How do you thank someone for a miracle?
Many say that parenthood is the most difficult job in the world. For some, simply becoming parents is the first challenge on this journey. When Medway resident Cheryl MacNeil and her husband were unable to conceive a child three years after getting married, they started to worry. “We were both nervous,” Cheryl explained. “I kept thinking, ‘I’m letting him down.’” That was when they decided to take a friend’s recommendation and
visit the Reproductive Science Center (RSC), based in Lexington, MA. “The morning of our initial consultation, we flipped on Fox 25 News and there was Samuel C. Pang, MD (the medical director of RSC). We sat and watched. When we realized our RSC appointment was with Dr. Pang, we looked at each other and knew we were going to the right place.”
In December of 2004, Milford resident Jennifer Hogarty decided she and her husband were probably “one of the ones” – the one in every five couples trying to conceive in the United States who find that they are infertile. “I took my temperature for a year and things didn’t look good, so I talked to my OB/GYN and we started working with Infertility Services at Milford Regional,” Jennifer stated.
Both women are now mothers, part of a growing sorority of women who uniquely understand this emotional path. Cheryl gave birth to a beautiful daughter through intra-uterine insemination (IUI) and Jennifer has two wonderful daughters using in vitro fertilization (IVF), all through the assistance of Infertility Services at Milford Regional in partnership with Reproductive Science Center.
With IUI, also referred to as artificial insemination, a semen sample containing millions of sperm are placed directly into the uterus when the woman is most fertile, immediately prior to and during ovulation. The procedure is relatively painless. IUI may be performed with or without the woman using fertility drugs. When drugs are used in concert with IUI, this typically results in a higher chance of pregnancy.
IVF is a technique in which egg cells are fertilized by sperm in a vessel outside the woman’s uterus. IVF is used when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium. The fertilized egg is then transferred to the woman’s uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy.
While Cheryl was lucky to conceive on her second IUI treatment, Jennifer went through three unsuccessful IUI treatments and then became pregnant with her first round of IVF. Both can’t say enough about the woman who helped them through it all, Tracy Gentile, nurse manager of Infertility Services at Milford Regional.“Once we had our initial appointment with Dr. Pang, we realized we could get our infertility services at Milford Regional instead of traveling each day to Lexington,” continued Cheryl. “It’s such a huge part of your life when you’re going through it. Tracy is unbelievable. The lab staff is unbelievable. Everybody is rooting for you. It’s like you’re all in this together.”
“Tracy is such a delight,” added Jennifer. “I have friends who went through the same process elsewhere and it wasn’t the same. With Milford, I always had the same person calling me with updates and information. When Tracy calls, it’s more like your sister is calling you. It’s far more personal than my friends’ experiences.”
Tracy Gentile comes across like your best friend, but, in fact, she has almost a decade of infertility experience. She has managed Infertility Services at Milford Regional since it opened in May 2003, and has worked with some of the field’s pioneers at Reproductive Science Center before that (including John Derry, MD, one of the first Massachusetts physicians to do IVF). As a registered nurse, Tracy draws blood for every lab test, attends most of the ultrasounds and works with Dr. Pang when he visits patients at the clinic one day a week. She has worked with every one of the 450 patients who have been through the Milford Regional program.
“I get so swept up in it,” said Tracy, a mother herself. “I love the happy days. It’s so great to tell someone she’s going to be a mom when you know what she’s been through.” Tracy recently returned from a convention where studies were unveiled that reveal IVF treatment results in pregnancy three months faster than IUI at a savings of $10,000 per patient. This is significant when the insurance industry mandates that women complete three unsuccessful rounds of IUI before IVF will be covered by insurance. “Women are lucky in Massachusetts to have insurance coverage for infertility treatment,” Tracy said. “But, so many must go through the roller coaster of unsuccessful IUI treatments (like Jennifer Hogarty) before the more effective IVF can be considered. This study should seriously impact that.”
“I think people shouldn’t be afraid to take the next step,” said Jennifer. “You have to be proactive and educated about your healthcare. We wanted to have children and we quickly found out how many other people are in the same position.”
“The simple fact is you’re not alone,” said Cheryl with great enthusiasm about her experience at Milford Regional. “You think you’re going through this alone, but you never are. This is the greatest gift in the world. I don’t know how to thank them. How do you thank someone for a miracle?”