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Been There, Done That

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Suzanne Rico is an infertility survivor. During her adventures through the daunting and confusing world of assisted reproductive technology (ART), Suzanne, a former television news anchorwoman, endured seven in vitro fertilizations (IVFs), four miscarriages and one major surgery before finally reaching her goal of having children. So complex were her infertility issues, she had to use a surrogate to have her second son. Through it all, she smiled for the cameras, even as the heartbreak and challenge of her infertility journey nudged her closer to the edge. Suzanne offers the lessons learned along the way to those currently in the trenches of the infertility battle, along with the hope and reassurance that it can be won.


a blog by Suzanne Rico, July 3, 2012

A decade ago, I began mentoring a girl from South Central Los Angeles. She was 9 years old, a shy kid who rarely smiled and had more distrust of the world in her big brown eyes than hope for it. By giving her what little time I had in my life, I hoped to change hers. What I did not expect was to gain the daughter I’ve always wanted.

Diana was about 11 when I began my struggle with infertility. With five brothers and sisters, the idea that a woman could have trouble reproducing was baffling. Still, she listened with ever-increasing interest to my talk of babies — and when, after a year of back-to-back miscarriages, I told her I was pregnant, she hugged me with true joy. I was so thrilled to be past the troublesome first trimester, I forgot to be disappointed I was carrying a boy — and not the girl I’d hoped for.

a blog by Suzanne Rico, June 27, 2012

Six years ago on New Year’s Day, I was golfing with my husband when I got the news that I wasn’t pregnant. Three IVF’s in a row, and except for a chemical pregnancy that lasted half a second, I had nothing to show for it — unless you count being out 45 grand and a mild case of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) as something.

I followed my husband down the fairways crying, dragging burdensome golf clubs behind me, until we finally quit on the 15th hole. It wasn’t just another failure I was upset about — it was that the night before I had actually been having fun! On New Year’s Eve, I’d stopped worrying about whether I would ever be a mother for just a few hours, and boy, did I feel terrible about it. How could I ever forgive myself for indulging in the luxury of forgetting?

a blog by Suzanne Rico, June 18, 2012

Last week, my mother was diagnosed with abdominal cancer. This news has turned my limbs liquid, legs traveling on auto-pilot from room to room, where I pick up an abandoned toy or stare at photos of happier times as if from underwater. When I speak, my voice is edged with fear. And with the picture of her particular disease becoming uglier each day, I feel like I am scrabbling around in a dark hole, looking for the light.

Feeling the need to do something, I wrote to a doctor friend of mine and asked him to help identify the best specialists in the country for my mother’s type of cancer. Having lost his own mother to breast cancer at the age of 64, he promised to help.

a blog by Suzanne Rico, June 12, 2012

Last month, Elle carried a story about Atilla Toth, a fertility doctor in New York who is using a controversial regimen of antibiotics to treat infertility. I’m not talking about a couple of horse pills taken for 10 days; I’m talking about months of IV antibiotics, antibiotics shot through a catheter into the cervix, and another antibiotic paste inserted into the uterus. And that’s just for the female half of the equation. The males? Well, the men suffer too. “Meanwhile,” writes Elle’s Sarah Elizabeth Richards of one woman she profiled, “every other day Toth gave her husband a painkiller and then injected antibiotics through his rectum and into his prostate; twice Toth also injected his seminal vesicles.” Yeeeeeeeowch!

a blog by Suzanne Rico, June 7, 2012

The largest cell in the human body is the egg. This exclusively female go-to cell is the size of a period (.), yet has the amazing capability to grow into a baby human — with help from a wiggly little friend. I demanded on the spot performance from my dot-sized eggs, when the reality is that for years I ignored their life-creating potential, not to mention their expiration date.

We girls are born with a couple of million eggs — instant fertile myrtles. When we hit puberty, there are about 400,000, left but by the time menopause starts upping the temperature on our bodies and squeezing our female hormones dry, most remaining eggs are pretty much fried. When I had my children in my early 40s (hard fought successes) I probably served up the last two eggs that hadn’t gone completely rotten.

Knowing that I was old by baby-making standards, I used to say a little prayer during my IVF cycles that centered on quality versus quantity. “Please let there be one good one left!” I’d plead to whatever fertility goddess might have been listening. “Please, just one good one!” And then I would imagine that one good egg hidden deep inside my body, elusive and James Bond like, and try to coax it into becoming my future baby. If it sounds like I went a little round the bend during this time, talking to eggs and trying to find a pinhead in an ovarian haystack, this is true. If someone had promised that wearing a burka or shaving my head would get me (and keep me) pregnant, I would have gladly complied.


Comments (1)

I just truned 43 and I have been doing fertility treaments for 2.5 years... 3 wasted time IUI's and now I just finished my 6th IVF cycle (would have been seven but one was canceled because my follicles on the right and let were different sizes. I have gained a ton of wight - look and feel awful and am just so tired of seeing eveyone else get pregnant except me. Each time I try to be positive and hopeful... My Test is Sunday but I know I am getting my period. How much can one take! :(


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