At least it is the craziest in my books.
About five years ago, I became friends with the nanny of one of my therapy kids. She brought him in for therapy weekly and we became very friendly with each other. I knew that she was trying to get pregnant but seemed to have had problems. I remember one time she was about to do a heart surgery but couldn’t because they found out that she was pregnant. A couple of months later, I asked her how she was doing. She told me that she went ahead and had the heart surgery because the baby was no more. When my client graduated from therapy, I stopped seeing the nanny regularly. She and I are friends on Face.book so I would see her updates once in a while. I would pay attention to her belly and would see that she wasn’t pregnant.
So imagine how shocked I was when I saw an update on Face.book two days ago at lunch. I was mindlessly scrolling the screen of my phone up and down and almost exclaimed out loud. Good thing I didn’t because the lunch room was full of my coworkers who would have no idea why this would be a big deal. The nanny had posted an ultrasound photo and a photo of her with her expanded belly. I gasped and checked her page. I saw a post by her husband a couple of days prior with pictures of them presenting a bun in their oven. I quickly got back to my desk and wrote the nanny a message. I expressed how happy I was to see her photos and to find out the news, as I knew how many years and how hard she had tried to get pregnant. She quickly wrote back and wanted to share her story with me on the phone. It was inconvenient for me to chat with her at work, so I promised to call her soon.
I finally had a chance to chat with her last night. This is her story.
She started trying for a baby five years ago. She had her daughter at 17. Now her daughter is 22. So this nanny is 39 years old, my age. She was a single mom for a long time and finally met a wonderful guy who became her husband. In the past five years, she got pregnant and miscarried a total of six times. She lost two natural pregnancies. She got pregnant three more times through a fresh cycle and three subsequent frozen embryo transfers. She even did egg donation through a proven donor who helped every single recipient with a live birth. She did get pregnant but yet, she miscarried. All of these miscarriages happened between five to eight weeks. Early miscarriages. In the beginning she was told that the miscarriages could be due to her poor egg quality. However, the pregnancy loss from the donor egg cycle could not have been due to her own egg quality issue. She and her husband felt that they were running out of options here so they were planning on pursuing surrogacy in India. Then one night in November last year changed their lives.
She and her husband were watching a new program that discussed about the effects of triclosan on fertility. Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that is found in many household products, including anti-bacterial soap. It is associated with endocrine disruption. My friend paid close attention because she had been using anti-bacterial soap in the last twelve years. She had a yeast infection and her doctor told her to use anti-bacterial soap to wash herself. Since then she had been using products containing triclosan for her showers. She said that this chemical goes into your bloodstream the fastest when you use it to wash your behind. After watching the program, she and her husband threw out all of the household products containing triclosan and switched over to other products. From December to March this year, she lived a triclosan-free life and estimated that by March her body should be rid of any triclosan.
In March this year, this friend thought that she could try a fresh IVF cycle one more time with her own eggs. This is the result. She had 19 high grading blastocysts (19! And she’s my age…). Three were transferred. She got extremely high beta. At her early ultrasound scans, they could find two embryos and two heartbeats. So she was beyond thrilled that she was carrying twins. Then at her 11-week ultrasound, her doctor kept on looking at Baby A saying that something was wrong, as the baby’s head was on one side but the body was on the other side. She was almost having a heart attack thinking that something was wrong with the baby. The doctor tried to look around and found that Baby A had split into two! So instead of having Baby A and Baby B, now they also have baby C, who is the identical twin of Baby A! Triplets… I can’t imagine…
At 15 weeks, everything is looking good. The doctor of course discussed with them about selective reduction but the couple has decided that they are going to keep all the babies. So my friend, at 39 years old, after trying for so long for five years, is finally carrying not one, not two, but three babies inside her. The only thing that she has changed was getting rid of everything triclosan in her life. Isn’t that crazy?
So now she has a remainder of 16 embryos frozen, plus the six that remained from the donor egg cycle. (It seems like she herself yielded more blastocysts to keep than the 22-year-old donor did.)
I don’t know about you. I am still in awe of this story… that toxins in one’s body are so powerful to affect a person’s fertility health in such a profound way… and wasted five years of her life and many little lives. I know Bob is skeptical about it… but I truly believe that this change made a difference in my friend’s body, allowing her system to accept the babies. I know everyone’s body is different when it comes to the effect of environmental toxins. So whatever works for her may not work for me. I can’t help but think about how many women may benefit from this kind of information so they’d be saved from years of heartaches by just changing one thing in their lives.
I am beyond thrilled for her. And I still think that this is the craziest story I’ve heard.