Unexplained Infertility & Recurrent Pregnancy Loss: Raya’s Story [SUCCESS]

January 27, 2020

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Today’s success story is about a woman named Raya. She is a 34-year-old project manager who enjoys spending time with her husband and dog, DIY projects, and traveling. After about a year of trying to conceive on their own, Raya and her husband consulted their first reproductive endocrinologist and quickly moved to IVF. During her first cycle, none of her 30 eggs fertilized. The second cycle, using ICSI this time, went much better and resulted in 10 embryos. Of the 4 FET cycles that followed, 2 failed and 2 ended in miscarriages. They decided to unfreeze and test the remaining embryos, and 3 came back normal. After a third IVF cycle at a new clinic, she became pregnant after a fresh transfer but miscarried again. Her period never returned following a D&C. They moved forward with a fourth IVF cycle and got 2 normal embryos. Even though her lining remained thin, her doctor approved 2 FETs. One failed, and one resulted in a chemical pregnancy. After a fifth IVF cycle and 2 transfers, she still wasn’t pregnant, so they switched clinics again. There, she was diagnosed with Asherman’s syndrome. Multiple attempts to thicken her lining failed, but her sister-in-law offered to be their surrogate. Join us to hear how Raya went through the Australian surrogacy process, did another IVF cycle to bank embryos, and her sister-in-law is now pregnant with their child.

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What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Before infertility, Raya was a naive and headstrong person with very strong black and white views of life
  • How she met her husband at a bar because they had mutual friends
  • As a couple, they are incredibly strong, compatible, and loving
  • How Raya had always loved kids and babies but saw her maternal instincts kick in when her nephew was born
  • How Raya and Dave planned their finances, schedule, and many other decisions around their desire to be parents
  • When they tried for several months, Raya knew something was wrong, so she had tests done with her first reproductive endocrinologist
  • Test results were normal, and they tried on their own for a few more months; they saw a different RE, who recommended IVF
  • In January 2017, they got 28 eggs from a retrieval but none fertilized
  • Since there was a suspected communication error between sperm and egg, ICSI was their next step to try
  • On the second cycle, ten embryos were frozen, and the first FET was negative, but the second FET gave a positive result
  • Raya saw a heartbeat at six weeks and was sent to her Ob, but she began bleeding at eight weeks
  • A few days later there was no heartbeat; the subsequent D & C showed chromosomal abnormalities
  • Another FET a few months later resulted in a chemical pregnancy, then another FET gave a negative result
  • At this point, Raya wanted to try something else, so they stored the remaining embryos and had PGS testing; the result was three normal embryos
  • Raya left that clinic and chose another one; they did an IVF cycle with ICSI and a fresh transfer that resulted in pregnancy, but then bleeding began at six weeks
  • Another D & C and testing showed chromosomal abnormalities
  • With the next cycle, PGS testing allowed them to freeze several normal embryos
  • Raya’s period returned with only scant bleeding, so she knew something was wrong; her doctor tried hormone treatments, but nothing seemed to work
  • They tried a couple of transfers with Raya’s thin lining and nothing worked; then she had another chemical pregnancy with a PGS normal embryo
  • Reluctantly, Raya went to her third clinic, and the doctor did a hysteroscopy and laparoscopy and found mild to moderate Asherman’s syndrome, probably from her second D & C
  • Her doctor said her chances of pregnancy were low and that she should consider her options
  • With another IVF cycle, they banked a few more embryos, but the next few transfers were negative as Raya tried unsuccessfully to thicken her uterine lining
  • At this point, Raya realized that her body “couldn’t do this,” so she reached out to her sister-in-law, Lara, who had once offered to be her surrogate; Lara is due with Raya and Dave’s baby in two weeks
  • In Australia, surrogacy must be done altruistically out of goodwill, with no commercial arrangement
  • The rigorous surrogacy process, lawyers, tests, police checks, hearings, and family counseling sessions which focus on the relationship between the families
  • Raya’s excitement when they got the OK to proceed; a normal IVF transfer resulted in Lara’s pregnancy on the very first try!
  • How Raya found her fertility clinics and why she left the first two
  • Raya’s depression diagnosis after the second D & C
  • How Beat Infertility helped Raya in her journey and helped her connect with others
  • How Lara had her three children before the surrogacy, and her relationship with her brother, Dave
  • Why Lara offered to become their surrogate
  • What Lara says is the hardest part of surrogacy for her
  • Why Lara has enjoyed watching Dave and Raya’s fear and anxiety shift as they prepare to become parents
  • Lara’s advice to other would-be surrogates: “It’s one of the best things you can do, but you need to look after yourself and your mental health. Make sure you have a good relationship with the parents with open lines of communication.”
  • What Raya and Lara have to say about the current wildfire situation in Australia and its impact on their families
  • How Raya felt about her Asherman’s diagnosis
  • Raya’s lowest point came after the second D & C when she realized her body could not sustain a pregnancy
  • A positive moment for Raya, when Lara found out she was pregnant on the first try
  • Why Raya decided to be open and honest with her boss about the time she needed off work because it was easier than lying about it
  • Raya’s relationships with friends had glitches along her journey, but they are good today
  • How infertility has changed Raya: “Infertility has changed me in so many ways. I’m a much more empathetic person, and I handle situations differently because I have insight into pain and feeling damaged. Everyone has their struggles behind closed doors that we may not see. I’ve become a much better person and grown in many ways.”
  • Raya’s advice to her past self: “Don’t catastrophize every single negative thing that happens. Be more measured and calm. Take one step at a time and pick your battles.

References:

Thanks for listening!

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