With my husband’s side of things being excellent, our doctor ran me through a few more routine tests and procedures. We were put on a level 1 for our treatment plan— medications + vitamins + multiple monthly ultrasounds + multiple monthly blood work + restrictive diet + trigger shots + timed intercourse. We were excited that this could finally be it!
Three months into treatment and we had no success, so we switched medications, hoping my body would respond better to a different drug. Each month, being harder and harder, as well as becoming more devastated emotionally, physically and financially with no results. We were now classified as “Unexplained Infertility” after 2.5 years of trying to get pregnant intentionally, and almost 5 years unintentionally with no contraceptives. Realizing that there could be a chance we would never become parents naturally, we made sure to continue to keep our marriage as the focal point- going on trips away to spend quality time together, making date night a priority and even going to marriage counseling when we saw that our fertility journey was putting a strain on our relationship.
After a traumatic car accident, ovarian cysts from medication and what felt like countless setbacks, we completed our last round of treatment for level 1 and it was unsuccessful. We were told that we had exhausted the level of treatment we had been trying at (with a 39% chance to get pregnant overall), and with our testing results and lack of fertility insurance coverage, Level 2 (IUI) wouldn’t provide us with any greater odds than that of which we had been trying already. Since I was currently under 30 years old, as well as all of our other tests show in our favor, our doctor was very optimistic and said that IVF would provide us with a 80-90% chance to become parents on one try.
In Vitro Fertilization is intensive and extremely expensive. Unfortunately, our medical insurance didn’t cover a dime. It became more and more difficult to come up with the funds to proceed with fertility treatment, after spending thousands upon thousands of dollars. With over 2.5 years worth of blood work, testing, procedures and medications all paid for out of pocket, we had exhausted our personal finances. This is when we came to terms with the fact we needed to vulnerable and ask for help, so we started at GoFundMe. It was both difficult & humbling to even ask for help for such a personal journey, but we pray that through our transparency & vulnerability, God will be glorified and other couples will be comforted. We knew ultimately the Lord would provide as He saw fit and most importantly, we wanted to give glory to God through this entire journey & process. We knew medically, the longer we waited, our chances for success would decrease, statistically speaking.
In August 2017, we started our IVF journey after raising over $8,000.00 in funds, family donations and pulling from savings we put away over 6 months for this moment. I remember walking into the fertility clinic with $12k+ in cash, because we just wanted to put the money down as soon as we got it and out of our bank accounts. September 2017, I started my pre-egg retrieval stomach injections and boy did they suck. As a wedding photographer, I would have to plan in advance when I would be able to sneak away (in a short window of time) to give myself multiple injections out of sight from guests and my clients. It was physically and emotionally taxing to say the least. As we were a few days out from our egg retrieval and countless injections later, I got the call 15 minutes before a photoshoot that my estrogen levels had plummeted and my egg retrieval would need to be rescheduled for a later date and I would need a whole NEW protocol for medications. I felt like the wind was knocked out of me and tears streamed down my face, as I knew my doctor wouldn’t make that kind of call unless it was in my best interest. Regardless, I was devastated that I would now have to wait even longer to get closer to holding my baby I had been dreaming of.
November finally came. My egg retrieval was a success in medical terms and 30 eggs had been retrieved (Holy Crap!)… my husband and I decided to not do genetic testing for personal and faith based reasons, so we had no idea the “medical” chances we had for a success transfer once reaching day 5 with our embryos. Day 5 came, we got the call that 6 embryos had made it to the end. Kind of crazy when you think about it- you start with 30 eggs, about half of those fertilize and each day a few drop off until you’re left with your final number.
Because my ovaries were SO swollen from the medications and the procedure (the doctor said they were “kissing” over my uterus), we were denied a fresh transfer and put our little babies in the freezer (so to speak) and waited for clearance to do a frozen transfer.
Once again, being a wedding photographer, my timeline had to be very strategic for when we would not only do the transfer and I would be on bedrest, but when our potential baby (or babies) would be born. So while we were cleared for January 2018, we chose March 13, 2018 as our transfer date. Now came the intramuscular injections… I was terrified. For someone who is covered in tattoos, intramuscular injections were something I was dreading the entire journey. I remember that first injection in the doctors office. The nurse showed my husband, so he could help me on a daily basis to do several injections into my upper butt cheek- (enter sarcastic “yay” here). I kept asking question after question to avoid the inevitable needle going into my tooshy. Although, I will say that they got better or more tolerable with time, it was still a task I don’t look back on fondly. Like with my stomach injections before egg retrieval, I had a routine for the process before and during my injections. I would take deep breaths to relax myself—because getting injections while tense isn’t fun for anyone— and I would put on worship music to focus on, while getting stabbed with a needle. I would envision myself pregnant and ultimately holding my baby at the end of all of this.