Nicole Guidotti knew she wanted to be a mom. But since she was only 25 when she and her husband got married she thought they could take their time trying for a baby. After a year of trying, Nicole decided to consult an ob-gyn. “It was the first in a string of doctors that I would end up seeing,” she recalled. She found out that she had polycystic ovaries and was advised to try and get pregnant soon.
It turns out Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) was the least of her problems. In Nicole’s nine-year journey to pregnancy, she found out she had severe endometriosis, blood conditions, and a hostile uterus. She would also have “recurrent spontaneous abortions,” which meant her body threatened every chance of a baby attaching to her womb. She was the complete opposite of a baby-making machine — her body seemingly wasn’t wired to produce any offspring.
Nicole sought the advice of many experts, and each one of them told her pregnancy may not be in her future. But it was the diagnosis of well-known iridologist (an alternative medicine doctor that would examine the eyes to determine the health of a patient) that really shook her.
“Without even asking me about my background, he just looked into my eyes and said, ‘You’re never going to get pregnant.’ Zero apology, zero sympathies, zero bedside manner,” she says. “He couldn’t have known, despite all the other times that I myself believed that I would never have kids, that he could callously break my dreams, just like that. He was the worst.”
Nicole fell into a spiral. Hearing she wasn't going to have a baby with such finality broke her. “Think of all the heart-wrenching emotions — devastation, pain, loneliness, desolation, and then multiply it by 1,000. That’s what I felt,” she explains.
Despite the prognosis, Nicole just couldn’t give up trying. So, she began her workup and kept at it for nine years. First, she began to take medication to grow her ovarian follicles and make them ovulate. Then, when her endometriosis began to go crazy, they stopped and switched to a medication called Luprolex, which would put her body in temporary ‘menopause’ — it stopped her from having her menstruation to manage blood clots and the pain of endometriosis. It didn't work.
Eventually, Nicole had to undergo a barrage of procedures:
2 Hysterosalpingograms, an X-ray procedure to see if your fallopian tubes are blocked. It uses radiographic contrast (dye), which is injected into the uterine cavity through the vagina and cervix.
Laparoscopy, a in-patient surgery to take a look at her fallopian tubes.
2 different Laparotomies, a procedure that examines abdominal organs. During the second test, the doctor had to remove her right fallopian tube due to her endometriosis, in addition to all the other clots removed from both ovaries and other areas.
3 IUIs or Intrauterine insemination, a fertility treatment that places a sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization
10-12 Lymphocyte Immunization Therapy (LIT) treatments, a procedure where white blood cells from her husband were injected into her skin to prepare her immune system for pregnancy. This is done to women who suffer from recurrent spontaneous abortions.
Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG), a treatment for various autoimmune diseases and supposedly help with her abortions
Gonal F and progesterone medication, which contains a follicle-stimulating hormone (to grow the follicles that will house the egg cells) and is used to treat fertility problems
The entire experience was emotionally draining, not just for Nicole, but for her husband, family, and friends. As a Kindergarten teacher and assistant director of a preschool, she eventually had to stop working after three failed surgeries. She was also in constant pain because of her endometriosis.
Although they never truly stopped trying, there would be times when Nicole and her husband would take breaks, taking trips and spending quality time together. “We talked about other possibilities if we never had the baby we wanted so much,” she says. They thought of adoption, but agreed to only consider the option after five failed IVFs, which was their limit.
Nicole was grateful that her husband stood by her. She says, “I was blessed with a husband who was supportive, never complained, especially when we went through the LIT treatments. Nurses would take 12 vials of his blood each time, to separate his red and white blood cells, then inject those cells to me so my body would ‘recognize’ him. Not once, in the twelve or so times that we did it, did he protest.”
After years of trying so long, the chances of Nicole having a baby on her own were bleak. One doctor even suggested asking an egg from another woman because her eggs were just so weak. They had already done three IVFs in Taiwan because it was cheaper there compared to other countries, but none of the 11 embryos survived in her uterus. Finally, their doctor advised them to try somewhere else.
They thought of going to Singapore to seek help from Dr. PC Wong, one of the famed fertility specialists in the country, but through their research, they met a Filipino ob-gyn, Dr. Anthony Ancheta, who has worked with Dr. Wong for over 10 years. They found out that he does IVFs in Manila, so in the end, they decided to try their fourth IVF procedure in the country.
Nicole calls Dr. Ancheta, who is also a respected fertility specialist in the country, their ‘miracle worker.’ “I have never met another doctor who has that much true concern and love for his patients. Dr. Ancheta is kind, thoughtful, leads with his heart and makes you feel cared for,” Nicole shares.
The doctor led Nicole through another IVF, and by this point, Nicole had decided to let go and just let God do the rest. For this procedure, she decided to relax and it helped that she was at home for once, surrounded by her friends and family.
Finally, they got a call from Dr. Ancheta. Their blood results came back positive! Out of the four embryos that were put in her uterus, one survived. Finally, Nicole’s nine-year journey came to an end.
Nicole had an easy pregnancy. She gave birth to a baby girl, Stella Lucia, their starlight, their triumph, their hope against all odds, and their miracle.
But her story doesn’t stop there. Three years later, Nicole got pregnant again, this time conceiving a son through natural means.
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Now 41, with a 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, Nicole is fulfilled. She endured a difficult and terrifying roller coaster journey, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. Finally getting pregnant gave her an unbelievable happiness, and it was a feeling shared by every single person that went through the journey with them. “Those that prayed with me and my husband, those that cried and dreamed with us, they also felt that hope that swelled within us,” she says.
And she wants the moms who are finding it hard to conceive to feel that hope, and to keep the faith that it will happen. “Half the battle is being able to truly fight for your dreams and know that God answers, not always in the way or the time we want Him to, but in His perfect way and time,” she says.
And through the countless procedures she has undergone, she advises moms who have difficulty getting pregnant to have their blood levels checked. It can be essential in determining the other factors that’s preventing you from getting pregnant. “If there’s one thing I wish someone had told me sooner, it would be to look into immunology,” she says. “I only started my immunology treatments after my second failed IVF. I think that we would have gotten answers much earlier and saved ourselves a lot of heartache (and funding).”
Nicole, who first shared her story at the Instagram account @theovaryobstacles, says that she chose to speak about her journey because she wants to encourage other moms to never stop believing. "For some reason, infertility and IVF can be considered taboo, and I wanted to say that there's nothing to be ashamed about. We need to talk about it because couples are dealing with this more often these days, and knowing that you are not alone in this battle is comforting," she says. "There is always hope, and that's what I'm trying to spread in the hearts of those who are dealing with the frustration of interfility."
After all, Nicole is proof that you can surpass this challenging phase. “Miracles happen every single day,” she says. “I have two of them.”