IVF Success After Endometriosis | Nicole's Story
August 19th, 2022 | 7 min. read
When high school sweethearts Nicole and Steven decided they were ready to grow their family, they never anticipated needing the help of fertility treatment. But once they began trying to conceive, they discovered some roadblocks - including an endometriosis diagnosis. Read on to hear how they navigated big hurdles to finally meet their baby boy, Alexander.
In this article:
- Meet Nicole & Steven
- Uncovering a Surprising Diagnosis
- Moving Forward With IVF
- The Emotional Impact of Infertility
- Where are they now?
- Tips for Other Fertility Patients
- More Resources
Meet Nicole & Steven
Having been in a relationship since they were in high school, Nicole and her husband Steven always knew they wanted to become parents. "We waited until after we got married and had established careers before trying," Nicole says. But after one year of trying to conceive with no success, they were referred to Illume Fertility by Nicole's OB/GYN for further evaluation.
There is a common myth that women of color are somehow more fertile than others, and don't struggle as much with fertility issues. "I was always told by family members that we were naturally fertile and to just relax," Nicole remembers. "I never imagined needing fertility treatment, but knew I would want to try whatever I needed to in order to grow our family."
While the couple were open to pursuing fertility treatment, Nicole and Steven worried that it would be out of their budget and increase their debt - a frustrating roadblock for many hopeful parents in need of fertility assistance. While some patients have insurance coverage, and there are various options for financing treatment, grants and other financial support available, it can be a challenging obstacle to overcome.
Worried about affording treatment?
Uncovering a Surprising Diagnosis
In January 2020, Nicole and Steven met with Dr. Spencer Richlin for the first time. After meeting with him, they made a plan to proceed with fertility testing and eventually began intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatment. What happened next was difficult for the couple, but they tried to remain optimistic.
"We attempted two rounds of IUI with no success and then the pandemic hit and made us rethink our strategy," Nicole says. "We wanted to be more aggressive, but took a few months to research how we could afford it and to find a positive mindset to approach the IVF journey."
Nicole had her egg retrieval in November 2020, which resulted in the creation of six healthy embryos via in vitro fertilization (IVF). "We chose to freeze our embryos [instead of doing a fresh embryo transfer] because one of my tests showed that I had a blocked fallopian tube," Nicole says. "I had a surgery in January 2021 to remove that fallopian tube, which ended up shedding light on a bigger issue."
During that surgery, both of Nicole's fallopian tubes ended up getting removed, and as a result of the findings from her procedure, she received an unexpected diagnosis of endometriosis. Though no one wants to hear they have endometriosis, Nicole says it felt like a relief to have a reason for why they'd struggled to conceive. "I felt like I actually had an answer for the first time in years," she remembers.
Newborn Alexander; proud parents Nicole & Steven; Alexander's baptism day.
Moving Forward With IVF
After her surgery, Nicole focused on letting her body rest and recover before they moved ahead with their first frozen embryo transfer in March 2021. After their transfer, they waited to see if their little embryo had successfully implanted. "That two-week wait was the longest of my life, but then we got the call that changed our lives forever," she says.
"Being told we were finally pregnant and seeing our son's little heartbeat flicker for the first time on ultrasound was so incredible," Nicole remembers. And while pregnancy after infertility can be both exciting and challenging for many fertility patients, getting to hold that long-awaited baby in your arms is always worth the wait.
Learn more about IVF:
The Emotional Impact of Infertility
When she looks back at her fertility journey, Nicole remembers feeling incredibly isolated as she and Steven navigated how to share what they were going through.
"I wasn't intimidated by the actual fertility treatment process, but did feel a need to keep things private, only sharing details of our journey with a few trusted friends and family members," Nicole says. "Having that small support system definitely helped!" She also focused on practicing good self care, doing yoga, and connecting with friends and family.
Where are they now?
Their baby boy Alexander is now eight months old, and Nicole and Steven are soaking it all up and enjoying every second of parenthood. As for what's next, Nicole hints that they plan to return to Illume in the summer of 2023 to do another embryo transfer in the hopes of giving Alexander a sibling!
Nicole, Steven and their baby boy, Alexander.
Tips for Other Fertility Patients
"Trust your doctors and do everything in your power to protect your peace," Nicole advises. "Whether that be speaking openly with your support system or choosing to stay private about your journey."
She also suggests finding something outside of fertility that brings you joy and keeps you in a positive mood. "I like to sing, so I always found at least 10 minutes a day to sing it out as loud as I needed," she says.
In the end, each fertility journey is so unique. Exploring different tools like acupuncture, therapy, and yoga, or adding in fun distractions (like new hobbies or other projects to focus your energy on) can help tremendously.
Find more tools for your journey:
At Illume Fertility, all of our patients have access to our Integrated Fertility & Wellness program, which offers many different forms of support like the ones mentioned above, plus nutrition counseling, support groups, and more. We encourage you to try each one until you find what works best for you.
Read more inspiring Illume family stories or reach out to take your first step today!
Learn more about IVF by exploring the articles, videos, and eBooks below:
- Download FREE Step by Step Guide to IVF
- [VIDEO] Ask Monica Q&A Series
- A Fertility Clinic Team Reveals Their Best Tips for Patients
- IVF Dos and Don’ts: Your Guide to Diet, Exercise, Sex & More
- A Day in the Life of an Embryologist: Behind the Scenes of IVF
- What Are My Chances of Success with Fertility Treatment?
- IVF Attrition Rate: Why Don't All Eggs Create Embryos?
- Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Improved IVF Success
- In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Side Effects at Each Stage
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.