There was nothing Sean and I wanted more than to start a family. After being married in the summer of 2012, we ended up meeting with Dr. Isaac Sasson at Shady Grove Fertility’s Chesterbrook location later that year, as I noticed my cycles were very irregular. We went through all of the standard testing, hoping that whatever was causing my irregularity could easily be treated and we would quickly be on the path to pregnancy.
Unfortunately, this was not the case, as we learned the shocking and devastating news that at age 29, I had extremely high FSH levels and very low egg follicle count, indicating premature ovarian failure. Although I had struggled with some health challenges in the past, nothing could prepare us for the complete heartache that came along with this diagnosis. We understood that the chances of us getting pregnant with my own eggs were very low, but we proceeded to attempt a medicated IUI cycle.
As expected, given my low egg count and high FSH levels, I didn’t respond well to the drugs, and it was unsuccessful. Though it was disappointing, we knew we wanted to do all we could to try to conceive a baby with my own eggs. So with hopes of a better response, we worked with Dr. Sasson on an aggressive IVF protocol and plan. With this cycle, we were pleasantly surprised to be able to transfer two embryos. We waited with bated breath those difficult two weeks between transfer and our pregnancy test. Just before Memorial Day vacation in 2013, we were heartbroken to hear that neither of the embryos had implanted. While my family went fishing, roasted marshmallows, and took hikes, I spent much of the weekend between tears and in deep contemplation of further options.
Considering other options
When we got home and went into the Shady Grove Fertility office again, Dr. Sasson told us that he believed any and all further IVFs would have similar results and that he could not, in good conscience, put us through the financial and emotional impacts of another IVF using my own eggs. Although difficult to hear, we appreciated Dr. Sasson being both sympathetic and forthright. Sean and I began to accept the devastating reality that we would likely never conceive a baby using my eggs.
An incredible offer and gift
I had been sharing our heartbreak with my family throughout the treatments and was touched when my older sister, who has two children of her own, immediately offered to donate her eggs to us. We were not sure if this would be a possibility, but after meeting with Dr. Sasson and completing various testing, we were extremely grateful and happy to be able to move forward with an egg donor cycle thanks to my sister’s incredible offer and gift.
To give us this chance of a child, and the possibility of carrying a baby myself, my sister endured the physical and emotional sacrifices that come with the egg donation process. She visited the doctor nearly as often as I did, endured countless needle sticks – blood draws as well as self-inflicted injections – and completed extensive mandatory testing and counseling. Never once did we hear her complain or waiver in her gracious decision, allowing me a chance to carry a baby connected genetically to both me and my husband. There are simply not enough thank yous in the world to show our gratitude for this priceless and generous gift.
After a few months of syncing our cycles, I accompanied my sister to the office on retrieval day. Everything went smoothly, and Dr. Sasson was able to successfully retrieve eggs from my sister of which many fertilized and matured. We implanted a high-quality embryo and again spent a cautiously hopeful two weeks waiting. Though advised not to, I did a home pregnancy test the night before my Beta test and was shocked and brought to tears of joy as I saw the double blue lines indicating pregnancy. When the bloodwork confirmed it, we felt an indescribable amount of gratitude and appreciation to everyone who helped get us to this point.
Throughout the process, Dr. Sasson gave us encouragement, support, and excellent medical care. He and his wonderful staff gave us comfort knowing that we, our future children, and my sister were in the best possible hands. Everyone at Shady Grove truly made our journey easier through their amazing compassion and attentiveness.
Our miracle baby
This May, our “miracle baby” Emilia arrived and we could not be happier with our precious gift. It was certainly not easy, but all of the heartache and sorrow along the way were worth it as we hold our healthy, happy baby girl. We would not wish fertility challenges on anyone, but we believe our experience — what we call “our journey of love” — has allowed us to see the incredible compassion and love which surrounds us. It has given us a new perspective on what is truly important in our lives. In addition to the deep gratitude we feel toward my sister and her family, and toward our support system of family and friends, we will always be extremely grateful to the staff of Shady Grove Fertility for all they did to bring us our sweet baby girl.
Advice to other patients
When going through fertility treatments, it is very helpful to find a doctor and practice you trust and make you feel 110% supported and well cared for. Dealing with infertility is not easy. But having confidence that your medical team is looking out for your best interests with compassion and expertise will make the difficult journey easier. We are very grateful to have found this type of compassion and expertise at Shady Grove Fertility with Dr. Sasson.
We also want other couples going through this heartache to remember that no matter the obstacles they face along the way, they all can become parents through their unique “journey of love.” The road to parenthood may not be the exact route they expected to travel, but the experience of parenthood and the amazing child awaiting them will make the journey more than worth it.