Navigating the Unexpected: Kristen’s Fertility Journey


From the beginning, Kristen Ciodyk was a planner. As a teenager, she had her life neatly mapped out. She would meet her soulmate in school, would be married by 21, and would have 4 kids by age 30. Growing up as an only child in her household, she wanted a huge family and wanted her kids to be close in age.

Little did she know, life had a lot of unexpected things in store for her. Kristen went to her first OB/GYN in 2012 at age 17 because she had not yet started her menstrual cycle.

“She’s a late bloomer,” the doctor assured her mother, and Kristen was given a medication that resulted in her first menstrual cycle a few days later. However, it was not until 2014 – two years later – that Kristen finally had her second menstrual cycle at 19 years old. During those two years, Kristen had seen dozens of doctors who prescribed different types of hormonal birth control . For Kristen, these prescriptions didn’t seem to do anything other than cause vomiting, headaches, and generally make her feel out of sorts.

In 2015 at age 20, Kristen visited a doctor who diagnosed her with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal condition causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. Kristen was concerned and she had a lot of questions. “What does a PCOS diagnosis mean?” “How does this affect my future?” “Can I still have children?” She continued to search for a doctor she felt took her family-building questions and concerns seriously.

“During those years, I had maybe 2 [menstrual] cycles, but they were lasting for months on end this time, and when I say months, I mean 7 – 8 month cycles, never stopping.”

Finally, in 2017, Kristen met a doctor who truly listened to her story. With a new treatment plan in place that was effective for managing her cycles, that picture Kristen had always painted in her mind as a child was beginning to take shape again. However, Kristen and Joseph, her high school sweetheart turned husband,  still had a long journey ahead of them.

In 2018, Kristen and Joseph had their first glimpse of pregnancy, which tragically ended at 12 weeks and 6 days. They were pregnant again in 2021, but this pregnancy resulted in another loss at 5 weeks. Though their hearts were shattered, they did not give up hope that they would someday be parents. In 2022, after months of attempting to regulate Kristen’s cycle, her OB/GYN referred her to her first fertility clinic.

“We went in kind of knowing what we wanted to do and had questions about everything.”

From the first appointment, Kristen had a feeling that the clinic was not the right fit. But she pushed ahead and underwent intrauterine insemination (IUI) in October. It was unsuccessful. In December, Kristen underwent a second round of IUI. When she went in for her bloodwork and her hCG level came back, the clinic staff recommended she try a third round of IUI. With a strange feeling in her gut telling her otherwise, Kristen asked the clinic to run more bloodwork, and when she was turned down, she turned to an at-home test. In January of 2023, her at-home test showed she was pregnant.

Panicked over the dismissal from her fertility clinic and her health history, Kristen and Joseph went to the ER, where her pregnancy was confirmed. Excited and confused, Kristen sent her results to the clinic and was shocked and devastated when they dismissed her results. She reached out immediately to her OB/GYN to explain the situation, who administered several more tests confirming the pregnancy.

At 5 weeks, Kristen began experiencing severe pains that resulted in her ending up in the ER twice. Because her hCG levels remained high, her providers began treating her for a UTI. The pains continued and Kristen and Joseph learned they had an ectopic pregnancy that needed to be terminated immediately. On January 13, 2023, they said goodbye for the third time, and Kristen’s OB/GYN advised her to wait three months before trying again.

During this three-month waiting period, Kristen began her own research for a fertility doctor. Everyone she spoke to recommended Indiana Fertility Institute, and in April 2023, she had her first appointment with Dr. Meredith Provost.

“I instantly knew she was going to be the perfect doctor for my family. I felt so comfortable and understood and cared for from the beginning.”

In October 2023, Kristen started her in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey. 41 eggs were retrieved, 35 of those were mature, 33 were fertilized, 20 became embryos, and all 20 of the embryos survived the freezing process. In November, Kristen underwent a frozen embryo transfer, which was unsuccessful.

Today, Kristen and Joseph are in a holding pattern at cycle day one until she can undergo another embryo transfer in June 2024. “During all this time, Dr. Provost and her team have been absolutely amazing, answering all my questions and helping me figure out what I need to do during the waiting period. We are so excited to be continuing our journey with Dr. Provost and cannot wait to have our little miracle.”

Kristen’s fertility journey has been long, filled with waiting and lots of unknowns – and it is not over yet. However, she has found empowerment in the ability to share her story and be there for someone else who is on their own fertility journey.

Her advice? “Don’t hold anything back from your team or your spouse. Any concerns, fears, excitements, questions, or wants. Bring them up and know you always have someone to talk to and everything you’re feeling is valid.”

We are so thankful to Kristen for her bravery, her vulnerability, and her willingness to share her experience to inspire and support others on their fertility journey. At Indiana Fertility Institute, we will be with her, and with all of our patients, every step of the way.