It’s a girl! Stéphanie and Joël welcome their miracle baby

Updated, 19th of August, 2023

It’s a girl! Canadian couple, Stéphanie and Joël, welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world in the summer of 2023. Little Celeste was born via planned cesarean section on June 22nd, weighing 3.376kg (7lbs7oz).

It’s a girl! Stéphanie and Joël welcome their miracle baby

The couple said: “Having Celeste with us feels like a miracle and we believe her big brother
Tristan is by her side in spirit. Having experienced such a difficult loss and subsequent fertility
struggles reminds us how blessed we are to be parents, no matter how tired we are.”

Stéphanie and Joël underwent IVF treatment with donor eggs at the Spanish fertility clinic UR Vistahermosa in October as part of the 2022 Fertility Journeys project. They were “shocked, but super excited” when the pregnancy test came back positive, but the first trimester proved difficult. Stéphanie said: “They say all pregnancies are different and I can attest to that. Compared to my previous pregnancy with our beloved Tristan, this pregnancy was more difficult in terms of symptoms.

“I had a few scares in the first trimester when I had heavy bleeding and reached out to UR
Vistahermosa because I thought I was experiencing a miscarriage.

“Thankfully everything turned out to be fine, Marta instructed me to continue the medication until
I saw a doctor and went for an ultrasound where we saw our little chickpea. I gained more
energy towards the end of the second trimester.”

She added: “I struggled a bit mentally thinking of all that can go wrong such as a miscarriage
and stillbirth. Losing our baby boy to a rare syndrome undoubtedly has changed the way I
experienced pregnancy and childbirth.

“Nonetheless, we were both excited to meet our baby girl. We moved into a new house and we
were ready for new beginnings.”

A cesarean section was scheduled for 38 weeks, which Stéphanie says removed a lot of the
anxiety she had surrounding the birth itself, although a hematoma caused her to lose double
the average amount of blood during labour. Although she found recovery difficult, nearly eight
weeks on, Stéphanie is fit and well and she and Joël are enjoying time with their precious new
arrival.

They said: “UR Vistahermosa made this miracle happen for us and we are immensely grateful to
the whole team. We felt we were in good hands right from the beginning, as though we were
part of their family. The international team took the time to take us through the whole process
and even supported us when we were back in Canada. Marta and Graziella treated us like
royalty when we were in Alicante, accompanying us every step of the way. Our doctor, Dr
Valeria Sotelo Kahane, was immensely knowledgeable and at the same time warm and
approachable. She helped us feel confident and at ease when we were really nervous. The rest
of the team, nurses and embryologist were also wonderful. Thanks a million to the whole team!

From everybody here at Fertility Road, congratulations Stéphanie and Joël and welcome baby
Celeste!

Watch our interview with Stéphanie and Joël.

Read the transcription of the interview:

Laura Cookie, Fertility Journalist: Congratulations! So happy to see you all together; it’s amazing. How are you all doing?”
Stéphanie and Joël: Good, I would say. Really happy, of course. Yeah, we don’t sleep much, but she’s healthy and growing every day. She’s changing, so that’s great, actually. It’s beautiful; that’s what we wanted. So really happy.
Laura Cooke: She’s six months now?
Stéphanie and Joël: Almost.

How the last few months have been for you?
Stéphanie and Joël: It’s been going well. She’s hitting all her milestones, and we’ve had regular doctor visits. She’s growing up, as you can see. For us it’s a first experience – having a baby, a healthy baby so we can’t compare but it’s going well. The last 6 months have been busy. We bought a new house, so it’s been really busy, but we’re extremely happy. Like we said we don’t sleep much but it’s OK.
She’s getting along with our little dog. We were worried that the dog and her would not get along but it’s fine.

How did you recovered from the pregnancy and birth?
The pregnancy went smoothly overall, but I had a C-section, which was already planned. There were a few complications. Nothing totally worrisome but there were a few complications during the C-section. I had a lot of blood loss. A few weeks afterward, I wasn’t feeling well, and they found pieces of the placenta that were still in there, which is rare for a C-section. They took care of it a few weeks after, so a bit unlucky for me, but not for Celeste. I was still feel unwell. The doctors sent me for tests and they saw that there were some pieces of placenta left. But other than that my recovery went relatively smoothly for a C-section. And the pregnancy went well – there were no complications, just the usual symptoms of being pregnant.

Have you been in touch with the clinic?
Yes, I spoke to UR Vistahermosa a few weeks ago to let them know around what time I was going to give birth since I had an idea. I told them the day I gave birth, and they were very happy to hear the news.

What was the level of support you have received from the clinic?
When we got back home even though I had a few scary moments during the beginning of the pregnancy. I actually had some excessive bleeding at one point. We didn’t know what to do. I was like “should I call our doctor?” Then I sent them (UR Vistahermosa) an email and they responded right away. They told me to continue the medication. Thank God I did because I was sure I was miscarrying but it turns out it was… well we actually don’t know what it was. It was just bleeding but she (the doctor) said it was normal, it could be normal. Yes, we had support all through the pregnancy; every time I had questions, they would answer right away which was a relief because sometimes we felt that if we’re not in Spain anymore, we won’t get support anymore. But it wasn’t the case. They followed through the whole pregnancy. Even at one point I was not sending any emails because we didn’t have any questions and they were following up to see if all was going well.

Updated, 12th of January, 2023

There was an extra special Christmas present for the friends and family of Stéphanie Gagnon and Joël Nadeau when they discovered the couple are expecting a baby.

Stéphanie and Joël underwent egg donation IVF at Spanish fertility clinic UR Vistahermosa in October as part of the 2022 Fertility Journeys project. And now we’re delighted to reveal that the treatment worked and Stéphanie is pregnant!

Stéphanie had her 12-week scan in the couple’s native Canada over the festive period where it was confirmed that they would be welcoming a beautiful baby girl in the summer.

Stéphanie and Joël said they were “shocked, but super excited” when the pregnancy test came back positive.
Stéphanie said: “We were told by the clinic to wait for a blood test after two weeks, but I couldn’t wait.

“So when we were still in Spain, I did an at-home pregnancy test. When I saw it was positive, I was kind of in shock. I assumed that it might not have worked on the first transfer.”

The blood test confirmed the pregnancy, and Stéphanie added: “We were really happy. We’re super excited. Especially with my history of early miscarriages, I was just so relieved that the HCG level was good. It was a huge, huge relief.”

Feeling overjoyed with their happy news, Stéphanie and Joël returned home to Canada. But not long afterwards, Stéphanie started to bleed.

She said: “I almost thought of just stopping my medication because I was sure it was a miscarriage. I woke up in the middle of the night, I went to the bathroom and to my surprise it was just filled with blood. It wasn’t spotting, it really was a full-on bleed.

“We were crying and I just assumed it was a miscarriage just based on the volume, although I was not in pain.”
Unsure of what to do, Stéphanie and Joël emailed their contact Marta, the director of the international department at UR Vistahermosa, to ask for advice.

Stéphanie said: “Marta answered us and said to absolutely continue with the medication. If it was just a small problem, then stopping the medication would actually cause a miscarriage.

“So I continued the medication until the ultrasound four days later and we were surprised that everything was fine, there was a heartbeat, and they actually couldn’t even find the source of the bleeding.”

Now they have passed the crucial 12-week mark, Stéphanie and Joël say they feel “a lot less nervous” and have shared their happy news with family and friends.

“We’re a lot less nervous than a few weeks ago, but I think we’re going to be nervous the whole pregnancy. We’re hyper-aware of everything that could go wrong with everything that happened to us in the past, so I think we just have to deal with that reality.”

Stéphanie and Joël say they are grateful for all the continued support from UR Vistahermosa, despite the clinic being on a completely different continent.

Stéphanie said: “I was emailing Marta a lot throughout because they were still our fertility clinic, it didn’t stop once we got here, which we’re really thankful for.

“We had a lot of questions, not just about the bleed, but also Marta gave me a really detailed plan for weaning off the medication. Marta helped us through the whole process of the first trimester.
“Sometimes if I don’t email her for some time because everything’s going fine she emails me asking how it’s going and asking for updates.

“We’re happy because when we got home, we were scared that we would be left to our own devices going forward. But the clinic has been very supportive throughout.”

Joël added: “We’re not too stressed but we’re going through every day and hoping for the best.
“And right now, it’s looking good.”

Stéphanie is due to give birth at the end of June.


Updated, 19th of October, 2022

It’s a girl! Stéphanie and Joël welcome their miracle baby 2
It’s a girl! Stéphanie and Joël welcome their miracle baby 1

Canadian couple Stéphanie and Joël prepare for IVF at UR Vistahermosa in Spain

Let’s meet Stéphanie and Joël – a couple from Canada selected by UR Vistahermosa to participate in the 2022 Fertility Journeys Project.

Since Fertility Road last spoke to Stéphanie and Joël, there have been some big steps forward in the couple’s fertility journey with Spanish clinic UR Vistahermosa.

Since the doctor increased Stéphanie’s oestrogen medication, her uterine lining thickened to 8.5mm, meaning it is now ready for transfer.

The couple’s egg donor underwent egg collection on Friday (October 14th) resulting in eight mature eggs, six of which were successfully fertilised. Stéphanie started a course of progesterone vaginal pessaries, using 800mg daily, to prepare her body for embryo transfer, which is scheduled for tomorrow morning (Wednesday, October 19th).

Stéphanie and Joël greeted the news of the fertilisation with cautious optimism.

Stéphanie explains: “We were excited, but we don’t want to get too excited because based on my previous experience, we know that sometimes the resulting embryos or blastocyst is sometimes lower than the number of fertilised eggs.
“We are however hopeful, considering she’s considerably younger than I am, that we’ll have at least several good grade embryos. I guess we’ll know tomorrow how many good-quality embryos we have. And obviously we hope that the transfer goes well.”

Once again, the couple were full of praise for their doctor and the team at UR Vistahermosa.

Stéphanie said: “She’s a great doctor. She’s very attentive, she’s warm, she’s comforting.
Sometimes fertility doctors are more methodical. But she was very human and we just feel good with her.
“During the ultrasound the doctor mentioned that my endometrium had a very good shape and showed us the ultrasound screen to explain what she meant.

Stéphanie added: “We’re nervous but also we’re hopeful and like we said, we feel good about our being taken care of by UR Vistahermosa. So we have a good feeling about the whole process.”

Joël added: “Based on our previous experiences, we’re nervous and we just hope it’s going to be positive.”


Updated, 10th of October, 2022

Stéphanie and Joël returned to UR Vistahermosa on Monday (October 10th) where doctors measured Stéphanie’s endometrial lining.

She said: “I’m not there yet. It’s 6.5 millimetres and I believe they want it to be at least 7.5 to eight millimetres.
“We got news of the donor and it (egg collection) will be at the end of this week, like Thursday, Friday or Saturday. So it still gives me until Thursday to get my lining to that.”

Doctors are increasing Stephanie’s oestrogen medication to 10 milligrammes per day to help the process along.

Although Stéphanie is anxious whether her lining will meet the required thickness by Thursday, she has been reassured by the doctor at UR Vistahermosa that everything is progressing as it should.

Stéphanie said: “I was kind of worried and asked them what happens if I don’t get there by Thursday. And the doctor reassured me saying ‘I’m not too worried that you’ll be where you need to be’.
“Whereas Marta was there as a translator and she said, well, in the worst worst worst case scenario, we’ll freeze the embryos.

“It’s still okay, just like we did all the synchronisation for maybe nothing, but it would not be the end of the world in terms of results. “I always like to know the worst-case scenario just to be mentally prepared.”

Joël said: “I don’t have much to do but I’m happy that things went well.

“The doctor was really nice and she seemed positive, there was nothing too alarming or anything. So they think we’re on the right track. And things will be fine.”

The couple will return to the clinic on Thursday. The donor’s egg collection is due to take place later this week.


Updated, 3rd of October, 2022

A six-hour flight from Montreal to the sunnier climes of Alicante was the first step in Stéphanie Gagnon and Joël Nadeau’s journey with UR Vistahermosa.

Still feeling slightly jet-lagged, the couple went for their first in-person appointment at the Spanish fertility clinic UR Vistahermosa on Tuesday (September 27th).

“We saw the doctor who did an ultrasound just to see that there was no physical issue with my uterus and that the lining was normal. Everything looked like there were no abnormalities. They wanted the green light to start the process.”

With the help of Marta, the director of the international department, the doctor discussed with the couple all the medication that Stéphanie would need to take ahead of her embryo transfer using a donor egg.

It’s a girl! Stéphanie and Joël welcome their miracle baby 4
It’s a girl! Stéphanie and Joël welcome their miracle baby 2

Stéphanie said: “For the first round of medication, the oestrogen I need to take as soon as I get my period is for 12 weeks. I’m also taking an anticoagulant because with the oestrogen there’s a higher risk of having thrombosis. So those are the injections that Joël will be giving me and the nurse actually showed us how to give the injections. The injections are also for quite some time, about 12 weeks too. And finally, we are also on prednisolone, which is basically to suppress your immune system, from what I understand.”

“Since I had miscarriages, I think it’s preventive too because we don’t know the exact cause of my miscarriages, but the educated guess is because of my egg quality, but who knows, it could be because of my immune system.”

Stéphanie and Joël struggled with infertility and Stéphanie suffered two miscarriages before they began to explore fertility treatment in their native Canada.

She explains: “We started to undergo fertility treatment and in the midst of the tests that we were doing, I got pregnant. So, it was good news because I finally didn’t need fertility treatments.
“But we had been trying for two years. We were at that point where we were wondering if there was something wrong, especially with the miscarriages, but then since I finally got pregnant naturally, we thought that’s it.”

Stéphanie gave birth to their beloved son Tristan, affectionately nicknamed Peanut, in September 2021. Unfortunately, one month later, Tristan was diagnosed with a rare and incurable type of severe epilepsy called early infantile epileptic encephalopathy. Sadly, Tristan passed away in January this year.

Stéphanie continued: “I suffered another miscarriage after Tristan and then we decided to do IVF and we didn’t get any good quality embryos from that one cycle.
“So, it was really hard for me, not so much physically but emotionally because when you take all those hormones, the hormone crash after was very difficult especially that, while I’m still grieving today, I was grieving a lot more back then.”

The treatment resulted in 10 eggs, but only three fertilised. Two of these made it to day five blastocyst, but regressed on day six.

It was at this stage that the doctor back in Canada raised concerns about Stéphanie’s egg quality.

Stéphanie said: “He’s like ‘you could try again and again but odds are your eggs are the issue’.
“I didn’t really want to undertake more ovarian stimulation knowing that the odds of having good eggs was so low, so that’s the reason we only did one IVF cycle.”

The couple were suddenly faced with a new reality, that they would likely need an egg donor to conceive.

Stéphanie said: “Me and Joël had very different reactions to it. I was actually very open to it, just because I was at a stage where I was sure I didn’t want to try IVF with my eggs again, because it was really difficult. And, I just wanted a healthy baby, especially with what happened with Tristan.”

Joël added: “It was just the abrupt news that all of a sudden, the eggs are not good.
“It maybe took me more time to process that information to realise that it was that quick turn or change.”

He added: “It’s not the DNA part of it. I never thought ‘I’m so great that my DNA has to be passed on’. I think we put a lot of emphasis, in many cultures, on ‘my’ bloodline. But at the end of the day, we’re all the same.”

Stéphanie, 38, said: “I hope all goes well with the donor, a lot of it relies on the success of her stimulation.”

“I’m stressed a bit about the transfer because, you know, we have high expectations because they’re eggs of a 23-year-old, but I’m prepared that the first transfer might not be successful.

“It’s not guaranteed, it’s not 100%, so I’m also mentally ready to have to come back for a second transfer if need be. But at the same time, we hope it works the first time. “We have a good feeling. Had a good feeling from day one.”

The couple says they have confidence in their clinic UR Vistahermosa, with 40-year-old Joël adding: “We feel like they’re taking charge and they’re taking care of us.”

Stéphanie added: “I feel confident, and UR Vistahermosa was very well organised. We went to a ‘top’ fertility clinic in Canada and it was not nearly as organised.

“Even the medication they gave us, since it’s a hospital, we could get the medication from their own pharmacy. So that’s very convenient.”

On October 4th, UR Vistahermosa will take a sperm sample from Joël for testing. This can also be used as a ‘plan B’ if Joël is sick or suddenly unable to attend the clinic on the day the eggs are due to be fertilised. Stéphanie went through a number of invasive tests back in Canada which do not need to be repeated.

The couple’s next appointment at UR Vistahermosa is on October 10th, when the doctor will check the thickness of Stéphanie’s endometrial lining and make adjustments to her oestrogen medication accordingly.

If all goes well, the embryo transfer should take place in the middle of October before
Stéphanie and Joël return home.

Picture of Laura Cooke
Laura Cooke
Laura is a freelance journalist who specialises in writing about fertility, egg and sperm donation and IVF. She has previously written about the subject for publications including Men's Health UK and Stylist.

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