Dr. William Dodds, The Fertility Center (Grand Rapids, MI)
My sister, Sheri, has a digital ‘scrap for hire’ business called Sheri’s Scraps (http://sherisscraps.blogspot.com/). For Jessica’s birthday, Sheri started Jessica’s first scrapbook. I was so excited to start organizing all our photos and memories. One of my favorite pages is the one she did with a letter I wrote to Jessica about our fertility specialist. Since it is hard to read in the images, here is a copy of that letter:
While you will probably never know this doctor who is holding you so proudly, Dr. William Dodds is an integral part of your story. Your story actually starts back in 2006, three years before you were even conceived. I had just started a new job and Daddy and I were finally ready to start our family. We were shocked when we didn’t get pregnant right away. A year later, we were referred to Dr. Dodds – a fertility specialist at Michigan Reproductive (now called The Fertility Center). We thought for sure that our first treatment would result in quadruplets, perhaps we had jumped into this process too quickly and we really did need to “just relax” as so many people would like to tell us. But, our first round of treatments did not result in a baby…nor did our second, third, fourth or fifth.
Finally in 2008 we got the good news – we were four weeks pregnant! We had our first ultrasound at six weeks. Even though we couldn’t see the heartbeat yet (something that did not seem to concern the doctor performing the ultrasound), sure enough – there was a baby. Two weeks later we went in for our eight week ultrasound. We were so excited that Dr. Dodds would be doing this ultrasound because we wanted to see him and share our excitement with him. Maybe we could hear the heart beat this time, too! As we anxiously waited for Dr. Dodds to come in, we talked about how exciting it was to finally be pregnant, to finally be parents. Then, a knock on the door…the time had come: Dr. Dodds came in the room and began the ultrasound. After only a moment we realized there was a problem. He turned the screen away from us and looked closer. With deep concern and sadness, he looked at us and said “I’m so sorry, the baby didn’t make it.” Such a horrible thought had never occurred to either of us. I burst into tears, never having felt such a deep loss. I clung to your Daddy and just cried. Dr. Dodds told us to take as much time as we needed and then to meet him in a conference room to discuss the next steps. How I ever left that room, I will never know. He explained to us that we had experienced a ‘blighted ovum’ miscarriage, that there definitely had been a baby, a brief life, but that there was definitely not a baby now. He told me how my body hadn’t realized it was not still pregnant, but that I would either naturally miscarry soon or that he would have to do a D&C…a few weeks later, he did perform the D&C.
We did not begin treatments again until the next March and in June 2009 we experienced our second loss. The first blood test had come back positive, but the second test came back and it looked like we would lose the pregnancy. A few days later, I naturally miscarried…thankful that I did not have to have another D&C, but devastated at the loss of yet another life.
In November 2009, we were scheduled for another round of treatments. It was a sunny Saturday, November 14th, a day that I will always remember. Dr. Young, another specialist at the office, performed the IUI and as we drove home, I put my feet up on the dash of the car hoping that maybe THIS time it would work and we’d have our own baby to hold. Two weeks later, the Friday after Thanksgiving, we had our first blood test – praise God, we were pregnant again! We were due August 8th, 2010, but had so many questions: would this one stick, would the changes in our regimen be enough to finally have this baby to hold, could it finally be our time to be parents to a baby born here on earth instead of him or her being born in heaven? We anxiously awaited the results of the second blood test. My HCG level should double after 48 hours. Since 48 hours was a Sunday, we had to wait an extra day. Finally, Monday came…but the results were not good. Even though it had been more than 48 hours, my levels had not doubled and it looked like we would miscarry yet again.
How could this be happening? When would our time come? We prayed, as we had in the past, that God would protect this child and cause her to grow and be strong. Then, two days later, we received a ray of hope – my HCG levels had doubled since Monday and they were almost where they should be if they had doubled twice since my first test. We prayed and prayed and prayed. At six weeks we went in for our first ultrasound. There she was…just a little line on the screen. And then we saw it, the line was moving, her heart was beating! Dr. Dodds hit a button and we heard the sweetest sound we could ever have imagined. Thump thump, thump thump, and for the second time, I burst into tears during an ultrasound…but this time they were tears of joy.
Another two weeks later, at eight weeks, we had our last ultrasound with Dr. Dodds. It was just before Christmas and it was “the appointment”. It was at the eight week appointment that we had found out our first baby had not made it. Would she still be ok this time…would her little heart still be beating? Could this be the best Christmas gift ever? We anxiously awaited Dr. Dodds to begin the ultrasound. I stared at the screen praying that God had kept you safe – and there you were, safe and sound, heart still beating, strong and resilient, tucked gently away. And just like that, I graduated to a new doctor.
Throughout the pregnancy we continued to pray for you – our constant drum beat was that God would keep you safe and cause you to grow and be strong. You received excellent care from our new doctor, but we often talked of how we missed Dr. Dodds.
On August 8th, your due date that was set so many months ago, you arrived. After returning from the hospital there was one person we knew had to meet you: Dr. Dodds. While we know God ultimately holds all life in His hands, this was the man that God had used to bring you to us. It was a long and difficult journey filled with frustration, heartache, and ultimately joy. We believe that God placed this doctor in our lives to help us through that journey. He is so much more than ‘just a fertility doctor’. He was our friend, an encourager, a supporter through the good times and the bad times. He is a man with a God-given gift to bring life to hurting parents who have no children, and we thank God constantly for the role this doctor, Dr. William Dodds, played in bringing you into this world.