Mark and I had a passionate, loving relationship from the start. I knew almost immediately that I wanted to have children with him. It took 4 years for Mark to come to the same conclusion.
Early on, I found out that Mark had a vasectomy. When I met him, he was coming out of a painful divorce that included two little girls. As much as he loved me, he was not at all interested in having any more children. I was torn between choosing to stay with Mark or pursue my dream of a family. At the time, I didn’t know there were any other options. I talked to my OB/GYN about the dilemma and she suggested I make an appointment with Shady Grove Fertility and discuss possible alternatives.
The “Donor Sperm” Solution
I had my new patient appointment with Dr. Osborn at the D.C. office in October of 2009. I immediately liked Dr. Osborn. I liked how she laid the options in a logical manner—first, intrauterine insemination (IUI), if unsuccessful, move to in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, IUI with donor sperm costs about $3,200 per trial and it takes about six IUI trials before moving to IVF. With either approach, because of my age, my chances of success were relatively low.
I left the office feeling relieved to have made up my mind: I will not pursue fertility treatment, thank you Dr. Osborn for giving me all the facts.
I never abandoned the idea of trying, but I went on exploring other paths. Mark did agree to have his vasectomy reversed, a procedure that was painful and ultimately unsuccessful. Mark was now even more determined that this was nature’s way of saying “no more kids.” After months of soul-searching, I decided to go back to SGF and explore the IUI with donor sperm option. Mark was there with me at the mandatory pre-cycle social worker’s appointment, but he refused to sign the “partner’s agreement.” This meant that I was going to go through the process alone. Given the complicated reality, I decided to go on and see what happens. Despite all, Mark and I stayed together and our relationship grew stronger every day.
IUI treatment did not agree with me. I had little hope that it would work, and I disliked every step of the way—choosing the donor profile from a website, traveling to a busy, industrial area to pick up the sperm tanks, fearing missing the ovulation, and swiping my credit card for thousands of dollars for something that seemed completely foolish! I was not surprised by the “negative test” call. It felt like it was just the wrong approach. I did two more rounds of IUI. All of them failed.
In the eve of 2012, Mark said that he never liked the idea of donor sperm and he wanted us to move on to in vitro fertilization (IVF) where we can use his sperm.
We got married in February of 2012. Also in February, I started my first IVF cycle. It was all very surreal—I had a dedicated “injection” room, I measured every dose over and over in fear of messing up. But as my daily monitoring appointments went on and nurses were happy with progress, I started to relax and to look forward to the retrieval day. I was super excited to go for the retrieval and welcomed the post-op tummy pain. Overall, I felt good through the entire process. Even distractions like an ovarian cyst at the beginning of my cycle did not dampen my enthusiasm. I had a beautiful batch of fertilized embryos, five of which made it to the blastocyst stage. I had two of them transferred and froze the other three.
The 2 week wait began. I distracted myself every way I knew—I filled my calendar with movies, theatre, bike rides (as I couldn’t run), swimming, and good food. I was nervous but wanted to feel like things were on the right track.On the day of my test, I looked in the mirror and saw a face that was red-cheeked and plump like the one of an expectant mom. I was so sure I was pregnant!
The message from my nurse, Carrie Andrews, was positive but cautious; I was pregnant, but my counts were rather on the low end. Three days later, my counts had come down. A day after I received the phone call, I got my period. It was so painful that I stayed home on strong painkillers. Carrie said that this was perhaps because of the build-up of my wonderful lining! What an irony!
Once again, the call from Dr. Osborn was comforting and reassuring. I was in a Multi-Cycle Discount Program, so I had a “free” cycle available to me. Also, the frozen embryo transfer is less intense with fewer medications. As much as I was saddened, I decided to go through this next cycle and perhaps through more.
On the day of my frozen embryo transfer, I remember Dr. Osborn recommending transferring all three embryos. Perhaps I misunderstood, but when I went to Rockville, the embryologists had only two ready (one still in the freezer). I was okay with it, though; I wasn’t going to shake things. So, we went with two.
I was a lot calmer during the 2 week wait this time. I read through blogs and patient stories, looked for support groups, and just prepared myself for a possibly longer journey.
It was in this spirit that I received the distinctly upbeat message from Carrie, telling me that my counts were fantastic (in the 2000s). After the second blood test, there was no doubt that things were progressing nicely.
There was one more “chock” in my journey. At my first ultrasound we saw two heartbeats and only one at the second. I was terrified that I was going to lose the second one down the road. But this dark thought was the only downer for the next 7 months. I had a healthy pregnancy, which culminated in January of 2013 with my precious daughter, Anabel.
An Unexpected Bonus
I had always wanted a family, and to me this meant two children, maybe three. I knew I had waited too long to begin the process. At 43, it was very unlikely that I would get so lucky again. Nevertheless, I made an appointment to see Dr. Osborn, partly out of nostalgia, partly to show her the pictures of Anabel, and partly to discuss what seemed to be a remote possibility of trying for another baby. True to her form, Dr. Osborn walked me through the facts and said that if it didn’t work I already had my bundle of joy. I couldn’t agree more.
In February of 2014, I had a frozen embryo transfer with my one “misdirected” frozen embryo and I got pregnant! Sadly, this pregnancy ended after 8 weeks, after we had seen a heartbeat. At that point, my family wanted to call it a day. Mark, even my mom, thought it was absolutely exhausting to go through another fresh cycle with all of its costs. But I just couldn’t quit. Once again, Dr. Osborn was by my side, she said that all of my medical indicators were excellent and it was not at all unreasonable to go through another round of IVF.
In August of 2014, I was pregnant again and in April of 2015 I had my beautiful boy, Mark Francis (Frankie). There isn’t a day that goes by without Mark saying to me “Thank you for convincing me to go through all this with you! Thank you for my son!”
I can never express the joy I’ve received from coming in touch with SGF. The pride and gratitude I feel when I share pictures of my kids with Dr. Osborn and Carrie, the desire to give the world something as large and significant as what I have received from SGF!
Don’t let the cost or your age discourage you. Staying the course with Shady Grove Fertility is the best treat you can ever offer to yourself.