Melanie & Mark
With the marriage proposal, they made the joint decision that Melanie would go off the birth control pill to finally tackle the dream of having their own child. Unfortunately, as with many other couples, it did not go as easily as they had originally hoped. Five years passed until Melanie became pregnant for the first time in her final ICSI attempt.
Experiences with ICSI: Interview with Melanie & Mark
The interview was conducted by Johanna Kohnen
A childhood love that eventually became a relationship after years of friendship: That was the love-story of Melanie (33) and Mark (34). From the beginning, children were a great desire of their hearts. However, they both wanted to focus on school, training, studies and jobs first.
When they proposed, they also made the joint decision that Melanie would stop taking birth control pills in order to finally tackle the dream of having her own child. Unfortunately, as with many other couples, it didn’t go as easily as they had originally hoped for. Five years passed until Melanie became pregnant for the first time in their last ICSI attempt.
Melanie kindly agreed to share her personal experiences on her way to a fulfilled wish for a child with others who may also wish for children.
When and why did you have the idea to go to a fertility clinic?
“After ending birth control, it quickly became clear that something was wrong with me. I only got my period once after the abortion. After a long time waiting, nothing happened for months. Unfortunately, my gynaecologist at that time didn’t take my worries as seriously as I would have liked. He tried to reassure me that it could take some time after taking the pill for the natural cycle to settle down again. There were no abnormalities on the ultrasound either. But my gut feeling told me that something was wrong.
I decided to change my doctor to get another opinion. The new doctor, much to my delight, dealt with my concerns more intensively and quickly diagnosed me with PCO syndrome. At the same time, my husband was sent to a urologist, where we also received sobering results: The results of the spermiogram were not good: OAT3 (Oligo-Astheno-Teratozoospermia Syndrome with severity grade 3) and thus very poor to no chances of getting pregnant naturally. So we decided to go to a fertility clinic.”
What was your diagnosis and what treatments were carried out?
“My husband was diagnosed with OAT3. In my case, in addition to PCO syndrome (which is accompanied by an increased number of male hormones), I was also found to be missing some KIR genes. My immune system is so highly developed that it defends itself against any foreign body, including an embryo with foreign cells (from my husband) and rejects it. In addition to the ICSI’s that had already taken place 2 times plus 4 cryo attempts, we were advised to take further medication in advance of the third and last attempt. Not only did I take medication for stimulation, but also cortisone, OmegaVen infusions and Granocyte.”
How did you organize the whole thing financially? Did the health insurance cover part of it, did you save or take out a loan?
“Our health insurance covered 50% of the pure ICSI costs. However, we had to pay for the additional medications, such as OmegaVen and Granocyte completely by ourselves. To be able to afford it, we had to spend some of our savings.”
The topic of wanting children is not yet as present for some couples as it is for others. With the optimistic wish of having children together, unfortunately the disappointment when a pregnancy does not happen naturally will happen right away. Despite increased psychological stress, great pressure, anger and disappointment, it is important to stick together as a couple and support each other. In this difficult situation, it can help to include your partner in your emotional world through open communication and to allow help.
Did you involve your social environment (friends, family) and what role did they play during the process? To what extent were you able and willing to be open about the issue?
“At first we didn’t tell anyone about our treatment. For one thing, it was simply uncomfortable for us. Who likes to admit that he/she is not able to conceive a child naturally? Moreover, the topic of wanting a child is still a taboo subject, yes. And although it is wrong to think this way, we also did not let anyone in on the situation at first. We didn’t feel we could tell anyone — which, in retrospect, is just as naive as thinking everything would work out right away.
But as the years go by and things don’t progress, you can’t avoid the typical question, “When is the first baby coming?” You get ignorantly “triggered” by others, get unwanted advice that definitely doesn’t help and end up in a spiral that you can’t easily get out of. “Excuses”, smiling and waving… all this not only gets to you, but it is also annoying. So at some point we explained to the close family. But we received rather less support — neither financially nor emotionally. You could tell that this topic was an unpleasant one for the family.”
What gave you strength?
“Yoga and sports helped me especially during the last attempt. Distraction is the be-all and end-all, but unfortunately also extremely difficult to implement. You should take enough time for yourself, but at the same time don’t leave out the moments as a couple.”
What 3 things would you tell other couples who want to have children?
1) Be patient!
It can be a long road with different challenges and new paths to follow.
2) Questions, questions and more questions!
Just question everything with your doctors. Ask them questions, no matter how “stupid” they may seem. Suggest treatment options and get opinions from different doctors. Sometimes you should also insist on tests, treatments or similar things.
3) Never give up hope. Your miracle is also awaiting for you!
Would you go down this road again, for example for a sibling?
“Since we now know what the problem was and we now hope that it won’t take as long as it did with our first child, we are currently on the way to child 2.0. We have just had a cryotest, which was also positive at first, but unfortunately ended in a miscarriage.”
At Fertilly, we have made it our mission to accompany couples (homosexual and heterosexual) and singles on the way to fulfilling their child wish. In doing so, it is important to us to create transparency in the area of fertility services, to provide information and knowledge on the topics of pregnancy and fertility and to help you to find the most suitable Fertility Center. Through cooperation with first-class Fertility Centres and clinics in Europe, enquiries about Fertilly are given preferential treatment. This means that our patients avoid the usually long waiting times and get appointments more quickly.
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