Finding our Assistant To The Regional Manager

I came across this photo of Aaron wearing the t-shirt and holding the onesie that references our favorite TV show ‘The Office’ this morning, and felt compelled to write the story of how it came to be.

Aaron holding “Assistant to the regional manager” onesie

To anyone else, it’s just a cute photo of a to-be Dad posing to show some excitement of the onesie that will hopefully one day be covered in spit up.

To me, the to-be Mom who took the photo, it was a moment that I had previously dreamt about, cried about, got angry over, and really eventually gave up on. That seems like a lot for a silly, posed photograph doesn’t it?

Let me explain.

We knew going in to our marriage that we may have issues growing our family on our own, so we started trying immediately. Like anyone starting out on that journey, I was SO excited. “This will be easy,” I probably, naively thought. So, before I even tracked my first ovulation to signal it was go time, I got on the internet and started searching for the PERFECT gift to give to Aaron to announce to him that we were pregnant! Wrapping paper, stuffing paper, a book about pregnancy for Dad’s and all.

Well, we all know now that pregnancy test came up negative. And so did the next one. And what feels like the 1000 after that.

But the shirt and the onesie stayed tucked hidden in my drawer. An item that once made me happy and excited to see, became a harsh reminder of my shortcomings. I thought about just throwing them away.

And then we started IVF. I realized that if it worked and I did get pregnant, it wasn’t going to be a surprise to Aaron. It wasn’t going to be the moment I had once dreamt of, surprising him with a little gift one morning. I would have to bring it out after he already knew of the pregnancy. The thought of it caused me some annoyance, but it would still be a nice gesture anyways. So it stayed tucked away.

And we went through failure, more failure, and more failure after that.

I brought the package out one day to throw it away, but I had never actually taken the shirt and onesie out of the wrapping. So, I opened it up to look at them. Something about holding the onesie sparked something in me. Something like Hope. I decided against throwing them away and tucked it back in the drawer.

Around that time, we were deciding to take a leap of faith with adoption. The idea had floated around, we knew it was something we wanted to go all in with, but we weren’t sure that we could afford it.

We eventually decided that money would not be a barrier to starting our family and we took our first steps. As we worked on completing our home study, my mind kept straying back to the drawer these gifts still laid in. I decided it was time, and it ended up better than I had originally planned it to be anyways.

The morning that our home study was completed, I tearfully took the shirt and onesie from the drawer and brought them down to Aaron. A silly little gift that I had been waiting patiently to give to him for two and a half years.

He immediately put the shirt on, I made him pose for the picture in our nursery (which is in progress) and life continued.

For me though, it was a weight being taken off of me. It is a symbol of hope that is no longer hidden in a drawer, but out in the open and being worn proudly.

Aaron often wears the t-shirt, and every time he does it makes me happy. It makes me hopeful. It reminds me of the empty onesie that we are working so hard, and waiting so patiently to fill.

I cried when I saw Aaron in the t-shirt, and I will cry when I see our baby in that onesie.

What a beautiful reminder of the patience, the pain, the work, the faith, the perseverance, and the enormous amount of love it has taken to fill it with a child.


Adoption Scams

We knew it was coming. It is almost inevitable to adopt privately without encountering them. But Aaron and I found ourselves scrambling this week, our very first week searching for our family, to learn about adoption scams and how to spot them.

I think it is little known in the general public that this is such a problem in the adoption community. I know I had never heard about it happening prior to starting our journey. Through my research, though, I learned that if we are advertising ourselves correctly, we will be scammed. These people prey on adoption sites, social media accounts, and advertisements made by couples hoping to adopt.

In just our first week of searching for our family, we have been contacted 4 times by scammers.

Although we knew it would happen to us, I was not prepared for just how REAL these situations appear when you are first contacted. I spent quite a bit of time this week scouring the internet, trying to find different ways to verify that a situation is legit.

There are two types of adoption scams, financial and emotional. In both cases, the scammers will lure you in with a fake pregnancy and try to convince you that they are interested in choosing you to adopt their baby. In financial scams, they quickly will switch over to asking for money for various things. This type, I am far less afraid of because Aaron and I legally cannot give money over to an expectant family without our lawyer involved. And usually with any mention of a lawyer, this type of scammer will bail immediately.

The first scam we encountered this week was a financial one. It was easy to spot, and we didn’t get too excited about anything. In fact, we high-fived because we knew it was coming if we were doing things right, and here was proof that we were being seen, even if by the wrong people at the moment. We were told it was a situation in West Africa of a 3 year old that was needing to be adopted. Obviously we have been clear that we plan to adopt from the States, and this person did not take the time to look at that information. We didn’t even engage, but we knew the next question would be if we could send money.

The next 3 scammers that contacted us were emotional scammers. I have read enough about them to know that they can be tricky, and I was surprisingly more defeated after these than I thought that I would be. Emotional scammers prey on adopting couples for attention. They lure you in with a remarkably complex and put-together stories, attempt to “prove” the pregnancy to you, and try to foster a relationship with you in order to gain connection with people that apparently is missing in their real lives.

The most famous of these is woman named Gabby, who has done this for the better part of a decade and is still active. If you are interested in more about her story, she was featured on a Dr. Phil episode that dives more into what she does.

She is such a problem in the adoption community, that there are entire websites and social groups on Facebook devoted to trying to recognize and catch the stories she comes up with so that families can quickly recognize her and move on.

I was contacted twice this week by two different “couples” interested in making an adoption plan for their baby, and these wonderful Facebook communities were able to quickly tell me that it was her behind the stories.

These emotional scams are disheartening to me, and to everyone else just trying to do their best to grow their families. The first one of these that contacted me was EXTREMELY difficult to prove wrong just by talking to her. She had an ultrasound that had her full name on it, her Facebook (and her boyfriends) were well developed and not obviously new and fake-meaning she is probably using the Facebook profiles of actual people and pretending they are her, her cell phone did not originate from an online directory, and she seemed sweet and innocent.

That is, until I asked her to contact our social worker and verify the situation. Then things took a turn. But, I spent an entire day going back and forth in my head and my heart as to whether that situation was real.

And it’s just sad. No one wants their heart to be played with when going through an already highly emotional situation.

We just have to have faith that when the right situation presents itself, we will know. I am scared going forward to have a mistrust of someone who is legitimately trying to do the right thing.

So, we just have to keep moving forward. One day at a time, just like we have done for the past couple of years. We will continue in our confidence that we are doing the right thing, and the perfect situation will present itself when the time is right.

And when that time comes, all of this will be worth it.

Our Adoption Plan

First off, we want to say thank you for all the love everyone has given us in the past few days! We are so happy that so many people share in our excitement about our adoption. Since we will have so many people following along, we want to share our plan of action since it might look a little different than a typical adoption.

The first step in any kind of adoption (yes, there are many different kinds!) is to complete a home study. This is when we hire a social worker to learn about us, and to literally come and visit our home to make sure it is safe for a child and that there is enough room. They also look into our finances, complete a comprehensive background check, verify employment, collect letters of recommendation from our friends and family, and make sure we are who we say we are. Our home study required two visits with our social worker, and tons of documentation that needed to be collected and turned in. It took us about a month to complete this step, but we are “home study approved” and legal to begin our search for our family!

Through our home study visits, we were asked a lot of tough questions. We were also questioned about what types of children we are willing and wanting to adopt. This is a tough question to be asked, as most everyone would want to say “any of them!”. Our social worker reeled us in, however, and wanted us to be realistic and make choices that are going to make our family successful. After many tough decisions, we were able to narrow our answer down to what feels right to us and our family. The fancy way to say it is we are pursing a domestic infant adoption. That means that we are searching all 50 states for a newborn baby (or twins). We are not going to be specific about gender or race, and are open to sibling situations in special circumstances.

The way we will go about finding our family is what makes our adoption maybe a little different than you would imagine. We have chosen to do our search on our own, instead of hiring an adoption agency. This is called an “independent adoption”, and it is starting to become a more popular way of going about things. Although many agencies are ethical, and have great and caring people that look out for birth families, there are some that are profiting from adoptions. These profits can drive some unethical behavior, and in these cases birth families can be manipulated and used for the purpose of getting their newborns. This did not sit well with Aaron and I, and we want our birth family to feel comfortable and confident in their decision.

That leads into the next decision we had to discuss and make. We are looking for a semi-open to open adoption plan. This means that we want to have an open relationship with our birth family. We will maintain contact, send pictures and updates, and our child will have a relationship with their birth family.

Since we are attempting to find our family without an agency, we will be relying heavily on YOU! We will be paying for advertising of our web page, but the best way to get our story out there will be for those closest to us to share our story by word of mouth, and also through social media. If you haven’t already, please like our Facebook Adoption page. You can find it HERE. This is where we will posting updates, and things to share. There will also be a dedicated sharable at the top of that page to make this easy to do.

We can’t thank you all enough for helping make our dream come true! We love you all!

And welcome to our very first “Share it Sundays!”

We Are Adopting!

Hallelujah! We can finally share that Aaron and I are planning to adopt! I feel like I have been keeping this excitement and happiness a secret, and can finally let it out!

This has really been a long time coming for us as we had started talking about it at the end of last year. Our initial reaction to our research was that it was complicated, and way too expensive to do. So, we continued with fertility treatments. (Surprisingly, that is the cheaper route to a family)

But the idea of adoption really sat with me and started growing in my heart, even as we struggled through our infertility. In February, while still going through our second round of IVF, I joined an online support group for Domestic Infant Adoption and talked to a couple of friends that I know have gone through the adoption process. After our second cycle failed, I started to read through the stories of those that have adopted, and what that experience has been like for them. It gave me some sort of hope that I really don’t think I had through all of the failures we endured trying to have a biological child. Before we even started our third IVF cycle, I felt like I already knew that we belonged on the path of adoption.

I think the inertia and extra embryos we had frozen from our previous IVF cycle kept us on the track of treatments, though, even though we both knew going into our third cycle, it didn’t feel quite right. As we all know now, that third cycle was hell. I didn’t feel my heart quite in it, often even thinking to myself that I wish it would just hurry up and end so we can get started with something that might actually work. The hormones and emotions were awful, and still make me cringe to think about it now. But after that cycle was cancelled, Aaron and I grieved what we knew was then behind us, and got to work with figuring out how to make adoption work for us.

And what a busy time that has been! Finally, even though just at the beginning of this new process, we feel happier and just SO ready to start this new chapter together. It makes me tear up just trying to think of how to explain how RIGHT this feels in comparison to what we were doing before.

I just got to the point with infertility that I felt like I was fighting the diagnosis so hard, and wasting so much energy on it…and I eventually realized I could be utilizing that energy building my family another way.

Even if our kids don’t share our genetics.

It really just doesn’t matter to me anymore. You come to a point in that journey, I think, that you realize that it is the love that we have to give to another person that does matter, and I just really can’t wait to give that to our future child!

So, we hired our social worker and we knocked out our home study, which is step one of any type of adoption process.

We are officially ready, and legal, to adopt!

Our adoption is going to look a little different than a normal adoption through an agency, and we will be relying on all of you (yep, you read that right!) to help us get the word out and help us find our family. There will be plenty more coming on that in the next few days, so stay tuned.

But for now, we are just going to take a moment to celebrate with each other, because…Holy smokes, WE ARE ADOPTING!


After what feels like the longest two months of my life, our transfer was cancelled one week shy of the finish line. After finding my uterine lining was not quite ready last week, we went in for another check and a new spot has appeared on my uterus, most likely another polyp. I will need to have another sonohystogram in a few weeks to confirm, but this will be the fourth one I have had in the last year. Due to this discovery, I have stopped all medications, and our embryo transfer is cancelled.

This means eventually I will have to have another surgery. This time, most likely a full on D&C. This will be my sixth surgery on our journey.

To say that we are upset would really be an understatement. If you have read my blog or have been around me recently, you know that I have really struggled through the past few weeks. In a way that I don’t really know that I have struggled, ever. Even before getting this news, I think Aaron and I kind of knew that this would be it for awhile. I cannot jump back in and put myself through the physical and emotional duress that I have been navigating for the past year of treatments. It’s time to walk away for now, and open a new chapter.

Which means I have a lot to grieve, Aaron has a lot to grieve, and together there is a lot to process and get through. Having to finally admit defeat and apologize to my husband that I may never bear his children have been some of the most difficult moments I have had in my entire life. To work at something with everything you have, and to come up completely empty handed is painful in so many ways, and it’s going to take time to heal some of those wounds.

This isn’t the end of our story, but to turn the page we will be taking some time to reflect and process through what has felt like a trip to hell and back.

Just want to say thank you to everyone who has offered support and prayers through all of these challenges. You brought so much light to what otherwise would be a very dark period of my life.

There will never be enough thank yous!

Give Grace

This post may be the most difficult to write and be brutally honest throughout, because the topic I find myself needing to express about is hormones and the resulting emotional difficulties that one goes through during IVF and other infertility treatments. It’s a vulnerable thing to talk about the worst parts of all of this, but I know that I am not the only one that is, has, or will go through it. And if it can help someone else feel like they are not alone, or help a loved one of someone going through a similar situation understand, then I suppose it is worth it.

As an ICU nurse who has seen a lot of the worst parts of living and dying, I have had to learn through my career how to hide emotions so I can perform my job effectively. I also have had to learn how to find ways to release those emotions once I have left work to be a part of the real world. On a normal basis, I think that I have, after years of figuring it out, become pretty good at these two things. I have learned that it is ok to feel things, but sometimes there has to be the right time and place for it, and that there are better and more healthy ways to process through situations than others.

In a sense, I feel like because of my job I have done more than an average person needs to do to train myself to process difficult emotions, and to do it in a healthy manner.

IVF in general, and particularly this current cycle has tested my abilities in this in every way. I will mostly talk about this cycle because it is current, fresh, and has been by far the most difficult. But if you have read through our story, you know that each cycle has seen its fair share of difficulties with each its own highs and lows.

I honestly went into this one with some confidence. We have done this before, we know what to expect, and I have a pretty solid support system of people I can talk to candidly about treatment by this point. It started just like every other one has, a month of birth control and waiting. Easy, I can handle that. I’ve waited for over two years, that has become second nature by now.

Then, we started the estrogen patches.

Estrogen patches

In our previous two cycles, I have only had to wear one, and we would start those around the time of our embryo transfer. This time, they upped the dosage to three patches at a time, starting at the beginning of the month. The first couple of days were easy. I actually was pretty happy with how things were going and excited that I was not going to have to do injections for the greater part of the cycle, unlike the last two.

Then, I think when the estrogen had built up enough in my system, it felt like everything just kind of started falling apart around me.

At home, I have not gone a day without breaking down and crying. Sometime for little to no reason. Other times it’s small things that would not usually bother me at all. And then there are the usual birth announcments, seeing kids playing, driving by mothers walking their babies in a stroller. These things have always nagged at me throughout this. The occasional reminders that I am less than, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t have that. At least not right now.

Those have crippled me this time. When I started by telling you that I have learned to bury emotions, its because this time around, I have no idea how to. I feel like I have trained for this, and I have no idea how to do it all of sudden. Like training your whole life for the big game, then stepping up to the plate and forgetting how to hold your bat. Everything I feel is just on a scale that I have not had to deal with before.

“Well you’re on three times the amount of estrogen you have ever been on”.

Yep. And then I had my one appointment to check my labs and lining to make sure we are a go for our transfer on Friday.

First of all, after everything we have been through at our fertility clinic, I have anxiety even driving in to the parking lot there. I don’t throw the word anxiety around lightly, because that’s a real medical issue, not just something you have when you don’t feel right. But at this point, I can’t sleep the night before an appointment, I pace before I leave the house, and driving in I can feel my heart rate rising, and the sinking in the pit of my stomach. My body has a literal physical aversion to the place.

Then I find out (alone, because Aaron is still not allowed in) that my lining is not good enough. Our transfer is now pushed back a week. And the worst part, is I have now also added another estrogen dose that I take morning and night. Three estrogen patches, and two extra doses a day.

I thought I was losing it before. Now I’m pumping estrogen into my body five different ways a day. And we haven’t even added in the progesterone shots leading up to the transfer.

We can deal with the week delay. But I left that appointment in tears because I now have to take more meds that make me feel like I have lost all control of myself and my emotions. It is terrifying, and I’m just searching for the end…the light at the end of the tunnel. But there isn’t one. There’s no guarantee that this will ever end.

I don’t write this as a woe is me story. But someone you know, if it’s not yourself is going through infertility. It is a scary, emotional, lonely place to be sometimes. And then you add in hormonal treatments that make your mind and your emotions not your own. Have grace.

If you know someone, tell them you love them. Give them some time, and let them talk. Don’t offer advice, just listen. Ask how they are doing, and allow them to be honest with you.

If you’re in the thick of things, give YOURSELF some grace. Be crazy, but reserve it for your support system and those that can handle it. The ones who will try to understand at the end of the day and love you anyways, even if you are not yourself.

And just in general, the world is a scary emotional place anyways these days. Be understanding and do your best to love one another. We never know what’s really happening to those around us and what they might be up against.

We’re Back!

After our little two month Corona hiatus, we are finally able to get back to business and get to transferring!

However, it ended up being quite a busy time off, and I want to give credit to all that happened in our interim before I catch you up on where we find ourselves today.

As you all know, when it was announced back in March that fertility treatments were halted due to the COVID -19 pandemic, me and the rest of the infertility community were devastated. Surgeries and IUI/IVF cycles all over the country were cancelled for couples that had saved and prepared for months to years for their opportunity. For us personally, we had just come off of our second failed IVF cycle, but had 3 frozen embryos we would not have access to for transfer until we got the green light from the medical community. It was heart breaking.

But now that we have made it through to the other side, I realize that a break from infertility was everything I needed and more. After processing through about a week of a lot of feelings about the shutdown , I had to shift my focus to other things for probably the first time in our marriage. I know that sounds really sad and pathetic, but when both of your schedules revolve around hormone injections, appointments, supplements, and lab numbers…it’s hard to shift your focus to much more than getting through a normal day.

But here we were! All of a sudden we had a whole lot of stress forcefully removed from our plate, and my body was given the ability to run on its own hormones and cycles for the first time in at least six months. Aaron and I immediately put our focus on to house projects, as we bought a new house last fall and had spent the winter talking about what we wanted to do for landscaping and a patio. We fenced in the chicken coop, had a cement slab poured for a backyard patio, put up some planters so I could garden this year, and did some landscaping in the front as well.

I can not tell you guys how fun and rewarding it has been to work at something with my husband, without worrying that at the end of the day it is all for nothing. I think we have had more fun with each other in the past couple months working on all of these projects together than we have maybe had since before our marriage. How rewarding is it to work hard on things together, and at the end of the day be able to see and celebrate a finished project?

I know it sounds silly, but we have been working harder than we have ever worked on this “infertility” project for so long, and have had nothing to celebrate for it. So I am so grateful for this time off, and for the time we have gotten to spend together reconnecting. We were by no means in trouble before this, but what a beautiful and awesome reminder of who it is that is standing next to me through all of this, today and going forward. This two months was the best thing that could have happened to me and to our marriage.

I can’t say that all of it was “out of sight, out of mind”. We sat in our living room brainstorming one morning about things we may be able to do with this time off and came up with an idea of getting our embryos sent for genetic testing while we waited out the closures. We spoke with our doctor, who then spoke with some of his colleagues about risk/benefits. Usually, when an embryo undergoes genetic testing, they biopsy the cells prior to freezing them. In our case, the embryos would have to be thawed, biopsied, refrozen, and then re-thawed when we go to transfer them. There is about a 5% risk for each instance of thawing that the embryo will not survive, so it was a big conversation not only between Aaron and I, but also between our doctor.

In the end, we decided that with my history, we were going to move forward with genetic testing despite the risks. If all three came back abnormal, it would save us thousands of dollars and months of treatments that were un needed for transfer. It takes about ten days to get results back from this testing. We finally got the phone call to learn only one of our three embryos is genetically normal.

We won’t ever actually know that it survived the process. We will be transferring that one embryo and pray like crazy that it did!

With that information, we were thrilled to hear that infertility treatments at our clinic opened back up. The full transfer cycle takes two months to complete, and starts with the month of birth control, just like our IVF cycles did. So I was able to start up on those to get going.

After every 6 months I have to have a procedure called a sonohysterogram, which is a really uncomfortable ultrasound in which they hold water in your uterus and it shows them defects in lining if there are any. I am 3 for 3 now on bad news with this imaging. I for the third time was found to have a polyp which requires a surgical procedure to remove. So, for the 5th time in our overall journey, and 3rd time for this specific procedure, I was put under anesthesia to have it removed.

There was one big difference this time, and there will be this big difference going forward. Because of COVID-19, Aaron is no longer allowed in the office with me. He is required to wait in the car, which for this procedure yielded an amusing result as he normally helps me get dressed after these procedures….

Not entirely sure how I fit that into my shoe.

However, moving forward, it really will be just sad. He will not be able to be with me by my side when we go to transfer our embryo in a few weeks. For the life he is helping to create, he isn’t allowed to be there for the main event. I’m sad about it, and I know he is sad about it. We understand it, but it doesn’t really seem fair.

Moving forward from here, I will be starting on some estrogen patches at the end of the week. At the beginning of June, I will have only one (yes, ONE…thank the Lord) appointment to check to make sure my uterus is prepped and ready. I will then add in progesterone injections, and 5 days later we can transfer in our one little miracle embryo. If you are a praying person, pray hard! We are emotionally ready for this one, and so ready and excited to see what happens!

Be Kind.

Thirteen days. Just thirteen days, and I feel like my entire life has changed. Less than two weeks ago we walked out of the clinic, once again full of hope. And this time with our own little secret. We decided to transfer two embryos, and we also decided to keep that between the two of us. After everything we have been through, it was exciting to have something just between the two of us again. Maybe, if things worked out, we would even have a nice surprise for our families as well. This process has taken the surprises out of everything, unfortunately.

I was kind of giddy. I felt happy. Surely, if there’s two in there…at least ONE would stick. I felt like our chances this time were somehow exponentially better with two. For the first time this whole cycle, I really felt hopeful.

However, as each day passed, the world (my own and the one around me) started changing. Everyday, the CoVid 19 situation escalated. Walking out of the clinic after our transfer, I never would have guessed that problem would intersect with our infertility journey.

As the numbers of people affected by the virus grew, my hopes in my own situation started to fade. I started testing for pregnancy on day 4 post transfer. Negative. Day 5, negative. Day 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…negative. The happiness and hope I had felt leaving was quickly taken away as I started to realize that this cycle was going to be yet another failure.

At least I have my three frozen embryos waiting, right?

Then CoVid took that away as well. Our fertility clinic made the decision to hold all new cycles, and stop some current ones at the recommendation of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. This is for an indefinite amount of time, and I suspect it will be months at minimum until we can start a transfer cycle. I learned today that will also be about a two month long process once it gets started, so we are looking at end of summer or fall before we can make any sort of progress.

Meanwhile the world jokes online about “corona babies” that will result from people self quarantining. As much as I hate to be the person online upset about something, I was really frustrated and hurt seeing all of those posts as I am mourning another loss in our world that I know does not align with everyone else’s.

And I know so many others that are mourning losses similar. To those of you cancelled in the start/middle of your cycle, to those who now have to wait months to start again, or start up, when you already feel as if time is not on your side, to those who have saved and spent thousands on what is now a wasted cycle…I see you. I feel for you. And my heart is broken for you as well. This is not fair, and in a situation that is already cruel, frustrating, and isolating, I am here for you if you need a shoulder.

To those who are not a victim of infertility, but have already been a victim to CoVid 19…whether that be job loss, financial insecurity, food insecurity, or loneliness from isolation. I am also here for you if you need. Please reach out.

To those of you working alongside me in the hospital, and are fearful due to the lack of equipment and the war we will soon be up against. I’m here for you, and I am standing beside you.

I realize that because of where the world is today, we are all mourning losses of some sort. We are all fearful of what the future holds, and these feelings may just get worse in the coming weeks.

My hope is that we all can be cognizant that each of us is up against something right now, and that hopefully we react with kindness instead of hate. That we hold each other up (metaphorically), and go out of our way to make the world a little bit better.

Stay safe everyone ❤️

A Good Day for Some Good News

And just like that, we have made it through to our second fresh embryo transfer!

When I say, “just like that”, it kind of makes it sound like it was easy and fast, right? Well, no IVF cycle probably ever is either of those things! This second round was for sure not without it’s own drama, and excruciating waits. In fact, our second go around was probably more difficult mentally than was the first because I knew what to expect and had something to compare results and timing to.

So, I’ll start from the beginning of our stimulation. As mentioned in previous posts, I had some added injections and increase in dosages as compared to my first round. This meant that I was poking myself four or five times a day. We started our stimulation injections while we were out visiting family in Colorado, which meant we had to lug my vials of meds and syringes around in a cooler everywhere we went since they have to be refrigerated. That was a real drag!

I also had the weird experience of having to reconstitute (mix medicine powder with saline) my meds in a bathroom at the Pepsi Center the night Aaron and I went to an NHL hockey game. Nothing is more awkward and makes you feel like a drug user out in the open like trying to figure this out as an arena full of women are packing into the bathroom during an intermission.

Once we got back from Colorado, the fun of every-other-day blood draws and ultrasounds began. I don’t know why, but this period of time really was so much harder for me than the first time around. As soon as I would leave the office, I would be immediately wanting to know what the next office visit would bring. This made time go by SO slowly. Every visit, you learn a few things. First, about how many follicles are growing, as well as their sizes. Their sizing helps decide when they go in to retrieve them. That is coupled with your estrogen levels which is what the blood draw is for.

So, an office visit day usually goes something like this. Wake up early, because you’re nervous as to what the days information is going to bring. A few hours later, you drive to the office. Get your blood drawn almost immediately by the nicest phlebotomist who always asks how things are going and tries to make conversation that will make you smile. Walk back, get in the stirrups, learn your numbers and sizes. Then you leave….

And wait. You wait usually about 3-4 hours for a phone call from a nurse that will tell you what your estrogen level was for the day. This wait was always the worst part. My first cycle, estrogen levels were low and didn’t increase as quickly as they wanted them to. By the second appointment this go-round, we knew we were going to have the same problem.

Our ultrasound would always be really positive, and then I would wait those few hours to hear most likely bad news. On one of these days, I think maybe our 3rd appointment in, I answered the phone call to hear my doctor on the other line. He NEVER has called results, it’s always a nurse. So my heart sank immediately.

He said “you’re just not having the progress I would like to see”. Once again, here we were facing a cancellation. All the money, time and energy, down the tubes. Once again, I pleaded my case. I told him that even though it was moving slow, this cycle had so far resulted in more follicles, that were continuing to grow, and our estrogen levels (although still on the lower side), were higher than what they were at in the previous cycle. He agreed to give it a couple more days. And…thank God for nurses. I e-mailed my nurse to get some of the data from the previous cycle to compare it with this one, and she completely reassured me that I was right, and to stay positive and keep my head up.

I know I am a nurse, but I am going to throw this out there to all of you other ones reading this, because I know there is a good chunk of you doing so. You guys seriously have no idea how much your kindness and reassurance means to people who are on the other side. The nurses at this clinic have been my sanity through all of this, and it’s usually only from a wave, or a smile, or a small reassurance that they had no idea that I needed. On the worst day of this cycle, it was a nurse simply telling me to keep my head up that got me through and to the next appointment. You guys are important, and I love you all!

From that day out, things really finally started to go our way. Our estrogen bumped, our follicles grew, and we made it to stimulation and retrieval. Last time, going in to it, we knew we had 6. This time as they put me to sleep for the procedure, I really was not sure what number I would be waking up to.

Aaron was there when I woke up, and it was the first thing that I asked him. So quickly so, they hadn’t even had time to count them in the lab yet 😂

I have no idea who came in to tell us because I was still loopy from the meds, but we had 16 follicles retrieved this time, 13 of which were mature enough to attempt to fertilize!

I went home and slept off the meds and waited for the phone call which comes the next day to tell us how many successfully fertilized. TEN!!

We were so ecstatic with this number. To go from six last cycle to ten this time was a huge improvement and one we were so happy with. But, then you have to wait five days to see how many of them mature, and all of my fears set right back in. After doing this twice, I still think this is the hardest wait of the whole process. You get absolutely no updates as they don’t take the embryos out to check since this would change their environment. You hear absolutely nothing until you walk into the office for transfer 5 days later.

Our goal through this cycle was to have embryos to freeze. Yes, we would be happy with an embryo to transfer. But to have extra to freeze means that we don’t have to start over from step one in the future. In doing so, we would save so much money, time, energy, and emotions that going through this whole thing brings about.

I got in my head. Out of the six embryos we had during the first cycle, only one survived. Making that success rate only 16.6%. If I followed that math, with ten embryos, I would still only have 1.66 embryos survive out of 10. That’s a terrible head space to get caught up in.

We survived the week and went in yesterday morning for our transfer. I got in my gown, and Aaron in his garb. The doc walked in and told us the best news I have heard since we have started trying to have babies. We had embryo to transfer, and 3 to freeze!

As we wait to learn if our transferred embryo sticks and results in a pregnancy, our 3 frozen embabies will hang out at the clinic for the next year if not used, and then will be shipped to a storage facility in Minnesota until we decide to use them. So technically, we get to pay for some real high tech baby sitting already!

The joys of parenthood! 😂

This is an ultrasound of the moment they put the embryo in. Just a quick “flash” that you see on the screen, but still really cool!

Prep Work

It has been a strange couple of months in the Anderson household since I last posted an update on our struggle with infertility. Learning of our failed IVF cycle was difficult for us as individuals and as a couple. I, personally, had to deal with my own feelings of failure. We had one “perfect” egg as my doctor described it, and it wasn’t until it was returned to my body that it failed. Couple this with withdrawing from the abundance of hormones being injected into my body, and it was really easy to fall back into the anger and sadness that can plague the mind of anyone facing this battle.

As a couple, we faced the question of, “what comes next”? IVF gives couples the highest chances of pregnancy success, and once again, we have failed. We have now spent money, time, and a LOT of emotion towards this, and we came out of the other side feeling more broken and defeated than we ever have before. I really questioned whether IVF was something that we should consider pursuing, as the physical and emotional toll is not something that should be taken lightly.

I remember walking in to our follow up appointment at the beginning of January really just put off. I had a really hard time pulling back into the parking lot of this place that I had continually been poked and probed at for the last month. The smell of the office and the all too familiar decor just brought me right back to the roller coaster of the experience of the first cycle.

I sat with Aaron as our doctor explained to us that the results of our first cycle were pretty indicative that my cancer treatments that I received as a kid were to blame for our infertility. Finally, at least a reason! After two years of nothing, we finally received some sort of explanation instead of just presumptions. As relief passed over me to have a reason, I also had a moment of terror. Maybe this isn’t going to happen for us. Maybe this fight was lost, long before it was even started.

Our doctor went on to explain that if we wanted to continue with another cycle, first I would need to be emotionally ready to do so. He could sense my defeat from behind his desk. And, if and when we continued, we were going to change up the protocol. We would add in another injection, and max out the dosages of the others to really kick my ovaries in to production. This is not something that is normally done with a second cycle, but with our situation, he felt as if it was the route that needed to be taken.

We left the office telling him that we would take a couple of months to get ourselves together, and would call in when we were ready to start again. I lasted about two days in this limbo. I decided I would rather start prepping myself and my mind to go again instead of wallowing in the sadness and anger from the failure.

The funny thing about infertility is there are a lot of little waits inside of the really big waiting, and waiting is hard! As soon as I decided to move on, there was a waiting period between that moment and starting a period. From there it was waiting for my new IVF schedule to be made, and then waiting for prescriptions to clear through insurance. Waiting for medications to be delivered, and all that while, waiting to get past the down regulation of the cycle and move on from birth control. You have to find things to occupy your mind during these little waits, or you will go crazy.

I started two things during all of these little waiting periods that really helped to get me centered and ready. First, I started rock climbing/bouldering again, which is a physical activity that I was really into a few years back but kind of stopped pursuing due to the long commute to the climbing gym. Now that we have moved, the gym is on our way in to town! It’s a sport that really connects mind and body, and an activity that you have to learn to trust your body to do what you need it to do. It’s exactly what I needed, as trust in my body is something I have lost through this process.

I also started a bible reading plan, and I had a extraordinary moment of peace through this practice. It starts with a study of Genesis, and right there in the beginning, there are three stories of infertility. THREE stories of infertility before you even get out of the book of Genesis. And it turns out, dozens more throughout the Bible. And the reason they are there and important is because God uses infertility for his story. And each time, he hears the pain of those that are involved. What a beautiful reminder of why I am not in charge and He is. I can’t really describe the peace that this has given me, but I hope that if you are going through something similar, you can find some comfort in that as well.

I had one more big, emotional moment before I catch you all up to where we have landed today. Med prep day! Kind of like meal prepping but way less fun.

This was a big moment in my first cycle, and I think maybe even more daunting this time. I take all my meds out of the multitude of boxes they are shipped in and organize them into this nifty little container that I like to call my Box of Emotions. This is how much I will be injecting and taking in just 2 short weeks. It’s a complete overhaul of my body’s own system, and it really just shocks me to look at it before starting. For a situation that is becoming very normal for us, this is a moment of reminder that it is not normal at all, and that even when I am not suffering from headaches, night sweats, and hot flashes, my body does not belong to itself for the duration of an IVF cycle. It is a moment that brought me to tears the first time, and did again this time. I am doing something completely unnatural, with no guarantee that I will have anything to show for it at the end.

You, in that moment, have to decide that this is worth the dream of holding a baby in your arms. That the money, and pain, and emotion that are contained in that plastic box are going to make miracles happen. It’s a big deal, and I am making that choice for a second time.

So here we are, caught up to today. Our first appointment was this morning after starting our stimulation injections over the weekend (this time 4-5 shots a day instead of 2). This was the appointment in our first cycle that we were told things may not be going as planned, so I had a lot of anxiety leading up to it. All of the “what ifs” floating around in my head that I have been trying to mentally prepare myself for. My blood was drawn, and I had my date with “Wanda” aka the ultrasound probe (wand), and Hallelujah! There are some follicles growing! Obviously more than our first check last time!! The nurse said she was happy with the results and now we are on our way. Appointments every other day from here on out until things get closer and then we will transition to every day until the retrieval!

Our one beautiful embryo from our first cycle remains displayed on our refrigerator right next to a picture of those closest to us praying over our marriage. It is a reminder to me every single day that there is hope in this situation, and we have family, friends, and God on our side. We made something great before, and we can do it again.


Here we go again!