I always knew I wanted to be a Mom and have kids, yes, plural! I had been through a tough few years when I was a teen and one of the things I told myself, I would be an amazing Mom and I would work hard to do all I needed to get there one day. Having my own family one day gave me a powerful drive in life and I was determined.

By the time I was 28 I was ready to have kids, the desire to have children kicked in full throttle! My husband and I were not married, and the timing did not seem to work out. We tried for 2-3 months and nothing happened, so I went to the OBGYN for the first time to make sure everything looked healthy, and all tests checked out all normal. But certain things in life were not aligning to start a family. So, I went back to and got a graduate degree to fill the time.

Turning 30

I turned 30, finished graduate school, and started a new job. We were in a new city and a new start. I wanted nothing more to have children and I got pregnant! My first pregnancy was so exciting, beyond words, we were over the moon! But just as high as the moon the low was pretty low when I found out at the first ultrasound there was no heartbeat. Unfortunately, this pregnancy was even harder because it was a missed miscarriage, and I did not find out until 10-11 weeks. This loss probably hit me the hardest out of all my losses as it was entirely unexpected. I mean, I had worked so hard, how could it happen to me? That was when life pulled the rug out from under me. Because its one of those things in life you just cannot control, no matter how hard you think you have worked or deserve something.

I had a meltdown and needed to step away from work for 2 months. Looking back, I am glad that I did that because not only was the job I had didn’t seem to be a right fit, but it was also the catapult to the future of where I am today.

Rainbow Baby

After everything, the sun shines for us! We pulled through a very tough time and got married! We had been together for 23 years old, loved each other, and we were ready to try again to start our family! Sadly, after 6 months of trying naturally, we were not having any luck. By this time, I decided it was probably a good idea to see a fertility doctor. We were both 31 by now and ready to get down to the bottom of this. Initially my doctor ran all the normal introductory tests, and everything came back as normal. At this point, the doctor decided that trying the medication clomid and timed intercourse would be our prescription.

Low and behold, after the first try, we were pregnant! Talk about elation, we were over the moon. But with having the prior loss I was very cautious and anxious. My husband and I went to the ultrasound appointment together and when the Doctor showed us his heartbeat on the screen, my heart just melted, and I sobbed. Could this be, could I really be pregnant! Well, I was, and I could not have been more grateful for this moment happening.

During my early pregnancy I was still unsure and nervous, so I went to a private ultrasound clinic and got a heartbeat bear, which is a teddy bear with my sons’ heartbeat in it. Every time I needed reassurance or to help me relax, I would squeeze the bear and hear his heartbeat. I slept with my teddy every night during my early pregnancy. I loved being pregnant and everything was smooth sailing. Besides gaining too much baby weight, my son was born healthy and fully baked! Cayden was born 6-14-2013, the best gift of my life!

Into the Abyss of Infertility

Over the next few years, I dedicated myself to being Mom and developing my career. By the time Cayden was 3 I was starting to turn my attention back to growing our family. By now I was 34 one the verge of 35. We had been trying and again with no luck. Back to the doctor we went! However, this time it was an OBGYN who offered some low-level fertility offerings. We initially did 3 rounds of clomid again but had no luck, so we decided to try an IUI.

The One and Only IUI

The IUI was a disaster and traumatizing. This Doctor should have not been doing IUIs! Wow! I had trusted this Doctor and was completely vulnerable when I would go into the office. On the day of the IUI I cut them the payment (self-pay) due to no insurance coverage. Went into the room and waited for my husband to arrive from work to provide us some swimmers. All is finished and the doctor comes in and tells me “What is wrong with your husbands’ sperm”? as I am literally laying on the table with my legs wide opened. I was in complete and utter dismay from what I heard. My husband had left back to work, so I was alone in the office with this mad woman, the doctor. My answer to her was “I don’t know, what do you mean?”…and her response was “Well, we washed the sperm and there is barely anything left so I am have barely anything to use” and “I couldn’t wash it all the way or there would have been nothing left.

OK WOW, stop! If only I could have stopped her right, there in her tracks and walked out of there. In retrospect, I wish I would have, because no Doctor should ever talk to their patient that way, right before a procedure and in such a sensitive environment.

Unfortunately, I was frozen with confusion. She then proceeded to say, “Oh, well, I thought your last doctor tested his sperm”. She assumed that there was a sperm test and had not taken any steps to requesting these prior. So she proceeds to do the procedure and the nurse who was there with her, the Doctor is telling her that if they hit the uterus or do this or that it will cause the uterus to contract, so you don’t want to do that. As they walked out of the room, within a few minutes, my body starts going into the most painful contractions. I was in so much pain that I could barely pick up my phone to call my husband to come back to help me. I was in substantial pain for about 20 minutes. I was left in the room and the nurse back in and saw me. Then the doctor came in and was like I can prescribe you a Vicodin and yada yada. And I am like what the heck did you do to me… it was horrific. She had no compassion or real care about me as a patient.

So, bottom line is, that was bad. I even wrote her a letter and asked for a refund. It was hard writing that letter as I was so embarrassed about this experience. I was broken and I was weak. I want to make sure anybody reading this, does not allow a doctor to get away with that. I should have reported her and demanded a refund as well as restitution. It has been 5 years now, but looking back, I should have done something. She never contacted me or refunded me.

Moving On

After that experience! We obviously never went back and took some time off. But then got pregnant naturally, my 3rd positive test. This soon ended quickly, like right after it was positive it went negative. UGH, punch in the gut. Time went on and then we got pregnant naturally again. This time it was proceeding, and we went to each appointment together hoping and hoping it would work out. We went to an ultrasound appointment at 7 weeks and we saw a heartbeat this time! But wait! It was slow and measuring behind. You know where you just know, I knew. My husband was extremely hopeful, and he told me to stay positive and it will work out. But I knew… At 8 weeks, we went back and there was no heartbeat to be seen. Man, oh man. Well, from there was really liked this Doctor, she was super compassionate and a good Doctor. We ended trying 2 rounds of clomid and 1 round of femara (Letrozole) and nothing.

In Vitro Fertilization Begins

Time keeps on ticking into the future…. so, by now we are 37 and at the IVF doctor. At this point, we had found out that my husband’s health insurance helped cover IVF, which was huge! And now our IVF journey officially begins.

Before we started the IVF process, my husband and I completed all the initial testing together. I also had a saline infusion sonohysterogram (SHG) to detect any abnormalities on the uterus. Boo, they found two small polyps and recommended that we remove them before we moved forward with doing IVF. And so, we did! The hysteroscopy was done on an outpatient surgical hospital under general anesthesia. The Doctor ended up removing a small polyp and fibroid. SO, we got those little suckers removed. We ended up waiting a couple of months before we started our first IVF cycle, so during that time my husband worked on improving sperm health through focusing on well, being healthier. I have created a brief page on sperm health here which I think is just as equally important, but many times underestimated.

Ready, Set IVF Stimulation

Holy needles! Yes, welcome to the land of needles, needle disposal boxes, alcohol swabs, and all the medicines. Starting out, I could not do any injections on myself. My husband became a champ and even had my mom and sister do a couple injections. Mom, thanks, but never again!

Starting the stimulation phase of IVF was a challenge because we had to do multiple injections each day. But as with anything, it became a routine. Check out my first IVF stimulation calendar here: After about 4 weeks, it was time for the retrieval. We were really excited about the outcome and were of course hoping for the best. We ended up getting 6 blastocysts aka embryos. The Doctor initially recommended that we do preimplantation genetic testing (PGS) to eliminate any embryos that might be chromosomally abnormal. But then out of nowhere, the Doctor was like “oh, actually I recommend against doing PGS because the embryos are so delicate that we don’t want to mess with them any further.” At the time I was like “ok” but later in retrospect, their clinic messed up with something, because I already paid for the test. At this point I was so excited to get started that I overlooked certain things that would have raised a red flag if I was fully aware.

1st IVF Transfer

The first transfer was in Spring of 2018. The Doctor recommended transferring two embryos and we were ok with this because the grades of the embryos were just fair, and we had not done PGS testing. And we were open to the possibility of twins. I honestly thought the first transfer was going to work! But we did not get pregnant at all, nothing.

2nd IVF Transfer

After the first failed transfer, we waited a month or so before doing the second transfer. We put in two embryos, their quality of grading was even less than the first two, but still considered fair. I thought for sure this time it had to work. And it did, I got pregnant, but it ended up being a chemical and ended early in the first week I saw the positive.

3rd  IVF Transfer

By now we are getting ready to move to back to my husband’s hometown, which is April 2019. At this point, I figured by now we would have to see better than what we have dealt with prior. We transferred our last two embryos from this cycle and ended up getting pregnant with both! They both stuck! So initially during our initial ultrasound at 6 weeks, we saw two sacs, both with fetal poles, but measuring behind. So the Doctor told us to come back in a week and a half for a follow up appointment to see how things are progressing. It crazy because I had a bad feeling and was not feeling good about the outcome. Not because I had been through previously losses, but intuitively, I felt something was wrong. And it was, the little beans did not make it and I ended up having to take a medication to help me miscarry. This was a huge hit for me, and I felt like I was at the end of my rope. I did not think I could do this anymore, I wanted off the IVF crazy train. And for a while I thought I was done, but then I started gaining strength and then the light appeared called hope! So, I picked myself up out of my sad pity party, shook it off, and said, “lets do this again!”

Finding a New Doctor

We moved back to my husband’s hometown in 2019 and we had always loved it here. Because we had moved far away from our last Doctor, I had to do my ultrasounds with my old Doctor. This is where we found out we had lost the two embryos. I went back to my Fertility Doctor who had helped me get pregnant with my son 7 years prior. I asked her if we could try to do a clomid and HCG trigger shot cycle one last time because that was the only thing that ever worked prior. We went ahead and nothing came out of it. I had thought I might do an IVF cycle with her, but after a few appointments and more research of other local Doctors, I decided to move on.

Dr. Buyalos aka Dr. B is at Fertility and Surgical Associates and has been a Godsend. It has been so difficult due to my history and it was so refreshing to work with such a positive and compassionate Doctor. He has treated my Husband and I with such great care and respect throughout the entire process.

Insurance Coverage Surprise

Our insurance coverage for IVF had been maxed out and we were able to do one retrieval and three transfers under that plan. We still had to pay our deductible and other out of network fees, but we were really cut a break with the insurance coverage. At this point, we thought that if we were going to move forward with IVF, we would need to privately pay. After deep discussion and thought we wanted to give it one last shot and do it.

Before we got started, my husband told me he was going to call the insurance company once more to see if there was by chance any IVF benefits left. And to our amazement, the company he worked for launched a new fertility benefit program, so if you used up the initial IVF coverage, they would cover four smart cycles. What this meant for us is that we could do a mixture of stimulation/egg retrievals or transfers as needed up to the 4th time. We were ecstatic and it was a huge blessing to have this assistance. We still needed to pay our deductible of course and medication expenses, but again, big discount on total out of pocket costs.

IVF Cycle #2

We were full and ready to do this again. By now, my husband and I were pretty used to the protocol and the shots! The new thing we added it was Intralipid Infusions, it is supposed to help block killer NK cells which could be preventing the embryo from developing and implanting properly. I felt like this time was peaceful and I enjoyed the infusion and just taking a break for me.

The time finally came to see how many eggs we got, it was around 20-25, and that seemed to be the norm for me. At the end of the day, it was all about quality and if they were chromosomally normal. At this stage, we were again super fortunate to have insurance cover pre-implantation genetic screening also commonly referred to as PGS testing, and up to 8 embryos. This was key for us as we had not done PGS testing prior due to the decision of the last Doctor. We ended up with 8 days 5 blastocysts and sent them off to the lab.

It came back that we had 2 PGS normal embryos, a boy, and a girl. But with a closer look, the embryo quality even though PGS normal, were not getting top scores. We decided to transfer the female embryo. If I ever thought it was going to work, I really thought this was it. I mean, how could a PGS normal embryo fail? The Doctor said there was a 70% chance, which means there is a 30% chance it will fail. I waited so anxiously to test and once you have gone through this so many times, it becomes a little bit of an obsession to pee on those white sticks. Low and behold, it was positive once again. And by a week and a half, the pregnancy had ended. Here I was again with the same result, even with a PGS normal embryo. I gave it a great deal of thought and was like if this is going to be it for me, I better start embryo banking and do another stimulation cycle while I can.

Stimulation Cycle #3

I was pretty determined to see where we could get with another stimulation and egg retrieval. I had also ready that since my body was awake from the prior stimulation and pregnancy, it could potentially help with getting better quality eggs. Well, it ended up being so true for me.

Out of our normal, 20-25 eggs, we ended up getting 12 embryos aka 5 day blastocysts! This was the highest number we had out of the 3 retrievals. We sent them 12 off again to the lab for PGS testing and we got some big news. We received a total of 6 PGS normal embryos! Wowser, how did that happen!? Dr. B was pretty amazed himself and share that of all the years he has done this, he has been humbled by seeing this. I will take it! So, now at age 39, we had 7 embryos, 4 boys and 3 girls. And not only did we have quite a few embryos now, but the quality is the best we had seen, ever. All our prior embryos had never been above a B and now we were looking at 2-3 As (AA, AB, BA). I will take that too!

Transfer #5

How am I feeling about this? I am a little tired, its true. After all these years of trying and going through all of this, its just so tiring. We are really trying to look at all the possibilities that could help this next transfer work and help us get our second miracle baby. The Doctor has allowed me to try Lovenox which is a blood thinner and could help if there was any type of blood flow problem getting to the embryo. I have never tried this medication prior, so it is a big deal to see if it works. I will be using a steroid prednisone which is supposed to help if there are any immunological issues that may not be showing up on tests. We also are going to do the Intralipids infusions again, but this one is completely out of pocket. I will take it as a mini vacation as it takes a few hours to do. And finally, we were going to try to align the transfer with my natural cycle to see if my body would be more receptive, I thought it might help. Check out my protocol here:

Coronavirus and IVF

2020 has been a rollercoaster with IVF but throwing in Coronavirus aka COVID 19 has been the icing and the sprinkles, and they do not take good! Besides all the stressors of dealing with all the changes and staying at home due to COVID, it got us here at home. A week and a half ago my husband tested and came up positive after showing symptoms. He immediately isolated himself in our side house to keep the germs away from us, but I was not so sure we had escaped the virus. My 7 son and I immediately went over to the local Urgent Care for testing, and thank goodness, our tests came back negative! I am going to do one more test If I can on Thanksgiving, if they are open, to confirm it is still the case. My husband is doing good, but experiencing moderate flu like symptoms. We are hoping that over the next week, this will all be behind us. Watch my video on dealing with Coronavirus and going through IVF.

No Period = No Transfer

In addition to those big hurdles, I have not started my period, which typically shows up every 28-30 days. So, we cannot do a natural transfer cycle if I do not start my period. So that is where we are at today, 11-25-20. I have an appointment to see the Doctor in a couple of days to check out what is going on and to look at the options.

Check out my next blog for the continued Journey! Subscribe to Get Updates!

Onward and Upward,

Marissa Katrin