Dreams of Family Realized With Egg Donation and IVF
Like many couples who meet and fall in love, Ryan and Holly W. had always dreamed of having their own family. The two had met in college in 1995, but then lost touch. A rekindled friendship eventually turned to romance, and the couple married in May 2003.
After a year and a half of marriage, the two decided to start a family. Holly went off of birth control, looking forward to being a mother. But as time passed, she watched friend after friend get pregnant, only to remain with empty arms.
Over the next twelve months, Holly took 12 pregnancy tests. Each one gave the same result – not pregnant.
Discouraged, Holly visited her OB/GYN, who found no obvious problems, but prescribed Clomid (an ovulation stimulation drug).
“We spent the next six months on Clomid, charting temperatures and tracking my ovulation,” says Holly. “Ryan even got a few calls at work to ‘come home now, I’m ovulating!”
But the months passed, and they still weren’t pregnant. Finally, the couple realized they might have to undergo fertility treatment.
“We both knew that fertility treatment could be a long, lonely, exhausting, demanding, painful, scary and expensive road,” Holly says. “I didn’t want Ryan to be 100 percent sure that he wanted to do this, I wanted him to be 110 percent sure.”
With Ryan’s support, Holly jumped into the world of treating infertility.
They started at a fertility clinic in Atlanta, where Holly was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Intrauterine insemination (IUI) was the prescribed treatment, but Ryan had just accepted a job in Augusta, so the Weavers were referred to Dr. Servy of the Servy Institute of Reproductive Endocrinology (S.I.R.E.) to monitor them while on the drug protocol.
“I met with Dr. Servy and his staff and was immediately impressed,” Holly says. “I wasn’t really their patient, but they still took the time to get to know me and my situation.”
Having had a less-than-positive experience with the fertility clinic in Atlanta, the couple “fired” the other doctor and chose to work with S.I.R.E instead.
Dr. Servy performed a few rounds of IUI with no results, so he scheduled Holly for a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy in October 2006. The tests revealed Holly’s ovaries were attached to her uterus and a previous gall bladder surgery had left scar tissue.
After one more failed IUI, they decided to try in vitro fertilization (IVF) in February 2007.
“We were so nervous, but so excited. We believed that this was our answer. We were finally going to get pregnant,” Holly remembers. The cycle was canceled, though: Holly didn’t have enough viable follicles, meaning there were no retrievable eggs.
Ryan and Holly tried again in April, and this time enough follicles were present. Then they were dealt another bad blow.
“When Dr. Servy went into my ovaries to retrieve the eggs, there weren’t any,” says Holly. “We learned that I had empty follicle syndrome.”
EFS is a rare-occurring condition where no eggs are retrieved during an IVF procedure, despite the ovaries having many potential follicles. One in eight couples, age 35 and under, experience infertility, but only a fraction of those will not be able to conceive using their own eggs or sperm. Having EFS meant Holly was part of that small percentage.
Facing another defeat, Dr. Servy recommended they take the summer off and start again in the fall. When they met again in August, the only options left to discuss were adoption or egg donation.
Holly, who was adopted herself, had always considered adoption as a viable way to start a family, but a longing desire still remained.
“The truth was, I wanted to be pregnant. I wanted to carry our baby,” Holly says. “So we chose to go with an anonymous donor.”
They contacted an egg donation agency and began their search for “the one.” After sorting through numerous candidates, Holly and Ryan chose the donor they call “Angel.”
“She seemed to have the same dry humor as my husband. Her likes and dislikes were similar to ours and her medical history was great,” Holly says. ‘Then we opened the packet and saw her picture – she looked just like me!”
Angel had never donated before, so they weren’t sure if she would have a successful egg retrieval. They felt it was meant to be, so they took the chance.
Several embryos were created from the donated eggs and Ryan’s sperm and two were transferred to Holly’s womb. On March 13, 2008, Holly found out she was pregnant!
“When I got the news, I just started crying,” she says. “I was grinning from ear to ear but bawling.”
Being pregnant was everything she had dreamed of, and on November 12, 2008, they welcome their first son into the world.
Holly had always wanted three boys, so they tried again with the remaining embryos created from the donor eggs. Unfortunately, these failed.
“The next step was deciding if we wanted to just move on with life, look into adoption or use a donor again,” Holly says. “In my heart I felt if we didn’t give it another go we would regret it for the rest of our lives. We agreed that we would only move forward if we had the same donor.”
Angel was in retirement, but she agreed to donate again to give the couple a chance at another successful pregnancy.
On May 26, 2011, Holly gave birth to two more healthy baby boys.
“Life with twins is pretty crazy,” Holly says. “At times, it’s more difficult to deal with the two year old than the babies though.”
After a large detour in the road, they are back to life as planned, and now get to experience parenting, a challenging, but fulfilling job
“The laundry piles up,” says Holly. “Dinner is more often take-out than home cooked. Our television is tuned to the Disney Channel – unless football is on! We are most definitely sleep deprived and often running on caffeine but we wouldn’t change it for the world.”
What it took to get here will forever impact their lives – with three little reminders of their journey.
“I have often heard that once you overcome infertility and have a baby, you forget about your struggles, pain and suffering, but that isn’t true,” says Holly. “I remember every negative test, every failed attempt, every heartbreaking decision, but I now know that it was worth it.”
As for how the Servy Institute of Reproductive Endocrinology and their egg donor, Angel, have impacted their lives, Holly says there are no words to express her gratitude.
“There really is no way to thank someone for making your dreams come true,” she says.