Prairieville couple finds success with endometrial receptivity analysis testing
Couple uses innovative test to help pinpoint the exact day and time to transfer their embryo during IVF cycle.
Samantha and Matthew traveled the world together the year after they wed in 2014. Their “bucket list year” included backpacking through Italy, canyoning in Switzerland, drinking Turkish coffee in Istanbul, and finding their favorite private beach in Greece. After returning to their professional lives in Baton Rouge, they decided it was time to start a family. “Little did we know of the journey that we faced,” remembers Samantha. “I laugh at that thought now as I know that is not a decision I ever truly had any power over.”
Before Samantha met her husband, she was diagnosed with insulin resistance and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). She had a few conversations with her OBGyn about how this diagnosis may or may not make her journey to have children a little difficult. But, month after month went by with no plus signs. During this time, Matthew visited a urologist where he learned he also had male fertility issues complicating their attempts to conceive. “Even though this made the journey more difficult, we were really ‘in it together’ now!” says Samantha.
About a year in, Samantha’s OBGyn recommended they see a fertility specialist. “I cried!” remembers Samantha. “At the time, I thought I had gotten the most terrible news. I thought this meant our chances to become a mom and dad were slim to none. Boy, was I wrong!”
The couple made an appointment with Dr. John Storment who developed a plan that started an intrauterine insemination (IUI). Their first IUI failed and after regrouping they decided to attempt a second IUI. During the procedure, Dr. Storment entered the room and shared that Matthew’s semen analysis was less than ideal, so much so that the odds of this IUI not being successful were very high. “I learned two things in this moment,” says Samantha. “First, Dr. Storment would always give news to us straight – the good, bad and ugly. It was very hard to hear this after we had invested financially and emotionally. Second, my husband is so very strong in the face of adversity.” While the odds were not good, Samantha and Matthew decided to continue forward with the IUI, but soon learned that this procedure too was unsuccessful.
Meeting again with Dr. Storment, they discussed another IUI versus in vitro fertilization (IVF). With their last semen analysis being less than optimal, Samantha and Matthew decided IVF would be their next step. After working with the IVF nurses on the process, calendar and what to expect, the couple prepared for what was next. Then the big box of medications arrived. “This was a turning point for me,” recalled Samantha. “As I unpacked the box, the vials, needles, pills, syringes filled our counter. That is the moment I actually felt empowered, and scared, but mostly empowered! I knew that I had a role to play in helping this process succeed.” She coached her husband on how to give all of her injections and how to help her stay organized.
Egg retrieval day arrived and as Samantha came out of the loopiness of the anesthesia, Matthew told her Dr. Storment retrieved 20 eggs. Over the next five days, they received updates from the embryologist on how many eggs matured after fertilization. They felt truly blessed to learn they had five high grade embryos.
They elected to do a fresh embryo transfer using one of the embryos. “After two long weeks, then we got THE call,” says Samantha. “It was great news! Our little embryo had implanted!” The couple went back for more blood work a few days later and then an ultrasound. As they were waiting for the ultrasound there was a couple across from them in the waiting room holding an ultrasound photo. Samantha remembers thinking—this will be us today! Unfortunately, they left that appointment without an ultrasound photo. Their embryo wasn’t quite as big as it should be. At their follow-up scan the following week, they learned they were no longer pregnant.
During the time that followed, Samantha and Matthew struggled with their emotions. “I felt alone and terribly sad,” says Samantha. They had so many questions. When was the right time to resume treatment? How much will we need to invest financially and emotionally for future treatments? Will the next treatment work? Or do they need to save for several more treatments? “I felt like I couldn’t move forward,” she says. But with the support of her husband and family she got the courage to do another transfer. This one was also not successful. After this they decided they needed a break and some time to breath.
During their post transfer consult, Dr. Storment mentioned a test that had very promising results, called Endometrial Receptivity Analysis (ERA).
With Endometrial Receptivity Analysis testing, the woman’s endometrium is biopsied to determine the optimum time that her uterus is receptive for implantation. This allows the medical team to pinpoint the best day, down to the hour, for transferring an embryo. Samantha and Matthew decided this could give them some much needed odds in their quest to get pregnant.
After their next IVF transfer, the couple took a weekend trip to the beach with some friends for Samantha’s birthday, deciding to postpone the bloodwork that would confirm if she was pregnant or not until after they returned. “As I blew out my candles, I closed my eyes and made the same birthday wish I had made for the past three years…to be a mommy. I knew this would either be the best birthday or the worst birthday,” recalled Samantha. “Once we got home we got the call. We were pregnant! The ERA plan worked!” It was the moment they had waited for so long. They returned to the office a few weeks later for their ultrasound. Hearing their baby’s sweet heartbeat was a moment they knew had changed their lives forever.
In February 2019, they welcomed their sweet little girl, Mattie Grace, to the world. “When we saw her, my heart could have exploded!,” says Samantha. “My favorite moment was seeing my husband become a daddy. If I were to leave anyone with a piece of advice it would be to walk this journey hand and hand together. Make decisions together, always have kindness and compassion for each other. Infertility hits on every level, emotionally, financially, spiritually and even physically but it did not break us. We are stronger, blessed, more faithful, and so incredibly grateful.”