Jacob and Carissa's Pathway to Parenting

HOW WE MET

Carissa's friend suggested we met, and literally from the first date I knew Jacob was the love of my life!  This treasured photograph was taken on our first date.    We have now been married for five years, and have been trying to have a family for over four years.   
It has been very difficult, but we have grown closer, and it was formed an indescribable bond between us.  We could not have gotten through everything without each other.   I love my husband and our little family SO much.  I can only imagine the joy of having it grow <3

CARISSA'S BATTLE WITH ENDOMETRIOSIS

After years of suffering with severe pain, I was 23 years old when I was diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis (I had 14 endometriomas) and told that I needed a full hysterectomy.   Fortunately Dr. Nezhat, a world leading surgeon, was able to save my almost completely destroyed ovaries.  Over the last 2 1/2 years, I have gone through three surgeries for endometriosis.   I am so grateful to still have my ability to procreate, however, I was left with Diminished Ovarian Reserve.  So they estimate that I only have a year or so of eggs left before I will enter menopause, or need a full hysterectomy if the tumors again return.  We are praying we can have just one child before this happens!
 

OUR IVF HISTORY

We have now tried invitro three separate times.   But because we started this journey when my husband was a college student, we have only ever been able to afford the cheapest doctors we could find.  
We had miscarriage after miscarriage, and the doctors assured us the the eggs were getting damaged coming down my scarred tubes, and that invitro would change things.  The doctors than decided that my immune system was attacking my eggs and babies, because of all of the tumors it had had to fight off.  

After our 3rd failed invitro, and nearly 20 miscarriages, we had completely given up on being able to have a biological child, and were planning on letting go of our dream when we found Dr. Sher for Sher Institute.  He assured us with his expertise, we COULD be parents.  But we were out of money, and had no way of making that happen.  

That is when he introduced us to Nancy from INCIID.  
She talked to me with open arms about our situation, and encouraged me to apply.  
It was mother's day when she sent us the email officially accepting us into the program.  It has been an absolute miracle, having one last chance with one of the nations leading experts to be parents. 
Even if this does not work, I will at least be able to have the peace of knowing I have done all that I can do.  And that, it worth EVERYTHING. 

 
Donations to INCIID are tax deductible. INCIID is a 501 c 3 Charity
 
We want to be open and honest about our story, and hope to raise awareness for everything that has happened to Carissa.   So we would like to share it with you :)  

March 15, 2016
Dear INCIID,

Hello, and thank you for reading this and considering my application.

My name is Carissa, and I am 26 years old.   I would like to first give you a brief breakdown of my history. 

My husband and I after being married for a few short months began trying to get pregnant.  The first year was filled with excitement and hope that quickly faded.  Right away, I would over and over be a week or two late for my cycle, and would test: Negative. 
It was not until a year into trying that I tested on my day of missed period, and quickly realized that every one of those times I WAS pregnant, but my two little lines quickly faded within a week or two.

We then began seeking help in the form of IUIs and Clomid.  It was during this time that my other symptoms worsened.  I had been experiencing pain with intercourse, unbearable pain with my cycles, and incredibly heavy periods.  It was a year after this (and more early miscarriages) that I had the ultrasound that forever changed my life.

My doctor held my hand and tears streamed down her face as she told me, at 23, that I would have to have a hysterectomy.  Seemingly overnight, my ovaries had filled with endometriomas.  They were so swollen they were “kissing”.   I got second opinions from several doctors who all said that there was no hope.  It was then that I found Dr. Nezhat.  He is a world renowned surgeon in CA who specializes in endometriosis.

We were lucky enough to travel to him and have him save my reproductive organs.   It truly was a miracle!  After a series of surgeries and treatment with lupron, we then saved to complete a mini ivf cycle, which resulted in all empty follicles.   We were devastated.    It was shortly after that we had the strongest pregnancy I had ever had naturally.  It was during this that my doctor finally decided to test my natural killer cells, and discovered how elevated they were.  We immediately administered IVIG  to try to save the pregnancy.   My HCG numbers doubled twice, and we had so much hope.  But sadly, like all the others, this one ended in heartbreak.

To test whether the IVIG had helped, we then did a natural IVF cycle, which did yield a healthy embryo.   We officially believed that this was our problem.  That my heightened immune system had been affected by my endometriosis and was harming my babies.

After enduring a few more miscarriages, a D & C, and an additional laparoscopy with Dr. Nezhat, this Feb we finally came up with the money to do a full blown ivf cycle.

We used Intralipids,  Humira, and Lovenox.  We retrieved 11 eggs!  We decided to implant three embryos.  Just this last week, I miscarried once more.   Additional to this devastation, all but one of our 5 remaining embryos stopped growing well during our cycle.  We ended up with only one quality frozen embryo. 

It was in the middle of this heartbreak I called Dr. Nezhat in tears, and he referred me to Dr. Sher.  I truly have no clue how I did not find him before!   Dr. Sher explained in detail what was done incorrectly with my cycle, and assured me that I have quality eggs and that I could be a mother. 

So now, heartbroken and desperate, he referred me to you to ask for help. 

The hospital bills and previous fertility treatments have left us in a tight position financially, and it would be impossible for us to make this happen before I risk run out of eggs according to Dr. Sher.   My AMH has been left at 1.37 from all of the surgeries.  

On a brighter note, my husband will be graduating this fall from B.S.U with a degree in accounting.   He is doing a wonderful job at his internship with Pioneer Title and was just offered a permanent position with a nice raise after he graduates .  Having him in school has made it extra hard to pursue fertility treatments, but we have done all we can because we both want to have a chance at this before my fertility window closes.

Ever since being a young girl I have dreamed, planned and looked forward to a being a wife and mother.  After marrying the love of my life, Jacob and I looked forward to starting a family together.  While the past 5 years with their ups and downs, the accomplishments and the heartaches, have drawn us closer together as a couple,  we still have an empty spot in our hearts that careers, hobbies, and fleeting things can’t fill.  Both Jacob and I long for the purpose,   growth, and joy that caring for a child would bring into our lives.  The following quote sums up by feelings about being a mother.
 
I cannot express how grateful we would be to have any help at all.
Thank for you time, consideration, and compassion.
Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions.






Carissa Holdaway

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