Georgia couple finds path to parenthood isn't easy
VILLA RICA, Ga. - When Ashley and Sam Swertfager married in their early 20's, they didn't want to rush starting a family.
"I wanted to be married for about a year, and then I knew it would happen fast," Ashley Swertfager says. "He wanted to wait a little bit, but we knew we wanted a big family."
But when they started trying, nothing.
"Yeah, we were shocked," the 26-year old says. "We didn't know anyone who went through infertility, and our family and friends, they got pregnant really fast. So, we thought we would, too."
"We went 2 years, 2 years without medical assistance," Sam Swertfager says.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates as many as 10 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44, just over 6 million women, struggle with infertility.
"So, once each month went by and it didn't happen, we were pretty confused to what was going on," Ashley Swertfager says.
In 2016, they were referred to Dr. Anne Namnoum, a reproductive endocrinologist with Shady Grove Fertility Atlanta. Ashley had been previously diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, which can cause problems with ovulation.
"The moment we met, I knew she was the one," Swertfager says of Dr. Namnoum. "But, it took a lot of courage to go there. I knew the moment we were going to a fertility doctor, it was real. That was really what we were living."
Ashley had been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, which can cause problems with ovulation.
Dr. Namnoum felt her best chance of getting pregnant would be through in-vitro fertilization or IVF.
"We felt fortunate we were able to get to a fertility doctor because it was expensive, and our insurance didn't cover it," Ashley says. "It's so expensive, the medicine, the IVF."
Dr. Namnoum geared Ashley towards a clinical study, which helped cover some of the expenses of the original IVF cycle. The Schwertfagers believed they would get pregnant, they say.
But, the journey to parenthood took much longer than they ever expected.
They went through an egg retrieval, then fertilization, then 5 different embryo transfers.
The first took, but Ashley miscarried early in her pregnancy.
So, they kept trying.
"Perseverance is important, I think, when you go through the disappointments and grieve the losses," Dr. Namnoum says. "Again, it's very variable, how many attempts people want to go through."
Finally, after 5 embryo transfers, and nearly 2 years, Ashley got pregnant.
They're expecting identical twin daughters in November of 2018.
It was worth the wait," Ashley Swertfager says. "Everything we went through; it was worth it."