When my husband and I got married in 2015, our wedding party placed a bet that we would have kids within two years. I would have agreed with that bet, but we knew we wanted to wait for me to finish my Master’s before we started trying to expand our family, so we didn’t start thinking about it seriously until 2018.


It didn’t take long to see those two pink lines and when we found out, we were ecstatic. We started talking about the future, potential baby names, and all of the memories we couldn’t wait to create with them. Then in August of 2018, we lost our first child. I still think about them every day; who they would have been, what they would have looked like. It hurts my soul that we should have a two-year-old right now. 

After our loss, we experienced radio silence for over a year before we decided to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist. All of our tests came back normal (my husband’s morphology was 3%, but my RE felt confident that wasn’t a deal-breaker). Based on our results, she felt we would be pregnant in no time. 

After our first egg retrieval in early February of 2020, our doctor’s office called hours later saying none of my eggs were mature and that they had never seen eggs like mine before. Almost all of them were wrought with fluid-filled vacuoles.

How could this happen?! Was this even possible?! We decided to regroup and try again in March with a different protocol to address my bizarrely poor egg quality. 

Then COVID hit.


Fast forward to the summer for IVF rounds two and three. Both were successful, even though we experienced a significantly low fertilization rate, having only one or two eggs of our 15+ eggs fertilize on day one. Thankfully, both rounds yielded one PGT normal embryo each. 

Since I had such little success getting normal embryos after three rounds of IVF, my RE opted to do an ERA in September, followed by a fourth retrieval in October to bank embryos, and then attempt our first transfer in November. My ERA results came back as receptive and in October, our fourth round completely failed. Even though two eggs fertilized, we got zero embryos. I was devastated. This was the same protocol as the previously successful rounds; why didn’t it work?!

Albeit disappointed, we were hopeful going into our transfer with two normal, beautiful embryos. The transfer could not have been more perfect, according to my RE. I was a nervous wreck during the two-week wait, and the entire clinic was wishing me good luck on beta day.

I’m a teacher so I asked my PA to call after school finished. When I answered the phone, it was my RE. My heart sank. She is the kindest person (as is her entire team, who I all love dearly) and gently shared that my beta was negative. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard and felt so empty. This was supposed to work. My issues are surrounding egg quality, so why did this happen? 

We decided to repeat the HSG test and everything looked great. After recharging our batteries over the holidays, we proceeded with round five in February. I tried to keep my expectations low and was thrilled to hear that three eggs fertilized! However, once again our hearts were broken when we heard none of them made it to blastocyst.


After picking ourselves up from another heartbreak, we started looking forward to our second transfer in March. During one of my monitoring appointments, my ultrasound tech found a ton of fluid in my lining. Luckily, we had a consult appointment scheduled with our RE that same day for a different reason. She found an explanation for my poor egg quality! I have what is called sERC, or smooth endoplasmic reticulum clusters. Essentially, this creates tons of fluid-filled sacs in the eggs and severely compromises egg quality, which explains our awful fertilization rate. Although this is not uncommon, it is exceptionally rare for someone to have almost entire rounds of sERC eggs, as I do. 

During this consult, she took a look at my lining and we decided to cancel our transfer as fluid in your lining at any time can be indicative of a failed round. We weren’t willing to take that shot since it had taken us so long to get our two little embryos. How could we be let down again? Weren’t we ready for some good news?

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Finally, we made it to our sixth retrieval. Never did I think I would reach six rounds of this chaos. It is hands-down the hardest thing I’ve ever done and has drained me financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. For our sixth round, we decided to try a protocol with lower stims to hopefully combat my poor egg quality. We were hoping to get 2-4 mature eggs. On the day of retrieval, my RE got nineteen. I was shocked!


We left that day hopeful and looking forward to finally getting some good news. The next day, our embryologist called and said that a record-setting FIVE fertilized and they were keeping an eye on an additional twelve. We’ve never had news this incredible and were so hopeful for the next steps, this had to be it! Unfortunately on Day 6, we received the call that we once again had zero embryos. I’d never felt so disappointed - we were supposed to find success this round with our new protocol. 

This brings us to the present day. We plan to do our seventh round of IVF in June and transfer our one normal embryo in July. Although our hearts are broken after almost a year of failures, we are going to keep trying to build our family. 

Infertility has taught me how strong, brave, and fearless I can be in spite of plot twist after plot twist. Although infertility doesn’t play by the rules, it’s taught me perspective, the value of grit, patience, and true friendships. Most importantly, it showed me how incredible of a man my husband is. I couldn’t do this without him or my tribe. Although we still have many steps before we get to bring home our little, I know I can do this with my squad by my side. 


Alex Baxmeyer shares her infertility journey on Instagram at @maybe_baybe_bax.