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Single Mom by Choice: An IVF Journey



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(soft music)

- [Deirdre] I've replayed it in my mind

probably a thousand times.

I see a boogie. - Oh no!

Deirdre's obsessed with her nose.

- Well I want her to breathe. (laughing)

I just can't believe I have her in my arms.

Let's do this baby.

Hello baby.

Right baby?

- [Man] What kind of nicknames do we have so far?

- Baby.

It's just so incredible.

She farted, so.

I think back to a year ago, I had no idea

what was going to happen.

(upbeat music)

Come on.

Okay we have to be careful now,

we're going on the main road.

Good girls.

My name is Deirdre Diener.

I live in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.

Here we have the master. - Wow.

- [Deirdre] I just bought a house, it's an old house

so it needs some TLC. - This is beautiful.

- Good kid, never had to worry about her.

A natural born leader, she excelled at everything she did.

Her siblings would tease all the time,

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre!

(laughing)

Because she was so perfect.

- [Deirdre] I'm one of four kids.

We spend a lot of time together, a lot of joking.

(laughing)

There ya go. - Wow.

- We're all big sports fans.

I'm a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan.

Like, diehard.

It's a great time in my life right now.

(slow music)

I have wanted to be a mother for,

gosh, I think my entire life.

And I always thought that it would be there

and that I would get to it.

With my career, being 43 and being a single person,

I thought wow, my dream is gone.

And once I dusted myself off,

I made the determination that I was going for it.

Isn't this crazy?

There were several paths that you could take.

The one that I was most passionate about was

seeing if I could carry a child.

And that's when I engaged with Penn.

(upbeat music)

The first time I met Dr. Gracia,

I'm like she is totally gonna be my doctor.

- Deirdre is just an amazing person.

She's full of energy, full of life.

(laughing)

She came in with the goal in mind.

She wanted to have a baby.

- And we sat in her office and she's like,

so tell me what's going on?

I literally felt like I was having

a conversation with another friend.

- Exciting!

We're embarking on this process.

- Yes. - You look nice.

- [Deirdre] You know we just had a very honest conversation.

- So fertility declines as a woman gets older.

A woman's peak fertility is probably

when they're less than 33 years of age

and slowly goes down.

After 40 it's extremely difficult to get pregnant,

even with the most aggressive fertility treatments like IVF.

We did some tests to see how her ovaries were aging

and we found that she really didn't have many eggs

left in her ovaries and so the success rate for IVF

was probably less than 5% for her.

(optimistic music)

And then we talked a little bit about the option

of using another woman's egg, so egg donation.

And in that situation she uses an egg

from a woman who's less than 33 years of age

and the success rates are very, very high.

- It was sort of a clear cut choice for me.

And Dr. Gracia was great about it,

she was like, you just want to have a baby.

I'm like, yeah, I just want to have a baby so let's go.

(laughing)

- I think we can move forward. - No, I'm excited.

I think this is gonna be awesome.

- [Dr. Gracia] There are two ops

when you're using a donor egg.

You can either have the donor go

and retrieve fresh eggs

which then can be fertilized,

embryos can be made and transferred.

Or you can purchase previously frozen eggs

that then can be fertilized and an embryo can be created.

She decided to do fresh egg donation

which means that the egg donor goes through the process

of ovarian stimulation

and then we retrieve the eggs from the donor

through a minor surgical procedure.

- We had an action plan, we went from there.

Literally like things were put on the books.

- Most important, I think we really try to help

shepherd patients through the process of fertility,

giving them a really supportive,

kind of nurturing environment, so they feel comfortable.

- I'll never forget the last thing she said to me was,

"Alright, well let's get you pregnant."

And it was like, okay we're going.

(light music)

I called my mom right away and I'll never forget,

like it was just such an emotional conversation

and my mom was like so supportive about it

and the fact that my mom was like,

you are gonna be the best mom

and I'm 100% with you, it was just crazy awesome.

- You know when she came to me with her decision,

I became very emotional because it was really

her dream for herself and my dream for her.

- So it was just really cool to have that support.

It didn't feel real until that moment.

(upbeat music)

I went into the appointment, I guess it was like

a week later and it was a three hour appointment

with Jenn who is the administrator of the program.

The first aspect of the appointment

was to understand the program.

The ins and outs, the costs.

We looked through the book of egg donors that were there

and there's a beautiful profile,

I mean so detailed.

For me, I wanted to understand

the make up of both the egg donor

as well as the sperm donor.

- Her and I chose the guy together.

(laughing)

- I'm kind of hopeful that Carson Wentz

might be willing to be the donor for the other portion

of this situation.

- Well there was a couple that she liked

that I wasn't crazy about but I mean the one we settled on

was perfect, it felt very blessed

that we were able to receive his sperm.

(laughing)

It's weird saying that.

(invigorating music)

- So I'm doing my first shot today.

I'm a little nervous.

When you're talking about IVF in general

there are a lot of different protocols

and it's really tailored to the individual patient.

- Deirdre had to take medications

in order to build the lining of her uterus.

- So it first started out with an injection

of Lupron in the stomach.

When you're moving closer to the transfer date,

you switch to an injection in your butt.

It's a pretty big needle.

The progesterone shots,

you need to numb yourself up for that.

Ah-ya-ya, okay.

- I think patients initially are a little bit worried

about the injections but with appropriate teaching

and support, most patients are able to get through

without a problem.

- Okay I did it, it didn't hurt that bad.

There ya have it.

(upbeat music)

We're at Penn Medicine and I'm doing my,

what's called baseline, so hopefully I've done

all this good work leading up to today

in order to have my uterus prepped for the next step

which would be the embryo transfer.

- Hello. - Hi.

- How are you?

Good to see you. - Happy new year.

- Happy new year. - Hi!

- [Dr. Gracia] During this process

I'm meeting with Deirdre regularly,

looking at ultrasounds and blood work

to make sure her lining is getting thick enough

and it adequate for a pregnancy.

- This is crazy.

- Deirdre did beautifully throughout the process.

Her lining grew just as expected.

- Sounds like it's pretty good news so I'm excited.

(laughing)

So this is the last big appointment before the transfer.

They're just trying to make sure

that hormone levels are good.

And then the ultrasound is really

to check my lining of the uterus.

In sync the egg donor has been doing appointments

every day and I got really great news yesterday

that she has 35 follicles, that they're looking big

which is important so it looks like things

are maturing and I probably will know

by the end of this week whether the transfer's happening

on the Super Bowl,

which would be unbelievable if the Eagles won

or you know somewhere around there

so I'm like so excited.

It's like Christmas times 25.

(upbeat music)

Hello, big day!

I am thrilled to report she had 19 eggs

so I get 10 of them!

- Normally we expect that 60% to 70% of the eggs

will fertilize and form embryos.

In Deidre's case she had 100% fertilization

which is amazing.

So from there we expect that about 50% to 60%

of the fertilized eggs will make it

to the blastocyst stage, and in her case,

eight out of 10 made it to the blastocyst stage

which was, again, better than average

so she did great.

- Essentially it's now up to my body.

This is crazy.

(laughing)

I'm too smiley, I know.

(opening door)

Oh my gosh, you wore green for me.

Got the green coat on. - Hi!

You wore green for me, too!

(upbeat music)

- Transfer is very exciting

and it was even more exciting because the Eagles

had just won the night before

and so Deidre was outfitted in Eagles paraphernalia

which was awesome.

- The best 24 hours of my life.

So I walked into the office and Jenn Bungo

and the nurse, Becky was there,

felt like my family was there.

Here it is!

- Okay, so exciting.

So let me go over some of the results with you.

So we had amazing news on transfer day.

We showed her kind of how the embryos had progressed

from the 10 eggs we retrieved to the eight embryos we had.

So four are perfect, basically 4AA, 4AA, 4AA, 4AA

and then you have two 4 ABs. - Okay.

Is that an above average result?

- Definitely. (laughing)

- Cause I'm not an overachiever at all.

That's when I was just like, oh my gosh,

this is happening today.

(slow music)

- [Dr. Gracia] It's incredibly exciting.

You're putting an embryo in a woman's uterus

and she has the possibility of becoming pregnant.

- Oh my gosh, look, I have two different socks on.

That's how distracted I was this morning.

I was so excited to get in here.

- [Dr. Gracia] So first we position her on the table.

This is the bladder. - The bladder here.

- That's your uterus.

I take a small catheter.

Once I have it right through the cervix,

I call out to the embryologist

and then they come in with the embryo

in the inner catheter. - This is so surreal.

- [Dr. Gracia] Then we inject the embryo

and you see the bubbles go into the uterus.

And then we're done. - Wow.

- [Dr. Gracia] It looks good, this is awesome!

- Picture for you. - Oh my gosh.

- Okay, good luck. - Look at this.

(light music)

(laughing)

- [Deirdre] It's the most magical feeling

I've ever experienced in my entire life,

full stop, end of story.

- [Dr. Gracia] Most people's first baby picture

is probably the anatomy scan now

when you're 18 weeks pregnant.

But the incredible thing is we have a picture

of the baby when it's 150 cells big.

- People don't get a picture of your child that early.

Isn't that wild?

- Everything went great with the transfer

and the next big milestone is the pregnancy test

10 days later and that's when we find out

if this worked.

10 days.

(exhaling)

- Longest 10 days of my life.

(upbeat music)

- [Karen] We could put it on the rod and flip it.

- All the little things like in the moment,

if everything looks good, I'm really looking forward

to experiencing that with my mom.

I mean she's like the best mom in the world

and I know everybody says that but my mom is best.

And now I'm gonna get choked up.

- It looks beautiful. - Yeah.

- It really does. - This has also been my dream,

is to share this with her

and I know she feels that way, too.

That looks perfect. - It makes me want to cry.

- Curtains?

My mom raised four kids and she also had an in home daycare.

Like she's been raising kids her whole life

so I got the expert, I got the guru

and I fully expect that she share the manual with me.

(anticipatory music)

- Getting through the embryo transfer,

that was a huge milestone but about 10 days later

she gets her pregnancy test.

- I was at the office the day that Becky was calling.

I was predicting when she would call

and I was waiting and waiting and waiting.

I kept on doing deep breaths.

I was just trying to be very calm.

I got the call.

I'm calling her back now.

So I actually got the message that I should call the office

so I immediately sprung into a room

to call to find out what was going on.

(phone ringing)

- Hi, it's Becky. - It could have been

a bad result and I wanted to be prepared

for any type of news.

I had a flash of, there could be a problem.

- Congratulations. - Oh my gosh!

- [Becky] You are pregnant. (laughing)

- I was literally like, oh my gosh!

I felt like a unicorn, I swear. (laughing)

- [Becky] You are very pregnant, your level looks great.

- Really, what is it? - It's, oh this must be lucky,

it's 678, six-seven-eight. - Oh my gosh.

- So when we get those results normally we're looking

for levels above 150.

- [Becky] It's definitely a strong positive.

- Is there any chance of twins at that high?

So there's been an ongoing joke

that I'm having twins because my brothers

are identical twins and I was like, okay, that's enough.

We're not doing that joke anymore.

- [Becky] There's always a chance.

You know that does happen.

- Sure. - It's a small chance.

- That a whole different dynamic that I didn't prepare for.

- Yeah. - The number doesn't really

tell us. - Got it.

- [Becky] But that's not necessarily the case.

- Oh my gosh Becky, you have made my life.

I hope the news continues, I know it's very early.

- [Becky] Definitely off to a great start

and then your first ultrasound would be

in about two and a half weeks.

- We stayed on the phone for like 15 minutes.

It was like a whole fun celebration.

It was the coolest thing in the world

and I'm so grateful and blessed I feel like.

- Have a nice weekend. - Alright, you too.

- Alright, bye. - Bye.

(laughing)

- We really need to do an ultrasound

to make sure everything is going well with the pregnancy.

The blood test looked good but sometimes

the pregnancy is not developing normally

and it could become a miscarriage for example.

Deirdre was incredibly nervous and excited

when she came in for her ultrasound.

How are you? - I'm great.

I feel very pregnant. - This is crazy.

Do you? Like what? - I hate food.

- Oh, okay.

Just nauseated? - Chicken is not my friend.

- She was just like brimming with energy.

- I was nervous that I didn't prepare enough

like drinking-wise. - What do you mean?

You don't need to drink anything.

- I know, well I was like, wait minute,

do I have to drink like a gallon of water?

I was trying to play it cool but I was very nervous.

- So here we are.

There is the yolk sac. - Uh-huh.

- [Dr. Gracia] There's the little heartbeat right there.

- I see it!

It's like a little flicker. - Right there.

- Oh my gosh, it's so tiny!

What was amazing was you not only saw

this little human growing but the heartbeat was there.

And it was just pulsating.

So it's in the right spot and everything?

- Yeah, it looks perfect. - And I don't have twins?

- You do not have twins. - Thank god.

Oh my god, if I had twins...

- We saw thankfully everything looked great.

We were thrilled.

This is amazing.

(clapping)

(giggling)

- So I'm able to maybe relax a little bit.

- Alright, well good luck. - Thank you, I appreciate it.

- I'll see you back in one to two weeks.

- Okay. - Well go from there.

- Great, thank you. - Alright, take care, bye.

- How crazy is that?

Did you see the heartbeat?

It's like a little flicker.

It's like a little star.

It's so crazy.

(upbeat music)

So then there's this room which is the best room

in the house.

I might be ahead of schedule, as you probably can guess

with my personality type, with certain things.

This is the baby's room.

- Nice. - Wow.

- [Deirdre] The nursery is pretty much done.

- Nice. - Aw.

- I bought it the night of the Superbowl,

the night before the transfer,

in hopes that this worked and it did.

- Look at this guy. - I know!

- Whoa.

(laughing)

In every horror movie, this thing moves on it's own first.

- You know what?

That's really nice. (laughing)

Really nice.

And look, my first championship.

Alright. - That was fun, yeah.

- Yeah, right, right? - Yeah, there ya go.

(light music)

- Once you get to eight weeks of pregnancy

with a heartbeat, the likelihood of miscarriage

drops to less than 5%.

After the eight week ultrasound,

if everything looks good, essentially our job is done

at Penn Fertility Care

and we view it as kind of a graduation.

- My mom is on FaceTime here,

I wanted her to be a part of this magical moment.

This is graduation day.

- Hi. - Hi, I have my mom

on FaceTime. - Oh my gosh!

How are you? - You remember Dr. Gracia?

And this is Jenn. - Hi.

- Hi Jenn. - This is awesome.

- This is Karen Diener. - Hi, Karen Diener.

- She looks like you. - Isn't she so cute?

- So at the eight week ultrasound visit

we put her mom on the FaceTime, she was very cute.

- Did you get dressed up for this event?

- Oh I did. - She's lookin' good.

- And then she was showing her mom the ultrasound

while we were doing it and we could see the baby move

and the heartbeat.

Oh my gosh, it's so cute, it's moving.

- Oh my gosh it's moving! - Oh my gosh.

- [Deirdre] It totally looks like a child.

- There's the head. - It does.

- [Dr. Gracia] There's the body, there's the heartbeat.

- I'm gonna cry. - Aw.

- [Deirdre] Don't cry, then you're gonna make me cry.

(laughing)

- The whole process has been kind of surreal.

I felt like I was part of it from the beginning

which I really appreciated.

- Every time I talk about my mom I get choked up.

(laughing)

I always wanted to experience this with my mom.

And I know my mom has always wanted to experience this

so the fact that I'm lucky enough

to have this opportunity

but then also to be able to have her in the mix.

It's just so cool.

(slow music)

The last ultrasound, it's the last hurrah

within the fertility side of the practice

so I'm kind of sad about that, I'm not gonna lie.

I feel like I have developed such a bond

with the folks in the fertility side of Penn.

- Oh my gosh. - This is so emotional.

Thank you so much. - Yes.

After spending so much time and energy

on getting her pregnant and getting to this point,

we're excited on the one hand and happy for them

that they're moving on but also sad

that we're not gonna be seeing them as much as we have.

Patients really do feel like family to me,

especially those with whom, you know,

you've created kind of a bond, like Deirdre.

I'm so happy. - Thank you for everything.

Really, it's just such-- - I can't wait

to see this little baby. - I know.

I think he or she's gonna be like a football player

it seems. - Awesome.

I'm really excited for Deidre to come back

and show us her little bundle of joy

and maybe to have another one, we'll see.

(upbeat music)

- So I'm gonna be large at Rose's wedding.

- Rose's wedding's in two weeks.

- Yeah. - What's gonna happen

in two weeks? - Yeah, seriously.

- I just feel like a loaf right now.

The pregnancy has gone so well.

I'm so excited, it's six week away from my due date.

It's literally right around the corner

and it feels like every time a week's gone by,

it becomes more and more real.

- I've never seen a pregnant woman that's not beautiful.

- That's true. - I think all pregnant women

are beautiful, they have an inner glow.

- Pregnancy brain, that's real.

I can say 100%.

I went all the way down the shore and got out of my car

and realized I didn't have any clothes.

My suitcase was back in Wynnewood.

I'm like, that's awesome.

- The only drawback, I would say, if there is one

with being a single parent by choice

for the grandmom is that she's here by herself

so I worry about her.

Well I always worried about her so this isn't anything new.

- So another big decision was around childcare.

I really wanted to explore a lot of different options.

And what I didn't anticipate,

the waiting list is 13 weeks.

How is the waiting list 13 for January/February?

They're like, I don't know, there's something going on

with October and November babies.

Why is that?

'Cause the Eagles won the Super Bowl.

I'm not kidding, it's a fact.

So my shower was today and this is crazy.

They're still bringing presents in.

It's amazing.

People are so generous, I can't even believe it.

I knew I had an amazing group of people surrounding me

but it has grown significantly.

- This isn't a single mother by choice, alone.

It's a family affair, you know, we're all in on this

and this is the best thing that's happened in a long time.

- Now we're in the end phase so hopefully it continues

to go well and literally six week countdown.

Crazy.

It's happenin'.

It's a bit surreal.

The house is ready.

I have everything together but I just need

to get through this, so stay tuned.

I was very excited because I went full term.

My mom came over cause we went together to the hospital.

- Are you excited? - Oh my gosh.

I thought it was really sweet, my friend Rachel came in

so she was part of the team.

My brother, his girlfriend and my niece

and my nephew came in.

Everybody that walked in the room they're like,

oh wow you have like a fan club.

I'm like, I know, it's legit.

The pediatricians were off to the side

and they were telling me what they were doing.

I felt very involved and then,

it happened.

("You Were Born" by Cloud Cult)

♪ You were born in to a strange world ♪

She came into the world on Monday morning.

As soon as I saw her, my whole heart was filled up.

♪ Love your mother, yeah she's a good one ♪

♪ She'll build you armor, keep you warm as a hen ♪

The only way I can describe it was feeling

like it was a tsunami of love.

Imagine that intensity,

how it just rushes in.

She's here, this is unbelievable.

This is everything and more.

♪ Oh my precious, oh my love

♪ When they come to take me I will hold you from above ♪

♪ I will know why we're here

♪ And I don't know how but I'm here with you now ♪

♪ I am here with you now 'cause you were born ♪

So, it was a pretty great finale.

(laughing)

Hello baby.

There we go.

(baby cooing)

I love how she makes these noises.

You're so silly.

She smells delicious too, that's the other thing.

Oh she'll stay this way.

This is Kelce Diener. (upbeat music)

So Kelce was picked out as her name

literally before the Eagles won the Super Bowl.

She's named after Jason Kelce.

You just laughed, oh my goodness.

The name means brave and that's something

that I hope that she takes from me,

like I want her to always be brave

and I want her to be confident.

I want her to feel like she can do anything.

She's so good.

And these cheeks?

- Perfect skin. - Oh my gosh, her skin color,

I'm like, can I have that?

It seems like it was just yesterday

but it also feels like I've known her my whole life.

I don't know if that make any sense.

You over it?

I've checked for her breathing like a million times

each day. - I know, seriously.

- I'm like, you're alive, right?

(laughing)

My mom was there from beginning to end.

She shared in that moment with me.

She was the first one to like really hold her.

- Hi beautiful.

- When I watch my mom interact with her

and it's so sweet, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I love it.

Yeah I can't wait to see what her first words are.

- I think it's gonna be nana for Nanny.

- I think so. - Definitely.

- Yeah. (laughing)

Eagles.

If I rewind time and think about the first moment,

sitting down with Dr. Gracia,

and this was like an idea.

- I think the best part of my job

is that I help people become parents.

Becoming a parent is absolutely life changing

and an amazing thing.

- [Deirdre] It's emotional, it can be stressful,

it can be scary.

There are a lot of things that it is.

I think about what people went through

prior to science evolving in this way.

- Being 69 years old, I never thought in my lifetime

there would be this type of opportunity

for women to fulfill their dreams in this way.

- [Deirdre] I'm just so glad that I went through it

and it was successful.

- There's nothing in the world that you love more

than this child that you've produced.

It's a privilege and an honor to be able

to help patients do that.

- She's growing like a weed.

She's being magical every day.

I'm just enjoying every moment.

Are you smiling?

There you are.

And here I am.

With her, it's incredible.