Moving Forward with IVF
In the summer of 2022, Juliana and Ryan finally felt ready, and signed the paperwork to begin IVF. "We just couldn't wait any longer - we wanted our babies here with us," Juliana says.
On August 16, 2022, Juliana had her egg retrieval at Illume Fertility's on-site surgical suite in Norwalk. The procedure went smoothly, and Juliana was thankful to not experience any uncomfortable side effects afterwards.
After her eggs were retrieved, they were evaluated by Illume's embryology team. As soon as the embryologists determined which eggs were healthy and mature, they performed intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and waited to see how many would fertilize.
What is ICSI? Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (often referred to as ICSI) is an in vitro fertilization procedure in which a single sperm cell is injected directly into the cytoplasm of an egg. Often used in cases where sperm quality or quantity is a concern, ICSI offers a better chance at successful fertilization.
Will we have any healthy embryos?
The most trying aspect of the entire process was all the waiting, Juliana says. "Time, time is the hardest part of a fertility journey, because it is something no one can control."
"Those days [after retrieval] were so hard," Juliana recalls. "I remember driving to work anxiously waiting for the call to hear how many embryos we had." Because the couple opted for preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), they had to wait a few extra days to receive their results. The hours crawled by as they tried to remain hopeful.
When their PGT results came back, Juliana and Ryan learned that had chromosomally normal embryos. They were finally able to breath a huge sigh of relief.
What they weren't expecting was a surprising bit of news from their embryologist - Juliana's eggs seemed a little bit more 'sticky' than normal. "Our doctor, Dr. Kucherov, believed that this could have been impacting fertilization," she shares.
Embryo Transfer & Pregnancy Test Results
On September 15, 2022, the couple transferred one of those tiny embryos. They already knew their chosen embryo was a boy.
Like many fertility patients, Juliana had a hard time waiting for her official pregnancy test via blood work (which typically occurs 9-10 days after embryo transfer). She decided to take a test at home, and was overjoyed to see two little lines immediately appear.
On September 22nd, the couples' fifth anniversary, Juliana surprised her husband with a chocolate bar that had a Willy Wonka’s golden ticket inside. The gleaming ticket revealed that their long-awaited baby was officially on the way!
Are IVF pregnancies any different?
It's understandable why fertility patients assume that after so much struggle, heartache, and pain, pregnancy will also be filled with challenges. Thankfully, the majority of pregnancies after infertility progress smoothly - and many parents-to-be are surprised by how "normal" they feel throughout the nine months leading up to birth.
While her experience trying to conceive was difficult, Juliana found her pregnancy enjoyable. "My pregnancy went really well," she shares. "I felt great, I actually loved being pregnant!"
On June 1, 2023, Juliana and Ryan finally got to meet their sweet baby boy, George. He came into the world healthy and strong, weighing in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces, and 21 inches long. The new parents were elated.
Parenthood After Infertility
"Georgie is now five months old and life is SO much more fun with him," Juliana says. "We are forever thankful to science and all the doctors, nurses, and staff at Illume!" They are enjoying every day as a family of three - celebrating each milestone with joy and gratitude.
And while their journey to parenthood was full of ups and downs, the couple found their own silver linings throughout the process. "I always say how privileged we are to have a picture of our son at five days after conception - that little embryo, that little bubble, so small yet so rich, so full of expectations and hope!"
So, this Christmas, they'll hold their baby boy close as they hang their most treasured decoration on the tree: an ornament with Georgie's embryo picture inside, to remind them of just how far they've come.