My Journey To Parenthood
I was diagnosed at age 21 with infertility, so I knew when I was ready to have a child, I would need medical assistance. In 2007, my husband and I were officially ready and began the process of getting pregnant. Naively, I thought I would go to my doctor, take some medicine and do IVF then be pregnant that month. Easy peasy, right? HA!
After three unsuccessful years, I took a break from medically induced baby making and went to law school to get my mind off it. My approach was "just relax and let it happen naturally". That method did not work during those three years, either.
As soon as I finished law school, we decided to go full force again with a new and highly recommended infertility specialist. I worked at getting pregnant with the same level of intensity that I applied to law school. It got to the point I turned every cycle into an experiment, modifying my lifestyle in conventional and abnormal ways to improve the odds of conception. I had diaries and charts to make sociologists giddy! I spoken with my reproductive endocrinologist after every cycle (or miscarriage) to see how I could improve my chances of getting and staying pregnant. I was struck by how little information that my doctor was giving me about methodologies to increase my success rates. This doctor was Stanford trained and had lots of initials after her name, she was supposed to be the best in my area. I could not grasp how she did not know more about this problem or how to solve it. I spent all day and night learning everything there was to know about the latest treatments for PCOS and pituitary adenomas to help patients achieve live birth. I read medical journals to the point I felt like I was more of an expert than my RE. I would send her research before appointments so that she was prepared for me. And I was ready to punch the next nurse that told me, "There is always next month." Especially the one that told me that on cycle day 3 one month!
As a lawyer, I know that trying the same thing and expecting a different result is futile. I needed to make a change. I realized I had lost faith in the treatment plan my doctor devised, but I really liked her as a person and she was touted as the best in my area. I was torn and afraid that if I did something radical, like getting another opinion, I would be making things worse somehow or just never get to be a parent.
While at a conference, I met Davina Fankhauser with Fertility Within Reach. We shared our stories of TTC and how we came to work with clients TTC. Davina shared with me the information she learned from Dr. Jeffrey Nelson and Andrea Thorpe a few weeks earlier about what they were doing with patients to help them get and stay pregnant. Davina directed me to this video.
The things Dr. Nelson and Ms. Thorpe were saying made logical sense to me. I knew I had found my first step. I did micro-nutrient testing with Dr. Lynn McIntosh at Kansas City Chiropractic. The results came back showing that I was deficient in B vitamins, two amino acids and DHA. I immediately began taking B vitamins, N-Acetyl Cystine (NAC), Glutathione, fish oil, and iron. I took all of these supplements daily. By the end of two weeks, I began feeling much better and had more energy and within two months, my brain fog had lifted.
Four months later, I was mentally ready to go back for another round of fertility treatment. Since the supplements worked so well to improve my overall well-being, I was also ready to get a second, third and fourth opinion before agreeing to one treatment plan or using donor eggs. So, I scheduled appointments with four doctors around the country in the span of one week. They were all looking at the same blood work at the same time during my cycle so that I could evaluate the information on an even plane.
Since my AMH was 0.08, all the doctors told me that my greatest likelihood for success was using donor egg, but using a donor meant I would have to wait at least another three months in order to get everything in place. One of the doctors understood how much I wanted to try one last time to conceive with my own eggs, so we made a plan. I cajoled the doctor into allowing me to use the high dose of IVF protocol drugs to see if I produced any follicles. It was the highest dose of medication I had taken, so I was anticipating serious side effects. The side effects were less than I had previously experienced. I was stunned. The doctor was stunned.
Between the injections and acupuncture sessions, I felt like a pin cushion. Nothing was spared a jab! I had a medicine container with me at all times to take all the vitamins and shots I needed each day.
My ultrasound scan showed that I produced two follicles. I was beyond excited! I was not totally barren after all! In my plan with the doctor, we agreed that we would not do a retrieval unless there were more than three follicles, so it was IUI time. My husband and I also began business-like sex at home, and let me tell you, there is zero romance involved when you are under these constraints! These two eggs had 24 hours to find sperm to survive. Thankfully, they were oblivious to the pressure they were under due to the antioxidants I had been flooding my body with for the past few months.
Suddenly, I WAS PREGNANT! It had worked! I was still hanging on to the fear of miscarriage, so I continued to move forward with the process of using an egg donor and the doctor I had chosen for the process. I chose not to tell this doctor I was pregnant. I was convinced that if he knew, he would make me wait until miscarriage to begin with the donor, and I wasn’t about to waste any more time.
A month passed and I was still pregnant. I found myself seven weeks pregnant and arriving at the doctor’s office for my first ultrasound. I had prepared myself to see a pregnancy with no heartbeat. And then there it was. A heartbeat. A strong heartbeat. The doctor had finished the scan before I could begin to wrap my brain around the fact I had heard another heart beating inside me. I asked her to redo the ultrasound so I could process what was happening. The doctor told me that everything was great and I was being released to an OB. I could not comprehend the words “EVERYTHING LOOKS GREAT!” I never had an OB/GYN, only a reproductive endocrinologist for the past 15 years. I asked to stay on as a patient with the RE for two more weeks in order to do another scan before being released so that I had time to prepare. Thankfully, she agreed.
Thus, began the quest of interviewing obstetricians. After 5 interviews, I had made my choice. I told my new doctor that I would not likely need her services with this pregnancy, but in a few months, I would be back with the next pregnancy. I also continued to move forward with the egg donor and RE I had chosen to do the retrieval and transfer. My brain went into survival mode and totally ignored the fact I was pregnant. I was only forced to face it when others asked me directly.
As the pregnancy progressed, I made the decision to tell the other RE that I was pregnant and was putting the donation on hold for two months. Those two months turned into four months and I was still pregnant. It wasn’t until I reached my third trimester that I officially cancelled everything with the donor. Although I was 28 weeks pregnant, I still refused to allow myself to be excited or even think about the fetus as anything more than something temporary. I would tell my mother and sister, “dead babies are real, I am not talking about it until there is a live baby in my house.”
At week 38, I was still pregnant, to which my OB reminded me of the conversation I had with her early on about not needing her for this pregnancy. I had done nothing for a nursery or to prepare for a baby in my home. My family had enough and swooped in to prepare for the baby. Two days before her birth, I walked into my second baby store. It was a small diaper boutique and I nearly lost my mind. Instead, I walked out with a single bag of cloth diapers. The only items I purchased before my daughter was born.
My daughter was born on her due date despite my fears. My very first words to her were, "YOU LIVED! OMG, YOU LIVED!”
I am convinced that the micronutrient testing and the information I learned from Davina Fankhauser, Dr. Nelson and Ms. Thorpe made all the difference in getting pregnant and staying pregnant. I would like to thank Davina Fankhauser, Dr. Nelson and Ms. Thorpe for sharing your knowledge with Fertility Planit so that I was able to have my child. I am forever grateful to you.