From the Colorado Clinic to the Bedroom
I met Becky and Marty in the summer of 2016, shortly after they decided to make the states their permanent residence. We are neighbors and their youngest daughter Mia and my daughter Josie are about the same age, which gave us a common link. After developing our friendship, Becky and I realized we each had been through our own fertility journey. Watching our daughters play together at the park is so fun - I love knowing that the three of them represent a miracle baby, a rainbow baby, and a refreshing gift of pure joy.
Shortly after getting married in 2010, midwest natives Becky and Marty moved to Switzerland for Marty’s career as a professional hockey player. They spent the majority of each year abroad from fall to spring and spent their summers (the off season) at their home in the states. They decided it was time to start trying for a family during their time in Switzerland and after not becoming pregnant after about 6 months Becky visited her OB. Since their health insurance was through the Swiss National League they knew they wouldn’t have coverage in the states over the summer so they decided to move forward with combined fertility testing prior to the end of the hockey season that spring. The test results revealed that their combined fertility was quite low, and Becky’s OB told them it was unlikely that they would get pregnant naturally and recommended trying IUI (intrauterine insemination) in hopes one would take, but said that in their case IVF (in vitro fertilization) was by far their best chance for success.
The season ended and Becky and Marty came home to the states for the summer and kept trying naturally. They planned to start IUIs with their Swiss doctor in the fall as soon as they returned for Marty’s third season. Becky admitted that she would have been surprised if the IUIs had worked based on the success rates their OB gave them, but she explained that Marty is an eternal optimist and carried the hope for both of them. Over the course of the season, Becky and Marty tried a number of IUIs with regular ultrasound follicle monitoring, ovulation trigger shots, and hormone injections, but none of them resulted in a pregnancy. By the spring, their OB recommended they more seriously consider IVF.
“My life altered a lot when we tried to get pregnant, particularly when we weren’t getting pregnant and more so when we were really trying to get pregnant [doing IUI]. So I guess it was almost like, I don’t want to do IVF, but I’m being given a solution, and I’ll take it.”
In accordance with their OBs recommendation, Becky and Marty started researching IVF clinics. The search for a clinic proved to be quite a process as Becky was looking for a clinic that could complete their IVF cycle over the summer while they were in the states, had international partners that would monitor her throughout her first trimester assuming the transfer was successful, and were willing to accept them into their program based on their Swiss fertility tests before running their own tests, which is a prerequisite for many clinics. After much research and a recommendation from Becky’s cousin, they settled on the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM). Becky flew back to the states before the end of the season to initiate the process with the clinic and Marty joined after the season concluded following his scheduled hand surgery due to a hockey injury.
In preparation for IVF Becky made a number of lifestyle changes to try to increase their chances of success. She took fertility yoga, went gluten-free, drank teas said to boost fertility, and went to acupuncture regularly. She explained that while these were all positive things to do, “My tendency is to worry and stress. Probably my mental state was not an aid in the process.”
Over the summer Becky and Marty flew from the midwest to Colorado four times to complete the IVF. They were fortunate to have family friends near the clinic, so they stayed with them during each visit. Their first appointment was an orientation. Becky knew the clinic was well regarded and had very high success rates and she observed, “Right off the bat we were not in the primary demographic. Most people that were there had tried and done everything else and we rolled in there and it was our first time. It was clear that we were in good hands.”
At their second appointment they each completed the necessary in-house fertility tests, and flew back a few weeks later for the retrieval and transfer. Becky responded well to the hormones to stimulate follicle development, so much so that Becky’s follicles were overstimulated resulting in extreme pain prior to and following the retrieval. Ultimately, the transfer had to be postponed and their embryos frozen once they reached the blastocyst stage. By now it was the end of the summer and Marty had to head back overseas for hockey season. Marty had been transferred to the German team, so he flew off to their new home in Germany and Becky stayed in the states for the frozen embryo transfer. Nine days after the transfer Becky called Marty to share the news that her blood pregnancy test was positive! Soon after, she headed out to Seattle to visit her parents and attend a friend’s wedding before joining Marty in Germany.
On the flight out to Seattle, Becky put her bag in the overhead bin, sat down, and immediately felt a steady flow of blood in her underwear. Becky was mentally overloaded and spent the flight in and out of the restroom unsure of what else to do. As soon as they landed, she called the clinic, had her parents pick her up from the airport and went straight to the emergency room. To Becky’s relief, the hospital found the baby’s heartbeat, ran a number of tests, and explained that Becky has suffered a chorionic hematoma or chorionic hemorrhage which resulted in vaginal bleeding. The doctors explained that the pregnancy could go either way depending on where in the uterus the hemorrhage was and how that corresponded to the location of implantation. In hopes of maintaining the pregnancy and decreasing their chances of miscarriage, Becky was put on bedrest for the duration of her first trimester. Becky lined up wheelchair airport transfers and flew to Germany to be with Marty and experienced another episode of chorionic hematoma shortly thereafter - luckily the pregnancy continued to progress normally.
Becky recalled that reaching her second trimester was a huge feat - the chances of chorionic hematoma significantly decrease and she graduated from the fertility clinic to a normal OB in Germany. She admitted that after these two episodes of bleeding, “I didn’t want to go anywhere, I didn’t want to fly, I didn’t even want to walk long distances because I was so paranoid.” Fortunately, the pregnancy continued to progress and by winter Becky and Marty were trying to decide if they should stay beyond the end of Marty’s season in Germany for their birth or if Becky should head back to the states on her own and have Marty join her as soon as the season ended. After being apart for the embryo transfer and Becky’s first episode of chorionic hematoma, they decided to stay together and remain in Germany for the birth. And in April 2014, Becky and Marty welcomed their daughter Peyton into the world and started preparing their documentation to fly home to the states as a family of three as soon as their paperwork was processed.
I asked Becky how she felt about IVF following her journey with Peyton. She explained, “I always wanted to have more than one child, but I did not want to do IVF again. Everything about the process - financially, emotionally, physically - was so taxing, and I hated the unnaturalness of it. Maybe my feelings would have changed if years went by [and we couldn’t get pregnant].” However, Becky and Marty found that Becky was pregnant shortly after Peyton’s first birthday. Their second child Mia came to them completely naturally, which shocked and thrilled them. Becky said that learning they were pregnant with Mia was their moment - they were together, surprised and elated. They went on to give birth to Mia the following winter in Germany and this time when they flew home at the end of the season in 2016 they decided to stay in the states indefinitely as a family of four.
“We went through so much to have Peyton and then Mia just happened - she felt like such a gift. The two scenarios were just so different. In my mind I still think of Peyton as more fragile because we had to do so much to have her and we almost lost her. I don’t know how Mia got into this world but she did it on her own - she finds her own way and is such a force. They are both so special and unique.”