Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Answer is God.

A friend shared this article with me yesterday. It was helpful; perhaps you can benefit from reading it too:

Monday, December 7, 2015

What's next?

It was a painful wait at the lab at the hospital this morning. I hadn't thought about the fact that a lab could resemble the DMV on a Monday morning. It certainly can.

I sat in the waiting room for almost an hour before hearing my name called back. The nurse looked at my lab slip, seeing that the blood work ordered was for a pregnancy test to be sent off to Shady Grove.

I just smiled, trying to hide my sadness.

I'm 99% sure I know what the phone call from Shady Grove will entail, a negative report that I'm not pregnant.  And yet, here I am. Sitting on the couch at 2:15 PM eagerly waiting for the call.

So much waiting.

Last night Chris and I had our very first, Chris-initiated, open discussion about adoption:

"I think we need to start becoming more aware of what adoption entails, what questions we need to ask, what scenarios we're okay with, what resources are even in our area."

I was shocked. I didn't expect him to step up onto the adoption train so soon, let alone be at the station.

"Yes. Good idea. I'll order some books," I said.

"I think we should do the next embryo transfer in January or February, and then if it doesn't work, we need to pursue adoption head on."

"You don't want to try both remaining embryos first?" I asked.

"No. I just don't want adoption to feel like it's last place. I feel like God has been preparing us for something here and I don't want to avoid His prompting any longer."

So I do what I do when I don't know what's coming down the pike--- I research. I ordered seven books.

And I pray. Words are hard to find. I know God knows my heart though.

What's next, God? What's next? 

At 4:30 today the nurse from Shady Grove called. Negative.

Friday, December 4, 2015

11 Days Post Transfer

Because I am insane, I peed on a stick again this morning.  Negative. For the record, I spent over $50 on pregnancy tests this week. I know. I'm a compulsive test taker. It's like the person who opens the oven door ten times while the cookies bake, just to see if they are done.

I know God's not done teaching me something through this sadness. My heart aches. I cried, sobbed this morning after Gabe went to nursery school. I sat at the kitchen table and just bawled. And then, like God does, He speaks.

I was reading my devotional and was pointed to Psalms 118-- "This is the day the Lord has made. Let's us rejoice and be glad in it."

Instead of focusing on the second part of the verse cynically (How can I rejoice today when I'm sad and angry?!) I felt myself really digging into the first part of the verse--


He made it. He knew what would happen today. He willed this day into existence. It was in His perfect plan for me all along. While I think this fertility struggle is far from perfect, His plan for me is NOT TO HARM me. He loves me. He made this day. That's the truth.

I'm okay. Sad, but trusting Him.  The negative result today, this cycle, isn't what I want. But it's what He has planned for this day. I have to trust that in days down the line, I'll figure out why.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

9 Days Post Transfer

Negative HPT this morning.

It's amazing how my eyes can stare deep into a white plastic stick, practically wishing another line into existence. Maybe if I hold it differently? Look at it under a different light?

Negatory. Nothing. Zilch.

Having hope while being a realist is a tough road to travel sometimes.

I've Googled using more fertility-related acronyms than I can count. Googling stinks. Just don't do it.

All the while, through the pain of very real disappointment and a little bit of anger, I am clinging to what I know about God, what I have to believe: He loves me so much that he would never cause anything to happen (or not happen) if it weren't exactly in His plan, the best plan, for my life.

Monday, November 30, 2015

FET Done!

I am so sorry I haven't written to update you on the FET process. It has been a crazy past week for sure!

Monday 11/23 was our transfer. All went well. We transferred in one, grade AA embryo.

Between decorating for Christmas, celebrating Thanksgiving, and learning my lines for our church Christmas musical, this past week has flown by. It seems though, that time is standing still today. I have one week until I go for my blood work pregnancy test.

Did I break down and buy pregnancy tests at Rite Aide yesterday? YES. Have I taken any? Yes. And... nothing.

I know it is early. I know I am mental about peeing on sticks. It's like torture for me. I DON'T want to know that it didn't work while simultaneously, I WANT to know if it did!

Chris is staring at me each day, analyzing me. I feel like I am under a microscope. I am glad he's in the woods hunting today. He needed some time away from the nuthouse.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lining Check

I drove to the Harrisburg office this morning for a quick ultrasound and blood work appointment. The doctor there said my lining looked "Gorgeous" and measured 12 mm (anything about 8 mm is best). Good news. Now waiting for the call to see when I add in the progesterone shots into the mix. Transfer is still set for a week from today.


Though we have been "doing IVF" for a while now, I am still amazed at the reality of a tiny, little human being placed in my belly. Even at five days old, the miracle of life is beautiful, inspiring, scary... hard to put in words.

I've crammed my calendar full for the next fews weeks, with the hope that in the two-week-waiting period before a pregnancy test, I won't go completely insane.

I almost feel like even writing these words, I'm putting the cart before the horse. It feels like so long since we've gotten this far along in the process. Actually, thinking about it, it's been three years since Gabe's transfer. 

I just can't forget all of the wonderfully terrifying emotions that accompany a ride on the fertility train.

I came across an article "My Arms Are No Longer Empty, But My Heart Will Never Forget" posted by a friend this week. It speaks to the reality that infertility never really leaves you, even if you have ten kids in tow. Even if your family is complete.

And in my "I won't forget" promise to other women waiting for motherhood, I promise never to forget to point to a God who walks right with me even when I doubt. Who loves me exactly where I am, and smiles at my Type A nervous energy. He knows me. He loves me. His plan for me is perfect, even when it seems fuzzy and confusing to me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Chugging along!

The estrogen shots are going well. I get one every three days. These inter-muscular injections are easiest I've taken so far; that could because my rump is well padded! Chris is a pro at giving injections by now too, so that helps.

I head to Shady Grove next Monday to have my uterine lining checked. Then, that night, I will add the progesterone injections to be taken each night until the transfer.

 If all looks good we return on 11/23 for embryo transfer!

Also, I wanted to promote a devotional that has been a HUGE help to me. The words on each page are authentic, insightful and offer so many valuable illustrations to help anyone struggling through a WAIT. This devotional intentionally places you in the Word and provides commentary to help you decipher how God may be calling you to use your waiting time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Frozen Embryo Transfer Schedule

It's been a few weeks since I've posted. I wanted to update you all on my FET schedule.

I started birth control 10 days ago (I know. Weird. My nurse says that birth control helps settle everything down, and now that we don't care what my ovaries do or produce, we can use birth control to help us get my uterus on track for transfer).

I have two more days of birth control to take. Then, I will go in on 11/2 (Monday) for a baseline ultrasound and bloodwork, just to ensure that there are no cysts and that everything is good to go.

I'll start progesterone shots that night. Admittedly, I need to do more research on frozen embryo cycles because I don't know much! The progesterone shots are supposed to create a good lining in my uterus, preparing it well for the embryo.

I have an 11/16 ultrasound and bloodwork check up, and then our actual transfer day is set for 11/23. 

Only three total office visits for a frozen embryo transfer! 

We have three embryos that are frozen, but we plan to transfer only one in at a time. Here's to hoping there's a 2016 baby in our future.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sunshine and Good Grades!

After getting the news Friday night that we would not be doing a fresh embryo transfer this month, we were admittedly bummed. We felt like we were just pushing and pushing to get to that ending point, so when the plans changed and we discovered Dr. Sasson didn't want us to do a fresh transfer (he was worried that we would "waste" an opportunity for pregnancy in a non-optimal uterine environment due to high estrogen levels) we felt like there wasn't any closure or ending to our latest IVF cycle-coster! 

Friday night, we did not know the three remaining embryo grades or even if they had made it to the full blastocycst stage.  We were told that three early blastocysts were remaining and that all three would be frozen. We did not know anything else.

Because I no longer needed to have my cell phone permanently affixed to my body waiting for embryo updates, I left it inside all morning on Saturday. We ran errands and worked in the yard. For a few hours, I forgot about hormones and fertility. I felt sunshine on my face (or at least recognized it) for the first time in a few weeks. Glorious.

We came into the house for lunch and I saw I had a missed call and voicemail from Shady Grove. What. Could. This. Be? 

Of course my hormonal mind jumped to all sorts of crazy:

- The lab caught fire. 
- The embryos were stolen.
- Maria (the embryologist) was in an accident and couldn't make it to the office to freeze them in time. 
- You get the point. 

I froze. Picked up the phone and played the message:

Hi, Rachel. It's Maria. I just wanted to let you know that we did successfully freeze three embryos at the full blastocyst stage. Two have AA grades and one has an AB grade, which is fantastic! Just wanted to let you know. Have a great weekend.


I immediately started crying and jumping up and down. Chris was upstairs attempting to put Gabe down for a nap. I skipped up the steps and ran into Gabe's room. We have three--two AA and one AB! 

A high-five, jumping, hugging party ensued for a few minutes, Gabe included. (That kid will do anything to avoid a nap!)

What awesome news. What a relief! The night before, we were feeling down about how the events of this past week had played out. We were feeling uncertain and just on edge.

Now, we are feeling optimistic. Honestly. This is the first time this cycle that I say I feel confident in the outcome. 

In a world of statistics and odds, we just keep coming back to God's Will for us. We know He is sovereign and His plan is the one that He has hand picked for us because he loves us. It's hard not knowing what it is, but today, we can see how His plan has gotten us to where we are now. Who knows what these next months will hold, but I know who'll be walking right next to us.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Just Kidding....No Fresh Transfer

Dr.  Sasson called a few hours ago. He decided to freeze the three remaining embryos to implant starting next month. Now no transfer tomorrow. He said my hormone count is too high (estrogen =4000) and not safe for a baby right now. Not horrible news but I'm still kinda bummed. Just more waiting. God's gotten us this far. I know He'll be with us for another month of waiting.

It's tempting to Google and research but honestly, I'm just tired. Tired of the roller coaster. For tonight, I'm going to step off this ride.

Day 4 Post-Retrieval

We still have 3!

Transfer is set for 11: 30 tomorrow morning. We will be getting a call between 7-8 AM to tell us if all three made it through the night. If only 2 made it, we will not go for transfer, but freeze and do a transfer next month.

I'm relieved. I'm still anxious. I'm grateful. I'm scared.... I don't know what or how I feel, really. Hormonal? Yes. That's it!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Day 3 Post-Retrieval

And then there were three...

We have two eight-cell and one ten-cell.

I will get a call tomorrow (Friday) afternoon with a final update. If we still have three, we will transfer one in on Saturday morning. If we have two or one, we will freeze both to be transferred in next month. Debbie said that their latest stats show a 67% success rate for a frozen embryo transfer, which is higher than the fresh transfer rate, hence why we would want to go the frozen path. It would give my body a month to chill out prior to transfer (my hormone levels would get back to normal too).

If I'm being honest, I still want there to be three tomorrow so we can transfer Sat and freeze the remaining two. I don't know if that's how it will go though. In the end, we want a baby however that happens.

For now, I'll keep praying and eating Oreos.

Day 2 Post-Retrieval

4 remain.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 1 Post-Retrieval

Just got a call from the embryology lab:

We had 8 eggs retrieved yesterday, 7 of which were mature.

Of the 7, 4 were successfully fertilized.

So, we have 4 in the game right now.

I asked again about the frozen vs. fresh transfer situation. If we have 2 or more embryos on Thursday (3 days post retrieval) we would go ahead and do a fresh transfer this Saturday and freeze the remaining. If we have less than 2 remaining on Thursday, we would freeze the 1 or 2 and go for a frozen transfer next month.

One day post retrieval

Just wanted to write a quick update about the egg retrieval yesterday:

Dr. Sasson was able to get 8 eggs. We will know many fertilized today and then each day that goes by, we will be called with an update about how they are progressing.

We are shooting for either a Day 5 transfer (Saturday 10/10), or if we have a high quality embryo at that point, we will freeze it to be transferred in next month. This was a bit surprising to me, as I had heard that fresh transfers usually have a higher success rate than frozen transfers. Apparently, Dr. Sasson tells me, the statistics have changed in recent years. Frozen transfers at Shady Grove now have equal to or greater chances for success than fresh transfers, especially for women whom have had high dosages of stims in their most recent cycle (me!)

Right now though, I am just praying that many eggs have fertilized and that we will have something remaining by week's end. I hope some of my sanity remains by that point too!

Thanks for your positive thoughts and prayers. There is nothing better than waking up on egg retrieval day to texts from praying friends; thank you for lifting this cycle up to the Lord.

Twas the Night Before Retrieval...

It's the night before retrieval and I am eager to have this next procedure completed. I wouldn't say I'm nervous; I am just eager to know how many eggs Dr. Sasson can get from my slow-to-respond ovaries.

Chris and I spent the past few days in Philaldelphia. We had morning monitoring appointments each day, and we just didn't feel like driving back and forth 6 hours round trip multiple days in a row. Gabe stayed with my in-laws, and Chris and I got to have a few date nights; it was heavenly. The weather didn't really cooperate, so instead, we enjoyed just relaxing at the hotel, watching movies, taking NAPS( Oh naps, how I have missed you!). It was just what we needed to reconnect and gear up for tomorrow's retrieval.

Dr. Sasson said that I had 16 eggs, but he thinks only 8 of them will be the correct size to fertilize. It's still a bit of a guessing game at this point, so we shall see.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Missing Med Panic

We had such a crazy night last night. Let me start from the beginning: 

I knew I was running out of injections (Follistim) on Monday morning, so the specialty pharmacy was overnighting them to me so I would get them by last night at 5 PM. Well, 5 PM came and no meds from FedEx. We called them and found out that the meds were in a shipping container in NJ! There was a delay and they couldn't do anything about it.

Without the meds, I would have to cancel the cycle and all the money and time and energy would be wasted...

I of course, started crying and freaking out. Chris was too and it was just not pretty. We called all the pharmacies in our area and none of them had the med on hand because it is a specialty med and only specialty pharmacies can issue it....

Next, we called the on-call doctor. She asked if I had any leftover meds from previous cycles. I did have a box of a few meds in a closet, but they were not the same ones I was taking this round. She asked me to go get the box and list each med one by one to her. Apparently, I did have a generic brand of the meds (Bravelle) that I could take to replace the ones that didn't arrive via FedEx. The issue was, did I have enough in the leftover box to actually make it work?

She told me I needed 6 vials to take last night and 4 vials to take this morning to equal what my body needed. She said I needed 10 vials of the generic med to prevent a canceled cycle. 

I looked down and there were exactly 10 vials of the meds in the box that I almost threw away a few months back. 10 vials. Exactly what we needed. 

I am still in awe of God this morning! And I'm crying. Again. Amazed at Him.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Oh, the monitoring...

It has been one week since I started stims. I am lagging behind a bit in terms of my estrogen (880)and follicle counts (maybe 15 if we're lucky), but it's not a totally hopeless situation. It seems my ovaries are working, but just slowly. We actually had to order more meds because I ran out! It is such a bizarre experience to stare at a cartridge of medication, knowing that just one dose = $500.

On Sunday, we traveled down to the Towson office because Harrisburg was closed and Chesterbrook was crazy due to the Pope's visit. The Towson office was FILLED with women waiting to be monitored (as in, like 50 women).

It did feel like an assembly line of sorts. I think that if I had to experience that in my first cycle, I would have been really discouraged and felt super isolated. It was just such a cold experience. Women lined the waiting room with just hopeless looks on their faces. I tried to send warm glances to anyone who would actually make eye contact with me. I think that my multiple IVF cycles to date coupled with pure desensitization makes me less prone to feeling like I'm actually part of the reproductive cattle herding taking place a SGF.

That being said, I still feel though. I still feel for others who are on their journeys to motherhood without a sweet toddler at home to greet them after the cattle herding.

I was riding the elevator down after my appointment on Sunday with a woman who looked to be around 30.  She was beautiful and was wearing the best of everything. I saw her get into her new Mercedes, sobbing.

I walked up to her and asked if she needed to talk. She replied, "This is so hard. It just sucks."


I stood and talked to her for a while and tried to help her gain a grip before leaving.

Infertility touches EVERYONE, regardless of what you have financially. It is emotional. It is hard.

I am again ever so thankful for my husband, my son, my God. I keep reminding myself of God's sovereignty. It helps me to think about it, but it also scares me a little, to be honest.

As far as my meds to date:

I am taking the highest dose of Follistim (450) allowable each day, along with 125 of Menapur.

Tonight, I will take 450 Follistim,  225 of Menapur, and Ganirelix to prevent premature ovulation. This combo will last for the next four days, I think. It's looking like I would trigger on Saturday night, with egg retrieval on Monday, 10/5?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Starting Stims!

I trekked down to Harrisburg yesterday morning for my pre-IVF monitoring appointment. My bloodwork looks good and there were no signs of uterine issues on the ultrasound. They did count 13 antral follicles. I totally did not pay attention to antral follicle numbers in round 1 or 2--- Now, I'm being SUPER thorough because I want to just be informed and on top of everything each step of the way in this, our final round. From what my Google results yield, that number of antral follicles for an almost-31 year old is a little low, but hey, we're doing all we can!

Last night, I started on 300 iu Follistim and 150 iu of Menupur. This is the highest dosage I've ever taken, but what the heck, let's go!

I head back to Harrisburg on Friday for bloodwork and ultrasound to check on things.

As far as my headspace, I am peaceful. I'm anxious, but in a good way, like the anxiousness you feel for Christmas or your birthday, not the stressed-induced kind of anxiousness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The meds are here... again

The FedEx delivery of my meds for the third fresh IVF cycle arrived a few days ago. As I unpacked the meds, I did an inventory to ensure they were all there. At the same time, I was taking inventory of myself, working through my mental checklist to prepare for this last and final round.

I am hopeful. I am excited to get started.

If this doesn't work, it will be hard, but we will know more surely that IVF and assisted reproduction is not in the plan for us right now. Adoption just might be, and that's something we will fervently explore should this cycle not work.

I have been assigned an Antagonist Vivelle Protocol this time around. This protocol is for women whose ovaries might not respond as well as they should to a more traditional protocol. For a woman my age, I should be producing between 20-30 eggs at retrieval. Instead, last cycle, we were only able to produce FOUR eggs. Not a great start to the cycle, once you consider that the eggs have to fertilize and then make it all the way to embryos.

To increase my odds of producing more eggs, I've been taking CoQ10 supplements on top of my pre-natal vitamins. I will start on a Vivelle hormone patch next week, followed by Ganirelix injections to bring on a period. Once the period begins, I will start the traditional Follistim/Menopur injections for two weeks. Then, its hopefully a retrieval of numerous eggs!

To conclude this post, I have to tell you a hysterical story:

I had to buy an ovulation predictor kit at the drug store last week. I needed to know exactly which day I ovulated so that I would know when to start my Vivelle patch (10 days post ovulation).

Anyway, I have my ovulation predictor kit and I am checking out and this song plays from the sound system: (fast forward to 50 secs in for main chorus).

I could not hold in my laughter. I started laughing and laughing and laughing. The clerk gave me a weird face, but then caught on and started laughing too.

Ah. The irony of it all! Thanks for the sense of humor and timing, God!

The last days of summer 2015

I have a moment of quiet before Gabe comes back from the sitter. I've been forming a post in my brain for a few weeks, thinking, I should add this so I can read it years from now. Words on a page can't really capture the process I've walked through this summer; I don't even know if I could explain it verbally if I tried.

I feel like I'm finally getting to that "better place", the mental headspace that allows us to see sweet moments in our ordinary days. The place where we can see the glass as half full again. It's been a while since I've been able to feel such normalcy and exude anything positive. Now though, I'm okay. I really am.

After our last failed cycle and the death of Chris's grandfather, we just felt pretty empty. Pretty ticked. Pretty alone. I think we have each had to find our way back to a place of new normal and the place where we aren't so angry at God. It's taken time and tears, but we're getting there.

In June, I made the decision to see a Christian counselor. I needed someone totally outside of my family and circle friends. I needed someone who could help me work through my anger with God and my grief. She allowed me to talk, to vent, but then always gave me weekly homework. At the end of each session with her, I'd walk quietly to my car and look in the rearview mirror, eyes red and swollen from uncontrolled emotion.

Uncontrolled emotion. Now that's raw. Now that's what Christians often do not want others to see. But why? Why not, I ask! Hearing someone say that walking with the Lord is sometimes hard is helpful Hearing a Christian say that prayer is hard when hearts are hard-- and that it's okay. For a time.

Moving out of that time, I now am in a place of just wanting to move forward. To move on. We have one final round of IVF on the horizon. And you know what? If it doesn't work, it doesn't mean God didn't hear me. It doesn't mean that He's a harsh God who doesn't want me to have what I want.

It means He wants me to have what is BEST for me. When I get to decide what's best, that's when I step on Him, close Him in, and close Him out.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fantastic Resource

I was honored to share my infertility story to date with Heather Huhman, founder of the podcast Beat Infertility. I hope it can provide you with hope and inspire you as it has me.

Beat Infertility Podcast Link

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Perspectives from Jonah

This morning I was reading Jonah. I found scribbled notes in my Bible's margins from a Jonah sermon. Think beyond the Jonah and the whale story. Think about what comes next, in Jonah Chapter 4. 

I've admittedly been angry with God lately. I see myself in Jonah's actions, as he sits, angry at God for killing his stupid vine, when meanwhile, there were thousands of people unsaved. 

"Is it right for you to be angry?" God asked. 

I know that's me. I am Jonah in this moment. I know my anger is hindering my ability to be used by God, even in everyday interactions with others. I feel surrounded by anger, grief, and disappointment. I know this is just a tough time. Chris and I remind each other of that every day. It's not forever. 

But what about now?  

I'm still allowed to be angry, right? I'm standing here, waiting for Him. In that waiting though, how do I get my eyes of off my current struggles to see what He wants, to see the many, many good things He's given me that I don't deserve?

There have been days when I've looked my Bible with resentment. I'm not picking that up today. I'm blocking it out, Him out. 

And then,  there are times like today when I think, I have NOTHING BUT HIS WORD to help me understand His ways.  And I'm thankful (still mad though) but thankful for His desire to WANT to speak to me this morning. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

And so here we are. Still here.

I haven't really been posting much lately. I've been feeling apathetic about all things fertility in an effort to just pretend we don't have to deal with it. It works for a while, but then thoughts of fertility world start creeping back into my brain. So, while I've got those thoughts on the brain, and have a second to myself, I'll update you on some developments.

A few weeks ago, I had a phone consult with Dr. S to discuss any potential reasons for my last failed IVF cycle, as well as the potential reason(s) why we did not even come out of the fresh cycle with any remaining embryos.

His answer: "I don't know."


He went on to say that my 30-year-old body isn't responding like a typical 30-year-old. With the amount of hormone stimulants I've been given, I should be producing between 15-30 eggs at retrieval. This past cycle, four were retrieved, with only two for transfer in the end.

Instead, he said, I was responding like I was in my mid 40s.

He does want to change the protocol moving forward to see if that can make a positive difference in my egg retrieval numbers. He wants me to plan out my next fresh cycle, two plus months in advance, to ensure that we are really coming into retrieval with the best possible scenario.

I hope that will be the case as this is, mark my words, our LAST CHANCE at IVF (unless we hit the lottery). We have one more cycle that we've paid for (or at least have the loans out to pay for!)

We are currently saving for the $6,000 of meds we need to go along with that last cycle. I had hoped to try in September, but I don't think we are going to be there financially. I also don't think I am going to be there emotionally.

The failure of the last cycle coupled with the unexpected death of Chris's grandfather have put us in a difficult place emotionally. It's hard for me to be the cheerleader right now. It's hard for Chris to be pumped up when he is helping his family work through the details of his grandfather's death. Chris is grieving too.

We've never encountered a period in our marriage like this to date. Eight years and counting and in most situations, one of us is the optimist, the one pushing the other through. Right now, we're both kind of stagnant. We are talking about how to support each other though, and I think that's crucial to our ability to remain a team, even in our different kinds of grief right now.

I know it won't be like this forever, but right now, it's just hard.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

"Everything Happens for a Reason"... Does it?

This post made SO much sense to me, especially in the place where I am, in this moment.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Making a trek out of the valley

If it seems like I'm in a bit of a valley right now, it's true. I'm starting to climb out, but I'm not there yet.

I haven't posted because we have just experienced a loss in our family that has consumed every moment since last Saturday. Chris's grandfather passed away unexpectedly on Saturday morning.

If you'll recall, Friday I went to the hospital to get bloodwork done to find out if our embryo transfer was successful. We didn't hear back from Shady Grove that day because our lab here in Williamsport was delayed in sending it to them (shocker). Friday night Chris and I went out on a date and Chris's parents kept Gabe overnight. It was good to reconnect and have a night out after the weeks of doctor visits and IVF hormones. We talked at dinner about the very real possibility that I wasn't pregnant. We started coming to terms with it, sadly, but surely.

We woke up Saturday morning and did some yard work, something that is tricky when we have Gabe with us. We jumped in the car late morning to go pick up Gabe from Chris's parents. When we pulled into the driveway at his parent's house, we saw that no one was home. Because Chris's grandparents only live a half mile up the road, we thought they might be there visiting. We drove up the driveway to see Chris's parents' arms waving to us, both with distressed looks.

Chris's grandfather had suffered a heart attack and at that moment, we needed to start CPR. Chris began CPR and continued until the ambulance came; another 45 minutes of CPR and the EMTs declared that Chris's grandfather had passed away.

It was a traumatic experience for all who witnessed it. It was worse for Chris because he and his grandfather Ernie held such a deep, special bond. Ernie was Chris's best man in our wedding. He never missed one of Chris's concerts or football games, or birthdays. He and Chris talked weekly. Chris considered him a father figure and an incredible man of faith. Many of the qualities I love about Chris are qualities his grandfather modeled.

As for as the failed pregnancy, honestly, we haven't had time to process it. I got a voicemail from Shady Grove only minutes after the hearse left Chris's grandfather's house, telling us that we were not pregnant. The timing of the day was just incredible.

A few days have gone by. The funeral was yesterday. Chris spoke and I sang and it was a lovely tribute to a sweet, faithful man.

I know Ernie loved Gabe and loved seeing his grandson so happy as a new father. His unexpected passing is just another reminder that God is in control. He's sovereign. His timing is His timing; we don't get to dictate it. Even in my sadness, I am ever so mindful of the gift that I have in Chris as my husband and Gabe as my son. I don't want to ever take that for granted.

Friday, May 1, 2015

11 days post transfer

Last night, I started bleeding. Bright red.

I sat on the toilet and cried.

Chris and I climbed in bed and just held in each other in silence, me with a blotchy face, swollen eyes. Ticked, I grabbed my phone and typed out a staccato email to our Shady Grove nurse, Debbie:

Tested today. It was negative. Bleeding bright red now. Can I go get the blood test tomorrow, to put myself out of this misery? Please don't make us wait until Monday. Need to know for sure so we can get a grip here.

Her reply: Go ahead. We will call you when the lab sends us your results.

I went to the lab this morning. I'm just waiting for a phone call anytime. Pull the plug already. Rip off the bandaid. I can't sit in this place much longer.

I told Chris I am 98% sure I'm not pregnant. Who knows why I still cling to 2%. I think Chris is like 75% no, 25% yes, for no justifiable reason at all.

So when we 100% know, what are our next steps? I don't know for sure. I know we have one more cycle paid for, minus the meds. I know we need time away from the fertility roller-coaster though. It was exciting at first, but I'm over it today.

You know the feeling you get when you first get to an amusement park? Oh wow! So fun! This takes me back to my childhood! You're excited to eat that amazing fried food, jump onto a ton of rides and get your face painted.... After a few hours though, the thrills lessen. The food actually isn't that great. You've got gum stuck on your shoe, and you're kind of grumpy.

We are past kind of grumpy. We are exhausted and ready to leave. We will come back. We know. Just not anytime soon.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

10 days post transfer

The sun and warmer weather has been so welcomed this week! I spent the day outside yesterday with Gabe. We went for a really long walk and then played in his playhouse in the yard for hours. Literally. Somehow, being squished into a toddler playhouse, blowing bubbles, one forgets her stressors:)

Chris and I have the weekend planned out with lots of yard work and together time. It's how we handle stress. I can plant a garden and hack down weeds, bushes, and trees. I can do that. It's within my control. And right now, it feels good to be able to see results of my efforts, on my own terms.

Still not feeling incredibly optimistic about Monday's blood work. I think I'll take another pregnancy test this weekend, just so I have a little bit more preparation, a bit more advanced warning.

I did wake up to some spotting this morning. Sorry, TMI, but just keeping it real. Not sure what it means though.

Off to grade papers and get some school work done. Pandora turned up and a cup of coffee in hand are getting me off on the right foot today!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

9 days post transfer

So I broke down and took a home pregnancy test at 5:45 AM this morning. I sat in the bathroom, holding my breath and staring at the test, wishing that second line into existence. Nothing. It was negative.

I know it's a little early still, but at this point in the two week wait with Gabe, I did get a positive test.

Leaving the bathroom, I debated whether I should even tell  Chris.... give him a few more days of authentic hope before telling him I cheated and took a test early. After five minutes of lying next to him, I just couldn't hold back the tears. I told him and we just laid there, holding hands in silence.

I know it's not a complete final verdict, but I'm just really starting to prepare myself that Monday's blood test really might be negative. I am not always a glass half full person, but I've been with this, in a sense, pushing through, head down, determined, staying optimistic for Chris.

Today though, I don't feel optimistic. I feel sad. A little angry.

Today I look at Gabe and think, I'm so lucky to have him. Simultaneously, I look at Gabe and mourn that I might not get to experience this again. How can I be content with Gabe, yet mourn that there may not be another baby/toddler experience for us?

I'm not going to take another test until the weekend, right before my blood test on Monday AM. If it ends up being positive, I'll be thrilled of course, but for now, I just need to start coming to grips with the fact that it might not be. And that we'll be okay. We will. It just doesn't feel so great right now.

Monday, April 27, 2015

7 Days Post Transfer

If I had actually had a pregnancy test in this house this morning, I would have taken it. Not because I feel pregnant or anything, but just because I am starting to get a little jittery about this IVF cycle's outcome. The distraction of springtime and a toddler is helping, however. This weekend we worked around the house and played outside with Gabe. Glorious. It was the first weekend in over two months where I didn't have any appointments in Philly or Harrisburg to get to; it was nice to be in one place, enjoying each day with my family.

Every few hours, the embryo(s) in my belly would resurface to my mind, and I'd get sidetracked, wondering how/if things are progressing in there...

Googling "7 days post a 5 day embryo transfer" brings up MANY results; most of which are posts from hopeful mothers, looking for some sign or confirmation that at 7 days post transfer, that they are pregnant. Nothing really scientifically proven.

As far as my physical feelings 7dpt, not much feels different than any other day. I did have some slight pain on both my sides (kind of like ovary pain?) yesterday and still a bit this morning. It's the first physical anything that I've felt since transfer day. But who knows what this could actually mean? Google results are contradictory and inconclusive. Shocker.

I'm thinking that I'll take a test on Wednesday, if I actually have the nerve to go buy one and actually take it. I want to know the outcome here, but there is also mental safety in the unknown. For now.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Peace in waiting

Even though we are in the dreaded two week waiting period, I am peaceful. I don't have anxiety (today). I think just having a few days of NO appointments, good meals, and sunshine has really brought me back to life! Chris still seems anxious, so for now, while I'm feeling more solid, I want to do my best to support and encourage him. 

Yesterday I played with Gabe all day. Like serious toddler playing. He is so intense; intensely happy, intensely angry, intensely curious, intensely awake, intensely tired...intensely Gabe! I love it! He recently started really HUGGING back when I hug him. For the first time, I feel him gripping his arms around my neck and back and tugging me into him. Best feeling in the world.

I'm not going to lie; I have started calculating when I should take a pregnancy test. I know SG says not to take one for at least 14 days. I'm thinking I won't last that long. Just being honest. I know I'll make it through the weekend without taking one, so that's good, right?

Monday, April 20, 2015

ROUND TWO: Transfer Day

We just arrived home from a whirlwind trip to Shady Grove. I have so many thoughts and emotions and I want to sort them out, but I don't know that I can at this exact moment. I will though, give the basic overview of our day.

We drove to Philly, holding hands, just trying to get past the fear that we may show up at the Shady Grove office with nothing to transfer. I did some work on my computer while Chris listened to (horrid) 80s music on the radio, his way to calm his nerves:)

We arrived in the parking lot and prayed together, asking that God would be with us regardless of what the day would bring.

We got geared up (me in a gown and Chris in a white jumpsuit) and went back to hear from Dr. Sasson. He said we had one really good embryo, and one that was lagging a bit behind. I literally exhaled for what felt like minutes. I honestly think I've been walking around for the past five days, just holding my breath that we would have an embryo make it to day 5. Now, I was hearing there were at least two in the running.

We debated if we wanted to transfer both, or just the good one, hoping that maybe the other could be preserved later. We surprisingly quickly and peacefully came to the same decision as last time; go for two. 

Even as I'm typing, I am having this weird revelation and awareness of this day. I have just been making myself so distracted, pushing myself purposely so far away from the feeling of disappointment and fear. I've just been trying to disconnect. Today was the first time that I felt like, okay, this is happening. It could be okay to connect and allow myself to feel and experience of embryo transfer day. I am nowhere near letting myself feel like I'm pregnant or like I'm going to have a baby. But I am allowing myself to savor God's goodness in all that played out this day.

We now wait two weeks for the pregnancy test. That seems like decades away, but I know I will sleep much better tonight than I did last night knowing that we survived day 5.

Friday, April 17, 2015

ROUND TWO: Day 2, after retrieval

Do you know what's weird and insanely hard to put into words? The feeling I have when I hear the phone ring and it's Shady Grove on the caller ID, calling us to update us on how many potential Knipe human lives are still living in their lab. As stated yesterday, we have three mature, fertilized eggs. Today, we have two four-cell embryos, and one two-cell embryo; still at 3 total.

I remember being nervous last time, wondering if IVF would work, but I don't remember being this nervous about this specific phase of the cycle. We had such good number last time so we knew we had good odds to get to transfer day with at least something to transfer. Now, Chris and I are on pins and needles just wondering if there is going to be anything to transfer on Monday.

We are still at three. Maria called from the lab and said she would hope to see 6-8 cell embryos tomorrow. She will call to update us tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

ROUND TWO: Day after Egg Retrieval

Yesterday was the egg retrieval; they were unfortunately only able to get four eggs, three of which were mature and able to be fertilized.

Now it is just a waiting game to see how they each grow and mature on to the blastocyst stage. Embryo transfer is set for Monday at 12:30, if we have anything to transfer. I am trying to cling to some hope here. Last time, we had 13 eggs retrieved and 8 fertilized and then we ended up implanting 2 with  none left to store. I just hope that we can get at least one quality blastocyst to make it into a full fledged embryo-then-baby!

Daniella and Debbie were my nurses yesterday and they were wonderful. Sensitive. Supportive and funny.

Marie, the embryologist we had Round 1 is who will be keeping us updated each day regarding the grade and stage of the blasts; she is super sweet and it was good to see her yesterday.

Dr. Sasson was at another office yesterday so he was not there for the retrieval. Dr. K did it and she was wonderful.

Even though there were a few unplanned or last minute changes in our day yesterday, I am happy to report that I'm almost pain free today and am still just trying to remain hopeful that five days from now we will have something positive to report.

Chris, on the other hand, is a mess. I think he is worked up because we didn't really get the numbers that we had last time. We also only have one more cycle after this one that is paid for; we did not do Shared Risk this time, we did the 2 Cycle Program. Even thinking about having to do this again is not worth my time at this point, but Chris is just hyper fixated on it.

I'm hoping house projects and yard work will get us through to Monday. Distraction! Distraction! Distraction!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

ROUND TWO: Pre-Retrieval

Last night, Chris got to give me a shot in the bum which acted as a trigger for ovulation. Egg retrieval is set for tomorrow morning at 7:45 AM. We are planning to head to Philly tonight and get a hotel, as the timing of tomorrow's appointment is critical. We wouldn't want a flat tire or traffic to impact our ability to get there on time!

This morning I did not (THANKFULLY) have to go to Shady Grove for monitoring (my first morning not in a car in four days!) Apparently with an HCG Novarelle shot, there does not need to be any bloodwork done the following day. This trigger was different from the Lupron dual trigger I had before. I asked about the change in protocol and the nurse told me it was because of my estrogen levels. She wasn't concerned and just said things are "a little different" this time around.

As I write, I am so in awe of just how DIFFERENT everything has been this time around. I can't really explain it. Things with Chris and I are good though; we are a team. Last night's bum-shot was entertaining to say the least:)

I am so intrigued to know how many eggs they will be able to retrieve tomorrow. At yesterday's appointment, it appeared that there were around 7. This is less than last time, but hey, we only need one good one.

Each day after tomorrow, Shady Grove will call us and let us know how the embryos are doing; how many, their grade, shape etc. I haven't really allowed myself to think about this process not working. I've honestly been so busy between work and Gabe and monitoring to let the thought sit very long in my head. I hope that the next five days until transfer are quick ones. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

ROUND TWO: Monitoring Mania... Again

I've not been good at updating the blog this round; sorry. Life is hectic. Today marked the third trek to Philly this week. The Harrisburg office is not open for ultrasounds because their tech is on vacation. While I totally understand the need for a vaca, it is amazing to me that a fertility center only has ONE person qualified to do ultrasounds?!

Anyhow, tomorrow starts the final countdown, with visits tomorrow, Sunday, Monday, maybe Tuesday, and then egg retrieval Wednesday.

My hormone levels and follicles look good and are growing.

Poor Gabe is being juggled around a bit between two babysitters and my in-laws. I think he is faring well though; he's getting lots of snuggles and one-on-one play time with fun people!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

ROUND TWO: It's Happening.

What someone should have told me before we started this second-go at IVF is that it wouldn't be anything like our first round. From what I read online (obviously a reliable source) the second IVF round is supposed to be easier because you know what to expect. You know what's coming.

Here's the thing: So far, this round has been harder because we've had certain hurdles that weren't present the first time: Finding a babysitter so I can go to Philly and back, paying for IVF when there are other bills in the mix that weren't a few years ago etc. This round, we are requiring ICSI , when we didn't need that last time. This time, we have to pay for all of my medications ($$$!!!) because our updated insurance policy no longer covers fertility meds. This round, I am taking a few different meds, with higher dosages. This round, we are splitting our time between Shady Grove in Philly and Harrisburg. This time, Chris is watching Gabe while I go to many appointments alone.

I am selfish. I want what I know. What I had before.

It's not the emotional roller coaster of wanting to simple have a child, like it was in round one. Having Gabe really does help in that respect (of course I want to experience it again!) Having had the chance to be pregnant before helps too. It's now just the overwhelming desire for a FAMILY beyond one child. For siblings for Gabe. 

To be honest, this IVF cycle has felt like we are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It's like, the second I feel a burden lifted, something else happens that makes me feel uneasy all over again. I have been on the phone with the bank 11 times in 3 days. I am not kidding. Today, I was on hold with a banker and Gabe magically made his diaper explode. What ensued was not pretty: Me trying to remain on hold (for fear if I hung up I would loose the ONE person who actually was trying to help me) whilst diaper changing...Toddler excrement abounded.

I wrote earlier that I was just ticked that we had to do this again. I was ticked that we couldn't just experience procreation without financial penalty or physical hurdles. There have been a number of days when I've really gotten over that annoyance, that anger. Really. I have!Then, there are days like today when I am mad all over again. I don't know if that goes away with time?

It's Holy Week. The week that we as Christians pause to remember the sacrifices that Jesus made for each and every one of our salvations. We were challenged by our Pastor to spend 4 days where we just PRAISED God and THANKED Him for his sacrifice and for the blessings He's given to us. That was more of a challenge than I ever thought it could be. Especially during a time that I've not been feeling very thankful.

But something has helped me: Each day this week, a song lyric has been running through my head- God is fighting for us. Pushing out the darkness. He has overcome. Yes, He has overcome! 

The one thing that I CAN selfishly claim is that I am a daughter of the One True King, the one who is fighting for me even when I can't see what's coming. The one who is fighting for me even when I am ugly and selfish and don't like myself very much. That' a pretty amazing God.

As for the Round II Schedule:
Start injections 4/3 for 10-12 days. Then egg retrieval. Then transfer. Then 2 week wait to see if it worked.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Control Freak

And the crazy-psycho planning begins. Again. Oh, and some stream-of-consciousness writing:

I just pulled out my calendar from the last time we did IVF to try to nail down a general timeframe for everything. I am a control freak. I need to know what's coming. My calendar is essential.

I started taking pre-natal pills this morning. Strange.

I'm excited at the prospect of pregnancy but I don't want to climb the IVF hormone mountain to get there.

What if it doesn't work like last time? The knowledge of the last cycle and the positive result (GABE!) is both a blessing and curse. I know exactly what's coming physically and emotionally, except for the outcome, which is unknown.

I think we would be looking at an end of April embryo transfer, if we have any embryos that make it to that point; we will have to decide the number to implant (1 or 2) like we did last time.

Big choices. Big money. Big emotion. Big dreams. All the while, I have Gabe, who does fulfill my desire to mother someone... I want him to have a sibling or siblings. Is that selfish? To some maybe. I know. I just want to do motherhood more.

I see many "I"s in this post. I'm allowed to feel and to hope. When does that become selfish of me though?

Is Round Two a secret pursuit? I don't know how it can be as secretive as last time because we have Gabe and I have to plan appointments around him. We are going to need help. I hate asking for that.

I wish I could accurately describe my attitude/emotions going into this cycle. I'm not in the same headspace as I was Round One. I'm not in a worse place, just a different one. Will that matter? I guess the better question to ask is HOW will that matter here?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Round Two. Really. I think.

Should your finances and your calendars dictate when you can have another child? When you're needing IVF to create that child, the answer is YES. And prayer. Lots of it.

We think we are ready to jump in for round two now. I have scheduled a baseline ultrasound for mid March. After that, we will get a more definitive timeline, but guestimating, I would say we'd be looking at a transfer around early May?

I feel a little bit more ready for the whole process than I did a few months ago. I think it will become more real after my baseline appointment. I'll write more then :)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Pets and infertility

I don't even know how to write this post. I'm sitting here crying already.

But what do I do when I'm emotionally raw? I write. I apologize in advance if you are A) not ready for a sad story or B) you don't like dogs/pets.

Yesterday we found out that our sweet boxer Stu has cancer. Like bad. Like everywhere. This afternoon, we have to put him down. He's five and half and we are devastated.

I can't imagine our home without his presence. Even now, as I write this, he's at my feet. He's present.

He has been a silent, strong comfort to me through so much. This dog literally sat on my lap during months and months of negative pregnancy tests. His loyal companionship forced me outside for walks in the sun during really tough months. As much as Chris, he's endured the roller coaster ride we road to conceiving Gabe.

Since Gabe's birth, he's been attentive and friendly, totally submitting to the little, crazy bundle-now-toddler invading his world. He's been sat on, chewed on, and has had a child steal his toys and dog food (yes, Gabe is weird) and has never shown any aggression. The picture perfect family dog.

I dread today.