A note from the editor, previously published on AlexandriaStylebook.com:
Last week, Britt shared the first part of her journey to motherhood with us. Today, she opens up about the importance of self-advocacy, trusting yourself, and her happy ending.
After walking out of Shady Grove and never looking back, I spent the next two months talking to all kinds of fertility experts and reading any information regarding recurrent miscarriage and reproductive immunology (the study of the interactions between the immune system and the reproductive system.) We spoke to doctors in North Carolina, New York, and Michigan. Some believed in the correlation, but one did not and told us the solution was to keep doing exactly what we'd been doing (isn't that the definition of insanity?!).
Research, the results from Indigo Health Clinic, and my gut said to find a reproductive immunology doctor, which is how we ended up at Columbia Fertility with Dr. Rafat Abbasi. Walking into Columbia Fertility, I immediately felt like a human, not a number. The practice itself is not some expensive new display item, but within two visits, the staff and nurses knew my name, and they were responding to emails directly!
Dr. Abbasi's first step was to run the full immunology testing. She then performed a different endometriosis test called Receptiva (remember, Shady Grove's test determined I did not have endometriosis). The results of this new test determined that I did, in fact, have endometriosis; my natural killer cells were elevated, my cytokines were elevated, and I had a high potential risk of blood clotting. All of these play a role in inflammation, attachment in implantation, and the body's ability to absorb or block a women's antibodies. Studies have shown that these diagnoses support recurrent pregnancy loss.
With this information, Dr. Abbasi drew up a new plan for us. The first step involved treating my endometriosis via a laparoscopy, followed by three months of a drug called Orilissa. After resolving my endometriosis, we turned to a new transfer protocol which involved baby aspirin, IVIG infusions/therapy to suppress the immune system, Neupogen to boost white blood cells, 30 mg of Prednisone, Lovenox for blood clotting, progesterone, estrogen, calcium, and magnesium.
On November 3, 2021, we started the transfer protocol. This protocol involved IVIG infusions given via a drip into the vein every three weeks, two Lovenox shots a day in the stomach, one Neupogen shot a day - also in the stomach, daily progesterone via oil injections, oral aspirin, estrogen, calcium, prednisone, and magnesium.
We transferred our baby girl at noon on November 30, 2021. Aside from my crazy nerves that we were miscarrying every five hours, the process went beautifully. We tested my estrogen, progesterone, natural killer cells, cytokines, and HCG levels every two to four days.
On December 28, we had a beautiful sonogram. On January 5, we had a baby measuring seven weeks and four days, with a heartbeat of 171. On January 13, we saw the baby move during a sonogram, and we thought our hearts would explode. On January 19, we had a heartbeat of 173 and a baby measuring nine weeks and five days. Finally, on January 27 - the day we began to feel like this was actually happening - we had a baby measuring 11 weeks and one day, with a heartbeat of 170.
Over 35 days beginning in February, we started weaning off most of the medications. We continued with IVIF infusions and immunology monitoring through April. And on April 4, 2022, we had a perfect 20-week scan.
I sit here on Thursday night writing this and knowing that in exactly seven days, we'll have a baby girl of our own. I owe all of this to Dr. Hillary Elins, Dr. Jenna Hong, Dr. Rafat Abbasi, and myself - for learning to trust my gut. The amount of crazy these incredible doctors have put up with from me is indescribable. Dr. Abbasi is a trailblazer in reproductive immunology. I urge anyone going through IVF or infertility treatment to trust your gut, advocate for yourself, and find a place where you feel like a person, not a patient.