WE ARE 1 IN 8
We are Brian & Katelyn Alexander. In 2018, we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. It has always been our hope since we started dating to multiply the love in our relationship and family with children. Our path to those children has been a little rocky.
We made the incredibly difficult decision to start a GoFundMe page to support our journey to parenthood. We worried about sharing our struggles and being vulnerable. But we also knew we needed help. It's so hard to admit that you need help and to take the step forward to ask - but here we are.OUR STORY
Brian and I met in July 2007, right before I was about to start pharmacy school. Like all modern relationships - we met online. I like to think that fate had something to do with it. Brian had signed up on a whim and I had a free trial subscription - we met two days before my subscription ended. Not only that, we had lots of missed connections and way too many similar interests. We both agree that it was love at first sight. I talked his ear off; he made me laugh. We both loved music and trying new things, cheering at sporting events and being outdoors. A perfect complementary pair.
We got married in November of 2010 during my fourth year of pharmacy school. After graduation, we lived apart for a year while I completed residency - me in Lexington, KY and Brian in Columbus, OH. Being three hours apart after only 6 months of marriage wasn't the plan, but we made it through no worse for wear. After I accepted my first post-residency position at ETSU in 2012, we settled down in the same town (Johnson City) in the same state (Tennessee) and just enjoyed being married. Bought a house. Traveled. Made friends. Built our home and our careers. Raised our fur-babies, Jack and Lola. Life was good.
Around 2014, a random series of doctor's appointments sent me to see a specialist and an ultrasound revealed a blockage in one of my fallopian tubes. The cause of the blockage was (and is still) unknown. Doctors advised that this could impact our chances of conceiving in the future, but also reassured us that sometimes these images were inconclusive. I was advised that my best chance for getting pregnant would be immediately after coming off of oral contraceptives.
In the meantime, life happened and things got sidetracked. Finally, in the spring of 2017, we got serious about starting our family. Like many couples, we were starry-eyed and hopeful and sure that in a matter of months we'd be pregnant. Months came and went, and no success. We tried every test, supplement, and old wives' tale under the sun - nothing. Because of my previous history, we were referred to a fertility specialist in Johnson City early on. Further testing confirmed the tubal blockage, but also added a new diagnosis - male factor infertility. Over the next year, we both underwent additional testing and treatment. We sought out a second opinion from a Reproductive Endocrinologist in another city. We tried medications as intervention. We waited...and waited...and waited. If I've learned one thing through all of this, it's that everything takes time and often you feel as though you have no time to wait. There are lots of other twist and turns in our story, but in the end none of the interventions made an impact.
Ultimately, based on all factors and our responses to treatment, we were advised that our one option to have biological children is through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).OUR IVF JOURNEY
For those unfamiliar with IVF, it is not for the faint of heart. IVF is an invasive treatment spanning several weeks and months. To start, the woman’s menstrual cycle is regulated with medication. She then has to take various hormones, injected a couple times a day, to get her ovaries to produce lots of eggs. During this stimulation phase, there are appointments every few days to monitor the ovaries. After nearly two weeks, the doctor orders a final “trigger” shot to encourage the eggs to fully mature and release. A day or so later the eggs are collected in a procedure done under general anesthesia. All mature eggs are then injected with sperm and the wait begins to see how many embryos are created.
Following the egg retrieval described above, I will likely need to undergo laparoscopic salpingectomy surgery to repair or remove my blocked fallopian tube. Inflammatory fluid in blocked tubes can flow back into the uterus and lead to lesser chance of successful pregnancy. Therefore, the damaged tube may need to be removed to enhance our odds and reduce risk of miscarriage.
Once the tubal issue is addressed and I've healed, we will then go back for a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET), where an embryo will be inserted into my uterus and we'll pray that it successfully implants. Assuming the best, we'll then continue for an additional 3 months of hormone treatment until my body is able to support the pregnancy on its own.
Unfortunately, our insurance does not cover anything related to infertility. All medications, surgeries, scans, lab monitoring, and appointments will need to be paid for upfront and out-of-pocket. Total cost will be around $20,000.
Our plan is to move forward with the goal of starting our first round of IVF in spring/summer of 2019.LIVING WITH INFERTILITY
Before 2017, I honestly didn't know much about infertility. I had no idea that my health insurance would cover 0% of any medications or interventions related to helping me become pregnant. I didn't know that 1 in 8 couples in the US struggles with infertility. I didn't understand the deep sadness and loneliness, the disappointment and grief that I would feel. I didn't realize infertility would rob me of the joy of celebrating pregnancies and milestones with friends and their children, because while I was happy for them it was just too painful for me. Before infertility, I never felt that sting of wanting something so bad but it being just out of my reach. I didn't realize the stress and strain it would cause. I never thought financial constraints would come into the discussion about having a family.
Before infertility, I didn't realize how strong I was or how strong I could be. I didn't understand how deep I could love, both those around me and that future child not yet in my arms. I didn't appreciate how strong my marriage was. I didn't fully know how deep faith and hope can run. I learned that infertility doesn't define me.
I also didn't realize just how many people would want to help us along the way.THANK YOU
It's said that it takes a village to raise a child - and maybe that starts even before birth. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for reading our story, for sharing it with others, and for helping us on our journey to become parents. Thank you for your donation, as every little bit makes a difference. We truly cannot express our gratitude enough for your help towards us becoming parents.
Additionally, if you or someone you know is suffering with infertility please do not hesitate to reach out. You are not alone. It can be hard to know what to say or how to help - we're no experts either! There is an amazing community of couples fighting infertility out there and I hope you find comfort in knowing you aren't alone, just as I have.
Thank you to all of our friends and family who have been with us throughout this journey - every hug, prayer, and act of kindness has helped us through those trying times. It means more than you will ever know.
To say thank you isn't enough - we are forever grateful.
Brian & Katelyn