Solis Family Story
We live a charmed life. My husband Kevin and I met at an after-work social downtown Winston-Salem, NC. It was one of those incredibly rare love-at-first-site occurrences that I always thought only happens in the movies. Not only did we have an instant, undeniable attraction to each other, but it quickly became abundantly clear that we had everything in common… from our eclectic taste in music, movies and art, to our mutual connections through Wake Forest University and BB&T, the fact that both of our fathers had passed away, and that we both owned two cats. The chance encounter really seemed like fate when we discovered that we lived only two blocks away from each other and, aside from one digit, our phone numbers were exactly the same!
Over the course of the next three weeks, Kevin and I were inseparable, but we hit a snag in our relationship when he voiced his very strong desire to have a family someday. I already had a 17-year-old son, and thinking that I was done having children, I had had a tubal ligation ten years prior to meeting him. Having children was a deal-breaker for Kevin and we broke up… but it didn’t take. We couldn’t stay away from each other! A friend suggested that we just date and see what happens. Maybe one of us would change our mind. My son Elliot told me he thought it was ridiculous that we were trying to pretend that we were just friends when it was so obvious to everyone around us that we were meant for each other. They were both right.
Actually Kevin and I both changed our minds. Over the course of the next year Kevin decided that he could live without children as long as we were together. I discovered what an amazing father he would be and felt like it would be a crime if he never had the opportunity to be one. The more we fell in love, the more I wanted us to have a child of our own, and we began researching how we might make that possible. We were married on New Year’s Eve, 2009, and then my gynecologist referred me to Dr. Yalcinkaya.
During our first meeting with Dr. Yalcinkaya, he confirmed what we had already read on the internet: the odds of me getting pregnant after a tubal reversal at my age were very slim. Additionally, using my own eggs was probably not feasible. Dr. Yalcinkaya suggested that we skip the reversal, go straight to IVF, and consider using an ovum donor. It was a moment of mixed emotions. It took me a while to get my head wrapped around using a donor, but when the tears were dry, I was excited about the possibility of us sharing the experience of pregnancy and the birth of our child. The donor may provide the genetic map, but biologically the child would be ours. We were so lucky that science and technology could make this miracle possible! Meanwhile, we talked to Patty in Dr. Yalcinkaya’s office about financial arrangements and how we were going to make this all possible. She was so enthusiastic in helping us; you would’ve thought we were the first couple she’d ever helped with that.
It took us a year to find a suitable donor and meanwhile, the clock was ticking because of my age. At times we were frustrated by the process. We had very strict personal guidelines, and we didn’t want to “settle”. We wanted the donor to have similar coloring and build as me, as well as avoid certain red flags in her family health history. Dr. Yalcinkaya advised us against our first two choices due to either performance issues they had with previous donations or health issues that could be genetically passed down to our child. (Dr. Yalcinkaya’s nurse, Lori Marion, explained that one of the reasons that his success rates are so high is that he is extremely choosey about the donors. He wants the absolute best for his clients.) Our third choice backed out on us before she signed her contract. I started to doubt that we’d ever find someone and stalked the donor site hourly.
One day after work, I logged in and felt sure I had found the perfect donor for us. As soon as Kevin got home, I showed him her profile and photos. He agreed and we left a message with our case worker at the donor agency. The donor was all the way on the other coast in California, and we would have to pay to fly her into Winston-Salem twice, but she was a perfect match for us. Dr. Yalcinkaya seemed as excited about her as we were.
We started the IVF protocol with daily injections which, though uncomfortable, and sometimes downright painful, bound us together in a common goal and the dream of a miracle baby of our own. The sticks only hurt for a second, and it was a very small physical price to pay in order to meet our lofty goal.
The day of the retrieval and fertilization, Kevin immediately anxiously asked one of our embryologists, Dr. Carrillo, how our donor was doing. I said, "Tell her thank you," and then I got all choked up. I had wanted to add, "And that we love her," but I could no longer choke out the words. We left a letter for her telling her all of those things. It’s an incredible thing to love someone you’ve never met, but she had sacrificed a lot and subjected herself to a lot of injections and drugs, just as I had, to make our baby possible. And for that, we truly do love her.
Five days later, it was time for implantation. There was nothing but excitement surrounding us. Embryologist Dr. Singh showed us a photo of our blastocyst, which would grow to be our son Connor. Everything went as planned during the transfer with Dr. Johnston-MacAnanny and she exclaimed, “Go team Solis!” as we walked out the door. Twelve days later, I happily showed up at the clinic for my pregnancy test. Because of things that were going on at my place of employment that day, I asked them to give the results to Kevin. He had the happy opportunity to share with me that I was pregnant. We were thrilled.
The pregnancy was completely uneventful until we traveled to Aruba for our “babymoon,” the last big beach vacation before our baby son would be born. We had a fabulous time the first four days, then I started spotting and having what we then thought were Braxton Hicks contractions. When they didn’t subside, however, we borrowed a car from our innkeeper, went to the hospital, and discovered that I was, indeed, having contractions ten weeks early. They arrested my contractions, admitted me for two days, and Kevin worked on contacting our trip insurance company to arrange flights backs home.
Looking back, it’s unbelievable how calm we remained. We were one week shy of our birthing classes though, so this was one of those instances where ignorance truly was bliss. Kevin just figured that since they’d arrested my contractions in Aruba, and I had been given an oral medication to prevent further contractions, once we got to Forsyth Hospital they’d continue the protocol and probably put me on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. Instead, I started having contractions again while on the plane.
We informed the flight attendant that I was in labor, that we’d need a wheelchair and pusher upon landing, and that it was imperative that we were the first people off the plane. Upon landing, Kevin called 911 and we were met by a team of emergency personnel. I labored throughout the ambulance ride and literally, 15 minutes after we arrived at the hospital, our son Connor was born at 30 weeks, 5 days gestational age, weighing in at 2 pounds, 13 ounces.
The doctor told us to expect a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs during the time he would remain in the NICU. Connor surprised them all, however, never needing to be on a respirator, and never suffering any other life-threatening consequences. His only goal during his 33 day stay in the NICU was to gain weight, and we were finally able to bring him home when he weighed just 4 pounds.
Connor’s growth and development has been completely normal and he’s incredibly healthy. We are thankful every single day for everything that Dr. Yalcinkaya and his team, as well as our donor and our NICU team, did for us. Connor smiles with his entire body all day long, and he is such a joy. Not a day goes by that we don’t talk about how fortunate we are to live such a charmed life.