Unexplained Recurrent Loss: Stephanie’s Story [JOURNEY]

April 22, 2019

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Today’s journey story of a woman named Stephanie. She is a 30-year-old former oncology social worker who enjoys cooking, exercising, and spending time with family. She became pregnant their first cycle trying to conceive, but it ended in a miscarriage of twins. After taking a seven-month break, she became pregnant again, but ultimately miscarried. Following another couple of months off, they began trying again but eventually saw a reproductive endocrinologist. That same cycle, she became pregnant and suffered another early miscarriage. At that point, she decided to quit her job to focus on her physical and mental health. She returned to the fertility clinic several months later but miscarried again while waiting to start IVF. Once they finally made it to a retrieval, she had three genetically normal embryos. They tried a frozen transfer following an ERA, but again, she miscarried. Join us to hear how Stephanie has since chosen to pursue surrogacy — and what’s coming up next in her journey.

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What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Before infertility, Stephanie was a type-A planner who was goal-oriented
  • How she met her husband at a party due to his cheesy pick-up lines
  • As a couple, they are a solid team in facing challenges, and they love being together
  • Stephanie didn’t have baby fever or dream about motherhood but knew having several kids would be her “normal”
  • How planning for kids affected every aspect of her life: jobs, where they live, and every decision
  • How she tracked her cycles, planned ahead, and began trying in 2016
  • She became pregnant right away, but an ultrasound showed twins but no heartbeat
  • They were devastated at the shock and loss and took time to regroup
  • They tried again and became pregnant right away, and all signs pointed to a possible ectopic pregnancy
  • How she took methotrexate to accelerate the miscarriage, which was traumatic
  • They tried again, saw a reproductive endocrinologist, and he said to “keep trying for a good one”
  • Another pregnancy with low HCG levels led to her third miscarriage and a diagnosis of hypothyroidism
  • They had tests for chromosomal abnormalities, and Stephanie quit her job because she thought her stressful job and lack of self-care might be to blame
  • Why she did a lot of New Age practices to increase fertility
  • She saw an endocrinologist before trying again, and he found what he thought was a parathyroid tumor via ultrasound, but it turned out to be a nodule
  • They tried again and talked to the RE about IVF and PGS testing
  • Another pregnancy, another miscarriage, and a cyst on her ovary
  • Why Stephanie moved to a second RE, who had different ideas for treatment
  • IVF with PGS-testing and other tests were recommended; Stephanie was treated for an autoimmune disorder and a blood-clotting disorder
  • 24 eggs were retrieved, and 3 embryos resulted; Stephanie became pregnant—-and miscarried again at 7 weeks
  • How they began to consider surrogacy and researched and interviewed agencies
  • How her husband researched other testing, and they requested the HLA gene test as a result
  • Why they sought a third opinion with a new RE, who diagnosed her with an immunologic implantation dysfunction
  • With 2 embryos left, they were recently matched with a surrogate and believe she is the right one to help them
  • Why Stephanie went straight to the RE after the 1st and 2nd miscarriage
  • The first impression of the clinic: it was well run with a good staff, but over time, the doctor was “by the book” and not very creative
  • The “2nd opinion” clinic was very different, chaotic, and had a very energetic doctor
  • With multiple losses, they had a weird mix of hope, excitement, and a dark cloud over them
  • Why they went to couples therapy after their 5th loss
  • Why 2nd opinions are important
  • How Stephanie’s friends and family reacted to their surrogacy decision
  • What’s next? The surrogate’s medical clearance appointment, building a relationship with their surrogate, and an embryo transfer upcoming this spring

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