Sarah's Fertility Journey

We originally chose to go to RMA because of the location. We had been at another fertility clinic prior to RMA for about six months before switching to RMA. There were many factors that caused us to switch. The primary one was the fact that we only saw/spoke to the doctor after every 3 months of treatments. Only the nurses did the monitoring and called with lab results and instructions. If you had a question for the doctor, you had to go through the nurse who acted as messenger. Also, at this clinic, you had to pay an extra fee to come in for monitoring and/or procedures on a Sunday. Finally, on my last cycle at that clinic, I became overstimulated and developed OHSS. I had a cyst rupture on my ovary which caused me to be admitted to the ER overnight. The doctor never came to see me and called two weeks later to finally check on me.

When I initially called RMA to get some information, I was shocked to find out that you saw a doctor at every visit! At our consultation we discussed my previous experience and treatments at the other clinic. We talked about options of moving forward with different treatments (IVF) and their higher success rates.

We had tried months of Clomid, injectables, and IUI’s. We were told that the quickest way for me to achieve pregnancy is through IVF. We were fortunate to have good medical insurance that covered all monitoring, blood work, and prescriptions. We were left with paying for the actual procedure(s). For our second child, we were under a different insurance plan which allotted $25,000 towards fertility treatments. We were extremely fortunate.

Our biggest concerns were obvious- fear of failing to get pregnant after going through such a lengthy and difficult course of treatment. We were fearful for the physical, emotional, and financial burden this would put on our relationship with each other and with family and friends. After our first IVF, I miscarried very early so we were nervous that would happen again. We also had a big fear of becoming pregnant with multiples. (After our daughter was born, my brother and sister-in-law became pregnant and gave birth to triplets!) Another concern of ours was leftover embryos and having to make moral decisions if our family was complete.

During treatment we saw a doctor at every single visit! I was on all kinds of medications, but because I had somewhat unique fertility issues, my protocols were not always standard. First, it was just Clomid, next, I started to do injections several days each month, and finally during IVF treatment, I either took oral, vaginal, or injections (sometimes all 3 in the same day!) I did about three injections each day for two weeks and then a daily injection until I was about 8-9 weeks pregnant. I went through four fresh IVF cycles and one frozen cycle.

On retrieval day, you do not eat or drink anything. The procedure is usually done around 8:00 am and the only thing you take is a painkiller right before the procedure. It is a very quick procedure (about 15-20 minutes). During this time, your husband is taken into another room to leave his sample. Everyone walks you through all the steps and you are wheeled into the operating room. Once they administer the anesthesia, you go to sleep. Then you wake up a little while later and will be groggy for a very short time. At this time you find out how many eggs were retrieved. Then you drink some juice and have a light snack until you are feeling more awake. You may feel a little sore and bloated, but nothing too severe. You are then taken to the restroom where you try to go to the bathroom. You may have a little bleeding but it does not last long. Then you are given instructions and shown how to begin progesterone shots. The nurses are very helpful. Usually by 10:00 am you are heading home to rest for the day. I remember being advised to drink lots of water to avoid overstimulation. I stocked up on Gatorade for a few days. The rest of the day I rested on the couch and took painkillers only a few times for pain. The next day I felt much better. Finally, the morning after transfer you will receive a call from the doctor informing you of how many embryos were created. You are advised as to whether you should come back for a 3-day or 5-day transfer.

The day of transfer is exciting and very nerve-wracking! It’s the big day! You are advised to drink lots of water for the ultrasound and you take a Valium to help you relax. Then Dr. Shah and Dr. Wolf and/or Dr. Miller come out to discuss your embryo(s) quality and their advice for transfer. You also get a copy of a picture of your embryo(s)-hopefully your first baby picture! The actual procedure is very similar to an IUI. You and your partner are taken into the room and they place a catheter into your uterus. Then you get to watch the embryos on a television screen being transferred to your body. There is no pain at all and it is over in about 10 minutes. Afterwards, you are wheeled back out and must remain lying down for about 30 minutes. The only discomfort is having a full bladder. For my first child, I decided to have an acupuncture treatment immediately after the procedure. I did not do this for my second child so it is hard to say if acupuncture helped in me getting pregnant. Once your time is up, you can use the bathroom and are free to go home. There are no restrictions from then on- you do not need to lie around with your feet up (but it can’t hurt)!

There was absolutely no pain during transfer or even retrieval. There was a little soreness and bloating after the retrieval that lasted for about a day or two. Usually a few days after transfer you need to go back in for a blood test to determine your progesterone level. Somewhere around 10-12 days after your transfer you will be instructed to come in for a blood test to determine pregnancy- that will seem like the longest wait of your life!

The doctor was the one who contacted me with the pregnancy test results. The emotions were overwhelming joy and relief, but with that, there was still a hesitation to get too excited. I’m sure most people struggling with infertility have had a long journey with ups and downs. It takes a while for the news to really sink in and usually not until after the ultrasound to hear the heartbeat(s), can you really breathe a sigh of relief and finally begin to celebrate! I personally, had a lot of anxiety with my first pregnancy due to a miscarriage a few months prior. I was not completely relieved until my first trimester was over!

I knew it was going to be a long and emotional journey, but nothing can really prepare you for the emotional roller coaster it really is. My advice is to be as educated and proactive as you can about your diagnosis and treatments. Try to take time for yourself (away from just being a fertility patient- it can take over your life) and your relationship.

I would definitely refer a friend or family member to RMA (and have)! The staff at RMA makes you feel very special. Dr. Wolf treated me as if I were her friend instead of a patient. She mourned my losses and celebrated my successes every step of the way. She stayed positive on days I could not. Her compassion, professionalism, knowledge, and support were really the backbone of my experience. I have been to many doctors in my life, and no one has ever made me feel more cared for and respected. Even though parenthood is one of the most difficult things I have experienced, trying to conceive a child was the most overwhelming, frustrating, and emotional time of my life. However, thanks to RMA, they helped ease the process and fortunately, we have been blessed with two beautiful, miracle children due to their dedication.

Sarah Campbell

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