“I almost gave up on having a baby.”
When Lonnie and Karen Shiffert were married in 1999 at age 35 and 42, respectively, their biological clocks were sounding right along with the wedding bells.
They started trying to conceive immediately but failed on their own, despite what doctors found to be clean bills of reproductive health. After two years, the Strongsville couple turned to the Cleveland Clinic Fertility Center in Beachwood.
They began a string of treatments, including the fertility drug Clomid, artificial insemination and two tries at in vitro fertilization, but nothing worked. And even with good insurance, the couple had already spent close to $10,000 on treatments, drugs and testing.
“We were planning to give up,” Shiffert says. “The whole process was exhausting, mentally and physically.”
But first, Lonnie put a question to Dr. James Goldfarb, the center’s director: “What would you do if this were your wife?”
Goldfarb admitted his practical nature would prompt him not to pursue a third in vitro procedure but that his wife would likely convince him to try one more time.
With that encouragement, Shiffert managed to secure a one-month leave from her job spanning the weeks before and after the procedure. She reduced her stress, practiced guided meditation, watched her diet and exercised every day.
“I wanted to create a situation where this would be able to work,” she says. And after years of needles and heartache, Shiffert finally conceived and gave birth to daughter Hannah in 2003.
“It was the most magical thing ever,” she recalls. “The first time holding her made it all worthwhile, better than I ever imagined.”
The Shifferts continued trying to grow their family after Hannah’s birth, attempting three more in vitro procedures. But today they’re accepting of where their journey has taken them. “We recognize the difficulty of bringing her here,” Shiffert says. “We’re destined to be a family of three.”
12:00 AM EST
December 16, 2009