Holly & Justin's Baby Dream

Hello, my name is Holly, my parents are Julie & Roger Rich of Jewett, IL.  I’m 37, work for Aldi’s as a cashier and have been with Aldi’s for 10 years. I married my best friend and the love of my life Justin Cornell in 2006.  Justin, the son of Lisa & Gary Cornell of Effingham, IL is 37, is a non-union plumber and works for a small company called Integrity Electric & Plumbing which serves the small rural county of Effingham, IL.  Our loving home includes three 4-legged canine family members named Twiggy, Ramsey and Audry.  We’ve had a wonderful life and marriage all these years but sadly our prayers to share our love with children of our own hasn’t become our dream come true yet.

Approximately 1 year into our marriage we excitedly decided we were ready to start our family.   After sometime, month after month without any result, we knew something must be wrong but we never stopped trying and our desire never wavered.   In 2008, we bought a home and were involved in a total renovation which took time and most of our money so we put off seeing a fertility expert until we built up a little ‘nest egg’ again.

In 2016 we went to Dr. Odem at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.  After running various tests Dr. Odem said the only way we could conceive is through invitro-fertilization.  He explained about the costs involved, the drugs, the risks and all the rest.  Throughout all our years of trying, we may have thought in our own heads that we might not be able to have a baby but finally hearing the powerful words Dr. Odem had to say brought us beyond our worst fears.  The whole IVF process was way more than we expected financially and emotionally when considering the risks.  Many couples go through this process over and over trying to conceive just once.  We both left there in silence and heart broken, our trip home turned out to be the longest 3 hour trip ever, we were numb.

When we were finally alone and had the chance to talk, we just cried thinking that our hopes and dreams of a family may be not be in the realm of possibility for us.  After all Justin and I already knew that my health insurance through work would only pay a lifetime amount of up to $15,000.00 for infertility issues and if you’re at all familiar with IVF $15,000.00 is the start.  There is gas money needed and both of us would have to take time off of work from time to time with no sick pay.  Of course not working means not having the full income we normally make and that would make sticking to our new strict budget totally impossible.  So…. I cried more because we just didn’t know whether we could afford such a pricey procedure.  But with much thought, we both agreed WE HAD to try.  It’s amazing that we as a whole are willing to go through anything for love and family.

And try we did, I adjusted my regular work schedule to accommodate the 6 hour round trips and the time for the tests and visits with the staff in St. Louis.  Justin didn’t have to go every time so I navigated driving in a huge city which is definitely out of the normal for me in our small town of less than 100 people where we live.  I had multiple injections in my belly which became very bruised and sore, but in spite of my fear of needles all of this would be worth it if only we could conceive. 

My embryo transfer took place a week after my 36th birthday.  The next couple of days I experienced a lot of pain in the lower area of my abdomen but I had to stay at work because I didn’t want to lose my job and I felt bad about inconveniencing my co-workers by coming in for later shifts because of the traveling for doctor visits.  Over the next month my hormone levels were checked, I was told we were pregnant but that the hormone level was low.  They told me I needed to continue to take progesterone and that I should slow down.  I did as recommended but at about a 6 weeks along I was driving home from one of the doctor visits when I received a call from the nurse.  She told me to stop take the progesterone and that I would miscarry soon, I was completely devastated.  I just had to pull to the side of the road, I was crying so hard but thankfully my Mom had taken the trip with me this time and I wasn’t alone.  When Justin got home from work I had to tell him and just felt like a total failure.  Then when we didn’t think things could get worse I miscarried our twins on Justin’s birthday.   For the next few months I felt so empty and we developed a routine of going to work, coming home and I would cry while he stroked my hair in the evenings.  Nothing anyone said could make us feel better for quite a while until one evening when a co-worker, Audra, brought her homemade chicken pot pie to us.  She had taken so much time to make small leaves out of the dough for the top crust, it was so pretty and it smelt and tasted heavenly.  As we ate we were so overwhelmed by her generosity and kindness that that night we began to heal.

A year has passed and we are emotionally ready to try again.  After extensive encouragement from others we decided to get another opinion before we started the process again.  I was told by one of my customers who went through my line with her new baby that she had gone through IVF and that she loved her fertility doctor AND had the upmost confidence in her.  She and I spoke later that evening about her experience and all the things her doctor said and did, she went on to say that Dr. Zarek will only transfer a single egg partially because multiply embryos are riskier.  She gave me her doctors’ contact info and Justin and I decided to make an appointment. 

Dr. Zarek is an amazing doctor, she took more tests and was so much more thorough.  We feel 10 times more comfortable with her and her experience.  She did tell us that I had Endometrioma and cysts on and around both ovaries which the other doctor knew about.  However Dr. Zarek further explained that it can cause infertility and that the surgical removal of the growths will give us a greater chance to carry a baby to term.  She also mentioned that I had hyper-thyroidism and that it can cause an issue with implantation or it can cause the embryo to miscarry.   She’s treating my thyroid issue and I’ve already had the surgery.   We feel we are on the right track this time and we actually feel very hopeful.

But at this time we are having difficulty coming up with the money to try a second time because we’re struggling with paying for the part not covered by my insurance for the surgery to remove the Endometrioma.  On a very good note, as blessings go, sometimes you get a knock on your door when you least expect it.  Amazingly the other day one of our prayers was answered when we received a generous monetary gift from a family member.  It’s incredible that there are people out there with so much selfless love in their heart that they help others even when it’s a struggle to do so.  The gift we received isn’t enough but it will help give us a start on the new emybro procedure process.  Amen.

Dr. Zarek said that with my past miscarriage, my current state of health and my age that she would recommend doing 2 cycle embryo banking.  This basically harvests twice as many eggs and of course costs twice as much plus there would be quarterly storage fees for the freezing of the embryos, semen and eggs.  All in all, the embryo transfers,  genetic testing, biopsy fees, anesthesia, labs, medications, embryo scope, doctor fees, etc, etc, etc. will run upward towards $33,485 not including the quarterly storage fees, travel expenses and time off which realistically puts the number toward $40,000.00.

If it’s in your heart to help us, we ask for your prayers and anything you find in your heart to contribute to our Go Fund Me account.  You have our endless gratitude for your prayers and your consideation.

Thank you and God bless,

Holly & Justin Cornell


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Organizer and beneficiary

Barb Dust Starwalt 
Woodbury, IL
Holly Cornell 
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