Keegan, Alicia, Stephane and Sawyer became a family under the care of Mankato Clinic Fertility Services and Dr. Scott Barnacle, OB-GYN. 

Chicken nuggets and honey for Keegan, table food in tiny pieces for Sawyer, naptimes, pacifiers, car seats, a mini-van, diaper bag, colorful toys, sippy cups, sticky high chairs, sticky hands, hectic suppers with two working parents. Alicia and Stephanie Root wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The most unexpected thing about being a parent is how you can’t explain it until you are in it. The love it fills you with – seeing your spouse become a parent and seeing kids become siblings is just wonderful,” Alicia said.

The Roots are finding joy in parenthood such as hearing the first giggles from their babies. “We just thought it was the coolest thing,” Alicia said.

Keegan, almost 3, calls Alicia mommy and Stephanie mama. He has adjusted to life with a little brother. He even cheered on Sawyer, now 1-year-old, when he learned to crawl. He also loves to share his food with his little brother. After asking his parents if it’s OK, he breaks up his own food in really small pieces for Sawyer.

Starting a family

Some couples know when they’re ready to start a family. For Alicia and Stephanie Root, it was the day after their honeymoon in the fall of 2017. The New Richland couple chose to conceive a baby with Mankato Clinic Fertility Services.

“We felt welcome, comfortable and accepted at the Mankato Clinic,” Alicia said.

Fertility services begin with a physical exam, lab tests to measure hormone levels and an ultrasound to evaluate the ovaries, uterus and uterine lining before treatment begins. Under the care of Dr. Scott Barnacle, Mankato Clinic obstetrician, and Ashley Dahline, PA-C, Fertility Services, Alicia conceived and carried their children after overcoming a few setbacks.

“Alicia and Stephanie remained positive even when the journey was difficult. I am so grateful to have been a part of that journey. They make a perfect family, and that makes everything worth it,” Ashley Dahline, PA-C, said.

Alicia went on fertility medication to promote ovulation and conceived through intrauterine insemination (IUI), a procedure that is carefully timed with ovulation and completed in the clinic.

The couple chose their donor from a sperm bank and purchased several vials. They looked for donors with similar physical and mental characteristics of Stephanie. Stephanie has green eyes so that narrowed their search right away! They also were advised to look for certain antibodies present in the sperm.
They found a donor who seemed like a good fit; he even liked farming and sports like Stephanie. Yet, Alicia went through IUI three times without conceiving.  

“It was draining our finances. I felt really bad. I hung up on one nurse because I was crying,” Alicia recalls.
The Roots took a break and chose a new donor. As it turned out, Stephanie didn’t care if the donor had green eyes or liked farming or sports. With the new donor, Alicia got pregnant on the first try with both Keegan and Sawyer. Keegan was born on May 26, 2019, and Sawyer on March 4, 2021.

Some insurance companies partially cover fertility services, but they were not covered by Alicia’s insurance when she was trying to conceive Keegan. With Sawyer, her new health plan offered particle coverage for fertility services.

For Alicia, pregnancy was a cake walk. After going past her due date with Keegan, she chose to be induced when Dr. Barnacle was on call. Contractions were intense and labor lasted 13 hours with an epidural.

“Labors for first-time moms are often longer because their bodies haven’t gone through labor before.  So the changes they have to undergo during the pregnancy and labor to have a successful delivery take longer,” Dr. Barnacle explained. 

He advises women to express their feelings and opinions during the labor process, to talk to the doctors and nurses about their expectations, and have an open mind to the medical staff.
“Our goal is the same as our patients – a healthy baby and a healthy mom and that is what we try to affect during labor. If you have questions, ask. We love to tell patients why we are doing what we are doing,” Dr. Barnacle said.

During both pregnancies, Alicia saw a chiropractor and went on regular walks.

“With my second pregnancy, I did a lot of yoga and Pilates. Yoga and Pilates were geared toward making labor easier,” Alicia said. “My first pregnancy I didn’t really think about all the pieces that went with it. I took my prenatal vitamins, showed up to my prenatal appointments, tried to eat spinach every now and then. I thought I was doing good.”

With Sawyer, labor was much shorter. Alicia went into labor on her own and by the time she got to the hospital, she was almost ready to push! The pain was intense, but it was too late for pain meds. Within two hours, Sawyer came into the world.
The Roots hope to have three or four children in all!

Learn more about Fertility and OB-GYN services and meet our physicians and providers.