The heroes of this story went a very long way, which to this day – when they recall past events – evokes difficult emotions. They were treated in three different infertility treatment centres, in each of them undergoing the whole procedure from the beginning. How do they look at their experience in retrospect?
Love, wedding and career
Ola and Jacek knew each other already as children – they were brought up in a small town, went to the same class in the elementary school and in the technical high school. After graduation, they decided to try their hand in a city – where they lived, they had no further prospects to get an education, find employment and develop their potential. With their hard work, they earned a ticket to a better life – they passed exams to a prestigious university in Warsaw. In order to stay in the capital they worked from the very beginning. It was not easy for them, but they persevered with mutual support. During their last term, they left the campus and rented their first apartment – a small one, on the outskirts of the city. They were happy. Immediately after the wedding Jacek began to persuade Ola to have a baby. He believed that was the best time, while they were young and in full strength. Ola, however, approached the issue with much greater scepticism – things had only begun to go well, they both moved up, bounced off the bottom. She dreamed of a large family, but first she wanted to ensure its best possible well-being, to grow professionally, improve her skills. In this area they could not reach an agreement. Always in agreement and inseparable, this time they went through their first major crisis. For a long time they couldn’t reach an agreement; Ola was relentless, and Jacek could not understand her decision. Over time, seeing the obstinacy of her beloved, he let go. He decided to give her time, to not press in such an important matter. At the same time he did not stop dreaming that they would become parents.
The “small stabilisation” lasted for three next years. Three long years… during that time the priorities of the couple began to increasingly differ. Ola changed her job for a better one, attended subsequent courses and training, became increasingly involved in her professional life. A child was out of the question. Jacek waited and became increasingly impatient. Eventually, Ola began to envy her friends from work, who one by one left for maternity leave. More and more often she was left alone on the battlefield in the office, more and more often intrusive questions returned to her – what is it all for, for whom, where you are heading. She began missing something. She told Jacek about that. His joy was indescribable. In fact, they began trying immediately. With great hopes. Indeed – even with the certainty that they would soon be pregnant. But fate turned out to be perverse. Subsequent months of failed attempts were a massive blow for Ola. Jacek – although he did not say it explicitly – blamed her that they hadn’t tried for a baby earlier, that they had lost three years and maybe – forever – the chance of a child. The woman felt guilty. In her heart she knew that her husband might be right.
Next failures and vanishing hope
After two years of unsuccessful efforts they came to the conclusion it’s time for more decisive steps. They began treatment at one of the infertility treatment clinics. Subsequent visits, tests, consultations… Finally, the diagnosis was made – infertility of unknown origin (idiopathic). The treatment did not bring any effects, and doctors began to suggest assisted reproductive techniques.
Ola did not tell anyone about her problems – even the immediate family. She and Jacek decided that they would cope with this problem themselves, and if they succeeded, they would not inform anyone about the details of their treatment process. Having undergone all tests and procedures, they tried intra-uterine insemination – as many as four times. All procedures failed. They decided to try another clinic. This time, the doctor, based on their prior treatment history, suggested the in vitro fertilisation procedure, IVF. They agreed, and tried again – twice. Again, without success. Ola had run out of strength. Another test, another hard decision – all that was exhausting. Also her relationship didn’t manage well. In desperation, she went to her mother. She did not think that the visit would change so much.
Change of the Clinic – a new chance
In tears, she arrived at the doorstep of her old apartment, she could not pretend any longer. She told her mother about her problems, arguments with her husband, about that difficult period they had just gone through. Ola’s mother was a doctor. She acted immediately. She told her daughter the story of one of her patients, who had a baby just thanks to assisted reproductive techniques. Her case was difficult, but after a few years the treatment ended with success. She recommended the INVICTA Clinic. Ola at first was sceptical of that idea – she did not have the strength to start all over again from scratch, change medical centres, treating physicians, think about the treatment. They had been talking the entire night, and in the morning Ola saw the world in a slightly brighter colours – whom she was to trust if not her own mother. She took a chance on it.
After returning home, this time it was she who convinced Jacek to try again. He approached her idea with caution, but he agreed. At that time things did not go well between them, but Ola knew that despite their difficulties they should not give up. The first visit to the clinic was not easy – meeting with the Patient Assistant, the consultation, waiting for test results – that all lasted as many as 3 hours. She registered in December, before Christmas. She wanted to know where she stood. She was surprised by the commitment of the entire staff. Even before the visit she was requested to submit all the documentation and treatment history from previous clinics. The doctor wanted to get acquainted with their history before the meeting. The visit itself was also a pleasant surprise to Ola – the doctor discussed step by step, in detail all the factors that could impact the lack of treatment success in the past. He also ordered some additional diagnostic tests, which – as it turned out – were not among those previously performed. Ola was filled with a new hope. The doctor said that he would consult her case with a team of specialists, including embryologists and endocrinologist, and then they would jointly propose changes to the treatment process, which would increase the chances of success.
Success of the treatment
Ola waited impatiently for the next visit – and she was not disappointed. The doctor discussed in detail the next steps, treatment plan and possible scenarios. He also informed her what the chances of success were. Moreover, he said frankly what the risks were and what could go differently than they planned. Ola began the procedure – subsequent visits, medications, tests. Ola knew them very well from previous cycles. The doctors at the clinic suggested, however, to introduce changes to the procedure, including the detailed assessment and selection of sperm for fertilisation. After numerous talks about her treatment, she realised how much depends on the quality of work of the embryological laboratory. Also, the hormonal stimulation procedure changed- based on AMH levels and other hormonal test results, the doctors developed the individual protocol tailored for Ola’s needs. Her reaction to medications was monitored regularly. In January the embryo transfer to the uterus was performed. Only 1.5 month passed from Ola’s first visit to the Clinic. The doctors decided that they would apply the ICSI technique, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection. 19 so-called cumuli were collected from the patient – that is oocytes surrounded by granulosa cells from which 11 mature MII stage cells (mature oocytes capable of fertilisation) were obtained. From the obtained 10 fertilised eggs, during the embryo culture up to Day 5, 4 blastocysts developed. On Day 5 the transfer was carried out, during which one of the 4 obtained blastocysts was given to the uterus:
It turned out that Ola could still leave 3 blastocysts with good morphology in deposit if they decided to have more children in the future.
After the transfer report for further verifications. She went for tests and consultations thinking that the procedure would have to be repeated. She was prepared for it. To her surprise, the results of the first two verifications were positive. The third and final result was of key importance. It was February, the middle of winter. Ola decided that she would go for the last verification with his mother – the person thanks to whom she decided to fight. When she had left the office, there was no end to her joy – she was pregnant. She could not believe it.
When she was returning home, she wondered how to improve the relationship with Jacek, and tell him about the pregnancy, her joy and dilemmas. But she knew that this was going to be an unusual conversation, and that their life would never be the same as before…