Bruce and I were together for five years before we started discussing having a child together. Bruce had two sons from a previous marriage, while I had never been married and had no children of my own. We’re both school teachers and loved watching our students grow and learn. Bruce always knew that I wanted to have a baby, but the vasectomy Bruce had in 1998 left us unsure as to how to move forward with creating our own family.
The first thing we did was meet with an urologist in order to inquire about reversing Bruce's vasectomy. The diagnosis did not look good, as there was a strong possibility of scar tissue and other factors that would make the reversal success rate low.
Looking for Options
Our first visit to Shady Grove Fertility was in November of 2010. Neither one of us had any idea as to what in vitro fertilization (IVF) involved. Bruce was in his first year of graduate school and I was in the middle of my own graduate studies working toward a master’s degree. We were both working full time as school teachers. Still, we pushed forward and sat down to talk with one of the many wonderful doctors who make miracles happen on a daily basis. The entire visit lasted about an hour and we talked to a number of very nice people about the procedures, medicines, financial cost, and the timeline for it to all happen. Needless to say, that was when the reality of having a baby hit both of us like a ton of bricks. We knew that we needed more time to think and pray on our decision to bring a baby into the world.
In June of 2013, we made another appointment with the doctors at Shady Grove Fertility to discuss the reality of us getting pregnant. We were ready in every possibly way, and knew that this was our time. Bruce was a year away from turning 50 and a bit nervous to say the least. Enter Dr. Jason Bromer, one of Shady Grove Fertility’s excellent doctors. As we talked about how I would get pregnant, Dr. Bromer looked at both of us and explained that there would be no problem with Bruce being the biological father. I was certain the doctor had not heard us when we had explained to him that Bruce had had a vasectomy years ago and another doctor had said a successful reversal would be nearly impossible. Again, Dr. Bromer smiled reassuringly and told us that there were other ways besides a reversal. “After all,” he went on to say, “with a reversal, the two of you will always have to worry yourselves with birth control.”
This is when I knew the stars and planets had aligned perfectly to make the prospect of having a baby a reality! Dr. Bromer gave us the name of an excellent urologist in Washington, D.C. named Dr. Chen. We were dizzy with excitement. Dr. Bromer went on to share with us the chances of us getting pregnant on our first try. He said some other things to which I paid little attention. He could have said just about anything, but I didn’t care. We were going to have a baby. Our baby!
Beginning the Treatment Process
We would spend most of the summer of 2013 in one of two places, the Shady Grove Fertility office in Rockville, Maryland or the one in Frederick, Maryland. Still, we had it good, as there were patients making these trips from all over the world.
Our first order of business was to check out my anatomy. I underwent a mock embryo transfer, HSG, and hysteroscopy in order to remove a polyp. I was also put on birth control for a cycle before starting the injections. I did not know anything about the IVF process prior to starting, but the staff at Shady Grove Fertility was wonderful and walked us through all of it. Bruce also had to have a procedure to retrieve the sperm we would use, which was very successful.
In the middle of August, I was finally given my prescription of injections to take. We used Gonal F and Gonirelex. It was, and still is for me, a miracle of modern science. Each night for nearly two weeks Bruce gave me a series of injections to stimulate the growth of eggs that the doctor would later retrieve for fertilization.
On September 1, 2013 we were given the okay that egg retrieval would happen on Tuesday, September 3rd. We were excited, but nervous about what would happen, what would follow, and what the doctors might tell us. We knew I had a number of mature eggs, but we didn’t know how many of them they would be able to retrieve, let alone how many of them would fertilize. After what seemed like an eternity, I was recovering from the anesthesia and the doctor was telling us that they had retrieved 10 healthy eggs! Each one was successfully fertilized by the team of doctors at Shady Grove Fertility.
Dr. Bromer decided to allow the embryos five days to fully develop. This – for me – is when nature takes over and does what she does best. Over the course of waiting, two of the embryos did not develop. Three more eventually did not survive, leaving us with five embryos. September 8, 2013 at 11:15 was our scheduled embryo transfer. Keep in mind, we had just gotten married three days before and we had a contract on a house.
On that morning, the two of us awoke like excited children on Christmas morning. Nervous, anxious, and excited barely described how we felt. However, we were determined to get pregnant. There were no other options. This was it! That morning we drove to the Rockville office where I, in an emotional but strong voice, confirmed that I understood we were having two embryos transferred. Through tear-filled eyes, we watched the monitor as the medical staff showed us our two “babies” and then ever so carefully brought them into the transfer room. With precision unmatched by any machine, the doctor transferred the embryos into my uterus and in a soft voice announced that it was over and all went well. We cried even more and as far as we were concerned, we were pregnant. Now we had to play the waiting game.
The Two Week Wait
The two weeks after the embryo transfer are the hardest and most difficult time. We, along with everyone else who goes through IVF, had to wait two weeks before we would find out whether or not we were pregnant. I won’t say it is a cruel wait, but it is agonizing. We were told to skip the over-the-counter pregnancy tests and wait patiently. Of course I couldn't wait, and took three OTC pregnancy tests. In a strange twist, all three came back inconclusive. Lesson learned: wait for the real results.
Thursday, September 19, 2013 was the day that I was scheduled for my pregnancy test. We also had a 3:30 appointment to settle on our house and a 6:00 flight to Wisconsin to catch. It was a busy day indeed, but full of happy thoughts. I went to the doctor’s first thing in the morning before heading to school. We had no idea as to how long it would take for someone to call with the results. Bruce bugged me most of the morning and into the early afternoon hoping to hear good news. Finally, I received the best call ever - WE WERE PREGNANT! I interrupted Bruce in the middle of a meeting, and asked him to step outside. Through tears, I told Bruce that our prayers were answered, and I was pregnant.
Neither of us has any idea what happened during the rest of the day. Somehow we signed all of the papers to buy our house, boarded a plane, and made it to Wisconsin. It all seemed like a blur, though, in the light of our most exciting news.
Welcoming Olive to the Family
We were blessed with a healthy baby girl, Olive Rose, on May 31, 2014. She was born at 6:15 p.m., and was 8 lbs, 7 oz, 21 3/4 inches long. We have spent the past seven months sharing our new house with our beautiful baby, and learning how to be the best parents possible. I have finished my second master’s degree, while Bruce is nearing completion on his doctoral studies.
Kim’s Advice for Future Patients
We found that the most helpful factor for us was talking to others and gaining support from family and friends. So often, people who are going through IVF feel a need to hide their journey. While there was certainly fear and anxiety that our treatment might not be successful, we kept the faith throughout. In sharing our struggles, questions, and concerns with others, we found that there were many other people on similar roads who also need a shoulder or an ear or a friend.