Pretty early in our relationship, we started talking about children and how fantastic it would be to have a family together. So once we decided that “now is the time", we thought that within a year we will have our first child. This was what we counted on: we bought a house, we did everything to prepare ourselves, and so much more. But there were no positive tests. When finally sought help in Sweden, we received answers that we need to proceed with IVF because of the male factor. But we also heard from the very beginning that “everything looks good, you are young (we were 24 and 25 years back then), it will go well for you.” We were, probably, a little naive and thought that here it is, now we get help, now we will succeed.
I remember the first embryo transfer so well: on the screen, it looked like a little star flying into my womb. When I left the clinic, I was thinking: “Wow, now we're pregnant.”
We got our first plus on the test, but luck was very short. I started bleeding early. But it still made us so happy: we had got a positive test, which means the next time it will work!
We were wrong. We did a transfer after transfer, and each time the doctors were saying it's just bad luck, keep trying, everything looks good, that's the golden egg that we need to find. We had 3 egg collections in Sweden and 10 transfers. As a result, we got a plus on the test twice, but it ended in early miscarriage. Finally, we felt that now is the time to try something else. So we went to Copenhagen where we did an IVF-experiment with donated sperm, had an egg collection and then 3 transfers. The first transfer was a plus, but all the same story again: we started bleeding early and it became an early miscarriage. The doctor said the same thing about it being just bad luck; that there's nothing we can do but keep trying.
But we felt within us that no, now it will be enough. There must be something else to do.
This is when we got in touch with the O.L.G.A. Clinic and went to a seminar in Gothenburg in March 2019. It was already there when we felt that we gained tremendous confidence and we were actually seen, even though we sat there among many other patients with the same dream. Shortly thereafter, we had our first Skype meeting with Dr. Alena. I had emailed her our details and some of our own thoughts on tests. For the first time, I felt someone listening to us, understanding our longing for a baby and showing great respect to us at the same time. She did not just wave away what I had to say as so many other doctors we had met did before. We finally got our hopes up again! Henrik and I decided we would make our last attempts there, at O.L.G.A. Clinic. If they can't help us, then nobody can.
During the treatment process, we were so cared for, and we have never felt so safe. Dr. Alena laid out a plan, and we had great help from our coordinator. Everyone who was around us at that time was so helpful.
In July, for the first time, we went to the clinic for egg collection and hysteroscopy.
After that, we had a little break, and for the first time since we started with IVF in summer 2017, it was actually a long-awaited and restful vacation. For the first time, we could relax because we felt safe in their hands. We have always felt that we have to fight ourselves, that it was us who had to pull all the threads and control everything. Now we could release it and trust that they did everything to make us pregnant. Instead, now we could take care of ourselves.
In September we did an ERA test here in Sweden where we got told that I was post-receptive. It meant that I had to have a transfer 12 hours earlier than we did.
I remember being disappointed with the result: how can 12 hours make a difference?
As the time for us to go back was approaching, I was starting to get really nervous. How will it go this time? Will we be able to cope with another negative attempt? What if we won’t? There were so many thoughts, and we were wondering if we should hop on a plane to Thailand instead of to St. Petersburg.
A little bit like on autopilot, we got on the plane and then we were back on track. As soon as we got to the clinic, our calm returned: it was such a caring feeling that all the clinic’s staff was radiating.
We have picked up a top-quality blastocyst, which we have done so many times before in both Sweden and Denmark. Several times we have even transferred two blastocysts at the same time.
The feelings were, again, very mixed and somewhat terrifying. But we got such nice support all the time, and the days went by.
I think I have never had as much anxiety as I had the day we were going to do the test. But that was the nicest and strongest plus we have ever seen. We were so shocked and actually thought that this is too good to be true. When we were doing our first ultrasound, that anxiety was back, and I clearly remember how I thought: “Is it now where I hold my breath and finally see? The screen will just be a blank, not an image of a tiny heart beating”.
But... we got to see not only one heartbeat but TWO.
That happiness, gratitude, and humility knows no bounds. We are very grateful that Dr. Alena and O.L.G.A. team continued to believe in us when we were not able to anymore. We are so happy that we are currently in week 26 with two little girls tossing, and turning, and kicking my belly from inside.
18 July 2020
O.L.G.A. Clinic succeeded on the very first try with what no one else was able to do before. It took us 2 years and 14 transfers to get where we are today. Now we can finally start decorating the children’s’ room in our house.
It's so hard to say what exactly was going on this time. However, we are absolutely sure in one thing: it was not an accident. It was Dr. Alena and her team that made this possible. It is they we will always be eternally grateful for, as they have given us the most amazing thing we could ever get in life.
Now everything feels so obvious, it was precisely these two girls we have always dreamed about and fought for!
Dr. Alena comments:
"I remember our first meeting with Gabriella very well. She almost lost her hope and trust in her chances to become a mother with own egg IVF in the future.
I tried to find the the facts in Gabriella's and Henrik's long IVF hisory that might help me to see the way to a success. Like it often happens there was not just one several factors that might play a role...
So, the plan was created and we began to go gradually, step-by-step through: carfeful embryo creating and freezing process in the laboratory, attentive hysteroscopy with a proper treatment of the problems that was found, ERA -test to indentify a shift of "implanation window" (that I suspected already when analyzng the medical history firt time), careful frozen embryo transfer within the individually designed treatment protocol."
Gabriella, Instagram: @gabriellabelin
Today is a year since we sat there in St. Petersburg.
I had a heavy lump in my stomach that morning & the anxiety hung over me like a big dark cloud. "Can we really make another attempt?" "Can we make another failed attempt?" “Or maybe even worse. "Can we handle another miscarriage?"
But think, how much can happen in 12 months. We got pregnant, I became an aunt again, a pandemic hit the whole world, but maybe the biggest (for us) - we became someone's (someone's!) Parents, I really never thought so.
It feels like yesterday we sat there that morning with a tearing feeling all over our bodies. We would make our fourteenth IVF attempt. I remember thinking "Why did we not go to Thailand instead, it would have been much more wonderful to come home with a good sunburn" There I sat instead and watched trips & dreamed away to a white beach. I did not think about whether we would succeed this time, did not even dare to touch that thought anymore.
Guess we were still living on hope, we were hoping way too much to stop trying, while faith was far away. We probably already started to lose it after the 4th, 5th attempt maybe. It was definitely gone after our third miscarriage anyway. Because there is a difference between faith & hope. Hope we always did, but faith we did not have anymore.
Although I can still touch the emotions, I still have such a hard time absorbing everything in recent years. How it became our everyday life, how we lived with a great sadness, powerlessness & a huge longing, which eventually became a painful one. At the risk of sounding too dramatic, it sometimes felt like we were stuck without living.
We constantly sent out several lifeboats to all different directions on the edges just to hope that it would go ashore somewhere. In the end, they did, in St. Petersburg.
But it was only after many attempts in Sweden, some in Denmark & a return to Latvia, after several investigations, an infinite number of doctor visits, treatments, injections, hormones, miscarriages & infections. It probably left its mark after all. Maybe that's why I sat there & looked at Thailand trips instead of thinking of different baby names.
Why would it work this time when it has not worked before? After all, everything always looked so good.
Once there, after Henrik had drunk his coffee, we walked with heavy steps to the clinic with a huge fear that washed over me just before we stepped through the doors. For the first time we had no plan B. If they cannot help us, then probably no one can. "What do we do then?", "What will be our next step?" I thought even then. Always the next step ..
We got back a nice little embryo, like all other times, even this morning. But it turned out to be a completely different outcome ♥ ️
The feelings when we first saw TWO little hearts beat, when we first got our girls in our arms I cannot describe. Guess my vocabulary is not big enough.
But it still feels so unreal, Bonnie & Charlie are here ♥ ️
Now today I feel an enormous gratitude. Grateful for the help that is, actually, available, grateful that we continued, grateful for all the hugs & so GRATEFUL about the world's best girls.
But the feelings are still there & I feel that way with many others. Cannot imagine the blackness many are in now that IVF treatments are put on pause & the borders are closed. When the small light in the tunnel goes out. When perhaps the worst of all emotions dominates - the uncertainty. All my love and strength to you. I hope the light in the tunnel comes on soon. ♥ ️
A lot happens in a year & now when I see this picture I just think - what the hell luck that we did not go to Thailand instead!