When Gabriela Nigretti couldn’t get pregnant, she embarked on a fertility journey, which she candidly shared on social media. When the in Milford, Connecticut, data annotation manager started in vitro fertilization (IVF), she announced it as if she were announcing a pregnancy, in part, to reduce the stigma and isolation associated with infertility. She shares her story with TODAY to encourage others to advocate for themselves and to raise awareness of weight biases she says she faced.
Soon after my wedding in 2017, my husband and I began trying to have a baby. I’ve always felt I was made to be a mom. When we started, I was 25. I understood I wouldn’t get pregnant the first time we tried, but I didn’t expect that it would take months or ultimately years.
After trying for a while, I reached out to my OB-GYN and a fertility specialist. Both recommended that I lose weight so that my body mass index (BMI) would lower. Doctors offered generic weight loss advice, such as cutting carbs or exercising more. This felt frustrating. I already worked out five days a week and focused on healthy eating. I was literally doing everything I could at that point to get pregnant and it wasn’t working. That’s why I visited the doctors, and the lack of fertility advice or care felt disappointing.
Finally, I switched doctors and saw a new OB-GYN in 2020. I asked for a complete pre-conception panel to see if my hormones revealed any helpful information. The test showed I had low levels of Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH), which meant I had a diminished ovarian reserve. Finally, I thought this would get me the fertility assistance I so desperately wanted. But that doctor urged me to wait another six months to see if I could get pregnant before recommending a fertility specialist. Frustrated, I visited a fertility specialist myself.
For months, doctors ran tests on my husband and me to determine why I wasn't getting pregnant. The only thing that kept coming up was my low AMH levels — and my weight. (Editor’s note: Some research shows that obesity can negatively affect AMH levels, but Nigretti tells TODAY.com that no doctor ever connected the two for her. Weight alone does not cause infertility, and she still does not know if her weight played any part in what did cause her fertility issues.) The fertility doctor recommended I see an endocrinologist, who found there was no reason why I shouldn’t get pregnant other than low AMH levels.
I scoured TikTok looking for advice and success stories when I heard of a fertility center that cost less than the one I had been using. I visited them and the doctor wanted to retrieve eggs. I was thrilled. This doctor actually listened to me and wanted me to start me on my fertility journey. By July 2021, I began IVF.
I wanted to share my experience to help others and started sharing on social media. Then I announced my IVF as if I were announcing a pregnancy. I suspected that if I faced so much toxic advice about weight loss and dieting, I wasn’t alone. I wanted to help people feel less isolated than I did.
For a long time, I had blamed myself that my weight was keeping me from my dreams. I remember crying to my husband that I was sorry that I did this to myself so that we couldn’t have children. Doctors assumed I had PCOS and type 2 diabetes with one telling me “You are so big.” (I had neither condition.) I felt disheartened that everyone blamed my weight when it was a hormone issue that they could have found if they listened to me. I didn’t want others to experience this, so I shared my story. I wanted to offer hope for others and help them feel less alone. I hoped they could learn from me advocating for myself that being overweight isn’t an infertility diagnosis. If even one person learned something, I felt like a success.
I also wanted to celebrate the joy I felt finally undergoing IVF. When the doctor told me I was a great candidate for IVF I felt validated and excited. I was grateful that science gave me an option to have a baby. I underwent embryo transfer in July and September 2021 and shared with my followers.
Ultimately, neither of the rounds of IVF resulted in a pregnancy, and I needed to take a break. I felt like I had fought so hard for so long only to end up without a baby. After taking some time to heal, I began taking Clomid, a drug that boosts ovulation. I thought if this didn’t work, I’d begin IVF in the new year. From October to March 2022, I didn’t know how to spend my time. After five years of testing for ovulation, getting blood work done, researching doctors, I wasn’t participating in any of that.
Surprisingly, on March 24, 2022, I found out I was pregnant. Of course, I shared my pregnancy on social media, including my 27-week delivery of my son, Michael, because of a placental abruption.
If we try having another baby and I need IVF I’d announce it like a pregnancy again. It allowed me to meet so many people in the infertility community what we often say is the worst club with the best members. Feeling the love and support from them has been so genuine and made the ups and downs of infertility easier to grapple with and allowed me to become a better advocate for myself.
Throughout the month of March, TODAY.com is celebrating women across generations who have made history and continue to move the conversation forward by breaking stigmas, sparking dialogue and inspiring the next generation.