This is my sister Juliana and my brother-in-law Michael. To say that my sister is my hero would be an understatement. She is more than that. She has been through more in her short lifetime than some will in their entire life.
They have both remained positive and faithful throughout their journey of building a family. Due to her health circumstances, they need to start IVF soon before they lose their chance at having a baby. They deserve this more than any other couple I know. Their Doctors have been amazing and have cut their costs down to almost half at $7000 (depending on medication costs). Please join me in helping them have the chance to become the amazing parents I know they will be.
Here is part of their story (by Juliana):
Sharing such personal details is something that I never thought I would do in a public forum. This has taken a lot of prayer and soul searching from my Husband Michael and I. It is not a decision that came to us lightly! We have placed our trust and hope in Jesus Christ, and feel that it is time to share our journey to creating a family.
For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of being a Wife and a Mother. God blessed me with a wonderful, loving husband and I am thankful that I found my “price charming.” You know how the song goes, “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a…” Yeah, not so fast! Little did we know the road to building our family would be the most difficult journey of our lives.
I still remember the fear that I felt at 16 years old when I stood alone in my Chiropractor’s office while he told me that something was wrong. I was being treated for a minor car accident, and they forgot to put on the protective pelvic shield while they did my x-rays. Typically, this shield would cover the female organs, but by the grace of God the Chiropractor forgot. This x-ray revealed that I had an ovarian terratoma inside of my right ovary. Within a matter of a few days, I was in surgery to have it removed. When I woke up from surgery, I remember hearing my Mom cry. She told me that the doctors didn’t realize how large the tumor was until they opened me up and they had no choice but to remove my entire right ovary. I didn’t worry too much about it at the time, and mostly joked about how nasty it was that this tumor had teeth inside of it (Google it if you dare!). Thankfully the tumor was benign, but we were told that there was a 30% chance of another terratoma growing in my left ovary, and that it might cause problems for me getting pregnant in the future.
About a year or so after this surgery, I began to struggle with multiple ovarian cysts. My doctors have always had to keep a close monitor on these cysts, because of my history of having a terratoma. This started the cycle of many ultrasounds, doctor visits and medications. The reality of loosing my chance at having my own biological child was something that haunted me. Every time I went to the doctor, I worried what they might tell me. Dealing with pain on a continual basis was secondary to me when it came to my dream of having a baby. I would endure anything.
Right before my Husband and I got married, I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis. We started our new marriage with strict instructions from my doctor that if we wanted to have a baby, it needed to be our first priority. The doctor feared that I would end up with a hysterectomy if the endometriosis got any worse. After taking Clomid, I ended up with hyperstimulation of the ovary and I was rushed into surgery. The doctor informed Michael that the endometriosis and scar tissue was so bad again, that he was barely able to save my ovary. He removed a large cyst, leaving me with a small section of my left ovary. I was then put on a medication to try to control my endometriosis, which gave me a whole slew of horrible side effects.
Shortly after, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Disease). Our chances of having a baby we very slim by this point. We were told so many times that we should see a Reproductive Endocrinologist, but this was a very expensive type of doctor that was not covered by our insurance. Not to mention the mountain of bills that we pouring in from doctors, hospitals, tests and medications…we were drowning already. This was not an option for us, so we continued to try and prayed for a miracle.
I am now 28 years old, and our miracle has yet to come to pass. To date, I have now had a total of 7 surgeries since 2008, just for the endometriosis, adhesions and cysts and removal of my right fallopian tube. I have suffered the loss of a miscarriage. We have tried several rounds of Clomid cycles that have been unsuccessful. We have been told that my (1) fallopian tube was open, then blocked, and then open again. We have been told countless time to “hurry up and get pregnant before you run out of time.” In 2011, God had blessed us with the means to finally see a Reproductive Endocrinologist in San Francisco and she has been our advocate ever since. We went through 5 failed attempts at IUIs before she suggested that we move on to IVF, which is even more expensive.
Doing IVF would bypass all of the problems that have been keeping us from getting pregnant, and our doctor was very confident that we would be successful. We prayed, and decided that IVF was the route for us, but knew we could not afford it at that time, especially since we paid out of pocket for all 5 IUIs. Michael’s job is a contract type position, so he does not get the benefits as a regular status employee would. We pay out of pocket for private health insurance at $722.25 a month and are swimming in medical debt from all of my surgeries, doctor visits and tests. Our expensive insurance covers zero for anything fertility related. We had no choice but to take a break from our fertility treatments. So, towards the end of 2013, we decided to put the idea of IVF on the shelf and re-visit it in January of 2015.
This summer marks one year out from my last surgery (for Endo) and had been feeling pretty good, except for the ovarian cysts that seem to always be around. My cycles have been pretty normal, which is a huge improvement and a big victory for someone with PCOS. I have a long road ahead for my body to get “back to normal” but I am continually plugging away at making small changes and doing what I can to feel like myself again, emotionally and physically.
RecentIy, I started feeling like something physically was not right again. More doctor’s appointments and more tests, led to the discovery of a new female problem that will endanger our chances at having a baby. I have most recently been diagnosed with the beginning stages of uterine prolapse. This only gets worse over time. Surgery is the only real fix, but most of the time surgery for this means a hysterectomy. My OB/GYN sat Michael and I down and told us that if we wanted to have a baby, it truly is now or never because this only gets worse. We could risk a surgery, but she highly advises us to get pregnant as soon as possible, so that we can correct it later by the necessary means. Both my OB/GYN and our Reproductive Endocrinologist are in agreement that now is the best time.
This latest diagnosis has been the hardest to deal with. This is not just a doctor guessing this time, this is truly my body telling us that it has gone through enough and it is time to move forward. We are thankful that we have two amazing doctors behind us. They are both very confident that it is early enough that we can have a successful IVF and that I could carry a successful pregnancy.
We have prayed and prayed about our situation and asked for God’s direction. Our RE doctor and her team have very generously given us a significant discount so that we can try to make this IVF happen as soon as possible. They are giving us almost half off of the services for IVF! This is very rarely seen. Our doctor has also been advocating for us by trying to get our medications donated (thankfully, because these can cost $1,800-$10,000 per IVF cycle). This is a huge blessing, and we can see God moving mountains already! Now, we are trying everything possible to come up with the appx. $7,000 (not including meds) needed to have our little Baby Knox.
I am not good at aksing for help and I am always worried about what people will think of me. But, after hearing the advice of a fellow infertility sister (thank you Alexis!), and then my sister Kristi setting up a fundraising page to try to help us, we felt that it was time to speak out and share our journey. It made me realize that I shouldn’t be afraid. People who truly know Michael and I will see our hearts and know that our desire to have a family is deeper than any fear. I will do anything to be a Mother. My heart aches that I haven’t been able to give my Husband a child, or my parents a Grandchild. I don’t know who I am if I can’t be a Mother.
My body has gone through so much, but it doesn’t even compare to the heartbreak that infertility brings. It has changed me as a person and it has more than tested my faith. It has tested and strengthened my marriage and I honestly could not have come this far if it weren’t for my faith and Michael and a few wonderful people along the way (you know who you are) who have encouraged me to never give up hope.
With each surgery, we were warned that they might not able to save my ovary. Yet each and every surgery, God has continued to show us that our story isn’t finished. I cannot even count the amount of times that I have heard a doctor say “you are too young for this.” People have said, “just adopt and have a hysterectomy and everything will be better.” Well my friend, it isn’t that easy. God has placed this desire on my heart in such a strong way and until he tells us different, we will not give up the fight.
I am not sure who will read this, if anybody. But my prayer is that it at least touches you to have faith, no matter your circumstances. It only takes a little bit of faith, and God will carry you through anything. He is always there and His plans are better than anything we could ever imagine. I know God is putting us in this position for a reason. And we will continue to have faith that our journey is not over.
Michael and I may be under limited time, but we still believe that God can bring a miracle out of this situation. If you feel compelled to donate, we cannot thank you enough!!! If you simply wish to share our story, thank you times a million! Either way, we ask that you pray for us during our journey to having Baby Knox.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story! And thank you Kristi, for the push you gave to share our journey and for all you are doing for us!
To read Juliana & Michael's full story, please visit their blog:
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