Our Story, as told by Janet:

Both Tommy and I have always known that we wanted children, but life and circumstances seemed to put that part of our lives on hold.  Through our 20s, both Tommy and I were focused on our education and starting our careers.  By the time we were both finished with school and settled t in our careers, we were each in our 30s, and still single- he was in Richmond and I was in Norfolk.


I always say that God makes everything happens for a reason, and that couldn’t be more clear than my move to Richmond in 2011.  Although I moved here for work, I know that He intended me to be here as Tommy and I met only a year later; I was almost 41, and Tommy was almost 43 when we married on July 17, 2015.   Neither of us had children nor had ever been married, and although our four-legged furry “child,” Minnie, (the foxhound) is awesome, we still knew we wanted children to complete our family.  (And Minnie really needs a human sibling!)  As soon as we were married, we immediately began trying to get pregnant as we knew time was of the essence.  Knowing that we were “old” in the realm of fertility, we gave it 6 months and then consulted my doctor who sent us to a fertility doctor.  After meeting with the fertility doctor, Dr. Anish Shah, it was determined that although I was healthy, there was a problem with the shape of Tommy’s sperm and therefore it was unlikely that we’d get pregnant on our own as his sperm would not be able to penetrate the egg.  It was decided that our best option was IVF.  Dr. Shah also recommended that we do genetic testing due to our advanced age.  The cost for IVF was shocking; neither of our insurance plans cover any part of fertility testing or treatments, so the cost was entirely ours to bear.  Tommy and I prayed about it and discussed it, and ultimately decided to take the plunge and we borrowed the money to see this through.


In September 2016, I started the process with doctor visits and blood draws.  I started daily injections in October and continued with frequent visits to the doctor for blood draws and to see how my eggs were developing.  Finally, on Halloween 2016, we were ready for an egg retrieval.   I took two days off work and we went in for the procedure.  A day later, the doctor’s office called with the news that they had retrieved nine eggs and five fertilized and survived the first week.  Those were biopsied and sent for genetic testing.  Two weeks later we were informed that each of the embryos was abnormal and none were viable.  The news was devastating to both of us and we took a break from all fertility/ IVF related things for about a month.


A couple of weeks later, I spoke with the doctor who told me that he believed it highly unlikely that we’d have similar results should we decide to go forward with another retrieval.  He did, however, suggest that I begin acupuncture to hopefully improve my egg quality.  The suggestion was that I do the acupuncture for 3 months, take various vitamins and return in March to start another cycle.  I followed this advice and began the acupuncture in December, going one to two times a week for 3 months.  At the end of this treatment, I returned to the doctor to start my second cycle of exams, blood draws and daily injections.  Following the same procedures as the first time, we were ready for retrieval on March 28, 2017.  The day after the retrieval, the doctor’s office called to tell me that only one egg fertilized.  Although the embryo survived the first week, when it was sent for genetic testing, just like the first time, it was abnormal and not viable.  Again, the news was devastating, but more so this time around as I knew this was likely our last shot.


We returned to meet with the doctor about a month after the news on the genetic testing and at this time, he told us what I already knew, and that was that we would likely not have any different outcome if we tried again.  The fact is that at age 43 now, I am at the upper age of women who can conceive using my own eggs.  His suggestion was to try donor eggs if we were still interested me being able to carry a child.


Although I already knew in my heart that this was likely what we would be told, it was still a difficult pill to swallow to be told that you’ll likely never have a child that is genetically related to you.  Tommy and I have struggled with the decision to use donor eggs or adopt, however the option of donor eggs does allow me to carry a child and for Tommy and I to have a child that is genetically related to Tommy.  This allows both of us to have a part in the pregnancy and creation of our child.  While adoption is also a wonderful choice, it can be just as, or more expensive than IVF, can drag on for a long time, and there is a lot of uncertainty to the entire process.  We have already spent a great deal of money and the idea of spending another large chunk of money and still ending up childless scares me, however with the option of the “shared risk” program the doctor’s office offers, we are able to get a refund if the IVF/ donor egg procedure is not successful.  This will enable us to pursue adoption if this final IVF option fails. We are so grateful to be chosen as a 2018 Featured Couple for the Race to Parenthood; with the help of the grant, we will be able to pursue our dream of becoming parents.


Learn more about donor eggs and donor embryos as a path to parenthood – click here