Healthy Expectations: Chester couple opens up about pain of infertility struggles

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — It was love for Aaron Johnson and Michelsha Wallace-Johnson from their first date in July 2012.

“We knew immediately that we wanted to be together,” remembers Michelsha. “It was like that instant.”

They decided to get married that October and had the ceremony in May 2013. Deciding to start a family soon after, though, would set them on a path that would often come with no clear direction.

“You try not to be frustrated with the person that you’re trying to have a baby with and the person that you love with everything you have, but it gets, it gets incredibly stressful,” says Michelsha.

After trying naturally got them nowhere, Dr. Scott Lucidi, a Reproductive Endocrinologist with VCU Health, ran a full workup of tests. He determined Michelsha has the hormonal condition Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). A main symptom is fertility challenges.

Medications did not work alone, so Dr. Lucidi recommended they try intrauterine insemination (IUI), which involves placing sperm inside the uterus to aid fertilization.

After a few months of IUI, they finally got a positive pregnancy test.

“We were just on cloud nine,” Michelsha recalls.

Adds Aaron, “Mentally, you’re already thinking and planning your future and thinking of your future and thinking of what’s that going to look like, what’s that going to feel like.”

An appointment with their doctor weeks later, however, was a devastating blow.

“He’s like there’s no heartbeat, and I just sat there frozen and I look over at him and I can see the tears welling up,” Michelsha says about the grief she saw on Aaron’s face. “We just got in the bed that day and basically just stayed in the bed, just cried and held each other, just stayed in the bed.”

They tried IUI for a few months and then moved to the more aggressive in vitro fertilization (IVF). It involves manually combining an egg and sperm in a lab and then transferring the embryos to the uterus.

All of the efforts failed, and by this point their cost to start a family was already in the tens of thousands of dollars.

“I’ve cried, I’ve cried quite a bit,” Aaron says about getting the news.

Michelsha nods her head.

“I just feel like I keep getting punched in the gut, and every time you get that glimmer of happiness it just keeps getting ripped away.”

Michelsha and Aaron are still healing from that most recent loss and are taking a break from their path to parenthood for the time being.

They are being vocal about their struggles because they want other couples dealing with infertility to know they are not alone and for others to realize the true pain often going on behind closed doors.

“We wouldn’t wish this on our worst enemy,” says Michelsha.

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