My husband Josh and I always moved quickly! We were married four months after meeting and decided to start trying right away to build our family. My periods had always been irregular, so I was concerned it would be an issue. However, we were very fortunate and people joked that I was a “fertile myrtle” since we got pregnant so easily. We were blessed with our daughter Hannah’s birth one year after we were married. Never in a million years did a future struggle with infertility cross our minds after this!
Experiencing secondary infertility
We had hoped to have our children close in age, so when Hannah turned one, we immediately started trying to conceive again. I wasn’t concerned at first, but after a few months passed, I began to get worried. My periods had stopped altogether and I had ended up on Provera more times than I cared to count in order to have a cycle. After actively trying to conceive for over a year, I went to my OB and he prescribed Clomid. Josh and I thought that this was it—a baby was going to happen! Unfortunately, the Clomid did not work for us after three cycles with timed intercourse.
We ended up moving out of state at that point and had decided to try naturally again. We still did not think we had a “major” problem since we had Hannah naturally and my pregnancy and delivery were exceptionally great. At the two year mark, I had an HSG completed and we ended up pregnant that cycle! We were thrilled, but I was scared because something felt “off” for me. When I was supposed to be 9 ½ weeks pregnant, I started bleeding on Mother’s Day. The baby measured only six weeks. Josh and I were devastated with our loss, but again started trying to complete our family.
We ended up going to a fertility clinic (not Shady Grove Fertility, as we lived far from a SGF clinic). All of our tests came back normal, with the exception of my PCOS diagnosis. At this point, we did three back-to-back (six in total) IUIs with Clomid. On our last cycle, I had five eggs release. We decided to go ahead with the IUI and were mentally preparing for multiples. When we failed that cycle, it was unacceptable to me. It felt like we had lost another baby although I hadn’t been pregnant this time. We were so sure it would work, but it was yet another devastating blow.
Moving to Shady Grove Fertility
Another move out of state led us to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was here that I became familiar with Shady Grove Fertility. On our first visit with Dr. O’Brien, we knew this was it. She took our case seriously even though we had conceived naturally on our own twice before. She laid out the plans of IVF and gave us hope that our family would be complete. Again, all our testing came back normal. 4 ½ years after starting our journey to conceive a second child, we were starting our roller coaster ride. Right before we started our cycle, I had a dream that I had just delivered a baby girl and she was lying on my chest. Our oldest daughter was standing beside me in the dream, so I knew it could not be her. It gave me a feeling of peace we would be successful, and our baby would be a girl.
We had one chance for everything to work and prayed with everything we had left. At our egg retrieval, I had 11 eggs. We had banked on every single egg fertilizing, so when I got the call the next day that NONE had fertilized, I was hysterically crying. After my dream, this was not what we expected! We felt as if our entire journey was over once again before we had a fair chance. It turned out we had a male factor issue that had never been diagnosed because it didn’t become visible until we went through IVF—the sperm did not bind to eggs. How we had conceived naturally before was a miracle!
Thankfully, the staff at SGF is top-notch. They were able to perform rescue ICSI on five of my eggs—but we had to wait until the next day to see if any of those five fertilized. The call the next morning was spectacular news—four had fertilized! Now the waiting began to see which embryos would continue to develop. We prayed and prayed for our embryos to continue to divide and conquer. Each morning I had a sense of dread that something would happen and it took all I had to answer the phone, waiting for the report. In the end, two of the embryos made it! Although at first Dr. O’Brien only recommended one embryo to transfer, due to the unforeseen circumstances we ran into, she recommended we transfer both. So, we transferred our two perfect embryos.
The next day I started feeling really sick and although I had been following the diet to keep ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) at bay, it still found me. Josh took me to Rockville and I had to get fluid drained from my belly. It felt as though we faced one obstacle after another and my hope was falling that we would be pregnant after all this. Josh held fast to his hope and refused to believe anything other than we would complete our family.
Thankfully, we did indeed get pregnant. Out of 11 eggs, none fertilized naturally. Rescue ICSI fertilized four, two made it to transfer, and one stuck around! Graduation day from SGF was one of the best feelings we ever experienced!
Jaime’s advice for future patients
Never give up! It is much easier said than done when obstacles arise but continue on. My only regret is not reaching out sooner. I had initially visited my OB/GYN for fertility help, which I think many people do. However, one piece of advice really helped make my decision to move on. An OB’s job is to care for pregnant women, but an RE’s job is to ensure pregnancy occurs.