Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Life Lately - 29 week Update

So, I may be the worst blogger in history.  I also blame it on my profession.  Sales in 4th quarter AND end of year is chaotic.  Still – I don’t want to make excuses.  For those that have been following, we have really just been caught up in the holiday season, working too hard and enjoying my growing belly (and all the kicks and punches).

I guess I should rewind back to our Fetal Echo in November.  We went in on Friday, November 7th to meet Dr. Milazzo and his team and to get a more detailed look at Boden’s little heart. 
The detail in the scans was absolutely incredible.  The sonographer was explaining to us the different areas she was looking at and what they meant.  You could actually see the inflow and outflow of blood through each chamber because they lit up different colors depending on whether they were moving towards or away from the camera…so cool!

At the end, we waited for Dr. M to come in and give us the results.  Let me preface by saying he is a very professional, emotionless man.  Direct and to the point, not much humor and not a whole lot of chit chat.  My guess is because he too often has to deliver crushing news to parents, hopeful parents just like us. 

I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up. I was on the brink of tears and expecting something not to be right.  He came in, handed us a print out, and said, “The results are normal.  There are no major abnormalities with the baby’s heart”.  I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer.  I thought maybe he was going to pinch me to wake me up, or there was a “gotcha” at the end of it.  But there were no gotchas.  Just more tears.  I jumped up and grasped that man around his neck tightly and could only say “thank you” over and over again. 

He was definitely caught a little off-guard at my spontaneous gratitude and chuckled replying, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that.” This man got to deliver some of the best news to these parents on that day and it made everyone in the room smile a little brighter. 

We left and I still could not control the crying.  I also could not process thoughts, string together words or sentences or explain how I was feeling.  I guess I didn’t realize how heavy a burden I was carrying around on my chest (I thought maybe it was just my boobs growing out of control)!  The weight that was lifted is indescribable - it literally felt like someone lifted a 50 lb. barbell off my chest and I took the deepest, longest breath I’d taken in months.  I was so overcome with emotion I really don’t even know how to describe it.  My mind was swarming and my thoughts scattered, but it was the most intense joy I’ve felt in a long time.

Chris and I had lunch at our good news spot in Cameron Village.  We went back to the same place we were at when we got the call from our CC nurses that our IVF round had worked.  It’s the same place we sat and called all our families to tell them we were finally pregnant.  This restaurant, just a local bar, has come to hold such a special place in our hearts and here we were celebrating another big milestone!

Since the fetal, we’ve had some follow up doc appointments with our OB. I had my glucose test which also came back normal.  I would not recommend doing the glucose test a few hours before you have to catch a flight – my stomach was off all day!

We are also officially in our 3rd trimester!  We had our 28 week scan with Duke on the 22nd right before we went home for the holidays.  We had some of the sweetest 3D pics to show our families which made this Christmas a little sweeter.  

I can barely contain my excitement

The baby is growing steadily and is in the 68th percentile for growth and weight.  I am a little underweight but not to the point that they are concerned since the bambino is doing so well. I still have Placenta Previa despite all our hopes that it would correct itself.  But, given all the good news about the growth of our little one I can’t complain.  I also had our 28 week check-up with my OB the same day and if the PP doesn’t correct itself by our next scan at the end of January they will likely be scheduling a C-section between 36-37 weeks which would put us mid-late February for Boden’s arrival.  I definitely freaked a little at this news because February is going to be here before we know it and we are not at all prepared. 

I will come to terms with it at some point I’m sure!

We also took a Saturday and finally registered at Buy Buy Baby.  Registering is no joke.  It’s also not very fun like I was imagining it would be.  It is overwhelming.  There are too many strollers, jumpers, play mats and diapers to choose from.  How do I know if I will need sensitive wipes or not?  Why are there so many diaper rash creams?  Does the kid need a jumper, mat, swing, AND rock and play.   My head was spinning and again I ended up in tears.  That may just be the hormones, but I would be OK not going back into one of those baby gear factories for a while.

We had such an amazing Christmas, our last Christmas as just the four of us.  I think Vegas and Harley can sense that life is about to drastically change.  Harley is my little shadow – following me around and laying with me anytime I’m sitting.  He has to be touching me at all times.  We had such a fun Raleigh Oden Christmas with Rob and Kristin.  It’s our annual tradition to get together and exchange gifts the weekend before Christmas.  Chris and I were foregoing an extravagant Christmas this year but he managed to surprise me with my baby bag that I’ve been swooning over.  I know some of yall think I’m probably nuts, but I’ve had this bad boy picked out since we started trying to get pregnant. 

Forgive the cheese - I was completely surprised!  My new Rebecca Minkoff "Knocked Up" Baby Bag!

This year, we also added putting on our finest Christmas sweaters/shirts and brewery hopping around Raleigh. Next year, I will actually be participating in the drinking portion of that event!

Stop #1 - Crank Arm Brewery.  This little gem of a sweater was a stocking stuffer from my sweet baby-daddy!
I also got to see my best friend of 23+ years and meet her sweetest new addition, Riley.  Check out those lips!  I am obsessed and can't wait for Boden and Riley to be best friends! No matter where life has taken us or what cities we've ended up in we've always managed to remain besties.  I love these two ladies with every bit of my being!

We have so much coming up that we are looking forward to (in addition to our little one’s arrival).  Finishing the nursery is the top of that list – really I’d just be happy to get it in working order. Our maternity session is next weekend.  Chris is heading out to AZ for a long weekend to visit his parents.  I’m staying back and doing a spa day here (thanks to an extremely thoughtful gift from one of the best friends).  We have 2 showers coming up – one in Raleigh and one in Charlotte.  January and February are usually long, slow, cold months but this year we have so much to keep us busy and so much excitement.

Until then, we will be celebrating 29 weeks on NYE.  I am looking forward to saying farewell to 2014 and welcoming a very exciting 2015!  We will be celebrating in a more low key fashion this year that includes a bonfire with neighbors and friends, sweatpants and hot chocolate for this Momma!

On another very magical note...today my parents celebrate 36 years of marriage!  

These 2 people are the reason I am who I am and I couldn't be more thankful for all their unconditional love, guidance and support over the years.  I can’t wait for them to be grandparents in a few short months.  My mom might also be the most beautiful woman on the planet.  Dad was rocking the teen wolf look long before it actually became a “thing”.  Love you guys and Happy Anniversary! I hope the next 36 are as fun and adventurous as the first 36 were!

Hoping everyone had a wonderful, magical Christmas and wishing you all happiness and health in 2015!  And, as always, we are sending up extra prayers and thoughts to any of our friends and followers battling fertility, making tough decisions and in the long 2 week waiting periods! You are always in our hearts!

Here's some recaps of our Christmas with our families!

#sisterselfie with my beautiful SILs
Christmas Eve with my love and life partner
Comparing bellies post Christmas Eve Feast with Funcle Rob and Uncle Bert
Christmas with my crazy parents, sisters and D!
Christmas bones for the furbabes

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Don't Worry About A Thing...

Today I write to you from my bed.  That's right – bed rest!  Luckily, it’s only temporary. And, it gives me a chance to catch up on the blog!  I went in yesterday to get the sharp, crippling, sporadic pains in my lower abdomen checked out.  They put me on 48 hours bed rest to make sure I don’t cause any stress to the baby and try to get the pain to subside.  The baby is fine – that’s the first thing they checked.  They also took a look at the borderline placenta previa that was discovered last week – more to come on this!  They gave me high dose Motrin to help with the pain/inflammation.  If they are labor pains, Motrin will help stop that also.  We are WAY too early to safely meet BabyO!  Feet up and no stress – doctor’s orders.  At this point, I’ll take it – a couple days to re-group and relax!

Let me catch you up on our GOOD news from last week!  We are still functioning 1 day at a time and 1 foot in front of the other.  All of the many prayers from all corners of the country were heard loud and clear and we felt the support of our warriors going into our 18 week structural/anatomy scan on Wednesday.  Of course, I was still nervous because of the uncertainty that surrounds our little family.  But, I had more hope for this day than I’ve had recently.  Maybe my addiction is getting the best of me.  You usually revert back to the very source when you’re at your weakest.  I keep going back to the hope I have for our baby, our family and our future. 

This past Wednesday we were back at Duke for the scan and we got some great news.  All the major structures they could make out looked normal – measured normal – worked properly.  All I could think is, “Is this real?  Where’s the fine print?”  But, it was very real.  Because of the baby’s position, the doc couldn’t tell if the inflow and outflow of blood to the heart was normal, but gut feeling told him it was likely fine.  This will also be checked at our fetal echo in a couple of weeks.  The baby is a mover and never sits still.  Legs are always kicking and every time we went to 3D he/she gave a thumbs up! This still gives me goosebumps.  It’s like our little one is reassuring us “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing…gonna be alright”.  Have I mentioned how much I love the simplicity of that Bob Marley song?

On the flipside - they did discover that I have borderline placenta previa which will continue to be monitored.  Only a minor hiccup that was totally trumped by the amazing news that our baby is developing into a normal little babe.  Plus, it’s something that so many women experience, I don’t feel like I’ve fallen into another small percentage grouping.  This I can handle.  This I can face confidently.

We feel so blessed and so grateful that our prayers are being heard.  I’m not sure if there was something wrong with our babe and He is healing him or her in the womb. Or, was it a false alarm?  Or, did the little one simply need some time to develop and correct whatever it was on its own?  Either way, we know that a cystic hygroma should not be present and it was.  So something caused it and we may never know what.  And, I’m OK with that.  I’m just thankful that our little guy or gal is a fighter.  And, that he or she has hundreds, maybe thousands, of prayer warriors cheering him or her on.  And, that this child is in the most capable, loving hands. 

Thank you for the continued prayers and messages of support!  We are feeling more confident and more hopeful by the day.  Once we get past this next milestone – our fetal echo – we will be able to breathe a little easier. 

To add a little fun to the post – with the good news from Wednesday we decided we could actually start planning the nursery again and do a little celebrating.  We found our nursery bedding late last week.  It was a chore looking for gender neutral bedding that isn’t overly baby-motifed (is that a word?). But, we found something that we both really love so we went ahead and registered for it!  This past weekend we found our nursery furniture! Given my luck, the furniture collection we fell in love with has been discontinued.  We ended up buying the floor model dresser at a steal – those who know me know that I’m not shy about asking for additional discounts and it paid off this time!  Now, we have to figure out the crib…who knew cribs were so expensive?  I have a feeling we’ll end up just pulling the trigger on the matching crib – I did get them to come down from asking price. I’m just so stubborn when they won’t come down to what I WANT to spend…

I also felt the baby move for the first time last night.  I was absolutely sure of what I felt.   I’m pretty sure I’ve felt BabyO previously but I wasn’t really sure if it was just gas bubbles or baby kicks – crazy that you can confuse the two!  Last night was definite baby movement and it was so surreal.

Tomorrow we’ll be 19 weeks.  Crazy to think we are almost half way there.  I’ll leave you with these…

I don't think I've mentioned my obsession with donuts yet...breakfast in bed!

bed rest company = lots of snuggles

Thursday, October 9, 2014

An Up-Hill Battle

This is going to be a long and interesting update – a post, within a post, within a post. I’ve continued writing updates over the last several weeks but have hesitated publishing because of the uncertainty we still face.  I was hoping to be able to update with some sort of definitive news, but not yet.  We are asking for continued prayers as we face the most difficult experience to date.  Today, October 9th, I am 17 weeks 2 days pregnant.  The last 5 weeks have been a constant hell and have tested our patience, our faith and spirits.  Here are the previous posts I never published: raw and unfiltered.

Post from September 16th:

I thought for sure I could finally enjoy our pregnancy.  Relish in all the changes my body is going through. Start planning our nursery and daydream about being a family.  I thought we had endured the worst with our infertility battle and that we were in the clear.  Yet, here I sit – writing about the most traumatic experience to date and the uncertainty that lies ahead for our family and our baby.  All I can think about is how unfair it seems to put 1 couple through so much heartbreak.  What we are experiencing now is a completely different type of heartbreak. It consumes your entire body and makes every day a chore.  We fall into the less than 1% of all pregnancies that suffer a cystic hygroma – somehow we keep finding ourselves in these small percentages of people where bad things happen. 

We delayed writing an update until we had more information because of how much is still unknown at this point. We know that something is wrong with our baby, an underlying medical condition of some sort.  But, doctors and perinatal specialists have not yet identified what. 
Let me back-track. 

Post from September 3rd:

I thought I had already experienced my darkest moment…that moment when we found out our 2nd IUI failed.  I honestly didn’t think it could get any worse.  Until today…when my world fell apart. We were caught up in the high of finally being pregnant and fighting off Holly.  I suppose I let my guard down – I finally started feeling excited.  I even started planning a nursery.  It just feels mean and so unfair.  To make a couple battle for years through infertility.  To finally get pregnant and experience a major victory.  To laugh in our faces while you stomp out all our joy and steal our future.  All the hope that came with this pregnancy was ripped out of me and shredded in front of me while I watched helpless.

I can’t even begin to describe the heartbreak.  I’m not even sure what I’m thinking or feeling in this moment.  I think my body might have gone into defense-mode making me numb to everything and devoid of any specific feeling.  It’s like I’m stuck in a bubble watching the world happen around me.  I’m kicking and screaming and trying to claw my way out only to go unnoticed by the normalcy I can only witness.  That’s a bad feeling. No – that is probably the worst feeling I’ve ever felt in my life.  I’m heartbroken.  No – I’m broken and I will never be fully whole again.

Today is Wednesday, September 3rd.  Officially the hardest and saddest day of my life.  I can say that with the utmost certainty. Today we went in to our OB for our Harmony and NT genetic screening.  You can say things didn’t go as expected.  In fact, they went worse than I could have possibly imagined or prepared myself for.  In the NT ultrasound, the tech pointed out the fluid at the baby’s neck.  This exists in all pregnancies.  The problem is that in normal pregnancy that fluid sac measures less than 3mm.  Ours measured 7-8mm depending on the angle.  We asked what that meant and were given extremely vague non-answers. “Let me check with Dr. V to see what he recommends”, “this is definitely outside of normal range but that’s all we can say at this point”.

Next thing I know, we are being ushered into Duke Maternal and Fetal Medicine by one of the nurses.  The looks on everyone’s faces was pure dread, yet to this point, we had been told nothing as to what this abnormal measurement means. After filling out new patient information, we met with a genetic counselor and finally got some preliminary answers.  Our case is no longer just an elevated NT, but a massive fluid sac extending from the baby’s head to the butt with little cysts scaling the length – a cystic hygroma.  Prognosis is not good. This is indicative of some kind of chromosome abnormality, genetic defect, birth defect, or severe medical condition.

“Trisomy 21, Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13, Turner’s Syndrome, congenital heart defects – incompatibility with life, stillbirth” – all terms thrown around and “explained” to us.  The problem is I am suffering from “information overload and system shut down” at this point and all I can do is cry.  Our baby is not healthy.  Due to the size of the cystic hygroma, it is almost a sure thing that there is something wrong.  Next thing I know we are learning about the invasive genetic testing options and making a decision to move forward with a CVS (Chorionic villus sampling) – TODAY.
They did another ultrasound at Duke to confirm the photos they received from Dr. V – and still we get the same prognosis. Dr. K came in to prep me for the procedure and numb my abdomen.  The numbing did nothing.  As he inserted the long needle into my abdomen (very close to my pubic bone) the most extreme pain kicked in and my uterus started cramping so violently I thought I was convulsing and losing control of my body.

My body started fighting all the information and the procedure and the bad news.  My hands and arms went numb and the black tunnel vision narrowed.  I have officially hit rock bottom…

Before I go crazy I must stick to the facts and what we know now. We know that something isn’t right.  There is an abnormality of some sort.  We get the test results back in 7-10 business days.  I get to re-live this hell for the next week.

There is a tiny chance (5%) that this baby is completely normal with no problems, but the doctor and genetic counselor told us not to get our hopes up.  The only way I can wake up and get out of bed the next 7-10 days is by believing that if we are unlucky enough to end up in the less than 1% of all pregnancies that this happens to that we might also end up in the 5% that turn out normal.  Hope is the only thing that can pull me out of the dredges at this point.

Prayers needed – please.

I never published that post because we wanted more information.  This is an extremely personal and heartbreaking situation that I, honestly, am a little uncomfortable sharing.  But, at this point, we could use our prayer warriors. 

Our OB and the Duke team have consistently told us that the severity of our CH means something is wrong with the baby.  It’s the what and the why we don’t yet know – usually (60-80% chance) it’s a chromosomal abnormality.  We opted for FISH (fluorescent in-situ hybridization) results from our CVS which came in 3 days later.  This tests for the 5 most common chromosome abnormalities – T21, T18, T13, X and Y.  This came back normal.  A minor victory that almost doesn’t seem worthy of celebration.  We had to wait another week for the full panel results which we received this week.  Also normal.  Yes – this sounds like good news.  However, it is still NO news.  No definitive diagnosis.  One of the scary things is that we can do all of this testing and they still may not be able to determine what’s wrong prenatally. Uncertainty is my biggest fear right now. Our team of doctors is insistent that if it’s not chromosomal than it could be a rare genetic disorder or structural anomaly (heart defects, major organ anomalies, physical deformities, cognitive developmental problems, the list goes on).  

We go back into Duke in a couple of weeks for a level 2 U/S at 16 weeks and again at 18 weeks to look for structural anomalies before we do a fetal echocardiogram at 22 weeks.  We also have the option of doing more extensive genetic testing that further breaks down the individual chromosomes and looks for breaks and variances in the genetic code.  It would tell us if the child has a rare genetic disorder. However, these tests are not covered by insurance and are thousands of dollars out of pocket.  Apparently prenatal genetic testing is still “too new” and deemed “investigative”.  I won’t even get into this…

My fear…that all the testing and scans we are doing come back normal and we are still uncertain of the vitality and future of our child. At that point, you are playing fate’s game and waiting until the child is born to learn what’s wrong.

I have spent the majority of the last couple years “waiting” – waiting for test results, waiting in doctor’s offices, waiting for follicles to develop, waiting to finally become pregnant.  I thought that was behind us but we are back to waiting…

We have been warned that we could lose the baby at any point moving forward.   That my body could recognize that there is just too much genetically or structurally wrong and dispose of the baby on its own.  I don’t think you can mentally or emotionally prepare for that. We are officially in a no-win situation.  There are no good options. Yes – there is the very small chance that this child could be normal, but our doctors have warned us against false hope.  Odds are against us and it seems every time we are in circumstances where odds are stacked against us we fall into the unlucky group of small percentages.  I am actually thankful for their realistic interpretation of our circumstance.

I’ve been drawn to my knees more times than I can count over the years, but no more often than I have in the last 2 weeks.  I may look like I’m managing the situation – our situation - on the outside.  In reality, I am shattered, crumbling and broken on the inside.  I am mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. It’s difficult to sleep – I’m woken every night with the reminder that our baby is in there as I get up to pee, and can’t fall back asleep as I hold the tiny developing bump and sob. I have never felt so helpless.  I have never felt so hopeless. The pain is so deep and violent that my whole body aches and the constant heaviness in my chest gives real meaning to the word heartbreak.  Sometimes I lose my breath just thinking about our child’s future. I can’t describe the pain that comes with thinking about the sort of life our child will face.

There is no point in questioning why this is happening to us. It’s not fair and I’m trying my best to live with that.  I refuse to accept it, but I know I can learn to live with it. I am gradually adjusting to living in a constant nightmare. I am functioning day to day by reminding myself of the facts and what we know today.  We know something is wrong with our baby.  So, I pray that if something is wrong to please let it be something that is operable, fixable.  To let us have that little bit of control to be able to fix what’s wrong. To please let us be a miracle.  To restore my hope.

All we ask is that you please pray for the 3 of us.

October 9th Update:

Chris and I had our 16 week structural exam with Duke last Wednesday.  Things seem to be looking up for us.  From what they could see in the exam this early, things looked normal.  The baby’s heart has 4 chambers, 2 kidneys that are working properly, 2 arms and 2 legs with normal measurements, spine looks good, definite genitals and the skin at the back of the neck is measuring normal.  So far so good.  They wouldn’t call it because it is still too early to make out details of major structures, specifically the heart and brain.  So we will be back at Duke next Wednesday at 18 weeks for the formal structural/anatomy exam.  We also scheduled our fetal echocardiogram with Duke Pediatric Cardiology for November 7th – this appointment should give us some definitive answers on the baby’s heart.  

These next few weeks are crucial for us as we continue to pray for a miracle baby with every ounce of our beings.  Should everything come back normal our chances of having a normal babe rise to 60% (up from 5% when we started this nightmare).  Odds are beginning to turn in our favor and all we can do is pray.  So much of this is out of our hands.  Even if it is something with the heart, at this point, it should be operable.  It scares me to even write that not knowing what’s in store, but I have to hold out hope.  I know we are in the best possible hands and I trust our team of doctors with mine and my baby’s lives.

I grow more thankful for my husband daily as he continues to be my rock and our voice of reason.  I almost feel more alone and isolated in this battle than I did with infertility.  He is the one person that understands and feels the things I feel.  We have decided NOT to find out the sex of our baby as nothing has really been a surprise, or at least nothing good has been a surprise. I am excited thinking about the moment we find out together in the delivery room whether we are having a son or daughter.  There aren’t many surprises in life anymore and I just know this is one I’ll cherish.

My belly is stretching daily and we are trying to enjoy being pregnant.  In this moment, I am grateful for the grace He has shown us in allowing us to continue carrying this beautiful life.  I am grateful for the life I’m carrying.  I am grateful for my husband.

We are sending our love to others facing struggles, touch decisions and heart break.  Please continue to pray for the 3 of us and continued good news.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

P is for Paranoid

It's been too long since I've posted an update.  To be honest, I'm still scared that something will go wrong.  Infertility has definitely changed me as a person despite actually becoming pregnant.  It tests your sanity.  Paranoia rules your thoughts. You become paranoid about absolutely everything - everything you eat or don't eat, every little cramp, every feeling.  After struggling for so long, it's work to let yourself be truly happy.

Don't get me wrong - I am so appreciative and grateful for this blessing.  Whatever happens will happen and I have to remind myself that we ARE ABLE to get pregnant.

But, I am terrified that it won't last. We are currently 10 weeks 3 days.

We've also had one big scare so far.  You would think that if you've fought your way out of infertility the universe would throw you a bone and let it be an easy, healthy pregnancy.  Again, I'm reminded that nothing in life is fair - even pregnancy after infertility.

At our 6 week ultrasound, Dr. Meyer pointed out a small, grey shadow right next to the baby bubble. A sub chorionic hematoma.  He told us not to be too concerned and that they would continue monitoring it.  They usually re-absorb into your body and it's no big deal.  They just didn't want to see it get any bigger.

The hematoma is the grey shadow on the left. 

We went in for our 7 week US excited to see how the bubble was changing and get a look at our bambino.  As soon as my uterus was up on the monitor it was clear the hematoma had no intentions of leaving.  That bitch had tripled in size in a week and was now 3 times the size of our little baby bubble. I was mortified. We were told not to freak out.  They explained that this could still re-absorb or come out in the form of a bloody glob (with or without our little babe). Great - a murder scene in the toilet is just what I need. Dr. Meyer told me to stay away from google and trust my body.  Adding, that if I started to bleed and pass bloody clots then I should come in right away.  As if paranoia wasn't already winning.

Hematoma on the left and babe on the right.

Naturally, if you tell someone already suffering from the 2 P's (paranoia and panic) not to do something...well that's the first thing they will do.  Note to self - remember this when my kid is 5 and 13...and 17.  I got to work that morning and told Kelly the update fighting back tears.  Together we got on Dr. Google at my desk.  My heart got heavier and my head scrambled as we scoured all the links and stories. The tears won the resistance fight as I read things like increased chances of miscarriage, placental rupture and preterm labor - if they get too large they can cause the placenta to separate from the uteran wall.  This was it.  This was the beginning of the end. This was the universe taking all my hope and leaving behind an emotionally distraught, unstable, nauseous, hormonal mess.

Kelly made me shut down Dr. Google and promise not to look it up anymore.  She reminded me to stay focused on my current situation -I am pregnant now.  There is a little guy (or gal) in there hanging on.  In my mind, I envision him clinging for dear life terrified at the ginormous monster trying to tear him away from me.  I am really, really grateful Kel was there with me to save me from my thoughts.

Worst case scenario person...remember?

Chris was completely calm through all of this.  I know he was also scared and nervous about what might happen.  He somehow managed to stay optimistic and remind me that we aren't the first couple that's ever had a hematoma. He knew that's how I felt - like the universe was playing an evil joke on us and yet again isolating us from the other, "normal" pregnant couples.

I hate Holly - that's what I've since named the hematoma.  I decided she needed a name because she's a resilient bitch that seems to have decided to hang around.  It's by no means named after Chris' beloved pup, but actually after a former boss of his that I couldn't stand.  Although, from stories I've heard, Holly the pup was quite a determined, resilient girl.  She once chased some ducks into the middle of the lake to the point where they had to rescue her on a jetski.

I digress...

We had our 8 week US the following week. Paranoia was winning the battle over control of my mind and I was expecting the worst.  To my surprise, Holly finally started re-absorbing and our little guy was still hanging on and growing.  Looking more and more like an alien shrimp :)  We were finally released into the care of my OB/GYN and we said our thank yous and goodbyes to the CC staff who have become more like family in the last few months.

Holly is shrinking and we have a baby alien shrimp with eye lids!

Our OB appointment had already been scheduled and we went in this past Monday for our initial meeting.  They should warn you it's more of an orientation because we were there for almost 4 hours!  We made the rounds - financial planning, meeting with the nurse for medical history, labs, US, full physical exam and meeting with our doc. It was an exhausting day, but a rewarding one.  We got to see our little guy again (and Holly - that bitch!).  We are doing well - we are healthy, Holly is shrinking, and we are getting more and more excited by the day.

We go back September 3rd for another US and genetic screening for chromosomal abnormalities.  They will also test for the sex chromosome that day.  I do not want to find out, but the hubby is hell-bent on knowing.  If you know him, you know he can't keep a secret.  He buys Christmas presents in November and wants to give them to me on Thanksgiving...he just gets so excited.  I love that about him!  So, if he finds out I will also be finding out.

As far as symptoms go, I've been pretty lucky - except for the paranoia which I think is just a new personal characteristic.  I haven't escaped unscathed, but nothing terrible.  Just extreme exhaustion and nausea all day.  As long as I keep saltines by the bedside and eat smaller portions throughout the day I can normally keep it at bay.  And I happily go to bed at 8:30!

For now, I am fighting back the paranoia and doing my best to just be happy. To live in the current moment.  And, maybe be a little excited.

Friday, July 25, 2014

30 is the new daddy

Today is a very happy day.  A day for celebrating.  For one - it's Friday.  Secondly - I have the day off work.  It also happens to be this man's birthday, whom I love so much.

My sweet sweet hubby!

My best friend, life partner, love of my life turns 30 today.  He enters a new, more refined and sophisticated, decade (yeah, right)!  I still see drinking a little too much, tailgating a little too hard, listening to Kings of Leon and Jay-Z a little too loud in our future. It is, however, a very special and exciting decade...

30 is the year my hubby will become a daddy :)

It worked - WE ARE PREGNANT!!!

We actually found out about 2 weeks ago with the blood test.  That morning I was a ball of nerves.  Chris and I made plans to meet for lunch and take the call together unsure of what to expect.  Per usual, I was running late. I was rushing trying to leave work and checked my email on the way to my car. There it was - an email from Dr. Meyer.  "Congratulations on your positive results...".  I stopped in my tracks and started crying like a baby in the middle of the parking lot.

Crying and in shock the entire way to the restaurant, I pulled myself together when I got there.  I hugged Chris and we walked in to get a table.  I immediately went to the restroom to fix my face - for what reason I'm still not sure because waterworks were off and on the rest of the day.  When I came out, I couldn't contain the news any longer and blurted out, "they haven't called yet, but I know".  The floodgates opening again as I showed him the email from Dr. Meyer.

Once we received the call from the nurses, we started calling all of our families.  It was such a surreal, emotional day.

I went back in 2 days later for a 2nd blood test to make sure levels were rising.  They were - they were actually tripling.  We were officially pregnant!  We scheduled our first ultrasound with Dr. Meyer for 2 weeks later - the morning of July 25th, Chris's 30th birthday.

2 weeks seemed like an eternity to wait.  I had seen nothing to this point saying I was indeed pregnant.  We had the phone calls with test results and that's it. I had also never had a home pregnancy test turn positive. What's a hormonal, pregnant chick to do but pee on a stick!  And, it turned positive before I even set it on the counter :)

I actually peed on 2, but whose counting...

We are still very early in the pregnancy.  Only 6 weeks.  When we found out our fresh cycle worked we were only about 4 weeks which is why we waited until today to update here. We are very aware of how critical these first 8-12 weeks are and what can happen so we are being cautiously optimistic. Most couples don't even reveal their pregnancy until 12-16 weeks.  We are a different story.  Because we opened up our lives to so many and asked for support and prayers through this battle, we felt it only right to let everyone share in our excitement and good news.

Not every IVF cycle works - we know we are one of the lucky couples.  I can't even begin to describe the gratitude and happiness that fills my every being and runs through the tips of my fingers and toes.

What an amazing birthday present for my sweet hubby.  All the grueling appointments, ultrasounds, counting and measuring follicles, hormones, bodily torture, highs and lows, 2 week waiting periods, fears - it was all worth it for this moment, this morning when we got to see our little babe's heartbeat.  It literally took my breath away. They had done 10 OB scans this morning by the time they got to me, and they said my little one's heartbeat was the strongest so far!  Our little miracle is a fighter.

Bring on the morning sickness, swelling, aching, sleeplessness, itchiness and whatever else comes with pregnancy.  It all sounds pretty amazing to me.  With it, comes a growing belly that holds the hope Chris and I once only dreamed of.

Chris and I fought our way off the lonely, scary island of infertility. We are proof that ART works. Team Boden prevailed and we are seeing our dream turn into real-life.  For those couples out there arriving to the island, wavering to make a decision on treatment, in the 2 week waiting period, or gearing up for a procedure - hang on to your hope and each other!  Chris and I will be thinking of you!

We are due March 18th - the day after St. Patrick's Day and one of our favorite holidays!

Just add a bambino with a mustache paci and we're set!

Please continue to pray for us and that our little one hangs on for the long haul. Because we are so early I continue to be a little wary.  But, my heart has never been so full of hope and I have never felt a high quite like this.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Our Hopeful

Our transfer was a week ago today.  And, it could not have been more successful (though we are still waiting on the outcome).  A week later and I am still amazed at modern medicine and how advances in technology can help couples like us. It was one of the weirdest yet coolest experiences we've had in this leg of our journey.

We were so excited walking into CC - possibilities were endless - we couldn't wait to see the 1st picture of our future babe.

Walking into CC for our transfer
They took us back to scrub out and change for the procedure.  Chris lucked out with the largest scrubs I've ever seen.  I couldn't contain my laughter from the balloon pants and dress shoe combo he was rockin'.

Once we got changed, we met with our embryologist, Jacob, to discuss our little miracle and see our 1st pictures.

Good News #1: We had 23 little embies make it to our day 5 transfer.  23 possibilities of life.  23 reasons to hope.  We never could have imagined having this kind of success when we started down this path.

Good News #2: The One Jacob selected was a 3AA.  This doesn't mean much to most, but to us we hit the emrbyo jackpot!  They use a rating scale for blastocysts to determine quality and a 3AA is the best possible rating.  Like I said, we hit the jackpot.  Jacob, the nurse and the doctor all said our little hopeful was beautiful and had developed perfectly.  We were over the moon.

At this point, we thought for sure we had tapped out our good luck and already hit our good news quota for the day.  But, it just kept getting better...

Good news #3: We had 4 other little hopefuls that met the quality criteria for cryopreservation with a potential of a couple more being ready the following day.  We were definitely going to be able to freeze 4...and we only need 1!  Seriously, could the day get ANY better?

Of course it can...

Jacob showed us pictures of our hopeful  These could be the 1st pictures of our little babe.  I didn't really understand what I was looking at...but I knew it was modern medicine at it's best.  Simply amazing.  At this point, the joy in our hearts could not be contained and a little jig was had.  Cue the waterworks - happy tears that is. VERY happy tears!

After seeing our hopeful...never been so ready...
The actual transfer procedure is quite uneventful.  Similar to a standard OB appointment.  Except that your legs are in stirrups for longer. Your bladder is so uncomfortably full you feel like you might pop (this is to help with the abdominal ultrasound which guides the needle).  And, you and yours are watching said needle insert your little hopeful into your uterus on a monitor.  Like, seeing the needle penetrate your uterus and retract. It was crazy!  How can you not tear up watching this.  SEEING your dream turning into reality.   Hope at life. Hope at a new life.  Hope at becoming a family of 3 (maybe 4)...it was amazing!

To limit stress and distractions, I rested the remainder of the day dreaming of what might be.  I also did some hard core cuddling with my original babies...

Now we wait.  We go in Wednesday for our pregnancy blood test.  They will call with the results as they have with all the other results..  I would be lying if I said that doesn't scare the absolute shit of me.  So many "unfortunatelys" with those calls.  So much heartache.  This time, I am praying that it's a different sort of call. One full of life. One that ends with a happy dance and 9 months of sobriety!!

Thank you thank you thank you for the continued prayers, thoughts and well wishes!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Lost in Prayer

Today is transfer day.  It's like waking up on Christmas morning when you are 8 years old.  I am so giddy with excitement, anxious about the procedure (though it's nothing compared to the retrieval), and hopeful about the results!

No - this is not an easy journey. And, for us, it has not been a short journey.  At every corner, every milestone, every decision, every procedure, every test - I find myself lost in prayer.  For a person that has not been fully devoted to my faith, I have prayed more over the last 2 years than I have combined in my 28 years.  There is something secure in believing this - this situation, our infertility, our plans of family - are out of our hands.

Prayer gives me hope.  That what cannot be done naturally in our world, can be done through His plans. Prayer has not always been comforting for me - maybe because I'm new at it so I'm still learning to navigate and organize my thoughts.

But, many times over the last couple of years my prayers turned desperate, pleading with the lord to give us our child. Desperation is like a weed entangled in your thoughts that only grows as you are lying in bed, in the dark, listening to your husband's breathing turn heavy. Tears turn to sobs.  Your prayers turn to begging.  You are no longer asking for comfort and guidance and strength, but crying out for our prayers to be answered, begging Him to fulfill our desires.  You start questioning the purpose of putting us through this: why me? why us? what did I do wrong? am I being punished for something I've done or not done? is this some cruel way of telling us we aren't compatible?

These are my darkest moments.  When prayer turned selfish and desperate.  I was no longer hopeful. Instead, a bitter anger, lonliness and feelings of inadequacy had taken over my mind and body.

It can go 2 ways from here, and I've experienced both.  You can give in for the night. You pull back, choke back the remaining tears, close your eyes and prepare yourself for a sleepless night with wandering thoughts. You wake up the next morning feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and prisoner to your own mind.

Or, you can reel your mind back to the purpose of your original prayer.  Ask for forgiveness.  Ask for strength and clarity in your weakness.  Ask for guidance as you take your next step.  This is usually the most difficult path for me. I get lost in my emotions and my mind easily. It's difficult to wrangle such angry, desperate thoughts.  But, it can be done.  I tell myself to remember - it's a means to an end.  There is a reason we are in this struggle and we are in it together.

Last night - as I laid in bed, in the dark, listening to Chris' breaths become deeper, I prayed.  It was the most simple prayer I can remember saying..

"Lord, give us peace.  Give us patience with your timing.  Give our doctor and staff health and wisdom tomorrow morning.  Give us strength.  Help us build our marriage, deepen our friendship, root us in our faith, respect unwavering. Give us guidance at every step. Help me prepare my mind and body for what comes next, whatever the outcome. Lord, be with us tomorrow."

It was my mantra.  I said it over and over and over again until I drifted off.

Here we are - Transfer Day!  The most exciting day of our IVF journey.  It's the day we will get to see our future babe, our little embie before they transfer that sweet hope into me!  I am beside myself with excitement and the possibilities that lie in the days ahead.

We ask that you include us in your morning prayers and share in the hope we have for this next step!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

We may need a bigger house...

The outpouring of love, support and prayers is both overwhelming and humbling.  We are so appreciative of all the encouraging words, texts, private messages and sweet gestures.  I never could have imagined this sort of response.  I was reluctant to even share our story because I usually like to keep our private life...well, private.  I am not one to be vulnerable and expose my flaws, my imperfections.  This was a risk.  One that has already paid off in big ways.

Our goal in actually hitting publish was to help others that may be going through something similar.  To provide a smidge of hope.  Some encouraging words.  The truth about this brutal struggle.

The extra prayers definitely lifted us up and wrapped us in a sense of peace as we went into the retrieval surgery yesterday.  And, a successful procedure it was - more so than we could have hoped for.

Doctors told us the average retrieval yields 10-15 eggs.  Based on our last ultrasound Monday, we were hoping for 15-20.  My ovaries were ripe with dancing little follicles.

We were absolutely giddy walking into the office at 7:30 on Wednesday morning.  They were already expecting us and escorted us right back to the surgery room. I changed into my gown, got hooked up to the IV, and the crazy talk took over.

When I woke up in recovery, the after-effects of anesthesia and the procedure were setting in - nausea, subtle throbbing in my downstairs mix-up, and lots of crazy gibberish talk.  I'm told I was the morning jester.

As we were walking out, the docs stopped us in the hallway.  "You are gonna need a bigger house!"


You read that right.  They retrieved 44 eggs from my crazy-ripe ovaries.  We were shocked. The doctors were shocked.  I cried, naturally.

I spent the day sleeping off and on with intermittent anti-nausea and pain meds.  My sweet hubby waiting on my every need. Momma and Kels showed up to help out and bring some life to the house.  Robby and Kristin made us dinner.  I have been spoiled by generosity and literally did nothing all day.

This morning we received the call from the embryologist.  31 of our eggs were mature and 27 fertilized successfully and survived the 1st night! We have 27 embies - 27 possibilities - 27 reasons to hope.

I was still pretty sore today.  Ovaries are still swollen and throbbing.  Because I'm PCO and they retrieved so many eggs I'm high-risk for OHSS so we are watching carefully.

We are amazed at the process, the success, the care we've received from the CC doctors and staff and the prayer warriors we've gained along the way!  We cannot say it enough - THANK YOU!  We know the extra prayers were heard!

Please keep 'em coming.  We'll have the transfer on Monday and plan to freeze the remaining embies for future babes.

We have faith.  Faith in the process.  Faith in our team of doctors.  Faith that the big man upstairs will answer our prayers.

Most importantly, we are hopeful that this won't be a means to an end...but a means to a new beginning.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Disclaimer:  I am long-winded and tend to ramble. This is by no means a medical opinion and I do not claim to be a doctor.  It is simply a story of a girl who loves a boy and together, they want to create the miracle of life.

The thing about addiction is that it is all-consuming.  It overwhelms you, your thoughts, your daily activities.  It becomes a part of who you are.  It is the highest of highs and the absolute lowest of lows.  I’m talking the euphoria of walking on top of the clouds and the ethereal happiness that somehow transcends this world.  It’s the highs that draw people back to the very driving force of the addiction.  The highs are what we “live for”.  But, why does addiction always carry a negative connotation?  It’s always alcohol, drugs, pills, sex…but why?  Why not pie?  You may get a little plump and need some extra cardio, but weirder things have happened.   Or, in my case, hope? 

Webster defines hope as “to cherish a desire with anticipation”.  A desire with anticipation – a wish for something – a yearning for a specified outcome.  When you hope for something, a particular outcome, and it continues to be unfulfilled – that’s a low I can’t even begin to describe.  Especially when it happens again and again and again.  But the highs that come with hope – the excitement, the possibilities, the dreams – that’s what keeps us coming back even after the lows. Even if there’s no end in sight, HOPE pushes you to continue.  

Infertility is something so many couples struggle with, yet so few talk about.  It’s like the scarlet letter of relationships.  When your body can’t do what it was created for, the single most important purpose of a woman’s body, the fear sets in. Along with a slew of other emotions.  It is the most difficult thing Chris and I have had to cope with as man and wife.  Throughout our journey, I have been blessed with some amazing influences and confidantes.  It’s these unexpected people in my life that have made the difference between my falling apart and continuing to push towards our dream. I am hoping that sharing my story will not only fill the gaps for my family and friends, but also that it might bring a little comfort to another couple. That it might bring a little hope to their hearts.  I can’t promise my story (or yours) will end how you want it to, but I can promise you will learn a lot about yourself, your strength and you might find some unsuspecting support along the way.  It’s a long and difficult journey – one with lots of highs, heart-wrenching lows, but a lot of hope.

Chris and I’s story starts about 2 years ago when we decided we were ready to start our own family. We wanted the baby-making to be fun and exciting with minimal pressure.  1st step – come off the pill.  I made my annual appointment at my OB and had the “family planning” discussion.  My OB was getting towards retirement so I made appointments at other practices.  We were in no rush – so we took our time finding the right doctor.  About 6 months in we realized my cycle had become more and more irregular to the point where it was non-existent.  My body had also changed – I put on weight and started breaking out like I was going through some sort of brutal adult puberty.  All things I chalked up to coming off the pill.

We had decided on my new OB and met with Dr. V to talk about those changes and plan for pregnancy.  After running multiple tests and vaginal ultrasounds, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). We were told that because I’m young, it shouldn’t interfere with getting pregnant. Dr. V decided to give us a little extra push to kick-start my cycle.

I started on oral fertility meds.  I took 1 medicine to kick-start Ruby and another to help with ovulation.  Our plan was oral meds, ultrasounds to monitor follicle development, trigger shot, timed intercourse, positive pregnancy test at home.  We were excited and hopeful.  This was it – we only needed a little extra to get things going. We finally had some answers and a fool-proof plan to get us our babe. I was only 27 years old – how could this not work?

This went on for several months, each cycle ending with a negative test. The excitement around test-time started wearing off and I became more apprehensive.  With each negative test comes new heart-break, a new crushing of your hope and you lose a little piece of your spirit. It never got easier. There’s the build-up of excitement imagining a tiny embryo inside your belly, the nervous excitement as you pee on the stick and the giddiness as you wait for the results.  Then comes the crushing blow of that stupid little stick that held so much hope for you. Around the holidays, fear and panic started setting in as we realized this wasn’t working – we didn’t need a doctor to tell us that.  We met with Dr. V for one last try.  This time looked like our best shot - follicles were on point, I felt good, and it was my favorite time of the year. 

We made it through Christmas surrounded by family, love and happiness. We shared with our families what was happening, filling them in on the process.  We needed some extra prayers.  Everything seemed to be coming together and it seemed like the right time.  We couldn’t wait to get home and finally see that little plus mark on the stick.

It was negative.

Dr. V had done everything he could do.  He was surprised.  He had never had a couple so young that he was unable to help. He suggested we meet with an RE at a fertility clinic to discuss specialized treatment for infertility. We were heart-broken.

We knew what we were working towards.  We knew, above all, we wanted to be parents.  We want our own child.  We knew that whatever it took to get there would all be worth it in the end.  We knew that whatever came next would work.

Bring on the RE.  We met with Dr. T in January and immediately scheduled a saline ultrasound and full blood panel.  At this point, we didn’t want to waste any more time.  We decided to move forward with an IUI (artificial insemination). Turkey-basting” as my father jokes.  In gearing up for the actual IUI procedure we had more oral meds, ultrasounds almost every other day to measure follicles, trigger shot, IUI and progesterone supplements after the IUI.  Test 2 weeks later with blood work.  We always tested early before blood work because we wanted that to be an experience we shared.  That moment when we turn the stick over and see the plus sign together…

March 1st – Our 1st IUI. 

Waiting for our 1st IUI

March 15th blood work confirmed the worst – it didn’t work.  I got the call sitting at a nail salon with my sister-in-law while we were getting manicures for the St. Patty’s Day downtown celebration.  I fought back tears the entire way home. The floodgates opening only when I saw Chris.  This was SUPPOSED to work.  We are young.  We only need a little help.  This was our plan.

I was devastated, confused and questioning everything we were doing. It was one of my favorite celebrations of the year, so I cleaned my face, hugged my husband a little tighter and put on my green drinking mustache.  If I couldn’t have good news that day, I might as well have a green beer.

After a lot of research and consulting with Dr. T – I started acupuncture to prepare for our 2nd IUI.  Acupuncture is supposed to increase the chances of success with fertility treatments and I would have tried anything at this point.

April 4th – 2nd IUI + acupuncture
I went to acupuncture every week leading up to test day

Hopeful - IUI #2

April 18th – When I went in for bloodwork that day I lost it with one of the nurses.  All the tears, all the fears, all the hope came crashing down on that poor lady.  The at-home test the day before had been negative so I already assumed the worst and I thought I had prepared myself for the worst.  There is something so vulnerable about being so exposed and putting the hopes of your future in others’ hands– relying so heavily on these doctors and nurses to fulfill your dream, putting all your faith and trust in their hands, the results of your test from their voice.  I asked about the chances of blood work telling a different, more desirable story.  I asked about the chances of a 3rd IUI being successful. I asked about how other women cope with this.  I got the call at 11:15 that morning at work.  “Hi Whitney, unfortunately…” – I don’t remember anything past that.  It was one of the saddest days of the last year and a half.

Chris and I had a very quiet weekend and took some time to be with each other. No words needed.  Just tears. The occasional hand-hold. Warmer hugs. Deeper kisses.

We had told ourselves that if this did not work, we would move on to IVF.  I was having a personal struggle with this choice.  I never actually thought it would come to that.  That was plan D – it wasn’t really in the plans because A, B or C would definitely work. It seemed like we were playing God and interfering too much with a process that should happen naturally. It seemed so cold and medical, lacking all the excitement of a typical pregnancy.

Enter one of those unsuspecting influences.  Around this time, I had lunch with one of my girlfriends whom I had known for the last 4 or 5 years. I knew she had her own struggles with starting a family, but I didn’t know the extent or the details. Our mutual friend convinced me to reach out for support and guidance. I was at a breaking point after the last failed attempt and needed to talk with someone that could breathe a little hope back in me.  Meeting her for lunch has been one of the best decisions I’ve made throughout this process.  We had the most honest, open and personal conversation about our experiences, emotions, other friends, expectations, fears, and hope. We talked about how scared I was to do IVF – how it feels so intrusive and against God’s will.  How, to me, it feels so unnatural. She gave me a few bits of advice I won’t forget:
  • 1These choices all seem so overwhelming and monumental in the moment, however, once you are holding your child it won’t matter how you got to that point.
  • 2It’s a means to an end – don’t forget what you want in the end.

Two very straightforward and logical pieces of wisdom that I’ve remembered every day since.  I cannot forget why we are in this journey. A means to an end. There will be an end and we will be parents.

You would think I was OK moving forward with IVF at this point.  I was not.  I needed one more chance. Third time’s a charm.  I wanted to give my body the chance to do what it was meant to.  They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, I never said I wasn’t a little insane…  We talked with Dr. T about switching from oral meds to injections with an IUI – to change things up.  The doctor and nurses pushed back because PCOS + injections = increased chance of hyperstimulation and multiples. I’ve never taken NO for an answer, and I certainly wasn’t going to start that day.  So, I took matters into my own hands, and at the recommendation of my girlfriend from lunch, I reached out to her doctor on a hail mary. I emailed Dr. Meyer after arguing with Dr. T’s office all morning.  Ruby was getting ready to start and I didn’t want to miss this cycle.  I didn’t want to sit around for an entire month questioning my decision. To my surprise, Dr. Meyer responded (almost immediately) and was going to squeeze Chris and I in the next morning.

The only thing my hormonal self could do was cry. I am not a super religious person and have always felt more comfortable praying in the comfort of my own home, my own bed, than in church.  In this moment, I felt a prayer had been answered – someone was listening. I prayed for a sign that I was doing the right thing, making the right choices.  This was my sign.

Chris and I met with Dr. Meyer the next morning.  In that 45 minutes, we decided to switch practices and start working with the team at Carolina Conceptions, we decided to move forward with injections and 1 last IUI.

Injections are no joke.  I didn’t think the emotional and hormonal rollercoaster could get any higher or lower, but it does.  It’s like injecting yourself with a daily personality.  Which Whitney will come out on the other side: cry at anything Whitney, bitch Whitney, annoyed Whitney, depressed Whitney, optimistic Whitney, bossy Whitney?  My poor husband – it’s like he wakes up every morning and spins a Whitney wheel to see which wife he gets for the day.  Some days I think he’d trade me in for “not talking today Whitney”.  Not to mention the discomfort of sticking 1, sometimes 2, needles in your belly every single night. The burning of the ganirelix.  The bruising at the injection sites. And then we remember, it’s a means to an end.

We also discovered during this time that Chris doesn’t really like doing the injections.  And, by “doesn’t really like” I mean he gets so freaked out that he paces, turns pale and takes a couple of practice swings with the needle before stabbing me. Luckily for me, my PA sister-in-law lives 100 feet away.  Kristin has been part of this journey almost since it began. She wasn’t just a supporter and cheerleader anymore, but an essential part of my daily routine. Shot by shot, we filled my belly with meds to help us make a babe.  Even in the car, in the middle of a semi-hurricane, on the way to the beach – she gave me hope.

May 9th – our 3rd IUI + acupuncture

Our final IUI Attempt

 May 23rd – we were getting ready to spend memorial day weekend at the lake with family. We were already in vacation mode because the following weekend we were leaving for Mexico. And, what better way to celebrate good news than with family…if only it had been good news.

Hopelessness sets in. That euphoric excitement at the possibility of being parents, of being pregnant, of decorating a nursery, of picking out names, of going to t-ball games and dance recitals comes crashing down to the reality that is.  You cannot create life on your own. You cannot make a baby.  You may never have your own baby. What then? I’ve seen the flyers around the doc’s office about “coping with child-less living”, “choosing gestational carriers”, “all you need to know about adoption”.  Is this really what’s in store for us – child-less living?

The thing you need to know about me if you don’t already, I’m a “prepare for the worst case scenario” type person.  My husband is an optimist.  I think our world is ending and he reminds me that it’s one more battle to win the war. It’s one more hurdle to cross the finish line.  He reminds me that it will help us appreciate each other and our future child more than we would had we not journeyed through the land of infertility. We needed this. I needed this to be more appreciative. Appreciative of my husband, my life, the people in my life…

I’ve always been a bit of a selfish person and I’ve always gotten what I wanted. Until now.  So as a woman, this experience has been humiliating and as a person, it’s been humbling.

With the devastating news of the last failed attempt, we had some important decisions to make. To IVF or not to IVF?

And so our journey continues.  We went in for the IVF counseling and medication classes.  We did all the blood tests. We learned that Chris does not react well to seeing my blood drawn.  Down he went at the lab at Carolina Conceptions.  Of course, my “worst case scenario” personality kicked in and I panicked.  I wasn’t far behind him and before lunch we had already become legends in the office.  The first couple to both pass out during a blood draw!

Chris and I just finished the daily injections for our 1st IVF cycle (with the help of Kristin).  We had to start them in Wilmington at the wedding reception of good friends.  We snuck off to the bathroom, mixed the 5 vials of hope, lifted my dress and into my belly went our 1st dose of hope for this cycle. At a celebration of love, we began this new adventure with renewed spirits and a sense of excitement that’s been unmatched. Though some of the wedding guests probably had their own ideas of what was happening in that bathroom - baby-making of some sort…

Right after our 1st injections for our IVF cycle

My belly is sore at the injection sites and my ovaries swollen to the point where I am uncomfortable and nauseous.  We are exhausted financially, mentally and physically. But, I am in the euphoric high of my addiction.  I am excited for the possibilities.  I am dreaming of my future child.  Tomorrow morning is our egg retrieval surgery and we will know by the afternoon how many possibilities they were able to retrieve. We are doing a fresh cycle so our transfer will be either 3 or 5 days after surgery and then we wait.  The waiting is the hardest part…

The doctors will warn you of the expense.  They will give you your options. They will tell you about the side effects: mood swings, pain, severe cramping, dehydration, burning with the shots, and the list goes on. 

What they don’t tell you is how it strengthens the love between you and your husband.  I love my sweet husband more today than I did the day I married him.  His uncanny ability to make me laugh when I all I want is to cry and be the strength I need to keep going when I want to throw in the towel is an indication of the father he’ll be to our children.  I admire and respect him more today than I did the day I married him. It’s not an easy journey and we aren’t perfect.  There is no right way to handle this struggle.  We fight and say things we don’t mean.  But, there is no one in this world I would rather have by my side through this than him. Chris is my rock. He keeps me laughing, he keeps my dreams of motherhood alive and most importantly, he keeps me hopeful.

They don’t tell you about the support you’ll receive from the most unexpected people. Friends of friends that you don’t know will show you pictures of their IVF miracles. The random notes of encouragement and sweet treats remind us that we are loved by many.  The spontaneous lunch dates with manis help me de-stress and focus on the positive.  I have found some of my best friends and much needed strength through my friends at work.  No one, other than Chris, knows the multiple hormonal personalities of me better than those women.  They have been through every single step with me.  They have been there every single day with open ears and empathetic hearts.  They have celebrated the milestones with me, comforted me through the devastation and heart-break, and pushed me to make hard decisions despite my valiant efforts to be indecisive.  They have helped me find strength I didn’t know I had. These girls have been the support system I needed to survive the unknown. Even though infertility might not have affected them personally – they make me feel normal.

Some advice: step back and take inventory on the people in your life.  If they don’t make you happy, if they don’t make you laugh, if they don’t bring you joy or they don’t challenge you to be a better version of yourself – don’t waste your time or breath.

We ask that you include us in your prayers tonight and tomorrow morning– the more prayer warriors we have with us the better chances of realizing our dream. 

So, as we sit here and pray on the eve of one of the most important days of this journey, I am hopeful.