Hoping This Will Be Your Year

This will be my year

“This will be my year.” I must have said that over and over. This will be my year, my month. This will be the treatment that works. This will be the positive test. This will be the time I don’t walk away feeling completely devastated, etc. Surely it was my turn, right?

As January is coming to a close and we’re truly getting into this new year, I’m wondering how many of you are hoping that this will be your year. And I know that hope hurts sometimes. It’s painful to keep hoping and then have nothing happen. Yet I also know that so many times it was hope that kept me going.

A few years ago, Andy and I started a new Christmas tradition. My brother and sister-in-law had just given us an ornament that year from their travels. The top opened to reveal an empty inside. I thought it would be fun for me and Andy to write notes to ourselves to read the following Christmas. At that point in our infertility journey, we had been trying to get pregnant for one year and had just started the long process of tests and doctor’s appointments. My first note ended with, “May 2014 be full of answered prayers and exciting news.”

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Instead, 2014 came and went with no pregnancy, and reading our notes that next year was sweet, but hard. We talked about staying positive and continuing to trust in God’s timing, but it was still just another year that wasn’t my year. My note in 2014 (the one for Christmas 2015) talked about the joy of being in our new home and all our many blessings, and said, similarly to my 2013 note, “I hope and pray for all our dreams to come true in 2015.” I kept hoping that each year would be my year.

It’s hard. That’s such a trite way to describe such an utterly painful experience, but even in the midst of it, that’s often all I knew to say to describe it. Infertility is hard and it can be so very difficult to allow yourself that hope. But that’s what I leave you with for 2016. I pray that you will continue to hope. I pray that this will be your year.

Little Blue Box

Blue Box

I still remember sitting across from my doctor, the day before the crazy snow day in Atlanta two years ago. We had been trying for a year and a half, and had just spent the past several months doing all kinds of invasive, emotional, and expensive tests. She looked at all of our results and said, “Well, basically, you’re at zero.” We pretty much had an almost zero percent chance of getting pregnant.

As I learned more and more about infertility and lived the experiences that infertility brings, I discovered the little things that no one thinks about infertility taking away. Something I’d always talked about and dreamed about, and I mean for YEARS – since at least as early as high school, was how I would tell my parents and my friends and my husband. I read stories about cooking meals with all “baby-themed foods” – baby peas, baby carrots, etc., or giving your husband a gift that was actually a positive pregnancy test, or maybe a Christmas ornament that said something about being a dad. I saw posts about surprising your family by having them say, “We’re pregnant!” instead of “Cheeeese!” when taking the next family photo so you could forever document their expressions at that moment. I loved it all and tried to come up with the most creative ways that I would one day use to share my own exciting news.

When you can’t get pregnant, though, and when you end up doing all kinds of treatments in order to get pregnant, your family (and obviously your husband) know what you’re doing. People might know when your appointments are, or even the timing of your HCG levels blood test. I decided that I would still have my moment. I would not let infertility take my announcement away.

After our first IUI back in September/October 2014, I decided to put together a special gift for Andy. If our results were positive, I would give him the little blue box with the chalkboard front that I bought at Target that day. I carefully picked out the Atlanta Falcons jersey, pacifier that said, “I love Daddy,” and book that so sweetly explains our love for our future child. I painfully packed the box away when our results were negative. I grieved the fact that I was hopeful enough to think I’d actually get to share that box with him. The box stayed hidden away, waiting to be presented and celebrated. It hurt to think about it sometimes.

We did our first IVF this summer, and found out our results at the beach with Andy’s family. I didn’t want to cram the whole box in my bag since I didn’t want him to see it, so I brought the pacifier and bought a Father’s Day card, just in case we would finally get our good news. I ended up wanting to chunk both into the ocean. Instead, I buried them in my bag and added them to my little blue box when I got home.

Earlier this Fall, we had our first FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer). I so hoped I would finally get good news, but I was also terrified to be hopeful. Being hopeful hurt. I started bleeding the day before our test, and I just knew that it was going to be negative again. Instead, my nurse called me and said the words I will never forget, just as I will never forget, “Basically, you’re at zero.” She said, “Ruth, you’re pregnant!” I didn’t believe her.

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We were thrilled, but it was so surreal. When Andy got home that day, I didn’t even say anything. He knew immediately from my tears that I’d gotten the phone call we’d been waiting on all day. But this time, I smiled a little. He asked if it was good news, and all I could do was nod. We could not stop crying and smiling all day long. Even still, I didn’t want to give Andy my little blue box announcement until I knew for sure that it was real!

We drove home to surprise both of our parents, and gave them framed pictures from our transfer. I told them I thought they might want the first picture of their newest grandbaby.

After blood test #3, I finally gave Andy his blue box.

I feel that I’m still cautious about this pregnancy, but I am also so incredibly over the moon. I wasn’t sure how to write this post. I realize that many people reading are still in the midst of the infertility battle. I empathize with you and hurt with you, and I know that even though I’m pregnant now, I am still an infertile. We will still do IVF for babies #2 and #3 and #4 (or however many we have!). I will still cringe a little inside when people tell me they got pregnant without even trying.

Infertility has such an impact on our lives. But don’t let it take your life away. Have your announcement. Give your husband his blue box. Drive down to surprise your parents. If you’re still trying for your positive result, be sure to make time to be a couple, try to have hope even when it hurts.

Moving forward, this blog will not turn into a pregnancy or mommy blog. Theoneineight.com will continue to be here to raise awareness about infertility and encourage those still struggling.

Thank you all so much for your support, your prayers, and everything you did to get us here. We praise God every day for His faithfulness, the fact that He never leaves us, and for blessing us through this pregnancy. We are happy to share our infertility story and journey with you.

Catching You Up

Well, I’ve been pretty MIA on here for the last month. I took a few weeks off on purpose – I just needed a break from everything fertility-related. But then I had every intention of posting an update, and my life got crazy again with school starting back! So here we are.

Many of you have probably been wondering what our plans were as far as next steps after our failed IVF attempt back in June. Our doctor said that everything had looked so good, and that there’s no way for them to know why it didn’t work. So, we’re basically getting the “kitchen sink.” I’ve been on Prednisone, Baby Aspirin, and extra doses of Doxycycline, in addition to the regular frozen embryo transfer protocol of Lupron injections, Estrogen pills, and Progesterone injections. I will be on Heparin injections after the FET. I also had a scratch biopsy done a few weeks ago in order to literally “cause injury” to my uterine lining so that I could produce new, fresh cells ready for implantation.

The medicine has gotten to me way more this time than any of my other treatments – IUI and IVF included. I don’t know if that’s because of where we are emotionally after our failed attempt or if it’s actually the medicine. Maybe a little of both! But I actually think it was the medicine. I cried ALL day at work one day (super embarrassing) – luckily I have my own office, which I was able to hide in and do work at my computer most of the day. The thing is, there were times I was crying that nothing even set me off! I just couldn’t stop the tears! I even got upset when Andy dropped his sunglasses in the car. I mean, seriously, I felt like I was going crazy. It was one of those things that was really funny and not funny at all at the same time! It’s leveled out a little more now, so I feel more normal again most of the time. Although, I have to say, I’m pretty tired of all the shots and pills. If I just knew it would actually work, then I know it would absolutely be worth it!

So we’re going forward with a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). Actually, we did it today. (Surprise!) And now we wait. Of course, I’ll wait to post results on here again until Andy and I can process them ourselves. I want to feel hopeful, and I do!! But it’s so hard to let myself go there again. I’m working hard to stay positive and to not think about it too much. I plan to get my nails done, meet some friends for dinner, and keep myself busy for the next week and a half!

Here we are, back in the IVF transfer room with sweet little Embryo #2:

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Where is God in IVF?

Let me preface this post by stating that I do not intend to stir up dissension or debate. I understand that others may have views that differ from what I’ve written below. As always, any comments that are inflammatory or rude will be removed.

There are many people out there who feel that doing IVF, or really any ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology), is “playing God,” and that the very act of IVF takes God and miracles out of the equation. If a pregnancy doesn’t happen naturally, then maybe it’s not meant to happen, right? Or maybe a pregnancy that occurs via ART isn’t as good as one that just happens. And if the embryo is formed in a lab, then it’s all just science and medicine. It’s “weird” and it’s not like it’s actually God answering prayers. There’s no way He can exist in all that science and technology.

Well, I’m here to say that that thought process is utterly and totally wrong.

I struggled a lot initially with the decision to do IVF. I was on board with doing it, because I knew that’s what we had to do. But I was afraid that maybe by moving forward with this option, it meant I wasn’t trusting God to answer my prayers. I would be relying on science instead. I questioned how God fits into this scary, foreign, technical process. After many prayers, conversations with sweet friends, and going through the treatment myself, I can say with total confidence that God is absolutely in that process.

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After voicing my concerns and internal debates to a dear friend who also battled infertility, she said to me, “Whether by medicine or miracle, it all comes from God.” That statement was so powerful and it stuck with me. It was almost as though I could suddenly give myself permission to be ok with my decision to do IVF. It didn’t mean that I wasn’t trusting in God. In fact, after going through the process, I see that I have had so many more situations to be trusting in Him! By saying “medicine or miracle,” my friend didn’t mean that a baby born from IVF is not a miracle, rather that no matter how we get pregnant, that baby will be from God, even if we have to take the medical, scientific route to get there. Just because the miracle is happening in a lab does not mean that God is not in the miracle.

It doesn’t matter whether the pregnancy happens naturally or medically, a pregnancy is a freaking miracle. Having a healthy baby at the end of it is another miracle. SO many things have to align; SO many things have to go right. Even if you get a great embryo, it still has to survive to the point of transfer, and then it has to implant. Then it has to stay there and keep developing and it has to stay healthy and make it all the way to 9 months and delivery. That is a miracle and God is in that every step of the way. It’s a miracle if the egg and sperm even fertilize!

Life happens because of God. Life comes from God.

John 1:3-4: “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

1 Tim. 6:13: “I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things”

Yes, the doctors and embryologists are a huge part of it with ART, obviously, but not every procedure is successful. Science alone does not guarantee me a baby. Of course, I know I’m not guaranteed a baby either way. But I know that if it does happen, even through ART, it still comes from God.

God has provided us with knowledge and amazing technology. If you have a disease, you (typically) don’t hesitate to get treatment. Well, infertility is a disease. And the treatment for my particular condition is IVF. Why would I not take advantage of the amazing things God has to offer? God is in IVF through the knowledge and treatments that are available to us.

God is in the IVF process when He comforts me and when I cry out to Him in prayer. He is there when the IVF doesn’t work. He is there in celebration when it does. God is in the IVF process when your family circles around you and covers you in prayer, when your friends, family, and people you don’t even know offer financial support, when people make you meals, or send you encouraging cards. He is there because He knows how hard infertility is. He gets it. Proverbs 30:15-16 says, “There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!” He compares the barren womb to things that can never be satisfied. He knows how empty or incomplete infertility can make you feel.

Is IVF a “normal” way to get pregnant? Not really. But does taking things to a lab take God out of the process? Absolutely not.

 

This post is a part of a “link up” with the blog ‘Amateur Nester.’ See the link up here: http://www.amateurnester.com/2015/07/preparing-for-ivf-link-up.html#disqus_thread 

Part Two: Results

I didn’t get a phone call on the day of the blood test. If you’ve ever been anxiously waiting for something, you know what torture it is to sit with your phone in your hand, checking it every two seconds to see if someone is calling with answers. At least this time I wasn’t at work while I was waiting!

I got the phone call the next day around lunchtime. It was my doctor. My doctor never calls; it’s always the nurse. As soon as I heard my doctor on the phone, I knew. She told me regretfully that my results were negative. We weren’t pregnant. It didn’t work.

To say I was (and am) devastated is an understatement. To go through everything we’d gone through in the last month – the shots every day, the stress of doing everything right, the invasive procedures – not to mention everything we’ve done the last few years, and to finally feel like maybe this would be it, and then have everything you’d hoped for come crashing down. I don’t know how to write about this. I don’t know how to convey the despair that comes with a failed IVF.

By the time you get your results, you’ve been so prodded and poked, so physically invaded, emotionally drained, mentally exhausted, financially empty, and you’re clinging to hope and faith and your trust that it will happen. You’ve seen your embryo – your future child, and watched the doctor place life in your womb.

You begin to question everything – from “Is it because I forgot to take my Aspirin one night? Is it because I took a walk the next day?” to “Is it ever going to happen? Will we face this again four more times? Will I ever get to be a mom?”

I know that God is good. I know that He loves me and that He is a crucial part of my ability to get through this. But that doesn’t stop my human nature from questioning Him and wondering why this is happening and why we can’t be parents.

Right now I’m still processing my emotions. It’s a lot to take in and every day is different, as far as how I’m handling it. Andy and I are deciding on next steps.

Infertility is hard. I talked about that in one of my first posts on this blog. It is hard and it is painful. Deeply painful. I fully believe that all of this is worth it if it means I can one day have the family my husband and I have always dreamed of. I hope that happens for us. I hope that happens for all of you who are also struggling with infertility.

And that’s all we can do, right? Hope and pray and wait. I feel a little broken right now, a little empty. And I’ll probably feel that way for a while. But I continue to know that God is with me and I’m not walking this alone.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Part One: Blood Test Day

Throughout our dreaded two week wait, I Googled everything. I found that nothing means anything, meaning that for every person out there who has experienced my “symptoms” and got a positive pregnancy result, there’s another person who experienced my symptoms and got a negative. My cramping could be a pregnancy, my period coming, or a side effect of the progesterone. So I spent the last two weeks driving myself completely crazy, overanalyzing every little thing I was feeling.

On the day of my blood test, I started spotting. I just knew that meant I was starting my period, but my Google research had told me that for many people, it’s possible to have bleeding and still get a positive result. I continued to hold out hope that it would be ok, that the test would be positive and we’d be pregnant. So Andy and I drove half an hour into the next town for my blood test. We were on vacation with his family at the beach, so my doctor’s office had given me written lab orders to take to the lab nearest to our condo.

I made my appointment at the Quest lab for 8am, planning to get in and out quickly so we wouldn’t miss precious beach time! Instead, it took 30 minutes for them to just put my info and lab order into the system. Then, when the lady tried to draw my blood, she couldn’t find my veins! I got stuck in both arms and one hand, and she couldn’t find it. I do have small veins, but I’ve never had anyone have that much trouble. After trying way too long and poking me way too many times, she ended up telling us that we needed to go to the emergency room at the hospital down the street, and they would draw my blood there.

So, we went to the ER, where they told us we needed to go to the main lobby and register there. We waited at least 45 minutes before being called back to register. To top it all off, while the hospital employee is registering me, she starts making comments about being pregnant! She must have been pretty early in her pregnancy, because I wouldn’t have known otherwise. This day was turning into a sitcom episode. The pregnant lady directed us to the lab, where the waiting room was also full of people and no one told us that we had to give the lab staff (who were not out there) our paperwork. I’d done pretty well keeping my cool and just knowing that Andy and I would laugh about it later, but when a couple people who got there after us gave their paperwork before us and I realized we’d just been sitting in there, not registered, I started to cry. I was just so frustrated!

We didn’t have to wait too long at the lab, but when they called me back, that lady couldn’t find my veins either! They said maybe because it was cold (one nurse told me someone had set it to 60 degrees). I ended up having three different nurses work on my arms (each arm was stuck at least 2 more times, and they got my unstuck hand twice, too). They wrapped me up in hospital blankets to try to get me warm.

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I left bruised, bandaged, and so so frustrated. I just knew that the whole time they were sticking me, it was all for nothing. I couldn’t help but question, “Why does everything have to be so difficult?!” I cried on the phone to my mom on the way back to the condo and waited for the call from the doctor.

Sad Face

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According to Plan

I am so excited to share this post, written by my husband Andy. When we decided to start the blog, I asked if he would be willing to post every now and then, too, to share his thoughts on infertility from the male perspective. Since Father’s Day was just on Sunday, this is a perfect time for him to post! He wrote this right before finding out our results from our IVF cycle. We do know the results now, but are choosing to sit with them privately for a few days before posting. I will post an update soon, I promise! I hope you enjoy this sweet post from my husband. 

My plan was to post something before or on Father’s Day but life always seems to get in the way of plans. It seems that God kind of has a funny way of making everything sort of work out in ways you never expected and ultimately better than you’d planned. Since I didn’t have time to put together a post before Father’s Day, I got the chance to spend it with my Dad. It just so happened that Father’s Day landed on the first Sunday of my family’s vacation this year. (My dad said he didn’t realize it when he booked the vacation, but I’m not so sure.) I’m so glad that we got to spend the day with him relaxing and playing games and all laughing together because my Dad pointed something out that I hadn’t even taken the time to notice. This was his first Father’s Day without his father (which I knew), and the first time there weren’t three generations of Bowens and at least one Father and one Grandfather in our family to celebrate. All four of my grandparents are now gone and we still have both Ruth’s and my amazing Fathers as well as her mom’s Dad to celebrate on Father’s Day. But the pain of that fact cut particularly deep because my Dad’s Dad passed away on August 25th last year. If everything had gone according to our plans, my Paw Paw (as we affectionately called him) would have gotten to meet our first child and known him or her for at least a year. We would have had four generations of Bowens on this earth simultaneously for the first time in a very long time. I still remember, and probably always will, standing alone at Paw Paw’s casket and through tears that I was crying (for many different reasons) telling him that we were trying our best to carry on his name and legacy, but without success, and how badly we wanted to do so. Ruth and I both come from amazing families and I want nothing more than to be the first grandchild of my Paw Paw to carry on his name, and I deeply grieve the fact that he never got to see that happen. (Luckily, he did get to meet two of his great-grandchildren before passing; I’m just the oldest grandson to bear his name)

This first IVF cycle, I’ve seen things that I haven’t seen in years: I’ve seen Ruth do things like look at baby names lists online and begin to talk more about the possibility of a future with children again. At the time of my writing this, we’re still a couple of days away from knowing if it worked or not. Since we’ve gone public, we will have even more people to either share in our celebration or in our grief. Even though I think we’re probably the most hopeful we’ve ever been about a procedure actually working, we still have to approach the situation with the same cautious optimism that we’ve had every time before this. Many of our friends and family seem convinced that this is going to be our month, and in many ways we’ve allowed ourselves to think the same thing. But we continue to try to ground ourselves in reality and expect to hear the same news we’ve heard the previous 30-some-odd times, while hoping for the best. If it does turn out that it worked, of course we’ll be so excited to share in that joy with all those people. But if the contrary proves to be the case, and our best possibility to date still fails, our devastation will be multiplied. There will be that many more people to have to give the bad news to, and we’ll have to re-live it over and over again. Everybody else will feel just a small part of the pain that we’ve felt almost every day, and certainly every month, for the past three years. All the surgeries, procedures, money and time we’ve invested into this venture have all culminated into this month and we are hopeful that we will receive positive news, but we just can’t be sure until we finally get that first “yes” that we’ve been patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) waiting on.

My Dad prayed the other night that this would be the only year that this family would have a lapse on Father’s Day by only having one, instead of two, generations of Fathers to celebrate. Even though things haven’t really ever gone according to (our) plan, I pray the same thing as he did that night. I hope that we can look back in a year and see that prayer answered. I hope that this is our month. I hope that we no longer have to endure the pain and devastation of another month passed without the good news we’ve been so desperately hoping for. That would certainly be according to our plan at this point. But I know God’s plans are ultimately greater and that He is in control and already knows the children we will have, whether they will be biologically ours or lovingly adopted into our family. His plan is greater, and we are still waiting and trusting.

A few weeks ago when some of the inevitable Georgia summer storms were rolling through our area, I posted some thoughts on Instagram and thought it would be appropriate to include them in this post:

Storms are always going to come our way. They neither define us nor do they dictate how we respond. We choose how to respond and that is what defines who we are. We can’t stop or control the storms, only call on Jesus to carry us through. “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17,18

Our Day 5 Transfer

R+A+embryo

We made it to Day 5! The whole IVF process is draining. There are so many ifs and maybes and no guarantees. (Not to mention keeping track of all the shots and medicine, and making sure you’re doing it all right!) We were anxiously waiting for the call on Day 3 that would tell us whether we were moving forward with a Day 3 transfer or if the embryos would make it to Day 5. Once we got the call on Day 3 that said we’d transfer on Day 5, that our embryos were “looking good,” we were absolutely thrilled! But I could only let myself feel hopeful for a minute because then we didn’t know if they’d definitely make it, which could mean no transfer, or possibly none to freeze.

On the day of the transfer, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We wouldn’t find out about our embryos until we got in the room with the embryologist. We’d done several IUI’s, and they had told us that the transfer process was similar. One thing I was nervous about (other than the state of our embryos) was that in order to do the transfer, you have to have a very full bladder. I’m talking VERY full. I was supposed to drink 40 oz. of water in the 45 minutes – 1 hour before the procedure. I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to hold it! That would be embarrassing… But I was fine.

They took us back to the transfer room, which was different from the exam rooms they use for IUI. Instead of an exam table, there was a chair for me to sit in. (It still had the lovely stirrups at the bottom, and the doctor could lean it back for better viewing purposes.) The doctor was running a little late, which meant I really really needed to use the bathroom!

While we were waiting, they put a picture of our embryo up on a screen in the room. photo1-8It was such a cool moment. Andy was sitting next to me, holding my hand, and we were looking at one of our little embryos, the one that would be transferred that day, and that would potentially become our baby.

The doctor came in, looked at the screen, and said, “That is a good looking embryo! They don’t get better than that.” I was so incredibly relieved. I mean, I thought it looked like a good one, but I didn’t actually know. The embryologist came in and told us that we had a great embryo at the blastocyst stage, that it developed normally and was really good quality. Not only that, but ALL 4 of our other embryos made it to blastocyst stage, were also great quality, and we were able to freeze all 4!! We couldn’t believe it!! We’ve had so many years of negatives and not great news, that this was such a wonderfully positive moment.

The transfer process was actually really cool. The doctor got everything ready and told the embryologist, who came in with the embryo for the doctor to transfer. They used the same catheter that is used in IUI to put the embryo right into my uterus. We got to watch the whole process on a screen above us, so we could actually see the embryo (or really, the stuff around the embryo – the embryo was too small to actually see) as it was placed in my uterus!photo2-3

The fact that you watch life being placed inside of you, and you become closer than you’ve ever been to being pregnant, and you even leave with a picture of your little embryo that you know is now in your uterus, possibly growing, it all makes you very attached to the embryo, to the idea that you might actually be pregnant. If it works, then what an amazing experience! (Of course I’d rather get pregnant naturally, but if I have to have infertility, then it’s pretty neat that I can watch my future child travel into the womb.) But if it doesn’t work, talk about a devastating loss.

It’s been almost a week since our transfer. I’ll start my blood tests next week. So far, this whole week has been spent second guessing everything – was that a cramp? Does cramping mean it’s implanting or that I’m about to start my period? I shouldn’t have lifted that. Maybe I still shouldn’t get in the pool. What if it comes out? Did I just do something that will make it not implant? Are my breasts bigger? I’m kind of nauseous. Does that mean I’m pregnant? Of course, every pregnancy “symptom” I might have is also a side effect of the medicine I’m on or a sign that my period is coming, which is just cruel – and it’s enough to drive a person crazy!

All that to say, we got really great news on Thursday at the transfer. It went as well as it could have gone, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled with the status of our embryos. All five that fertilized made it to Day 5! That’s amazing. We are so thankful and we know that God is continuing to watch out for us. Now I just need to keep myself sane while we wait (and wait and wait and wait) for our results!

Quality over Quantity

I’m not gonna lie. I was a little disappointed when they told me I only had 8 follicles that looked good prior to the egg retrieval. My doctor had initially said her goal was to get 12 when I told her that I’d really like to have 4 kids (not all at once, don’t worry!). The nurses and doctors assured me that 8 was a good number, and everything I looked up online said “quality over quantity.” I guess it doesn’t matter if you have 15 eggs if none of them are good. Plus, I have been terrified of hyperstimulation (not a good idea to google these things), and I am hoping we’ll be able to use all of our embryos. So I guess 8 didn’t sound like a horrible number, as long as they were all good.

Well, we got the results back today as far as how many eggs were actually mature and how many actually fertilized. See, not every egg they get is mature enough to fertilize, and then not every mature egg actually fertilizes. Then, not every fertilized egg (embryo, at that point) makes it to day 3 or day 5 for the transfer, which can also mean you don’t have any to freeze for future attempts. Talk about terrifying! To go through the emotional and physical trauma we’ve endured these past few weeks (really these past few years), and to not end up with any children!

I know that it happens, and I’ve been telling myself this whole time that it might not work, that I need to be prepared. I mean, there are stories on fertility blogs all over the internet about people having to do multiple IVF’s before getting pregnant. I know someone personally who is starting her second fresh cycle soon. (A fresh cycle is what Andy and I just did – starting from scratch. A frozen cycle is when you attempt to transfer an embryo that was frozen in a previous fresh cycle.)

I don’t know that a second cycle is an option for us…financially, we’re just barely scraping by to do this first one! So I pray that it works. Please, God, let this cycle work! Let us get just the right number of eggs and embryos that we need to build our family!

I got the phone call from the nurse today, reporting how many eggs actually fertilized. Yesterday, after the retrieval, they said they’d gotten 8 eggs. Today on the phone, she said they got 9. I’m not sure where that last one came from. Maybe they didn’t think it was big enough to mention yesterday? Anyway, they got 9. Seven were mature. Five fertilized.

The nurse said that usually about 50% of what is mature will fertilize. So I guess we did ok.

If the 5 that fertilized are good, Grade 1 embryos, then I’ll be ecstatic! That’s a great number! In fact, if all 5 made it to transfer, I’d take all 5 of those little babies! But they might not make it. In fact, it’s possible that only 1 or 0 will make it and that we’ll have nothing to freeze!

We will be praying hard over these next few days as we wait. A day-3 transfer will be scheduled for Tuesday. If the embryos are still developing well, they’ll move the transfer to day 5. Ideally, we’ll make it to day 5 with several Grade 1 embryos.

Hopefully we’ll have good news to share soon! Pray for our little embryos!

Starting IVF

I have not done a good job of posting updates this last week. I think this is partly because we’ve had a lot on our minds with starting IVF! And also because I’ve had no idea where to start.

First of all, our auction was a success and we are SO thankful for all the people who donated items and those who bid on the items in the auction. Your support means the world to us and has offered some much-needed encouragement during this process. We raised just over $2,000 with the auction. That’s almost half the cost of our meds! What a huge blessing.

Our medicine actually came in a couple weeks ago…it was pretty overwhelming to unpack such a giant box!! We sorted everything out – these needles go with that syringe, this vial goes with that syringe, these boxes go in the fridge, etc. Here’s a picture of what we got in the mail:

New Med Pic

 

Most of that was just for 8-10 days! That’s a lot of shots in a short amount of time. Our sharps container filled up pretty quickly.

Second, we started IVF last week – Wednesday, May 27th. My first shot was that night, and then I’ve had 2-3 each day since. For those who don’t know how it works (and I had no idea before having to be in the process myself), I have been taking Gonal-F, a form of FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone). This helps my ovaries produce multiple eggs. Then they added Ganirelix (this became my third shot each day, starting Saturday). The Ganirelix shot basically slows down and controls the ovulation so that my ovaries don’t release the eggs too soon.

I know I’m getting kind of technical – this post is more for people who want to know how it works, or for people who may be going through it soon.

Over the course of 7 days (last Friday through this Thursday), I went to the doctor’s office 6 times in order for them to do an ultrasound and blood work. They needed to closely monitor my follicle growth and my estrogen levels. It’s very important not to allow hyperstimulation of the ovaries, which could put me in the hospital! I started the Ganirelix a couple days early because my estradiol levles (estrogen levels) were higher than they wanted that early in the game.

As for how I’ve been feeling – I’ve actually been doing ok. The shots made me dizzy, tired, and sore, and I have bruises on my stomach. You’d have to ask Andy, but I don’t think I’ve been that difficult to live with the past week! I did cry once when we messed up the dosage on a shot and we had to do it again. Otherwise, I think I held it together pretty well.

The shots have not been fun. I’m so ready to be done, but with the Progesterone injections, I would take those until about 7 weeks of pregnancy, if I get a positive test. So I guess I want to have to take them because it would mean I’m pregnant! I will say that the HCG shot (the trigger shot for ovulation that I had to take before my surgery), was not as bad as I thought it would be. It really helped to ice down the area beforehand.

**Tip of the day for those doing IVF – for your intramuscular shots, ice down the injection site for a few minutes before doing the injection! I could barely feel the needle. Hopefully this will work with the Progesterone shots, too. I’ll let you know.

My estradiol level was a 1916 as of yesterday morning. Just for a point of reference, a normal estradiol level is 200 when a woman is ovulating. So I have a LOT of estrogen in me right now! The doctor’s office thinks I have 8 eggs that are growing, based on the ultrasounds.

My egg retrieval is tomorrow morning. I’m pretty anxious about it. At least I’ll be put to sleep for the procedure! But I’m still anxious about the actual surgery, about how many eggs they’ll get, if they’ll be good and mature enough to fertilize, and how many will fertilize normally. I just really want this to work! There’s a lot of emotional, physical, financial, and mental energy going into this. I know it will be worth it in the end…if it works!!

My niece said today (completely unprompted), “Are you going to have a baby?” I said, “Yes, one day,” and she replied, “Saturday?” Saturday (tomorrow) is the day of our egg retrieval. Maybe she’s psychic and she knows we’ll get some good embryos!

I know that I need to allow myself to feel hopeful and excited. That’s hard to do after almost three years of disappointments (fertility-wise). I’m proceeding with cautious optimism, I guess, although I know that I’m 100% hoping that this will work. I can’t not be hopeful. So send some prayers our way!