How the right fertility specialist made all the difference
It was in high school that I first noticed there was something different about me. While my friends complained about their monthly cycles, I noticed that mine was irregular and sometimes absent for months at a time. I talked with my doctor and even had a blood test, but received no firm diagnosis. Then, like any teenager would, I placed my attention elsewhere.
A high school friendship blossomed into a romance, and in 2009 I married my sweetheart, David. We both always knew we wanted to be parents, and decided to start trying only a year later at the ages of 24 and 25, respectively.
I met with my OB/GYN to chat about what I should do when trying to conceive. Due to my history of irregular cycles, she advised that I take Clomid to force my body to ovulate on time. She reassured me that I would be pregnant before that summer was over.
We did three cycles, but I never ovulated. Worse yet, the doctor didn’t know why.
Knowing that we needed more specialized attention, we were referred to a fertility center. But before the office door had even closed behind us, we were told that we should do IVF. This determination was given before any testing had even been completed. For the first time, we were aware of how much we didn’t know. It was scary.
I decided to see an endocrinologist to evaluate my body and thyroid. After testing and evaluation, there still wasn’t a diagnosis. I was placed on a medication to help manage my symptoms, but in the end it only made me feel sick all the time.
We decided to try another fertility center that had been recommended to us. This time around, there was testing done on both my husband and me. Testing revealed that David had a mild case of low sperm count.
Then, after years of not knowing what was wrong, I was finally given a diagnosis. Because I had cysts on my ovaries and had irregular periods, I learned I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Oddly, I do not have any of the telltale signs of PCOS, which can include extra weight, body hair, and acne. This is why the diagnosis had been so hard to pinpoint over the years.
I’m not alone in this diagnosis — an estimated 7 million women and adolescent girls are affected by PCOS.
With our diagnosis we were finally ready to embark on an IVF cycle. The particular clinic we were using arranged all of their patients on the same schedule for treatment. In order to sync me up with the other women undergoing treatment at the same time as me, I was put on birth control for over a month to suppress my natural cycle. This was supposed to make it so I could start stimulation injections on the same day as everyone else.
But by the time they finally started stimulating me for the retrieval, my ovaries were as unresponsive as Sleeping Beauty. They raised my dosage to the maximum allowable amount of medication but my ovaries still didn’t respond. They cancelled the IVF cycle. I didn’t even make it to egg retrieval
After my IVF cycle failed, we were devastated. We couldn’t move forward with another attempt at treatment because it would take months for my body to absorb the medication from the cycle. But the clinic sought to quickly schedule a follow-up appointment so as not to lose us as patients.
On the day of the follow-up, our doctor delivered news we weren’t expecting — we would need an egg donor to have a baby. At this point we felt completely hopeless and lost. We gave up for awhile.
Soon after, I started a new job where a colleague mentioned that she was pregnant after going to Fertility Centers of Illinois. We went to lunch and I confided in her all that I had been through. She gave me renewed hope when she said what I had experienced was unusual and terrible, and encouraged me to try once more. After talking, David and I decided to meet with a new doctor and give fertility treatment a third and final try.
That was when we met Dr. Nani at Fertility Centers of Illinois. It was a completely different experience. We felt like family from day one. She told us we would not need an egg donor, but we would need to do in vitro fertilization (IVF). The IVF cycle was done according to my body and personal monitoring. The medication protocol she prescribed was completely different, and the amounts and medication types were not ones I had done before. With so many treatment factors being changed, I was nervous. How could she know it would work?
But Dr. Nani knows the art of reproductive medicine.
In the end, we were ecstatic to have six embryos from the cycle. And better yet, the embryo transfer had been successful — we were pregnant!
Nine months later we had our baby boy, Fletcher. We were so happy to have our parenting dreams come true.
After Fletcher was born, we had to move for David’s job. But we also wanted to grow our family again. We coordinated with Dr. Nani long-distance to prepare for a frozen cycle, and flew back to Chicago for the embryo transfer. A few weeks later, we received good news once again — we were having another baby.
Now that we have Fletcher and Graham, we are so glad we kept going even when it was tough. Dr. Nani is the only physician who understood my diagnosis and how to work with it so that we could have a family. People think IVF is a silver bullet but it’s not — it’s only successful if your provider has the experience, expertise and willingness to craft the right protocol for your individual needs as a patient. Dr. Nani and her team offered us exactly that.
I am beyond grateful for Dr. Nani and all of the staff who treated me like family, and stayed positive and upbeat through the entire experience. They never gave me false hope, and they genuinely enjoy creating babies for people in the world. We’re so happy they gave us the family we always wanted.