Morgan & Joe
Patient Story

Morgan & Joe

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Gilbert L. Mottla, M.D.
Annapolis, Maryland
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
My husband, Joe, and I have been together for nine years, married for five. We met while I was in high school and started dating just as I was finishing college. As soon as we were married, we decided to stop actively preventing pregnancy and thought we would see how things played out. I took a “work at home” job because we thought “this will be great when we have a child,” but it just wasn’t happening. As the years passed, I found myself getting more and more discouraged.
In the meantime, I had gone back to school and completed my MBA, and my husband went back to school and finished his undergraduate degree in Education. We did other things to pass the time: my husband became a triathlete, and we renovated our house. Eventually I got tired of working from home. I felt isolated, and I felt like I was just waiting to get pregnant- which obviously wasn’t happening. I decided to become a consultant and started traveling for work.
Unfortunately, as my husband was a full-time student and not currently working, we lost our health insurance that included fertility benefits. The self-employment health insurance I carried was not only very expensive but also without those types of benefits. We had to wait until my husband finished school and got the great health insurance benefits from being a teacher before we could start with Shady Grove Fertility. As soon as we received our insurance cards, I made the appointment online. It was the best decision I ever made.

Seeing a specialist

When I first set up my appointment with Shady Grove Fertility, I was terrified. I thought for sure they would tell me that there was no hope of us ever having a baby. In fact, I cried during my very first meeting with Dr. Gilbert Mottla just explaining to him our history and how much we wanted a baby. He assured me that he would help us have a baby. He was so positive and reassuring that there was very little room for doubt in my mind. Maybe that’s just part of their technique, removing the doubt and worry and taking the stress and burden of getting pregnant off of your shoulders and carrying it for you. I left there feeling like a weight had been lifted. Someone smarter than me was on it, and I could trust him.
Several times over the better part of a decade I asked my doctors (both PCP and OBGYN) if they thought I had PCOS. I had read many articles and knew I exhibited most of the symptoms. Unfortunately, I kept testing negative on the blood test. At my very first appointment with Dr. Mottla, he did an ultrasound and I was diagnosed with what I had expected all along, PCOS. As I like to describe it, my ovaries looked like pomegranates. Dr. Mottla said I simply didn’t show up on the blood test and that, although rare, it happens sometimes. Had one doctor taken the time to do this simple ultrasound I could have been saved years of heartache.

Preparing for treatment

In order to get my body to a baseline 0, we had to do several things. It was frustrating to know that we had several months of waiting before we could really even start with IUI treatments, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and I felt like I was at least headed in the right direction. I had to have a D&C done because the lining of my uterus was too thick. Then they found a polyp that needed to be removed, and I had a second D&C. Dr. Mottla wanted me to go through three months of birth control, which I am extremely sensitive to, in order to “give my uterus a rest” and let my lining remain thin. He also put me on metformin for the PCOS but I developed a severe, rare, allergic reaction to it. I am now the proud owner of 2 EPI pens.
When it was finally time to begin treatments, I was so excited I could barely stand it. All of our cycles involved Clomid, Follistim, and Ovidrel. The first cycle was a chemical pregnancy. Of course, at that time I didn’t know what a chemical pregnancy was, so I got extremely excited when the home pregnancy test read “pregnant”. I actually took a test that said “pregnant” or “not pregnant” because the tests with the lines were so faint, which turned out to be a big indicator of a chemical pregnancy.
In a healthy pregnancy, the line will continue to get darker every day. My husband, who is much more level-headed, kept telling me not to get my hopes up, but it was impossible. I was so angry with him for being negative. And then I was so angry with him when I found out it wasn’t a pregnancy that would stick, just because he was right. Fertility drugs don’t inspire rationality.
We had to cancel the second round and abstain from sex because I was overstimulated. I can’t tell you how long that month was. I was so frustrated. But I took the break in stride and had a few glasses of wine, got a break from all the “crazy” drugs, and tried to just look forward to the next cycle. Of course, SGF considered this a positive, since I was making mature follicles.

Our winner

The third round was our winner! By week five, even before testing, I wondered if I was pregnant because I was extremely nauseous. This time, when I took the home test, the line was getting darker every day. I was much more confident of this being a real pregnancy, though I was scared to get excited. When they finally confirmed that I was pregnant, it was surreal. I couldn’t even be excited because my husband wouldn’t let us tell anyone for the first 12 weeks, just because we were so nervous. Also, I was extremely sick. For the first 34 weeks of my pregnancy, I had actually lost weight.
One thing we did, that I wanted to add, is the night of the IUI we always had sex. It seems silly but I said to myself “now we will never know if it was us or the IUI”. Somehow it made me feel like it was a lot less clinical and more loving. After all the vaginal ultrasounds, timed intercourse, and other non-romantic things, it helped add some magic back in.

The team at Shady Grove Fertility was so excited for me. The entire time Dr. Mottla and our nurse, Dana, acted as if it were only a matter of time and the right combination of fertility treatments. Never once did I get the impression that they felt like it wouldn’t happen for us. Having someone believe in you to that extent really helps you believe in yourself.

A few more bumps in the road

After I left Shady Grove Fertility, I went back to my OBGYN practice. Around 19 weeks, the week I was due to have my anatomy ultrasound, I began to feel like something was wrong. I had a lot of pain and pressure. I went to my practice and told them that I wanted a cerclage (which I had read about on the internet), but they said they didn’t feel like there was anything wrong with my pregnancy and that they don’t do cerclages unless you have a history of losses. I explained to them that it took me five years to get pregnant and that I would not risk this pregnancy simply because I didn’t have a history of losses.
I decided that night to get a second opinion, and Dr. Sweeney, a high-risk MFM, agreed to see me the next morning. We did the anatomy ultrasound and I got to see my sweet, perfect baby boy. Then he told me that there was a problem. Apparently, I was 1 cm. dilated, completely effaced, and the membranes were already exposed. Needless to say, I was hysterical. I was rushed to the hospital, put in trendelenburg position (where you are laying down with your legs and feet elevated above your head), and the following morning they were going to attempt a cerclage if I had regained enough cervix. It was nerve-wracking. They gave me two sleepy pills, and I still lay awake all night.
I could only imagine that I had this perfect baby inside of me and my body was failing us. That night I tried everything I could think of – prayers, meditation, visualization, tapping – and apparently that, combined with the love and prayers from our friends and family, gave us a miracle. The next morning I had regained 3 cm. of cervix, my cervix had un-dilated, and the membranes had receded on their own. They were able to put in the cerclage and I was sent home a day later on strict bed rest.
During my bed rest, losing my mind to worry and thinking that at any moment I would go into preterm labor and lose our boy, my best friend convinced me that I needed to pick a date in the future when he would be “safe” and just hold that date in my mind. I’m not a very religious or spiritual person, but I did what she asked. I even put his “birthdate” in my phone calendar and sent her a picture of it via text message. I remained on bed rest for 19 weeks until I delivered a healthy baby boy at 35 weeks and five days, due to preeclampsia.

Ethan’s birthday

I was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 11, 2013. They weren’t sure if they were going to deliver me that night or the next morning. After looking at my labs and the very busy schedule that night, they decided at around 11:30 p.m. that they would deliver us the next morning.
As we were getting ready for bed, I asked my husband if he would plug my phone in to charge. Since it was midnight, my phone lit up and all the calendar appointments for the next day appeared on my screen.
My husband laughed and looked at me and said “You already put his birthday in your phone?” Confused, I asked him to hand it to me. I had completely forgotten, but I had programmed the exact date, December 12th, 2013 as “Ethan’s Birthday”. I was covered in goosebumps. I explained to my husband that I had done that months ago.
When he didn’t believe me, I pulled up the text message that I had sent to my best friend, dated Sept. 6, 2013, with the picture of the calendar. A picture really is worth 1000 words. He would have never believed me otherwise.
I’m not sure if it was just pure coincidence, mother’s intuition, or divine intervention (maybe a combination of all three), but somehow I predicted our son’s birth date. I will NEVER underestimate the power of positive thinking ever again. All this proves to me is we have no idea what we are capable of.
I will admit, during our fertility process, I took a little time to feel sorry for myself and mourn the years we wasted prior to coming to Shady Grove Fertility. Now I just think that maybe we had to wait on our little man to be ready for us. Or maybe we had to be ready for him. I’m not sure. Maybe we had to accomplish those life goals we had set, like grad school for me and teaching for my husband, which would have been much harder to do had we had our child.

My advice to other patients

Unfortunately, I would probably tell them all the cliche things that I couldn’t stand hearing- stay positive, it will happen, everything happens for a reason, etc. The one thing I would tell them is that the sooner you bite that bullet and make the appointment with Shady Grove Fertility, the closer you are to having your sweet baby.
Don’t let your fear of the unknown keep you from getting to the root of the problem the way we did. Shady Grove Fertility is a safe place. Everyone is rooting for you, and you are no longer alone. Just like that, you have a team of people helping you and supporting you to your goal. It’s so relieving.


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Infertility terms
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
Polycystic ovary syndrome

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Dr. Gilbert Mottla
Annapolis, Maryland location
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