By Lindsay Carroll, Alabama Fertility Specialists Patient
No one wants to hear that they could have issues with fertility, but when you’re not trying to have a baby, it’s not immediately that big of a deal. This is what happened to me in 2012 when I went to see a new gynecologist.
It was just a normal annual exam, but my doctor discovered I might have had something called a septum, which is an extra piece of tissue in my vagina, possibly extending into my uterus. I found out this also possibly meant that I had two separate sides to my uterus. These issues could make it difficult when the time came for babies, but again, we weren’t ready for babies then, so it wasn’t a big deal.
I was referred to Dr. Malizia at Alabama Fertility Specialists (AFS). Dr. Malizia was so welcoming and put us at ease. I went through several exams and tests, but the results were not 100% conclusive on my diagnosis. Dr. Malizia assured us everything was fine and said to return when we were ready to start having babies.
Fast forward to late 2013, and we were ready to expand our family. We tried on our own for about a year before returning to AFS for some additional testing. The tests showed that my husband was the picture of fertility and health, as was I. Except that extra tissue that was still lurking in there.
After multiple tests/scans we ultimately determined surgery would be the only absolute way to determine what was going on inside my body and find out if it was preventing us from getting pregnant. Surgery was scheduled for August of 2015. The surgery revealed I had a uterine and vaginal septum along with endometriosis, and both were removed.
When we got the green light, we started trying again, and we got pregnant (with no drugs or procedures)! Unfortunately, at around six weeks I miscarried. We were crushed.
My husband and I were classified as having “unexplained infertility,” meaning there was no medical reason we were not getting pregnant. Dr. Malizia was very patient with us. On this journey, our faith grew and so did our marriage. We knew God had promised us children and we were taking it one step at a time. Over the next three years we became more and more willing with fertility treatments and tried a myriad of drugs and procedures.
We started with intrauterine insemination (IUI) and no meds. Then we stepped up to IUI with Clomid (oral fertility medication); next we tried IUI with injectable meds (Follistim, Menopur); then in vitro fertilization (IVF) fresh transfer; and finally IVF frozen transfer. I think we’ve done it all, plus more than 300 injections and countless blood draws. (At least Janice and Deborah are gentle!)
The result we were waiting for finally came after a round of IVF in November of 2017 that yielded three perfect embryos. Two were transferred in November but did not stay. We had one frozen embryo left. When we started the preparation for the frozen embryo transfer in January, things were different from cycles in the past. My husband and I both had an extraordinary amount of peace and confidence that this was our baby.
One funny thing that has a special place in our story may seem a little goofy. We started injections on New Year’s Day to prepare for the frozen embryo transfer, and it was around the same time the iPhone X commercial came out with the Animojis. The song on the commercial was Big Boi’s “All Night.” Every night when we did the injections (estrogen and/or progesterone), I would watch the YouTube video of that song with the Animojis. Sometimes I would start giggling at the video and move, and it would scare my husband when he was giving the injection. That video was certainly an escape from the temporary pain and discomfort of the shots, but it’s something we will always remember about this time.
That last embryo was transferred on January 28, 2018, and we are expecting our first child, a boy, in October of this year.
Of course, this would not be the case without AFS. They became our family over the last few years. The doctors are so smart, but still relatable and down to earth. Dr. Malizia explained things in a way we could understand. The world of fertility is intimidating, but Dr. Malizia and her team made us feel comfortable. “Graduating” from AFS at 12 weeks pregnant was really hard for us, as we were sad to leave.
There are so many statistics and numbers when it comes to infertility, but we never felt like a number. The entire staff knew our names and our story. We were seen, heard, and known, and that’s a huge part of why our story ends with success.
At Alabama Fertility, we treat all patients with the care and compassion that complex reproductive issues require. As always, we encourage you to ask your doctors and nurses at Alabama Fertility as many questions as you need to in order to find out more.