BEFORE GABRIELA - 5 failed IUI and 3 IVF/ICSI cycles

Wayne and I had been trying to conceive for approximately 12 months when we decided to get some tests done with our general practitioner. I was 30, and he was 32. But when the results came back, there were no apparent issues identified. This felt daunting as we didn’t know where exactly to turn. 

Babies were being born all around us at this time, which we were both genuinely excited about. Although we didn’t dwell on our situation in comparison, we both wondered, in the midst of this, who would understand what we were going through if everyone had such an easy time having babies? 

I did not want to go down a medicated IVF route. I was sure that there was a more natural approach, and I set out to find it. This is when I came across Gabriela Rosa and The Fertility Breakthrough Program™. 

I was excited that it appeared there was something else out there – and the results seemed to speak for themselves, but I had a hard time convincing Wayne that a natural alternative approach was possible. So, I agreed to look to modern medicine, and we started on the road with a highly regarded fertility specialist. 

During this time, I continued to follow The Fertility Breakthrough Program™’s Facebook page to help me understand how a more natural approach could work for us.

Our fertility specialist conducted more tests and determined that Wayne’s sperm were perfect (“top of the class!” she told him). However, I ticked 2 out of 3 boxes for PCOS – a diagnosis I resisted, which left me feeling lost and unsure of what to do with this information. No one I’d ever known had PCOS, let alone trouble falling pregnant. 

At each consult, I would ask our specialist what I could do (outside of using the prescribed medications) around diet, supplements, acupuncture, etc., to improve our odds, and each time, I was told that there was not anything we could do. I had a hard time believing this, and I felt stuck because as much as I thought she would listen, I did not feel genuinely heard or acknowledged and felt she wasn’t keen to look outside the box for other solutions.  

I knew some foods healed and foods that harmed the body, and I was sure that there was something else I could be doing. I was also quite peeved that our specialist did not seem to care or know about this. My research showed that acupuncture could be beneficial, so I found myself a lovely naturopath practicing Chinese traditional medicine and acupuncture to add to our tool kit. 

We started on 6 rounds of assisted IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) to see if natural fertilization was possible. It took us over 12 months to get the dosage right, let alone attempt egg collection or conception. I resisted having to use meds as I didn’t want to put any foreign substances into my body, but I felt at the mercy of science, and we followed the prescribed regime to the tee. Month in, month out, we continued to try to conceive naturally.

But after 5 IUI’s, I called it. I’d had enough of waiting, trying again, failing, waiting a month to start, failing, etc. I just knew we had to move to IVF, and we had to move now. 

Our specialist agreed, and we started on an IVF protocol. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect or what lay ahead, but we were excited to move forward. But that flame of excitement quickly dimmed after our first cycle, resulting in a 0% fertilization rate. I don’t think anyone saw that coming! That was truly heartbreaking.

Our specialist explained that because we’d had a failed fertilization rate, what we needed to try now was Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) to hopefully assist with getting the eggs fertilized at the very least. This again gave us hope that it wasn’t all over, but we knew that ICSI brought with it its own set of challenges and risks. Nevertheless, we were keen to forge on.

Our first ICSI cycle netted us with three day-3 embryos. We were SO excited and full of hope as we transferred a fresh embryo. However, sadly, we experienced a BFN two weeks later. This news saddened us, but we still had hope as the other two sources were frozen for later. 

We underwent a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET), and two weeks later, we returned a positive result! We were over the moon! However, 7.5 weeks in and less than 24 hours before our first scan, I miscarried. 

We were utterly devastated and felt so alone and helpless. We were sure this was it. How could it go from being a yes to a no so fast? Was it me? Did I do something wrong? Did this mean I couldn’t carry? Did this point mean we’d never have children of our own? 

So many questions. So many tears. So much is still unknown, but we found comfort in knowing we had another embryo in the freezer. “Ok,” we thought, “one left – this will be the one!” So, we transferred the last of our embryos to another FET. Two weeks later, we returned a negative result. This was a real blow to our confidence. Two negatives and a positive that ended in a loss. What now? Was that it? Surely not! We’d had a positive; we’d been so close! So we clung to this, optimistically hoping and wishing that this meant one day we might still be able to have a child of our own. 

At times, it was hard to put on a brave face, but we supported each other and made sure that, at all times, both parties were doing okay.

Our specialist wanted to change up the ICSI protocol by trying different meds and taking any fertilized embryos we could get to day 5. This sounded promising, so we went for it and were surprised we had 8 eggs fertilized! This was incredible, and we reveled in this news. Day 3 and five of the embryos were still looking good. On day 4, they were all starting to lag noticeably. Day 5, and there were none left. All had regressed, and we had another devastating 0% success rate.

Having a baby was still an unrealized dream, and we felt further away than ever. This blew our self-esteem, confidence, and long-held visions of having a family. We could both feel it slipping away – a horrifying feeling.

I started to question EVERYTHING. Was it the egg or the sperm that caused this catastrophic failure? Was it the medication protocol – was that incorrect for us? Did the lab do something wrong? Did I do something wrong? Was there something wrong with us? What did all this mean? What could we do to improve our results? Could ANYTHING be done to improve our results? Or was this it?

Our specialist sat us down and explained that it was most likely an egg quality issue and that the best thing to do would be to start looking for a donor egg – a process that could take up to five years – or perhaps even register on an embryo-donor list, something that could potentially take even longer. 

So, after having spent the last 3 years under her guidance, we parted ways, and I decided that we needed to try something different. 

A different specialist – but who? What would they do differently? Were they all the same? How would we know we wouldn’t spend the next three years doing the same thing we’d done and potentially get the same results? We’d hit a crossroads. We hadn’t lost all hope, but our flame was flickering.


After about 6 months and hours upon hours religiously scouring internet chat forums for answers and still not being any closer to knowing which new local fertility specialist to turn to, I realized that we were killing valuable time – time I didn’t feel we had to lose. So I again looked up The Fertility Breakthrough Program™ and announced to Wayne that I was completing the application for us to join the program. 

I’d been following the program for years on Facebook and felt it aligned with the holistic lifestyle changes I’d made over the last few years: diet, health, and personal products. To my surprise, he had no objections to this, so suddenly, I felt like we were taking charge of our situation and felt the most empowered we’d been in a long time. 

We had to answer some pretty intense and challenging questions both in a 50-page questionnaire and in person, and as much as I knew that we aligned with the program’s values, a little voice of doubt started to creep in. “Did WE have what it took to do this? Could we afford it? What if Gabriela decided we weren’t the right people – what then? Did that mean we’d failed? Would that be the end of our journey and dreams shattered?” The swirl of thoughts and emotions was intense.

Being accepted into the program meant I felt acknowledged for what I’d learned from my research and lifestyle changes. I thought we’d missed this, yet I couldn’t see the road ahead. We knew we simply had to trust the process and take it one step after another.

There were many changes in lifestyle and habits that neither of us saw coming. Although the workload felt overwhelming at the start, we drew much support from The Fertility Breakthrough Program™ as hundreds, if not thousands, of people had done it before, and their stories of success helped immensely. As I’d already changed many of my habits and products over the years, I felt confident in what we had to do, especially since we had the team to hold our hand and guide us through it.

For Wayne, on the other hand, I don’t think he’d seen all of the changes coming and was taken by surprise by some of them. Never once did he say he wouldn’t follow the process, and for the most part, because he’d seen the changes in my diet and habits over the years, this bit was a no-brainer for him and easy to implement. But he had to do some things, significantly changing his products, which challenged him. 

Wayne and I are a great team, so we held each other up if we slipped. We didn’t ever go off the rails rules-wise, but sometimes we didn’t feel as confident as we could have, so we relied on the strength of the other to overcome these dips. Irrespective of the challenges we faced, we would give it 100% because we knew that a baby is equal parts mother and father, which meant neither of us would be allowed to slack. 

It was comforting to know that we were finally being thoroughly assessed instead of being told to “just keep doing the same thing and expect different results.”

Approximately 18 months into The Fertility Breakthrough Program™ (which included a 6-month stint working with a new gynecologist specializing in an alternative fertility treatment protocol, which we tried – but to no avail), I knew we needed to find a new fertility specialist. 

We found a lovely, highly respected, and regarded fertility specialist in our city. We were keen to see what difference the last 18 months of the program had potentially made to the quality of our eggs and sperm.

Our new fertility specialist acknowledged that he, too, felt it was a chromosomal issue, which was likely due to poor egg quality, but that we could collect six embryos through several batches to perform Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS). We decided that we were prepared to undergo up to three ICSI cycles and would PGS test as many embryos as possible during these three cycles. That gave us a goal to work towards, as leaving things open-ended, we found, was a sure way to derail us. 

This was exciting. To know that there was something else possible gave us an incredible amount of hope. It also left me feeling like he was the right guy for the job. He had a charming character, softly spoken yet full of information and able to deliver it in a way and answer our questions, making us feel heard and understood. 

He was also happy to work with our FBP practitioner in a three-way relationship, which was a huge relief. We discovered that they were both very aligned in their thinking and approach.

We kicked off our first ICSI cycle and could freeze one day-5 embryo and one day-6 embryo. Both embryos were grade two, meaning their cells were beautifully divided and robust. To receive this news was like we’d hit the jackpot. We’d never received results like this. Ever. Tears of joy streamed down our faces as we hung up the phone from the lab. Without a doubt, we knew the results were because of what we’d been putting into practice in The Fertility Breakthrough Program™; we just had to hope that we could repeat these results.

When we came to start our second ICSI cycle, to say we were full of nervous excitement would be an understatement. All those injections and appointments were beginning to take their place in our history, and it was getting more accessible and easier to look past them to a brighter future. Even when I mistakenly administered the wrong medication during a cycle, the whole thing had to be canceled, and we had to wait two months to try again. 

The mistake cost us financially, but we didn’t let this sink our confidence. We couldn’t. We were still buoyant because of the previous cycle’s results, and they kept us from going under.

We commenced a new cycle, and everything went beautifully. We had roughly the same amount of eggs collected and a similar fertilization rate to the first cycle. By day 5, we had another good-looking grade two embryo frozen, and we watched and waited with bated breath until the following day to see if we’d have another pull-through. And there it was – a grade two, day-6 embryo. Now, we had four in the freezer and were over the moon. The goal of six was now in reach.

The time for the third ICSI cycle came around fast, and we entered it with absolute enthusiasm and precision focus. This was it. Whatever happened during this third and final cycle would be sent for PGS testing. We again collected roughly the same amount of eggs, the fertilization rate was similar to the last two processes, and by day 5, half of the embryos were still looking good. Still, one looked the strongest, so it entered the freezer. 

By day 6, we had another strong embryo ready for testing. We’d made it to six!! We both cried tears of absolute joy. I felt we’d delivered someone else’s results, as this doesn’t happen to us. It was incredibly surreal, but we knew all the work we’d meticulously undertaken had been worth it. It had proved itself three times in a row – the results didn’t lie, and we were so thankful that we’d followed and trusted the process without even knowing the PGS test results.

The process for PGS testing is risky, and we knew that thawing out embryos, biopsying them, and then refreezing them could lead to us losing any number of them. Fortunately, five survived the process. A nervous seven-day wait saw us jump when the phone eventually rang. 

The lab confirmed that three of the five tested were chromosomally normal! When I asked the lab which cycles the normal embryos were from, they told me that there was one embryo from each of our three cycles. They commented that they rarely see such consistent results – usually, they’d see one process produce all or more of the ‘good’ embryos.

This news was the most unbelievable news we’d ever received. Here we were, in only two and a half years, from a 0% fertilization rate to having three beautifully normal embryos ready. Was this even possible? Were these our results? Had the lab got us mixed up with someone else? It was 110% evident to us that, despite our fertility specialist wanting to take a little of the credit, correcting the minor factors in egg, sperm, and together, our overall health had been the difference. 

The Fertility Breakthrough Program™ had been the difference. There was nothing that anyone could ever say to us that would make us feel any different about this, and we did have people try to tell us that changing doctors must have been the secret, but we are more sure than they will ever know as to why we got such incredible results. 

After all these years, we could hardly believe we were now looking to transfer a healthy embryo. It all seemed so dream-like. Two and a half years after commencing The Fertility Breakthrough Program™ and after so much tweaking of our protocols, we were ready to transfer our first healthy embryo, and we were nervous with excitement. What if this worked? What if it didn’t? How hard would the two-week wait be when you knew your odds were the best they’d ever been? 

To ensure that I was fully relaxed, I took a break from work before the transfer, and the day after, we headed away on a camping holiday. One of the practices I’d started while on the program was meditating daily, visualizing a healthy uterus, successful implantation, and a happy and healthy pregnancy and birth. This practice was a true godsend and greatly impacted our success. 

I had to visit a rural pathology clinic and have my two-week blood taken, followed by a nervous 4-day wait for results. The day we expected the call, we headed into town, partly to make sure we had something to do, take our mind off the waiting, and ensure we had phone coverage and wouldn’t miss the call. 

We were sitting at a local café when my mobile rang. It was the nursing staff from the clinic, and I instantly felt nauseous with anticipation. There we were, surrounded by strangers while we sat at a wobbly café table in a small coastal town during the height of tourist time, holding each other’s hands tight as I answered the phone. After so long, hearing “Congratulations, you’re pregnant” was almost unbearable. We both sat quietly in tears across the table as I spoke to the nurse. 

After we hung up, we went to the pharmacy to buy a pregnancy test kit. Although we’d just had confirmation, I wanted a visual representation of the gift we’d just been given that we could see and touch. I still have that stick in my drawer, and the two blue lines are as dark as ever. 

Both Wayne and I, without a shadow of a doubt, believe that without having taken the massive leap of faith and starting on the program, we would be in a very different place today, quite possibly having given up on our dream of having children of our own and settling for “I guess it wasn’t meant to be.” 

During our seven-year journey, we found ourselves at many, many crossroads. Fortunately, we followed our instincts and hearts while we used our heads to make sense of the influx of information that we were bombarded with from different specialists or our research. We dared to try something different. We’d seen the results on the private Facebook page, enough to keep the dream alive and not let anything get in our way. 

Was it challenging? Differently for each of us and to varying degrees, but yes. Did we have to surrender to the process? Yes. Were we supported by The Fertility Breakthrough Program™ team? 100%. Did we play it all out? You have to – the stakes are too high not to. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Would we change anything about our journey? Not a thing!

We are genuinely grateful to Gabriela for her vision, passion, love, and service to humankind. She is empowering people to live a life of inspiration instead of one of desperation, and for that, we are so thankful. Her program and team have made THE difference to us as individuals and as a family – as we would never have met our sweet Elsie without them. 

We are sure that the advice we received before conception and during my pregnancy set an incredible foundation for a happy and healthy pregnancy, an uncomplicated labor, delivery, and birth, and a beautifully comfortable and healthy baby.