“Sarah and I met the day we moved into the same dorm when we were freshmen in college, August of 2010. Somehow, Sarah was randomly roomed with someone I knew from my hometown so we ended up at the same party that night. My roommate and I immediately hit it off with Sarah. The next day, Sarah and a friend were walking around the dorm hall. Sarah ended up at our room and from there on out, we were all making nightly plans, hanging out between classes, and spending most of our time together.
Neither Sarah nor myself identified as gay. I never thought about dating a girl or testing those waters. After a few months, Sarah told myself and the rest of our friends she thought she liked girls. At the time, the concept didn’t really phase me. Even after Sarah and I would end up kissing on our wild nights out, I still didn’t think much of it. I did begin to get jealous and ‘territorial’ of Sarah’s love interests but thought it was just the good friend in me wanting what’s best for her. At the end of freshmen year, I began dating a guy from our dorm hall and Sarah was regularly seeing a girl.
We aren’t proud of it, but our kissing streaks on nights out didn’t end. My boyfriend was, of course, all for it, and Sarah and I found each other to be great kissers. Eventually, the kissing streak stalled a bit. Sarah had a serious girlfriend and I remained in my relationship with my boyfriend. Fast forward to the very beginning of our senior year. Both of us were in a bit of rocky water with our significant others. On one of the first nights out, Sarah and I ended up under the same blanket on the couch after a late night. We were cuddling and to someone else, it looked like we were more than friends. That night, Sarah and I went up to my room together, talked for hours, kissing here and there, and laughing a ton. When we woke up, we agreed we shouldn’t mention it to anyone. This stung as I really enjoyed it, even though I, of course, knew it was wrong. After a few days of texting and thinking about what happened, we both knew something needed to change. We broke up with our significant others and began seeing each other.
We didn’t make our relationship ‘official’ until March of 2014, however, we started dating in October of 2013. When we graduated from SUNY Cortland in May of 2014, we both moved back home, Sarah to Long Island and myself Staten Island. We did long-distance for a little over a year, seeing each other only on weekends and sometimes every other weekend. In the summer of 2015, we moved into our first apartment together on the Upper East Side in New York City. It was magical. About 2 years later, in 2017, we got engaged at Tavern on the Green in Central Park! Sarah got down on one knee after telling me to turn the dessert menu over, which read ‘Will you marry me?’ on the back. I effortlessly said yes and before Sarah could sit down, I reached into my purse, pulled out a ring, and said, ‘Only if you marry me.’ It had always been my dream to ask Sarah to marry me when she asked and both of our dreams came true that day.
We lived in our NYC apartment together for about a year and a half. We then purchased our first home together in Rockland County in 2019. A month and a half after we moved into our first home, we had our dream wedding at the Barn at Perona Farms in Andover, New Jersey. It was easily the best day of our lives at the time and we wish we could relive it! Although we didn’t plan on starting the process for children for about 2 years after the wedding, when we were closer to 30, we always knew reciprocal IVF was the route we wanted to take so I could carry Sarah’s baby and Sarah could carry mine. However, less than a year after we got married, COVID hit and our plans changed.
We had a euromoon trip planned for August of 2020 where we were going to travel around Greece. As you may have already guessed, Greece didn’t happen and we knew for months beforehand that it most likely wouldn’t. When we received the final word, we decided to make an appointment with the fertility clinic and what do you know? The very first appointment they had available was about 2-3 months away on the day we were supposed to leave for Greece. This struck as a sign from the very beginning.
After our first visit with the doctor, we found out Victoria had a quiet ovary, which isn’t a problem, but it does mean eggs will only be coming from one ovary instead of two, often resulting in a lower number than if both were producing eggs. This was definitely hard news to hear but we didn’t let it bring us down. We were healthy, below 30 years old, and both had very regular cycles. At this same visit, they took a ton of blood to test our genetics, which would help us filter our sperm donor search. About two weeks after our visit, we would have a phone appointment with both a PA and the genetic testing company.
We were caught off guard when we found out not a single cent of the process would be covered by insurance. We didn’t think it would be fully covered but to hear absolutely nothing would be covered was not something we entirely expected. Despite that, we were fortunate enough to continue with our journey. The results came in 2 weeks later with what we needed to filter out of our SO (Sperm Donor) search. After a few months that seemed like forever, we had picked an SO. Our doctor wasn’t confident in our selection because although we weren’t carriers for a disease they were carriers for, she would rather be safe and have us pick a different SO. We began to panic because there wasn’t much time before the prep of my egg retrieval. Refreshing the donor banks every hour of every day became redundant until I came across an updated profile. Oddly enough, it was shared just when we needed. The SO checked off every box and was just made readily available. It felt meant to be! We secured four vials of sperm to be safe and I started to prep for my egg retrieval starting Halloween of 2020. I took stimulation shots for 10-12 days and had my egg retrieval on November 10, 2020. They retrieved 15 eggs, which we were told is average. We felt safe with this number of eggs. The following day, we found out seven eggs fertilized with the sperm.
We ended up getting four embryos from my cycle that were sent for genetic testing. Only one of four embryos came back genetically normal. Just like that, our 15 eggs and seven chances after fertilization, we ended up with one good quality embryo. We are so lucky we got this one embryo but we would be lying if we weren’t completely shocked by the news. There are no reasons why, no cause, no answers at all. It was definitely a hard pill to swallow and writing this brings me back to the day I got that phone call. Sarah was getting ready for an egg retrieval shortly after that so we hoped for better results but were more prepared knowing what could happen.
Sarah had her egg retrieval in December of 2020. She ended up with 23 eggs, 13 of which fertilized, and four embryos being sent for genetic testing. We were so nervous and so scared after seeing how four embryos turned out after my retrieval. To say we were barely sleeping, extremely anxious, and felt sick would be an understatement. About a week and a half after being sent for testing, we received the call from the clinic three of Sarah’s four embryos came back genetically normal. We were ecstatic! We had four embabies on ice waiting for us to transfer them and bring them home.
We had our first embryo transfer in January of 2021. We transferred one of Sarah’s embryos into myself and felt confident the first one would take. We were so happy to be post-transfer and couldn’t wait to start taking tests and seeing those two pink lines progress. We ended up testing on day 4 because we have seen so many other couples see their faint positives on day 4. We didn’t. We thought it was too early, so we said tomorrow it will be there. Well, it wasn’t there tomorrow, and it wasn’t there the several days after we continued testing as we waited for beta, which is the clinic bloodwork test to determine if the transfer worked. Although we already knew it didn’t take, when we heard the words over the phone, we collapsed. All that time, emotion, effort, and money we put in and we weren’t pregnant. We lost an embryo leaving only three left.
Now we know not all transfers work but it didn’t make the pain hurt any less. We wanted to know why it didn’t take. Unfortunately, there is no why. The doctors can’t tell you exactly why the embryo didn’t stick. We only had two of Sarah’s embryos left. The next step to take is an ERA cycle. An ERA cycle is often referred to as a mock cycle because it is the same protocol as transfer except they take a biopsy of the uterine lining at the time they would transfer an embryo. This biopsy determines if the lining was receptive or pre-receptive, meaning more progesterone was needed. It turns out, I needed 12 more hours of progesterone and although they can’t say for certain that’s why the first transfer didn’t work, we truly believe that was the reason.
We had our second frozen embryo transfer on April 23, 2021. I definitely felt different this transfer. I kept feeling a pulling/tugging sensation in my lower abdomen and I was peeing more frequently than usual. We thought for sure this meant it worked so we took a home pregnancy test on day 5 post-transfer. The test did not show us those two pink lines and the test the next morning didn’t either. We stopped testing because the pain those sticks bring you is almost unbearable. We held onto hope that all my signs and feelings meant our little embaby stuck.
Finally, the bloodwork was ready on April 30th to see if I was in fact pregnant. We both had our guard up knowing it could possibly be negative. The doctor called me not long after and left a voicemail *cue excessive sweating* Her voice was practically singing as she said, ‘Hi Victoria, this is Dr. B. I just wanted to call and say congratulations, YOU ARE PREGNANT!’ Not knowing that was the news, I texted Sarah concerned a New Jersey (where we go to the clinic) number had called. Panicking, I listened to the voicemail. When you hear the words you’ve been waiting for, ‘you are pregnant,’ the emotions that come rushing over you are indescribable.
I found a way to make Sarah think it was a junk call and eventually she forgot about the ‘junk call.’ When I got home, she was waiting for me with the most eager eyes I have ever seen. I was ecstatic. I played the voicemail while Sarah was looking away and once she heard those words, our happiness was unmatchable. We are so grateful to be on this amazing journey of Love and Life together. We Love What Matters.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Victoria and Sarah Shine from Rockland County. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. 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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