I am just like any other average 30-something woman. I work full time as a dentist and practice owner, as well as a full-time wife and dog mom. As fulfilling as my work and home life are, my husband and I have always wanted children. I completely understand that kids are not everyone’s cup of tea, but we both knew long before we were married that we wanted to be parents someday. The only snare in the fantasy we imagined was the unforeseen difficulties that we would face trying to conceive.
I stopped taking birth control in March of 2017, following a vacation to Trinidad and Tobago for Carnival. We wanted to allow adequate time to detox from the hormones I had been bombarding my reproductive system with for a decade. Despite our best efforts to track ovulation, body temperature, cervical mucus, and use technology to bring a baby into the world we were still a family of three, including our Boston Terrier, Rocky. We went so far as having testing to see if fertility treatments were the next step we should pursue.
As soon as we received our inconclusive test results from the fertility center, we discovered that I was PREGNANT! The immediate shock and joy we felt was the single happiest day I can remember. June 10, 2018 was spectacular; the sun was shining brighter, the birds were chirping more beautifully, and nothing could ruin my high. Nothing that is until July 4, 2018. I began the holiday with spotting, cramping, and back pain–but chalked it up to hormones and my body generally being sore because of the transformation taking place. Little did I know, our ray of hope would soon be extinguished.
My husband rushed me to the hospital where my OB/GYN was on staff, after quickly leaving a family barbecue. Not only was I cramping, but I was also doubled over with the worst pain I have ever endured, and losing more blood than any menstrual cycle I can remember. I immediately felt panic, horror, and then the numbing realization that I was having a miscarriage. Even as the emergency room doctors and ultrasound technicians were buzzing around us, it took every ounce of self-control I could muster not to give in to the agony I felt. I finally couldn’t hold my tears back any longer when my husband, Dominic, began crying in our treatment room. That broke me.
We spent the remainder of the year recovering from the most difficult Summer of our adult lives. We found support in our group of young marrieds at church and a small circle of friends from college and professional school. No one talks about miscarriage; it is stigmatized, depressing, and crushing to live through. But we have found catharsis comes from open dialogue and embracing the roller coaster of emotions we feel daily. We vowed to pursue fertility treatment more seriously if we still hadn’t conceived naturally by March 2019. We began our journey at Shady Grove Fertility in Waldorf, Maryland. First attempting an IUI, which failed, and then buckling down about seriously investing in IVF.
In February of 2020, a tennis ball-sized cyst was found on my right ovary, spurring our reproductive endocrinologist (RE) to have an MRI taken to diagnose my condition. This cyst led to the first “real” answers we had received regarding my fertility. In March 2020, I was informed that I likely had endometriosis. Our RE at that time wanted to observe my cyst, despite extremely painful periods and continue to move forward with IVF. I trusted my doctor, but I also wanted to get the ball rolling with fertility treatments. Shortly after our last discussion, all fertility centers in the US suspended treatment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Who knew treating infertility was an elective procedure? Talk about adding insult to injury.
Once treatments resumed, I was transferred to a larger Shady Grove center in Annapolis. Where I met my current RE. Within seconds of my initial exam with him, he informed me that I would need to have surgery to remove my cyst. He was most concerned with my pain level and the inflammation the endometriosis was causing within my body. All I heard at the time was another delay, another roadblock, but his bedside manner made me instantly trust him. We switched to his office permanently. On July 15, 2020, I had laparoscopic surgery to remove the tennis ball-sized endometrioma from my right ovary, as well as endometriosis implants on my bladder, peritoneum, abdominal wall, and intestine. Following recovery, my cycles were much less debilitating and intimacy with my husband improved because it was actually pleasurable again. I didn’t realize how much constant pain I had been in until the source of that pain had been eliminated.
In October 2020, we began preparing for our first egg retrieval. 3 days after turning 33, 11 eggs were retrieved, ultimately yielding 3 PGS normal embryos. On December 21, 2020, we transferred one embryo with hopes of having our BFP shortly after the new year. Alas, our first transfer failed and we were heartbroken. Poring ourselves into work and opening our practice. We spoke with our RE team and they opted to try a fresh transfer as soon as we were ready. My husband and I patiently waited for CD1 and in early March 2021, we underwent our second IVF cycle and egg retrieval on March 20, 2021. On March 25, we transferred our highest-graded embryo and prayed it would stick. We promised we wouldn’t take a home pregnancy test before beta day, but I couldn’t wait. I tested the Saturday before our appointment and the biggest grin spread across my face when I saw those two pink lines! I rushed to my husband and he quietly scolded me as he hugged me. We hadn’t gotten a BFP in almost 3 years.
On Tuesday, April 7, our RE confirmed that we were pregnant! We finally had an embryo stick after so many years, loss, a failed IUI, endometriosis surgery, and a failed frozen embryo transfer. We wake up every morning grateful that the flutters in my belly are proof that our son is continuing to grow. At 19 weeks this still feels unreal. 40 weeks seems like a lifetime, but we’re nearly halfway there! We can’t wait to meet our little boy in early December. He has been longed and planned for. He was loved before any embryo retrieval. He is an answered prayer. We aren’t doing an official baby announcement. Instead, we told our family in June and have slowly been telling our close friends. We hope that sharing our IVF story will help encourage other families. We know IVF doesn’t always equal a baby. When you finally get your rainbow through IVF, embryo adoption, surrogacy, traditional adoption, or being a family of two, we hope you’ll find joy.