Not only did I never imagine that I’d be writing a post about our IVF success story, but I never imagined that Mitch and I would struggle with infertility!
We ticked all the boxes for a healthy couple trying to conceive – we started trying for a baby at 30, and we live an active, healthy plant-based lifestyle. But infertility doesn’t discriminate. Sometimes you have no control over your fertility diagnosis – no matter how many yoga classes you take or green smoothies you drink.
I want to be sensitive in recognizing that everyone has their own journey to pregnancy and/or parenthood, and I realize just how lucky we are to be an IVF success story. I am in awe of the strength and courage that couples endure to make their dream of having a family come true.
Our fertility journey started in September 2019. 18 months later we were finally pregnant.
Trying to Conceive
My anxiety about getting pregnant started to surface around 6 months, and I decided to seek external help. Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit which delayed us by a few extra months.
Mitch and I were trying for a baby for close to one year when we found out about our infertility diagnosis.
It felt like each month was the same outcome. We’d try and try and try, and every month I’d get my period.
Finally, about 8 months into TTC we had a glimpse of hope….
In July, I was one week late on my period, which had never happened before (my periods were so regular). My husband and I felt really hopeful that our time had finally come!
Then, something traumatic happened. My 1-month old nephew, Max, suddenly passed away and it shook our family to the core. Finding out about his passing was one of the saddest experiences of my life, and is still something I struggle to understand.
Two days after the sad news, I had a chemical pregnancy. I felt like my sadness had willed our pregnancy away. I’ll never know why it didn’t take.
Then, just a couple of weeks later we got our results back from our fertility clinic, and our diagnosis: we were “the 1-in-8.” Medically diagnosed as an infertile couple.
My husband and I have decided to keep our actual diagnosis private. (I hope you respect our decision). But, I will say that there was a definite reason for our infertility (it was not “unexplained infertility“), and our best course of action for getting pregnant – based on our diagnosis – was IVF.
That’s right. We had just been catapulted from “trying” to “trying IVF.” No cycle monitoring, no IUI, but full-blown IVF… WTF!?
What Infertility Felt Like
The way I describe hearing our diagnosis was like finding out that someone we deeply loved had passed away.
We hung up the phone, and there was a numbness in the air, which lasted for many days. The sheer ability to do everyday tasks felt unbearable, and every morning was a challenge to get out of bed.
I must be clear, that it was never the thought of doing IVF that caused me such mental anguish, but the idea that we might never have a baby, which was so difficult to overcome.
Having a baby once felt so guaranteed. We used to discuss a future of, “when we have kids….” but this now turned into IF… “if we have kids…”
It’s the dreaded “what if” questions that are so hard to grapple with.
“What if IVF doesn’t work…”
“What if I can never have a baby…”
What IVF Was Like for Me
For any of you undergoing IVF, I hope you find my IVF success story reassuring! The IVF stories we often hear are traumatic (which are valid too, of course). But they can leave you fearing the journey you’re about to embark upon.
Of course, IVF is not a breeze! Don’t get me wrong.
However, my IVF cycle was the happiest I had been throughout our infertility journey as it felt like we were finally making progress.
Our process started with a one-month on-boarding, to help us understand what was to come and be prepared for the process.
From there, I started my IVF round, going into the clinic almost daily for bloodwork and transvaginal ultrasounds, which would determine that evening’s hormone treatment.
Each morning, they would check to see how many follicles I had created, how they were growing, and check my estrogen levels. I would be told later that day which hormones to administer (in the form of needles), which I’d take in the evening, and I’d do it all over again the next day.
This lasted about 14 days until I had enough “mature eggs.” I then administered my ovulation needle for egg collection (a.k.a – the trigger needle). My retrieval was scheduled 36 hours later.
Managing All the Feelings
Yes, I was bloated and uncomfortable. Yes, the needles were tough to take (especially on trigger day, when I had to take 5 in a row!).
But after such a long journey to get here, I was happy to see my body responding and changing as it should. It felt good to actually be DOING something instead of constantly just waiting. I felt really grateful.
It’s not always easy to stay on the bright side when you have infertility. But every day that my tummy grew bigger I would think, “I am growing my beautiful eggs that are going to become my children!”
I had many written words of affirmation during my IVF cycle, which I would read whenever my anxiety surfaced. This mentality really helped me move forward in a positive manner.
Egg Retrieval Day and Results
I was hesitant to share our egg retrieval results because the last thing I want is for women to compare. It’s easily done and it can be disheartening.
However, I think it’s worthwhile because our retrieval numbers were not “ideal,” and I hope it provides comfort to women whose numbers come back sub-optimal.
Before starting our IVF cycle, our doctor’s goal was to retrieve 15 eggs. But I only had 9 eggs retrieved. I wasn’t too upset by this… I thought, 9 wasn’t that bad – we had 9 chances for the egg to become an embryo. A-okay with me.
On day 1, we got the update: Of the 9 eggs, only 5 eggs were mature. And only 3 fertilized, with a 4th one showing “potential” of fertilizing.
This hit me hard.
I went from the goal of 15 eggs to 9 eggs (retrieved) to 5 eggs (mature) to 3 eggs (fertilized)… + 1 with “potential.”
My heart sunk with the news. We had learned to expect to lose 50% of the embryos at each check-point, so if you did the math: we’d be lucky to get one embryo, and likely could have none.
All the hope and positivity I had during my IVF cycle vanished, and I spent the next 2 days bawling my eyes out. I thought it was a failed cycle.
However, by Day 5, we learned that all 4 embryos had made it to blastocyst!!! (even the one that had initially only showed some potential!). It felt like a miracle!!!
Although it wouldn’t be guaranteed that the embryos were viable until we did genetic testing (typically you lose another 50% from these results), we were in a good place. Hopefully, 1 or 2 embryos would be viable for transfer.
Genetic testing took 2 weeks, which revealed that all 4 of our embryos were viable! This meant we had 4 strong chances at having a baby.
I share our results as a reminder that the initial numbers don’t always reflect the outcome. Often women report having upwards of 15 to 20 eggs retrieved, which can feel disheartening when your numbers don’t fall close. If we follow the stats then I should have had 0 embryos, but I ended up with 4.
IVF Embryo Transfer
Once we heard the good news about our viable embryos, we scheduled our transfer. I had to wait for 2 full natural cycles to get my body back into balance before scheduling the transfer.
The transfer day went well. Now I had to wait two weeks for my pregnancy test….
My heart was pounding the morning of our bloodwork. We waited 3 hours to receive the call from the nurse. She confirmed I was pregnant!!
It was the happiest day of my life. The moment we had waited and fought so hard for.
All-in-all we feel incredibly fortunate for having such a positive experience with IVF, and to have an IVF success story. I’m lucky to have responded well to the treatment. We’re also lucky to have had a wonderful team that made us feel supported, confident, and listened to.
Infertility is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. It took a huge toll on my mental health, and I really struggled with anxiety and depression. I’m usually a positive person and it felt really out of character. I’m also not surprised – infertility is really hard.
I hope that my IVF success story will help provide light for couples undergoing IVF. It can feel like a scary process when the future is unknown. But I was at my happiest undergoing IVF than any other time during our fertility struggles. We were finally making progress, and it is what led us to our successful outcome of falling pregnant. I am so grateful to be on this next chapter of starting our family.
I hope this provides some encouragement for your journey too.
No matter what happens, I think it’s so important to love your beautiful body and everything it does for you. You are worthy, and your body deserves to be celebrated.
Sending you so much love and strength,