Shalawn & Algerlynn
Patient Story

Shalawn & Algerlynn

Jeanne E. O’Brien, M.D.
Rockville, Maryland
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
My partner, Algerlynn, and I got married in 2010. I had always wanted to be a mom and once we got married I was ready to get the process started. I was in my mid-30s, had fibroids, and knew that things could get tougher the longer we waited. As a lesian couple, we also knew that things were going to be a bit more involved (and more expensive).

Seeking treatment

In March of 2011, we met with a fertility specialist in Washington, D.C. (that’s where we lived at the time). I had ultrasounds and an HSG test to see what was going on inside. The results were worse than I imagined. I had about 12 fibroids. One was the size of an orange that was sitting on my cervix and there were four that were pinching both fallopian tubes. There was no way I was going to get pregnant with all of that going on; everything was blocked. We scheduled my myomectomy for June, so I would be done with grad school and being out of commission for 6 weeks wouldn’t impact my schooling. The surgery went as planned and everything looked great. The doctor was optimistic that we wouldn’t have a problem getting pregnant.
Even with the successful surgery, I still couldn’t get pregnant. We went back to the doctor and began preparing for our first IUI. We did this first IUI without any medication, just charting my temperature and using an ovulation kit. We went in for the IUI and 2 weeks later were given the bad news that it didn’t take. We wasted no time with trying again.
As soon as my next cycle began I was on the phone ready to schedule our second IUI. This time I used Clomid and did the trigger shot…still no success. We really didn’t understand why we weren’t getting pregnant but decided to take a break and focused our energy on buying a new home. In the fall of 2012, we moved to Maryland. We decided that we would start trying again, but would switch to Shady Grove Fertility because it was closer to our home and we heard great things about them.

Beginning treatment with Shady Grove Fertility

In December of 2012, we met with Dr. O’Brien and instantly knew we made the right choice in switching to SGF. Dr. O’Brien made us feel like she was in this fight with us and that we were going to get pregnant if it was the last thing she did. She made us feel at ease about the process and asked questions that we never would have thought about. So we scheduled another HSG so she could see what was going on with my fallopian tubes and uterus. Since I had a myomectomy, there could’ve been scarring that was preventing us from getting pregnant. After meeting with Dr. O’Brien, we were ready to get started. We had been through the ups and downs of “this is it” and “sorry, but you’re not pregnant” so many times before, but we just knew that Dr. O’Brien was going to make it happen.
In January of 2013, we did the HSG and everything looked perfect! Another positive…I just knew we were going to be pregnant in no time. In February we went in for another IUI. Dr. O’Brien upped the amount of Clomid and we began prepping my body for the IUI. Everything seemed to be just perfect. My follicles looked great, there were plenty to work with, the timing was right on. … and still no pregnancy. Although we were sad about that and baffled about why it wasn’t working, we were nowhere near the point of giving in. Dr. O’Brien suggested that we do IVF. She talked us through the process and why she felt it was our next best solution. We were all in! We planned for me to start the IVF cycle in March. Everything went as planned. I did all of the medications, went in for all of the monitoring and bloodwork. We did the egg retrieval and a day 6 transfer of two blastocysts. It was very exciting, but nerve-wracking all the same.

Now for the waiting … we went in after 2 weeks and got the great news that we were pregnant. There wasn’t much to see on the ultrasound, but we were told not to worry and that we would be back in 2 more weeks. When we returned for the next ultrasound we found out that the pregnancy wasn’t viable. All we could see was an empty little egg sack in my uterine wall. Talk about devastation…all I could do was cry. So close and yet so far. We spoke with Dr. O’Brien about what was next and she explained that we could either wait for my body to get back to normal or do a D&C to speed up the process. As devastated as I was, I wasn’t willing to wait for my body to get back to normal on its own. We scheduled the D&C for a few weeks later. Once that was done, I was back on the phone with my nurse trying to figure out what we were to do next.

Starting over

We got back on the proverbial horse and started monitoring, birth control, bloodwork, medication, and all of the appointments in between. On July 27th, 2013, at 6 a.m., we went in for the retrieval. We were on our way out of town to celebrate our third anniversary. The entire weekend we looked at our phones to make sure that we didn’t miss a call about the follicles. We ended up with four good blastocysts and were called in for a day 5 transfer. On August 1st, we transferred two blastocysts. On August 2nd, I flew to the west coast to visit family. As much as I was hoping being with family would keep my mind off of what was or wasn’t happening inside…I was wrong.
I took several at-home pregnancy tests and all came back positive. Due to our past experiences, I refused to get my hopes up. I returned to the east coast on August 19th, 5 days after I was supposed to go in for my bloodwork. I went in on the 20th and got the call that I was pregnant. My numbers were very high and since we transferred two blastocysts, we wondered if both implanted. When I went in for the ultrasound I was a ball of nerves. My partner was in Africa, so her parents came along for support. I was to call her from inside the room so that she could hear the news along with me of how many babies there were and if they were viable. Sure enough, when the tech did the ultrasound there were two little embryos inside and we could actually see their little hearts beating. I was in love and ecstatic that our dreams of becoming parents were finally becoming a reality.
We are so happy with our decision to switch to SGF. Our nurse Debbie and Dr. O’Brien were just wonderful to work with. They were very patient with us and took the time to answer any questions that we had and to help put us at ease throughout the entire process. Dr. O’Brien holds a special place in our hearts for getting us where we are. I truly believe that we wouldn’t have our boys if it weren’t for her persistence and wanting this to happen for us as much as we did.

“They bring so much joy to our lives”

Now we have twin 11-1/2 month old boys, Jackson and Maxwell. They are absolutely amazing and bring so much joy to our lives. It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a year since they were born and almost 2 years since we started the second IVF cycle to have them. They are worth every emotion that we experienced and I can’t imagine life without them.

Shalawn’s advice for future patients

I have several friends who are struggling with conceiving right now. I just encourage them to hold on! I know it’s a roller coaster of emotions but it’ll happen and when it does it’ll be more than worth it.
People ask all the time if they can ask me questions and I am more than happy to talk about our experience. This process puts a kind of stress on you that you’ve never experienced, and if I can share some of the crazy I felt through the process and it helps others see that they aren’t alone, then I think it’s worth sharing. I’ve already referred two couples to SGF and told them to ask for Dr. O’Brien. Just this month, one of those couples has welcomed a healthy baby boy. SGF and Dr. O’Brien are making dreams come true!


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Dr. Jeanne E. O’Brien
Rockville, Maryland location
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