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Elizabeth Kelley had been in this situation before.

She and her husband, Jonathan Kelley, had been trying to conceive for nearly 18 months. 

“Each time I thought I was pregnant, I would get excited, but it would always end in disappointment,” recalled the New Jersey native. “It was so trying and sad, we almost stopped taking the tests.”

Something felt different this time.

It was May 9, 2021—Mother’s Day. For Elizabeth, it was her first Mother’s Day without her own mom who had tragically passed away in December after a one-year battle with lung cancer.

“I was in disbelief when I saw the plus sign on the test,” Elizabeth said. “We had been through so much, physically and emotionally, we were overcome with relief and joy.”

That moment was a culmination of several visits, phone calls and telehealth sessions with Catholic Health’s Anne Nolte, MD. Dr. Nolte serves as the Medical Director at The Gianna Center for Women’s Health & Fertility.

“Infertility is one of the most frightening and painful things a couple can experience,” Dr. Nolte said. “Elizabeth and Jonathan were ahead of the game when I first met them, as they were already tracking and charting Elizabeth’s fertility cycles from the beginning of their marriage.  Thanks to their knowledge of her body, they recognized there was a problem and were able to seek a diagnosis and corrective treatments.”

Elizabeth and her husband first started seeing Dr. Nolte in the spring of 2020—right at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Nolte’s Manhattan office was near where Elizabeth worked, but when the city shut down, the visits became virtual.

“Initially I was concerned,” Elizabeth said. “Trying to conceive is a private, personal journey for a couple and I wasn’t sure that a virtual visit would accomplish that.”

However, her concerns were quickly put to ease.

“Dr. Nolte has such a wonderful personality. She was always so calm and allowed us to ask any questions we had. It was very comforting for us to share this journey with her.”

In addition to Dr. Nolte’s kind demeanor they also appreciated her Catholic approach to their infertility issues.

“I’ve had so many friends that were pushed to IVF right away,” Elizabeth said. “Jonathan and I wanted to explore every avenue to conceive naturally and Dr. Nolte worked with us on a plan that met those needs, from both a medical and religious standpoint.”

Through a series of tests, Dr. Nolte identified low progesterone levels in Elizabeth’s blood, which untreated would have put her at high risk of miscarriage. She also suffered from a disorder of ovulation that prevented her from releasing her eggs properly.

Dr. Nolte prescribed Elizabeth medications to help her follicle grow and rupture normally, as well as natural or “bioidentical” progesterone, along with other medicines and supplements to optimize her fertility cycle.

“Disorders of ovulation are treatable conditions experienced by up to 60% of women with infertility,” said Dr. Nolte. “Unfortunately, these disorders often go undiagnosed when there is a rush to IVF.  Women with disorders of ovulation may show all of the signs of ovulation – a basal body temperature rise, a positive ovulation test, even a rise of progesterone on blood tests – but they are not actually releasing their eggs properly and the egg ends up getting ‘stuck’ in the ovary, so to speak.  As was the case for Elizabeth, medication can normalize ovulation so a couple can conceive naturally without having to resort to IVF.”

On January 2, 2022 Elizabeth and Jonathan welcomed Lilia Elizabeth Kelley into the world. Named after her mother, Elizabeth knew the birth of their “miracle baby” was all a part of a greater plan.

“This path, although not always easy, was the one we were meant to take,” Elizabeth said. “And we’re extremely blessed and fortunate to have someone like Dr. Nolte and The Gianna Center to be there for us every step of the way.”

Get more information on The Gianna Center. Or, call 631-376-3232.

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