APAS Diaries: They Come in Threes

“You don’t owe anyone an explanation of why you’re still not pregnant or keep experiencing loss.  It doesn’t make us less of a wife/mother/woman if we still haven’t born a child.”  

And this touched my heart because this resonates with me all the more now. The worth of a woman is never measured by having kids. Success in marriage does not end if you are able to have children and raise them. There are times that God has a different plan for couples and they should not be criticised for this because for all that we know, they are already beating themselves up for what they are going though.

Vanessa’s story is very dear to me because she is a long-time friend and I personally witnessed her struggles before she was able to hold her babies (yes, babies!!) in her arms.

I knew Vanessa from college and it was through another friend that I learned about her journey of unexplained infertility where they were trying to conceive for eight (8) years but to no luck.

When I knew that Vanessa and her husband were planning to have IVF abroad, I told her  about RID. I told her about the condition because I saw in our APAS and RID group that there were some instances where unexplained infertility can be traced back to RID. I asked if she would want to have herself tested for RID first because the tests would be a fraction of the cost that they would spend for IVF.  And even if they would have a successful IVF, it would still go to waste because the body would just reject the baby if she was positive in any RID categories.

Vanessa took the tests for RID and she was positive in four out of five categories. Buuut, I am ever thankful because despite this, she gave birth to wonderful triplet boys with the right treatment from her medical team (and coupled with gazillions of prayers and support for sure)!

Without further ado, here is the story of the terrific three and their even more terrific momma!

Name: Vanessa 

RID Categories: 1,2,3,5

OB: Dr. Anthony Marc Ancheta (IVF Specialist), Dr. Lucia Antonio and Dr. Kay Parreno-Bautista (Perinatoloigist and Sonologist)

Immunologist: Dr. Carol Gloria

Age: 36 yo

How many pregnancies? 2

How many miscarriages? None, but had 1 ectopic pregnancy and 1 failed IVF

Live births? 3

 

1.  How did you know that you have RID? 

After almost 8 years of trying to conceive, my husband and I decided that we were ready for IVF.  We felt that we have exhausted all efforts and treatments to get pregnant and IVF was our last and  final option. It was also on the same year we found out I was RID positive, thanks to Balot, a friend from college, who convinced me to get myself tested before we dive into the plan of going for IVF.  We would have gone through unnecessary frustrations of failed procedures, all because we were clueless  I had RID.

2.  What did you feel when you first found out you had RID?

I was disheartened and anxious when I found out I tested positive with 4 out 5 RID categories. It meant that there will be delays in our timeline for IVF.  I was not getting any younger and our funds to pay for the treatments was definitely not limitless.

3.  What preconception treatments did you have? 

I was on Prednisone, Aspirin, Innohep injections, LIT and a half dose of IVIG prior to embryo transfer.

4.  What is the greatest challenge of having RID? 

For me, it was the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen next.

Will my body respond to the treatment?  Will I get pregnant? If I get pregnant, will the treatments keep my body from attacking the baby?

We were thrilled when we found out we were having multiples.  But I was also worried from hearing so many stories about pregnancy loss from RID.  Carrying triplets is difficult, but carrying triplets while having a RID condition is totally a different kind of difficult.  It was a painful and delicate pregnancy and RID added up to our ordeal.   I looked like I was about to pop when I was still 5 months pregnant and imagine how every 2 weeks for the entire part of my pregnancy, I had to go see a sonologist to closely monitor the babies’ growth and heartbeats.  I can barely walk 10 steps because my belly was heavy and I ache when I walk, so I had to be on a wheelchair everytime we go out for check ups.  I even have to go to Manila every month on a same-day flight to get my intralipid treatment, until my belly became so heavy, I could no longer travel and was given the option  to just have my intralipid treatments done in Bacolod ℅ my MD Sister-in-law.   My bum was in a state of torture from innohep injections done daily.  All these became so tiring, stressful  and costly, but it was the only way we can make sure that the babies are safe and healthy until they are ready to come out.  I’d take pain anytime, for as long as my babies are okay.

5.  How long after the treatments did you get pregnant? 

It took us almost 3 years, 3 series of treatments and 2 IVF procedures (embryo transfer) before we got pregnant.

6.  What were your medications during pregnancy? 

For my RID, I was on Prednisone, Aspirin, Innohep, LIT, IVIG (full dose of IVIG) and monthly IntralipidMy IVF Specialist prescribed Progesterone (oral, injectable and suppository) during the first 3 months of my pregnancy. 

7.  Any advice to those who are diagnosed with RID and are still trying

You don’t owe anyone an explanation of why you’re still not pregnant or keep experiencing loss.  It doesn’t make us less of a wife/mother/woman if we still haven’t bore a child. 

8.  Please share your RID timeline

Terrific Three: Dre, Ethan, and Theo

May 2017 – I found out I was positive with RID (Categories 1,2,5)

June 2017 – started my treatment (LIT, Prednisone and Aspirin)

December 2017 – was given the go signal to conceive naturally by Repro Immuno but did not get pregnant

July 2018 – started another round of treatment in preparation for IVF (LIT, Prednisone and Aspirin)

Jan 2019 – First Embryo Transfer (IVF) – failed; 

Feb 2019 – Found out I was also positive with Category 3; started with another round of treatments in prep for our 2nd embryo transfer

April 2019 – Second Embryo Transfer, succesful pregnancy 

Nov 2019 – Delivered my triplets at 33 weeks

10. What is your greatest realization? 

That we are not always in control of everything.  Sometimes, we have to learn to let go and let God.  

Like when for the past 7 years that we’ve been trying to conceive, I would sometimes cry silently in frustration everytime I get my period.  Later on, I slowly learned to give myself some slack and focus on my relationship with my husband.  We agreed that if ever the IVF won’t work for us, that we let it go and move on to live the life ahead of us with a happy and content disposition. Little did we know that God was also busy preparing the surprise of our lives. The two of us would have been spending this summer travelling if our IVF journey did not turn out to be successful. With the ongoing COVID crisis, we are just glad we’re safe and healthy and we’re delightfully spending the best time with our 3 precious baby boys in the comfort of our home. God is good. 

11. What/Who helped you through this difficult time?

My husband of course, who’s always been my source of strength and sanity . He always sees the good things in any facets of adversity and would tell me that everything’s going to be alright.  He tirelessly took care of me when I was literally nested on a recliner seat until I delivered our boys – he would clean the house, cook, and be my personal nurse. 

Our family who have also been extremely supportive to us – physically, emotionally and financially.  We never have to ask, they’ve always been there. 

Good friends who would check on us virtually and those who would visit and bring food and a good laugh. 

Amazing MDs who took great care of us. 

Dr. Anthony Mark Ancheta – IVF Specialist;

Dr. Carol Gloria – Repro Immuno;

Dr. Kaye Parreno-Bautista – Perinat OB and Sonologist

Dr. Lucia Antonio – OBGYN who delivered the babies; and

Dr. Michelle Lemoncito – Endocrinologist.

Most of all, GOD! He listened to the desires of our hearts; sustained us every step of the way.  There were times when we would doubt whether our finances would sustain my treatments and out of nowhere, blessings would just come. 

Thanks Van for sharing your story and I hope this would inspire people to know more about APAS and RID if they are experiencing recurrent pregnancy losses or failed IVFs. And at the same time, this is a plea to everyone to be a little kinder to couples who do not have children because there could only be two scenarios: they don’t want kids (and it is not our business if they don’t) OR they are going through a medical condition that they are trying to cope with (and this is already tasking on their part as it is).

May this story inspire you to do what is humanly possible if you want kids and lift everything else to a Higher Power who always knows what is our Highest Good.

Take care everyone and stay safe!

P.S. Do you want to share your rainbow story and inspire other sticky blood mamas? Send me an e-mail at callmebalot@gmail.com. 

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