Monica Bivas is an incredibly passionate mom and IVF, Fertility and Life Coach determined to teach others how to “squeeze the sweetness” out of the fertility journey. She describes her own path to parenthood as a difficult “rollercoaster of emotions” but one which taught her that “perfection is imperfection, and imperfection is beautiful”. Monica’s story includes five rounds of IVF, four pregnancies, and painful loss. She generously shared all of it with us, as well as how the journey was a process of self-discovery that inspired her to help others walking the same path…
IVF, Fertility & Life Coach, Monica Bivas
1. You’ve had a difficult journey to create your beautiful family – but you persevered and now are supporting so many others. Then, inspired by your experience, you created your mindset and fertility coaching business. To start, can you share your fertility story?
My name is Monica Bivas, I am an IVF, Fertility & Life coach, I am not a famous woman or celebrity, I am a regular woman, an IVF Warrior with a story to tell to inspire others. A story that thankfully took me to the beautiful place I am right now, And I want to share it with you.
My road to motherhood was not an easy one, and I know that there are so many women and couples out there struggling to be parents, so here is my own experience of it.
My fertility journey started 15 years ago when I came to the United States after marrying my husband in my country, Colombia. I wanted to get pregnant right away. After a little bit more than a year of trying I got worried and thought that I must be the one with the problem. My hubby already had a cute little girl from a previous relationship (she is 19 years old today and I love her as my own).
My OBGYN put me on clomid for two months, but nothing happened. I felt very depressed, but my husband always supported me. Next we did a lot of blood tests which all came back normal and my hormone levels were amazing. I always had very steady and exact periods, so all seemed ok on that side.
After, I went for a hysterosalpingogram. My OBGYN told us that both my tubes were blocked (eventually, they found that my tubes were blocked due to Endometriosis) which was the reason I couldn’t get pregnant, because the embryo could not travel from the tubes to the uterus. He gave us a card recommending an RE well known here in NY and with very reasonable prices. I left that office devastated, crying non-stop. My husband calmed me down in the car telling me to look on the bright side – that we can be grateful that there is still hope of having a baby.
We went to see this RE in November 2004. He ordered further tests and a laparoscopy to try to open the tubes and then proceed to do another hysterosalpingogram, but the tubes were still blocked. IVF was our only choice. Everything went smoothly – the RE retrieved 34 eggs, 14 of which fertilized, and we transferred 4. One of those became my now 15-year old Eliyah, which was amazing, because as most going through IVF know, most first-time cycles are not successful.
In 2009, during my second IVF cycle, due to a mistake by the nurse who mixed up charts with another patient and gave me the wrong medicine dosage, I got very sick with OHSS and my cycle had to be cancelled. The RE offered us another cycle for free. For this third cycle we decided to do chromosomal testing. We got 5 Blastocysts. The tests found out that one of the 5 embryos had Chromosomic issues, so we decided again this time to transfer the remaining 4. From this 4, 3 were very good and 1 was developing slower (this one was a female; the 3 good ones were males). We transferred all 4 embryos and the embryo which was behind attached and developed into a pregnancy.
My pregnancy was good all the way, including the amniocentesis, which was when we confirmed that we were having a girl. Everything was normal. But no one knew that I was developing a blood clotting problem. At 39 weeks, 3 days before my delivery due date, my Isabelle died in my womb due to a blood clot in the umbilical cord. I had to deliver her anyway. I was devastated and wanted to die from the emotional pain, and I felt guilty for what had happened. It was very painful. I felt so empty that I did not even wait 3 months before going for round four of IVF. I did get a positive test in this 4th round, but I guess from the sadness, the loss of the baby (a complete baby), the stress and the fear all combined with other personal things (my marriage crumbled and we almost got divorced, but love always wins), I miscarried at 7 weeks.
After all of this rollercoaster of emotions and situations that happened to us as a couple and as a family with our daughter Eliyah and our Stepdaughter Daniella, we decided to work on our marriage and focus on what we had and, after a year and a half, in September 2012, we started another round of IVF, this would be our 5th and last cycle. We decided that we will do this last one, with baby or without, but it would be our last try to bring a sibling to our daughter Eliyah. During this cycle I shifted my thoughts and decided to take things easy. I was more relaxed. I got a positive pregnancy test and today she is our 7-year-old Maya. For very strong reasons, I feel that Maya is our Isabelle’s soul back in a little different body.
I can’t say that infertility and IVF were an easy road for me, but it was all worth it, and I would do it again if that means becoming a mom. This helped me to find my passion, which is what I do today, helping others walking the same path to have support and love around them. It was a process of Self-Discovery for me and I am grateful for that.
It inspired me to also write my book The IVF Planner, and now I am working on a fertility coloring book series, hopefully launching the first one in November, the month my first IVF girl was born.
I truly hope my story and my experience can help others and assure them that no matter how difficult this road is, it can teach us and bring us some joy in between the pain. Like the popular saying: “The pain that you’ve been feeling cannot compare to the joy that is coming”.
Monica with her beautiful family
2. From offerings such as week-long summits to 1:1 support sessions – we’d love to hear all about what you do and how you figure out which program is best for each individual’s needs and journey.
My approach is Mindset & Holistic, I coach women, and couples, no matter their sexual orientation, who are trying to conceive via ART, and also naturally. I have Free Resources on my website, from meditations, PDF guides and coloring pages. I have a Fertility Bundle Accelerator, an online product that includes guides to starters TTC along with one-hour coaching from me. I also offer coaching programs, one-on-one and group coaching, depending on each individual’s needs and where they are in their journey. Together, we go over the programs and decide which is the best. I do this by offering a 45-minute discovery call in which we have time to get to know each other, find out where they are in their journey and eventually conclude if we are a good fit for each other. Once this is decided, the coaching program chosen starts.
3. You created ‘The IVF Planner’ – do you recommend that one keeps a journal throughout the process and how did doing so help you?
Yes, my book The IVF Planner came from my own struggle during my 5 cycles of IVF. I was losing records of my blood tests results, hormone levels, and egg measurements because I did not have a specific notebook in which I could save cycle details So I created a journal that not only includes detailed charts one can use and must have during an IVF cycle, but also combines a little bit of art therapy in the 2WW chapter and space for journaling on our feelings, our thoughts and how we feel on a daily basis during our journey.
The girls! Monica, Eliyah and Maya 🙂
4. The last year has been like nothing anyone could have expected. I’d say one of the few silver linings was more time with close family. Do you have any favorite activities or memories from quarantine?
Definitely that bond with family was a plus during the pandemic, it taught me to value the family unit that is so important to our values as humans. I learned that the little and simple things are the ones that can make a big difference in how we can create a better future for ourselves and our loved ones. We played games with our children, we discovered new things about them and they did about us. Definitely the family unit was the best part of it.
5. Finally, what advice would you give to intended parents on GoStork – who are just beginning their own family building journey?
The best advice I can give intended parents on GoStork is that by being aware and knowing that this journey is not an easy one, that it is one worth all the effort, and that it will eventually bring to them the joy of becoming parents, the joy of having that baby and that rainbow of light in their lives, and when feeling that there is no hope (because sometimes multiple attempts are needed), is when they must not give up. I talk from my own experience, and I know it’s easier said than done, but awareness will help.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Monica. It wasn’t an easy journey for you and your family, but it’s amazing how you’re now helping so many others! Intended parents: follow Monica on Instagram @monicabivas and at www.monicabivas.com for helpful tips and support.