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Braving Recurrent Pregnancy Loss & Endometriosis | Katie's Story

After enduring six heartbreaking miscarriages and 2.5 years of infertility, Katie shares her harrowing journey to Baby #2.

March 14th, 2024 | 8 min. read

By Sierra Dehmler

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby...or so the story goes. For many couples who struggle with infertility, the road to parenthood isn't quite that simple. Katie, a mom through IVF, shares her difficult journey and how she and her husband navigated it all.

In this article:

Meet Katie

Originally from Stamford, Connecticut, Katie and her now husband Jason attended the same high school, but didn't cross paths until after college at a local St. Leo Fair. They quickly fell in love and had a fairytale proposal behind Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World in 2016, getting married a year later in Tarrytown, New York. 

Katie's love of education and working with children led her to a career as an elementary school teacher, and Jason's desire to help his local community drew him to his career as a firefighter. 

Ready for Parenthood 

Katie and Jason always knew they wanted to become parents. The couple settled down together in their hometown of Stamford, CT, and a year after their wedding, decided they were ready to start a family of their own.

"We got pregnant almost instantly during the summer of 2018, and we were so excited," Katie says. "About a week after seeing those two pink lines, we traveled to Europe for my little sister’s wedding."

Over their two weeks abroad, the couple traveled through England, Ireland, and Italy. "It was amazing," Katie remembers. But their happiness was soon cut short on the flight back home. "When I got up to use the airplane restroom - that’s when I knew it was all over," Katie says. "I was going through my first miscarriage."

Pregnancy After Loss

About a month later, Katie discovered she was pregnant again. "This time, I could feel my excitement drained, but I was still hopeful," Katie recalls. Thankfully, her pregnancy progressed and she went on to have a healthy baby boy named Andrew on June 4, 2019.

The new parents were overjoyed to finally welcome their long-awaited little one. 

Navigating Miscarriage

Trying to make sense of your pregnancy loss and don't know where to begin? Find support, affirmations, and ways to honor your grief in this compassionate guide.

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Trying for Baby #2

Around a year later, in 2020, Katie and Jason decided they were ready to try for Baby #2. "In October, we fell pregnant again - we were over the moon," says Katie. "We told our close family the happy news and couldn’t wait for Andrew to be a big brother!"

Sadly, at just ten weeks, Katie miscarried yet again. This time, though, the process was long and drawn out, making it all the more difficult. Her body held on to some remaining tissue from the pregnancy, causing extended bleeding and requiring misoprostol, a medication frequently used to help manage miscarriages.  

"After about a month, I decided with my OB that a D&C was necessary," Katie shares. The procedure helped to resolve the physical loss, but the pain of losing multiple pregnancies remained.

Taking the Next Step

Like many who struggle with recurrent pregnancy loss, this heartbreaking cycle continued. Katie and Jason conceived again, but the pregnancy quickly ended in a third miscarriage and subsequent D&C procedure.

At this point, Katie's OB/GYN suggested she consult with the reproductive endocrinology team at Illume Fertility to get additional guidance and rule out possible reasons behind her repeated pregnancy losses.

The couple took their doctor's advice and transferred their care to Illume, where they were paired with Dr. Spencer Richlin.

Fertility Testing & Preparing for IVF

"Together with Dr. Richlin, we decided that IVF would be the best route for us," Katie says. "Starting in May of 2021, we went through lots of bloodwork, ultrasounds, saline sonograms, and even a hysteroscopy procedure before finally making it to our egg retrieval in August of 2021."

The Roller Coaster of Infertility

Katie's egg retrieval was successful, and they had multiple embryos develop to the blastocyst stage, giving the couple hope. They decided to proceed with preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) to assess the chromosomal makeup of each embryo before deciding which one to transfer. 

"To our surprise, all seven of the embryos we sent out for testing came back PGT-A normal," Katie says. "Excited to have a 'just right' embryo, we transferred right away in September of 2021, and my pregnancy test results came back positive!" The couple was thrilled.

However, at around six weeks, Katie miscarried for a fourth time. "We painfully waited for my hCG levels to come down, then transferred another embryo in December, hoping it was just a fluke," she says. This one also ended, this time in a chemical pregnancy - making it her fifth miscarriage.

"We then fell pregnant on our own in April of 2022, but this one ended in miscarriage as well," Katie says. Having now been through six heartbreaking miscarriages, the couple was losing hope and desperate to find the reason behind these repeated losses.


Searching for Answers 

"After doing some of our own research, we decided to try doing a diagnostic cycle," Katie says. "We tried an HSG, ERA, Alice/Emma and ReceptivaDX testing; the ERA came back post-receptive and the Receptiva came back with the recommendation to suppress estrogen, so we followed both."

Her Receptiva test results also pointed towards suspected endometriosis.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition of the reproductive system affecting 10% of women globally. The condition is also a common obstacle to pregnancy, with up to 50% of women with endometriosis struggling with infertility.

With endometriosis, tissue similar to the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside the uterus - in places it doesn't belong. These deposits of tissue act just like the uterine lining, but because they develop outside of the uterus, can cause excessive bleeding, pain, and other issues - including trouble conceiving.

With this additional knowledge in mind, Dr. Richlin worked to adjust Katie's treatment protocol to give her the best possible chance at a healthy, sustainable pregnancy.

In November of 2022, the couple transferred another embryo.

Is IVF right for you?

Learn how much it costs, how long the process takes, and how this treatment method can help make your dreams come true.

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Surprise, Followed by Heartbreak

"Beta day came, and I walked into the Illume office under two double rainbows (LITERALLY), and I just knew it was a sign," Katie remembers. "Not only was I pregnant, but my hCG numbers came back higher than I had ever seen."

At five weeks and four days, Katie and Jason had their first ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy. There were two heartbeats - TWINS, just as Katie had envisioned. The single embryo they had transferred a few weeks prior had spontaneously split into two!

"But just as soon as we were able to wrap our heads around the fact that we were pregnant with twins, it was taken away from us," Katie says. "Two weeks later, we discovered that Baby B no longer had a heartbeat. We left the office, knowing that sinking feeling all too well, but still hopeful for Baby A."

A Bittersweet Graduation

As they mourned the loss of Baby B, Baby A continued to grow, with Katie getting a few additional ultrasounds at Illume Fertility before she "graduated" from the clinic to return to her OB/GYN's care.

All was well until Katie hit 17 weeks, when she was unexpected rushed into emergency surgery with a burst appendix. "Thankfully, my OB sat in on the surgery to make sure Baby A was all okay," she says. "After six days in the hospital, I returned home, and my pregnancy continued normally."

Fast forward to August 2, 2023, and their long-awaited Baby #2 finally arrived. "We welcomed our miracle Maya into the world, and boy was she a little girl worth waiting for," says Katie.


The Long, Winding Road to Success

For two and a half years, Katie and Jason endured more challenges than anyone ever should when trying to expand their family. Without a steadfast Care Team and the ability to lean on each other throughout the process, they might not have made it through and met their baby girl, Maya.

"Through six miscarriages, three D&C procedures, one hysteroscopy, one egg retrieval, three embryo transfers, three endometrial biopsies, an endometriosis diagnosis, two months of estrogen suppression, a lost embryo, a vanishing twin, a ruptured appendix and emergency surgery while pregnant, 24 shots before egg retrieval, 58 progesterone in oil (PIO) shots, 249 Lovenox shots, 40 heparin shots, countless blood draws, dietary changes, acupuncture, support groups, and therapy, we are fortunate to find ourselves on the other side of such a difficult journey," says Katie.

Today, Andrew and Maya bring lots of joy to their daily lives. Katie and Jason are busier than ever as parents to two little ones, but carry a deep gratitude for this gift after experiencing such a long, difficult battle to grow their family. 

After so much hardship, Katie shares some simple advice to those still in the midst of it all: "Know that you aren’t alone, keep on trudging along, ask hard questions, and don’t give up."

Sierra Dehmler

Sierra Dehmler is Illume Fertility’s Content Marketing Manager - and also a fertility patient herself. Combining empathy gained on her personal journey with her professional experience in marketing and content creation, she aims to empower and support other fertility patients by demystifying the fertility treatment process.

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