1 in 6 stories

Shelley and Chris

Shelley and Chris

Never has a statistic so fully defined and saddened me.

After years of being responsible by taking birth control and using an IUD to avoid getting pregnant, it was time to be carefree and intentionally reckless… or so we thought!

Chris and I met in 2015 on a dating app and were immediately glued at the hip. We spent lots of time getting to know each other and talking about the family and life we wanted. My husband has always wanted a family and I am so close to my brother and sister that I couldn’t imagine a life without at least 2 kids. I am also really close to my parents and talk to them every day.

At the end of 2017, Chris and I decided to start trying for a baby. We knew we wanted to get married at some point, but we really wanted a family and we weren’t getting any younger. I stopped birth control and we started tracking my cycles, but every month brought new disappointment. After more than a year of trying without success, we finally asked our family doctor for help and she referred us to Olive Fertility in Vancouver.

We both underwent lots of blood tests, scans and a semen analysis (Chris, not me). It seemed like the problem was finally identified. My husband had a low sperm count and poor motility. The best way to treat this problem is with IVF, so we joined a clinical trial to compare different stimulation drugs and did our first egg retrieval. We were so optimistic and excited! We got 3 eggs and then went home to wait for the results of fertilization. 3 successfully retrieved egg resulted in zero fertilized eggs and a complete devastation for both of us.

After some re-grouping and a few months of saving money and accupuncture, we set out for egg retrieval round 2. This time we used a flare protocol that used much stronger combinations of stimulation meds and we got 17 eggs!! Of these 17 eggs, 11 were fertilized and 8 turned out to be PGS normal. Amazing!!!

Now for our first frozen embryo transfer (FET). This was it. We were the closest to being pregnant we had ever been… the transfer was a breeze and I felt great! As in, I felt like I had every pregnancy symptom and googled early implantation symptoms daily for our entire 2 week wait. We had our beta pregnancy test and I could barely concentrate on work while we waited for the results….. NEGATIVE…. and broken hearted.

I travel a lot for work and so we took a small break and enjoyed some vino. At some point we got engaged and then married on a gorgeous beach in Maui. We got a pep talk from our RE and decided to try again, so FET#2 happened in the summer of 2019. To make a long story short… NEGATIVE.

So we decided to undergo a ERA (endometrial receptivity assay), aka biopsy of the uterus to determine the correct window of implantation. And guess what?… my window was abnormal and we needed to use a different implantation schedule, so we decided this must be the problem, since we knew all of our fertilized eggs were genetically normal. So FET#3 happened in late 2019. Despite feeling like I was pregnant and having symptoms our pregnancy test was NEGATIVE again. 3 strikes and your out!

But wait… there’s more…

What if my immune system is secretly attacking and killing off the embryo before it implants or just after implantation? What if my body is working in overdrive to keep me safe from a parasitic baby implantation… yah immune system! Oh wait….bad immune system!!

So we self referred ourselves to the Beer Centre in California after I had read Dr. Alan Beers book “is your body baby friendly?”. Our RE suggested they could assess for immune issues not tested in Canada. So I signed us up! Why not? We were already over $40k in. And maybe i did have an autoimmune disease no one knew about. This was our last chance for a baby.

In Jan 2020 we had our medical records sent to the Beer clinic. We underwent all of the testing requested and waited patiently for our diagnosis. And here it is…

  • I probably have PCOS that is not detectable. This could mean that even though our eggs are genetically normal, then maybe structurally abnormal….
  • I have a gene mutation which affects clotting factors and I need to take blood thinners and heparin, humira to prevent blood clotting during implantation.
  • My immune system kills off my husbands genetic material, aka our baby, so I need to go to mexico or somewhere in Toronto for LIT (aka a therapy where they extract my husband’s white blood cells and then inject them into me so my body builds up a tolerance just like allergy immunotherapy injections).
  • I also need to suppress my immune system with IVIG infusion which is a blood product of immunoglobulin G and not approved for fertility treatment in Canada.
  • And did I mention I have a gene mutation which means I don’t absorb folic acid properly and need to take 4g/day.
  • Plus a few more “issues”.

Amazing to hear all of the ways my own body is working against our family planning. What started out as poor sperm, evolved into what feels like a fulltime job trying to get pregnant. So we wait and confer with our RE and decide if it is still worth it to go on, or if it is finally time to walk away.

We are #1in6.

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