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Melody Hammontree

All I ever wanted to be was a mom. As a child, I saved books I thought my children would enjoy, toys, dolls. I remember a teacher asking me in high school what I wanted to be. I just said, “A mom.” About a year after my husband, Allen, and I married in 1993, we began to try to get pregnant. I fully expected to get pregnant the first try. This is how it’s supposed to be, right? When you want to get pregnant, you just do. I was astonished as time passed and passed, and we still weren’t pregnant.

I first went to an OB-GYN who gave me a prescription of Clomid and sent me on my way while saying, “You’re young. I don’t know why you aren’t getting pregnant.” He also sent me for an HSG, which wasn’t even administered by the doctor. The radiologist did it completely wrong, and I was in excruciating pain and bled for three days. I found out later that he had put so much dye in me, they couldn’t even see my right fallopian tube. It seemed that because I was in my 20s, no one was taking me seriously or caring for me properly.

At this point we had been trying for a year and a half or so, and the flood of emotions that comes with infertility were a battle every month. It was such a rollercoaster … “I hope I get pregnant! Am I pregnant? I’m not pregnant …” with tears and finally recovery and resolve and repetition over and over again. I worked at a school and was very private about our struggle. Ironically, the school set the record for the most pregnant teachers — 9. Everywhere I turned I heard, “You’re next! Why aren’t you pregnant? It’s in the water.” I had to leave the mutual school baby shower and went to my car and cried and cried.

My husband and I decided to seek help from a fertility specialist. While the doctor was nice, I was still hearing the same things — “You are young. You have plenty of time.” But when you want a baby, you want it yesterday. I didn’t want time. I wanted a child. We tried months of timed intercourse. The doctor investigated and found I had endometriosis, which he removed through surgery. Then I was told I should get pregnant immediately. I did not. Next, we discovered that I had little to no uterine lining and was given injections that made me menopausal in an effort to “jump start” my reproductive system. After three months of night sweats and all the glories of menopause, I was finally ready to try again to conceive. The doctor’s office told me they were going to order an injection from Europe to save me money. “Be ready for a call and plan to come in immediately.” Days and days passed, so finally I called them to check the status only to be told, “Oh! Looks like we forgot to call you. We’ll just have to try next month.” I was devastated and exhausted, completely worn out from the whole thing. I couldn’t believe it.

That clininc didn’t really seem to want me to get pregnant as much as they wanted my business. Everyone was very blase and didn’t seem empathetic at all. Parenting and baby magazines covered the waiting room. I just wanted to cry while waiting for my appointments. No one seemed to really care about me at all. I was patient # whatever.

Nearing three years of trying, I needed an emotional and physical break. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I refocused my energies and finished my college degree. I felt a stir in my heart every time I saw a little Asian girl who had obviously been adopted, so we began the adoption process only to discover a three-year wait to even file the paperwork. We submitted everything and continued to wait, and then the SARS epidemic hit and everything was on hold when we were next in line to get our referral. After 14 months, we got a picture of our precious daughter, Harmony, and traveled to be united with her eight weeks later. It was wonderful and magical. God had given us our perfect daughter, and we were thrilled.

Imagine our surprise as we were discussing traveling back to China, only to discover we were pregnant … out of the blue. In fact, I didn’t take a pregnancy test for 18 days after my missed period since I’d been there and done that! I wasn’t going to waste my money again only for tears. I was so convinced I wasn’t pregnant that I told my husband I needed to get a pregnancy test so that I could call the doctor and get a pill to make me start (which had happened to me previously due to inconsistent cyles). Needless to say, shocked doesn’t capture the emotion. In fact, we didn’t even cry. We LAUGHED and LAUGHED. Ten years after we started trying to conceive, here I was pregnant with Hannah.

After a while, we thought we might try again and discontinued our birth control method. Once again, though — no pregnancy. I was afraid to even try to get pregnant because of these emotions but found myself once again on the monthly rollercoaster. I had had a terrible experience with fertility treatments and didn’t want to repeat that, so what to do? We met with my new OB-GYN (who is fabulous) and told him our dilemma. On this second round, we had been trying for 10 months, and I was now over 35 years old. That’s when the doctor referred us to the greatest fertility clinic on the planet. (Maybe I’m a little biased.) We called Dr. Bird’s office and I was very, very nervous about our visit and very skeptical. It’s so emotional. They got us in immediately — I couldn’t believe it.

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When we arrived, I expected the typical cold office staff but not here. They welcomed me and were very sensitive to this difficult step. We met with Dr. Bird, who was SO kind. They had given us “homework” (for lack of a better word) prior to our first visit which we turned in upon arrival, so this appointment wasn’t just a “meet and greet”. Dr. Bird was ready with a plan of action after we talked, and he heard exactly where we were and what we wanted. He was gentle, ethical and motivated. He wanted us to get pregnant just as much as we did. You could see the passion he has for his job.

The office at the Fertility Center is like a well-oiled machine. After our consult with Dr. Bird, we went to another office to discuss insurance and options, then went on to yet another office dedicated to scheduling and discussing the delicacies of our procedure. Each was an expert in her field. I was greeted with hugs, encouragement and even given a Christmas cookie! I truly felt cared for and loved.

Dr. Bird ordered a series of tests, which took a month’s cycle. When the results were in, we nervously went back for our plan of action. After finding out our particular challenges, it was determined that we would first try an IUI. The team had been working on our case, and we again traveled from expert to expert effortlessly as each took care of all the planning. We started trying as soon as my next cycle began, and I felt like I was being guided by an extremely involved team. This experience was nothing like what I had gone through before. There were nearly daily conversations, planning, tests, everything was so particular, so intensely carefully treated. There was no laxidaisical attitude at all. Every visit was met with extraordinary professionalism as well as love. I felt I had a team cheering me on. Actually, I did!

On the day of my procedure, the staff thoughtfully scheduled a massage for me the hour beforehand to help me relax and embrace the experience. My IUI was delayed about 40 minutes to make sure it was “just the right time” for me. That’s attention to detail! With my history of being so emotional and stressed on procedure days, I was surprised by such gentle care that actually caused me to doze off in the waiting room.

Two weeks later, we went back to see if possibly I was pregnant. Of course, I knew I wasn’t, but we had to start somewhere, right? The nurse sweetly took us into a private room and shared the POSITIVE good news. We were in total SHOCK! We just cried and cried, and she cried, too, and we hugged and hugged all three together. I couldn’t wait to tell the staff who had cheered me on so, and they were equally excited! Cries and hugs and joy all around, from receptionist to lab tech to nurse! I had one cycle after stepping into their office and never had another menstruation. This just doesn’t happen to me!

But the care didn’t stop there. I was able to continue watching our little baby grow from a speck to fingers and toes … it’s just wonderful. And to finally see the baby in 3D-4D — WOW! It never seemed real … it had to be a dream … a dream come true thanks to the dedication, love and support at this wonderful office. I never felt like a number. I was Melody and this was our team who genuinely cared about me. We were always just hoping for a baby, and now we have our precious baby girl, Hope, named for all our emotion at this time while hoping and hoping our dream would come true. And now as we hold our precious baby in our arms, it is almost daily we say, “We just can’t believe it. Did this really happen?” Miracles really DO happen at this office. Thirteen years after we started trying, one did for us and we are literally … Hope Delivered.

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