By: Isabella Brown
Briana is known as “Making Baby Fi” on Instagram. After struggling with infertility, she created an online platform where she could share her story with a community who would understand and support her. As she embarks on a new journey through the embryo adoption process, she hopes to be a source of support, comfort, and education for those going through similar things. “I feel like I have to be really open about embryo adoption, so that if someone after me is doing it, I can be a resource”, Briana says. “There wasn’t a lot for me, and I’m sure there was even less for those who came before me. I know there are more people out there who I can learn from and who can learn from me”. She strives to create a space where she and her followers can be honest and open about what they’re experiencing.
“I feel like I have to be really open about embryo adoption, so that if someone after me is doing it, I can be a resource.” - Briana
Briana’s path to embryo adoption was filled with clinic visits, medical testing, and unexpected turns. On the one year anniversary of Briana’s wedding, she and her husband decided they were ready to start trying for a baby. It was March of 2018 and the newlyweds were hopeful and excited about the future of their family. Yet after trying to conceive for six months, nothing happened. After hearing this, her gynecologist decided to send her in for some preliminary fertility testing. The doctor wanted to “rule out” any issues that may be interfering with Briana’s fertility. These tests revealed that Briana had hypothyroidism/Hashimotos disease. She was told that once she was medicated for this condition, she should have no trouble conceiving. However, after getting medicated, another six months passed by with no pregnancy. Briana began to wonder what was going on. It was March 2019, and she and her husband had been trying for a year. At this point, Briana’s husband was sent for testing, and diagnosed with low count and low motility. The two were referred to a fertility specialist, who then diagnosed Briana with PCOS. Briana was prescribed metformin, and soon began IUIs for May and June of 2019. Both of these attempts were medicated, and both failed.
All of the testing, disappointment, and bad news started to discourage Briana, who decided it was time to take a break. She felt exhausted and overwhelmed by the world of infertility. In the midst of this break she realized it was time to try a new clinic- her newfound community of Instagram followers had educated her about the different clinic options that could be better for her. Her new clinic ran some of the same tests, to make sure nothing had changed. To Briana’s surprise, this clinic redacted her PCOS diagnosis, telling her that she didn’t have any of the typical symptoms associated with the condition. The metformin prescription, therefore, was not doing anything to help Briana conceive. Misdiagnoses of PCOS are common, and cause setbacks for many women on their fertility journeys.
More tests run by the new clinic revealed Briana’s low AMH and diminished ovarian reserve. The doctor said her AMH levels were a bit lower than normal, but nothing to be concerned about. Two months later, they re-ran the test and her levels had dropped again, however they remained in a normal range. When the test was run a third time, they had dropped again and her doctor became concerned. Briana was called in for an emergency ultrasound, which revealed an extremely low number of active follicles in her ovaries. The doctor said the average woman her age would have 15 to 20 active follicles as a baseline, and Briana had nine.
With this new information, in conjunction with Briana’s husband’s setbacks, they came to the realization that their options were quite limited. Briana began to question, “What does IVF look like for us?” They were given a 30-40 percent chance of IVF working, because they just didn’t have as many eggs to work with. Soon after realizing this, Briana and her husband started to explore embryo adoption.
Both Briana and her husband felt that embryo adoption was right for them. With low chances of success through IVF, they were not sure they were willing to risk the disappointment. They had been through so much already, and did not want to experience another failed fertility treatment, or hear more bad news.
Embryo adoption felt like a better path for them. They decided early on that they preferred this option to donor sperm or eggs, feeling that this “simplified an already complicated story”. It seemed too complex, Briana says, for their child to have one of their DNA instead of both of their DNA. “If it’s not going to be both of us, genetically, it’s going to be neither of us,” she explains. This was what Briana and her husband were most comfortable with, and ultimately what lead them to decide on embryo adoption as their path to conceiving.
Their clinic connected them with a network of embryo donors, and eventually helped them to find two potential matches based on their criteria. Two days before Christmas of 2019, they found out that they had a match and would receive two embryos. Briana was so excited and grateful to finally receive good news. She and her husband let their family know on Christmas, through a note that read, “There’s no bun in the oven but we have two in the freezer. It’s a match- we’re adopting two embryos.” Everyone was so excited for them, and supportive of their decision to adopt.
“There’s no bun in the oven but we have two in the freezer. It’s a match- we’re adopting two embryos.” - Briana
Briana acknowledges that her journey to motherhood is different than others, but she remains celebratory and positive about the momentum of the adoption process. “Infertility takes so much of the fun out of everything. I’m celebrating every little victory, and being matched is a victory”. After hearing so much bad news, she is embracing all the good that comes her way. She has learned through her Instagram platform that everyone’s fertility journey is different, but that everyone should support and listen to one another. “Our paths are so different but we’re all driving towards the same goal,” she says. Briana just started her mock cycle. After a saline sonogram and endometrial biopsy, she will begin a transfer cycle. Both Briana and her husband are feeling hopeful and positive about this new chapter.
Sharing her story on Instagram has been positive for Briana. “When I don’t know who to tell, I know who to tell. I know who’s gonna understand,” she says. “When I have a question I know who to go to. Because otherwise, this is pretty isolating.” Briana is unapologetic about sharing her story. She knows that this community has been through a lot of disappointment, and needs to realize they’re not alone. “We all get bad news. Posting about it encourages people to realize it’s okay to be sad, and it’s okay to get bad news.” She reflects about the importance of being able to distinguish between being negative and getting bad news. Briana believes it is okay to feel sad when things don’t go your way. “A lot of people in this community feel bad for feeling bad,” she says. “That's not healthy. What I tell people is, ‘you gotta feel it to heal it’.” She believes embracing your feelings will inevitably make you a stronger, and more resilient person.
"You gotta feel it to heal it." - Briana
“If you’re feeling sad, or angry, or jealous, or whatever ugly emotion it is, feel it. You have to go through that in order to come out of it. Otherwise you get stuck”. Through honesty and openness, Briana has created an informative and inspiring community on Instagram. She continues to post updates about her story, which over twenty five hundred people are following. As she embarks on her new journey through embryo adoption, she remains hopeful, positive, and excited about what is to come.