“I remember feeling excited and scared at the same time, and trying to be hopeful but not to get my hopes up too high.”
Name: Catherine Bilton
TTC since: 2014
Diagnosis: Unexplained Infertility (diagnosed in 2016 after two years of trying)
Bird&Be product: The Powers Pack
History: Three rounds of IUI, one egg retrieval, four rounds of IVF (resulting in two births—in the first and fourth rounds).
Best piece of advice: Let the people you love support you. It’s easy to not want to burden people with what you’re going through but having good support from close friends and family helps more than you think.
When did you decide to seek out fertility treatment?
My husband and I married quite young and wanted to get started on a family right away—I never would have expected to have issues as early as 23. After about a year of trying I went to the doctor and after a few tests was put on fertility drugs for about six months. It was unsuccessful so our doctor referred me to a specialist. After some more testing we underwent three rounds of IUI—unfortunately all three failed. We then decided to take the next step with a round of IVF. We were fortunate in that we did one egg retrieval and ended up getting 22 eggs and 18 embryos.
How did you prepare for your IVF treatment?
What was your experience of IVF like?
It’s a very overwhelming experience—I remember feeling excited and scared at the same time and trying to be hopeful but not to get my hopes up too high. I am someone who can’t stand blood or needles and tend to pass out easily because of them. Wanting a baby so badly, I kept telling myself the daily needles are going to be so worth it so I could get through each day.
How did you manage other people's expectations and commentary when going through fertility treatment?
We honestly only told very close friends and family to avoid most of that.
How long did the IVF process take until it was successful?
Our very first round was successful and we had our first son. After the first round working so quickly, we thought it was a guarantee that it would work quickly again when we decided to have a second child. Unfortunately, we learned the hard way that wasn’t always the case. We had two failed rounds before we got pregnant again with our second son on the third round. Altogether we went through a total of four IVF rounds.
Was there any protocol, person or experience that you really think impacted your IVF success?
Not in particular—it’s really hard to see the big picture while you’re going through fertility treatment, but I really believe things happen for a reason when they are meant to happen. Although our journey was very hard, we never once took having a baby for granted and I believe it made everything about having them special for us.
You mentioned conceiving without fertility treatment with your third—what was different about this experience?
This was such a surprise for us! We had a discussion about trying again for a third child, but just weren’t too sure knowing how costly and taxing the IVF process could be. We heard about Bird&Be and thought we would both start on The Powers Pack in preparation so that, if we did try again, we would feel ready. We didn’t see any harm if we opted not to. I also was turning 30 and, especially with my previous experience, was worried about how that could impact the IVF process and chances of success. In the past, my husband and I would decide on a day that I would take a pregnancy test and we would wait together for the results. This time I really thought there was no chance it would be positive but my period was late and I had a test available. I thought, what the heck, and took it. When it turned positive I was in complete shock. I called my husband and told him and we sat on the phone in silence for a good ten minutes. I took the test on a Friday and the following Wednesday we actually had a consultation appointment booked with our fertility clinic about discussing our options (we had booked the appointment five months prior). We were very excited but I will admit I was also so scared the first few months knowing that I had never gotten pregnant on my own, nor gotten through the first few weeks of pregnancy without the help of fertility drugs.
Where are you in your journey now?
It feels surreal to look back at my experience, now. I wish all the best to those still struggling, it was the hardest thing to deal with. I remember the frustration, disappointment and tears like it was yesterday. My husband and I grew together during the process and it really strengthened our marriage, so for that I am grateful, I know for many it’s the opposite.
My due date for my third child is July 30, 2023. Once I discovered I was pregnant, I switched to The Essentials for Females with the Calcium & Magnesium Boost (which has worked wonders on nighttime leg cramps this pregnancy).