‘It’s not good news.’ Our hearts sank. How did I lose both of them at the same time? I didn’t know how much more I could take.’: Couple battles infertility, ‘We aren’t ready to give up.’

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“My husband, Mario, and I met in the summer of 2015. I had just gotten out of a really long relationship and was not looking at all. But as fate would have it, I showed up at a new church one summer evening to watch my close friend get baptized and I met the cute youth pastor that day. At the time, I didn’t know he was the youth pastor…I just noticed that he was talking to a lot of girls and totally thought he was a player. Come to find out, the girls he was talking to were just high school students (they look so much older these days, right?!). Long story short, he got my phone number from a mutual friend, we started texting, and we met up at Jamba Juice 4 days after we met. We sat and talked for 3 hours and when he had to leave, I didn’t want him to go. We could have talked for days and I would not have been bored.

One of the things that really stood out was how genuine and honest he was. He shared so much of his past with me that day: how he had been abandoned by both of his parents and adopted by his grandmother. I was mesmerized. He was such a good listener and so easy to talk to. It quickly turned into a fun, summer romance, but we both knew it was also serious and we could very easily see a future with one another. A month after we met, I moved 4 hours away for grad school and we did long distance. We got engaged in October 2016 and were married in June 2017, one month after I finished grad school and moved back home.

Courtesy of Nicki Trevino

Children were always a part of the plan for us. Within a week of meeting each other, I remember we asked each other how many kids we wanted and we both had the same answer: about three or four, and we both wanted to have biological children as well as adopt. We chose to enjoy our first year of marriage just the two of us before starting to try to grow our family. In July of 2018, we decided to start trying to get pregnant. It’s weird looking back at that time… part of me thought it would happen right away and another part of me wondered if it would take a while. I had been diagnosed with ovarian cysts and had even been diagnosed with PCOS a few years before (I found out later on that this diagnosis was incorrect). I think this is why I suspected it may take a while.

After a few months of trying, I shared my concerns with my OB/GYN and she wrote off my concerns, saying, ‘It’s only been a few months…give it a few more months and then come back.’ This did not ease my concern and I was frustrated… I just wanted to know everything was normal. In the meantime, a lot of people around us started getting pregnant, and it happened very easily for them. As the months continued, I was even more and more convinced something was wrong with me.

Allyson Kelly Photography

Finally, 9 months into our fertility journey, I got bloodwork and an ultrasound. Everything came back normal. I did have an ovarian cyst next to my right ovary, but it was nothing the doctors were concerned about. And I did not meet, nor did I ever meet, the criteria for PCOS. So again, we played the waiting game. The doctors told us to wait 3 more months until it had been a full year of trying to conceive and then we could come back and do more testing. 3 long months later, we finally got to have Mario tested. All of his bloodwork came back normal, but to our surprise, we found out he had low sperm count, low motility, and poor morphology. To say we were shocked by this news would be an understatement. I’m not going to lie, before going through infertility myself, I hardly even know male factor infertility was really a thing. I mean, no one really talks about it.

Shortly after, we finally got to meet with a fertility doctor who went over all of the results with us. She shared with the male factor infertility, it would be best to try Intrauterine Insemination. She also told us we could have Mario start taking supplements, which could possibly help with the sperm count. I remember leaving that appointment feeling overwhelmed, but Mario was excited and hopeful. I was irritated with him because they made us meet with a social worker after the appointment and he kept saying things like, ‘I’m hopeful. It’s all good,’ and I was feeling emotional and discouraged. This has been a HUGE trend in our fertility journey. I feel sad or discouraged or disappointed and Mario feels optimistic and hopeful… and we both don’t understand each other’s perspectives. This alone has actually caused the most amount of disagreements and arguing in our fertility journey than anything else has. The way we grieve and deal with stress is so very different. He likes to stay positive, go to the gym, and keep moving, and I like to sit in my emotions and cry and feel it all before I feel better.

Courtesy of Nicki Trevino

Fast forward a couple of months, and we had Mario do another sperm analysis after taking supplements for a little while. We were devastated to find out the numbers had not improved at all. We were pretty much back at square one. This was right around the holidays, so we decided to wait until the new year to pursue IUI. I remember thinking maybe we would get a Christmas miracle and become pregnant naturally over the holidays. Sadly, that did not happen. It’s extremely painful to get your hopes up and then be let down time and time again. The thought, ‘Maybe this could finally be the month,’ runs through my head constantly…and still, it has never happened.

January 2020 came, and we decided to finally start IUI treatment. The process in itself is extremely stressful… I had to call the clinic on the first day of my period, go in for an ultrasound within a couple of days, take at home ovulation tests starting on day 8 of my cycle, wait for a positive test, and then call the clinic once I got a positive. Once I got a positive test, they scheduled me to go in, Mario had to give a semen sample, and then they ‘wash’ the sperm to take all the ‘bad’ ones out. 1 hour later, they inject the sperm into my uterus, we go home, we pray, we hope, and we try our best to be positive and to just not think about it too much (which is just about impossible). I found out our first IUI failed when I started my period 2 weeks later, right on cue. I remember feeling so saddened by seeing my period and then overwhelmed because I knew that meant I needed to call my doctor to let them know in order to set up our next IUI. It was so much to wrap my head around. While grieving the fact it’s yet another month with no baby, I also have to call my doctor to set up more appointments. It’s truly exhausting.

Our second IUI was also a failure, and after that one, our doctor let us know it would be a good idea for Mario to see a urologist. We felt very frustrated they had not suggested this before we spent all that time doing IUIs. They also told us with Mario’s sperm count, IUI was not even the way to go…it would be better to do IVF.

Courtesy of Nicki Trevino

We traveled 3 hours to see a urologist where Mario had to give yet another semen sample and then was physically checked out. One good thing was Mario’s sperm count went up a little bit, which made us excited. However, the urologist found a varicocele (basically a build-up of veins) in Mario’s testicle he said was most likely the cause of the low sperm count. He gave us the option of doing surgery to remove it but told us it was not a guarantee and was also not covered at all by insurance. He told us it would cost $5500 to do the surgery and informed us we may be better off saving that money and putting it towards IVF because if we did the surgery, there was still a chance we would have to do IVF anyway.

I remember on that car ride home feeling somewhat relieved we had finally gotten some answers, but also overwhelmed at the thought of doing IVF. I never thought that would be a part of our story. Even when we were first dealing with infertility, I always thought I’d for sure get pregnant before having to do IVF. Joke’s on me, I guess. On the car ride home, Mario and I decided to call an IVF clinic in our town to set up a consultation, and to my surprise, the first date they could get us in was almost 3 months away. Cool. More waiting. The thing a lot of people don’t understand about infertility is how much waiting there is. You get past one roadblock and immediately face another. It’s heartbreaking, it’s exhausting, and it’s incredibly difficult. Infertility is not for the weak of heart, that’s for sure. That’s why we call ourselves warriors because we truly are.

Fast forward another few months, and we finally had our consultation for IVF. We then got put on the schedule to start IVF in July of 2020, which meant starting with birth control pills in June (something our clinic does to start a cycle and suppress the ovaries). We were very excited and optimistic when we finally got to start the process. IVF has much higher success rates than IUI and we were so ready to go and to finally build our family. At this point, we were 2 years into our fertility journey and so ready for it to FINALLY be our time, our YES.

Taylor Overton Photography

At the end of July, I started lots of shots that have to be injected into the stomach to mature multiple eggs. The shots lasted about 10 days and my ovaries grew to be incredibly huge, which was very uncomfortable. It was hard to even walk around because there was so much pressure in my stomach by the end. After 10 days, I went in for surgery where they did an egg retrieval to take out of eggs that had been growing. They retrieved 23 mature eggs (which is a great number). That same day, Mario had to do yet another semen sample. The embryologists took his sperm and injected them into the eggs, and 20 of them fertilized and became embryos. Over the next 5 days, they watched the embryos as they grew, and we would get a call with an update every couple of days.

The recovery from the egg retrieval was brutal. I had to be on bed rest for 24 hours after but ended up being in bed for about 48 because I was in so much pain. After the pain passed, I felt nauseous for about another 2 days. On day 5 after the egg retrieval, we got to go in for our first embryo transfer. 2 days before that, we were told we had about 11 embryos that looked really good. The day of the transfer, the doctor told us only 3 were looking good and they would have to monitor the rest for another day to see if they were going to keep growing. I went in for the transfer and came out really sad. I was devastated. In my head, I thought for sure we would lose most of our embryos, our babies. This was another time where Mario was incredibly optimistic and I got really frustrated with him. He kept telling me he was sure more embryos would keep growing and I thought for sure he was wrong. We got in an argument about it on the way home… it was not the magical transfer day a lot of people talk about. It was a really hard, emotional day for both of us.

Courtesy of Nicki Trevino

The next day was better—I was finally able to start feeling more excited and optimistic. I knew there was a cute little embryo inside of my uterus and I was hopeful it would attach. 2 days later, we got a phone call from our doctor telling us we ended up getting EIGHT MORE embryos that were able to be frozen because they had been growing properly. I was shocked and SO excited. Total, we had 11 good embryos, had transferred one, and had 10 left to be frozen. Mario basically told me, ‘I told you so.’ I had never been so happy to be wrong in my life.

9 days after the transfer, I had to get blood-work done to see if I was pregnant or not. We waited a long 6 hours after the blood-work was done to get a call from our doctor. Unfortunately, we found out our sweet little embryo did not make it. We were shocked and devastated. Yet another roadblock. I remember wondering at one point did the embryo die… was it a day after the transfer? Was it a few days after? Did it just not attach? So many questions, so few answers. Our doctor gave us the option of waiting a little while before doing another transfer or doing another transfer right away. Both Mario and I felt ready to jump back in and keep going and do another transfer.

Meghan Valero Photography

About 6 weeks later, we did our second transfer and decided to transfer two embryos this time. We were so excited at the possibility of twins: literally would be a dream come true, especially after so much waiting and heartbreak. The second transfer was so smooth and made me so hopeful. The next 9 days of waiting were excruciating. I tried so hard not to question every symptom I was experiencing and not to Google everything, but it was so hard. 9 days passed very slowly, and I went in to get bloodwork for the second time. We waited another few hours for a call from the doctor and the words, ‘It’s not good news,’ immediately made our hearts sink. My head was spinning. How could I have lost both of them at the same time? Really, not even one made it? HOW? WHY? Will it ever be our time? We were truly devastated. Honestly, it was a new level of devastation I was not familiar with. It hurt a lot more than the first failed transfer. We cried and I called my parents to let them know the news. I told them I just wanted to give up. I didn’t know how much more I could take.

After a few days, I started warming up more and more to the idea of trying again. After all, I’ve got eight more embryos sitting on ice and waiting for me. Waiting to become a life and call me mama. Oh, how I long for that so much. I have such a strong maternal desire and feel such a calling to be a mother to someone. That is what keeps me going, what keeps me fighting. That light I can barely see at the end of the tunnel that says hopefully, one day, I will be able to be called mommy. So now, as painful as the road has been, we are not yet ready to give up. We are planning for a third transfer sometime soon and trying to remain positive and hope maybe this one will be it. Lucky number three?”

Allyson Kelly Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nicki Trevino. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story hereand be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories about IVF here:

‘Your best course of action is IVF.’ Surely this wasn’t real. I didn’t know anyone who had gone through this. We told everyone.’: Couple advocates for infertility awareness, ‘I never lost hope’

‘How is this so easy for some people?’ I’d sit in my car and cry before work. What if my dream was taken away?’: Nurse battles infertility, pregnant with IVF baby, ‘Don’t lose hope’

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