- Patient Stories - IVFReproductive Medicine & Fertility Care at Billings Clinic
(406) 238-2500, ext. 2904
(800) 332-7156, 2904
Under the care of Reproductive Specialists at Billings Clinic, this is the story of the journey to add a new member to the family.
Bowers Family Story
Brianne and Justin Bowers just wanted their daughter, Shaylee, to have the chance to be a big sister. That’s how everything got started for one of the first couples to have a baby using in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment in Montana.
On an unseasonably warm weekend in January, Brianne and Justin and their family came from northern Wyoming to Billings to meet Brianne’s mom, who lives in Bozeman, at The Reef indoor water park. They were celebrating Shaylee’s eighth birthday.
Brianne holds her three-month-old baby, Kenna, in her arms while she talks, “We are close to our families. My husband and I love having siblings and we wanted Shaylee to have a sister or brother. After Shaylee was two years old we decided to try for another child.”
Brianne, 26, and Justin, 32, tried getting pregnant for more than four years. Shaylee kept asking them for a baby, a little sister or a brother. “She would say, ‘Mom, I wish you were pregnant,’ and I told her we were working on it, but then it took so long. She didn’t understand why it was easy for other people to have babies and so hard for us.”
They went to a couple of different ob/gyn doctors. Brianne was on Clomid (fertility medication) for about a year. “Even though I didn’t like being on Clomid because of the side effects, I wanted to keep trying. We didn’t want to give up,” says Brianne.
After going through different tests and doctors, they discovered that Justin had male factor infertility. Their research showed that in vitro fertilization (IVF) would be the best treatment for them. Unfortunately, they also discovered that IVF was not available in Wyoming or Montana. (Prior to 2011, the only states that did not offer IVF were Alaska, Montana and Wyoming.)
“We decided that IVF wouldn’t be feasible for us because it was too far away and too expensive. We didn’t want to go away for weeks at a time, not seeing our daughter, and not being able to work,” says Brianne.
Then they found out from a friend that Dr. Christopher Montville was providing fertility care at Billings Clinic and would soon be offering IVF.
“We were excited. The price was more affordable and we could just drive back and forth from our home in Lovell,” Brianne says. “We also found out that Justin’s insurance from his job would help us with fertility care, including IVF.”
“We came to Billings on Valentine’s Day in 2011, spent the night, and my eggs were harvested the next day. Five days later we came to Billings to get an embryo transfer. They told me I had a great embryo to implant.” Nine months later, Kenna Bowers was born, with dark brown hair and bright blue eyes.
Brianne and Justin were pleased with their care at Billings Clinic. “Dr. Montville and his nurse Zoey were so helpful,” says Brianne. “She answered the phone every time I called. Dr. Montville called us back in person about all the lab results.”
Justin agrees. “I always felt comfortable with them and it didn’t feel awkward talking about sensitive topics. They devoted all of their attention to us. You wouldn’t have known they had other patients.”
“Dr. Montville was always prepared and remembered us. He didn’t have to look at our chart every minute. They’re just normal people who wanted to help us. They talk to you in a way you understand and explain things perfectly.”
They had to wait a few months to do the IVF treatment after they first saw Dr. Montville in the summer of 2010, but Brianne said the time went quickly. They had gotten used to getting tests and then waiting.
Billings Clinic’s state-of-the-art IVF lab opened in January 2011 at the Surgery Center in downtown Billings and the Bowers were in the first group of patients.
“First I had to take birth control pills to set my cycle on schedule for IVF. Then I gave myself hormone injections for more than three weeks. The IVF injections weren’t nearly as bad as the Clomid. I had no side effects.”
Brianne had done a lot of research and wanted to know all the details about the process. “Dr. Montville told me why he had to check things, do tests, what every medication was for. I rarely had to ask questions because he explained everything to us. He drew diagrams and explained what was going on inside of me.”
“For example, when the follicles were growing inside my ovary, I started to feel a lump. I asked him what that was and he said that was good - it meant I had multiple eggs in my ovary.” During the two-and-a-half weeks before IVF they drove to Billings every other day for ultrasounds to monitor her ovarian follicles.
Justin says, “It’s not every day that you get to see the fertilization process. We saw the petri dish, the fish swimming, the eggs and the embryo… We were so happy we were able to go to Billings for the tests and treatments, and then come home to our jobs and to see our daughter every day.”
“My biggest concern was if it would work,” Justin adds. “The three weeks we waited to find out if we were pregnant felt like the longest time in the whole process. . .”
Brianne says she had a perfect pregnancy. “The pregnancy went very well. But when we reached the end of the pregnancy, my baby was breech.” (The baby’s head was up instead of facing down).
“They were going to do a version (reposition the baby) but I went into labor first. I went to West Park Hospital in Cody. My ob/gyn had to do a C-section and everything went well. She was texting with Dr. Montville after Kenna was born.”
During the C-section they discovered that Brianne had endometriosis (meaning that a type of tissue that lines the uterus is also growing outside the uterus), which may have added to their difficulty getting pregnant. Endometriosis can happen without symptoms and cause unexplained infertility.
“You know, I thought most people were able to get pregnant for free,” adds Brianne. “It should be easy. But then after going through this, we felt so special – we had all these people helping us to grow our family and we saw the whole process of pregnancy happening before our eyes.”
“IVF is a great option and a great opportunity for couples. It was a cool experience,” says Justin.
Shaylee runs over to the table where her parents are sitting. She is shivering and dripping wet from playing in the water. She checks on baby Kenna, tells her mom that Kenna looks hungry, and goes back to the pool. She is clearly happy to be a big sister.
For more information about Billings Clinic reproductive medicine and fertility care in Bozeman, call 406-587-9202 or 1-866-587-9202 and in Billings, call 406-238-2904 or 1-800-332-7156, ext. 2904.