There’s always time for family

Growing up, Kelly never thought much about when she wanted kids, if she wanted kids, and how many. She was too focused on earning an education and advancing her career so she could have a strong foundation for the future. That changed when she met her husband, Gary.

Kelly and Gary knew right away that they wanted to start a family together. When the couple said their ‘I do’s’ in 2013, Kelly was 35 and Gary was 39. Knowing that time was of the essence, they started trying for a baby right away.

Months went by and Kelly still wasn’t pregnant. She went to her OB/GYN to learn about her options and was prescribed medication to stimulate ovulation and improve her chances of conceiving on her own. The medication did not work as they had hoped, and Kelly knew it was time to see a specialist. Her doctor gave her a list of options, but this was too important of a decision for Kelly to just pick a name out of a hat. Her extensive research brought her to Fertility Centers of Illinois.

Testing and treatment

Kelly wasn’t sure what to expect from treatment and was nervous to find out the reason why they weren’t getting pregnant. She felt relief when their fertility testing came back inconclusive. She figured, “At least we don’t see anything that’s really stopping us from having children.”

They moved forward with intrauterine insemination (IUI) and Kelly was pregnant on the first try. Sadly, the pregnancy was ectopic, and Kelly couldn’t safely carry the baby to term. They went through two more rounds of IUI within a year and both were unsuccessful.

They decided to take the next step in the process and start in vitro fertilization (IVF). After the first round, Kelly was pregnant, but their celebration was short-lived. Kelly experienced another devastating miscarriage. After recovering from their loss, they did another cycle that failed due to chromosomal abnormalities.

Having dealt with so much heartbreak and disappointment, they were worried the transfer wouldn’t be successful in their third IVF cycle. However, they were thrilled when they learned that it worked. Kelly was pregnant and in July 2016 they welcomed a baby girl!

Growing their family

The couple was over the moon raising their beautiful miracle baby. For five years they focused on being the best parents they could be while balancing their careers, but they wanted to expand their family even more.

Now in their 40s, Kelly and her husband came back to FCI to pursue IVF. They did two IVF cycles and made what Kelly describes as “beautiful embryos” but none of them resulted in a pregnancy. The couple did not have any more frozen embryos to transfer, and since the chances of chromosomal abnormalities in eggs increase significantly after 40, they needed to decide what to do next.

Confronted with their options, Kelly and her husband had a serious conversation with their doctor about using donor eggs. Although it seemed a little out-of-the-ordinary to use a donor, they were eager to expand their family and to be part of the pregnancy, so they wanted to give it a try.

The couple was thankful to find that choosing a donor was a relatively simple process. Kelly said, “FCI made it work for us. We knew more about what we didn’t want than what we did want. We looked at the family history, things like if the parents or siblings of this person had cancer. One characteristic we were really interested in was blue or green eyes.”

Using donor eggs, the couple ended up with seven embryos. Kelly and her husband wanted to transfer three of the embryos to increase their odds of a successful pregnancy, which their doctor advised against because pregnancy with multiples is higher risk. Still, they wanted to move forward and signed off on the transfer.

Ten days after the transfer, Kelly took a pregnancy test, and her HCG levels were through the roof. She was pregnant with triplets! They were surprised, but ecstatic, and sought out a doctor specializing in multiples to help them through the pregnancy. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out the way they had hoped. One of the babies did not make it to term and the couple was heartbroken. They mourned the loss of their rainbow baby but stayed positive while they waited to meet their twins. In February 2022, they welcomed two healthy baby girls.

Baby #4

After the birth of their twins, Kelly and her husband wanted to add one more child to their family. They wanted a baby boy. All of their embryos were screened for chromosomal abnormalities through preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), and an added benefit of the test is being able to identify the gender of each embryo. Fortunately, they had a healthy male embryo to transfer. Kelly did another IVF cycle in October 2022, and she is now in her second trimester with a baby boy!

After 10 cycles (three IUI and seven IVF), three healthy babies, and one baby on the way, Kelly is pleased to share that she enjoyed the process. “Even though there’s heartache, we’ve gotten to know the staff. They’re like family and we are super grateful.”

Kelly added, “The Shelton family had many ups and downs along this 10-year journey but believe you have to endure the darkness of the nights to see the sun rise above the mountains. We are blessed to have found FCI, Dr. Hobeika, the nurses, and extended team members who all believed in us and supported every decision along the way. We are beyond grateful.”

Need-to-know fertility resources and guidance

Diagnosis and treatment
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