Conquering Month One

One. Whole. Month.

I’ve been a mama for one, whole, entire dang month. The fastest and somehow the slowest month of my entire life. Newborn mama life is no joke, this babe requires a lot of attention (duh) and this mama is at her beck and call 24/7. It is rewarding and exhausting, but also everything in between ❤️.

Overall, Wrenley is an easy and calm baby. She cries if she’s hungry, overly tired or if she wakes up from a nap and realizes mama isn’t right there.  Lately she has been getting some nasty bouts of painful gas, which is probably harder for me than her! She will shriek and make herself stiff as a board and let out a blood curdling screeeeaaaammm. Once she gets out a few toots (or a turd), she passes right out- but if those toots don’t pass, she will be like this for a few hours. The best way to describe it is torturous.

This Monday (9/9) was by far the toughest day I’ve had since we brought her home from the hospital. It was also conveniently the same day that Nick left for his first out-of-town work trip since Wren was born. Sunday night/Monday morning I was up with Wrenley nearly the entire night, I maybe got about 45-minutes of sleep, and that’s a generous estimate. Being the awesome partner that I am, I let Nick sleep because he had to catch a 7am flight. He usually takes at least one night feeding and/or will relieve me if she has been fussy for longer than normal. When he left at 4am I kissed him goodbye with tears in my eyes, I was so exhausted. I could tell it was hard for him to leave as he looked nervous for what the day may hold after our long night. He did his best to reassure me that I was doing a great job while he refilled my water and stocked my snack bin next to our nursing chair.

The morning brought a lot of the same, she would ravenously nurse and rip her head away from my nipple violently every time she got a gas pain. This was toe curlingly painful even with my glorious nipple shield! Girl has a jaw like a starving shark 😭.

Wrenley would fall asleep for about 15-minutes after each forceful toot, then wake back up screaming again shortly after. We tried everything under the sun, tummy massage, bicycle kicks, warm bath, gripe water, laying and snuggling upright, endless burping, ect. At one point the dogs were even looking at me with pitty and annoyance like “will you fix this already?” Eventually Tuna put himself in his kennel for comfort and Dottie disappeared downstairs to avoid hearing the endless shrieks. Resourceful dogs, I must say.

Around 10am I called the pediatrician to see if they had any other recommendations. I told myself I would keep my composure because I’m not a crybaby and didn’t want to sound like a over emotional first-time mom. The second the nurse asked me “What’s going on with Wrenley?” I broke down into sobs as I told her she’s been up for an eternity and was in a lot of pain due to gas. She reviewed some additional things that I could do to help her, including taking a warm cotton ball and rubbing it on her butthole to help “open her up” to relieve some gas. I couldn’t help but chuckle alittle at that one, but heck- I’ll try whatever I need to! She also told me about another over the counter oral supplement I could try called Mylicon drops which I could get at Target. She let me know that infant gas is 100% normal and can be very uncomfortable for babies as their guts are still growing but assured me gas alone will not hurt them. I told her Wrenley hasn’t pooped in nearly 48-hours, at which point she said breastfeed babies can go 7-10 days without pooping. Ah, What? She let me know I could come into the clinic to get her checked out or I could try some of the additional recommendations she provided. I opted to try some more techniques at home.

I tried about 13 times to get myself dressed to go to Target to pickup those drops, but Wrenley wasn’t having any of it- she wanted to be held and comforted, so that’s what I did, for hours..and hours..and hours.

Finally, around 1pm she pooped, not just alittle, but like 3 diapers worth- no wonder she was so uncomfortable! She passed out immediately after since she was so overly tired by this point. I weighed my options- take a shower/brush my teeth (I didn’t even have time to do that yet) and run to target or take a much needed nap while she was sleeping. I opted for the nap, that was more critical to my wellbeing, so I took a 3-hour glorious nap while she slept soundly in her bassinette.

When we woke up, I looked like a train wreck, I had swollen eyes, I was starving, and my hair looked like where rats go to nest. I figured I’d do the target drive up instead of going inside to get the gas drops. I attempted to order them online and of course, target was out of them, damnit. Thank goodness for good ol’ Amazon who guaranteed delivery following day, I couldn’t be seen in public like this. I really hoped that we’d have a better night then last without the gas drops.

I had contemplated calling one of my neighbors who I’d met since we moved in, they had all told me that if I ever needed anything, I could call them. I really needed a shower, like a lonnnnggggggg hot shower to wash off the stress of the day. Ultimately, I decided not call them and roll the dice to see what the rest of the night would bring. Luckily, it was 95% better and I was even able to take a bath with her next to me in her swing…and she was calm! Halleluiah!

That night I got a long 4-hour stretch of sleep followed by her waking ever 2 hours which is our normal. That morning we resumed our normal “routine” and she took her usual nap from 8:30-10:30am, and I was able to take a 30-minute uninterrupted shower. While showering, I shut the water off at least 3x to see if I heard crying, which I swear I did, but there was nothing each time, she was out like a light.

That afternoon my grandma Opal came to spend the night and keep me company, Wrenley was a different baby than the day before. Since then she has been much happier and easier to calm than she was on Monday-THANK GOD!

There are a few things I’ve learned about motherhood over the last month..

1) Things usually do not go as planned. I am very type-A and like to keep a schedule and be on time, this is just not possible with a newborn.

2) My house will never be clean and tidy,the way it once was, again.

3) Sitting down and eating a nice relaxing meal (or making a nice meal) has a very different meaning while juggling a baby.

4) Always double check my shirt before leaving the house to make sure there are no (big) poop or milk stains visible…little ones are perfectly acceptable.

5) Breastfeeding is all consuming, hard as hell and takes a huge chunk of my day, it is what it is. There will be milk alllll over everything.

6) They weren’t kidding, it’s much harder to get out of the house than pre-baby. All the things to bring and to plan- like should I feed her quick before we leave, what about a diaper change?

7) Baby-wearing is life.

8) Single moms (or single dads) are amazing. Period.

9) I must accept all the help/meals/visits/offers I am given, because, why not?

10) I will always put this little human first… If I need to pee but she’s finally sleeping on me…I’ll pee my pants before waking her up from her peaceful sleep (JK, but kinda serious) … If I’m starving to death but she’s nursing/sleeping/fussy and my snack stash is out- I’ll wait or eat my left arm first before I wake her.

11) My husband is amazing, his participation in this has been everything and I hate that he has to travel for work. I wish he had milk boobs.

12) Having a newborn is HARD work and not always glamourous. It doesn’t matter how they got into the world or how prepared we thought we were. The newborn struggle is all the same and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I’m happy to say the since the nightmare that was Monday has passed, Wren is back to her more chill demeanor. We are more prepared with all the tools when the gassiness restarts. I’m not naïve to think there won’t be more days like this, but at least I feel like I can handle them maybe alittle better than I did on Monday.

Today Wrenley and I started a “new mom and baby” class through Amma Parenting, this is a class for new moms that meets once a week at a center and once per week outside in the community. We are excited to get to know these other new moms and babies and are already looking forward to our next meeting, which will take place at Omni Brewing…. I can totally be onboard with this 😊.

Xoxo,

T

Welcoming Wrenley Anne ❤️

I am elated to say that our precious embaby, Wrenley (Wren) Anne was born at 39 weeks 2 days on August 14, 2019, at 4:29pm weighing in at 8lbs 2oz and 22” long. She is beyond perfect and our hearts have never been so full! I cannot believe it has been since May 11th since I wrote a blog post. There has been so much happening since that date and time completely snuck away, it’s crazy how that can happen! Now I can write between naps, nursing and caring for a newborn!

*Birth story ahead*

Our delivery went a little different than anticipated, I struggled with moderately high blood pressure (BP) the last few weeks of my pregnancy. This came complete with lovely swelling in my legs, feet and hands, oh soo sexy.  I was so unbelievably uncomfortable the last few weeks.  That Sunday (8/11/19), I started having headaches on and off, so I decided to start monitoring my BP readings at home. They weren’t extremely high but elevated above where they should be. I went to bed early that night with the plan to call my OB in the morning. Once I talked to the clinic, my OB wanted me to come in to get checked out that day since my next appointment wasn’t until Wednesday (8/14). I requested an afternoon appointment since I didn’t want to use any unnecessary PTO from work, every bit counts! They said that was fine and scheduled me for 3pm.

Once I got to work my headache magically stopped and I felt better, more then likely because I was staying busy and keeping my mind occupied. I swear sometimes my symptoms are in my head and it’s hard to decipher between me being dramatic and there actually being an issue… my husband can vouch to that since he thinks I’m always dramatic with some ailment…

Anyways, that afternoon I went to my OB office and had another high BP reading (168/98). I met with the on-call doctor who I’d never seen before and she informed me right away that I would be going to the hospital to get induced today. “Like, today-today?” I asked shocked, she explained that with the high blood pressure, the high levels of protein in my urine, the swelling, headaches and the fact that I have a donor embryo put me in the category for preeclampsia. She said it wouldn’t get better until after baby was born and that it wasn’t worth the risks to let her stay in for another week or two. I agreed, I don’t like risk… lets play it safe and get this baby outta me! I hadn’t considered getting induced, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous since I had only heard horror stories and painful tales of childbirth and c-section due to induction. yikes.

I gladly accepted her offer to go home and get my things together before heading to the hospital. I left the clinic and called Nick, “We are going to have a baby today!” I told him. “Really?!” He said excitedly back. I gave him the rundown and that we needed to be at the hospital by 7:15pm to get the process started. To say we were both excited- nervous was an understatement- this was actually happening, like actually, actually happening, we would meet our daughter soon! Soon, I’d be able to fit back into my rings, tie my shoes, and stomach sleep. I was overcome with tears of joy. Oh hormones, yes…lets please be done being pregnant for the love of god, I’m so uncomfortable!

I went home and started putting all the necessary pieces in place for us to be gone for a few days. My girlfriend Lauren came to get the dogs and gave us the biggest hug, her and her husband have been front and center during our journey, they’ve cried with us when things hadn’t went our way and celebrated when celebration was called for. It felt right having her stop by that day to get the dogs, her positivity was infectious despite my nervousness.

Once the dogs were gone, it was time to focus on all the other things I wanted to get done before we had our baby. I spent the remaining few hours tidying the house and soaking in a bubble bath, truly letting the last few childless hours ‘soak’ in.  Bubble baths are one of my favorite things, it’s always been my zen time and where I do a majority of my reflecting. This day was no exception, I was overcome with all the feels. We’ve worked so hard to be parents and I visualized and prayed (yes prayed, even tho I’m not religious) that everything would go smoothly and both me and baby girl would remain healthy during and post delivery. I asked the universe and my grandparents who both recently passed to watch over us to keep us safe. Over the last several weeks I had voluntarily tortured myself by reading articles about women dying during childbirth, why would I do that to myself?!

7:15pm rolled around and like deer in headlights we walked into the hospital. We got checked-in and they walked us to our delivery suite. Maple Grove Hospital is super nice, but the room we were in was very tiny and didn’t have a bathtub, something that during our tour we were informed they all had. It was really not a big deal, but something Nick noticed right away. He asked if there were any other rooms with a tub available but we were told no but there likely would look in the morning. Nick said he’d ask again in the morning. Nick was wonderful about being the ‘manager’ of this operation, I’m forever thankful for that.

At 9:20pm, they started the induction by inserting cervidil into my vag- I’d describe cervidil as a paper looking tampon that they shove as far as possible into the cervix and it sits, untouched for 12-hours. We were told this was to help “ripen” my cervix although I’m still not sure what that actually means. For the first 2-hours I wasn’t able to stand, move or use the bathroom while the cervidil took action. I never had to pee as bad in my life as I had to during those 2 hours. We both slept soundly from 12am-6am despite the constant check-in’s from the nurse. The original plan was for her to check my cervix at 9am and then start Pitocin and break my water if things were progressing nicely. I was pumped because I figured she’d be born on August 13th and I’m a 13th baby and so is my late grandpa John, us 13th babies are pretty special.

At 6am (8/13), they informed us they were able to score a bigger room with a bathtub so we bundled up our things and moved. Our new room was massive…. like 3x the size of our last room with an amazing view of the courtyard and a pond/wooded area. At 9am they removed the cervidil and determined my cervix was “softer” but still firm and my dilation hadn’t changed (2cm), the nurse let me know she’d talk with the doctor and be back to start the Pitocin if the doctor agreed.

She came back after speaking with the doctor and told us that the doctor did not want to start Pitocin yet and that I would be starting another medication, Cytotec. The Cytotec was taken orally every 4-hours and could be taken for up to 24-hours. Great, we were in for the long hall it looked like.  We had no idea induction could take so long.

At 10:30am I took my first dose, at 2:30pm I took another, at 6:30pm another, and again at 10:30pm another one. 12-hours of Cytotec. I was having just mild contractions on and off, Nick and I watched a lot of movies, played cards, and napped throughout the day. I called and talked with my cousin, Andrea, who is a labor and delivery nurse to see what she thought about the protocol, she assured me that it sounded like I was in good hands which helped ease my anxiety.

We went to bed around 10:30pm after the last dose of Cytotec, I was informed that they’d wake me at 2:30am for the next dose and possibly another cervical check.

At 12:10am I woke up to a soaked bed and rushed to the bathroom where I was certain that my water had broke. I yelled for Nick and he rang the nurse who confirmed my water did indeed break. Fluid just kept coming out, I’m not going to lie, it was really gross. I asked the nurse if I spend the next few hours on the toilet as my body drains… she laughed and said no, she would get me some pads and I could go back to sleep. A few minutes later she came back to the bathroom with an armful of pads, these suckers were literally the size of my leg, massive and thick, and looked like they were created to capture gallons of water…ew. I put one on along with a cute pair of mesh granny panties that one of the nurses referred to as “Victoria secret panties” (lol) and hobbled myself back to my bed that had been cleaned up.

She strapped me to the monitors and I prepared to sleep. A few minutes later she was back in our room watching my contractions, which were one after another after another. I could hardly feel them but we were told that baby’s heartrate was dropping with each one so she put me on oxygen. She continued to watch for several minutes, left and came back quickly with a shot that she quickly jabbed into my arm. I have no idea what the shot was, but it helped slow the contractions and baby’s heartrate stabilized. We slept from about 2am to 7am the next morning when the new nurse (Sharon) arrived. I liked Sharon right away, she had a motherly warmth and sassy disposition to her, my kinda lady. She asked me if I was ready to have a baby today, in which I responded, “hell yeah I am!”

At 8am our primary OB, Dr. Rice, stopped by our room to greet us, she said she would be the doctor all day and hoped she’d be able to deliver our baby that we’d worked so hard for. She had Sharon start me on a low dose Pitocin. My contractions had started increasing after my water broke, but I was trying to make it as long as I could before getting the epidural because I wanted to be able to walk around. Sharon said it would be a matter of 15-20minutes to get one once I asked. At 9am, I was asked if I’d like the epidural as my contractions were getting much stronger and I wasn’t able to talk through them. I said “yup!” and she called for the anesthesiologist. Turned out there were multiple woman giving birth that day and all of us wanted the epidural at the same time. It took over an hour and 15 mins for her to get to my room. The long needle into the back was a welcome vacation from the painful contractions. Once it was in, I got relief almost right away. HUGE PROPS to those mamas who birthed without an epidural, you are truly warriors!

I rested from 10:15am to around 3:15pm when I was informed that I was fully dilated and ready to push! I could feel pressure with each contraction which helped me know when to push. Nick assisted Sharon in holding a leg and we were off to the races. The doctor and nurse both encouraged Nick to watch, which to my surprise, he did. He watched our daughter being born, how amazing is that?!

The delivery part felt very intimate and peaceful, it was just us, the doctor and Sharon- no big lights, no production, no tons of people like I anticipated from TV and movies. I pushed for 1hr 17minutes. When she finally came out, I had my eyes closed, they all yelled at me “Tessa, look, look, open your eyes, she’s here!” When I opened my eyes, all I could see was a purple blob, it was such a blur and happened so fast, they placed her on my chest and I remember trying to look at her face to see what she looked like. I couldn’t see much, but I could tell she was perfect. Nick took care of the rest while I sat in what felt like a foggy dream-like state. We asked for delayed cord clamping and to save the placenta which was picked up by my doula friend Megan from the red tent women (https://www.theredtentwomen.com).  Megan dehydrated it and encapsulated it so I could consume to help with postpartum/milk supply/healing and a number of other things.

We had our “golden hour” which is 1-hour of baby/parent time to do skin to skin, Wren latched right away to the breast and we were rocking and rolling. Around 7pm, we changed rooms into the postpartum unit and we were greeted by both sets of grandparents. Wrenley is the first grandchild on both sides, so her arrival was highly anticipated and long awaited. Our induction/delivery was long, but I don’t think it could have gone any better than it did- I’m beyond grateful for the care that we received from Dr. Rice and all the amazing nurses at Maple Grove.  Labor and delivery nurses are truly amazing.

We knew we had to spend two “midnights” at the hospital after her delivery, so our discharge day was on Friday (8/16). Both Nick and I were chomping at the bit to get out of there and get home after being in the hospital for 5 days. We were lucky to have a handful of visitors and endless baby snuggles to help us pass the time!

Wrenley passed all of her newborn tests with flying colors. She was a calm baby from the start, only becoming fussy when she was hungry.

Breastfeeding was a slow and painful start as my milk came in, for whatever reason sweet girl preferred only my left boob and my right side was taking a beating every time I tried to get her to latch. By the weekend after we were discharged I was so engorged I was in tears because my boobs hurt SO BAD!  We worked with about 20 lactation specialists at the hospital who advised that her latch was great and that my nipples would “toughen up” as time went on so I was determined to push forward. They encouraged me to hold off on pumping until breastfeeding was fully established and my milk came in. On Saturday, after dealing with boobs that were as firm as basketballs and a baby that couldn’t latch because they were so full, I took out my pump. I called one of my best friends in tears as she walked me through how to use the pump. When I got it working, it was sweet relief! I only pumped a few ounces but relieving that pressure was exactly what I needed!

That Monday we had Wrenley’s follow up with the Pediatrician, again the Pediatrician was a lactation consultant and we spent 45-minutes discussing breastfeeding while she observed Wrenley’s latch. She provided me with a nipple shield for my right nipple which was soooo soooo sore and I swear the heavens opened and the world was right again- Wrenley could actually latch without me being in unbearable pain- THANK GOD!

The last two weeks have been a blur, they’ve went by so stinking fast. I have been feeling great physically and emotionally, although I tend to cry quite a bit about all things…happy, sad, annoying, funny…commercials, TV, books, youtube videos, dogs, babies, you name it- I’ve probably cried around something related to it. The crying is getting better daily, I’ve now went consecutive days with no tears.

I love love love being a mom to this sweet, beautiful gift, she is the most precious thing we could have asked for- she makes the last 6 years of infertility heartache worth every single second because it brought us her. Watching Nick be a daddy has grown my heart to levels I didn’t think existed. I’m hoping that time can slow down so I can suck in all this wonderfulness!

xo,

Tessa and Wrenley

Surviving Mother’s Day

It has been over two months since my last blog post, these two months have FLOWN by, it’s like I blinked and its already mid-May…how does this even happen?! At the end of March we moved into our forever house and have been busy making it feel like home, we absolutely love it and can’t wait to raise baby girl here! 😊

For the first time in 4-years, National Infertility Awareness Week (April 21-27th) slipped by without me making my yearly post about how much infertility feels life shattering. I thought about writing something every day that week, but the truth is, even with this little peanut growing and kicking inside me, the pain of infertility is still very raw and I’m overly conscientious to my friends who are still waiting for their miracle. I’m also not naive to the fact that some would likely read my awareness post and think “yeah but you’re pregnant now, so shut up and move on” because I know that is exactly what I would have done nearly 7-months ago.

In my opinion, infertility has a weird way of segregating people, those in the trenches of the painful infertility struggle and those who have made it to the other side. When I was in the thick of it all, anyone who made it to parenthood was different. They just were. I felt like they no longer had to feel the pain of what I was going through, and although I was happy for them, I also felt like they didn’t understand. How could they, they achieved what I longed for.

Thinking about it now, I’m realizing more and more everyday that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Granted, baby girl isn’t here yet, but I.STILL.GET.IT. I get the struggle, I feel the pain, I have not forgotten how every single pregnancy is a gift and a crazy science experiment that could go 2,864,156-ways wrong and 1-way perfect all at the same time. I often wonder how there are so many people in this world when pregnancy can be so complicated. It baffles me. Somedays I can’t believe we are only 3-months away from meeting our miracle and I’m overcome with gratitude that I burst out into happy tears. Otherdays, I’m triggered by something I hear or see online and I’m overcome by empathy and sorrow. It’s still very real. My fears that this will (still) not actually happen for us is very, very, real. It has gotten better over the months, but it is still hard to imagine we’ve made it this far. We are so close.

Mother’s Day is tomorrow. For the last 5 years, Mother’s Day has been one of the most painful days of the year and a tender reminder that I was not a mother. Over the years, I’ve chosen to forgo some family and social events that celebrate mothers, because it was just too hard. I didn’t miss these events because I was selfish or childish, I missed them because I needed to care for myself.  I knew it would be impossible to keep my composure, and subjecting myself to fake-happy is something I’ve never been good at. I remember specifically, two years ago, I laid in bed all day crying on and off on Mother’s Day because the feeling of despair and hopelessness around not being a mother was soo soo real. It just wasn’t fair. This is infertility.

Last year, my 30th birthday fell right on Mother’s Day, with skillful planning and every attempt to avoid what had happened the previous year, we were seated on a ship in the Greek Islands rather then being at home, this was super helpful, but obviously not something we could afford to every year! I’d highly recommend anyone who feels how I felt to get out of dodge and besides sending a card or call to your favorite mothers, avoid the day completely.

Here are a few tips I wish people would have used with me during Mother’s Day weekend (or any other time for that matter)….Do not ask or say anything along these lines, especially if you have no idea if they are struggling with infertility.

  1. When are you guys going to have kids?”
  2. “You guys should start having kids soon, you’re getting older, you don’t want to be like 60 when they graduate!”
  3. “Don’t you guys want kids?”
  4. “You’re so lucky you don’t have kids!” or “You can have mine (kids)!”
  5. “Just relax and it will happen” *Or any kind of conceiving story about how easily you got pregnant.
  6. “I know someone, who knows someone, who did (insert thing) and got pregnant right away”
  7. “You’ll be a mom someday!”
  8. “Maybe it just isn’t meant to be” Or “It will happen when it happens” Or “its in gods plans.”…. Just don’t.

The list can go on and on, but these are a few big ones. If you notice that cousin Susan isn’t at Mother’s Day brunch tomorrow, maybe she wasn’t feeling it. It doesn’t make her a bad person, she isn’t selfish, she isn’t anti-social, she may be protecting herself.

It’s not uncommon for people to NOT talk about their fertility struggles, not everyone is an open book and there is a lot of shame and secrecy around infertility. Don’t pry into people’s reproductive lives unless they’ve opened that door for conversation, they may not be ready. If they’ve posted about their struggles or talked openly about them, chances are high that they will welcome conversation/questions/and support.

To my friends still dealing with infertility, do what you need to do for yourselves this Mother’s Day, it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to not be okay.

To my friends that have no idea what infertility is like, be supportive and listen, it’s okay to not give advice, a sincere ear is much more helpful anyways.

Xoxo,

Tessa and baby (25+5weeks 😊)

mothers day

 

 

6-teen

Yikes, its been almost two months since I’ve posted any updates, I’m sorry friends! Life has been crazy busy on our end, selling our home, finding another and growing our baby 😊.

Things continue to progress perfectly with our little Czech miracle embaby, everyday feels like a huge milestone. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude that I’m feeling over this little miracle, at times I feel like I could just explode with all the joy.

At the time we chose to do this embryo journey, I was utterly defeated around the fact that I would never experience pregnancy and it was crushing. It felt like everyone around me was having babies, trying for babies, or had just completed their families and it made me green with envy. Before we left to the Czech, I was already looking at flights for the following months to plan another try when it failed. I also spent hours researching adoption agencies and considered applying for a foster care license to help meet my raw maternal instincts, I felt desperate, we felt desperate. This is infertility.

We are now 16-weeks pregnant and I’ve got a growing baby bump to reassure me! The last time we got to see baby by ultrasound was about a month ago (aka an eternity). We purchased one of those ‘home doppler heartbeat monitors’ around week 10 and that thing literally is worth its weight in gold. Hearing that thumping heartbeat whenever I need has curbed my crippling fear that something awful has happened.  I’ve been incredibly lucky to feel (mostly) great during this pregnancy so far, there are zero complaints over here. We find out the gender of embaby at the end of the month, my gut says girl, Nick says he “has a logistic mind and there is a 50/50 chance of it being a boy or girl” and most of our friends are guessing boy. Only time will tell but Holy-S do I wish time would speed up 😊.

The emotional mess that infertility has caused continues to lurk around every corner. A few weeks ago, I finally had the strength to ask one of my best friends how long they were trying to conceive when they had their two babies. Her response of only a few short months was a painful reminder of how unfair infertility is for so many of us who spend oodles of aching months, years, and thousands and thousands of dollars for something that we are taught happens so easily. Sheesh. Every child is a blessing. My heart breaks, and probably always will, for my friends who are in the thick of this difficult journey.

My trauma from infertility has caused me to be apprehensive about walking through the baby aisle in stores or talking too much about our pregnancy. I haven’t purchased a single baby item yet. I’ve only taken one ‘baby bump’ photo. I don’t want to jinx anything. Maybe that is why I haven’t written a blog post in almost two months? I know these are unrealistic fears…Our OB informed us that our pregnancy is no different than any other pregnancy at this point, even though we are “high risk” due to the fertility treatments (they consider any pregnancy that uses treatments as high risk). I’ve recently started asking my mom-friends about their ‘must haves’ to create a baby registry for the baby showers our families are hosting for us. The thought of a baby shower for OUR BABY seems so foreign! WE ARE SO EXCITED.

2019 will certainly be a huge year for our family! We officially sold our first home and our offer got accepted this weekend on our dream home in Plymouth! We will be moving at the end of March, the same day we will find out if embaby is a team blue or pink!!!

Xoxo,

Tessa and baby

Baby F at 12 weeks below

baby f

Another milestone!

Ultrasound #2 was a big, giant success!! Our Czech miracle baby is continuing to grow! I was a hot mess before this ultrasound and seeing our baby wiggling around was the best thing in the universe. I still can’t believe it. Happy tears were all over the place.

For those of you who’ve been following my blog the entire time… the craziest thing has happened, and it is truly unbelievable… our official due date is 8/19/2019…eight/nineteen is the exact number that’s been following me for well over a year and a half….and the same number I wrote about in my blog post on September 4, 2018. I’ll never be able to explain it, but I don’t think I can call it a coincidence anymore…

Thank you all so much for the continued love and support!!

xo,

Tessa and baby

babes

Frantzen’s, future party of 3.

On Thursday, December 27th, I got a voicemail from my clinic informing me they needed to move my appointment for tomorrow to 1:00pm instead of my originally planned 3:50pm time. Shit. I couldn’t make that work with my schedule. I figured we’d have to wait another few days to see if it was 1 or 2 of our embabies that implanted, and most importantly if they were growing properly. Ahhhhh the nerves!!!

I rang the clinic, they informed me that due to the upcoming bad weather, they were going to be closing the clinic Friday and all appointments would be cancelled. She informed me they were also closed on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day… so the next appointments wouldn’t be until Wednesday. Shoot.

I asked if they had any appointments for that day, she paused for about 1 minute as she was looking at the schedule, then said “we do, what time would you like to come in?” I took the latest possible appointment. I needed time to mentally prepare for what could possibly be really crappy news. I called Nick to tell him, I could tell he was equally as nervous and excited that our appointment had been bumped up more then 24-hours earlier than expected.

At 1:40pm, Nick and I met in the parking lot, we hugged and looked at each other like deer in headlights, both knowing what could happen with this appointment. Nick squeezed my hand and told me we would be fine, we probably have twins growing in there! I love his positivity.

We checked in and they called us back before we hardly had a chance to sit down. The nurse took my weight and blood pressure. After my blood pressure reading, she looked at me and said, “Are you nervous?” I told her “Ah, yes, extremely” she looked at me and smiled, “Your blood pressure is extremely high, we will just have to take it after your ultrasound.”  I muttered “it likely won’t be much better” as I hopped off the chair.

We were brought into the ultrasound room and I was instructed to get undressed from the waist down. They do early ultrasounds with an vaginal ultrasound wand. I’m really used to these, I’ve done about 10,000 of them over the last few years dealing with infertility. Nick and I sat there and waited for the tech to come in….my heartrate was probably about 1-million beats per minute and Nick was probably right there with me.

The tech came in, she was very friendly and talkative. Nick and I both told her we were incredibly nervous and that historically these ultrasounds equal bad news. She informed us that since we are so early, there is a chance we might not see much, so she assured us not to worry. She must have read our chart before she came in, she knew there might be two babies in me and that we had donor embryos from another country. I think she was excited to see what was in there too. Then she started…

I could see a big black space (the gestational sac) right away, she said, “It looks like ONE implanted” She continued to move the wand around looking for another, I looked back at Nick and said, “One is great!” She hadn’t looked at the gestational sac by that point so we didn’t know if there was even a baby in there. Gestational sacs can grow without babies, its called a brighted ovum.

Then we saw it. Our baby. A teeny, tiny, little ball sitting in there. She measured baby several times, measuring 6-weeks 3-days gestation, exactly-where-baby-should-be. Hallelujah!!!!!!!!

Then she said, “your baby has a heartbeat too!” She measured the heartbeat with me holding my breath twice, first measurement was 145bpm, then the second time 120bpm. Happy Dance!!!!

Nick asked a few times if there was anyway embaby number #2 could be hiding in there, she told him its very unlikely. I could see the look of slight disappointment in his face that both our embabies didn’t implant. I looked at him again and said, “One is amazing honey.” He smiled and said, “I know.”

They had me take my blood pressure again as we were walking out. It was magically within perfect range. Imagine that.

We stopped at the front desk to schedule our next appointment for January 9th. I’ll be 8-weeks 2-days at that point. This appointment seems like an eternity away. They asked me to schedule another appointment with the doctor for 4-weeks after our next appointment, I told her I’d rather wait in case something happens. She looked at me like I was batty, but said “its up to you.

We left feeling happy, overjoyed, blessed and grateful! We have ONE healthy baby growing right on track. We have never experienced an “on track” baby before. One more major hurdle down, several more to go, but for now we will be relish in this victory!

As for morning sickness…. I’d call it all day sickness, luckily for me, I haven’t been vomiting, but all day long I feel nauseous and food is a picky subject. I also broke out in hives twice… so that was fun…

Please, please, please continue to send us all your good vibes, wishes, prayers, Etc., Etc., we still have several milestones to get through! 😊

Xoxox,

Tessa and baby Frantzen

baby

It’s a Christmas Miracle!

It’s been 16-days since our donor embryo transfer and I’m still pregnant!

I. CANNOT. BELIEVE. IT. WORKED!!

I’ve had several people ask how far along I’d be since we did an embryo transfer. The simplest way that I can explain it is that an embryo transfer follows a typical cycle, so I found out I was pregnant exactly the same time a “normal” person would have missed their period about ~4 weeks.

Today would officially put us at 5 weeks 2 days along…still very early, but I feel like we waited 4+ years to get to this point. I can’t believe we are finally here.

Last Tuesday (12/11/18) I had my official pregnancy test, also known as the HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) blood test, this is the hormone that is produced only during pregnancy. I honestly have no idea if “normal” people get their HCG levels tested when they find out their pregnant, but it very exciting when you know it will be positive. The clinic had me do the first blood test on Tuesday, and then the second one 48-hours later on Thursday. In a healthy pregnancy, the HCG number should increase by at least 60% in 48-hours. If its less, it could indicate an unhealthy pregnancy.

My first HCG number was 145, our second was 404. That was an increase of 170+% increase! Yes! (Insert happy dance)

We are scheduled for our first ultrasound on December 28th. We could have scheduled it a few days earlier but with my infertility PTSD I opted for the last possible appointment on a Friday in case we get bad news…that way I’d at least have the weekend to pull myself together if the results were unfavorable.

Infertility robbed me of my naivety, I’m paranoid that something will go wrong at any given time.

I’ve googled more ridiculous pregnancy and miscarriage questions than I care to admit…

I’ve taken upwards of 15+ pregnancy tests just so I could see the test line get darker. *I downgraded to the amazon cheapies so we wouldn’t hit the poor house in the process…

And I constant look at Nick and whisper “I can’t believe it worked!” “What do you think our babies will be like?”

The odds of success are in our favor at this point. Our embabies were genetically tested, which means that we know they are chromosomally normal. From what I’ve read during my many hours googling, 95% of miscarriages in the first trimester are due to chromosomal abnormalities. I’ve read our risk for miscarriage with tested embabies is about 10% after pregnancy is confirmed. Not terrible, but we understand the reality that it could happen.

With all that being said, I’m working really hard on enjoying being pregnant and trying to not worry so much about what I cannot control. What matters at this point is that We’re PREGNANT and I’m feeling pretty good!

I continue on my medications until the 12th week… each morning I take a giant progesterone shot in my upper booty.. I’ve got 2 golf ball sized lumps on both sides that kill if I sit at the wrong angle, every morning I tell myself that this stupid shot is a million times worth it!

10-days until we find out if it will be Frantzen’s Party of 3 or Party of 4 😊 😊 😊.

Please keep sending us positive thoughts, energies and prayers as we slowly creep through the next several weeks with our fingers and toes crossed for ongoing success!

Xo,

Tessa

Transfer, Complete!

Our donor embryo transfer in Brno, Czech Republic went as smooth as butter, the place was incredibly organized, and the staff were very friendly. We were there for approximately an hour and the procedure itself was a whopping 2-minutes. Easy peezy!

After our procedure we still had 6 days to explore the winter wonderlands of Prague and Vienna. These cities are beautiful!!! It was nice having the distraction of the Christmas markets and architecture to gawk at, but the nagging anxiety of uncertainty was present the entire time for both of us.

Did it work? Omg it didn’t work, I know it. Maybe it did work. Was that cramp I just felt implantation? Am I pregnant? Do my boobs actually hurt or is this in my head? Am I normally hungry at this time? Why do I feel so tired, is it the time change?

We agreed that I wouldn’t take a pregnancy tests during our trip, it was too early and we’d likely get a false negative anyways. Not testing was so difficult, I like to know things. I need to know things. I’d pee on a pregnancy test every day of the month if I could afford it. However, I agreed to wait… at least until we got home. The clinic suggested we wait to test until 12/17/2018, 2-full weeks after transfer, which sounds like an eternity if you ask me. If Nick had his way, we would have waited to test on that day. No thank you.

Sunday night we got home after 6pm, 14-hours of travel and a 7-hour time difference, we were exhausted, both physically and mentally, topped with no sleep in nearly 24-hours I felt like a walking zombie.

I waited for my in-laws to leave so I could take a pregnancy test. The second the door closed I ran to the bathroom, Nick said “are you seriously taking one right now? Hold on, I want to be there too.”

I peed on the stick and quickly turned it over so we couldn’t see the results…..that lasted about 15 seconds before I impatiently turned it back over to see the results window. I saw our second line forming right away- I looked at Nick in shock “Oh my god, it worked! It’s freakin’ positive!” He didn’t see it right away since the test was still doing its job considering I had just finished about 30-seconds prior. I had to point it out, but after a few more seconds he could see it clear as day.

I started to happy sob.

I can’t believe it.

We can’t believe it.

It freakin’ worked!

We are pregnant!

We spent the rest of the night calling our family and closest friends to tell them the good news, we didn’t want the first time they hear to be from my blog. I still can’t believe it, I’m in shock that it worked. I’m so happy that it worked. I’m so unbelievably grateful for our double donors. I’m so happy that the term “embryo donation” crossed my path and that we went out on a limb to explore it.

One hurdle down to this journey of parenthood. We know lots can happen in the coming weeks, but for now we are celebrating this giant success!

We are hoping and crossing everything that’s cross-able that this will result in our take home baby or babies. We are so ready for this next chapter.

Please let this be the start of our next chapter.

Will there be 1 or 2??????

pregnant

-Signs-

On Wednesday while Nick was making breakfast he cracked a double yolk egg. I haven’t seen one of those in years. We laughed and both said, “It’s a sign!!!” We joked about transferring 2 embryos, as we’ve done about 19-dozen times since we started this process. We set it aside and went about our day.

Yesterday (Thursday) I cracked my breakfast egg- it was another freakin’ double yolk egg! I quickly screen shot the picture and texted it to Nick. “If this isn’t another sign, I don’t know what is, we should transfer 2!” He called me immediately, “Are you serious?” I said, “No not really, but kinda, if this isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is.” Nick was always a fan of transferring 2 embryos with the hope of having twins, the thought of that always scared me. I told him I’ll email the coordinator to see if it’s even a possibility since we are literally less than 4-days out.

I emailed the coordinator to see if there was a possibility that we transfer 2 if we decided. 10-minutes later I received a response.

Dear Tessa,

I already have both of your embryos to transfer on Monday. So don’t worry already have you transfer 2 embryos.

Best regards,

Michaela

Whhhhhhaaatttttt?????? I called Nick immediately, this entire time they’ve had us down to transfer both our embryos, we would have been in for a MAJOR surprise on Monday had I not emailed them. We both were blown away, and in that moment, we decided that 2 embryos would hopefully find their next 9-months nestled in my 10.79mm thick uterus lining.

We are so excited, the thought of increasing our chances for at least one take home baby gives me chills, the thought of potentially having two take home babies makes me slightly nervous, but all the more excited. Two would mean we’d never, ever have to do fertility treatments again, because our family would be complete.

As much as this was unexpected, we just have to listen to the universe.

Bon voyage!

Xo,

Tessa

eggs

 

Check ✅

One major (breath holding) step is now behind us, thank god! This morning we had my lining ultrasound and let me tell you, I was a nervous wreck. The lining scan today was ultimately our “green light” to officially get our transfer time and final date nailed down for our FET.

A lining ultrasound is performed in mostly all fertility treatments, it allows the clinic to see how thick the uterine wall is and to see how many follicles are growing. These ultrasounds usually happen between CD10-14 and for a successful pregnancy to occur, they want the uterine lining to be greater than 8mm.

I went in today holding my breath and anticipating the worst. I’ve never had lining issues, but I’ve been having nightmares about a thin wimpy lining and everything needed to be cancelled. Having a cancelled fertility cycle while at home sucks…having a FET cancelled when you’ve booked your international airfare and didn’t buy insurance…would really suck.

Seriously, the mix up on cycle days I talked about in my last post really had me messed up psychologically, I felt crazy over analyzing everything.

Today we got great news- My lining looks perfect at 10.79mm’s thick and all my follicles are staying tiny like we want. Our donor FET is officially scheduled for 1pm on December 3rd!!!

Wednesday the 28th I start my progesterone injections… I’ll need to youtube some videos because it’s in these weird little glass bottles I’ve never seen before and have no clue how to get the medication out…Europeans…

We leave on Friday and this will likely be my last post before we leave! We’ll take all the good thoughts, prayers, energies, wishes we can get!!

xo,

Tessa

Comic by the ever so talented Brie Bailey @ Bermuda Tea Comics

Tessa Blog 2

*Mrs. Hot Mess*

Hot mess. That would be the best way to describe me last week…

November 9th I took my last birth control pill and waited for my period to show. My doctor said that it should come 3 to 5 days after stopping the pill. My next medication, estridol, starts on November 14th, which is considered “cycle day 1 (CD1)” so in a perfect world, my period would come on November 14th.

I’m shocked by the amount of women (and men) who have no idea the magical things a female body does each month in the attempt to create new life … So, for those of you who never had to worry about these magical-hormonal changes or had to count cycle days, here is a brief overview of why it’s important for baby-makin’. Most women’s menstrual cycle lasts around 28 to 32 days and during this time, the body is constantly making important hormones to keep everything healthy for a pregnancy each month. CD1 starts with the onset of a period and your cycle ends with the start of your next period. A perfect circle of life… like the moon cycles.

The full cycle has 4 phases and I’m about to get all sciencey..

  • The menstruation phase: Period party aka CD1, it usually last 3-7 days, the body is literally shedding the uterine lining that would be used to establish a nice soft home for an embryo to implant into…bye-bye lining, time to start creating the next round.
  • The follicular phase: Also starts on CD1 and overlaps with the menstruation phase. Time to create egg(s)!! The ovaries are busy creating follicles which contain immature eggs, an average women’s body can create anywhere between 5-20 follicles in one month. The hormone FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) is cruising through the body trying to mature some of those immature eggs, cmon eggs, grow up. Only the healthiest of the immature follicles will create a mature egg, this mature egg is the only egg that can result in pregnancy. The body is usually in this phase for about 14 to 16-days.
  • The ovulation phase: Boom, that mature egg decides to ditch the follicle and slides down the fallopian tube where it waits between 12 to 24 hours to be fertilized…it requires the male counterpart to complete the deed. Ovulation cannot occur until the follicular phase is complete, therefore that egg drops around CD14-CD16.
  • The luteal phase: Once the egg drops from the follicle, the follicle is left behind and the follicle sac closes up and starts creating hormones- it is no longer called a follicle, it’s called a corpus luteum. The corpus luteum is responsible for producing estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are essential in making the uterine lining thick so the fertilized egg (embryo) can implant and a healthy pregnancy can occur. *Side note: Women undergoing fertility treatments get prescribed mega doses of estrogen and progesterone because the act of fertility treatments often times interrupts the natural luteal phase and the corpus luteum can’t do it’s given duty* If a woman gets pregnant, she won’t get her period, the estrogen and progesterone levels will remain higher and the uterine lining doesn’t need to shed. If there is no pregnancy, the corpus luteum shrinks, the hormones decrease, and the bleeding will begin, restarting at CD1.

The cycle days are very important, it’s what us infertile people study like a textbook. Without these phases, there is no pregnancy and there is no period.

Anyways, my period came 2 days after stopping birth control, not in the expected 3-5 day window that my entire cycle frozen embryo transfer was based upon. UGH STUPID BODY.

Some might not see this as a big deal, but I know that from my 5 years of infertility research that cycle days and hormone levels are incredible important. It didn’t even register in my brain until November 14th when I was set to start my estrogen pills and noticed that my FET protocol sheet has November 14th listed as CD1…when I was already on CD4. ☹

I posted my situation to my support board asking others if anyone started taking the estrogen on their CD4 instead of CD1… all the responses were that I should have started the medication at the start of my period on November 11th… shiiiiittttttttt.

I cried, I swore, I drank nearly an entire bottle of wine. I thought everything was screwed.

Since I’m incredibly dramatic and think I know everything, I emailed my coordinator to let her know I messed up my entire cycle by getting my period 3 days early. I received a nonchalant email back the Thursday morning that said:

Dear Tessa,
Your embryo transfer is schedule on Monday 3rd December.
We will be in touch with the check ultrasound.
Have a lovely day

She clearly didn’t interpret my desperation in my first email… so I sent her a more detailed explanation of my concerns Thursday night because it still didn’t make sense to me:

Hey Michaela, I’m sorry to bug you again, but I need reassurance from Dr. Hana regarding my upcoming FET. I’m extremely concerned that I started my period on November 11th and that technically this would be considered cycle day 1. My protocol has cycle day 1 listed as November 14th, which is technically CD4 because my period started 3 days prior to that…therefore my transfer that is scheduled for December 3rd would be cycle day 23. I’m worried this is too late by a day or two. 
Can Dr. Hana please explain to me why CD1 starts on November 14th even tho my period started on November 11th, I need the clarification on how this is measured and viewed. 
My usual cycle is 28days… transferring on CD23 seems late.. 
Has she had others that transferred on CD23? 
I’d like some clarification on why CD1 wouldn’t be the date my period started.
Thank you

I received the following response from her on Friday morning:

Don’t worry Tessa,
Dr Hana told me that it’s ok.
But if you affraid and you will not be relax we can do the transfer before. 

By Friday I just had to laugh about this email, not a single question answered and since our flights were booked, there was no going back now. I can only trust.…luckily by Friday morning my self-created insanity had dwindled, and I realized I was acting crazy, whatever happens here is completely out of my control. This is hard to accept when you’re a control freak like I am. After all, these doctors know what they are doing…they are a world-renowned fertility clinic and I’m just a panicky-scared woman who has never done a FET in her life so what do I know???

I sent her back an email that said:

Thank you Michaela, I needed you to tell me that. I think it’s the hormones. I’ll let you know how my scan goes on November 26th.

She definitely thinks I’m coo-coo for cocoa puffs…  At this point, I just need to accept that I kinda am. Whatever.

In other news, we are starting to get super-duper excited for our trip! I’ve had a lot of people ask how long we are staying and if we get to explore while we are there. Of course we do, that’s about the only silver lining to this whole shitty ordeal!!

We get to spend a few days in Vienna, Brno and Prague. We’ve never been to any of these cities so if you’ve been- please shoot me a message with your recommendations and must-sees (and eats, I love food).  I realized I hadn’t mentioned yet that my in-laws are coming with us, both for moral support and to see these two beautiful countries that have been on their bucket lists. We are super excited to have them as a welcomed distraction and to explore with us!

If this FET works, I would likely have a positive pregnancy test when we get home on December 9th since I would be 6dpt (6 days post transfer)…We haven’t decided when we are going to test yet but I’m fairly certain the anticipation would drive me nuts…ahhhhhhhhhhhhh it’s almost here!!

Xo,

Tessa

PS. Don’t forget to send us your fav’s if you’ve been to Vienna/Prague/Brno!!

Uter

-Emotion Sick-

The 30-day countdown has begun! Since we made this decision in July the transfer date has felt so far away, now it feels uncomfortably close…. Am I excited? Yes. Am I trying to stay positive? Yes. Am I nervous? Yes, in fact, every time I think about it, I feel physically ill.

The best way I can describe it, it’s like knowing this could possibly be the best thing to ever happen or potentially one of the most devastating. It’s like spinning the wheel of roulette with a million dollars on the line. Ufff, that’s big gamble. This last weekend I wasn’t feeling like myself, maybe it was stress, maybe it was nerves, maybe it was a tinge of depression or that I picked up a 24-hour bug – whatever it was, I felt off and I didn’t like it.

Friday night I opted to miss a good friend’s birthday celebration that I had been looking forward to, I just couldn’t do it, I wasn’t feeling well. I told Nick to go along without me and have fun, so he did. I spent the evening taking a hot bath and meticulously scrolling through the “embryo adoption and donation support group” to see if I could learn anything else outside of the 15,000 other times I’ve already scrolled through the previous posts.

When you are part of a support group you see so many stories. When I read these, I try to pick out similarities that resemble our life and our infertility journey. There are so many reasons why people desire donor embryo’s….. some have spent their entire life savings on failed fertility treatments and couldn’t afford it anymore…some can’t afford traditional adoption…some have been trying the traditional adoption route and its failed…some families already have children but want “one more” but they’ve already gotten snipped…some families learned they are carriers of genetic conditions only after birth of their first or second child and don’t want to risk passing that genetic condition to their future babes…some are single (older) females with their clocks ticking…some families have one partner (or both) who are unable to conceive…there are tons and tons of different reasons and there are tons and tons of different stories, not a single one is identical to the other.

I don’t necessarily find it helpful to spend my evening searching over support boards, in fact, it causes me so much unnecessary anxiety, but it’s hard to stop. By the time I put my phone down to call it quits, I’m convinced that our protocol is garbage and that our doctors have no idea what they are doing. I mean, Jane Doe said she took different medications for her embryo transfer and it worked and another person said that she had 4 donor embryo transfers that failed, so obviously that’s going to happen to us too. I rarely pick out the positives when I’m scrolling through posts.

Friday night I went to bed at 8pm and didn’t wake up the next day until after 9am. Over 13-hours of sleep… that is incredibly unheard of for me, I’m a 6:30am early riser, even on the weekends. I had some very bizarre dreams, but nothing fertility related…I dreamt we had bedbugs that looked like snowflakes with legs and my good childhood friend (Gus) died in an unmemorable way. I woke up sobbing, again. Thanks, fake hormones.

Saturday morning I felt much better, we did some major closet and basement cleaning in preparation to put our home on the market when we return from the Czech- we got a ton accomplished. That afternoon Nick’s cousin and her husband were having a party to celebrate the seasons- “Crocktoberfest”. Everyone brings a crockpot dish to share and you enjoy good company. It was great, so much good food and so many cool people. About an hour into the party, I started to not feel like myself again, I couldn’t shut my brain off ugh, enough is enough. We stayed about 3-hours, then I asked Nick if we could leave, I didn’t feel like socializing, which was totally not like me… if you give me cocktail and someone to talk to, I’m usually good for hours 😊.

The truth is, this was a family party, there were a ton of small children there and they were all so dang cute. I intentionally try really really hard to not let the fruitful fertility of others get to me, but it always does. It’s very difficult for me to be around so many young children and mothers, I yearn for what they have- I don’t care if that baby is crying/pooping/snotting/hungry/needy, I’d chop off my left arm to experience motherhood. The jealousy is overwhelming at times. Why do they get to reproduce so easily?

Over the years my emotional response being surrounded by children and mothers (specifically friends) has fluctuated, at one point in our infertility journey I would have refused to go or left the party almost immediately and cried the entire night. I’m thankful I don’t do that anymore, it would be a shame to miss out on these fun events. I’m thankful for the hard work I’ve done in therapy, because of this I notice these feelings before I have an uncontrollable reaction. I honor these feelings because these feelings are my reality. I own these feelings because they are mine and they are the result of years of heartache and disappointment that a lot of others will never, ever understand.

Whenever I have a (emotionally charged) moment, I try and reflect on what it means and really “sit in my shit” as my therapist would say. I try to take time to process, before I react. Yesterday, with the realization that our embryo transfer was less than 30-days away, I felt myself mourning again. I always thought I’d have a mini-me…an itsy, bitsy, tiny version of me that I’d stare at trying to find the traits that resembled me and the ones that resembled Nick. I wonder what our baby will look like? I wonder what our donors look like and if they’re good, kind/hearted people. I wonder where in the world (no pun intended) the two babies created by these donors live. I wonder if our future child/ren will ever meet their biological parents one day or if they’ll even want to. I wonder what our children will think about their conception when they grow up. I wonder if donors realize how much their precious gift means to families like us.

I wonder if this will work.

Xo,

Tessa

For those of you wondering how Dooz doggy-dog is doing, she is doing GREAT! Drain tube came out last week and this coming Saturday she gets her stitches out. She is most definitely getting all her personality back. Yesterday was the first time since the incident she actually took out her toys and chewed her bones. Yesterday was also the first day I had to holler at both dogs for playing too rough. It’s good to have her back to normal! 😊

uterus

.Screwed.

Last week I woke up at 5am to the realization that I never asked our coordinator if our new embabies had resulted in a successful pregnancy, so I emailed her immediately. She told me that this egg/sperm combo had resulted in 2 prior pregnancies, but the batch we were offered was created in August of 2018, so our possible future babies have at least two genetic siblings somewhere in this big world….so cool!!

In other news, something incredibly traumatic happened on Saturday night. It all started around 9:30pm when we returned home from dinner with friends, we were snuggling on the couch watching Game of Thrones when I noticed that our oldest dog, Dottie, was lying in a spot and position that was abnormal for her. I told Nick that she was acting weird and he reminded me that she was tired because we were dog sitting a friend’s dog for the last 5 days and earlier the neighbor’s dogs were over playing too. She was definitely tired, so I pushed it aside. 30-minutes later we were ready for bed.

Our usual bedtime routine consists of both dogs jumping in bed to get some love for about 15-20 minutes before we kick them off to their mats for nigh-nigh time. Tuna was the only one who jumped up, he hogged the attention until we realized that Dottie wasn’t even in the bedroom, super strange for her since she has been doing the same routine for 4 years- even when she is dead tired. We yelled for her to come and she slowly walked up to my side of the bed but didn’t try to jump up. I noticed her doing something strange with her mouth, so I reached down to pet her. My hand landed directly in a slimy wet spot. What the hell? I jumped out of bed and turned the light on so I could check it out. *GROSS WARNING* I had to pull apart her long hair and what I saw was absolutely disgusting, it was a huge open wound, the first thing I saw was bloody fat/flesh, I couldn’t tell where it started or ended- I yelled to Nick “SOMEONE SHOT DOTTIE!!” Nick jumped out of bed faster than anyone I’ve ever seen “What are you talking about???” He hollered. My hand was covered in gross goop.

He looked at the spot for 3 seconds and said, “It’s not a gunshot wound Tessa, she’d be dead, but we should probably go to the vet.” We quickly tossed Tuna in his kennel and within 2 minutes we were on the road headed to the emergency vet. We looked at our “pet emergency” magnet on the fridge and called them, their vet had just gone into emergency surgery and would not be unavailable for the next 2-3hours… well that won’t work.

We called their affiliate in Golden Valley and they were able to see her right away. Golden Valley happens to be one of the suburbs that Nick and I have talked about moving to but I have never actually been there. (*Side note: we are also in the process of selling and buying a new home) There is no better time than 10:15pm on a rainy, drizzly night with a bleeding dog to check out the area …Golden Valley it is.

They brought us back to a room right away to fill out forms and to inform us of the ridiculous office fee. Obviously, we didn’t care, fix our bleeding dog, please. The vet came in for a quick chat and then told us they would shave Dottie to see the wound to determine if she needed stitches.

3-minutes later, they brought Dottie in to show us what they were working with. I almost passed out, I couldn’t even look at the wound-I immediately felt woozy. What the heck happened to you girl? She looked so scared, she always hates the vet anyways and shakes uncontrollably, this was not any different, she was a mess, I was a mess, Nick was stoic. Her wound was a giant, it was almost the size of my palm, and it was open, bloody, and swollen. The vet told us “it’s a dandy” and that it likely happens over 24-hours age because of how swollen and infection it was. So gross. “She will need more than a few stitches to take care of this, we have to open it up, clean it out, and put a drain tube in”…….ugh, what? How the F did we not notice this, we are terrible dog parents!! He said it would take an hour and a half, then he brought her back for sedation. ☹

We waited in the lobby, only 2 other families that came in, the first had a dog that had eaten 2 rabbits a few days ago and now they suspected the bones were in her digestive track because she wasn’t eating and vomiting. The second was a family with an elderly cat, I only heard a bit of that conversation, but my guess is that it didn’t end well. God emergency vets are so depressing.

The time passed slowly, we talked about how in the world this could have happened, we had several theories. The receptionist called us up and went over all the medications that Dottie would need, 5 in total. Yikes. We were also informed that we needed to limit her movement, not allow her to play, and follow up with our vet right away on Monday to get further instructions, like tube and stitches removal.

Then they brought her out- she looked so bad, she could hardly walk, she was confused, her eyes were all goopy from the vaseline they put on for surgery. It looked like she had been crying, her eyes showed nothing but fear, I didn’t blame her, after all her left side was shaved, stitched and had a big nasty tube sticking out. My heart broke. They told us she was on a heavy dose of pain medication and that she was just coming down from the anesthesia. Poor sweet girl, you didn’t deserve this.

We struggled to get her into the car, partly because it was down pouring, partly because she was so high from the meds and anesthesia, and partly because Nick and I had absolutely no idea what we were doing and we didn’t want to hurt her more.

I sat in the backseat to try and comfort her, my heart was beating about a million miles per minute, I tried to hold it together but by the time we pulled out of the parking lot I was crying, I felt so, so, so bad for our fur baby.

She was still super messed up when we got home, we slowly got her into our bedroom where she could lay on her mat on our floor. It was a long night. I mayyyybeee slept 2 hours, I was on high alert all night, checking on her periodically to make sure she was okay.

The next day (Sunday) little missy was not herself, to be expected. It wasn’t until around 2:30pm when we got Tuna back from our neighbors that we got even a smidge of a tail wag, right after that our good friend, Lissy, swung by and Dottie was so excited to see her, she let out some excited cries (that’s how she loves to greet people she loves) and embraced all the pets. Glimpses of her spunk were popping through, plus she looked super stylish in the white shirts she got to wear all day to protect her tube.

Today (Monday) we had a follow up with our main vet, we were just there for an appointment 2 weeks ago, so Dottie appeared more comfortable. They checked her incisions and the tube, cleaned her up and said everything was looking “as good as it could.” We head back tomorrow to hopefully get her tube removed. They wrapped her up in some cute pink bandages, so her drainage wouldn’t leak all over our house anymore and sent us on our way.

Today was better, although she still isn’t moving around much, she has her attitude mostly back, like not coming inside and laying on the couch when she knows she isn’t supposed to. Today I watched Tuna try to engage her in play by dropping a bone on her head, she didn’t even flinch, my guess is that by tomorrow she’ll want to zoom around and I’ll have to yell at her because she is still on a zero activity restriction. 😊

So, the burning question- what the heck happened? Not knowing was terrible, there were so many theories but we figured it must have happened in our yard. Was it a stick that she fell on? Another dog scratch or bite? A sharp part of the fence or retaining wall? Did someone walking down the alley and intentionally hurt her? We searched our yard over several times, finally Nick noticed a clump of hair on a hex bolt that sticks out of our patio umbrella about a half inch. I’ve never noticed that dangerous bolt sticking out. Below it was more hair, that was the culprit. Dottie rips around the yard to get Tuna or other dogs to chase her..this time she must have ran between the umbrella stand and it gouged and tore her side. 🤢HOLY OUCH!!!!!!!!

Thanks everyone who sent good energy, positive thoughts, and prayers to our girl!🐶❤️

xo,

Tessa & Dottie

screwed

Little Blue Pill

Holy bananas, it has been an insanely busy last 2 weeks, I haven’t even had time to write, where does the time go? Whoever preaches stress reduction while trying to conceive was clearly not a social worker 😊.

I finally started my first medication, good ol’ birth control, the medication I spent years and years religiously taking to avoid the exact thing I’m trying to achieve. How ironic. My lady bits decided to shed itself starting on October 10th, so on October 11th I began taking the cute little pill in that cute little blue package. I.freaking.hate.fake.hormones.

By October 15th, I was essentially a living, breathing, monster who was sleep deprived and always hungry. How do these pills have that much of an effect? The first two days taking it were easy-peezy, but then the insomnia set in. I normally consider myself an A+ sleeper, I’m routined to a fault and can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, not on these bad boys I can’t. On the night of the 16th, I woke up every 50-minutes after the clock hit midnight, it was awful. At 3:30am I woke up Nick to see if he was sleeping…of course he was, I had been watching him for the last 3 hours…I also had to tell him I couldn’t sleep, I felt it was important he knew. I’m confident that Nick would classify my habit of waking him up at night one of the most annoying things I do <devil smile>. He told me to go sleep in the guest room, which I did, but of course I was followed by a dog party that was sure to wake the entire neighborhood up if I didn’t let them snuggle. 5:50am quickly rolled around and it was time to get up and seize the day (sarcasm).

I don’t know about the rest of you, but it is incredibly difficult for me to function on anything less then 7-8 hours of sleep. It makes me feel physically ill and I’m essentially worthless. Is this preparation for parenthood?  The next night I took a hefty dose of sleep aid and went to bed by 7pm, by 3am I was tossing and turning again. I’ve forgotten how much I loath fake hormones. I wonder how I took them for so many years.. but then I remember that I was a wild woman and survived on very little sleep and cheap booze each night, truly impressive when I think back about it.

Once I started the birth control I emailed our coordinator to get our official dates determined, ie: lining check ultrasound, progesterone shots, time of FET. Exciting.

I got an email back from her the next day telling me to schedule my lining check on November 24th or 25th, before I even looked at the calendar I knew these dates were probably a Saturday/Sunday, because why wouldn’t they be the days my clinic is closed? Sure enough-they were, excellent, of course, its always something. I had to email back and see if Friday/Monday worked instead. I got an instant email back saying “Friday would be best.” I spent the next 30-minutes on hold with my doctors office only to learn the clinic was closed on November 23rd due to Black Friday. Good God. I called 5 more clinics, all closed. Jesus-is Black Friday a national holiday now?

It look my coordinator from the Czech clinic 3 days to respond to say whether or not Monday 26th would work instead, that was another long waiting game filled with anxiety. I had convinced myself our entire embryo transfer was screwed. Luckily, just like my lovely coworker told me, Monday worked just fine, whoofta.

Next step: try not to hurt anybody, discontinue birth control pills Nov. 9th, and start estrace Nov. 14th!

xo,

Tessa

hormones

Two of a Good Thing is Better than One

trust

Hooray! We finally got some responses to our question we’ve been waiting on since September 18th!! Here is a quick recap:

On September 18th, Nick and I sent an email to our coordinator in the Czech Republic asking “If possible, we would really like to match with an embryo that has other full genetic siblings. Is it possible to find a match with 2 embryos that have the same sperm donor and same egg donor that we can reserve, so we could have 2 children that would be full siblings?”

On September 26th (over 1-week later) we still hadn’t gotten a response, so I emailed again politely requesting a response to the above question…

On October 1st, I sent another email requesting, again, a response back and indicated how important this entire process was to us and that the lack of responses were beginning to concern us, even if the answer was “Sorry we are unable to fill that request at this time” I was pleading for some sort of freakin’ response, c’mon it’s been over 14-days!

On October 2nd, there was still zero response! I was getting beyond frustrated! What the hell!?  I emailed an emotion-filled letter to the general email requesting a new coordinator and expressing my not so great feelings. I had reached out to my support group and this was what they recommended to do, some people said they had similar experiences and requested a new coordinator and it was smooth sailing after that. What did I have to lose?

On October 4th, I woke up bright and early to a response directly from my coordinator: “I’m so sorry but at the moment we haven’t any double donor embryos suitable for you. We must waiting if you want.” Not the response we wanted, but hey- at least we tried. This email wasn’t going to change our plans and I was satisfied that we finally received an answer. I emailed her back and thanked her for the response and I ignored the fact that it took 20-days to get back to us, I was just grateful to get an actual response.

On October 5th, I woke up to an unexpected email, again from our coordinator: “Dr Hana found 2 genetically tested embryos with following characteristics: Donor egg 25 age, 0+; eyes brown / hair: dark brown 163 cm (5’3”)/ 63kg (138lbs) × Sperm donor 21 age,0+; eyes: brown / hair: black 181 cm (5’9”) / 81 kg (178lbs) The date for your transfer could be on 3rd Decembra if want. Please, let me know if could be ok for you these embryos.”

I took a shower before waking up Nick so I could process the email and think about the characteristics. It was just yesterday that she had said there wasn’t any options, so I had quickly shut that possibility out of by brain and was again focused on our embryo that we had previously accepted.

For those of you who like comparing options like me, the 1 embryo that we initially accepted had the following characteristics: Egg donor – 27 age; 0+; eyes: brown / hair: light brown; 165 cm (5’4”) / 60 kg (132lbs) × Sperm donor 21 age; 0+; eyes: green-brown / hair: brown; 184 cm (6’0”) / 75 kg (165lbs).

Once I was out of the shower I woke up the sleepyhead and told him the news, the first thing he said was “really?” the second thing he said was “lets do it!” I sent an email off to our coordinator to tell her that we gladly accepted these 2 embryos 😊 😊 😊.

The first thing our family and friends asked us when we told them we had two embryos was if we were transferring both at the same time to try for twins. The answer to that is a big fat NO. Although we have the option to transfer 2 at a time, we will only be doing 1, financially and mentally, we think 1 is plenty. The remaining embryo will remain frozen under our name and we will go back to the Czech to get it transferred, they will not allow us to transfer it in the US. In a perfect world the embryo transfer we are doing on December 3rd will be successful, we have about a 65% chance of success, so fingers and toes crossed. If it is successful, we’ll wait until we are ready for baby #2 and travel back to hopefully have a sibling. If it is not successful, I’d be traveling back solo (due to cost and time) a few months after to transfer our second embryo and hope for success!

Who would have thought there was so many things to consider with a double-donor embryo transfer in another country…

xo,

Tessa

Superstition, Fact or Fiction?

TWO MONTHS until our transfer date! The nervous-excitement has officially hit me, last week I dreamt about transfer day on two different nights, one nightmare and one (just) okay dream. In one of the dreams, our fertility clinic had no records of us doing treatment which meant no embryo to transfer and no one would help us because no one spoke English. I woke up sweating and sobbing, it felt so real.

In the second dream, we somehow got pregnant with twins even though we only transferred one embryo. The twins I was pregnant with were not related and the clinic couldn’t tell me how it happened.  We had two babies from 4 different donors…. I wonder how many bizarre dreams I’ll have before (and after) transfer day.

Anyone who has underwent any form of extensive fertility treatments knows the term “PUPO.” PUPO means: pregnant until proven otherwise and it is a commonly used term in the infertility world. PUPO is supposed to create a positive mindset around the terrible anxiety of the dreaded 2-week wait to see if you are indeed, pregnant. A lot of women choose to wear some form of good luck clothing on their transfer day, it could be a shirt, socks, undies, leggings, you name it-I’ve seen it all. Usually the clothing has some form of transfer day saying like “Keep Calm It’s Transfer Day” or “Mother of Embryos” or some form of representation for fertility- like a pineapple because it represents welcoming and hospitality.  People do all sorts of mood busters to help them on that anxiety filled day.

There is also an entirely different realm of “old wives tales” that will help lead to a positive pregnancy test…

  1. Eating pineapple core for 5 days after transfer is supposed to help with implantation.
  2. Eating 5 brazil nuts per day from the start of your period helps with lining and implantation.
  3. Drinking 4oz of real pomegranate juice a day will boost blood flow and help thicken lining.
  4. Eating McDonalds fries right after transfer, helps decrease irritation from the transfer.
  5. Wearing warm socks all day long helps your uterus stay warm for the embryo to implant.
  6. Wearing socks on transfer day that were gifted to you from someone who wore them on their transfer and had a positive will increase your luck.
  7. Only take lukewarm baths to avoid “cooking” the embryo or baby.
  8. Anywhere from 1 day to 1 full week of bedrest after transfer to help implantation.
  9. And in the other hand, return to regular physical activity right after transfer to help with blood flow to help with implantation.
  10. No sex ranging from 1-12 weeks to avoid a miscarriage and embryo failure. (What the?)

The list goes on and on, some are likely based on science where others are clearly debatable, sometimes they even oppose each other. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t tried nearly 95% of these. Ha!

Reality is, I’ve read about 40,000 books on increasing fertility and it’s all about nutrient, diet, exercise and lifestyle. The caveat to that is there is a wide variety of opinions based on the authors. I read one book a few years back that raved about the benefits of a vegetarian diet, so what did I do? I turned vegetarian (no meat or fish) for over two god-damn years because I thought it would boost my fertility! In late May 2018, my acupuncturist and fertility specialist suggested that I start eating meat before our next cycle, so I did. This was right after we returned from our 2-week European trip. I had ample opportunity to eat some of the best (meat) cuisine in Italy and France, but I didn’t, because I thought I was helping my fertility. I chose to eat a bratwurst 8-days after we got home because my doctor said to… and it was freakin’ delicious!

We started eating mostly organic and rid our house of all the chemicals/cleaners/skin/makeup products that had phthalates and other crap that was linked to fertility problems. We even started wearing natural deodorant…pee-you. I took up running, which I learned to love, although I don’t do it nearly enough now. I decreased my drinking and stopped regularly smoking cigarettes. That’s right for those of you who didn’t know me then, I was a regular smoker before the first 2014 surprise pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I’m guilty of indulging in too many adult beverages and puffing on the cancer sticks every once in awhile with friends. 😊 (We’re all human, no judging!)

We’ve spent thousands, I mean, thousands, of dollars on acupuncture, massage, chiropractor, vitamins, supplements, books, psychic readings, essential oils, healing stones, guided meditation music. The list keeps going…I mean.. I’ve slept with antique worry dolls and rose quarts stones under my pillow for the last 2 years…All to try and increase our chances of having a baby.

It’s laughable and semi-pathetic all the things that we have tried to get pregnant. In 2-months I’ll be half-naked sitting in a room getting our Czech Republic baby put into my uterus…will any of these things matter? Will this work?

Long story short, people who are going through infertility will try a ridiculous amount of things (and spend a fortune) for something that SO MANY PEOPLE TAKE FOR GRANTED. Pregnancy is easy for some people, and for others- it’s far from. You will never-ever know what this struggle is like unless you’ve personally been through it, please remember that if you are ever tempted to give unsolicited fertility advice to an infertile friend, because they’ve probably already tried it.

(Side note: for those who read my last blog post “Relief,” and wanted to follow up, I have still NOT GOTTEN A RESPONSE! I sent a follow up message last week, and today I sent a message to the main email requesting a different coordinator.)

Xo,

Tessa

pineapple

Relief!

Great news! Our (second opinion) doctor happily agreed to perform our initial ultrasound and rewrite our medications so we can order them here instead of the Czech Republic! What a major relief!  If she said no we would have had to order them from overseas, which takes forever and costs an arm and a leg to ship. Honestly, if she would have said no to the ultrasound, I have absolutely no idea how I would have figured that out. Glad that worry is off the table! She is truly awesome and very supportive, I’m excited for her to be apart of our journey going forward.

Last week felt insanely busy, aside from the doctor appointment, work and normal life expectations, my mind has been constantly going going going… like last week I realized, what if this double-donor embryo transfer works and we want a full genetic sibling in the future…is that possible? So, I searched my support boards and found, yup it’s possible, people reserve additional embryo’s all the time, they just pay for storage. Sweet, that’s not a problem, we’ll gladly pay for storage if it means the possibility of genetic siblings. Why didn’t I think of this question a month ago?

I emailed our coordinator Michaela to see if there are additional embryos from the batch we were offered. 12-hours later, we had a response and the answer was…nope. There are no embryos left that were created from that same egg and sperm donor. Dang. *Side note: We were informed there are 3 genetic children that have been born from this batch, meaning, if it works, our child would have 3 full siblings somewhere in the world!*  She offered the option to reserve embryos created with the same sperm donor if we’d like.

Nick and I talked about it for a few days and 5-days ago Nick sent this response back to Michaela: “If possible, we would really like to match with an embryo that has other full genetic siblings. Is it possible to find a match with 2 embryos that have the same sperm donor and same egg donor that we can reserve, so we could have 2 children that would be full siblings?”

Well, we haven’t gotten a response back yet. I hate waiting. Whenever it takes more than a few days to get a response I worry that we are being greedy and annoying, or that our questions are frustrating to them. The funny thing is that they’ve been nothing but fantastic to work with and have been very responsive to my (many) emails. Even still, I find myself feeling insecure when I haven’t gotten a response back. I have to continually remind myself that this is our life, this is our future, we get to ask all the questions, we get to know our options, we get to be annoying.

Chances are I’m reading way too far into this, maybe she is looking to see if another batch of embryos meet our criteria? Maybe she has to talk with the doctors before she can offer us another set of embryos? Maybe she was sick a few days and couldn’t respond? Maybe she doesn’t respond after all, and I send another email asking the same question after a week. Regardless, I’ll survive and it will be okay. 😊

xo,

Tessa

babies

Here we come, Embaby!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully nothing like that happens this time around!

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

Xo,

Tessa

Dottie Bday

Next post: Prepping: Mind, body, spirit.

Realtalk

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

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

Infertility is a bitch.

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

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

THANK YOU!

Tessa

 dont-drink-the-water

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

Eight/Nineteen

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

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

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

Romans 8:19 New International Version (NIV)

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

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

The universe is wild.

Did she say…. “Snowflake” adoption?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We also crunched numbers:

 Estimated open embryo adoption in the US cost breakdown:

~$2,700 for FDA testing fee for embryos

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

~$600 for storage fees

~$250 for shipping fee of embryos

~$1,500 for medication for embryo transfer

~$5,000 minimum for frozen embryo transfer

Estimated total: $10,550

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

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

~$200 for medication

~$2000 for 2-round trip flights

~$400 for car rental/7 days

~$600-$800 for Airbnb/7 days

~$500 for food

Estimated total: $5,300

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

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

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

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

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

“Dear Tessa,

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

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

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

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

*Insert happy dance*

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

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

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

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

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

xo,IMG-1704

Tessa

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

Infertility, you nasty little dream crusher.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh infertility…sigh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

meme