Friday, April 29, 2016

My Story...

I'm linking up with one of my very favorites in the TTC Community, Caroline today.  We are helping to raise awareness on this last day of NIAW by sharing with you our stories.  Everyone's is different, but I will tell you, in the end, we are all after the same thing, a child of our own.  I urge you to read all of the stories you can because you will NEVER feel loneliness in your situation if you do.

You may already be familiar with the abridged version of our TTC Timeline which you can access here.  I keep it pretty up to date and when I finally filled in the results of our last cycle, I realized how long the thing was getting.  I thought it may not be a bad idea to do a detailed version of our timeline for anyone wondering or just for my own records & recollection.  Why I want to recall any of this is beyond me, but for whatever reason, I decided to spell it all out.

Joe and I were married on September 24, 2011.  I remember we talked about having kids right away and on our honeymoon I remember my period was late & I thought I might be pregnant already (jokes on me)!  I had NO IDEA what was in store for us when it came to baby making.  I started off by charting my cycles, I tried to temp, but it wasn’t working out so I quickly started using ovulation predictors within just a few months of us trying.  I had been off the Nuva Ring since June so I wasn’t really worried about any residual birth control in my system. 

We had been trying for about 7 months when, on April 1st 2012 we got into a bad motorcycle accident that left me with 5 broken bones in my leg, a major reconstructive knee surgery, & 8 months of physical therapy.  It was really hard to try naturally because my leg was broken and partially immobile for many months, but we kept at it as much as we could.  In August I had my annual exam and I told my gyno that we had been trying for just under a year at that time.  She suggested that the trauma from our accident could be the culprit, but also said that we could do some general bloodwork to make sure that I was ovulating and all of my levels were where they should be.  In November of 2012 I had the blood work done and all came back clear & normal.  Joe did his first semen analysis (normal) that December and by January 2013 I was having my first HSG.  My tubes were clear and I was happy and thought maybe that was all we needed.

By this time we had been trying naturally on & off for about 14 months.  We tried again for about 6 months and by the time summer ended it was once again, time for my annual exam.  By this time we had been trying for nearly 2 years.  My doctor is a midwife so she was unable to prescribe me anything but had me make an appointment with one of the OBGYNs in the office.  I never had such a terrible appointment as I did with her.  She asked me why I was there and I told her we had been trying for 2 years and I thought maybe I needed to be put on Clomid.  She looked at my charts and said, you’re ovulating so why would I put you on Clomid?  I was so mad at her tone & her attitude, she asked me what infertility doctor I wanted to go to and I told her just to send me to the one that they normally use.

We had our first RE appointment in October of 2013 and 2 weeks later I had my first laparoscopy where they found very minimal (Stage I/II) endometriosis which they cauterized.  We did our first IUI with Clomid in November 2013 a few weeks later which resulted in a BFN.  We immediately jumped into a second IUI cycle but we used injectables instead.  I ended up pregnant but it resulted in a chemical pregnancy (another word for early miscarriage) after 2 positive betas in early January 2014.  We really wanted to try a 3rd IUI but even the lowest doses of the follicle stimulating hormone was making my body produce way too many follicles (which I know now I have polycystic ovaries) & we had to cancel twice, by this time it was April 2014.  Typically for an IUI you only want 1 or 2 good size follicles, I was getting 18-20 so they suggested we move forward with IVF.

Because my clinic did IVF cycles in 8 week batches I had to wait about 90 days to have my first IVF cycle.  In early July we started our cycle and we had 34 eggs retrieved, 21 fertilize, and 7 make it to day-5 blastocysts.  We did 1 fresh transfer resulting in a BFN and 2 subsequent frozen transfers both resulting in BFN.  With each cycle we transferred only 1 embryo. 

By this time it was end of November 2014 and we were exhausted and heart broken by all that we had been through at that point.  We took a break, regrouped, went on a mini-getaway, and came up with a new plan.  We met our new doctor, Dr. Loret de Mola at Southern Illinois University in Springfield on January 20th, 2015 I had an endometrial biopsy and a hysteroscopy in early March.  The results of my biopsy showed I was missing Beta 3 Integrin Protein which some doctors believe aids in embryo implantation.  Because of this I had to be on a six week protocol of progestin so I was not able to do a cycle until July of 2014.  Once again we waited months to have a cycle.  This doctor put me on much lower doses of FSH because we figured my first doctor had way over stimulated me based on the fact that I had 34 eggs retrieved.  Our new doctor wanted to see only 10-15 eggs.  I was on the lowest does of FSH 50iu and the lowest dose of Menopur 75iu.  I only ended up with 10 eggs retrieved and only 5 of them were mature.  Only 2 had fertilized and we ended up transferring on day 3. 

We were shocked by the differences in our cycles, but we thought maybe this would be just what we needed.  Our cycle ended in BFN and we had no embryos to freeze.  The doctor had us come in and he told us he believed that my egg quality was bad and that we should start thinking about donor eggs.  He said that our embryos had a lot of fragmentation and there was a dark circle around my eggs which indicated poor quality.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was sooo heartbroken.  He told us we could continue to cycle with him with our own eggs but he would not change anything about my protocol.  Joe and I decided to stay as optimistic as we could, take another little break, and go back to our first clinic where we had frozen embryos.  We weren’t ready to give up on my eggs or our embryos yet.

In September I decided to have a consultation with Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM).  We were prepping for our FET, but I wanted to be proactive in our treatment plan so I made an appointment.   I spoke to a doctor there that said she didn’t feel there was much of a concern about my egg quality.  She said that they would do an antagonist protocol followed by CCS or PGS testing of our embryos.  Unfortunately at $21,000 a cycle due up front, we were not able to go down this road, but I was happy that egg quality didn’t sound like a concern to a doctor at one of the most world-renowned clinics. 

We had our 3rd FET on October 29th, 2015 we transferred 2 of the 4 frozen embryos we had left with our first clinic.  I was very optimistic that one of these two would implant.  We were due for it; we had been through so much and had never even had a tiny glimpse of a pregnancy since December of ’13.  Unfortunately, that cycle also ended in BFN.  While we were in the 2WW we had made an appointment with another doctor that my SIL had used and who she had been successful with in Gurnee at Advanced Fertility Centers of Chicago with Dr. Sherbahn.

On November 11th, 2015 we met with Dr. Sherbahn who was also not concerned about my egg quality.  He gave us some really good looking numbers & we decided to move forward with a cycle with his clinic & we decided we really wanted PGS on  our embryos.  We started stims right away and on December 12th, 2015 we had 16 eggs retrieved, 11 of which fertilized.  We were very hopeful that 6-7 of the 11 would make it to day 6 for PGS testing.  On day 5 we received a call that NONE of our 11 fertilized embryos had even made it to blastocysts.  We decided to drop everything and drive to Gurnee that day and transfer 2 of the 7 that had progressed.  They continued to let the other 5 grow, but none of them made it far enough to be PGS tested.  Although we ended up with a positive beta, it was low and it never did double.  We experienced our 2nd chemical pregnancy, it was the farthest we’ve ever come in 6 cycles of IVF.

On December 20th, 2015, during all of the chaos and heartbreak of fresh cycle #3, someone I hardly knew through social media sent me a message and said that she had been following me for a year and a half and felt called to reach out to me and offer herself as a surrogate.  I was shocked that someone I hardly knew at all would offer this gift to us.  I told her that our next step was going to be egg donation, but that I truly appreciated her offer and that I would keep it in mind.  She then offered her eggs and I was, once again in total shock.  After a lot of discussion between her and I and Joe and I, we made plans to meet her and her family in Augusta Georgia.  We fell in love with her and her family and are now in the process of egg donation through a known donor.  If you've been following along recently then you know there are many details to this story and that this has been the biggest blessing in our lives. 

We are so thrilled that we have found such an eager and selfless soul who is so willing to help us.  Her determination (and her husbands) to make us parents is seriously amazing.  The journey with them so far has been amazing.  We will be staring our DEIVF cycle in June and are planning on a fresh transfer at that time.  We have come a long way on our journey and are so very hopeful that this will be a success!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

NIAW Continues... What we want you to know about infertility

A truly amazing collaboration of women sharing what we want you to know about infertility up on Caroline's blog today!!  

Monday, April 25, 2016

NIAW... We Are 1 in 8

Happy National Infertility Awareness Week!  I hope if you’re one of the 1 in 8 couples who suffer with infertility you’re doing everything that you can to share & raise awareness this week, more than ever.  I think most of us try to do this on a pretty daily basis, but this is OUR week.  We get one measly week out of the whole year so let’s make it count!   Share your stories, share the information about infertility, share anything you can find out there related to infertility.  Go to and download & share the graphics, share blog posts, share your photos.  Get the information out there. 

The theme this year is “Start Asking” and what that means is several different things…you can start asking your friends & family for support by opening up publically about your journey, you can start asking Congress to support family building legislation, you can ask about your own fertility at an earlier age.  There are many, many ways to “start asking”.  Even your friends and family can start asking how they can be a support system for YOU. 

For me, I feel like I’ve been on this journey, sharing this story for so long, that I’m starting to sound like a broken record.  I feel like there is nothing else I can tell you about infertility that I haven’t touched on before.  I feel like our TTC Timeline has been beaten to death on this blog.  I don’t want this to be my life anymore.  I have felt myself slowly taking a step back from the forefront of our community; less blog posts, less participation in things like TTC Exchanges, watching others starting to take the lead on being a voice that is heard within our community.  I am honestly OK with it all.  Although infertility will always undoubtedly be a huge part of our lives, I see many women passing the baton on to the next as they begin to finally build their family.  I see less and less infertility-related posts from those who have beat it, and that is 100% OK!  I am anxious and always hopeful that I will one day be on the other side of this.

I love being a part of this community and I know that I would never be as resilient as I am without the love and support of all of my TTC Sisters.  It is the most beautiful thing in the world to be a part of, yet at the same time it is also very hard to see people go through losses and suffering daily.  Our tribe is the epitome of strength, and bravery, but also heartbreak and sadness.  No one will ever understand us the way that we understand each other as women and couples suffering from this horrible disease. 

As we head into year 5 of TTC I can honestly say that I am at the end of my rope.  I am so thankful for the journey that we are about to embark on because I truly do feel like this is how we beat this.  Am I sad about closing the door on my own eggs?  Yes.  Do I wonder every single day why no one can tell me what is wrong, yet I can’t get pregnant?  Yes.  Do I hope that maybe one day I will have my own biological child?  Yes.  But on the flip side of all of that, do I want off this roller coaster?  Yes x 1000.  I want off.  I’m sick of talking about infertility, I’m exhausted of the emotional toll this has taken on me, I am sick of not being the one who gets to post a pregnancy announcement.  I want to move on, not to the next chapter, but the next book of my life.  Entering into my thirties in just 44 short days, I will not spend another 5 years letting infertility dictate my life.  I’m not sure what the next decade of my life will look like, but I know I do not want infertility to be even a sliver of it.  I want to kick its fucking ass and celebrate a victory that I know will bring so much satisfaction. 

One thing is for sure, I will never FORGET what infertility did to me.  How bitter it made me, how relationships were strained, how I had to feel like I was in competition with others, how I felt like a failure as a women who could not provide a child to her husband, how I envied anyone who got pregnant, how much time, money, and effort was spent at doctors’ offices, how we traveled north, west, east, and pretty damn far south for treatment, how many times I had to give myself injections, how many times Joe had to give me an injection in the ass with an inch & a half long needle full of oil, how many thousands of tears were shed, how I had to lose two babies, so much negativity, so much hurt, and pain, and grief.  But in the end, I can tell you 100% I do not hold any grudges, I do not hold on to anger, I CAN and have sincerely apologized for my actions that were caused by my struggle, I am at peace with my situation, and I am also 100% grateful that it was given to me because I would never have the tribe I have today, I never would be the WARRIOR that I am, that we all are, today if it were not for this horrendous disease. 

This is only a tiny piece of the puzzle of infertility, sometimes we are positive beams of light, and sometimes when we’re being honest about how it makes us really feel, we have to share these raw emotions with the world.  Transparency about this disease is so important.  Life is not perfect, if I didn’t have infertility I’d probably be advocating for something else because life always throws us the unexpected. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

DEIVF: We have a Plan!

So as of today it had been over 2+ weeks since our donor’s consultation and blood work appointment.  We were getting extremely anxious and frustrated so I decided to pull the “crazy infertile” card and email the IVF coordinator for the 3rd time in a week in regards to the results.  I told her I was worried something might be wrong (even though I knew there wasn’t because Amy had already received her results at work) in the hopes that maybe she’d respond quicker, and she did!  She immediately responded with, “Hey Elena, everything is great with her blood work!  No problems!  We are ready to proceed.”  Yay!

We really hoped that we would by cycling by May, but our donor has a family vacation & Dr. Servy also has a vacation scheduled for mid-May so we are pushing it back to June make it easier on everyone.  I’m not too bummed about the wait.  I am just happy to have a solid idea of when things will happen.  As of right now we are just waiting for cycle starts for both Amy and I.  Luckily she and I are on practically the exact same schedule (which is great) so once we start they will order our meds and we can start prepping. 

I’ve already been lucky enough to get some meds donated by some awesome TTC sisters and also by my first IVF clinic.  They will be doing my monitoring and offered some meds to us which we were so thrilled about.  Amy will be using Gonal F and Ganirelix, we aren’t sure what else at this point.  I will be using estrogen injections (which I’ve never done) and estrogen tablets & progesterone injections and progesterone suppositories right around transfer & potentially until 12 weeks of pregnancy. 

I’m so excited for June.  This is going to be a big month too because I will be turning 30 on the 8th!  June is also the birth month of my best friend Jodie (the 9th) my SIL Melissa (also the 9th), my BIL (and Jodie’s husband, the 10th), my SIL Shannon (the 14th), and my husband (the 22nd) along with a couple other cousins and friends.  It’s a good month!  June was also the name of my late grandma and a name I’ve always really loved.  So many good signs pointing in our direction. 

I am looking forward to the warm weather and being able to enjoy it a bit before we jump into our cycle.  This will be our 3rd summer doing an IVF cycle and I’m really hoping that I won’t have to say that next year.  Our first IVF cycle was July 2014, our second was July 2015, and now our DEIVF cycle will be June 2016.  We are sooo ready for a break & a success.  It really has been a long time coming, but I feel extremely hopeful about this one!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dave Ramsey Week 5 & 6

Once again, I apologize for my absence.  Life has been a little chaotic lately and I haven’t had much time to dedicate to the blog, but I definitely wanted to get you guys an update on our Dave Ramsey class.  These last couple weeks have been really good & I’m excited to share with you. 

Week 5 was Buyer Beware.  In this class we had to define what a “major purchase” was.  Dave defines a major purchase as anything over $300, but that is really up to each person individually.  I’d say for us $300 is a good amount.  If we’re spending this much it’s always on something that we are discussing prior to purchase anyway (unless it was a gift) so this wasn’t really much different for us.  Recently we bought hand railings for our front porch which was a $380 purchase.  We discussed it several times and we waited until we had the CASH to pay for them.  I also recently bought a treadmill that cost around $300.  We discussed this for a while before we purchased it and also waited until I received my bonus before buying it. 

Dave really stresses the power of marketing techniques in this class.  He had everyone in his audience saying slogans & singing jingles that have been around for years.  Like “melts in your mouth, not in your hand” & the theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies, everyone knows them & they’ve been around for years.  He talked a lot about Apple and how well they market their products.  It was a really interesting class and very eye opening to how much marketing plays a role in how we purchase.  For me, I don’t have cable TV so I don’t see commercials, but with being on Facebook & Instagram, I always see cute Etsy shops, clothing boutiques, etc. that are tempting for me.  I try to unfollow those kinds of ads from my feed which definitely helps!

Week 6 was an even better week.  It focused mainly on insurance and what kind of coverage you should have and which you shouldn’t based on your situation.  For vehicle insurance Dave recommends $500,000 worth of coverage, it seems like a lot, but you can easily rack up with much in medical bills and vehicle replacements depending on the severity of the accident.  He also recommends $500,000 for your homeowners insurance (unless your house is worth more than that obviously).  He said most insurance will cover the value of the house plus 20-70% more if it’s a total loss.  Dave recommends going straight to the half a million in coverage.  I looked into this and it would cost me an additional $25 a month (so $75 x month) which really isn’t that bad for almost 2x the coverage. 

Dave also recommends Long Term Disability, but not Short Term because any short term illness/disability should be covered with the money from your 3-6 month emergency fund.  He also recommends identity theft insurance which is something I don’t have but I’d like to.  For health insurance he covered your typical PPO and your HSA coverages.  It was a really good lesson and I think there are a lot of people who don’t know what kind of coverage that they have.  For us just building a house I knew exactly what our homeowners was & with going through infertility treatment I could read you my health insurance coverage in my sleep. 

Probably the most important one Dave talks about is life insurance.  TERM insurance is the only insurance that is worth having.  Anything that is called “cash value” where you get a certain amount of money back at age 65 is a terrible investment.  He said it’s best to have around $500,000 worth of coverage.  The way he breaks it down is pretty amazing.  What you’d pay per month for a cash value plan, you could pay a fraction of for a term-life and invest the difference between the two premiums into a mutual fund with 12% growth and make a significant amount of more money.  So if a cash value policy costs $150 a month for 250,000, you could get a term life policy for $500,000 for around $45 x month and the difference of $105 you could put into a mutual fund and make a lot more money on.  I don’t explain it as well as Dave, but he is 100% correct on that. 

Joe and I both have $500,000 in term life insurance.  We got it through our Edward Jones financial advisor and the insurance comes from Pacific Life.  We pay an annual premium of $1100 a year which equals out to about $91 x a month (for both of us) which we put into a sinking fund each month so that when it’s time for our policy renewal in July, we have the money.  It’s dirt cheap for so much coverage.  Before we had this Joe had fallen for the “cash value” plan and ended up getting only $250,000 in coverage for $93 a month just for him!  We were paying almost exactly what we pay now for 2 people & we get 4x the coverage!  

Only 3 more weeks left!  I’m really enjoying the classes a lot and I definitely am seeing a change in our spending.  I feel like I’m a little less impulsive and I think through my purchases before I make them.  I’ve been trying to use the envelope system as best as I can, I’ve of course taken cash from my gas envelope and had to use it for my restaurants budget, but ya know, food vs. gas!?  I mean who that seems pretty obvious!  Totally kidding, I replaced the cash that I “borrowed” from my gas envelope.  I hope this helps anyone or encourages someone to take his class because it really is a life changer.

Friday, April 01, 2016

DEIVF Update...

Today was Amy’s first appointment with Dr. Servy and I’m happy to report that all went really well!  She had an ultrasound  and Dr. Servy said that everything looked perfect which is great news.  Her next step is blood work which she is having done at the University hospital where she works.  Once the results come back in about 7-10 days, we should be able to get our calendar in place. 

I have to tell you guys, on Thursday I received a phone call from Dr. Servy personally telling me that based on my blood work results, he believed that I would be a good candidate for a Clomid antagonist protocol with my own eggs.  He said that he believes I’ve been overstimulated in the past (cycles 1 & 3) and that he believes that with Clomid we would produce less eggs, but that they would have a better chance of being more mature.  I will tell you I was kind of upset & heartbroken that he brought this up because we were so set on using Amy for our eggs.  He was really dangling hope right in front of me and of course I was eager to know more. 

What really intrigued me was that this protocol is nothing I’ve ever tried before, but at the same time, I have also tried a very low dose of stims (cycle #2) and had the worst cycle of all.  I was so torn, once again, between what Dr. Servy was telling me and the plan we already had in motion.  I was excited that someone still felt hopeful about my eggs and that’s not to say that I’m not still hopeful that one day it could happen, but we have been through so much already and I really don’t know if I want to endure anymore heartache. 

I took a long walk and literally cried the entire time (thanks a lot AF) just thinking about how cruel infertility is and why can’t I just have a child of my own naturally?  Why can’t anyone find anything wrong with me, yet I still can’t function as I am meant to?  It’s seriously one of the hardest things to have to think about and accept as my reality.  I wish that things would’ve went as I dreamed, if they had we would have our two kids and be living our happily ever after in our beautifully built forever home, yet here we are, not one child to speak of, and still no idea if we will ever beat this.  I never ever thought I’d be dealing with this for as long as we have been.  I’m just so ready for this nightmare to be over. 

And that was a big part in our decision.  Our history so far, the path we’re already on, the eagerness & selflessness of our donor, and the fact that we are just done with all of the heartbreak that comes along with my eggs & Joe’s sperm.  Do I wish they were compatible?  Yes.  Do I think maybe someday they will be?  Yes.  But we are ready to get off of this ride, we are ready to be done with this journey and enjoy the next step of our lives.  I’m not going to live in infertility forever & at this rate that is exactly what it feels like we are setting out to do.  So we decided, together, that we are going to continue with donor eggs and do what we feel is going to give us the outcome we are looking for without taking chances & spending money on something that we just can’t rely on.  Without a 100% guarantee that my eggs would work, I just can’t bring myself to do another fresh cycle again.   

I am content with our decision and I do feel like it’s the right choice.  It makes the most sense for so many reasons and I hope that everyone can continue to follow along and support us on this journey because sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps us going.  It’s been almost 5 years of TTC and almost 3 years of infertility treatment and I feel like we haven’t gotten very far at all with any of this.  I truly think that this new journey is going to finally bring us to the end of all of this and bring us to the end that we have been desperately seeking for so long. 
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