“Whether you’re six months in or six years in, the pain is real, and it’s a very rough road. But don’t let anyone tell you to give up. Look at other options. You know your journey, and what you’re willing to go through.”
Melissa Lafosse, 39, knows a thing or two about perseverance.
For 1,998 days, she and her husband, Wayne, dedicated their lives to a goal that seemed unattainable.
But they refused to give up.
After almost six years of continual heartbreak, this couple is preparing for the summer of their lives.
In August, Melissa and Wayne are going to be parents – and their journey to this point has been nothing short of incredible.
‘I never thought there would be an issue’
Melissa was raised in a close-knit New Orleans family, where she enjoyed dancing, festivals and all things “girly.”
She always dreamed of growing up, getting married and having babies.
“I knew it was going to be a part of my life,” Melissa says, “but I never thought there would be an issue.”
In 2010, part of her dream was realized when she met her husband at a New Orleans Saints game.
Less than a year later, they were engaged.
“We moved to Baton Rouge,” she says with a laugh. “He is an LSU grad, and I went to Tulane, so I didn’t think it would work, but he wore me down. It was a culture shock, for sure, because I feel like, in New Orleans, we are our own breed. But it’s been really good.”
Melissa, who works as a nurse at Our Lady of the Lakes, and Wayne, a salesperson, had a picture-perfect wedding in 2013 at Southern Oaks Plantation.
“To this day,” she recalls, “people say it was the best party. It was the best day ever.”
Melissa and Wayne were building the life of their dreams.
The next piece of the puzzle was starting their family.
Because she has a history of endometriosis, Melissa was taking birth control to manage her condition.
“And even being a nurse,” she says, “I was so naïve. I thought that when I got off the birth control, it would be a few months until I got pregnant and we were going to rock this thing. I was totally not expecting to be where we were … not at all.”
After eight months of trying without success, Melissa and Wayne decided to seek medical intervention. Her gynecologist performed a test to check her Fallopian tubes, which came back clear. She was prescribed a round of the fertility drug Clomid, but that was unsuccessful.
“That’s when my doctor suggested I see a specialist,” Melissa says. “The problem, though, was that Wayne is very conservative with medical procedures. He didn’t want to go the IVF (in vitro fertilization) route, and neither did I, but we were open to getting an opinion.”
At the suggestion of a friend, Melissa reached out to Fertility Answers, which has locations in Lafayette and Baton Rouge. She and Wayne met with Dr. John Storment, who founded the business in 2002.
“He said that the next step was IUI (intrauterine insemination) because we still wanted to be conservative,” Melissa explains. “But it didn’t work. And at that point, I just needed a break.”
Months later, they went back to the drawing board.
“We had a long consultation with Dr. Storment,” she recalls, “and he basically said, ‘Here’s the deal. You can keep doing IUI, but it’s not going to get you where you need to be. We need to focus on IVF if you want to have a baby.”
Further tests revealed that Melissa’s Fallopian tubes were, in fact, completely blocked. With the knowledge that she probably wouldn’t conceive on her own, the couple was forced to make a decision about IVF.
“Religiously, as Christians and Catholics, we were already treading on murky waters in terms of medical intervention,” Melissa says. “After a lot of praying and soul searching, my husband said, ‘I feel like we’re really not going to regret trying to have our own baby. If this isn’t in God’s will, then we will consider adoption’ – so we decided to proceed with IVF.”
In 2015, Melissa and Wayne embarked on their first round. The process was stressful – but not unmanageable.
“We got three nice size embryos,” Melissa says. “I had no side effects from the drugs, and everything was great. There is an intense schedule of medication to prepare your body, but Dr. Storment’s team was so good about giving us a calendar with specifics. They made it very easy.”
Melissa and Wayne decided to transfer one embryo at a time. The procedure was quick – but the next two weeks of waiting seemed endless.
“That part is terrible,” Melissa says. “After the embryo transfer, you have to wait 10 to 14 days to take a pregnancy test. Every little twinge, cramp, you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Is this it? Did it really work?’ ”
When Dr. Storment called with the results, Melissa was very optimistic – but the enthusiasm was short-lived.
“I answered the phone so excited,” she says. “And he said, ‘I’m so sorry … let’s give your body a rest, then come back.’ I was in shock – this really didn’t work? That’s when the rush of emotions took over. I was thinking, what if none of the embryos work? The money … the time … it’s an emotional roller coaster.”
Eight months later, Melissa prepared for her second round of IVF. However, an ultrasound revealed fluid in her Fallopian tubes, so Dr. Storment canceled the embryo transfer.
“He wanted to find out what was going on, and if this was the reason the first transfer failed,” Melissa explains.
While doing an exploratory procedure, Dr. Storment wound up removing both of her Fallopian tubes – and, ironically, this brought Melissa some peace.
“If this was the problem,” she says, “I was so glad they found it and fixed it. I knew I wasn’t going to conceive on my own now and that IVF was my only hope.”
Three months later, Melissa was ready to try again.
“Before we started, Dr. Storment talked to me about an endometrial receptivity test, or ERA testing,” she explains. “It establishes the best day for transferring an embryo because not all women’s bodies are the same. Some need the transfer on day three, while others need it on day five. Some need the transfer after 120 hours of progesterone support. Some need over 140 hours of progesterone support. This testing can narrow down the specific window to the best time for transfer.
Although the test was intriguing, Melissa and Wayne opted to proceed without it – and, unfortunately, their second round of IVF failed.
“At this point,” Melissa says, “it was devastating. We were only left with one more embryo. This was really it … if the third round didn’t work, we would have nothing.”
In their last attempt, Melissa and Wayne opted for the ERA testing, which pinpointed the optimal time for embryo implantation. The test confirmed she needed an extra 24 hours of progesterone support. On Nov. 2, 2018, she had her third transfer – but one week later, Melissa started spotting and considered it another failure.
“I thought I was out,” she says. “I took a test at home, and it was negative. I told everyone it didn’t work and to get their cries out now. I was scheduled for bloodwork a few days later, and I didn’t want to go – I figured, what was the point? But my husband said to just have faith.”
Melissa went for the bloodwork – and one hour later, Dr. Storment called.
“I told him that I already knew the result,” Melissa says. “But he said, ‘We’re pregnant … we did it. You’re super pregnant, you lied to everyone, and you need to call them!’ I was in complete shock. I was crying when I called my husband … and when I told him, I literally heard him fall to his knees. He screamed to his whole office, ‘We’re pregnant!’ It was probably the coolest thing that’s ever happened to us.”
A couple weeks later, they got to hear their son’s heartbeat for the first time – and Dr. Storment’s reaction will forever remain in Melissa’s heart.
“He was smiling from ear to ear,” she says. “He was genuinely happy, not for himself, but for our success. I still don’t believe I’m pregnant … it’s the most amazing feeling in the world. Seeing him on the monitor, the kicks … it’s unbelievable. And we would never have gotten to experience any of this if it wasn’t for Dr. Storment.”
Walking through such an emotional journey, Melissa and Wayne changed their perspective on medical intervention and would do it all over again, just to be where they are today.
“God created these doctors’ minds and hands, which then created this procedure for a reason,” Melissa explains. “Any birth is a blessing, and so many births and blessings come out of IVF. People go through so much to make a baby and care for it and love it, and for me, that can’t be wrong. When natural remedies don’t provide the answers, science can. As a woman, the one thing you’re supposed to be able to do is carry a child – and when you can’t, it’s an unexplainable feeling. You don’t understand until it’s happening to you. And at some point, you have to say, ‘I want a baby, and I am willing to get it any way. Infertility doesn’t get talked about enough. People expect you to have kids by a certain age … but, if they only knew people’s struggles.”
Melissa credits not only Dr. Storment, but his entire team, for turning a hellish ordeal into a comforting experience.
“Everything they did really meant a lot to me,” she says. “When I see the office staff out and about, they tell me how happy they are … I just love them. I can’t say enough. Walking into this journey, I never would have expected any of this. But I would go through another five years of pain and heartbreak just to get here.”
‘It’s why I come to work’
Dr. Storment is among a handful of infertility doctors throughout Louisiana. He’s devoted his career to making couple’s dreams come true – but while the highs are intoxicating, the lows aren’t easy to handle.
“I can’t think of a more rewarding job,” he says. “But the lows are awful. You have patients who come and spend a lot of money, but are not successful or miscarry. When things are positive, though, especially in patients like Melissa, when they have a good outcome after a long journey, it’s an incredible feeling to be part of that journey.”
Dr. Storment stresses that, while ERA testing is not black and white, it’s an amazing option for people who’ve experienced failed IVF transfers.
“For the person who only has one embryo left, it’s great,” he says. “The procedure is quick, but the results can change everything. We retrieve uterine cells, send the tissue to a genetics company, and determine the best window to transfer. The best part about my job is that technology continues to increase and improve to help people build families. It’s just not a trite expression - it’s what we do. Even when we’re not successful, it’s awesome to know that we have the best technology to give people the best chance - and the chances continually improve.”
For more information on Fertility Answers and ERA testing, visit www.fertilityanswers.com.