Melissa and Michael Story received an Aneden Gives grant through the 2019 Houston Grant Process. In March 2020, they welcomed their first baby, TC Story, and this is their fertility story.
Q: Tell us a little bit about you and your husband’s love story
A: On our first date, we went out dancing. He jokes now and says he spun me around the dance floor getting me dizzy and still does. We dated for about 7 months before getting engaged and were married 4 months later. From day one, we have done everything together from planning our wedding to his company outings and holiday parties, mine and my athletes’ home and away games to coaching clinics to traveling. Here we are almost a decade later and we have grown so much as individuals and a family.
2. Q: Reflecting on your own (and your spouse’s) childhood and what are you looking forward to as you become parents
A: We are looking forward to being able to experience life with him, from taking him camping and fishing to seeing him playing sports and getting dirty playing outside in the mud like little boys do. Just experiencing life in general.
3. Q: Can you chronicle your fertility journey – how you first realized you might need medical intervention in order to conceive or maintain a pregnancy?
A: A couple of years after getting married, we decided we wanted to grow our family. After trying for almost a year without any success, we sought help from my doctor. We were referred to HFI in 2013 because of my age. I didn’t realize that being in my early 30s was an issue. After seeing the doctor at HFI and having several tests and procedures done, I had a diagnosis and we had the percentages of conceiving depending on the path we chose to proceed down. According to our doctor, IVF was our best chance. At the time, coming up with the kind of money for IVF was out of the question. Fast forward to 2017 and we decided it was time to go back to HFI and proceed. We took out a loan for our first cycle and proceeded.
After doing everything to the letter like we were directed, our retrieval did not yield any viable embryos. We thought that would be the hardest news we would receive, and at the time it was. We discussed our options with our doctor and wanted to do a second cycle, so we did. Only after downsizing from a 2200 sq ft house to 830 sq ft in order to afford it. This time we had 4 viable embroyos this time that all made it through genetic testing with flying colors. There we were, waiting to do a transfer, when our doctor came in and said the thawed embryo had started to deteriorate.
After discussing it with each other and our doctor, we decided to thaw a 2nd embryo and proceed with the transfer. We waited our two weeks and were elated to find out we were pregnant. We went to our appointments for blood work and ultrasounds to check on our tiny little one twice a week seeing slow progress but it was still progress. That was until we didn’t. We should have heard and seen a heartbeat but instead we were miscarrying.
This was the hardest thing we ever experienced in our lives! Our doctor told us to heal and let him know what our next step was. For us, our next step was another transfer, although we had no idea how we were going to pay for it. That’s when we found out about ANEDEN GIVES Grant. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, so we filled out the application and were elated to find out we were selected to receive the grant just as we were starting the process for another transfer. Our doctor told us to let him know when we wanted to do the transfer because he knew come the fall my schedule would be hectic because I would be in volleyball season and he knew that started in August. So we looked at our calendar and there was one Friday in July that would be perfect because I could stay at home all weekend and then hit the ground running the next Monday and be running until the end of October with one week free to take a cruise for our anniversary.
That week is when we should have been going to the doctor for our pregnancy test but we were in another country, so I brought a test with us. We were pregnant!
It was confirmed when we returned and soon after we heard the best sound ever, our little one’s heart beat! Week after week went by, going to our weekly appointments and things were good. We were all set to graduate and head to our OB and Imelda struck. We pushed out graduation back until the rain stopped and the water receded. We went through ultrasound withdrawals, as we had gotten used to seeing our growing baby every week. But we made it, 20 weeks, 25 weeks, 30 weeks, 35 weeks.
We had planned from the beginning on me taking the rest of the school year off starting with Spring Break, little did we know what was going to happen across the country in mid-March. As we prepared for our little ones arrival the country began to stay at home. Our little one made his appearance at just the right time.
4. Q: What was the most challenging part of the fertility journey/treatments?
A: The most challenging part of our fertility journey has been the lack of control. Even after following the directions, exactly, from our doctor, the outcome was completely out of our control. No matter how much we planned or didn’t plan, we had to be completely flexible and ready to make changes at any time.
The helpless feeling you get when you know that no matter how much you follow the doctors instructions, at the end of the day, there are no guarantees. That is where it helps to have faith, not just in each other, but in the Lord above. It’s a real humbling experience at times, but we wouldn’t trade a minute of it, in the end, the reward is definitely worth the journey.
5. Q: Are there any positive experiences you had during your journey?
A: Yes, we have met a lot of great people along the way, from doctors and nurses, to other couples and people who are dealing with the same types of issues we have and to realize we are not alone in this struggle or journey. We have learned to rely on each other more as we went through the ups and downs of this journey .
6. Q: What helps you maintain hope during your challenging journey?
A: Being there for each other and being in it together, helped us maintain hope during our journey, for both the challenges and the celebrations. We thanked God and continue to thank God everyday for our journey.
7. Q: What plans, wishes, goals do you have for your child?
A: We wish that he will live his life to its fullest. To enjoy every minute of it and go be whatever his heart chooses to do .
8. Q: What would you say to other families going through their own challenging journey?
A: Be in it 100%, completely commit together. Experience it all together, from the doctor’s visits, to the appointments, to the delivery. Take it all in EVERY bit of it, burn it into your memory. At the end of the day, it really is a beautiful journey that is worth all the work and effort it takes to get to where we are now. Looking back on it, we wouldn’t change a thing. It makes the results that much sweeter.
9. Q: What does the ANEDEN GIVES Grant mean to you?
A: ANEDEN GIVES Grant means that our dream of becoming parents for the first time and growing our family was possible and our little miracle is here.