Maria & Sebastian
…When 5-6 treatments without results had suddenly become 11-12, we stopped and asked the question. — Do we have the strength to continue? Can we really continue to get up and dust ourselves off many more times, when everything falls apart and anxiety grows stronger for each failed attempt? No, we have to do something else!
In August 2010, we decided that I would stop taking the pill. Me (Maria) was 26 years old and Sebastian 23. We got together in 2006 but knew each other since before.
It was nerve-wracking when we threw the already started pill box in the bin. Soon we may become pregnant and continue our lives with a small baby.
In the beginning, we were a little cautious. There was still a little fear and nervousness about getting pregnant straight away. However, we knew that it can take some time and that it was common for it to take up to a year before actually getting pregnant.
But as the periods continued to come, month after month, of course we began to wonder: why isn’t anything happening? We bought ovulation tests and attempted to predict ovulation. Sex became a must at times, even when we didn’t really want to or were not in the mood to have sex.
Nevertheless, the periods were persistent, and we decided after just over a year of trying, to contact a midwife. In our municipality, you have the right to get help through the county council if you have tried over a year.
After lots of tests and checks on both of us, a male factor was finally found, Sebastian had reduced sperm mobility. The chance of becoming pregnant by natural means was considered very low.
IVF treatment would be needed if we wanted to get pregnant.
It was a tough message to receive, but we quickly decided that this would go well. We go and do this, and it will all be alright. It may certainly not work on the first try, but the second or third maybe. I remember thinking that way. We did 3 attempts at an IVF clinic, 500 km from home, that all failed.
We did not want to give up, so the next attempt was at a clinic about 230 km from the small community in which we live. Car journeys became a big part of our lives during these years, as all checks before every treatment were done at the clinic, which is a 230-km-one-way journey from our hometown. The checks usually took 5-10 minutes, then it was just to go home again.
We got embryos for transfer every time, sometimes of really good quality and the chances that something could come from it were usually good. We were often told that everything looked so good; it gave us hope and strength to keep going. Hope is the last thing to die, so we lived on hope.
But the periods kept coming and life as we knew it began to fall apart. We broke down, but got up and started a new treatment; next time it will work!
When 5-6 treatments without results had suddenly become 11-12, we stopped and asked the question. — Do we have the strength to continue? Can we really continue to get up and dust ourselves off many more times, when everything falls apart and anxiety grows stronger for each failed attempt? When we are repeatedly torn between hope and despair. No, we have to do something else.
The expectation and hope of seeing a positive pregnancy test during this time was all we were fighting for!
After a lot of consultation with our clinic, we decided to test insemination with donor sperm. Before we were approved, we had to go through a number of conversations and we were assessed if we were suitable as parents etc. It was mentally very stressful. Obviously, it was emotionally tough to try to get pregnant with donor sperm, but our longing for children outweighed that fear. A package of 4 insemination attempts was made without results.
Despite these negative outcomes, we still couldn’t give up so we returned to the IVF trials. They said, after all, that it looked good and that it should work. It gave us hope and we wanted nothing more than to become the parents of a little baby.
The years rolled on and in the spring of 2017, 12 egg retrievals, 16 embryo transfers and 4 inseminations had been made and the egg retrievals hurt more and more every time, we got to a point where my body, our strength and our lives, that mostly resembled a roller coaster, said that enough is enough.
We can’t continue like this. We CAN’T get pregnant. There must be something wrong with me (Maria) that makes me unable to get pregnant.
BUT, before we give up on having our own children, we should try another clinic. A clinic in another country. We had both heard and read that many couples take help from clinics abroad. We asked the doctor, who had almost become like our mother, at the clinic in Sweden for help. She told us about a doctor named Olga Zaytseff who runs a clinic in St. Petersburg called O.L.G.A. Clinic.
We quickly got in touch with a Swedish coordinator. There were no queues and we sent in our records. We took more samples that we submitted. After a few phone and Skype meetings, a plan was created for us.
In the autumn of 2017 we flew with mixed feelings to St. Petersburg. Of course, we were nervous to go to another country and receive treatment. I was anesthetized at egg retrieval, which was incredibly nice considering all the egg retrievals made in Sweden had been without any anaesthetics.
The clinic suggested that we do 50/50 fertilization of my eggs, meaning fertilizing half of my eggs with donor sperm and half – with sperm from Sebastian. There were two blastocysts on day 5 of the best quality. One from the sperm donor and one from Sebastian.
The clinic chose to freeze both embryos. We went home and had to prepare for about two months to embryo transfer. By this time, it was very difficult to just wait out the time, but we kept together and tried to live in the present.
At the end of November, we went back to St. Petersburg again and received an embryo of our own egg and sperm cells and of the best quality.
Two weeks later we received a message that we had never received during these 7 years, we were shocked. It’s POSITIVE! We hardly dared to believe it was true, but 5-6 different pregnancy tests could not be wrong.
We were booked for an early ultrasound at our clinic in Sweden. Unfortunately, we were told there was no life left in my stomach. Of course, the message was very tough and upsetting, but we were still happy that we had finally got a positive result.
— I could get pregnant. It gave us incredible strength to keep going.
Christmas passed and in March 2018 we returned to O.L.G.A Clinic for our second egg retrieval. This time, my eggs were fertilized with sperm solely from Sebastian, which felt great. This was done, because the former embryo with our own cells had been so good.
We went home and prepared for embryo transfer, and in May we flew back and got an embryo of the best quality returned. Two weeks later we received the same message. POSITIVE again! We were so happy, at the same time, we didn’t really dare hope too much.
The weeks went by and in week 8 we found out, for the first time, that there was a life in there.
We booked an extra ultrasound in week 12 to calm our nerves, everything looked good.
In September when we went for a routine ultrasound in week 20, and again saw that everything looked good.
We would finally become parents after an 8-year long struggle. It felt surreal, but at the same time absolutely fantastic!
The baby was scheduled for January 27, 2019. On January 26, a healthy and stable boy came to us with the help of Caesarean section after a completely normal and almost painless pregnancy.
We are the world’s happiest parents to the world’s most beautiful Harry!
If we summarize our journey in Sweden we have done 12 egg retrievals and ICSIs, 12 fresh and 4 frozen embryo transfers and 4 inseminations (IUI) with donated sperm. All treatments without a single positive result.
We are forever grateful for the fantastic help we received from all the staff
at O.L.G.A Clinic.
The hospitality and personalised treatment from Dr. Olga Zaytseff and her colleagues, from reception staff, to nurses and doctors has been absolutely fantastic and we have been treated with professionalism and great respect.
We have tremendous confidence in Dr. Elena Lapina who performed our entire treatment, from stimulation to egg retrieval and finally transfer.
The information on the development of the embryos was clear and we were completely involved throughout the process.
Another contact that was incredibly important to us was the Swedish coordinator Maria Jeffs. It felt great to be able to communicate in Swedish. Maria was always courteous and responded quickly via both phone and mail if you had any thoughts during the process.
We sincerely hope that more couples in our situation will be given the opportunity to come to O.L.G.A Clinic in St. Petersburg. We only have positive things to say about the whole set-up and we are happy to provide references to couples who have any questions or concerns.
With the facts in hand, we of course wish we had gone to Russia earlier. Then we would most likely not have gone through 16 unsuccessful embryo transfers and 4 IUDs which involved a great deal of mental and physical pain, but which at the same time taught us an incredible amount.
Maria, Sebastian & Harry Lindström from Sweden”
Dr. Olga comments
Sebastian, Dr. Elena and I had a discussion lately, trying to understand what we have done different in St. Petersburg what helped?
— Helped to achieve implantation on the first ICSI, which has never happened before.
— Helped to achieve ongoing pregnancy and live birth on the second ICSI.
We do not see anything different from what we usually do in our IVF process in our O.L.G.A. Clinic:
- Individualized stimulation to have competent strong eggs.
- Elegant and soft ICSI procedure in the lab.
- Careful and reliable growing embryos 5 days to achieve blastocysts (Sebastian and Maria say they have never had blastocysts of such high quality before)
- Freezing embryos by vitrification which has 95% survival rates in our clinic. The pupose of freezing is to stop time for embryos and move focus to endometrium.
- After 1 cycle break after egg retrieval we focus on preparing endometrium to embryo transfer with the help of hormonal treatment. This treatment aims at precise scheduling of implantation window and hence high implantation rates.
- Ultrasound-guided, soft and precise embryo transfer.
- Reliable hormonal support after embryo transfer until little embryo is strong enough to take care of itself.
We have this system and we just use it the best we can. Hope our system can help more couples.
If you have questions, please contact us!