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.
Around 50% of those with PCOS have had to visit two (or more!) healthcare providers before being properly diagnosed with PCOS.
Megan is one of those women. This is her journey through a delayed PCOS diagnosis, medicated cycles, IUI, and finally, IVF.
"It has always been my dream to be a mom," Megan says.
"When I was a little girl and someone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up, my answer was always 'A Mommy' - and my husband and I have always been on the same page with wanting children!"
But once they started trying to conceive, they realized becoming parents might be harder than they thought. After 2.5 years of fertility struggles, Megan and her husband Jeff decided to take the leap and call Illume Fertility. But Illume Fertility wasn't their first fertility clinic...they'd been down this road before.
Megan had actually been under the care of two other fertility clinics prior to finding Illume Fertility, but once they made the switch, she says she knew it was the best decision they had made in their 3.5 years of trying to start a family.
She says that at first, she felt nervous to leave her previous fertility clinic because she worried it would feel like starting all over. But she felt very “stuck in the mud" there and knew a second opinion was truly needed in order for them to find success. So they took the leap and remained hopeful.
L to R: Megan starts her IVF cycle; goes to an appointment; celebrates after egg retrieval.
Megan's PCOS Story
As with many PCOS patients, Megan lived the majority of her life undiagnosed.
"I was diagnosed with PCOS a year into my [fertility] treatment," Megan says. "My original OB/GYN's office did not diagnose me, so I was actually on a medication I never should have been on for 9 months - it was really harsh on my body and my mind."
PCOS caused Megan to be anovulatory (to put it simply: this means her body simply does not ovulate regularly or predictably on its own - a common symptom of PCOS). This made it nearly impossible for Megan to ever track ovulation, because most of the time it wasn’t even happening!
"I learned a lot about my hormones and the way my body operates because of this diagnosis," Megan says. "Everything started to make sense."
After making a lot of PCOS-friendly diet and lifestyle changes, Megan started to feel better, both physically and mentally. "I was fueling my body with the wrong foods for a long time," she says. "And my hormones were clearly very out of wack."
During her 3.5 years of fertility treatment, under the care of OB/GYNs, and later, Reproductive Endocrinologists, Megan went through twenty or more medicated cycles.
Unfortunately, during the first nine cycles, Megan was on a medication that she later found out was not appropriate for her PCOS diagnosis. After finding no success with medicated cycles, Megan and Jeff moved on to Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). But their journey was far from over.
After doing five unsuccessful IUI cycles back to back, Megan and Jeff were in disbelief that their next step was now IVF. "But we weren’t willing to stop," she says. "Very shortly after our last failed IUI cycle, we jumped right into our first IVF cycle."
Thankfully, Megan's very first fresh embryo transfer was successful!
L to R: Megan at Illume Fertility; celebrating her growing bump, and heading to an exciting appointment.
Their Most Life-Changing Decision Yet
After careful consideration, they decided to make the big decision to transfer not just one, but twoDay 5 embryos! "We transferred two embryos to increase our chances of at least one of them 'sticking,' knowing very well we could lose one or even both of them," Megan says.
"We were blessed that both 'embabies' stuck," she says. "We actually didn’t even know if we would have two embryos ready on Day 5 until we got to our embryo transfer appointment since only two of our embryos were at the blastocyst stage at that point."
Editor's Note: While Megan and Jeff decided to transfer two embryos during their IVF cycle, this is a big decision that requires careful thought and counseling. The risks of a multiples pregnancy (twins, triplets or more) are higher than a singleton pregnancy, and this is why Illume Fertility strongly advocates for "one healthy baby at a time." While multiples are often a welcome surprise, we practice single embryo transfers in most cases, and always work to reduce risks wherever possible. Learn why here!
From Zero to Two in An Instant
When asked how she felt about becoming a twin mom, Megan explained the special significance that twins have in her life: "Ironically, I have been seeing the number 11 everywhere for years," she says. "I never really believed that the universe sends you signs until it became undeniable...11 was (and still is) everywhere."
"We always talked about how amazing it would be to have twins in the case we weren’t able to have any more children after our first pregnancy," Megan says. "And now we feel twins have always been part of our fate - I am meant to be a twin mama!"
Megan and Jeff's twin boys are expected to make their grand debut into the world on December 7th, 2021 - and they could not be more excited!
Read another patient's experience:
Pregnancy Challenges & Future Plans
"Navigating pregnancy after infertility has been a struggle," Megan admits. "It’s difficult to express the ups and downs without sounding ungrateful to those in waiting."
"The truth of the matter is, this whole journey is difficult, from start to finish, no matter where you are in the process," Megan says. "Every day seems like a marathon and a milestone - I am learning to give myself so much grace as I navigate week to week and I am truly enjoying every single baby kick and flutter!"
At 27 weeks pregnant, she feels like time is flying - and often wishes time would slow down. However, both Megan and Jeff are excited to meet their two baby boys in a few short months.
Our plan for the future is to try for a third child," Megan shares. "We currently have three stored frozen embryos!"
Megan and Jeff celebrate at their gender reveal party.
Advice for Other Fertility Patients
Throughout her entire fertility (and now, pregnancy) journey, Megan has been incredibly open and honest - sharing her experiences, feelings, and challenges online. We asked her what her best advice was for those going through fertility struggles, and she shared the following:
Thoughts on Fertility Treatment
I feel extremely lucky to be living during a time that the science is this advanced to be able to help people like me. I am a huge advocate for seeking help. No one should be suffering in silence. I know there is a stigma behind infertility and treatment and I think we are closer to ever to changing the way the world views it!
Advice for Your First Fertility Consultation
Go in with an open mind. It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole with scary statistics! Trust your doctor and your Care Team. They have your best interest at heart. They want to see you succeed and they want to succeed with you!
There will be days that are extremely difficult and dark, but you are stronger than all of this. Rise above it and stay above it. When it knocks you down, stand right back up! You are more powerful than all of it.