My personal struggle with infertility

My personal struggle with infertility hover background

Nov 17
2017

At the time I first opened my practice, nearly 10 years ago now, I had no idea that I personally would struggle with infertility. Like many women, I got married in my late 30’s and though my wife Ellen and I knew we wanted children, we simply weren’t ready. In the back of my mind I knew we couldn’t wait long, so at 38, I began IUI’s with donor sperm. We were elated and thrilled to have officially begun trying to build our family, but my age, endometriosis and ovarian reserve, quickly become a concern.

Walking the streets of Cambridge with Donor Sperm

Walking the streets of Cambridge with Donor Sperm

I was diagnosed with Stage Four Ovarian Endometriosis, which meant I had an endometrioma, a cystic mass of endometrial tissue, inside my left ovary. The endometrioma had likely been there for many years. Painful periods had plagued me since since middle school, so I wasn’t surprised to finally receive a diagnosis, but I was surprised to learn how much damage the cyst had caused. Though my age was most a potential factor, the doctor believed the tissue damage from the endometrioma also contributed to my low ovarian reserve.

We were scared. Really scared.

I thought that my experience in the field of fertility would mean this would be “easier” for me. That somehow, undestanding the details of the process would make the emotional stress less painful, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I could never have predicted the emotional complexities that being faced with infertility brought.

Ellen and I plodded our way through six IUI’s. For women under 35 years of age, insurance requires 12 rounds of IUI’s. Since I was over 35, we were only required to undergo six IUI’s before having the option to move forward with IVF. Given my age, I was now 39 years old, and the severity of Endometriosis, Ellen and I decided to move forward with IVF but it wasn’t the smooth, straightforward process I was hoping for. Over the course of two more years, I went through three rounds of IVF, had one lost pregnancy and one endometriosis surgery. It was a long hard road with lots of ups and downs. The journey was drenched in uncertainty and I felt strong sense of being totally out of control of my future.

Transfer Day!

Transfer Day!

Now, I am thrilled to finally be able to say, I’m pregnant. At the time of writing this post, I’m well into my second trimester and feeling well. I still can hardly believe it.

I’m not going to lie. It’s scary sharing this all so publically, but I have learned that healing requires sharing our stories, so today, I am here sharing mine. I know that so many women before me have gone through this very struggle. I am grateful for what they have shared and what I have learned from them.

My very biggest lessons along this journey have been to reach out for support and always have hope. I was blessed to be connected to an amazing community of fertility professionals as well as wonderful, supportive friends and family. Their support made all the difference.

Though I’ve been focusing on fertility and pregnancy my entire career, I never imagined how much I would learn by going through all of this personally. I know my experience will make me a better practitioner to all of my patients going forward.

Thank you all for your support as I navigate this amazing few months of pregnancy.