Fertility issues plague Las Vegas couple - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

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Fertility issues plague Las Vegas couple

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The Wennerlinds The Wennerlinds
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Infertility is an issue that affects about 10 percent of U.S. women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thousands of couples in Las Vegas have trouble getting pregnant. For many, that means years of struggles. Some end up adopting while others continue working with doctors for years, which can also be costly.

Ryan and Karmann Wennerlind married a decade ago, but having a baby did not come easy. In fact, over the years they suffered nine miscarriages. It's been a long road to pregnancy for the couple, but persistence and the right doctor paid off.

Shortly after they married, both at age 22, Karmann Wennerlind conceived.

"I had miscarried without even realizing that we had gotten pregnant. We didn't really think anything of it and just kind of went on because we weren't trying," Karmann Wennerlind said.

The couple did start trying in 2004 when it happened again.

"I had a miscarriage again at five weeks. The doctors here just said, that's common, don't worry about it," Karmann Wennerlind said.

A few months later she miscarried again at five weeks. After several moves for work and countless doctor visits and normal tests with fertility specialists, Karmann Wennerlind still didn't know why she couldn't carry a baby to term. She suffered several more miscarriages along the way.

"I was so emotionally dead, and just tired, I guess would be the (best) word to say. So we took a break," Karmann Wennerlind said.

The couple ended up moving to Seattle and almost became parents through adoption but they suffered more heartache after the birth mother chose another family.

"Yet again we got our hopes up and put our hearts into maybe finally having an opportunity to be (parents). Even if it could be by somebody else, we could have a baby to love. But then that could be dashed again," Karmann Wennerlind said.

Karmann Wennerlind had no problem getting pregnant but would miscarry at five weeks every time. She ended up finding a specialist who had a daughter in a similar situation.

"We got the phone call that I had natural heightened killer cells, which was what was attacking the baby every time at five weeks. So we both bawled our eyes out. It was the first time in five years that we had answers to what was going on," Karmann Wennerlind said.

The couple eventually moved back to Las Vegas, where they both work with disabled children and teenagers through the state. Karmann Wennerlind gathered all her records, and eventually she and her husband walked into the Sher Institute.

"With tears streaming down my face, I asked the receptionist, 'Does Dr. Sher believe in natural killer cells, and do you believe he could help me?' And the lady handed me a tissue and said, 'You bet,'" Karmann Wennerlind said through tears.

Dr. Geoffrey Sher has been doing In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, since 1982. Through IVF and other methods, he's helped with the birth of about 17,000 babies.

Sher said there are many reasons for infertility, including damaged or blocked fallopian tubes. He said they are caused by infections and are becoming an epidemic in America. There's also egg quality, age issues and male infertility.

"My specific interest is in some of the causes that bring the loss of a baby, such as immune factors, that are usually ignored," Dr. Sher said.

Sher treated Karmann Wennerlind for her immune problem. Through IVF, she miscarried once again in December, but this time it wasn't because of her immune system. It was because of egg quality and hormones from the treatment.

They tried a second time in March and were successful.

The Wennerlinds reached a milestone and made it past the five-week mark. They got to see their new baby on an ultrasound and hear its heartbeat for the first time. The couple said it was the most amazing experience.

"I'm really excited but reserved at the same time," Ryan Wennerlind said.

"I've dreamed of that. I've dreamed of actually being able to see a baby on that ultrasound and see a heartbeat," Karmann Wennerlind said.

The Wennerlinds said this put a strain on their marriage early on, but they remained caring and supportive. They hope to serve as an inspiration to others.

They encourage other couples to follow their instincts and not to be afraid to switch doctors. All of their moves forced them to try someone new each time.

"We saw a lot of doctors, and it seemed most wanted to put us in the same mold as everyone else, but we all know that everyone's body is different," Ryan Wennerlind said.

Karmann Wennerlind said she knows she was put on this path for a reason, and she ended up right where she was supposed to be.

"I can't say that I didn't have low points where I figured, 'Why not me? What's wrong with me? Did I do something wrong?'" Karmann Wennerlind said.

Although a lot of science is involved, the couple and Sher believe a higher power is at work.

"As long as we don't think we're doing it and we realize we are creating circumstances for a much more divine intervention," Sher said.

Friday will mark 11 weeks of pregnancy for the couple, nearing the end of the first trimester.

They do have other embryos, so the couple could try again if this doesn't work, but Karmann Wennerlind said if it doesn't work this time, she will probably try the adoption route. She also said she would be perfectly happy with one child.

The couple spent thousands of dollars over the years, and insurance doesn't cover much of it. They went through a lot of savings. But they found there are many grants and scholarships available for couples in need.

They were able to get a scholarship for the last round of treatment after Sher told them about the INCIID IVF Scholarship. (Click here for more information on the nonprofit.)

It's a high-risk pregnancy, so the Wennerlinds are still hesitant to get too excited but they wanted to share their story to try and help other couples.

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