Here we come, Embaby!

Dearest Embaby, our flights are booked and we’re coming to get you! We’ll be there on December 3rd! Holy, it feels real now. I’m so nervous for the possibility of yet another disappointment I could puke, but so hopeful I’m excited. This works for people, I’ve seen it! 73-days away. Ahhhh the anticipation!!

I’ve got so many emotions running through me right now.  I’m so eager, I’m so hopeful, I’m so optimistic, I’m so nervous, I’m so vulnerable and I’m seriously…grieving. I think my grief is from throwing in the towel and the helpless feeling I have about giving up the ‘biological dream.’ Hello again grief, I didn’t miss you.  This stupid grief feeling has been difficult to shake since we booked our tickets, maybe because we are really doing this?  I’ve been trying to remind myself that these are exciting times, I should be happy and looking forward to the future, not grieving what we can’t have, that ship has sailed. Honestly though, it’s just so freakin’ hard sometimes. Some days when I’m stuck in a pity- party, I just want to stomp my feet and scream like a 3-year old “THIS ISN’T FAIR!”

I know screaming like a 3-year old will fix nothing, but for a few seconds it might give me some relief, because this sh*t isn’t fair…. why me, why us?! On some days when I’m feeling exceptionally vulnerable to the reality of our infertility the negative thoughts hit me and the word “never” distorts my logical thinking… We’ll never be parents, We’ll never know what it’s like to experience the unconditional love that comes with children, We’ll never have a daughter with my brown curly hair, We’ll never have a child that has my husband’s beautiful green eyes, We’ll never look at our children and question which physical traits were inherited from Nick and which were from me, We’ll never know what it’s like to look at a child that is 100% our combined genetic material…………….the ‘nevers’ go on and on.

Luckily, somehow I’m always able to pull myself out of these icky negative thoughts, somedays it takes longer than others, but I always step out of my pity-party at some point and remember….DNA doesn’t make family, We’ll get our family one way or another if we just keep moving forward, We’ll make fantastic parents- it doesn’t matter where our children come from! We have so much love and support, our children will be so loved too, We can do this, we will do this! I am strong and we are stronger together!

See, that’s a lot of thoughts swarming around in my brain. Thank god for therapy. 😊

Uffta. Back to reality. What if this actually (like, actually-actually) works and we get pregnant? How crazy-cool would that be?! Someone would definitely need to pinch me.

This chapter of our journey begins on Nicks 34th birthday, AKA: November 30, 2018. Last year for Nick’s birthday we were riding dune buggies in the Dominican Republic now this year, we’ll be hopping a flight to hopefully make a baby, what a lucky guy. Anyways, we fly from Minneapolis to Vienna, Austria, and we land on December 1st. Our frozen double-donor embryo transfer will be on December 3, 2018! *Happy dance* 😊 😊 😊

The process of transferring a double-donor embryo: As I said in a previous post, the transfer of the embryo only takes a few minutes, it’s an extremely quick and painless process. In-and-out. It’s the days of prepping my body before and after that take work because everything must be timed precisely. At the start of my next period (in October) I will begin taking birth control, the birth control pills are meant to manipulate my cycle for my body to be ready on December 3rd. With an embryo transfer, there is only a small window where an embryo can nestle warmly into the uterus to create a baby, and that’s around cycle day 20-22 (*based on a 28 day menstrual cycle).  Therefore, the point of taking the birth control is to sync up my cycle so that December 3rd is smack dab between cycle days 20-22. The doctor tells me when to stop and/or re-start the pills. This means I might go 5-6 weeks without having a period due to the birth control. I follow the doctors lead and trust that he knows what he’s doing.

The second medication I’ll be taking is estradiol, which starts on day 2 of my transfer cycle, so probably around November 14th-ish. This is taken orally 3x per day. It’s a tiny little pill, but it packs a punch. By punch, I mean a nice array of side effects that are highly unpleasant, at least for me they are for me. The goal of this medication is to thicken my uterine lining to make it like a 5-star hotel suite for our embryo.

The third and last medication that I have to take is progesterone, I start taking this 5-days before my transfer, ~November 28th-ish. Progesterone can either be taken vaginally by inserting (4) nickel sized dissolvable egg-shaped tablets into the V 2x per day, or a 1x per day injection into your butt cheek. (Side note: Ladies, imagine the over the counter vaginal pills for YI, the progesterone suppositories are just like those, but 4 times worse because its 4 of them at ONE TIME. So basically, gross.) Without hesitation, I opted to take the 1x per day injection, plus I have 5 bottles left from our IVF.  If I get pregnant, I’ll have to do these daily until I hit 12-weeks.

We can either order our medications from Europe (the scripts are so hard to read) or we can ask my doctor here to write the prescriptions so it’s more convenient to get. I have an appointment on September 21st with the doctor we saw for our second opinion at OGI Maple Grove. I’m hoping she will agree to re-write the prescriptions for us, but if she doesn’t, that’s fine, at least we tried 😊.

We also need my lining check (done by a vaginal ultrasound) on cycle day-11. Likely to occur around November 23rd.  We are hoping that the second opinion doctor will also agree to do the ultrasound for us (fingers crossed).  The results of the ultrasound get sent to the doctor in the Czech, either by me or the clinic who performs the ultrasound, they said it didn’t matter. The only nerve-wracking thing is that if my lining is not where it should be on the ultrasound (millimeter thickness wise, they are looking for 8-10mm) the transfer could be moved or cancelled. I’ve never had an issue with my lining so I’m not that concerned, but wouldn’t that suck? At least we would get a trip out of the deal.

So that is it, I only have to take 3 medications (and do an ultrasound) for the embryo transfer, its easy-peezy as long as I remember to take and do everything correctly. I have to take the progesterone based on the Czech time, so 7-hours ahead of Minnesota until pregnancy is confirmed. Yikes…..I always get confused with time zones so I think I’ll let this be in Nick’s wheelhouse.

When I was typing this, I remembered a funny story from when we did our IVF, I majorly messed up on 2 of the injections prompting mass hysteria and a frantic emergency call to the afterhours on-call nurse who returned our call 3-hours later informed us it was fine and not to panic. It wasn’t funny at the time, but now looking back its kind of hilarious. 😐 I can be so careless.

Hopefully nothing like that happens this time around!

In other news, it’s our first fur babies 4th birthday today!  Happy Birthday Dottie, we love you!!!

Xo,

Tessa

Dottie Bday

Next post: Prepping: Mind, body, spirit.

Realtalk

Yesterday marks one year since our failed IVF cycle. If it would have worked, I would be snuggling a 3-month old babe right now. It blows my mind to think about how different our life would be if it had worked out..like, would we have been able to tear it up at Bruno Mars last night if we had a 3-month old?? Doubt it, because we would have been too tired. (Silver linings 😊).

Honestly though, over the last several years of infertility, I’ve experienced a ridiculous variety of emotions, ranging from crippling sadness to pure joy when I hear a friends pregnancy announcement, thrilled and excited but also gutted and jealous when my friends give birth, and irritated yet curious when my friends spend countless hours talking about their child(ren).

Infertility is a bitch.

I don’t want whoever is following my blog to think that these last several years have ONLY been about infertility, because they most certainly haven’t. I’ve experienced some of my favorite memories, traveled to gorgeous places and met some of the greatest people during this time. I wouldn’t take it back for anything, you know, except for a baby. This journey has shaped me into a much different person then I was 4 years ago, hell, a MUCH different person then I was even one year ago! I’m much more patient, open, and understanding. I’m genuinely interested in people, because people equal stories and you never know a person’s story until you actually talk to them (or read their blog, haha). I’m much more empathetic and compassionate, I become teary-eyed at everything that is even remotely sad/happy or exciting, it’s pathetic. Infertility has changed me.

I’ve experienced a ton related to infertility and without these (shitty) experiences I would have never started this blog. Thank you to everyone who has been following along so far, for those who sent me private messages, texted/called or stopped by my cube at work to offer support- it’s SO appreciated. A super-duper big thank you to anyone who has passed along my story to someone who doesn’t know me. Since starting my blog 17 days ago, there has been over 700 visitors and over 2,000 views to this blog! Holy-S, that’s incredible! That means that people are talking, learning and sharing about infertility!!! How amazing is that? I feel so humbled. Please keep spreading the word about infertility!

THANK YOU!

Tessa

 dont-drink-the-water

Next post: ‘Lets make it official’ ~ my uterus hopefully meets its new roommate soon!

Eight/Nineteen

I’ve always considered myself an intuitive person and I believe the universe does bizarre things that cannot be explained. Tonight, something totally bizarre happened. The date ‘8/19′ has been sliding its way into my life for the last year and a half. It catches my eye frequently, most the time it in date form, and other times in decimal or time. It is ALWAYS there. 8/19, 8:19, $8.19, 81.9 degrees, you name the variation, its caught my eye. A few weeks ago I bought some snacks at the gas station, total bill $8.19. Last week I was reading a report, time of incident was 8:19am. Today I was looking up a date of birth and poof there it was again- 8/19/19**!

I’ve honestly asked to myself on multiple occasions if this is just a crazy coincidence or if there is bigger meaning. I was just starting to write my next post about the date 9/11 (my least favorite day) when I remembered 8/19, so I googled it: “8/19” and the first thing that populated was a calculator… cool, no biggy.

Then the second thing that popped up was a bible verse. I am not, nor have I ever been a religious person. I know very little about organized religion or the bible. But this gave me goosebumps. I have no idea what the rest of the verses around it say but it just…struck a chord…

Romans 8:19 New International Version (NIV)

19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.

What on earth? I got chills all over my body. I immediately hollered to Nick who says he never remembers me telling him about my constant run-ins with the 8/19 date. Irritating, but I know he has selective hearing and this probably wasn’t a priority 😉. I’ll let it slide. We spent the next 15-minutes googling different dates and reading those verses to see if they were all like that. None of them were remotely close. I still can’t explain it, was this meant for me to google? What does it mean?

The universe is wild.

Did she say…. “Snowflake” adoption?

Yes. You heard me. I said it, I said snowflake adoption (AKA: embryo donation), sounds weird, right?  Everything about infertility is weird and..confusing…annnd uncomfortable, but it’s also really fascinating and science is sooooo incredible.

I hope you’re curious to learn more about embryo donation and maybe you even looked it up after my last post (which would be awesome if you did 😊), but honestly, we knew very little about it until 4 months ago. We originally heard the term ‘embryo donation’ when our IVF failed, one of the options our Reproductive Endocrinologist (fertility doctor) gave us was to get on their clinic’s embryo donation waitlist. They estimated a wait time of 2-3 years until we would be up on the list.  My first thought was “holy shit that’s a long wait, I hope we don’t need this route” and my second thought was “yes, put us on there right away.” Like I said, we didn’t know a thing about embryo donation at that point, but we figured why not, we were feeling completely defeated by our failed IVF and the reality of experiencing pregnancy and childbirth was slipping farther and farther away. We’d do whatever.

So, what exactly is embryo donation and why would a couple donate? Embryo donation is the process of a 3rd party receiving a fertilized embryo from another family (or person) who has previously undergone IVF. *Note: embryos are a cluster of cells that form when egg and sperm meet, they have been fertilized and are in the beginning stages of making a baby. These blobs of cells are stored in a cryofreeze bank between days 3-6 of fertilization and they remain frozen until the family is ready for pregnancy.  A large majority of couples who undergo IVF have more embryos than they need. For example: a couple completes IVF and at the end of their treatment they have 6 beautiful embryos with a high likelihood of resulting in 6 potential babies. The couple wishes to only have two children, and now have 4 perfectly healthy embryos remaining. They have three options for their remaining 4 embryos: 1) They can destroy them 2) They can donate them to science for research 3) They can donate them to other couples facing infertility to give them a chance at life. Side note: in the US it is illegal to receive any payment for embryos and is punishable by jailtime and major fines, hence the ‘donation’ part.

Had we successfully undergone IVF and had remaining embryos I would of, without a doubt, donated our remaining embryos to another couple. I do understand this could be a complicated decision for some families, since if the embryo donation is successful you literally have a biological child in the world being raised by another family. Decisions, decisions. I wish this was a decision we were stuck making.

Anyways, the great thing about embryo donation is that the donors have options, lots of options, and recipients have options too. The first and most important option for the donor and recipients are if they want to do an open or closed adoption. Most fertility clinics (like ours) will offer in-house embryo adoption with embryos created at their facility, but the catch with that is that it 100% anonymous. The donor relinquishes their right to pick a recipient, and the recipient gives up the right to know their donors. Obviously with the advancements of DNA websites like ancestry.com or 23andMe there is a high chance that one day the families will unintentionally connect, essentially making the anonymity pointless. There are also a ton of registries that donors, recipients and donor conceived children can search if they wish. My point is, the fertility clinic themselves will not (even when requested by both parties) release specific personal information about each other. The recipients receive just a health history on the donors, that’s it.

When we first learned about adopting embryos, we thought our only option was to go through our fertility clinic and wait the 2-3 years. About 4 months ago I stumbled upon an “embryo donation support group” and joined. What I learned in there blew my mind. There were other ways to adopt an embryo(s) besides the insanely long waitlist through our clinic. Who woulda’ thought there were other options, our clinic never mentioned other embryo donation programs to us, ever. Turns out there are a few websites and Facebook groups that allow a platform for donor/recipients to meet and match privately. Sayyyy whaaa???

In July after experiencing our third failed donor sperm IUI, we decided it was time to do this embryo donation stuff. We made a recipient profile and posted it in three places: Miracles Waiting, National Registry for Adoption (NRFA) and a Facebook group. I’d describe these websites like a souped-up dating website, recipients really need to sell themselves to find the perfect match, I mean, lots of writing about yourselves/lifestyles/family/etc. The goal is to paint a picture of what your family life would look like. We spent hours creating our profile and finding pictures that best represent us and our family. It was exhausting but we were hopeful we would get matched quickly. Fingers crossed!

As recipients, we were also able to scroll through donor’s profiles and message them if we felt like we’d be a good match. There were a few things we were looking for in our donors: 1) a family who wanted an ‘open’ adoption because I feel it is important for our future children to know their biological family and siblings 2) a family with more than 1-embryo because ideally, we would love at least 2 children, and 3) a family with similar socio-political views.

Looking at donor profiles was overwhelming, there were a ton of donors that absolutely did not meet our criteria and there was a handful that did. During the first week, I messaged quite a few that I felt met our criteria, and I heard nothing back from any of them that first week. Super disappointing. Then the second week went by and we got ZERO responses or messages again…I couldn’t help but think “what is wrong with us that no one wanted to even respond? I mean, we aren’t that bad, are we?”

Then one day on week 3 I got an email back from a couple in Florida that caught my attention on week 1. Whoohoo! Finally, a message back! They had 3 embryo’s they were looking to donate, we exchanged back and forth emails over the next few weeks to learn more about each other, they were a great match for us! We reached out to our 3rd party coordinator at our fertility clinic and she discussed the process of transferring embryos if we adopted privately, they had no issues with this and talked us through what we needed to do. Super exciting, this might happen! Right before I ended the phone call, the coordinator cautioned me about the storage facility where our potential donors embryos were stored. She informed me to expect a wait of about 6-8 months and spend around $3k to get the embryos released in our name. Are you serious lady…part of the draw to embryo adoption is the price, its much less then traditional IVF because all the leg work is already done and since the embryos are “donated” there shouldn’t be any costs for them.

So, I did what I always do, I logged onto the trusty internet and started my research to verify what she just told me. Damnit. She was right! This storage facility had a bad reputation for extorting money from couples that have already been through so much to start their family. The storage facilities fee was $2,700 for FDA testing on the embryos and required the donors to jump through multiple hoops for them to donate their embryos. This was not typical and other storage facilities do not require this testing, it was 100% a money maker for them. Disgusting. How can they get away with that?

Throughout the last 4 months, I loosely followed a support group for international fertility treatments that I had joined when we learned about embryo donation. It sounded slightly sketchy because it was so affordable (unlike in the US), so I didn’t give it much research, but it sounded interesting. After learning about the storage facility and their sheepish ways, I felt so fed up with the constant money hungry companies that take advantage of people here in the US, so I emailed a highly acclaimed fertility clinic the Czech Republic (Reprofit in BRNO, Czech). Less than 24-hours later I had a response from the coordinator educating us on their double-donor embryo program.

The double-donor embryo program in Europe is different than what can be offered in the US because of differing reproduction laws. To my knowledge, there are no fertility clinic in the US that can pre-create double-donor embryos to be offered as an option. In the US, the recipients would be required to fund the entire IVF procedure to use double-donor embryos. Each country in Europe is different, but in the Czech Republic, donors are screened and vetted well before they are eligible for donations and their financial incentive is very good if they qualify. A double-donor cycle means that the embryos were created by TWO separate donors, an egg donor and a sperm donor, they do not know each other, and the egg and sperm met in a petri dish to create that wonderful cluster of cells that will hopefully result in a baby! Donations are all done anonymously which is part of the law there. The recipients of the embryos get the following information about the donor: Age, weight, height, hair/eye color.                                                  That. Is. It.

Nick and I sat down over dinner at our favorite ramen noodle joint and created a pro’s and con’s list for both. The biggest con (and only) with international was that our children would not have the opportunity to know their biological parents. I can’t help but question if they will feel cheated, lost, and confused about their roots. Would this damage them for life? If it did, we would be fully responsible. Ugh. That’s huge.

On the flip side, we found a lot of pros: in the Czech our embryo would be genetically tested, giving us a higher chance of a successful pregnancy. It’s about a fraction of the cost of doing it in the US and…we get to explore the Czech Republic and surrounding areas. Frozen embryo transfer (FET) is a procedure we need done in the Czech, it only takes a few minutes and it is very quick and easy-essentially like a yearly pap, but they stick an embryo in your uterus and we go on our way. We technically only NEED to me in the Czech for a few days, but its recommended to give some wiggle room in case there needs to be some adjustments to the days of transfer or if anything happens to the embryo during thaw.

We also crunched numbers:

 Estimated open embryo adoption in the US cost breakdown:

~$2,700 for FDA testing fee for embryos

~$500 for attorney fees for legal contract for “transfer of property” *Recipient pays donor’s legal fees too.

~$600 for storage fees

~$250 for shipping fee of embryos

~$1,500 for medication for embryo transfer

~$5,000 minimum for frozen embryo transfer

Estimated total: $10,550

Estimated double-donor embryo transfer in the Czech Republic cost breakdown:

~ $1,600 for embryo/transfer/all procedures

~$200 for medication

~$2000 for 2-round trip flights

~$400 for car rental/7 days

~$600-$800 for Airbnb/7 days

~$500 for food

Estimated total: $5,300

That night, Nick and I talked long and hard about what direction we wanted to go. The open adoption was not as important to Nick, honestly, he said he could take it or leave it, but he supported whatever I wanted to do.  I had a complete internal struggle, going back and forth between here or there, my preference changed by the hour. It was exhausting, not only for me, but for Nick, because he had to deal with my indecisiveness.

That next week I had an appointment with my therapist, I talked to her about my fears of doing an anonymous double-donor cycle and my fear of our future children hating us for bringing them into the world that way. She helped me discover that I naturally go to the most negative outcome. That is what infertility has trained me to do. I constantly doubt that something like this could work for us, or that even one day we will get to be parents. Now I’m worried about the future and if our non-existent children will hate us? Maybe I am crazy. No, wait, I’m just infertile.

Nick and I discussed it and discussed it again and I changed my mind a few times back and forth, but I’m confident that choosing to pursue double-donor embryos in the Czech IS our best option. I had to send an email to the couple in Florida to let them know, they hadn’t officially picked us yet, but it was obvious that we were likely going that direction. She said they understood and to let them know if we choose not to take this route.

I completed an initial consult with the coordinator in the Czech and sent off all fertility records (over 150 pages) for the doctor to review to see if we qualify for the program. During the initial consult we were asked about donor characteristics that were important to us, so I clicked all the characteristics that match ours. I also added that I would be willing to waiver on some of those things if they could find us a curly haired donor. Sperm or Egg, I don’t care. Both Nick and I have long genes of curly hair and I’ve always daydreamed about a child with curly locks. Since the recipients get very little information about the donor, we are putting alot of faith into the clinic. Luckily they have endless amounts of personal info about the donors they sift through to fit our criteria.

One week later we received an email that said the following:

“Dear Tessa,

I‘m happy to offer you 1 genetic tested embryo with following characteristics :

Egg donor – 27 age; 0+; eyes: brown / hair: light brown; 165 cm / 60 kg ×

Sperm donor 21 age; 0+; eyes: green-brown / hair: brown; 184 cm / 75 kg)

If you agree so Dr. prepare you the treatment plan.”

*Insert happy dance*

On August 23rd, 2018, we agreed, we accepted this embryo. Our potential son or daughter. They are on ice waiting for us to fly over and plop them in my uterus. We are so excited and even a little hopeful. I honestly haven’t felt hopeful in a while, and the last time I allowed myself to it ended in a near panic attack after our 3rd failed donor IUI. It’s hard for me to let my guard down in order for hope creep in, but it always does. Sometimes I feel like this infertility journey is a dream, like I’m living in someones  reality that isn’t mine. I don’t understand why it was Nick and I that had to have a story like this. It isn’t fair.

The through of flying to Europe to do this treatment also has me scared and anxious. What if this doesn’t work? How many times do we give this a try? How can I increase my chances of this working? What will people think? Will people think this is morally wrong? What will our child think? What if our child hates us? How will we incorporate the way they were conceived into their life story? I mean, the questions never stop coming.

So, its been 12 days since we accepted our embryo and 5 of those days we spent hiking in the Porcupine Mountains with some friends. I haven’t had alot of time to digest it all, but I AM excited.

This week’s plan is to book our flights to Europe! The clinic is flexible on the dates because part of the process is using birth control pills that control my cycle, so once our flights are booked they give us the official plan. We are thinking of going in November or December. If it were up to me only, we would be there tomorrow, but Nick has to work, and September and October are very busy for him. Boo, but what’s a few more months anyways?

Pretty crazy right? We’ve got a lot of things coming up in the next few months. It should be an interesting journey.

xo,IMG-1704

Tessa

Photo taken at Lake of the Clouds in Porcupine Mountain, UP Michigan.

Infertility, you nasty little dream crusher.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh infertility…sigh.

Hi, I am 1 in 4. I’ve decided that since I always have a million things spinning around in my head, I should start a blog. Hopefully by sharing our always changing and never boring fertility story, I can provide support to others in a similar situation, and if that doesn’t happen, I’ll just provide support to myself by writing, win-win.

I suppose it’s important to set the stage for why I’m writing an infertility blog, after all, to get to this point one must assume I’ve been through some sh*t, because let me tell you, I most certainly have!

It all started off in the beautiful summer of June 2014, We were two newlyweds in love, not even trying for a baby and shockingly found out we were pregnant when I became sick for multiple days in a row. We thought, wow that was easy, we weren’t even trying! We rushed to the book store and picked out as many baby education books as we could find. We scheduled our first ultrasound and I made sure to do everything right, eat the right foods, sleep a full 8 hours, drink lots of water, take prenatal, blah blah blah. We scheduled our first ultrasound at 9 weeks. We were so excited to go in, we even had our camera out to take a photo of the ultrasound. During the ultrasound we were told there was a baby, but no heartbeat. Baby measured only 6 weeks and had stopped growing. We were shocked. I had been very sick with morning sickness for the last 4 weeks. It didn’t make sense. Why would I have a miscarriage?

October of 2014: We began trying again, blissfully unaware of what the future would hold for us we figured, “hey, we both really do want a baby, let’s give this a go, it shouldn’t be that hard, last time we got pregnant without even trying.” Fast forward to 7 months later.

May 2015: We found out we were pregnant again. We realized that 7 months took us way longer than we expected, but figured the chances of a second miscarriage are pretty slim, and that we were actually going to be parents! So exciting!

June 2015: We had our first ultrasound, everything looked fine, baby was a few days off in measurement but the doctors said it was nothing to worry about. Nick and I figured, 8 ½ weeks was longer then we made it the first time, so that had to be a good sign. At this appointment, the doctor had meet with a lady who handed us a giant stack of “what to expect when you’re expecting” type books and congratulated us on our pregnancy.

At this appointment, I requested a second ultrasound because my heart was telling me that this would help ease my anxiety from our first loss. The doctor told us we could do that, but it would likely be an out-of-pocket expense, not covered by our insurance. We agreed to pay whatever it would cost to put my mind at ease. Two weeks later we had our next ultrasound scheduled.

July 2015: Nervous and excited, we both went in optimistic. The ultrasound started and the lab tech was silent. We knew what we were looking for, a flickering heartbeat because we had seen it two weeks prior and knew what it looked like. This time it wasn’t there. The ultrasound lady looked at us with tears in her eyes and said “I’m sorry guys, I don’t see the heartbeat.” She told us to hang tight and the doctor would be in to talk with us, she quickly left the room. We cried. It was terrible.

The next day I was scheduled for a D&C procedure. I’m grateful they got me in so quickly. I hated my body at that point and wanted this baby inside of me out, immediately. The doctor who did the procedure agreed to send the tissue in for testing even though he said they don’t typically send it in for testing until 3 miscarriages.

September 2015: We got the results of the tissue testing. The results were that our baby boy, yes, they tell you the gender, had an unbalanced translocation, which was not compatible with life. We were referred to a genetic counselor, who took our blood and told us to wait.

October 2015: We found out that my husband was a carrier of a balanced translocation (BT). BT is condition where part of the chromosome breaks off and attaches to another part of a chromosome. 1 in 560 people have a BT and it causes no health-related issues to a person who has it. The ONLY issue with a BT is that it can cause repeated miscarriages and fertility problems. Basically, what happens is a piece of the chromosomes break off and attach to places they shouldn’t, causing it to be “unbalanced”. This news was gut-wrenching. We were referred to a fertility clinic and given 4 options: 1) Continue to try naturally with the knowledge we will likely have more miscarriages 2) IVF with genetic screening 3) Adopt 4) Chose to live childless.

We opted to continue trying naturally. We agreed to try for a year and a half, then consider IVF if we didn’t get pregnant. At that point, neither of us thought we would have to venture down the IVF road, that just seemed so far-fetched and not something we would ever have to do. (ha!)

Fast forward through the entire 2016 year: Nothing was happening, no pregnancies. Awful. The waiting was excruciating. We agreed to consult with a doctor at a different clinic to try some clomid medication to hopefully create some more eggs to give us better odds. We attempted a few months of that and nothing happened, unless you consider the hormonal weight gain, moodiness, sleepless nights and acne as something…

April 2017: I couldn’t handle it anymore. I wanted to be a mom. I didn’t want to wait another few months to see if we’d get pregnant, I’d already decided that was a crapshoot and a waste of time. I begged Nick to go in, he agreed it was time. We consulted with our fertility clinic. We went in hoping they would tell us we could do an IUI. For those of you who are fortunate enough to not know, a IUI is a less invasive procedure then IVF and typically doesn’t take loads of injections or surgical egg removal.

During the initial appointment, we were told the likelihood of IUI working for us was no greater then continuing to try on our own. IVF with Pre-Genetic Screening was our best option. I’m not sure if people are aware, but IVF in Minnesota is not covered by most insurance and runs upwards of $25k+. Holy Shit. That is insane. The other options remained to either continue trying natural, adopt or go childless. None of those seemed like good options.

Side note and rant: All the people who say “just adopt” that’s the most insensitive, asshole-ish thing you could say to someone with infertility. Do you know that adoption can take many years (3-5) before a birth mother picks you and on average $40k? Unless your someone who has adopted due to infertility and has personal experience, DO NOT EVER SAY THOSE WORDS! Rant over.

We chose to go forward with the IVF. Luckily, we are blessed with amazing, generous family, and decent jobs to help us fund this astronomically expensive dream we were trying to fulfill. After all, they too want to be grandparents and have seen firsthand the heartbreak and frustration infertility has caused us and them, over the last few years.

August 2017: We finally get to start our IVF treatment. We are so hopeful and excited, this is actually happening! We get to be parents! Maybe we will have twins! We figured, for sure this is going to work, how couldn’t it? We are young, healthy individuals, we deserve to be parents, we will make great parents!

So ensues multiple weeks of daily injections, several clinic visits which include nonstop poking and prodding at my V by various nurses, oral medication, bloatedness, being uncomfortable, crabbiness, emotions, etc. etc..

September 2017: “Egg retrieval day” comes, they collect 11 eggs. The number wasn’t what I was hoping, but it gives us 11 potential chances for a baby. For those of you who are new to the IVF terms, egg retrieval is when they put a woman under sedation to surgically remove all of the eggs from her ovaries. The IVF medication helps create tons of mature eggs, unlike a normal monthly cycle where there is only 1 mature egg. Hence feeling bloated and comfortable.

Day 1 report after egg retrieval: 9/11 embryos fertilize. This is promising.

Day 3, 6/9 embryos look good enough to be sent off for genetic testing. Not a great number but surely one of those embryos will be genetically normal.

We are given the green light for our transfer day, this will happen on Day 5, which was so exciting. (Note for you fertile people: Transfer day is when the put the embryos back inside my uterus to hopefully make me pregnant.) Our biggest concern was if we were going to put 1 or 2 embryos in……did we really want twins? F-yea we did, 2 it is!

September 11, 2017: We walk into the fertility clinic ready to transfer our embryos into my body. My poor body has been through so much, now I’m going to reward it with a baby. We were so excited. When we arrived, the receptionist checked us in, we hardly had time to sit down before we were called to come back. We walked back into a back office I’d never been before. I looked at Nick and knew the office wasn’t where they would put us if we were transferring our embryos back today. We sat down with the embryologist who explained she had just gotten our results back, we had zero embryos to transfer. All were chromosomally bad, not just with the BT, but other things too, they were a mess. She apologized and told us if we tried again, we would likely have a similar outcome. The rest of what she said I honestly can’t remember. I blacked out. The embryologist told us to call the clinic when we were ready to discuss different options.

We drove home in silence. We cried. We held each other. We cried some more. We texted our families and friends instead of calling because calling was too difficult. We were heartbroken. We were in shock. We were so sure that IVF was our answer, heck, we were even willing to gamble $25k on it.

We had an outpouring of love from our closest friends, many stopped over that day and left cards, flowers, candy, beer, and even chipotle to help ease our sorrows. It worked, they made our day just a little bit brighter because of their thoughtful gestures. Thank you, friends, I’ll never be able to tell you how much those simple things meant to us on that day.

October 2017: We mustered up the courage to walk back into our fertility clinic for our “WTF” appointment. The WTF appointment is known in the infertility world as the- what the f**k went wrong appointment, where the doctor talks about all your results. Luckily, he cut right to the chase, we didn’t want a bunch of BS pushed our way. He said he wasn’t impressed with my egg quality, and that paired with BT was likely our culprit for our fertility struggles. He reviewed options with us. All of them sucked. We left saying we would think about it and be back.

November 2017: We attended the RESOLVE conference here in MN. The RESOLVE conference is a conference to get information on all things fertility related. We learned A LOT about different options, including donors and more about adoption. It was so helpful. We left feeling impowered and hopeful.

January 2018: We decided it was time to dip our toes into the land of donor sperm and hope that maybe my eggs weren’t as bad as our doctor has suggested. We consulted with our fertility clinic and they gave us the green light to pick a donor and order-up the “specimen (sample)”. We stressed about picking a donor, we thought it would be so tough. Reality was, it wasn’t, we went with someone who had similar features to Nick, it was a done deal. This particular donor we picked was a hot ticket, his “samples” were nearly sold out. Side note: Donors from most facilities are only allowed to have 20 births before they are “sold out” the remaining samples are then set aside for additional siblings to families who already have children from this donor, so the open public can no longer pick them. We also figured this guy’s swimmers must be good if he’s almost sold out…we hoped they’d be good enough to fertilize my (possibly crappy) eggs.

The plan was to do IUI with donor sperm, again, IUI is a simple fertility treatment. Think of a turkey baster, that’s essentially an IUI. The procedure itself is super easy and takes about 1-2 minutes, then you lay there for another 10 to hopefully get all the swimmers where they need to be. I have no idea what the success rates are with donor sperm IUIs, but our clinic informed us that we could only do 6 tries with them. 6 tries seemed like plenty, plus, its freakin’ expensive. A “sample” (we choose to do an open donor, I’ll discuss that in a different post) costed around $1,250 after shipping. Our insurance doesn’t cover IUI because we have met our $10k lifetime max last year, so roughly each IUI would cost about $3k with everything-that is ONE try for ONE month. I’m not sure if you are a math whiz, but that means if we tried unsuccessfully for 6 rounds, it would be another $18k out of pocket. Jesus, I’m buying a lottery ticket, my odds might be better.

Anyways, long story short, donor sperm IUI #1 was a bust. It didn’t work, but neither Nick or I were surprised, I don’t think either of us had our hopes up. Bye-bye $3k. We had previously decided that if it time didn’t work, we would take 4 months off. We had a trip planned to Europe for my 30th birthday in May and I planned to drink my weight in wine. 😊 Gulp Gulp.

May 2018: We returned from our Europe trip ready to crank out the 5 more donor IUIs we had planned, we were both feeling excited. Unfortunately we had to pick a different donor because our previous one had met his quota, of course.  At the end of May we had attempt #2. That also was a big FAT FAIL. This time it hurt a bit more, I had convinced myself nobody gets pregnant on IUI #1 anyways, the second fail made me a bit more nervous. Ugh.

June 2018: Try #3, we figured this one would for sure work. With IUI’s they give you medication (oral and injections) so you produce more follicles that hold eggs, it increases your odds of multiples, but not by much, again, we figured if we have multiples so be it. My body has always responded well to the medication, this time I had 4 mature follicles and the donor sperm numbers were the best we’d had yet. I convinced myself during the two week wait (the time between the procedure and when you see if you’re actually prego) I had every early pregnancy symptom there was, cramping, frequent urination, sore boobies, etc. etc.. I told myself I wasn’t going to take a pregnancy test at home before I had blood work (beta test) at my clinic, I was going to wait…Yeah right, I’m the most impatient person there is… I did shock myself when I waited until the day before my scheduled beta to pee on a stick.

And then I saw it… it.. it was negative. Stark white. Not even a squinter. “Fucking fuck!” I screamed as loud as I could followed by a stream of tears that seemed to have no end. I was on the verge of having a panic attack, I could feel it in my chest, I knew this feeling. I had my first panic attack in April of 2017 which landed me in the ER because I seriously thought I was dying. They prescribed me some calming pills to take if I ever felt one coming on again. I’ve maybe taken about 4 total since that time, and this day I definitely needed one. That stupid little pill helped, but boy did the tears keep flowing.

I decided I wasn’t even going to go in for my blood work the next day, I hated that clinic, in that moment.  I no called no showed for my 7:00am blood appointment the next day, so unlike me. The nurse called me that afternoon to see why I missed, I told her I already knew the test was negative and stopped taking my medication. She apologized and told me to call back when my period started. I told her, between sobs, I had zero intentions of doing another IUI again.  The tears flowed on and off for days, I had just enough grit to keep it together to go to work and interact with other humans. When I was at home, I was a wildcard, I’d cry over everything. It was awful. Thank god for my freakin’ awesome therapist who has helped me through all these tough times. (Shout out to Brooke Flemming from Rum River Counseling Center, if any,one needs to find a therapist that specializes in infertility I highly suggest searching here:   https://resolve.org/support/professional-services-directory/).

Of course, I got my period, a nice reminder of how much that cycle, and ones before it didn’t work. I never called the clinic when I got my period. Nick and I both agreed that continuing to do DS- IUI was not worth it for my mental state or our bank account, we’d have to re-evaluate our route. Was it time to start the adoption process?

July 2018: I’ve stuck to my guns. I have not wavered on doing another IUI cycle with my eggs, these things suck, its pointless. We figured we would get a second opinion at another fertility clinic to see if they would do things differently. During this time, I also utilized facebook support groups big time, I remember seeing a group specifically for embryo donation, so I joined. I decided it was time to do more investigating on what this “embryo donation” thing is all about.

We had our second opinion, the first thing she said when she sat down was “Well, you’ve both certainly been through a lot.” She reviewed our history with us and discussed options to do another DS-IUI with them, stating she would tweak the medications a bit, but that was it. She also discussed getting tested for endometriosis, which would require surgery. She informed me that none of the ultrasounds or tests I have done could have caught endometriosis if I have it…hmmm why has no one else ever suggested this? Maybe I’ll need to get this surgery, after all, endometriosis can cause fertility problems too. Anyways, we asked her about embryo donation and she informed us she has had a lot of families choose this route, we asked her if she has worked with people who have done it internationally, and she had. International embryo donation, sweet…

July/August 2018: We jump into full force into the world of adopting an embryo also known as “Snowflake” adoption…..

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