New mother Cedar Hwang has few complaints these days, even as she endures the bleary-eyed sleeplessness of early motherhood.
“You go through these crazy nights of pure exhaustion,” she says with an unusual air of contentment. “When you wake up the next morning and see that one little smile – that one smile can undo hours and hours of crying.”
Cedar’s tendency toward joy is due in no small part to the uphill battle she fought to get here. Several years ago, in her 30s and wanting to start a family with her husband, Cedar called her OB-GYN and made an appointment to discuss what might be preventing her from getting pregnant. They’d been trying to conceive on their own for some time and were starting to worry.
The trek from Newport to meet “Dr. Victoria”
Cedar’s OB-GYN recommended intrauterine insemination (IUI), a procedure in which concentrated sperm are placed directly into the uterus to up the odds that one of the sperm will fertilize an egg. Often IUI also involves fertility drugs that encourage the development of eggs.
“After we tried a few rounds of IUI with my OB-GYN and weren’t successful, we were referred to Women & Infants,” Cedar explains. “I looked online and examined my options and talked to friends. It just seemed like Women & Infants was the best option.”
Residents of Newport, Cedar and Daniel felt it was worth the hour-long journey to Providence if it meant they could realize their dream of having a baby. They made an appointment to discuss the next steps in their fertility treatment with Dr. Victoria Snegovskikh, “Dr. Victoria” as she is affectionately known to many of her patients.
Support amidst heartbreaking setbacks trying to conceive
After a full examination, Dr. Victoria soon identified some scar tissue in Cedar’s uterus that was likely making it more difficult for her to get pregnant. Their initial plan of action was to surgically remove the scar tissue and continue with IUI treatments shortly thereafter.
The plan worked. Cedar and Daniel received the heartwarming news that the IUI procedure administered shortly after the operation resulted in pregnancy. Unfortunately, the pregnancy ended with a miscarriage at 12 weeks. During this trying time, Cedar and Daniel leaned on the support of their friends and family as well as Dr. Victoria.
“My friends and family knew every detail of the process,” Cedar says. “It was the main focus of my life for several years. Everyone was involved and cheering me on. Dr. Victoria was very calm and comforting, and she always said, ‘Here’s what we do. Here’s the next step.’ We just dealt with each situation as it came.”
The precious smile that made it all worthwhile
After several more failed IUI attempts, Dr. Victoria had an honest discussion with Cedar and Daniel about their options. She explained that in vitro fertilization (IVF) would increase their odds of success, but that ultimately the choice was in their hands.
“At that point, I was in my mid 30s and I was concerned about waiting any longer,” Cedar recalls. “We decided it was the right thing to do.”
Reflecting on the multitude of injections and side effects of ovulation induction (the first step in an IVF cycle), Cedar says she was more focused on the end result than the means of getting there.
“The swelling and weight gain were tough, but overall I didn’t feel like IVF was that difficult because I was just thinking about the prize at the end. And I don’t think it affected me too much emotionally, but my husband and family might say otherwise,” she says with a laugh.
After just one IVF cycle, Cedar’s long struggle in trying to conceive came to an end. An uncomplicated and healthy pregnancy led to the birth of baby Marlee Spruce Hwang in July 2017. The couple has two frozen embryos remaining from the cycle that they may use to continue to build their family in the near future.
Though it was difficult at times, Cedar reflects on her and her husband’s journey with gratitude.
“I’ve never known such joy,” she says. “Everyone at Women & Infants’ Fertility Center was great, and it was worth the drive from Newport. Marlee is the love of our lives. Many thanks for this immeasurable gift.”