Karyn Krause and her husband, Patrick, always knew they wanted to be parents someday. They tied the knot on October 15, 2016, followed by a romantic honeymoon to Paris and Ireland for two weeks the next summer in June. As soon as they returned from their travels, they were both on the same page about trying for their first baby.
The newlywed’s excitement was high about starting this joyful new journey together. Little did they know, their journey to parenthood wouldn’t go as smoothly as anticipated.
Karyn’s time of the month went away in July. The couple was thrilled! She had always been regular. They immediately thought their dreams had come true and a baby was on the way.
“We took a couple pregnancy tests at home, but they all came back negative,” explains Karyn.
The couple contacted their primary doctor, Dr. Millette, letting him know about their situation. He was hopeful and invited Karyn to come in to take a pregnancy test at his office. Afterward, Karyn and Patrick grabbed a bite to eat for lunch, when they received news that the official tests had come back negative. They were heartbroken.
Karyn, who is now in her 10th year of teaching, headed back to school at Winship Elementary in August of 2017. School got busy. Still no period, but they were hopeful to start a family.
After a couple more months of trying, Karyn was referred to Christine Lauzon, a family nurse practitioner in Altru’s OB/GYN department. An ultrasound was ordered for the following day. Tests came back normal. Everything should be working fine. They decided to try to “restart her system” by taking pills daily to jumpstart her period again.
“This was not a fun experience. I had never experienced PMS to that degree until then. The process was emotionally exhausting,” recalls Karyn.
Unfortunately, this method did not work. Karyn continued to gain weight, lose hair on her head, grew hair in unexpected places and felt tired constantly. It was at this point, in December, that she was referred to Dr. Barbot.
“I tell everybody that Dr. Barbot is my person in life,” Karyn smiles. “He’s compassionate, empathetic and has a go-getter mentality.”
Dr. Barbot tested her testosterone levels and reviewed the ultrasound results of her ovaries. He explained the possible treatment options once a diagnosis was determined.
Immediately after, Patrick and Karyn took a vacation to Arizona to visit her mother. It was during this vacation that they received a call with her test results. She was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
“PCOS affects 1 in 10 women and is the leading cause of infertility,” explains Dr. Barbot. “PCOS affects all types of women and girls because it is caused by genetics, hormones and metabolism.”
The treatment plan that was discussed at their initial appointment with Dr. Barbot would be implemented, and Karyn was able to pick up her prescription medications once they returned to Grand Forks.
“To me, being diagnosed with PCOS seemed like a big deal. It was frustrating thinking this may keep me from starting a family – something I had always wanted,” explains Karyn. “Dr. Barbot was calm and reassuring through this diagnosis. He truly listened to our concerns and answered every question we had.”
Dr. Barbot decided to induce a period with the use of Provera and tried Clomid to force Karyn’s body to ovulate; however, each month was heartbreaking when her period wouldn’t start. Each month the dosage of Clomid was increased to promote ovulation.
Karyn finally ovulated in May.
In June, they went to New Mexico to visit her aunt and uncle. When they returned, the hopeful couple took a pregnancy test.
“It was positive! Then we took three more and they were all positive. We were absolutely thrilled, but also cautious because we didn’t want to get our hopes up,” recalls Karyn.
The Krauses called Altru with the wonderful news and nervously went in for an early ultrasound at six weeks.
“There was our baby! She was a tiny little dot, but she was there. We were so excited,” Karyn joyfully remembers.
The couple formally announced their pregnancy in August, when Karyn was 12 weeks. One night, Karyn was watching This Is Us when Kate, one of the main characters, was diagnosed with PCOS. Karyn started bawling because she could relate to what Kate was going through.
When Karyn posted a reaction on social media to the episode and included her personal journey with PCOS, she was able to connect with other women who had gone through the same journey.
“There were so many comments from people that could relate about going through the same exact thing,” describes Karyn. “It really helped me understand the scope of how many people are affected by PCOS and that I’m not alone.”
Dr. Barbot explains the importance of support through the diagnosis.
“You shouldn’t confront PCOS alone, as there are so many things your doctor can do to help you, not only to get pregnant but to live a longer, healthier life,” says Dr. Barbot.
Karyn had a healthy pregnancy. When her due date, February 28, quickly approached, she was scheduled for an induction.
Through 36 hours of hard labor with coaching from her supportive husband, who is a firefighter and paramedic, Karyn spiked a fever. Dr. Eickenbrock, the on-call OB/GYN physician, said Karyn needed to start thinking about cesarean birth.
At 4 a.m. on March 1, 2019, Lillian Marie Krause was born via cesarean birth.
“The whole labor and delivery staff were phenomenal,” details Karyn. “Dr. Barbot visited after Lillian was born. He was very involved, checking her out and holding her. He appeared to be so excited to meet her and share our joy.”
Today, Lillian Marie is a happy, healthy one-year-old. The Krauses are excited to expand their family again someday. When that time comes, they are looking forward to going through their journey with Dr. Barbot again.
Visit altru.org/baby to learn more about Altru’s Family Birthing Center.