I was determined that I would be physically and mentally ready to give that little embryo the best chance!Priya
Time TTC: 5 years
Diagnoses / Treatment: IUI/s, IVF, Failed IVF Cycle/s, Unexplained Infertility, Fibroids, Genetic Testing, Miscarriage / Loss
Strategies: Fertility Herbs, Supplements, Naturopathy, Acupuncture, Relaxation Techniques, Fertility Coaching
(You can also listen to Priya’s fascinating story in our Podcast (Episode 4). Hear how she took charge of her journey and made some fundamental changes to the approach, which made all the difference!)
Keen to start a family my husband and I decided to consult a fertility clinic and run some basic tests. We were both 35 and had been trying naturally for over 6 months. Tests did not identify any issues so we progressed with the recommendation of ovulation tracking and then a couple of rounds of IUI. I found it especially difficult to manage my expectations that I should be pregnant and after 6 stressful months of daily injections and frequent blood tests, I decided to take a step back from fertility treatment and focus on my own health. I started acupuncture and saw a naturopath. When I felt more in balance I decided to commence IVF. In my first collection, I had five eggs fertilised and they all made it to day 5. One was transferred into me and amazingly I had a positive pregnancy result. I went onto progesterone support after a slight drop in levels, although my HCG levels were steadily increasing. At my seven week scan, there was no heartbeat. I remember thinking that you can’t miss something you never had. I had a D&C and the following month I went straight in for another FET (Foetal Embryo Transfer). Success again, another pregnancy. This time I had a heartbeat at the 7-week scan. I finalised my period with the fertility consultants and looked forward to being just like every other pregnant lady. At my first meeting with the obstetrician, there was no heartbeat. I was sent immediately for a more detailed scan. A day later I had another D&C. I was truly devastated with this loss. I persevered and had another FET which was unsuccessful.
I wanted answers for why I wasn’t able to hold a pregnancy. The fertility consultant recommended I have my fibroids removed in case they were interfering with pregnancy despite the scan showing no interference in my cervix. The surgeon, who was also a fertility doctor at the same clinic, wanted to do open surgery rather than keyhole, which would almost certainly require a caesarean section in the future, but I was willing to try anything if it could result in a baby. My recovery time was considerable.
When I was able I had another full round of IVF, of which 3 embryos were successfully fertilised. I had these embryos genetically tested. They were all genetically sound. I had another two unsuccessful FETs. It was at this point I was researching various treatments around the world for unexplained infertility. The fertility clinic wanted to do the same treatment they had always done for me but I did not want to lose another embryo to the same treatment which obviously wasn’t working for me. I sought a second medical opinion to review treatment to date and find out if there was anything someone else would recommend. The doctor ran through the things he would try given our history, I felt this gave me options. At the same time, I spoke to my current clinic about testing cells from my cervix for levels of natural killer cells. The results showed accelerated levels of natural killer cells. We finally had something to treat. I had a pipelle curette, to promote growth hormone in the cervix and started a course of steroid and aspirin, as well as progesterone pessaries. My next transfer was a successful pregnancy. My beautiful baby boy came to me after my seventh transfer.
When we decided to try for another little bebe. We gave it 6 months trying naturally. So many people had said ‘you won’t need treatment the next time’. I honestly believed we wouldn’t but I was prepared to go that route if we needed to as we had one last genetically tested embryo. I was determined that I would be physically and mentally ready to give that little embryo the best chance for survival. I started fertility coaching with Karenna Wood to help prepare mentally. The words that most stayed with me, even now, was about envisioning welcoming the embryo ‘home’. I immediately felt differently about the previous 6 fertilised embryos that were transferred. The FET was successful, and my precious second little boy came into the world when I was just 6 months pregnant. He came home from hospital 9.5 weeks later, perfectly healthy and simply gorgeous.
The lowest point in my journey and what helped me recover from it
I think my lowest point was after open surgery for fibroids, and then I had another failed attempt. I honestly began to doubt I would ever have a child.
Where I am right now in my journey
I now have two beautiful boys who I would not trade in for the world.
What I learned from my fertility experience
I learned that I needed to be more in control of the treatment I was receiving and I needed to advocate for myself.
If I had to start my fertility journey again: What I would do differently
I think I would focus more on my mental health while going through the process. I feel I was quite rational about the whole process and accepting of what I needed to do next, but I had many moments where I really didn’t trust that my own body could hold a pregnancy.
My favourite resources about fertility (websites, books, blogs or articles)
I didn’t follow any but I read a lot of articles about people’s experiences of infertility and treatments they had tried and I also looked into the academic research for some answers. Most of this came up in search engines.
What I would tell someone else going through infertility right now
Do your own research. If you are not happy with something in your treatment, speak up, question it. Fertility treatment can really rule your life with injections, blood tests and scans etc. Find time for yourself and do things that you enjoy. Don’t make the whole period of your life about the treatment.”