Advanced Reproductive Age & Recurrent Loss: Karen’s Story [SUCCESS]

September 23, 2019

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Today’s success story is about a woman named Karen. She is a 38-year-old associate professor who enjoys social media, hanging out with friends, and biking. Because she had her thyroid removed when she was younger, Karen first met with her OB/GYN to discuss potential problems with trying to conceive. After a little more than a year of trying on their own, they had three unsuccessful Clomid cycles with her OB. Shortly after consulting a reproductive endocrinologist, they attempted three cycles of IUI, all of which also failed. Four IVF cycles, four frozen transfers, two additional reproductive endocrinologists, and two miscarriages later, she started working with me as a one-on-one coaching client. Join us to hear how Karen did one more IVF cycle with yet another doctor, ended up with two PGT normal embryos, and successfully transferred one of them. One final update that isn’t in the episode: I’m happy to report that Karen just gave birth to her beautiful daughter!

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What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Before infertility, Karen was a successful achiever who thought that she could accomplish whatever she wanted
  • How she met her husband at new faculty orientation at their university—and they were engaged just one year later
  • As a couple, they are independent but work well together, and they like to try new things together
  • How Karen always loved kids and wanted to be a mother
  • How finding a partner was difficult for Karen, which is why she went to grad school
  • How Karen saw her Ob about conception because she knew there were potential issues from her thyroid removal a few years earlier
  • After going off birth control and charting her cycles, her Ob recommended Clomid
  • About two years into her journey, Karen saw her first RE, and they did three IUI cycles with no positive results
  • They moved to IVF in 2017, mainly because of the mandated insurance coverage in IL; they got nine eggs and two embryos but had no success
  • They did another retrieval and transferred two embryos, which resulted in a chemical pregnancy
  • When they transferred another frozen embryo, there were positive results, but the subsequent ultrasounds showed multiple amniotic sacs but no heartbeats
  • How they took their scheduled vacation, waiting for a miscarriage to happen, then realized the pregnancy wasn’t viable and had a D & C upon their return home
  • The products of conception were tested, but there were no conclusive results
  • The clinics were telling Karen that she was too old and her egg quality was bad
  • At a new clinic, they did their third IVF and got 16 eggs, three embryos, and two normal male embryos
  • When they transferred one embryo and got a negative result, the results from the earlier miscarriage showed a genetic issue
  • The fourth IVF cycle gave them 12 eggs, five frozen embryos, and three genetically-normal female embryos
  • When they moved to VA, the focus shifted to a possible uterine lining issue for Karen
  • IVF access in rural VA was limited, so Karen considered a faraway clinic and chose one in NY
  • How they were self-pay patients at this point, and Karen tried some crazy diets and an autoimmune protocol
  • In November 2018, they did another IVF cycle and got two genetically-normal embryos
  • The transfer took place in January 2019 with vaginal Viagra for Karen’s lining, and she is 33 weeks pregnant today!
  • How the different doctors compared to each other
  • Details about the crazy diets that Karen tried
  • Why it bothers Karen that the infertility default is that the problem is with the woman
  • How the lack of a thyroid impacts IVF treatment
  • What it’s like to do IVF in Illinois, where it’s mandated that four IVF cycles are covered
  • Karen’s hope for her remaining frozen embryos in IL and NY
  • The lowest point for Karen, when her sister got pregnant twice with no trouble during Karen’s infertility journey
  • A positive moment, when the nurse at the first clinic figured out what was going on with Karen’s cycle
  • How the relationship with her husband went through rough times when they weren’t always on the same page
  • The relationship with Karen’s friends and family, including the rough spots and the supportive moments
  • How infertility has changed Karen: “Infertility has given me a healthy dose of pessimism. I understand that sometimes bad things happen and there isn’t anything you can do about it.”
  • Karen’s advice to her past self: “Don’t bother with birth control—ever! There are multiple reproductive endocrinologists, so don’t just go to the one closest to your house. It will work out for you eventually.”

References:

Thanks for listening!

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