Special Delivery: One Couple’s Fertility Story

Blaszak Fertility IVF WittmaackAshley and Derek were college sweethearts. Married in 2010, the Blaszaks relished their DINK-lifestyle (dual income, no kids) for several years, until their friends began building families. “We were enjoying their kids,” Ashley says, so the couple decided to try for their own.

Ashley describes those first few months as “carefree and fun.” But after a while, they got more serious. They tried fertility tracking apps, ovulation kits, and common fertility-boosting drugs prescribed by Ashley’s OBGYN.

A year and a half later, doctors discovered that Ashley had endometriosis, as well as two very large cysts on her ovaries. She underwent a successful robotic surgery at Aurora BayCare, but eight weeks later a new cyst was already forming.

That meant the prognosis wasn’t good for future pregnancies, and Ashley’s doctor referred her to the infertility clinic at Aurora BayCare.

“Derek and I, we do a lot of research. We looked at clinics around the country,” says Ashley. “What made us stick with Aurora BayCare is that we felt like family, as soon as we walked through the door. The atmosphere and compassion—we asked a million questions and we never felt rushed.”

One Chance. Ashley recalls meeting with Dr. Wittmaack, the fertility specialist, who she describes as caring but frank. “He went through my history and was very up front. He said we should only try this once. If it didn’t work, it probably never would.”

“It was an emotional time, knowing we only had one shot,” Ashley recalls.

Treatment involved daily injections of fertility drugs to boost egg production and quality. Because of her condition, she was put the highest dose of medication.

“More medicine meant more money and more injections,” Ashley says. “You can imagine the shock your body goes through. Bloating, crying, anger. Not feeling like yourself. Black and blue at the injection site.”

But in the end, the doctor was able to harvest 12 viable eggs, four of which successfully fertilized. The next step was genetic testing, an optional service the Blaszaks chose.

Because they only had one shot, they didn’t want to risk implanting an embryo with the kind of defect that would trigger a miscarriage. In the end, that was a wise decision, as the embryo that appeared most viable in initial tests also turned out to be the one her body would have likely rejected.

Transfer Day. With three healthy embryos to choose from, the team selected one for implantation. It was a day Ashley recalls as both exciting and stressful. But she shares how the Aurora BayCare team made it special:

“They have this big screen. And when they have the big transfer day, you can watch them insert the embryo,” Ashley says of that monumental morning she and Derek spent in the fertility suite. “We could watch him take this small cell and place our baby.”

Nine months later, they welcomed baby girl Arlowe into the world.

Arlowe IVF Fertility WittmaackArlowe IVF Fertility Wittmaack 2

Like Family. Looking back, Ashley says it wasn’t just their successful outcome that makes them glad they chose Aurora BayCare. She talks of forming friendships with the nurses, staff who remembered little details of their lives, and all the attentive, unhurried support they received throughout the whole process.

“I know girls who’ve gone through different clinics. And when they see what Aurora BayCare sent us home with, and what they did for us, they were amazed. The hand-holding was next to none.”

Blaszak IVF Aurora BayCare Fertility

And after little Arlowe was born, the Blaszaks gave staff a heads up they’d be bringing her in for a visit. Ashley says the fertility team actually blocked off the appointment calendar so everyone would have a chance to visit and coo over the new little baby.

“They truly became our second family,” Ashley says.

Words of Wisdom. Ashley has several key pieces of advice for couples going through fertility challenges:

  1. Remember this is tough on the guys too. “I feel for husbands a lot. They can’t do anything to alleviate the pain, and they’re the ones administering the shots on a daily basis. It’s hard for them as well.”
  2. Realize you’re not alone. “Many couples are embarrassed to talk about their struggles. But since I’ve started opening up about my story, I’ve met so many women—and reconnected with people I already knew—who’ve been through this. Be open about it. You never know how many other people have gone through it and could be your support system.”
  3. Prioritize self-care. “I knew that if it didn’t work, I didn’t want to look back and wish I could have done more.” To that end, Ashley sought out acupuncture treatments as well as a local doula who specialized in abdominal uterine massage. “Aurora BayCare was supportive of that,” Ashley says. “I can’t prove it worked, but I can tell you it was de-stressing and comforting.”
  4. Recognize that people mean well. “It took me a long time to realize that no one will ever say the right thing. No one will ever know how you feel. They give you all these suggestions and tips, and you get angry inside. You just have to realize they have good intentions.”
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