Why I Cried During Paw Patrol Live

My three year old daughter loves puppies and like many children her age she is obsessed with anything and everything Paw Patrol. If you have a preschooler in your life you probably know Ryder and his team of search and rescue pups that protect the residents of Adventure Bay. What started out as an animated series has grown into a franchise filled with a collection of toys and merchandise from books and games to plastic plates and underwear! And to bring the pups from Paw Patrol directly to boys and girls in cities across the world there are currently two touring live stage shows.

Now why did I cry at the show? Well, you might think I cried because spending two hours in a theater filled with preschoolers on a Saturday night isn’t exactly on my bucket list. Or that I cried because my family paid $376.50 for five center aisle seats to see Paw Patrol Live! (this included a discount my friend got us from Citi Bank) My husband felt like crying when he found out he was going to spend a Saturday night seeing Paw Patrol Live while the St. Louis Blues were playing in the arena right next to the theater! But the tickets were a Christmas gift from Nana and we all piled into the mini van and willingly went to the show because it was a dream come true for our sweet little Lillian.

I shed a few tears when the curtain opened and the music started playing and a huge smile appeared on my daughter’s face. Imagine her excitement seeing the beloved characters she reads about in books, sees animated on the screen and loves on toys and puzzles, magically come to life on the stage right in front of her! When Ryder introduced each of the pups on the Paw Patrol team she clapped her hands and sang along to the theme song. I enjoyed watching my daughter more than the show! I delighted in seeing my parents smile sweetly at their little granddaughter, knowing they had made a little girl’s dream come true! And the enthusiasm continued until the actors took their final curtain call and the lights came on.

Seeing the joy on my daughter’s face and experiencing this event with my husband and my parents certainly brought me joy. But what truly brought tears to my eyes is when I suddenly realized that my parents, my husband and I wouldn’t be sitting in this theater, at this particular moment, seeing this specific show, if there was no Lillian. My mind rushed through all of the wonderful things we have done together and all of the experiences we will enjoy in the future because of the little girl sitting next to me. I looked around the theater and every adult was accompanied by at least one little person between the ages of 2-6! I felt honored to be a member of this elite group. Membership I feel privileged to have received and that I will never take for granted.

For a brief moment I went to a dark place and I thought about a life without Lillian. It isn’t something I can ever imagine now but at one time prepared for. During our final IVF cycle (our fourth and final cycle) my husband and I had to accept the statistics and come to peace with the fact that we may never have a child of our own. I thought of the women who continue the fertility struggle and those who may be dreaming of sitting in my seat at the theater at this very moment. My husband and I would have had a blessed life no matter what the outcome but it wouldn’t have been this life. We may have adopted a child or fostered a child but we wouldn’t have this child. We wouldn’t have Lillian and we wouldn’t be sitting together as a family at the Peabody Opera House on this January evening enjoying a performance of Paw Patrol Live.

An Amazing Doctor

Throughout my journey to have a baby my husband and I were treated by several fertility specialists. We got second and third opinions and then we found Dr. Elan Simckes and his caring staff at Fertility Partnership. We finally found a doctor who believed in us! He was personable and wasn’t afraid to think outside of the box. We were excited to hear that Dr. Simckes was named one of the top doctors in St. Louis this year and were honored when he asked us to appear in a photo in the August edition of Saint Louis Magazine. 

When a reporter heard about my story she interviewed me and the following article appeared on Saint Louis Magazine’s website in August. 

Fertility Partnership Helps St. Louis Families Grow

Dr. Elan Simckes keeps moms-to-be at ease with his colorful personality and  lighthearted antics.

By Mary Tomlinson August 22, 2016
Jennifer Talley and her daughter, Lillian, with Dr. Elan Simckes.

Jennifer Talley started her search for a fertility specialist as many do, trying recommendations from her general practitioner. Not feeling she’d found the right specialist, she visited an online support group for women dealing with infertility. She read a recommendation for Fertility Partnership in St. Peters.

At the clinic, she saw pictures of smiling families with their babies, a montage of success stories. Dr. Elan Simckes, the reproductive endocrinologist who started the practice, was unlike many other physicians. “He had a colorful personality and used humor to put us at ease,” Talley says. “I remember at one exam he was playing air guitar, and when I was getting ready to have a transfer he came in singing Looney Tunes.”

Simckes also keeps the cost of his clinic reasonable. “A sense of service to the community drew me to the field of reproductive health, but then there were people who couldn’t access it because of money,” he explains. “The lower you can get it without sacrificing quality, the better.” (The Centers For Disease Control ranked Fertility Partnership No. 2 in Missouri in live birth rate for women ages 35 to 37.)

Jennifer Talley and her daughter Lillian.

Jennifer Talley and her daughter Lillian and husband Ken

For Talley, her online support group also continued to play a pivotal role. “Our journeys all looked different, had different outcomes and twists and turns, but the emotions and fear and sadness, it’s all the same,” Talley says. “These women were there to support you. They were there to cry with you.”
One of the women, who lived in England, would send a knitted teddy bear when a fellow member had a child. When Talley’s daughter, Lillian, was finally born two years ago, she received a bear. It remains one of the family’s favorite toys. 

Listen To Your Mother 

The Listen To Your Mother videos have been posted! Now I can share my story with all of you. I still get emotional when I think about my journey to motherhood, “Although my scars may never completely fade, I proudly wear my scars as they provide a reminder of the battles that have been fought and eventually overcome…” Click on the link below and see me share my entire story on stage.

A Fertility Miracle by Jennifer Freeman Talleyhttp://youtu.be/wZpRkePk86g

Being selected as a cast member in this year’s Listen To Your Mother show was a life changing experience. After years of keeping my infertility struggles private, the show provided me the platform to publicly share my journey with the world. It is my desire that by sharing my story I will bring hope and encouragement to women who are struggling with infertility.

I proudly shared the stage with a cast full of amazing women who were all strong and creative. Throughout the rehearsals and the two performances I had the opportunity to hear their beautiful stories and see them evolve on stage. Please take the time to watch all of their videos on the Listen To Your Mother You Tube channel. I promise you will not be disappointed and you may want to grab some tissue while you watch because the stories are guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and cry. Now I proudly share my story with all of you.

A Fertility Miracle

By:  Jennifer Freeman Talley

I always knew that motherhood was a privilege, and I never took it for granted.  I actually dreamed of being a mother for most of my adult life.  But, you see, my journey began when I turned 40. Although it might sound cliché, that is when I woke up from a busy life as an educational consultant, musician and wife and realized my maternal clock was ticking and that the time for me to give birth to a child of my own was running out.

After trying naturally for six months, while having vile after vile of blood drawn and undergoing countless tests, my self-prognosis was correct. I had a low ovarian reserve, and the probability of conceiving a child with my own eggs was low, although not impossible. In total, we did seven iuis, intra-uterine insemination which is artificial insemination. Not as romantic or as sexy as my husband and I had intended!  We did this month after month without any success, so, it was clear to see that IVF, In-Vitro Fertilization was our one and only chance at conceiving.

I entered the world of IVF with the statistics glaring me in the face. For the over 40 crowd, I had a 12% success rate and the percent was growing smaller and smaller with each passing day.

I was scared. I was scared of the needles and what would happen if it didn’t work? Do we have enough money to do this and do I want to take time off of work?

After agonizing about it and through lots of prayer, my husband and I realized this was the best option for us to have a child.  So, we jumped on the emotional roller coaster that is IVF.

Although IVF is becoming more common it is often not talked about. It is a secret that gets hidden away and at first we were reluctant to share our journey with even our parents and close friends. So I joined an online support group for women who are undergoing fertility treatments.

I became friends with women from all over the world. Three women were with me through my entire journey. One friend was a neighbor to the north and lives in Canada, another was from across the pond and resides in England and the last, lived a bit closer to home in Oklahoma.

I would have never had the strength to continue my journey if it wasn’t for their love and support. Although we have never met in person and each of our journeys look different, the pain and hurt we suffered united us and we share a bond that will connect us for the rest of our lives.

Unfortunately, my first IVF cycle was cancelled as my body did not respond to the medication. I learned later this is not uncommon and there are many women both young and Geriatric like myself that do not have success the first time around. (Did you know that ANY woman over the age of 35 in the fertility world is considered a senior citizen?) We decided to give IVF another chance as the doctors had learned a lot from my first cycle.

I wasn’t looking forward to being a human pin cushion yet again but was determined to do whatever it took to get my miracle baby. Although painful, the injections administered daily by my devoted husband never hurt as much as the heart wrenching pain of an unsuccessful cycle. My second cycle resulted in the doctors retrieving two eggs! But then the doctor called and I felt numb when she gave me the news, “I am sorry but neither of your eggs fertilized.” My doctor said there was one last protocol they could try but she sadly didn’t sound very convincing that it would even work.

I was going to give up but something told me to carry on. I began doing my own research and read success stories about 40 something’s giving birth with the help of IVF, and this kept my hopes alive. I began seeing an acupuncturist, began taking herbal supplements to improve my egg quality. Could there be one good egg left in me yet? I cut out caffeine, stopped using scented soaps, perfumes and body washes and began to meditate. I also began researching doctors and got a second opinion.

That’s when one of my cyber sisters from Canada recommended I see a doctor she had researched for me. He had a pretty high success rate for woman over 35 and his office was only a few miles from my house so I said, “Why not?  I have nothing to lose in getting a third opinion.”

My husband and I were blown away by this new doctor. He was unlike any doctor we had ever spoken to. Although the statistics he shared were the same, the sparkle in his eye, his compassion and acknowledgement of our journey so far was unlike anything we had experienced. He said he could understand our want and desire to conceive a child that was genetically ours and said although it was like throwing a ‘Hail Mary Pass’, if we were willing to try he would be happy to take our case. We left his office truly feeling like he wanted to help us and not just take our money. And he and his staff at Fertility Partnership were cheerleaders throughout the process. Dr. Simckes uses humor to put his patients at ease. I couldn’t help from laughing when he burst into the operating room singing the theme song from the Looney Toons or played air guitar during an exam. His commitment to his patients was like no other.

Sadly, my first cycle with him ended in a chemical pregnancy. But we got embryos this time, and although it was a chemical pregnancy –  I got pregnant! Our insurance was about to run out, but we had enough left to cover one more cycle, our LAST cycle no matter what the end result may be.

I entered that last cycle knowing I had done everything I could have possibly done and although I may live with regret, I counted all of the blessings I had in my life and trusted that if God wanted me to be a mother, He would find a way for it to happen.  I just knew in my heart that I would be a mother someway, somehow, someday.

Well, the last ‘Hail Mary Pass’ resulted in a TOUCHDOWN, a positive pregnancy! A pregnancy that Dr. Simckes would declare a fertility miracle!

I was on pins and needles throughout the first trimester and must have requested an ultrasound every week just to make sure the baby’s heart was still beating. My dad eagerly volunteered to be my traveling companion on work trips. He carried my luggage, took over the driving, brought me lemon aide which eased my morning sickness and even injected me with daily progesterone shots because I was afraid of the long needles and could never administer them to myself! You may think I have an overprotected father but I am an only child and I was now carrying his grandchild, a grandchild he and my mother prayed for but never thought they would have.

After what ended up being a perfect pregnancy, our dream came true 18 months ago when I gave birth to little Lillian Clare, 39 days before my 43rd birthday!  Even though everything about her birth was planned from conception to a scheduled caesarian delivery, and there were countless detours and bumps along the way, little Lillian is a miracle baby, a true gift from God. She defied statistics, and is a medical amazement.

My journey to motherhood taught me to remain positive and to look for the good in even the darkest time, to live without regret and to preserve even when the odds are against you. I learned it is OK to cry, and although you may feel alone, there are others who are experiencing the same fate.

Although my scars may never completely fade, I proudly wear them as they provide a reminder of the battles that have been fought and eventually overcome through the support of family and friends, a doctor who was both sympathetic and comedic and “babydust” from cyber sisters from around the world.