Our Stories
Colleen Brierley, Co-Founder

My husband Bob and I met in high school and we have now been married for almost thirty years. While we were dating, working many part time jobs, and pursuing our college degrees, I would always say that I wanted to have five or six kids, "a houseful of kids!"

Things were right on track. We married after college and I was pregnant with our first baby at age 22 and our second when I was 25. Another dream of mine had been to go to law school so when I was 27 years old I started taking the LSATs and filling out law school applications. In the fall of 1991 I started a four year evening program to earn my law degree. At that time my children were ages five and two years old and I was operating a family day care in our house so that I could balance time with my children, earn my law degree and make some money.

By the time I finished law school I was 32 and began my search for a legal position. I was pursuing this goal and was putting on hold my dream of having that house full of children. My story is about secondary infertility and the reality of the biological clock, which I never took seriously. It seemed to me that a lot of women were delaying even having their first child into their late thirties and even early forties. I just assumed that because I had become pregnant so easily the first two times I would never have fertility problems. I had never even heard about secondary infertility. I would learn that secondary infertility is when a couple is unable to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to full term following the birth of one or two children without any assisted reproductive techniques.

At age thirty seven I was pregnant and was incredibly happy, but when this pregnancy ended at eight weeks in a miscarriage I was devastated. After telling my doctor that I had been trying to have a baby for two years without success I received a diagnosis of infertility and my husband and I sought treatment from an infertility clinic in the Boston area. My husband and I completed three IUI treatments without success along with having a bunch of other tests.

At age forty we became pregnant on our own, but again I suffered a miscarriage at ten weeks. I became pregnant again at age forty one and again suffered a miscarriage. We decided to change clinics and sought treatment from Boston IVF. We were elated to find that we were pregnant after our first IVF cycle however again this pregnancy ended in miscarriage. We were on an emotional roller coaster ride. Our family and friends who had initially expressed understanding and compassion seemed to be at a loss as to why I was doing this to myself. This journey can be isolating at times and why one of the main goals of the Journey to Parenthood is to provide education and to support people including their families and friends who are going through all of this.

Although it was becoming difficult to finance, we decided to try IVF one more time when I was 43. Our daughter was in her third year at Tufts University and our son a senior in high school was applying to colleges. Although when you live in Massachusetts fertility treatments are mandated to be covered by insurance, this is not the full story. In fact if the company where your insurance flows from is self insured then the coverage is exempt from the mandate. What this means is that the company can determine if infertility procedures or medications will be covered at all, including the amounts and types of procedures that it may cover. So although we live in Massachusetts we had very little insurance coverage for our infertility treatments and medications.

After this final IVF procedure I became pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl. Everything looked great, after genetic testing but at almost 20 weeks I gave birth to Robert and Mary. It was too soon for them and they only lived for less than a half hour. After all the infertility stuff had been conquered it seemed that I also had a weak cervix.

Looking back I wasn’t ok after that. I was defeated, angry and felt sadness in my core that is hard to describe. At the same time I knew that I had so much to be grateful for. Our faith and the love and support of family and friends carried us through our devastating loss. At age 44, I had a beautiful life, a husband, daughter, son and a career in law. I don’t know when it actually happened but it became so clear that I wanted to adopt through foster care. I guess it was right in front of me because I work in the area of children and family law. My husband who has been on this journey to parenthood right beside me didn’t need much coaxing to become a foster father with the hope of adopting “one child“. We signed up: participated in an eight week class, completed an extensive home study, and criminal background checks. We were approved!

Well just over a year after losing our twins we experienced a miracle. The social worker called us on December 6, 2007 to ask if we could care for twin boys who needed a home. We ultimately adopted our boys in August 2009. Then in July 2010 in the midst of planning our daughter’s wedding we received a call that a two year old little girl needed a home and we adopted our youngest daughter in March 2011.

My husband and I are the parents of a twenty eight year old daughter, a son in law, a twenty five year old son, and three kindergarteners (twin boys and a little girl). We call them our triplets. At age 50 my dream has come true because I am the mother of five children, a son in law and... I have a house full of kids! My passion for Journey to Parenthood comes from a true understanding of the emotional and financial roller coaster ride that a diagnosis of infertility begins. Like the song says “Don’t stop believing” and please donate to help.

Jen Conley, Co-Founder

In Sept of 1999, at the age of 29, my husband and I were married. I had met the perfect man, the love of my life, and was excited to start our life together. Like most couples, we contemplated starting a family, but decided to wait a year before trying; and in May of 2001 I learned that I was pregnant. We were excited, nervous and so happy to be expecting our first child. However, about 16 weeks into the pregnancy on 9-11-01, we had an ultrasound that brought us devastating news. For no apparent reason, my amniotic fluid was low and we were told the baby would not make it. When we met with the doctor we were told “it’s like being struck by lightening”. There was no apparent reason why this had happened especially during a second trimester. Later that morning on our ride home we learned of even more devastating news...the fateful day of 9-11. I quickly came to grips with my own loss and thought we can grieve, move on and try again but there was far more devastation happening in the world at the time.

So on went our journey. Six months later, I once again became pregnant, but once again, it ended in a miscarriage at about 9 weeks. Thus in 2003, we started doing some initial medical testing, began using clomid with IUI’s and then injections with IUI’s, but with no success; and after another year we decided to get a second opinion from another fertility clinic which brought us to Boston IVF. At this point we ran the gamut over the next several years. Hysteroscopy, tubogram, genetic testing, IVF’s, PGD testing, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and mind-body programs, you name it, we did it! Did I mention my diagnosis was “unexplained” infertility/miscarriage. During this time we took a break from treatments and WOW...we got pregnant again on our own! Unfortunately this too resulted in a pregnancy loss at 10 weeks. So back at the treatment we went determined for something to work. More IVF’s both fresh and frozen cycles until we were out of options and insurance coverage as well.

In early 2006 we decided to start the adoption process. After much thought and discussion we knew we wanted to be parents and have a child.

Adoption was the nextroad we decided to take to create our family. We felt renewed and excited and remained faithful that this would “eventually” happen. We were finished with the roller coaster ride of fertility treatments. We were pursuing domestic adoption through a private agency. After a few discussions with birth moms, we were finally matched with a wonderful young birth mom in late 2007 and we traveled to meet her and her family. In February of the following year, we got a call that she was in labor and thus we embarked on our 6 hour drive to finally realize our dreams were about to come true! Well, that’s when our dark cloud came over us again. After days of bonding with the baby, we were forced to leave, due to an unforeseen teenage birth father who was blocking the process. It was agonizing and the worst pain of our lives. My husband and I drove home alone. Little did we know then that this was just the beginning of our true journey to parenthood.

On our arrival home we were supported by family and friends. That evening, my mother, who was devastated, asked if I would consider a surrogate; but at that moment I was too distraught to think about another avenue. Ironically, my husband’s twin sister Kristine who was also determined to make us parents, offered to be our gestational carrier. After much consideration we decided to accept her offer. However, we soon realized that this was not only an emotional decision, but a financial one, because insurance does not cover “gestational carriers or surrogates”. Since Kristine was family, we weren’t paying her, but we still had to pay for the procedures and all the legal paperwork involved, which was substantial and still not a guarantee. With encouragement and financial help from my mom and looking at all else that had failed, we just had to do this one last thing and decided this was it.

Well lo and behold…….this was our ticket to parenthood! Kristine, “my angel” was pregnant with our biological twins! On March 6, 2009 after 8 long years of battling fertility and loss we were blessed with a boy and a girl. Our prayers had been answered and I was (am) the luckiest person on earth!

This journey is what started “Journey to Parenthood”. We went through so much but I could not help but think of all the people out there that could never have done what we did because they do not have the insurance coverage or the financial means. I felt blessed that my procedures and IVF’s were all covered even though they did not work for us. I could not image the financial burden and additional stress we would have been faced with and that so many have to cope with. It broke my heart, made me angry and made me want to do something about it, at least try to make a difference for others. Therefore Journey to Parenthood was born.

I know you may be reading this and thinking you could never endure this long road and how does someone get through it? My answer is to keep fighting for that dream of parenthood because it will happen for you someday. My faith, support of family and friends, and connecting with others who were experiencing the same difficulties was what got us through it. Just know there are so many others out there with their own stories, some with longer journeys than others, and all different paths, but it can be extremely helpful when you open up and talk about it, especially with those facing the same struggles. Please visit our page on “social” support groups to find one in your area or become a leader in your community to start one up. For those battling infertility, I hope my story encourages you and inspires you to remain faithful and hopeful that you to will become parents some day.

Thanks for visiting our page and please consider a donation to help others achieve their dreams of Parenthood.