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After Tempests of Loss & Infertility Depression, Their Rainbow Baby

How did they make it through unexplained infertility & recurrent miscarriage that tested their faith & marriage? They talked about it.

Adrienne and Tyler Downer with their rainbow baby Henry | Tennessee Reproductive Medicine, Chattanooga, TN
Adrienne & Tyler with son, Henry.

Adrienne and Tyler Downer got engaged in December 2019 with the dream of having a family together. They understood conception might not come easily for them due to Adrienne’s previous experience with infertility, so they began trying just a year later.

They were thrilled to learn they were pregnant. But in May 2020, the couple experienced their first loss when Adrienne had a chemical pregnancy (when a pregnancy implants in the body and begins making hormones but then stops developing and miscarries).

“I knew that I wanted nothing more in life than to have a family with Tyler. I knew that I couldn’t give up no matter how hard the journey was,” says Adrienne.

First unexplained infertility, then recurrent miscarriage

After another year of trying, they were referred to Tennessee Reproductive Medicine (TRM). Both Adrienne and Tyler were tested, and Adrienne was diagnosed with unexplained infertility.

Their reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Jessica Scotchie, recommended Adrienne and Tyler try intrauterine insemination (IUI). Adrienne took a pregnancy test after their first round, pleased to see that it came back positive.

The couple celebrated the news, hopeful that this time would be different. But at five weeks, they lost their baby for a second time.

Being foster parents helped them through a spiral of failure

Discouraged but still determined, Adrienne began taking letrozole, which is used to induce ovulation and stimulate the ovaries to release more eggs, and she and Tyler continued trying. During these months they experienced some of the most challenging times as a couple. “It would just send me in a spiral,” says Adrienne about testing negative for pregnancy month after month. “It would take me weeks to lift myself back up and then it would be time to test again.”

Adrienne and Tyler were foster parents to three children while they continued fertility treatment. Watching Tyler as a foster dad blew Adrienne away, and she couldn’t give up on trying for a child of their own. No matter the stormy times, she wasn’t willing to give up on that dream. And neither was he.

The power of talking through troubles

“I know how hard it can be on couples and sometimes it becomes too much. Luckily, this journey made us stronger,” she says. “We definitely had our ups and downs throughout the fertility journey though. I don’t want to make it sound like we are perfect.”

Adrienne and Tyler handled their situation with honest communication and empathy, divulging their feelings and enjoying the things in life they did have. This approach helped them through the next several months as their fertility struggles continued.

 Couples counseling when infertility dashes dreams

Trying to conceive with love and letrozole

Tyler kneeling in a field with his hands on Adrienne’s belly pregnant with their rainbow baby Henry | Tennessee Reproductive Medicine, Chattanooga, TNAfter unsuccessful IUI cycles, Adrienne sat down with Dr. Scotchie. They weighed the options of trying IUI again or moving forward with in vitro fertilization (IVF). Adrienne remained on letrozole but the couple decided to take a break from trying to conceive while they evaluated their finances for IVF.

In January 2022, they found out they were pregnant again. A blend of fear and excitement hit the couple when they got the news. But after hearing their baby girl’s heartbeat in the first few appointments, their fear was overcome with joy. “It was incredible. We were so happy,” Adrienne remembers.

Eight weeks went by and she graduated from TRM. Adrienne returned to her OB/GYN for an appointment around nine-and-a-half weeks. As her doctor scanned for a heartbeat, Adrienne was devastated to learn her daughter no longer had one.

She and Tyler were heartbroken. They had seen and heard their baby, making the loss even more difficult to confront.

They opted for a dilation and curettage procedure (D&C) and later found out their angel, Dixie Ann, had Trisomy 14, which does not generally result in live birth.

Adrienne felt a little more comfort in knowing there was a reason this time, but after the third loss, she spiraled into a deep pit of depression.

Infertility depression worsened by social media’s negative effect

After losing Dixie Ann, Adrienne remained on letrozole for a few months. She felt exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. “Trying to conceive was the absolute hardest thing I have ever had to go through,” she explains. “It’s the constant feeling of being a failure because your body can’t do what it’s meant to do. I felt worthless, ashamed and just overall depressed.”

To make matters worse, Adrienne was bombarded with social media constantly throwing pregnancy in her face.

Testing faith in God and marriage

She struggled to feel happy for the others who were posting pregnancy or birth announcements, jealous that they had what she so desperately wanted. She found herself questioning God and her worth.

“I would wake up some days excited to continue trying, and then I would get on Facebook, see a new pregnancy announcement and it would cause me to spiral back into my depression,” she says. “Each time that I would spiral downhill, I would have to think of God’s promise He made me years ago. I had to dig deep and keep that faith.”

But keeping faith wasn’t easy when dealing with infertility depression, something Adrienne feared would drive Tyler away.

“There were times I remember telling him that it was okay if he wanted to leave and find someone who could provide him with the family he wanted. He always shot that down immediately and reassured me that no matter what happened, he was by my side.”

She knew it was hard for Tyler to always be her rock, especially after each loss. But he never treated her differently. “He loved me through it,” she says.

Tyler had complete faith that it would happen for them, pointing out that she had carried for longer each pregnancy. He was scared too, but he continued to lift Adrienne up and reassure her that their time would come. And then, in April, it did.

Finally, Adrienne and Tyler have their rainbow baby

Adrienne and Tyler's rainbow baby, Henry, conceived with the help of Tennessee Reproductive Medicine | Chattanooga, TN

Adrienne found out she was pregnant again, but her excitement was stifled by the overwhelming fear that she would only come to lose her baby for the fourth time. “I had so much trauma from previous experiences that I couldn’t find the joy just yet. I was expecting the worst.”

Adrienne booked a lot of private ultrasounds in between doctor appointments because she just couldn’t get to a place of security with the pregnancy. Every day she woke up sick to her stomach imagining her baby wouldn’t have a heartbeat, even when she could feel him moving.

When Adrienne went into labor, she anxiously awaited her newborn. In the delivery room, Adrienne gave one final push. She heard her baby’s cry, and the doctor immediately placed Henry on her chest. Relief crashed over her as she held her son. She looked up at Tyler to see tears in his eyes.

“My baby was here. He was alive, and I was physically holding him. A feeling I will never forget. The love that just consumes you instantly is unreal,” she exclaims.

Adrienne and Tyler are grateful to TRM for their help and encouragement in bringing about their rainbow baby (one born after miscarriage or another form of loss). This was their first in depth experience with a fertility clinic, and Adrienne appreciated how kind, personal and caring Dr. Scotchie was.

“She made every visit about me. She had faith that I would one day hold my precious child. I also really appreciated the nurse I dealt with most often, Candy Mathis. She was always so helpful and quick to answer any questions I had.”

A love story that made it through the storm with a rainbow baby

Henry, conceived with the use of letrozole, holds hands with his parents | Tennessee Reproductive Medicine | ChattanoogaAdrienne’s advice for other couples experiencing infertility is to always make your relationship a priority and to talk about everything. She knew that this journey could potentially kill her relationship due to how difficult it can be on couples. But for her and Tyler, it only made them stronger. “It’s hard not to make intercourse and ovulation testing seem like a job, but find ways to make it personal, fun and exciting.”

She stresses that this job is not for the weak, and it feels isolating. “Some days I was happy with hopes of the future and other days I was so depressed thinking it would never happen. Talk about it. Keep that communication open and don’t shut each other out.”

 Addressing infertility through communication

Adrienne and Tyler’s love story proves that support, communication and faith are key aspects to maintaining a healthy relationship when struggling with infertility. Fortunately for them and rainbow baby Henry, they didn’t give up trying even after three losses.

Tattoo reminder of their lost babies

She remembers her losses every day with a tattoo she had done before she got pregnant with Henry. On her wrist are three tiny feet with angel wings and a halo above each foot in honor of their three babies that they lost. She knows she will see them one day.

As for her life now, Adrienne has finally begun healing thanks to TRM, the endless support from her husband and the bright future of her son on the horizon. “I know that Tyler will always do everything in his power to provide Henry and I with the best life possible. That is all I could ever ask for in life.”