Statistically speaking, there are about 4.3 births every second globally or 255 births globally per minute. Growing up, most girls don’t even think twice about their fertility as long as they never skip a menstruation. Some girls are not as fortunate to grow up and simply worry about whether or not their menstruation is regular. Danielle’s story is one of extreme strength and resilience. At the age of 15, Danielle was diagnosed with a rare cancer and fought with it for years. She never thought twice about being able to get pregnant or not until she wanted to have a child of her own. There is a quote that circulates the internet about how birth makes a woman strong, competent, and capable. To be quite frank, women are strong, competent, and capable before they realize how incredible the human body is to be able to accomplish feats like grow and care for another human for 9 months. Danielle is exemplary of how incredible the human body is – she fought cancer and never took no for an answer. She is truly an incredibly inspiring woman, and her daughter is going to learn from her mothers and be a strong female who will inspire others just like her moms.
“I spent most of my young adulthood believing I’d never be able to get pregnant. At 15, I was diagnosed with bone cancer. I underwent a year of chemotherapy and my right leg was amputated at the knee to prevent the spread of cancer. Two years later, the cancer came back in my lungs. I had surgery to remove it. It reoccurred again two years later, and then again, two years after that.
I went through several rounds of experimental chemotherapy. At 23, I sat in the doctor’s office as he explained that I’d most likely never be able to get pregnant. At the time, I was so overwhelmed by my years of illness and all the losses that came with it, I hardly had time to process my infertility. As both an amputee and a cancer survivor, I already had doubts about my abilities to live the life I’d dreamt about prior to getting sick
Years passed without a recurrence and I began to plan my life again. I believed I’d never be able to get pregnant, so I decided that when the time was right, I’d adopt. The oldest of five children, I’d always wanted to be a mom and loved helping take care of my little brothers. When my wife and I got engaged, I signed us up for an LGBT class on becoming parents. I knew that the processes could take a long time and wanted to be informed, especially since we were both in our thirties. Even as we took the class, I insisted that I didn’t even want to consult a fertility doctor because I didn’t want to get my hopes up – I was afraid after having spent so many years in and out of the hospital of doing anything medical.
My wife and I discussed everything, we learned and were surprised at how difficult a private adoption can be. The more we talked, the more we admitted to ourselves that as a lesbian couple who both have disabilities (my wife is bipolar), we might not be at the top of any bio-moms’ list. If we were to go through with it, we risked a long, heartbreaking, and expensive process, to potentially not be accepted as adoptive parents.
We decided to make an appointment with a fertility doctor just to see what my chances of getting pregnant were. To be honest, I fully expected to be told again that pregnancy would not be an option for me. As I sat across from Dr. Sharara and shared my medical history, I braced myself for bad news. I was afraid to even hope.
Dr. Sharara listened and talked us through the next steps of testing as well as what our various options were. As the results of each test came in, I began to have hope and I couldn’t believe I’d almost skipped over this opportunity out of fear. We decided that I’d go through with IVF with donor sperm.
Dr. Sharara and his staff were there with us every step of the way. We truly felt that they all wanted the best for us. They offered words of comfort and hands to hold. As challenging as this journey can be, we felt completely cared for the entire time. And I’ve never been in a doctor’s office where they are so respectful of your time.
During our treatment, we kept in touch with other couples from our LGBT parenting class who were also undergoing fertility tests and IUI. We were surprised to find how they felt like numbers at their clinics and saw different medical professionals at every visit. We were so incredibly grateful that we found Dr. Sharara! We were so happy to have someone we had complete confidence in.
After one cycle of IVF and the first embryo implantation, I got pregnant. We were thrilled. But, after five weeks, the baby wasn’t growing and at six weeks, there was no heartbeat. Having a miscarriage was one of the hardest experiences I’ve ever been through, but Dr. Sharara was there for us through the whole process. After some time to heal both physically and emotionally, we decided to do another implantation. I got pregnant again and the baby continued to grow.
When it was time to move on from Dr. Sharara’s treatment to an obstetrician, my wife and I were sad to leave (even though moving on meant a successful pregnancy). Dr. Sharara and his staff had become such a big part of our lives and our growing family, we didn’t want to say good-bye.
Now, we are expecting a baby girl and some days I still can’t believe it’s true. I also can’t believe I almost missed this experience. I had so many preconceived notions about my body and about the paths to parenthood. While all choices on how to make a family are valid and beautiful, I would encourage people to explore all their options. I am so grateful that I did.”
Danielle, thank you for sharing your story with us and teaching us to never give up because what is worth it, truly does not come easy.
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