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Lauren Sancton's Unexplained Infertility Story featured by top Infertility Online Community, The Slice of Sun

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Read Lauren's Story here:

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My name is Lauren Sancton and I am originally from Houston, Texas and currently live here with my husband, Marc, and 2.5-year-old daughter, Reese. Our fertility journey is like most - not linear, and has its ups and downs and everything in between.

My husband and I met when we both lived in Los Angeles. After two and a half years of living there together and getting married, we decided we wanted to move to Houston to be closer to family and to eventually have a family. When we moved back to Houston in 2013, we didn’t want to have children right away, as I had moved away for 10 years and wanted to acclimate to friends, living close to my twin sister and my family (a HUGE plus!) and for my husband, a new city and a new job.

We started trying naturally to have a family in late 2014 and after 11 months of trying, we knew something wasn’t right. I contacted my OBGYN and she gave me a Clomid prescription, hoping that would do the trick and we didn’t have any luck. As such, I decided it was time to search for a specialist, but I wanted someone who others I knew had success with. I spoke to a few family friends and connections and Marc and I made an appointment in September 2015 to see Dr. Laurie McKenzie at Houston IVF, now CCRM Houston.

Dr. McKenzie and her team ran a multitude of tests and came up inconclusive as to why I was having trouble getting pregnant. She said since we had unexplained infertility, the most frustrating diagnosis in the world, we should move forward with two IUIs (Intrauterine Insemination), in hopes that one would work as it is less costly and invasive than IVF.

We tried our first IUI with my next cycle and no luck. The next IUI appointment at the office happened to fall two days after we had to put our rescue pup to sleep. This was not ideal timing, but I knew I needed something to distract me, as we unfortunately had a very sick dog whom we both cared for deeply, but knew down the road with kids, his illnesses couldn’t be controlled, and he was in a lot of pain. We moved forward with the IUI and two weeks later, and came to a negative result.

Marc and I decided to take the next two months off as we needed to cope our pups passing and as we were gearing up to make our appointment with Dr. McKenzie to regroup and discuss options, my grandfather, who had been sick for some time, passed away. Our appointment was the following day after I received a phone call on a Sunday night from my dad. I remember it all too well. I was in shock – it was hard as my grandfather was very involved in my life. He loved Marc and it was really hard to see him sick and suffer the past few years.

The next day, our appointment was in the morning and we decided to move forward with talking to Dr. McKenzie as my grandfather loved kids and family, and I knew this is what he would have wanted. Dr. McKenzie explained the next step would be IVF. This meant an egg retrieval, more shots, more appointments and more money.

Marc and I decided it was worth the investment as my AMH level was high and we would have a good chance on a decent number of eggs. My nurse, Laura, who was with me during the IUIs would also be our IVF nurse, and I was really happy about that. She had a very calming demeanor but also told me things straightforward to where I would be able to understand and report back to Marc and the rest of my family.

We started the shots, stimulation medication and did our egg retrieval in March 2016. Dr. McKenzie was able to retrieve 16 eggs and as we moved to day five, we ended up with seven embryos. Back in 2016, we had decided not to do the CCS testing on the embryos as I was of good maternal age, 30, and neither Marc nor I had genetic matches, to cause any thoughts to spend the extra money at that time. (This is important for the second part of the story.)

I was HUGE – swollen, looked six months pregnant and remember chugging lemon lime Gatorade like it was my job to prevent hyperstimulation. We had decided to do a fresh transfer with one embryo. Nine days later after our blood work, Laura called me and said well I have good news and bad news. I remember thinking, isn’t there only a yes or no to this situation – boy I was wrong. Who knew there could be an in between pregnancy? Well, my levels were low, and they wanted to see if they would rise. I even remember writing Jenica an email as I followed her journey for some support, and she wrote back to which I was thankful and still have the email!

Lauren Sancton's Unexplained Infertility Story featured by top Infertility Online Community, The Slice of Sun

I went back to the office every two days for the next week. My level kept rising and we thought we were out of the woods – ready to officially ‘be pregnant’ and be excited. Well, my level kept on rising as another week went by, this is now week three of this in between pregnant phase and I was getting really frustrated. If it didn’t work, I wanted it out and if it would work, just tell me already!

Another week went by of tests and finally I met with Dr. McKenzie and said, let’s call this here – what is the issue? She explained I could have an ectopic pregnancy, meaning the embryo is stuck somewhere else in my body and not in the right place, but is still growing. To this, I was really freaked out – how could this happen? They place the embryo in the right spot, and it should just go and stay? This was all a bad dream, or at least that is what I thought. A few days later, I went back to the office and Laura said let’s do your blood work, stay here and then we
will have a talk about where we go from here. I remember sitting there and starting to cry. I am not an emotional person! The thought that I could have been pregnant and now are in this nightmare, how did we get here?

My levels came back in the 3,000s and Laura said it was time to try and get this out with an injection called Methotrexate. This was not a comfortable injection, compared to the other ones! I was instructed to go home and expect a lot of blood. Three days passed and I worked from home, to nothing – no blood, not even a spot. I called the office and told Laura. She told me to come back and Marc and I headed to the office.

At this point, we knew Dr. McKenzie was leaving Houston and moving to Atlanta and we would need to choose another provider at the clinic to be our main physician. I had heard great things about the other doctors but didn’t know who we would go with in the end. Dr. McKenzie performed an ultrasound to see if she could see where the embryo was stuck, and she saw it my right fallopian tube. At this point, she wanted us to move forward with surgery to remove the embryo and potentially the fallopian tube, depending on where the embryo was located.

She then let us know this type of procedure was not her specialty and another doctor in the group, Dr. Katherine McKnight, would be performing the surgery. At that point, I knew if Dr. McKnight was assigned to my surgical case, then I would want her to be my doctor moving forward.

I had my right fallopian tube and embryo removed in early May 2016. During the procedure, Dr. McKnight came out to tell Marc and my parents everything was fine, but she did ask my parents if I ever had any painful periods or heavy bleeding when I was younger, as my uterus was full of scar tissue – endometriosis. I never had any symptoms, tests or anyone even tell me what that was. I had no idea. Dr. McKnight lasered the scar tissue out, so the uterus could be in great shape for a transfer when we were able to do it.

From May 2016 to August 2016, I went back to the clinic every week for blood work. My body REALLY liked being pregnant. It took FOREVER or it felt like forever for my HCG levels to go down to 0. Finally, when my levels got down to 0, Dr. McKnight performed and HSC test, to check my uterus for any polyps or leftover pregnancy particles. And of course, just my luck, she found something in my uterus during the scan. I had surgery in early September 2016 to remove the pregnancy particles from my ectopic and then we were all ready for our FET (frozen
embryo transfer)! I did my shots and we did a transfer in October 2016 with two embryos. Dr. McKnight counseled us to put in two even though for my age, one was recommended. Knowing my history, she felt this was the way to go. On October 26, 2016, I found out I was pregnant! I remember that day so vividly – I was at a meeting at a construction zone, with little to no phone signal, and I saw Houston IVF pop up on my phone. It was Laura and by this point, she knew just
to cut the pleasantries and tell me the news. She told me the good news. I was so happy. I immediately called Marc and told him and then we conferenced my parents and sister and told them. They were my support system during all of this, and it made such a difference living closer to them and being able to see them whenever I needed to. The story doesn’t end here…

I was about five and a half weeks pregnant and I went to the bathroom at work. I remember looking down and seeing blood – it took me a minute to realize what was happening. I immediately flushed the toilet, ran to my office, didn’t tell my team anything and just left. I called Marc and said get to the clinic ASAP. I called Laura and said I was coming – at this point, I thought we had lost the baby or something else was horribly wrong.

The sonographer did a check and the baby’s heartbeat was normal (we had one heartbeat) and apparently bleeding was common with IVF. I was instructed to go home and rest for the day and then I could resume my normal activities. Phew, we made it through that. I had already been through the ringer (or so I thought) and wanted to have a smooth and easy pregnancy.

I was released from Houston IVF when I was eight weeks and went to my OB. Through bleeding at 17 weeks and on bed rest for five weeks to a rough delivery with 104 fever and a complicated c-section, Marc and I welcomed Reese Leigh Sancton to the world on July 8, 2017. She is our greatest gift and we couldn’t love her more.

Lauren Sancton's Unexplained Infertility Story featured by top Infertility Online Community, The Slice of Sun

Lauren Sancton's Unexplained Infertility Story featured by top Infertility Online Community, The Slice of Sun

When Reese was around 1.5-years-old, Marc and I started talking about wanting to expand our family and we knew we had four frozen untested embryos from what we have now termed, the “Reese” batch. We met with Dr. McKnight and decided we would do a transfer with two more embryos. We started shots when we were on vacation in Los Angeles and in May 2019, we did a transfer. I knew I was pregnant three days after – I was moody, my boobs hurt, and I had the line on my stomach like I did when I was pregnant with Reese. I didn’t say anything, but I had a
good feeling. I got a call on a Friday from my nurse, Erin, that I was indeed pregnant and to come back into the office on Sunday for my next blood draw. I got the call on Sunday that my levels didn’t rise, and I needed to come back in on Tuesday and all I could do is sink into a horrible state and cry. Yes, I got to hug Reese, my perfectly healthy and amazing child, but the idea that I was pregnant but that something could be wrong, again, or the worst thought – another ectopic, was horrifying to me. I went in for blood work on Tuesday and my levels
already started to go down; Erin confirmed on the phone that I indeed had a chemical pregnancy.

I decided to take a few days for myself to process and Marc stepped in and helped with Reese and the other responsibilities around the house, which I’m forever grateful. I needed to process what had just happened. We took a few months off due to travel and other commitments and started our shots for our FET with our last two embryos from the Reese batch. We did a transfer in early October 2019 and I went in for my blood test on a Sunday and I didn’t have a good feeling. My feelings were confirmed that we didn’t have success and I knew what this meant – either another egg retrieval and more IVF or we were to explore other options.

Lauren Sancton's Unexplained Infertility Story featured by top Infertility Online Community, The Slice of Sun

Marc and I met with Dr. McKnight the following week and confirmed my AMH levels were still good, almost four years later, and we decided to move forward with another egg retrieval. We also decided to move forward with testing on the embryos as the cost is now significantly cheaper and since we had two failures, felt this was important. With Dr. McKnight’s counsel, we also learned about a medication called Lupron Depot which removes all estrogen from my body, which endometriosis grows on. I would need to take that two months prior to our next
transfer. The medication puts your body into medical menopause and that didn’t sound like fun, but I knew it would increase our chances for a healthy pregnancy, like we had with Reese.

My egg retrieval was right before Thanksgiving in November and they were able to retrieve 21 eggs and we sent 10 embryos for testing and learned seven are normal. We’re excited about that number! Where are we now? We are waiting to see when we can do a transfer in 2020. In my mind, the worst is behind us – the egg retrieval is done and now we are hopeful for a transfer, a pregnancy and a healthy child to add to our family.

For those who are going through this process, you are not alone. I have attended group therapy sessions at my clinic, CCRM Houston, invested in self care in the form of acupuncture around stressful times of this process and confided in my nurses and staff at the clinic. I also confided in friends I met through group therapy (you know who you are!) and friends who had gone through this process prior.

I am a firm believer of everything happens for a reason, and there is a reason G-d chose me for this journey and I am so thankful for it as it led me to meet some of the most amazing people, whom I still keep in touch with today. I wanted to share my story to help those who may be suffering. Know you are part of a larger group of humans who are all working toward a goal – the goal of having a healthy child. No one can take that away from you.

- Lauren Sancton

Instagram: @lfsancton

Lauren Sancton's Unexplained Infertility Story featured by top Infertility Online Community, The Slice of Sun

Lauren Sancton's Unexplained Infertility Story featured by top Infertility Online Community, The Slice of Sun

☀️ CLICK HERE TO BUY THE BEST SOCKS ON THE PLANET TO HELP WOMEN WITH INFERTILITY! A portion of every single sale will go to an incredible woman experiencing infertility. They make the BEST gifts for women experiencing infertility to remind them they are loved OR to wear to your own appointments while working hard to grow your family to remind you that you have this community of women linking arms with you. You are incredible, sister!

CLICK HERE to join our safe, private Facebook group to meet other incredible women who are walking your path. ☀️

To read Elicia Stalker's Stage 4 Endometriosis story, click HERE

1 comment

  • Lauren, thank you for sharing your story. Wow! It gives others encouragement, strength and the power of positive hope!

    FRedda FRiedlander on

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