When Brianne and Will Luckman got married in 2011, the young couple was looking forward to building a family. At just 24 years old, Brianne had made up her mind to have five kids before she turned 30. Little did the couple know then that PCOS and male factors would make their journey to parenthood harder than they expected.
After Brianne had a miscarriage around Christmas 2012, she learned she had a thyroid issue. Still trying to conceive, the young couple moved from Minnesota to North Carolina, following Will’s career with the U.S. Army. There, Army base physicians told Brianne she was too young to see a fertility specialist. It wasn’t until they moved to Alaska in 2012 that an Army base doctor referred her to a fertility specialist.
From the specialist, Brianne and Will learned that Brianne had insulin resistance related to polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. They tried three rounds of Clomid, but Brianne still didn’t get pregnant. Eventually, a semen analysis was ordered, revealing that although the quantity and shape of Will’s sperm was excellent, the sperm had motility problems.
“It was a miracle we had gotten pregnant in 2012,” Brianne says.
Overcoming PCOS and male factor infertility
Realizing that they needed assisted reproductive technology to overcome PCOS and other complex fertility challenges, they started saving money while Brianne dived into research about infertility treatments and the best fertility centers. That’s how she found our Las Vegas fertility center and Bruce Shapiro, M.D.
“Nobody was doing IVF in Alaska, and I wanted a fertility center with good results that did assisted hatching,” she says. “Dr. Shapiro’s name kept coming up.”
The couple traveled to Las Vegas, where Dr. Shapiro recommended in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which is often an effective treatment for patients with PCOS. With Will deployed, Brianne gave herself every injection, often using Skype to call her sister for support and motivation. Will was able to join Brianne in Las Vegas for the egg retrieval and fertilization, then he flew back to Alaska and left for deployment four days later.
“I had 22 eggs retrieved in November 2014, but only five of them fertilized, and only two embryos made it to blast stage,” Brianne recalls. “During that time, Will was still trying to come to terms with the idea that we were not able to have babies naturally.”
In May 2015, the couple was ready to move ahead with the transfer. Will was still deployed, so Brianne flew back to Las Vegas with a friend. The single embryo transfer was successful, and after a difficult birth ending in an emergency c-section and a long hospital stay, they finally got to bring their son, Owen, home. He is now 13 months old.
“We sure hit the jackpot with him,” she says. “He’s such a happy boy.”
Knowledge is power
After spending years with undiagnosed PCOS, Brianne’s advice to other women going through infertility: Go to a specialist and get testing for both yourself and your partner, and learn about your options.
“It’s going to be a whirlwind, with a lot of medical terms thrown at you,” she says. “Don’t take the internet too seriously, but do your due diligence. Reach out to other people. Ask your doctor anything and everything. Think critically, and be prepared for loss, but go into it with a positive train of thought that this is going to work.”
Brianne also emphasizes the importance of couples keeping the lines of communication open.
“Talk about how you’re feeling and what’s going on inside,” she says. “Tell your partner what you need from them, and be open to what he is going through as well. It’s not easy on either of you, so you want to be sure you’re attending to each other’s emotional needs.”
Now a busy, 27-year-old mom, Brianne will soon return to Las Vegas to transfer the couple’s remaining embryo, hoping that Owen will soon have a brother or sister.
At The Fertility Center of Las Vegas, we help resolve barriers to conception, while also offering peace of mind. Owen’s parents had access to assisted hatching and ICSI at no extra fee because we include services that help us to provide the best care and access to the best success rates. We also offer unlimited embryo transfers for up to one year or until live birth. To learn more about options for overcoming PCOS and infertility, contact our Las Vegas fertility center.