First Comes Love, then Comes Marriage, then comes…..???

The Backstory…

“The word impossible is not in my dictionary.”

— Napoleon Bonaparte

This is the first post of my blog regarding our infertility and IVF/Adoption journey. My husband, Aaron and I met in high school and have been married for eleven years (together for 17). We met when we were 15 years old, starting dating at 17, and never imagined we would be where we are right now, married with no kids. While we do have two amazing puppers, Bella and Gus who bring us so much joy, the kids part would really be the icing on our life cake.

Aaron and I got married when we were 24 years old. We both have worked full time and due to the nature of our jobs, can be away from each other for months at a time. When we first got married, we wanted to enjoy being a young married couple and remained on birth control until I was 26. At that time, we started embracing the idea of welcoming a new little one into our home. When I came off birth control, we did not actively try and get pregnant at first. Hey now! The act is the best part of this game! 🙂 However, as time drew on, we started adapting to the “I have to get pregnant right now” mentality which included daily basil body temp taking, trackers galore, TTC Groups, and LOTS OF PRAYING! I swore I started to live my life on edge two weeks at a time and thinking that any twinge of nausea or spotting was my body finally telling me the deed was done!

Fast forward to almost ten years later, and we are still hopeful and childless. We have gotten to the point that our parents have finally stopped asking “When are going to have kids?” and while we feel they have given up on this, we have not. Don’t get me wrong, when my siblings add a niece or nephew to the family, while it is SUPER exciting, it is still like an internal kick to the face. However, I think year after year, the largest kick are the words “unexplained infertility.”

So what is the next step? This is always my motto when it comes to anything in my life. As Aaron and I have maneuvered through this journey, we have developed our own path for our treatment types: Natural, IUI / IVF, Adoption, and maybe God has decided this path is not in our plan. While the absolute last step is not ideal, we have embraced that we may not ever be parents and that we will be the best Aunt and Uncle our nieces and nephews could ask for! I think that setting that as a possibility in your mind helps aid in the landslide of disappointments that infertility can bring.

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The Roller Coaster

When deciding to proceed with IVF, I wish there was a manual that prepared me for the emotional ups and downs that come with the process. Yes, there are TONS of support groups and other people who have gone through the process, but I’m telling you NOTHING prepares your heart for the feelings of extreme happiness and sadness associated with the process.

Aaron and I began our first cycle in April. 04 April to be exact because I kept thinking, “What a great way to ring in my birthday with a bunch of shots to the stomach!” We rang in one last weekend in our favorite town of Fredricksburgh, TX and then immediately started the stim cycle. We completed around 80 shots, and continued with bi-weekly ultrasounds to monitor follicle growth and more medicine adjustments. Yes, my stomach looked like a black and blue pincushion by the time it was all said and done.

Aaron excited to give me our trigger shot!

I remember coming out of one ultrasound feeling so discouraged because we were following all instructions from our RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) and while most women produce 8-10 follicles each cycle I had four on one side and three on another. I felt like failure as woman. I started to prepare myself to only have three or four viable eggs at the retrieval. They pushed my retrieval date back a day in order to add another day of medications which made me worry even more.

The day of our egg retrieval, Aaron and I showed up at the hospital with a bag of necessities (lucky socks, water bottle, ear buds) and a bag of narcotics prescribed for my procedure. The doc told me to eat a light breakfast and I regretted it as it ended up in the trash from my stomach not agreeing with the meds! I was taken back to a very warm room and put in the procedure chair. I was awake for my procedure which while was not comfortable was not the most painful thing I have had done. We got to watch the embryologist take our eggs and wash them from a giant TV in the procedure room. It was actually really cool.

After the procedure, the embryologist came in and stated that they collected 11 eggs! 11!! Aaron and I burst into tears! We were so happy! The next day we found out that 7 of those were mature and 5 fertilized. We were still THRILLED with that number. We had four eggs make it to blastocysts which was still amazing to us. In total we had three viable eggs, two which we did a 5 day fresh transfer with and we froze one.

Egg Retrieval Day!

The day of our transfer my mom came with me due to Aaron being in school and not able to attend. We are so fortunate to have such an amazing support system. THANK YOU AGAIN MOM! It was so amazing getting to watch the procedure as it was occurring. That was a high….then there is the two week wait….WHICH SUCKS!

Mom and I on Transfer Day.

The two week wait is terrible because you over analyze every single twinge, cramp, spotting of blood, beast soreness, EVERYTHING! If I could go back, I would tell myself to just RELAX! I know that is way easier said that done. Checking every symptom online didn’t help anything, nor did taking random home pregnancy tests! I literally was the worst patient and did this even when my RE told me not to! If you are wondering why it is because not only is your body coming off of LOADS of hormones, but home pregnancy tests are only sensitive to the HCG level they are designed for. Example, an “early detection” pregnancy test is going to have a higher sensitivity to HCG than say your dollar store off brand. Due to the timing and changes in your body you could be pregnant and a home test will not show it or could show a false positive. I think this is a sick joke in the IVF world.

I am typing this the night before our HCG blood draw because I am so excited to see what tomorrow brings. While I have prayed and I know I have a TON of people who are also praying for good news, I am leaving this in Gods hands. Until then, I’ll just stay on the high end of my roller coaster of emotion.

One or the Other??

I was sitting at my desk the other day listening to a conversation taking place right outside my office door. This is something that happens very frequently and instead of stopping it, I listened to the words that were being communicated between two individuals. The words that one Soldier said to another made me so angry that I immediately stood up from my desk and shot my two cents worth into the world like a mother scolding a child! A Soldier of mine is pregnant and this is how the conversation basically went:

Soldier A: I can’t believe your pregnant.

Soldier B: Yes, I am so happy to have a family and be a mom.

Solider A: Well, you pretty much killed our medical readiness numbers and are useless for the next two years.

Soldier B: (speechless)

First of all, I am THRILLED for any of my Soldiers who want to expand their families and become moms and dads. What angered me, is the Soldier who discredited the troop for wanting to become a mom. Why is it in a male dominate profession that women must choose one or the other. I say that because in the Army, as a man, you do not have to choose “a right time” to expand your family. Your spouse becomes pregnant and you continue to do your job with no problem. However, a female does the same thing and they are deemed “worthless” in the eyes of their patriots in arms due to the inability to deploy or conduct mission exercises.

Personally, I feel that there is no “good time” in the Army to expand your family so I applaud those who choose family while killing it with their career! I firmly believe that you can have both a family and a career and cheers to those who find that perfect work/homelife balance. Trust me, when we finally have a little one I will be running to you for your secrets! I am pretty sure that this same thought process is the same in many different professions, but not as advertised. I just want to cheer on those who not only choose to carry a new life while taking on the professional world! My hat is tipped to you!

A Line in the Sand

I began the day digging in the yard, planting new flowers. I often find that is where I do my best thinking. The yard, the shower, the car….you know pretty much anywhere where writing down a list of things I think up are almost impossible to capture on paper. It was then that I bluntly asked Aaron, “So what are we going to do babe?” He looked at me like I was throwing questions from left field, but he knew what I was asking about. He responded with something along the lines of whatever you want to do. It was then that I brought up the idea of adoption. Our fertility journey had gotten to the point that I didn’t get excited about any part of it. I knew something had to change in order to get the end result we were searching for.

We began researching different adoption options, from any kind of format imaginable. We listened to podcasts about Child Protective Service options and private adoptions. We talked to friends who had done both and made a huge list of pros and cons of each. Now, this is where some people would say that maybe we are selfish, but let me tell you, when I look into my heart of hearts, I know I could not adopt from CPS. I say this because of the point of CPS is to re-unite the child back with the birth parents, NOT THE ADOPTIVE POSSIBILITY. This means, we could foster a potential child that we could fall in love with just for them to be re-united with their birth parent, over and over again.

This would not only kill my soul slowly, but I think would just add to my already existing thoughts that Aaron and I ever being parents is just Gods sick joke. Don’t get me wrong, I have a very healthy relationship with the big man upstairs and I talk to him regularly. This was definitely the eliminating factor for CPS adoption for us. We continued to listen to podcasts, research websites, and interview different private agencies for a match that would make sense to our needs. We had made another pro and con list between organizations that we would want to work with.

Obviously, we wanted an organization that we would get the most bang for our buck and that we would give us our desired end state, a sweet baby! We were approved by several organizations that we interviewed with, but we decided to go with American Adoptions due to the perks of their nationwide service. After finally debating on choosing an organization, we starting debating the next step, PAYING FOR IT!

This is why we began leaning more towards adoption and not IVF. After making yet another pro and con list, privatized adoption checked all our boxes. The perks of me not missing work due to maternity leave, no bounce back for physical recovery, and the cost of IVF vs adoption. For the same cost of IVF, adoption would still give us a little one. But how you ask? Well, because the cost of treatments, medications, alternative procedures, and not to mention it may NOT WORK AT ALL or end in another miscarriage is literally the same cost of adoption. Now, I’m no genius, but this was a very clear line in the sand for us.

Stay tuned for updates!

A Crack in Your Soul

“You’re Pregnant.” Those are the exact words that spilled out of Aarons mouth as I returned home from PT one day. I was working as a Battery Executive Officer and working close to 80 hours a week. I was exhausted all the time and my body was aching all the time. I brushed his absurd comment off as I prepared to get in the shower and prepare for my day. Just to prove him wrong, I took an at home pregnancy test and let it sit as I took a shower. I toweled off, exited the shower, and looked down. My exact thoughts were “Oh shit, he was right!” I walked into the living room where we made eye contact and I said “You were right!” and we gave each other the longest hug. This was a moment in time that I will never forget.

For the next few weeks, we went along only telling our closest family and friends until we were close enough out of the first trimester before making a giant announcement. Our parents were beyond elated, and we began making plans on nursery ideas and beginning a baby registry. As an avid planner, I began buying a pack of diapers to begin a stock pile every week while out grocery shopping. Aaron and I got so excited reading the progression each week on what new developments were happening with our little sea monkey. Life was so blissful and we were so excited! I had zero morning sickness and craved every bit of red Powerade that I could get my hands on. Aaron thought this was funny because I never crave sports drinks or rarely ever drink them.

We continued to prepare and do actives that we loved, camping, boating, and working out. One weekend we were at the lake camping and it happened. I started spotting. I immediately went online and read were it could be normal, but in my heart, I knew something was wrong. We went to the ER and had an ultrasound done. I was a nervous wreck waiting for the doctor. He came in and let us know that the yolk sac was still intact and that if things progressed with the bleeding that I should come back.

Fast forward about four more hours…we were home and I began cramping so badly that Aaron immediately grabbed his truck keys and rushed me back to the ER. I was taken back right away for another ultra sound. I knew something was wrong when the tech turned the screen away from my view. She didn’t say anything other than that she would have the doctor come talk to me as soon as possible. The doctor came in with the nurse and broke the news that we had indeed had a miscarriage. I felt like I had been stabbed in the chest and began to sob uncontrollably.

I remember just wanting to sleep for days, thinking how unfair God was that he had finally granted me this one gift, just to take it away. Friends offered their condolences and while their intentions were pure, if I heard “Things happen for a reason” I was going to punch someone in the throat. This event, I can say was one of the darkest, most depressing times of my life. Aaron took me on a trip to get my mind off of things which I felt helped to focus on anything other than my grief.

Overall, I could not believe how many of my friends reached out saying that they had experienced the same thing. While it did make me feel better talking to people that had gone through the same thing, it still to this day hurts my heart. Years have gone by since our loss and to this day, on the day of our loss and our due date I can’t stop to think how different our lives should have been. I recently had a Soldier who’s wife had miscarriage and while he was struggling on how to support her, I told him the best thing he could do is just be there. The one life lesson I took from my experience is never let anyone discount your feelings. Loss is loss and grief comes and goes like waves in an ocean. Never let anyone tell you when you should be healed or how long it takes your heart to mend. I say that because as a mama, even if you never laid eyes on your child, you were still a mama, even if it puts a crack in your soul.

Pictured above, is us 10 weeks pregnant at a close friend’s wedding in St. Louis, MO.

The “Practice” of Medicine

Now, to preface this, I have the upmost respect for all medical providers. They have slaved away for years to obtain a doctorate. However, it is called the practice of medicine for a reason.

By this point, Aaron and I have both returned from deployment and we are FINALLY living back together again after 22 months apart. Aaron started seeing his Urologist at our new duty station and undergoes yet another full work up. Bless his heart, I think if has to give one more sample or have his jewels fondled by another stranger he will lose his mind. After about a month and a half of appointments to the lab, we get a final update from the Urologist: There is low count, but nothing you need surgery for.

Let me tell y’all! I was about to go crazy on this poor doctor. So to recap, our previous provider told Aaron that his count was so low and that the motility was so low that we would basically never be able to have a baby, like ever. Our current doctor is saying that there is a low count, but there is no reason why we shouldn’t have gotten pregnant and that he does not require surgery.

It felt like a huge punch to the gut. I wanted to say “Well, if that is the case then why has it not happened in the last nine years?” I have never felt so discouraged after leaving a doctors appointment as I did that day. To be honest, I really felt like this was where God was basically telling me to hang up my hat and call it a day.

At this point I figured it was time for a second opinion on myself. I contacted my primary physician and received a referral for a second opinion. Let me tell you, this experience was night and day in comparison to my Hopkinsville experience. I had several procedures done that were never completed before. I received verification that my tubes were open and not blocked. I never had so many viles of blood drawn in my entire life. I wasn’t getting my hopes up because it seems like in the world of fertility that is the worst thing you can do. (At least in our experience!). The next month or so was the chillest wait ever……

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It’s not you, It’s me.

After about three years of enjoying being a newly wed couple, Aaron and I decided to finally expand our family. Not to mention, the hints of all our parents were not added pressure (much denoted sarcasm). I came off all forms of birth control and thought, this will happen so fast! I had heard stories from friends who had simply tried once and got pregnant and hoped that would be us. Boy was I wrong! We tried for about five months and I started to chalk it up to being off sync due to schools, training exercises and other work related events that kept Aaron and I apart during our fertility window. I became best friends with every TTC group, webpage, and Pinterest on “methods to get pregnant fast.” I now could dub my own magazine title of instead of “Keeping it hot” it should really be “Drive your man into the ground with baby talk!” I read every alternative article on healthy ways to increase any hormone needed to foster a healthy conception, watched my weight, ate healthy, tried supplements, used Pre-Seed like it was water, and still nothing.

We were living at Fort Campbell, KY and finally decided that maybe we should get professionally checked out. I was referred off post to a fertility specialist in Hopkinsville, KY and was given what I thought was a full workup. Bless my young, naive heart. The doctor basically did an ultrasound and asked if I had regular period. He never took blood work nor went into depth about our attempts to conceive. He told me there was nothing wrong with me and that my husband should get checked out. I felt very discouraged and felt like it was a waste of my time.

Aaron deployed shortly after that appointment and was gone for 9 months. Upon his return, he was referred to a Urologist to see if the hang up was really him or if I was really losing my mind. At this point, I would trust I was losing my mind. After multiple samples given, we had a light shine in our dark baby cave.

Varicocele. An enlargement of the veins within the scrotum. This was the diagnosis that we thought would answer all our problems. The Urologist advised that Aaron have a procedure to cauterize the blood vessels in his scrotum as a means to decrease his natural body heat and allow a natural amount of sperm be produced. He also told us that Aaron had a very low count and motility and that it would be nearly impossible for us to conceive without the surgery. This was our future course of action that we were excited to entertain because we knew it was the key to our end state. However, with the nature of both of our jobs, we both deployed and the surgery was put in the “when we get back” category of our life.

Fast forward to 22 months apart between deployments, school, PCS’ing (that is moving to another location for those non-military folk). Aaron calls his Urologist to schedule the surgery and is told that he recommends us waiting to our next duty station which we would be arriving to within the next two months due to the lack of follow-up care he would be able to provide. Boy time has not been on our side!

A little about me…

I am a 35 year old woman who has been happily married to my husband, Aaron, for 11 years. We have been together since high school and dream of one day having a little one of our own. We have battled with “unexplained infertility” for almost a decade and are blogging about our steps from learning about our lack of production, seeking help, treatment options, and beyond.

Why do I do this?

  • Because it gives you, the readers hope that you are not the only ones going through this.
  • Because it will help you with resources that I have tried or that you have tried that worked and didn’t work for you.
  • Because it gives insight to those who know someone with this struggle and how they may be feeling (lets be honest with this, if you have children, you will never know this feeling).

I am posting this publicly rather than just keeping it to myself because more couples than just us are struggling with this and while it is a totally natural issue, in our culture it seems to be so tabu and it shouldn’t be! I would love to connect with families who are going through the same struggle and aid each other in ideas, resources, or simply a place to get a laugh or vent. Even if we reach one person through this blog not to give up then I would consider this a success. If not, I’m just here on the internet rambling to myself.