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Trying to Conceive With a Unicornuate Uterus | Brittany's Story

After struggling to conceive on their own, one couple turns to a team of fertility specialists for help building their family.

April 20th, 2024 | 8 min. read

By Sierra Dehmler

Every couple dreaming of parenthood imagines the moment they'll finally hold their baby in their arms. But what happens when that dream is deferred by unexpected challenges and heartbreak? A mother through IVF shares how a shocking diagnosis led to her rainbow baby.

In this article:

Editor's Note: We are so grateful to Brittany for being willing to share her story with us in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week. To learn what RESOLVE and other organizations are doing to protect access to fertility and family-building care across the United States, please visit their website.

Meet Brittany

From the start of their relationship, Brittany and her husband Fletcher both knew they wanted to have children. What they didn't know was just how hard their road to parenthood would be.

In 2018, the couple married and bought their first house, excited about building a future together. In January 2020, they decided it was time to expand their family. "We never could have imagined the struggles that were ahead of us," Brittany says. 

After trying to conceive for a year with no luck, the couple knew it was time to seek help. Brittany's OB/GYN recommended Illume Fertility, and Brittany's sister had also worked with Illume's Dr. Shaun Williams to manage her own polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) symptoms.  

They made an appointment to see Dr. Williams to try to get some answers.

Uncovering Major Fertility Roadblocks

During the fertility testing process, which included blood tests, ultrasounds, and diagnostic procedures, Dr. Williams discovered that Brittany was born with a congenital abnormality called unicornuate uterus (UU).

"I’d never heard of UU before and was devastated by the news," Brittany recalls. "It made me question if I would ever become a mom."

Unicornuate uterus is a rare congenital uterine anomaly that causes a person to have only half a uterus, resulting in only one working fallopian tube (instead of two) and a smaller uterine cavity. Around 0.4% of the population has a unicornuate uterus.

In addition to her uterine abnormality, Dr. Williams also diagnosed Brittany with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the same common endocrine condition that her sister struggled with.

"I knew a good amount about PCOS before being diagnosed because I have multiple family members with the condition," Brittany adds. "However, I knew nothing about unicornuate uterus, so I was very scared when we received that diagnosis."

The Fertility Treatment Roller Coaster

"From the beginning, Dr. Williams was confident we would be able to have a baby," says Brittany. "He never lost that confidence."

The couple moved forward with fertility treatment, first starting with medication to help induce ovulation. After multiple failed medicated cycles, they decided it was time to try in vitro fertilization (IVF).

In October 2021, Brittany had her first egg retrieval, followed by a fresh embryo transfer around five days later. Unfortunately, that first transfer was unsuccessful. The couple processed the difficult news and then planned out their next steps with Dr. Williams.


Photo credit: Stephanie Cole Photography & Bella Baby Photography

Embryo Transfer #2

The couple proceeded with a second embryo transfer in December 2021, this time utilizing one of their frozen embryos. Brittany and Fletcher were thrilled to find out that their second transfer had been successful.

"After almost two years of trying, we finally got our first positive pregnancy test," Brittany says. "We were ecstatic, and everything was going great until we went to [what was meant to be] our last appointment at Illume."

During that final ultrasound, they were told that there was no longer a heartbeat. "We were completely devastated and blindsided," Brittany remembers. "We underwent a D&C procedure the next day and spent the next few months just grieving."

Persevering Through Loss & Disappointment

"Little did we know that we would go on to have one more egg retrieval, five more embryo transfers and three more miscarriages," Brittany says. "Through all these losses, failed cycles, and heartbreak, Dr. Williams never gave up on us - he was one of the reasons we kept going."

The couple was grateful for Dr. Williams' empathy and care throughout their difficult journey, noting that he could call them personally whenever there was bad news to check in, answer their questions, and offer support. "I don’t think we could have received better care anywhere else," Brittany says.

After every loss, the couple felt defeated and low. "We had so much hope each time, and were completely devastated when a cycle would end in miscarriage," Brittany says. "We honestly questioned whether this was going to work and if we would ever be parents."

Finding hope after loss:

Meet another couple whose courage and perseverance brought them from their lowest moments to their greatest joy - a baby boy after years of losses.

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What happens when you run out of insurance coverage?

To make matters worse, Brittany and Fletcher's insurance had a lifetime max on coverage for fertility treatment, meaning that once that coverage ran out, the couple had to pay out-of-pocket for IVF. This made their journey exponentially more challenging.

Unfortunately, this isn't an uncommon scenario for those trying to conceive.

"It was so stressful doing back-to-back cycles, not only for financial reasons, but also because we had to juggle our work schedules and social life," Brittany recalls. "It was hard to plan any vacations or schedule things far in advance because we never knew where we were going to be in our cycle."

Deciding when to schedule PTO at work was also difficult, because the couple had to save all of their days off for the various procedures and appointments needed during treatment.

A Long-Awaited Miracle

It wasn't until the Brittany and Fletcher's seventh embryo transfer (and their last remaining euploid embryo) that they finally had a successful, healthy pregnancy.

Their rainbow baby, Maeve, was born in 2024. 

"I just look at her and can’t believe she is real," says Brittany. "All the heartbreak and setbacks were worth it because of her; we couldn’t be happier and are so thankful everyday we get to experience parenthood with Maeve."

As the couple adjusts to their new life as parents, they say they are excited to simply spend as much time with their baby girl as possible. "It's amazing to watch her learn new things and explore everyday," they say. 


Photo credits: Stephanie Cole Photography

Brittany's Advice for Fertility Patients

When you're in the midst of a fertility journey, it is so easy to get overwhelmed by it all and worry about the future, Brittany admits. "There are so many different setbacks that can happen and it's difficult to anticipate or plan for all the possible outcomes."

A few things that the couple found helpful while navigating fertility treatment:

1. Take Things One Day at a Time

"This journey is hard and can be completely overwhelming - just try and take it one day at a time," Brittany offers. "Stay true to yourself and continue doing the things you love."

2. Trust Your Doctor's Guidance

It can be tempting to turn to the internet with your concerns and questions, but it isn't the best way to get reassurance, the couple says. Fletcher's advice? "Stay off Google!"

3. Lean On Your Partner

Having a strong relationship and a steady partner was key for Brittany. "My husband was my biggest supporter and who I leaned on most during this journey," she says.

4. Find a Virtual Community

"I was a part of various community groups on Facebook that were very helpful - IVF support groups, unicornuate uterus groups, and recurrent miscarriage groups," Brittany shares.

She also followed various influencers on TikTok who were going through IVF.

Note: If you're looking for other options, Illume Fertility offers free support groups that meet both virtually and in person at our Norwalk, CT location.

A Long Road With a Happy Ending

After all the years of heartbreak, loss, uncertainty, and pain, Brittany and Fletcher are fully embracing parenthood and everything that comes along with it. Life with Maeve is sweet, they say, and they are soaking it all up with grateful hearts. 

"Dr. Williams and the whole Illume team are the reason I am holding my miracle baby in my arms right now," says Brittany. "It is completely amazing to be parents, we're still in shock!" 

Sierra Dehmler

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.

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