Sue met her husband, Bob, while on a blind date early in her elementary school teaching career in Prince William Country, Virginia. The school librarian told her that she had a Naval Officer friend who was coming to Washington D.C. to speak with his detailer, the person that would write his next set of military orders. She thought that Sue would enjoy meeting Bob, and then arranged for them to join her and her husband for dinner.
Bob and Sue clicked on that first date. Soon after, he filled out his “Dream Sheet,” which is an application for the detailer to see the officer’s top three preferences for job and location. Bob requested orders to the Pentagon so he and Sue could be closer and hopefully foster a relationship. Luckily, the Navy granted his wishes. Bob received his orders and within a few months, moved to Virginia. Five months later, the couple was engaged. Sue writes that she felt like Cinderella at the ball on their wedding day as she floated under the sword arch and her Best Man “welcomed me to the Navy” with a traditional swat from his sword on the bustle of her wedding dress.
Soon, Sue’s fairy tale days of wedded bliss dissolved into heartache, as the couple started trying to have a baby right away. Their infertility struggle was even more complicated due to Bob’s Naval career. They would often endure months of long separations. Trying to schedule fertility tests was a nightmare because Bob was at endlessly at sea. They were able to have about 15 IUI’s during their first two years of marriage before Bob had unexpectedly received orders to Subic Bay, Philippines.
I remember how hard I cried when I was plucked out of the care of my reproductive endocrinologist in the USA and sent to a third world country for two-and-a-half years, where seeking infertility treatment was practically nonexistent. My husband’s service was not only a sacrifice for our country, but also a sacrifice and forfeiture of our dream of becoming parents.
When they returned to the United States, Bob and Sue were on a mission to get pregnant. Sue had unexplained infertility. Her doctors told her that she had “picture perfect” cycles. Sue made plenty of eggs. Her husband’s sperm had great motility and morphology. They created many embryos that developed to the blastocyst stage, and transferred over 40 embryos during the intense two years of IVF’s.
During this time, Sue joined RESOLVE of San Diego. She met 9 other women who soon became her lifelines. They formed a bond unlike any other because of their shared strife and overwhelming desire to build their families. None of them wanted to be a member of this “club.” They wanted to get pregnant and drop out. However, the ten of them just couldn’t seem to get pregnant or stay pregnant no matter what they tried. Other couples would come and go, but the core group still remained… childless and unresolved.
After years and years, they eventually resolved their infertility through practically every form of Assisted Reproductive Technologies available, including donor egg, surrogacy, adoption, multiple miscarriages, child free living, IVF, ICSI and so much more. What eventually worked for Bob and Sue was a combination IVF/ZIFT. After three regular IVFs, for some unknown reason, the combination transfer worked! Sue was finally pregnant after 7 years of trying to conceive. She gave birth to her and Bob’s one and only miracle son nine months later.
They tried to grow their family over the next three years, continuing with further IVF/ZIFT transfers. But none were successful. Long after their infertility doctors closed my medical files, Sue still feels that infertility was the hardest challenge she has had to face in my 5+ decades.
Although she is beyond my childbearing years now, she was compelled to write a book and share my story and what she wishes she had known when faced with infertility. She writes that life doesn’t always proceed in a straight trajectory. There are roadblocks and setback, fears and frustrations… thus the title of her book, Detours: Unexpected Journeys of Hope Conceived from Infertility. Although each of her 9 friends resolved their infertility in ways they never thought they would, they were able to discover unexpected blessings in the midst of their extremely difficult journeys.
Sue’s mission for publishing Detours is to share their stories so that they can increase awareness and ignite action for affordable access to care for all who seek infertility treatment. She wants to be an advocate and a voice for others who cannot share their stories and to provide hope and support for those who are going through treatment now. No one should have to navigate the challenges of infertility alone. Finally, it is Sue’s goal to donate her profits from the sales of Detours to RESOLVE, which was her own lifeline years ago.
Bob & Sue J., MI