Mary Dolan's Story
I was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve/premature ovarian failure at 28 years old. At the time, it was devasting news, and I felt blindsided by a diagnosis that was so unfamiliar. Our first visit to a reproductive endocrinologist did nothing to ease my fears – I was told bluntly that my labs were so poor that they wouldn’t even consider IVF with my eggs, and my only options were donor eggs or adoption. I felt certain I was meant to be a mom and was convinced I could make it happen another way. Luckily, we lived in Boulder, Colorado where holistic medicine and healthy living are revered. It felt instinctual to me to learn about my body and to make lifestyle changes to heal and improve my overall health, outside of the intended outcome of having a baby.
For years I tried a variety of modalities to improve my egg quality, increase blood flow, regulate my menstrual cycles (they were unpredictable, then nonexistent), and reduce stress. I tried acupuncture, herbal treatments, supplements, dietary changes, Mayan abdominal massage, fertility yoga, hypnotherapy, meditation, ayurveda, and more! I learned to advocate for myself and my health, but none of the progress I made resulted in a positive pregnancy test. I knew it was time to move on. After 6 long years, we decided to pursue egg donation. It meant my husband would have a biological connection to our child(ren), and I would be able to carry them. It was so important to me to be physically involved in the process after years of yearning to be pregnant.
As we moved forward with this new path, things finally began to fall into place. As soon as we’d gone through the full workup with our clinic (gathering with our doctor, nurses, financial team, business office, and doing extensive labs and other tests), we were granted full access to their in-house donor database. By some incredible stroke of luck, we found our donor right away. Where I once received call after call with bad news (levels too high, levels too low, no follicles, too many cysts), calls with amazing results from our donor started becoming the norm. My confidence grew, and I felt more ready than ever to start treatments.
As a result of overstimulation and near-perfect fertilization, we ended up with an incredibly large number of highly graded embryos. I continued acupuncture through my entire IVF medication schedule, and we did our first frozen embryo transfer in July of 2016. We welcomed our daughter in March the following year. Our second FET was in September 2019, and our son was born in May 2020.
I assumed that once I was pregnant and had a baby, I would be ready to shed my infertility story and just be a “regular” mom. But during both pregnancies and even now as my children are growing, I find myself sharing opening – and unprompted – the story of how they were created. I am proud of all the blood, sweat and tears (SO many tears!) that went into all those years of procedures and treatments and lab work. I am proud of not letting the heartbreak and hopelessness overcome me and for continuing on during the darkest moments. Our marriage was tested during the trials and tribulations of infertility, but we ended up stronger parents having already experienced tremendous struggle as a team. I look back on those difficult years with mixed emotions, but most notably a fondness I never expected. They helped me trust myself and gain a deeper appreciation for the family I worked so hard to have.