I’m from a small family – I’m an only child and so is each of my parents. On the other hand – my husband comes from a large family, who has graciously embraced me over the years. However, our road to making our own family larger has not been easy, to say the least.
Like many women, my journey started in my mid- to late-20s. I wanted a baby. My first husband and I tried for a couple years with no luck. That relationship ended in divorce. But, at the age of 35, I got lucky and married my soulmate – the man of my dreams. The idea of having a family with him was my greatest wish! Lo and behold – within three months, I was pregnant!! Seven weeks later, however, we heard those dreaded words, “there is no heartbeat.” It was devastating, but now I knew I was able to get pregnant. The second time did not come quite so easily, though and I scheduled a consultation with the fertility experts at Penn State Health Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Through these visits and further assessment, my issue was considered unexplained infertility. Our journey then began, as we started in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments soon thereafter. During this time I had more pregnancies that resulted in miscarriages. I was heartbroken, but with the help of Dr. Dodson, we persisted.
In October 2014, as we entered into another fresh cycle of IVF, it started out similar to the others – but my IVF nurse and friend Joni reminded me to stay positive. She is one of the front line members of the team, such a caring person, and always made me feel so comfortable. I still held out hope for the best. Seven days later, I took a pregnancy test and, to my pleasant surprise and delight, it was “positive!”
As the days went on, the results from the blood tests assured us that all was going well. I can still remember vividly, November 30, 2014—the greatly anticipated, yet feared “heartbeat” ultrasound was scheduled. The point when other pregnancies had officially come to an end. Everyone in the room was nervous and holding their breath. I had become very close to our care team, and they were all rooting for us. Dr. Estes announced, “I see a heartbeat!” She turned up the volume so everyone could hear it; we were all thrilled beyond words! The following week, my husband and I went in for a scheduled appointment with Dr. Dodson and, once again, we were nervous. But—there it was, up on the screen, a perfect little baby. I was so proud and excited. I was graduating from fertility treatments, as a pregnant woman!
Even though I graduated to the Penn State Health obstetrics team, I continued to communicate with and share all of my ultrasound pictures with the infertility team that had come so far with us.
Pink or Blue?
The day we had the ultrasound to reveal the sex of the baby, our IVF nurse Joni joined us. My husband and I closed our eyes. I wanted Joni to be the first and only one to know what we were having. I really could not imagine having gone through this without her. The tech wrote on a piece of paper, put it into an envelope and sealed it. We delivered the sealed envelope to a bakery that we had arranged to bake our gender-reveal cake for us; the center of the cake to provide the surprise of either pink or blue.
It was time! The next weekend, we celebrated another week behind us into our pregancy and, joined by all of our friends and family, we patiently awaited the cutting of our highly anticipated cake—a sea of blue! What an incredible moment! We were going to have a baby boy!
Pregnancy with a Smile
Although I loved being pregnant and was never sick, I had to deliver three weeks early, because my blood pressure was too high. Knowing the specialists at Penn State Health Obstetrics and Gynecology and Penn State Children’s Hospital were there for me and our baby really put our minds at ease.
Over the course of my pregnancy, the entire staff cheered us on. It was amazing to see how special this was for the entire infertility team. They obviously love what they do and value each and every pregnancy that comes from it!
The Dedication of the Infertility Team
I am so inspired by ordinary people doing extraordinary things – people who work hard to make life better for themselves and others. As we know, a woman’s biological clock and monthly cycle does not wait for the right time or normal business hours, per se. The doctors and nurses on the infertility team at Penn State Health work 365 days a year. They are often there on weekends and holidays. From Joni and the nursing team, to the front desk staff, and Beckie who drew my blood at each appointment, to Dr. Legro who took the time to call me at home after a procedure. Dr. Gnatuk and Dr. Estes were always so supportive and encouraging, offering kind words and positive thoughts, which goes a long way on a journey like this. Dr. Dodson is an amazing man and without a doubt made me feel as though I was his number one priority. They give up a lot to help women get pregnant and grow their families, and that really inspires me.
My husband was, of course, my biggest cheerleader and supporter. He always knew what to say and how to handle every situation. There is no one else I’d want to stand beside to raise Zane—our baby boy and the greatest inspiration of all.