Medications Arrive and Repeating Numbers!

7.3.18

Medications arrived today! I woke up excited, and again, in total shock that we are here, IN this process! Mark was in Vermont for one more day, so I knew I'd be home by myself when the infamous "med delivery" happened. The fertility pharmacy was very clear that I needed to be home from 7AM to 8PM, as the meds could arrive at any time during the day and would be on ice and need immediate refrigeration, and would require a signature.

I had a great plan that I would wake up and be productive immediately and just listen for the door when the UPS guy arrived. But I realized if I tried to (silver)smith in my studio, I may not be able to hear him/her through the noise. Mark, clever guy that he is, told me to leave a note on the door that said "I'm here! Knock and ring doorbell!!!" LOL. So I wrote one out on a bright orange post it note, and as I was opening the door to put it on the doorbell, I saw the UPS guy across the street at my neighbor's house! YAYYY! 


So, I know I've mentioned in some posts the symbolism behind flamingos for me and my TTC journey... but have I mentioned the way repeating numbers have been following me around for the past 2.5 years?! Well, they have. 11:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44.... you get the idea. I see them. All of them.  ALL. OF. THE. TIME. And whenever I ask for a "sign" (TTC sisters can relate, am I right?!) I will see them EVEN MORE! So, I see the UPS guy at my neighbor's house. It's 11:06AM. I text Mark, who tolerates my woo-woo love for all things "sign" related, and said "OMG HE IS AT THE NEIGHBOR'S AND IT'S 11:06! IF HE GETS HERE AT 11:11 I WILL PEE MY PANTS!!!!!" And I'm not even kidding you, it's forever on record in some UPS database in the cloud, I signed the signature pad for that massive, freaky-intimidating box of IVF medications at 11:11AM.  (Cue the fireworks and screenshotting my phone as quickly as possible and goosebumps ALL over my body and then general tipsy-shaking as I walked that giant package into my house, with the biggest, beaming smile on my face). 


So there you have it-- here we go, starting our cycle with a little nudge from the universe that it's all gonna be OK. <3


P.S. 
I've seen and read med delivery posts from other IVF sisters and I knew that this delivery was going to be big, and that a lot of emotions would come with it. I'm so thankful that I've found such a supportive and open community of women who have gone/are going through this process. I knew a lot more about what to expect when this delivery arrived, and it helped reduce the shock factor by a lot. Don't get me wrong, receiving MY OWN medications that will be injected into MY OWN body was still very overwhelming, but if I had never seen another woman's insights into this, it would have been a lot more intense. So thank you to all the brave women out there who also shared their experiences! My biggest hope is that my own post can be read by someone and help them the way others have helped me. <3

Our TTC Timeline (Short Version)

6.24.18

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Hey guys! Thanks so much for being here and reading along with our journey. Those of you who found us through The Whimsie, by making a donation, or participating in the maker auction, thank you so much for supporting Mark & I as we embark on this next step to add a baby to our family. Here is the short version of Mark & I's TTC (trying to conceive) timeline.

  • February 2016, we decide to 'try' for a baby, and get pregnant that month!
  • March 2016, abnormal symptoms, low HcG numbers, and an empty uterus
  • April 2016, after two trips to the emergency room, an ectopic pregnancy in discovered in my right fallopian tube.
  • April 2016, Methotrexate fails, three ER trips later, my right tube is removed in emergency surgery
  • May-August 2016, cannot try to conceive due to use of Methotrexate
  • November 2016, we get pregnant again (positive test December 10, 2016)
  • January 2017, no heartbeat found, we return for several follow-ups before finally confirming the hardest reality. The pregnancy is not viable.
  • January 2017,  I miscarry.
  • March 2018, on International Women's Day, I get my first period! We start TTC again.
  • July 2017, pregnant again! (August 20th positive pregnancy test)
  • August 2017, bio-chemical pregnancy is confirmed, period begins. :( 
  • September 2017, I start doing acupuncture
  • December 2017, Mark starts doing acupuncture; we both get hormone panels & Mark does an SA
  • January 2018, we begin meeting with specialists...
  • March-May 2018, we begin to research adoption, foster care, as well as IVF...
  • June 2018, we commit to IVF with confidence, after a lot of soul searching

So, here we are,  over 2 1/2 years after starting our journey to have a baby. We are now working with an excellent fertility center based in New England and with a Dr. whom we both have so much faith and trust in. He believes our best shot is to do In-vitro Fertilization, which comes at no small cost. In the state of Maine, no matter how good your health insurance, health insurance companies are not required to provide Fertility Treatment coverage. Mark & I were fortunate to have our diagnostic procedures covered, but we have zero treatment coverage. Our IVF cycle will cost $14,500, completely out of pocket. The medication is not included in that price. Medications will cost another $6,000. As you can imagine, this is not an expense that a young married couple plans on when starting a family. Instead of starting a college fund for our first child, we will be paying for invasive medical treatment just to create their life. We are scared and excited to start this process, and it doesn't come without its challenges. 

If you are able and inclined, head to my homepage and click the Donate button to help support Mark & I on this next step in our journey. Your support is appreciated more than you know. <3 

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IVF -- Here We Go!

6.19.18

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Today we got the official 'go ahead' from our RE (reproductive endocrinologist) to start IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) with my next cycle!

What that means is that when I start my next period in about a week, our IVF cycle will begin! 

We are beyond excited, and also terrified. We have waited over 2 1/2 years to get to this point. Our journey has included incredible highs (3 pregnancies!) all followed by individual, incredible lows (3 losses, all unique and different from each other). Since this is my very first blog post, I'll share our story below, followed by the details of our upcoming IVF cycle.

Our Story:

Mark and I got married in September of 2014, and had quite a lot going on at the time. I had just finished grad school, we had just moved to a different state (back to my home state of Maine, after spending almost 4.5 awesome years in Vermont), we were both accepting new jobs, and my clinical fellowship was beginning. It was A LOT at once. I was 26 and Mark was 30, so we didn't feel particularly compelled to try for babies right away. Both of our families were great about not pressuring us, as the thought just hadn't really crossed our minds to "rush" it. 

Well, in January of 2016, one house purchase, one clinical fellowship, and one dog later, baby fever struck. A friend of mine who had struggled with fertility planted the seed in my mind that "it could take a while, you never know," and so, we tried! In February of 2016, we "tried" for the first time, and wouldn't you know it, we GOT PREGNANT! We couldn't even believe our luck. Seriously! I'll never forget it. I remember feeling different; I knew I was pregnant. I had a physical and my doctor asked if I wanted her to take a test, and I said sure, and it was negative. I wasn't even PHASED, because I just KNEW that I was. And on St Patrick's Day, 2016, I saw two lines and the word 'pregnant' come across the screen, and couldn't believe it! I made a video of Mark finding the pregnancy test with my iPad. Little did I know how bittersweet that video would become. I'm so glad we still have that video though. A tangible memory of the first and only time in this journey where were completely innocent, completely naive, and completely full of hope. 

By April of 2016, after several emergency room trips, we learned that our non-viable pregnancy had been growing in my right fallopian tube, not in my uterus. After two methotrexate shots in the ER failed to treat it, we ended up in emergency surgery which required the removal of my right tube. I'd never been in such a deep, dark place. Our dreams were so quickly dashed, our innocence so quickly ripped away. In one month, we had gone from not even thinking about conceiving, to becoming pregnant, to losing it, all in a very traumatic and medically oriented way.

In August of 2016, we got the OK to try again. We got a positive pregnancy test in December of 2016, and we were SO EXCITED! "THIS IS IT!" we both thought. Our storm had passed, and we were read for our rainbow. Well, God had other plans for us, and the pregnancy ended in miscarriage at the end of January 2017. We were devastated. We learned the very lesson that infertility does not discriminate, and, the even harder pill to swallow, that one loss does not make you immune to another. We grieved, and it hurt like hell. 

In March of 2017, we were able to try again. We got a third positive pregnancy test in August of 2017, and, now cautious, guarded our hearts with a tentative excitement. It turned out that we had done well to be cautious, because only one week later, the bio chemical pregnancy ended. 

September of 2017, I started doing acupuncture with a doctor of chinese medicine. In November, Mark started going.

In December of 2017, Mark and I moved forward with hormone panels, and Mark had his half of the equation checked out.  Results revealed that I have some PCOS-like hormone presentation. Pairing that with the one fallopian tube, as well as some low morphology on Mark's end, it turns out we really do need some help to get and keep a successful pregnancy. 

In January of 2018 we started seeking help from Reproductive Endocrinologists, and in May of 2018 we determined IVF was the best route for us. 

Here comes the details about our upcoming cycle -- if you don't care to read the nitty-gritty details, *skip this paragraph*, but I know a lot of women going through this want to know these details, so here they are! 

Due to our losses and the history behind them, our RE has recommended PGS/PGD/PGI-T testing (basically genetic testing) of our embryos. This means that rather than the 5-8 week timeline of a traditional IVF cycle, ours will be more like 12 weeks.

I will be doing an Antagonist Cycle, which means after the 14-21 days of BC pills (weird right?) and as the days build off of each other, I will go from administering 1 shot per day, to 3 per day, into my own belly! Mark will not be giving me the injections because a.) he is terrified of needles, and b.) I am a control freak. :-D During the injections, I'll be heading to our clinic every 3 days for ultrasounds (not the kind on your belly, either....) and blood work for monitoring.

When the Doctor says the eggs are ready, we 'trigger', with a BIG shot into the fat of my bum-- not excited about that one!!!! We then head to an even bigger clinic for egg retrieval 36 hours later. Once the eggs are retrieved, instead of having them transferred back into my uterus at Day 5, like a traditional 'fresh transfer' IVF cycle, our embryos will be biopsied and examined for any abnormalities/chromosome deficiencies.

All the healthy embryos will given the green light to be frozen, and after I get one period, Mark, our RE, and I, will decide on the embryo we want to transfer! All others will be frozen so that, hopefully, in a few years, we can make another baby! It takes a couple of weeks (and more medications) to prep the body for a transfer, and more monitoring, but when we get the OK, we head to back to the big clinic for transfer and PRAY PRAY PRAY

What we have learned through this process as a couple is our commitment to each other and to having a family of our own, whatever it takes. What I have learned about myself as a woman is that I really am strong, and that I can persevere through anything. I know that my dedication to my family and children will be unwavering and fierce.  I love so much harder because of this journey. 

Although some may see today as a sad day, to us, those people don't understand our journey-- because we see today as a huge step forward -- and leap of faith -- toward our future baby. 

Thank you for reading!