Local school teachers Diane and Greg Ciccone's video detailing their struggles with infertility is one of five finalists eligible for a $15,000 prize in Ferring Pharmaceutical's 2013 Heart to Heart Video Contest.
Local elementary school teachers Diane and Greg Ciccone have always loved being around children.
But for years, the couple struggled to start a family of their own.
"Nothing prepares you for infertility," Diane said this week. "It can be so frustrating and affect every aspect of your life, leaving you feeling all alone in your battles, because it's not a topic most people like to talk about."
After undergoing years of various fertility treatments, the Townsend-area couple became the proud parents of a baby girl in 2009, followed by twin girls earlier this year.
Now, a three-minute video in which Ciccones share the story of their infertility struggle could earn them $15,000 for their daughters' education.
Their video was recently selected as one of five finalists in New Jersey-based fertility drug-manufacturer Ferring Pharmaceuticals' 2013 Heart to Heart Video Contest, which runs through Monday.
Supporters can view all five videos and vote for their favorite up to once a day by visiting www.hearttoheartcontest.com.
The creators of the video with the most votes will be awarded a $15,000 education fund, while the remaining finalists will each receive a $2,000 contribution to an education fund for their children.
"We created our video with the hope of inspiring others who are going the through the same difficult journey we experienced," the 35-year-old mother of three said. "There were times in our struggle that we considered giving up, so we wanted to find a way that we could give others hope."
The Ciccones' story began when the former education students at the University of Delaware first met in 1998. Three years later, the couple was married and eventually found jobs in the Appoquinimink School District.
Greg is currently a technology teacher at Olive B. Loss Elementary in Bear, while Diane left a third-grade teaching job at Cedar Lane Elementary this year to spend more time with her children.
"We started trying to get pregnant in 2005, but were unsuccessful because of a couple of contributing factors," Diane said.
The following year, Diane underwent six unsuccessful rounds of artificial insemination at the Delaware Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Newark, before their physician, Dr. Jeffery Russell, recommended they instead try in vitro fertilization, starting in 2007.
"Over the next two years, we had two miscarriages," Diane said. "In the video, I compare it to a rollercoaster because you get really excited at the beginning of a cycle and then the depression sets in at the end. It was a tremendous financial burden on us, as well."
The couple's persistence finally paid off in March 2009 when a blood test revealed Diane was pregnant with their first daughter, Isabella, who was born that December.
Using embryos frozen during their attempts to conceive giving Isabella, Diane became pregnant a second time in 2012 before birth to twins Alexis and Olivia this April.
"I just feel so blessed to be given a chance to be a mom," Diane said. "We've been very lucky and I'm so thankful every single day."
The Ciccones say they also remain mindful of the difficult route they took to reach this point, and how other thousands of other couples are still experiencing that same struggle.
"Our hope is that our video helps people going through that process, so they don't feel so alone," Diane said. "Winning the contest would be wonderful, but that's not why we entered. And, if we don't win, we'll still always have this video to serve as a memento for our girls to look back on the journey we took so they could be here with us."