Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Our Infertility Journey

Life is really just a series of waiting for the next thing, right?  Sometimes wanted, sometimes not.  It seems like we are always waiting on the next thing.  Chad and I got married in 2008 and we knew that children would always be in our future somehow.  But, we wanted to wait on kids and enjoy our time as newlyweds first.
10401217_529431488437_6319_n
We waited so we could enjoy our time with each other.
IMG_3173 IMG_7816 IMG_5164
IMG_0637
We waited so we could travel.
IMG_4782
IMG_7363
IMG_7390IMG_7601
IMG_7588IMG_7594
IMG_7659IMG_8877
IMG_8081
IMG_8172
We waited so we could live a spontaneous lifestyle.
IMG_5185IMG_5772IMG_6081IMG_6084IMG_6492IMG_6724IMG_6584IMG_6615IMG_7063IMG_7126IMG_7863IMG_9620IMG_8921IMG_8204IMG_9392IMG_9398
We waited so we could get our rescue dog who became our fur baby.
IMG_3040IMG_6686IMG_3549
IMG_9170
We waited so we could love an spoil our only niece at the time, Victoria.
IMG_9290IMG_4321IMG_4229
IMG_4676IMG_4662
As our friends had kids, we waited on our own and adopted theirs as 'nieces and nephews' and loved and spoiled on them.
IMG_2935IMG_2903IMG_3172IMG_3228IMG_3507IMG_4807IMG_4862IMG_5087IMG_6093IMG_6359IMG_6699IMG_6734IMG_9385IMG_6816IMG_8123IMG_8207IMG_8574IMG_8268IMG_8706IMG_8726
We loved kids and being around children...we just wanted to wait a little longer before we began that journey in our lives.  Only our waiting took a little longer than we anticipated.  

In 2013, we made the decision to grow our family.  

We stopped birth control and continued to wait. After actively trying for a year, we turned to my OB/GYN for help.  He prayed over us and supported us in our journey to have kids of our own.  I had an HSG done to make sure there was no blockage in my fallopian tubes.  Everything looked great.  Chad had tests run to rule out any male factor infertility.  Everything looked great.  It had only been a year and we were young and healthy.  

We were told to wait a little longer.  

After 2 years and many failed attempts, we were referred to an infertility specialist.  There was no infertility specialists in our town at the time.  So we went with the recommendation of Dr. Robert Kaufmann out of Fort Worth Fertility.  (We could not have been more please with their office!)
IMG_0377
We opened up to family and friends about our new journey.  This would be the beginning of many trips to Ft. Worth and many continued ups and downs.  Our family and friends were our life support at this time.  

We met with Dr. Kaufmann for a consultation.  They ran some more tests at their office, blood work on both Chad and I as well as an ultrasound for me.  Everything came back normal.  We fell into the "unexplained infertility" group.  Very common we were told.  Also it had 2 sides...on the plus side, nothing was wrong...on the other side, nothing could necessarily be fixed.  We were on more of a trial and error path.  Dr. Kaufmann laid out all of our fertility treatment options and based on his recommendation, we chose to start with a round of IUI.  
IMG_8897IMG_8909
We first had to make sure timing was just right based on my cycle.  Then for each IUI we would start oral medication and injections, receive ultrasounds to monitor my follicles and trips to Ft. Worth to monitor as well as administer the IUI.  The first month's timing didn't work out since we already had a planned vacation.  So we started back up in July of 2015 and in August of 2015 received our phone call that the pregnancy blood test came back negative.  
IMG_9695IMG_9217
We decided to try another back to back round of IUI.  We began in August of 2015 and received our phone call that the pregnancy blood test came back with another negative in September of 2015. 
IMG_9433IMG_1284IMG_9451
Now we were faced with the decision of what to do next...

1. Try IUI one more time or 2. Go ahead to a more invasive (and expensive) process of IVF  

Through much thought and prayer, we decided to go with IVF.  We took one month off of infertility treatment based on Dr. Kaufman's recommendation to have a baseline with my cycle.  Oddly enough, I had to start birth control for that month.  As soon as that was over, we started with intense oral medications and injections in October of 2015.  I had several ultrasounds in Abilene to monitor my stimulated eggs and we traveled to Ft. Worth several more times so that they could monitor closely as well.  This all had to do with perfect timing for the egg retrieval and then embryo transfer.
IMG_0538
IMG_9337
IMG_0366IMG_1093IMG_0638
IMG_0639IMG_0650IMG_0651IMG_1149
In November we went in for our Egg Retrieval.  I was put under anesthesia and was in and out of the procedure very quickly.
IMG_1184IMG_1188IMG_1193
We were called later that they retrieved 16 eggs to fertilize.  Yahoo!!  Dr. Kaufman told us this was a great looking number and he anticipated us having 5-6 embryos that would survive.  We got several calls over the next week or so letting us know how many embryos had matured and also getting the perfect timing for when we would do the embryo transfer. 
Time for more medications! 
In addition to the other medications to help stimulate my eggs and follicles, I had to take progesterone shots daily to help create a healthy environment for the babies to survive in.  These were intense intra-muscular injections that Chad had to do for me and sometimes very painful!
IMG_0372 IMG_1108 IMG_1117
IMG_1418
I was so very thankful for a supportive principal, accommodating team of teachers, an incredibly sweet and flexible group of students and reliable substitute teachers at this crazy time of our lives where we were traveling back and forth to Ft. Worth when it was sometimes scheduled and sometimes unexpected.  
IMG_9189
We went in for our embryo transfer and at this point we only had 2 that had survived and were mature enough to transfer.  We had already made the decision, based on Dr. Kaufman's recommendation to transfer 2.  It was a quick and easy process.
IMG_1291IMG_1290
IMG_1296
IMG_1297IMG_1316IMG_1248
Then we waited.  And waited.  And finally went in for our pregnancy blood test.
IMG_1423
Just for fun, Chad and I took a pregnancy test before we left for work that day.  There was a faint line!!!!  This was the first time we had experienced this and we were overjoyed but  also still very nervous.  We got a call from the nurse later that day, who could tell from the tone of my voice that we had 'cheated' and already knew from the home pregnancy test what the results were.  She laughed and congratulated us.  
IMG_1444 IMG_1456
We would go back in for a few more pregnancy blood tests to test the HCG levels and make sure they were rising appropriately.
IMG_1535
We took a home pregnancy test for a few more days just to watch the line get darker at home.  We were finally able to share our exciting news with our family and closest friends.  Our number kept rising and at this point we knew we were pregnant but we weren't sure if it was a singleton or twin pregnancy yet.  
IMG_1457
IMG_1469IMG_1540IMG_1546IMG_9206
Meanwhile, while we waited for our initial sonogram to see how many babies we had, we continued the progesterone shots.  This carried over into Christmas break and Victoria became our nurse to help Dr. Chad with the band-aid.  Often times the injection site would bleed.
IMG_2641
We took a picture each time we had an injection.  It was pretty crazy looking back.
IMG_2646
We went back to Ft. Worth Fertility for our first sonogram and our first chance to see our new babies and hear their heartbeats.  (2 EMBRYOS TOOK...2 BABIES...TWINS!!)
IMG_1841
It was so surreal.  Chad and I were so overwhelmed with excitement and joy.  We called all of our family and friends as soon as we left the appointment and let them all know the great news that we were having not only 1, but 2 babies!  Everyone shared our excitement with us.  There were lots of tears and joy and screams.  I think I still owe Lauren eye liner for calling her while she was at work and her makeup smearing everywhere.  ;)
IMG_1596
We were blessed with some of the most amazing doctors to monitor and provide modern medicine.  We are thankful for their knowledge and wisdom in this waiting process!
IMG_1833IMG_1840
Even in the midst of our excitement, we waited for each next step.  We waited for our first sonogram with our OB.
IMG_2698
We waited for our gender revealing sonogram with the specialist...
IMG_3189IMG_3190
We have continued to wait throughout many stages.
Here I am in my first trimester of exhaustion and discomfort.  I waited for this phase to pass, only to find a new phase take it's place.
IMG_1613IMG_2066IMG_2688IMG_2664
We cannot thank our family, friends and coworkers enough for being so supportive.  For their prayers, for their listening ears, for their encouraging texts/phone calls/visits, for just checking in on us, for being sad with us, for celebrating with us and for waiting with us.  We could not have made it through this waiting process without every single one of these things. 
IMG_3473
IMG_0369
IMG_9971IMG_0387IMG_9619
IMG_2139
IMG_2903
IMG_2904
We waited and finally announced our pregnancy to my school of teachers:
IMG_1789
We waited a little longer and I announced to my kids with the Valentine's on the right:
IMG_1725IMG_3175
And now, here we are waiting for the arrival of our Maggie and James.
*Although we hope not too soon.*
IMG_2412IMG_2425IMG_3331
During our infertility journey, I tried not dwelling or thinking about the process too much.  I distracted myself often.  That is just how I dealt with it.  And Chad was much the same.  For this reason, several of the dates/events/pictures may be in the wrong order.

If there is anything I learned, it was to be sensitive to others and their stages of waiting in life.  Many people have much different experiences as each journey is unique.  Everyone deals with things differently and no story is perfect.  Our hearts still weigh heavy for those in the beginnings or in the midst of infertility.  We long that everyone gets to experience the joy of having kids (if that is their wish) in whatever traditional or untraditional way that looks.

We wait and hope with you.

5 comments:

  1. Love this sooo much! I might have teared up a little. So happy for you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just cried through this whole post. I have a teensy idea of what waiting and struggling to make your dreams for a family come true is like, but am just in awe of how strong you and Chad are! What a journey! Maggie & James are lucky to have parents who fought so fiercely to bring them into this world! Love you sweet girl!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I applaud you for the courage to share such an intimate and vulnerable part of your life! Waiting is hard but worth it! You both will make great parents!- Meghan Hunt

    ReplyDelete