With their family building plans stuck in place and time moving forward, they turned to The Fertility Institute for unexplained infertility treatment.
Cristina and Phil were living overseas, enjoying everything Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, had to offer, and desperately trying to start a family. After five years of trying to conceive, the couple moved back to the United States and visited The Fertility Institute of New Orleans where they were introduced to Dr. Sissy Sartor.
“We immediately trusted Dr. Sartor,” says Cristina. “She was great at answering our questions and being transparent about the results. Everyone at the clinic was so caring and willing to walk us through the process.”
After undergoing fertility testing, the couple was given their diagnosis: unexplained infertility. The most difficult part for Cristina and Phil was not knowing what was causing them to be unable to conceive and understanding that time was not on their side.
For her unexplained infertility treatment, Cristina underwent two rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI) before moving on to in vitro fertilization (IVF). The first round of IVF was successful, and Cristina was excited to find out she was pregnant.
“When I found out I was pregnant I was relieved and anxious at the same time,” says Cristina. “Our hearts were full; it brought us so much joy!”
When the couple heard about COVID-19 reaching the United States just one week before Cristina’s due date, they decided to induce at 40 weeks in hopes of lessening the chances of exposure. The labor was long and intense, Cristina experiencing 12 hours of strong contractions after induction with only two centimeters of dilation. She received an epidural to help with the pain as she continued to labor another 20 hours before being able to begin pushing.
“I believe the only reason the doctors didn’t suggest a C-section was because our baby, who we chose to name Parker, was doing great,” says Cristina. “His heart rate was perfect through the entire process.”
Parker at ages 1-3 months. Artwork by Bruna Petalla (@bybrunapetalla).
Cristina credits their wonderful doula, Lori Jupiter, for helping keep the couple calm and giving Cristina confidence during the birthing experience. As soon as Parker was born, Cristina had a surprise.
“For some reason I had imagined him looking like my husband,” she says. “But my baby boy was born looking just like me.”
After unexplained infertility treatment, COVID put a pause on family gatherings
A week after Cristina and Phil welcomed baby Parker into their family, the pandemic forced New Orleans into lockdown. The couple had looked forward to introducing Parker to their family and friends but had one more, long wait ahead of them.
“That part was extremely hard for us,” says Cristina. “We don’t have family in town and what we wanted most was to be able to share our happiness with our families.”
Parker at ages 4-6 months. Artwork by Bruna Petalla.
But the couple didn’t allow COVID restrictions to steal their joy. Phil had been given the opportunity to work from home and Cristina cared for Parker full time. The family enjoyed taking walks together and playing outside.
They also hired a local artist, Bruna Petalla (@bybrunapetalla), to create memorable photos of Parker from one month old to one year old. The creative photos list some of Parker’s favorite things during the first year of his life, something Cristina and Phil were able to share with family and friends until restrictions were lifted and they were able to celebrate Parker together.
Parker at ages 7-9 months. Artwork by Bruna Petalla.
Cristina’s advice to others facing infertility
“I tell every woman regardless of how young they are to be aware of what is going on with their bodies,” says Cristina. “I learned a lot about mine during the process. The journey can be long and painful – physically, emotionally, financially – but it’s so worth it.”
Cristina shares that it really helped her to be open about her fertility journey and talk to other women who have undergone treatment, as it helped her feel less lonely and better understood.
“Also, it is true that once you have the baby in your arms, you forget all that you went through to get there,” says Cristina.
Parker at ages 10-12 months. Artwork by Bruna Petalla.