Guest Post–A Happy Ending for a Couple Diagnosed with Unexplained Infertility

Today I am featuring a guest post from a couple diagnosed with unexplained infertility who are so very dear to my heart- my 1st cousin, Nina and her husband, Bryan.

Although I am sad that we both have had to battle infertility, I am forever grateful for the support and love we have been able to give to one another through this time in our lives.  Those of you who follow my blog know that I always say infertility has brought my husband and I closer.  Well, I can easily say the same thing about my cousin & I’s relationship, too.

Here is their story.

Nina & Bryan’s Story

So, when Ang asked if we would want to share our journey, I right away thought yes of course….then I thought oh goodness I am no writer and have never really written out our story….but quickly let her know that we would be honored to be a part of this amazing avenue for those on the infertility rollercoaster!  I am so proud of you Ang!

If you would have told me 7 years ago that I would be sharing our story on an infertility blog, I probably would have said, “No certainly not me…you must have the wrong couple!”  I say 7 years ago because my husband and I just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on June 21!  As newlyweds, we knew we wanted to have a year to enjoy being married, but wanted to start our family soon after.  We envisioned choosing a month to start trying, become pregnant and soon after have our sweet little bundle of joy!   Perfect picture right?!  Well, the reality was much different….

After about a year of trying with no success one of my very best friends (who was going though infertility) told me she would, without a doubt get to the doctor to get things checked out.  Without hesitation I did just that, all the while still thinking we weren’t going to find anything wrong and would be pregnant soon enough!  My friend advised that it was a good idea to start with the male factor to rule out anything.  For this, I would have to get a referral from my OBGYN first.

Here begins our journey!  To be quite honest I am horrible with dates and I cannot remember the exact timeline.  But, here are the steps we took.   First, I made an appointment to see my OBGYN.  We explained our concerns and asked for a referral for my husband to have things looked at.  She reassured me that I was young and healthy (I had no previous issues, regular cycles, etc.) and that these things take TIME….oh boy was she right about the TIME thing!  The next step was heading to the Urologist for Bryan.  We found that Bry had sperm for days, but they seemed to be taking a vacation.  Our urologist also informed us that Bry had some sort of infection.  One that could easily be taken care of with an antibiotic and that after we would do another analysis.  Fast forward to a few more visits to the urologist and a few more tests….she basically tells us that she is stumped and isn’t sure what to do!  Hence, our unexplained infertility diagnosis.  It felt like months of “wasted” time!

So, I then make an appointment to see the fertility specialist for a consultation.   It was over Christmas break, being a teacher I took any appointment I could get…that being said Bry couldn’t get off work.  So I take my sisters along with me for support and extra ears!

December of 2010 began our journey with the amazing Dr. Karnitis!  He thought that we were great candidates for IUI.  We started up right away.  We were so excited….first IUI cycle was simple.  Clomid, trigger and Bry to the office for his “intimate” alone time, then the procedure…wahoo we were sure to be pregnant after all of this!  We had everyone praying and hoping for the great news.  We choose to be pretty open about everything.  We figured we needed the prayer and support regardless of what was going to happen!  The IUI’s continued….another round of Clomid with injections, then we tried Femara with injections.  Nothing seemed to be wrong, but things just weren’t working!  Even with the injections my eggs didn’t seem to mature like they should be.  We tried a few more rounds of IUI, thinking it just had to work.  But after 5 failed IUI’s, we were finally ready to move on to IVF.  You are probably wondering why we continued trying IUI’s.  I think it was a combo of our doctor being very conservative and careful, and honestly I’m not sure that we were ready to make the IVF move quite yet!

We started up on our 1st round of IVF.  We were both very excited, knowing that with this more invasive procedure our chances of having the sweet babe we have been longing for was pretty great!  Dr. K was always so very optimistic as well.  During this process we were very fortunate to have a wonderful support system and prayer chains galore!  After our many rounds of IUI, we were able to find out that my body did react a little funny to the meds.  It was almost like I would need them upped, but when he would my body would go a little too crazy when they were.  We had to tread lightly.  Again, my eggs weren’t quite what Dr. K wanted, number or size, so he would up the meds just barely.  The eggs ended up getting there, but my levels shot through the roof.  He said it was too dangerous to trigger and continue with the retrieval.  We were so extremely devastated that our cycle was cancelled!  We then took a little break to give my ovaries and body some recover time.

Then it was on to IVF Round 2.  This time around we used a little different med concoction.  Things were going very smoothly, many eggs were developing and my lining was just where he wanted it.  My levels were getting nice and high, which was scary, but he felt comfortable moving forward to the egg retrieval.  YAY!!!  I apologize for not having many details, but to be honest I have difficulty remembering it all.  What we were living day to day, that I never thought I could forget, seems like a blur!

I will tell you that I did not forget any part of the egg retrieval.  We were so excited to finally get to this part.  We were one step closer to our goal!  During the retrieval I was in twilight and was feeling very good.  I remember trying so hard to focus because I wanted to see every single egg Dr. K got and wanted to be sure everything was good to go…as if I could change anything that was taking place!  Dr. K was able to retrieve 17 eggs!!  The next few days were just crazy…we got calls daily explaining how our embryos were doing.  By the end, we had 4 awesome day 4 embryos.  4 days later we did our fresh transfer of 2 embryos.  The other 2 were then frozen.  The day of the transfer was super calm and easy.  We just took it easy and prayed!

I thought for sure that it didn’t work.  I am a worrier to say the least…I didn’t feel any different and I was totally bummed.  Then watch out….here came day 11.  Bry was actually sick with the Norovirus.  So to get me away from it all my mom took me to Outback to eat.  I felt a little queasy, thinking I had caught the awful bug that Bry had.  Oh my goodness was I wrong!  I was a hot mess.  I was getting sick, had migraines, and was passing out on the bathroom floor.  We were on the phone with Dr. K who advised us to get to the clinic, which was located in the hospital and that this was actually great news.  Ummm…I felt absolutely terrible, how in the world could this be good?!

I got there and was hooked up to IV’s right away.  I was extremely dehydrated and had OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome).  They kept me all day.  Dr. K then decided to do a beta….he said it was early and that if it was negative, there was still the possibility that it could be positive, but if it were positive I was in fact pregnant!  He came back shortly, and the news we had been waiting to hear for years was given to us!  CONGRATS…we were pregnant!!  I am going to be honest we literally looked at each other, smiled and kissed.  I then tried to fall back asleep!  We had def pictured something a bit different, but hey who the heck cares!!!  We were going to be parents finally!  As Dr. K walked out of the room he had a smirk on his face and said under his breath, those are twin numbers!!!  Oh my…could it really be!? I felt pretty terrible for weeks after.  I remember Bry literally carrying me to put me into the bathtub!  He is my ROCK!   I looked like I was 4 months pregnant in the matter of a few days, due to the fluid because of OHSS.

Our next appointment was scheduled at 7 weeks to have an ultrasound.  I was still under the weather, but doing a bit better!  We were nervous…so so nervous.  We just wanted to be sure we really were pregnant.  We wanted to see that heart beat!  In comes Dr. K and here we go…“Yep….2 sacs, and 2 heartbeats”!!!!!! WHAT…….we literally looked at eachother and started laughing!  It was a nervous, super excited laugh!  Dr. K joined in the fun!!  Then I had to triple check that they were both healthy so far and look just as they should!  He reassured me they were.

We gave birth to two beautiful babies on September 8, 2013.  They just couldn’t wait to meet us and came 2 months early, but we made it through the 5 week NICU stay!  We thank God everyday for our sweet miracles.

Thank you for allowing us to share our story!  I hope that it can give everyone reading this hope.  No matter where are you in your journey!  Infertility is so very frustrating and it can be easy to lose all hope.  We were there on numerous occasions…keep the faith!

You are all in our prayers ,

Nina and Bryan

Our miracles!!!
                         Our miracles!!!

Lining Check #1

Our post-op for my most recent Hysteroscopy was today.  We reviewed the positive news and images from last week while I was sober and the hubs was with me.

It worked out that we could also do my first lining check at this appointment since I am on day 12 of my cycle and finally off the pill (woo-hoo!).  Although I am on day 12, I haven’t gotten a positive OPK yet, and I started serial testing on day 8.  I haven’t taken a OPK in sooo long, that I wasn’t sure if I was doing something wrong or not.

The good news is that I wasn’t doing anything wrong.  The ultrasound showed that I have not ovulated yet, and I am producing a good amount of nicely sized follicles on my own (without any meds). As many of you know, I was really nervous I might not be able to do so after all the crap my body has been through the past year and a half.  In all honesty, I was scared to death to even get an ultrasound at all because of all the negativity we associate with them now. Let alone one in the same room I was in when I found out our baby had passed away. I was literally feeling sick from my nerves in the waiting room.

Thankfully, God answered our prayers & I still am good in the egg department.  My RE guesses I will get a positive OPK by this weekend, which is when my lining will be at its thickest. He also helped me conquer the fear of having an ultrasound done again.

As for my lining today, it measured 5mm.  Could be better, but could be a lot worse.  Remember, this measurement is un-medicated, after 4 procedures in the past 4 months, with no acupuncture or real exercise routine in place. Since the uterine lining is supposed to grow about 2mm each day, who knows, maybe by ovulation time it could actually be 6 or 7mm. I don’t plan to go back and check again this month though, I will just wait until my positive OPK in July.

Trust me, I know that 5, or even 6 or 7mm is still thin. That is not the point. Here is the point. Today gives us hope that we may be able to get my lining where it needs to be without an excessive amount of estrogen. And hope is a wonderful thing!

We discussed again at our appointment how Estrogen can cause masses in the uterus to grow, and we aren’t willing to risk that given our history. While I understand that many patients never grow a fibroid in response to estrogen, I also know many do. Everyone is different. And we have learned that I am not a by the book patient at all (if such a thing even exists).

When we were on a boat load of estrogen for IVF #1 my lining measured just 7 mm, and IVF #2, barely 6mm. And before any IVF’s, it measured it measured only 3mm at one point. Finally, for IVF #3 it got up to 11mm, but I firmly believe that was in response to how active I was and how much acupuncture I was receiving at the time compared to the other times, not because of the estrogen.

Our RE wholeheartedly agreed that we may not need to do all that estrogen again either. She really seems to believe that time will heal things up down there, and I am happy to hear her going in this direction, even though I wish we weren’t waiting so long. Our ultimate desire is to have things as natural as possible when pursuing our next pregnancy. And if that takes more time, so be it.  Prayers for even more growth next cycle please!

Turning Over a New Leaf 

Starting fresh.  Taking a leap of faith.  Believing in the unknown.  

I officially put in my resignation a little over a week ago.  It’s not a secret. Most of those close to us who are reading this already know I did. 

This post isn’t about getting approval, or backlash, it is simply about what it says…turning over a new leaf, and I think the image at the bottom says it all (I won’t get into all the details again as to why I have decided to leave teaching for now, but please feel free to read our previous post, “the time has come”).

I will tell you that we made sure we were in the right frame of mind when we made this decision. We didn’t want to make any major decisions based solely on the hurt we have endured. This is why I continued working through the remainder of this year, rather than simply resigning before, or after my medical leave ended. 

After many heart to hearts with each other and with the Big Guy upstairs, I am happy to report that there was, and still isn’t even 1 doubt in our minds that it is the best choice for us and our lives right now. 

When I gave my letter, I literally felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  Not only are we at total peace, we also have the full support of those around us. Does this mean I will never teach littles again? Not at all! That’s the wonderful thing about teaching-it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It will be right where I left it.

So, what will I be doing come the fall then? Will I just be sitting around blogging all day? Ha! I wish! Wouldn’t that be perfect? I do know that I will not be obtaining a full-time job for the time being (one of the main reasons I am leaving teaching right now).  I also know that I will continue to be a professor at the college, teaching classes online as I currently am.

In addition, I have been offered a pretty cool opportunity at the college to become an “observer.” What this means is, as a professor, I will get paid to observe students teach lessons who are pursuing their bachelor’s degrees in education.  So excited for this!

On top of these part-time gigs, I hope to do some writing where I actually do get paid! There are a few possibilities currently awaiting, and I honestly cannot wait to pursue them.  This blog has really brought out my passion and love for writing more than ever. I always knew there was a spark, it was just a matter of igniting it.  Another blessing in disguise.

Again, thanks to God, and “Surviving Infertility”  we are ready for another new path. Faith, hope, and trust are truly amazing things!

A Blessing in Disguise

We officially have 100 followers of our blog, with over 4,000 hits! And this isn’t even counting the 50+ followers on our Facebook page.  Wow!!

We have followers from Africa, Australia, the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Barbados, Canada, and of course, the U.S.

We truly cannot thank you enough for your support during such a difficult time in our lives.

When we set out to create this blog a few months ago, we had 3 things in mind:

1. Help others experiencing similar struggles know they are not alone.  Many days, we scoured the internet looking for information, or just a glimmer of hope.

2. Begin to heal as we tell our story.  We kept our infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss under wraps for so long, we knew we could not begin the healing process without coming forward.

3. Share our love for God, and his love for us, with others. 

In honor of our 100 followers, we feel we should count our blessings even more than usual today.

When it comes to blessings, my mom has taught me many things over the years.

Above all, there is one that stuck with me the most, and really rings true today…sometimes things that happen in our lives that we do not understand, can be a blessing in disguise.

For example, this blog!  Had we not experienced the horrific year we have, losing 3 consecutive pregnancies, we would not have met so many special people.  I had no idea what a huge part of my life this blog would become. And even though it has only been a few short months, I cant imagine my life without it!

People have touched our lives, and inspired us.  We can only pray that we can do the same for them and many others.

There are blessings in every person’s life, and in every situation, although it is hard to believe this while you are going through the storm.

Remember, sometimes you just have to search a little deeper for it a midst all of the muck.  Trust me, you will find the rainbow if you look hard enough.


The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I’m usually long winded, but I will keep this post short & sweet, as it calls for it. Not a lot of words are needed. 

Almost 1 year ago, I put the note below in my phone.  This was shortly after our first IVF miscarriage, but before Nacho passed away. 

I still clearly remember sobbing over my bible as I inputted it. Who would have known we would have 3 more devastating losses (2 pregnancies and our dog) less than a year later.  Not us. 

Reading this verse today, I can honestly say that Im not sure if I felt it as heavily then as I do now.  I guess I understand it in a different way now, almost as part of the journey. 

I know, without doubt, that we have suffered, persevered, refined our characters, and now, we hope.  And we will not be disappointed! 

That’s God’s word, not mine, and so we just need to remember it. The light at the end of the tunnel is starting to peek through; I can finally envision it.