70 pills, 46 shots, 112 vaginal suppositories, numerous vaginal ultrasounds, and 2 years and 4 month’s time…
As a child, I dreamed my life would go a certain way; get married by age 24 and have my first of five children by age 26. Needless to say, life has a funny way of not going as planned. I was working as a pediatric nurse in 2009 when a co-worker asked if I was single. I was, so she asked if I would be interested in meeting her friend, Cory. In July 2009, I met Cory on a blind date and the rest is history!
In July 2013, Cory and I married. We planned to spend a few years getting “settled in” to married life and then start a family. Shortly after our wedding, I completed graduate college and became a certified nurse-midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner. In August 2013, I accepted a position at Echo Community Healthcare as a certified nurse-midwife.
In July 2015, Cory and I decided to celebrate two years of marriage with a weeklong vacation to Jamaica. We were ready to start our family and had hoped to leave Jamaica pregnant. It wasn’t long before we realized it wasn’t quite as easy as we thought.
Given my profession, I regularly saw women getting pregnant easily, and assumed it would happen the same way for me. Weeks turned into months, and months turned in to a year. After 12 months of trying, I decided to seek assistance from my OBGYN. Cory was sent to Boston IVF for a semen analysis and the results showed low morphology. At the time, I did not fully understand semen analyses and thought we would not be able to have biological children with his results. Dr Griffin at Boston IVF recommended that Cory repeat the analysis. He repeated the analysis and the second result was normal! Yay! Now we were back to square one—with the looming question, why are we not conceiving?
Seeing that everything was normal with Cory’s testing, my OBGYN prescribed me Clomid, a drug to induce ovulation. We were going to try that for three months. After three failed rounds of Clomid, my doctor decided to send me to get a scan to check and make sure my fallopian tubes were open. Thankfully, they were. But now what?
We were at a loss, and needed to have a more thorough work up. On July 27, 2016, Cory and I had our first appointment with Dr. Griffin at Boston IVF. He discussed our medical history and course of action thus far and diagnosed us with "unexplained infertility.” Dr. Griffin informed us that a fertile couple has a 20% chance of becoming pregnant each cycle. After a year of trying, the chance of conceiving spontaneously each month is about 5%.
To increase our chance of conceiving, Dr. Griffin recommended we try Clomid combined with intrauterine insemination (IUI). During the first month, I tried to track my ovulation at home, but the result was a failed cycle. The second and third months, we monitored my cycle at Boston IVF but again, with failed cycles. During our third monitored cycle at Boston IVF (our 4th IUI), I got a phone call saying that my hormone levels were surging and if we proceeded with the IUI that month, it was likely that we could get pregnant with twins, or even triplets. I swallowed hard after hearing this information, called Cory, and we decided to go through with the procedure. I was so hopeful that our fourth IUI would be the final procedure that would lead to our pregnancy, but alas; another negative pregnancy test.
We met back with Dr Griffin to review the past 4 cycles, and after discussion, we decided to proceed with in-vitro fertilization. We started the IVF cycle in December 2016. IVF is a process that involves four steps: ovarian stimulation, retrieving eggs, fertilizing eggs and ending with an embryo transfer.
Our December IVF cycle went very smoothly. I had my egg retrieval on December 12, 2016. I only had four mature eggs retrieved (not the number I was hoping for), but I kept telling myself that it only would take one good embryo! All four eggs fertilized normally, but only three made it to day five staging. We transferred two of the three embryos on December 17, 2016. One of the embryos implanted and on August 30, 2017, I delivered our hardy and healthy son, Maxton Wills Topper! He is our little miracle and brings joy to us every day. I look back on our infertility journey (with its hills and valleys) and cannot help but think that the timing was perfect. Of course, I did not think that in the midst of going through it, but looking back, I can see God’s Hand in every step.
Without going through this journey, we would never have been able to comprehend the pain that comes with infertility. The process is mentally and emotionally difficult. I can remember seeing/hearing pregnancy announcements, and while I was happy for others, I wanted so badly to experience that myself. I can also remember being super sensitive-reading into every little ache I felt wondering "is this pregnancy? Could it be? I wondered-Am I doing something to cause infertility? Do I stress too much? Do I not exercise enough? Should I take this supplement? Do I tell people? How much do I tell them?” The questions and constant wondering were exhausting.
I share my story to say I have been there. I can relate to your pain, your deep disappointment, and your hopelessness. If anyone is reading this an experiencing a similar situation-please stay strong, don’t give up, tie another knot in your rope and hang on! Miracles happen every day!
In November 2017, I was fortunate enough to join Dr. Griffin and his team at Boston IVF as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner! I am excited to work in this office and have the opportunity to help people going through infertility. I hope my personal experience can be valuable and that I can provide support and comfort to patients struggling with infertility.