Daniella and her husband, Djordje have been trying to have a baby for 14 years. What is IVF? In Vitro Fertilization is a medical procedure whereby an egg is fertilized by sperm in a test tube or elsewhere outside the body. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus. This is a story about a couple who can take negatives (literally) and turn the situation into a positive. How can this be a positive? Daniella is a symbol of hope. She has never given up on her dream of having a baby. Take a look at this gallant couple’s journey:
It is 2018. I am now 37 and my husband 40. We have been married for almost 16 years and we still long for our biological dream.
Our Journey (in a nutshell)
- Married January 15, 2003
- Started trying to conceive in March of 2004
- IVF in 2007 – negative
- 9 IUIs done between 2010 and 2011 – negative
- 1 miscarriage from a natural pregnancy in 2012
- IVF in 2014 – negative
WHY US? WHAT DID WE DO?
We feel that we want to try again, and we wish we had the money to afford treatment as many times on the infertility roller coaster – it is finances that hold you back from pursuing treatment. We had even contemplated moving back to Illinois to have insurance that helped cover the costs, but decided to move to the Twin Cities Spring of 2016. After spending around $50,000 it is just so hard to make the decision to do a treatment again. In the past couple of years, we heard about a program that could possibly be the answer for us. The program, some call it a Shared Risk program, would pay for three cycles of IVF/ICSI plus any frozen embryo transfers. This program gives patients the comfort that they will either have a successful birth or will receive a refund of between 80% and 100% of the program fees to pursue other family building options. The estimate received from a clinic was approximately $25,000 plus the cost of medication.
(Photo below: The couple’s embryo.)
Our Journey (from the beginning)
I guess I will start off by telling everyone a little bit about us. Djordje and I met through a “modern-day” arrangement (his great Aunt Ana and my Aunt Rose, both no longer with us, felt like we would make a good match). We both went with it, fell in love and were married within five days of meeting one another in January of 2003!
After a year we decided to start trying for a family. Djordje wanted to start right away, but we agreed that it would be nice to enjoy one another’s company for a while longer. Little did we know that it would take a bit more than looking into one another’s eyes and kissing (as I had thought as a kid when watching movies). After about a year of trying I just knew in my heart something wasn’t right. We had moved from Duluth, MN to a suburb of Chicago and, after a few months, decided to both get checked. The OBGYN I met with did some preliminary tests and found nothing that could be causing me not to become pregnant. We then consulted with a Urologist who, after an analysis, said that we were dealing with Male Factor Infertility.
We were devastated and asked, “why us?” and “what did we do?” All the Urologist said was that it does happen sometimes and consulting with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) would be the best way to move forward with our family building plans.
We met with an RE in Naperville, IL and came to find out my husband’s insurance at the time covered five cycles at 90%!!! Hindsight is 20/20 as if we knew then what we knew now…the last 13 years would have gone differently.
We were all set to start a cycle when the IVF Clinic said our specimen could not be frozen and that we had to consult with a doctor at Northwestern who specializes in the male reproductive system. Once we met with the doctor we found out we were dealing with varicoceles and they would have to be removed surgically . The surgery in December 2005 went well and we decided to hold off for a while before continuing on our journey.
Fast forward a few months, after a move to Colorado for a great job opportunity, we were still in the same situation we were prior to surgery. We had this hope that it would be better and that we would not need to move forward with IVF. We again looked for an RE and came to the realization that NOTHING WAS COVERED with our insurance. This was what I had referred to before – being new in the infertility world, we had no idea how rare it was for IVF to be covered. So started our search for an affordable clinic.
We searched a few places in the states and found that doing the procedure in Canada would be a lot cheaper. There of course are a lot of details that go into the planning and such, but to keep this as short as I can our OBGYN clinic in Colorado agreed to monitor the cycle and the clinic in Scarborough, Toronto, Canada performed IVF with ICSI in December of 2007. We retrieved 15 eggs, 9 fertilized and we ended up transferring two grade A 8 cell embryos on day three post retrieval. On New Year’s Day, 2008, we got the results that the procedure did not work, we were not pregnant, we were not going to be parents. We had no idea how we would get through such a devastating outcome. We again asked, “why us?” and “what did we do?”
Fast forward to 2009
After moving back to Duluth, MN during the economic crisis aftermath we both had thought maybe we could take a few steps back and try IUI (intrauterine insemination). A doctor in Duluth was supportive and so we went on to do nine cycles and, despite my good responses to the different treatments, we never did have a positive pregnancy test. In 2010 I felt I had to use my energy to give back and decided to become a volunteer with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. It was then I started the Duluth Support Group. I have since made so many friends, that I wish I had met for a different reason. You never realize how many women are out there like you until you reach out and advocate.
(Photo below: before IVF in 2007.)
One weekend at the end of January 2012 I noticed I wasn’t feeling too well and was experiencing hot flashes. Right away I was afraid I was going into menopause (yes, I know, my mind went to the extreme end of things,) I had looked in my calendar and saw that I would be expecting my period any day, so I just thought why not take a pregnancy test to see if I was pregnant? I had a test that I had saved from before and thought, why not? I peed on the stick, waited and didn’t see anything. About an hour later I came back and there was a plus sign. WAIT…A PLUS SIGN…HOLY MOLY I AM PREGNANT…NO IT CAN’T BE…WHAT?…NO WAY!!! I went into the living room where my husband and sister-in-law were and shakingly said, “I’m pregnant!” My husband couldn’t believe it, my sister-in-law started tearing up and right away I said that I had to take it again because it must be wrong! That evening I took another test and it, again, was positive! It was a Sunday evening so the next morning I called my OBGYN’s office and asked if I could come in for a blood test. They had worked with me over the course of a couple of years with the IUI’s and knew how important this was. The results came back and my HCG was 19 and they really want it to be at about 25 at five weeks. A few days later the test was repeated and the number was 12. The tears started to flow and my heart sank. I again asked, “why us?” and “what did we do?” At about the same time I found out my news, I found out my friend had given birth to triplets at 24 weeks who all became angels shortly thereafter. It was such a hard time for many. Attending their memorial was so calming and really helped heal my heart at the time as I too grieved for my angel that I had just lost.
A couple of years had passed and I just really wanted to try IVF again. We knew that we couldn’t afford treatment at most clinics in the US and I wanted to find a clinic that specialized in Male Factor Infertility. This led us to a clinic in Mexico City, Mexico. I can tell you that the RE and Embryologist at this clinic were absolutely amazing. I have nothing but great things to say about everyone there. We met the doctor in August of 2014 and went forward with a cycle in December of 2014. We enjoyed Christmas with friends in Queretaro, Mexico and got to know the big and beautiful City. On retrieval day five eggs were retrieved and only one was mature. As soon as they told me I started crying uncontrollably. It could have been the meds I was still coming off of, but I just could not help it. They tried to mature a second of the five and actually were able to fertilize it, but it did not continue dividing after the third day. The one mature egg turned into our beautiful embryo and was transferred at six days post fertilization. We celebrated New Years in our hotel room a few days later and flew home the next day. After only seven days I started bleeding. That was it. The cycle was over. Blood work confirmed that it was a negative outcome and that we were, indeed, not pregnant.
WHY US? WHAT DID WE DO?
Fast Forward to 2018
Time has passed and we are now at a place to start the process again. We have not once given up hope and continue to have faith. We have recently found a clinic that provides services at a reduced rate and, you never know, they may be key to our miracle. We hope to move forward with treatment in early 2019.
We share our story in hopes of others going through this journey are brave enough to reach out. It is a hard journey where at times you feel very lonely and knowing others going through the same thing helps smooth the rocky road. You are not alone.
Over the years we have helped with many different fundraisers, sending gifts for silent auctions and even donating time to multiple organizations. We don’t want to ask anyone for anything outright, besides love and support and understanding in why we want to try again, but if there are those out there that want to help, we humbly bow our heads and thank God as without Faith we honestly don’t know where we would be.
(Photo below: 10th wedding anniversary picture.)