Our Rainbow, Our Miracle
Melany and her husband are high school sweethearts who, even from a young age, knew they wanted to raise a family together. The couple married at 25 and being so young they weren’t ready to settle down with a baby just yet. For years they embraced an empty nest, spending time exploring the country on the open road and enjoying quality time with friends and family.
Starting a Family
After a big move away from their hometown, they were ready to start a family of their own. They followed the calendar method where you track your cycle, use ovulation sticks and, as Melany explained, “wait for the happy face to appear,” as a signal of ovulation to increase their chances of getting pregnant.
They were happy to discover that Melany was pregnant on the first try. However, at the 10-week ultrasound, they received the heartbreaking news that no heartbeat was detected. After their devastating loss, they waited another six months before trying again.
During this time, Melany noticed her periods were irregular and consulted with her OB/GYN who prescribed Clomid. She tried the medication for several cycles and while it helped regulate her periods it did not result in a pregnancy.
Referral to Fertility Centers of Illinois
Melany’s doctor recommended that she see a specialist and referred her to Dr. Meike Uhler at Fertility Centers of Illinois in 2018. Dr. Uhler suspected that Melanie had endometriosis based on her history of painful periods and fertility testing results. Melany’s bloodwork suggested that she had a low ovarian reserve and Dr. Uhler realized Melany had cysts on her ovaries when the ultrasound was performed.Before fertility treatment could begin, the cysts had to be removed. It was during this surgery that she confirmed Melany had endometriosis.
Melany reflected on her diagnosis sharing, “It totally made sense that I have endometriosis. I was in so much pain during my periods. It made me feel like I wasn’t crazy, and what I was going through was justifiable.”
Dr. Uhler suggested that because of her diagnosis and medical history, their best chance of getting pregnant would be through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Though unsure at first, they were determined to have a baby and had already been through so much that they knew it would be worth it.
Melany wasn’t sure what to expect and was very nervous approaching her first transfer. She prioritized self-care as best she could. “I took off of work to focus on IVF and myself. I wasn’t sure how my body would react or how emotional it would be. I was really glad I took that time off because you get bloated, you get headaches, etc. The shots are pretty intimidating, too. People don’t like shots and I understand why.”
She also found support within the infertility community and connected with past acquaintances that had been open about their own experiences with infertility. “I have a friend from high school that posted on her Instagram stories about IUI and IVF and we messaged each other. Whenever I had a question about my medication or the side effects I would ask her questions. Knowing that other people had been through it was really encouraging and supportive.” She also received support from her family and a therapist who helped her learn coping mechanisms for managing this difficult time in her life.
Dr. Elie Hobeika performed Melany’s first transfer, and despite the circumstances, Melany felt the FCI team helped make the best of a bad situation. “Transfer day was the best day. They make it all about you and they celebrate you. They show you what’s happening and it’s a big support system which I was really grateful for. It brought my anxiety down.”
They anxiously awaited their results two weeks after transfer day. When it was finally time to test the couple was very excited to get a positive result. However, they did not get the news they were expecting when they followed up with an ultrasound. The couple was expecting to see the yolk sac, but what they found was a blighted ovum. That is, she was pregnant, but the gestational sac developed without an embryo. Melany shared her frustration saying, “It was really confusing for me because the HSG says this, and to find nothing in there was really disappointing.”
Melany’s Last Egg
The couple took a long break after their loss to recuperate physically and mentally. In 2022 they felt ready to try again, this time with their last egg. Melany felt discouraged starting the process, especially because her endometriosis had been flaring up and causing her a lot of pain. The stakes were high, but they ultimately decided to move forward with the procedure. Melany explained her mentality at the time, “I really want a kid and I really want the pain to stop, so I was like, let’s do it.”
Dr. Asima Ahmad performed their embryo transfer, and they were pleased to find the same support they received in their previous cycle. “It was still very much, ‘yay, today is your day,’ which really helps. It brought down my anxiety and I appreciated that support.”
Once again they powered through the agonizing two-week wait. Upon testing, the couple was very happy to find out Melany was pregnant but wasn’t ready to celebrate the results. Melany shared, “We were still very cautiously optimistic. After we got 5 or 6 weeks of the pregnancy and they found something we thought, ‘oh that’s good.’ When they kept seeing the heartbeat it was really hopeful and encouraging. At 8 weeks we told my parents. When I made it to 15 weeks and when I went to my first ultrasound with my OB and got to hear the heartbeat and see the baby, we were like, oh my God, this is really happening.”
Melany and her husband were finally able to relax a little and get excited about the pregnancy. Melany continued, “When we found out we were having a girl it made it feel real. The first two were miscarriages so we didn’t know the sex. What really got to us, too, was the 20-week anatomy scan when we got to hear and see things. It was wild and crazy; you get to see the skull and the spine and hear the heartbeat again. We brought my mother-in-law, and she started crying.”
Melany’s daughter, Mia Noelle, was born New Years Eve 2022. Melany shared the joy of being a mom to her little girl. “Mia is so cute. She looks like her daddy. I love cuddling her. I love our naps together and cherish them so much. She’s my little miracle.”
Melany’s fertility journey wasn’t an easy one, but Mia made it all worth it in the end. For anyone else struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss, you are not alone even if it feels that way when you’re in the thick of it all. “I didn’t know people went through IVF or had infertility issues until I reached out to them first,” Melany explained.
Words of Widsom
“If you know somebody and you’re shy, just reach out. I thought my friend would ignore me because we hadn’t talked in a long time. Women who have infertility are so supportive. It’s such a supportive community. You’re not alone.”
She also has words of encouragement for those still waiting for their rainbow babies. “Don’t give up trying. When I miscarried the second time I was so discouraged. She was my last egg, and like Dr. Uhler told me, it only takes one.”