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.
After four failed IVF cycles at another fertility clinic and almost ready to give up their hope of ever having children, Chris and Desiree decided to reach out to the team at Illume Fertility to see if they could help.
"I knew I wanted to be a mom since I was a child," Desiree says. "I always wanted to have a family of my own." Together since 2010 and married in 2014, Desiree and Chris were eager to grow their family.
But after they started trying to conceive and had no luck, they realized they might need some help getting pregnant. They decided to explore their fertility treatment options, and started working with their first fertility clinic.
Unfortunately, they did not receive the level of care they needed at their first clinic, and felt frustrated by the lack of support and multiple failed cycles.
"I was already on my fourth failed IVF cycle, which was a real life nightmare," Desiree remembers. "I was emotionally, physically and mentally drained by being told that I had no diagnosable reason why I was unable to get pregnant, but they 'might speculate' male factor infertility."
Chris and Desiree decided it was time to leave and try a new fertility clinic. "I trusted my instincts and reached out to a friend who had been through fertility treatment," Desiree says. "I asked her where she went for fertility treatments, and it opened up such an amazing dialogue - to be able to share this deeply sad part of my life with someone, but also know that I was not alone."
Her friend recommended Illume Fertility, and the rest is history. "Coming here was literally life-changing," Desiree says. They took their frozen embryos from the first four IVF cycles, her husband's frozen sperm and all of their medical paperwork and made the switch.
A New Start
At their first consultation with Dr. Joshua Hurwitz, Chris and Desiree were pleasantly surprised by his empathy and compassion. "He was the only doctor that actually treated us like we were HUMAN," Desiree says. "Up until that point, I felt like I was a walking dollar sign, not a woman who hoped to be a mother one day."
Desiree distinctly remembers one thing Dr. Hurwitz said to them during their first appointment. "He said, 'I am so sorry that you are even here,'" Desiree says.
"It was so comforting to finally have someone look you right in the face and say something so honest and real...nobody wants to go through IVF/IUI unless they absolutely have no other choice. It is difficult on your mind, your body, and your relationship with yourself and your partner."
By the time they got to Illume Fertility, Desiree already felt like an IVF warrior and fertility treatment veteran, having had four failed cycles at their first clinic.
"I was pretty much up to speed with all things fertility," she says. "But I did begin to notice how 'taboo' talking about infertility is, even though on social media and in real life, fertility struggles are everywhere. Infertility is just a lonely place to be."
Not sure what to expect at your first appointment?
(L) Desiree during pregnancy; (R) Baby Bianca
Navigating the Highs and Lows
Anyone who has been through fertility struggles knows that it can be a true roller coaster of emotions. Desiree says the high points of their fertility journey were making it through the "two week wait" with a positive pregnancy test, being pregnant and becoming a mom.
The low points were incredibly hard, Desiree remembers. "Feeling alone while in treatment, thinking others aren't struggling as much as us or that we were the only ones going through it...thoughts of hopelessness were common throughout our journey."
"Watching others have children on their own while you struggle in silence, trying to be happy for others but at the same time feeling upset with the process of infertility - it's a lot," says Desiree.
Thankfully, their story had a happy ending.
Finding Success After Failed IVF
"Not only were we blessed to have plenty of follicles at my egg retrieval, we were even able to freeze some," says Desiree. Working with Dr. Hurwitz, Desiree and Chris finally found the right protocol for them and had a healthy pregnancy.
"We welcomed Bianca into our lives after our very first IVF cycle at Illume Fertility in September of 2017," Desiree remembers. "She was a big, beautiful baby (9 pounds, 2 ounces, 21.5 inches) who wanted to stay in my belly forever - since she was two weeks late, I ended up being induced."
After Bianca's arrival and enjoying parenthood for a couple years, Desiree and Chris knew that they wanted to add to their family again. On August 9, 2019, right before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they came back to Illume Fertility to start another IVF cycle.
This time, they were fortunate enough to have frozen embryos waiting for them. "We left it up to the embryologists to choose the gender of the embryo we transferred (we had three male embryos and three female embryos), since they are such great babysitters!"
Their frozen embryo transfer was successful, and baby sister Adriana joined the family (also two weeks late, just like big sister Bianca) right in the middle of the pandemic in May 2020.
Today, Chris and Desiree are enjoying life with their two daughters and feel grateful for everyone who helped make their dream of becoming parents come true.
Reflections on Their Fertility Journey
Despite the long, frustrating road that led them to Illume Fertility, they now know it's where they were meant to be all along. Desiree emphasizes the importance of "trusting your gut" when it comes to your fertility journey:
"We could not be happier with the choice to listen to our instincts and come to Illume Fertility to build our family," Desiree says. "If it wasn't for our friends referring us here, we are unsure if we would even be parents today."
"Everyone at Illume Fertility made us feel like family from the moment we got there," she says. "I have referred more than five friends of mine who have also struggled with infertility, and they all now have children of their own, thanks to the awesome doctors, nurses, clinical staff, and embryologists here - of course with a little help from science!"
One thing Desiree was surprised by was how lonely it was to go through fertility treatment. "You feel like you have nobody to talk to about it," she remembers. Reaching out to others in the same situation and finding the right support made all the difference.
Desiree went to acupuncture sessions 2-3 times a week at her chiropractor's office which really helped her relax during treatment and prepare her mind and body for the rigors of IVF. (Pssst...we have our own Fertility Acupuncture Team here at RMA of Connecticut too!)
Another thing that helped? Connecting with others on the same path. "I took the time to research other women's fertility stories on Instagram and reach out to my friends," Desiree says. "And I went through my fertility journey at the same time as a friend who was also going to Illume Fertility - who actually ended up having twins!"
Desiree's Top Tips:
Find a fertility clinic that's the right fit for you, and don't be afraid to switch if things don't feel right or you're unhappy with the care you're receiving at your current clinic
Ask ALL the questions so you can make informed decisions about your treatment, and don't worry that you're asking a "stupid" question - your Care Team is happy to help
Understanding fertility treatments is difficult, especially if you are going through it for the first time, so ask for clarification when you need it
Educate yourself about infertility and understand the differences between your options
Find out what's best for you and your partner and keep your family-building goals in mind throughout the process
Be realistic with your timeline - there are no shortcuts to success and things take time
Trust the process - easier said than done, but so important throughout your journey
Take the next step and speak to a fertility expert:
Want to Share Your Story?
We are so grateful to each and every family who chooses to share their family-building journey with us, and love hearing your stories. If you'd like to share yours, you can submit it here or reach out to us on social.
A big thanks to Desiree and Chris for sharing their experience with us - we are honored to have played a part in your family's story!