with frozen embryos
After my backside became too bruised, I bravely injected the two-inch progesterone needles into my thighs and stared, motivated by the photograph we were given of our six-day-old embryo. After a couple of years of discouragement and putting up with the insensitive things that people would say in hopes of being funny or helpful, life was finally moving on in the direction we had always hoped. We were overjoyed and felt the biggest relief ever!
One amazing aspect of our story is that our relief extends into the future as well because we do not have to worry about whether we can provide our beautiful daughter with a sibling. We only need to return to SGF, where her little siblings are waiting patiently, frozen in storage, and ask for a frozen embryo transfer (FET).
Dr. Yazigi of Shady Grove Fertility not only fulfilled our dreams for right now, but he fulfilled our dreams for our future. Additionally, he dignified us with a choice about our fertility. This is a choice that was not available to families several generations ago, a choice that remains unavailable to many families worldwide in developing countries. We feel awesomely empowered in a way that I hope many more couples are able to feel by seeking services from Shady Grove Fertility.
Our miracle baby
Our miracle was a baby girl born on New Year’s Eve of 2018. She was 8 pounds, 5 ounces, and 21 inches long. Being a new mom as a survivor of infertility is just as painfully exhausting as it is for any other mother of a newborn infant. However, she is the most beautiful, precious little person we have ever known, and we love her with a fierceness to which I hope and believe that every single reader of this story will one day feel, too.
My advice to others
My advice to current patients is to take some time to yourself if you need to. Experiencing infertility is difficult enough, so you do not to pressure yourself to humor every friend who invites you to a baby shower or makes an awkward comment about your infertility. Be honest about how you are feeling and how comments affect you. It is okay to unfollow pregnant friends on social media if you need to for a while. You are happy for them, but you need to be gentle and patient with yourself right now.
Take time alone or as a couple, perhaps go on a vacation. Trust your partner and speak honestly; this experience might actually make you stronger together. Be open with others about what you are going through and the treatment you are getting, as long as you are comfortable discussing it. There is a large amount of stigma surrounding infertility, and the more we talk about it, the more we normalize it and help each other through this experience.