Katie & Brian
- Male factor
- Embryo Freezing
- Frozen embryo transfer (FET)
- In vitro Fertilization (IVF)
- Sperm Freezing
- Michael Grossman
Katie & Brian's Story:
My husband has cystic fibrosis, so we knew early on that we need assistance to conceive if we ever decided to have children. After nearly 10 years together, we felt that the time was right.
After hearing many good things about CNY, we scheduled a consultation with Dr. Grossman to discuss what our options were, how IVF might work for us and what CNY could do to assist us.
After our conversation, we decided to go ahead with our first IVF attempt. During our first health review, Dr. Grossman discovered some polyps on my uterine wall, so he recommended that I have them removed in order to increase our chances of success. It was a bit of a surprise, and pushed our timeline back a couple months, but the procedure was successful.
Shortly after Christmas 2016, I began the injections for my egg withdrawal. Because of my husband's cystic fibrosis, he required a testicular biopsy to collect his sperm. In January 2017, we both had our procedures. We were encouraged to hear that CNY had extracted 9 eggs (from 12 follicles) from me and 3 sperm samples from my husband. We opted to freeze all the embryos after a 5 day growth and ended up with 6 embryos that successfully reached the 5 day stage. We weren't exactly sure what to expect, but 6 seemed like a pretty decent number.
After taking a month to allow my body to recover, we attempted our first FET in March 2017. We used one embryo because there were no known difficulties with me conceiving. With our first blood test 9 days after the transfer, we were told we had a "low positive." Because we were expecting either a straight positive or negative (and, honesty, a positive from the beginning), we were somewhat confused and had to learn about ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, etc. pretty quickly. The next blood test failed to show the necessary growth in our HCG numbers, so it was clear this attempt was unsuccessful.
Because of the initial low positive, we needed to wait a full month before our second FET attempt. In May, we again had one embryo transferred. To our excitement, the first blood test came back positive! However, after the second blood test again failed to show the necessary growth in our HCG level, we found ourselves right back where we started. We were a bit frustrated and confused. We had expected success early on and didn't quite know how to feel about tests that seemed encouraging in the beginning, but ended in disappointment. It was much less cut and dry than we were expecting.
We met with Dr. Grossman where we further discussed our options, possible issues and potential courses of action. Because of the initial positive test, we again had to wait at least a month to attempt our third transfer. At the same time, we had the opportunity to take a week-long vacation to Europe. We were initially hesitant to push back our IVF timeline any further than it already was, but decided that a brief break from all the injections and appointments might be good for us. And it was! We came back recharged and ready for our third attempt.
In August, we had our third FET, again with one embryo. The transfer was on our second wedding anniversary. The first blood test came back positive.. and the second one did as well! The furthest we had made it. But while out of town for a wedding, I bled and feared the worst. After a couple days, we went for our first ultrasound. If I was still pregnant, we'd see a little black circle. But there was nothing there. I had an early miscarriage. We were sad, frustrated and confused. Why wasn't this working? On top of it all, this meant we only had 3 embryos left. We weren't sure if we wanted to have more one child, but wanted the option available and thought 6 embryos gave us that possibility. Now we were beginning to think about whether or not we had enough for just one baby.
Again, because of the initial positive results, we had to wait a month for our next transfer. We thought about the possibility of transferring 2 embryos, but ultimately decided on just one, knowing that we still had the option to transfer our last 2 together if this attempt was unsuccessful. October rolled around and we had our FET. Went in for our blood test after 9 days and the results came back negative. Much more cut and dry than our first 3 attempts, but still more disappointment.
By this point we had be going through the process for about a year and had honestly expected to already have a baby by this point. The only silver lining was that because of the negative, we were able to try another transfer immediately, instead of waiting another month. We decided gain to use one embryo, if only because there didn't seem to be a convincing reason to put the last two in together. We were fairly impatient by this point, but felt that shouldn't be the driving force to change our approach. November came, we did our fifth FET, waited 9 days and then got the blood test. Another negative.
This meant we had just one embryo left. More than a year into the process and still no baby. We had pretty much accepted the likelihood that we would have to go through another entire egg withdrawal process. I wasn't looking forward to all those shots again. At best, this meant that we would have a baby much later than we ever thought we would. At worst, maybe we wouldn't have one at all. But we knew we had to go through our last transfer before we could start-up our next withdrawal process.
Mid-December came and we went in for our sixth FET, using our very last embryo. We went go the picture of the embryo they transferred, it had a small little nodule on the edge of the wall. We joked that even though it looked a little weird, maybe the embryo would use that little spot to latch on. My husband has a tooth that's a bit crooked that I call his snaggle tooth. We tried to remain positive about the transfer and said maybe this was the embryo's own snaggle tooth.
A couple days after Christmas, we went in for our blood test. We were surprised to learn it was positive! After two negatives in a row, we were expecting the same from this one. But, having gotten initial positives during our first few attempts, we had learned to keep our expectations in check. We went back a couple days later and my HCG level was shooting way up! Much better than we were expecting, but we still had not had a successful first ultrasound. After the required week or so wait, we went in for our ultrasound, hoping to see that little black circle. I didn't look initially, but after Sheila and my husband saw the circle, we were so excited!
Fast forward many more appointments, ultrasounds, blood tests and all the joys and frustrations that come with a pregnancy, we were so happy to welcome our new baby boy in September. Nearly 2 years after we first started our journey, here we are!
Favorite Team Member at CNY:
Sheila - We had become pros at coming and going to the office and were very comfortable requesting our appointments with Sheila. Sheila knew our struggles and our continued disappointments over our various failed FETs. She was always a calming source of knowledge and care. I would call and ask to speak with her when concerned about bleeding of any sort. Because we are lucky enough to live 15mins away from the office she had once let me stop in early in the morning w/o an appointment to get checked out. Sheila made us so comfortable.
OR Staff (Kayla, Jackie, Kimmie and Stacey) - My veins are not the best and with over 60+ blood withdrawals, IVs, etc the OR nurses knew me as a difficult case. Two, three, four tries was not uncommon. "It's me not you" was what I would often say. Kayla was the first staff member in the OR that we worked with a lot. She was fantastic and caring. She always answered our questions. Kayla was rotated out of the OR and we became familiar with the other OR staff including Jackie, Kimmie and Stacey. Seeing the staff so often every week or multiple times a month they became like family. Sharing stories of the plans for the weekend, how things were going, holiday plans. The relaxed atmosphere was extremely helpful and calming when going through difficult times. And when we received the positive news it was amazing to be in the moment w/ the staff that helped make it happen.
Dr. Grossman - Again being so close to the Albany office allowed us to schedule consultations after each failed FET because it was not difficult to travel. Dr. Grossman was funny and frank about our options. My husband and I are numbers people so he always was willing to entertain our percentage, rates, questions, etc. Whenever I hear the word "modesty" I will always think of Dr. Grossman, who would try to make the best of situations when doing exams or transfers.
Helpful resources Katie & Brian found:
I created a journal at home to write in as we were going through the process. We did not tell many people because at the time we did not want to explain where we were at, or our failures etc. It helped us express our feelings. Once we told people I did end up journaling less, but I did continue at a reduced pace. I just finished it with my final entry about the day our little boy was born. Journaling also gave us both an opportunity to look back at the hard times as well as the time we heard his heartbeat for the first time, or saw him do a flip.
My husband has cystic fibrosis (he has a non-existent or blocked vas deferens) so we've always known we would have to go through IVF if we wanted to have children.
Hope, Inspiration and Advice:
Everyone is unique. Don't assume that because something did or didn't happen to others, that it means that's how your process will play out. We all have our own journey!