A Christmas letter to our little miracle baby
(Editor’s note; the following story by Judy Sabin is written as a letter based on her interview with the Spencer family.)
The house is quiet, so I thought I would write you a Christmas letter while you sleep. Hopefully, this will be something you will cherish as you grow older. It is ‘your story.’
Your daddy, Jason, and I met the summer before our senior year of high school in 1996. I lived in Frost, a little town east of Blue Earth. Because of some mutual friends, we got together and began dating.
We both attended NIACC (North Iowa Area Community College) in Mason City, Iowa for one year. Your dad studied automotive service and I took a nursing class to become a certified medical assistant. Once we graduated, we came back to Blue Earth where I got a job at United Clinics of Faribault County (now UHD Clinic) and your dad became a small engine mechanic at Don’s Fleet. In 2005, he began working at the NAPA store as a sales person and deliveryman.
On Sept. 23, 2000, we were married at St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Blue Earth and soon bought a home in town. The very same home you were first brought to after your birth.
Your daddy and I knew we always wanted a large family. Being an only child, your dad hoped you would have a sister or brother to play with. Since I was one of three children in my family, I wanted to have at least four children.
We teased your Grandpa Bob we were going to have 10 kids.
Well, it never happened that way. After three years and no children, we started to sense a big problem.
I went to my doctor in Blue Earth first, but he referred us to Dr. Stephen Thorn in Albert Lea. It was at this time Dr. Thorn discovered I had endometriomas the size of baseballs. They were so large they got into my abdominal cavity plugging up my reproductive organs. Sticking like super glue in my body, they damaged my fallopian tubes. I had three surgeries trying to correct this problem.
The laparoscopic surgery or laparotomy performed by Dr. Thorn involved a four to five inch incision at which time the endometriosis was cleaned out. The endometriomas were so bad they were even causing my colon to stick to my abdominal cavity.
By 2004, Dr. Thorn thought by removing the endometriomas and using fertility drugs I could get pregnant. Again, we had no success, so he referred us to a fertility clinic in the Twin Cities.
It was at this time your daddy and I began to consider in vitro fertilization. It is an assisted reproductive technique used to help couples to conceive a child. It is accomplished by removing eggs from a woman and mixing them with sperm from a man in a laboratory dish or test tube.
Simply put, Shea, you are a ‘test tube baby.’
Conceiving you this way was the only means we would ever have if we wanted a child to be born to us.
Shea, you were wanted very much. Ever since I was a little girl I knew I just had to be a mommy. So, your daddy and I started the in vitro process in the Twin Cities.
We had to undergo a lot of screening procedures and treatments. To say it was a long, expensive and sometimes a disappointing and even devastating process, is an understatement. But seeing you now, it was worth it.
We found out our insurance company would pay for artificial insemination, but not for the in vitro procedure.
Each in vitro attempt took us at least an entire menstrual cycle. The cost varied for us since we used two different clinics, but it was about $15,000 for three ‘fresh in vitros.’ (If there were any eggs left over from a cycle, they were frozen for future chances of conception). Some health insurance companies cover this and some do not.
We also had to see a psychologist to see whether we mentally could cope with the ups and downs which hopeful couples, like us, face in their quest for a child.
We learned the emotional costs were very high. There is such a flood of emotions your dad and I went through. Couples are likely already stressed and anxious due to previous failures in conception and now they are literally putting their hopes and dreams in the hands of others hoping a miracle child will be the outcome.
I had a ‘frozen in vitro’ in our first attempt, but it didn’t work and I ended-up with a tubal pregnancy. So, I had to restart the process of taking oral and injectable medications to stimulate my ovaries and prepare my uterus for the implantation. That basically means I had to get my body ready when the doctors wanted it to be ready for the procedure.
The second clinic we went to was called Reproductive Medicine and Infertility Associates or RMIA. They had a warranty clause in their contract stating if one does not have a baby after three ‘fresh in vitros’ they would refund us $12,000.
I got pregnant after our first procedure at RMIA. We were so happy to learn I was carrying twin girls.
To read more of this story, see this week’s Register.