Today, I am sharing my SIL Krystle’s IVF success story. I hope you find the information helpful along your journey, and if you have any questions for her, please leave them in the comments, and I will make sure she sees them.
Table of contents
- Trying To Conceive: TTC
- IVF Process & The Fertility Clinic
- My IVF Process & Experience:
- From Infertility To Pregnancy:
Trying To Conceive: TTC
First comes love, then comes marriage
I met my husband 12 years ago. Our story is unique but not unlike most couples. We fell in love and were married in 2007.
We were married on 4/21/2007, a little over four years after the meeting.
I loved my job and couldn’t wait to advance.
My husband Jim was still looking for his niche.
Telling you that might help you understand why we continued developing ourselves and our marriage without kids.
It wasn’t long before Jim found his path, and I received the desired promotion.
We started talking about babies, how that would affect our lives, and whether we were ready to start trying.
Instead of trying to get pregnant, we ended up becoming adoptive parents of the 6-year-old second cousin of my husband!
This put the baby talk on hold as we adjusted to life with a 6-year-old and learned very quickly, with the help of family and friends, how to become parents!
After a year or so, the baby talk seemed to creep back into the conversation.
So you think you know what happens next, right? Here comes the baby carriage. Not so fast!
Infertility Diagnosis & Clomid
We tried the old fashion way and, after a year of no results, sought out the help of my OBGYN, and my SIL decided to write an infertility prayer for us.
He determined through many factors that I might need some help getting started, so he recommended Clomid as the treatment.
With the drug treatment, you are required to schedule routine booty calls. Yes, guys, this sounds exciting, guaranteed booty time, but when it becomes forced, it isn’t.
I took so many pills for so many days charting ovulation, and then bam, on that day, that time, BOOTY!!
Again, not as romantic as either party prefers it to be.
After each try, I followed up with a blood test to check for a baby. With every appointment, our hopes dropped, and frustration grew. After six months of no results, Dr. M switched my medication.
New Medication & Frustrations
With Clomid, I was already experiencing mood swings and fatigue; with the second medication, I rode a roller coaster of emotions.
Looking back, I am surprised my husband didn’t divorce me.
I now understand how this process can drive you apart if you aren’t 100% committed, and I know all the side effects as a couple.
The second six months became scripted: count the days, take the meds, schedule lovemaking, count the days again, schedule the blood test, and the feeling of fear and hopelessness through the days in between.
These were the only things that we expected to be consistent.
Each appointment came and went with no results.
My breaking point came when I yelled at my boss during one of her visits. She critiqued something that wouldn’t otherwise have bothered me, but the medication in my body made my emotions go crazy.
I just flipped!
After we discussed what happened and she understood, I went to my car and called my husband, and spent the next 20 minutes crying hysterically on the phone.
Time To Try Something Different:
I told him I couldn’t do it anymore; we had to find another way. The next appointment with Dr. M gave us our last option to see a fertility specialist.
We came home devastated. I had friends who had been down the same path and had a good idea of the money it could cost.
I know you can’t put a price on a child’s life, but unfortunately, you have to if you have to pay someone to help you get there.
We considered adoption as we already were at that point with a family child we were caring for, but we wanted a child of our own to see the traits of each of us reflected in our child.
I wanted to carry a baby inside me and feel the miracle that is life.
Was that too much to ask as I watched girlfriends and family do so quickly?
After considering it, the choice wasn’t that hard; I called UNC fertility clinic the next day to set up the consultation.
IVF Process & The Fertility Clinic
Our first appointment was on January 3, 2013; it was scary.
I had a million questions and thoughts running through my head.
Being well prepared, I knew the statistics were low, with only a 30% success rate on the first try.
I knew both my husband and I both had health issues that were contributing to our infertility.
If we hadn’t gotten pregnant yet, could they make it happen?
Fertility Specialist Consultation:
Thankfully with the friendly face at the desk and the quaint feeling of the office, my nerves started to ease. I felt even better when I looked around the office and locked eyes with other women there for the same reason.
Giving and receiving a small smile from each of those women also helped me to remember that I wasn’t the only one fighting this battle. It helps to know you’re not alone.
We were called back to meet with Dr. S.
She explained EVERYTHING.
I am so thankful that there were printouts and even drawings by Dr. S herself! It was a complete information overload.
IVF Financial Counseling:
Once we were given our options and recommendations, we were referred to the financial counselor. My nerves were back in overdrive; I mean, how much was all this going to cost?
A.G. was able to run all my insurance information and give me not only my procedure cost but also my medication cost.
I almost cried right in the office. The final cost was in black and white, in what seemed like 72pt font.
It would take us forever to save that amount in the time frame we were shooting for.
All I could hear in the silence of the elevator ride down was “tick, tick, tick.
Yes, the tick of my baby clock minutes passing me by. Once I got past the clock, the calculations started running rampant in my head.
We didn’t know how to make the $10,000(after insurance) payment.
Of course, this included the estimated medication and potential copays for resulting visits with Dr. S.
After lengthy discussions between my husband and our parents, I called Dr. S and told her we would schedule something as soon as we were close to the needed savings.
Over the next nine months until September 2013, we saved and saved and saved some more.
We stepped back, took our focus off our desire to have a baby, and made our marriage and our adopted daughter our priority.
Blessing Of A Lifetime:
Late September brought some proposed changes to my options for health insurance through work.
I remember sitting in the office reading about the different options, and one was screaming at me from the paper, Platinum level= 100% coverage.
As I clicked through the perks of this plan, fertility treatment was among them.
I think my heart stopped.
I immediately called the 1-800 number to verify my reading!
After knowing what my current insurance would cover and what the cash prices were, this seemed like a mistake.
My trepidation soon turned to sheer joy! After conversations with the insurance company, the medical billing department, and the financial adviser at UNC, the result was unthinkable!
The plan option that I could select starting coverage for 2014 covered 100% of almost every procedure, every medication, and every subsequent visit at not only the specialist but, pending a miracle happening, my regular OBGYN too!
I’m not a crier.
Though most things affect me, they do not make me cry.
I was again on the verge of that emotional roller coaster, thinking this was within our grasp and it was finally something tangible. I signed up for that plan and called UNC to make my appointment for the first available one in 2014.
My IVF Process & Experience:
Almost one year to the day, we met back at UNC with Dr. S to discuss the first steps of IVF.
We reviewed what was discussed a year ago, and I met my nurse. Yes, MY own nurse K.B.!
I was surprised that Dr. S sent me to get my starting blood tests that day!
In the vitals chair, I met P, the craziest, most personable woman. She was why I didn’t dread all the needle sticks I would endure throughout my treatment.
That day I walked out with not just Dr. S’s cell number, nurse K.B.’s email, and the support of the entire office!
I walked out with hope and the support of an incredible team.
Before any procedures could occur, Jim and I had a battery of blood tests and meetings with Dr. S and nurse K.B. to discuss each step and make the schedule that would hopefully take us to transfer day.
This took a little over two months to coordinate with the office schedule and our work schedule.
We also had to determine the correct time of my monthly cycle to start any medication and traveling we might have been planning. Once you begin the process, you are committed for about 45 days to be available when the doctors tell you to be.
Time For Birth Control:
Starting at the end of March, I started on birth control pills. I know you are scratching your head, thinking, why birth control?
Birth control helps you control ovulation. Ovulation, you will find, is critical in this entire process.
My directions were to take the B.C. until April 15, 2014.
During my time in between, I was given homework. I had to watch videos to teach my husband and myself how to give home injections that would soon follow.
We had to read and sign paperwork to determine what to do with any storage needs for other(hopefully) embryos.
We also had to schedule an appointment with the anesthesiologist for information on the actual transfer.
You might think this sounds like an awful lot on me. You are right, but Jim also had to play a vital part in the prep.
On his birthday, yes, his birthday, we went for an appointment so he could give us a backup sample of swimmers to freeze in case there were any problems day of retrieval.
I took him to lunch as a treat!
This first step was not as simple as it seemed. I reacted terribly to birth control about a week after taking it.
I work in a pharmacy and know by nature not to look at the list of unlimited side effects that a drug can give you, but I started having intense calf pain, which was one of the symptoms under “call your doctor if…” so bad that I could barely walk.
It could have only been described as a pre-charley horse muscle pain. After checking in with my doctor and nurse, we determined it wasn’t going to do anything else but be an annoyance to me and to monitor for any developing symptoms.
Mock Embryo Transfer:
I thought the leg pain was terrible; little did I know that pain was nothing compared to some of the things I was about to experience.
The most painful of all the procedures was the mock transfer.
This a procedure they do without any anesthesia. They need to “map out” the actual transfer.
They filled my uterus with saline and used a Cather-style tube to find the path from the outside to my uterus where the fertilized embryo would need to be placed.
If you don’t have a direct line through, the tube will hit your uterine wall and cause an excruciating, pinching feeling.
Yup that happened!
Again, not a big crier, but that immediately brought tears to my eyes, and because they said it wasn’t supposed to be a big deal, I squeezed the nurse’s hand through all of that.
Once my path was drawn, the procedure was over, and I was done, but I felt tingly for the rest of the day.
Waiting on the 15th felt like a child waiting for Christmas. I was so excited, nervous, and scared all at the same time!
Another quick peek into who I am, typical type A, first child, and overall leader take charge kind of gal. This level of not knowing what the results would be and the hurry up and wait of it all drove me crazy!
Time To Stop The Birth Control & Go On An Egg Hunt
April 15 brought the first of many dates I had to follow strict instructions.
I arrived at the office in the morning for my first baseline ultrasound, and a blood draw for my estradiol level.
With this visit, I also stopped birth control, telling my body to prepare for egg release, which Dr. S was trying to control.
These visits would happen almost every Tuesday and Thursday for the next three weeks in the same fashion.
The visits were 30 minutes max. The doctor would check how many follicles could be seen, and the blood test would give us my body’s estrogen level. Could I support egg production and fertilization?
April 19 was a Saturday. I know what you think. Did you go to the doctor’s office on Saturday?
Yes, I even had a visit on a Sunday because everything with this process is timed to your body. Your body doesn’t care that it is the weekend.
This was the beginning of the shots Jim and I had previously learned how to administer.
Let me tell you when you receive that box in the mail, it is so overwhelming. I am happy that she had the exact products for demonstration during the appointment with nurse K.B.
There was so much, and with the information we received, I was able to sort everything out and prepare for our first shots that would happen that night.
The shots must be completed at the same time every day.
Our Hormone Shot Plan:
We decided that 10 pm would be best because we would always be home.
And ladies, please have your husband help you do these shots. It not only brings him into the process of involvement and support, but it is also much easier to do with two people.
One of these medications must be drawn up in a separate syringe; the other has a two-part mix.
I received Both of these injections in the belly, inserting to the left and right of the belly button.
I received an email that afternoon with my levels and what dose of medication was recommended to take until my next appointment.
At this point, Jim also started taking an antibiotic to rid his swimmers of any bacteria in preparation for the transfer day.
I continued visiting the office for my ultrasound and blood draw before work for the next two weeks.
Each visit was followed up with the dosage for the days until the next appointment.
The dosage steadily increased as my body was receptive to the medication and slowly pushed the ultrasounds to show the increasing number of eggs developing due to the shots.
The Final Shot
When the time was right, they would have me do a final shot of HCG to stimulate the eggs for retrieval.
I was lucky enough to share this experience not only with my husband but with my mom too.
She lives in V.A. She called after every appointment to check in and visited during one of my required ultrasound visits.
I feel like the process became very real for her when she could see and hear from the doctor what was happening at that moment.
It was such a special and real moment to share with her. I felt like the doctor could better explain and reassure her of the process than I could.
My estrogen level was right where they wanted it! My husband, my shot rockstar, administered this shot with the hope that it was the last one for about a week.
Between the soreness of my ovaries and injection sites, I was happy to have it be the last one, if only for a short time.
We scheduled my retrieval for that Saturday.
No shots the day before, no food or drink after midnight. My retrieval was scheduled for 9 am.
I had to bring both a snack and the pain medication for after. Jim was with me to give me some fresh swimmers and be my designated responsible adult to drive me home.
I liked joking that he was the most responsible one I could find! Jim got to stay with me through pre-op until they took me back to the OR.
My nerves were on edge, and since this was an operation, it made me even more nervous.
In the pre-op room, I got into one of those fashionable gowns and super cute booties. The nurse started my IV and checked my vitals.
Then I met with the anesthesiologist to check for any last-minute concerns.
After that, it was go time.
I kissed Jim, told him I loved him, walked to the OR, and got on the table. The doctors and nurses came in and started hooking me up to different monitors, and off to sleep I went.
My husband got to shoot the shot into a sharpie-drawn target from the nurse while I was still in the OR.
It all took about 30 minutes, and then I was back in the recovery room, groggy and starving!
I had to stay about an hour after for monitoring. During that time, I had a chance to get some juice and a snack and had my pain medication administered. I had to change clothes and empty my bladder before I was allowed to leave.
Sadly, I don’t do well with pain meds, and even with my snack, I was already feeling nauseous.
I felt so bad for Jim because we weren’t even 5 minutes down the highway before he had to pull over for me to throw up.
We finally made it home with my instructions to do nothing but sit or lie down for the next 24 hours.
Of course, I took advantage of this, hung out on the couch, and caught up on sleep and the DVR!
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection
During my R&R, the embryologist worked with my egg and the sperm through ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).
Basically, he injected the sperm directly into the egg, versus the traditional IVF procedure of essentially dumping the sperm on top of the egg within the dish and hoping they find each other.
With the ICSI process, it is full proof that they will connect.
All we had to do was impatiently await the results that could change the rest of our lives. No big deal!
Houston, We Have Embryos!
I started the progesterone shots that would help the embryo thrive.
These shots were in my backside and the worst by far of the shots I had to have. These also continue well past the transfer date.
We alternated sides each night, but it still got to the point where it was painful to walk and sit!
In the back of my mind, every pain I dealt with only made me stronger, helping to remind myself it was all worth the result.
On day two, I got the call from UNC that we had nine viable embryos starting.
I knew on day three, I would get a call to let me know if they thought they would have to transfer one and freeze the rest or if we could let them develop until day five which was the optimum growth.
Day three came and went, and they gave the ok to leave them until day five.
My transfer was scheduled, and the nerves came rushing right back!
Embryo Transfer Day:
On the transfer day, I had to arrive with a full bladder.
What a tricky thing to do! I was afraid I wouldn’t drink enough and kept drinking on my way to the transfer.
When I got to the office, I thought I would burst. But I got ready in the pre-op room and had a chance to talk with the embryologist before going into the OR.
On day 5, we finalized six embryos that could be chosen from. They rated the quality, and we had one of the best quality, which became the one chosen to transfer. I even got to see a picture of the embryo they decided on.
Once in the room, I had to verify that the information on the dish holding my possible baby was mine and that they were transferring only that one.
Once set up, Dr. S expertly navigated my inner roadway using the mock diagram from almost a month earlier, and as I watched on the screen, she completed the procedure! It was so fast!
I walked out of the OR and had to wait 5 minutes, and then I FINALLY got to empty my bladder! Oh my goodness, that felt so good, but at the same time, I was scared.
What if somehow my baby fell out? What if, in the continued wait and race to the bathroom, I jiggled it too much and did not attach to my uterus?!?
AHHH, all the crazy nonrealities that went through my head! In the end, I wrapped up and, changed my clothes, made my appointment for May 10 for an HCG blood draw. Now it was back to hurry up and wait.
2 days until we knew if we were going to be parents. Two days. Did I mention we had to wait two days?!? It seemed like forever!
On the morning of May 10, I travel to the office for the last step of the beginning of our lives.
I waited my turn for the blood draw. Thankfully, and maybe with a little luck, P was the one working the weekend and took my blood for the final time pre-news.
After a 10-minute visit, I was told that a doctor on for the weekend would call me after reviewing the lab results.
I picked that Saturday to work my ½ day to help keep me busy. At 11:30 am, as I was wrapping up my paperwork, my cell phone started to ring with the caller ID stating three simple letters, UNC.
My heart stopped, and I couldn’t breathe; suddenly, I realized as I sat there I could already have our miracle growing inside or worse, what if it is news that we don’t wish to hear?
I’m 45 minutes from home; how will I get there if it isn’t good news?
How will I get there if it is good news?
I answered the phone, and the on-call doctor I had seen a few times throughout my visits was on the other end.
After verifying that I am me, the next words were, “I am excited to be the first one to tell you CONGRATULATIONS!”
My heart stopped, for real, this time, and then the poor doctor had to wait until the sobbing full of hiccups, shaking, and laughter slowed to tell me what I had to do next and when.
From Infertility To Pregnancy:
We scheduled my first ultrasound for observation and said our goodbyes.
Not too long after, I received a text from my doctor and an email from my nurse as they had all been alerted that operation baby Walton was a success.
I immediately gathered my things and spent the next 45 minutes trying to figure out the best way to tell Jim since I knew and he didn’t.
I pulled into the driveway, prayed to my unborn baby, took a deep breath, and walked into the house.
Jim immediately asked if I had heard, and I told him that I did receive the call and asked if he was ready to be called daddy.
He was speechless and jumped up from his chair, and we hugged and cried together; our dream had finally come true.
After we adjusted the best we could to our news, we shared the news with our parents, siblings, and a few close friends that had been with us every step of the way, knowing our timeline and waiting as anxious as those related to us.
Our dream would be a reality in January 2015. We would have our baby, our miracle, our love.
Thank you for reading my story. If you have any questions about our IVF success experience, feel free to ask.