Hope for the Holidays winners are expecting their first child with the help of free IVF process from TRM
In 2017 Tennessee Reproductive Medicine selected Chattanooga couple Scarlet and Chris Brown to receive a complimentary IVF process through the Hope for the Holidays giveaway. The Browns were randomly selected from a pool of pre-screened applicants. Scarlet’s touching essay about their struggles with male-factor infertility is below.
Scarlet and Chris Brown
There’s a room upstairs and we won’t put anything in. Everybody says to add another bed for company. They offer to give us furniture to fill it. But what they don’t understand that just like our hearts, that room is waiting.
Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to be a mom. I learned as much as I could about my baby cousins, took care of them, and babysat them whenever I could. Mostly, I watched in amazement as they looked up at their mothers and I thought, I can’t wait for that. I can’t wait for someone to look at me like that.
I remember thinking that at a very young age. I remember studying childbirth and reproduction in a large general knowledge medical book my parents had because I’ve always had a mind for science and health. And the more I read, the more I realized how miraculous conception and childbirth are and for some reason in my heart I thought, What if this never happens? What if the one thing that I want more than anything never happens to me?
Now, a lot of people would think there’s no way a child had those thoughts, but I really did. I always thought of being a mom as the best thing that’s ever going to happen to me. From a young age I thought how terrible it would be if it never happened. It scared me. I think that somehow the universe was preparing and grooming me to be a woman that had to TRY to get pregnant.
Trying during the trying times
Trying seems like such an inadequate word for what we have been doing. Hoping, praying, wishing, and yes trying so hard. Trying to stay positive. Trying to stay married. Trying to stay happy. Trying to not show our grief. Trying to smile when all you want to do is cry when someone tells you they are pregnant, or someone talks about their children. Then trying not to feel shame for feeling that way when someone is telling you about the happiest time in their life. Sharing baby showers, first birthday parties, and talking about the joys and tribulations of parenthood with your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, pretending you understand where they’re coming from. But you don’t.
You want so bad to be tired from staying up all night with a fussy baby, to have laundry piled up everywhere because you can’t stop looking at your child long enough to do the chores, and to wrap your life around a tiny human. This sounds like a sob story. It’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be honest and, I have found while typing this, a little cathartic.
I know my husband and I are very fortunate. We met four years ago, fell in love, got engaged, and bought a home. We know how lucky we are to have good jobs, good family, good friends and each other. And despite all the trying, we are still very happy. We function pretty well in the space around the hole in our hearts. We try not to take it out on each other, but we do. Then we forgive each other, reassure each other, and go back to our “happy place” around the hole. This is not easy to admit but we don’t sit and hold hands and talk and cry when I start my period.
Infertility has made us a stronger couple
Communication about infertility in a marriage is hard. It’s almost impossible to get out of the conversation without inadvertently hurting the other person by something you said or something you didn’t say. But I believe in honesty and truth and sharing your truth with others. Infertility and the repercussions of it shouldn’t be something we keep in secret or feel ashamed about. In truth, I am thankful for this journey. Because of infertility my husband and I have become stronger. I feel like we’re on the same front of a battle that we know we will win if we just stick together. I’ve read a lot about infertility.
Everybody knows it’s hard on the woman. I guess everybody thinks women want it more. But my husband has the bad end of this deal. He takes multiple shots a month, takes two different types of pills that make him feel weird and tired, and he never complains. I know he walks around with a weight on his shoulders because he can’t give me what I so desperately want. Even though I tell him it’s not about him it’s about US making a baby. And there is no such thing as it being his fault. But I know he feels it. I want so badly to see my husband be a father.
He is the oldest of five kids by several years. His mom had him at 16, and his dad has never been in the picture. He had a hard life growing up. He provided so much love and care for his siblings, teaching them things, taking them to the zoo, cooking them meals, and babysitting them at such a young age. Despite not having his father in his life somehow, he was made to be a father. He doesn’t realize what a miracle he is and how lucky I feel to someday get to watch him be a Dad.
My husband is 37 and I am 29. We have been trying medications for male factor infertility for a year and a half. Our most recent sperm count showed a decrease in sperm count and motility despite the medications. I have also been tested with no obvious issues being found. We have been told to keep waiting and to keep trying but every month it never happens.
I have a master’s degree in occupational therapy and put myself through grad school, resulting in a lot of student loan debt and a $950 a month payment. My health insurance will cover only intrauterine insemination and not IVF. Unfortunately, due to the severity of the male factor infertility IVF is our only option currently, outside of the medications that we have begun to lose faith in. We didn’t expect this to be that hard. We didn’t financially prepare to spend $25,000 trying to have a family.
Every day we wake up, we take a deep breath and we think about how blessed we are. We refuse to focus on the things we don’t have. Specifically, the child we don’t have. We think, go out into the world, be good people, put our heart and soul in our job and marriage, and the things that we want will happen. And that’s all we are doing today. We are going out into the world and we are telling you our story.
Life after winning an IVF process
Shortly after submitting this essay, the Browns were blindsided by a serious medical emergency: Chris suffered a heart attack. Known as “the widow-maker infarction,” Chris’ heart attack was caused by a blockage in the anterior interventricular branch of his left coronary artery. Miraculously, Chris survived and recovered.
After so much tragedy and heartache, the Browns finally began their complimentary IVF process. And it worked! The couple is now pregnant with a little girl and thrilled to welcome her into the world.
The couple shared their exciting announcement with Channel 3 WRCB. “We sat right here and we just cried together because we knew we had a future and we had so much to look forward to again,” Scarlet told Channel 3.
Paying it forward
This giveaway was very meaningful for TRM, particularly Dr. Rink Murray. He and his wife struggled to have children, enduring multiple cycles of IVF and a heartbreaking pregnancy loss. Ultimately, it was an act of generosity that allowed them to have success.
“My son was the result of a free IVF cycle,” Dr. Murray explains. “We’d exhausted all of our abilities, we had done many cycles, and we were really far in debt. One of the doctors lobbied the hospital to donate a free IVF cycle.”
We are honored to be a part of the Browns’ journey to expand their family and cannot wait to meet their baby!