Just after meeting my husband Dan, we found ourselves working together in Lucca, Italy. Though we had only been dating for six months, we already knew that we were soul mates. It was in Lucca that we began to dream of all that our lives would be together…including someday having a child. A child we had decided to name Lucca, after the city where our love and dreams as a couple were captured.
In the summer of 2006, we began trying to have a baby. I knew there may be some complications with conception but I didn’t realize the full extent until my husband and I began to try to have a child.
When I was in high school, I had a large ovarian cyst that had to be surgically removed. As a result, my doctor had to take out a portion of my ovary and fallopian tube. After the surgery, I was placed on birth control pills in an attempt to prevent any future cystic growth.
The cause of infertility
We tried everything from ovulation predictor kits and fertility watches to homeopathic doctors and fertility specialists all around the country. After seeing many specialists, we learned the ovarian cyst removal surgery shocked my body into a pre-menopausal state.
We tried fertility drugs and intrauterine insemination (IUI), and finally we were told that the only way that we could conceive was with donor egg treatment. We continued to work with other fertility specialists. Unfortunately, they did not have their own donor egg bank; instead, they collaborated with a local bank. We were than told that they didn’t have any current donors and we would have to wait for them to send us emails as donors became available. After months of sending frustrated emails asking to be sent any possible donors without much response, we knew something was not right and that we needed to look into our other options.
A chance encounter
As luck would have it, my father spoke with a friend that had also been told he could never have children. It was the second opinion that led him to Shady Grove Fertility. He couldn’t help but glow as he spoke about the beautiful daughter he thought he would never have. That’s when I began researching Shady Grove Fertility.
In my research, I came across a news story about Shady Grove Fertility Center’s donor egg program. They were offering a free donor egg seminar near our home in Philadelphia. I immediately registered Dan and myself for the event and attended the following week. We were awestruck by the science behind treatment and hopeful after learning about the success rates and financial programs. We made the decision to seek treatment with Dr. Eric Levens. We had been very happy with our current fertility specialist, but the moment that the elevator doors opened at our first visit to Shady Grove Fertility I turned to Dan and said “THIS is where babies are made.”.
Preparing for donor egg treatment
At first, I honestly didn’t know how I felt about donor egg treatment. I found it difficult to talk about so I found myself researching…and researching. Until one day it was as if a switch flipped as I read an online blog. I ran in to tell my husband, “An egg is just an egg without my blood, without my oxygen, without your sperm to fertilize it. We could take that single cell and turn it into our embryo. We were giving life to that baby.”
When we met the Shady Grove Fertility team, I immediately knew that they cared. Our team, which we now call our Shady Grove Family, wanted to move heaven and earth to make our dream of having a child a reality. In particular, Angela on the donor team was so kind and understanding. She listened to our wishes for a donor and never stopped for one second in her search for the “perfect donor” for us.
While we were looking for the perfect donor, we met with Amy, our financial counselor at Shady Grove Fertility, to plan financially for our treatment. Insurance did not cover any of our expenses so I immediately began applying for any grants that might be able to help with the cost. Dr. Levens was so supportive; he took the time to write letters to each of the foundations that we submitted applications.
By late October, I had heard from every grant except one…they had all decided to award their grants to other couples. But in a few short days our lives would be forever changed.
They say it is always darkest before the dawn… That week we were reminded of just that. On Monday, Hurricane Sandy hit. On Wednesday, as the horrible devastation to the East Coast was unveiled, we realized that my parents’ home was destroyed. It was a place that held some of my most cherished memories; a place where I felt a sense of peace and comfort and suddenly it was all gone. Yet that very same day we had such a ray of hope within a very sad time. Since beginning our journey to have a child in 2006, we finally saw a glimpse of our happy ending within a phone call. It was Angela saying she thought she had found us the perfect donor. I ran to the computer and cried as I read the profile because I knew that this woman who took such care to understand our hopes and wishes was right. Angela had found us the perfect donor!
The next day, my mom and dad were admitted back into their neighborhood to take pictures for their insurance claims. I remember the day so clearly, it was incredibly hard for them. After realizing their home was considered a total loss, I remember my mom’s words exactly, she just said… “We will hold onto the memories and make even more when we rebuild. We are okay and your miracle will be coming soon …and that is all that matters.”
As my mom was talking, I noticed our landline ringing, of course I didn’t pick up. Then my cell began to ring, and when I looked at the caller ID, I realized that I recognized the number. It was the name that I had addressed a grant application. It was Pay It Forward Fertility. I remember thinking after so many emails saying that we didn’t get all of the previous grants, why would this grant call? I quickly answered and it was Lori Moscato. She called to tell us that we were being awarded an $8000 grant to use toward fertility treatment. You can’t imagine hearing such news at such a sad time. It felt like such a roller coaster of emotions.
Lori Moscato and the Pay It Forward Foundation changed our lives. I struggle with ways to fully articulate just how grateful we are to them for what they did for us, for what they continue to do for so many couples. Every time I look down at my little angel, I am reminded of Pay It Forward…our guardian angel.
After we were awarded the grant, the process went so smoothly. It was as if it was our sign that it was meant to be. In late November, I began my hormone shots and by late December we had our transfer. Two weeks later we got the news and were so excited to be spending the New Year celebrating my pregnancy!!!!
I knew this was our time
After such a long journey, I knew this was our time. My pregnancy was a magical time. It was such a gift to feel the miracle of my son growing inside of me…to feel his sweet, little hiccups and strong kicks…to hear his heartbeat! On August 31st, 10 months later, I held my miracle thanks to Pay It Forward and Shady Grove Fertility. My husband couldn’t stop crying when he saw him. He just kept repeating, “He’s so beautiful…He’s so beautiful…” And when my husband brought our son to me for the first time he said, “It’s Lucca. This is Lucca.” Of course the name meant so much to us because of our time in the city but what meant the most to me was the meaning. His name means ‘bringer of light’. It couldn’t be more perfect. He brought us our light. I will be forever grateful to Pay It Forward and Shady Grove Fertility for giving us our miracle, our light.
From one beautiful name, Pay It Forward, to another, Lucca… I feel an utter calling to help educate people about the angels amidst my journey. The angels that make it their life’s work to help others who are struggling with their excruciating journey through infertility to finding their “Lucca”, their bringer of light.