My husband Chris and I have been married for almost six years, and both of us waited a long time to find our perfect match. I was 34 when we were married, and Chris was 44. While we were dating and engaged, we lived in different states, so we were so excited to finally live under the same roof after our wedding. Chris and I love spending time together — traveling, hiking, going to concerts, doing yard work, and trying new restaurants. Our jobs also keep us busy — I’m a speech-language pathologist in the public schools and Chris works full-time in church music ministry.
Chris and I always knew we wanted to have children, but we also wanted to enjoy our time as a newly married couple. We were both aware of the one in eight statistic of infertility (especially given our ages), but we never thought that we would be included. Friends and family would tell us “You have plenty of time” or “There’s no reason to be worried.” When we were ready to start growing our family (at ages 36 and 46) we were cautiously optimistic. After a year of trying to get pregnant on our own and experiencing a menstrual cycle that was becoming more irregular, we knew it was time to act. My OB-GYN referred us to Shady Grove Fertility (SGF). We had our first virtual appointment with Dr. Ricardo Yazigi in July of 2020.
Chris and I agreed to begin as soon as possible with initial lab work, exams, and genetic testing. Chris’s exams and bloodwork revealed some numbers that were at the lower end of the average, but nothing that raised a red flag. For me, a hysterosalpingography (HSG) revealed a possible blocked Fallopian tube and a possible uterine polyp. A follow-up saline sonogram confirmed the possible presence of a uterine polyp, so in November 2020 my OB/GYN performed a hysteroscopy to remove the polyp. While we were thrilled that no significant issues were found, it was frustrating at the same time. With unexplained infertility, there is no one thing that they could point to as the cause of our problems getting pregnant.
Following a repeat saline sonogram and additional bloodwork, we were cleared to start our first round of timed intercourse in January 2021. Unfortunately, our first round of timed intercourse was unsuccessful; however, we decided to try another cycle of timed intercourse right away.
After our second round of timed intercourse was unsuccessful, we had another virtual appointment with Dr. Yazigi to discuss the plan for moving forward. We expected that the next step for us would be intrauterine insemination (IUI), but Dr. Yazigi suggested moving forward with in vitro fertilization (IVF). Even though our infertility was classified as unexplained, he felt that IVF would be the best move for us especially given both of our ages. Chris and I were scared at the idea of beginning IVF sooner than we thought. Not only is IVF more complicated, but I think we felt like we were jumping directly into what we saw as our last treatment option much sooner than we had expected.
Before beginning IVF, Dr. Yazigi wanted me to undergo another saline sonogram to make sure that my uterus was still free of any cysts or polyps to give us the best chance for transferred embryos to implant. The repeat sonogram revealed cysts and polyps that were either still in my uterus or had formed since the previous hysteroscopy. Dr. Yazigi strongly recommended that the next hysteroscopy be done on-site at SGF. In order to undergo this procedure at SGF (which involved me being under anesthesia) it was also recommended that I concentrate on losing some weight to be in compliance with SGF’s medical safety policies and also to improve my overall health during fertility treatments.
As it turned out, taking a break to focus on something else was exactly what I needed! Between February and July 2021, we took a break from thinking about fertility treatments and I focused on starting to change my exercise and eating habits. The goal of being able to begin IVF was the best motivator for me! By July 2021, I had lost 20 pounds and after a repeat hysteroscopy we were ready to start our first round of IVF.
In early September 2021 I underwent egg retrieval, and nine eggs were retrieved and six of those eggs were successfully fertilized. Chris and I were thrilled with the results, but we had also learned that only 30-50% of those fertilized eggs will likely reach the blastocyst stage on day five. Based on Dr. Yazigi’s recommendations, we knew that the plan was to transfer two embryos. The embryo transfer was performed by Dr. Beall, and when we arrived at SGF on transfer day, we were shocked and pleasantly surprised when she told us that all 6 of our embryos had reached the blastocyst stage!
Because I experienced an unusual amount of discomfort with the passing of the uterine catheter during previous HSG’s and saline sonograms, I had asked to be sedated during the embryo transfer. Dr. Yazigi honored this request and Dr. Beall was able to perform this crucial procedure beautifully.
Chris and I both have a strong Christian faith, which was simultaneously challenged and strengthened throughout our fertility journey. I, especially, am not a very patient person and my faith and patience were fortified in ways that I didn’t think were possible! Through this difficult process, our faith gave us such hope that a plan for us to be parents was in place, even if we didn’t quite understand what that plan was.
The next ten days were the longest we have ever experienced as we waited for the results of our pregnancy test. We tried our best to keep busy with fun activities as a couple so that we didn’t dwell on the waiting. Again, we remained cautiously optimistic, knowing that IVF would likely not work on our very first try. I was at work when I listened to the voicemail from SGF saying that the blood test had detected the pregnancy hormone — we were pregnant after our very first round of IVF!
I was speechless and almost couldn’t believe that we finally received this kind of news. I knew that I would still have to go through some additional bloodwork and examinations over the next few weeks, but having a positive pregnancy test was nothing short of miraculous. On my way home from work I bought a pregnancy test at the drugstore, just so I could see the positive result up close with my own two eyes. Plus, I was able to wrap up the home pregnancy test and give it to Chris to share the news in a way that was fun and “normal” (compared to everything else that goes along with the fertility process). At our 6-week ultrasound, we got another surprise — both transferred embryos had successfully implanted, and we were having twins!
I loved being pregnant and had a pretty typical and uncomplicated pregnancy. Because I was considered to be of advanced maternal age and was carrying twins, I was very closely monitored so I knew the twins and I were in good hands. Our twin boys came into the world by planned C-section on May 10, 2022, at just over 37 weeks. They just turned eight months old and by the grace of God are happy and healthy.
We continue to be in awe of the miracle of conceiving and giving birth to a child (or two children at the same time, for us)! When you have issues with fertility it’s amazing (and sometimes maddening) to think that this whole process occurs naturally for many couples. Every time we hold our babies and watch them reach new milestones, we are so thankful for the knowledge and compassion of all the doctors, nurses, and technicians. They literally changed our lives by helping us to grow our family. Our story is certainly not what we had planned when we met, got engaged, and got married. But, it’s our story and we are incredibly blessed.
When you’re in the middle of your journey it’s so easy to become discouraged and to second-guess yourself. I remember being so discouraged one evening (after seeing yet another pregnancy announcement on social media) that I just collapsed face-down on the floor of our family room crying, praying, begging, and telling myself how stupid we were for waiting so long to start a family. Would it have even made a difference? Ultimately, we learned that timing is everything — even if we don’t realize it at the moment. If we had started with SGF even a few months earlier, our fertility journey would have likely been derailed by COVID, perhaps right in the middle of an IVF cycle. If we waited just a little longer to start with IVF, we would not have been able to continue working with Dr. Yazigi for the entire process, as he retired at the end of 2021.
Another thing we learned is this: don’t feel pressure to share your fertility story with anyone until you’re ready. My husband and I had such a hard time processing everything that we were going through and didn’t have the mental and emotional strength to share our story with anyone else until we reached a certain point in our fertility journey. Share what you want, with whom you want, when you want — that’s up to you and your partner and no one else!
I love sharing my story with other women who are experiencing infertility because I felt like I had no one to talk to who knew first-hand what I was going through. I found such comfort in talking with people who had also experienced infertility and am still surprised by how many of us are out there. Every time I sat in the waiting room of SGF I was struck by how many women there are of all different ages, shapes, sizes, races, and ethnicities. Always remember, 1:8. Have faith, and take care of yourself and your partner through the process. It can be the best journey ever!