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Our journey in conceiving a baby was a bit more difficult than the norm. However, it is something I would like to share with others, as infertility is often overlooked and always avoided as a topic of discussion. It is wrongly viewed with some type of stigma. I also think it’s important for people to realize that you can be young and in perfect health and still have difficulty getting pregnant, including me. Here is my story.

Both my gynecologist and I were baffled after my menstrual cycle had not returned after a year of coming off a birth control pill. I was at a healthy weight (and even put on more than a few pounds to ensure I was so), my blood tests were normal and I had no other notable medical issues that could have caused my situation. For that reason, I was referred to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) as my husband, Kevin, and I were eager to start a family.

My first visit with the RE, Dr. Stark, was March 2013. He immediately put Kevin and me at ease with his comforting humor and knowledge on the subject. He suggested ordering some lab work for both of us, which was protocol for all their new patients. The lab work included a variety of hormone level tests, STD screenings and blood markers. These tests were more involved than those ordered by my OBGYN. A week after we got our blood drawn, I received an email from the nurse that Kevin’s labs were completely normal but they were still awaiting my results. A week later, I got a phone call that my lab results were finally in… a phone call that would forever change my life.

Woman and cell phone

I was at work when I answered my cell phone call from the nurse in charge of our care. She asked if it was a good time to talk to which I hesitantly replied, “Yes,” and she began telling me what the results showed. Through my own research and medical background (I am a physician assistant), I was familiar with the labs that were ordered and so when she mentioned that my anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) was extremely low, I immediately burst into tears.

AMH is a marker in the blood that measures ovarian reserve in women. A normal AMH level for a female my age (24) would be above 20. Mine was 0.79, which meant my reproductive system was functioning similar to that of a 40+ year old. At that point, the nurse recommended I come in as soon as possible to discuss my fertility options with Dr. Stark. I took the next available appointment.

>> Read more: 5 Best Apps to Track Your Fertility

I couldn’t bear to share my results over the phone with Kevin. I needed to tell him in person. But I needed to vent this news with SOMEONE and since I received the phone call during my lunch break, I was able to call my mom to tell her the news after I finished speaking with the nurse. I was sobbing but she helped console me to the point that I was able to pull myself together and return to work for the afternoon.

Upon arriving home that evening, Kevin knew something was wrong the second I walked in the door. It was then that I sat him down and told him what the nurse had said. He responded in a manner that reaffirmed why I married him. Although he was somewhat disheartened, he in no way made me feel inadequate and reassured me that no matter what the future held for us regarding children, he would always love me for me and it would never put a damper on our already wonderful relationship. Having his support definitely made the situation a little easier but over the next few months my condition was all I could research and think about.

At our visit with Dr. Stark, he discussed the different treatments available for us to try and have a biological child. Based on his experience, he recommended us to begin IVF “quickly” as time was “running out.” He said that in vitro fertilization (IVF) would be our best chance at not only conceiving, but preserving embryos for future children.

Want to hear more about Alaina’s IVF journey? Click “next” below.