Viability 

Not only are the best months of the year finally here (the ‘ber months), but so is viability. We made it. 6 months pregnant. God is good! 

Our 24 week ultrasound today showed that baby is growing on track, now just over 1 and 1/2 lbs., my fluid level is good, and my cervix is still closed & long, measuring over 4. We are so thankful. 

I know I have said it before, but this is truly a day we did not think was possible after years of trying to conceive on our own, 2 failed IUIs, several major surgeries, 4 IVF cycles, & 4 consecutive losses. But here we are, one day closer to bringing our miracle baby boy home. I promised myself I would relax more once we got to this point, so I am really going to *try* my best to do so. 

Our goal is to make it to 28 weeks now. I have a feeling it will come rather quickly, as we have a growth scan at the MFM and my glucose test during the few weeks until then. Also coming up in a month is our baby shower for which the invites got mailed this week. I really cant believe all these things are so close! 

Today I got my hair cut and I scheduled an appointment for both my make-up and my hair to be done for our maternity photo session. It takes some pressure off of me, as I am lousy at doing both of these. In addition, I made a mani/pedi appt for the shower and the shoot. I think I am all set in this department!

Symptoms? 

Still having some BH contractions here & there but have found drinking water totally helps. That said, my new routine is to get up and drink 64 ounces before noon each day. I make sure I get the suggested amount out of the way and then I just sip the rest of the day. Thank God I am off work, or I wouldnt be doing this because basically I am in the bathroom peeing all morning long! Seriously. Ive never been a big drinker either so sticking to a schedule is really helping out.

In the middle of the night, my hands and arms have been going numb here & there. I guess this could be a sign of carpal tunnel? At least thats what my Ovia pregnancy app had pop up as a common thing this week. Im not too worried about it, I just shake them out and it goes away.

Im getting picky about food again. Things arent sounding as great as Id like them to. Ugh. Eating as healthy as possible though, trying to incorporate in each of the food groups everyday. Thankfully I havent wanted sweets much at all, hoping this will help me pass my sugar test! 

Other news? 

We got everything we need to create the closet system in miracle’s room. Now that we have the materials, we plan to work on it over the long weekend. Im excited because I have lots of clothes and items to organize in there! Hubby pointed out how we are going to be jealous of the baby’s closet…how is it that he has a better one than us already? Lol. I might as well get used to it, part of being a parent I know!  

Going Global 

Recently, an Australian journalist for the World Press Institute asked if we would be willing to do an interview about our IVF/RPL experiences.  

She came across our family photos (below) and would like to feature an article with a few of them along with the interview. We happily said yes, anytime we can help others we are in. Plus, I secretly always wanted to be a journalist so I have to help another one out! 

Here are the questions & answers, along with the photos we chose to have in it. 

Questions for Angela

  1. What name would you like to use in the story (for example – just “Angela” or both your first and second name – this is totally up to you) Angela is good. 
  2. How old are you? I am 33, will be 34 in November of 2016. 
  3. Is it OK if we say you live in Florida in the US? Yes 😊
  4. What is your partner’s name? How long have you been with him/been married? Shane & I are 16 years in the making now; we met in 2000. It was my senior year and his junior year of high school. It was pretty much love at first sight (sounds cliche, but its true). We were engaged in 2006, & married by August of 2007.  
  5. Did you always want kids? Yes, I did! I wasnt exactly sure how old I wanted to be when we did though. I was 25 when we married, and he was 24. Shane always wanted kids too, but said he wanted to wait about 5 years to have them. We never thought we would have to actually “try,” we thought it would just happen when we were ready one night!
  6. When did your journey to have a baby start? How old were you at the time? We stopped being careful about a year into our marriage, so I was close to 27. 
  7. When did you realise it might be harder than you thought? I think we both thought something was odd pretty soon after we stopped being careful that first year.  
  8. What made you decide to try IVF? After a few years of trying on our own, tracking ovulation, charting my body temperature, testing for ferns on my saliva, taking all sorts of herbs & superfoods, we realized it wasnt going to happen naturally for us. 
  9. How did that process unfold? My OB referred us to a fertility specialist, or Reproductive Endocrinologist, after my husbands first sperm analysis came back showing significant male factor infertility. 
  10. You’ve had some difficult experiences along the way. Can you tell me about those..? The road has not been easy by any means. After our diagnosis of MFI, we felt confident that our first IUI would work. When it didnt, it got even more real. Then when the second one failed too, we knew IVF was the path we needed to pursue. I was 30 and my husband 28 at that time. 
  11. How many pregnancies have you lost? 3 IVF pregnancies, with a total of 5 babies being lost. 
  12. Are you still hopeful IVF might give you a baby? I do still have hope. The day I lose hope will be the day I stop treatment! 
  13. On Facebook we discussed the idea that the story of women who fail at IVF is never told. Why do you think that is? I think the medical world wants everyone to believe its the end-all-be-all, the magic pill, that it ‘just has to work.’ If more people knew how often it didnt work on the first try, they would be a lot more cautious with their hearts. We were naive & thought it surely would produce a child right away. I also think a lot of couples choose to keep their stories quiet because of the pain and embarrassment they associate with the IVF failure, even though its not in anyway their fault. 
  14. Why did you start your blog? I started my blog after our 3rd miscarriage. I wanted others to know they are not alone. So many nights I cried myself to sleep thinking no one understood. I knew there had to be someone out there that I could relate with, and likewise, someone who felt they could relate with me too. I immediately made the blog public, and linked it to my personal social media sites. It literally felt like a ton was lifted off of us when we finally told our story. Hiding infertility treatments are one thing, hiding miscarriages in conjuction with them is entirely another. Thankfully, the support through my blogging community and through our friends, family, & co-workers has been a lifesaver. 
  15. If you think about the IVF industry and the ethics of that industry…is there anything you’d like to say about this (some of the other ladies I’ve interviewed have bought this up with me)? Of course, I think it would be great if more financial assistance (across the board) was available since infertility is a disease, although many do not recognize it as one. Not sure if that falls into the ethics category or not. I will say that overall we have been blessed with doctors and nurses that have have an ethical bedside manner and a listening ear.  
  16. Is there anything else you’d like to say? No two journeys are the same. I have found comparison can be the thief of joy. When I first began treatments, I didnt rejoice in others success stories as much as I should have; instead I would wonder what was wrong with us & why were we being punished? Once I realized their success had nothing to do with me, I started really living again and not being a prisoner of IVF and pregnancy loss. That being said, each day I wake up & choose happiness!

   
  

  

Hysteroscopy Eve

Well, H/S # 4 is Monday morning.  After loss #3 back in February, we decided that we would do another H/S before ever transferring again, so it makes sense that we have one right now.

H/S #3 in June, just 3 months ago, came back all clear after my operation, and thus, we didn’t think another H/S would really be needed this quickly.  We originally thought that having H/S #4 would be more for peace of mind and reassurance that all was still looking good before transferring again.  Wrong.  As you know, images from my HSG in late July and my ultrasounds in early August showed “something” irregular lurking around in my uterus.  So, here we are, actually needing the H/S again this soon after the last.

Our October FET is completely riding on the results of this H/S.  If there is “something” small, like a polyp, that can easily be removed while I am in a twilight, she will remove it, and we will move forward with our upcoming transfer.  Or better yet, there will be nothing at all showing and we will go forward.  However, if there is “something” large found again, like the mass back in March, she will not be able to remove it on the spot, and our October transfer will not be taking place.  I have no idea what will end up happening if the latter occurs– I don’t know if I am ready to go through another operation like the last one.  I am trying not to put too much thought into that for now, but realistically I know it could go either way tomorrow…50/50 chance.

We have learned that patience is necessary throughout all of this.  My husband and I have been together over 15 years now, and married for over 8.  We have been trying to have a baby for over 7, and we have been wrapped up in IUI and IVF cycles for 3 years now.  God is good and only He knows when the timing is right.  It might be next month, but it might not be.  All we can do today is pray for His blessings and protection to surround us….we would love if you could do the same for us! Thank you so much.

Guest Post–A Happy Ending for a Couple Diagnosed with Unexplained Infertility

Today I am featuring a guest post from a couple diagnosed with unexplained infertility who are so very dear to my heart- my 1st cousin, Nina and her husband, Bryan.

Although I am sad that we both have had to battle infertility, I am forever grateful for the support and love we have been able to give to one another through this time in our lives.  Those of you who follow my blog know that I always say infertility has brought my husband and I closer.  Well, I can easily say the same thing about my cousin & I’s relationship, too.

Here is their story.


Nina & Bryan’s Story

So, when Ang asked if we would want to share our journey, I right away thought yes of course….then I thought oh goodness I am no writer and have never really written out our story….but quickly let her know that we would be honored to be a part of this amazing avenue for those on the infertility rollercoaster!  I am so proud of you Ang!

If you would have told me 7 years ago that I would be sharing our story on an infertility blog, I probably would have said, “No certainly not me…you must have the wrong couple!”  I say 7 years ago because my husband and I just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on June 21!  As newlyweds, we knew we wanted to have a year to enjoy being married, but wanted to start our family soon after.  We envisioned choosing a month to start trying, become pregnant and soon after have our sweet little bundle of joy!   Perfect picture right?!  Well, the reality was much different….

After about a year of trying with no success one of my very best friends (who was going though infertility) told me she would, without a doubt get to the doctor to get things checked out.  Without hesitation I did just that, all the while still thinking we weren’t going to find anything wrong and would be pregnant soon enough!  My friend advised that it was a good idea to start with the male factor to rule out anything.  For this, I would have to get a referral from my OBGYN first.

Here begins our journey!  To be quite honest I am horrible with dates and I cannot remember the exact timeline.  But, here are the steps we took.   First, I made an appointment to see my OBGYN.  We explained our concerns and asked for a referral for my husband to have things looked at.  She reassured me that I was young and healthy (I had no previous issues, regular cycles, etc.) and that these things take TIME….oh boy was she right about the TIME thing!  The next step was heading to the Urologist for Bryan.  We found that Bry had sperm for days, but they seemed to be taking a vacation.  Our urologist also informed us that Bry had some sort of infection.  One that could easily be taken care of with an antibiotic and that after we would do another analysis.  Fast forward to a few more visits to the urologist and a few more tests….she basically tells us that she is stumped and isn’t sure what to do!  Hence, our unexplained infertility diagnosis.  It felt like months of “wasted” time!

So, I then make an appointment to see the fertility specialist for a consultation.   It was over Christmas break, being a teacher I took any appointment I could get…that being said Bry couldn’t get off work.  So I take my sisters along with me for support and extra ears!

December of 2010 began our journey with the amazing Dr. Karnitis!  He thought that we were great candidates for IUI.  We started up right away.  We were so excited….first IUI cycle was simple.  Clomid, trigger and Bry to the office for his “intimate” alone time, then the procedure…wahoo we were sure to be pregnant after all of this!  We had everyone praying and hoping for the great news.  We choose to be pretty open about everything.  We figured we needed the prayer and support regardless of what was going to happen!  The IUI’s continued….another round of Clomid with injections, then we tried Femara with injections.  Nothing seemed to be wrong, but things just weren’t working!  Even with the injections my eggs didn’t seem to mature like they should be.  We tried a few more rounds of IUI, thinking it just had to work.  But after 5 failed IUI’s, we were finally ready to move on to IVF.  You are probably wondering why we continued trying IUI’s.  I think it was a combo of our doctor being very conservative and careful, and honestly I’m not sure that we were ready to make the IVF move quite yet!

We started up on our 1st round of IVF.  We were both very excited, knowing that with this more invasive procedure our chances of having the sweet babe we have been longing for was pretty great!  Dr. K was always so very optimistic as well.  During this process we were very fortunate to have a wonderful support system and prayer chains galore!  After our many rounds of IUI, we were able to find out that my body did react a little funny to the meds.  It was almost like I would need them upped, but when he would my body would go a little too crazy when they were.  We had to tread lightly.  Again, my eggs weren’t quite what Dr. K wanted, number or size, so he would up the meds just barely.  The eggs ended up getting there, but my levels shot through the roof.  He said it was too dangerous to trigger and continue with the retrieval.  We were so extremely devastated that our cycle was cancelled!  We then took a little break to give my ovaries and body some recover time.

Then it was on to IVF Round 2.  This time around we used a little different med concoction.  Things were going very smoothly, many eggs were developing and my lining was just where he wanted it.  My levels were getting nice and high, which was scary, but he felt comfortable moving forward to the egg retrieval.  YAY!!!  I apologize for not having many details, but to be honest I have difficulty remembering it all.  What we were living day to day, that I never thought I could forget, seems like a blur!

I will tell you that I did not forget any part of the egg retrieval.  We were so excited to finally get to this part.  We were one step closer to our goal!  During the retrieval I was in twilight and was feeling very good.  I remember trying so hard to focus because I wanted to see every single egg Dr. K got and wanted to be sure everything was good to go…as if I could change anything that was taking place!  Dr. K was able to retrieve 17 eggs!!  The next few days were just crazy…we got calls daily explaining how our embryos were doing.  By the end, we had 4 awesome day 4 embryos.  4 days later we did our fresh transfer of 2 embryos.  The other 2 were then frozen.  The day of the transfer was super calm and easy.  We just took it easy and prayed!

I thought for sure that it didn’t work.  I am a worrier to say the least…I didn’t feel any different and I was totally bummed.  Then watch out….here came day 11.  Bry was actually sick with the Norovirus.  So to get me away from it all my mom took me to Outback to eat.  I felt a little queasy, thinking I had caught the awful bug that Bry had.  Oh my goodness was I wrong!  I was a hot mess.  I was getting sick, had migraines, and was passing out on the bathroom floor.  We were on the phone with Dr. K who advised us to get to the clinic, which was located in the hospital and that this was actually great news.  Ummm…I felt absolutely terrible, how in the world could this be good?!

I got there and was hooked up to IV’s right away.  I was extremely dehydrated and had OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome).  They kept me all day.  Dr. K then decided to do a beta….he said it was early and that if it was negative, there was still the possibility that it could be positive, but if it were positive I was in fact pregnant!  He came back shortly, and the news we had been waiting to hear for years was given to us!  CONGRATS…we were pregnant!!  I am going to be honest we literally looked at each other, smiled and kissed.  I then tried to fall back asleep!  We had def pictured something a bit different, but hey who the heck cares!!!  We were going to be parents finally!  As Dr. K walked out of the room he had a smirk on his face and said under his breath, those are twin numbers!!!  Oh my…could it really be!? I felt pretty terrible for weeks after.  I remember Bry literally carrying me to put me into the bathtub!  He is my ROCK!   I looked like I was 4 months pregnant in the matter of a few days, due to the fluid because of OHSS.

Our next appointment was scheduled at 7 weeks to have an ultrasound.  I was still under the weather, but doing a bit better!  We were nervous…so so nervous.  We just wanted to be sure we really were pregnant.  We wanted to see that heart beat!  In comes Dr. K and here we go…“Yep….2 sacs, and 2 heartbeats”!!!!!! WHAT…….we literally looked at eachother and started laughing!  It was a nervous, super excited laugh!  Dr. K joined in the fun!!  Then I had to triple check that they were both healthy so far and look just as they should!  He reassured me they were.

We gave birth to two beautiful babies on September 8, 2013.  They just couldn’t wait to meet us and came 2 months early, but we made it through the 5 week NICU stay!  We thank God everyday for our sweet miracles.

Thank you for allowing us to share our story!  I hope that it can give everyone reading this hope.  No matter where are you in your journey!  Infertility is so very frustrating and it can be easy to lose all hope.  We were there on numerous occasions…keep the faith!

You are all in our prayers ,

Nina and Bryan

Our miracles!!!
                         Our miracles!!!

Where’s My Happy Ending???

Warning: This post might be a little negative Nelly.  I try to keep it upbeat, but lets be real, sometimes it’s just not possible.

Lately, I have been pitying myself.  I was doing really great, and then BAM! Pity party time. Maybe it’s all the success stories coming in. Don’t get me wrong, I love success stories, because they give me hope…without them, what do you have to look forward to? But at the same time, one comes to a point where they have to ask, “WHERE’S MY HAPPY ENDING?” 

Yea, yea, I get that a happy ending is what you make it out to be.  But in our minds, right now, our happy ending is achieving our family.  And ideally, sooner than later.  I personally think we have waited long enough, but the big man upstairs must disagree with me.  Right now, we are in total “limbo” mode as to what is even going on with our clinic, another FET, etc. We have no set plan of action.  Time just keeps on.  And as it does, we are bombarded with the announcements of others pregnancies, deliveries, IUI, IVF, and FET cycles gearing up.  Shoot, most of our friends are going on having their 2nd, 3rd, even 4th kid. And here we are, still dying just for 1. 1 pregnancy that can make it full term and yield a healthy baby.  Just 1.

I’ve been reading a lot of posts about couples who tried for years upon years to conceive, went on to do IUI’s that failed, then finally did IVF, and got their miracle baby on the first try.  In other words, they got their “happy ending.”  I see less and less of the stories of couples who are in our shoes getting their happy ending.  And to be honest, it is hard not to get discouraged.  Where are all the happy endings of those who have tried on their own for many years, failed IUI’s, and then recurrently miscarried off IVF’s?  If you are reading this, and it’s you, please share!

This morning, we got this….


That’s right, a BFN.  Stark white.  I tested on day 26 of my cycle, so technically I am 2 days early.  That doesn’t matter though.  I know I’m not pregnant.  I have been pregnant before, and thus, I know what it feels like.  Plus, I have studied HCG levels enough to know that I should have at least 25ml in my system by now to show even the faintest line on a test using fresh morning urine. Negative.

We did the deed as we should, I ovulated as I should, and a few days after ovulation, I even felt dizzy! Dizziness is a tell tale sign for me that I am pregnant early on (like during implantation early on).  And, for one split second, I thought it actually could have worked.  My husband told me he thought I was pregnant for sure.  What a great Fathers Day/Bday present that would have been for him!

It’s been awhile since we have felt the monthly highs and lows of TTC at home, praying day in and day out that Aunt Flow will take a long vacation.  Can I tell you how quickly I am reminded how much I don’t miss it?  Anyone who has played this game knows exactly what I am talking about.  Timed intercourse. Examining CM. Tracking your body temperature. Thinking this month is THE month, watching everything you eat, analyzing every little twinge you feel, dreaming of what a miracle it would be if this wish could just come true.  Imagining what it would be like after all we have been through to just have it happen on our own at home, just like that?  Well, not this time.  Who were we kidding? There will be no happy ending for us yet again this month.

Top 10 Things We Love

Yesterday, we blogged about getting a second opinion from another locally respected RE in regards to our 3 IVF losses. As you know, this is the most educated path for us to take after all of the blood, sweat, & tears we have put into this process. It would be great to have another set of eyes confirm that our diagnoses and future treatment plans coincide with our current RE’s.

After making the appointment with the new RE, I quickly started (not even close to being done) a list of questions we will ask of him (hope he’s got a lot of time on his hands). This prompted a discussion, and led to making a list of all of the things we really love about our current clinic.  I think this will come in handy if we ever are faced with the possibility of switching clinics down the road one day.

Top 10 Things We Love 

  1. There are other means of communication rather than just the telephone.  I can email my doctor or nurse at anytime and I know they will get back to me within 24 hours max (unless of course they are out of the office).  I can also call the after hours line and receive a call back within 30 minutes from my RE (we did this when miscarrying after IVF #2).  When it comes down to it, in my eyes, this is the biggest perk about our clinic.
  2. We are under the care of only 1 RE at the practice.  This provides a sense of consistency and continuity.  There are about 7 doctors in total at the practice, we always see the same one no matter what.
  3. We do not have to travel to their various locations.  This is a biggie.  In Florida, most clinics have numerous locations, and you have to travel to each of them at some point.  Although our clinic has 5 locations, we have only had to travel to the one closest to our home.
  4. Everyone knows us by name.  Our current clinic location is small enough that everyone knows us by name.  This makes us feel at home.
  5. Scheduling Appointments.  They always seem to squeeze us in or accommodate our schedules. I honestly do not remember the last time we requested a certain date or time and were shot down.  My RE has even seen me in between patients when I have not been on the schedule for that day.
  6. Wait time for appointments.  When we have an appointment, we never have to wait long past our scheduled time to see our nurse or RE. It’s great!  I don’t know if the receptionist just likes us, and schedules us at “good” times or what, but I’m not complaining. LOL.
  7. Amount of time our RE spends with us.  We can spend as much time with her as we need and we never feel like we are being pushed out for the next patient.  This was a biggie for my husband.  At the first clinic we went to before we did IVF, he felt as if we were “just another patient.”
  8. Bedside manner.  My RE and nurses hug me, laugh with me, and have literally cried with me.  I know they have our best interest at heart.
  9. Paperwork.  This would include records, prescriptions, requisites, and the like.  For example, I can email our nurse when we would like a copy of something, such as a semen analysis, blood work, etc.  Within a day of our request, they will email it to us.
  10. Hours.  Our clinic starts seeing patients at 7:30 am which has been really convenient for us since we both worked. I could still arrive to work on time when I had the first appointment of the day.  Also, when we needed, our RE came in on a Saturday and/or Sunday when she was not on the schedule. This happened right before IVF #3.  There really is no day or time that is off limits-in fact, I was even getting phone calls on New Years Eve from my nurse.

This list is a work in progress. There are actually even more to add to it. In all honesty, we were lucky (or should I say blessed). We didn’t look into hardly any of these things before we began the process a few years back. Thankfully, they all worked out to our liking.  I would encourage anyone considering IUI or IVF to think about these things before hand, because sometimes cycles don’t go as planned and you may end up sticking around for quite some time (try 2 years in our case!).

To IVF or Not to IVF?

After the sperm count showed little improvement well after a year of his Varicocele surgery, we decided we would go back to meet with a fertility specialist.  Don’t get me wrong, we kept busy from 2012 up until 2014…I got my master’s degree, we got a new dog, we remodeled our master bathroom, we put in new floors throughout our house, we traveled. We pretty much did everything we could to take our minds off trying to get pregnant. But deep down inside our minds were still there.

We ended up choosing a different fertility practice this time than where we had done our IUI’s.  Let me tell you why.  As I mentioned in a prior post, the previous office had numerous doctors with various locations.  During our short time at the practice, we drove up to 2 hours away for an appointment.  And we knew if we did IVF there, it would be even more driving (not done at all locations).  We also disliked the idea of a different doctor possibly performing the procedures each time. The more times the same doctor is examining your uterus, the better we thought. Getting a second opinion from another fertility practice was very important to us as well.

We found another practice about 30 minutes from home, with a woman doctor this time.  Both of us just felt more at ease when we went to our initial consultation with her.  She spent at least an hour with us. We would not have to drive to different locations or see different doctors either.  Of course, I had taken all of our records with all of the “test” results to this appointment.  By now, these tests were over a year old, so guess what? Yep, you guessed it…REPEAT all tests! This entailed: a pap, blood work & a sperm count, genetic testing for both of us (a must before IVF), another HSG and SIS, etc.

All was normal with 2 exceptions: the sperm count and the genetic testing done on me.  It came back that I was a carrier for Prothrombin Thrombophilia, Hemochromatosis, & Gaucher’s, and I had the MTHR deficiency condition.

After you do genetic testing, the genetic counselor calls you and reviews the results with you.   I was told that none of what I was a carrier for, nor had a condition for, would affect reproduction.  The new fertility specialist we were seeing confirmed this at our next meeting.  In the case I became pregnant, all I would need to do is take baby aspirin for the Prothrombin & folic acid for the MTHR.  Easy enough!

She went on to tell us what we prayed she wouldn’t; without IVF with ICSI there was no real chance of us conceiving on our own.  And she said she wouldn’t bother to do IUI again and waste our money.  OUCH.

So, we met with the financial coordinator to see what we would be in for if we decided to do IVF.  We had already heard how costly it was. There are about 1 million different packages to choose from.  Seriously!  Packages can range from (here comes the jargon) 1 fresh cycle with 3 frozen cycles, to 3 fresh cycles with 2 frozen cycles, or you can just pay for one cycle at a time. To give you an idea, the price for a single fresh cycle with meds was around $14,000, and a multi-cycle (both fresh and frozen) was about $28,000. YIKES! Talk about breaking the bank.  After talking with the financial coordinator, we both needed a stiff drink to say the least.  How could we ever afford to have our family? 😞

ivfcost