OUR IVF JOURNEY

This is a story of grief, anger, frustration and ultimately, joy. I was inspired by another couple, who posted a message about their IVF journey which resulted in success and I thought it was time we shared ours. Those of you who know my wife and I know that we're not fond of sharing intimate details of our life in social media. She rarely posts and I try to keep my posts light and fun. But I felt the time was right to share our story that began 3 years ago, in hopes that it might help and give some comfort to others.


We've been married for almost 5 years now and we're fortunate to have everything we could've imagined having: a house, good jobs, loving families, great friends, money, good health and each other. Our journey has taken us to some amazing places, both domestic and abroad, but over the past 3 years, that journey had come to a halt.

My wife and I have been trying to take the next step and bring a child into the world, but unfortunately, nature hasn't been as accommodating. Month after month for over a year, we tried to conceive naturally, but it came to nothing... there were no positive signs of pregnancy. We both began to question a lot of things. "Why was this happening? We're good people". Personally, I couldn't help but think that this was karma, that this was repayment for something I had done in the past. The situation caused doubt, confusion and anger as we both struggled to understand why everyone around us was naturally conceiving, but we couldn't.

We sought medical counseling to see if there was something wrong with one of us. I had nightmares, playing back that infamous scene from 'Friends' where Chandler and Monica realized that they were incompatible and couldn't naturally have a child. After going through the grief of conflicting medical results and an unexpected surgery for my wife, we had our first answer: physically, there was nothing wrong with either of us that was preventing natural conception. Apparently, it was just bad timing.

We had a bit of relief, but still didn't understand why we couldn't conceive. So we started investigating infertility solutions, the most common being IVF, or In Vitro Fertilization. After a year plus of trying the natural route, we left it up to science to see if it was possible. We went through rounds of IUI's or Intrauterine Insemination, where doctors physically placed sperm into my wife's uterus during an ovulation cycle. This was done 3 times without success at which point, we decided to begin the long, painful and expensive IVF process, which removed any sort of natural biology and placed faith completely in the doctors hands.

My wife made countless visits to the hospital for blood testing and consultations, received multiple drug injections every night on top of taking numerous other medications, just to get her body to produce viable eggs for fertilization. When the time came, she went through surgery to extract the eggs. 7 were removed, of which 3 were viable. Those 3 eggs were artificially fertilized and then implanted to give us the best chance that 1 of them would take. Since this was all done unnaturally, the only way to find out if we were pregnant was through a blood test. Unfortunately, none of the embryos took and we were still not pregnant. It was a painful feeling to know all the money, time and effort had yielded nothing... we were back at the same place we were before.

We started to worry because the whole process of creating eggs had only yielded 7 eggs, where typical cycles produce around 15-20 and 1/4 of those are viable. But we didn't give up and in Feb '16, we switched to a different doctor and began a second round of IVF, which meant more blood tests and double the injection doses and pills, due to the previous results. This time, we got 16 eggs of which, 7 were good quality and ultimately fertilized. We felt better knowing we had more opportunities to get pregnant and in June, we had our 2nd implantation with 1 embryo. To our dismay, we were told that the embryo hadn't taken and that we were still not pregnant. The pain, the pressure and disbelief grew more intense. Doubt got replaced by fear... the fear that this was never going to happen.

We got away for a bit to have some time for ourselves and we talked about the painful possibilities of the future. Was this going to happen? Would adoption be the only path to parenthood? We still had 6 embryos, so we still had a chance. One other thing we decided to do was to get a pet to distract us and give us a sense of "parenthood". All pet owners will understand what I mean by that as he has brought us nothing but joy, since he's come into our lives.

In Aug '16, we went through another implantation (our 3rd) and had 2 embryos put in. This time, we waited and were greeted with a surprise: both embryos took and we were pregnant! It was a huge lift off our shoulders and minds. We now knew it was possible for us to become pregnant, which we had been unsure of this whole time.

We went to the hospital every week over the next few weeks and got to see the embryos grow and started to share the news with our family and friends. Around week 6, we heard a heartbeat in one of the embryos! It was the most unbelievable sound I've heard... to know that life had been created. The other embryo had no heartbeat and so we knew we had lost that one, but we were happy to hear the heart beating in the other. That mood quickly changed the following week. We got to the hospital and we didn't hear a heartbeat anymore. Something had happened and now, not only had we lost one, but we had lost both embryos. She had miscarried.

Gut-wrenching, excruciating misery... mentally and physically, I was taxed, and I could only imagine what my wife was feeling. The doctors had told us that hearing the heartbeat removed 95% of the possibility of losing the baby, but somehow, we had fallen into the 5% category. As a result of the loss, she had to go through 2 separate surgeries to remove the miscarriage and see if the doctors could diagnose what had happened.

Doubt, fear, failure and incapacity of doing a thing. I did all I could to comfort and console my wife, but I had no answers and couldn't do anything to fix this. It's a helpless feeling to know someone is hurting and you're unable to do a damn thing about it for that person, let alone yourself. I felt alone, ashamed, depressed. They say that talking about problems is the easiest way to help come to grips with it, but this is not a easy subject to discuss and it becomes a burden especially when you can't and don't want to talk to others about it.

We had both lost our freedom and sense of selves during this process, especially my wife. We decided to recapture our lives and went on an impromptu trip. We hadn't been able to travel or do anything we enjoyed, since this process required us to be local to make frequent hospital visits in addition to all the medications. We got a chance to live our lives and got to explore and experience new foods, cultures and enjoy our time together. We also discussed the future and decided to give implantation another chance as we had still 4 more embryos available.

We came back refreshed and went through implantation again with 2 embryos just before Christmas. A day after Christmas, my wife got the only gift that she wanted... news that we were pregnant. Again, because of previous events, we were cautious, but optimistic. We went to the hospital over the next few weeks and got to hear the heartbeat of both embryos, but one was slower and most likely would be lost.

Week 7 came, the same week where we had previously received horrible news. More cautious and nervous than ever before , we were told that the embryo that was not progressing had been lost, but the other one was going strong. We had made it farther than we had before. Again, a huge weight had been lifted... we were pregnant and the tears of sadness were replaced by tears of joy. At that moment, I decided it was time to replace the skepticism and doubt with positivity and confidence and that I would do what I could to help my wife shift her mindset as well.

Fast forward to today: we're at 18 weeks and the baby is progressing well, but as I look back on all of this, I can't but help be humbled by all of this. As a man, this whole thing has made me realize how precious life is, how unpredictable it is and how believing in yourselves is the only thing that you can really hold on to when all the chips are down. We were lucky that we had the means, the support of family and friends and most of all, fantastic and nurturing doctors and nurses to help make us feel like we were normal. They explained things to us as common humans, rather than medical professionals.

But here we are... and if there's one thing I want people to take away from this, it's that infertility is more common than we realize. I don't know if it's modern-day eating habits or that people are more stressed than before, but infertility affects more and more couples every day. I've seen stats out there that show a sharp increase in the percentages over the past decade, especially since people are waiting till later in life to become parents. Anyone who has had to go through this can attest to the pain of learning that they are infertile.

If there's anything that I've learned from this journey, it's this: I love my wife more than anything and I was willing to go to the ends of the earth to make parenthood a reality. In turn, she has shown me how belief and determination can overcome all the various obstacles that life throws your way. I'm humbled by her physical strength in enduring all the tests, the surgeries, the poking and prodding like a lab rat and her mental strength to continue down a road that had seen more failure than success.

This is a message of hope, not one seeking pity. We've been through it, we know what it's like and if we can help inspire others who are going through this, then that's the best thing to come out of this outside of knowing that we can and will become parents very soon. Believe in yourself, believe in your partner and believe in the fact that science has the means and that's there is nothing unnatural about this. You are not alone, and whether you look at it fortunately or unfortunately, there are many many other people who have gone through this similar process, so everyone should seek help or find people to talk to. Ultimately, that's what helped us in the end have a sense of comfort and finality.

Thank you for taking the time to share in our journey
- Neil (and Veena)