Patient Story

Sarah & Jason

Stephen J. Greenhouse, M.D.
Fair Oaks, Virginia
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
My husband and I had always discussed adopting children rather than having our own, but once you find the right partner and you get older, your perspective changes. So does your outlook on family building. So after much discussion, we decided to try and get pregnant, never thinking for a moment that we would have any problems conceiving.
After trying by ourselves the ‘old-fashioned way’ for a few months without success, my gynecologist made an appointment for me with a local reproductive endocrinologist. They ran the gamut of tests on my husband and me, and everything was fine. No uterine problems, no ovarian issues, FSH was actually awesome, and the boys were fit and healthy and swimming like champions.
So we started on Clomid and timed intercourse… seven times with no success. Then we got new insurance at work which, believe it or not in VA, covered fertility treatment. We moved on to a new drug with timed intercourse for two cycles. After two more negative pregnancy tests, we moved on to injectables and IUI: five cycles with no success. It was time to pull out the big guns.

The big guns… IVF with ICSI

We did two insurance-covered In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) cycles with our local Reproductive Endocrinologist and our results were not great. But the first cycle told us what our problem was: we had seven healthy eggs, a petri dish full of good swimmers, but neither one could find the other. Their GPS was malfunctioning… typical men, wouldn’t ask for directions to the nearest healthy egg! Since they could not find each other to fertilize, we added Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to our protocol.
Our first cycle with rescue ICSI was not expected to be successful, and indeed it wasn’t. During cycle number two, I responded much better, getting 12 good, healthy eggs, but still a negative pregnancy test. Now our insurance had run out. Weighing the options ahead of us, we decided to switch fertility centers and despite the two-and-a-half-hour distance, we decided to see Dr. Stephen Greenhouse at Shady Grove Fertility’s Fair Oaks office.
When we started out on our journey to parenthood, we agreed that if we didn’t get pregnant using low-tech methods we wouldn’t move on to IVF. It is incomprehensible how that outlook changes once you and your partner have invested – emotionally and physically – as much as you absolutely can to get through this journey.

Getting a second opinion

When we met with Dr. Greenhouse, he took the time we needed to go over what we had already done, and his recommendations for changing that protocol. We applied for and were granted a Shared Risk discount, and received the Multi-Cycle Discount as well. So off we went, onto IVF cycle number three, hoping for the best.
I made the two-and-a-half-hour drive for every monitoring appointment, and with each one, our hopes got a little higher. I was responding better to the drug regimen than I had in the past. But by this time – three years and 16 medicated and IVF cycles later – we were both emotionally and physically exhausted, and too wary to get overly excited about anything just yet.
We went for the egg retrieval again, without getting our hopes too high. As I came out of the anesthesia, all I remember is my husband with a stupid Cheshire-cat grin on his face… 22 was all he said. I couldn’t believe my ears: 22 eggs. No wonder my poor little ovaries had been so achy! Five days later we transferred two awesome little blasts and two weeks later we got a positive pregnancy test. Overjoyed doesn’t even begin to describe it. We were on cloud nine for about eight more weeks, until I started bleeding and no heartbeat could be detected on ultrasound; our little miracle just wasn’t strong enough.
I had a D&C and took a few months off to recover. But I was ready to get back on the horse by the end of the year. I needed to keep moving forward, and we were fortunate enough to have some frozen embryos just waiting to be transferred. So that is what we did. Two weeks later, we got another positive pregnancy test. Higher numbers this time; our little Popsicle wasn’t going anywhere this time around.
As I write this, I am 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant with our little girl. I can feel her objecting to the cramped quarters and despite that, I still sometimes can’t believe that we are here, so close to holding our baby in our arms. This journey to parenthood is the hardest thing we have ever done. It is exhausting: emotionally, mentally and physically. It will test your commitment to the process and to each other, and hopefully, as it did with us, it will bring you so much closer. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that this is not the case. But I will guarantee you one thing, without hesitation or caveat; it is absolutely, unequivocally worth it!

My advice to other patients

Our journey to parenthood took us through almost the entire gamut of treatment options. For many people, advanced fertility treatment is not necessary, but until you find out if there even is a problem, there is no way to find the right course of action. Take the first step. Make an appointment and find out what is going on and what you can do to increase your chances of conception.
Update: Sarah and Jason are the proud parents of Lilyanne. They plan to return to Dr. Greenhouse soon to try for a brother or sister for their little girl.


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