Infertility is a long and stressful process, and while you may feel alone on your journey, 1 in 8 couples are going through the same exact thing. It can take a toll on you emotionally, financially and physically, but a support system and a positive mindset can help along the way.
In this episode, we hear from Chrissy Hogie on her fertility story that the highs and lows, the feelings of isolation, and the amazing support system she had around her. Three years and many doctor visits later, Chrissy is now pregnant with her first child, and shedding light on the importance of talking about infertility to raise awareness, fight stigmas, and prove to those going through this – you’re never alone.
Guest: Chrissy Hogie, Infertility Advocate
Host: Dan Bulger, Producer at Progyny
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Here are some highlights from this episode:
Beginning of Her Journey
Chrissy Hogie: We really started our journey in like the last semester of school- so if I was pregnant, the last couple months it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.
Dan Bulger: They tried the old-fashioned way for about six months.
Chrissy Hogie: I had a regular annual checkup with my doctor and that’s when she wrote me a prescription for Clomid, thinking that it was just an easy thing to start, assuming I was part of the problem. Then she also provided a semen analysis for Patrick to go get tested- just to be sure that he wasn’t the problem. So, when the doctor called back with the results from the semen analysis, they asked if he had a vasectomy. And I said no, like, I mean, I asked him again, “have you ever had a vasectomy?” Like this is a big thing you would have known and I’m sure we would have talked about it and he was like, “No I didn’t have a vasectomy.” So the semen analysis proved to be zero sperm, not even one swimmer.
Chrissy Hogie: He actually was on Clomid for six months, because if he was essentially born with a vasectomy, there was no way of knowing if he had sperm and then if he did have sperm- was it good sperm? So he was on a Clomid measuring regimen for six months. Essentially, we had two options at the urologist. One was just doing the testing procedure where they extract the sperm out of the testes and then if you choose that route, your only option is IVF because he wasn’t plumbed correctly- his sperm never learned how to swim, so IUI wouldn’t have worked. Or we could have done a reverse vasectomy and hoped that that worked and there wasn’t enough scar tissue, but he was nearing 40, so he was really just born with it. There probably would be too much damage with that route, so we went ahead with the teste procedure and it was successful, he got seven vials of sperm.
Chrissy Hogie: Hearing some of the pretests, they caught wind that I potentially could have a septum, which is sort of like a heart-shaped uterus was the best way to explain it, so I was told to come back for a 3D ultrasound. It turned out that for sure, I did have a septum. My septum was eight millimeters. So that essentially meant that like my uterus, which should be shaped like a pair, was shaped like a heart and so there was essentially two cavities where the baby could grow. And because there was a split down the middle, the baby couldn’t grow normally in that type of environment. So, it was important that we got it taken care of and needed a hysteroscopy.
Dan Bulger: And this was the first time they really hit a wall in their fertility journey.
Chrissy Hogie: I was shocked and disappointed that like my journey had to be paused. I was really bummed and upset about that.
Processing Emotions, and Surgery
Chrissy Hogie: I had to go to Grand Rapids for the 3D ultrasound. They didn’t have that machine in Kalamazoo and on my way home I just stopped at one of the Michigan Lake towns and I just didn’t know what to do and I ended up finding a kayak rental place and I got out on the lake or the river and just kayaked and sat alone and cried and try to process everything that was happening. It was easy when it was my husband, Patrick, was the problem, now I’m part of the problem. Once I got over it, it was okay and I rationalized it like this septum would have existed if I could have gotten pregnant naturally, and it would have ended in a miscarriage because the baby couldn’t grow right or the baby would have been super premature because it just wouldn’t have the proper space to grow. So ultimately, I was thankful for learning that.
Dan Bulger: it took about another month for her surgery to be scheduled at the hospital.
Chrissy Hogie: As soon as I woke up from the anesthesia, the doctor was in my room and she was like, listen, we had complications. I couldn’t get it all, you’re probably going to have to come back for another one. I was like, are you kidding me? Why didn’t you keep me under? This is a pretty simple procedure. You said it would take 20 minutes. What do you mean, you ran into trouble? I had that in the back of my mind that I would likely need a second hysteroscopy, but I was hopeful that at least she got enough of the septum to be able to move forward.
Paying for Treatments
Dan Bulger: Chrissy got quite the IVF education over the years, but it was an education that had a very high price tag.
Chrissy Hogie: I felt like I got a second MBA, because after I finished paying for my MBA tuition is when I started my fertility journey and those tuition checks just kept coming up, but they were in a form of a retrieval and a transfer. And then I spent over $5,000 on my medication, the first round, and that wasn’t even all the medication was just starter pack. And it was a very overwhelming experience.
Dan Bulger: Like many who have to go out of pocket, Chrissy got creative and found a new line of income.
Chrissy Hogie: I delivered groceries on the side when I first found out, to try and offset the amount of money I was going to be spending to make this journey become a reality. It is a lot financially, emotionally and physically.
Where Chrissy is at Today
Dan Bulger: Chrissy has come quite a long way since that day in the kayak.
Chrissy Hogie: Tomorrow, I will be 27 weeks. So I start my third trimester tomorrow. I’ve had a really smooth pregnancy. It was a really bumpy road to get here, but I was never sick during my first trimester. I am not very big so I can still function and move and I’m not swaying and rocking and waddling just yet. I’m sure that will come, but not quite yet. But we definitely have been really, really lucky.
Dan has been in the healthcare industry for the last six years as a multimedia content producer. Better known as ‘Video Dan’ he as 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.
Chrissy is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Whirlpool who is responsible for launching new cooking products in the marketplace. She is located in St. Joseph, MI and has worked at the headquarters for the past 12 years. Chrissy enjoys traveling internationally, making a difference, and spending time on long family walks with her husband and two black labs.
Since embarking on her three-year fertility journey, she has gained a passion for educating others and mentoring those who are also on a journey. Chrissy is on a mission to make fertility affordable and not taboo. Fertility is hard enough and no one needs to feel like they are alone.
Chrissy is a graduate of Penn State University with a supply chain degree and received her MBA at Michigan State University in 2017. She grew up in King of Prussia, PA and currently resides in St. Joseph, MI with her husband and two fur babies and a miracle bundle of joy on the way!
Music From This Episode:
Artist: Alpha Hydrae
Track: Un dsert
Track: Nothing will grow here
Artist: Lee Rosevere
Track: Awkward Silences version a