Michele’s fertility journey started with a diagnosis of PCOS
At age 18, Michele learned that she had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Her doctor said that her condition was so severe that she would never be able to have children. He also explained that she was more likely to develop cervical or uterine cancer at an early age. “It was horrible to get that news,” Michele recalls.
Even after receiving such upsetting news, Michele continued to live her life. She moved to the U.K. While she was overseas, her doctor discovered a non-cancerous tumor in her vaginal wall. The doctor removed it and found that it contained HPV. According to Michele, “They said it wasn’t cancer, but it also wasn’t a good sign.”
After moving back to the United States, she had an abnormal Pap smear and her doctors discovered another tumor. They removed the tumor with a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) and a dilation and curettage (D&C).
Struggling to find fertility help in the U.K.
Once Michele recovered, she moved back to the U.K. to be with her now-husband. During that time, she started having a period. “I had never had a period without help from birth control, so I was excited at first. But it didn’t stop for a year and it continued to get heavier, so I knew something was wrong,” Michele explains.
When she went to get her symptoms checked out, Michele learned she had Stage 1 cervical cancer and multiple tumors in her uterus. The doctor surgically treated the tumors with another LEEP and D&C, then they monitored her.
By the time Michele had recovered, she and her husband were ready to start thinking about children. The couple started talking to doctors in the U.K. and underwent extensive testing. In addition to Michele’s PCOS and history of cancer, the couple also learned that her husband had azoospermia. According to Michele, “He had a low sperm count and about 90% of his sperm were non-motile, so he only had about 5,000 viable sperm in his sample.”
As a result of their diagnoses, three separate doctors in the U.K. and the U.S. turned them away and told them to look at adoption. The couple had one ray of hope though. “The last doctor who turned us away suggested TFC, saying ‘if anyone can help you, it’s them,’” Michele remembers.
Making the first appointment to overcome PCOS and azoospermia with TFC
The stars seemed to align for Michele and her husband. According to Michele, “I had bariatric surgery and lost about 100 pounds. Then, I started to have a period on my own. After two of my coworkers recommended Dr. Anthony Propst at TFC, we felt like it was time to make an appointment.”
When the couple first met with Dr. Propst, they were upfront about all their concerns and explained their expectations were very low. “We told him that previous doctors had told us that we had less than a 20% chance of successfully carrying a baby to term,” Michele says.
Dr. Propst carefully reviewed the couple’s paperwork and asked questions. Then, he said that it was possible for the couple to conceive. In fact, he said that with in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), the couple had good odds of becoming pregnant.
According to Michele, “We ended the first appointment by asking for the next steps and he responded, ‘I don’t know, how soon do you want to be pregnant?’ After he said that I had hope for the first time. However, my husband thought Dr. Propst was overconfident and it must be too good to be true.”
Finding fertility success and joy at TFC
Dr. Propst was right about the couple being able to conceive. “We got 10 eggs from the egg retrieval, eight fertilized and two were viable after testing. I was so overjoyed that I cried when I got the news. I couldn’t believe I had a 50/50 shot to have a baby.”
On April Fool’s Day, the couple learned that their embryo transfer was a success and they were pregnant with a son. Aside from a little early spotting, the pregnancy progressed perfectly, and the couple welcomed a little boy named Griffyn. “His nickname is Magic,” Michele explains.
A few months after Griffyn’s birth, the couple transferred their second embryo. After learning they were pregnant, they had another picture-perfect pregnancy. They then welcomed a second son named Maveryck, also known as Legend. “They are both adorable and love each other so much,” Michele gushes.
The couple is so thankful to Dr. Propst and the team at TFC. “We have referred four different families to Dr. Propst. Everyone at TFC is kind and funny, and it made such a difference. You need to be able to laugh and you need people to support you both medically and emotionally,” Michele says.
As for Michele’s husband thinking Dr. Propst was overconfident, he’s since changed his mind. According to Michele, “My husband now jokes about the comments he used to make about Dr. Propst’s confidence. ‘Hey, it’s not bragging if you can back it up!’”
Why infertility advocacy matters to Michele
“Throughout the process, we always hated the mystery around infertility and fertility treatments. We never got any good information until we came to TFC. Things need to change for other parents,” Michele explains.