I came to Atlanta, GA directly from Puerto Rico to work in 2013, and fell in love with the city and a co-worker (who was also from Puerto Rico) and never looked back. Jorge and I always knew we wanted children, we were ready, and we never avoided pregnancy in our almost eight years together. After one year of actively trying, I knew something was wrong. I was so uneducated, the first thing I did was a web search for an “infertility doctor” I did not even know what a Reproductive Endocrinologist was. My new Obgyn suspected endometriosis and PCOS. And I had a cyst, he kept suggesting that I should have laparoscopic surgery. I was reluctant, I had never had surgery in my life, and I did not want to take time off from work. After many medicated failed cycles, I had the surgery and I healed wonderfully and fast.

During the recovery period, I fell pregnant and we found out I was pregnant in Japan! It was our much-awaited dream trip, and I had only taken one pregnancy test with me. After being one day late and having nausea from a glass of champagne, I decided to test to see the faintest line! We learned how to say pregnancy test in Japanese ( “ninshin kensa yaku”) and bought three tests and they were all blazing positive. When we arrived in Atlanta, unfortunately, we heard the words “empty sack ” I was so confused and heartbroken, this was my first miscarriage. I fell on the biggest depression of my life. Miscarriages and IVF are not openly talked about in my culture. I struggled hard. We proceeded with two IUIs, which failed, and the cycle right after, I got pregnant again the conventional way, but sadly miscarried again on my birthday. At this point, I was two steps ahead. During my IUIs, I had decided it was time for IVF and I visited all the clinics in my area.

I attended all the free seminars and got free consults this way to meet with the different clinics and doctors. Even when I found out I was pregnant I kept my appointment, and go with my consult as normal and would see how the pregnancy would progress. And we had a plan B, IVF. During this process we were selling our house, downsizing, and thinking how we would afford IVF. We looked for employers who had IVF coverage and I started to apply. During my research, turned out my husband’s new employer had insurance, so I finally transferred to his policy. After all the prior treatments we had been paying in cash, just because we did not ask or research, I learned a huge lesson on the importance of research. We are very fortunate to have done three, almost four egg retrieval cycles. From our past three cycles, we were able to get 6 PGS normal embryos. We did transfers, ERA tests, and even changed clinics and RE’s within a clinic when we felt we needed to. Our first frozen transfer did not implant, during the ERA I had to fiercely advocate for, I found I was pre-receptive.

For our second transfer it ended in an emergency fresh transfer of two-day 3embryos, and well it also failed. The third transfer was the most magical, even though it was in June, in the midst of the pandemic, and my husband was not allowed with me in the appointments. However, everything went perfect, our betas, the tests, until the fifth-week mark, when I started spotting. The ultrasound tech said she couldn’t locate a sac (even though it was too soon), and I had to face that alone since my husband was not allowed in with me. I don’t understand this, how is it that we have nail salons and other places opened, but the father of my child can’t be with me for an ultrasound? I cried my heart out, I kept yelling “not again” and then it was just a blur. I was told to stop medications, again. Something inside me said, do a second ultrasound, so we did the next day, and the sac was located, the sky fell for me, but I resumed my medications immediately. Three days later I started bleeding, and passed a huge clot, I thought it was over. They told me to stop medications one more time and to come in the next day for a scan. Not only the sac had grown but there was a yolk sac. Again, I regretted I had stopped medications for a second time. Unfortunately at our 6-week appointment, there was no growth and only the yolk sac. It took a while to recover from that, even though it was my third miscarriage, it was the one I was most hopeful about.

How could have it failed? It was a perfect, day 5, perfect graded and genetically normal embryo with an ERA protocol. So I put my broken pieces back together in around Thanksgiving we had our fourth transfer, with a much more aggressive protocol, with a very similar graded and tested embryo. When beta arrived, it was 6.5, pregnant, but not pregnant. I decided that I wanted to be a mom, still, but I could not bear another transfer in the immediate time. I looked into reproductive immunology, going through a gastric sleeve procedure in hopes to help my inflammation, and take a break. I rely heavily on my Instagram tribe, and podcast community. I was editing an episode of an interview we had done, from Infertilidad Latina, with a friend of ours who went through surrogacy. And I cried for hours because I knew, that would be my path, and I did not want to delay it anymore.

To my surprise, my husband was more ready for that path than I was. It’s sort of ironic that my Instagram handle is @travelingtobaby (Traveling To Baby). Mostly because, when I found out about my first two pregnancies I was traveling, first in Kyoto, Japan, and the second one in Austin, Texas. However, we are now traveling to Ukraine, due after extensive research of their laws, programs, surrogate care, and friend’s personal experience. We are hopefully traveling to our baby.

IUI, IVF, and Surrogacy can not always guarantee a baby, and rainbow endings come in many different ways. As long as you are willing and able to keep going, keep fighting if it’s what you want. Considering other routes for parenthood, or deciding on living without children, is also a perfect and beautiful decision. To which I also want to reemphasize that no matter what, you are brave even if you don’t want to be and you are not alone. I have taken time to heal and re-strategize in between each of my journeys and I will always be grateful for that approach.

I am very excited and hopeful once again about what our surrogacy journey may bring us. My advice is to anyone going through this journey to parenthood is to take care of yourself, ” You can’t pour from an empty cup.” The journey to parenthood is a bumpy, or bumpless one, but I am certain there is a beautiful rainbow at the destination, one worth traveling to.

Audrey
GA