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You’re Not Alone: Happy Endings Do Happen

Patient Q&A with Rachel

Why do you want to share your story?
Every path to parenthood is different, and people can see themselves in a variety of different journeys. I want to share my story so that others will see they are not alone, there is hope even if their experience is different from mine.

What led you to Fertility Centers of Illinois and why did you trust us?
My OB/GYN recommended FCI to me. I asked if it was too big of a practice, and he told me that FCI's results speak for themselves. Even though the practice is large, I trusted my doctor and care team right away. I felt like there were built-in supports, had quick turnaround times answering questions, and that everyone really was invested in me becoming a parent.

What was the infertility diagnosis?
Unexplained Infertility

Which Fertility Centers of Illinois physician(s) treated you?
Dr. John J. Rapisarda

How would you describe your experience with your physician(s)?
Dr. Rapisarda was warm and friendly, but also cut to the chase when he needed to. One cycle, I asked him to get more aggressive with the meds and he told me there wasn't anything more aggressive to do. He was sympathetic. Every time a procedure failed, he called me personally to check in. He was reachable via email or the portal, and met with us in person and video chatted. He was supportive of the decisions we made, but definitely gave us his opinion and the reason behind it.

What infertility treatment(s) did you undergo?
Three cycles of IVF (the third ended in an IUI because there were not enough follicles), a hysteroscopy, and finally an embryo transfer via egg donor.

After I woke up from my second egg retrieval and found out how many eggs were retrieved, I asked for a pamphlet on egg donation right away. I'm always thinking about the next step in life -- which isn't always a good thing during this process, since it can be a long one. Dr. Marut performed all of my retrievals (and also my successful embryo transfer) and he gave me the information but told me to wait a bit before deciding to do this. Ultimately, this was really good advice. We did another IVF cycle which ended in an IUI, then took a break, went to Hawaii, and recharged before we decided to go with an egg donor. We are older and definitely didn't want to waste any time, but this was a really big decision. Once we decided to go with an egg donor, there were many things to consider. A cousin volunteered to be a known donor, so she completed much testing for us and was found not to be a great candidate. We talked with the doctor about fresh vs. frozen and went through the FCI donor database. Mike and I each had our own rating system and a shared Google doc. I found myself frustrated and needed to explain to the donor coordinator that I needed a big picture overview and a step-by-step account of what was going to happen since I felt so anxious. She was so accommodating, she checked in with me almost daily when I told her how anxious I felt. I did NOT want that my first time through IVF- it was overwhelming to know everything and I didn't understand what all of the numbers meant. When I Googled, I became confused, so I just stopped. As I did more cycles, I knew more. By the time we got to the egg donor process, I had learned enough to know that I needed all of the details. So...my advice here is to know what you need and to ask for it. FCI staff will be happy to provide it.

What helped you through treatment physically and/or emotionally?
Physically - ice before my shots, having my husband give me the shots, acupuncture; Emotionally - the FCI support group, having a theme song every night with the needles, having date nights with my husband, sharing my experience with others so they knew where and why my head was, taking breaks and vacations between failed cycles, being open to different possibilities.

Do you have any words of wisdom for others?:
Everything is a cliche but every cliche exists for a reason. This is a roller coaster and a marathon, not a sprint. Each failed cycle is awful, but it also helps you better prepare for the next one - be it logistically (now you know how to call in your prescriptions to the specialty pharmacy or you know which air bubbles are ok in the shots or how to mix the meds), emotionally (take two days off of work after an egg retrieval, which friends or family to confide in). Find someone to talk to other than your partner, and make sure your partner also has someone to talk to. Be kind to yourself and find a distraction - I went back to school for an advanced degree and it really distracted me when I needed to be distracted. Spoil yourself, wear baggy clothes, and hang in there. It gets better. Even before I got my happy ending, I got better at coping.

Tell us about your little miracle!
Ruthie is 3.5 months old and is the cutest thing ever! Even when I'm so tired, she smiles at me and I melt. She is so strong and stubborn; she wants to sit and she wants to walk, she does not want to lie on her back. She was a tummy time champ from week 2! She may have been born during this COVID year, but she's a ray of sunshine to all that meet her. She has big cheeks, sparkly eyes, and an infectious laugh. She loves to splash in the bathtub and make a mess, put everything in her mouth, and eat books instead of read them. Her daddy now dresses up for her instead of for me; he wears t-shirts with contrasting colors that she will stare at! FCI, your motto is "Your miracle: our mission." This certainly was the case for us and we are forever grateful to Dr. Rapisarda, our care team, the donor team, and the entire clinic.