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Patrice's Story - When a Warrior Becomes a Mom

My infertility journey started when I was 37. I had always wanted to be a mother, but my 20’s flew by without finding Mr. Right. I thought I had found him when I was 31, but after a couple years he told me he didn’t feel the same way. Soon after that I was diagnosed with a rare cancer and underwent a delicate surgery that threatened to leave part of my face paralyzed, not to mention threatening my life. It took some healing to my body and my self-esteem to even start dating again. At 37 I decided to take matters into my own hands and I underwent an IUI with donor sperm – sure that I would get pregnant quickly as my mother had, even though she was an older mom. Why wouldn’t I? My cycles were regular and besides the unrelated cancer I was very healthy. That first IUI didn’t work. The next month I did a cycle again, but cancelled the night before the procedure because I thought I would give finding Mr. Right one more chance.

I met “him” several weeks later and was so sure that he was the reason I had waited. The love I felt for him felt spiritual and intense. There was no doubt in my mind everything was falling into place – he was the man I was destined to have children with and he professed the desire to have children as much and as soon as I did. We really never used protection, but after a year, there had been no surprises. I was worried and we actually started ‘trying.’ Several months later we tried an unmedicated IUI, the next month a Clomid IUI. We had found out that his sperm was poor on all fronts – low count, poor mobility, poor morphology. Everything looked good with me (low FSH, very good responder to the drugs), but I was older, so no one really knew how good my eggs were.

I advocated us trying IVF after my love let me know how hard these procedures were on him (hello red flag.) The first IVF went ok, but the doctor retrieved my eggs a day too early because he didn’t believe him when I told him I was a good responder. We only got 4 ‘ok’ embryos and the result, of course, was negative. We took a month off during which time the man of my dreams made it clear there would be no marriage talk until I became pregnant – he “would not be in a childless marriage and would not consider adoption.” Yep, that is exactly what a woman fighting infertility needs to hear (not!)

The second IVF I told the doctor to sock it to me – ramp up the drugs because I want lots of eggs and I can handle anything. That cycle my estrodial went up to over 7,000 (normal is 250 and at 10,000 you are in the hospital fighting for your life) BUT 24 eggs were retrieved – 18 mature. I remember my despair when my man flipped out and told me he would not agree to the doc’s recommendation to transfer 4 – “he” knew it would work and knew that all would take, so 3 were transferred – the rest frozen. The result was a chemical pregnancy and me in a hormonal free fall.

Through my journey I tried everything to make it work – prayers, crystals, special fertility diet (eliminating dairy, wheat, sugar), fertility yoga, chiropractic, acupuncture, herbs, meditation, support groups, therapy, reading everything, surfing the web constantly, timed intercourse in between cycles, and of course, the high tech, highly medicated procedures.

The next try I thought for sure would work. We thawed out a bunch of the frozen embryos and let them culture into blastocysts thinking we would be getting the strongest, best embryos. Four made it to transfer, but none of them took. That was devastating.

We took a couple months off and then my fiancé started hesitating. I just barely got him to try an IUI, which failed. I interviewed several more infertility doctors. Living in Southern California, there were many choices and we decided on a clinic with very high success rates. The day I was to start the stimulation meds, my fiancé told me he couldn’t go through it again. Looking back, that was probably the end of ‘us’ but we stayed together for another half year, trying a few more times naturally.

When we broke up I was devastated. I still had 4 frozen embryos with my ex, but he angrily and cruelly told me through a lawyer he would fight any attempts for me to use them, going against a promise he had made verbally and in writing that I could have them if we ever broke up. They are still in California, in a frozen limbo. My potential babies, so close and yet so far.

There was no way I could date again, but within the next year I started trying again on my own. It was actually easier emotionally without my ex. I tried 5 medicated IUIs with donor sperm, figuring I would give my own eggs a very good chance before turning to an egg donor. I was still responding well, but after 5 more failed cycles I closed down shop on my own eggs. The bottom line was that at 41, I wanted to be a mom and using donor eggs would give me the best chance at a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

By this time I couldn’t afford a donor egg cycle here in the states, but I had found a service that would facilitate a donor egg cycle in the Czech Republic for less than half of the US cost. Within three months I was in the Czech Republic and had 2 perfect embryos transferred. I will never forget how it felt 10 days later when I took a pregnancy test (against doctors orders 3 days too early) and at first thought the stick said negative (what I expected after all) but it was positive and I felt my whole body tingle and shot of energy went up my spine and my stomach was aflutter. Later that week the doctor’s office validated that I was indeed pregnant.

Every doctor’s appointment brought relief as I tracked the development of my baby. In the first month I had some scary bleeding and remember praying and begging for my baby to make it and be healthy and strong. I was (and am) single and those were lonely, scary days, but you do what you have to do. How grateful I was to get past that first trimester. I enjoyed every day of my pregnancy, even the scary and uncomfortable ones later on. I can’t even describe how amazing it was when I started feeling him move and just watched in wonderment as my belly and baby grew. In my third trimester I contracted H1N1, but it was mild enough that it wasn’t diagnosed until after I was feeling better.

I gave birth to my beautiful son two days before his due date. I wanted to do it all natural, but after 18 hours of labor and 12 of them nasty back labor; I took some pain medication to take the edge off the back pain. That was all I needed and a couple hours later I had my son Drake in my arms as I cut the cord. I had lost a lot of blood so I felt weak, but when my sister asked me an hour later if I would like to do it again, I replied “absolutely, I would love to have another baby.” It was worth it all. Worth the effort, the emotional and physical pain, the financial strain – everything. He is my living, cooing, smiling lesson to Never Give Up!

Patrice Behrend
Designer of the Infertility Awareness Symbol and the Fertility Hope Pendant

www.loves-journey.com

 

 

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