Episode 163: Empowering Resilience: A Broken Brown Egg AHA Grant Winner’s Story
In Episode 86: The Broken Brown Egg, we were introduced to Regina Townsend, the passionate voice behind The Broken Brown Egg; a blog, resource hub, community, and nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering, informing, and advocating for those who are questioning or dealing with infertility, with a particular focus on the Black experience.
Today, we meet Sametra Thompson, an active-duty service member in the U.S Army. After receiving a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and experiencing a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, Sametra became the recipient of The AHA Grant, a grant established by The Broken Brown Egg in partnership with Progyny. This grant has played a crucial role in Sametra’s journey, reflecting her unwavering determination in the face of discouraging results. Her story also brings attention to the challenging realities of fertility treatment costs without proper insurance coverage, underscoring how sometimes the best decision may not be financially viable.
Guest: Sametra Thompson, AHA Grant Recipient
Host: Dan Bulger, Progyny
For more information, visit Progyny’s Podcast page and Progyny’s Education page for more resources. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, @ThisisInfertilityPodcast and use the #ThisisInfertility. Have a question, comment, or want to share your story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some highlights from this episode:
A New Diagnosis & A Quick Treatment
06:17 – 08:58
Dan Bulger: They tried for about six months with no results. And while they were both healthy, Sametra did take note that her cycle was very irregular, which she knew could be an issue. So, she decided to seek help.
Sametra Thompson: One of the results was that I had PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. I did all the research and found out it’s crazy common.
Dan Bulger: It’s certainly not exciting to find out that you have PCOS. But the good news is that infertility brought on by PCOS is treatable. And that treatment doesn’t always have to be IVF.
Sametra Thompson: They prescribed me something called Metformin. My symptoms from taking the Metformin were terrible. But over time, my body got used to it. And surprisingly, Metformin helped regulate my cycles. So that is a good thing. My husband was deployed for nine months. And two weeks after he came home is when I got my positive pregnancy test. So, I told him, and it was a very, very happy moment.
Wanting that Baby
10:12 – 14:49
Sametra Thompson: Over time I bled for over a month. And my numbers were rising very slowly, but they just ruled that I was having an ectopic pregnancy. So, they gave me a shot called Methotrexate, and that’s used to stop the cells from developing so the baby has stopped growing. And I guess like flush out my system. Overall, the Methotrexate shot didn’t work, unfortunately, and on New Year’s Day, I woke up to excruciating pain. I’ve never felt pain like that in my life, but it was on the left side of my abdomen. And I went to the emergency room, they gave me an ultrasound and they saw fluid in my abdomen.
Dan Bulger: Sametra experienced an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. In this case, it grew in a fallopian tube. If an ectopic pregnancy, like this one isn’t treated, it can cause the tube to burst and create major internal bleeding. Embryos developing in the fallopian tube cannot lead to a life birth. So, this was both a pregnancy loss and a life-threatening event. Fortunately, she received help in time, but the fallopian tube was removed.
Sametra Thompson: It’s a silent struggle. Because we wanted that baby, even after we had lost it, for so long. I just wanted that feeling back because I remember like starting to get some symptoms like I was getting a little sore. And I was craving super sweet things, I just wanted strawberry cheesecake. I don’t know why. But I just wanted that feeling back. I wanted that baby back. And it was hard for my husband and I to even talk about it, to ask him like, how do you feel? Are you okay, as far as losing the baby? How do you continue life? There really is no answer. All you can do is just wake up the next morning and keep going.
Dan Bulger: With one removed fallopian tube, another closed fallopian tube, their only legitimate chance of pregnancy was going to require IVF. IVF is great. It’s truly life changing medicine. But IVF is not cheap. In fact, without adequate coverage IVF can be extremely expensive.
The Broken Brown Egg
16:07 – 25:52
Sametra Thompson: So, I looked up grants for service members, I looked up grants for residents in Georgia, I looked at grants for newly married couples and everything and then I got super specific, and I looked up grants for Black women. And that’s when I came across The Broken Brown Egg Foundation.
Dan Bulger: The Broken Brown Egg is a nonprofit that exists to empower, inform and advocate for those questioning or experiencing the impact of infertility with an emphasis on the Black experience of it. The Broken Brown Egg was founded by Regina Townsend. The Broken Brown Egg has partnered with Progyny to offer a grant called The Awareness, Hope and Activism Grant, aka the AHA Grant. And in fact, the first year we partnered on the grant happened to be the year that Sametra applied for it. The AHA grant is an award that provides up to $10,000 to individuals and couples seeking to expand their families. Progyny has made a $10,000 initial donation to support this initiative. And the grant recipient also receives support for medication through Alto Pharmacy and Ferring Pharmaceuticals. They received the grant. This was an extraordinarily exciting time. And it meant that their plans were going to change.
Sametra Thompson: Everything just went perfectly. Honestly it seemed too good to be true. I was like, there’s no way, like on an untested embryo, I was just very grateful and thankful. But the baby did stop growing at eight weeks. And we didn’t find out until I was ten weeks. So, the baby had been in there for two weeks without a heartbeat. And that that was something that my husband and I were not prepared for. Because once we heard the heartbeat, we were like, okay, let’s allow ourselves to be happy. As long as I’m alive and well, I’m going to do everything in my power to bring a child into this world, and nothing will ever stop me. And it’s crazy because beforehand I didn’t think that I was this strong. And I didn’t think that I had that motivation to keep going. Because when I tell you my heart is still broken to this day because I wanted that baby, bad. But it’s still not going to stop me from doing what my husband and I want to do.
Dan has been in the healthcare industry for the past ten plus years as a multimedia content producer. Better known as ‘Video Dan’ he has interviewed numerous doctors, patients and other experts in the world of fertility. He’s also the producer for this podcast, This is Infertility and the producer behind the Progyny YouTube Channel which features interviews with dozens of the nation’s leading fertility specialists. On a personal note Dan’s parents started fostering kids when he was four years old, and he considers himself a proud older brother to over 100 foster children.
Sametra and her husband are a dual military family. In 2019, Sametra was diagnosed with PCOS and in 2021, she lost her first child due to an ectopic pregnancy. She soon found out she has one closed fallopian tube remaining, which means the ability to naturally conceive wasn’t a viable option which brought forth a constant battle between herself and her reproductive health. The Thompsons began to weigh their options but one of the pitfalls is the lack of access to care due to lack of fertility coverage. Over time, Sametra became to advocate and educate herself about infertility and how resources can help with anyone who may be struggling.
Music From This Episode: