Welcome to my first post for CooperGenomics.  I am so honored to be asked to be a monthly contributor as an advocate for infertility awareness and support.  My name is Elena and I blog at Baby Ridley Bump, a blog I started in 2012, as a way to document our journey through pregnancy and parenthood.  Oh, how naïve I was!  Little did I know that 3 years after starting my blog, I’d be childless and still working on the whole “getting pregnant” part of the story.

My husband and I were married in September of 2011 and started trying right away.  We tried for 2 years before we were finally referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. We’ve done 1 intrauterine insemination (IUI) with Clomid, 1 IUI with injectables resulting in a pregnancy resulting in an early miscarriage at 4 weeks (2 positive Beta’s), and 3 failed in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles (1 fresh, 2 frozen).  After all of this, we decided in December of 2014 that we needed a break, and a second opinion.  We are now with a new doctor and just starting our 4th, and hopefully last, fresh IVF cycle.  So, there’s my story in a nutshell. Probably similar to so many of you, I understand the heartbreak and can certainly relate when it comes to the overwhelming feeling that can accompany infertility treatment.

Our bodies are basically designed for one thing, reproduction.  We were created to reproduce and our bodies have a very complex and precise way of doing that.  Genetics is one of the most crucial parts of reproduction and can determine IVF failure or success.  If you’ve got a chromosomally or genetically abnormal embryo, chances are, it’s not going to implant.  If you and your partner carry the same disease, then you know that there is a chance that your children could be affected by that same disease. Having the ability to get yourself tested or get your embryos tested is something that is on the rise and can help to avoid cycle after cycle of financial, physical, and emotional heartache.

Since I had miscarried after my 2nd IUI, we were offered genetic carrier screening before our IVF cycle to determine if either my husband or I carried some kind of genetic mutation that could have caused issues.  We found out through the testing (done via blood draw) that I am a carrier of Cystic Fibrosis and my husband doesn’t carry any known genetic mutations.  After 3 failed IVF cycles, I was also interested in the genetic testing of my embryos, called preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) testing, to determine if they were chromosomally normal.  My new doctor believes that our genetic testing results indicate that neither PGD or PGS testing are necessary for us at this time. However, knowing that the technology is out there is truly an amazing thing.  I have no doubt it could give anyone the peace of mind that is so rarely found in infertility treatment.

To me, this testing is invaluable, because although it can be very expensive, it can save you from doing multiple cycles of IVF over and over.  Finding the answer to the problem is the first step in treatment, and a big part of why we switched to a doctor who was determined to find out why we weren’t getting pregnant before just jumping in and starting yet another cycle.  Although this testing may not be recommended to everyone, I strongly believe it should be a mandatory part of IVF.  Why are we taking the chance of putting something that is genetically abnormal into our bodies if we can almost guarantee that it isn’t going to implant or if it did, end up in miscarriage?  It is something I hope to see become more affordable along with infertility treatment, and become more common.

If you’re new to the world of infertility, this may sound confusing and overwhelming, but trust me when I say that you will become an expert on all of this.  You have to be your own advocate.  Do the research, ask the questions, question your doctor if you don’t agree with him, get explanations as to why they are choosing to do something if you don’t quite understand.  If you’re a veteran like I am, and unfortunately so many others, then you know that this is hardly scratching the surface of the options that are out there.  Whatever the case may be, do your research, find your support, and never give up on your dreams.

Elena Ridley

My name is Elena, author of Baby Ridley Bump. My husband and I got married in 2011 and have been trying to start a family ever since. We had no idea that we would be dealt the card of infertility but have decided to become advocates for infertility awareness and are sharing our story and pursuing every avenue we can to make our miracle.