I was only 17, when I first started showing symptoms for Prolactinoma, a Pituitary Tumor that caused an uncanny amount of bleeding through my menstruation cycle, which would last for months together. We changed OB's one after the other. Finally I was sent to an Endocrinologist, who was able to figure what was happening. That the problem was not my uterus, it was the pituitary gland in my small brain that was acting all snarky. The first words he told us were, that we came to him right in time. My hormone levels at the time were so bad, that I could have suffered brain hemorrhage in a matter of weeks. My mom started pouring right there. We started the antibiotics, and kept a track of the tumor with MRIs and blood work in the following months. I started to feel better, but it wasn't over just yet. PCOD was still there and a uterus with tiny fibroids now. They put me on birth control, quite refrained from using google for all the answers, I was a book worm back then, not too much into phones and using the internet. My mom at one of our doctor appointments asked if I would ever have a problem conceiving? The doctor conveniently replied potentially it is going to be hard for me to conceive or I might not conceive at all without medical help. It broke my mom once again into tears. I did not react to it at the time, but I also didn't realize how that day those words had affected me.
When you are born as a woman, you grow up to have maternal instincts. I believe that, because I am the oldest child in my family and I have taken care of my younger siblings so dearly. My dad raised me to be progressive, marriage and having kids was never a part of the lesson taught to me, or spoken about. Being independent was one thing most talked and taught about.
Fast forward to two months before getting married, my periods won't stop. My OB prescribed me some medicines which gave me a break for all the bloody show for 15 days and there it started again. After a biopsy, we found out that my uterus is filled with polyps. A surgery was scheduled soon. My mental health was taking a toll so I decided to move back from Chicago to California. I dropped my work, my h1b to be with my husband for whom nothing was more important than my health.
Soon after this in the past three years I suffered from Ectopic, Chemical (maybe Molar) and an Unexplained Miscarriage. I was broken. It started becoming hard for me to get out of the bed. Ajay, my husband asked me if I want to consider adoption. He knew all I needed was a child to heal me, and we would love that baby dearly. We decided to see Reproductive Endocrinologist, because I was still not just ready to give up. Our RE said, a non invasive treatment should work. We were all excited, but as months passed by with failed Ovulation Induction and IUI's I started to give up. I had no energy left me in to go through negative pregnancy tests anymore. I happily chose my last resort - IVF, before finally making the decision to apply for adoption.
My mom travelled to be there for us in the beginning of pandemic. She took care of me in every way possible. From taking care of what I am eating, if I am taking enough rest, to come to slow walks with me, she was there right by me. Ajay and my mom supported me by always being there for me. I decided that I will try one round of IVF with one embryo transfer. If it works, there is nothing more I will be grateful for , but if it doesn't work, I put this whole idea of carrying a baby to rest and give myself some grace. Setting up that limit took all the pressure I had put myself in for all those years away. When I started with IVF, I decided to take care of my body and my mind and make it my first priority. I usually eat healthy home cooked Indian meals. The month I started the birth control pills, I started having mostly nutritious Indian food consisting of Dal, Roti , lots of Sabzi and Salad for lunch and stir fry's for dinner. Eggs were a constant everyday breakfast for me. Daily walks twice a day, researching and reading blogs and stories about IVF, and watching Vlogs on Youtube about people's IVF journey helped me prepare what was coming for me in the next few weeks. I was soon ready to start the injectable medicines. Over the years, I have been through so much blood work, surgeries, that I was not afraid of needles and taking the injections on my own. Ajay and Luna (my fur baby) would be there by my side every day through those 11 days. Along with these injections, started another uncomfortable part of IVF, the transvaginal ultrasounds, mock transfer, bloating, bruises on the stomach etc. There were days I had cried to sleep, days when I wouldn't want to leave the couch, also days when I would resort to emotional eating, but having Ajay, Luna and my mom around as my biggest cheerleaders was my biggest support.
After all the injections and ultrasounds, I received a call from my case manager. I will be ready in two days and its time to stop the medication and take the trigger shot. Egg retrieval day was here. As much as I was thrilled , I was scared, nervous and anxious. Due to pandemic, Ajay was not allowed to be with me for not only any of the appointments but for the egg retrieval as well. My Egg Retrieval was on June 8th 2020. We were supposed to be at the hospital early in the morning. Ajay held my hand and walked me up to the reception. I could see him on the other side of the door, talking to me on the phone, giving me a pep talk, that it is okay and nothing to be scared about and reminding me, that our hope might come true, with one of those embabies. I was checked in, and soon I find myself waking up from a deep sleep, the kind I was longing for, peaceful and quiet. I asked my nurse, if the retrieval was done and if it went okay. She was so sweet. She helped get up, get dressed, brought me some juice, let me come in my senses fully and told me that the doctor was able to retrieve 17 eggs. It filled me with excitement. Ajay was called to come pick me up from the reception. The nurse informed him about the number of eggs retrieved and I burst into tears. I hugged him so tight in that moment.
The hardest part about IVF is not just the physical pain, but the mental exhaustion that comes later with waiting for the results. Now it was time, to wait and watch. Everyday I would expect a call from my case manager to give me an update, what happened to the eggs, if they fertilized, if the embryos were growing, etc. The first call I got was to let me know that out of 17 eggs retrieved 15 were fertilized. In the world of IVF this is an excellent number to start with. We were so excited, but we also remained calm. The anxiety would build up one phone call after the other. I received the next phone call only 6 days later. I was all the emotions in those 6 days, nervous and anxious mostly. When I finally received the call, it was good news. We had 9 Embabies that made it to day 5 Blastocyst stage and 2 Embabies that made it 6 day Blastocyst stage. We decided to freeze all of them, and get a PGT testing done. PGT-A testing takes two weeks for the results to come back. This was the part I was dreading the most. With all the miscarriages, I was scared, and to my wonder if my embabies results would come back normal. Just one normal embryo was what I was praying for. The PGT Results were out and I got a call from my case manager, she said we had 8 normal embryos. I jumped with joy. She asked me if I wanted to know the genders of each of them, and If I wanted a copy of the report. I, in my most excited voice said yes, yes please Thank you!!! I opened the email, my hands shaking. We had both girl and boy embabies. The most dreadful part is to choose the embaby we wanted to transfer.
On June 4th 2020, even before our egg retrieval, on our way to the appointment, I suggested a baby girl name to Ajay. We agreed on the name that very day, and we knew if we were having a daughter, we were naming her that very name we agreed upon. I had a strong instinct that day, that my baby girl is coming to me. I just knew it in that moment.
At the same time, it was time to prepare myself for our first frozen embryo transfer. I began to engage myself completely into getting myself ready for the transfer.I religiously ate pomegranate and pineapple core 1 week before and after the transfer. I did everything that kept me happy and busy. I took a food photography class in between, so that I could improve my skills, but it also worked amazingly as a distraction. I was still going for walks, eating healthy diet mainly consisting of fruits and vegetables, watching hopeful vlogs on youtube with successful embryo transfers and some vlogs, where they weren't successful in the first time. It helped me stay grounded and not get too excited and overwhelmed with my own feelings.
I was soon asked to choose the embryo, I wished to transfer just 3 days before the transfer day. For me all of them were equal, but Ajay knew exactly the guilt I was going through of choosing. He finally made the call. He asked my case manager to finalize the best baby girl embryo. Her grading was the highest among all the embryos and she was numbered as embryo 1. I am guessing the embryos are numbered in the order their fertilization took place.
Soon it was transfer day. July 7th 2020. The day I am most grateful for and forever will be. I was going to bring my tiny embaby home with me. I popped in Valium as asked by the RE and started from home chugging water, to make sure my bladder was full before the transfer. They showed my sweet embaby to me, she was hatching and getting ready to come home.
The transfer happened, and now it was a waiting game. I decided not to take a pregnancy test at home, but my hormones and brains were a whack. I knew something was up. But, didn't think that she could have attached and I could be pregnant. On July 12th, 2020 very unusual of me, but I was strongly craving rice, so much that I didn't want to eat anything else but rice. We booked my mom's tickets to return back to India, rumors had it that there is going to be a travel ban due to increasing cases and she won't be able to fly back until how long we didn't know. She was flying back home on the same day, I was scheduled for my beta HCG blood work. I decided to take a home pregnancy test on 13th July, 2020, Just one day before mom was leaving for India. Ajay was fast at work that morning, mom was making breakfast, and I was in my bathroom with Luna, holding pregnancy test in my hand, still trying to decide if I should take it or not. I finally decided to take it. After 3 minutes, I saw a second line on the test, faint yet very visible that I didn't have to ball my eyes out to see if there was a line. it didn't hit me yet. I decided to put Luna's big sister bandana on and bring her to Ajay and my mom. Our happiness knew no bounds that day. My sweet girl is in me, and I couldn't be more happier.
My beta HCG test result had amazing numbers, and clearly it was positive. I was then scheduled for 6 week ultrasound to check the heartbeat. The anxiousness had sipped in me so much over the years that I kept on testing every morning. I spent hundreds of dollars on pregnancy tests. I was 5 weeks and 2 days pregnant, the pregnancy symptoms didn't kick in yet. I made lunch. I was experiencing mild stomach cramps that day. It was not unusual. It was the same kind of pain, I felt when I began to miscarry my third pregnancy. I was scared, but I kept myself going past the thought of anything negative. I finished making lunch, and soon I asked Ajay to come down for lunch. While we started eating the pain became unbearable. In that moment I knew something was wrong. I rushed upstairs, a gush of blood and I knew something was wrong. I couldn't hold back my tears. I just didn't have the energy to get past one more miscarriage. I told Ajay, I can't do this anymore. I just couldn't stop crying. He called in the nurse and see if we could see the doctor and have an ultrasound. Our doctor was extremely nice to have us in another 45 mins. She did a quick scan, there she was, my baby girl, just a tiny little dot. But she was there. That ultrasound picture of her still sits on my bedside table. She was strong, and she thrived.
It was possibly a hematoma, a rather small one, as my bleeding stopped that same day. My 6 weeks ultrasound was on August 10th, to see my baby girl's heartbeat. I was wreck that entire week. I couldn't sleep, that whole week. I took innumerable pregnancy tests just to make sure my little baby was okay and going strong. Still no nausea, so I was hoping to get it, without knowing how painful it is. Finally the day was here, and back in my doctors office, she did a quick scan. Very sleep deprived me, heard my doctor say, that flicker is the heartbeat. She made me hear it. I was so lost. I just knew my baby girl is strong in that moment, and it filled me up with life again. The moment I heard her heartbeat, I was ready to get some sleep. Ajay couldn't believe how pleasing it was to hear that heartbeat. We came home, and I slept. It was only when I woke up and listened to her heartbeat again, I realized she is here with me. I couldn't stop my happy tears. It was the best sound to my ears and my heart.
Now I am 36 weeks pregnant with my little girl, I feel her kicks, her tiny hiccups, she loves rice, tomatoes, cucumbers, and pizza. She loves when she hears the songs that play on the reels on Instagram. She kicks for these things every single time. Oh and she also pouts a little bit, we could see that on the ultrasound and it was the cutest thing ever.
If you are reading this, waiting for your miracle to happen, I know it is hard to keep faith, it is hard to hang in there, it is hard to put a smile, it is hard to see other women pregnant, it is hard to go through this pain physically and mentally, but one day your tiny miracle will be packing on muscle to be here with you, to give you the most precious sleepless nights, and the kisses and cuddles.... Little miracles take time, but they happen. There is light at the end of the tunnel, even on the days when you can't see it, just believe it is there.
For someone, who has endlessly tried fertility treatments, and it still hasn't worked, please show yourself love and grace. Give yourself a break. You are in my prayers and one day your miracle might happen to you just when you are least expecting it.
Adding a few sources that helped me learn about IVF and the support group I followed down here:
https://www.instagram.com/thechutneylife/ - Palak runs an IVF support group for her followers on Facebook. The group is extremely helpful, everybody is always happy to help with all your questions. The link to the Facebook group is https://www.facebook.com/groups/thechutneylifettc
For my readers in Bay Area, I was consulting with Dr Sarah Reid, at the Reproductive Science Centre, Foster City and San Ramon. I highly recommend to choose RSC if you are considering a fertility treatment in Bay Area.
For anybody interested to know if we had insurance, we did. We had Progyny, through my husband's work. This insurance is provided only through the employers.
Disclaimer - No Content here is sponsored. Everything in this blog is my experience, and recommendations based on the the things that I did. I do not by any means guarantee, that the same will work you.