It seems we all know someone who has struggled with infertility, and maybe that someone is you. I’m one of those 1 in 8 who struggled to get pregnant. I wanted to take a minute and share a bit of our story and hope that it may help contribute to the dialogue that once was considered taboo.
My husband and I were on the “older” side when we got married. I was in my later 30’s and my husband was early-mid 40’s. We were eager to start a family. About a year into our marriage we decided to pursue testing to help us figure out what may be hindering our ability to get pregnant. We approached it as a team and learned we had some male factor issues in addition to polyps in my uterus that were recommended be surgically removed. We were told IVF was really the best chance for us getting pregnant – Off we went on the adventure of a lifetime.
Of course no one really prepares you for the “new normal” you’ll experience with daily injections, blood work, and regular ultrasounds in preparing for your first egg retrieval. We had a good number of fertilized eggs, which resulted in 4 embryos. Sadly though just days into the New Year in 2016 we received the devastating news that none of our 4 embryos were viable. What this means is that they either had extra or missing chromosomes that would likely end in miscarriage. We were utterly heartbroken, but we rose up and proceeded to try again. After some changes to my protocol we underwent another egg retrieval and were able to get 3 embryos– The true test is if they’re viable with matching chromosomes. Women ask me if I recommend the PGS genetic testing and I definitely do. You reduce your chances of experiencing a miscarriage if you know ahead of time that your embryos are viable. I’ll never forget the call with our results that day- we got ONE viable embryo. My husband and I shared tears over the phone and felt pure gratitude for our little embaby.
At this point our one embryo was frozen and we chose to move forward with the recommendation to remove the polyps. A successful surgery happened, but after 3 months of healing the Dr. noticed some scar tissue in my uterus and felt it had to be surgically removed to enhance our chances of a successful embryo implantation. No one tells you about all of the waiting but you experience A LOT of it. On our second wedding anniversary in July of 2016, I underwent surgery to remove the scar tissue. It wasn’t quite the anniversary celebration I had envisioned, but it was these trying times that were a true testament of our love and actually brought us closer. During these months of healing we also learned our fertility doctor would be leaving the practice and we would be getting a new Dr. to oversee our case.
We moved forward with a scheduled embryo transfer date only to learn that things would be halted once again. A small bit of blood in my uterus was identified from one of my ultrasounds and alerted my doctor to have me stop all medications, take a pause and wait another month before starting up again. Our resilience to keep moving forward was tested with each setback, and we wondered how much more we could take. During a consultation with our new doctor he advised doing another ultrasound and identified up to five fibroids in my uterus (one was apparently even the size of an orange). Believe me when I tell you that your setbacks are there to help guide you closer to your ultimate destination. In October of 2016 I had surgery to remove the fibroids by an outside specialist. Everything went as planned, and after 3 months we were able to have a date scheduled for our first embryo transfer.
Fast forward to January of 2017. We experienced nothing short of a miracle watching our one embryo be transferred into me. Literally the size of a dot and one of the most beautiful images I had ever seen. It was an experience like no other. When I think back to that day, I’m still in awe of it all. Surrender and Let Go – these are mottos I lived by. One of the best pieces of advice from my acupuncturist was, “Stay off of Google.” It really does only cause more worry and more stress. I understood the importance of getting in a positive state of alignment and did everything I could do to mentally, physically and spiritually prepare myself to give us the best chances of implantation.
After the two-week wait, I got “the call” from my nurse saying the words we always wanted to hear– “You’re pregnant!!” It’s a feeling like no other and words we wanted to hear for so long; Complete tears of joy and a sense of relief knowing that our little fighter had buried himself/herself in my womb. Of course, we weren’t out of the clear yet. Many going through this journey celebrate each step along the way. More shots continued but this time a much larger needle, had to be injected into my buttocks. I’ll spare you the details, but I will tell you having been an athlete much of my life was a huge asset in the mental toughness game in giving myself these shots.
There’s definitely a special mindset that I feel is especially helpful going through this process. Being aware of your energy and open to all the supports around you is extremely powerful. My professional background as an Occupational Therapist provided a foundation for understanding how all of the pieces fit together – – the physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychosocial; It’s all relevant and important to consider when going through this process. At 37 weeks my husband and I met that little “dot” that hung on and fought to be here just as we had fought to meet her. Delivered via C-section, I was informed my uterus could no longer carry another child. With all the surgeries it had been through enough. It wasn’t until the delivery did my OB know I also had placenta increta which resulted in a lot of bleeding happening. Two blood transfusions and a few more complications later, we still believe that everything we went through was worth it.
Just having birthed a baby I was flooded with new inspiration and creativity in the months that followed. Call me crazy but somehow I decided THAT was a good time to start a business with a then 6-month-old. It was a calling I had to pursue. From setting up a website and launching a blog, to starting a coaching business focused on the area of mindset, I believe this process does not have to be as painful as many women experience it to be. My aim is to show others going through IVF and infertility that there is a way you can get through it all without losing yourself; You can actually experience “joy in the journey.”
I hope that in sharing our story it helps remove some of the stigma around infertility and gives others permission to be open in sharing theirs. There’s so much power when we as women come together, open up and share what’s heavy on our hearts. Never would I have thought that going through infertility was one of the best things that happened to me, but truly it was. I’ve chosen to turn my once was “pain” into my new purpose supporting other women in having a better experience on their path to motherhood.
Lisa is an IVF Mentor with a specialty in mindset around navigating through the emotional rollercoaster of IVF. She is available for personal coaching support. Learn more at www.ivfmanifestingamiracle.com.