Several years ago, Jennifer and Jeremy Paytas of Willoughby were ready to start their family. After a chemical pregnancy – a very early miscarriage which takes place before a heartbeat is even detected – Jennifer got pregnant with their first child, a baby girl they named Makayla.
When Makayla was about 18 months old, they started thinking about having another child. They got pregnant right away, but Jennifer had a miscarriage. After trying to get pregnant again for more than a year, Jennifer’s Cleveland Clinic Ob/Gyn, Jonathan Emery, MD, referred her to Cleveland Clinic Fertility Center in Beachwood.
Over time, Jennifer underwent multiple rounds of treatment with oral fertility medications and intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedures at Beachwood. Some were successful, resulting in pregnancies, but those ultimately ended in early miscarriages.
“There was a concern about possible damage to my reproductive organs, so Dr. Flyckt was brought in to consult. We fell in love with her then, and have been with her ever since.”
“One time, I thought I was getting my period, because I was spotting. Turns out, I was pregnant, but it was an ectopic pregnancy,” says Jennifer. At this time, Cleveland Clinic fertility specialist Rebecca Flyckt, MD became involved in the Paytas’ efforts to conceive. “There was a concern about possible damage to my reproductive organs, so Dr. Flyckt was brought in to consult. We fell in love with her then, and have been with her ever since.”
There was no damage, and despite more unsuccessful attempts at IUI, Dr. Flyckt encouraged the couple not to give up, and suggested they try in vitro fertilization (IVF). “In extreme cases of infertility, with recurrent pregnancy loss, IVF can be a very powerful option,” says Dr. Flyckt. “Jennifer is young and healthy, which put the odds in her favor, because age has been, and will probably always be, the biggest factor in IVF success.”
With traditional IVF, the ovaries are stimulated with injectable fertility drugs to make multiple eggs. Mature eggs are retrieved, then put in a petri dish and exposed to the husband’s sperm. The petri dish is placed in an incubator, and monitored for 3-5 days to see if good quality embryos develop. If they do, one or more embryos are placed in the woman’s uterus.
Cleveland Clinic’s IVF lab at Beachwood Family Health and Surgery Center is one of just a few centers in the U.S. using an embryoscope incubator for embryo development.
“Most fertilized embryos are kept in traditional incubators and can only be checked once or twice a day, for just minutes at a time, so as not to disturb development,” says Dr. Flyckt. “The embryoscope is a special incubator with a sophisticated camera that captures embryo development every 15 seconds, allowing us to better determine which embryos can best lead to successful pregnancies.”
Thanks to fertility drugs, twelve of Jennifer’s eggs were fertilized and placed in the embryoscope, and seven of them grew into advanced stage embryos. Two of the embryos were placed in Jennifer’s uterus (the others were frozen) with that first cycle, but did not lead to a successful pregnancy.
They tried again, using one of the frozen embryos, with no success. But on the third try, success. Nearly seven years after Makayla was born, Jennifer gave birth to another baby girl.
“We named her Audrey, which means noble strength – she is here because of the embryo that survived,” says Jennifer. “My situation was similar to what others are going through. To them I say, even on the hardest days, don’t give up. Every time I hold my baby girl, I’m grateful we went through all of it. We never thought this would happen.”
Ob/Gyn & Women's Health Institute