We are residents of Nashville, Tennessee and are both first responders. We met back in 2013 while working as dispatchers at the same center. We didn't start dating until 2015. Once we began dating everything moved pretty quickly, it was like we both just knew this was our forever. We dated for two years before getting married in 2017.
We agreed to start trying to grow our family after the first year, but we both thought something could be wrong because we had never prevented pregnancy. Since Harley had two daughters from his previous marriage I always thought that my irregular cycles would be the culprit. After the first year of marriage, we visited my OB and she agreed that it was probably a cycle problem. She ran some tests and formally diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). She wrote me a prescription for Letrozole to help me ovulate and assured me this would be the fix. After six failed medicated cycles she decided it was time to start looking at my husband as well. It was then that Harley was diagnosed with severe male factor infertility and we were immediately referred to a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility specialist) and him to a urologist.
We decided to start with the fertility specialist. After more testing, we learned that my husband's counts were under one million and his motility and morphology were not where they needed to be either. They started him on some supplements and wanted us to continue to try medicated cycles since I was responding well to the Letrozole. We endured close to 15 medicated cycles with no pregnancies. We decided to try a medicated IUI, again with no luck. At this point, we were drained emotionally and financially and decided to take a step back.
We set up an appointment for Harley to see the urologist. This provider actually put him on Clomid to help boost his counts. He did periodic blood work where it never showed improvement but the doctor wanted to wait for the six-month mark to really be able to see if there was an effect. At six months Harley had his blood drawn again and we learned that his estradiol levels were dangerously high and he had to come off of the Clomid immediately and begin another pill to help reverse the estradiol levels. Again we were lost, confused, and drained in more ways than one. And then a friend referred us to the ART clinic.
The doctors, nurses, and staff here are nothing short of angels and will forever be a part of our story. The doctors here suggested going straight to IVF. This was a blow to us because we did not have the money to afford that and zero infertility coverage. I was determined, though. I began fundraising through an online raffle where local businesses donated goods or services, then family and friends purchased chances to win these prizes. I also organized a yard sale where people from our community donated things for us to sell. It was an INCREDIBLE show of a community coming together and it was really special to us. We raised about $5,000 between the two fundraisers. Then an opportunity presented itself that I can only explain as God working in our favor. I received a phone call that because of Covid 19 and being a first responder I was eligible to withdraw my retirement at no penalty and 0% interest. Two weeks later we received a check for $20,000 and we were funded for IVF. The clinic required my husband to be tobacco-free for 45 days before egg retrieval. Yall this was a feat in itself because he did NOT want to stop using tobacco. However, it did pay off!
In April of 2021, we had our egg retrieval! 13 eggs were retrieved, 10 were mature, 7 were fertilized with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection, a procedure where a single sperm is injected directly into the cytoplasm of an egg), and 5 of those made it to blast! Miraculously my husband's counts on that day were over 22 million! That's higher than it had ever been before! We had planned on doing a fresh transfer but due to a mild case of ovarian hyperstimulation, we had to postpone. Several weeks later we transferred one perfect 4AA embryo. Everything was perfect! My body responded perfectly, the embryo was beautiful, the transfer went off without a single problem. On mothers day 2021 I got my first faint positive pregnancy test. But that was almost two weeks later and I knew that baby probably wasn't sticking around. (I blame my pessimism on frequent Google searches always telling me the worst-case scenarios) The next day I had my beta and it was confirmed that I was having a 'chemical pregnancy. The way this was explained to me was the embryo tried to stick and my body began producing small numbers of HCG but nowhere near enough to sustain a pregnancy. Three days after this we learned that my husband got a new job and we'd be moving to Nashville, 2 hours away from everyone and everything we knew.
We are now getting ready to start the process for another embryo transfer. We couldn't have gotten to where we are without the love, support, and prayers of not only our friends and family but also complete strangers. I always joke and say that this baby will be everyone's baby. From donating money, adding us to prayer lists, donating PTO, and helping to cover shifts...this baby would not be possible without the support we've received. The doctors and staff at the ART clinic in Birmingham, AL have been phenomenal, I can't imagine going through this without the incredible team that they have. We are planning to start a scholarship fund for other first responders who are going through IVF to help with the financial aspect of their treatments. We are not holding our baby in our arms yet, but we lean on God's promise to give us a miracle and can't wait to share our journey with the world. If we can help just one other couple going through this then everything will be worth our while. If you'd like to follow our journey you can follow our Facebook page, Baby Watts Prayer Warriors. I am honored to be a voice for one of the hardest battles that can be fought."
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