‘IVF? How exciting!’ How can this be exciting?! I was terrified! Of the needles, the hormones, the side effects, but most of all the unknown.’: Woman shares harrowing infertility journey

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“My story starts four years ago, in 2017, when my husband and I decided we were ready to start trying to get pregnant and grow our family. I am one of those whose lifetime dream was to meet her soulmate, get married, and have a pretty house filled with children and pups someday. Finding the perfect guy wasn’t easy, it took me a while, but once I did things just fell into place and went so smoothly…that is until we decided we were ready to become parents.

woman with her husband
Courtesy of Itzy Neveau

My mom had a hard time getting pregnant and my older sister went through 2 failed IVF cycles before she was able to conceive her first naturally. I always had a feeling getting pregnant would not come as easy for me as for others based on my family’s history, but I also never imagined it would be THIS hard either.

A year into TTC, both my husband and I started the testing process. If you have gone through this you know it’s not a fun process for us women; 7 tubes of blood and 3 very invasive uterine tests. To my surprise, it all came back normal. ‘GREAT!’ we both thought, but why aren’t we getting pregnant? My hormone levels are normal for my age and his swimmers are also in the normal ranges, so what’s going on? Our first fertility clinic diagnosed us with ‘Unexplained Infertility.’ Hearing those words the first time was a punch to the stomach. How on earth do I suffer from infertility if everything looks normal? Our next step after getting results was to jump into the IUI ride. IUI is usually the first step since it is less invasive and more affordable than IVF.

In June 2019, we had our first failed IUI. Doctors tell you straight up the chances of a successful IUI on the first try are very small, but by the third round your chances increase. Well, this was not the case with us. After 3 medicated IUIs and 2 timed medicated cycles, we were still with no success. My clinic wanted us to keep trying with IUI for up to 6 cycles before doing any additional testing or talking about IVF as an option. Really? 6 cycles? I was extremely frustrated with their ‘process.’ Each IUI cycle was about $1,500 dollars and we just kept getting negative pregnancy tests month after month. I realized then it was time to find a new clinic and doctor who would listen to my concerns and be open to running more tests. I mean, I felt like we had not made any progress after 5 cycles and over $4,000 in!

woman upset about her egg status
Courtesy of Itzy Neveau

We started at the new clinic (BSF) in January 2020. From my initial consultation, I felt the difference! First off I was told if there is no success by IUI 3 it is time to move on to more testing and right away they scheduled me for it; this includes a Hysteroscopy (which resulted in finding uterine polyps) and more blood work. It was then when I found out my AMH, which measures your ovarian reserve, was low and had always been low for my age compared to the norm.

Umm, what? ‘What do you mean it has always been low?’ I asked the new doctor. Yup, since my initial tests my AMH levels have been lower than the average for someone my age, which I was NEVER told before! I was furious! Furious for wasting money on 5 failed IUI cycles, furious because the previous doctor never mentioned this to me, and just furious for wasting my time. Knowing this, my new doctor recommended doing IVF right away since the clock was ticking and my AMH will only keep going down, so we got scheduled for the cycle in May.

At the same time we were getting mentally prepared for IVF, a global pandemic broke out and we were all isolated in March. This affected our IVF plans as all procedures that were not considered necessary or urgent were put on hold. There we were again, left with nothing to do, no control over things. We decided to keep trying on our own, the ‘natural way,’ and even when I knew it was not going to work, every month I felt my heart break a little more after a negative pregnancy test.

Finally, in August 2020, things started to open up little by little but with the volatility of the economy, we decided to hold off until things were more stable. In the meantime, I took this time to get healthier. I tried every fertility diet suggested by fertility specialists; no dairy, no gluten, no alcohol, and no caffeine. Fast forward to 2021, we were finally doing IVF in March! I got the ‘how exciting!’ comment every time I told someone we were doing IVF. Exciting? How can this be exciting?! I was terrified! Terrified of the needles, of the hormones, of the side effects, but most of all of the unknown results.

woman taking pictures with a sign
Courtesy of Itzy Neveau

So, how was IVF? It was rough…I was able to get a handle on the needles, the scheduling, the waking up before 6 a.m. to apply the shots, and the physical toll, but the mental and emotional side of IVF was a whole other story. Since our initial IVF consultation with our new doctor, I knew our results were not going to be amazing compared to others due to my low AMH, but I never expected the results we got. IVF was a true rollercoaster for me, starting with only measuring about 5 follicles on my scans…5! If you are not familiar with IVF, 5 follicles are not much. ‘Don’t get attached to the numbers, things can change a lot,’ my nurse kept telling me. Boy did things change.

Retrieval day came and those 5 follicles turned out to be all empty. We had nothing by the end of retrieval if it weren’t for my amazing doctor kept looking for more hidden follicles and got one! One single mature egg from the one extra follicle he found hiding. I can’t put into words how I felt with the results that day. I was depressed, felt broken, and so empty…just like my follicles. I didn’t leave my bed that day and cried myself to sleep whenever I was awake. The one egg was fertilized and hope was gained again, but by day 5 this little one stopped growing and we were left with nothing again.

We were left with nothing. $20,000 less in the bank and no hope and nothing to look forward to. This was a very tough time for me particularly; I am sure my husband was feeling defeated as well, but his way of dealing with grief is definitely different than mine. I not only was dealing with my grief but I also developed some side effects from all the meds from IVF. My face broke out horribly – I had never experienced so much acne in my life, not even as a teen! My kidneys were struggling too, 2 pretty sizable kidney stones grew and I was rushed to the ER with really high pain, the pain I have never felt before either.

woman talking her IVF journey
Courtesy of Itzy Neveau

So, what now? We finally regrouped with our doctor and he gave us two options: IVF #2 with high chances of getting the same results or IVF with an Egg Donor. Egg Donor? But that means this won’t be my baby! At least not genetically. Option 2 was a big load to take on and process. I can’t even start to explain how hard it is to let go of your own genetics. I was not only grieving the loss of my one embryo that didn’t make it, but now I was also grieving the possibility of not passing on my genetics to my future children.

It took months for us to make a decision, but when we were ready we decided to move forward with an Egg Donor. Was this decision an easy one to make? Absolutely not! But it was the one that would give us a higher chance at being parents. I’ve had to work through my grief and the ‘what ifs?’ I have asked myself too many times. I don’t second guess our decision and I know I will love our child/ren no matter what but, ‘What if they resent me?’ ‘What if they want to find their genetic ‘mom?’, ‘What if…?’

Our first round of IVF didn’t give us what we were hoping for but it did give us answers. Sadly, the majority, if not all of my follicles, are empty, and even though it has been hard to chew on I am thankful we finally know what is ‘wrong.’ At some level, this brought me some peace and closure. I am no longer pressuring myself and my husband to be together because ‘I am ovulating,’ I am no longer hoping to be pregnant month after month, no longer waiting for a missed period. I have finally let go of this and I am focusing on our new path to parenthood: Donor Egg Conception.

woman unhappy with her the way IVF is going
Courtesy of Itzy Neveau

After months of not being able to find a donor in the US who fit what we were looking for, we decided to look into a clinic in Cancun, Mexico. I am Mexican, and finding a Mexican donor was very important to me so I could have this in common with my children. We finally were able to not only find one but 2 great fits! The donor we picked did her follicle stimulation in September and we got 4 perfectly healthy frozen embryos that are waiting for us to transfer when we are ready.

Unfortunately, we have had additional roadblocks since then and we have not been able to do a transfer yet, such as uterine polyps (again), hubby was diagnosed with epilepsy after having two seizures in less than two months, and I was diagnosed with endometriosis which means I need to go on treatment before we can plan a transfer. Has this been an easier path? Not at all…but I am more hopeful we will be parents than I have been in a long time!”

happy about moving forward
Courtesy of Itzy Neveau

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Itzy Neveau. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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