Name: Jessica Jackson

Location: Private

Tell us about yourself.

Before your journey to parenthood began, how would you describe yourself? What types of things do you like to do for fun? 
I'm an elementary school teacher and I like to travel, bake, and read.

Tell us a little about your partner, spouse or support system.

Are you married/do you have a partner?
Yes, I am married. My husband is in medical school and has been an amazing support system throughout our journey. Many of my friends know that we have been going through IVF and will be pursuing surrogacy. My family has been extremely supportive and I'm very lucky that they have been understanding of my journey. I think they see how emotional I have been throughout the process. 

Frank and I met our junior year of high school and started seriously dating during senior year. We went through a long distance relationship our 4 years of college. When we got engaged, I knew Frank was going to go to medical school. We got married May 2016 after being together for 7 years. We knew that we wanted to have children soon after being married. We had gone on our honeymoon to Greece and went directly to an IVF specialist when we got back for various reasons. Before we started our journey, we knew what we wanted and we had a definite plan. However, things don't always go to plan and we have adjusted as we have found out more information. Frank has been extremely supportive of me and this difficult process.

Tell us about your experience trying to get pregnant.

Our journey is very different because we are 24 years old and have not tried to conceive naturally. When I was very young, I was diagnosed with endometriosis and was put onto continuous birth control and had laparoscopic surgery, which preserved my fertility. However, during the summer of 2015 doctors found a mass in my uterus and another surgery took place. This time, doctors did not know what the mass was. It had nothing to do with my endometriosis, which was not seen during this surgery (a small victory). Doctors took a piece of the mass to biopsy it and it was determined it was a uterine AVM a very rare mass. Frank and I knew that we would have to meet with an IVF specialist, but we were still hopeful we would be able to get pregnant.

Our journey continued and when we met with the IVF specialist in Boston, he wanted us to also meet with an interventional radiologist and a high risk OB. The high risk OB told us that we would be fine and I would be able to carry babies. This was such a relief! I left the hospital so happy, but when I met with the radiologist later that week, she had different news. She told me that she was not certain if the mass was a uterine AVM or not and that I would not be able to carry children. I left the hospital crying and didn't stop crying for weeks. It was so difficult to hear these words and when I went back to the IVF specialist he told us to think about surrogacy. We have currently gone through one cycle of IVF, creating and freezing 3 embryos! We are going through one more round to be safe and ready for when we have a surrogate.

The other side of the journey.

How has your journey changed you as a person, parent, friend?

Although we are not officially on the other side of our journey, we know where we are headed. We have met with a surrogacy agency, which has been a positive experience for us. Right now we are just waiting to save up enough financially because although we are lucky that IVF is covered by our insurance, it will be about $100k when we are done with surrogacy. With Frank in medical school, this is a challenge, but one we are ready to face together. Our journey has changed me for the better. I am now very knowledgeable about IVF and surrogacy and I feel that I am able to offer others support.

Do you have any advice for people considering having a family? 

I think it's important to consider all of your options and don't be afraid to start a new path. Reading other people's blogs about IVF makes me sad because of their shame about trying it and moving forward. For me, IVF was our first positive step forward and was an exciting time because we were creating our future babies. I'm excited to start another cycle. We were lucky that we never had to have the heartbreak of trying to conceive naturally and that's what I keep focusing on. There are many ways to have a family and you just need to find what is right for you.