We married in April 2017, and didn’t waste any time trying to start a family. After a year, we were referred to Fertility Associates of Memphis, given our ages and medical history. (Sarah had two ovarian tumors, and Beck survived testicular cancer.) We made an appointment with Dr. Paul Brezina at Fertility Associates of Memphis (FAM), as he came highly recommended from several friends.
We met Dr. Brezina in May 2018 and loved him right away. He spent so much time with us, explained our options thoroughly and was so patient with our questions. He was direct, but compassionate and empathetic, having experienced infertility himself. A couple months and lots of testing later, we met with Dr. Brezina again and learned that most everything had checked out completely normal or above average. We were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. While we really didn’t need to fix anything to have a baby, he said something to us that really resonated: “you can either continue to pay with time, or you can start paying with money.” We left his office that day conflicted – one of us was ready to jump right into fertility treatment, and the other was hung up on the money, not wanting to spend our savings on the possibility of having a baby. For months, we thought and prayed about all our options, and eventually, agreed that treatment was something we needed to pursue. So, we made plans to begin IVF.
In October 2018, we started preparations for our first egg retrieval, which was done in December 2018. It was successful, and we started looking forward to our first embryo transfer. 2019 came and was the opposite of what we hoped and prayed for. It was unbearable at times. We endured two nonviable pregnancies and one failed embryo transfer. We discovered that Sarah is on the fence for antiphospholipid syndrome, so treatment for that was added to our protocol. We watched our siblings’ and friends’ families continue to grow. We experienced the same insensitivity that so many of you do… people asking when we would have children, or saying we were “lucky” to not have kids because of XYZ reason. We struggled with bitterness over the money we had invested. We cried with each other, and prayed some pretty intense prayers asking God why He wasn’t giving us a child.
Infertility is a journey we wouldn’t wish on anyone. It is painful in every sense of the word – emotionally, physically, mentally. Sometimes, and excuse the language, the best way we can describe it is as “total mindf*ckery.” One day you’re pregnant and celebrating; two days later, you’re not pregnant, but you’re begging God to somehow save your pregnancy. It seems impossible. You wonder how anyone has a baby, with all the intricate details that have to align perfectly for a healthy pregnancy and birth to take place. You ask God if it’s a miracle you’ll ever get to experience. Yet, you keep trying and trying and stay hopeful because it’s all you can do.
Today, we are still waiting and praying for our miracle. We are in the middle of our second full cycle of IVF. By God’s perfect timing, we were able to have another egg retrieval in March 2020, the week before FAM stopped all new rounds of IVF. We’re now hopeful that our fourth transfer will lead to a healthy pregnancy and ultimately, Baby Barnes.
Three things have continued to sustain us as we continue on our journey: our love and support of each other, our faith, and our encouraging “squad” of support, including friends, family and Dr. Brezina and our FAM team. Finding others to walk alongside us and pray for us continues to be crucial for our survival of this seemingly insurmountable trial, and we cannot emphasize this enough. If you don’t have anyone walking with you, we will be that for you.
We’ve channeled the pain from our experience into supporting others who also struggle to start their families. Given the tremendous financial burden (we recently surpassed the $50k mark in total out-of-pocket expenses), Sarah has been leading the charge for fertility coverage at her employer for over a year. She has also found joy in working with Mollie to support other TN fertility advocates. We’ve become more open about sharing our story, even though we still don’t have a baby, because we want to encourage others. We have found good has come from our very difficult road, and are thankful to see some beauty coming from what literally feels like ashes. We hope to be an encouragement to you!
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