The Second Baby Project

A while ago when we announced we were pregnant, I promised to share the story of our second round in our IVF journey…First of all, as I am typing this, I can’t believe it has been this long already, this pregnancy has flown by!  I kind of had a big awakening a couple days ago on how quickly these next few weeks are going to go.  When I was pregnant with Jacob, by this time, I already had my bag packed for the hospital, a Pediatrician lined up, I had most of my checklist completed, car seat installed, etc…So in a frantic moment I called our Pediatrician to see if there was anything I needed to do to add another child to his patient base, thankfully, since we are already established with them, I just have to give them a call when we are ready to schedule his first check-up.  I told Justin we needed to get the infant car seat back out so I can wash the cover and at least have that ready to go.  I don’t even have a checklist and I can tell you right now, it’s not going to happen, we are winging it this time around.  Although, hopefully, I’ll get my hospital bag packed before my water breaks or contractions start!

I also wanted to get this blog post done before our little guy arrives.  As I have said before, the reason I chose to share our journey is because the stories of other people who have been through this gave me comfort and strength to go down that road.  Since I’ve started this blog there are at least 3 (that I am aware of) women that I have been in touch with who are navigating their own way through IVF.  And I have been able to share stories with them, laugh with them and give them as much support as I can.  That makes me feel good, that is what it is all about. I hope there are more women out there who have found comfort & strength in our story, so I have been taking the time to write about our second go at it and you can read it here or by clicking on the Second Baby Project link at the top of the page.

Thank you for all your love, support and prayers!

The home stretch

31 weeks pregnant!

I’ve had two checkups since my last pregnancy update and all continues to look good!  A little over a month ago I had my gestational diabetes test and according to my doctor my results came back “perfect”.  Guess I don’t have to admit to her that the night before my test I baked a double batch of cookies 🙂  She measured my belly, weighed me, took my blood pressure and listened to the baby’s heartbeat and told me to come back in 3 weeks.  I went back two days ago and they checked everything again and all continues to be good.  Now I go every 2 weeks for a month and then weekly until he comes!  We are getting close, I can’t believe that in 2 months we will be a family of 4!

In the past month I really have started to feel more pregnant.  Before I was moving along and doing things like normally would.  But now I am feeling the extra weight of my belly, it’s getting harder and harder to bend over or get up off the ground and I am finding my energy level is declining, my back hurts and I am out of breath quicker than usual.  A couple days ago I was having some Braxton Hicks which woke me up early in the morning, but haven’t had anymore since. It’s all normal stuff, but it seems to be intensified since I am chasing a 2 year old around this time.

Speaking of our two year old, Jacob was having a discussion with grandma when she was here last and during their discussion Jacob decided that mommy has a BIG belly and grandma has a little belly.  Since grandma left he loves to point to me and say mommy BIG belly and then point to himself and say little belly.  He thinks he’s so cute…who am I kidding, of course he’s cute!

A fun thing about this point in pregnancy is I am noticing how much bigger and stronger our little guy is getting.  Instead of a kick here and there I am feeling him stretch and roll to make more room.  He still kicks me and they are starting to make me jump since there is a bit more power to his kick!  He also gets the hiccups every once in a while, but not nearly as often as Jake used to.

Here’s a picture from last week of my 30 week belly.

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Pregnancy update

It’s been a while since I’ve done a pregnancy update and I’ve had a few appointments in the last month and a half, so here’s an update on our little guy.

At the beginning of December, I went in for my check up at 20 weeks (halfway!) and all looked good!  I asked my doctor about what the “specialty OB” doc said about my baby measuring big.  And he said, he could have grown a lot during this last growth spurt, and may not grow as much during the next growth spurt and could average out.  It doesn’t mean anything and baby is healthy.  Both the specialty OB doc and my doc said they wanted me to have a fetal echo done at 22 weeks to do more extensive check up on the baby’s heart.  It is a routine test they do on frozen embryo babies and nothing to be concerned about.  So I made that appointment and went on my way.

Here is a picture of my 20 week belly.

A couple of weeks later I went back to the specialty OB office for the fetal echo and they pretty much checked everything that they looked at last time I was there, but spent a lot more time looking at the heart.  They checked the left side, right side all the chambers, blood flow, heart rate, etc… and all is functioning normal.  The ultrasound tech kept saying that he was a very cooperative baby since she was able to see all the areas she wanted to check very well.  Here’s to hoping he continues that trend once he’s born! I asked about his size since he was measuring big at my last visit and she said he’s within the normal range, actually to be specific she said he’s 1 lb 3 oz.  She gave me some more pictures of our little guy to take home. Here he is with his left arm up by his face.

22 wks

And finally last week I had another check up with my OB. All continues to be well. My doc said both baby and I look healthy and on track.  It was a bit of a reality check when I was getting ready to leave and the nurse gave me the paperwork to “register for my stay at the hospital.”  Yikes!  It’s creeping up on me! I can’t believe soon I will be starting my 3rd trimester.

And here is my 24 week belly.

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Because “I am going to be 35…”

Usually around 18-20 weeks of pregnancy your doctor will order you a fetal anatomy scan where they do an ultrasound to check the baby’s organs, measure the head/limbs, check the blood flow and just make sure everything looks good.  When I was pregnant with Jacob I just went to an ultrasound tech that was in the same building as my OB.  However, now that I am “going to be 35 years old when I deliver” (a phrase I am hearing a lot these days…) my OB sent me to a “Specialty OB” office to have my fetal anatomy scan.  Simply only because of my age.  I understand that the older the woman is there are more risks involved and they just want to check and make sure that all is well or be able to prepare you if all is not well.  As often as I hear the “going to be 35 years old when I deliver” I also remind them that my 35th birthday is only 13 days before my due date, so there is a chance I may still be 34 when this baby arrives, it is not like I am over the age of 35 yet.  Plus…since this is a frozen embryo pregnancy, then the baby was technically conceived when I was 32.  Anyway, it doesn’t bother me, if anything it gives me a peace of mind.

Yesterday morning was my ultrasound appointment.  When I was pregnant with Jacob the ultrasound tech kept the screen hidden from me and didn’t talk to me or tell me anything while she was doing it, until at the end she gave us a look at him and said he looks good.  This time around the ultrasound tech allowed me to see what she was looking at and explained what she was measuring or looking for, etc… and everything looked great!  Just like my last pregnancy we declined the genetic testing and the amniocentesis. The doctor came in and talked to us and confirmed that everything looks good and one thing we talked about was that the baby was measuring big, 10 ounces to be exact, which is common for IVF babies.  I didn’t ask what the “usual size” was at this point, but according to What to Expect When You Are Expecting…at 18 weeks the baby is around 5 oz.  So the doctor was predicting that he would probably come early, maybe around April 25th.

Here’s a recent picture of our big guy (yes, we confirmed again that it is indeed a boy, no doubt about it!)

18 wksThey also did a few views in 3D which was kind of creepy looking but kind of amazing at the same time.  Here he is with his hands up by his face.

18 wks 3D

 

Round two

For some reason when I originally posted this, the pictures were showing up sideways on mobile devices, but not on the computer, I’m hoping I fixed it. Sorry!

Life has been pretty busy these days.  It’s that time of year when everyone wants family photos done for their Christmas cards, so my weekends have been filled with photo shoots. Then my week nights are spent at my computer editing the pictures.  Soon I will get my favorite ones up here to share with you.  But before I post about anything else, there is something that I need to share…we are adding another baby to our family!  Yep, we did it again and we are pregnant.  We had one of our frozen embryos transferred in August and baby is due on May 3rd.  I love that date since my grandma’s birthday is May 2nd and my mom’s birthday is May 4th, so it is right inbetween 2 of my favorite women.  However, Jacob was 12 days early, so I am pretty confident this baby will be coming sometime in the end of April.  Who knows…my birthday is 13 days before May 3rd, we could share a birthday, or Justin’s dad’s birthday is April 29th. Anybody want to make any bets??

So far this pregnancy has been really different than last time.  When I was pregnant with Jacob I had very little nausea and it only lasted for a week.  The only “problem” I had was the extreme exhaustion during the first trimester.  Other than that, my pregnancy was a breeze and I loved every minute of it.  This time around I spent the entire first trimester battling some pretty bad nausea ontop of the exhaustion (and throw in the added job of taking care of an almost 2 year old).  I spent many days laying on the floor in Jacob’s room half asleep pointing out toys for him to play with.  I also got sick with a cold twice during that time which was not fun…It was a rough first trimester, but I have turned a corner, the nausea is gone and I am feeling more energized.  My appetite is back which is good since I lost 3 pounds during my first trimester.  Because this pregnancy is so different Justin was convinced we were having a girl.  I didn’t have any strong feeling either way and would be happy with either a girl or a boy.  A few weeks ago we had an ultrasound which brings me to the second half of this announcement…that we are having another BOY!!  I am really excited about that, I love the idea of two brothers running around playing together and terrorizing everything in their path.  I think deep down I was secretly hoping it was going to be another boy.  Somebody remind me of that one day when I am frustrated with the constant messes they make and all their rambunctiousness!

I am having problems with my scanner communicating with my computer, it is a problem I’ve had for quite a while now, and somehow fixing it never makes it to the top of my priority to do list.  So instead of a nice scanned ultrasound picture, I have for you a picture of a picture. He was very active during this ultrasound and kept jumping on my bladder which was fun after drinking the required 24oz of water before the ultrasound.

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Another big difference with this pregnancy is remembering that I am pregnant.  I am so busy with Jacob and everything else in life that I often times forget.  I know what is coming and I know why my body is doing the things it’s doing, but the full reality of it has not hit me and it may not, until I am holding my sweet boy in my arms.  One day I will get the full story on our journey through the second baby project posted.  In the meantime here’s my 16 week belly.

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Twenty Twelve

Yesterday morning at church our pastor asked us to stop and think about the best year of our lives…This was a hard question.  There are so many milestones, accomplishments, vacations and fun things we’ve done over the years it is hard to pick just one.  I was thinking about when I graduated college, all the fantastic vacations we’ve taken, the year we planned our wedding and got married, etc… But then I started thinking about what I’ve learned in those years and how they have changed me as a person, it was really a thought provoking question.  After a few minutes, he asked us to raise our hand if our best year was 20+ years ago, within the past 10 years, 5 years or this last year.  As he was asking I was still deep in thought and then both Justin and I raised our hands when he asked if it was this last year.  We looked at each other, smiled and Justin put his hand on my belly.

As you know from our story, 2009-2011 were some pretty rough times for us.  Sure we took some vacations, celebrated some milestones and had lots of fun along the way, but there was another part of our lives where we were struggling to start a family and it was pretty dark and really hard.  2012 started off pretty hard as well, with some unexpected surprises, surgeries and the stress of going through IVF.  But it worked, and it was all worth it.  Other than the obvious reason that we are pregnant, I also choose this last year as one of the best years of my life because of what I learned about myself, my husband and our relationship.  It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t all fun and games, and we didn’t take any wonderful vacations.  But I know that I married a wonderful man, our relationship is solid and I know that we can survive the hard times hand in hand.  The reconfirmation of that in this past year is also what made 2012 a wonderful year.

I love it when people ask you questions that really make you stop and think.  Usually this time of year, we are busy making plans for our New Year’s Eve celebration.  It becomes more about staying up past midnight, champagne, noisemakers, dressing up and dancing the night away or watching the ball drop on TV, which is great and I don’t see anything wrong with that.  But maybe we should take just a few minutes to stop and reflect back on the year no matter how great or how difficult it was and think about not only what you did, but what you learned about yourself and others, it can really open your eyes and maybe it will help us to make some more realistic resolutions for the new year!

I have a feeling at the end of 2013 I’m going to say that was my best year since we will actually have our little boy in our lives and I know that we have lots of struggles, fun times and learning experiences to look forward to.

Since I cannot do a post without a picture…I’ve waited years to be able to park in the expectant mother parking spaces, and this year I was finally able to do that 🙂

Happy New Year!
Expectant Mother Parking

Why Me?

During the time leading up to our IVF and during the process, there were so many emotions swirling around me bouncing back and forth between excitement, frustration and fear of the unknown.  I had a continuous stream of disappointment for the 2.5 years before and I was convinced that it (IVF) was not going to work and we were going to end up being that couple with no kids, forever.  Which meant we would need to find a new group of friends, you know, the kind of people you can call up at a moments notice to get together without having to think about childcare.  I felt myself starting to dread the family events, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE both sides of our family and enjoy spending time with them, but…it was hard fielding the “so what have you been up too” kind of questions and I got so tired of talking about work because if I didn’t talk about work then I would be forced to talk about our all consuming fertility struggles which resulted in a huge headache because it took everything in me to keep myself from completely losing it and crying from frustration. So it was just easier not to talk about it at all.  When other family members bring their babies to family events it becomes the focus point, which is great, that’s how it should be.  Families grow by making more babies and it is a wonderful thing…except when you can’t have a baby and so desperately want to and it kills you to see the joy in your grandparents or parents eyes when they light up at the sight of a baby and you can’t give that to them.

I spent so much time trying to figure out what my purpose was, I was trying to figure out how I was going to make some kind of change in my life if we didn’t have kids since I was not happy just going to work every day, coming home walking the dog, making dinner, going to bed and then waking up and doing it all over again for the rest.of.my.life.  I guess you could call it an identity crisis, I was depressed at times and clueless to who I was.  It was hard…really hard.  And during that time we did not tell anyone what we were going through, I did not want anyone feeling bad about talking to us about their kids or making their pregnancy announcements or feeling awkward about inviting me to their baby shower or kids birthday parties, we really truly were happy for those people and wanted to celebrate these special times with them.

Other than talking to my (wonderful, loving, supporting) husband as a release, I also turned to a journal.  It was not a consistent thing, but when I felt like I needed to get things off my chest and sort my emotions I would write them down.  They ranged from pure venting, to prayers, to listing the things I had to be grateful for and anything in between.  It really helped me.  Once I found out we were pregnant I stopped.  I think since I started this blog I figured it would replace that.  And I do plan to be honest and truthful about things here and will eventually post more about our journey to get to this point.  But sometimes my thoughts can be pretty random and if I posted them here them you all would think I was crazy!  🙂  Lately I’ve been feeling that urge to start writing in my journal again (don’t worry I won’t give up the blog).  So I got it out and started reading through the pages.  One of my entries had an email print out attached to it that was sent to me by Justin’s Aunt last December.  It was a daily devotional from Truth for Life and it was called ‘Why Do My Prayers Go Unanswered?‘  During any busy time (it was almost Christmas!) any emails I receive that require any lengthy reading, extra work or any kind of deep thought just sit in my inbox until I have time to do it, so I didn’t read it right away…But I didn’t delete it, because the subject Why Do My Prayers Go Unanswered? was right up my alley and I desperately wanted the answer to that question. God knows I prayed many desperate prayers to him over the years and the big question I had was ‘Why Me?‘ I know God has his reasons for the way things happen, but I so so fixated on why, what was his reason, and if not kids then what, what do I do with myself?? When I had time to sit down and read the email and think about what it was saying, I loved it, it gave me a sense of peace which was what I needed at that time, I printed it up and wrote about it in my journal that night. I love how God is always there even when you feel like he’s not.  Here’s the devotional:

Why Do My Prayers Go Unanswered?

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
~Isaiah 30:18

God often delays in answering prayer. We have several instances of this in the Bible. Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of day-he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophoenicia received no answer for a long while. Paul asked the Lord three times for “a thorn . . . in the flesh” * to be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it would be removed, but instead a promise that God’s grace would be sufficient for him.

If you have been knocking at the gate of mercy and have received no answer, shall I tell you why the mighty Maker has not opened the door and let you in?

Our Father has personal reasons for keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show His power and His sovereignty, so that we may learn that God has a right to give or to withhold.

More often the delay is for our benefit. You are perhaps kept waiting in order that your desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if He keeps you waiting, you will see your need more clearly and will seek more diligently, and that you will treasure the mercy all the more on account of the wait.

There may also be something wrong in you that needs to be removed before the joy of the Lord is given. Perhaps your views of the gospel plan are confused, or you may be relying upon yourself instead of trusting simply and entirely in the Lord Jesus. Or God makes you wait for a while so that He may display the riches of His grace more abundantly in the end.

Your prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while they will be fulfilled to your delight and satisfaction. Do not allow despair to make you silent, but continue to present your requests to God.

*…because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me ~2 Corinthians 12:7

Who knows why we had to go this route to start a family…but I do know that I wanted it more now then when we first started. I even had the thought that I have had such a great life growing up and to this point never really had to deal with any major pain or suffering so this was a lesson to me so I can mature and grow in other ways.  Whatever the reason this process has strengthened my relationship with Christ and maybe that was the reason itself.

One day while shopping this sign caught my eye and it made me think about this, so I bought it and it is hanging in my house as a reminder.

God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, nor sun without rain. 
But he did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears and light for the way.

No matter what you are going through in life God’s grace can carry you through.

Aunt Lee if you are reading this, thank you for sending me that email!  You sent it for a different purpose, little did you know that God was using it in other ways 🙂

XO

The Baby Project

When we were going through the process of starting a family, I was doing research and scouring the Internet for information (I now have a degree in Google!) I found so much information in other people’s blogs where they shared their stories, it was a personal way to relate and connect with others who were dealing with the same frustrations rather than reading all the impersonal medical language that just states the facts.  Yes, the facts are important, but when you are dealing with something that  involves many different variables among different couples, it helps to find someone that has a similar story to you and you’ll learn things that the medical world won’t necessarily tell you.

Looking back on this and rewriting our story for the last 3 years is really kind of crazy.  I remember doing all these things, feeling the emotions, sorting through all the information, wondering if we were ever going to have children and in the end it was all worth it.  I hope that our story provides some kind of hope or comfort to others who may be struggling through this.  I am not looking for any kind of sympathy or a pat on the back from anyone.  As I said, I found  comfort in other people’s blogs and stories and I hope to return the favor.  We don’t get to choose our path in life, but we can choose how we walk the path.  I never thought we would be on this path to start a family, but by leaning on God we held hands and walked the walk.   It makes our baby that much more special to us.

A woman I talked to who also went through her own fertility struggles once told me, don’t worry about the traditional way of doing things, sometimes you have to step outside the box to get the family you dreamed of.  She said this to me 2 weeks before I was starting my IVF medications, and it stuck with me.  A big part of this struggle was coming to terms with the fact that we could not conceive our baby the “traditional way”.  Medicine has come a long way and it is amazing what fertility specialists can do now.   I would not change a thing.  Yeah, it would’ve been nice to not have to deal with all this, but this whole process taught us a lot, and we learned so much about each other that we may never have learned.  It brought us closer than I thought was even possible and I am so thankful for that.

So I added our story “The Baby Project” below. If you read it, get comfortable, it’s long, it covers 3 years of our lives…

THE BABY PROJECT

When we started talking about starting a family, I remember the mixed feeling of excitement and fear.  It was an exciting step forward in our lives together, but were we really ready or will we ever really be ready?  I made an appointment with my OB/GYN and she gave me a prescription for prenatal vitamins and wished me luck.  Truth be told, I held on to the prescription for a month before filling it (that was the fear part taking over).  In June 2009 I was taking the vitamins and we officially “started trying” and didn’t breathe a word to anyone we were just keeping it between ourselves, we wanted to surprise people.  I have so many friends who have babies and most of them it took a while to get pregnant so I wasn’t expecting it to happen right away, but I also knew there was a chance that it could. We were not using any kind of ovulation kits, calendars or tracking system it was just a we’ll see what happens kind of thing.   We decided not to think about it too much and if it happened, great!  If not, then we would cross that bridge if needed.

A year went by and nothing happened. It was July 2010 and time for my annual exam again, so I made my appointment and explained to my OB/GYN that it had been a year and we were not pregnant.  She ordered a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) or otherwise known as the “Dye Test”, she explained to me that they inject dye into my fallopian tubes and use large X-Ray machines to see if there is any blockage, and she made a referral to a specialist.  I walked out of that appointment stunned!  First of all, I wasn’t too wild about doing the HSG and a specialist…??? We didn’t need a specialist…maybe we just weren’t trying hard enough? When I think of fertility specialists all I knew was that was where people go to do IVF and there is no way we were doing that.  So I put off the HSG and the referral and decided I was going to be a little more hands on.  I went to the drug store to buy ovulation kits and went home and printed up blank calendars so I could start tracking my cycle.  After 4 months and nothing, I was starting to get discouraged again.  We talked about it and decided it was time for help, so I called the specialist office to make an appointment to see what our options were (hoping I could avoid the HSG altogether).

It was now November 2010 and our first appointment.   We met with our specialist and spent almost 2 hours at her office going over our history, she explained all our options, the tests we would need to do, etc… Basically she explained that we had two options for fertility treatments one is low tech and the other is high tech.

Low tech is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).  An IUI is the least invasive option.  The woman takes a drug (in pill form) called Clomid that causes her ovaries to grow multiple eggs, after determining that the eggs are ready (mature) by monitoring via ultrasound, you take a trigger shot that tells your ovaries to release the eggs.  2 days later they use a catheter to inject the man’s sperm into the uterus.  Then you lay on the table for 10-15 minutes to rest and you are on your way.  Two weeks later you come back for a pregnancy test.  Although this is the least invasive there is also a higher chance of multiples since you have no control over how many of the eggs fertilize.

High tech is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) which is more widely known by the general public.  The woman is on an extensive medication protocol to grow many eggs in her ovaries.  Again the woman is monitored daily via ultrasound and when the follicles are ready (mature) they’re removed and fertilized with the man’s sperm.  The embryos are closely monitored for 5 days and then depending on how many you and your doctor decide to put back in those are transferred back into the woman’s uterus.  You are on bed rest for 3 days and come back in 10 days for a pregnancy test. During IVF they have more control over the chances of multiples since you can determine how many embryos to transfer back inside.  Although they cannot control if the embryo splits and becomes twins.

We really liked our doctor and it was a positive appointment.  I started to get excited that we were on our way starting a family.   We left with packets of information and a list of things that needed to be done in a certain timeframe, blood work, semen analysis, pelvic US and the dreaded HSG (which by the way was not as bad as I expected).  We got all the tests done in the next two months and went back to the specialist office to review everything.  The results…we are two healthy young adults with nothing wrong.  Yay!!  That is good news right???  So my doctor said that we should have a pretty good chance of getting pregnant via IUI, which was music to my ears because I was not so sure I was willing to or if we were financially able to do IVF, especially since my insurance does not cover a penny of fertility treatments. She told us that she suggests trying IUI 3 times before moving on to IVF.  In my head that was not an issue because it was going to work the first time, why not…we were young, healthy and with just a little help we would be set.  We did a baseline ultrasound and our doctor said we could start with my next cycle which would be January 2011.  She also said that she wanted to do a Sonohysterogram or a “water test” where using a catheter and ultrasound they inject water into the uterus to make sure there were no fibroids or anything else growing in the uterus. That test could be done just before we started the IUI.  So we left and spent the next few weeks celebrating Christmas with family and ringing in the New Year with friends.  At this point we told our parents everything and of course they supported us 100%.  We were excited because I was sure we would be pregnant by February and 2011 was going to be a great year!

The first week of January I go in for the water test and the results showed a small bump on the wall of my uterus.  There was some kind of cyst growing and my doctor said it needed to be removed before they could proceed with the IUI because if the embryo tried to attach itself to the cyst it wouldn’t hold and everything we’ve done would have been done in vain.  So, instead of scheduling my IUI we scheduled a surgery.  I had the surgery in February 2011 and the results came back that the cyst was benign, no scary cancer to worry about.  Recovery was a piece of cake, we actually drove to Temecula to go wine tasting the day after my surgery. Priorities I know…

March 2011 brought the moment we were waiting for, the IUI!  To start things off I had a baseline ultrasound, took  Clomid for 5 days, went back for another ultrasound and when my eggs looked ready I gave myself a trigger shot which tells my ovaries to release my eggs.  Two days later we went back and did the IUI.  Then it was the dreaded two week wait… When we got home after the IUI I remember going in the guest bedroom and laying down on the bed.  I started daydreaming about that room being a nursery, how I would decorate it, where we would put the crib, etc…I was bursting at the seams with excitement for our future and had no doubts at all that I was indeed pregnant.  Two weeks later I went back for a blood draw pregnancy test and waited anxiously for the results.  I finally got the call that the results were positive, but she warned me that the numbers were really low and they wanted me to come back two days later for another test.  If the numbers increased significantly then everything should be fine, if they didn’t, then that means it could be a false positive, or I would lose the baby.  I didn’t pay any attention to that, I had a positive pregnancy test!  Yay!!!  Two days later I went back for a repeat test and they called to tell me sorry, the test was negative, the numbers had dropped significantly.  But they were able to confirm that the egg and sperm did meet it just didn’t take.  I was crushed…

I immediately made an appointment to do another IUI in April.  I wasn’t wasting any time, we did the whole process over again.  This time I was a little more guarded with my emotions and didn’t let myself get too excited, but how could I not, we came so close the first time.  Unfortunately, April’s IUI was a big fat negative.  I was dumbfounded, how could it not be working.  We had one more try before we would have to start thinking about the big, scary IVF looming in the (not so far) distance.

We met with my doctor for a consult to review and discuss our options.  It was then we started getting really frustrated, we could not understand WHY we were not getting pregnant.  What was the reason, what was the problem?  We both had a clean bill of health there were no problems to fix.  It’s called “unexplained infertility”.  Ugh, so frustrating!   I started wishing that we did have a problem to explain our infertility because then we could at least take steps to fix it.  To do something about it.  We decided to take a break for the month of May and relax and we would try again in June.  We took a road trip to Arizona to visit a friend and stayed at a beautiful resort for some R&R to take our minds off of things.

In June I went in for an ultrasound to start the third IUI.  The ultrasound showed a cyst on my ovary. My doctor explained that it was common in patients who took Clomid, it happens when the extra/leftover follicles fill up with fluid and create a cyst.  They typically go away on their own with time.  So she said come back next month and we’ll try again.  So our one month break turned into a two month break.

In July I went back.  The cyst was gone and we did our third IUI, results were negative.  Now at this point I was numb, I was still frustrated with the “unexplained infertility” diagnosis and I started to think that we would never have a family. I am not against adoption at all, but at that time I could not think about it because I wanted our own biological child, I wanted to experience pregnancy.  I was losing hope in that dream.  We met with our doctor again to discuss future options.  She said we could continue to try more IUI’s but after 3 negative ones the chances of it working drop to less than 5%, she recommended moving on to IVF.  We decided to take a break to talk things over, think about it and save up money if we ended up doing IVF.

I couldn’t believe we were in the middle of this.  The first few months we didn’t talk much about it or really make any solid decisions.  I decided to take things back into my hands and started doing online research, reading books and talking to others who have been through this.  I bought more ovulation kits and we were back at the old fashioned way of trying to conceive.  There was nothing wrong with us so we should be able to get pregnant if we kept trying, right?  We had already cut back on the wine, caffeine, we were eating healthier, doing everything by the book.

The warm summer months turned into fall and after celebrating Thanksgiving with family I decided to explore acupuncture.  My doctor had recommend it to me a few times and while earning my degree in Google, I kept seeing acupuncture pop up everywhere.  By this point we had decided that we were going to do IVF after the first of the year, we were just giving ourselves some extra time to save up money.  So I figured if I was going to be giving myself injections several times a day, a few acupuncture needles wouldn’t hurt, it would be good practice!

At first, I was a little skeptical, I really didn’t know too much about Chinese Medicine and I kept having visions of an old Chinese guy in his store in a strip mall talking to me in the fast loud way they sometimes talk and I am clueless to what he’s saying.  Again, thanks to Google, I found a fabulous acupuncturist who specializes in fertility treatments. She is licensed and has a salon in a medical facility literally 7 minutes away from my house!  Score!  My first visit was a consultation where we went over my medical history and she explained how acupuncture works, she showed me the needles and answered all my questions.  Then we did a short session, her rooms are very much like getting a massage, you lay on a warm comfy bed, the lights are dimmed and there is soothing music playing, you pretty much just lay there and relax and let the needles work their magic, then she gives you a brief massage afterwards.  The first few appointments I had a hard time getting truly relaxed because all I could think about was I was laying in a room alone with a bunch of needles stuck in me, what if there was an earthquake (we DO live in Southern CA) or what if I needed to get up for something? She did give me a bell to ring if I needed anything, but how would I know if she could hear it?  It was a pretty big office and surely she couldn’t hear the bell if she was in the other side of the office, besides there was music playing in the background in all the rooms, wouldn’t that muffle the sound of the bell?  I know, I know, sometimes I have no control over my mind 🙂  After a few weekly sessions I really started to sink into the deep relaxation that is the goal.  It is hard to explain, it’s like you are teetering on the verge of a deep sleep, but your mind is partly awake and there is a tingling sensation throughout your body, you can almost feel your blood running through your veins.  When I leave her office I am so relaxed and feel like I just had an hour long massage, in fact sometimes I think it is better than a massage because you don’t have someone touching you all the time and you can truly relax.  I still love massages, it’s just a different kind of experience.

Don’t ask me exactly how acupuncture works, it makes sense to me in my head, but I can’t explain it.  I read a book called the Infertility Cure and it does a wonderful job of explaining how Chinese Medicine and acupuncture works.  Basically it has to do with your Chi (energy) and blood flow.  Also Yin and Yang represent different things and you may have a deficiency in one or the other that may affect how your organs function, etc…It looks at improving your body functions as a whole and not just targeting one specific problem area.  Which is good because I didn’t have a specific problem.  That is just a real basic, basic, minimal explanation.  Also, one acupuncture session is not going to do anything, it takes at least 3 months to build a strong foundation.  Some people may see changes earlier some may take longer, it depends, everyone is different.   One thing that I really found interesting is that the tongue is the only visible muscle in your body, so they often will ask you to stick your tongue out and depending on how it looks they can see how your blood flow is…interesting!  Now you will often find me sticking my tongue out at myself in the mirror to see how it looks!  Anyway…this began my weekly acupuncture sessions.

In December we went to a local talk that was put on by Resolve which is a National Infertility Association.  The speakers were one of the doctors from my specialist office, and another doctor from Orange County and my acupuncturist was there as well.  The talk was about the new advances in IVF and the room was packed.  Looking around I saw couples of all ages and I knew everyone’s story was a little different but  we all had  a common goal.  I started to feel less alone in this world seeing others who were in the same boat.  The doctors gave wonderful presentations, answered every one’s questions and there was a raffle for a free IVF cycle at the end, we didn’t win.  I wonder if it worked for the couple that did win, I hope so.  We left the meeting with more packets of information and questions to ask our doctor and I think we finally were on board, emotionally, to do this.  It looked like 2012 was going to be our year!

The first week of  February 2012, I went to my doctors office to do another water test and a baseline ultrasound to start the IVF procedure.  The water test was normal, whew!  The ultrasound however…showed a rather large cyst on my right ovary.  After the ultrasound my doctor moved me into one of the consult rooms and explained to me that, again, this needs to be taken care of before we could move forward with IVF.  She ordered some blood work and a pelvic ultrasound to get a better look.  I did both as soon as I could and the pelvic ultrasound confirmed that the cyst was an endometrioma which is a result of endometriosis.   You’ve. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me!!! Seriously! After everything we’ve been through, we took 6 months off to plan and save and prepare to do IVF and now this…argggh!!!  Well at least I have my reason now.  Apparently it seems that I probably have had endometriosis for a while, but since I was on the pill for so long it was in remission.  Even when I went off the pill in 2009 it remained dormant.  When we started doing fertility treatments the medications I was taking caused it to flare up.  Hence the cyst on my ovary, and it also explains why my periods were SO painful the last couple of years.

I did some research to see how endometriosis affects fertility.  They really don’t know much about what causes it, they only know what it is.  Basically endometriosis is a result of retrograde menstruation, instead of menstruating the normal way, the cells from the lining of the uterus go backwards back out through the fallopian tubes and creates cysts on the outside of your ovaries, uterus, pretty much anywhere in the area.  These cysts can cause scarring and blockage which causes infertility. Since my HSG showed that there was no blockage in my fallopian tubes, and everything else looked normal I am still not entirely sure how it was preventing us from getting pregnant.  But my doctor did remind me that they still do not know everything about endometriosis but they know it does affect fertility in general.

My specialist does not treat endometriosis so she sent me back to my OB.  My OB scheduled the surgery right away.  It was done laproscopically in March and there was a 2 week recovery.  I ended up having a small internal infection which I was on antibiotics for due to the camera and other instruments they used during the surgery, and one of my four incisions took almost 2 months to heal.  At this point I was getting very comfortable with the Women’s Hospital and the nurses even commented that I seemed so calm.  I just smiled and said this is not my first rodeo, I’ve been here a few times.  How can you not like reclining in a recliner wearing a  robe complete with a hole to attach a warm heating hose to, along with the purple socks with no slip grips on the bottom while everyone is waiting on you hand and foot, it is pretty cozy!

The pathology report came back benign again, and it reconfirmed the endometriosis.  They took lots of pictures during the surgery (don’t worry I won’t post them here) but it was pretty interesting to see it all.  Both my doctors were very impressed with the size and the general condition of things, I kept feeling like I was going to end up as a case study in one of the medical journals, how cool would that be!  I had my 2 week post op visit with my OB and she declared me healed and the next day I was back at my specialist office. Lets try this again…

My specialist immediately put me on an Estrogen pill and gave me a medication protocol to follow.  We took a “class” with my  IVF nurse, who I soon came to love! There we learned how to mix the medications and give myself the injections.  Yes, you are responsible for it all…  I was kind of surprised at how much responsibility as far as mixing the drugs and making sure you have the correct dosage as well as injecting it in the correct place at the right time, etc… I am a pretty organized person and I created a spreadsheet and checklists to help me remember all this as well as setting several alarms on my cell phone, but it was still a bit nerve wracking since mistakes could still easily be made with an amateur and I couldn’t imagine someone who does not have an organizational bone in their body trying to do this. They ordered my first batch of medications for me and a rather large box showed up a few days later.  I spent the evening checking the shipment with the protocol I was given to make sure it was all there.

I started with 3 injections a day while going into my doctors office every day for blood work and/or ultrasounds to monitor my estrogen levels and to see how my ovaries were responding.  When my blood work results came in they would call me everyday and tell me how much to increase (or decrease on one occasion) my dosages.  After a while  I added another injection into the mix to prevent me from ovulating so my eggs could continue to grow and mature, I continued to go to my doctors office every day.   After 6 more days of that my eggs were finally ready!  Then came the dreaded Lupron shot…This tells the ovaries to release the eggs.  It is an intramuscular injection and came with a nice long needle and had to be injected in the butt.  In an area that is just right so it does not hit your sciatic nerve or bone, and it needs to get deep enough into the muscle tissue.   So they sent me home with a nice diagram picture of where to inject the needle.  Before I left the parking lot I immediately called my husband and told him he had a job to do that night.

The nurse had suggested that I ice the area for a few minutes before and then walk around afterwards.  So when the time came I had been icing my butt for 15 minutes it was completely numb!  We went over the instructions several times and with my eyes closed and a death grip on the bathroom door jam Justin gave me my injection and I hardly felt a thing!  Which was great!  We took the dog for a walk and then I started panicking that we didn’t do it right since I didn’t feel a thing, it was supposed to hurt, right!  After our walk we even looked up videos on you tube on how to give the shot to reassure ourselves that we did everything right.  But my mind was racing and I had a hard time sleeping that night since all I could think about was we came this far, this can’t be the one thing that messes it all up!  The next morning at my doctors office I told the nurses the story and they laughed with me and reassured me that they blood work would confirm that we did everything right and if we didn’t, then we could do it again the next day.  Whew!  These fertility drugs really do make you crazy!  After the Lupron shot I had 24 hours of pure injection free bliss!!! No more shots! I can’t tell you how wonderful that feeling is!! The whole process was not fun, but it is amazing what you can do when you put your mind to something, I never thought I wanted something bad enough that I was willing to give myself injections everyday to get it.  Now that part was over…I was scheduled for my egg retrieval on April 27th and I was ready to get them out of me.  My ovaries were full!  I wouldn’t say it was really painful, but pretty uncomfortable.  I could actually feel my ovaries, they felt heavy and I noticed it the most when walking the dog, going up and down the stairs, sitting a certain way or doing any kind of physical activity.  I once heard someone describe it feeling like heavy rocks, and that is a pretty accurate description.

On the retrieval day we got up early and headed to my doctors office.  In the OR they have a window that passes through to the lab and the embryologist is on the other side of the window with her microscope and petri dishes ready to receive the eggs.  The anesthesiologist put me out and the doctor got started. They  got 15 follicles (eggs).  I was sent home to rest and stated a new medication regimen in pill form, suppositories and hormone patches.

The next morning the embryologist called to give us an update.  Of the 15, 8 were viable and 7 of the 8 were fertilized.  The embryologist said she would call in 2 days and give us another update.  Her next phone call she said we still had 7 and they looked great, but warned us that all 7 may not make it to day 5 (transfer day).  Two days later was May 2nd, our transfer day (and my grandma’s birthday).  We went to my doctors office, they gave me Valium to help me relax, and we were chatting with the nurses waiting for the doctor to come in.  The embryologist talked with us for a while and explained that 5 embryos have reached the stage to be transferred, she was giving the other 2 another day to see if they catch up.  She was very happy with our embryos and we had decided beforehand that we only wanted one transferred.  The embryo she selected for transfer was a beautiful, Grade A classification.  She said this is what we see in the textbooks as a sample of a good quality embryo!The doctor came in and we all exchanged hugs and high fives, and got down to business.  It was so cool that we were able to watch everything that was going on via microscope images up on the TV screen and ultrasound (must be why they call it high tech), we even got a chance to say HI to our little embryo once it was safely transferred and snuggling in my uterus.  We went home and I was on bed rest for 3 days.  I was under instructions not to watch any sad or scary movies, I was to keep my spirits up and think happy thoughts.  The embryologist called the next day and said the other 2 embryos did not catch up so we have 4 in the freezer, our future snow babies!  After my 3 days of rest was up, then came the dreaded wait for the pregnancy test…I was familiar with this time frame by now and tried not to think too much about it. My mom came into town a few days before and we went shopping, drove to see my grandparents, had lunch, watched movies, got pedicures and did all kinds of things.  Then the morning of my test we went to my doctors office for blood work and they said they would call with the results.  That day was so hard waiting, we kept our selves busy and finally got the call that it was positive, a strong positive!  We were pregnant!!! I went in two days later for a repeat test to make sure my numbers were increasing and sure enough they were!  We really are pregnant!

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” ~ Jeremiah 29