We will never feel complete.
“Your body just isn’t responding properly, we may have to consider an egg donor.”
There I was. Sitting there in front of this doctor that I had put all my faith and money into for an entire year. My husband waited for me in the car during the height of the second wave of Covid-19. He wasn’t allowed to come in so I had to hear these results alone.
I had just finished my 2nd IVF cycle which resulted in one embryo making it to genetic testing but coming back abnormal.
As soon as I was old enough to understand how to get pregnant, I had it drilled into my head it MUST be prevented. I started birth control when I was 13 years old. I was on and off of it for 11 years after that. When I was married and we were financially ready for a baby, I finally threw away my pills and imagined I’d be pregnant within a month. Because that’s what we’re raised to believe. “All it takes is one time” my doctor would tell me. Well here I am, over a thousand times, and nothing yet.
We do have one perfect little boy. He took 6 months to conceive and we had help from my BFF: Clomid.
It wasn’t until we started trying for a second that I found out I had DOR (Diminished Ovarian Reserve), secondary infertility and my husband had low morphology. This is the scariest diagnosis I’ve ever gotten. Every single girl I know all share the same fear I did: there will be something wrong with my eggs. I am naturally a very anxious person. I definitely have a high form of anxiety that I should be in therapy for but I haven’t found the time to go. But when we were trying to conceive the first time all of these voices crept in my head. “It’s your fault.” “There’s something wrong.” “You were on birth control too long.” I never in a million years thought that would be my reality.
Hearing I had DOR was a knife to the gut. That basically means my egg reserve is very low. It’s not impossible to get pregnant but it makes it much harder to conceive and I am running out of eggs faster than someone at my age should be. My AMH level was equivalent to someone who is in their mid 30s or early 40s. I was 27 when I found this out. I was in my prime. I was the same age my mother was when she had me. This was an issue I had when I conceived my son at 24 but I was never told about it until now. I began all the supplements and vitamins they suggested and eagerly went into determined mode. I was going to beat the odds.
Here is the part where I lecture all women to have their AMH checked. Do it now! Even if you’re not planning on having kids right away but you do want them at some point. You never know what’s going on inside your body. I never had symptoms or signs of this. My periods were always normal and on time. I had no clue I had DOR.
Before I met with my Reproductive Endocrinologist, we had tried on our own for 7 months. By the 8th month I had called my OB for a little help from my BFF: Clomid. After my first dose, I was pregnant. Over the moon excited. I started planning our life for a second baby. Unfortunately, two weeks after finding out my son would have a sibling on the way, I miscarried.
I was upset but I picked myself back up and kept going. Two more months passed with a little help from my BFF but nothing. So that’s when we decided to see a RE and get the awful diagnosis.
His first plan was IUIs. They were covered by my insurance. So every month I took Clomid, went for monitoring appointments and triggered with Ovidrel (an injection to help you ovulate). Two days after that I went into the office for my insemination. I remember leaving that first time thinking I had this in the bag. I was for sure going to be pregnant. I remember thinking that the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th time too.
It was finally time to start thinking about IVF. Something I never planned on doing. I didn’t know much about it or the costs that came with it but I was willing to give it a shot.
The day I was supposed to start my medication I went for an early morning monitoring appointment. I waited all day for the green light to start but my doctor called and said I couldn’t start because I was pregnant. He didn’t think it was a normal pregnancy because my levels were so low. He was right. Three weeks later I miscarried again.
I was now done playing around. I needed to do IVF whether I wanted to or not.
We signed the papers, we paid the money, we started medication. Two weeks later, I had my retrieval. When I woke up from anesthesia, my doctor had told me he was only able to retrieve seven eggs. This was extremely disappointing. This is something that it totally normal with my issue. I’m lucky I even got seven. A week later we found out none of the embryos had made it. I was devastated but I kept going.
We immediately started our second round. Needles, bloodwork, appointments, mood swings. Finally…retrieval day. This time when I woke up, my doctor had said he had retrieved eight.
Not what I wanted to hear but I was happy it was one more than last time.
A week later we found out only one made it to blast and would be tested. I was happy but also realistic of the odds of this ONE making it. A week after that, we found out our one embryo was abnormal and wouldn’t result in a healthy baby.
The news was tough. It felt like another miscarriage. They all kind of did. Our fertilized embryos were our babies. They were a piece of both of us thrown together into a Petri dish which made little embryos. Our little embryos. I think that was the part I didn’t expect. To feel robbed. I remember after each retrieval waking up and feeling like he had stolen my babies. I know that’s not what he did at all but when I went to sleep with a basket full of eggs and woke up with none. It’s a wild feel and hard to describe.
I always knew IVF wasn’t a for sure thing. I always had hope it would be, but when we got the same result twice it started to feel like a dead end.
After getting a second opinion, we had some new tests done. An HSN and biopsy. We were told the biopsy came back fine and they didn’t detect endometriosis but they had found a polyp in my uterus that needed to be removed. They suggested a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy surgery. This was something my first doctor had suggested too but I don’t think I was ready yet. I always had this wonder if maybe there was something wrong on the inside. Like a blockage or left over tissue from one of my miscarriages.
So I agreed to the surgery and went in for it that same week. When I woke up I was told the polyp wasn’t in there and it could have went away on its own but they did find stage 2 and 3 endometriosis that they had removed. I never had signs or symptoms of endometriosis. Even the biopsy came back negative. If I didn’t have this surgery, I would have never known.
The fact that both of us have reproductive issues leaves us feeling like our options are running out, our money is running out and all we can really do is pray for a surprise baby. The kind of surprise we’ve only heard about and have seen on TV.
I have one beautiful and perfect son and I am thankful for every single day for him because without him I wouldn’t have a purpose. All I ever wanted was to give him the gift of a sibling but if that cannot happen then I will dedicate my life to making him happy. He may be spoiled, he may be stubborn, but he will be loved and he will know we tried so hard to give him a built in best friend. Although we have one more IVF left through our insurance, we are not quit ready to continue knowing what the end results were.
It’s a constant internal battle of being grateful for him but also wanting another. Like I almost don’t deserve to be part of this club. Like I can’t call myself infertile because I was able to have one. But then sometimes it feels like everyone is passing me by and I’m still just sitting here waiting for the next train to come. The next chapter of our story to start. I want a hectic life with two kids. I want a house full of noise and a living room full of toys. I want wrapping paper filled Christmas mornings. I want sibling fights to break up. I want it all.
I am angry at my body for not doing what it’s meant to do. I am angry that I can buy my son all the toys he wants and take him on the best vacations. But I cannot give him this. We will never truly feel done trying for another baby. We will never give up. We will never be complete. We will keep fighting.