Wednesday, October 31, 2012


It's been two months and no update, sorry pals. The final piece of this story didn't end in a pregnancy. I will say that the 10 days after the embryo transfer is not for the weak of heart. I had had a few 2 week waits in the past. But when you have put so much time and energy into IVF (months of tests, shots, what ifs etc), the stakes are much higher that you get pregnant. My doctor warned me that the chances weren't great since we only put one embryo in and it was graded as "fair." But it was still heartbreaking for it not to work. We may revisit IVF in the future, but for now, we are taking a break.

I initially started this blog to be a resource for women who were looking for info on the IVF/PGD process. It has evolved into much more than that. It has allowed me to share my faith which has been something I've wanted to do, but not known how to do for many years. I thought that maybe through this blog, and getting pregnant against the odds, it would reach people. But that hasn't happened. I did not get pregnant. God did not answer my prayers and the prayers of so many. My faith should be shattered, right?

I'm not going to lie, the last 8 months have been among the most difficult of my life. Some days it is not pretty. I am not immune to feelings of anger, sadness, isolation, jealousy, and so many ugly emotions.

But I have to share that even in the darkest days of this journey, I Have Hope. My hope is not in getting a positive pregnancy test. Because, if that were my only hope, I would be left with none right now.

My hope is in Christ. The end. When I look to Him, I have peace. Peace in a storm. Peace that surpasses all circumstances. I am ok. So that is the message I want to leave on this blog. This is not a sad ending. I feel so blessed everyday, even on the bad days. And if I feel overwhelmed and realize I've had one too many bad days in a row, I reflect on what I have been seeking, and usually it's not Him.

So I'll open up my Bible or talk to a dear friend who directs me back to what's important and there's that Peace again. Many reading this know exactly what I am talking about, and are struggling through their own crazy storms, so grateful that they Believe. However, I do know that this sounds crazy to some people. I've been there. I get that. But hopefully I am still planting a seed. For later. When you are in your own storm. There is Hope. I am always here for people who want to talk. About IVF, infertility, or God.

Love you all!
The end.

                                                          Big toothy grin...we're ok!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Egg Retrieval and the Emotional Rollercoaster

Since I last wrote, lots has happened! Some good, some bad, but all a part of the plan. We are still keeping the faith on this blog. But it's been a bumpy ride. 

The shots were fine. Minor bruising, but a breeze really. I even got over my fear of giving blood since I was having to do it daily leading up to the egg retrieval (ER). The final week before the ER is grueling. You are giving yourself multiple shots a day and you start to feel FULL. Very bloated and aware of your ovaries. It's weird, I know. But the shots you are giving yourself are pumping your ovaries up so they are able to keep growing all the follicles. Eggs live in the follicles, and follicles live in the ovaries. So leading up to the egg retrieval, I had to go in every morning and get blood drawn (to check my estrogen level) and get a ultrasound to measure all the growing follicles. 

This became a very exciting process. For months leading up to the IVF, and even when it started, I was told that I had a low egg reserve. Not great news for an IVF candidate, since the more eggs you get, the better your odds of having healthy embryos. My doctor said we could expect 9-10 eggs per cycle. Well, I started asking for prayer for more eggs. From everyone. It started in my Sisterhood Infertility group and just expanded. I shamelessly asked for prayer for my eggs. I wanted to prove that this was in God's hands and he could do better. I asked for 12 eggs, a dozen, and then I jokingly upped it to a baker's dozen. 

During my first ultrasound, the tech started counting the follicles. I silently prayed. "6, 7, 8...9, 10...11, 12." I could hardly believe it! Just as I had asked, a dozen! I went back the next day and she told me she saw 13. I shouldn't have been surprised but I was. My pessimistic self had to laugh and remember that the stats, doctors and odds are no match for God.

That gave me a push and I just kept asking for prayer. I asked strangers. I really believed that the more people I had praying for me, the more eggs I would get. Fast forward a few days to the egg retrieval. It went smooth. Even with the ultrasound results in (13 follicles), my doctor told us to expect "10 or 11" eggs. The ultrasounds are not 100% accurate and there's no way of knowing 100% until you go in. 

I woke up with the number 19 in my head. I was in a lot of pain and very out of it but kept thinking 19, 19, 19. They brought Ian in and I asked if they got 19 eggs. They did (they must have told me when I came to, but I only half heard them)! 19 eggs! About double more than what I had been told to expect for months. This was such a huge answer to prayer and I had to give the glory to Him. Nothing else would make sense. 

Anyway, since that day, the numbers started to dwindle pretty quickly, as they tend to do with IVF. Of the 19 eggs retrieved, 15 were mature (the right size). Those 15 were injected with one single sperm each, and only 8 fertilized. So the next day, we were told that those 8 would be given the chance to grow for 5-6 days. Because we need PGD, whichever embryos (as they are now called) made it this long would be biopsied and sent out to Houston for testing. The Dr. in Houston would look at the 9 and 19 chromosomes and be able to tell if the embryo/s were healthy or not***. So we waited. 

On day 5, we were told that 1 embryo had stopped growing, 4 embryos had grown enough to be biopsied, and 3 may be able to be biopsied the next day. The next day, I was told that 1 additional embryo was able to be biopsied. "Great, so we have 5 that will be sent for PGD?" I said. The Dr. told me that there was some bad news. The 4 embryos that got biopsied the previous day all stopped growing after biopsy. The embryo that got biopsied that day was immediately frozen and was our only hope. I couldn't believe it. Our miracle of 19 eggs had rapidly dropped and we had 1 possible embryo. The chance of this embryo being healthy and able to create a living child is 32%. I was getting really sick about the odds and nearly gave up. We tried to stay busy all weekend and distract ourselves from the bad news we could get on Monday. We hung out with our precious miracle Elle and just basked in her fabulous-ness. It helped of course!

                                              Gorgeous Charlestowne Landing

I called the Houston Dr. on Monday expecting the worst but hoping for another miracle. It came. "I have some very good news for you..." he said. So our one frozen embryo is not affected by the translocation! It all came down to one, and I am so grateful. Thank you for the prayers. They are working. 


I read this today and it's so beautiful. For all my ladies who are struggling to add to your family, take heart.

"I don't know why we have been chosen to undertake such a painful journey, why we must go through such struggles to bring our children into this world. But I do know that when we look into our babies' faces, they will never have to wonder if they were really wanted. Ours are the children who, no matter how they came to us, will look at their parents and know from the deepest places in their heart, how much we cherish them, and how we labored to give them life. And in that there is no greater security and no greater gift." - Dr. Randine Lewis, The Infertility Cure

***An unhealthy embryo in this case is a death sentence. This particular unbalanced chromosomal translocation is not compatible with a live birth. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mid point

So I am more than halfway through this IVF cycle. Up until yesterday, I've been wondering what all of the fuss was about. I feel fine, no crazy emotions, the injections aren't bad, and the days are ticking by quickly. By the way, here's all the supplies and meds that came in the mail!

For anyone searching for IVF info, here's my experience so far. So the first two weeks were a morning injection of lupron. Ian was giving it to me and things were good. Yesterday after a doctor appointment, I was given the okay to add two more injections to my day, low dose HCG and follistam. The follistam grows the eggs, so I was excited that we were onto the next stage of the IVF. Wow, that injection was no joke! It throbbed for awhile and wouldn't stop bleeding. I kept telling Ian that didn't feel right and I was in so much pain. Today I woke up with a huge bruise on my belly from that shot. Now I see what the fuss is about.  I gave it to myself today to see if that would make a difference. Same thing, major throbbing and bleeding once I removed the needle. We'll see if there's another bruise tomorrow. But all in all the process is much less stressful/painful/scary than I anticipated. Hopefully that offers comfort to someone out there!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ready to get started...

Been awhile since I last updated. We are gearing up to officially start this cycle. In the last month I had an HSG test and trial transfer, as well as ultrasound to see how many eggs we will be working with. The HSG and trial transfer went great! The ultrasound, not the best. I guess I had a lower number of eggs than my doctor expected for someone my age. He is giving us an estimate of a 20-30% chance of success per IVF/PGD cycle. Not the best numbers, but again, this is where my faith comes into play and I know I just need to give it up to God or I'm going to drive myself bonkers.

Speaking of that, the past 3 months have been kinda crazy. I feel like I've had to get used to so many changes in a short period of time. I'd been experiencing some major anxiety, which was completely new for me. I felt really negative about the IVF for awhile and just felt like the odds were against us. I felt like it was so unfair that we would have this problem because Ian and I both LOVE being parents to our daughter more than anything and want many more children. "Why us? Why me?" kept playing over and over in my head. I decided to end the pity party a few weeks ago at church. Pastor Greg was doing his typical call to action after the sermon and asking what God was telling you and what you were going to do about it. He said maybe there's a big worry you have or a burden you've been carrying and you need to give it up. There's a cross at the front of the church (for all you non-Seacoasters) where people write on pieces of paper whatever is on their hearts and pin it up there. So I got out of my seat and simply wrote "IVF and my anxiety." I told Ian what I wrote and he said, "Finally" because I think I'd been driving him a bit crazy;) Well, no lie, the anxiety is 95% better. Funny what a simple act of obedience can do. 

For all my non-Christian (northern) friends reading this, hope you don't think I'm crazy. I was raised in a Christian household and have been close to God for many years, but the harder times get the more I just cling to my faith. Feel free to skip over all the God stuff or refer back to it when you're facing a difficult time;)

The other big thing that has happened is I started an Infertility group at our church. Myself and another friend are leading it together and we have the greatest group of women so far. I cannot even express how grateful I am to know them. All of our stories and struggles are unique but the one thing we have in common is a desire to be mothers and facing difficult roads. Many of us have children already but for one reason or another have hit roadblocks trying to add to our families. To my praying friends, please keep us in your prayers. I think all of them would agree with me that we don't need pity, but we could definitely benefit from prayers! I wholeheartedly believe all of us will be blessed with children in the future. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

IVF vs. IVF w/ PGD, in layman's terms

For my family and friends, I want to clarify what the difference between regular IVF is and IVF with PGD testing.

A brief description of IVF-- used for couples facing infertility (not our case). The woman goes through a roughly month-long process of administering fertility drugs to herself (lots of shots, yuck) to increase her production of eggs during a cycle. Next comes the egg retrieval procedure, where all the eggs are taken out of her body and fertilized with the male's sperm. After a 3-5 day waiting period, usually one or two embryos are placed into the woman's uterus. After a 2 week waiting period, a blood test is taken to see if the procedure worked and she is pregnant!

IVF with PGD--same process but with the added step of testing the embryos for abnormalities before implanting them into the uterus.

Who might benefit from PGD?

In general, there are 4 major groups of patients that might be offered PGD (other indications could be considered as well):
  1. Patients with inherited genetic diseases (this is rare)
  2. Patients that are carriers of chromosomal translocations that have suffered recurrent miscarriages (rare) **
  3. Patients that are having IVF with advanced female age - 38 or older (common)
  4. Patients of any age with repeated IVF failure - usually defined as 3 or more failed attempts                                         

Our unexpected road to IVF w/ PGD testing

I'm beginning this journal in the midst of a dark time. I think writing and sharing our experience with others will help me to cope with what has happened and the trials to come. But the main reason I'm starting this blog is to help others! From what I can tell, our situation isn't very common so being a resource for anyone facing this problem in the future makes me happy. My husband and I have a happy and healthy 15 month old daughter named Elle. She's amazing. Up until almost 2 weeks ago, we were pregnant with another baby. I was 23 weeks along when we lost this Angel Baby. It's been truly devastating. Before Elle, I had a miscarriage, but it was in the 1st trimester, very different. I thought I knew sadness then, but this experience goes above and beyond. When I had the miscarriage, I was told by so many people (including doctors) that this would not dictate any other pregnancies. I did lots of research and found that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, and most women have healthy babies after one. Well, that was true with me as well. I got pregnant with Elle only a few weeks after we lost our first baby. I was PETRIFIED for about a third of the pregnancy. This time, I was so preoccupied with taking care of Elle, who was only 10 months old when I got pregnant, that I didn't worry as much. My husband is in the military and got deployed for 3 months so I was caring for her alone most of this pregnancy. I was so sick in the first trimester, just like with Elle, which is a great sign. When my husband came back, I was already more than halfway through the pregnancy. Things were great! I felt good and expected things would be fine. We went for our big 20 week ultrasound a little late (over 21 weeks) and things went quickly downhill from there. To make a very long and sad story short, the baby was not well. There were a number of issues and the baby passed away less than 2 weeks later. 

I know I will grieve this baby for a long time. I will watch Elle growing up and wonder how things would be different if this baby were healthy. Elle was supposed to have a sibling just 19 months younger than her. It's not my job to map out my life, although it's easy to be tricked into believing it is when things are going well. But once again, I am reminded that God is in charge here, not me. His plan might not make sense to me now, but I do trust that He has a plan and it is the right one. 

After lots of testing, we now know that the baby had a chromosomal abnormality, and specifically a translocation between chromosomes 9 and 19. These terms were foreign to me a few weeks ago, but now they are at the forefront of my mind. This is something that a few members of Ian's extended family have as well. Now we know that he is also a carrier. There is nothing wrong with Ian, but if this is passed onto a baby, it is not possible the baby will survive. In order to prevent this from happening again, we are going to move forward with IVF with PGD testing. IVF is used for infertility. This isn't necessarily our problem since I am able to get pregnant easily. But now that we know we are likely to face this again, IVF with PGD testing will allow us to test embryos before they are implanted for pregnancy. The baby will be made from our sperm and egg but any abnormal embryos will not be used. This provides lots of relief for us, although the thought of being pregnant again still scares me. 

Okay, now that we have our backstory out of the way, hopefully no other posts will be this long! I'm excited to document this journey with others and hopefully be successful in our quest for more kids. I've been scouring the Internet for IVF and IVF w/ PGD success stories and I've found a few couples that have been blessed with healthy triplets! A few weeks ago I would not have ever thought I'd be up for having multiples but now I would consider it a major blessing. Ian and I have a shared dream of a big family and though it will be more involved and difficult to get there, I really hope we can. Until then...KEEPING THE FAITH:)