I have read many amazing, heartbreaking and inspirational fertility stories from women going through difficult fertility journey’s, however this one has touched me the most. Natalie’s fertility story of pure determination to reach her dream against all the odds, is a portrayal of a strong and hopefully woman who is not prepared to ever give up or lose hope.
Natalie’s Fertility Story
I started ttc in 2008, the year I married my husband. I was 32. Struggling to fall pregnant didn’t cross my mine once, but I was impatient for it to happen quickly.
I did a quick bit of internet research and decided to present myself at the doctors after trying for 3 months for initial fertility blood tests.
When the results came back the doctor said that “they weren’t quite there yet”. I didn’t have a clue what that actually meant, but I was referred to the hospital to see the fertility specialist.
I got to see the fertility specialist pretty quickly. I sat in his room and he basically laughed at me after looking at the results and told me my only option was donor eggs or adoption. My FSH was 19.8 and at 20 you are consider menopausal.
Very much knocked for six, confused and unsupported by the medical establishment, I did what all us IF ladies do, did my own research……..
I found a local fertility clinic and referred myself. They were not wildly positive about an IVF cycle but agreed to give me a go. In the background I made some lifestyle changes, started on supplements and alternative therapies.
My FSH began to reduce. I had a blood test result of FSH 11 on my first IVF cycle. Pretty pleased with that and buoyed by this result, I embarked on the dreaded down regulation. Sniffing an inhaler for the first part of my cycle, I had a massive reaction to this. This drug forces you into a false menopause effectively. I did not take to it well. My skin felt like it was crawling off my body, I couldn’t think straight and I was really aggressive. In fact, I got escorted from Tesco after a massive, scary outburst!
They managed to collect 7 eggs. Only 1 of which fertilised and naturally I got my first BFN.
The fertility clinic advised me to go straight into another cycle. This time no down regulation, I would be on the short protocol and they would ICSI my eggs.
I loved that protocol, very quick and symptom free. They collected 8 eggs, all of which fertilised, 2 embryos were returned, but I got another BFN. The same clinic advised immune tests and for me to actually start considering donor eggs.
Sadly, my relationship with this fertility clinic broke down, and I needed a break, or else I was probably going to lose my marbles. It was time to move on…….
I waited a year before I decided what I was going to do next. In that year, I continued to fanatically trawl Google to find ways of helping me and my body produce the best possible eggs. I knew I had diminished ovarian reserve for someone of my age, I knew my body was struggling to ovulate and I knew that one of my ovaries didn’t work that well so I was relying on the right ovary to do all the work. I took up Yoga and Pilates, had regular acupuncture and reflexology, took a tonne of supplements and ate really well.
Last Chance Saloon
From my research, I had found out that my best option would be to go to a fertility clinic in London. Feeling like this was very much last chance saloon for me, I confessed all to my manager at work and told him that this fertility clinic was like bootcamp, he wouldn’t see me for a month and that I was prepared to resign if this was an issue. Luckily, he totally supported me. I couldn’t have done the cycle without him and I will always be grateful for that kindness.
It took me 5 months of blood tests to get my FSH under 10. On my 1st cycle there my FSH was 7.7. Beautiful! IVF bootcamp started, but I enjoyed every step of the process including meeting some amazing, inspirational women, all of whom I still speak to now. This fertility clinic threw the IF lot at me and I had a load of immune work done, including steroids and intralips. 7 eggs were collected, 2 made it to blasto stage and those were returned to me for safe keeping!
On the day before my OTD I was convinced it hadn’t worked. I woke my husband up and said I couldn’t do this anymore, I didn’t feel any different and I wanted to go out and do all the “bad things” I wasn’t able to! Drinking, smoking and eating really terrible food! He told me to take a test, I couldn’t even look at it and asked him to tell me what it said.
BFP. BFP? BFP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I thought the 2WW was bad! Getting a BFP and trying to make it 12 weeks is horrendous. I was too afraid to move. And didn’t believe it was real until I had reached 14 weeks and at that point announced it to my colleagues at work.
My pregnancy was hard. I was sick every single day. I was huge and hot and sick. But I didn’t care. I delivered my perfect baby son in March 2012 after a long labour.
I thought that was that. Content with my little family, I found my son to be both hard work but an absolute joy. I thought I could put all this IVF business behind me……
A couple of weeks before I was due to return to work after maternity leave, I discovered I was naturally pregnant. That was a first! But on the day I returned to work I miscarried the baby. We tried again for more months without any success and I decided to go back to the clinic in London for IVF number 4.
It was my worst cycle ever. I only produced two eggs, my lining didn’t grow and I knew I should have cancelled that cycle, but stupidly kept going. Strangely my FSH was 6 on this cycle. The most normal ever. I had a chemical pregnant as my HCG was 17.
I tried to move on again and took a new job. I had reached a point where I was desperate to put IF behind me and c
oncentrate on my son and me. It’s been years of struggle and heartbreak, of cyclical thoughts and negative self talk and loathing.
Can I take much more of this?
At the beginning of this year I got really, really sick. I took a pregnancy test and again I was pregnant. This time it was an ectopic and I landed in the hospital to have an emergency laparoscopy. I’m not entirely sure why, but they made the decision to save my tube. My heart was ripped out of my chest and I was also left facing the fact that I can no longer be classed as infertile. I’d been pregnant twice in 1 year!
I know I want another child and I know I can’t do this on my own, so I’m about to start IVF number 5. I’ve changed clinic to one which is a bit more holistic and much more supportive. I’m just waiting for my AF to start.
I’m scared this time, really scared. I’m 38 and running out of time and money. My fertility story has changed me so fundamentally, I mourn for the old me. I love my son and can’t believe how lucky I really am. But I can’t shake the feeling that I fail him and me if I don’t at least try for a sibling. Right or wrong, I am compelled to keep going and to hold onto hope that this time I will get lucky again.