Diminished Ovarian Reserve: Anna’s Story [JOURNEY]

November 30, 2020

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Today’s journey story of a woman named Anna. She is a 36-year-old nurse practitioner who enjoys reading, yoga, and being outdoors. Anna always envisioned putting off trying to conceive for a few years, so she and her husband were shocked when she became pregnant 3 months after stopping birth control. Unfortunately, she miscarried but was told by her OB/GYN not to worry. She went on to have another very early loss 2 months later. They decided it was time to go to a fertility clinic. They tried timed intercourse with Clomid first, and she had another very early loss. They then moved straight to IVF. They only retrieved 1 egg the first cycle, and it didn’t fertilize. The next cycle wasn’t any better and was converted to IUI. At that point, they made the difficult decision to use an egg donor. Join us to hear how Anna received several new diagnoses that might hinder implantation — and what’s coming up next in her journey.

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What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Before infertility, Anna was driven and focused, sometimes to a fault
  • How she met her husband on an online dating site, and they hit it off right away
  • As a couple, they are complete opposites in many ways, but they have similar values
  • How Anna always wanted a family but wasn’t naturally drawn to children and babies
  • How they started trying when she finished grad school at age 34, and she became pregnant right away
  • Bleeding at six weeks sent her to the ER, and a blighted ovum led to a miscarriage a few days later
  • How her doctor told her not to worry, that miscarriages are common, and there’s no concern for the future of her fertility
  • When they started trying again, a quick positive result was confirmed to be a chemical pregnancy
  • When Anna first saw a reproductive endocrinologist, she was diagnosed with antithyroid antibodies and diminished ovarian reserve
  • After trying one IUI that resulted in a chemical pregnancy, they had no choice but to move to IVF
  • As they started IVF, Anna only had three follicles, and she knew things didn’t look promising when only one egg was retrieved; it didn’t even fertilize
  • They tried other protocols, including human growth hormone and acupuncture, and Anna’s next IVF cycle was converted to an IUI
  • They took a break, and Anna developed severe gastrointestinal problems that were diagnosed as lymphocytic colitis
  • Anna’s fertility treatments were put on hold because of her GI issues, and then COVID-19 forced a longer break; it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Anna could focus on her health for a time
  • How they decided to stop IVF and considered egg donors, embryo adoption, and traditional adoption
  • Why Anna is thankful for her supportive husband who wasn’t insistent on having his own biological child
  • How they went through the difficult process of choosing an egg donor–a strange, unnerving experience
  • Why Anna doesn’t regret her decision to wait to have children
  • How Anna selected a fertility clinic, and how she feels about her doctor
  • How Anna has handled this journey as a “never IVFer”
  • How Anna worked through the grieving process
  • Anna’s advice for those who don’t what to do or say to help someone going through an infertility journey
  • Why Anna decided to use an egg donor through her clinic over other options
  • The legal process involved in egg donation
  • The lowest point for Anna was when her sister-in-law got pregnant accidentally; this filled Anna with profound jealousy and resentment
  • A positive moment is right now for Anna when she feels hopeful and excited
  • How Anna balanced work and treatment by setting her own hours and having a flexible schedule
  • How infertility has put a strain on Anna’s relationship with her husband because they didn’t know how to help each other; they have become a stronger team by learning to communicate and face issues together
  • How Anna has grown closer to her mother over the shared experience of infertility
  • How Anna learned to advocate for herself, even though it doesn’t come naturally; her advice is to educate yourself, do research, and ask lots of questions
  • Lessons learned: “I’ve learned that I am a much stronger and more resilient person than I thought I was. I can handle a lot.”
    Up next in Anna’s journey is the cycle for their egg donor, set to begin in a few days

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