Laura Mendenhall's Infertility Journey

Jan 20, 2022

"I am here to share my personal infertility story. It was 10 years of trial and error. It has a happy ending so bear with me.

My husband Grant and I were married in August 2005. We were both young: I was 20 and he was 23. We were both in school and felt like life had so much to offer and it was all in our grasp.  

We decided to wait a couple of years so I could get through my elementary education degree. In October 2007, towards the end of my program, I went off birth control and bam I was pregnant two months later. My mom struggled to get pregnant so I felt a huge sense of relief that I was in the clear. I was in the middle of student teaching and my pregnancy went as well as could be. I was a little nauseous but overall felt pretty good.  

In January 2008, my mom and Grant met me at the OB for our 20-week ultrasound. We were so excited to see if we were having a boy or a girl.  The ultrasound tech looked around for a few minutes and I could see her getting pretty serious. She stopped and said there are some things I am concerned about and I need to have the doctor look at them. My heart stopped. I had never had an ultrasound before and would soon discover that this is the sign that things are BAD. 

The doctor came in a little bit later and said they have some hard news.  They told us our baby has some major brain and heart problems and they need to find out more from specialists.  We made an appointment for the next day to meet with them. 

The technician took a lot of pictures and took a long time looking at everything in detail. The specialist came in and explained that our baby boy had holoprosencephaly, hydrops, and spina bifida to name a few issues. His chances of making it full term or a few hours at birth were very slim, maybe 1%. So much information. My doctor was very caring and helpful. We decided to do an amniocentesis to check for genetic problems. At the time I was in the middle of student teaching to become an elementary teacher. My son, William, lived 8 more weeks before I delivered him sleeping. They did genetic testing, which came back normal, so it was determined that this was just a fluke situation.

 

We continued to try to start our family…I had a miscarriage about 6 months later. A few months after that we were pregnant again.

We were so excited but very nervous. I had more frequent checks to make sure everything was going well. At our 20-week gender ultrasound, the baby had no heartbeat. We needed some answers at this point.  They did more genetic testing and found that my husband has a rare genetic condition called a balanced translocation. This is where two chromosomes have pieces that have broken off and switched places.  They also told us that we could do IVF and have embryos tested before implanting them. It was such a relief to know there was a possibility. However, then they told us it would cost around $25,000. Insurance would not cover anything. I was teaching elementary school and my husband was working at a startup so there was no way we could come up with the funds unless we went into some serious debt. 

After talking to many friends and family we found a grant that would help cover our costs. The application process was similar to adoption with a home study. We took a year to regroup and get the application finished. We were chosen for the grant and were so excited to get started on this new journey.  

In our first round of IVF I found out I have PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome), which means that my body creates too many eggs at one time so it is hard to get a large number of good quality eggs that can then go on to become a healthy embryo. 

They had to cancel the IVF twice because my ovaries were too big and were at risk to make me very sick. Hyperstimulation. 

The 3rd cycle worked. We were so excited, but very afraid again. A new problem developed and after two weeks on bedrest I delivered the baby way too early and she passed away. 

We were exhausted and devastated at this point. 

We looked into adoption for a couple of years, but nothing worked out, we had a few scam calls and the price was almost double what IVF was. 

 

After some dark times, I decided we needed to go see another doctor and give it one more try. We had gotten so far and I knew we just needed to get all the problems figured out. 

Miraculously everything worked and we had a healthy baby girl in August of 2016.

Two years later we tried without IVF. We lost the baby again and we discovered that it was found to have the same genetic problem.

We really wanted a sibling for my daughter so we tried IVF again and found out we were pregnant with twins.  They were born in August of 2019.  

 

 

With the help of so many people, we are able to have these beautiful children in our home. It was a long road with so many decisions and uncomfortable situations. 

If you know someone struggling with infertility it is hard to know what to say and do for them. I think the best thing people did for us was to be there to listen and be interested in our journey. I joined the Hope for Fertility Foundation so that I could help other couples that were going through similar experiences."

 

4 stillborns

5 IVF cycles

10 years

 

Connect with Laura on Instagram here: @laura.mendenhall

Whether you're in the beginning, middle, or "end" of your infertility experience, we would love to share your story with this incredible community. Please email us at [email protected]!

 

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