This is IVF… Finding My Voice And Community

Nov 16, 2021 | This is IVF...

Words by Jaimie Selwa | @infertilechronicles 

My husband and I have been through a 4-year journey trying to expand our family. I never thought in a million years that we’d be struggling with infertility. I always wanted to be a mother, so how could something that comes so naturally for others be so hard for us?

Let me start from the beginning. In June 2017, after my husband and I were married, bought a house, had two dogs and felt stable in our careers, we decided we wanted to add a baby to the mix. After 9 months of trying, I had a gut feeling that something was wrong, despite my OBGYN telling me that I was young and healthy and keep trying. I took to resources like FertilityIQ to find a Reproductive Endocrinologist in my area.

Advocating for myself was one of the scariest but best things I could have done. In the fall of 2018, we started down the path of testing and experimenting with Clomid and IUIs.

This is IVF by Jaimie Selwa

Nothing was working. Feeling lonely and isolated I took to social media. I thought talking about my infertility struggles would make me depressed, but I found it therapeutic to look at other accounts and read their stories.

 

I believe that while infertility is not funny, laughter is the best medicine. I created my account @InfertileChronicles to help others who might feel abandoned in their journey. My intention is to bring out the humorous side of infertility because let’s be real, we can all use a little chuckle.

In July 2019, I had laparoscopy surgery which revealed that my tubes are blocked. It was scary, but we finally had answers. In November 2019, we were told that IVF would be our best chance at bringing our own child into the world.

2020 not only brought the pandemic for us but it was full of IVF. We started the IVF prep process in January. We had our first egg retrieval in March, we got 16 eggs that made 4 embryos. We didn’t test our embryos because it wasn’t recommended at the time. We had an unsuccessful fresh transfer in March and two unsuccessful frozen transfers in June and October. I felt lost and devastated. I thought this cycle of IVF would get us multiple children and here we were with one embryo left and zero pregnancies.

In June, I was feeling so low that I started writing and journaling. I felt lost and needed to put my thoughts on paper. As a result, I wrote a children’s book. Struggling with infertility opened my eyes to another world where families are made in many ways. I wrote First There was Me, The Journey to You after our second failed transfer. It later came out in July 2021. It was a huge project for me, that allowed me to channel my emotions, and write a book that includes diversity in how families are made.

In November 2020, we set down the path with a new doctor for a fresh perspective. With only one embryo left we wanted to talk to a new doctor and clinic to see what advice they’d have for us. We were told prior to IVF that we were the ideal IVF candidates, and we should see success. That left us lost and searching for more answers.

With the recommendation from our new doctor, we kicked off 2021 with another egg retrieval that resulted in two abnormal embryos. We got significantly less eggs (5 total) compared to our first round. Our doctor also recommended we PGT-A test our embryos this time since we had 3 failed transfers at our last clinic. Sadly, we found that none of our new embryos were normal, and we were back to square one.

In April, we tried a new protocol to get more eggs like our first round of IVF. It worked and we got 17 eggs but unfortunately only got one embryo, which came back abnormal.

Before moving onto egg retrieval number 4 we had a good conversation with our doctor. We needed to try something new. We had spent so much time, money, energy, emotional stress, etc. over the last few years and needed to know that we had a good plan to help address why were weren’t getting normal embryos. Together, we decided to try a day three transfer for the first time. We came to this decision because in our last two rounds of IVF, we lost half of our embryos after day 3. Maybe these embryos needed a better environment than the lab. In July, we had our 4th egg retrieval and got 16 eggs.

We started progesterone and estrogen to prep for a fresh transfer. Three days later, we got the call that morning that we had 12 embryos make it to day 3 and the best two would be transferred that afternoon. July 19th, we transferred two embryos. We transferred two only to help increase our chances that at least one would stick. We weren’t doing this to increase our changes to twins.

The following two week wait, I tried to keep busy. This wasn’t my first rodeo; I made a list of little projects I could do daily to keep myself occupied. For the first time, in any transfer, my husband and I tested early one night before beta. I didn’t have any symptoms, so I convinced myself it didn’t work. To our surprise, there was a faint second line on the pregnancy test. We didn’t get too excited at first and said we’d wait for the beta. The next day our beta came back and confirmed we were pregnant. We were excited but cautious. Second beta doubled and first ultrasound at the fertility clinic went well. Things were looking good, and we couldn’t believe it. Now, at 17 weeks pregnant it’s still so surreal. Our little boy is due April 8th, and we couldn’t be more excited.

This journey has taught us so much. I will always be a part of this community. I want to continue to support, raise awareness and educate. I believe we were given this journey for a reason and it helped me find my voice.

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