Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
Here is our story. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve been very open all along about our journey, because talking has always helped me to deal with difficulties (probably why I am an aspiring counselor) and if we can help one other couple that is dealing with the unbelievable pain of infertility then it’s worth it. Yes, this has opened us up to some ridicule and judgement, but not everyone understands your heart and your intentions. We are unconventional, but that’s what makes us special. It may not have been the life that we had planned, but it’s the life that was given to us and it’s our story. Hopefully we will have our blessings(s) after the storm!
Ryan and I talked about pretty much everything before we were married. Being deployed for a year and having to date via skype/letters/emails makes talking a pillar of your relationship. Many of those discussions were about children: how many did we want, when we would have them and how they would be raised. We decided that we wanted about 2 years to be “just us” and to grow our marriage together but in the beginning of 2014, Ryan and I decided that we were ready and the time was right to grow our family. He served in a unit where he was gone quite a bit so it made it rather difficult before we even started, but we hoped that once he got back from his deployment in July that things would slow down and that we’d be able to get pregnant right away. Even though I had had a few minor medical problems, we were optimistic that things would happen quickly. We were wrong.
I read every book I could get my hands on about getting pregnant and how to get healthy for a baby…for the daddy and the mommy. I’ve always said that “knowledge is power” and I have to research everything before I do it! While we wanted to “relax and enjoy it” as much as possible, I also wanted to maximize our chances every month. However, as the months ticked by, it became more and more apparent that this wasn’t going to be easy and we couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.
The Testing: In February 2015, due to my family history and my age, my doctor on post recommended that I see an off post OB/GYN and get a full work up done to see if everything was okay. I found a midwife center that I really liked and they confirmed my suspicions (as much as it can be “confirmed” without a laparoscopy surgery) that I have endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the uterus grows outside causing mild to extreme pain and can cause issues with getting and staying pregnant. It also runs in my family. However, even with all of this, the midwife center suggested that we keep trying for a few months and come back later. I left feeling rather discouraged, after my high of viewing the birthing center wore off, and still couldn’t shake the feeling that something more was off.
After a bit of run around with Tricare I was finally able to receive a referral to our local RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) to get checked out, but since their office is the only one within 2 hours of where we were stationed, they weren’t accepting new patients for 3 months. Thankfully, after a few phone calls to see if I could get in sooner we were able to finally go in for our first consultation at the end of April. Again, after a bit of run around between the military clinics and my civilian RE, we were able to get Ryan tested to ensure that everything was okay on his end. In hindsight, all of these tests happened pretty quick in the grand scheme of things, but when you’re trying to get pregnant every month, every week, every day feels like a lifetime. The last step was to run a test on me called an HSG where they inject dye through a catheter to determine if your tubes are blocked or not. The test was very painful (and I have an extremely high pain tolerance) and due to my blood sugar dropping, I passed out in the doctor’s office after the procedure. Definitely got to know the nursing staff a little better though! 🙂 The doctor did discover that I had a “mostly” blocked tube on one side, but was hopeful that we could still get pregnant without IVF. We decided to move forward with a procedure called superovulation therapy with timed intercourse.
Round 1: Finally, after what felt like forever, we were able to undergo our first round of hormone injections or superovulation therapy with timed intercourse in June/July. This consisted of daily nighttime injections at precisely 6pm and doctor’s appts (blood work and ultrasounds) every 3 days to monitor my progress. I ended up ovulating on my own too soon without the trigger shot of HCG, but the doctor told us we still had a chance. All things considered everything went pretty smooth and the injections were pretty simple to follow. Unfortunately, our first round was unsuccessful, but we knew that it was rare for a couple’s first month on the drugs to work. It was heartbreaking to know that we would have to wait until August to try again.
Round 2: In August/September we completed our second round with the injectables. We added another daily injection to our protocol to keep my body from ovulating on its own. This meant shots at 5:30 am and 6:00 pm every day. This round was much more difficult on my body even after taking a month off: I had a lot of cramping and abdominal pain, my hormones were off the charts, as well as other symptoms. I truly believed in my heart that this round would work and kept driving Ryan crazy talking about it and pointing out every symptom that could be a sign of pregnancy, but he was so patient with me as he always is. I was so confident when we got back into town the day after Labor Day after visiting family that I called my doctor’s office first thing to schedule a pregnancy test. (Due to the levels of HCG in my system from all of the shots a home pregnancy test would show a false positive). They told me to wait two days and to come in then, but we ended up finding out that this round had been unsuccessful. I was heartbroken. I called Ryan at work hysterically crying and the whole week I was pretty emotional off and on. My strong, always positive, never losing faith husband had just as rough of a time this time around. It’s bad enough to get your hopes up month after month, but to truly believe in your heart that you’re pregnant and find out it wasn’t true absolutely crushed us. This was, by far, the hardest month we had been through so far and we felt so hopeless and forgotten.
Round 3: Early on in the second round, my doctor suggested that if our second round of injectables was unsuccessful that we consider moving forward with IVF. We had spent a lot of time in prayer and considering the pros and cons of moving forward since we knew that IVF was a possibility. So as soon as we knew the second round was out, we contacted their office to see when would be the soonest we could get on the schedule. The next round available wouldn’t be until the end of November so we decided to proceed with one final round of injections to see if we could exhaust all of our other options. When I went in for my baseline scan, however, my doctor discovered a large cyst on each of my ovaries along with a few smaller ones. We were told that it’s very common for the drugs that we are using, but it was still very upsetting. To get news like this after believing so strongly that the last round was going to work was such a strong blow. It’s so hard to feel that your body is failing you in every way it can possibly think of. This journey is such an emotional roller coaster and this definitely kept feeling like the lows were getting worse. I was placed on BCP (birth control pills) for a week to see if the cysts would shrink enough for it to be safe enough to proceed. After 10 days we were given the all clear to proceed with our shots and treatment schedule. However, our final round was also unsuccessful. Again, this one was hard but was made a little easier since we had already prepared ourselves for IVF.
IVF: So, there we were. After 19 failed cycles, 3 rounds of superovulation/timed intercourse, and 5 medical diagnostic procedures between the two of us…we were on to IVF. We paid our deposit for IVF at the beginning of our 3rd round of superovulation in order to lock in our date on the doctor’s schedule. With this treatment being so intense and much more in depth, it takes considerably closer monitoring and a few extra procedures. Since the last two rounds took such a toll on my body, we had to give my body a bit of a break, but were still about to begin at the end of November. I had to stay on BCPs(Birth Control Pills) while we waited to shut down my cycle so that everything is completely controlled by the doctor. We met with the doctor at the end of October for our consultation to go over all of the paperwork (there were a lot of medical/legal/moral/ethical decisions to make) and to ask any of the questions that we had. This appointment was also used to perform another saline test to check for abnormalities in my uterus and to perform a mock embryo transfer to ensure that there were no surprises during the actual procedures. The procedure was over pretty quick and nowhere near as painful as the dye test I had had back in April. Thankfully, we were given the all clear to proceed in the next month! The whole process is extremely overwhelming in every sense of the word, and there was a lot to consider, but we felt pretty good (all things considered). We’re using “when” instead of “if” statements and stepping out in faith believing that God will give us the desires of our hearts!!
Of course, as everyone knows now, our IVF/ICSI cycle was successful!!! Both of our embabies we transferred stuck with us and our sweet Logan & Emma are due August 28, 2016. You can read about all of the details/pictures of the cycle on the blog in my detailed entries. Some days it’s still so crazy to believe, but we are so thankful that God heard our cries and answered in a bigger way than we could have ever imagined!!
Financially: With every storm there is always a bright side. Ryan reenlisted in the Army for another 6 year contract back in July and I was offered a new 6 month security consulting contract with a new company back in August. With this addition to our finances, we have been able to pay for our first (and hopefully only) round of IVF completely from our savings without having to take a loan. This was such a blessing and definitely helps to control the stress of the treatment a bit as IVF is not considered “elective” and nothing is covered by military medical insurance (TRICARE).
Emotionally: We have also had so many of our friends and family reach out to us to share their story with us and it’s meant so much. Even more have messaged/texted/spoken to us to let us know that they were praying and we could never ever put into words how wonderful it makes us feel to know that people care. We’re truly blown away to see how many people love us and are believing that God will give us the desires of our hearts.
Professionally: Ryan and I are so blessed to be in a unit in the military that is so caring toward our family. His unit has done everything in its power to keep him home for our treatments, and my friends within the FRG have been so helpful and caring. We have one of the best doctors in the country (he graduated from DUKE, so you know I love him), with some of the cheapest rates. Most importantly: Since he’s been around almost since the beginning of all of this technology, he also has some of the highest percentages of success in the country! Tell me that God doesn’t provide!
This has been the most difficult and trying roller coaster that we have been on and it’s virtually impossible to put everything into words. However, we’ve learned so much about each other and our marriage and have grown even closer through everything. We’ve been shown so much more love and support than we ever could have imagined from friends and family. Every tear, every worry, every penny spent, and every painful procedure will all be more than worth it when we hold those precious miracle babies in our arms!!!
We are hopeful that our prayers will be answered and that baby (or babies!) Grim will be on the way very very soon! We gratefully welcome any prayers you want to send our way while we wait.
Read the rest of our story in my posts below:
IVF – Embryo Transfer