After many difficult years of infertility, pregnancy losses, and disappointment, Alyson shares how she and her husband Jared finally found their path to parenthood.
In this article:
Meet Alyson & Jared
Originally from New Jersey, Alyson moved to New York during her middle school years, eventually landing in Buffalo, NY for college. Jared is originally from New York, and as luck would have it, he ended up going to the same college as Alyson.
After crossing paths during their last year of college (2011), they began dating. However, their budding romance was soon put to the test, as Alyson prepared to graduate and Jared entered his master's program. They decided to take a leap of faith.
"I was planning to leave Buffalo, but we knew long distance would not work well - so after only two months of dating, Jared asked me to move in with him," Alyson shares. "Once he completed his master's program, he applied for jobs, and we landed in Connecticut."
The couple continued down their somewhat unconventional path, buying their first house together in 2015. Three years later, in 2018, they officially tied the knot!
Dreams of Parenthood
"I've known I wanted to be a mother my whole life," Alyson says. "My own mom found me at two years old in my brother's crib (the week he came home from the hospital) trying to change his diaper."
Jared had also always wanted to be a father, and the couple knew with complete certainty that they wanted to have children together - before they were even engaged.
An Unexpected Loss
"We decided to start trying to conceive in January of 2020, and got pregnant in April 2020," Alyson shares. Sadly, their joy was short lived, and the couple experienced a devastating pregnancy loss in June 2020.
After a few more months of trying with no success, Alyson says she had a gut feeling that something was wrong. "I went to my OB/GYN in October 2020, and she referred me to Illume Fertility, where Dr. Joshua Hurwitz became our specialist," she recalls.
Finding Their Path to Success
The couple began intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatment in September 2020, undergoing four IUI cycles over the course of just a few months. "We had high hopes that [IUI] would be all the help we needed to start our family," says Alyson.
Unfortunately, some additional obstacles were soon uncovered through the couple's fertility testing and blood work that offered some potential reasons for their struggle.
While Jared's semen analysis results showed an average count and morphology (a term that refers to sperm shape), his motility (a term that refers to how efficiently the sperm move) came back just below average. The couple filed this new information away and continued moving forward with additional diagnostic testing for Alyson.
Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) & Sonohysterogram (SHG)
Thankfully, Alyson's HSG and SHG results came back perfect, checking a few more potential concerns off their lists. Unfortunately, her anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels came back low - just below the bottom of the level Dr. Hurwitz was looking for to confirm a healthy ovarian reserve.
IVF Cycle #1
In September 2021, Alyson had her first egg retrieval, resulting in 14 eggs. Of those 14 eggs, only one successfully fertilized. The couple was disheartened, but moved forward with an embryo transfer in January 2022.
After three days of careful monitoring by her Care Team, Alyson was told that her beta hCG levels weren't rising normally. Sadly, that first transfer ended in a chemical pregnancy, and the couple was back at square one.
What is a chemical pregnancy? A chemical pregnancy is a very early pregnancy loss that occurs within the first five weeks of pregnancy. An embryo forms, and may even successfully implant in the uterine lining, but will subsequently stop developing.
IVF Cycle #2
In March 2022, Alyson had her second retrieval. This cycle produced 19 eggs, but due to her poor egg quality, not a single egg successfully developed to the embryo stage. The couple was devastated, but not ready to give up.
They decided to give IVF one more chance before exploring other family-building pathways.
IVF Cycle #3
Alyson had her third egg retrieval in June 2022. This time around, 14 eggs were retrieved, but only one egg successfully developed made it to Day 6 of embryo development.
They were informed that their chances of a live birth were now hovering around 35%, so they began to discuss alternate options. "If this embryo didn't take, our plan was to have my sister try to go through a round of IVF to supply us with an egg," Alyson shares. "Our hope was that her egg might successfully fertilize and the resulting embryo could be transferred to me."
With that plan in the back of their minds, Alyson and Jared had their one and only embryo transferred on October 1, 2022. After nine days of holding their breath, the couple were ecstatic to receive the news of a positive pregnancy test on October 10th.
Pregnancy After Infertility & Loss
"I took my last injection on November 19, 2022, and we announced our pregnancy on January 24, 2023," Alyson says. "We were honestly very scared throughout the pregnancy since we had previously gone through so much loss and disappointment."
That feeling of always 'waiting for the other shoe to drop' is common amongst fertility patients - and understandably so. After so much uncertainty and anxiety, it is difficult for many expecting parents to let themselves fully enjoy pregnancy - even when it progresses without a hitch.
Thankfully, Alyson says, those fears began to dissipate once they got past the full term mark.
"We were so excited to meet our little man - we just couldn't believe this was actually going to happen for us," she admits. "We had gotten to a point where we thought adoption might be the only option for us."
On Finally Meeting Their Miracle Baby
Alyson and Jared welcomed their miracle boy Connor on June 24, 2023 via unplanned C-section. "Even now that Conn is here, we look at him and can't believe he is here, healthy, and ours," she says. "He is the love of our lives and I am so glad we didn't give up!"
What Alyson Learned On Her Journey
Like many fertility patients, Alyson gained a wealth of knowledge about reproductive health throughout her experience. One thing that surprised her was how much she still had to learn.
"I wish I had been more educated on the human reproductive system growing up, and strongly feel it's something that should be more prioritized in public schools," she says.
What were the hardest parts of this process for you?
The contrast between all the highs and lows was especially challenging for the couple. "It's just a rollercoaster of emotions - getting good news followed immediately by bad news (and vice versa) and jumping from one extreme to the other within mere days," Alyson shares.
At each step, the couple had to keep looking forward and discussing the next hurdle to overcome. Trying to stay hopeful throughout all of the ups and downs was taxing, she admits.
What tools did you use when things got tough?
Like many couples, Alyson and Jared relied heavily on their network of close family and friends. "We had a great support system, including one couple that had also gone through fertility issues and were blessed with a baby after seeing Dr. Hurwitz," she says.
What would you say to other fertility patients?
"Our advice is don't give up," Alyson says. "It will get hard and feel hopeless at times, but you CAN push through."
Sometimes, taking a break from treatment can be helpful and provide clarity - other times, sticking it out and taking the next step forward is comforting. Only you and your Care Team know what's best for you - so don't be afraid to voice your feelings to them.
Remember that no matter how alone you feel, you are NOT alone. "There are strangers out there that understand your pain," Alyson says. "For me, following Instagram accounts of other couples going through similar journeys helped me to feel less isolated in the process."
Lastly, Alyson says, don't blame yourself. "If you end up having an unsuccessful transfer or cycle, know that there is nothing you did wrong - so don't second guess yourself or feel like you did anything to cause it."
Where are they now?
These days, Alyson and Jared say they are fully enjoying their time with Connor and focusing on each day with him as he grows. "We hope that one day we will be blessed with a second child, but we are beyond grateful that we were given him - and that we are his mom and dad."
Sierra Dehmler is Illume Fertility’s Content Marketing Manager - and also a fertility patient herself. Combining empathy gained on her personal journey with her professional experience in marketing and content creation, she aims to empower and support other fertility patients by demystifying the fertility treatment process.