Our Patient Love

We're the Trewartha's, and this is our story. Join us in our quest to grow a family as we try and overcome the burden of infertility, and try to bring hope to others dealing with the same thing.

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Our Patient Love

One couple's journey through infertility

Mother’s Day

05/12/2013

Mother’s Day – a day devoted to the mother’s of the world. It’s important to have a day to remember all the hard work mother’s do, but when you’re struggling with infertility it can be a painful reminder of how life hasn’t gone according to plan.

It’s amazing what a difference a year makes. Last year today was filled with lots of heartache and moments of joy. May 2012 was the first Mother’s Day without Dan’s mom. For those that didn’t know I lost my mom in 2002 and now the new mom I “inherited” was also gone. Besides that, we were struggling with infertility. We had experienced our first failed IUI by then and was starting to realize more may need to be done. Needless to say I wasn’t looking forward to that day in May last year.

Honestly, I hadn’t looked forward to Mother’s Day for several years. The whole two weeks leading up to this holiday were filled with commercials, radio stories, and talk about mothers. I’m very grateful for the 20 years I had with my mom, but it was just hard to constantly be reminded that she wasn’t with me.

Then a whole new element was added when we struggled to get pregnant. Now I couldn’t be included in that day as a Mom. I couldn’t be celebrated, because I wasn’t chosen yet to have a child. I’ll admit I became a little bitter last year and definitely wasn’t in the celebrating mood. I remember saying, that the word “mom” apparently didn’t stick with me in any capacity. I was hurting and feeling lost.

Luckily a dear friend asked Dan and I what our plans were for the day. We said we didn’t have any (I think I just wanted to sleep it away with some naps) and she offered we could come over for lunch and celebrate with her husband and parents. I really appreciated the hospitality and knew God was taking care of Dan and I. That morning Dan and I skipped church, because I didn’t think I could handle a whole service on the topic of moms and we grabbed some breakfast (Starbucks and McDonalds) and went to a park. We listened to praise songs and talked. Looking back now I probably missed a really great worship experience at church, but I was too afraid to go. Then we went home for a bit and headed to our friends house.

We had a great meal with some fun stories. We went home and I was thankful for the joy I was able to experience on such a hard day. But at the end of the day I still was grieving. I missed my mom, my mother in-law, and I missed the baby that I didn’t have.

Looking back though I realize how God was taking care of me and working on my heart last May. I wasn’t leaning on him enough and I wasn’t allowing his grace and love to cover my pain.

This Mother’s Day has been different, yet a little similar. Dan and I did our morning breakfast at the park again, but this time we talked about the memories we had with our moms and what things we want to share with our child someday.

I thought about how my mom made fruit shish kabobs as a healthy treat.

Or how she took me ice skating and I always got cheetos and a rootbeer from the vending machines.

She always made every holiday special (one valentines day we wore heart crowns and I had a scavenger hunt to find the hidden hearts).

My mom would always find new things for me to do like finger paint, play the violin, dance, or sing (mainly to Buddy Holly or that theme song from Ghost while we cleaned).

We shared wonderful memories in the car of our mothers and I think that was the best gift I received. Of course we thought of our own bundle of joy today. This Mother’s Day is different because the word, Mom means something new to me. I am able to finally say that “I’m a mom,” or at least I will be at the end of this year. Today has been filled with a little more hope. Dan gave me a precious gift of our sonogram picture in a baby frame. I feel so incredibly blessed this year and grateful for the miracle growing inside of me.

But today still had a little heartache. Not so much for missing the moms I’ve lost, but remembering those that aren’t moms yet. I mourn with those who are still waiting for a child. I know a few people struggling with infertility and even though our prayers have been answered in the way we wanted I haven’t forgotten how hard Mother’s Day can be.

All I can say is God is always there, He loves each and every person who reads this, and he can heal the wounds of infertility.

P.S. For those interested, we are 13 weeks and doing great. Blessed with little sickness and looking forward to our second trimester.

Coffee. Decaf. Milk. Coming Nov 16, 2013

Big News

04/17/2013

First, we appreciate all the prayers, support, and kind wishes during this process. We broke our radio silence first on Facebook, but of course wanted to update any followers we may have on the blog.

Dan and I are excited to share the big news that we are expecting our first child this fall.

It’s still a little unbelievable for us. This journey has taught us the discipline of waiting and how to be patient. We’ve had so many negative tests in the last few years, I didn’t believe my eyes when I saw those two precious lines. It was a little surreal to hear from the doctor we were pregnant after a blood test. Also, it was strange to say goodbye to the staff at the fertility clinic and go to our first appointment in the “regular” OB/GYNs office.

Of course it was wonderful sharing the news with our fathers, very close friends, co-workers, etc. I am just so humbled by all the love Dan and I have received during this entire process.

My joy continues, but remember I’m a worrier so this first trimester is a challenge. I haven’t had a lot of pregnancy symptoms (which is a blessing, no sickness), but it only increases my worry. When you wait so long for something and finally get it, the first thing I think you feel after joy is worry you will lose it. I’ve had to learn to trust God in a whole new way.

So to conclude this post, I want to say thank you again. We are beyond excited for this new journey we are embarking on, and ask for prayers that our little “sapling” (young tree) is growing healthy, normally, and perfectly.

You know you’re dealing with infertility when…

03/31/2013

When we decided to write this blog, I always wanted to do a post about common instances or feelings when dealing with infertility. So I thought now is a great time, while we are still in “radio silence.” Here it goes!

You know you are dealing with infertility when…

  • you’ve bought more pregnancy tests than you’d like to admit.
  • you almost cry walking through or even just seeing a baby related aisle at a store.
  • you’re afraid to check your Facebook news feed because EVERYDAY someone is announcing they are pregnant (ok, maybe not everyday but it feels that way sometimes).
  • on a night home alone instead of enjoying a quiet evening you are wishing you had a little rascal to take care of.
  • you hear at every holiday gathering, “You two have been married for awhile, when are you going to have a baby?” (or some version of that phrase).
  • you just can’t understand how Snooki is blessed with a child, while you are still waiting.
  • the first place your eyes go when seeing/meeting a woman is her belly.
  • your conflicted with emotions when your friends share the exciting news of their arrival, you’re truly happy, yet sad that you won’t be joining them on the journey of parenthood, and scared you’ll feel left out.
  • you’ve learned more about how you and your partner’s body’s work (or don’t work) then you care to know.
  • your vocabulary has expanded with learning new medical terms and acronyms.
  • you debate whether to even do a picture Christmas card because you don’t have kids and you’re not newly married.
  • you feel lame for going to bed at 9 pm on any given night of the week or weekend because you can’t even use kids as an excuse.
  • you feel like you spend more time at the doctor’s office than at work.
  • you’ve already narrowed down names for your future child, because you’ve had so long to discuss them with your partner.
  • you’ve said the same prayer nearly every day for  2 years.

AND

  • you’ve dreamed about almost every positive aspect of the first few years of parenthood, from finding out your pregnant, to holding your baby, to seeing them walk and talk. 

I’m sure there are many more instances or feelings I could have described, but these were a few I’ve experienced since our journey with infertility started. Thanks for reading and our radio silence will be broken in a few weeks. So stay tuned!

Radio Silence

03/10/2013

We have reached a major crossroad in our journey though infertility.

Tomorrow morning Amanda takes the official pregnancy test to determine whether or not this IVF cycle has resulted in the growth of our family, or if we’ll have to wait just a bit longer and try again in a few months.

It will be tough, but we’re going into radio silence starting now. We’ll need some time to process what our future holds one way or another. We’ll have the results here soon, but until then, you’ll just have to wait patiently.

Regardless of a yes or no answer tomorrow, we praise God and give Him the glory.

Whatever road we head down tomorrow, we know that we’ve had tons of support, prayers, and love carrying us this whole time. It’s great to have such a huge extended family surrounding us. So thank you family, friends, followers, and whoever else might be reading.

It all comes down to this.

Flashback Friday: 4 IUIs Later

03/08/2013

Flashback Friday is a weekly series that takes you back to earlier moments in our story as a married couple dealing with infertility. We’ll give you glances of what we’ve been through, what steps we’ve taken to get us here, and what we’ve learned along the way.


Well this is the last Flashback Friday. We’ve covered all of the major points on our journey through infertility.  Don’t worry though, we still have some posts up our sleeves. You can’t get rid of us that easy.

I like writing these Flashback posts, because it allows me the opportunity to reflect on our journey with a new perspective. When you’re in the middle of something you kind of have tunnel vision. Your mind and heart is operating with one perspective. But when time passes, and life moves on, you have a broader view.

Our last Flashback Friday explained that my surgery went very well and the doctor found no blockage. Actually he said I looked healthy and there is nothing wrong anatomically that he observed. When we met with him after the surgery he advised us to try an IUI.

For those that don’t know, an IUI stands for intrauterine insemination. Basically, they put in a catheter into my uterus and inject a concentrated amount of sperm directly into it. There are several reasons for this, mainly to guarantee the sperm successfully breaches the cervix, and also to guarantee accurate timing of egg and sperm interaction. IUIs have been found to be successful for some couples who struggle with unexplained infertility, like us. This procedure is less costly and invasive compared to IVF, and therefore can be performed multiple times.

I was actually starting to get excited when we got to this point of our journey. The positive results of my surgery gave me real hope that everything was normal with both Dan and I. Maybe we just had a timing issue, which an IUI could definitely solve. I had real hope when we did our first IUI. In my eyes, I didn’t see why it wouldn’t work. I was logical and didn’t expect it the first try, but was confident we would be pregnant within the next several months.

When starting the IUI process I was told I would need to go to the doctor’s office for a baseline scan (internal sonogram) of my ovaries five days after my period. Then I would take Clomid for 5 days. A few days after I finished the medicine I would come in for another scan to see how my ovaries responded and then they would decide on an insemination day (or another day to come in for yet another scan).

I remember thinking… “Man! That is a lot of appointments!” Which makes me smile now, because that is nothing compared to the number of appointments our IVF required.

Also, this was the first time I had to take Ovidrel which is a small injection or “trigger shot” to start ovulation. It is of course in the form of a small, subcutaneous needle. So this would be my very first shot of our infertility journey. I remember being so nervous and almost chickening out. Again I’m laughing because one little shot in the belly is so minuscule to the amount I’ve endured through IVF, but at that time it was my mountain to conquer.

So, I followed the plan they set up, and Dan and I went to the doctor’s office for my first IUI in May of 2012. I was a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect and I’m always scared the procedure is going to hurt. It wasn’t that bad and it was very quick. They have you remain horizontal there for about 20 minutes afterward, so I couldn’t move really at all. I remember dreaming about our future baby and talking to Dan about various aspects of having a child.

I can’t remember now if I took a pregnancy test or waited for my period after the first one. I probably took a test because I really thought the IUI would work, but either way we didn’t get pregnant. I was heartbroken, but tried to rally back. I kept telling myself it just might take a few tries. Hopefully now that my body knows the routine it will respond better, I thought. So, I quickly regained a lot of hope.

I was definitely ready to try again.

We scheduled another IUI in June, 2012. This time I might have been even more hopeful. The doctors told us that statistically the first time rarely works. But a second is a great chance, right? Again, several appointments later it was time for my insemination day. Dan wasn’t always able to take off work and this appointment required more time so I went to do our second IUI alone. I remember afterwards while lying on the table for a half hour praying to God and trying to remember (even sing a little) the words to “Beautiful Things,” by Gungor and “Blessings,” by Laura Story. But I only remembered like one or two verses from each so I went back to praying. I should have asked the nurse for my phone before she left so I could have listened to the songs.

Unfortunately we didn’t get pregnant. AGAIN.

By this point I was definitely starting to get discouraged. We didn’t know why we were struggling with infertility because we both were healthy and checked out normal in all the tests and procedures we’d had done. So why wasn’t this working? If it was a timing issue the IUI should have worked? What was wrong?

I was starting to get frustrated now.

The doctor recommended doing at least 3 IUIs before exploring more aggressive treatment options. So, I called the doctor’s office to give them the bad news that I’d need to be back. One nurse joked during these months that she didn’t want to see me anymore (meaning I’d be pregnant and wouldn’t have to keep coming back to their office). I appreciated those comments, but I almost hated the cheeriness from the other nurses when they answered the phone to schedule my new IUI appointments. I wanted to say, “No I’m not doing well, why do you think I’m calling?! I’m calling because I didn’t get pregnant for yet another month!”

But of course, I didn’t. Don’t let me fool you though, I don’t handle all of my struggles with grace. I have had many weak moments dealing with infertility.

So we completed all the steps for round 3. We had to wait until August 2012 for this IUI, because we were on vacation in July and with the amount of appointments you have to go to, you basically have to be free all month.

I was definitely starting to get jaded. I was hopeful, but not as much. Was excited, but more cautious now. I didn’t let myself dream too much. Again, Dan was low on time off from work in 2012, so this time a friend accompanied me. I wanted support and I don’t have a mother or any sisters to ask so my friend found a babysitter for her son and joined me for the longer appointment. She did a good job keeping me from being too nervous. Glad to have such great friends that will step in as a sister when needed. Blessed!

Unfortunately our third IUI try was not the “charm” either. We weren’t pregnant again!

I made an appointment after our 2nd failed IUI for the end of August to discuss further options with our specialist. Of course, the first day he was available (mind you I made this in June), was the first day of school in August.

That figures. Luckily, it was a teacher institute day so I took a half day and we went to talk to the doc.

He said it was time to try IVF. He told us that obviously the IUIs weren’t working and it was time to be more aggressive with treatment and really increase our chances of conceiving. I knew this was the next step, but it was a little hard to hear. It almost felt like defeat. I guess I knew we needed a little help, but I thought meds or an IUI would do it. I didn’t think it would ever come to IVF. I was starting to get scared, because that would be the end of the road. Up until this point there were always several more steps. But now we were nearing the end of our journey. The last long road.

And I was terrified.

They schedule several couples to have IVF the same month so the doctor’s aren’t on call 24/7 all year. So we had an IVF consult scheduled for October 31st and then at that meeting they decided to do our IVF in January and February. More waiting. Remember this appointment was in August. About a half a year would pass until we would find out if IVF would be our answer. That’s another fall to go by without a little one to go pumpkin hunting, or another Christmas to miss our baby seeing lights on the tree for the first time. I know they wouldn’t have been born quite yet, but regardless more time to wait.

Because it would be such a long wait they told us we could try one last IUI before our October appointment. So in September 2012 we had our fourth and final IUI. Same routine, same shot, same friend accompanied me, same result.

Obviously since we are currently in the process of IVF you know the result of our final IUI. Disappointment, anxiousness for IVF, but always a little hope. Even though IVF was our truly final option maybe we’d get a different result this time.

Our four failed IUIs were heartbreaking, but God was with me. I’ve learned to be patient, to trust Him, and to be grateful for what I have. Our story definitely isn’t over and I’m glad God is still helping Dan and I write it. I’m just anxious to see the last chapter and experience the joy of a “happy ending..”

IVF Update!

03/06/2013

So, this post is about a week behind schedule. But thankfully, our IVF process has gone right according to plan. Here’s a summary of what’s happened since the egg retrieval procedure on February 21st, 2013 (Day 0).

Day 0:

Amanda spent much of the afternoon resting comfortably after returning home from the egg retrieval. She was a bit groggy from the drugs they gave her still, but thankfully her body reacts well to them, so there have been no side effects we’ve had to deal with.

Beginning tonight, we start the Progesterone injections. These are the gigantic needles Amanda has been the most worried about. These injections are to start filling her body with the hormone that is naturally produced during the early stages of pregnancy.

Day 1:

Amanda was instructed to be on bedrest for the day of the procedure and the day following. Since today is a Friday, she gets a 4-day weekend! Also, since we’re stuck in the middle of winter in central Illinois, it just so happens a major winter storm dumped 5 inches of snow yesterday afternoon and overnight. Her school ended up taking a snow day today, so it’s like a free day off. Now she won’t have to use one those precious personal days!

As part of our debriefing after the egg retrieval yesterday, we were told the embryologist would call us with updates on how the tiny embryos were doing on a daily basis. So, we waited with nervous anticipation for the phone to ring all day.

Around mid-afternoon, the embryologist informed us that out of the 21 eggs they retrieved, 16 of them were mature, 3 were intermediate, and 2 were immature. He sounded very optimistic at the quality of the eggs (also called oocytes). He also said all 16 mature oocytes have successfully fertilized!

Since hearing that news, Amanda and I both have had a hard time processing that information.

For a long time (at least since we’ve been married, if not before) we’ve talked about how amazing it will be to see what happens when our DNA combines together and forms new life someday. New life that would literally be a manifestation of our two lives woven together by the hand of God. For a long time it seemed like that opportunity was slipping further and further away from our grips and our control, and we began to wonder if we ever would get to see that outcome.

So, when the doctor told us we had successful fertilization, we were both so relieved! Even though this is only the very beginnings of life, those little clumps of two cells mean so much to us already! We have sixteen little bits of life that are parts of us combined together.

Sixteen!

We’re instantly attached to them, as if we already had sixteen little infants in our arms.

So.

Awesome.

Day 2:

Even at less than 48 hours old, those sixteen little groups of cells have already taken a strong hold on our hearts. By now they are about about 8 cells each. This morning we went to Starbucks and named each one. In fact, here’s the list:

  1. Bacon
  2. Buzz
  3. Pike
  4. Holga
  5. Belky
  6. Quark
  7. Cuneo
  8. Doppler
  9. Kodak
  10. Tetrazzini
  11. Muncie
  12. Higgs
  13. Boson
  14. Cheddar
  15. Bozeman
  16. Woof

Yeah, we’re hopeless. Each of the names on this list reflects something about me, Amanda, or both of us together. See how many you can identify the meaning of, if any! Some are quite obscure.

We also determined by random numbers that Buzz and Bozeman will be the first two brave little embryos that could be placed in her. Hopefully this time we’ll only need Buzz, so Bozeman and his buddies will be frozen for storage. But they told us they could either implant one or two depending on how things look. So, Bozeman is on standby.

Thankfully, the doctor told us no matter what he’ll only ever implant a maximum of two embryos. So, no. Amanda won’t be the next ocotomom.

The embryologist was very optimistic today, which gave us hope that maybe after all we’ve been through we are finally reaching the light at the end of this long tunnel.

Day 3:

We heard from the embryologist as usual, but this time Amanda had to duck out of our 11:30 church service to answer! In fact, we sat in the top corner of the balcony for that reason today. Normally we don’t hide in the back row!

Anyway, he informed us that some of the embryos were developing better than others. He informed us that 2 of them only divided to 3 cells, 2 had made it to 4 cells, 1 had 5 cells, 4 divided to 6 cells, and the other 7 were at 8 cells each.

Got that? Good.

He didn’t seem too concerned at this point, he said this was quite normal for this stage in the development process. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

IVF Day 4:

The embryologist called us again as he had been doing so for the past few days, but today he wasn’t giving any details on the specific numbers for each embryo. He did say everything was fine, and he’d see us back the tomorrow morning for the implantation.

IVF Day 5:

This afternoon, we arrived at the Fertility and IVF Center like we have many, many times prior. However, I had a strong sense of confidence and peace about the whole thing today, and couldn’t wait to get things started!

The implantation procedure was a relatively minor undertaking, but it still required a sterile environment. So, I got to throw on some XXL scrubs, and sail my way down the hallway to the procedure room, footies and all.

Footies!

Footies!

On the way in, we talked with our doctor. He informed us that they would be implanting two embryos, and sadly most of the remaining 14 had stopped developing overnight. He reassured us that the two they were going to place in Amanda were still showing signs of growth, and we still had a high probability of one of them successfully implanting in her. Unfortunately, the other 14 embryos wouldn’t be eligible for cryopreservation, so everything was riding on Buzz and Bozeman.

He did tell us that this could possibly explain why we’ve had trouble with fertility to this point. There could be something genetically complicating the process, but we’re not going to dwell on that info right now.

Before they started the procedure, we got a glimpse of the two embryos on a monitor in the room. Two little clusters of cells, both still so microscopic in size they’re smaller than Roosevelt’s eye on a dime (about 0.1 to 0.2 mm), were breathtakingly beautiful.

They informed us that one embryo is technically an early blastocyst, and the other one is a compacting morula (basically, it’s a few hours behind in development). A few minutes went by and then it was time to place them in the tiny catheter and insert the two brave little embryos into the “oven”.

The entire thing was done in 15 mintes, and it went flawlessly. We then got to watch an episode of Psych (S03E08, “Gus Walks Into a Bank”), followed by an episode of LOST (S05E13, “Some Like It Hoth”) since Amanda had to remain horizontal for almost 90 minutes after the procedure. For those of you that don’t know us well, Psych and LOST are two of our all time favorite TV shows! So good.

Amanda is on “princess status” for the rest of the day and all day tomorrow to give us the best possible chances at a successful transfer and implantation.

Let's do this!

Let’s do this!

IVF Day 13:

Today marks 13 days since the egg retrieval and fertilization day. We’ve been continuing the progesterone injections nightly, and I’m happy to report these enormous syringes aren’t any more painful to Amanda than the tiny Lupron injections she got in her stomach for 2 weeks were. If anything, they’re less painful she says. Icing the injection area for a few minutes prior probably helps with that too.

So, we are patiently praying and waiting for good news. We’ll soon find out though a pregnancy test if the results of our efforts over the past 6 weeks were successful or not.

We’re so thankful for the many visitors to this blog, and feel very supported and loved throughout this journey. So, thanks for reading!

We’ll have more updates soon.

IVF Day 0: Let’s go egg hunting!

02/24/2013

Well after many blood tests and scans, our retrieval date was set. So on Thursday, February 21, 2013 I went into our fertility office like many times before, but this time would be different. This was the first step that Dan and I have been waiting so long for. Another difference this visit had was I took a valium (well the generic version) as soon as I got to the office. Wish that was standard procedure every time I went in. The medicine worked pretty quickly since I had an empty stomach.

We were at the medical center about 45 minutes before the procedure time. We were escorted to a back exam room. This time not only did I have an outfit to change into (2 gowns so I wouldn’t flash the whole clinic), but Dan did too. He had scrubs to put on over his clothes because he would be coming with me for some of the following activities. We got dressed and waited. The next part was the worst of the whole experience…the dreaded IV.

I’ve been conquering my fears pretty well with shots, but I was still nervous for the IV. The valium helped, but I was very aware of what was going on. I have good, but little veins and of course they contract when nervous so they were extra small. One nurse tried in my right hand, but couldn’t get it. She was very friendly and really wasn’t digging, but she decided to look at the left. For IVs I prefer the hand, but I could tell I wasn’t going to get my wish. Another nurse took my arm and after some work got it in my left forearm. She did have to dig a little. Not pleasant at all, but fairly quick and in the whole scheme of things not bad. The only thing that made the pain from the IV worth it, was knowing this was the only way to receive the twilight drugs and I did not want to be awake or “with it” for any part of the actual procedure.

After the IV was in, Dan was lead to a recovery room down the hall. I was taken to the restroom. I don’t know if it was the valium, or all the hormones I’d been pumped with in the last month, or the fact I didn’t get good sleep the night before, or just the fact we had to go through IVF, but something triggered a meltdown. So again I was crying in the bathroom.

Well I pulled myself together, wiped my tears, and the nurse took me to the recovery room where Dan was waiting. We went through a door I had always seen when visiting the medical center, but never went through. I was always curious what was behind that door. So I was a little excited to find out. There was a desk where my doctor was sitting and 2 or 3 rooms. Everyone behind those doors was wearing scrubs and looking very “surgical.” The nurse had me go stand on a big blue mat which was sticky. She put blue booties on my feet and put my hair in a net. She told the doctor that the valium was working well on me, that was a little embarrassing but probably true. Dan and I waited in the recovery room for awhile, I was very glad the bed was cushioned, much comfier than the standard beds I always had to sit/lay on. The nurse hooked my IV up to some antibiotics. I always hate the feeling of cold liquid inside me, but I knew it was for my own good.

Again I had a little meltdown when it was just Dan and I in the room. I remember saying…I don’t even know why I’m crying. I wasn’t upset, so I’ll just blame it on the valium. Eventually it was time for the procedure. They hooked me up to oxygen and wheeled the bed into a different room. Dan was left in the recovery room to wait. In the other room, they changed my IV to the twilight drugs. As I said before I didn’t want to remember/feel anything so there was numerous times during this whole appointment that I made my wishes clear to the nurse. They did good, because before you knew it I was out or at least incoherent. I vaguely remember hearing people talking but I don’t remember what was said. Anyway, before I knew it the procedure was over and I was being wheeled back into the recovery room.

Dan was still there waiting patiently. The procedure took about 30 minutes. I “recovered” for about an hour. The nurse brought me some water and crackers and I even thought to myself…i bet the crackers will be itemized on my final bill. Oh well I was hungry. I was still hooked up to an IV (fluids now), which was the only uncomfortable part. There was a TV in the room and they had the screen showing the embryologist picking out the eggs they had retrieved (under a microscope of course). It was pretty cool to see.

I asked Dan how many eggs they collected, he said a number I wasn’t expecting…21! The doctor had popped his head in and given Dan the good news. I was thinking they would get 8 to 10, maybe 15, but was shocked with 21. No wonder I felt “large” in the abdomen region. So far our IVF was off to a great start. I had survived all the shots and hormones SO FAR and they retrieved a good number of eggs. We were and are on our way!

Well, not too much to say at the end of this appointment. I went back to a standard exam room, and Dan went to do his part. Unfortunately my skivvies were tucked in Dan’s clothes which were in a different part of the building, so I had to wait a little longer to get dressed. That was a little embarrassing ..telling the nurse I was missing my undergarments. We’ll blame it on the valium again! 🙂

I was very hungry. I hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before and our appt. lasted from 8:15 am until 12:30 pm. So on our way home we stopped at Chipotle and Dan picked us up some delicious food. I went home, ate, and took a nap. I had some abdominal pain, but nothing too bad.

Unfortunately I wasn’t out of the woods regarding shots and hormones. My progesterone shots would start the night of my retrieval, but I’ll leave that for a different post.

I want to mention that we give God all the glory for this procedure and of course appreciate the expertise and kindness of the doctor and nurses. God has been with us every step of the retrieval as well as each part of this infertility journey. I know His hand was in it, especially with such a good number of eggs! Now the waiting game begins.

Flashback Friday: The Laproscopy

02/22/2013

Flashback Friday is a weekly series that takes you back to earlier moments in our story as a married couple dealing with infertility. We’ll give you glances of what we’ve been through, what steps we’ve taken to get us here, and what we’ve learned along the way.


To pick up from my last post, I had the hysterosalpingogram in November of 2011, and thought my tubes were blocked and we would not be able to biologically have children. After talking to our doctor about the results it was recommended to have laproscopic surgery in February of 2012. I had talked to friends that had gone through IVF so I wasn’t surprised and knew this would be a possibility, but it’s never easy hearing you need surgery.

Dan and I of course took the doctor’s advice and agreed to have the surgery. First, we had an appointment that explained exactly what the surgery would entail and the instructions for the night before and surgery day. At another appointment I had to watch a video that explained all the risks involved in this type of surgery. I’ll be honest after that video I wasn’t sure I wanted to have the surgery. I was definitely nervous and wondering if this was worth the risk. But I found my courage and signed all the consent papers.

The laparoscopic surgery was needed to officially determine if my tubes were in fact blocked. The doctor would be making two incisions, one in my belly button and one below my waist, both only about .25 to .5 inches. They would inflate my lower abdomen with carbon dioxide gas to be able to see my tubes and ovaries better. Then a laparoscope (fiber-optic tube with a light and camera) and specific surgical instruments would be put in my abdomen to take a look around. The doctor would observe my ovaries and determine if cysts were present, as well as any blockage in my tubes. Another doctor look in my uterus to make sure everything was in proper order.

Like many surgeries I couldn’t eat or drink anything past midnight the night before, and I was instructed to take some lovely medicine to clean out my intestines. I chose a grape flavor liquid from Walgreens and took the whole bottle the night before. Unfortunately I was up all night going to the bathroom and it was a very unpleasant evening/morning. After that uncomfortable ordeal I got dressed (jeans and sweats) and we went to the Baylis Center. The surgery would take place in the same building as our fertility office so we knew right where to go. I checked in and had to wait a short time before going back to the pre-surgical room. I was not feeling well; I was extremely nausea and very nervous. I had never had surgery before, unless you count getting my wisdom teeth removed.

Finally, they called me back. I dressed in my gowns and they prepped me. I knew I would be knocked out with general anesthesia, so embarrassingly enough I was most nervous for the IV. Have I ever mentioned I hate needles? Shots are one thing, even blood draws are doable, but an IV was the top dog of my fear. Ironically, the nurse told me I would feel better and less nauseous if I had fluids which could be only given to me through an IV. So it was time to meet my fear head on. I was happy to learn the nurse had a small shot to numb my hand before the IV went in. This made a huge difference. I felt pressure with the IV, but it wasn’t nearly as painful as I expected or as it could have been. She started the fluids and within 15 minutes I was feeling better. It felt good to have something in my system and I wasn’t nausea anymore.

We waited in the pre-surgery room for around an hour. The nurses were very kind and took good care of me. Finally it was time. Without my glasses I walked back to the surgical room with the aid of the nurse and felt pretty calm. I was a little nervous when I walked into the surgical room. I laid on a table and they put an oxygen mask over me and switched my IV to the anesthesia. I think they said I’ll start to relax and get sleepy. They had me count back from 100 and I think I made it to 97 before I was out, yeah I react really well to drugs. 🙂

Before I knew it I was waking up in a different room on a hospital bed. I remember being a little out of it and very thirsty, probably from the oxygen. The nurse took care of me and gave me a Sprite and some crackers, which I saw itemized on my surgical bill later. I talked to her a lot and even invited her to church. Oddly I found the courage to talk about church and God while recovering, I wish I always had that courage. Eventually, I dressed back into my clothes and the nurse wheeled me to the car that Dan pulled up to the building door.

I don’t remember the doctor talking to me about how the surgery went, but Dan filled me in. Surprisingly everything looked normal. The doctor didn’t see any blockage, my ovaries were healthy, as well as my uterus. I got a complete clean bill of health. This was almost shocking to me. I thought my tubes would be blocked or that I had endometriosis, but neither was true.

Again through this journey I was happy and relieved, but almost disappointed. Because if it wasn’t my tubes or ovaries and Dan checked out, what was our issue? Why couldn’t we conceive a child? What was wrong? These are still questions we have. After the surgery the doctor diagnosed us with unexplained infertility. This is very frustrating, but a blessing too. It’s heartbreaking not understanding the WHY, but at the same time it’s a relief for neither of us to feel the blame. Throughout this journey we try not to focus on the why and instead focus on the what can we do?

A Bruised Belly

02/20/2013

Well, it is the eve of our egg retrieval which has caused me to reflect on the last month. I know we haven’t been doing a lot of posts in real time. Many were flashbacks or informational, but I thought it’s time to review what’s been going on for the last month, which leads me to a “bruised belly.”

You might remember I was horribly afraid of needles at the start of this IVF journey. Yea, you read it right WAS afraid. I have really made progress on my fear. I won’t go so far and say I’m looking forward to shots or I want to become a nurse, but I haven’t passed out and I don’t want to scream inside when a needle nears me.

Dan has been an excellent nurse. He has administered every shot in the last month. He even came over to a girl’s night so I didn’t have to leave (with a Starbucks Frap which made the shot totally worth it).  I never got the guts to give myself one, so I still have some progress to make in the future regarding my fear. I was definitely nervous in the beginning, but like all things when you do something daily it does become routine and less worrisome.

Dan gave me my shots every night about 9 pm. The first few nights I would be thinking about it after work all night until it was time. But after 3 or 4 days I was only noticing the time around an hour before the designated “shot” time.

Before my first shot (evening of Jan. 22) I was contemplating on how to give myself little rewards. I’m a teacher so I often think about rewards, motivation, consequences, etc. I first thought I could have ice cream after every shot, but that probably wouldn’t be the healthiest choice. I was discussing this topic with a co-worker and she suggested after a certain number of shots, Dan should get me something special. I was seriously considering this idea and even incorporating a punch card, but I didn’t really have the time to make little business cards. So I decided on the classic teacher reward…STICKERS!

I went to the store the day before my first shot and bought a chart and stickers. I didn’t think too much about the chart when I bought it. I decided on monkeys because I thought they were cute. But when I got home I realized they were very appropriate for a nursery. The colors were even gender neutral. So I came up with an idea…If our IVF works I’m going to frame and put the sticker chart in the baby’s room to remind myself and Dan what we went through. A way to celebrate, but not forget our journey.

Every time I received a shot I took great pride in putting my sticker on my chart. I have different rows for the different medicines. From Jan. 22 until Feb. 7 I was being injected with one medicine nightly called Lupron (it inhibits ovulation). Then I went in for a blood test and internal sonogram on Thursday, Feb. 7. These were baseline tests to see my hormone levels and ovaries before stimulation. Starting on Friday, Feb. 8th I decreased the Lupron and started an injection of Follistim (medicine that stimulates egg maturation). So now my nightly shot became 2. I went in for several blood tests and scans (4 to be exact) from Feb. 8 – Feb. 19. Finally, on Feb. 19th the nurse called and said I was ready, unfortunately I didn’t get a night off from my shots. I stopped my Lupron and Follistem and instead received 2 injections of Ovidrel (medicine that triggers ovulation). i went in for another blood test today (Wednesday) to make sure my body was responding to the Ovidrel. In conclusion, I received 42 shots and gave blood 6 times.

I have to admit, I somewhat appreciate this process. It truly has helped me conquer my fears. I was always nervous about all the blood tests pregnant women have done throughout their nine months, but I  definitely will not be as nervous now. I endure those sticks with more ease than before. Let’s just say when I first got blood drawn in our fertility office a year ago a nurse walked by and could tell I wasn’t taking the 6 vials well and held my hand (shoot Dan had to do that last month at our appt), but now I don’t need anyone’s hand. I just look away, wince a little with the very minimal pain, and before you know it’s over. (PS…I have been fortunate to have the nurses always get my vein the first time, no digging, or misses)

Well I should wrap this post up. Every shot Dan administered was sub-cutaneous which meant I had three options of where to inject…stomach, thigh, or arm. I chose the stomach for every shot every night, hence I received a slight bruised belly. Dan and I joked that we could make patterns or our initials with my little dots left from the injections. But in reality it’s good to switch sides and spread the injections out. My belly looks like a pin cushion, but it’s all worth it for the possibility of receiving a wonderful miracle. Unfortunately, I am far from finished with my nightly shots. Starting tomorrow night (Thursday) Dan will need to administer progesterone (a pregnancy hormone) to trick my body into thinking I am pregnant. This is an intramuscular shot and there’s only one place it can go…my gluteus maximus, so don’t be surprised if a future post is titled, “Bruised Bums.”

Even if this IVF doesn’t work, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to conquer my fears, for a journey that has brought Dan and I closer, and a challenge that has caused me to rely on God more than ever before. I’m blessed in a unique way.

(Our retrieval is tomorrow and we will do a post on that sometime in the near future when it is in the rear view mirror and we have an experience to share.)

Flashback Friday: Guys Have Ultrasounds, Too

02/15/2013

Flashback Friday is a weekly series that takes you back to earlier moments in our story as a married couple dealing with infertility. We’ll give you glances of what we’ve been through, what steps we’ve taken to get us here, and what we’ve learned along the way.


Having determined that I had a Grade 1 varicocele, our doctor said an ultrasound would be necessary to investigate the matter further. So, in late 2011 I took a few hours off of work one afternoon and made my way to our nearby medical center to have my man-parts looked at.

I don’t really recall being to uncomfortable with the whole thing, but that doesn’t mean the entire procedure was exactly comfortable by any means. It was just, weird.

The entire process only took about 15 minutes from start to finish, and I have to admit the ultrasound room was rather relaxing. It was larger than I was expecting, and the lights were quite dim, which was nice. I almost fell asleep at one point, I think.

The ultrasound tech had me lie down on an exam table, and respectfully had me drop my pants to my knees while covering me with a warm blanket. She then handed me some medical gowns to cover myself. Well, all except for my…well…it’s called a testicular ultrasound for a reason.

She proceeded to scan for any irregularities or abnormalities in my anatomy that might help diagnose our specific case of infertility. She mentioned from time to time she was just going to be “taking some pictures”, which obviously was for medical purposes although I did think about coming up with some witty quip to say to lighten the atmosphere.

But I didn’t. It was just too weird.

Anyway, as I said, the whole procedure was over in about 15 minutes. Not really a big deal.

As it turned out, everything came back normal from this test, and they determined that my Grade 1 varicocele wasn’t a significant factor in our infertility diagnosis. No surgery would be necessary! Well, at least for me.

So, gentlemen. Be aware that ultrasounds aren’t always just for the ladies!

That’s all I’ve got for this week’s Flashback Friday. Hope it wasn’t too awkward for you. Sorry if it was.

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