“I am one of seven children, and all of us were conceived naturally,” Victoria said. “I had never heard of anyone in my family having issues conceiving, so for my entire life I thought that once I was ready to conceive, it would be like flipping a light switch.” Conceiving proved more difficult for Victoria than she had imagined, but she is using her online platform to discuss fertility and IVF treatments openly.
Attempting natural conception
Victoria first began trying to get pregnant with her husband in January 2018. “I’d been on birth control since I was 17 years old,” Victoria said, “so I never had to pay attention to my cycle. I didn’t know anything, and to this day it blows my mind being almost a 30-year-old woman how little I knew about my cycle.” Victoria began tracking her ovulation using apps and ovulation predictor kits and was hopeful about the outcome. “Coincidentally, my best friend starting trying at the same time, and she got pregnant the first month,” Victoria said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to be right behind you.’”
A year went by without any progress, which is when Victoria and her husband first visited the Southern California Reproductive Center. They ran many tests but nothing seemed to indicate why Victoria should be having trouble conceiving — everything looked “perfect.”
“That is the word that is so frustrating to hear when you’re trying to conceive and it’s not working,” Victoria said. “On one hand, it’s good because there’s nothing severely wrong, like endometriosis, for example, but on the other hand, when you can get those diagnoses at least you know what to treat. It’s kind of a double-edged sword.”
In vitro fertilization
Victoria and her husband decided then to try IVF treatments. “The egg retrieval is step No. 1,” Victoria said. “In a normal cycle, a woman produces one egg at the beginning of the month. During IVF treatment, you’re doing about three to four injections a day to stimulate your ovaries with the end goal of ideally producing 15 eggs. I produced 25.”
This is done in order for the best chances of securing a golden egg: one to two eggs of the highest quality that have also passed genetic testing and other screenings.
Egg retrieval can be one of the most painful phases of IVF, depending on how many eggs are removed. “I really underestimated the pain,” Victoria said. “I think you can’t fully comprehend what your body goes through until you go through it yourself. I luckily did have a friend that was going through it, so I knew what to expect. But as far as how it feels, you have to experience it.”
The hardest part
After inseminating the eggs and replacing them, the hardest part for Victoria was waiting. About 10 days after her IVF treatment, Victoria took a pregnancy test. “They tell you not to,” she said, “but I couldn’t wait to find out. After two years of squinting at negative pregnancy tests hoping to see the faintest line, I was not expecting to see a positive. I did not need to squint. It was right there.”
Victoria encourages women also considering IVF to speak openly about their experiences. “It doesn’t always go the way that you hoped it would, and at the end of the day, you just have to accept that this is your journey,” she said. For women like Victoria who have experienced difficulty with their fertility, Victoria said, “This is just a season in your life; it’s not going to last forever. Go easy on yourself.”