Our Infertility Story | IVF
In Vitro fertilization, better known as IVF, is defined as ‘a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child.’ It’s a big giant roller coaster and we were about to hop on as passengers.
The beginning of our infertility journey was a rough one. By this point we figured we had been through so much mentally and physically, why not go for the gold and do the dang thing. After all, we were great candidates for IVF and the odds of success were certainly in our favor.
IVF is a pretty simple yet extremely complicated process.
In simple terms, you receive several medications (we’re talking shots again, except this time we added some to the rear end and that, my friends, is not a fun situation), you grow up a bunch of follicles(eggs)(this also causes you to puff up like a cheat meal gone tooooo far), the doctor goes in and sucks out the eggs, fertilizes the eggs(with sperm) and bam, you make an embryo. Put the embryo in and you have yourself a baby.
Now my doctor would probably disagree that the IVF process is quite that simple and now that we’ve been through it I know that there is far more to it than what my simple definition implies.
Let’s break down what OUR IVF process looked like:
We met with Dr. Milroy in February of 2015 after about a year and a half of failed attempts at making a baby at KU Med. She and our nurse, Jeny, had walked us through our whole journey thus far and we were certainly ready to finish things up with them.
She drew up what the process would look like. I’ll never forget how well she explained everything, she was SO GOOD at her job. You could tell that she had made these charts a time or two.
She had us excited!
This was going to be it!
After all of the heartache there was no reason why we wouldn’t be pregnant in April!
On March 11th we went in for what is called a saline sonogram. This is a procedure where they add saline solution and a dye into your uterus via catheter. Then they do an ultrasound to look at your uterus. By doing this they can check for any abnormalities and (during ours) they mapped out where the best embryo placement would be. (That’s right, there are areas in your uterus that are more conducive to embryo implantation than others.)
Usually the sono goes great and you’re on your way, but we all know by now that things just don’t go that easily. It turns out that I had a small polyp (growth) that needed to be removed.
Another set back.
Again, I was broken…my body failed me.
I can remember emailing Jeny trying to convince her that just mayyyybe things would be fine and we should just go ahead and put the embryos in without having the surgery. Of course she said no (because she has a brain) and instead she said that we would go ahead and grow up the eggs, retrieve them, fertilize them, and then freeze them to use after the surgery.
A frozen embryo transfer.
For many of you that doesn’t mean a thing, but if you’ve been through IVF you know that the odds of success are usually better with fresh embryos instead of frozen embryos because the thawing process can be hard on them. (Although I’ve seen recent studies that argue that frozen is better because it gives your body time to calm down ‘down there’.)
We were back to a plan and I was ok with it. (Not that I had a choice.)
Step 1- Grow up as many eggs as possible. It started on March 25th with a baseline ultrasound and then I started rounds of 3 shots 2 times per day. I would go to KU Med for ultrasound every-other-day to check growth and blood levels.
This process was insane. Emotionally I was a wreck and physically I had cramps, was sore, bloated, and very tired. Luckily, these are all great signs!
We knew my body was capable of growing up several follicles if given enough medication and it did just that. By day 9 there were 16 follicles worth looking at and by day 13 we had around 20.
It was great!
I felt optimistic!
We were getting there!
By day 15 it was time for our retrieval. The night before I went over to my friend Mandy’s house for a pep talk and cuddle session with her girls. I waddled in the door and she laughed at my ‘egg belly’. (They are NOT LYING when they say that by the time you have your retrieval you will look 6 months pregnant.)
She was excited.
I was excited.
This was it.
Our retrieval was scheduled for April 8th at 6:30am. Now keep in mind that we drive about an hour and a half to get to our doctor’s office so that 6:30 surgery called for a 3:00am wake up call and 4:00 departure so that we could get to the office an hour before surgery time.
Let’s be real neither I, nor Jesse, slept that night. Surprisingly, the 3:00 alarm wasn’t really all that bad because we were just so excited.
For once we were actually doing something that was pretty much a sure thing. We were going to get our eggs and have our embryos.
We got to the office and went back to the OR. Jeny was there along with a few other nurses (they deserve a shout out because they are at the office this early all the time and people have no idea). They set up an IV for fluids and eventually a light sedative that would put me under for the actual retrieval part.
Somewhere in my paperwork (and I’m sure in several conversations with Jeny) I was told to have a full bladder for this procedure. I must’ve missed that part because I had peed about 5 seconds before I was reminded about it in our OR waiting room. I spent the next 30 minutes chugging water.
Dr. Milroy came in and went over everything. They knocked me out and wheeled me back to the OR.
The next thing I know I’m back in my room waking up. All I can really remember at that point is everyone laughing at me because I wouldn’t shut up about Little Wayne. I don’t even listen to Little Wayne so I have no idea what that was about. (Apparently their sedative brought out the rapper in me.) I was pretty loopy but I remember overhearing Dr. Milroy come in and talk to Jesse. After awhile they let me get dressed and we were on our way.
I hadn’t even asked how things went!
Eventually I got a grip on reality and asked Jesse about the eggs. He handed me a paper and on it it said 26 eggs retrieved. What!? Most times people get around 17 eggs so I couldn’t believe this number.
I was practically a chicken.
We got home and I was supposed to take it easy for the next couple of days so I camped myself on the couch. I got a call the following day letting me know that out of our 26 eggs, 20 were good enough to fertilize and 16 made it through the night (which was crucial.) Someone from the lab would call me in a couple of days to let me know how many made it to day 5, which was freezing day. Sure enough, we got the call on Monday that we had 9 (NINE!!!!) frozen embryos and they were all great quality.
I had received SO MANY phone calls with bad news that I couldn’t hardly process this. Infertility (IVF especially) changes your outlook and mindset. I never wanted to get my hopes up because as soon as I did, something would go wrong.
There was no disappointment to be had this time. We had nine babies that were ready for us! We were parents even if was only to popsicle babies!
The wait was on.
On April 31st I had my polyp surgery. Mom and Staci, my mother in law, went with me because Jesse was working. It was no biggie, the polyp ended up being a small piece of scar tissue so no worries there. I would go back for a post-op appointment in a few weeks.
It really sucked.
The post-op appointment went well and we set up our transfer day for July 27, 2015. Again I remember emailing Jeny, “are you sure that I’m not healed well enough? We could go ahead and just do the transfer early??” No. (She said it in a much nicer way but in my mind it was just more waiting which meant more disappointment.)
I needed to be positive.
We still had our babies and everything was going to be perfect.
Then a bomb hit in June. I received a call that my Doctor would be moving and therefore wouldn’t be able to do our transfer.
I had been through a lot emotionally in the past couple of years but nothing felt more like a punch to the gut than this did. Our doctor who we loved so much and had made this miracle happen would be gone before the final leg of the race.
I trusted her.
I was confident in her.
She was MY doctor.
How would I ever be able to do this with someone else?
Note: I don't blame her ONE BIT for moving. She was doing what was best for her family and I completely respect that. My disappointment stemmed from pure selfishness, which I realize now.
Immediately, I panicked. I think I emailed Jeny at least twice and then called her as well. “Girl she KNOWS what she’s doing! Let’s just move the transfer up! She HAS to do it.”
So this is at least the third time, if not more, that I had tried to convince Jeny that we needed to do my transfer early (how annoying). I was desperate for this baby and Jeny knew that. More importantly she knew what was best for me and what would give us the best outcome and so of course she said that that wasn’t possible.
I will never be able to thank her enough for making us wait.
We met with the other RE that practiced in the clinic, Dr. Marsh, and did another trial transfer (the procedure that mapped out the embryo placement). Everything went well and we were back on track.
In order to prepare for the transfer you have to go through a full cycle so that you shed out any uterine lining that might be there in order to allow for the embryo to implant. We got through that and on July 27, 2015 we had our embryo transfer.
Read about that here.
For those of you who have already read about our transfer day; stick around.
The days and weeks following the transfer were some of the best…and also the worst…days of our lives.
I promise that won’t want to miss out!