Last fall, we introduced our community to Allyn Rose, a breast cancer previvor, well known women’s health advocate, former Miss USA and Miss America contestant, and full-time model.
Allyn is documenting her journey to motherhood via blogs and videos in hopes that it will lift the veil of the unknown associated with infertility treatment, and also serve as a reminder to women to be their own advocate. “I hope that it will ‘pay it forward’ to other women going through this and help them realize that they aren’t alone either.”
Read Allyn’s First Blog about Her Decision to Undergo IVF:
I talk about a lot of things on my blog, and they really run the gamut: living in a foreign country, breast health, pageants, the Electoral College – you name it! But what I never thought I’d be talking about was undergoing IVF treatment. But here we are! And I’m excited to give you a behind the scenes look at what this process is really like because there’s a lot of confusion out there.
So, let’s dive right in…IVF IS SCARY.
Okay, it’s actually not that scary, but the initial thoughts, research and anxiety going into a procedure like this can be a little daunting. Unlike the traditional IVF patient, my husband and I were not utilizing IVF due to fertility problems, but instead because I carry a rare recessive genetic disease called Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (WAS). If you’re wondering what the heck is that? You’re not alone. It’s a randomly occurring mutation that presents in 1 in every 250,000 male births! So, you likely have never heard of it.
Unfortunately for my family, WAS has been a sad legacy. I lost 3 of my uncles (all before they turned 18) to WAS related diseases. WAS is carried on the X-chromosome and if you remember high school biology, that means that 50% of males (XY) will be affected and 50% of females (XX) will be “carriers” (i.e. we can pass the disease on to our children but we are not affected). I’m one of those unlucky carriers. That means that I have a 50/50 chance of passing this disease/carrier status on to my male children and my female children. That’s some pretty heavy stuff.
It felt like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders when I learned that through IVF with Pre-Implantation Genetic Testing (PGT), you can test and identify the unaffected embryos before you transfer them! You heard that right – you can ensure that you are only transferring the healthy 50% and wait for it… you can completely eliminate the disease from your family tree!
Meaning this mutation ENDS WITH ME. I would be giving my future sons the gift of being WAS free and my daughters the gift of not worrying if they might pass it on to their children. I was sold. The next step – finding an IVF practice that specializes in this miracle work! Enter Stage Left: Shady Grove Fertility.
This was really a no brainer for me. I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and had heard commercials for SGF for years. I knew that they were the leading fertility practice in the country, I heard their growing statistics of couples bringing home their miracle babies and the soothing, calm voice-actor had me sold from day one. But what I didn’t know was that Shady Grove Fertility was the real deal. They are one of the world leaders in IVF and more importantly – they specialize in PGT which was the most important thing in trying to have a healthy baby.
As I did my research, I learned that PGT is able to help eliminate several potential risk factors like chromosomal abnormalities and works for numerous other genetic conditions like BRCA 1 and 2 (the breast cancer gene mutations). So not only was I excited that this would be something that could help Christopher and I on our way to having a baby, I couldn’t wait to share with the breast cancer community that this was a way to eliminate what feels like a life sentence for so many women like me with a family history of breast cancer.
But what really sealed the deal for me with SGF was the flexibility. The biggest hurdle for me in picking a practice was the fact that my job takes me all over the country. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to “stay in one place” (quite literally) for the length of my cycle. Shady Grove Fertility came to the rescue again – they have 38 office locations across the U.S. so I had the flexibility of being seen at another office and I ended up having to! (More on that later). The next question was – how do I choose the right doctor?
Well, this one kind of fell in my lap. I found out that one of my oldest childhood friends, Amanda, was working at SGF! I reached out to her (promising that I wasn’t messaging her on Facebook to sign her up for an MLM) and asked for her recommendation on her favorite doctor at Shady Grove Fertility. She was adamant that I needed to work with Dr. Kate Devine. If she was as good as her name sounded, we were set. Well, there’s no other way to say it, but she blew my mind. I felt unbelievably at ease and confident going into the initial procedure and I owe that in large part to knowing that I was in Dr. Devine’s… divine hands (had to use that at least once).
The only thing left was to get started.