It seemed like everywhere she looked, she saw babies: in the grocery store, in church, in the movie theater at the playground, at her son’s school. Many of her friends were either holding infants or were pregnant with their second or third baby. But not Ann. Ann and her husband had been trying for months to have a baby brother or sister for their son.
“I always imagined myself with more than one child,” says Ann, who is one of seven siblings. “My son was conceived easily, without a struggle, but when we were ready to expand our family, we started having difficulties. It was heartbreaking.” Every time she saw a baby, she got a lump in her throat. “It is so hard to want something so much and not get to have it.”
Another year went by, and Ann was still not pregnant. “I started to wonder, ‘Will this go on forever?’ I worried and stressed all the time. I was so focused on having a baby, all my energy went to thinking about getting pregnant.”
Discouraged, Ann spoke with her OB/GYN Marina Torbey, MD, about what to do.
“When my patients are concerned,” Dr. Torbey says, “I start out with good news to put their minds at ease: without any fertility intervention, nearly 80 percent of couples will conceive spontaneously within one year, and 90 percent will conceive in two years. Then I reassure them that if they wish to explore fertility treatments, there are many advances and options to choose from. More often than not, by the end of our conversation, they’re relieved.”
Ann and her husband underwent a spectrum of tests and medications, but after several months, she was still not pregnant. “It seemed to take forever to get to the reason why we weren’t conceiving,” Ann remembers. “We were frustrated and tired. I knew in my heart we were meant to have more children, but the emotional toll we were under was wearing us both down.” After another year with no success, they contacted Reproductive Endocrinologist Shaun Williams, MD.
“Dr. Williams was so understanding about our feelings and was willing to help us,” Ann says. “We knew we were in good hands.”
“There are many reasons why couples have trouble conceiving,” says Dr. Williams. “There may be an undiagnosed health issue or blocked fallopian tubes or an ovulation disorder.”
A few years prior to seeing Dr. Williams, Ann had an ectopic pregnancy (when the egg implants in the fallopian tube, instead of the uterus).The trauma left one fallopian tube damaged, making it difficult for an egg to be fertilized or for an embryo to travel to the uterus. Dr. Williams also found that Ann had 10 fibroids in and around her uterus.
“Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that can grow inside the uterus or on the outside of the uterus,” Dr. Williams explains. “They are common among women in their 30s and 40s. The first sign of uterine fibroids is usually heavy bleeding during menstrual cycles. When fibroids grow on the outside of the uterus, they can also cause pain and pressure. When they affect the inside of the uterus, fibroids can block the fallopian tubes, distort the uterine cavity and affect how embryos grow within the uterus, thereby preventing pregnancy.”
“When he told me I had fibroids, I wasn’t surprised, since they run in my family,” Ann says. “I had many of the symptoms for a while—heavy cycles, pain. I just didn’t want to deal with it until I had to.”
Dr. Williams recommended myomectomy. Myomecotmy is a surgical procedure that removes the fibroids and leaves the uterus intact. At Bridgeport Hospital, myomectomy is performed with the da Vinci® “S” robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery system, laparoscopically (minimally invasive small incision) or traditionally through an open incision. Due to the quantity of fibroids that needed to be removed, traditional surgery (abdominal incision) was the better option for Ann.
“For women who wish to become pregnant, myomectomy is a way for the uterus to return to a normal state,” Dr. Williams says. “It is not likely to be corrected in a way other than surgery.”
The day of the surgery, Ann met the Bridgeport Hospital anesthesia team of a nurse anesthetist and anesthesiologist Pamela Gray, MD. The team would administer the anesthesia for the myomectomy and continuously monitor her oxygen levels, blood pressure, brain waves, fluid balance and other important factors during the procedure.
After a successful surgery and recovery, Ann was back at home two days later. “I love Bridgeport Hospital,” Ann says. “The staff is so nice and I always feel taken care of!”
A few weeks after surgery to remove the fibroids, Ann began fertility treatments. Two months later, she started the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process—which meant giving herself hormone injections every day to stimulate her ovaries and trigger ovulation. “It was difficult and painful, but I so wanted to have another baby,” she says. “It was worth it.”
Finally, it was time to get pregnant. Dr. Williams surgically retrieved Ann’s eggs and used her husband’s sperm to fertilize them. Less than a week later, Dr. Williams transferred them to Ann’s uterus. “We were so excited and hopeful and ready for anything!” Ann remembers.
“The chances of having a healthy baby using IVF depend on many factors, such as a woman’s age, her health history and the cause of infertility. IVF works best when a woman has a healthy uterus, responds well to fertility medication and when the man has healthy sperm,” says Dr. Williams, who has helped hundreds of couples conceive. “Ann and her husband were good candidates for the procedure and were prepared for any outcome—even multiples.”
Soon after the transfer and implantation, Ann knew she was pregnant: nausea (“morning sickness”) hit her hard. “I was so sick! Anything that touched my tongue came back up,” she recalls. “I kept positive by thanking God for the pregnancy.” Ultrasounds revealed she was expecting twins. Her doctors reassured her that the nausea was a good sign: the babies were healthy.
At 36 weeks, just one month before her due date, and more than 10 years after the birth of her son, Ann’s dream of having more children finally came true. With OB/GYN Julie Laifer, MD, and Chief of Obstetric Anesthesiology Dennis Buonafede, MD, she delivered two healthy baby boys in The Birthplace at Bridgeport Hospital: one weighing 4 lbs., 14 oz., and the other, 5 lbs., 3 oz. “When they were born, my husband and I were laughing and crying at the same time; we were so happy and grateful for such beautiful healthy babies!” remembers Ann. According to Dr. Buonafede, “The birth of twins is typically a very happy occasion, and we love our role in keeping moms comfortable and safe.” Because the babies were born so close to their due date, their lungs were strong enough not to need the expert services of the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. They went home with Ann a few days later.
Today, the twins are two years old. “I love watching them play together and talk together,” Ann says. “They seem to have their own twin language. We can’t understand what they say to each other—it sounds like gibberish to us—but they seem to get it!”
Ann and her husband take nothing for granted. “My older son adores having two baby brothers, and it is a thrill to know they will grow up together,” Ann continues, “During the years of struggle, I knew in my heart I would always have more children. With patience, prayer, persistence, and the right specialists, we did it. We are so blessed!”
Bridgeport Hospital has more than 40 expert physicians who are members of our Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology:
Roxanne Abder, MD Robin Berger, MD Emily Blair, DO Judy Boslow, MD Lindsey Bruce, MD Steven Cassell, MD Ronika Choudhary, MD Joseph Cuteri, MD Robert Deal, MD Shireen Donaldson-Ramos, MD Valentine Edusa, MD Elenita Espina-Lee, MD Leslie Goldstone-Orly, MD
Mary Beth Harman, DO* Lee Jacobs, MD Julie Laifer, MD Philip LaMastra, MD Mark Laser, MD Edward Luchansky, MD Peter Marcus, MD
Lyree Mikhail, MD Claudia Ortiz Cardenas, MD Linda Padilla, MD Raul Perez, MD* Carole Presnick, MD Ben Ramaley, MD*
Jose Reyes, MD
Susan Richman, MD* Barbara Sager, MD* Anthony Santomauro, MD* Harold Sauer, MD*
Helena Squicciarini, DO Sapna Tandon, DO Kenneth Thomas, MD Marina Torbey, MD Peter VanDell, MD* Alla Vash-Margita, MD Abraham Yaari, MD
Reproductive Endocrinologists (Infertility Specialists):
Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialists:
* Gynecology only