Caitie’s story: How PGTai(SM) helped us in our fertility journey

Caitie’s story: How PGTai(SM) helped us in our fertility journey

By Caitie Witherspoon


Infertility can be a challenge for people of all ages. It is important that patients have access to the right information and options to make the best-informed decisions.

Caitie and James Witherspoon started trying for a baby naturally in 2017 and began fertility treatments in 2018. In 2019, they did a successful embryo transfer and welcomed their healthy daughter in 2020. In her own words, Caitie talks about the many challenges in their fertility journey and her belief that the availability of innovative technology can help patients find a personalized fertility treatment that’s just right for them.

James and I started trying for a baby in August 2017, but after about a year of not being able to conceive, we decided to meet with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). At that point, I had already been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and had irregular menstrual cycles. The RE administered a combination of high dose letrozole and a trigger shot to help stimulate ovulation, but I still wasn’t getting pregnant.

After several failed cycles and more tests, we discovered that James had severe male factor infertility, something that was potentially caused by the hernia surgery he had as an infant. It was at this point we learned that our chances of conceiving naturally would be very low, and so we turned to IVF with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).

After undergoing egg retrieval, I learned that I had 24 eggs. Nineteen of these were fertilized via ICSI, a procedure in which eggs are fertilized by an embryologist by injecting a single sperm into an egg using a tiny needle called a micropipette. After fertilization, seven of the embryos went on to become Day 5 embryos or blastocysts. We felt optimistic about the seven embryos available for transfer so my husband and I, along with our fertility care team, were initially on the fence about doing PGT-A or preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidies.

“I just thought we’re both so young.
I was only 28 and James was 30.”

However, we had paid for our round of IVF with ICSI and PGT-A mostly out of pocket so we also understood that transferring these seven embryos blindly could have both emotional, physical and financial implications.

After careful consideration, we decided to go through with PGT-A for all seven embryos via CooperSurgical’s PGTaiSM platform. Having the right knowledge allowed us to make the right decision. Knowledge is power.

We wanted to have the best chance possible and avoid transferring embryos that could potentially lead to miscarriage or severe birth defects. Each failed transfer would have cost us an additional $3,000 and we wanted to avoid that while also choosing a healthy embryo.

“Knowledge is power.”

Our seven embryos were biopsied by an embryologist at a clinic and were then frozen as we waited for the results.

When our PGT-A results came back, we were surprised. Four of the embryos were aneuploid, with two being complex abnormal and two abnormal. The two others were high-level mosaics and were not recommended for transfer due to the chromosomes that were affected.

WA_catie-embro

There was one embryo that was euploid, however, and it was transferred on July 17th, 2019. We had a lot riding on that one tiny healthy embryo. Thankfully, she stuck around… literally! Our daughter, Lucy, was welcomed to the family in April of 2020 and recently celebrated her first birthday. We can’t imagine life without her. She’s so special and I can’t wait to share her story with her when she’s older.

“Our daughter, Lucy, was welcomed to the family in April of 2020 and recently celebrated her first birthday. We can’t imagine life without her. She’s so special and I can’t wait to share her story with her when she’s older.”

lucy-12-copy

“We are truly in awe of what science can offer us
and the beautiful gift it helped bring to us.”

When I look back at our IVF decisions, I’m happy that we chose to pursue PGT. You just never know – no matter your age or health! If we hadn’t gone through with testing, we potentially could have spent an additional $18,000 on failed transfers. We are young and have no other medical issues and there are no significant medical issues in our families. We know that some Reproductive Endocrinologists only suggest PGT-A to older couples or people with other fertility issues, but I’m glad it was offered to us and that we decided to go through with it.

We hope to build our family in the future with a second child, but we realize that, although we were able to have Lucy, having a child doesn’t mean that we’re no longer infertile. We don’t know if our path will lead us to a second child – only time will tell! If we do choose to go through IVF again, though, I wouldn’t hesitate to have our embryos tested. We are truly in awe of what science can offer us and the beautiful gift it helped bring to us.

About the author

Caitie Witherspoon is a 30-year-old, fourth-grade teacher from North Carolina in the U.S. She has been married for eight years to James Witherspoon, and they share their home with their lovely daughter, one-year-old Lucy and their devoted dogs, Yancy, Cooper and Willy.

Caitie Witherspoon

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