This Emmy-winning producer and writer wouldn’t let anything – blocked tubes, miscarriages or gone child – spoil the happy ending to her script
As the youngest of six kids and aunt to 15 nieces and nephews – plus a grandniece and grandnephew – Danette thought when it came her time to have children, she would have no problem. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Danette and her husband had to fight an uphill battle but, luckily, they had Dr. Jessica Scotchie and the full Tennessee Reproductive Medicine team supporting them the whole way. The couple overcame anatomical complications, miscarriage and losing an embryo before fulfilling their dream of becoming parents.
Hoping for IVF success
Despite all the kids in Danette’s family, she found a considerable obstacle to her fertility: blocked fallopian tubes. They were essentially closed, which prevented ovulation and also would prevent sperm from reaching an egg to fertilize. Danette and her husband knew in vitro fertilization (IVF) was their only option to expand their family.
“In a way that was good,” recalls Danette. “We did go right to the most expensive treatment but at least we also went straight to the one that would bring us the most success.”
The couple moved from Texas – and a less than caring physician who diagnosed Danette’s blocked tubes – to Chattanooga in search of a new home and a more caring fertility specialist. When they met Dr. Scotchie, they knew it was the place they were meant to be.
“The first thing Dr. Scotchie said was, ‘There is a new treatment available. Let’s see if that would be good for you.’ It wasn’t a good treatment for me,” Danette says, “but I knew they were as up to date as they possibly could be with the latest techniques.”
Dr. Rink Murray’s personal experience with infertility was also something Danette thought added to her faith in the TRM team, because he knew exactly what she and her husband were going through.
Managing medication and miscarriage
Despite knowing IVF was their best and only option, the task was still daunting for the couple. The many needles, appointments, medications in addition to the cost and time commitment, were all difficulties they had to face together.
“I had always been a really healthy person! I pride myself on never needing a doctor,” says Danette. “But to switch that around and need to take all this medication and injections, that was kind of scary.”
They began their first IVF cycle with a fresh embryo transfer. Danette did get pregnant on this first cycle and the couple were overjoyed. Unfortunately, that joy soon turned to sadness. Danette suffered a miscarriage shortly after her cycle.
“To go from the pain of not being able to get pregnant to complete elation because you are pregnant, then straight back down again was a really big roller coaster,” recalls Danette tearfully. “It’s easy to get discouraged and think Why should we continue? But of course, there’s a really big why:
“When it’s something you want that badly, you’ll do anything for it.”
Danette was a successful, driven career woman in the television industry. She worked with many of the best people in the media industry, won two Emmys and accomplished everything she set out to do in her career.
“I worked hard and got used to setting goals and reaching them,” says Danette. “So to have this outside force I had no control over telling me I couldn’t have the one thing I wanted so badly, it made me work that much harder.”
You are not alone
Studies have shown that 15% of all pregnancies result in a miscarriage, and the risk increases as a woman ages. Miscarriage is not something to hide, or keep secret.
Thankfully, Danette’s husband was very supportive and willing to do whatever was needed. The couple also had the support of all TRM, no matter the obstacle.
“I could face the darkness in my life and come out on top because I had Dr. Scotchie and the whole TRM team behind me,” she says. “She made me feel that success was still out there, we just had to keep chasing it.”
Their vanishing twin: One’s gone, the other’s strong
After their miscarriage, the couple tried again, this cycle with a frozen embryo transfer. It was successful and Danette became pregnant with twins. However, a few weeks into the pregnancy they lost one of the babies.
This is known as a vanishing twin syndrome. According to the American Pregnancy Organization, vanishing twin syndrome occurs in roughly 20%-30% of multiples pregnancy (twins or more). While it was early in the pregnancy and the other baby was doing very well, Danette said it was still extremely upsetting to lose another baby. Danette and her husband grieved their loss, but stayed focused on the other, healthy baby.
“The other baby was so strong. And he’s about to be 6 on Monday!”
The couple welcomed their first little one, Cyrus, in May of 2013. Danette says those six years have flown by at a pace that is far too unfair.
“That struggle, pain, frustration and fear goes by so slowly. Those days take forever. Then once you are successful you have these beautiful babies and you just turn around and they are 6! It’s a complete time warp and so unfair that the hard part drags on and the great part happens in a blink.”
Adding to the family again – with twins!
When Cyrus was a few months beyond his first birthday, Danette and her husband went back to TRM to try again. They had disappointing news for that next cycle. One of the embryos did not survive the thawing process.
“It wasn’t like it was our last chance, but it still was a stab to the heart,” Danette says. “You would think it would be a small part of the process, but it was devastating.”
However, the couple still had two healthy embryos to transfer and they once more had success with Dr. Scotchie’s help.
Twins, Ivan and Willa, were born just two years after their brother Cyrus.
Life after TRM
At ages 4 and 6, Danette says she does not hide her IVF journey from her kids. She believes it is important for them to know how much everyone worked to bring them into the world.
“They had this amazing team of people who loved them even before they were born.”
Danette and her family live in the same area as Shan Wilkinson, TRM’s senior embryologist, so they often run into each other. Danette tells her children Shan was their first babysitter!
The couple also enjoys going to the meetups at Tennessee Reproductive Medicine, like the recent 10th anniversary party. Gathering together with the physicians, staff and everyone at TRM reminds Danette of how much her life has changed for the better.
“It’s cliché to say they changed my life, but Dr. Scotchie and TRM gave me new life,” Danette says. “Not just through my kids but through myself.”