42 years after the birth of the world's first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, more than eight million babies have been born as a result of IVF and other advance fertility treatments.
Fertility problems are estimated to affect one in six or one in seven couples in the UK, which is approximately 3.5 million people. If you are one of these mamas, or have been, it’s important to know, you are not alone. Every journey to become a mother is different, and we respect and honour every single one.
We talked to soon-to-be mama Melissa on her IVF journey and the difficulties she experienced to become a mama.
Tell us a little bit about your journey so far…
Our journey started in 2018 when we decided to try for a baby. Like most people, I thought it would be quick!
After a few months of just trying the fun way, I started being more serious about it by tracking my cycle and taking ovulation tests to make sure we were doing it during my fertile window.
After about six months of trying, I knew in my heart something was wrong.
I went to a free consultation in LA and was told I was jumping the gun and to come back in six months if I still wasn't pregnant.
We went back and we did all of the necessary tests and everything came back normal, even better than normal, perfect!
Both of our numbers were excellent and we were given the confusing diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’. Our first step was six rounds of 50mg Clomid. After each passing month, I was more and more discouraged. The side effects of the drug were debilitating.
I had hot flashes and mood swings multiple times a day, every single day. By month six I asked my Registered Nurse to up my Clomid to 100mg because it obviously wasn't working.
She said it was too dangerous and kept my dosage at 50.
On our last month of Clomid, we planned to do an intra-uterine insemination,
I was desperate. I knew we couldn't afford IVF. I knew what paying $30k would do to us financially. I was in a very dangerous state of mind, to say the least, and I was desperate. Against medical advice, I upped my dose.
Three days later I woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain. Matt finally convinced me to go to the ER after three hours of being curled in the foetal position, moaning in agony. They were worried I had an ectopic pregnancy, but all the tests came back negative.
After six hours waiting, they discovered I was bleeding internally and had to go into emergency surgery to fix the bleed. I remember thinking that I was going to die, that this was how it ended and Matt was going to be alone in the hospital when it happened. But I woke up. I woke up to the news that because of the overdose on Clomid, I had a cyst rupture inside my left fallopian tube and they had to remove it. Not only that, but my right fallopian tube was Hydrosalpinx and I had Endometriosis. I was beyond gutted.
The surgeon told us the only way I could get pregnant was through IVF. That was April 18th 2019.
In November of 2019, we started our first round of IVF. We ended up retrieving 21 eggs, out of those 21 only five managed to fertilize and three made it to the day five blasts. In February of 2020, we transferred two embryos.
Nine days later we got a positive pregnancy test and we were overjoyed!
Five days later our first pregnancy sadly ended very early as my HCG began to drop.
This was at the beginning of the COVID shutdown.
We had to wait a few months to start transfer prep for our second transfer, we only had one embryo left and it was our last shot at our dream of becoming parents.
When we went to our Registered Nurse in May to discuss the plan going forward, he said he had a plan and wanted to run it by us. His plan was to do a whole new egg retrieval and add the human growth hormone called Omnitrope. He explained it was still experimental. He also wanted us to do luteal phase stimulation so we could start the process right away! I remember looking at Matt (through our masks of course) and asking with my eyes "is this really happening?!" We managed to get only 17 eggs, and I thought it didn't work! We ended up with 12 excellent graded embryos! On July 13th we transferred an embryo and 10 days later we found out it had worked! My HCG came back at 260 and two days later it had more than doubled at 1,533! On August 17th we saw our sons heartbeat for the first time. I am currently pregnant with our miracle baby Jackson Dean who is due on March 31st 2021.
Did you have any preconceived notions on IVF? If so, what were they? Were they correct or incorrect?
My preconceived notion of IVF was that it was a for sure thing! We 100% thought it would be smooth sailing and assumed it would work the first time. Sadly that wasn't the case for us, and isn't for most of the IVF couples we know.
How many times did it take you to conceive?
Two egg retrievals and two transfers. Eight months to get pregnant from the start of IVF to the end.
Did you have a pre-determined stop point i.e. when you would stop trying?
We made a promise to each other that we would never give up. Whether it meant egg donation or a surrogate.
What have you found the hardest part of having IVF?
The hardest part of IVF is the unknown.
What have you learned?
I've learned that I'm a lot stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I've learned that my marriage is stronger than I ever could have imagined
What made you share your journey with your followers?
When I found out I was infertile, I felt so alone. I was mad at the world, and I hated myself. When I shared my truth, I found a tribe of women who supported me, who knew what it was like. Women I’ve shared dark corners of my soul with and women I truly believe will be lifelong friends
Did anything change in your relationship with your partner, friends or family during this process?
My husband and I are so much more grateful for the things we have. We became more vulnerable with each other. When we couldn't be strong anymore we leaned on each other. He knows every scary thought I've ever had. We have cried on the floor in a heap of tears and we have celebrated every milestone of this pregnancy with love and hope for the future.
You are now pregnant with a baby boy, what gets you excited about being a mum?
I am so excited for day to day life with our son. Watching him grow into a boy and then a man. Holidays, family traditions, starting a college fund for him for either college or trade school or whatever he finds his passion to be when the time comes. I’m excited for the good, the bad, and everything in-between and I am so excited to watch Matt be the amazing dad I know he will be.
What are you most nervous about?
I'm most nervous about the mistakes I'm bound to make. Will I be too hard on him, too lenient, will I lose my patience too often, will breastfeeding come easily? Will delivery be scary? Will we bond instantly or will it be a process? It’s all so unknown!
What’s a quote that you live by?
I live by the quote "you have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved."
What would you say to others in a similar position?
What I would say to others in a similar position - give yourself grace. This is hard. It's ok to not always know what’s next and its okay to not be positive all the time.
*We recommend always following medical advice.
You can follow Melissa’s journey here.