I got married in the fall of 2005 at the age of 29. We decided to wait a year before trying to start a family. This seemed like a good idea since, as much as I thought about having a big family someday, I was very nervous to actually be a Mom. My husband comes from a large family and has a lot of experience being around children. I, on the other hand, wasn’t the type of person who swooned over babies. Infertility was the last thing on my mind. If I understood the family folklore correctly, women in my family were extremely fertile and the bigger issue was NOT getting pregnant.
After our First Anniversary we decided to start a family. I always had irregular periods, but others in the family did too so I didn’t think it was a big deal. We tried for a few months on our own, but I never knew when I was ovulating so it became frustrating. I went to my OBGYN and he told me how to track my temperature and other fertility signs to look for. I also had a ton of blood work taken, which came back normal. More time went by with no pregnancy. I was prescribed Clomid. After the 3rd month on Clomid I had, what I referred to as, my mental breakdown. Apparently I was very sensitive to the medication and became severely hormonally imbalanced. I thought I was losing my mind. There was a lot of crying and confusing behavior. My doctor put me on Prozac temporarily and recommended that I contact Dr. Peters at SIRM NJ.
From the first meeting I had with Dr. Peters, I knew he could help us. I was now over 30 and getting a little worried that no one could figure out my problem. Speaking to him was fantastic. Here was a very knowledgeable doctor, who also was compassionate. I didn’t feel like a number and he truly seemed to care about me. After more blood work, and tests on my husband as well, we got started. I was concerned about IVF for religious reasons. I was not raised Catholic, but my husband was, and I didn’t want to go down that road yet. I needed to try other options first while I tried to wrap my head around how I personally felt about IVF and if it impacted my religious beliefs.
We tried Gonadotropin injectibles for a few cycles with no pregnancy. I asked to try Clomid again under Dr. Peters’ monitoring. We did that for a cycle or two…no pregnancy. I was now almost 34 and was ready to go ahead with IVF. The religious reservations I had before were resolved as I got to know Dr. Peters and his staff. I believed that God was working through him and this was the path I was supposed to take. As a precaution, he ordered the blood test for Natural Killer cells. We did not have unlimited funds, and Dr. Peters thought it best to cover our bases first before going into an expensive procedure. The result came back positive for activated Natural Killer cells.
At this point, at least I had an answer as to why we weren’t getting pregnant. I didn’t understand much else beyond that point. Our first IVF attempt came in the June 2010 cycle. I had what seemed like a pharmacy in my refrigerator and dining room table. This was very frightening for me and thankfully I had a strong support base. My husband gave me my daily shots, I asked daily questions to Dr. Peters’ nurses, and I prayed a lot. Because of the activated Natural Killer cells, I had to have an IV of intralipids before retrieval and after transfer. The ladies at the infusion office explained to me that it’s like getting the killer cells drowsy after eating a big Thanksgiving dinner. This way, they hopefully won’t attack the embryo. I’m not a scientist so it was a great way of explaining to me what was happening.
All along I was nervous about hyperstimulation. This carried through to the retrieval. I felt like a big baby laying there trying not to cry. After all, I was trying to be a Mom, but felt like I was acting like a child. My worries about the procedure were much worse than the retrieval itself. Yes I was sore and walked funny for a few days, but that was about it. I don’t recall the amount of eggs that I had, or how many fertilized. All I know is that we put 2 back in. Afterwards, I didn’t know to be anxious about my first BETA test. I was just happy that things would be returning to normal. When Kristine Bent (Dr Peters’ nurse) called to tell me it was positive, I didn’t know how to feel. Yes I wanted this, but I didn’t know if I was allowed to be happy yet. In the past, things were always negative. Now that I had a positive, what did that mean for me? We took another test a few days later and it was positive again. I was afraid to be excited for fear of a huge let down later. After a bit of time, we were asked to come into the office for an ultrasound. I saw one heartbeat. Everyone, including my husband, was excited. I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t know if I could tell people I was pregnant yet. I was happy…I think. But I was also cautious. If people got too excited, that could be more upsetting for me later if it didn’t work out. It wasn’t until the 20 week ultrasound, when I found out I was having a daughter, that I actually believed I was pregnant. On March 3, 2011 my daughter Evalyn was born. She has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and was worth all the stress and pain it took to have her.
When Evalyn was 10 months, we decided to try again; I was 35. That January we went through a fresh cycle, and came out with 1 embryo that we were going to implant, and 2 to freeze. I was so excited because I was confident that things were going to work out, and being the second time we were going through this, I wasn’t afraid. Kristine called to tell us that we had a positive BETA. Wow, this was much easier the second time around! I was happy and excited. When we had our ultrasound, things didn’t look right. The embryo was measuring smaller than expected and the heartbeat was almost non-existent. I knew that something was wrong, but I tried to be positive. When I was released to my OBGYN he ordered an early ultrasound. The ultrasound tech had the pleasure of giving me the news that the embryo had died. I knew that there was a problem, but it still upset me. I wasn’t supposed to have a miscarriage! Things were supposed to go smoothly now that we knew how to deal with my immunological issue! We waited a few months and in July tried a frozen transfer of the 2 remaining embryos. It didn’t work. I was silently devastated. I started to believe that having my daughter was a fluke. I never liked the term ‘miracle baby’ because to me every baby is a miracle and Evalyn was supposed to happen.
In October 2012 we gave it another shot. This time I was nervous again. I was afraid of hyperstimulating, of doing something to ‘mess up’ the procedure, of failure, of not being able to lift my over 20lb toddler, and of having another miscarriage. I probably emailed Kristine more this time around than with Evalyn. Dr. Peters decided to add an additional intralipid infusion and Lovenox to my protocol. These both were to help with the Natural Killer cells and implantation. We got 7 nice looking embryos out of the cycle. Because I was 36, I wanted to have the genetic testing done to eliminate that issue from my mind. It was expensive, but to me, it was peace of mind. Of the 7, only 1 came back normal. That news was oddly comforting. Now I knew that this was going to work out. We put back the genetically normal embryo and Kristine called me with a positive BETA a few weeks later. Our second daughter is due July 6. According to the Perinatologist at St. Luke’s, she’s perfect. I have Dr. Peters and his caring staff to thank for helping us to have a family.