Our IVF Journey Begins!

Although Jeremy and I have always talked about having children one day, it wasn’t until 3 years after we were married (I was 27 and Jeremy 32) when I had the feeling that the time has come. Everything seemed perfect – we both had good jobs, we were settled in our house with room to spare, our financial situation was stable, so having a baby seemed like the next best step.

I made an appointment with my OB/GYN to discuss our decision and see if we were “good to go”. She went over my records one more time, made sure I am taking my vitamins and folic acid, wished me good luck and told me to call the office with a positive pregnancy test and that she’ll see me again for ultrasound at 6 weeks.
You can only imagine our excitement. I knew things would be fine. My period has always been regular. I was healthy and never had any problems, but still it was nice to be assured. Being the person I am, I started peeking around in baby stores thinking of how I would decorate the nursery. I got my period right on time that month- and the next month and the month after that,….

Every month, with each period, I felt more and more anxious, nervous and frustrated. I think the stress from all this anxiety resulted in me not getting my period yet – at first I was thrilled, but when my pregnancy test turned out negative, my world was crushed and I made an appointment with my gynecologist.

All kinds of tests were performed in the next few days – blood tests, ultrasounds, semen analysis for my husband and more. When they came back normal, my doctor put me on a cycle of Clomid. When three months of monitored ovulation and intercourse timed to the minute didn’t result in pregnancy, my doctor referred me to a specialist. I have been officially marked INFERTILE! Infertility – that word just kept echoing in my head! Of course I’ve heard about it, I’ve also heard about couples having a hard time conceiving, but never in my wildest dreams have I thought it would happen to us! It was time for me to admit that there WAS a problem.

Hoping for some answers, we went to see an infertility specialist. More tests have been done on me and my husband and again they were normal. The next step for me was to undergo HSG, which showed an abnormally shaped uterus and a weighed down left fallopian tube. I was scheduled for laparoscopy and hysteroscopy a few weeks later. Surgery went good, although I had the worst time recovering, and at our post op visit we were told by our doctor that a large cyst has been removed from my left tube together with multiple cysts on my ovaries; also mild endometriosis was detected in my abdominal cavity. During hysteroscopy, polyps were removed from my retroverted uterus. We were, again, ready to get pregnant. That was a little over a year since we started trying. We were excited and filled with new hope again. It was a couple days later when I got a call from my OB/GYN saying that during D&C procedure, some cancerous cells from my cervix showed up on the lab results and that we need to schedule a LEEP procedure right away. I couldn’t believe it, yet another problem! Although, I was emotionally exhausted and frustrated, I decided not to give up and rather educate myself on what was going on, why, effects and complications. Most importantly, I wanted to know my options.

I underwent the LEEP procedure one month after my surgery and I left the doctor’s office with strict instructions not to attempt pregnancy for at least 3 months.

Even though, I wasn’t fond of my infertility clinic and their many unprofessional ways they’ve handled some of my issues, they were the only clinic in a 300 mile radius my insurance would cover (diagnosis only).

I’d like to make a brief pause here and elaborate on my insurance coverage a little – at that time I was working for a great company (coincidentaly it is an Insurance Company) – I got great benefits and I’ve always thought that my coverage was just fine – low co-pays and mostly 100% coverage. That was until I was informed that there is only one clinic in metro Atlanta (and 300 mile radius for that matter) that I can see for diagnosis only.

What upset me the most, however, is my coworker, who is big breasted, was going to get a breast reduction fully paid for by the same health insurance company as mine!!! Where is the sense in this?

Three months after my LEEP, we met with our specialist again. Once she learned that I was ovulating, they started to get me ready for IUI. I was rushed for an ultrasound, doctor started writing out prescriptions, nurse was getting ready to teach me how to administer an injection,…. Wheels were turning and my husband and I were just looking at each other, our hearts pounding – we came just for a consultation and…. So I turned to my husband and said: “This is it, we are going to have a baby this month, are you ready?” I could tell he was excited but before he could answer nurse called us in saying that there is a problem – they haven’t received the results of the LEEP procedure from my OB/GYN’s office. They made me step out into the waiting room and handle getting the results from there. Although, my OB/GYN’s office was cooperative, they didn’t appreciate this way of doing business and couldn’t understand why the specialist just didn’t request the results themselves as usual instead of putting ME in the middle. I had no idea what was going on and I didn’t like it.

As my OB/GYN didn’t allow for IUI yet, to my specialist’s verbal disapproval, we left the clinic crushed.

From my experience, the hardest thing, besides waiting, was sharing my fertility problems. My friends, who I love dearly and treasure their companionship and support, hadn’t had any of these problems and could not fully comprehend the complexity and severity of infertility. I knew they were trying to be supportive and optimistic, yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard:

“You just have to stop thinking about it! Such and such friend had the same problem – couldn’t get pregnant for months, went on vacation, didn’t think about it, just had fun and now they’re pregnant” My dear friends, if I hear another story like that, I think I’ll explode!! It’s not always that easy and I DO have a problem!

After all the disappointment and stress, I decided to take a break from all this, secretly hoping my friends stories will happen for me too (after all, according to my specialist, I was all fixed to get pregnant on my own). Two months later and still no miracle. I have also started seeing an acupuncturist and herbalogist to increase my chances of becoming pregnant. In the month of December we were doing an IUI with 100mg of Clomid. I was hoping this was going to be the first and the last procedure leading to a successful pregnancy.

Well, it wasn’t! Determined to keep trying, we started another cycle with 100mg of Clomid. This second time around wasn’t as easy as the first. During my appointment with the nurse, I was told that I have only a 5% chance of conceiving, given my history of Endometriosis and ovarian cysts. To my question of what the next step would be I’ve learned the following: more IUI’s on a higher Clomid dosage and possibly IVF with the cost rapidly increasing from $1,500 for my current IUI to $15,000+ for an IVF. All the news, constant disappointment and effects of Clomid itself led to major depression. When my OB/GYN saw me, she immediately put me on anti-depressant as I was a basket case!

Beginning to think straight again, I sat down with my husband and we started to re-evaluate our options, again.

We both agreed that constant testing, timing, waiting, and disappointment was too hard on both of us – we’ve decided to skip all the low chance IUI’s and go directly for an IVF.
That’s when I turned to the clinics back in my mother country, the Czech Republic for help and support. We planned our IVF for September 2006.

We were getting ready to go on a cruise and my period was being stubborn , still nothing. I didn’t think much of it because my normal regular period became irregular after all the meds and treatment in the past. 37 or more days was no exception. I don’t know why but Jeremy suggested I take a pregnancy test, why not? I had plenty of them left and I knew what the result would be anyway, negative. My heart skipped a beat when I came back and the test was showing positive results! I couldn’t believe it. I took 3 more tests that day but they all came back positive. Neither Jeremy nor myself could believe it but we were thrilled. After all this time and all the tests and procedures it finally happened without any effort.

It was Friday afternoon and we were leaving next day for a one week cruise so all I was able to manage was to inform my OB/GYN of my positive pregnancy test. She scheduled me for an ultrasound 3 weeks out. They don’t see women before 8 weeks.

We had a great time on the cruise – I was feeling fantastic (although my breasts were very swollen and very sensitive). Caribbean was gorgeous, the food, water, waves, nothing was bothering me, simply a wonderful vacation.

We couldn’t wait for the ultrasound. The day had finally came. Jeremy went to the appointment with me. Our excitement vanished when our doctor couldn’t detect the heart beat and the embryo measured only 6 weeks and 1 day. We didn’t want to believe that after all we’ve been through, our blessing was cut short. Over the next two weeks blood tests and more ultrasounds were done, unfortunately, they all were showing that there was no life. I can’t even describe our feeling of disappointment. I kept thinking of what I might have done wrong. I thought I was being so careful. As my body wouldn’t let go of the embryo, I was scheduled for surgery to remove it. More tests were done to find out more about my miscarriage but no cause was determined. I was just told that 25% of pregnancies end this way and I shouldn’t worry about it. It took us two and half years to get to this point. This was one more reason for us to schedule an IVF treatment. Now that we knew that we could get pregnant, we wanted to increase our chances by monitoring my body and making sure that it was in the best “shape” to sustain a full term pregnancy and IVF is the best way to do that:

Medication to grow lots of quality eggs, ultrasound to measure the right thickness of my uterus lining, PGD (pre-genetic diagnosis) testing making sure that our embryos are as good as they can be etc.

Since we cannot pin point our problem(s) with fertility, this is the best we could do, hoping it would work for us the first time. We were determined to keep trying until we succeeded!

Please visit Mag’s IVF Diary for more details about our IVF treatment in the Czech Republic .