If you’re struggling with your fertility it may help to know that you’re not alone. My former patient and friend, Mary Kennerly, shares her long and winding fertility journey with Beat Infertility Podcast. Watch my interview with her here.
It’s a story that details of heartbreak—recurrent loss, decreased ovarian reserve and autoimmune disease. However, it’s also one with a fairytale ending. Today Mary and her husband Wes are a family of four and Mary has launched a first of its kind business venture, Delivering Hope, which helps families navigate the path of surrogacy.
I urge you to listen to the podcast and read more about Mary’s story here.
Mary’s story in her words:
I always knew I wanted my own biological children, but I had no idea it would happen through surrogacy.
Like so many of my girlfriends today, I focused on my career, met Wes who was “the one”, got married and then enjoyed married life just the two of us. When we tried for children and it didn’t happen we were surprised. My Mother had no problem getting pregnant. Celebrities 15 years older than me were having babies. Why not me? That’s when our emotional roller coaster began. Thankfully it’s a ride that led us to Dr. Aimee who is without a doubt the only reason we have Viv and Reed, our healthy twin biological children today.
In my lifetime experiencing infertility has been the most alienating experience. Yet, the more I shared more story, the more I began to realize there’s so many of us that have gone through some type of loss or fertility battle. It’s just that there’s a stigma and so people don’t talk about it. But in opening up about it, I have connected with so many people.
By the time I had found Dr. Aimee I had gotten a lot of bad information.
Doctors and radiologists that weren’t specialists in fertility, but were practicing like they were, told me I would never be able to have children. They claimed I had no progesterone and that my uterus wasn’t suitable for carrying a child. Insane claims!
Finally, I met with an OB-GYN that set her ego aside and didn’t pretend to have answers. Instead, she humbly told me fertility was not her specialty and suggested I see a reproductive endocrinologist, or she could start me on Clomid.
Thankfully I took her first bit of advice, and found Dr. Aimee and held out on taking Clomid.
Soon after this appointment, I learned a co-worker had just gone through IVF with Dr. Aimee. She had a great bedside manner. I reached out to Dr. Aimee’s office immediately and heard back that same day.
The next thing I knew I was getting blood work done on the third day of my cycle to go into my first appointment with her with real information on my FSH, AMH, and Estradiol that we could discuss.
The very first meeting with Dr. Aimee I finally got answers that I had been seeking for years with other doctors. The best part is that despite learning that I had the eggs of a woman in her 60s would definitely need IVF—it was never presented to me as doom and gloom. Somehow Aimee made it upbeat and outlined a specific plan for what we would do.
She looked through all the records of everything that had already been done. She said, “Mary, your egg count is low. We’ve just got to get in there and get those eggs.” And it was as simple as that.
I left that first meeting completely on board with her plan. I trusted her immediately and for the first time, I felt hopeful about our fertility future.
Dr. Aimee said, “You have to give me a few months, but we will do this.” And I was like, “Okay.” And my very logical fighter pilot husband pleaded with me, “Can we please go home and talk about this before committing to IVF?”
I was ready to sign up on the spot to work with Dr. Aimee because I finally felt like I had the guidance from someone that I could trust and that would fight for and with me.
We hadn’t made it home on our three-hour drive before I had emailed Aimee to let her know we were in. I have a strong intuition and felt safe with Dr. Aimee. My husband Wes trusted my instinct. I just knew Dr. Aimee would help us have biological children. We wouldn’t have our twins Reed and Viv without her.
When we started this we knew my egg count was low. What we didn’t know was that I had Antiphospholipid Antibidy Syndrome (an autoimmune disease) that would prevent me from carrying my own children. Surrogacy became my option.
My father died from Lupus and I didn’t realize my lupus could be interfering with carrying a healthy pregnancy. Like the OB-GYN I saw prior that didn’t specialize in fertility, Dr. Aimee worked with a Rheumatologist that specializes in fertility . Together the two of them became the fearless team that guided me toward surrogacy.
“Please do not Google things. If you have questions, email me.”
My first round of IVF I got four eggs. If I would’ve Googled what the average woman gets, I would have been devastated because I had no clue that a woman usually gets 30 eggs their first round of IVF. Yet, Dr. Aimee never, ever, ever let me know that my numbers weren’t anything but stellar. I was like, “Four eggs. Amazing.”
There was no one else that would’ve taken my case because all other fertility clinics take cases based on success. I was a dire case. Why would they bring me on to have me mess up their numbers of success? Dr. Aimee never looked at me as affecting her numbers. That’s not what her goal is. Her goal is to help me and everyone else she meets have a child. Whereas, I’m pretty sure 90% to 95% of all other clinics in the U.S. would have turned me away and told me it was too late and would need donor eggs to have a kid.
I’m not just a patient in her file. I’m just not a number. Literally, she is tailoring my IVF cycle and personalizing it to my exact case.
They don’t generally do that at big clinics. She does it because her goal is to help people have babies when the rest of the fertility world is telling them there’s no way.
We had a lot of really, really hard times through IVF and a lot of heartbreak. The third round of IVF as we were approaching the operating room Dr. Aimee grabbed my hand and said, “Thank you for not giving up on me.” Tears welled in my eyes as I said, “What are you talking about?” “Why would I ever give up on you? You’re going to help me have my baby.” I just thought that was so humbling. What doctor grabs your hand and says that?
My son came out of that round of IVF. I truly believed that Dr. Aimee was going to fight for me no matter what. Her persistence gave me the energy to keep going.
People have said to me, “Why go through all the trouble of a surrogate? Why not just adopt?” Adoption is a beautiful, beautiful thing. I just knew I was supposed to have biological children.
We knew we wanted two kids. A surrogate is very expensive. And so, we thought, “Okay, we’ll transfer two embryos,” but we only had one. We looked at my blood work in May and it was telling us it was over. There was nothing else we could do. And that was heartbreaking, but I stayed positive. I thought, “It’s fine. We have Reed. I’m happy we have our embryo boy.”
That was in May. And then, in June, out of nowhere I got an instinct to get my numbers checked again. Without hesitation, Dr. Aimee agreed to do so. It felt like a miracle. My numbers were back to normal and I got three genetically normal embryos with that round of IVF. It became the best round I had. Dr. Aimee didn’t say no. She checked my blood and she said, “Okay, Mary. Let’s check it out, see how it goes.” She was always so positive. She never stopped caring.
While my fertility journey was painful, it’s led me to my purpose.
My surrogate and I have just launched our own surrogacy agency, Delivering Hope. I want to give people the same type of emotional support I received from Dr. Aimee in IVF, but that I felt was lacking from the surrogacy process.
Ultimately, I wished someone had told me in my 20s to get smart about my fertility and to not look at celebrity news or think that just because my mom got pregnant easily that the same would be true for me. You have to advocate for your own health and for your future health. I had no clue. It’s my wish that future generations be more proactive. Dr. Aimee’s Egg Awareness panel is the easiest place to start. Knowledge is power, right?