The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc

Woman's World Magazine: Miracle in Cyberspace

Miracle in Cyberspace"
An article from Woman's World Magazine

It was nighttime in Fairfax County Va. When Nancy Hemenway switched on her computer. As the light from the screen bathed the darkened room in a glowing blue, she took a deep breath and typed in the keyword inferility.Dozens of messages, posted by others, flashed in front of her. All these women are like me, she thought. Tentatively, she typed: Can someone out there help me?

For years, Nancy's hopes of becoming a mother were alternately fanned and crushed. First, doctors couldn't explain why she didn't conceive. Fertility treatments worked, but she suffered one miscarriage after another. In her mourning, her husband David would hold her close and whisper: "Until the time is right, we have each other." The time has been right for years, she thought. Maybe the doctor is missing something.

Online, childless Nancy Hemenway found more than information-she found a friend who made her dream come true

As a teacher, Nancy used the computer for research, so she was familiar with online services. Maybe that's where I'll find what I'm looking for. I always pictured myself looking into a tiny face that [ooks lovingly back, she typed in that night. The next day, she logged on again and was stunned to find dozens of messages for her. You'll find many supportive women here, one read. We're like family, said another. She clicked on the next message-and stared at the screen in surprise. Your problem sounds like mine, a woman named Nancy Amicon had written. She went on to tell Nancy about a Chicago reproductive immunologist, Alan Beer, M.D. I'll send you information, she wrote. Can she really help? Nancy thought cautiously. But she alreadv felt buoyed by new hope. Days later, she pored over the packet her new friend had sent: Unexplained miscarriages may be an immunological problem, she read. A possible reason for all this misery! she thought. Thank you, Nancy typed to her friend. Fm sending this to my doctor. Well, what did you think?' she asked her doctor. "It doesn't apply to you," he said dismissively. How can you be sure? she thought. Let's see what Dr. Beer thinks and she dialed for an appointment

. The office responded with a list of blood tests she and David should have. I have a good feeling about this, she thought. A few weeks later, she came home to a message on her answering machine: 'This is Dr. Beer. I think I can help you." Do I dare to hope? she thought. Excitedly, Nancy and David flew to Chicago. They listened as Dr. Beer explained: 'A woman produces antibodies to keep her immune system from rejecting a baby. But since you and David are a very close tissue match, your baby is a close match too-close enough to fool Nancy's body into not producing the necessary blocking antibodies. But not close enough to keep her from rejecting it." That's why I miscarry, Nancy thought with astonishment.

Nancy began treatment, which included a drug that helps transplant recipients accept donor organs. That meant daily self-injections in her abdomen now and throughout her pregnancy. But it's a small price to pay, she thought, wincing with each shot. Dr. Beer said it could take over a year, but Nancy was more hopeful. Yet months passed. Be patient, her online friends wrote. Her friend Nancy Amicon wanted to deliver her encouragement in person. She's driving down from Pennsylvania to meet us!" Nancy told David. But when Nancy opened the door, she found that her friend was not alone. In her arms was a beautiful little girl. "This is Paige, my little miracle," her friend said. "Your miracle will happen too." But every trip to the lab for a pregnancy test was followed by a heartbreaking phone call. "Not yet,' the lab nurse would tell her.

Then one day Nancy answered the phone to hear the lab staff cheer: "You're pregnant!" Laughing and crying, she called David. 'We're going to have a baby!' she gushed, but even as she spoke the words, she felt fear. I've been pregnant before ... At five weeks, Nancy typed: We saw the baby's heartbeat on the ultrasound. At 20 weeks: I felt her kick! As the weeks passed,she rejoiced with the baby's every move. When she entered her seventh month, the doctor told her that she should feel the baby kick about every four hours. And as weeks passed, no matter what she was doing, she marked the baby's every motion. But in her thirty-seventh week, she fearfully waited as the fourth hour passed without any movement. Then the fifth. Worry nearly paralyzing her, David rushed her to the hospital. 'I just can't lose this baby," she sobbed as the doctor examined her. 'Let's induce labor," he said. "This baby is ready to be born, so let's not take any chances."

Nancy prayed as the epidural for her C-section was administered. And when she heard Zoes first cry, she turned to David, saying, "Is it a dream?" Two days later, Nancy was home, typing between feedings:
She's beautiful, with a head of dark hair I couldn't have gotten through this without all of you. 


Parents, Nancy and David Hemenway at a reunion of
other couples and their babies.

Recently, Nancy sat in her pediatrician's waiting room with nine-month-old Zoë in her arms. Talk between the mothers turned to labor and delivery. Where was your baby born?" one woman asked Nancy. Nancy paused, then said in all seriousness: "Cyberspace."

Zoe enjoying a leisurely ride in the family car.

Even though she's now a mom, Nancy Hemenway remains active in helping infertile couples. She founded the InterNationalCouncil on Infertility Information Dissemination (INCIID pronounced "inside"), available through the Internet. If you're online, their World Wide Web address is

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