Holly & Billy

New York –

Infertility Diagnosis

  • Male factor
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Recurrent miscarriage

Treatment(s)

  • Frozen embryo transfer (FET)
  • In vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Location(s)

  • Syracuse

Physician(s)

  • Robert Kiltz

Holly & Billy's Story:

My husband, Billy, and I are a love at first sight couple. Our first date at a coffee shop that I thought would be a half hour tops, turned into an 8 hour date. By the time I finished my chai tea, I knew he would be the one I would marry. I even remember calling my mom the next day telling her I had met the man I'm going to marry. We were engaged three months after our first date, and married in October 2014. We both wanted children right away, so I had met with my OBGYN a couple of months before our wedding to talk to her about it, since I knew I had PCOS and may possibly need her help conceiving. With the help of Clomid, we were pregnant two months after our wedding! We had just suffered the loss of Billy's wonderful grandmother, so I wasn't even thinking of testing until I got home one day and thought to myself, hey, my period was due days ago..? So I picked up a test that night and low and behold, there it was. Those two solid lines. Billy was at work and I knew I wanted to tell him in person, but I'm the type of person that I need to tell something that exciting to immediately! So, I of course called my best friend, my mom. I face timed her actually, and showed her the test, and she didn't believe me. She told me the other line wasn't as dark as the control line. I said "mom, you can't be almost pregnant." So, after some shock she finally broke into tears in excitement. I called my OB and set the appointment, and went to the first ultrasound a few weeks later. We heard that beautiful sound that so many couples wish to hear. The heartbeat. Everything looked beautiful. My due date was 8/13/15.

On February 5th, 2015, I was 13 weeks pregnant. I took my German Shepherd to get spayed. I remember dropping her off and being worried about leaving her. She's my best friend and I'm the fur mom that will call her daycare and check on her (I know, sad) so I had a bit anxiety from that. It was still early in the morining and I didn't have to work until 1pm, and the pregnancy fatigue was hitting me hard, so I headed back home to get some much needed rest. I laid down in bed, Billy next to me asleep. I scrolled through facebook laying on my back waiting to doze off. Finally, my eyes got heavy enough and I put the phone down and rolled over to my side. At that moment, everything changed.

There was a gush. A very large gush.

I ran to the bathroom and sat on the toilet and I just felt everything coming out. I just sat there a moment in shock. I couldn't talk. Maybe it was just a little bit of blood. Maybe this is normal. Until I looked down at my legs. They were covered in blood.

I stood up. Turned around. And I saw a face. The tiniest most beautiful face I had ever seen. And then I screamed. I screamed for Billy (thank heaven he was home) and he came running in. He retrieved the baby from the water, and he barely fit in Billy's giant hand. He was gone. My body failed this little boy.

We called my OB's office and they said to immediately come in, which of course we did. I remember that I couldn't even sit in the lobby because of how much blood there was and I didn't want to ruin a chair, so I stood waiting to be called back. I looked down and saw that the bleeding was so bad that my shoes were covered in blood and I was creating a small pool of blood on the carpet of the lobby. My husband very nicely told reception that I needed to be seen now. After what seemed like hours, which was only about 2 minutes, I was called back. There was a miscommunication somehow, and the nurse thought I was there for a routine checkup. I went into the room and took off my pants (which were black sweatpants, so tough to see the blood) and the nurse, Kelly, was in complete shock and immediately called for help. I laid on the table and I just remember seeing my OB come into the room with this look of fear/shock on her face. She had tried to stop the bleeding without anesthesia to avoid surgery, but it became too much. I was rushed to a D&C, which went great, but no one knew why I miscarried. Since it was 13 weeks, we figured it was something wrong with the baby. We grieved, cremated our little one, and decided to keep trying a few months after our loss.

We tried an entire year. Clomid. Letrozole. Nothing was helping. How in the world did we get pregnant in two cycles, but now it's not happening? My OB then referred me to a local fertility clinic, where we began IUI's to help.

We did five. Nada. No two lines. Not even a hint of a second line.

After my fourth IUI, I had heard about CNY. I immediately called for a consult, and the wait was only about 6 weeks. My fifth IUI failed during this 6 week wait, and I knew I was done. I was ready for IVF. The clinic who did our IUI's quoted us at $26,000 for one round of IVF. Due to my BMI, it would actually be higher due to the egg retrieval anesthesia, and they never gave me a final price. But I knew I was just a number there. I knew they didn't genuinely care if I conceived. I was a risk to their stats if it didn't work.

My consult with CNY over the phone went wonderfully. The nurse explained everything and we went over every detail of our diagnosis. My only question was, when can I start? She stated that as soon as I get my meds I can start the next cycle, so I did.

Mid July 2016 is when the cycle began. Since I didn't have anywhere local to monitor, I headed up to Syracuse to stay for the 2-3 weeks of monitoring for IVF and stayed at the wonderful Maplewood Suites. Every appointment I felt like I was a member of their family. The reception was so warm and welcoming. The nurses treated you like you were their own family. Everything was explained very thoroughly. On my last appointment before egg retrieval, Dr. Kiltz came into the room eating a banana. This is a man who is so incredible at what he does, and he makes you feel like a person. Not a number. He speaks to his patients like hes speaking to a friend. He doesn't sugar coat things. He is honest and upfront and can make anyone laugh, especially talking to you with a mouth full of banana. He has this comforting feeling when you're around him, that it makes you trust the process and you just know everything is going to work out.

Finally it was transfer day! We retrieved 19 eggs, only 6 had fertilized, so we decided to transfer two. Then headed home to Charlotte, NC. A few days later, embryology told us that none of our remaining embryos survived. The two we transferred we are only hope.

About a thousand home pregnancy tests later, 4 days after the transfer, I saw a hint of a second line. Everyday it was getting darker. It was a beautiful sight. I went in for my first beta, which was around 800. The next beta, two days later, it went up to over 3,000. I knew it was twins, and our first ultrasound confirmed this. Again, everything looked beautiful. Two beautiful heartbeats.

October 27th, I was 14 weeks and 4 days pregnant. Billy and I were both asleep. It was around 4am. Again, I rolled over, and there it was again.

The gush.

I immediately stood up and woke Billy up and told him to call an ambulance. I knew I had already lost a great deal of blood, and we had since moved since our last miscarriage and much farther from the hospital, so it was time for an ambulance. Billy works incredibly well under pressure. In less than 5 minutes, he packed a bag, called 911, secured our dogs, and waved the ambulance down. Four paramedics came and at this point, I was laying back down in the bed. I felt woozy and didn't want to collapse. As their checking my vitals, I felt what I know now was my baby girl coming out. I stood up, and her tiny body just slipped out. I saw her tiny face just for a moment, then felt very faint. It was definitely time to go, but I felt at some ease since I knew I still pregnant.

Fast forward to the ultrasound at the emergency room, and I saw my son's heartbeat. THANK GOD he's still okay. I remember he was wiggling around like crazy. I was wheeled back to the room, where the on call doctor performed a pelvic. He stood up and just looked at me briefly. And I knew. This wasn't going to end the way I wanted. He began saying "I'm so sorry, but.." and I lost it. I cried so soo hard. He had said the baby was already coming through my cervix, and a D&C had to be performed.

I lost them both. Another urn for the mantle.

That afternoon, the doctor came in and said he knew why I kept losing these babies. He diagnosed me with incompetent cervix. Finally, some answers. And a diagnosis that can be fixed! All it would take is a cerclage to tie my cervix shut during pregnancy.

We dived in to our second round of IVF, and decided due to work that I would stay somewhat local instead of heading to NY. This round I only produced three eggs, two fertilized. I was devastated. I knew I should have gone to CNY where this would have been monitored much better. Evidently, the doctor "forgot" to prescribe me metformin, which would help my egg production. Regardless, I kept a positive attitude and we transferred the embryos the next cycle.

Once again, a thousand home pregnancy tests later, we saw the two lines. And again, everything looked perfect. We found out around 10 weeks that we were pregnant with a baby girl. My OB performed a vaginal cerclage around 8 weeks of pregnancy, where she stitches the cervix shut, then closer to delivery, the stitch is cut. Fantastic. I can finally carry a baby!

Fast forward to August 2017. I was 21 weeks pregnant. It was a Sunday afternoon and I just felt like something was wrong. Couldn't describe it. But I called my OB's nurse line, and due to my history, they asked me to go ahead to the hospital to labor and delivery. After a pelvic exam, the doctor told me my cervix was open. I immedaitely burst into tears. The baby was okay for now, but I needed to be heavily monitored, and they kept me over night.

After spending two nights in the hospital, basically laying upside down, no progress was made. This was good news and bad news. Good news is the baby is still safe. Bad news is my cervix is still open. They can't go in and stitch it, because my water was sitting right there, very close to breaking. I was sent home on strict bed rest where my wonderful husband waited on me head and foot. We had to make it to the magical number of 23 weeks for even a hinch of viability.

A few days later, I was 21+6, I went to the bathroom and I lost the mucous plug. I knew it was over. We went back to the hospital, and was told that my health was now at risk due to a potential infection, and that the baby needed to be delivered.

She was not going to survive.

Labor pains began very quickly, and I was given an epidural around 2am along with morphine since we knew our outcome. Then they cut the stitch.

At 1:12pm on August 19th, 2017, our sweet baby girl was born silent. She was gorgeous. Full head of hair. Beautiful skin. I remember laying there in a daze, alone with just my husband and our baby girl. He was holding her, just crying, but I couldn't comfort or say much due to the drugs and exhaustion, but we felt so alone. My husband says he has never felt so alone than in that very moment holding our daughter.

Once again. Another urn for the mantle.

We were told our next step was a transabdominal cerclage. My husband wanted to take a break. Maybe adopt. Foster. Or just wait. But I couldn't. I was on a mission and I wanted to persevere. So many people say "I don't know how you're so strong, I don't know how you keep moving on." It's because I wasn't given a choice. Not only do we suffer from infertility, but pregnancy losses as well.

My OB found a wonderful doctor to perform the abdominal cerclage, and it went perfect. Recovery was minimal, and just a few weeks after the surgery, I came back to CNY to do our third round of IVF in December 2017.

Egg retrieval day finally came, and they retrieved 21 eggs, and 6 fertilized. I wanted to do a fresh transfer, which Dr. Kiltz was okay with, so I flew back the day after Christmas for my transfer. We only transferred one since we didnt want to risk anything with the cerclage. But this time, a thousand pregnancy tests later, no two lines. It failed.

I came back the next cycle in January 2018 for a frozen transfer. Once again, I tested a million times, and I got hints of two lines. Hey, I'll take it! My betas were rising but not like they should. Then, a few weeks after transfer, I was bleeding. Heavily. Headed to the ER per my OB's request and my HCG level dropped half since two days prior. I was losing the baby. I stormed out of the ER and I remember just bolting out of the room, then just losing it in the hallway. I cried so hard that I was hyperventilating, hitting the wall in the hallway of the hospital. How in the world can one person deal with so much loss? Why was this journey given to us?

I decided to take a break. I thought it would be a few years. Maybe go back to my job as a probation officer.

But the idea of a baby kept coming into my mind. I couldn't work this hard and cry so many tears, and just stop.

On May 4th, 2018 (Star Wars Day!) we transferred one embryo. Dr. Kiltz did the transfer, and afterward he put his hand on my knee, and said, "this is it." And, he was right.

37 weeks and 2 days later, Billy Joe Carrier III (or Beaux as we call him) was born via c section. I remember laying on the table and hearing that tiny but mighty scream for the first time, and broke down into tears. Finally, we had our rainbow. He weighed a mighty 6 pounds and 2 ounces and has been the most beautiful blessing I could ever imagine. We are head over heels in love. And, he even has 3 siblings on ice :)

Favorite Team Member at CNY:

Of course Dr. Kiltz. And there was a travel nurse who gave me her personal cell number, and I spoke with her over an hour on the phone about our infertility journeys, but of course I cannot remember her name. But, I've never come across a nurse or anyone with CNY who didn't treat me like family.

Helpful resources Holly & Billy found:

Coloring! The adult coloring books help with stress so much!

Unique Moments:

The highs were seeing the medications work so well and the amount of eggs produced.

Hope, Inspiration and Advice:

Keep going! Giving up is not an option. Be your own advocate and keep up the strength for your future children. The pain and suffering you go through has the most beautiful reward at the end.