Infertility and Pregnancy

My pregnancy and infertility journey

I went off birth control on September 19, 2014.  In March/April 2018, I did my first IVF.  It failed miserably like they got 2 eggs out and neither were mature.  I was told I could never have kids with my own eggs.  For whatever reason, I was not into donor eggs.  I was devastated and subsequently became depressed.  You can read what I posted on Facebook about it in 2017 (strategically before my SIL got married so people wouldn’t ask – I was still not in a good place to answer the when are you having kids question).   In 2017, Rich and I actually became home-study approved for adoption.  But we stopped the process because I just wasn’t into it.  I was not sure why at the time, but I don’t feel like you should go through with it if your heart is not into it.  In 2018, while on a beach trip at Oak Island with my family, I found this blog: https://www.tomakeamommy.com/.  Yes, I never truly gave up looking for why my egg quality was bad.  I don’t have any diseases.  I don’t have any health problems.  No one could tell me why my eggs weren’t good.  So after I found this blog, I told Rich about it.  He was in grad school at the time and said we could do it after he graduated in December.  I ordered a few of the things for fertility tea, but the diet is so intense, you cannot do it without some support at home.

In January of 2019, after I had mentioned the diet to Rich the year before, I was complaining about stuff and he looked at me and said, “maybe this diet is God’s way of telling us we still have work left to do and we haven’t done everything in our power.  Let’s do the diet.”  So, after a ski trip around Valentine’s day, we started the diet on that Monday.  Clearly, the diet, acupuncture, and IVF worked, as I am pregnant now.  I actually did a LOT of things, including praying specifically for what I wanted, healing my heart, and yoga.  This was a lot of intense internal work that I have never done, as someone who always wants to be productive.  This summer was the summer of slowing down.

After so much heartache and pain, I am very happy to share now.  I am also thankful to have friends going along the same journey in motherhood to be able to ask questions to.

2017 Free Valentine S Floral Heart Image SC Stockshop 6 Grande

 

My Timeline:

2014 – Went off birth control

2015 – Tried Clomid

2016 – IVF – Fail, Therapy for Depression

2017 – Healing, but still angry/sensitive. Actually home-study approved, but I wasn’t ready to move forward with adoption.

2018 – Finally found my happiness again.  Re-discussed donor eggs again, but I wasn’t into it.

2019 – January my Mom has her surgery.  When I get to Abingdon, Dad asks me what we are going to do b/c we have discussed so many options (at this point, this is a normal question from him).  I tell him God told me on the drive here “I have big plans for you”.  I tell my Dad I’m not doing anything right now until I figure out what that means.

2019 – February – August – diet, acupuncture, learning about gut health (Rich did the diet with me!)

July 2019 – Retested levels.  AMH went from .42 to 1, FSH went from 13.3 to 6.7.  Incredible  Your levels are supposed to get worse with time, not better!  Start hormones for IVF!

August 7, 2019 – Egg retrieval for IVF – 15 eggs retrieved, 10 eggs mature, 7 fertilized and made it to embryos.  I asked for and felt God’s presence.  This was the week before Rich went to the hospital for the first time.

September 2019 – Rich in hospital for 2nd time with scattered pulmonary emboli – can’t do first FET because too stressed out (everyone thought I was so upset about Scotland and Ireland, and yes, I was, but I was devastated to have to wait another month to do an embryo transfer)

October 2019 – first FET – did not implant, I did NOT feel God’s presence in the room, even after asking.  My cycle starts over and shots start again (at my sister’s house for a visit actually!)

November 14, 2019 – second FET, I did feel God’s presence.  I even asked Rich is we should wait another month in case of his condition.

November 18, 2019 – We find out Rich has to have open-heart surgery.  We request to be transferred to Duke (only a few hospitals in the US do the surgery he needs).

November 19, 2019 – 5dpt – I take a pregnancy test – it is negative.  Worst 24 hours of the year.  I continue with my shots because you have to.

November 22, 2019 – blood pregnancy test at the IVF clinic is positive!  I am pregnant!

January 18, 2020 – first time off of synthetic hormones since July (No more shots, pills, or patches!)

February 2020 – I finally start to feel like myself again and forget I am pregnant.  Probably due to being off hormones for the first time in over 6 months 😊

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Here is what I did (it was very intense and I am so glad I can be an intense and very dedicated person):

  • I started with To Make a Mommy.  I read everything on her website. (https://www.tomakeamommy.com/)
    • I did NOT do the Mayan massage from To Make a Mommy.  I couldn’t figure it out and would forget.
    • I did track my basal body temperature but it was hard to do at the same time every day for me.
    • Ate 2 brazil nuts every day
    • I did the Fertile Heart Series per the To Make a Mommy suggestion.  I had a little bit of trauma to work through from the IVF and being told I could never have my own biological children and I had trouble visualizing myself pregnant.  It was $400.
  • I started following the @the.holistic.psychologist on Instagram.  She is amazing and it is all free.  I wrote in a dream journal every morning.  I actually started having dreams!
  • I started a gratitude journal.  I love the practice!  I actually started the future self-journaling that the holistic psychologist recommended (and emailed if you join her list).  I think it really helped and I would write about my future with a child all the time.
  • I did yoga at least 3 times a week from a yoga DVD dedicated to fertility and where you were in your cycle.  I would also still go to Zumba and, of course, walk the dogs.  Sometimes I would walk by myself for an hour with no phone to clear my head.  I still do this as it makes me feel so much better.
  • I listened to a podcast called Fab Fertile and I follow a functional medicine person (up near Philly) on Instagram. @fabfertile @jennifer_ragazzo
    • This is where I found out about the LEAP MRT test.  Although I ordered mine on my own from here: https://www.truehealthlabs.com/MRT-Food-Sensitivity-Test-170-Most-Popular-p/oxford_bio_leap_150.htm
      • I did the LEAP MRT test because I became impatient with the strictness of the diet and wanted to know what was reacting in my body.  I was red in wheat and green peppers and yellow in quite a few things that I love (like mustard and watermelon!).  I try to only eat the yellow things once a week.  I avoid the red all together minus the day of my egg retrieval when I ate pizza afterward.  I also ate homemade bread once in the summer.  My Mom told me that pizza is so high in sugar that on her diabetes pump, there is actually a button for it.  It releases insulin after you eat, like normal, and then again 30 min later because pizza has a very high sugar effect on our bodies!
    • I also did a stool test (!) and found out I contracted a parasite in Costa Rica.  I got rid of it with ozone treatments at my acupuncturists.  I also found out I had an overgrowth of candida, although it was going down since I cut out sugar.
    • The Jen lady I follow on Instagram talks about doing a stool test with her clients all the time.  I love being able to see my results b/c it bolded it in red (you could easily see my problem areas).
      • I fully believe in gut health.
    • I also did a thyroid panel and randomly threw in the Iodine test.
      • Ordered: https://www.walkinlab.com/
      • I did the thyroid #2, iodine urine, and iron serum tests.
      • I had my Dad help me read this chart, but I also took notes on what the function medicine limits are and that is when we determined I have subclinical hypothyroidism.  I also showed the test to my acupuncturist and she gave me Thyroforte to help.  I still take this.  I also had horribly low Iodine levels, not sure why, but I added Iodized salt back into my diet as this is what powers your thyroid, and therefore your reproductive system.  I am so glad I threw in the Iodine test!
  • I did a strict diet from the To Make A Mommy website from Valentine’s Day to Easter.  We went to Costa Rica over Easter so I did what I could, but enjoyed myself on vacation.  Then I did strict until I got my LEAP MRT results back.  After that, I did dairy, very low soy, and still sugar less than 7 grams in a 2 hour period.  I would have red wine once a month if I went out – no more.  And I did once drink a margarita without sugar (basically tequila, lime juice, and salt) after Rich was hospitalized.  It was tart but good!  This is what my acupuncturist drinks because it is relatively clean and tequila is the only liquor those with celiac can drink always (not made from grain).  I only ate brown rice, as white turns to sugar so fast.  I upped my protein and tracked my macros – 25% protein, less than 40% carbs, and the rest were healthy fats.
  • I drank a wheatgrass, spirulina, protein smoothie every day for lunch (with food).  It also had almond milk and sometimes juiced greens, all unflavored.  I added peanut butter, 5 strawberries, and a dash of cinnamon.  It was not good but I think this helped so much.  If I couldn’t stand it, I would sub out the strawberries and add a splash of pineapple juice, but less than 7 grams of sugar.
  • I only drank sparkling water from a glass, no cans.  I avoided aluminum canned food as much as possible to keep out the potential aluminum toxicity.  Mountain Valley is a good brand and Topo Chico.
  • Supplement wise, I took DHEA, which made me very oily all summer, the thyroforte, Omega-3s, and a few other things for regulating me that my acupuncturist gave me (Astra Essence, cycling pills, Ovasitol, a probiotic, and I can’t think of anything else).  It was a lot of pills at a lot of different times.  I even did this in Costa Rica.  I got all of these supplements from my acupuncturist.
  • I did the diet first, then started with replacing all of our cleaning and shampoo/hygiene products with natural ones.  Then I went on to makeup using the EWG Skin Deep site.  Then a few months later I decided to start with clothing and do either recycled, sustainable, or natural fibers.  I also stopped buying so much.  If only I can get my Amazon deliveries down!
  • In order to fund this IVF, I was terrified it wouldn’t work again.  I took out a bunch of rewards credit cards (we don’t have any debt except our mortgage!) and decided if it didn’t work, we would take some really nice trips.  For IVF out of pocket, because ours is NOT covered by insurance, it was $20,000 in 2016 and we ended up with nothing.  This time, it was $28,000 (again a more personalized clinic) and we ended up with tons of points.  So, if you see us traveling in the near future, it is not technically free because we paid a lot of money for it, but it was something I did to help my heart in case of failure again.  I know those numbers are scary, and it took us years to save up, but if someone is reading this, I want it to be realistic so that they will have the money and that will be one less thing to stress about!
  • I prayed a lot!  We prayed very specifically to get pregnant naturally with my own eggs and Rich’s sperm.  Like said those words out loud.  At dinner at home, by ourselves, anytime we thought about it.  We also had our parents pray that specific prayer – weird I know but my parents did it.  We had so many people praying for us.  I am so thankful to all of them.

2017 Free Valentine S Floral Heart Image SC Stockshop 7 Grande

I think back all the time to what if I would have given up looking.  I never stopped questioning why my egg quality was so low when I don’t have any diseases or other health problems.  I was always looking for an answer to why, and the doctors couldn’t give it to me.  Even now, they aren’t exactly sure how I changed everything for the better while getting 3 years older.  And also, because I did all these things at once and not spread out.  What if I would have completely believed that doctor and done a donor egg?  My ultimate goal was always to go through pregnancy with my own eggs.  I DID believe that doctor for a while and I am so glad I didn’t rush into anything else.  We have been home study approved for adoption since the summer of 2017, but I couldn’t pull the trigger.  My heart wasn’t in it.  In hindsight, I can see why, but it was still a very difficult 5 years to go through.

I have to tell everyone about this because if I can spare one person from the heartache of infertility and hopelessness, then this journey was worth it for me to figure out.  If you know anyone who is struggling, please share my story with them as a way to give them hope.  Infertility is isolating, and mine was never-ending until I took control and became my own advocate.  It actually prepared me very well for when Rich was in the hospital because I asked a lot of questions and had them do some things before they put him on a blood thinner and admitted him, that his doctors were all very thankful for (some extra blood testing).  I won’t say to never stop trying, because at some point you need to stop.  You can see in my timeline where I did not focus on conception for a few years while I focused on getting myself better.  But I truly hope my testimony will reach someone who needs to hear it and can help heal themselves.  I am forever grateful to Anna from To Make A Mommy for putting her story out there to help others and hope I can do the same.

Amanda