Every fertility stories are unique, and worth a share to provide hope and strength to others in similar situations. While many folks share their personal experiences on social media real-time and other public forums, there are many more who prefer anonymity, stay in isolation, feel lonely and suffer quietly alone. The complex fertility emotions are better understood by those who have been through it. I know how it feels; I’ve been there myself.
It’s such a challenging phase of trying everything possible to reach your goals, only to get let down every month that passes by. You keep hoping with each new cycle that this month might be your month. The winning cycle you’ve been waiting for. And when it’s not, your heart breaks that much more.
I was a healthy young woman with a career as a research scientist in the biotech industry and in a fantastic relationship with my husband, Zain. We had no reason to believe we wouldn’t be able to have the future we both hoped for after immigrating to the United States a decade ago.
But then, fate twisted.
When we began thinking about building family, we soon learned I was suffering from premature ovarian aging. I was running out of eggs at what felt like too young of an age. I was only 31 and learned that conceiving a child would not only be challenging but might only be possible with donor eggs.
It was solely the virtues of perseverance, patience, and a positive mental attitude that led us to conceive our twin girls with my OWN eggs.
There were five important lessons from my fertility experience.
- In-fertility Can Strike At Any Age.
I was barely 31 -years old, married for five years, and had never conceived naturally. We had a healthy lifestyle, a vegetarian diet, no alcohol, and never smoked. I was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserves when women run out of eggs at younger age. If this sounds like your health history, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Dr. Peter Ahlering, the director of the Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine, conducted a small study among his patients and found that close to 15 percent of women younger than 32 had diminished egg reserves. You would never know unless you get the fertility assessment tests and keep good track of your records.
- Don’t Believe Everything You Read and Hear. You’re Not a Number.
We tried to get pregnant on our own for 6-8 months without any results that led us to consult local doctors. At least three of the gynecologists and fertility experts cautioned us and suggested we use donor eggs as an easy resolution for conception. While I know donor eggs are the right choice for many families, I wondered if they had any idea how devastating it could be for a young woman who thought her cycles were normal and conception should always be possible with the help of advances in reproductive technology.
With a research background in cell biology, I couldn’t stop reading scientific articles and clinical study reports on premature ovarian aging and available treatment options to gain the right scientific understanding. In a short span of three months, I must have read enough on this subject that I could not find any more new articles to enhance my understanding and it felt my efforts would qualify for mastery certification in ovarian biology.
If I had believed in what I read, I’d probably have never been able to succeed the way we did. I learned the actual pregnancy rates were below 5% with my own eggs with my diagnosis. But I knew in my heart there would be a way. I never gave up and completely steered clear from online forums and social media. I could not relate the misinformation on several of those forums and it also used to make me feel feeble and hopeless.
Sometimes, the virtue of perseverance and focus are the biggest contributors to greater success in life. Listen to your heart and keep making thoughtful choices along this journey.
- Be a copilot on your journey; not a laxed passenger.
After receiving unpleasant responses from three doctors, our search became focused on identifying a fertility expert who was willing to believe in my fertility.
Our web search spotted Dr Aimee Eyvazzadeh, who is exceptionally talented and shines like Christmas lights in dark in the world. I chose her to receive a fourth opinion about our fertility situation.
The combination of a thorough, knowledgeable, compassionate and superhuman doctor paired with an inquisitive, dedicated and unstoppable patient got us heading in the right direction. We worked as a team, she tailored an aggressive treatment plan to rescue poor reproductive health. I moved forward fast pace, proactively questioned every treatment option, stayed most informed, focused and hopeful.
Doctors are after all humans and can only do so much, DrAimee is amazingly invested in every patient’s story, it’s you who knows yourself the best, keeps the best records of your health, identifies a clinic and doctor that meets your needs and personality to be on an accelerated path to success.
- Gratitude is the Greatest Emotion Towards the End
While we know every story doesn’t always have a happy end. My heart goes out to couples who tirelessly struggle for years or are still eagerly waiting to meet their miracle babies. But when you reach your goals and meet your miracle babies, there’s only one emotion that overpowers every negative feeling encountered during your struggle, and that’s “Gratitude.”
I tackled the journey worry-free only because I had found my fertility co-pilot who stood by us every single step of the way, went miles and beyond and put me in the best position physically and mentally. Dr.Aimee’s positive reinforcements kept my stress in check during the journey. While many of the clinics do not perform IVF or egg retrieval for one or two eggs, Dr. Aimee offered me the option to try IVF after a couple of failed medicated IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination) cycles.
It turned out to be an unplanned yet astonishing IVF (In vitro fertilization) cycle for us in which we only retrieved two eggs. To our surprise, both the eggs turned out to be mature, fertilized via ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) and converted into Grade A embryos by the day 3. We couldn’t believe the outcome and decided to transfer both of them. Guess what? within a week, we found out that we were pregnant with TWINS. It was a freaking miracle that this happened in the first IVF attempt with my OWN eggs with such low ovarian reserve.
The surreal end in our journey brought gratefulness first towards God and second to our God sent angel Dr. Aimee.
Gratitude if not expressed is like wrapping a present and not giving it. We decided to present her with her namesake, Aimee. One of our babies is named Aimee, as a small token of our love and appreciation to her.
- Fertility Journeys Transform You and Bring Out the Best in You.
Fertility struggles are physically, emotionally and financially draining. The uncertainty of the process can easily convert a sane-headed individual into a cuckoo. Even though our twins were born healthy and are thriving, our fertility journey has changed my perspective on life forever. It has made me extremely compassionate towards anyone going through this experience, and passionate about supporting the community. I try to make time to extend peer support after having a busy professional life and a young immigrant family without any other family support in the country.
I launched “My fertility pal” a non-profit passion project that offers peer support, a safe space to share fertility stories, and get much-needed support during the time of isolation. I am humbled to be affiliated with RESOLVE the National Infertility Association and host virtual fertility socials for the fertility community, the flexibility of virtual socials make the participation so easy that you can attend the meetings from any part of the world.
As a fertility advocate, my mission is to spread love and bring more love to the world, break the taboo, calm fertility-seeking friends, and promote reproductive awareness.