Hallie and Paul were married for five years before they began trying to have a baby. They had no reason to suspect there might be a problem but wasted no time at the age of 27 to seek help when they were having trouble conceiving. They contacted their OB/GYN after a year of no success, but after a few unsuccessful months of Clomid and a move to Virginia, they sought help with Paulette E. Browne, MD at Shady Grove Fertility Center in Fair Oaks, VA. Dr. Browne assured them that it was her job was to help them have a baby.
Diagnosed with unexplained infertility Hallie and Paul put their trust and hope in Dr. Browne and moved on to the next step of fertility treatment, intrauterine insemination (IUI). With each cycle there was hope and with each cycle, there was a disappointment. It became harder and harder to hold onto hope, but they found it best to remain cautiously optimistic. After three IUI cycles with no success, they knew it was time to move forward.
When Dr. Browne suggested it was time to move to in vitro fertilization (IVF), they found renewed strength in the opportunity of more aggressive treatment, as they were never the type of people to wait passively for things to happen. Their first egg retrieval resulted in 15 eggs, 11 of which were fertilized, and they did a day 5 transfer with what Dr. Browne referred to as one of many “beautiful” embryos. Hallie and Paul elected to freeze their four remaining embryos, which turned out to be beneficial when the first IVF cycle ended in disappointment.
Dr. Browne kept Hallie and Paul positive and reminded them that they had such beautiful embryos that they just needed to find the right one. They decided to go ahead with a frozen embryo transfer (FET) using one of the embryos from the first cycle. “The FET was much less overwhelming because my life didn’t have to revolve around numerous monitoring appointments. It was much more freeing. I was able to pursue having a baby without having to put my whole life on hold.”
During the IVF cycle, her grandmother passed away and it became very overwhelming having to worry about meds and appointments and still be able to be there with her family to mourn her grandmother. Hallie explains, “the rest of the world still goes on while you’re pursuing a baby, and FET made it a lot easier. The FET process wasn’t scary and was much less invasive. We felt we were in a good place and still on the path toward having a baby.” There was never a feeling of “settling” the SGF team was always optimistic about moving forward, so they stayed optimistic as well.
They were never afraid of using the frozen embryos, they felt blessed to have them and avoid another fresh IVF cycle since FET cycles are so much easier. No need for another egg retrieval or worrying about how many eggs she would produce, it was just putting faith in finding the right embryo from what they had and getting the timing just right. With their first FET, Paul and Hallie finally became pregnant. It was exciting for everyone to finally get that positive test, no one was prepared when they miscarried early in the pregnancy.
Devastated from the early loss yet still cautiously optimistic, they did one more FET and finally found the right embryo. They were afraid to announce another positive pregnancy test in the early weeks, and decided to wait until the 2nd Trimester to let family and friends in on their joy, and also finally allowed themselves to feel the excitement of the pregnancy. The Mills welcomed Julia into the world in May 2011.
Hallie and Paul understand the journey can be difficult; it gets harder each time it doesn’t work. Hallie says, “It’s okay not to be excited, especially when the roller-coaster ride of infertility gets to be too much. A good state of mind to protect you from the ups and downs is to remain cautiously hopeful throughout the process, but never lose hope.” Hallie continues, “I feel lucky that we were able to be successful after a couple of years, I admire the strength of those that have endured it for longer. Always remember it just takes one good embryo and good timing and dreams do come true.”
When their daughter Julia was a year old, they returned to Shady Grove Fertility to try for a sibling using another of their beautiful frozen embryos from their very first fresh IVF cycle. They are happy to announce baby boy Zachary is due any day now. Currently living in Seattle, Hallie and Paul plan to return to Shady Grove as out-of-state patients to further expand their family with their remaining embryo in a couple of years.