Seeds of Success: The Leonard Family
Justin and Kaitlyn knew they wanted to start a family and they also recognized the struggles they were having weren’t ‘normal.’ When Kaitlyn shared her private struggle with a good friend who was a former RAD patient, her friend suggested, “Maybe you should give RAD a call.” Before coming to RAD, Kaitlyn didn’t know much about infertility. “It is kind of one of those taboo subjects that people just brush under the carpet and don’t really like to talk about unless you are obviously faced with infertility.”
In July of 2013, Kaitlyn visited RAD’s Dover office for her first appointment with Dr. Barbara McGuirk. “Honestly, any time you go to the doctor, especially when you are talking about such a scary subject as infertility, it is really nerve-wracking and I didn’t know what to expect,” Kaitlyn said. She asked Dr. McGuirk many questions during that initial appointment. “When I sat down to talk to Dr. McGuirk, it hit me that this is real. This is what I am faced with and this is the path that I am going to have to walk if we want to take the next step to have biological children. I left my first appointment with a wealth of information that I did not know before and a game plan of what we were going to do to get diagnosed and figure out what was causing our issue.”
Walking On A New Path
Following her initial appointment with Dr. McGuirk, Kaitlyn went through the work-up process to help determine the underlying cause of her infertility. “After we did the testing, I had surgery,” Kaitlyn said. Her laparoscopy and hysteroscopy revealed endometrial-like tissue growing outside of the uterus on her pelvic wall that contributed to some of Kaitlyn’s pelvic pain. She was diagnosed with Stage 1 endometriosis. The surgery also uncovered the main cause of her infertility, which was damage to her fallopian tubes from chronic cysts and scar tissue when she was younger. Kaitlyn said, “They were so swollen and scarred that there was no way for an egg to pass through to get where it needs to go.”
After surgery, Kaitlyn met with Dr. McGuirk to discuss what would be the next step on her journey. “We sat down and Dr. McGuirk told us that while we could continue trying on our own, the chances of us conceiving on our own were slim to none because of the damage that was done to my fallopian tubes. The endometriosis would also start to return,” Kaitlyn said. Dr. McGuirk recommended IVF as the next step. “They felt that IVF was the best option given our circumstances to ultimately have a child. We qualified for RAD’s Step-It-Up IVF program which was wonderful because that was a lot more cost effective for us.”
“I think the mental aspect of infertility is the hardest. You need to talk to yourself and talk yourself up. Yes, I have infertility, yes I have endometriosis but it does not define or control me. I make my choices and I will have a family one day or another.“
Kaitlyn and Justin went through the IVF process in February 2014. Justin is a member of the United States Air Force so he was deployed through some of her cycle. Kaitlyn had to give herself some of the injections. “That was hard because he wasn’t there and he is one of my main support people. I really felt like even though he wasn’t there in person for part of the process, Justin was there mentally with me cheering me on and was kept up to date with what was going on.”
During Kaitlyn’s cycle, 11 mature eggs were retrieved and 9 of them fertilized. On day 3, Kaitlyn received an update that all of her embryos started their development and were stage appropriate. Day 5 arrived and the healthiest embryo was transferred. On March19, two weeks after Kaitlyn’s fresh embryo transfer, that special day arrived when she and Justin found out that they were indeed pregnant. Landon arrived on November 19, 2014.
Keeping A Positive Attitude And Finding Support
Throughout the process, Kaitlyn continued to seek support and maintain her positive attitude. She joined an online Facebook support group and connected with women across the country. They encouraged one another during their visits by mailing each other special socks to wear to their appointment. They were called “sock buddies.”
Reflecting on her experience at RAD, Kaitlyn shared, “the staff made all of the difference in the world for me. It is such a private thing but they didn’t make it feel as awkward as it is in reality. They were so friendly, understanding, and so sincere in getting to know my husband and I. They made me look forward to each and every appointment. I really enjoyed going to my appointments and being able to chat with the girls and know that they understood where I was coming from.”
“The staff really got to know me as a person rather than just a patient and I think that made a huge difference in the level of care and ultimately the result of my cycle. I was less stressed about the whole process since I had people that genuinely cared about helping me start a family.”
Kaitlyn’s final words of wisdom: “If someone was walking through infertility, the one thing I would say to them is – Just breathe, take a minute, and reach out for some support and help because ultimately that will be the best thing. Reach out, talk to people, and share your story. Find people that will support and help you through whatever choice or path you decide.”
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Celebrating 25 Years
In August 1995, Dr. Barbara McGuirk founded Reproductive Associates, now RADfertility, and was soon joined by her partner, Dr. Ron Feinberg. See how we are celebrating this special milestone!
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