Since much of the work I do is surrounding motherhood–newborn, childhood, family, I feel like many of you can relate to this journey of motherhood. If you are someone who is struggling with infertility, I hope you find comfort in knowing that there are others, many of us warriors, out there going through similar struggles in the journey to motherhood. It isn’t the easiest thing to talk about, but I have found that the more I open up, the more I have been helped, and the more I feel I have helped others who are going through similar battles.
So…here I am with my journey behind what it took to get to the pretty photos (thanks Alissa Bird Portraits!) you see above. Here is my story.
Part 1: Unexplained Infertility
This was our diagnosis in 2017…after trying on our own for a year, 3 failed IUI attempts and running all the tests. I was a healthy 34 year old with no history of miscarriage. So what was the holdup? Why me? I found myself analyzing and over-analyzing everything. Was I too old? Was this self-induced stress causing infertility? Month after month I somehow found a way to get my hopes up that this would be the month. And month after month, the tears fell like rain. And suddenly the clock was ticking faster and I couldn’t help but feel that time was running out. My life now revolved around getting pregnant, and suddenly everyone and their 5 best friends were either pregnant or just had a baby. It consumed me…it was the only thing I could think about. And the days and weeks between tests were excruciating. It was difficult to find ways to enjoy myself. Then sometimes I would feel like I shouldn’t be so worried about this…I was a healthy 34 year old, had a good job, amazing and supportive husband and family. I was so fortunate…so lucky, yet so unfulfilled.
So, after this “unexplained infertility” diagnosis and given the prior failed IUI attempts, IVF was the next step. I was ready…desperate for anything that would work. I am so grateful that my insurance at the time covered much of this treatment. A few weeks later, a huge box of meds arrived at my doorstep and it was time to take the next step on this journey. Looking back, I don’t remember much about all the shots, except for that one time I had to take some pretty big needles on the airplane when I had to travel for a work trip. That night, I Face-timed Gus for moral support while I gave myself the shot, and somehow I got myself in the finger and was profusely bleeding…oops, haha! But anyway, I mention this because the meds part of this journey are now just a drop in the bucket in the whole grand scheme of things.
After weeks of meds and appointments, my ovaries were stimulated and it was time for the retrieval–meaning the doc goes in to retrieve all the mature eggs. The eggs were then fertilized with the sperm where they became embryos. By the 5th or 6th day, the fertilized eggs became blastocysts. As an FYI: 70-80% of eggs typically fertilize and only around 30-50% of embryos become blastocysts. The blastocysts are then graded by number and 2 letters. A 5AA is typically the best. We had 19 eggs retrieved, resulting in just 4 blastocysts (three day 5’s and one day 7 (rarer) embryos). So a week after retrieval, we had 4 viable embryos to transfer.
We decided to do a fresh transfer for this first time, meaning the embryo would not be frozen and would be transferred to the uterus in a matter of days. The rest of the embryos would be frozen to use at a later date. So, we went with the embryo with the best “score” for this first go around. After transfer day, I was told to take it easy, relax, and come back 10 days later for bloodwork to see if it resulted in a positive pregnancy test. The 10 most excruciating days of my life…Tom Petty said it best: the waiting is the hardest part.
I tried not to get my hopes up, but I did, and that call from the doctor was not the news we wanted. This first transfer resulted in a negative pregnancy test. So…strike 1. All that work seemed to be for nothing at that moment. It was time to reset and let my body rest and recover after the weeks of meds and the emotions of the failed embryo transfer. We decided to wait a few months before our next try. The waiting…again. The new year couldn’t come soon enough.
Check out Part 2: Frozen Embryo Transfers
©Katherine Jianas Photography
Katherine Jianas is a Kansas City newborn, family, motherhood, child, and personal branding photographer specializing in timeless, natural light photography. KC areas served include: Prairie Village, Mission Hills, Fairway, Overland Park, Leawood, Roeland Park, Westwood, Sunset Hills, Mission, Brookside, Waldo, Country Club Plaza, Westport & more. To check out recent work, please visit my family, newborn and children photo galleries. If you are interested in a custom portrait session with Katherine Jianas Photography and would like more information, please click here to contact me or email me directly at Katherine.Jianas@gmail.com.