New technology has infertile couple conceive
Stephanie and Anthony Epolite had pretty much given up hope of having a baby.
For four years the California couple tried in vitro fertilization, but after two unsuccessful attempts, they were emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially spent..
“Starting our family was the ultimate emotional, psychological and spiritual challenge for us,” Anthony told health care professionals gathered at the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals’ annual convention last month in Omaha.
“I firmly believe that Stephanie and I are pretty resilient people, but problems that we experienced with infertility challenged us to ask God for his mercy and his help more than we ever imagined because of the desire in our hearts to have a family,” he said.
In desperation they sought the help of Dr. Thomas Hilgers, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, who eventually helped them realize their dream by using NaProTECHNOLOGY, a new reproductive and gynecologic science that uses a woman’s fertility cycle to determine underlying causes of abnormalities and treats those causes in such a way so it does not suppress or destroy the reproductive system.
A difficult journey
Prior to coming to the Pope Paul VI Institute, Anthony was treated for low sperm count and underwent varicocele surgery. Stephanie, then 38, was told by a fertility clinic that it would be nearly impossible for her to get pregnant on her own.
“We were basically given no hope for success at that initial consultation,” she said.
Instead, they were told in vitro fertilization was the only way they could conceive.
As Catholics, the Epolites were concerned with the idea of in vitro fertilization, as they knew it was against church teaching. But after being counseled by a priest who told them that in their situation in vitro fertilization was acceptable, they continued with the procedures.
Stephanie and Anthony were told they would have to undergo intracytoplasmic sperm injection, one of the most invasive in vitro fertilization procedures. In addition, Anthony had to administer shots to Stephanie to help control her menstrual cycle.
“It was terrible putting that needle into my wife’s tummy,” he said at the conference.
Even though they didn’t feel confident during the procedures that cost ,000, the couple still felt a tremendous amount of heartache when those procedures failed.
A glimpse of hope
After meeting with her Natural Family Planning practitioner, Stephanie decided to begin charting her menstrual cycles again and was encouraged to seek help from the Pope Paul VI Institute and Hilgers.
Once the Epolites were accepted as patients in January of 2001, Hilgers conducted a series of blood draws and diagnostic tests on Stephanie. The tests showed she had endometriosis and that both of her fallopian tubes were blocked.
Stephanie underwent surgery in Omaha, one day after meeting personally with Hilgers, and the Epolites’ hope of having a child was restored.
“Despite the uncertainties surrounding our two-week trip to Omaha, we were calm and relaxed because we knew we were on the right path and were finally giving God a chance to let one of his messengers help us,” said Anthony, whose parents were from Omaha and were married at St. Frances Cabrini Church.
In the fall of 2001, the Epolites still felt nervous and disappointed in September and October when they hadn’t yet conceived.
“It was difficult to be patient with such a strong desire in our hearts to have a family,” Anthony said. “For those of you out there who have had difficulty in conceiving and starting a family, particularly when that is your greatest desire, there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, quite like overcoming emotionally and psychologically the failure of not conceiving and experiencing that failure month after month after month.”
Again, they prayed to God for strength.
“We took the ultimate leap of faith, putting our trust in God’s hands, to stop worrying and to let go of our fear, and to rely on him,” Anthony said. “As strong as our desire was, we decided to trust in God to take care of us.”
In March of 2002, their prayers were answered when Stephanie found out she was pregnant. And on Oct. 31, the Epolites welcomed a baby girl, Clare Marie, into the world.
The couple, both attorneys, said they are grateful for the help and support they received from family and friends in California. And they are especially thankful to Hilgers and the Pope Paul VI Institute.
“We were treated with respect, kindness, compassion and love at the Pope Paul VI Institute,” Stephanie said, her voice choking back tears. “This has been a journey of faith, endurance, heartbreak and love, but the final chapter is here.”
Author: Lisa Schulte
Source: The Catholic Voice