Meet Will, Colin and Claire
When Katie and Chris got married, they knew they wanted to have children, but after trying to get pregnant for a year unsuccessfully, Katie made an appointment with fertility specialist, Dr. David Walmer, who was Medical Director of Duke University’s IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) program at the time.
“I remember sitting in the waiting area, not believing that I was actually there … thinking this is for old people, not me. Being here meant admitting that I had a problem.”
Katie’s OB/GYN had told her it was “just stress,” and her family and husband agreed. If she could just relax about it, getting pregnant would happen. But, it had not, and Katie wanted to know why.
“All the tests we had done were normal, but I knew something wasn’t right. I was struggling and felt very alone. Dr. Walmer really listened to me – my concerns, my worries. He was very understanding, even discussing my struggles around religion and helping me find a counselor so I could discuss these personal things. He never pushed us to move forward, but seemed more interested in my overall well-being.”
As Dr. Walmer examined Katie, he noticed a 12” scar in her abdominal area. Back when Katie was in college, she was involved in a car accident that required removal of more than 50% of her pancreas.
“I believe it was one of those God-things that Dr. Walmer was interested in and studying the effects of abdominal scar tissue as related to fertility. “
In March of 2010, Dr. Walmer did an exploratory procedure to determine the extent of scar tissue and how it might have been impacting her ability to get pregnant. He found a significant amount of scar tissue affecting multiple organs and preventing Katie’s eggs from getting out of her ovaries.
“I remember him saying, ‘Well, at least we can finally tell Katie what’s going on.’ He told me we had about a 1 in a billion chance of getting pregnant on our own, and that it was too dangerous to try to remove the scar tissue because there was so much and it was affecting other organs.”
In June of 2010, Katie and Chris attempted their first cycle of IVF and she got pregnant with their beautiful daughter, Claire, who is now 3 years old. In December 2012, Katie and Chris sought out Dr. Walmer to see if they could add a brother or sister for Claire to their family. Dr. Walmer and Dr. Susannah Copland had just opened Atlantic Reproductive Medicine Specialists in the Brier Creek area.
“We trusted Dr. Walmer and were very impressed with the cutting edge technology Atlantic Reproductive could offer. We soon discovered that my body had a low egg reserve, and at the time of our first scheduled retrieval, Dr. Walmer told us he didn’t think it was the right time yet. He said he wasn’t going to take our money or put my body through a retrieval that wasn’t going to be as productive as it needed to be. He is a man of ethics and compassion.”
Four months later, in April of 2013, Katie did a fresh IVF treatment cycle with Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and Assisted zona hatching (AZH). She became pregnant with twin boys, Will and Colin, who joined their sister, Claire, with their birth in November, 2013.
“We recommend Dr. Walmer and Dr. Copland and their staff at Atlantic Reproductive to anyone dealing with fertility issues. We truly believe without their commitment and experience and care, we would not have Claire, Will or Colin. Now, our family is complete, and I have everything I have ever dreamed of.”
Today, Katie talks openly about her fertility journey. “I was 28 years old, and I didn’t know anyone going through what I was because it just wasn’t talked about. But I learned this is pretty common, and now I wish I had advocated for myself earlier. And that is what I say to other women – you know your body – trust your instincts. You don’t have to be afraid or alone. Just look at Chris and me – our family is here, standing as the hope at the end of what can feel like a very dark place.”