My friends in college always teased me about getting my MRS. degree because they knew all I wanted to do was get married and be a mom. To their surprise, I did finish my nutrition degree and became a dietitian. I visited my twin sister at her college often, which was how I met Jeff. He lived just a few doors down from her. Needless to say, all those weekend trips eventually led to marriage! A few years after being married, we were ready to start our family.
Getting Started with Clomid
After a year and a half of trying to conceive with no luck and what seemed like hundreds of ovulation predictor kits, I saw my regular OB for my unpredictable cycles. She gave me a prescription for Clomid to help me ovulate. We found out we were pregnant on New Year’s Day 2010, and we were so excited! Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long. Soon after, we learned that we had lost the baby. We were encouraged to see a fertility specialist by two of my close friends, Amy and Michelle. Both had recently become pregnant after undergoing IVF at Shady Grove Fertility. They raved about their experience and the care they received.
Making Progress to Baby Town
At the next insurance open enrollment, I switched to my husband's insurance, which thankfully had fertility coverage under the Maryland state mandate. Switching insurance allowed us to move forward with fertility treatment, so we scheduled our consultation with Dr. Greenhouse in the Fair Oaks, Virginia office in the beginning of January 2011.
It felt like we were finally making progress to baby town. After completing the barrage of preliminary fertility testing, we started our first IUI cycle. We got pregnant again! But once again, bad news. This miscarriage prompted more testing which confirmed our diagnosis: Balanced Translocation. Balanced Translocation causes genetic problems with a baby's chromosomes, which we learned was the cause of my previous miscarriages. With this diagnosis, we jumped straight to IVF along with genetic screening for each embryo.
Jeff had unknowingly inherited this genetic condition from his dad. His parents also had three miscarriages but persevered and had three children. They experienced the same heartache conceiving we were going through during a time when fertility treatment was scarce. Forty years later, the cause of their unknown fertility issues were finally revealed.
In addition to infertility struggles, I also have type 1 diabetes. Although my practice with insulin shots made me a pro for fertility injections, it was super tricky balancing my insulin with the hormone roller coaster caused by my fertility medications. It was hard work to keep my sugar levels perfect to prevent complications with the baby, but everything went great!
Moving to IVF
Our first IVF cycle was scheduled and we were feeling every emotion going into it: nervous, excited, scared, and especially hopeful! The first IVF cycle didn’t work and neither did the two cycles after it, but we never gave up. Fast forward a few years…after three miscarriages, one IUI cycle, and four IVF cycles...at last! We were successfully pregnant! Learning from previous heartache, we were "cautiously optimistic," still skeptical after our prior disappointments. Every ultrasound was a nail biter. But we were right; IVF cycle number four was the final one! We were ecstatic and later found out we were going to have a precious baby girl!
However, our journey wasn’t finished yet. At 20 weeks, I started to dilate from an "incompetent cervix" caused by the previous miscarriages. After emergency surgery, I was put on bed rest until delivery. As great as lying around comfortably on the couch sounds, it was only nice for a day. Bed rest quickly transitioned to torture. But it was all worth it; four months later, baby Alison finally arrived, healthy and perfect!
Despite the stress infertility brings, the best part was my husband's amazing effort to be there 100% of the time. Our special time was sitting together eating breakfast, and talking each other off the "what if we can't" cliff. On top of that, he was not there for me just emotionally: Jeff attended nearly all of the 96 appointments and traveled with me for the 8,000+ miles it took to drive to the appointments while we were on our fertility journey; literally, it was a journey. Thank God for the HOV lane and medical mileage tax deductions!
Making Friends Along the Way
At all of the appointments, one smile consistently greeted us almost every morning at the Fair Oaks office: Barbara, the Patient Service Representative. We immediately developed a close relationship with her. Barbara was with us through the ups and downs and we always looked forward to seeing her (and her bowl of mints) at each appointment. Alison must have known how special Barbara was because she was born the day before Barbara’s birthday! Anyways, after we graduated from Shady Grove Fertility, we expected our journey to be finished.
Out of nowhere, nearly a year after our last IVF cycle, I received an email from Barbara. She had learned about the national infertility video contest hosted by Ferring Pharmaceuticals, and she immediately thought of us! She nominated us to share our journey for Alison.
Sharing Our Story
I immediately started brainstorming ideas of how to creatively portray our story in the 2013 Ferring Heart to Heart Video Contest. It was my wish that our video would provide hope to others also struggling to conceive, while raising infertility awareness. Barbara, Dr. Greenhouse, and the entire Shady Grove Fertility staff were very supportive throughout the entire contest. They encouraged everyone at Shady Grove Fertility to vote for us, and Barbara even reached out to her neighborhood for support! Every step of the contest was such a healing experience for me: from the video creation, to sharing and rallying votes, and finally the celebration (spoiler alert)!
On Tuesday, October 22nd, we were announced the 2013 Ferring Heart to Heart Video Contest winners! We couldn’t believe it! Thanks to 1,882 online voters, we were awarded first place and won the $15,000 college scholarship fund for Alison! I am so grateful to Dr. Greenhouse, Barbara, and all of the staff at Shady Grove Fertility for their expertise, as well as Ferring for hosting such an inspiring contest. We are honored to have had the opportunity to encourage others and raise awareness for the 1 in 8 couples who face infertility.
Life is amazing with our hard-earned miracle, Alison June. She is 11 months old and keeps us on our toes! You will never forget your struggles with infertility, but it does become more distant once your miracle arrives; yes, the prize makes life that much sweeter! We're ready to go back to the freezer for #2 this spring, although Jeff isn't looking forward to four months of me on bed rest and having to take care of a toddler! My MRS. degree is finally complete and we couldn't be happier with how 2013 has blessed our family! Wishing you all the best for an amazing 2014!