Jenn Treseder Marshall is organizing this fundraiser.
Hello everyone, Jenn and Brian Marshall here. We are going to go out on a limb to be vulnerable with whoever reads our story. We have done the best we could in each phase of this journey to make wise decisions, but as you know, hindsight is 20/20 and none us us really knows what the future holds when we are walking things out. So please read with an extra filter of compassion and grace as we lay out our hearts and share our story with you.
We’ve been married for over 10 years now. In January of 2013 we started trying to have kids. The OBGYN doctor (Dr#1) even prescribed a fertility drug called CloMed to help us along. But after trying for a full year, we went to see a fertility specialist (Dr#2) at a local clinic in January 2014. After six months with them, the fertility doctor attempted an IUI procedure and found a very difficult block which led us to going with another doctor (Dr#3) to perform the surgery of removing that block which turned out to be a good sized fibroid blocking the opening of the uterus. While in surgery to remove the blockage, he discovered that Jenn also had extensive endometriosis. He immediately referred us to a specialist on endometriosis and fertility (Dr#4). After the specialist examined the data, he reported that Jenn had stage 4 endometriosis and that our only chance of conceiving was a 5-6 month course of Lupron -a breast cancer drug which drops a person’s body to a super low estrogen level in order to put that body in menopause and allow it to heal itself- followed by another surgery and then attempt a round of IVF. As you can imagine this was hard news, but we still had a lot of hope. Jenn started the Lupron treatment in October and soon after, her body went into temporary menopause. As you might imagine, the drastic hormone changes were extremely difficult with the sudden plummet of all her normal hormone levels. Although this was terrible on her body, Jenn pushed through this crazy process amazingly well, and in March had her second surgery. The doctor confirmed that the drugs had done their job and everything was looking a lot better. We were really hopeful at this point and began the process of hyper-stimulation. Normally, the body produces one to two eggs per cycle, however with this process the body typically produces more than ten eggs at one cycle, so we geared up for the rough ride!
In June, everything was ready for the egg retrieval and fertilization attempt. During this process the doctor runs a needle (more than 12 inches long) through the vaginal canal and pierces the ovaries. Thankfully, Jenn was under anesthesia because the doctor pieced her ovaries 27 times! He was able to harvest 11 eggs, 10 of which were mature. This was good news! The technician then attempted the fertilization process on the 10 eggs. It was the most surreal experience as we were being updated via texts and sometimes pictures of the embryos as they fertilized. Of the 10 eggs, 8 fertilized and started dividing. This was so exciting! And as the days went on, it became apparent that four of the embryos were doing well, and two were doing exceptionally well. They have a rating system for embryos and one of them had nearly the highest possible classification and the others were highly graded as well. By the time we went back for the implantation procedure (Dr#5), the best embryo was starting to hatch, which means it was ready to attach to the uterine wall. Our faith was extremely high that this was going to work and we would be pregnant. But we would have to wait 2 weeks now. We made the drive home and Jenn rested for the next couple of days hoping for things to take.
We waited the two weeks for Jenn to take the pregnancy test and found out that she was not pregnant. It was hard news to hear, but we still had two embryos frozen and waiting on us for another run. We spent the rest of July, August, and September letting Jenn’s body rest and both of us grieving the loss of another failed attempt of being pregnant. We geared up for another try, with Brian giving Jenn the daily hormone injections to ensure her body would be optimal for the 2nd attempt. Mid October, we went back to the clinic for round 2. We got bad news right off the bat when the technician told us that only one of the embryos survived the thawing process, but we kept our hopes up and went through the process knowing that the odds were not exactly in our favor. We were so nervous over the next weeks awaiting the pregnancy test. Again, the result was negative... To say we were devastated is probably not strong enough, but devastated we were. Our costly dream of creating our own children together had died and there was nothing more we or anybody else could do. Friends and family were having babies all around us, and yet, our hopes of having our own were dashed upon the rocks and we were heart broken. The process of IVF is very difficult on the woman’s body and Jenn nearly had to go to the emergency room the first time. Both the doctor and the nurse advised against another full cycle, so trying again was just not an option. Jenn seemed to process her grief and loss quicker, but it took Brian the better part of the next two years for the pain to soften.
Meanwhile, some friends we met in the doctor’s office began discussing their experiences of working with Gladney’s Center for Adoptions’ Colombia Program. After listening to positive remarks about the staff and process, we were sold on Gladney’s agency and international program. In late summer of 2017 that same couple brought home their 6 month old baby boy. We were ready! So in December of last year, we signed up for the Colombia program and began the 6 month paperwork journey. Three months in, it was time to attend the two day Pathways Training Event in Ft. Worth. It was a wonderful experience meeting the staff and the other adoptive parents, and the training sessions were so beneficial for us! After class, we went to dinner with our Colombia case worker who communicated her growing concern with the political climate in Colombia, but she encouraged us to not lose hope. She said she would be traveling there soon and would let us know how things were going. A few weeks later, we had a FaceTime call with her and she broke the sad news to us: she did not believe Colombia would be an option for us any longer and recommended that we switch to the Gladney Domestic Infant Program. Another speed bump and this time perhaps the closest feeling we could relate it to was a miscarriage. We were numb. The next day we started to feel the pain of yet another loss, but we knew this was our path and we spent the next few weeks regrouping and preparing to follow this new road.
Since starting over with the domestic infant program, we had another 6 months of new paperwork and have been working diligently toward finishing that up and completing our first home study. We’ve paid the first $10,000 to open the paperwork process and are now working on the next $20,000 installment to be payed so we can get on the list to be matched “chosen by a birth mom”. And the final payment of $10,000 will be due once we’re matched with our child.
We have persevered through 6 years of contending to start a family and are more than ready to be parents! We have spent the last year working with a marriage counselor to go through the grieving process well, to get the most productive tools to keep our marriage healthy, and to provide the optimal environment we could possibly offer our children when we are able to bring them home. And yes, we would like 2 kids!
We believe family is important and we often spend time with our extended family members. During a recent visit, Jenn got out the family picture book and sat down at the kitchen table to listen to her mom talk about their family linage. Her mom communicated amazing stories, stories of how her great great grandma was Cherokee and walked the Trail Of Tears from Tennessee to Arkansas. She shared stories of when she had moved away to college that her own mom & dad (Jenn’s grandparents) rented out the house she and her sisters grew up in, to live at a local orphan campus for Indian children. And how after 3 years of living on that campus, her parents moved back into their home and continued to foster children for the next 13 years. Jenn grew up celebrating holidays with some of these kids. What a loving and generous family heritage! This is why it feels natural to open our hearts and home to someone who needs one!
We have paid dearly for the opportunity to be parents and it is with great joy we announce our celebration of soon being placed on Gladney’s Adoption wait list. We believe community is important and desire our kids to grow up forming healthy attachments in a safe and loving community; therefore, we invite the people who love and care about us and our story to take part in this exciting journey as we turn the corner and watch our family grow!
This is our story. If you want to be a part of this journey we invite you to support us with whatever is in your heart: thoughts, prayers, finances, and then celebrate with us as we watch our dreams come true and bring our kids home.