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Sara Towne's Ectopic Pregnancy and Infertility Journey

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Read Sara's Story here:

______________________

I have dreamed of being a Mommy my whole life. When asked in school what I wanted to be when I grew up, that was always my answer. 

I met my husband Nate in 2008, and we were married in 2011. I was turning 30 the next year, so we decided we’d take a year to be newlyweds and after my 30th birthday I would go off birth control. And we very naively thought it would be as easy as that. I went off birth control in April of 2012. I noticed pretty soon after that my cycle was irregular. I had started birth control in college because my cycle was funky, but never had any testing to figure out why. The birth control regulated it and that was enough. So I called my doctor and she had me come in for some testing. Nothing in particular showed up, but a few things were off enough that she thought I may have PCOS. Not knowing anything about that, we were a bit overwhelmed. But my doctor was (and still is) great, and helped us better understand what we were up against.

We started Clomid in May of 2012, and the first 2 cycles did not work. In August of 2012, after our third cycle, we found out we were pregnant! We were shocked! We did not tell anyone as we wanted to wait for our first appointment at 8 weeks. About a week before our appointment, I had some very strong cramps and started bleeding. A friend of ours had a miscarriage the year before, and I just assumed thats what was happening. The bleeding had stopped so my doctor told me to keep an eye on it and come in the next day. I went in and they had to send me upstairs for an ultrasound. The tech looked and didn’t see anything (which made sense assuming I had a miscarriage), but then she stopped. And that’s when she called in the head of the department. They showed me a heartbeat in the middle of my right fallopian tube. They explained to me what an ectopic pregnancy was, and what needed to happen. Since I was so far along (7 weeks), surgery was the best option. My doctor was great in explaining everything and comforting me. I walked outside and called my parents (who didn’t even know I was pregnant), and then walked into the hospital next door and a short time later, I had surgery to remove the pregnancy. The first thing I said when I woke up was “Do I still have my tube?”. And I did.

After I recovered we started Clomid again. After a few months of no success, my doctor recommended we go to a Fertility Clinic where we could get more help. We did all of the testing and analysis, and our official diagnosis was “unexplained infertility”. Our fertility doctor (who is also amazing), recommended we start with IUI. We did three cycles of that, and through it all, the silver lining was how close it brought my husband and I. We would high-five in the office when the doctor told us how high his count was. We cried together at Disney World (DISNEY WORLD!) when I got my period after our second IUI. I had to call my husband on a Sunday night while he was in New York on a work trip so he could fly home a day early for our third IUI. 

After those three cycles, and no success, our doctor recommended IVF. We told our families in March of 2014, which marked 2 years of trying. That May we took the class our clinic requires to learn about the IVF process (which was fascinating). We were very lucky that a friend of ours worked at our clinic and became our nurse. That was such a comfort through it all. And on June 15, 2014 we officially started our first IVF cycle.

On June 29, 2014 I gave myself my first Lupron shot. That was a weird experience. Our clinic was great at laying out a plan and giving you one step at a time to help you from feeling overwhelmed. With all the medications and timing, etc that was a big help.

We had my retrieval on July 23, 2014. We knew from the start (based on my hormones and levels) that I was at risk for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). So I was closely monitored. On retrieval day, they got 42 eggs from me. Yikes.

The days following retrieval were spent recovering and calling the office to see how many of my eggs had turned into embryos and continued to develop. Of my 42 eggs, 37 were mature and 29 fertilized. 17 of those 29 were the best quality so that was great news. I had a lot of swelling afterwards, and on our planned transfer day of July 28, 2014 (Day 5!), my doctor examined me and confirmed that I had developed OHSS.  By that day we were left with 8 embryos. We had paid to have our embryos PGS tested to help reduce our miscarriage risk, and our doctor advised us that as long as we had more than 1 that passed testing, she wanted to wait and freeze them and do the transfer later. That would give my body time to recover, and if we did the transfer without giving me that time, she was confident I would end up in the hospital due to my OHSS. We had to wait in the exam room while the testing happened, and I was so miserable from my symptoms that I looked at my husband and said “If this doesn’t work, I don’t think I can do this part (retrieval) again”. All I ever wanted was to be a mommy but that had just pushed me to the edge. That was a low point for sure. We ended up with 4 healthy embryos after testing, so we decided to wait on the transfer.

 We took a break for August, and I started up Lupron shots again on September 3, 2014. On September 26th we started Progesterone shots, and that was a whole new ballgame. Those needles were no joke, but my husband was a trooper for sure. And on October 1, 2014, we transferred 2 embryos. The Progesterone shots continued, and keeping those consistent was a fun challenge. We had to do them in bathrooms at bars, galas, friends weddings. And in the car at a rest stop, or in our kitchen. And since my husband travels sometimes we even had to call in a friend to do them a few times (and that was a neat experience - I def recommend having a stand-by if you think you might need it).

 The two week wait was torture, but we made it. On October 13, 2014 I went in to the doctor for my blood test. We both went off to work and when I got the call that the results were in our voicemail box, we raced home to listen together. That was a nerve-wracking moment, but we were overjoyed to found out that we were pregnant!! We had two follow up blood tests (both showed that the pregnancy was moving along). My first ultrasound was scheduled for October 30th.

 On Tuesday, October 21st, I was at work and started spotting. I immediately thought the worst. Our nurse (and friend) scheduled us for an ultrasound the next day. We were excited when we saw one little embryo right where it should be. And then shocked to see the other had implanted as an ectopic pregnancy in the same tube as the last time. We discovered that this is called a heterotopic pregnancy and its pretty rare. I was scheduled for surgery the next day. With my first surgery I was terrified about losing my tube. This time I was worried for my healthy pregnancy and the plan was to remove my tube (I figured we were doing IVF so the tube isn’t as important anyways). I was 5-weeks pregnant and the first thing I said when I woke up from surgery this time was “is my baby ok??”. And it was.

 From then we continued our planned course of treatment, with a 6-week ultrasound (all was good!) and then graduating from the Fertility Clinic at 8-weeks. We were thrilled with our success but it was a little scary to be back as a “regular” patient.

 All was moving along fine, until my 20-week ultrasound (ps - its a BOY!!), when they discovered I had Placenta Previa AND Vesa Previa. My doctor told me not to google either (especially the second one), and they would monitor me every two weeks, and limit how far I could travel. We also planned to schedule a C-section for a safe delivery. My Placenta Previa resolved itself pretty quickly. At the last check-up (36 weeks) on my Vesa Previa before we were going to schedule my C-section the tech was surprised to see that it had moved. They had assured me it wouldn’t, and even called in 4 more people (including my doctor and the head radiologist) to confirm it. We had another ultrasound soon after to triple confirm that it was out of the way, and the plans for a C-section were cancelled. That sent me into a bit of a panic as I had totally skipped the “how to birth a baby” classes. But we moved ahead towards my due date of June 19th. On my due date I woke up with some mild contractions, but went to work. By lunch I went to meet my husband thinking this may be it. Late afternoon my water broke and we headed to the hospital. We checked in around 6:30pm on Friday night. A mere 28-hours later, our son Emmett was born on June 20, 2015 (a few hours before Father’s Day!). My labor was long and tiring, but after all we had been through it was worth it. Moments before he was finally out, the doctor (not mine bc she was on vacation) yelled “Meconium”. That sent into motion a team of people. Unfortunately our sweet boy had aspirated it, so he was quickly whisked up to the NICU. After 8 days in the incredible NICU with the best nurses and doctors, and some more challenges, we got to go home with our boy! It was a feeling like no other.

 

We had two embryos still frozen from our IVF cycle that we planned to use for a second transfer when we were ready for another child. We started talking about it in the Fall of 2016 and decided we would wait until the next Spring after a trip we had planned to New Zealand. My cycle had returned after our son was born, but it was 60 days long. My doctor ran tests but my long cycles seemed to be because of my missing tube. No more thought was put into it for now. And much to our surprise in January 2017, I found out I was pregnant. No IVF, no meds, no nothing. We didn’t even know that was possible. So I went to New Zealand 8-weeks pregnant.

 Our baby girl Ainsley was born on September 13, 2017. We still have our two frozen embryos, and are keeping them stored for now. We are unsure what the future will hold, but at the moment we are enjoying our 4 year old boy and 2 year old girl. Our fertility journey was long, and had LOTS of ups (and more downs), and I honestly didn’t know if we would ever be where we are now. But having friends who had gone down this road before us helped a ton. It gave us hope. And I hope our story can do that for others.

IG: STOWNE82

FB: Sara Towne

☀️ 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 about Allison Tatom's IUI and IVF story, click HERE

 

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