When I was kid, my siblings were basically my best friends, so I always dreamt of having a full house of my own one day. When my hubby, Raf and I decided to hop on the baby making train, I had no idea how hard it would be to have the big family that I always wanted. Today, my fertility journey is far from over, but I can happily say that I’m a proud mama to one scrumptious little boy named Sam. Here is my story.
TESTING & DIAGNOSIS
When I got off the pill, my cycles were long and irregular. For almost a year, I pretty much thought I was pregnant every month, but after my share of one-lined pregnancy tests, I dragged Raf to a local fertility clinic to check things out.
Everything appeared to be fine with my tests, but because of my irregular cycles, it was speculated that I didn’t always ovulate. Then Raf did his semen analysis and we were told that no sperm was found in the sample, so we had to wait to see a specialist. The wait was super scary for both for us, but after what felt like a million years, Raf was diagnosed with a congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (aka born without the tubes that carry sperm out of the testes). We were told that sperm extraction combined with IVF and ICSI were our only options to conceive. When I heard the news, a wave of emotions hit me, but I felt okay knowing there was a solution. We were also really lucky because at the time there was a program in our province of Quebec that fully funded three IVF cycles (unfortunately, that program no longer exists).
We had to wait another five long months to get genetic test results before we could proceed, but when we finally did the sperm extraction, we were happy to find out that my Raf’s swimmers were in top shape. So into the freezer they went to wait for the perfect moment to fertilize my eggs in a test tube (how romantic).
It took another two years before I got pregnant, but this is how our IVF journey went down:
- Retrieved 11 mature eggs: all 11 fertilized
- Due to high progesterone levels, the fresh cycle was cancelled and all fertilized eggs were frozen
- Our first frozen cycle trial was cancelled because my uterine lining was too thin
- On our second frozen cycle trial, my lining was borderline, so we proceeded
- 9 fertilized eggs survived the thawing process, but only 1 became a good quality embryo
- We did a frozen embryo transfer of a single 2-day embryo
- Cycle was unsuccessful with no remaining embryos
- Retrieved 9 mature eggs: only 1 fertilized
- We did a fresh transfer of a single 2-day embryo
- Cycle was unsuccessful with no remaining embryos
After our second failed IVF cycle, I was mentally and physically exhausted, but unable to give up, so I took a much-needed break to focus on myself. In the span of six months I got a puppy, went on spontaneous adventures and basically just tried to enjoy life as much as possible. I focused on my well-being and worked on improving my fertility by going to weekly acupuncture sessions, following a healthy diet and exercising lightly. With balanced hormones and a newfound joie de vivre, I was ready to tackle another IVF cycle.
- Retrieved 12 mature eggs, 7 fertilized
- Due to high progesterone level, the fresh cycle was cancelled and all fertilized eggs were frozen
- On our frozen cycle, all 7 fertilized eggs survived the thawing process
- For the first time, on day 2 we had multiple embryos going strong, so we waited to do a 5 day-transfer
- We did a frozen embryo transfer of 2 5-day embryos
- Cycle was successful and I got pregnant! No remaining embryos
When I finally got my baby bump, I thought my worries were over, but life decided to keep me on edge… because life loves to do that. For the first three months, I experienced on and off bleeding and was put on bed rest twice. Every time I was sure I had lost the baby through, we would go in for an ultrasound and find a little flickering heartbeat.
The first trimester and the bleeding eventually came to an end, but with fear holding me back, I wasn’t enjoying my long awaited pregnancy. And then… on my 20-week ultrasound, everything changed. We stared in awe at the little active boy playing with his umbilical cord and not staying still long enough for the technical to take a decent picture. At that moment it hit me that everything would somehow fall into place.
Now with my little miracle, I look back with a grateful heart. All the tests, all the procedures, all the waiting and all the tears turned out to be a life changing adventure that brought me to my baby boy. If I had a time machine that took me back to the beginning, I’d hop right back on that train…without hesitation…every frekin’ time.
Obviously I don’t know what my future holds, but I hope it involves siblings for Sam to play with. How that’s going to happen is a mystery right now, but I have high hopes for next time. Whether it’s tackling more IVF, looking into adoption, or something I haven’t even thought of yet, I’m excited to see how the adventure unfolds. All I can say is when I’m ready to try again, I promise to share.
Peace. Love. And baby dust.