Karen's IVF story
Updated: May 2
Karen, 40 one of The Fertility Circle co-founders shares her journey and discusses the experiences that led to using double donation to build her family.
Karen's Story 4.5 years, 2 x IUI, 4 x IVF, 2 x FET, 7 miscarriages
In my late twenties and early thirties when many of my friends were starting to have families I just wasn’t in the same place. But by the time I was 34 I felt more ready and after a few months I did get pregnant naturally. Amazing, right? That’s what I thought, especially as I’d had what I thought was my period two weeks earlier but despite that I was still getting positive test results. Turns out I was actually having an early miscarriage. This was the start of a painful and familiar pattern.
Although the first loss hit me hard, we’d only been trying for a short time so I picked myself up by going full steam into fertility mode and researched ways to naturally support fertility. I found a wonderful fertility acupuncturist, I tried meditating, I did fertility detoxes, yoga, you name it I probably tired it.
“you’re young, you have plenty of time, it will happen”
After months of giving it our all nothing was happening. Feeling frustrated we decided to have some investigations carried out to find out if there were any obvious issues. Then followed a long year of tests, appointments and waiting. For both myself and my partner basic testing suggested everything was normal. Why wasn’t it working then?! Patronisingly three different doctors gave me the “you’re young, you have plenty of time, it will happen” speech. This wasn’t what I needed to hear and I felt that my concerns weren’t being fully acknowledged.
We eventually moved onto fertility treatment starting with two rounds of IUI. The first didn’t work and the second was a chemical pregnancy. Then came the IVF rollercoaster!
Our first IVF cycle started well when I had 18 eggs collected but sadly by day 3 all we were left with were two poor quality embryos. The clinic transferred both embryos but didn’t give us much hope. I spent the two week wait devastated that it had all gone wrong but was shocked when I did get a positive result! Sadly, the excitement was short-lived and I miscarried just before five weeks. That cycle was a massive whirlwind of emotions, hope, fear, crushing disappointment then the same all over again. As tough as it was though my dream of having a family kept me going and I was determined not to give up.
IVF no.2 was worse and we had no viable embryos to transfer. At this point it was indicated that I may have an egg quality issue but this was difficult to prove and further semen analysis for my partner showed high rates of DNA fragmentation. All of these things could have been contributing to our lack of success so my partner was referred to a urologist who treated the DNA fragmentation.
Sadly, IVF no.3 resulted in a missed miscarriage at nine weeks which was heart breaking. We were becoming more and more desperate and often wondered if we would ever have our much longed for family.
With attempt no.4, again I became pregnant and this time we thought the outcome would surely be different. It wasn’t. We lost our baby at six weeks. I was beyond devastated. I was a complete mess emotionally and physically and felt I couldn’t take much more.
“I’d really recommend counselling to anyone that’s struggling.”
Unable to consider treatment again due to other health issues I was forced to take a break for a few months. As frustrating as this was, I can now see I needed that time to recover. Feeling broken I spoke to my GP who referred me to a local miscarriage support charity where I had counselling. I’d really recommend counselling to anyone that’s struggling. I was given such valuable support and advice including some helpful coping strategies which I still use from time to time.
Five months later I was ready to try again and we had a frozen embryo transferred which finally led to success and my beautiful baby boy!
A few years later and hoping to expand our family we decided to do another FET cycle using one of our remaining embryos. The timing was awful as it coincided with the Covid pandemic and due to clinic closures my cycle was almost cancelled a few days from the transfer. I was one of the lucky ones that was able to complete my treatment and felt even more lucky when it worked. However that's where my luck ended and a scan at 7 weeks showed no heartbeat. I was numb and shocked that this could be happening again. How is it even possible to have so many losses?
After the scan I had to continue medication for another week until the clinic could be sure there was no further development and sadly there wasn’t. I opted to let nature take its course then a few days later I started to miscarry. A whole three and a half weeks went by, I was still bleeding, had developed an infection and still had positive pregnancy tests. After multiple hospital visits it was discovered that I hadn’t miscarried fully so I required surgical intervention. Due to the pandemic I had to attend all appointments on my own and my partner wasn’t even allowed to come with me on the day of the surgery which made an already traumatic experience even harder. Following my visits to hospital I wasn’t offered any support or follow up after care, just sent on my way, alone.
I know first hand just how distressing infertility and pregnancy loss can be. No one should be left feeling confused, anxious and alone. I passionately believe that access to reliable information and support should be available to everyone and the Fertility Circle app is here to help with that. It’s exactly the kind of essential tool I wish I’d had to empower me at the start of my journey. Fertility Circle is a one-stop fertility app offering world-leading fertility experts, a supportive community and quality education... Like your best friend with all the fertility smarts!
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