My friend, Ali Hynek, gave this amazing speech at an event for infertility. I am so grateful that she was willing to share her IVF story with our community. Ali is the owner of Nena & Co. bags and mother to triplets Penelope, Ethan, & Alejandra plus baby Santiago. You can follow her HERE. Thank you, Ali.
Good evening. My name is Ali Hynek, and I am a mother to children conceived via infertility treatment. I’ll let you get to know me as I tell you my story:
My husband Jeremy and I often talk about how we can’t really remember what our purpose in life was before we had our babies. But if I think about it, that isn’t entirely true. As I struggled with infertility and the overwhelming desire for children my mom would often remind me of the quote “Women who through no fault of their own that cannot exercise the gift of motherhood directly, may do so vicariously.”
I struggled with those words as I didn’t want to face the possibility of not having children of my own but it hurt worse to do nothing with all the love I had to give while we continued to search for a way to bear children. So I began to search for more purpose in my current situation.
Because of my mom and her mom’s great example of their love for their Guatemalan heritage I began to see an opportunity to reconnect with not only my own heritage but an opportunity to create something that could potentially help mothers and fathers and children in my mother's homeland. I began spending my evenings after work and into the early hours of the morning designing, strategizing, organizing and creating a business that is dedicated to ethically and sustainably creating products that not only pay homage to my heritage but that now provides 150 heads of households with reliable work, fair wages and a safe work environment and close to 200 more female weavers at any given time that are able to loom their textiles for my company at home while they tend to their children and other household duties while their husbands leave the home to work.
I found a quote that said “Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits as women.” My work filled some of the void of not having children as I was able to continue to progress in life and love.
I’m sharing all this because the search for your child can consume you, devour hope and destroy your desire to have your own children. So my first bit of advice would be, find other ways to use your motherly or fatherly traits as you pursue your infertility journey. As individuals and as women and men we all have our own unique talents and gifts we’ve been blessed with and you all are capable of finding yours as I did mine. Some of you are blessed with a strong business mind, are community leaders, are dedicated friends, are the centerpiece in your own home, or are extremely loving and caring to others. As a community, as friends and family members; we need that in our lives.
Find a Specialist that is right for YOU. Destress your life!
I spent most of my pregnancy in a bed or chair because I herniated a disc just being pregnant with 3 and it squished my sciatic nerve. I could barely move. Jeremy would push me in wheelchairs when we had them.
After months of trying to conceive on our own we found a well reviewed Infertility doctor on “yelp”. You should be chuckling to yourself right now. Dr. Foulk, who was not the doctor we found on yelp, can tell you, as he told us, there are much better ways to find a great doctor. But we didn’t know any better. We went into our first doctors office feeling like we had decided to be treated for whatever was causing out infertility issues and the thought of paying someone so much money, believing that i had no known issue and the fact that we were using science, i thought it would be an easy slam dunk. But it wasn’t. We started with 3 rounds of IUI that all failed. We then moved on to IVF where we successfully were able to produce 8 viable embryos. We followed through with one fresh cycle implanting two embryos and were off to take my “princess days”.
The schedule my mom organized to help me the first few months.
We were alone in an airbnb rental in California as we had just sold our home in preparation to relocate and buy a new one in Utah when we got the call few days after implantation with negative results. We weren’t pregnant. Our fail safe plan of financial sacrifice, advanced science and my healthy body did work. I thought, I didn’t work and my body had truly failed me. I can not recall a moment in my life that I felt more sadness and devastation than that first failed IVF treatment. We had never felt more alone.
Jeremy and I decided to give ourselves a little time before we made an attempt at FET or Frozen Embryo Transfer of two more embryos. But As my company Nena & Co. grew so did the stress. It wasn't just a passion project anymore, rather it became a real live business with deadlines, ups and downs, hiring and firing, quality control issues, logistics, designing, travel, research and development, projections, marketing strategy, and manufacturing to name few. The good news was we found our new home but the bad news was; it was a fixer upper and we decided to start the remodel, live in one room in our basement, move my company and the company Jeremy managed from California to Utah and start a round of FET. Couple of geniuses over here. We started our second attempt of advanced treatment and after implantation we lived in a hotel room near our california doctors office in Irvine. When I look back at how hectic my life was then, it was almost like I scheduled my FET like a meeting I took in between meetings and I only had a few minutes and then I needed to get on with the other stuff I had going on. I knew it didn’t work that time and I could feel it.
We took more time to recoop. Third and final attempt. That’s what we said. We were too tired and too heartbroken and decided we could only bear to go through the embryo transfer process one more time. I decided we needed to find a new doctor since our last one called us the “mystery couple” and had no idea why we weren’t successful. I needed answers and I needed to feel hope. I took referrals from friends and family and interviewed doctors armed with a list of questions for him/her as I looked them up and down skeptically. I had one last doctor on my list to interview and it took weeks to get in to see him, I had already written him off since I hadn’t felt like any of the previous doctors were right for me. I even told Jeremy to stay at work and not to bother coming to this appointment, and that I may not even stay to meet this doctor. Just then I was called in to see Dr. Russell Foulk at the Utah Fertility Clinic for the first time. I began to tell him my medical history and remember falling apart and in tears told him our nickname of the “mystery couple” as our last doctor couldn’t explain why we weren’t getting pregnant. In Dr. Foulks kind but confident way, he told me three things that made me stick with him.
You were meant to be a mother.
When you look for a doctor you should make sure they are reporting their numbers to SART Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology that reports the successes of all of the infertility doctors and offices. For further information on success rates the website is SART.org
The 3 reasons for infertility are 1. Eggs 2. Sperm or 3. Uterus one of them is always the main factor and sometimes more than one of them are contributors to patients infertility. And we will figure it out.
I had no idea I had endometriosis. This time My treatment felt different, I was ready to ask for help at home and at work. I had to declutter any chaos in my life and some of that meant being ok when things were out of control. I would have to worry about it later.
Years after our infertility journey began stress levels were lower after settling into our home, our companies were fully functioning and not in our basement any more. We were now in the caring hands of the right doctor and with the prayers of our own and from those we love - we used our 5th and 6th embryos and attempted FET once more. I followed protocol and got the phone call that changed our life telling me my HCG levels indicated that I was pregnant. By my own request I did a second and third blood test and I remember by the third blood test the nurse told me “you are super pregnant.’
I envisioned my new baby and I continuing on with life with him or her strapped to my body everywhere i went. And as I awaited my first ultrasound to see the results of my positive blood tests, I continued to picture my office with a pack n’ play by my desk as I took meetings and would admire everything she/he did and my life would just continue on as it had but with a precious baby on my hip. The new nurse entered the room and began my ultrasound and said “congratulations! You two are having twins!” I smiled with surprise and jeremy squoze my hand with excitement but as I examined the screen with an image of my uterus and then I asked “what's that stuff over there”? The nurse didn’t answer but excused herself and said she would return shortly with another nurse and they examined the screen together. The second nurse said, “Congratulations! You’re actually having TRIPLETS!” Not only had both embryos took but one had split and gave us the greatest surprise of our life. Jeremy let out a laugh I have never heard from him before and have actually never heard since and it took about a week for me to come out of the shock.
We were Blessed with an instant family of 3 babies on March of 2016. Penelope was born at 3 lbs 3 oz, Alejandra at 2 lbs 8 oz and our broozer boy Ethan at 3 lbs 11 oz. They weren’t supposed to be here yet and they certainly looked it with tubes and wires attached to their bodies, cocooned in pods to keep them safe from a world they were not yet ready for. After an emergency c-section at 31 weeks and 6 days, every member of my family visited us that day to see our miracle babies and when they looked at my sweet PEA (which is short Penelope Ethan and Alejandra) I could see the look of concern on their faces and worry for their teeny lives, hoping and praying they were ok and my head recognized that. But my heart and soul beamed with pride. I knew that if my heavenly father could help me create these new spirits than he would certainly preserve them once they were here. I remember the moment I was able to hold their little bodies for the first time. It literally felt like i was holding a piece of heaven. It was then that my whole world changed. I had spent enough time thinking of myself and I was ready to live and breath for my sweet PEA.
The greatest and purest love I have felt is that of being a mother. The journey is hard and doesn’t stop being hard but as my husband Jeremy says, “it doesn’t feel like hard is the right word when you love them so much.” I want to thank Jenica Parcell and Bundled Blessing for giving me the opportunity to share my story and Dr. Foulk for not only giving me my triplets who are now 2.5 years old and as healthy as can be but for helping us get through another Frozen Embryo Transfer with our 7th embryo and enabling me to carry our 4th baby now.
Pregnant with Santi, IVF baby.
Thank you all so much for being here and supporting this wonderful cause.