Wednesday, December 9, 2015

We Really Want to be Parents

By Mary Ellen Bianco

Rachel and her husband Alan tried in vitro fertilization for conceiving. 

Many of us take for granted the ability to conceive and carry a child. Rachel Beckmann of Louisville has struggled with infertility for six years. Rachel, age 35, wants to share her story with the hope that it will help someone in a similar situation.

Rachel and her husband, Alan, were married in 2009. That fall, they started trying to conceive. After five years of trying different options, Rachel became a patient of Louisville doctors Robert Homm and Kit Devine at Fertility and Endocrine Associates. She started daily shots, topical gels, and oral medications to prepare her body for egg retrieval for in vitro fertilization (IVF). Alan had to go through a training class to learn how to give Rachel injections up to three times per day in her abdomen. “He loaded the medication and drew it up into a syringe to inject it,” Rachel says. “Many times I had lots of bruises on my belly.” Through it all she was trying to work at her job as a front office supervisor at Priority Radiology. “I kept it a secret, except for my family members,” Rachel says. “It wasn’t something I wanted to share.”

In November of last year, 22 eggs were retrieved, nine of which made it to blastocyst stage after fertilization. Although the plan was to implant two embryos, the doctors were unable to complete the first transfer.

During a test the following week, Dr. Homm found too much endometriosis and recommended that Rachel’s fallopian tubes be removed.

In January of this year, two embryos were implanted. A 10-day wait ended in positive blood and urine tests. “Alan and I learned that we were pregnant with twins with the first ultrasound,” Rachel says. “We heard two strong heartbeats with the next ultrasound, which meant that the chance of miscarriage was lower.” Rachel was due on October 12, but at seven weeks of pregnancy, an ultrasound showed no heartbeats. After the miscarriage, Rachel sometimes felt like she was going crazy, especially with so many hormonal ups and downs. “I started seeing a counselor, who has been absolutely amazing in helping me to handle the grief,” she says. “I was able to get through it day to day.”

Seven weeks into her pregnancy, Rachel miscarried, but she and Alan haven't given up on starting a family.

In August of this year, a second IVF transfer implanted two of the remaining seven embryos. “We are strong in our faith in God, and we felt very sure about the implants,” Rachel says. “I’ve never been so shocked in my life that it didn’t take. We have five embryos remaining, and we may donate them, but we still have the option of trying again.”

Rachel and Alan agreed that they would attempt the IVF twice. “After trying to have a baby for so long we knew that was all we were emotionally capable of,” Rachel says. “We had no idea that both would fail.” The couple works on sharing their feelings with each other. “The main thing is we want to be parents, and we had to accept that we may not have our own biological child,” Rachel says. “Alan has handled everything like a champ. It’s been a lot harder for me.”

The couple says their faith has helped them cope with their difficult experience. 

Rachel and Alan are now working with Nightlight Christian Adoptions in their Lexington office. “We want to give a home to a baby who may not have a chance.” They are halfway through a home study and by the end of the year they’ll be considered match ready. They’ve chosen domestic adoption, which costs about $30,000. The baby may arrive within a month or it could take up to 18 months.“The beautiful thing about adoption is that it has a happy ending and we’ll have a child. We’re hoping that 2016 will be our year,” Rachel says.

They’ve learned about open adoption, in which both the biological mother and adoptive parents can share identifiable information. Photos of the adopted child can be taken at certain times in his or her life for the agency to share with the mother. Rachel and Alan hope they can share their faith with the birth mother who had to make a difficult decision. “Being a parent is a ministry — this is why God has put us in this place,” Rachel says. “Our faith has gotten us through it and our marriage is even stronger.”

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