Jenafer had dreamed of starting a family since she was a young girl
While growing up in California, Jenafer Ramirez had dreams of one day getting married and becoming a mother. She met her husband, Robert, while working for a dental equipment supplier in the Sacramento area. Jenafer returned to Northern California to be with Robert and begin a new career in project management after briefly living in the Los Angeles area. The two were married in 2014 and soon began trying to add to their family.
Jenafer felt motherhood had always been a large part of who she was to become and something she wanted to accomplish in life.
“I dreamed of having children and experiencing that kind of love and being able to give all the love that has been trapped inside of me for so long,” says Jenafer. “I dreamed about teaching them from my own experiences and guiding them through life’s challenges with kindness, hopefully some wisdom, and a great deal of love and understanding.”
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Considering donor egg IVF when conception didn’t come naturally
Jenafer and Robert tried to get pregnant naturally for almost three years without success. They then turned to Reproductive Science Center of the San Francisco Bay Area (RSC) for help. The couple went through two rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF) with the first round ending in a miscarriage and the second unsuccessful. It was at this point Jenafer was told she would not be able to become pregnant with her own eggs and would need to use donor eggs if she wanted to move forward with the IVF process.
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“It took quite some time to process and adjust to that information,” says Jenafer. “I was saddened to leave my doctor and nurse at RSC while I waited to make my decision about egg donation. After a lot of thought, we ultimately decided to come back and try using an egg donor.”
Jenafer’s first round of donor egg IVF was unsuccessful. As she was beginning her second round, she came across a flyer for the Tinina Q. Cade Foundation Family Building Grant. After the expense of two failed IVF cycles, she was very excited by the prospect of financial assistance.
“I knew anything that could help with our expenses would be a great weight off our shoulders, since going through the IVF process is stressful on its own and worrying about the cost was added stress,” says Jenafer. “So, we decided to apply for any help we could get.”
Receiving the Cade Foundation Family Building Grant
Jenafer’s actions paid off when the couple was awarded the Tinina Q. Cade Foundation Family Building Grant. Jenafer knew the financial help would alleviate some of the monetary stress of donor egg IVF, but she was wonderfully surprised to find how much becoming part of the Cade Foundation family added peace and joy to her fertility journey as well.
“I can’t say enough great things about the Cade Foundation,” Jenafer says. “Being an infertile woman is an extremely difficult struggle and it can be very private. To find a place where I could share my struggle with others who understood what I was going through and support each other has been a fulfilling and validating experience.”
Jenafer also found support and family in the staff at RSC.
“RSC has been a great place for me as well,” says Jenafer. “Not only are they medically knowledgeable and helpful, but everyone I encountered was understanding and supportive. With as much time as I spent in the offices, I came to feel like part of the family.”
Finding success with donor eggs
After struggling through two rounds of IVF and one round of donor egg IVF without success, Jenafer’s dream came true with her second donor egg IVF cycle. She was overcome with joy to learn she had become pregnant, though she still feared the pregnancy could end in a miscarriage. Jenafer remained optimistic, knowing that her chances of reliving that pain were far lower now that she was using an egg donor.
Once Jenafer passed the first trimester, she breathed a sigh of relief, feeling much more secure that this pregnancy would be successful. After that point she allowed herself to be excited every day and look forward to meeting her new child, a little boy. Jenafer and Robert agreed on the name Robert Joseph Ramirez Jr., or R.J. for short.
Jenafer soon reached her second trimester and then her third. R.J. remained very active, moving around as soon as his mother woke up in the morning and performing gymnastic routines as she went to bed in the evening. On October 3, 2020, Jenafer and Robert proudly welcomed R.J. into the world and into their family.
“I was so overwhelmingly happy and completely fulfilled,” says Jenafer. “It was like the long, hard journey I had been on was finally over and I was given the best gift in the world.”
Words of wisdom for those trying to get pregnant
Jenafer wants others who are considering fertility treatment to feel empowered to start the process. In her words, “Do it! Do not wait!” It is a long and tough road, but she feels that having a hole in your heart where a child should be is just as difficult.
Jenafer also advocates egg freezing (cryopreservation) for women who are not ready to have a family yet but want the best chances of having one in the future. She wants hopeful parents to remember that they don’t need to be shy or scared. Just as she did, they will become part of a community of people who understand the fertility journey and have found ways to thrive.
“I have met so many women who have had children using fertility treatments,” says Jenafer. “Yes, sometimes it takes many tries, but in the end the success was worth their struggles.”
Above all, Jenafer wants people to understand that infertility is a sensitive and oftentimes private struggle. Remembering to take this into consideration in conversations with other women is important. This goes for those who share that struggle and those who do not.
“It hurt so much when I would get asked if I had children of my own,” Jenafer recalls. “Then I would feel judged for saying No, but not feeling able to explain why or talk about the hardships I’ve faced.”
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Jenafer is so very thankful for the chance she was given to become a mother. The support she received from the people at RSC and the Cade Foundation, along with the women she met along the way, gave her the strength and hope to press on until she was able to hold R.J. in her arms. Her biggest advice is to be supportive of those who struggle with infertility. This includes being kind and patient with yourself if you are one of the many women who face this battle, and knowing you are not alone.