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National Infertility Awareness Week | A Miracle Pregnancy

April 29, 2016

This week on the Owlet blog we’re recognizing National Infertility Awareness Week. We hope that we can raise awareness of infertility and provide hope and support to families struggling with infertility. 

Hi! My name is Elise Hunter and I am so excited to share my journey with you during National Infertility Awareness Week!

My husband Scott and I were married in November of 2012. I remember that day thinking about all that we would go through together in life. I looked forward to finishing school, buying a house, but mainly starting a family. That last part didn’t go as planned. We became aware that getting pregnant was not going to be easy for us about a year and a half after we were married.

Our first treatment for infertility was Clomid. This is a medication that attempts to start or regulate ovulation- it should basically just be called “crazy pills.” Month after month for 6 months we thought for sure it would work. And month after month the Clomid and the negative pregnancy tests made me more emotionally and physically drained. In October of 2014 we had our first appointment at the fertility center. We were relieved and also confused when all of our diagnostic work came back normal. The doctor assured us that due to our diagnostic results and young age we would be pregnant, with their help, in no time. I remember leaving that first meeting so excited. I would soon have the baby in my arms that I had always dreamed of.

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Sadly month after month our Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) procedures came back negative. The doctor was stumped because everything looked great. After 3 failed attempts our doctor recommended moving on to In-vitro Fertilization (IVF). She gave us a very high percentage of success and also talked us about how we would most likely have lots of embryos to freeze to use down the road for future children. We excitedly and nervously started the process.

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I was terrified of all of the needles, drugs and surgeries that accompany IVF. While physically it was a lot and my tummy got a little bruised, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. What I hadn’t prepared myself for was the emotional side of IVF. We retrieved 26 eggs from that IVF cycle. We were thrilled! Definitely enough right? Somehow though on the day of transfer (5 days after collection) we only had two embryos left. We transferred both of them and were so happy! We were finally pregnant! I started putting baby registries together and picking out car seats. We talked about names and how we’d have to get a minivan if it was twins. Then we got the news that I wasn’t pregnant. I had lost both the babies in a chemical pregnancy. There really aren’t words to describe the sadness we felt. The best way I can explain it is that we felt like our children had died. Not only the two we had already become so attached to, but also all of the children we had dreamed about having. We had no frozen embryos to try again and nothing to show for all of the physical, financial and emotional pain we had been through. We were left with empty hands and hearts.

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After a few months of recovering, we met with our doctor to try to get answers and make a plan in moving forward. She explained to us that it was extremely rare to see the number of embryos drop like mine did and that it most likely meant a problem in egg quality. She said we could try IVF one more time and add some medications to try to improve the egg quality. So we started the process again, but much more guarded this time. This second round of IVF we collected 30 eggs and 4 made it to day 5. Again huge drop off. We transferred 2 of them into my uterus and planned on it being negative. That sounds sad, but it was a self defense mechanism. Shockingly, we found out we were pregnant. We were ecstatic! We couldn’t believe it! We told our families and started planning for our future babe or babies. Then one morning when I was 6 weeks I started bleeding. We went into the doctor’s office for a blood draw and found out I was miscarrying. We could not believe it. I didn’t think I could take anymore heartbreak.

We did have 2 embryos to freeze from that cycle. Only a week after our miscarriage we went in to meet with our doctor. Looking at everything we have been through she determined that egg quality, most likely abnormalities in genetics/DNA in my eggs, was what was causing our embryos to arrest (die) prematurely, before day 5, and then also die inside the uterus after implantation (my miscarriage and my chemical pregnancy after our first round of IVF). There is nothing you can really do medically or lifestyle wise to increase your egg quality since you are already born with all of your eggs.

​This was my first "bump" picture before I lost the pregnancy.
This was my first “bump” picture before I lost the pregnancy.

At this appointment we decided we would have our two frozen embryos genetically tested so we could know if they were genetically abnormal. In a long and hard battle like infertility knowledge brings so much peace. If we knew for sure all of our embryos were genetically abnormal, we felt like we would feel a sense of closure and move on to other options for expanding our family without wondering “what if?”

I got a call on the day of the genetic testing that one of our two embryos had “shriveled up and died” in the thawing process (98 percent of embryos survive thawing). I was shocked and so devastated. We consider each of these embryos our babies. It was yet again another loss. We were then asked if we even wanted to test the other one or just discard it. With the statistics we had – around 60 eggs retrieved and 59 of those had died (that’s over 98 percent) – odds were overwhelmingly telling us this last egg was also abnormal. For some reason I said no still test that one and hung up the phone. I then started thinking about how much money we were spending to test just one embryo when the odds overwhelmingly told me it wasn’t worth it. I called back and said no don’t test it, we already really know what the results will say. But they said it was too late, the biopsy was already done and ready to be sent.

A week later I got a call from one of my nurses saying the results were in and that the embryo came back genetically normal. I WAS SHOCKED! So was our doctor and everyone at the fertility clinic. They said it was a miracle. That they never would have told us in a million years told us to expect that result. Then they asked me if I wanted to know the sex of the baby (since they saw the whole DNA strand) and I was like YES YES YES!! When she said it was a little girl I started crying! It made it so real know it was a girl!

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From there it was a whirlwind of emotions. I felt like I still hadn’t emotionally recovered from my miscarriage and that I had almost mourned completely the loss of ever being able to get pregnant. So then all of a sudden to be right back in everything was a little overwhelming. The very next day I started the gigantic shots in my bum and a few weeks later they became daily. Before we knew it was the day of our transfer. It went so well! Baby girl thawed perfectly and our amazing doctor placed her perfectly in my uterus. I was on bed rest for Thanksgiving which made for a memorable day (so grateful for a Hubby who gives me all my shots and takes such good care of me through all of it).

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We got our official positive 10 days after with a great number at our blood draw. We were excited but still guarded. We have slowly become more and more excited as the weeks have gone by. The moment it felt real to me was our first ultrasound at 6 weeks when we first heard her heartbeat. We couldn’t see anything but a small dot, but her heartbeat was so strong and so beautiful. Each ultrasound has been equally amazing! (that’s the plus to struggling so long with infertility, lots of early ultrasounds!) The 3rd ultrasound at 9 weeks is when she first looked like a baby instead of a peanut. We saw her waving her little arms and kicking her little legs. She sure is a wiggler! I am now 25 weeks and can’t wait until she gets here!

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To read more about Elise and her growing family, visit her blog at huntersofhappiness.com. You can follow her on instagram @huntersofhappiness!

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