Our Miracle Story as told by a husband!
My name is Jim Steffen and in 2002, at the age of 43, I brought my son Julien then aged 3 at home from China. I had adopted him on my own the because I wanted to raise children, but at that time had never been married and had lost hope of meeting the right person. About six months later, I did find the right person: Elena, whom I became engaged to on Christmas eve 2004 and married to May 29, 2004. Elena had three children: Dioris, now 17, Diorlena 12 and Helen 9. Quickly, we became a family of 6.
Elena and I had hoped to have another child together, but Elena had a tubal ligation about six years previously. Her surgery was done in the Dominican Republic, where Elena is from, and we were never able to obtain detailed records of the surgery. We initially pursued in-vitro fertilization but had to wait an additional three months to try after Elena was discovered to have a uterine cyst that had to be removed. We attempted IVF. in late January 2005. It was a discouraging and difficult process for us. Our specialist harvested less than half the usual number of eggs and we had only one fertilize. In the end, Elena did not get pregnant. We met with the specialist after the process, who told us that we could try again but with only about a 30% chance of success.
When we started to look into tubal ligation reversal surgery, we had a good feeling about what we read about Dr. Levin. What we liked the most was his willingness to work with us after the surgery until we became pregnant. I thought it may not be so easy for us and we could use all the help we could get. After a reassuring phone interview with Dr. Levin, Elena, then 35, scheduled her surgery in Louisville on May 23rd, 2005 just after the kids finished school.
Dr. Levin met us in the hotel the night before our surgery and we knew we were in good hands. He had a gentle touch which put us both at ease. Elena gave me our wedding ring to hold while she had the surgery. It was a nice day and I decided to walk around town to blow off some nervousness, When I met Elena in recovery a few hours later and she ask for her ring, I couldn't find it. In wasn't until hours later and Elena was resting, that I found out that someone had found the ring and turned it in to the receptionist at the surgery waiting area. We thanked God for the honesty of a stranger to return it, and felt that was maybe a good sign for us.
Dr. Levin had reported to us that we was able to restore the tubes to lengths of 3 ½ centimeters and 4 centimeters. Although Dr. Levin told us that these were sufficient lengths to have a chance for a pregnancy, I think we both had hoping Elena's repaired tubes would be longer and although hopeful were trying not to set ourselves up for more disappointment. About that time, Elena's sister who is just a few years older than her was having some irregular periods suggestive of early menopause. Elena, who has very strong faith and never lost hope, was at least keeping our options open and shared with me some information on adoption that she picked up.
Because of the tight angle of the repair, Dr. Levin asked us to wait to try to get pregnant for about six weeks. We actually did try about time we estimated Elena's next ovulation was which was barely in that waiting time. Elena's period came normally that time. During the next cycle, we purchased an ovulation predictor kit and made an attempt right before a trip we had planned to Italy. Little did we know while we were walking all around Rome that hot July, Elena was already pregnant.
Elena was late for her next period. and we were both very excited. A few days later, we decided we would do a pregnancy test. We couldn't sleep the night before. I picked up a kit on the way home from work the next day. It turned positive almost immediately!
A few days later, Elena started having episodes of fast heart beats. Within a few days, she was having shortness of breath and eventually some chest pain. We didn't know what was going on. We were worried that it could be a sign of tubal pregnancy. Elena spent three days on the cardiology unit and after was sent home with two pieces of wonderful news. She appeared to have a benign condition called P.O.T.S.(Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) probably brought on by pregnancy hormones and an embryonic sac (our baby) was in the uterus.
Elena's tachycardia episodes mysteriously went away almost as soon as she left the hospital, but were almost immediately replaced by morning sickness. Dr. Levin followed hormone levels which we all normal. Elena had some episodes of bleeding early on which still worried us and we tried to keep the pregnancy a secret until she was further along, but after we saw the beating heart at Elena's eight week OB visit, we couldn't help to tell the family. We shared the news with everyone else when Elena was at 13 weeks.
The rest of the pregnancy went great, although that's easy for me to say since Elena was the one pregnant. We found out we were having a boy at 19 weeks. Every exam and test beyond that were completely normal and reassuring and at 12:10AM on April 6, 2006, Elena vaginally gave birth to Elián Josef Steffen who was a healthy 8 pounds and 4 ounces and 21 inches long. He's a true miracle and gift from God and the whole big family loves him like crazy.
We are so thankful for Dr. Levin for all his help giving us a chance for this miracle to happen.
Again, thanks for everything,
Jim and Elena