Infertility Awareness Month!
Launching another beautiful and inspiring story this week! After 4 fresh IVF transfers, 1 Frozen transfer, 1 miscarriage, and countless disappointing pregnancy tests… let’s cry happy tears together with the ending of this infertility story!
Meet Jennifer & Brian
Jennifer has been through the wringer… to say the least. The patience of a saint. I met Jennifer on Instagram last Spring when we were both undergoing IVF at the exact same time. Sadly, neither of us got pregnant that round but we bonded over that. Here’s her story:
Mallory: Where are you from?
Jennifer: My husband and I are currently living in a suburb of Pittsburgh,PA, but I grew up in Michigan and he hails from Texas.
Mallory: How and when did you meet your spouse?
Jennifer: In 2009, I met my husband in Las Vegas. We both were there for a mutual friend’s birthday party but did not know each other. At the time I was living in Pittsburgh and he was in Austin. We did long distance for a couple years before I finally convinced him to move up North. In 2013, we returned to Las Vegas and were married. Long story short, what happens in Vegas, does not always stay in Vegas!
Mallory: What do you and your husband do for a living?
Jennifer: He is a web developer and I am a fraud fighter or in other words, I investigate white collar crimes.
Mallory: What is one thing we should know about you?
Jennifer: Even though I felt the pressures of my age to start my family, I am so happy that the stars didn’t align for it until my mid-30’s. I cherish the time I had to do “just me.” I established a career, traveled, lived in the big city (Washington DC), and even got to live Internationally (Iraq).
Mallory: How/When did you first decide you were ready to start trying for a baby?
Jennifer: At the time we married, I was 33 and my husband was 37. Because of our ages, we were pretty much ready for kids as soon as the ink dried on the marriage license.
Mallory: When did you first notice there was a problem?
Jennifer: I always had a premonition that I would have trouble with fertility. In 2007, I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, ulcerative colitis and figured I might have trouble because of that. After about six months of traditional trying without success we saw an RE.
Mallory: How/When did you get diagnosed with infertility?
Jennifer: Technically, I still don’t have a diagnosis per se and both my RE and UC doctor assured me it is not the issue. My husband checked out completely awesome and I went through all the standard testing at two clinics. The only issue detected with me was a low AMH level. The last time I had it checked my results were .81ng/ml. Despite the low number, I was not even officially diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve.
Mallory: How did you come to the decision to finally see a RE? How did you feel about this decision? Was your Sig other on board?
Jennifer: Since I always had that feeling that I would have a trouble conceiving it did not take me long to make the decision to see a RE and my husband was completely on board. If I could give one piece of advice to people it would be to not delay getting things checked out. Especially, if you are in your 30’s like me. I know too many people who wasted so much time working with just their GYNs taking clomid. Then come to find out two years later when they finally go to see an RE, the infertility is due to a male factor or their diagnosis is apparent after standard infertility tests.
Mallory: Tell me about your RE… what did you guys try first? And how did it go?
Jennifer: There are three infertility clinics in Pittsburgh. We started treatment with the largest and most well-known of the three. From the get-go, we felt mediocre at best about our doctor. Because of our age (by this time I was approaching 34), and the fact that we had some infertility insurance, our doctor recommended that we go straight to IVF. We did two fresh cycles and one frozen embryo transfer with them. I became pregnant on my second fresh cycle, but unfortunately that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. After my miscarriage, I was really turned off by my RE — his bedside manner following my miscarriage was horrible. We also exhausted our infertility coverage so we decided it was time for a second opinion. I was so glad we sought a second opinion; from the get go they explained things more thoroughly and I was less of a number but more of a patient. With them my husband and I bought into a shared risk program. With that we got four fresh IVF cycles (and associated FETs) and if we did not have a child after the fourth try, we would receive 100% refund. It certainly was an expenditure, but we took great comfort knowing the staff had a motivation for us to succeed. Our first fresh cycle with them failed, but we had success with our second cycle with them. We are currently 15 weeks pregnant with twins!! I still can’t get over it.
Mallory: How many medicated cycles, IUI cycles, and/or IVF cycles have you endured?
Jennifer: Four fresh IVF cycles and one FET.
Mallory: Did you take any breaks between cycles? Why or why not?
Jennifer: I really did not take long breaks between cycles. Typically, just a month or two between cycle. I am very much a type A person and it always made me feel better to be doing something. However, I was forced into taking some time after my miscarriage to recover and it also took a couple months to get in for my second consultation.
Mallory: What was the hardest part about IVF?
Jennifer: Hands down, the hardest thing I went through was the miscarriage. Prior to my miscarriage being confirmed, I had to keep going back for ultrasounds to make sure the baby was developing on track. The wait between ultrasounds was hell. When it was confirmed there was not a heartbeat when there absolutely should have been my RE wanted to give me two weeks to miscarry naturally instead of doing a D & C. It was so terrible waiting around for it to happen and of course it took the full two weeks to happen. When it finally did happen I was ABSOLUTELY not prepared for how physically painful and messy it was. Thank God, I was home at the time. If I were to do it all over again, I would have insisted on the D & C.
Mallory: What was the most surprising thing you learned after going through IVF?
Jennifer: I am odd. I did not enjoy the side effects of the injections, but I actually enjoyed administering them.
Mallory: What is/was the hardest part about your fertility journey?
Jennifer: It’s just hard- plain and simple. To spin this question positively, I do not have my babies yet but I can definitely say it is so worth it. Just seeing those two pink lines makes it worth — don’t even get me started on the ultrasounds. Stick with it, it’s worth the fight and beautiful things are in your future.
Mallory: Did you decide to tell anyone outside of your spouse about your struggle? If so, who and how did you come to the decision to open up? What was their reaction like? Has this been helpful for you?
Jennifer: The only place I wasn’t open about my struggle was at work and thanks to the early morning appointments I was able to hide it pretty well. Other than that I was an open book. I blogged (http://www.fitnessunscripted.com/) about my first cycle and shared snippets of my journey on Instagram (@fitnessunscripted). All of my friends and family were aware of what we were going through. I just hate that there is still such a stigma around infertility and because of that I did not want to be silent. I am so proud of the love that we have for our unborn kids – so much so that my husband and I were willing to endure all of the disappointment, shots, stress….etc. I also always joke that IVF is the new status symbol. I am so proud of how hard my husband and I worked to financially accomplish our goal. We both took on extra jobs to make this happen; to include me being a 35 year old babysitter. In the end, not everyone was comfortable with our journey but I always thought of that as their problem and really their loss.
Mallory: How has your relationship with your spouse been during this difficult journey? What were the hardest parts on the relationship? Was there anything that made your relationship stronger or better?
Jennifer: I read so many infertility stories where the woman just goes on and on about what a support her husband was and how he was such a pillar of strength throughout the entire journey. Well, you ain’t going to hear that song and dance for me. I love my husband dearly and he is an amazing and kind man but when I was going through a cycle times were difficult for us. Often I felt like it was MY journey. My husband doesn’t do needles so I did every injection, logistically it made sense for me to do most of my appointments alone, I was the one swimming in hormones and gaining weight. Oh and the miscarriage! Honestly at times, it was hard not to have resentment. But in his defense, I can be difficult on my best day — let alone ridiculously difficult while completely strung out on Menopur, Follistim or worst yet, that damn birth control!! For us, we just had to take things one day at a time and make sure we made time to fun non-infertility stuff. Now that we finally coming out of the fog, we are definitely stronger for it and our love for each other and our twins is so big and UNCONDITIONAL.
Mallory: Tell me one or two things that have been the most helpful to you during this journey.
Jennifer: I found the online infertility community so helpful. Some of my real life friends, just didn’t get the struggle and few even made hurtful comments that damaged our relationships. I also wish I would have started going to Resolve meetings earlier. I started going just before my fourth cycle and only made it to two meetings before getting pregnant. I really enjoyed those two meetings and actually wished I was able to still go. It was this group’s rule that once you get pregnant you are asked to no longer attend.
Mallory: What is one thing you wish you knew before you went through this journey?
Jennifer: Honestly, nothing. I would have been really intimidated from the start had I known how long, difficult, and expensive this journey was going to be. Some things are just meant to be one day at a time and learned as you go.
Mallory: What advice would you give someone about to make their first RE appointment?
Jennifer: If you are feeling hesitant, just make the DAMN appointment. There is only one way to get answers!
Mallory: How has this journey changed you? Your spouse? Your relationships with others? If at all?
Jennifer: It has changed me in many ways, but one of them was that it really made me less judgmental and more open minded. Ten years ago, I would have never dreamed that I would have been open to IVF and I probably would have judged a single girl for wanting to start a family on her own. But now, I am so glad that options exist for everyone – gay, straight, and single. The desire to achieve motherhood is such a powerful thing that now I am just so happy that everyone has options.
“No matter how motherhood is achieved – IT’S BEAUTIFUL!” – Jennifer