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Fargo couple celebrating 3-year journey to overcome infertility

Kelsey and James Gibbons were able to have a child in January after getting treatment from Sanford's reproductive medicine clinic.

A woman with long, blonde hair holds a baby and stands next to a balding blonde man.
Kelsey Gibbons, left, and James Gibbons hold their 3-month-old baby Graham.
Jay Dahl / WDAY News

FARGO — This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and recent data from the World Health Organization says 1 in 6 couples globally will experience infertility.

When first trying to start a family, Kelsey and James Gibbons were expecting an easy process.

"What we had found out is that wasn't the case," Kelsey Gibbons said. "It always feels like everybody around you is getting pregnant, and so it was month after month we were just disappointed."

Eventually, a conversation with their primary care provider referred them to Sanford's reproductive medicine clinic where they started intrauterine insemination treatments they hoped would solve the problem. But Kelsey Gibbons said that treatment did not work.

"Unfortunately, ... we did 4 rounds of that and it didn't work for us, which then led us to the IVF process," she said.


Dr. Sheena Rippentrop is a reproductive endocrinologist with Sanford Health who was one of the caregivers for the Gibbonses.

"In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is when we stimulate the female partner with injectable medications to help her grow, hopefully, somewhere between 10 to 20 eggs," Rippentrop said.

According to Rippentrop, they then fertilize the eggs in a lab with the partner's sperm and watch it grow for about a week.

Kelsey Gibbons said starting the IVF process was nerve-wracking.

"I was scared. I was scared because it kind of felt like the last, the last piece of hope in our journey of starting a family," she said.

But less than a month after the IVF process started, Kelsey Gibbons learned she was pregnant. And in January, Graham Gibbons was born.

For the doctors at Sanford, Rippentrop said, this is what their work is all about.

"Anytime any of our patients get pregnant, either through ovulation induction or IVF, it's just the most rewarding thing. This is why we do this, to help build families," Rippentrop said.


Graham Gibbons is now 3 months old and is making new milestones every day. For the Gibbons family, the long and difficult process was worth it, and they may do it all over again.

"I mean, we want more kids, and so we might be patients back at Sanford reproductive again. And if that's the case, I think we're both really looking forward to that," Kelsey Gibbons said.

The Gibbonses' advice for other families experiencing infertility is not to delay having an initial consultation with a reproductive specialist.

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