I am a personal trainer/physical therapist assistant. I work privately in clients’ homes (primarily seniors) to help them work on their quality of life and exercise. It is something I truly enjoy doing and love that it is a very rewarding job. Before moving to Florida, I was in banking. Two weeks after I moved, I was hit by a car riding my bike with a group of cyclists. I spent 16 months in physical therapy. After therapy, I went back to school to change my career. My husband, Tom, is an engineer who works from home.
We both enjoy hanging out with our friends, spending time together watching a good movie or Netflix, going to events in our community, and being outdoors. We especially enjoy running together as a couple and with our friends. Tom has been a casual runner where I have been running for most of my life. I run races at varying distances, including the Boston Marathon. I have also competed in nine Ironman races and many triathlons/duathlons. Being physically active has always been important to me.
We love where we live — a 10-minute drive to downtown where we run along the water, and 15 minutes away from the beaches. I am originally from Buffalo where most of my family lives.
It may have taken me longer to find my husband, but it was worth the wait. I am with an amazing man who is a great father, friend, and partner. He is always by my side, and I am grateful to have him in my life.
Tom and I knew we wanted to have children. We discussed that early on in our relationship. After an unfortunate miscarriage, my gynecologist referred us to Dr. Celso Silva with Shady Grove Fertility Tampa Bay for a consultation.
In April of 2019, we met with Dr. Silva — we were very impressed and comfortable with him. He took the time to explain things and answer all our questions. Going into the consultation, we did not know what to expect and were nervous. Those feelings quickly changed to ones of hope and motivation by the time we were wrapped up. He was down to earth and made the consultation more like a conversation and gave us hope for the future.
But then something surprising happened: we learned that we were pregnant naturally. We joked that being in the office gave us good luck.
Unfortunately, at six weeks pregnant, we learned that the baby had stopped growing and the heartbeat was silent. Dr. Silva performed a D&C the next day. It meant a lot to us that he coordinated the procedure and ensured that I didn’t have to pass the miscarriage without assistance. We were devastated. I struggled emotionally, mentally, and physically. I will never forget that day in the office.
The unfortunate situation of the miscarriage helped us discover that I had a uterine septum. It was definitely a shock when Dr. Silva explained this to us in the recovery room.
Until Dr. Silva performed the D&C and made the discovery, I never knew that I had a uterine septum, nor that something like it existed. Yet, Dr. Silva took the time to answer our questions, address our concerns, and create an action plan. During this whole journey, I was driven by what was the plan and what steps were needed to achieve it.
The more I learned about having a uterine septum, the more I found out that there were other women who had the same condition. Knowing others could understand and relate brought so much comfort. I continued to meet other women through friends and support groups. I understood that removing my uterine septum would increase my chances at a healthy pregnancy, but at the age of 43, time was of the essence. If we wanted to produce normal embryos, we needed to perform egg retrievals sooner rather than later. I knew my age could cause some issues, but I was hopeful.
Because of my age, we decided to do 3 egg retrievals before my surgery to increase our odds of having normal embryos. October 2019 resulted in 20 eggs, 15 fertilized embryos, and 7 embryos that made it to the blastocyst stage. December 2019 resulted in 10 eggs, 8 fertilized embryos, and 2 embryos that made it to the blastocyst stage. January 2020 resulted in 22 eggs, 20 fertilized embryos, and 8 embryos that made it to the blastocyst stage. All of the embryos were PGT-A tested and resulted in 2 normal embryos that we decided to cryopreserve ahead of surgery for my uterine septum. Of course, we wanted to have more normal embryos but considering my age we were happy with the results.
In March 2020, we were scheduled to have a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy to remove the uterine septum. But two days before the surgery, we got the call that my surgery was canceled due to the pandemic. At that point, I started to feel depressed because I had no idea what was going to happen with Covid — I had no idea when the surgery would happen. I was driven by a plan and now the plan was on hold. I had days where I felt numb, cried, felt hopeful, and focused on positivity. There was a rollercoaster of emotions.
I knew it was out of my control, and I felt like my dream of becoming a mother was being put on hold or the chance was being taken away from me.
Not everyone knew what we were going through but the family and friends who did were very supportive throughout the long journey. We were so grateful and felt so loved. They were there for us through the good news, and not-so-good news. I feel having support is so important during this journey. You need to be able to let out your emotions, hear words of encouragement, have people just hug you, and feel understood.
Having a supportive husband, friends, family, SGF medical staff, counselors, acupuncturists, and meeting women from support groups all helped me to have hope. I’ve always been a determined person so I knew that I had to stay on this journey and something good would happen. We always joked that this journey was like training for a marathon. There needed to be goals and plans. There would be obstacles that could alter the type of training and timeframe. Mentally, physically, and emotionally I was going to be challenged. But crossing the finish line would be absolutely amazing. I truly believe this thought process helped me keep going and achieve success.
There were moments where there were many lows, and it didn’t seem like it was going to be possible. When Covid hit and everything was on pause, I started to feel depressed because I didn’t know when my journey would continue and there were so many unknowns. But once things started again, I just stayed focused and moved forward. Thankfully, I was able to have the surgery in May 2020.
After that, there were two more hysteroscopies to remove more of the septum. Next, we were ready to start the frozen embryo transfer (FET) process. Unfortunately, two of the cycles were canceled due to fluid in the uterus. Each time a cycle was canceled it felt like going backwards. We tried to switch medication to see if that would help, but no luck. For the third cycle, we decided to go natural with no medication but there still was fluid. We continued to see if things would change.
We scheduled the FET with the plan to make a definite decision that morning. If there was fluid there would be no FET. I went in early for an ultrasound to check if there was fluid. I was nervous and excited. Luckily it was gone! I traveled back to my home so I could rest and meditate. Later that afternoon, we came back to the office for the embryo transfer. The procedure and the whole process is truly amazing.
Dr. Silva always told me that stress management was super important. During the two-week wait, I focused on relaxation — working on meditation, doing things that made me calm, and embracing positivity. We chose not to do a home pregnancy test and waited for the blood test. It wasn’t easy but I did not want to create any stress by taking home pregnancy tests not knowing if the results would be accurate.
We were so blessed and so pleasantly surprised that the test came back positive. We were pregnant! I remember hearing the joy in my nurse Leslie’s voice. We all shed happy tears at that moment. I asked her to wait to call us later in the day because I wanted to be home with my husband and not on the phone at work.
The SGF care team was truly great. They will always have a special place in my heart. We even shared some sad and happy tears in the office.
I spent many days over the two years traveling to the office, getting blood tests, and having procedures/surgeries but it was all worth it. The SGF care team was becoming more like family and friends and not just medical staff.
I am still in contact with my nurse, Leslie. She was always supportive, quick to answer my questions, and made me feel good about the process. Walter, who performed most of my blood tests, always made the experience fun with his facts of the day. Heather in surgery was so caring and helpful. Courtney would make the ultrasounds comfortable, informative, and she just made me laugh. Gabby, Beth, Marlene, Dr. Plosker, Dr. Imudia, and so many others to name, showed compassion and support along the way.
Every single staff member in surgery including the embryologists made a point to explain and answer questions. Dr. Silva on many occasions personally called us. That meant so much to us. Overall, Dr. Silva was amazing! He was like my coach along the way. He would tell me honest things, hopeful things, explain everything for me, and help create the next steps needed after every obstacle. He never gave up and neither did I.
From the day of the transfer until the day my son was born, I lit a pineapple-scented candle. It was a little tradition I did every day that reminded me of hope and gratitude. I would see it, smell it, and feel it. It started off every day with good energy.
Overall, my pregnancy was pretty great. I had some morning sickness in the first trimester but nothing terrible. The second and third trimesters I had a little more energy and was able to run routinely. I even ran up to the day that I was induced. I have always enjoyed the challenge, the social part of it, and the overall mental feeling you get from running. So, I knew it was important to maintain that during my pregnancy.
Dr. Silva was a huge supporter of running throughout my journey. He explained running and being active is what my body knows and needed since running was such a big part of my life. I knew it would be good for me and good for the baby. I watched my heart rate every run, drank plenty of water, watched where I ran, got rest, and listened to my body. Even throughout my pregnancy, I checked with my OB doctors, and they all were for it.
I went to the hospital around 5 p.m. to start the scheduled induction process on October 19, 2021, at 39 weeks. This day seemed so far away many times and it was finally here. I even ran 4 miles that morning with a group of friends. I felt good and was ready. The next morning, we started the medication to induce, and my doctor broke my water around 8:30 a.m.
Right after my water broke, the contractions started and began intensifying. I tried different techniques and positions to get through the contractions. I got to a certain point where I decided the epidural was needed. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t too uncomfortable, but I wanted to maintain feeling as well.
At 7:50 p.m. that night our beautiful son, Trace, was born. What an absolutely wonderful and amazing moment.
Trace is absolutely beautiful. He was born 8 lbs. 6 oz. at 21.25 inches long. We predicted he would be tall just like myself and my husband. He keeps us on our toes and it’s a learning experience every day. We love watching him smile, begin to show personality, grow, and develop as the sweetest boy.
Now that I have a baby, life continues to be unpredictable. You must make sure anything you plan is flexible. I have someone that needs my attention and counts on me 24/7.
I am learning and practicing not to be too hard on myself. We are both learning from each other. It’s not easy but like every parent out there we get through it.
Being a mom is the most important job I’ve ever had. Every day is different. Whether it’s my hormones, lack of sleep, or just being hard on myself, there are times I feel like I’m not doing enough and question myself. I spend a lot of time learning things, looking things up, talking to family and friends, being a part of support groups and discussion boards. I want to put my best effort into being a good mom.
I have to remind myself that I’m doing the best that I can. It’s not an easy job but it’s a job that I love. I love being Trace’s mom!
I’ve learned that I am stronger than I thought, but that I can still be hard on myself at times — wondering if I am doing the right things, doing enough, and wanting to find answers.
I’ve had many challenges in life and was able to move forward, but this is probably the most emotional and challenging thing I’ve ever gone through. I’ve always been a goal-driven and determined person, and being a mom was something my heart truly desired.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I wasn’t prepared for how hard it was going to be with setbacks that were out of my control. There were moments of sadness, but after I gave myself time to cope, I picked myself up and kept moving forward.
I needed to know I did everything I possibly could. I had hope, faith, and desire that it was going to work out, and had to think positively.
I would want others to know that the process changes all the time. There are many things that are out of your control, and it’s challenging mentally, emotionally, and physically.
I allowed myself to feel whatever emotions I was feeling but I didn’t get stuck on them. I brushed myself off and kept going. I treated the process like a marathon and looked at the big picture of working towards having a baby as the finish line. I knew that I was going to give it everything I could so that I could say I did everything to have a family.
So, I truly think staying positive, being active, and trying to work on reducing stress are things that everyone should work on. It will not be easy, and it could be the hardest thing you’ve ever done but it will be worth it.