Episode 136: When IVF Seems Unattainable
No two fertility journeys are the same, and with unique nuances of the emotional, physical, and financial strains on the parent(s), the path to parenthood is often long and strenuous. While immediate success with treatment like IUI or IVF is ideal, sometimes a happy ending takes time.
In this episode, we hear from Hilary Patterson, a Progyny member with a diagnosis of diminished ovarian reserve, and hear how she persevered through her fertility challenges. Hilary’s experience includes trying to conceive for a year, attempting IUI for six months, and going through IVF as a last resort after learning she had the Progyny benefit. Her path to parenthood was surely not what she was expecting, but the journey was well worth the result.
Guest: Hilary Patterson, Teacher, Infertility Advocate, and Progyny Member
Host: Dan Bulger
For more information, visit Progyny’s Podcast page and Progyny’s Education page for more resources. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, @ThisisInfertilityPodcast and use the #ThisisInfertility.
Have a question, comment, or want to share your story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some highlights from this episode:
The Beginning of a Long Road
04:01 – 04:19
Hilary Patterson: I had a low ovarian reserve and my husband had low morphology, but neither were technically reasons that we weren’t getting pregnant. So, we decided to start off with the least restrictive, which would be IUI.
Some Fertility Treatments Aren’t for Everyone
04:42 – 05:31
Dan Bulger: The fact is that in ideal circumstances IUI can bring 10-12% chance of success. And in situations like the one Hilary was in, the likelihood of success was even lower. But on the flip side, IUI is significantly cheaper than IVF and it’s less invasive. So it’s something many patients should consider.
Hilary Patterson: So, the first one, I was like super excited and hopeful. And then when that didn’t work, I went into the second one thinking, you know, it rarely happens the first time, it’ll happen the second time for sure, and it didn’t. But then by the third one, I was just kind of going through the motions. And when it wasn’t happening by the fourth one, it was like, I was feeling hopeless our sperm count looked low. And each time I would only have one follicle. It got to the point where I didn’t know what to do.
Access to the IVF Journey with Progyny
07:30 – 10:27
Hilary Patterson: I remember, finally, once I realized we had the coverage and that it was a possibility. I remember feeling relieved, you know, like, this is it. They’re going to do all the work for me, which was short-lived, because IVF is really stressful. But yeah, I was relieved. Definitely. I was hopeful again.
Dan Bulger: Two retrieval cycles and two embryos. They went ahead with PGT-A testing, which is a way to test the embryos for chromosomal abnormality, and only one of those two came back as chromosomally normal PGT-A testing is a way to rule out embryos that will not lead to a healthy baby. And with Hilary’s diagnosis of low ovarian reserve, PGT-A testing was strongly recommended by her doctor.
Hilary Patterson: I remember being so negative. That morning, it was really stressful. It was our only shot after all… At this point, It’s June, you know, after six months of IVF. Yeah, I was not feeling good going into transfer day. But my husband reassured me and he was positive. So, it was really cool. We got to watch her hatching on the screen. And it was pretty awesome. Science is pretty cool.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
10:58 – 14:02
Hilary Patterson: So, during the two-week wait, I was 100% certain that it was a failed transfer. I just I wasn’t feeling any different. I don’t know what I was expecting, honestly, you know. I know you don’t feel pregnant all of a sudden, I just, I was so negative. And then on day 10, I was scheduled to go in for a blood test. And I did not test, I know many women test several days afterwards. But I’d just seen so many negative pregnancy tests. For so long, I didn’t think this one would be any different. So, on day 10, when I was scheduled to go in for my blood test, which is about 45 minutes away from the clinic, I decided that I wanted to take an at home pregnancy test because I didn’t want them to call me with bad news when I was out shopping that afternoon. I wanted to mourn in the privacy of my own bathroom, if that was going to be the case. So, I’m sure you can imagine my shock when I saw these two dark lines. I took a double take and thought, “Wait, what is the control line on the opposite side? I’m confused.” So, I ran down the stairs, six o’clock in the morning, with the test in my hand. And my husband said I told you not to test and I said I know, I know. But we’re pregnant, like what!
Hilary Patterson: I finally met her, I was so tired, and I was drained, and I was happy and sad and a rush of all the emotions. But it was picture perfect. I was the happiest person in the world. Definitely. She was healthy, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Dan has been in the healthcare industry for the last six years as a multimedia content producer. Better known as ‘Video Dan’ he has interviewed numerous doctors, patients and other experts in the world of fertility. He’s also the producer for this podcast, This is Infertility. On a personal note, Dan’s parents started fostering kids when he was four years old, and he considers himself a proud older brother to over 100 foster children.
At work, someone calls Hilary “mom” at least one per week. Of course this is accidental and embarrassing since she’s a middle school teacher. Although she’s earned titles such as “Teacher of the Year” and “The Excellence in Teaching Fellowship Award”, Hilary deeply yearned for the intentional title of Mommy. She never thought her journey to motherhood would be as difficult as it was. For two years her and her husband rode the emotional rollercoaster they call infertility. After a very humbling experience, on March 5, 2020 she was awarded the most important title yet…Isla’s mommy!