I am finally a mom!

“Each time I went to the bathroom and started my next menstrual cycle, I cried the entire day as I was filled with complete disappointment, anguish, and sadness.”

My husband and I got married in July 2014.  My husband is 10 years older than me, so we decided to try and start a family immediately.  I was actually hoping for a honeymoon baby!  After it didn’t happen during the honeymoon, we tried keeping a positive attitude and being patient.  I have heard many people say that on average it takes a couple a year to conceive so we kept trying!

After a year, I started to track everything through an app on my phone…every ovulation test, every pregnancy test, every time I took my temperature, and every symptom I was having.  I was clear that I was ovulating, so we just continued trying on our own.  Eventually, I felt so defeated and my husband and I felt exhausted.  Each time I went to the bathroom and started my next menstrual cycle, I cried the entire day as I was filled with complete disappointment, anguish, and sadness.  And every time I started my menstrual cycle, we always said the same exact thing.  “We will try harder next month!”

After a few years of “trying harder” and not getting one pregnancy test, we decided to schedule an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist in July 2016.  We had no idea what to expect when we went there.  To be honest, no one really knows until you are actually there, going through the experience.

Everyone in the clinic was fantastic and professional, but they gave an overall timeline of everything. (That’s their job, right?)  I was so overwhelmed with all of the paperwork given and all of the tests I needed to do before we even began treatment, let alone the cost of everything!  As soon as we entered the clinic, they got started immediately!  First, we went into a meeting with our doctor, then I was put straight into a room to get an ultrasound, then straight to the nurse where we were given a packet of information, and then finally I went to get bloodwork done.  I can’t even tell you how many vials were filled with my blood—I couldn’t even look!  I know it was a lot though!  We left feeling anxious.

Our doctor was absolutely amazing and the clinic we went to was outstanding; my husband and I just had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  So, after the appointment, we decided to try on our own for a few more months.  In January 2018, when we kept “trying harder” every month and still had 0 positive pregnancy tests, I scheduled another appointment at the infertility clinic.  This time we were ready!  My husband had to do this sperm test, and I had to do a few tough tests…but I got through it!

In layman’s terms, the clinic eventually found that the health of my eggs was older than that of a 28-year-old.  We were told that if we continue trying on our own, we will have a <1% chance of conceiving.  So we decided to try Clomid for one month.  When that didn’t work, we did two months of Clomid and IUI (intrauterine insemination).  When that didn’t work, we did one month of Letrozole and IUI.  By this point, we were deciding between adoption or IVF.  My husband and I had a trip planned to the Dominican Republic, and this was when the Zika virus was of major concern.

We were told we had to wait a few months to proceed after we returned from vacation.  Finally, in October 2018, we decided to begin the IVF process.  Two huge boxes filled with needles, syringes, and medications were delivered to our doorstep and the process began.  I had to do a few weeks of shots in my stomach and then I had my first egg retrieval.  For egg retrieval, you need to be in twilight sleep, and that was one of my biggest fears.  I was definitely most nervous about the egg retrieval.  Everything went great…they were able to retrieve 9 eggs.  Of the 9 eggs, 3 of the eggs survived and turned into an embryo.  All 3 embryos were biopsied and genetically tested.  Of the 3 tested, 1 embryo came back “genetically normal.” The clinic told me I had 2 options—either use this genetically normal embryo and move onto the transfer or do another egg retrieval and see if I get more embryos.  Time was working against me, as my egg reserve was already of concern.  They basically told us that our decision should be based on how many children we wanted.  This was the hardest decision throughout the whole process.  My head said to do another egg retrieval but my heart said to do the transfer.  After a few days of deliberation, we decided to do another egg retrieval.

This time they changed some of my medication.  For the second egg retrieval, they retrieved 7 eggs and 4 of them survived to become an embryo.  Then all 4 were biopsied and genetically tested.  Of the 4 embryos, 2 came back genetically normal.  We were ecstatic!  Now we had 3 beautiful, healthy embryos.  We could move onto the transfer!  But before we started the transfer, I had to trick my body into thinking my body was already pregnant so the embryo could stick.  So now came more shots and medication!  On March 15th, 2019, we went in for the transfer.

We were told to come back for a blood test in 10 days to see if the transfer worked and I was pregnant.  This was the DREADED “10-day wait.”  During this wait, I tried to get my mind off of things and not overthink everything, but it was HARD!  Even if I sneezed, I immediately thought, “Is sneezing a sign of pregnancy?”  Finally, it was on March 25th.  We went in for a blood test to see if the transfer worked.  They told us they would call us.  After 6 hours of staring at my phone, we finally got the call around 2pm on March 25th, 2019.  My HCG level was 218!  It worked and I was pregnant!

I tried not to get my hopes up because now the HCG level needed to double and I had to go back for another pregnancy test.  But it turned out that my HCG level continued to rise!  I think we were in shock and disbelief that it finally happened.  It honestly did not sink in that I was pregnant until I was holding my baby in my arms.  After 5 ½ years of trying, countless doctor appointments and tests, over 100 injections, 3 rounds of Clomid, 1 round of Letrozole, 3 rounds of IUI, 2 egg retrievals, and 1 frozen transfer, our beautiful miracle was born on November 26th, 2019.

Throughout the process, it was so hard to stay positive.  I started to accept the fact that I was never going to have my own children.  But dreams really do come true and miracles do happen!  I cry almost every single day with tears of joy…I am finally a mom!

-Stephanie Dukeman

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