By Diana Farrell
Many women intimately know the emotional, physical, and financial struggle of trying to conceive over 40. Life can speed by in one’s 30’s, and a woman can suddenly find herself at the down slope of her fertility at the time when she most wants to give birth to a child. Existing medical complications only exacerbate the situation. The journey is not always a bowl of cherries. While it’s important to arm yourself with information about the challenges ahead, reading these IVF success stories are reminders that it is possible to become a mom over 40. These women are living proof that IVF can help them achieve their dreams of parenthood and provide a happy ending to their challenging journey.
Pregnant despite the odds
Amy was 40 when she and her husband attempted to get pregnant for the very first time. Although her financial situation wasn’t ideal for starting a family, she realized that time was fast running out. After six months of trying to conceive naturally without success, Amy finally sought the help of a fertility clinic, who wasted no time performing an ultrasound. Her heart sank when she saw her doctor shake his head; it turns out that she had very small ovaries with a low antral follicle count. Tests also revealed that her anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels were at a low 0.05, which suggested that her remaining egg supplies were running thin. The odds were clearly stacked against Amy.
The doctor said she was approaching menopause and that the chances of getting pregnant with IVF were very low. In fact, he suspected that she would not be able to produce enough viable eggs. But Amy was determined to give it a go. Her cycle started right away; the doctor felt that waiting a few months longer would reduce her chances even further.
Amy knew that IVF alone wasn’t going to be enough. After doing her research on the Internet, Amy gave up her morning cup of coffee and started taking acupuncture treatments with DHEA supplements. Although she knew that these treatments are most effective when done four months before the cycle began, she couldn’t afford to wait too long. All she could do at this point was see her acupuncturist twice a week, eat a healthy diet filled with green vegetables and omega-3 fats, and wait for the cycle to start. Throughout the ovarian stimulation phase, she kept up the treatment and was relieved to discover that her fertility drug side effects seemed mild relative to her expectations.
The doctor was able to retrieve five eggs. After culturing the embryos until the blastocyst stage, Amy was disappointed to learn that only three survived that long. Fearing the worst, Amy decided to have all the embryos transferred.
The two-week wait was a nerve-wracking affair, and she tried to take her mind off it by burying herself in work. Exactly 14 days after the embryo transfer, Amy took a pregnancy test and nearly collapsed when she saw two pink lines emerge out of the white space. She called the doctor right away to tell him the good news. Although he congratulated her, he told her to wait seven weeks before making an appointment. Amy spent the next three weeks wondering if perhaps it was just a false positive, and fearing that she might miscarry before the date of her appointment came around.
Finally, Amy couldn’t wait any longer and went to see a different doctor after the fourth week. She expected the same lukewarm response, but he congratulated her for beating the odds and requested for an ultrasound. Amy feared that this doctor would end up shaking his head too but instead, he said, “Wow, your cycle went very well. Here is the embryo. And then here is another one.” Amy gave birth to twins at age 41.
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