My Journey to Parenthood
My entire life I have dreamed of having children. At the age of 36 and not having found the “man of my dreams,” I was concerned that my dream was slipping away. My gynecologist discussed with me the timeline of a woman’s biological clock and I was running out of time. Then a year later, I was sitting in from of her again with the same concern. I mentioned to her that I had thought of pursuing artificial insemination as a single woman using a donor. She didn’t hesitate to give me a recommendation as she wrote “NewLIFE”. She wrote it on a Post-It note, wishing me the best of luck and to let her know how things go! I looked at reviews, did some research and really liked what I was reading. The best NewLIFE advantage was “lowest cost you can find”. This was a huge selling point for me and there were many NewLIFE office locations, so I chose the one that was closest to me.
I thought making the phone call to book a consultation was going to be the hardest step. It wasn’t. The lovely office staffer, Tara, answered with such an inviting tone. She showed me their quick and easy process to complete the paperwork. I filled it all out within a day and then held onto it rather than sending it back. I knew I wanted this, but I was so nervous. It was not about raising a child on my own, as I have more support from friends and family. But how would they judge me at NewLIFE when I show up and they realize there’s no husband, boyfriend or partner? A week later I got a call from Tara letting me know she had NOT received my paperwork. “Yes, I haven’t sent it yet.” was my reply. She didn’t miss a step. She was ready to set up my first appointment and said I can just bring the paperwork with me. This was the nudge of encouragement that I needed and the date was set. Driving to the clinic I remember thinking of all the questions I was going to be asked to be sure I thought this through, as if thinking about it for the past 7 years wasn’t long enough! The first part of the process was to meet with the ARNP, Terri Bishop. This was the hardest step for me and yet I quickly realized was the best decision I had ever made.
From that point on, I realized I was not only in good hands, but I would have my biggest supporters at NewLIFE. No matter what the question, Terri was ready with her cell phone number on hand for me. Every part of the process is a time sensitive matter. What’s most important to Terri and to NewLIFE is that they are available so you don’t have to miss a cycle. Dr. Ripps has an incredible staff at each location, ready to prepare you and help you through the process. From Tara knowing exactly which step I was on each time I phoned in, to Donnie teaching me how to administer my shots, this team is so incredibly organized. I am 16 weeks pregnant now and beyond words with gratitude for having such an amazing team of professionals come into my life and cheer me on as they succeeded in making my ultimate dream come true.
The Power of Courage…
My husband and I have a special story that we wanted to share, to share our joy and gratitude. I have a very active career as a physician and with so much demand on my time, I was hoping to carefully plan our pregnancy. When we did not conceive quickly, it became a source of additional daily stress, much subconsciously. I kept revisiting the “what-ifs” in my head.
Fortunately, I knew Dr. Ripps and the staff at NewLIFE, and getting in and getting test results did not add much more complexity. The results were still a bit surprising, because the fertility problem was not with me but with my husband. He is in such great shape and so healthy, I never would have suspected it.
Dr. Ripps explained the semen report and it was confirmed on a second sample, “odd shapes and slow swimmers”. Based on these, the choices were quickly leaning toward IVF. I was pretty devastated. How would I fit that treatment into my already busy life? Dr. Ripps was so optimistic though, and ordered one, newer sperm test. Its results suggested that we might have a small chance without IVF. So Dr. Ripps didn’t waste any time, he recommended doing an insemination “IUI” as soon as possible. Well, the “soon as possible” was the next week when I was due to ovulate.
So in a natural menstrual cycle, without fertility medications and a spontaneous “surge”, we scheduled the insemination and OMG, it worked! Laughing I am well along in the pregnancy and we know it’s a healthy baby boy.
Professionally, we want to see things clearly, “black & white” but I am learning. This experience has taught me to that sometimes gray is OK and to never-say-never and to have the courage to simply try. I hope if you are reading this, you will at least “try”. You never know!
A special story about helping oneself….
This is our story, well mostly my story, about never giving up when your dreams are to be a mother. I am a nurse and with career and all, it took a little longer to find the man of my dreams. Though I had worked in a fertility practice and knew there were so many stories, I never imagined I would have trouble. But we did…. The work up was exactly what was expected, but the results were not, because it seemed that the blood tests said I was “older” than my date of birth would suggest. I was only 40 years young. This, if one doesn’t already know, is THE worst possible diagnosis: “low ovarian reserve.” We moved quickly to IVF, but our troubles were confirmed when not only was I unable to make more than a few eggs, their quality was not good.
We were crushed. Would we ever be successful? What would we do if it never happened? I couldn’t stop thinking about it. We made another appointment with Dr. Ripps who explained that, when it comes to eggs, “quality beats quantity”. He made several healthy recommendations to improve my chances….you know the ones no one listens to. But I did !
I got serious. I started on a balanced diet, regular exercise, weight loss (yes, I needed it) and in the end, a new me. I took my vitamins, DHEA and got plenty of sleep. I was determined to do whatever I could to help. Three months after our second, better but unsuccessful, IVF attempt, I missed my period and OH YES ! We were pregnant on our own. No meds, no needles, no ultrasounds, no procedures, just my continued “homework”.
When we went for the OB ultrasound, Dr Ripps gave me a big hug and said, “Many people would call this a miraculous conception, but you know, Stephanie, you EARNED this one.” All has gone well with the pregnancy, we are expecting our little miracle baby boy. My husband is thrilled to carry on the family nameBaby_Reagan1.
This is not a story of pride. It’s a story about giving up some things for some thing else wanted even more. When (if) an honest fertility doctor suggests “getting healthy,” it is not out of frustration, it is good (scientific) advice. Do not take it personally, like many do, but as Nike says, “Just Do It. It will increase your chances even if you don’t have egg problems. And most importantly, NEVER, EVER give up hope.
– Stephanie & Roger
If at first you don’t succeed…..DO NOT give up!….ever!
After stopping birth control pills, unpredictable menstrual cycles were the first sign that something was not right. After three unsuccessful rounds of Clomid, my gynecologist suggested I see a fertility specialist. I am SO THANKFUL my gynecologist suggested a specialist rather than wasting time with less effective rounds of Clomid. We did our research and chose Dr. Barry Ripps because he is Board Certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. When we searched for the details online, we learned that some doctors in Mobile, Alabama claim to be “specialists” but may have no special training or are not “certified.” We shopped wisely. Smile
Dr. Ripps shared the facts with us and allowed us to choose our own path of treatment. After initial tests on both of us, nothing sure was found, leaving us in the “Unexplained Infertility” category. We began a series of 3 rounds of IUI’s, and I was surprised by how quickly I got used to giving myself shots. The Mobile nurse, Toni, did an excellent job of explaining how to administer my meds and was always there to answer a late-night phone call when I doubted myself.
When this simple first option was unsuccessful, a diagnostic laparoscopy was recommended, revealing endometriosis that was treated at the same time. I was surprised at how easy the laparoscopy procedure was, how quickly I recovered and we began more IUI’s with high hopes for success. But when more simple options were unsuccessful, we all agreed In Vitro was the next logical step.
Our first round of In Vitro proved to be emotionally challenging. I was devastated when my fertilized eggs did not develop well.Frown However, it was through this first In Vitro attempt that another cause of my infertility was found. At the age of thirty, my egg quality was not what it should have been.
It took a lot of prayer and a few months of rest, before my husband and I were ready to jump back into treatments with a different, more relaxed mindset. We were being much more realistic by now and, if necessary, we were willing to do whatever it took. When we began our second In Vitro cycle, Dr. Ripps used the valuable information gathered during the first attempt and used different medications, more like a woman in her late 30’s. Five days after the egg retrieval, we were ecstatic to discover three embryos made it to the blastocyst stage. We decided to transfer two embryos and kept the third to be stored.
About two weeks after Embryo Transfer Day, I received that fateful phone call from sweet nurse, Toni. She was already crying when she exclaimed, “YOU’RE PREGNANT!!!” She and I sobbed together for a good 10 minutes before I pulled myself together enough to go tell my husband.
I cannot begin to explain the gratitude we feel towards Dr. Ripps, Toni and the entire NewLIFE team. They held our hands through a challenging journey that would gladly take again and again for this precious baby girl. Laughing
If someone like me is reading this story, please take my advice to not let a set back or failed treatment cause you to abandon your dreams. We have proof that NewLIFE truly makes dreams come true!
Don’t “share” your eggs. Let me tell you why….
Our journey to parenthood lasted about 2 ½ years. After one year of trying on our own, my ObGyn treated us with fertility pills and inseminations. After this stressful period, we were referred for care from what we were told was a fertility specialist at Mobile Infirmary. This practice confidently told us that “male factor” was the cause of our problems. They recommended IVF, but in Mobile, the cost was just too high for us. We were asked to “share” my eggs with another couple that would help pay some of the expenses. I was reassured that because I was so young, only 26 at the time, that I would have plenty of good eggs. The eggs that were held for me did not develop well enough to make blastocysts and I was urgently changed to a “Day 3 transfer”…..we did not conceive. More disheartening was the explanation offered that it was just “bad luck.”
But our luck would change with the recommendation of a friend who had seen Dr. Ripps in Mobile and the recommendations of many other friends since then. We learned from these folks that Dr. Ripps is uniquely trained and board-certified, when the other doctors were not! I have since learned to ask the right questions. But this “true” specialist at NewLIFE completed our testing in less than a month, and the old diagnosis of male factor was thrown out, and replaced with a new problem of low ovarian reserve. Although this helped explain why using half my eggs in IVF was not enough, we were becoming desperate and doubtful that we’d ever be parents. Dr. Ripps and his nurse, Toni were always supportive and hopeful. They restored our confidence, enough to try IVF again. Then, we almost fell out of our seats when we learned that the cost of IVF in Pensacola was lower than what we had paid for a “shared-egg cycle.” Wasn’t I supposed to be saving money by sharing my eggs? I almost cried!
Our 2nd IVF experience was different in many ways, but especially in the outcome. When we were able to use all of my eggs, we found a good one! We conceived and are due in March. Isn’t she/he cute! We can’t wait.
Our experience is worth sharing so that anyone who feels like giving up should meet with a specialty trained and board-certified fertility specialist, to get the right answers, right treatment and in the right place. We hope this will help you, too.
A “thank you” from Amy and Billy
“A wonderful office staff at NewLIFE helped us….” After many months of unsuccessful attempts to conceive a baby, my husband and I sought care with a fertility specialist in Pensacola. It did not take long to identify the problem and we welcomed Dr. Ripps’ confidence that he would be able to help.
Fortunately, we became pregnant in our FIRST attempt using IVF with our beautiful baby girl, who we named Whitney.
We can’t express enough gratitude to Dr. Ripps and his wonderful staff for helping us to become a family. Our lives would have been empty of this joy without their expertise and kindness.
– Amy and Billy
IVF…Easier than you think
We didn’t even think that we might be infertile, and we technically,
“conceived” in the first year. But after our miscarriage and discovering I had thyroid issues, my ObGyn at the Women’s Group recommended we see the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialists (“REI”) at New Leaders In Fertility & Endocrinology….aka, NewLIFE. My husband and I were eager to start our family, so we agreed to follow through with this referral.
Our diagnostic testing came back normal, and with both of us at 34 years, we were grateful for the promising results. I was pleasantly surprised that these “certified” specialists, didn’t push us toward IVF. We were encouraged to start with fertility pills, to which I responded well, but without success, even with IUI. This was confusing and without a diagnosis Dr. Ripps offered IVF or laparoscopy as a way to gain more information. I went ahead with the procedure and endometriosis was found. In our next meeting, we decided IVF was the right next step.
We were surprised how easy the IVF process was made for us by the staff at NewLIFE…we thought it would be daunting. The IVF coordinator reviewed all of the medications and our schedule. The communication with the IVF coordinator was spectacular, and truly appreciated. Our initial anxiety quickly disappeared into the routine care and honestly it was not a bad experience in any way. I have a busy work schedule but they conveniently offered to book my appointments on my breaks. But…there are always “challenges” lurking.
I made too many eggs, 25 of them, postponing a “fresh” transfer to allow my body to recover from the all the medicine. Looking back, I am so thankful we waited. However, despite 25 eggs my uterine lining never thickened, even for the frozen transfer with the routine and extra hormones! We were devastated, and the more I read online (“Dr. Google”), the more worried I become. I wanted to cancel. Dr. Ripps met with me to hear my concerns, but he remained very encouraging, saying, “thickness alone doesn’t tell us everything.” I think THAT reality check gave me the faith to move past my fears and doubts.
We transferred one healthy, strong embryo and it stuck!! We are grateful beyond words, pregnant with a sweet baby girl. All of the NewLIFE staff and nurses are the sweetest people, making us feel welcome at every visit, and we are so thankful we listened to Dr. Ripps and trusted his professional advice. We can’t wait to share our sweet bundle of joy with everyone.
-Melissa and Michael Soderlind