I think the question, “will I be able to get pregnant?” is something that a lot of women ask themselves, especially the older we get. I’m coming up on my 30th birthday and approaching the time that I’d like to start a family. I’m asking myself some scary questions: Will I be able to conceive naturally? Will I experience fertility issues? Will we be able to have children at all?
My mother had fertility issues when she and my father were ready to start a family. They tried for four years until they finally were able to get pregnant. They had to have some help, though. My mother was only able to conceive, carry, and give birth to my twin brother and myself by doing the Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) procedure — which was a very new fertility treatment in the 1980s. My brother and I are actually the first successful babies born in Texas via the GIFT procedure! My mom was on the Houston and Dallas news when we were born sharing with the world that with the help of cutting edge technology we had finally arrived.
The crazy thing is, my parents had to come to Houston, Texas for my mother’s fertility treatments, and now here I am living in Houston, the city that I was actually conceived in. (My brother and I were obviously not conceived the old fashioned way.) This is why I am incredibly grateful for the technology that exists today to aid couples in conceiving children. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for that technology.
Knowing the long journey my mother went through to be able to have children makes me question my own fertility. Will I be able to get pregnant? I don’t know. I try not to talk about having a baby to too many people, but it becomes difficult when you are ‘The Baby Chick®‘. My close friends know how much I want to have a baby. My husband also wants us to have children; however, we have both agreed that we need to wait a little longer until the time is right. But that doesn’t lessen the feeling I have every time I look at a cute baby bump or sweet baby; my heart aches to carry and have one of my own. And, again, in the back of my mind I quietly question myself, “But what if you’re not able to get pregnant? What if this will be a battle that you will have to fight for years like your mom?” And I know that I am not the only woman who feels this way. Many of you are going or have gone through the same hurdles.
Living in the city where I was conceived — which has some of the best leading doctors in fertility — I thought it would be a good idea to check out Houston’s top fertility facility and meet with their doctors and staff. I’m a big believer in doing my research and being prepared for uncertainties like this in my future. This helps me feel more confident, as well as to better understand what my options are should we need a little help conceiving when we are ready. I also know that many of you, our readers, have reached out to me, sharing that you are going through this very struggle. This is another major reason why I had to learn more.
I had the pleasure of touring the facility and meeting the friendly staff at the Medical Center location of Houston Fertility Specialists. Houston Fertility Specialists is the oldest fertility center in Houston and is one of the leading and most recognized and respected centers in the nation. They have six different locations all over the greater Houston area, which are wonderful options and very convenient for families all over the city. As I went up the elevator to the fourth floor, I had no idea what I would learn and what news I would discover during this visit.
They have a beautiful, large office space and with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. I was pleased to see how incredibly friendly their staff is. They understand and care about their patients and what they are going through. The smiles and positivity were infectious and I felt totally welcomed as I walked through their doors. It’s heartwarming to see people truly passionate about their jobs, empathetic towards their patients, and who make the extra effort to help their clients feel comfortable, positive, and taken care of.
When clients first connect with the Houston Fertility Specialists, the staff work with you and your insurance to find the best fertility treatment plans for you. They are actually in-network for a lot of insurance companies! Their finance department reviews questions with you and works their hardest to provide the most affordable plan for your family, a service most fertility centers don’t offer.
While touring their office, I got to speak to some of their team. I spoke with their egg donor coordinator, Cynthia, and when asked what she does she immediately responded, “I help create lives!” with a big smile on her face. She further explained, “I recruit egg donors and plan cycles for patients. Some of our patients have to use egg donors because they have gone through early menopause or are receiving chemo treatments. Their reserve is not what they should be anymore so this is their last resort. It’s done anonymously so women don’t have to worry. It’s a pretty cool job.”
I also had the pleasure of speaking with Amanda Bigi who is a nurse at Houston Fertility Specialists.
“How you would explain the experience here at HFS compared to other centers?” I asked. “It’s much more tailored to the individual. We take into consideration your insurance, your history, and your needs. As nurses we try to be a patient advocate for you. We coordinate with you and your insurance to get the cheapest medicine for your treatments. We also work around your schedule as best as we can. A lot of other offices do not offer appointments beyond 9am to 5pm. We schedule lunch appointments, phone consults, as well as Saturday appointments. We go out of the way to do our best. We’re here to help them through the process.” It’s obvious that over the two years Amanda has worked here that she has made an incredible impact on her patients’ lives.
Something else that I really liked about their facility is that everything is local. Their labs are here. Their offices are here. Your appointments are here. Everything is done onsite, which makes it feel more personal to me; you know they are taking extra care of you.
I had the pleasure of sitting down and interviewing one of their doctors, Dr. Ertug Kovanci.
N: Tell me about HFS and what makes it different?
K: This is the oldest fertility center in Houston. We are a very ethical and evidence based group. A big factor that separates us from other clinics is that we customize the treatments to each patient. Not everyone needs expensive IVF treatments. Maybe they just need clomid (a prescription drug) or inseminations to get pregnant. We do tests and decide what are the best treatments for them.
N: How long have you been with HFS?
K: I joined this group 2 years ago. I knew the doctors since I moved to Houston in the early 2000s and have worked with them over the years. It’s one of the oldest fertility centers and the oldest in Houston. The doctors are well known and respected members of the community. We have wonderful doctors on our team.
N: What made you decide to work in the fertility field?
K: First of all, it’s a wonderful feeling to help a couple achieve their dreams. It’s very rewarding. They are so happy; they are so grateful. It’s the best thing in the world. The second thing is that it’s a very high tech field. There are always new technologies. Those are the two reasons why I got into this field.
N: What do you want women to know when it comes to fertility?
K: It can be a prolonged process. Some people get pregnant quickly, and some people don’t. Patience and staying positive are key. These families need support and need to support each other.
Through my interview with Dr. Kovanci and speaking with the other staff at Houston Fertility Specialists I came to appreciate the patience involved on the part of both the staff and the clients. It can take a long time to conceive a baby, whether trying the old fashioned way or through utilization of medical technology. It takes an average of 6 months, and can be disappointing when there are miscarriages or delays in the process. I can’t imagine going through this process with a more supportive, positive, and knowledgeable team than Houston Fertility Specialists.
Following my interview I was able to go to the lab and get a peek behind the scenes of the fertility labs. I was introduced to the actual tests that are performed and even got to look through a microscope at little swimming sperm!
After touring the labs I was introduced to the COO, Art McClure, of Houston Fertility Specialists. And this is when it all came together for me. In a flurry of exchange of stories, dates, and names we came to the realization that my brother and I were conceived in this very clinic a little over 30 years ago. These doctors, nurses, and support staff are carrying on the legacy of the very scientists that joined my mother’s egg with my father’s sperm, conceiving the Bassett twins and changing my family’s life forever. I truly did not make this connection before setting foot in this office. I even had the extreme pleasure of meeting Dr. Al Wun, head of their IVF lab. He’s been there since HFS opened and was the man who actually performed the procedure that created me.
While I knew that fertility treatments had played a large role in my life, I had no idea of the significance of this particular introduction. It’s obvious that Houston Fertility Specialists has been doing amazing work creating families for decades, and I wouldn’t be here today without them. Take it from me, if you’re having fertility issues give them a call today.