Like many people, Alana and Jason didn't know much about the world of infertility or fertility treatment - until they discovered they needed a little help to have their first child. This is the story of how their family of two became a family of four!
Skip to a section:
Meet Alana & Jason
After meeting online in 2013, Alana and Jason hit it off immediately. They shared common interests like being outdoors, trying new restaurants, watching Breaking Bad, and enjoyed getting to know each other.
In 2015, two years after they met, the couple got engaged at the beach in Norwalk, Connecticut, and got married a year later, in 2016. Jason is a video producer and editor and Alana works as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Alana's work includes supervising a parenting program at Boys and Girls Village, and she is also a Childbirth Educator.
With a shared love of children and family, Alana and Jason knew all along that they wanted to become parents. Jason is the second of four kids and Alana has one sister. "I always loved being around babies and babysitting when I was growing up," says Alana. "Being a mom has been at the top of my bucket list forever!"
Trying to Conceive with PCOS
The couple planned to start trying to conceive their first child in 2017. "Since I had such a wishy-washy history of PCOS diagnoses, we weren’t really sure what to expect in terms of timeline," says Alana. "But once we hit the one year mark of trying, and felt really overwhelmed with fertility diets and supplements and OPKs and pregnancy test after pregnancy test, we decided it was time to seek out a specialist to help us achieve our dream."
They reached out to Illume Fertility in 2018 after trying to conceive on their own for a year with no success. "I had a history of PCOS, with a few previous doctors saying that I had it and a few saying that I didn’t," says Alana. "We weren’t really sure what was going on, and we wanted more clarity and a plan forward."
Illume Fertility was highly recommended by several providers and friends, so they took the next step and called to make an appointment. "We were lucky enough to be paired up with Dr. Ilana Ressler," says Alana.
Choosing the Right Fertility Treatment Pathway
"I didn’t know too much about fertility treatments before coming to Illume," Alana remembers. "I knew there would be fertility testing and I knew IVF was an option, but I didn’t really realize how thorough and involved the process would be."
Another thing that surprised the couple was the availability of other, less invasive fertility treatment options. They assumed they would be going straight to in vitro fertilization (IVF), but their second timed intercourse cycle is ultimately what ended up being successful.
One big high point in Alana and Jason's family-building journey was getting the exciting call that they were pregnant, the day before Thanksgiving 2018.
"I did not think that was going to be our successful cycle and was prepared with a list of questions for the nurse about next steps for our next cycle!" Alana says. "I was completely shocked and at a loss for words when she said that I was pregnant...I think the first thing I managed to say was 'I don’t have a list of questions for this!'"
Another high point? When their first daughter Louise was born in August 2019. "She has been such a light in our lives and is just the sweetest little girl," Alana says. "It’s still surreal to look at her sometimes!"
Jason felt like the initial jolt of seeking out fertility treatment was kind of a low point for him, but ultimately turned into a positive experience. "Everyone needs help sometimes, and this help got us our sweet Louise," he says.
Get support for PCOS!
What did you learn on your fertility journey?
Alana says that she wishes she had known (before entering fertility treatment) how important it is to have a good support system - as well as the right kind of support for your unique needs.
"I also wish I had known that it’s OK to set boundaries about who you share your journey with," she says. "We ended up being very selective about who we shared with, because sometimes the people you feel most obligated to share with aren’t able to provide the kind of support that you’re looking for. It can be kind of overwhelming to have constant check-ins if that’s not your style."
Like many new fertility patients, Alana wasn't expecting the fertility testing process to be so comprehensive, and was a little surprised by it all. "I wish I had known beforehand how much blood work and fertility testing was going to be involved so I could be more prepared," she says.
Another thing she didn't expect? How much she would miss going to appointments multiple times per week after she "graduated" from Illume Fertility's care and moved on to her midwifery practice. "Going in for my blood draws and monitoring kind of brought me a sense of comfort," Alana admits. "I never expected I would miss going in for those appointments after graduating - but I think that really speaks to the level of support we received."
Alana also says that everyone she worked with at Illume truly made her and Jason feel like they were a part of their own team throughout the process, which helped immensely.
Advice to Other Fertility Warriors
When it comes to fertility treatment, it’s so easy to get lost in the never ending list of fertility do’s and don’ts without taking a moment to really take care of yourself. Alana's advice? Make an effort to prioritize self-care!
"You can’t be at your best if you aren’t taking care of yourself," she says. "Ask for help, set boundaries, do something you already love or try something new if it brings you joy...just make yourself a priority and take care of your soul!"
One thing Alana and Jason knew would help them get through their fertility journey was having a solid support system in place. "I shared with a few close friends who I knew would be there to listen and love me when things were hard and to celebrate when there was something to celebrate," she says. "I also utilized acupuncture at Illume Fertility, which was so relaxing and helped a lot with my anxiety."
Another useful tool for Alana was working with an Illume fertility nutritionist, which she says helped her take the guess work out of what she should be eating. She also loved going to Fertile Yoga class for additional relaxation.
"Leaning on my husband a little bit more than usual was also helpful," she says. "I was able to ask for help and not feel like I had to juggle everything by myself, which gave me the opportunity to slow down and not feel so overwhelmed."
Where are they now?
Alana and Jason feel incredibly lucky that they were able to add a second little one to their family this past summer. Their first Illume baby Louise is now three years old and now they also have Phoebe, who joined the family in June 2022.
"We are loving life as a family of four and feel like our family is complete," Alana says. "We’re looking forward to lots of adventures together and just watching them grow and discover the world!"
Want to optimize your health with PCOS?
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.