An Ahwatukee woman's journey through infertility - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Health

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An Ahwatukee woman's journey through infertility

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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 12:00 am

Three years ago Ahwatukee Foothills resident Kelly Damron's life was much different. Back then the irritable and depressed new mother's marriage was suffering, until the continuous ups and downs of her battle with infertility brought her back to the surface - to a different, brighter part of life. "The experience of infertility changed me," Damron said in her newly published book Tiny Toes. "As difficult as it may be to believe if you haven't been there, I think there is some truth about considering yourself lucky when you manage to endure such a significant adversity. I look at life differently now." A look back down the long road In 2001 Damron and her husband, Dave, began trying to conceive. Damron had always dreamed of motherhood, but found her dreams slowly slipping away with each day she couldn't become pregnant. "I said, 'I think there's something wrong,'" Damron recalled telling Dave. "And he just laughed." The difficulty of conceiving left Damron envious of pregnant women and mothers around her. She wanted nothing more than to be a mother and soon found herself spiraling down an emotional rollercoaster. Tests confirmed her feelings. Damron had irregular ovulation and her husband's semen analysis proved his sperm count, movement and size were less than normal. They were both at "fault" for infertility. "It took us a while to come to an agreement of what to do about infertility," Damron said. "He thought it might be a waste of money or it might not work. We struggled and almost divorced over it." The Damrons decided upon in vitro fertilization (IVF), a medical procedure where the egg is fertilized outside the womb and then transferred to the uterus. Their medical coverage did not cover the treatments, so the couple took it upon themselves to research different specialists, ultimately deciding upon Las Vegas-based Dr. Jeffrey Fisch. They purchased a shared-risk plan for $7,000. The plan included three fresh IVF cycles in which Damron's body would be manipulated via synthetic hormones, her eggs removed and united with Dave's sperm, and the resulting embryos would be inserted into the uterus to potentially achieve pregnancy. The plan also included three frozen transfers in which quality embryos from the fresh cycles are thawed and inserted into the uterus to potentially achieve pregnancy. Damron prayed to become pregnant during the first cycle, but the significant amount of time used to prepare her body for the insertion again took a toll on her emotionally. "I had three embryos put inside of me and two of three took," Damron said. Her wish came true. The thought of having twins both frightened and excited Damron. She bought books and spent hours researching how to care for her body when carrying multiple babies. However, all her research didn't prepare her for what happened after her 24-week ultrasound. "I was admitted into the hospital immediately after my doctor's appointment for an incompetent cervix," Damron said. "My body was ready for the babies to come out." Damron spent four weeks in the hospital, and was sent home at 28-and-a-half weeks to continue bed rest. Just 10 days later her water broke. At 1:01 p.m. baby A was born. However, baby B was breach (feet first) and Damron was immediately put under anesthesia for an emergency cesarean. Before going under, guilt accumulated in Damron's mind. Baby A, Kaley, weighed 2 pounds, 11 ounces, and baby B, Ashley, weighed 2 pounds, 9 ounces. It was hard for Damron to look at her tiny daughters secured in incubators without feeling guilty that she was unable to carry them until they were full term. "They were 15 inches long, really thin and small," Damron said. "I thought, 'what have I done?'" Resentment toward her husband, family, in-laws and friends continued to grow as she recovered in the hospital as well as when she was sent home. Damron spent the majority of her days at the hospital caring for her daughters, while Dave worked days and spent evenings at the hospital. Nine days after Kaley and Ashley were born the Damrons received a phone call from their neonatologist. Kaley was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NC), an illness common to premature babies because of their underdeveloped digestive systems. Kaley had 50 percent of her large intestine removed and a colonoscopy, a procedure where the colon is attached to the abdominal wall. The hospital staff did everything they could to improve Kaley's health in order to send the twins home together, and Damron watched as her daughters' health changed daily. After seven weeks the Damrons were given a holiday present they'll never forget - their babies were finally sent home on Thanksgiving Day. Road to recovery Kaley's colonoscopy was reversed at six months. "Today she is a normal girl," Damron said. "She's happy and healthy. She just has a great big scar on her belly." Possibly the hardest thing for Damron to admit during her experience with infertility was depression. Although being told women diagnosed with infertility often experience depression similar to those diagnosed with cancer, Damron could not bring herself to admit she was depressed. "When the girls were six months old I was still a horrible person," Damron said. "I went to a counselor to get some help. I took anti-depressants and worked hard to stay happy." Battling depression had allowed Damron to change her marriage, relationships and become happy again. "During our infertility journey I was angry at Dave, at myself, at the world and at people with children," Damron said. "Part of the reason I wrote my book is to tell people it is OK to struggle and that infertility is amazingly more common than people think." In March 2006 Damron began writing Tiny Toes, A Couples' Journey through Infertility, Prematurity and Depression. "I figured somebody's got to talk about it," she said. Tiny Toes, a first-person, in-depth emotional journey through Damron's infertility experience, is available at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Drive in Tempe, or at www.Amazon.com. Corinne Frayer can be reached at (480) 898-7917 or cfrayer@aztrib.com.

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