#Ally4Avery--our IVF plea!

Our dear friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, and any who read this,

            We come to you with hope for a miracle for our family!  We’re talking about a big miracle—the kind of miracle that make you pause in wonder, the kind that doesn’t have any logical explanation, and, ultimately, the kind that gives us the hope necessary to write this to you today.  Our story IS one of miracles—both those that have already been granted to us and those that are yet to come!  We believe in miracles!!

            In the spirit of total transparency, we ask for your compassion as we share our story with you…Albert and I were 34 when we were married.  Our greatest desire ever was to dedicate ourselves to raising a happy, successful, faith-filled family.  We both come from families that have been there for us through the difficult, funny, happy, sad, life-changing and day-to-day moments.  We so desperately wanted to create such a family together.  As we had waited so long to find each other and start our family, we knew we wanted children right away.  Sadly, within a few months of marriage, we realized that we would require medical help to be able to have a child. 

            We spent the next year bouncing from doctor to doctor, subjecting ourselves to test after test.  We sought the help of multiple urologists, an endocrinologist, two infertility specialists, and even a psychiatrist.  We were repeatedly told, “Everything seems normal even though it’s not.”  No one could explain why we were having problems.  I don’t think I can fully describe the empty feeling of not knowing what was wrong and not being able to fix it.  It was agonizing.  It was difficult to face the fear that we may never have the family we had always envisioned.

            With prayer and spiritual promptings, we turned to fertility treatments.  That sentence sounds so simple as I type it, but this was a nerve-wracking, life-changing decision for us.  Initially, the doctors had decided that our issue was unexplained male-factor infertility.  However, the fertility doctor we chose quickly diagnosed me with endometriosis and told me that my egg quality was extremely poor, giving me “half the fertility window of a normal women my age.”  With our combined fertility problems, we were told we would have to do the entire gamut of fertility treatments—all the way to IVF with ICSI—where the sperm is directly inserted into a mature egg in a lab by reproductive specialists and then grown for a few days and reinserted back into the body as an embryo.  We were told that our odds of having children were extremely minimal.  We were then even more shocked to find out that we would need $24,120 to complete ONE cycle of IVF with ICSI.  Words can’t describe the range of emotions we felt with being told that our fertility prognosis was so poor AND that we would need thousands of dollars to even attempt to have a family.  It was overwhelming emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially.

            We tried our best to rely on God and move forward with faith.  We fasted every week and prayed with sincerity for a miracle.  We determined to do our part financially and picked up every extra hour of work we could.  We saved and scrimped as macaroni and cheese became our staple meal and all extra expenses were cut.  Time passed and no immediate answers appeared.  I cried every month that I got my period.  Every baby announcement made me feel like I’d had the wind knocked out of me.  My work as a labor & delivery nurse became disheartening as I helped other women bring children into the world while I continued to wait.  It was a cruel type of irony.  And the worst part was the tears that instinctively fought to pour out each time we were asked, “When are you going to start having kids?”

            I’ll never forget one particularly trying day.  Albert and I had applied for a special infertility discount loan.  We knew we wouldn’t be able to save the money on our own with the fertility window we had.  We had high hopes that with this loan, we would finally be able to move forward and start the treatments.  We were driving on the freeway when the loan officer called.  We pulled into an abandoned gas station and put the phone on speaker, only to be told we didn’t qualify.  There would be no money.  We hung up the phone, held onto each other, and sobbed in that empty lot.  We had no idea where the money would come from now.  We had already applied for multiple grants, giveaways, and contests.  We had already tried to qualify for other loans and been denied.  There was no help in sight.  The feeling of discouragement was suffocating.

            Then, in the middle of this struggle, a major miracle occurred.  My brother (not sure he’d like to be named) had sacrificed greatly and surprised us with half of the money!  We’d have to pay him back as this was a substantial strain on his finances, but he’d come up with it!  Thankfully, we were able to secure the rest of the necessary funds by applying for even more loans but this time only requesting half the money.  I literally cried for two hours straight when he told us this news.  We were so humbled by his kindness and generosity!  Miracle #1!

            We began the medical process.  Albert underwent surgery.  I started taking medication and then giving myself hormone injection shots.  I had to inject myself multiple times at specific times of the day.  I felt like a walking, bloated pin cushion!  We drove an hour each way several times a week to the specialist’s office to get ultrasounds to evaluate the effectiveness of the medications.  At times we had setbacks…my ovaries were responding more slowly than normal = more shots!  One of the medications had to be emergency shipped overnight from a special company = more money!  At the end of it, the procedure to retrieve the eggs only yielded five embryos, which is less than we had hoped for.  With medical direction and prayer, we decided to place three as my odds of conceiving were so poor.  The placement was another uncomfortable, long procedure.  The doctor had to get a second physician to come help as I was told that I was “one of the more challenging cases.”  Not exactly something you hoped to hear from your infertility doctors.

            Several days later, I got a call that it hadn’t worked.  I wasn’t pregnant.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so sad in my entire life.  Again, Albert and I held each other and just cried.  We were told that we could try again as soon as we were ready, but that we’d have to come up with another $5,000.  We had no idea where to come up with this money, but we felt strongly that we should start the process again and that God would provide a way.  We took a leap of faith!  The very week that the money was needed, I got a call from a dear friend asking how things were going.  I lost it.  I couldn’t hold back my emotions and surely this friend got more than they had bargained for when they had just wanted to check on me.  I opened up and sobbed, sharing our experience and the devastation we went through and where we stood now to be able to move forward.  My only intent was to let out the feelings that so few understood, but after listening to me cry, this kind friend offered the money without hesitation!  This was miracle #2!

            At this point, I was doing everything I could to strengthen my odds.  I continued to watch my diet religiously, rested more, underwent additional and painful procedures, but ultimately, we knew that God was in charge.  We had two embryos left but were told that they weren’t the highest quality.  We crossed our fingers, prayed, and went for a second attempt.  Then we waited two weeks for the results.  Having to go through your normal routine, but wondering if life is going to change is a challenge.  Every flutter in my stomach made me question a possible pregnancy.  Every minute felt like an hour.  My stomach churned with the anxiety and wondering what we would do if it didn’t work.

            Most of you know how this part of the story ends:  nine months later, we were blessed with the prettiest, brown-eyed, brown-haired little girl ever!  She is everything we could have hoped for.  Our gratitude goes out to a merciful God and all who supported us to get her here.  Miracle #3!

            We’ve enjoyed our little girl for over a year now.  We are so blessed to have her in our home.  Still, we strongly feel impressed that our family is not complete and that our daughter is supposed to have a sibling.  We need an ally for Avery!  We have felt directed towards IVF once again and recently revisited with our fertility specialist.  After the consult and more tests, we were told that we only have one more chance to try for our last child and we’d better try soon.  We are faced with the uncomfortable process of treatments, tests, and procedures.  Even more frightening though as we look into the unknown once again is the news that we need to come up with another $30,000 to proceed.  We are already depleted financially from our first two attempts at IVF and have no idea how to come up with so much money in such a short time.  Yet, we feel fervently that we are to proceed and once again we move forward in faith.

            That’s where you come in, our family and friends (and whomever you’d like to share this with—please share!!).  We know that many others experience different, often far worse trials, and that some may criticize or judge our scenario.  But this is OUR test.  We simply ask that you show compassion on us and provide whatever support and assistance you can offer at this time—whether that be a dollar or two (or more ), a hug, a message of support, a prayer, or even just sharing this page so that our story can be retold.  We assure you that this request is not made lightly and that we have put off this letter for some time.  When I recently told a dear friend of my hesitation, she responded with, “Why wouldn’t you do EVERYTHING in your power to try to have another child?”  So that is exactly what we are doing—having been encouraged by family and friends and feeling a STRONG prompting to move forward as quickly as possible, we submit our plea to you.  We ask humbly and sincerely:  Please help us provide an #Ally4Avery and be our next miracle!! 

            Much love and gratitude,

            Albert, Allison and Avery Pineda

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Allison Pineda
Upland, CA

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