Our Story, as told by Megan:
Mark and I met about 7 years ago through mutual friends playing social sports in Richmond. We had similar interests and a lot of the same friends, so our paths crossed many times over the years. About four years ago, our friendship gradually evolved into something more. So gradually in fact, that I didn’t even realize our first date was actually a date! Oops! Mark still jokes that he wants that date back. About two years after we started dating, we got married in July 2015 at our favorite Richmond winery, which also happens to be right down the road from us! It was an amazing day with family and friends, and very special for many reasons; it is a day that we will not forget.
I have always loved children! I grew up baby-sitting and because I have older siblings, I spent a lot of time with my nieces and nephews while they were growing up. I have been a Speech-Language Pathologist in the schools for the past 16 years. During that time, I have worked with many different children with a wide variety of disabilities and delays. I often refer to the students that I work with as “my kids” because that’s how I feel about them. I truly love what I do and love making a difference in the life of every child that I work with.
Mark has always had a soft spot for dogs and children, especially young children. He has been an honorary uncle to many of his friends’ children over the years, and when we got married, he became an uncle to my 6 nieces and nephews. We live at home with our two rescue dogs that both have big personalities and are spoiled rotten.
It’s difficult to find the words to convey what an emotional roller coaster our infertility journey has been, and how truly devastated we feel not to have achieved our dream of starting a family. Our journey started later in life, we followed the traditional life plan, go to college, start a successful career, and then get married. Children have always been a part of our plan. We both assumed that it would just happen when the time was right; however, because of my age, we also knew that we had to be more aggressive in pursuing our dream.
Shortly after we got married, we realized that trying to get pregnant the natural way was not going to happen for us, and we made the difficult decision to meet with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). Our doctor was very optimistic. I was healthy, all my lab work, AMH levels, and all the other tests came out normal, as did everything for Mark. The doctor told us the main thing we had working against us was my age, but assured us that he would make our dream become a reality.
In November 2015, we had our first natural Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) cycle, I was really hopeful that it would work but also realistic knowing that IUIs (especially natural ones) don’t often work on the first try. From January to April 2016, we tried four more rounds of IUI’s with Clomid. Mark and I were both even more hopeful for our second IUI (first with Clomid), so we were completely beside ourselves when it didn’t work. We tried to remain optimistic with our third and fourth attempts, but each month, the two week wait, became harder and harder, and each month finding out that we were not pregnant was more devastating than the last.
After our fourth failed IUI, Mark and I met with our doctor to discuss a new plan. At that point, we knew that pursuing, IVF would be our only option for starting the family that we both wanted so desperately. That was hard news to hear, even though it was expected. Mark and I had several long discussions about whether or not IVF was something that we wanted to pursue. IVF was not something that was covered by either of our insurance plans, so we would have to pay for everything out of pocket (around $20-30,000). Together we decided this was something that we needed to do.
In July 2015, I had my first egg retrieval; it was an exciting time. Mark and I had just gotten back from an amazing vacation in Charleston. It was a difficult trip to plan because I was giving myself injections twice a day and was being monitored two to three times a week by our RE, but we made it work and had an amazing trip. Everything went well with my retrieval; the doctor was very pleased about how things went and was optimistic for a positive outcome. I had 11 eggs retrieved, 8 fertilized, and 4 made it to the day five blastocysts. We were both excited with the anticipation of the doctor’s phone call to tell us the results of the PGD testing. We knew the odds were likely that we may have only had one viable embryo, but that was perfectly fine with us; after all, you only need one good embryo to make a baby.
As soon as I answered the doctor’s call, I knew the results were not good; all four of our embryos were abnormal. I cannot put into words the devastation and heartbreak that I felt at that moment. Our doctor apologized and said that he was as surprised by the results as we were. He assured us that it was extremely unlikely that we would get the same results again and recommended that we try for a second attempt when we were ready. In October 2016, I had my second egg retrieval. Everything went well and again the doctor was very encouraged. I had 11 eggs retrieved, 8 fertilized, and 4 made it to day five blastocysts to be frozen and tested. About two weeks later came the dreaded phone call that all four embryos were abnormal. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to us again.
We met with the doctor in November 2016 to discuss our options. The doctor assured us that it was just a matter of finding one good egg and encouraged us to try again with a different protocol, but also suggested that using donor eggs was a viable option for us. After talking with the doctor, we met to discuss the costs of another round of IVF versus donor egg IVF. We left that consultation feeling devastated and defeated all over again. We had already spent so much money on the first two rounds of IVF that trying again was simply not an option for us financially.
It was truly heart-breaking to have to come to the realization that having children is something that may never happen for us, no matter how badly we want it. Unfortunately, IVF is not covered by our insurance and our employers do not offer any benefits for adoption. Any remaining option that we have for building a family will be very costly and having financial assistance to help us achieve our dream is truly amazing. We plan to use our funds toward building our family with IVF using donor eggs. We are so honored to have been chosen to become a part of the Race to Parenthood and are so thankful for this chance to make our dream, of having a family, become a reality. We are excited to be a part of the race this year! Go Team Yellow!
Learn more about donor eggs and donor embryos as a path to parenthood – click here.