Tag Archives: infertility

We’re pregnant!

After 8 years of infertility, countless treatments and one heck of an IVF roller-coaster ride we’re happy to announce we’re pregnant!

The “two week wait”, the time between the embryo transfer and hCG (pregnancy) test, was as dreaded as everyone says it is. I tried to put it out of my mind, but you can’t. When our infertility coordinator called me with the results the conversation went something like this:

Her: I have good news!
Me: No way…
Her: I do. Desiree’s pregnant!
Me: You’re kidding?!
Her: I’m not!
Me: Wow, I can’t believe it.

After the call I went downstairs to tell Desiree. She screamed and then cried. We were both shocked. I was prepared for negative results. After 8 years you get stuck in this mode of thinking nothing will work. And so even after we were told we didn’t feel pregnant, we just knew someone was saying we were. We were excited, but it also felt numb if that makes any sense. I still feels that way to some degree.

Desiree is still on 1cc of progesterone and 2 dots (patches) of estrogen until about week 10 of her pregnancy. Her backside is pretty tore up at this point. She has fist-sized red spots on both sides from going back and forth between shots and patches every night. Keeping her on these dosages is only precautionary. If we had a miscarriage we wouldn’t want to say, “If only we had stayed on the drugs.” In fact, our doctor told us that the clinic was at about an 85% success rate for IVF this year which is extremely rare. Even the best clinics in the country sit just below 70%. He believes it’s keeping women on these drugs after a pregnancy has been detected that’s helped them reach that number.

Thanks for all the hope, prayers and community through our IVF. Please continue to pray for us, that the baby stays with Desiree. As of right now we’ve had 2 ultrasounds to check on the baby, everything is right on schedule and as healthy as doctors can tell at this point. We’ve been release from our infertility clinic and are looking forward to our first prenatal appointment with our OB.

We’re not shutting the blog down now that we’re pregnant or turning it into a pregnancy blog. Our infertility is something that we’ve noticed has continued to affect us even though we’re now on the other side. We’d like our story and this blog to serve as a resource, not just of information but also of hope and comfort, to those who are still struggling.

We’re still here

This is just a little message to let everyone know we’re still here. We had been posting a lot towards the end of our IVF cycle and then following our “two week wait” we realize everything went silent. Right now we’re taking some time to ourselves and we’ll be back with an update soon. Please continue to pray for us.

IVF week 5: Embryo Transfer

Justin and Desiree on transfer day.

This is us right before we went in for the transfer.

If there’s anything we’ve learned about a round of IVF it’s that first, there’s a lot more that can go wrong than they’ll tell you and second, things change and often.

The last time I wrote we were anticipating a Saturday transfer of 2, day-5 embryos (blastocysts).

Thursday morning (day-3 for our embryos) the head infertility coordinator called and asked if we could come in to do an early transfer – things had changed back to the original plan of transferring 2, day-3 embryos (not blastocysts).

She explained that our embryos were developing slowly, but that 2 of them were impressive for day 3. The embryologist’s concern was that if these 2 didn’t make it to day 5, and the rest continued to grow slow or didn’t make it, that we might lose our chance to transfer this cycle. Her concern was “pregnancy now”, that these 2 embryos had a better chance of making it in the womb than they did in the lab and so the team decided today was the day.

We got ready and headed to the clinic.

When we got there they did an ultrasound to check Desiree’s lining. The thickness hadn’t changed and it was smooth – we got a thumbs-up to proceed. The last hurtle had been cleared and the thing we set out to accomplish was actually happening.

The transfer was relatively fast. Desiree didn’t need an IV or any anesthesia. I wore scrubs. The way it works is they use a sonogram to see the uterus, and they only way they can see it clearly is if Desiree has a full bladder. Unfortunately, this was the worst part (well, aside from having her legs in knee-stirrups) and made things uncomfortable for her. After they’ve got a clear view they use a catheter to place the 2 embryos and they’re done.

Desiree drinks fluids

Desiree fills her bladder with a smile.

It was an interesting process and one they encourage husbands to be a part of. Before they placed the embryos they showed them to us on a big screen. The first was a grade 1, 8-cell and the second a grade 2, 6-cell. As they placed them we could see the catheter moving through to the uterus and our doctor counted down the placement so we knew exactly what was happening on the screen.

Justin suited up for the transfer

This is me all suited up and sterilized for the transfer.

After it was over Desiree stayed on the table and we spent the next 2 hours at the clinic as she started bed-rest. When we got home she spent the next 22 hours in bed, only getting up to use the bathroom.

Everything went great – we’re happy to finally say we had a successful round of IVF.

She’s done with all her drugs except the progesterone which I’ll continue to give her every night. If any embryos implant it will help her lining stay strong for a better chance they’ll survive. Monday begins what they call “the 2-week wait”. She’ll have blood-work done every other day. Hopefully they’ll begin to see her pregnancy levels rise. She’ll do this until she takes a pregnancy test. If the test is positive she’ll stay on the progesterone and monitoring throughout the first trimester.

Now for the bad news.

The embryologist called this morning and said none of our other 10 embryos made it to day 5, and they’re all being discarded tomorrow. This means there’s nothing to freeze and if we choose to do a second round of IVF Desiree will have to go through another egg retrieval, something we hoped to avoid. Of course this leaves us asking a bunch of questions, but we’re trying not to dwell on it. We’re looking forward to the pregnancy test.

Regardless of whether or not we’re pregnant making it this far has been a huge success. Some couples don’t make it for a number of reasons. To add insult to injury they lose all their money in the process. In the worst cases they go through an egg retrieval and have nothing to show for it, a wasted cycle. This was a possibility for us all along and so we don’t take where we’re at lightly – it really is amazing we’ve made it this far.

IVF Week 5: Egg retrieval

Egg retrieval drugs

This is Desiree’s egg retrieval drugs – progesterone, Doxycycline and Medrol.

Yesterday was our free pass which meant we didn’t have to leave in the morning for an appointment and Desiree didn’t have to get an ultrasound or get stuck with any needles either from myself or a nurse. We went to church in the morning and spent the rest of the day chilling out on the couch. Our nerves were up. Being through the ups and downs of the past week had us on edge. For me that’s going to last until she’s on bed-rest after the embryo transfer. If we make it there it means we’ve achieved the chance we set out for, we made it through a successful round of IVF.

To completely understand the order of today’s and tomorrow’s events read this short description of an egg retrieval. Or thanks to National Geographic you can watch it. Basically they collect Desiree’s eggs, collect my semen, wash my sperm, mix the eggs and sperm together, let them incubate and check for fertilization. Now, we’re getting ICSI so instead of mixing the eggs and sperm together the embryologist will actually catch the perfect sperm and inject it directly into the perfect egg. So basically if we get pregnant we’ll have the perfect kid (just kidding).

This morning Desiree started Doxycycline (antibiotic pill) at 6 AM on an empty stomach (she hadn’t had anything since dinner yesterday per doctor’s orders). She’ll take another one tonight with dinner and repeat that regiment for the next 2 days. It caused her some nausea on the way to the clinic which is normal.

We arrived at the clinic around 6:45 this morning. We both had to be free of any deodorant, perfume, cologne or makeup. The nurse showed us to the operating room and had Desiree change into a gown. We met our embryologist. She went through the pre-procedure verbal confirmation with Desiree and said she’d call tomorrow with the fertilization results. The anesthesiologist arrived, hooked her up and talked with us as we waited for the doctor; turns out he spent some time passing through Ohio so we shared some Cedar Point stories. When the doctor showed up the nurse kicked me out and sent me off to collect my specimen.

In about 15 minutes the doctor came out and said it went well, that they retrieved 12 eggs. I assume he meant they’re all good too because he was very happy. The entire procedure only took about 20 minutes. I went back into the operating room and sat with Desiree for about an hour as the anesthesia wore off. She had some cramping but that’s normal.

She requested hotcakes for breakfast (and a ribeye for dinner) so we grabbed some McDonald’s on the way home. After we ate we both crashed for a few hours.

Starting today we’re no longer doing the Lupron, Repronex or Follistim. We ended up with some leftover drugs to donate. Turns out we bought the extra Follisitm for 2 clicks which is practically nothing. Hopefully we can donate the rest. Anyway, in the place of those drugs she starts a low dose of progesterone (POI) every evening from now through the transfer. This one goes in the rear and prepares embryos to implant better in the endometrium. If she gets pregnant after the transfer we’ll continue it through the first trimester. We’ve been numbing those shots with ice so she doesn’t feel much. That’s more important for POI because it’s oil and takes a while to inject.

Right now she’s feeling bloated, but that’s normal and may even last through the transfer. Even though today went great we know we’re not out of the woods yet. The best case scenario is we have a great report from the embryologist tomorrow and can start looking forward to a transfer on Thursday. And so far our best case scenarios have been working out – here’s to hoping tomorrow’s is the same. Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Mother's Day

A bittersweet Mother’s Day

While Mother’s Day is a day of much deserved celebration for great Moms everywhere it’s also a day of much mourning for about seven-million infertile people like us. It’s not easy to cope with friends and family celebrating everywhere. If we’re not exposed in public we’re exposed online with people posting a wealth of photos on social networks ranging from all the gifts they received to pictures of the cute outfits they put their kids in for the occasion.

With all of the activity on Mother’s Day, people tend to forget about women who cannot become mothers. Mother’s Day is an incredibly painful time for infertile women. You cannot get away from it-There are ads on the TV, posters at the stores, church sermons devoted to celebrating motherhood, and all of the plans for celebrating with your own mother and mother-in-law. (an excerpt from Infertility Etiquette)

Although we appreciate those who know of our infertility and take the time to say or do something it can be awkward and hard to feel like we’re not being pandered to instead of being included. But we’re very thankful for those who care enough to try; though it is bittersweet, thank you.

If we’re not feeling down about the loss of the ability to take part in today’s festivities we’re feeling like grotesque monsters who must stay hidden lest we ruin the day for everyone else. It’s never our intention to offend the ones we love with our mourning. We love that Mothers are celebrated today, that Dads take their kids to buy gifts for Mom, when kids are dressed up and when families are together. We’re happy for our friends and family who celebrate these things more now than ever because we feel we understand a life void of them.

If you’re a Mom you deserve to be appreciated today, relish in it. If you’re a kid, enjoy celebrating Mom, she deserves it. Either way please remember to pray that we will one day share in the gift of children alongside you.

Drugs, syringes and more drugs

IVF Drugs

Most of our IVF drugs laid out on the table; this isn’t even all of them. We found more inside the sharp’s container and we had already put some in the refrigerator.

Our IVF drugs came in the mail yesterday. When I opened the door there was a medium-sized box sitting at my feet labeled “TO BE OPENED BY ADDRESSEE ONLY” and “PLEASE OPEN THIS BOX IMMEDIATELY AND STORE ITEMS AT INDICATED TEMPERATURES.”

It was filled to the top with cartons of vials and bags of syringes. A separate container of drugs were being refrigerated by a couple icepacks inside styrofoam insulation.

We laid everything out on the table and just looked at each other in awe; our first thought was we couldn’t believe the sheer amount of medical supplies. We clearly underestimated the amount of drugs Desiree will pass through her body in the next two months.

IVF drugs

You can see the very edge of “the bible”, the stack of instructional papers on how this all works, in the upper right-hand corner of the photo. Hopefully we don’t screw this up.

I’m not sure what our second thought was, but I’m pretty sure that’s when the worry set in. We kept asking ourselves which drug was first, how we administer each one, when we start them, what the dosages were and so on. It’s a scary feeling being at the mercy of a jumbled stack of papers collected at various appointments over the past month. The fact that our infertility coordinator never sent us the final schedule didn’t help either.

Right now the only thing we think we’ve gotten right is the one drug that needs refrigerated is in the refrigerator. And that probably only happened because the box told us to. The coordinator showed us how to do everything, but who can remember it all? And she didn’t expect us to either, hence the bible she sent us home with.

The daily shots start on Monday so we’ll be spending our Saturday reading decoding the ever-growing stack of papers on “how to do IVF”. God only knows how we’re going to get through this. One thing’s for sure, there’s no turning back now.