Juliana and Andrew
Ever since they married in 2012, the couple dreamed about their future family. Andrew is a high school principal and Juliana is an elementary school counselor. They couldn’t imagine a future without little ones of their own.
“I always knew I wanted to be a dad,” says Andrew. “As soon as I met Juliana, I knew even more. She was someone I could have a family with.” “All of our dreams centered on having children,” Juliana adds. “We looked forward to giving them a life full of love.”
Juliana had one ectopic pregnancy, but then could not get pregnant again. In 2014, she was referred to Dr. Christopher Sipe, a fertility specialist at Fertility Centers of Illinois. Though she was only 30, Dr. Sipe found that Juliana’s egg quality was very poor and recommended IVF. He explained that she had less than 1% chance of getting pregnant naturally, and stated that IVF was their only option.
The couple eagerly agreed and began their first round of treatment. During the next year, they went through two failed rounds of IVF and a frozen embryo transfer failure.
“Having kids is part of the natural process of life,” says Andrew. “It was blindsiding to try for so long without success. There was this complete loss of control, and it was hard to accept. But we just wanted to have a child, and we were willing to do whatever it took.” “We exhausted every means to improve our outcomes,” says Juliana, “including acupuncture, holistic interventions, yoga, stress reduction therapy, nutritional counseling, and essential oils. We tried absolutely everything because we were determined to become parents.”
By now, the medical bills had become unbearable. On top of that, the couple were still paying on student loans. The financial load was overwhelming. Still determined to have a child, Juliana started making baby blankets to donate and sell in hopes of funding more treatment.
It was at this time that Dr. Sipe recommended the couple apply for a Life Grant from the Life Foundation, and Andrew and Juliana eagerly sent in their application. “Going through infertility was isolating,” Juliana says. “When I sent in my story, it was so touching to know that a group of people cared enough to listen to and hear our story. That feeling of support was incredible.”
Months later, when the Life Foundation called to tell the couple they had been awarded a grant, they were overjoyed. They could continue treatment – and this time, they were successful. “When one of Dr. Sipe’s nurses called to tell me I was finally pregnant, I screamed,” Juliana says. “I was so very happy.” Andrew was more guarded, careful not to get his hopes up because of their previous losses. But as the weeks passed and the pregnancy progressed, his hope grew.
Juliana’s pregnancy went well, but medical complications meant that little Isabella arrived 15 weeks early. Those initial weeks were stressful, but day by day, their daughter grew stronger and stronger. After 151 days in the NICU, Isabella came home.
Someday, maybe a few years from now, Juliana and Andrew will tell their little girl the amazing story of her arrival – how her parents didn’t give up, how a doctor provided the expertise they needed and how a caring group of strangers gave help when it was needed most.