Dual Factor Infertility: Heather’s Story [SUCCESS]

April 2, 2018

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Today’s success story is about a woman named Heather. She is a 33-year-old elementary school teacher who enjoys curling up with a good book. After more than a year of trying to conceive on their own, Heather and her husband became frustrated and began undergoing testing with a fertility specialist. At first, after being diagnosed with PCOS, they assumed the problem would be easily remedied with a round or two of Clomid, but they received the shock of a lifetime when they learned her husband was missing his vas deferens on at least one side and was a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis. Join us to hear how, after initially being told her husband had zero sperm, they found a new RE who not only gave them hope but also gave them their son.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Heather has taught kindergarten and 5th grade and is now a stay-at-home mom who still works occasionally as a substitute teacher
  • Before infertility, she traveled a lot with her husband, who works as a Hollywood stuntman. She was carefree, naïve, and thought they were “smooth sailing” through life
  • How she met her husband at a tiny college in IL: they became friends and hung out together, then started dating
  • He moved to CA for work and she stayed behind; they carried on a long-distance relationship for 3 years and then married
  • As a couple, they are an incredibly strong and tenacious team
  • Heather never imagine a life without kids, but they weren’t in a hurry
  • She changed her career plans from news anchor to teacher to have family-friendly job
  • For 5 years, they used no birth control and then actively tried for about a year—“We should’ve known that something was wrong.”
  • At the first RE appointment, the doctor basically gave them a sex ed lesson
  • Why they should have trusted their gut reaction when they felt uncomfortable
  • The nurse that misread their chart, telling them they had 7 embryos—when they really only had one
  • The diagnoses: PCOS, no sperm, and he was a carrier for CF
  • The procedures her husband had done to try to find some sperm that could be directly injected into her eggs
  • The first cycle ended in an early miscarriage and the doctor’s recommendation that they use a sperm donor
  • Why they felt like they needed a fresh start and a fresh perspective
  • Switching clinics, a new RE, and a very different experience
  • After supplements and Clomid for 3 months, they got better quality eggs and a better sperm sample
  • Dealing with expectations: “We knew we had to give it one more try with this cycle, but we didn’t want to get our hopes up.”
  • With 4 PGS-normal embryos, they transferred one and became pregnant
  • A bleeding incident occurred, she was diagnosed with adenomyosis, and then they saw the flicker of a heartbeat on the ultrasound
  • How they balanced work and treatments (it wasn’t easy!) when no one really knew about their infertility
  • With no insurance coverage for diagnosis or treatment, they used their house savings for the 1st cycle and got financial help from family for the 2nd
  • How infertility and the really dark days made them stronger and “Wise beyond our years”
  • Heather realized she couldn’t control how people react, and found that some were supportive, some can’t understand, and some are just disappointing
  • Heather’s tips for advocating for yourself: “Trust your gut instincts, explore your options with other RE’s, and speak up when something is suggested that you’re not ready for. Be OK with calling it quits with a doctor who isn’t serving you in a way that feels best.”
  • Why Heather wanted to use her story to help others: “I wanted to let people going through this know that they aren’t alone. I promoted awareness for infertility with my title at the Mrs. CA pageant and got to lobby Congress for the infertility cause.”
  • How infertility has changed Heather: “It’s made me a really grateful parent. Everything that my son does is a miracle to me. I don’t take anything for granted. It’s made me a lot more empathetic to people who are going through struggles. It’s made me different.”
  • Heather’s advice to herself back then: “Giving yourself injections will one day become ‘old hat.’ In the end, it is going to be OK and we will have a successful outcome. Knowing that back then would have relieved a lot of stress.”

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