Journey to Julian
We recently had a very special newborn session for a couple who struggled greatly with infertility for years. We were so inspired by their journey and fighting spirit that we wanted to share their story with all our followers, inspire and give hope to those struggling with the same heartache.
Meet Jess, Chris and their pooch Banner; and here’s their journey to Julian…
Jess took Chris out to dinner for his 30th birthday. Over a couple glasses of wine, he asked if they could start a family. Jess went into overdrive about how “they weren’t ready” financially, emotionally, blah, blah, blah. Chris to which he retorted that they were two years into their marriage and known each other for over 10 years. He asked what she was so afraid of and if they would ever be “ready”
She agreed and immediately started trying. Jess believed they would be pregnant right away but to their surprise it was now January 2014 and no baby yet.
Of course, she made an appointment to get checked with her OB, a yearly visit plus a hormone panel. Hormone panel revealed PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). The OB explained that she probably would not be able to get pregnant on her own.
She felt defeated. As women, most of us expect to be a mom at some point. She left the OB’s office doubting her body and herself. Then of course, she Googled!! DON’T EVER GOOGLE MEDICAL ISSUES!! Worst idea ever. Jess learned this the hard way.
She wasn’t a “textbook” PCOS patient. Not overweight, had regular periods, didn’t’ have acne or excess hair growth. It didn’t make sense to her. After much research, she concluded that her PCOS was probably caused by so many years on birth control (11 years to be exact). Not a proven fact but it’s what made sense to her.
Over the next few months, they went through 2 cycles of Clomid (an estrogen modulator) to see if that would “wake up” the ovaries. No success, so they decided to just continue trying naturally. She was young (still 30) and healthy otherwise, why couldn’t her body do this on its own right?
PCOS came up over lunch with a few of Jess’ coworkers. To her surprise, two of them had experienced infertility issues due to PCOS too. So of course, she started picking their brains.
They encouraged her to see a fertility specialist and get a second opinion. She was terrified to hear more terrible news and was hesitant, so one of the girls made the appointment for her with the specialist that helped her have her twin girls.
She went to Dr. Goodman and fell in love with him and his staff. Such wonderful people. His office became their home for the next 10 months.
3 more rounds of Clomid
2 rounds of Femara (hormone based chemotherapy)
2 IUI cycles (artificial insemination)
Still no baby. Their hearts sank as they knew it wasn’t looking promising. Jess & Chris got called into his office, and he said: “it’s looking like you’ll need to start considering IVF”
WHAT?!?! Those were dirty words to Jess at the time….
They were not mentally or financially prepared to endure that. Jess was exhausted after feeling like a science project for over a year. She needed a break…. so did their pockets.
Jess began seeing an acupuncturist after a recommendation. She had acupuncture every week. They were relaxing and she felt renewed every time. After 8 months of sessions, the acupuncturist suggested to go get another opinion. He basically indicated they had reached the end of the road with treatments, he said that after 8 months of sessions, they should have been pregnant already. She wanted the sessions to work so badly. She was heartbroken once again… Another failure, another let down.
He recommended to see Dr. Ellen Wood at IVF MD. She took down the information and went home once again defeated.
Jess made the appointment to see Dr. Wood and took her huge file of failed fertility treatments and held her breath. Dr. Wood had helped her best friend have her twin girls who were now 3 years old, so this new avenue came with great recommendation and looked very promising.
3 Femara cycles later and no success. She didn’t even try IUI because she knew they weren’t going to be successful. Once again, they heard those obscene words as she said: “it’s looking like IVF”
Again…such dirty words for her at the time. Jess believed in the natural course of the cycle of life.
Mentally, emotionally and financially exhausted, she told Chris she needed a break. That break ended up being a little over a year and half.
Those 18 months they continued to try to get pregnant naturally. They tried everything that they could. Ate more pineapple, drank more supplements, stayed hydrated, stood on her head, exercised, drank less, prayed and prayed and prayed some more… Nada… zero… zip.
In an effort to stay occupied and get her mind off the issue, she looked into PHD programs at FIU. She needed to stay busy, but that was an expensive and terrible way of doing it. She even signed up for the GRE and didn’t tell Chris about it. Took the exam and did so terrible (she’s not good with testing she says) and went home to discuss what PHD programs she was considering.
Chris is a man of very little words… but when he speaks, they are relevant, important and you just can’t help but listen.
He let Jess go on about how the programs were great and that despite the time commitment it was something that she needed to do for herself. He knew her better than herself…
He smiled and said he would support her on whichever program she decided but he knew that a PHD was not going to fill the void she was so desperately trying to fill. He knew it would be a waste of time and money because she wasn’t going into it with the right mindset.
Jess hated that he was right and that he could see right through her desperation. They were both in agreement about not proceeding with IVF at the time, but a PHD was not the right outlet.
Within a week’s time, she had made an appointment to go see Dr. Wood again.
She welcomed them back and said that she would only go through with the IVF procedure if they allowed her to test them for everything under the sun. This time Jess was diagnosed the with PCOS, as well as short follicular phase and unexplained infertility – a term doctors like to use when they can’t figure out why you can’t get pregnant. Imagine their frustration!
Dr. Wood mentioned that out of the 200 IVFs she had done in 2017, 11 of them were unsuccessful. All 11 of those women had “unexplained infertility” so she wanted to make sure she didn’t miss anything with them, so testing begun December of 2017.
Jess feels that she owes her baby boy to those 11 women because Dr. Wood knew exactly what to do with her.
As if it wasn’t enough, more test results came back with a new development… Jess had killer cells. Basically, her body was attacking itself and all foreign objects, including babies. Although it was heart-wrenching and frustrating to know all these conditions, they were relieved to know the answer to the problem.
After the results, the doctor shared her game plan…
IVF with a fresh cycle, blood thinners and intralipid IV transfusions for the killer cells. Jess added acupuncture sessions to the formula because IVF treatments with acupuncture have higher success rates.
The injections began in late February and egg retrieval was March 16th, 2018. They removed 16 eggs…16!!! She was pleasantly surprised as she didn’t think her eggs would ever mature to size because of the short follicular phase.
During the egg retrieval, they mentioned that estrogen levels were dangerously high to perform the fresh embryo transfer within 6 days of retrieval. Their only option was to freeze however many embryos survived in order to try for a frozen embryo transfer in May. This was such a letdown for them because it meant more testing, more injections, more waiting and more money.
On March 22nd, they called to let them know that they had 2 viable embryos! Just 2 out of 16…. talk about cutting it close! But they were so hopeful and excited for the process. Both embryos were frozen while they prepped Jess’ body to receive the transfer in May.
THE DAY! May 15 was transfer day. Jess & Chris were taken into the procedure room, where they were greeted by Aubrey, the “embryologist”. Talk about responsibility; the embryologist is the person who chooses which one of the frozen embryos is more likely to implant…. No pressure! Right?
Aubrey gave them the first picture of their baby (a legit embryo cell) and made them sign their life away in consent forms.
Dr. Wood comes in, performed the transfer procedure in 15 minutes and then says to them: “ok good luck! see you in two weeks for the pregnancy test” The anxiety was real.
They went home and followed 4 days of bed rest and added a whole lot of prayer to the mix…. again…. the prayers… so many prayers. They wished for this family so much, and although it is hard to put all your hopes into it, they couldn’t help it.
Although they advised Jess & Chris not to take pregnancy tests, as the results would not be accurate at such an early stage, they did! She took her first test on day 11, and guess what?!? IT WAS POSITIVE!
They couldn’t believe it! They laughed and cried and laughed some more..
They took another one the following day and the day after that… ALL POSITIVE! As were their thoughts and expectations.
On May 29th, Belkis (one of the wonderful nurses at IVF) confirmed….They were pregnant! A few hysterical cries later, they began to call family and friends. Their support group was amazing throughout the whole process. They all cried too.
The next 9 months consisted of heavy monitoring and continued injections.
6 months of intralipid IVs
Daily blood thinners
All of which led to pre-eclampsia at week 32, followed by fetal monitoring at the hospital twice a week, weekly OB visits and an emergency c-section at 37 weeks.
Baby Julian was born on January 11th, 2019 at 3:37am, weighing in at 5lbs, 10 oz, measuring 18 inches. He was then transferred to Joe DiMaggio Children’s hospital due to his transitional hypoglycemia, and respiratory issues due to his premature state.
On February 7th, 2019 (4 weeks after he was born), Jess & Chris were finally home with their little miracle baby boy! So thankful, so blessed and with so much joy their hearts couldn’t even contain.
For all the wonderful women out there struggling with infertility, we hope Jess’ story and journey will inspire you, give you hope and fuel you to push further. To not give up, until too much is too much. We are presented with all kinds of obstacles and challenges as women, and then as moms, but we shouldn’t give up at the first stone in our path. Keep fighting, keep reaching, keep praying.
Little Julian is 2 months now, happy and heathy as ever and so are mom and dad.
Medical professionals involved in this success story:
Infertility Specialist: Dr. Neil Goodman
Acupuncturist: Dr. Micheal Fiorani
IVF Clinic: IVFMD, Dr. Ellen Wood
OB: Signature Women’s Health, Dr. Arango, Dr. Aponte and Dr. Martinez
Some images from Julian’s newborn session…