Keegan E. Prue is an author from Upstate New York. Following his own tough fertility journey with his wife, which included two rounds of IVF, two miscarriages, and three embryo transfers before the birth of their first daughter, he wrote his book, “The IVF Dad: What I Learned on My Infertility Journey, and How it Can Help You,” The books aim is to help other men and couples going through fertility issues feel more informed, empowered, and equipped to support themselves and each other.
“Ugh. My period’s here,” Olivia called down the hall. I didn’t need to see her to visualize her crestfallen face.
I had been pottering in the bedroom, but now my shoulders slumped. I sighed and lay down on the bed. It was the middle of January, and the brown-gray landscape and frigid cold outside mirrored our mood.
By this time, about six months after we’d started trying to conceive, these were the last words Olivia hoped to say each month and the last ones I hoped to hear. But they stung a bit harder this time. This time, Olivia’s period was several days late. Naturally, as the few days passed beyond when we expected it to arrive, our excitement grew. We started to plan: how much longer until we’re confident enough to take a pregnancy test? Tomorrow? The day after?
We had just started to feel that glimmer of hope: maybe…just maybe…our time had finally come. But it wasn’t to be. The pregnancy test remained shoved deep in the back of a bathroom drawer, just as it had been for months.
Late in the afternoon we went out to walk in the setting midwinter sun. We’re walkers and always have been—it provides special time for Olivia and me. We walk and talk. We connect. On our long walk that day in January, we shared our worries about not yet being pregnant. We had always known we wanted to have kids, but at that point we both had a nagging feeling that the old-fashioned way…might not work for us.
Little did Olivia and I know on that cold January day that our journey was just beginning. Over the next three years, we ran through the gamut of infertility treatments.
It started with three months on letrozole, at the direction of Olivia’s OB. While it felt hopeful to at least have some sort of medication that might help us, the three months passed without a positive pregnancy test.
At that point, nearly a year into trying to conceive, being in our mid-30s, and with hopes to have at least two or three children, we decided it was time to be proactive. Soon, we found ourselves meeting with a local fertility clinic. Based on our test results, which indicated Olivia had a low level of AMH for her age, the doctor recommended we start IVF to have the best shot at conceiving.
Our first round of IVF yielded four viable embryos. A fresh transfer ended in a miscarriage at 8 weeks. We regrouped and returned a few months later for a frozen transfer. Unfortunately, this also ended with a missed miscarriage at 12 weeks.
Two miscarriages back-to-back had left us bruised, battered, and feeling miserable. We took a few months break to rest, recharge, and formulate a new plan with the RE. We also took time to learn about options such as adoption, fostering, and surrogacy.
Our second round of IVF yielded three more good embryos, which we sent along with two from our first round for PGT testing. We were thrilled to learn we had two genetically normal embryos.
At long last, our third transfer of one of those PGT tested embryos led to the birth of our wonderful daughter Eliza in July 2020. We were over the moon in love, and still are.
Of course this is a very quick and oversimplified version of our journey. There are countless moments of ups and downs along the way. But now, looking back, what did we take away from this struggle and heartbreak?
My lesson was this: what made our difficult journey easier was connecting and sharing our story to help others who were on the same challenging path.
But let me back up. One of the major turning points in our journey was when we took steps to connect with others and share what we were going through. It was NOT easy to start sharing about our struggle, especially about such a difficult topic, but as we started to reach out, we found out how many friends, family, and neighbors had also walked the difficult path of infertility.
At one point, I wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper to help raise awareness about infertility. To my surprise, the editor of the paper reached out and asked to publish a story detailing what we’d been through. At this point, we had just come off our second miscarriage. It was a hard time, but we decided that sharing our story might help others feel less alone. We decided to go for it!
In the weeks following the newspaper article’s release, we again connected with so many neighbors who shared their own stories of fertility struggles, miscarriages, and other difficulties trying to conceive. Every time we spoke to another person, it felt like the struggle we shared became a bit easier to bear.
After our daughter was born, I found myself thinking about ways to take this effort even further. One thing that I felt very strongly about was providing more information for men going through infertility to connect. I started to write about our story, intending perhaps to end up with a couple blog posts to share.
A few months later, to my surprise, I was well on my way to writing a book. This is how my book, The IVF Dad, was born. As I wrote more and more, I realized it could be an incredibly helpful resource for men and couples to feel more empowered and informed about how to support each other through infertility treatment.
Of course, recognizing the power of connecting and sharing our struggles doesn’t take away the many moments of despair and heartbreak we felt over the course of our journey. However, as I look back now, those moments have more meaning. Not only did they lead us to our wonderful daughter—they also led us to connect with so many others in the infertility community.
Whether you’re at the beginning of your journey, in the middle, or have built your family at this point, my hope is this will inspire you too to reach out and share your story with family, friends, or on social media. You’re not alone!
You can follow me on Instagram @TheIVFDad, or at my website TheIVFDad.com. My book, The IVF Dad, is available on Amazon: here are links to buy. A third of proceeds from the book go to support organizations that make grants to support families to afford fertility treatment!