Secondary Infertility: Erica’s Story [JOURNEY]

September 24, 2018

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Today’s journey story is about a woman named Erica. She is a 33-year-old environmental manager who enjoys podcasting and reading. Shortly after her wedding, she found out she was pregnant. Unfortunately, her son passed away at birth. When they were ready to try again, she became pregnant but again lost her baby girl, this time due to an incompetent cervix at 18 weeks. The next time she became pregnant, she had a full placental abruption in her third trimester, resulting in a hysterectomy at 28 years old. Thankfully, both she and her son survived the harrowing experience. About a year later, she began having period-like symptoms, which turned out to be ovarian cysts. She switched to a plant-based diet and began seeing a reproductive endocrinologist about six months later. Again, the cysts had returned. During the next year, she sought out a second opinion. Unfortunately, again, her period-like symptoms returned. Join us to hear how Erica has since undergone surgery to get some answers — and what’s coming up next in her journey.

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What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Before infertility, Erica was a happy-go-lucky person who was naive to the complications of pregnancy and the experience of loss
  • How she met her husband on Facebook in 2007
  • As a couple, their relationship is rooted in faith and love for family, friends, church, and community
  • Erica wanted to be a mom, but was hopeful and waiting, not expecting it so soon after their wedding
  • How decisions have been impacted by parenthood and infertility
  • They married in 2012 and were pregnant soon after, but Erica was diagnosed with preeclampsia
  • She was induced, had a long labor with an emergency C-section, and her son passed away a few minutes after birth
  • Soon, there was another pregnancy that was fine up to the 18 week point, when Erica had “cervical incompetence” and lost her daughter after another labor with an unviable baby
  • Feeling abandoned and alone, with no one to lean on
  • Erica and her husband went to counseling to work through their fears and faith, both as individuals and as a couple
  • How they dealt with grief in different ways and had to learn to understand each other
  • Another pregnancy followed, when Erica was high-risk, and her cervix was monitored by specialists
  • Why she had a cerclage at 19 weeks to stitch her cervix shut
  • At 32 weeks, she had discomfort, went to the hospital, and her son was born just a few minutes after their arrival
  • Erica had a full placental abruption and her son had oxygen loss to his brain that resulted in cerebral palsy
  • Erica lost several pints of blood and was on life support for 3 days
  • At age 28, in order to save her life, her uterus had to be removed
  • All the things they had to grieve: two prior losses, the loss of her ability to carry another child, and the expectation of a normal, healthy life for their son
  • After 28 days in NICU, they brought their son home, but he had monthly hospitalizations for the first 2 years of his life
  • Erica had hormonal issues and period-like symptoms, which led to an ovarian cyst diagnosis
  • Her surgery last May to look for problems and confirm whether her eggs could be extracted laparoscopically
  • The next step is to plot a path for hormone therapy and an IVF cycle to extract eggs and freeze embryos for surrogacy
  • Why she and her husband have decided to pursue adoption next year
  • What it felt like to find out her uterus had been removed at age 28
  • No regrets and never giving up on building their family, even though discouragement came
  • The inspiration to start the Sisters In Loss podcast
  • The stigma in the African-American community to not talk about pregnancy loss
  • Erica’s first impressions of the fertility clinics she visited
  • The lowest point, when they lost their daughter and had to turn to God because there was no one else
  • A fond memory: bringing home their son from NICU and now, when Erica can help others understand that there is hope, life, and joy after infertility
  • How they planned ahead when possible and set money aside for treatments
  • Good insurance coverage and what their out-of-pocket costs are for IVF and for adoption, which is much more expensive–to the tune of $35K
  • How she and her husband try to be there to support each other in grieving what they’ve lost
  • How Erica still has to “train” people who don’t know the full story
  • The IVF attempt that is next for Erica in her journey

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Thanks for listening!

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