Katherine had every reason to believe pregnancy wouldn’t be hard to achieve. She was 31, a happy newlywed, and ready to become a mother.
Right after the wedding, Katherine and her husband began trying to get pregnant. As the months passed without a pregnancy, they became frustrated. But due to their younger age and the amount of time they had been trying, her OBGYN indicated that no specialist would see them until a year had passed.
A year later, Katherine took a routine blood test and was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Thyroid conditions need to be corrected prior to achieving pregnancy, not just because they pose a health risk to the mother and baby, but also because they can be an underlying cause of infertility. It took an additional year to manage Katherine’s thyroid condition. Katherine also had endometriosis, which can wreak havoc on a woman’s fertility. Endometriosis can cause a variety of different infertility issues such as forming scar tissue in and around the uterus, poor egg quality, and difficulty with embryos implanting into the uterus. She had suffered from endometriosis from her early teens.
Katherine was devastated by her unrealized dream of babies in the family. “Every month, when I got my period, we felt like we were mourning a little death,” she explains. “Infertility pervaded every aspect of our lives. Most people do not want to talk about it, so you silently have to pick yourself up and try again.” All around her, friends and colleagues were getting pregnant, some with their second or third child. Katherine and her husband were at a loss and sought out help.
They visited a fertility center, and were disheartened by the way they were treated. Katherine felt like a number. She endured countless injections, medications, exams, four failed IUI’s, and one cycle of IVF.
While she was at work sitting at her desk, waiting for the results of the IVF cycle, the embryologist called with bad news.
In the process of stimulating her ovaries to produce eggs for treatment, she released only three eggs, all of which were not viable.
“Your eggs are pitted like golf balls,” she said. “You have probably been sterile for years.” Katherine could not believe that after four wrenching years of trying, it had all been for naught.
The crushing news left Katherine in deep depression. It seemed as if all around her people were getting pregnant. Katherine’s husband, a gentle and understanding man, confessed he was having a hard time too. Together they leaned on each other for support, and found the strength to continue.
Katherine and her husband decided it was time for a second opinion and visited Fertility Centers of Illinois, and met with Dr. Eve Feinberg. Meeting with Dr. Feinberg was a welcome breath of fresh air. She was compassionate, understanding, and approached Katherine’s case like a fertility detective.
Dr. Feinberg reviewed her medical history, and then asked Katherine a question she hadn’t heard before.
“You have endometriosis. Has anyone tested your lining for the Beta-3 integrin?” Katherine had never heard of the test. Dr. Feinberg explained that through a biopsy of endometrial tissue, Katherine could be tested to see whether or not she had the Beta-3 integrin present, a critical component required for an embryo to attach to the uterine wall.
Katherine eagerly agreed to the test, but when the results came back she did not have the Beta-3 integrin. Still, Dr. Feinberg had a plan.
In order to regrow the integrin, Katherine would need to go through medically-induced menopause.
The emotions and physical changes Katherine felt due to the medication were difficult to endure. But knowing that she was sidestepping a potential future miscarriage was reassuring.
Preparing for IVF, Dr. Feinberg shared additional news.
“If we did everything we could, there is a ten percent chance of conceiving with your own eggs,” she explained.
After four years of unsuccessful treatments, the thought of going through IVF with such a slim chance of success was heartbreaking. Dr. Feinberg had mentioned a donor egg as a treatment option before, but making the decision to use a donor egg is a difficult one.
Katherine and her husband found it hard to move past the emotional aspect of using a donor egg. It was hard knowing their child wouldn’t share any of Katherine’s genetic traits. But they knew without a doubt that they wanted to have a baby together, and that a donor egg was their best option for achieving their dream.
Katherine and her husband chose frozen donor eggs from Donor Egg Bank USA for treatment because of their guarantee. They liked the 100% Assured Refund Program which includes six cycles and a full refund if you don’t deliver a live baby. They felt that if all else failed, at least with this program’s refund, they could pursue adoption.
After mixing the donor eggs with Katherine’s husband’s sperm, the couple decided to transfer two of the resulting embryos in their first donor egg IVF cycle. For the first time in a long time, she and her husband dared to hope.
At long last, Katherine received the call she was waiting for. She was pregnant for the very first time! She later learned through ultrasound that she was carrying twins.
“There is no way to describe how special it feels having the babies inside of you. They grow and move and hiccup just like everyone else’s babies. You feel like they are one hundred percent yours, and no one could tell you otherwise,” she explains. “I am so incredibly grateful that there are women out there willing to donate, and I was surprised at how easy using a donor egg was.”
After a healthy pregnancy, James and Allison were born in June of 2013.
“It’s so incredible to look at them and see them smile back at you,” she explains. “If I had it to do all over again, I would put myself through every injection and every hour of disappointment, knowing that these two babies would finally come home with us. We could not be happier with the end result!"