Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
Melissa and Jay Desautels, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Early one February morning in 2011, Melissa and Jay Desautels were on their morning commute to Burlington when Melissa got a call from a nurse at Fletcher Allen. She put the phone on speaker so they could both hear the news they had been waiting to hear for two years: they were going to have a baby.
"We just stopped the car as we were heading down the driveway," Jay said. Melissa started crying. "I was nervous and then elated. We drove to work happy!" she said.
"The Hinesburg couple had been trying to conceive for about a year when they decided to run tests to see if anything was wrong.
In late 2009, Melissa's doctor at Maitri Health Care for Women referred them to Fletcher Allen for infertility testing. The tests showed no underlying issue or reason why they couldn't conceive.
Working with the staff in Infertility and Reproductive Medicine at Fletcher Allen, the Desautels decided to try intrauterine insemination (IUI) – a procedure that involves placing sperm directly in the uterus to promote fertilization. IUI is often one of the first types of treatment for couples having difficulty conceiving. Melissa and Jay tried IUI several times, but unfortunately without success.
A few months later, in the fall of 2010, they decided to do in vitro fertilization (IVF) – a treatment that involves fertilizing the egg outside the body and placing healthy embryos in the uterus. "I decided that based on my age, we needed to move forward rather than wait it out any longer," said Melissa, who was 32 at the time. They felt fortunate that they had the means to cover the procedure.
The Desautels praised the IVF doctors, nurses and staff, especially Peter Casson, M.D., director of the IVF program at Fletcher Allen.
The IVF procedure took place the weekend before Valentine's Day in February 2011. Melissa and Jay opted for a more involved process called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – where a single sperm is injected into the center of the egg. ICSI is known to overcome many of the barriers to fertilization.
After the procedure, the Desautels were checking almost daily to find out if the procedure worked. It was a couple weeks later when they got the happy phone call.
While the waiting was over, there was still some anxiety. Melissa has epilepsy and takes anti-seizure medications. Her medication and blood levels had to be closely monitored, and her blood drawn every other week throughout the pregnancy. "It needed to be spot on," she said. Her epilepsy doctor – Fletcher Allen neurologist Keith Nagle, M.D. – and her other providers worked together to coordinate her medications and care.
Fortunately, everything went smoothly and on October 22, 2011, Melissa gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
"It was the most spectacular experience, from the beginning to the very end," Jay said. "I wish everyone could experience how wonderful it is," he said of childbirth. "It's about as human as we get."
Jay recently joined Fletcher Allen's Foundation Board, and looks forward to giving back to an organization that has given his family so much.
Melissa is thankful for the many caregivers who helped them throughout the experience. "All these doctors and nurses could have chosen another path. If they had chosen other professions . . . if they hadn't chosen Vermont, our lives would have been very different."
Today, at 15 months, their son is a fast crawler who's experimenting with his feet, new foods and Baxter the family dog.
"You just want to soak every moment up," Jay said. "It's the most difficult, best thing we've ever done."