Dear Friends, to bring you hope and support we keep sharing with you successful stories of treatment in our clinic. After 4 IVF cycles in Sweden with just 2 embryos available on day 2 Sara and Nils have got a baby boy within 2 IVF cycles with own eggs and own sperm in OLGA Clinic. And 2 blastocysts are still in the freezer!
“When Nils and I walked into the OLGA fertility clinic's seminar in Stockholm, I had a throbbing headache, as usual that winter. We sat down in the back corner of the room and I browsed through some brochures we had received on our way in. One article was about a Norwegian woman who had had poor results on her IVF treatments for several years, but who managed to get pregnant at her first attempt with her own eggs at the clinic in Saint Petersburg. I was skeptical. She was lucky that time, I thought to myself. I didn't believe for a second that I soon would have a similar story myself. I would also succeed in becoming pregnant — and I'm convinced that luck had nothing to do with it.
In December 2018, my partner Nils and I did our fourth and final IVF treatment in Stockholm. There were no good embryos to put back that time either. During our last conversation we had with our doctor, he advised us to try egg donation. My eggs were simply not working. His words were expected but still felt like a slap in the face. I was 35 years old and not ready to give up on my eggs.
Our fertility investigation just over a year earlier had shown no problems whatsoever for neither me nor Nils. We had time and didn't need to feel stressed, according to the specialist. Strengthened by the doctors' words, we thought the IVF journey would be short and successful for us. I was looking forward to realizing my dream at the clinic in Stockholm: finally getting pregnant and starting a family with Nils.
But the doctors' faces went from hopeful to increasingly worried after each failed attempt. They retrieved very few eggs, despite a maximum dose of hormones, and the eggs they got turned out to work poorly. Half the times they couldn't even perform an embryo transfer since all of our embryos had stopped growing after a day or two. That was the worst feeling of all: going through the treatment and the painful egg retrieval - and not getting anything back. All the effort for nothing. I did two transfers in total in Sweden but none of them worked. We were hoping to get some embryos to freeze, but it didn't happen. We never had an embryo that made it to day five, the blastocyst stage. And my eggs were the problem.
Anyone who has been involuntarily childless knows how exhausting it is to live between hope and despair, to deal with family and friends who wonder if it isn't your time soon, and to navigate through the flood of fertility advice available online. For me, 2018 was a pitch black year in which I experienced something of an existential crisis. I questioned whether life was even worth living without children, I avoided friends and social events, I felt like I failed as a human being, and did not look forward to anything other than the next treatment. The next chance of maybe becoming pregnant. So when we heard that it probably wasn't going to happen the way we wanted I was devastated.
After our last visit to the clinic in Stockholm, it was time for me and Nils to decide how we were going to continue. We had to do something, even if it meant trying to accept a life without children. I had heard about Doctor Olga's clinic in a podcast @jagvillhabarn about involuntary childlessness that I liked and after all we had been through at that point we thought it might be worth attending a seminar, just to listen. I thought we would probably be recommended to have egg donation, but a few weeks after the seminar with Olga we became aware that she had other plans for us. After studying our medical records, she proposed a guarantee package, where we got two IVF attempts with my own eggs. If that didn't work, we would proceed with egg donation. We might just succeed with my eggs after all, she said.
But taking this leap was not easy. I didn't want to get my hopes up just to get disappointed again. And it would be much easier to continue with the treatments in Stockholm, where the clinic was a subway trip away, rather than in a forreign country like Russia. What made us decide to give it a try after all was Olga's confidence in me and my eggs. I reasoned that a doctor who actually believes in a positive result is more likely to succeed than a doctor who thinks it's hopeless. The decision to start again, in another country, became the turning point for us.
In St. Petersburg, we were cared for in both a professional and warm way. The team at the clinic was always about helping us and we never felt lost. I, who was very fragile and sensitive during this period, was grateful to have such a personal response, where it was possible to get help with most things. Our own co-ordinator Julia accompanied us to the pharmacy after our first visit to the clinic, to make sure we got the medicine we required. When I was unsure how to take a syringe, I could come to the clinic in the evening and get help. The fact that there were many other Scandinavians in the clinic, with whom you could exchange experiences, created a sense of confidence and made me feel less alone in the situation.
The welcoming response was incredibly important to me. But what was even more important was the result. The care we received at Olga's clinic differed significantly from that in Sweden. The hormones were combined in new ways and in doses that would fit my needs. I feel that the doctors in Sweden were less willing to try new methods when the treatment wasn't working. At Olga's we got the feeling that just about everything was being done to get me pregnant. And soon, I would be.
It didn't work the first time. But for my second and last attempt with my own eggs, Dr.Olga and Dr. Elena made some adjustments with the hormones. We got seven eggs out and then something happened that we never dared to hope for. We got three blastocysts. Three! After not having any in Sweden. One was of the best possible quality, the other two were of good quality. I could hardly believe it was true. That night we went out and celebrated with dinner and wine and tried to calculate what our odds of success were. For once, it looked really promising. We began the summer of 2019 with a sense of hope I hadn't felt for a long time.
A few months later I found myself in the unbearable wait again. The embryo transfer at the clinic had gone well and now I needed to find ways to pass time for almost two weeks, until the day of the pregnancy test. I followed the instructions from the doctors and took it really easy. I had taken time off from work and walked calmly by the water during the long days and tried to get my mind off things, but I was of course constantly looking for signs that I was pregnant. On the test day I went and bought all the sweets I like, to have as comfort if the result was negative. I tried to prepare myself for the fact that I probably wouldn't be pregnant, because I didn't feel that much in my body. But it turned out that you can be pregnant even if it doesn't feel that way. After six IVF treatments, countless syringes and restless nights, I finally got my positive test. It was such an illusory feeling and I just sat and cried and shook off all the tension that had been building up. Although I was worried about everything that could still go wrong, I decided to believe that things would be fine. And it was. The first ultrasound showed a strong little heartbeat, we passed week 12 and after nine months our baby boy was born. I still haven't been able to digest that this has actually happened. We have a son and the dream of a family is finally fulfilled.
For all this, I'm endlessly grateful. Grateful for the care we got at OLGA Clinic in St.Petersburg, grateful that Dr. Olga, Dr. Elena, Dr. Nina and the whole team didn't give up, when we had almost done so ourselves. Grateful that we have two more embryos in the freezer that can be used for sibling attempts, a bonus we had never dared to believe just a year ago. I'm also grateful to myself and Nils for taking the opportunity and exhausting all possibilities. I get cold thinking about how life would be like now if we had chosen not to.
Our healthy, wonderful boy will soon turn one month and he is now taking up all our time, day and night. As I write this, he sits like a frog on my chest and snores, and I can sniff his furry little head. Sometimes I look at him and think it's a miracle that he is with us. But then I think again and conclude that he is no miracle, not more than any other child that is. Miracles are something inexplicable, magical and rare. But our child's existence is rather explained by some very skilled doctors' expertise, dedication and perseverance. That's why he is here with us today.
It feels both like yesterday and forever ago since I struggled in complete hopelessness. Now I wish I could travel back a year and a half in time and tell the miserable ghost version of myself, who sat there in the back row, at a fertility seminar in Stockholm, that everything will be just fine. That I would also get my success story to write down.
Dr. Olga comments:
Dear Sara and Nils, congratulations to your amazing baby boy! I am very grateful to all our team, especially fertility specialists Dr. Elena and Dr. Nina and embryologists Dr. Anna and Dr. Svetlana who have personally contributed their expertise and work to make this happen. After 4 IVFs you had in a local clinic with just two day-2 embryos available in 4 cycles, we have got 3 excellent blastocysts, a baby and 2 frozen blastocysts still left within 2 IVF cycles. So different results with the same genetic material but an optimized recipe of egg stimulation and embryo culturing!
Dear Sara, amazing story and could not have been written better! Thank you for finding time and the right words to give information and hope to those who have not reached their destination and goal. But this will definitely happen — we are just one e-mail away firstname.lastname@example.org