Recurrent Pregnancy Loss: Elizabeth’s Story [SUCCESS]

October 28, 2019

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Today’s success story is about a woman named Elizabeth. She is a 50-year-old lawyer and writer who enjoys swimming, skiing, and traveling. She never imagined that it would take 3,285 days to complete her family. First diagnosed with polycystic ovaries and told that Clomid would provide a simple fix, over the next five years, she learned that she also had an abnormally shaped uterus, an autoimmune problem, a potential nature killer cell problem, and an unusually high number of embryos with chromosomal abnormalities. She tried IUI 3 times, followed by 8 fresh IVF cycles and 2 frozen transfers. She experimented with ICSI and PGT to improve her IVF chances, and IVIG transfusions to counter her immune problem. She drank Chinese herbal teas, served as a cushion for an uncountable number of acupuncture needles, and took a variety of homeopathic remedies derived from Germany to the Arabian Peninsula. Over the course of her journey, she saw 10 doctors at top clinics in 6 countries, and ironically, became pregnant naturally 5 times, mostly between treatments. Join us to hear how, after 7 miscarriages, Elizabeth and her husband turned to gestational surrogacy and are now the very happy parents of 2 biological children.

Episode Sponsor:

Infertility Coaching with Heather Huhman

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Before infertility, Elizabeth was happy, optimistic, outgoing, and felt very fortunate with her life
  • How she met her husband in a hotel lobby when she went to London for work—and he turned out to be her client!
  • As a couple, they are strong after 21 years of marriage, and infertility has only brought them closer together after all the ups and downs
  • It was Elizabeth’s first miscarriage that helped her realize how much she wanted to be a mom
  • How wanting to be a mom impacted Elizabeth’s career, travel, and attitudes toward others
  • When she went off the pill, she naively thought pregnancy would soon follow
  • She was diagnosed with PCOS and was told that “Clomid would be the quick and easy fix”
  • She did acupuncture, saw a fertility specialist, and got pregnant the first time, but miscarried
  • Over the next couple of years, Elizabeth did lots of Clomid and acupuncture and a large number of natural cycles and four IUI cycles; she got pregnant twice and miscarried twice
  • When the doctor recommended IVF, they went on vacation and got pregnant naturally with no Clomid or acupuncture, but then she had her fourth miscarriage
  • Elizabeth realized she couldn’t do this on her own, so they moved to IVF
  • With 19 embryos, two were transferred, and Elizabeth got pregnant; she miscarried a few weeks later and froze the remaining embryos
  • As they prepared for the FET, the cycle was canceled because her lining didn’t thicken
  • How her ten high-quality embryos were thawed and ruined by a lab mistake
  • Elizabeth felt devastated and furiously angry at the clinic, which prompted her to do research and start to educate herself about infertility
  • The next problems for Elizabeth were an abnormally-shaped uterus and natural killer cells
  • Over the next two years or so, they did six IVF cycles and several with IVIG transfusions and never got pregnant with IVF, but she got pregnant naturally between cycles and miscarried every time
  • They stopped treatment for a while and explored surrogacy and adoption
  • The doctor said he wasn’t comfortable with her getting pregnant anymore, which was hard news to take
  • Elizabeth talked to a new doctor in NY about surrogacy, and he was warm, caring, and optimistic
  • They found a surrogate in London and all flew to NY for the IVF cycle, from which the surrogate became pregnant on the first try
  • Even though genetic testing showed a high number of abnormal embryos, the pregnancy was wonderful, and they were all three in the delivery room when their daughter was born
  • They were afraid to talk to the surrogate about Baby #2, but she approached them and offered to carry another child for them
  • There were many more problems, and their frozen embryos were transferred from England to NY, but none were viable
  • The surrogate got engaged and said she couldn’t carry another baby for them, so they had no embryos and no surrogate; Elizabeth was at rock bottom
  • They decided to be content with their daughter, and her husband’s job moved them to Dubai
  • When Elizabeth shared her story and her advice with others, someone asked why they hadn’t tried Russia for surrogacy, which she found out has very high success rates
  • Even though her husband was “done” with treatment, he agreed to let her talk to the Russian doctor one time, so she flew to Russia with her medical records—and everything changed
  • The Russian doctor said she would use different protocols and should try again
  • With this IVF cycle, 50% of the embryos were normal, they transferred two, and Elizabeth became pregnant, but miscarried
  • In a surprising twist, the original surrogate returned to help, they tried again, and she became pregnant with their son
  • How they were able to afford treatment because England is less expensive than the US, but they spent about $200K seeing doctors in six different countries
  • How surrogacy works in England, where the surrogate cannot be compensated
  • What Elizabeth learned from many doctors in many countries, and why she is eager to share her advice and opinions
  • Why Elizabeth’s ten embryos were thawed and ruined–How does this happen?
  • When Elizabeth interviewed other women, she discovered how many had similar experiences with “lab errors”
  • What prompted Elizabeth to turn her experiences into a book
  • All the surprising things that can affect egg quality and chromosomal abnormalities
  • How Elizabeth is trying to open people’s minds and help them see that there are more IVF options than the one that’s being presented to them
  • How infertility has changed Elizabeth: “I appreciate so many things that I never did before. I look at my children and marvel at the fact that they are there. I question things more now when a doctor recommends something.”
  • Elizabeth’s advice to her past self: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be stubborn.”

References:

Thanks for listening!

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