I met my husband at a bar one night in college, before I was old enough to drink (legally anyway) back in 1997. We have been together ever since. (It’s really a much more romantic story than it seems). We met young and we both had dreams so we were never really in a hurry to reach any of the usual milestones. We waited 7 years before we married and another 5 before we started trying to conceive and start our family. It had never been a question of “if”, just “when”. We both wanted (want) to have a family. We even picked out boy and girl names years before we even thought about TTC. I always dreamed of having three children, my husband wanted two. Whenever we talked about it, he would say “Let’s have two and then see how we feel…”. These days it’s hard to think about, but I don’t know if I’ll ever reach my dream of 3 children… now I desperately hope for at least one.
It was the Fall of 2009 when we tossed the contraceptives and officially started trying to have a baby. We made announcements to our families (some of whom had started to ask about the topic) that we were trying as we fully expected to have a baby within the year. I was 32, my husband 34. Who would have thought that we had possibly missed our chance because we weren’t “ready” for a family in our 20s.
After trying for six months with no success, we went to see a Dr. for some testing. We received a diagnosis of male factor infertility. Unfortunately, my husbands semen analysis results were dismal in each of the 3 categories they test. He was referred to a specialist and diagnosed with varicocele. A little over a year after we started trying for a baby, my husband underwent surgery (that’s right, surgery on his balls!) and had a bi-lateral varicocelectomy. Once he recovered from surgery, he had another semen analysis. His numbers had improved a bit, but not enough. We were told that IVF was our best option. It’s been years since his surgery, he still has pain on a daily basis.
In May of 2011 we did our first IVF cycle. It was a strange and stressful experience that did not result in a pregnancy. After taking a couple of months off to let my body recover a bit, we tried again. This time was better and our September 2011 cycle, IVF#2, resulted in a pregnancy. We were so happy. We soon learned that we were expecting twins (we knew it was possible, unlikely in that it-will-never-happen-to-me kind of way, but possible… we had transferred 2 embryos for both IVF cycles 1 and 2). My pregnancy was hard. I was terribly “morning” sick all day and ended up on medication to be able to function somewhat normally. But I was still happy, it was for a good cause.
At 16 weeks we learned that I was carrying 2 healthy looking boys. A few weeks later we had a great 20 week NT scan and aside from still having terrible nausea/vomiting everything was looking great. A few days later I was in the emergency room, in labor. One of the twins’ amniotic sac had somehow ruptured and was leaking fluid. We don’t know if the leak caused the labor or the labor caused the leak but we were told that even though the other baby’s sac was intact we were unfortunately going to lose them both.
This was devastating. To make it so far into that hard-won pregnancy and have everything looking so good… All of our tests were great. Going into sudden labor and having to deliver babies that I would never get to see or hold, babies that were too young to survive outside of my body. It was the worst day of my life.
After our heartbreaking loss, we waited the prescribed 3 months and then moved forward with cycle #3. This time we did a FET of one frozen blast, which resulted in a chemical pregnancy. A terrible term for what is actually a very early miscarriage. We waited another couple of months and then started cycle #4, IVF#3. My body did not want to cooperate (unpredictable ovulator, here) and we had to wait until the following month to get started. We only transferred one blast, as per Dr.’s orders, we could not risk the possibility of twins again. Our October 2012 cycle ended much like IVF#1, BFN.
After that disappointment, I felt like I needed to take a break from all the “trying”. I still fret a bit about the “fertility” I lose as each day passes and I grow ever older. But I have limited opportunities for IVF and even though I knew I could be wasting precious time, I was not quite ready psychologically or emotionally to try again.
I ended up waiting almost a whole year before cycling again. When we finally made it through IVF #4, embryo transfer #5, we were so happy to get a long-awaited BFP! Everything started off good but then came crashing down again. At our 7 week appointment the baby had a heartbeat but was measuring small. The RE said it could go either way and gave us 50/50 odds of success. After an anxiety filled week our 8 week appointment showed the baby had a strong heartbeat and had grown a lot – catching up from the previous week. With the success of that appointment, I thought we had landed firmly in the positive 50% and that this baby would be our rainbow. Then at my 9 week appointment, the baby no longer had a heartbeat. Heartbroken again, I decided to wait for a natural miscarriage. It took almost 3 weeks, but thankfully, it happened naturally and no medical intervention was needed.
It ended up being another whole year before I was ready for cycle #6 and in the Fall of 2014 we did our second FET of one frozen blast. This was our only remaining frozen embryo. Out of 4 fresh IVF cycles we only ever had 2 frozen embryos and they were both from IVF#2 in which we got pregnant with the twins. Unfortunately, this FET ended exactly like the last with a chemical pregnancy.
So here we are in 2015 it’s been over 5 years since we started this journey. I never imagined that it would take 7 (or more) cycles to achieve our dreams of a family. I really hope the next cycle works. I can’t imagine giving up but I also don’t know how much more heartbreak I can take. On top of that other things in life are changing and I will not have insurance coverage after cycle #7 so this is kind of my last shot. My swan song, if you will. Keep your fingers crossed for Lucky #7 to bring the dream home.
Updated to add: Lucky #7 was indeed lucky. That cycle brought our daughter into this world. It is a miracle that I am grateful for everyday.