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She Was Worth Every Obstacle

Patient Q&A with Chelsea

Why do you want to share your story? 

Going through infertility can feel so isolating. At times it felt like I was watching everyone I knew get pregnant and become parents, and I felt like I was the only one struggling to conceive. When I started connecting with others in the infertility community and hearing their stories, it made me feel so much less alone. I hope I can bring some of that same comfort to others who are still on their journey to parenthood. 

What led you to Fertility Centers of Illinois and why did you trust us? 

My husband and I moved to Chicago soon after we started trying to conceive. After about 9 months went by, we decided we wanted to speak with a doctor and get some basic tests done, just to be sure there was nothing obvious that was hindering our ability to get pregnant. A quick Google search led me to FCI, and after our first appointment with Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron, we knew we had come to the right place. We immediately felt at ease and heard. We never felt rushed through our appointments and felt comfortable asking any and all questions. The nurses were also so kind and made those early morning blood draws and ultrasounds much more bearable! 

What was the infertility diagnosis? 

Male factor infertility (azoospermia) 

Which Fertility Centers of Illinois physician(s) treated you? 

Dr. Jennifer E. Hirshfeld-Cytron 

How would you describe your experience with your physician(s)? 

We knew right away that we were in good hands with Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron. She always took the time to listen to our concerns and answer our questions. She is kind, thorough, and incredibly knowledgeable. We always felt like, no matter the outcome of our treatment, we were giving ourselves the best shot by working with Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron and FCI. 

What infertility treatment(s) did you undergo? 

Once we received my husband's azoospermia diagnosis, we were told that IVF would be our only option to conceive a biological child. My husband first underwent a sperm retrieval procedure with a urologist, then I went through an egg retrieval where we retrieved 17 eggs. We were ecstatic with this result; however, only three of my eggs were fertilized and we ended up with only one blastocyst.  

We decided to do genetic testing and, unfortunately, our only embryo came back abnormal. We were heartbroken that we didn't even make it to the transfer stage. However, after meeting with Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron about the results and the changes that we could make to the next cycle, we felt hopeful again.  

We decided to forego genetic testing this time around and planned for a fresh transfer. Though it seemed counterintuitive at first since our last embryo came back abnormal, Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron explained that the odds of getting a genetically normal embryo were higher because of our age and she believed the best place for an embryo to grow was in the uterus. We were nervous, but we trusted her opinion.  

I started on Lupron a few weeks prior to taking the other stimulation medications and had 10 eggs retrieved during this cycle. Because Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron explained that we could see lower fertilization rates again due to the azoospermia, we weren't surprised when we got the news that only 2 of my eggs fertilized this time (which made the next week waiting to see if either would develop even more nerve-racking).  

On the day of my fresh transfer, we got the news that one of our embryos had made it and that it looked perfect! Though it was a relief to have an embryo to transfer this time, it was daunting knowing that this was our only shot. You hear people say that "it only takes one", but it's difficult to believe that when you're in that situation. Two weeks later, we learned that I was pregnant with our miracle baby! 

What helped you through treatment physically and/or emotionally? 

I attended FCI's infertility support groups early on in our and it felt incredible to connect with others going through the same thing. Though my heart broke for these couples, I was also inspired by their strength and resilience. My husband was my rock and we made sure to be open with each other about our fears and struggles throughout the process. I also had a great support system of family and close friends who knew about our journey and were always there to offer encouragement, drop off treats, or just sit with me on the phone while I cried. I also saw a therapist once a week who helped me process a lot of the anxiety I felt and stay in the present moment.  

After our first round of IVF failed, I also took some time off from treatment altogether to focus on myself. Infertility can feel all-consuming. I wanted to put a pause on the worrying, the doctors' appointments and medication, and just enjoy life. We took over a year off between IVF cycles (partly for the break, partly due to COVID), and I spent most of that time doing things that I loved. I took trips to see friends, discovered new fitness studios around the city, drank margaritas on patios in the summer, and read a lot of books! I am so thankful for the time that I took to reconnect with myself.  

Do you have any words of wisdom for others? 

Never be afraid to ask questions. The team at FCI are so patient and knowledgeable, and you should always feel like you know what is going on in the process. Try not to compare your journey to others (this is a tough one!). It is so easy to get caught up in how many eggs someone else retrieved, what protocol someone else is on, or how long it took them to get pregnant. But comparing will only cause you anxiety and stress. We are all trying to reach the same goal and there are a million different ways to get there. Finally, do not be afraid to take a break if you need it. Part of me felt panicked about pushing off treatment when I decided to take a break and when covid hit and we had to push it back even further. However, it was exactly what we needed and I know we would not have our beautiful daughter had the timing been any different. 

Tell us about your little miracle! 

Eleanor Lane Dobleman was born on March 11, 2021. At 8 months old, she is already strong-willed, curious, and full of energy! She is everything we have ever dreamed of and worth every obstacle we overcame to have her!