Our Infertility Story - IUI, Adoption, Embryo Adoption, IVF, Surrogacy

Friday, April 29, 2022

It's amazing to remember where we started on our journey to making a family and where it's taken us.

There are so many incredible details to our story but in honor of infertility awareness week I want to give you the highlights.

My husband and I had our first date in August of 2003 and were married in September 2009.  At the time I was working as a nurse and in midwifery school.  In December 2012 we decided it was time to start a family.  I remember being so convinced that the first time would work and couldn't believe it when my period started.  Now 10 years later, having never had a spontaneously conceived pregnancy, I have to laugh at my naivety. 

After 1 year of trying we had the usual initial workup that really didn't show anything.  I had requested a lining check just because my periods were so light and in Nov 2013 had a 5 cm complex cyst removed from my left ovary.  The cyst turned out to be an endometrioma.

Immediately following that surgery we had our first IUI which failed just before Christmas that year.  We were heart broken of course but ready to try again.  We started another round in January 2014 and just 4 days prior to the scheduled IUI our lives were turned upside down.  There are so many incredible details to this story and I just can't do it justice here.  But here are the highlights:

Mid-injection text asking us if we wanted to adopt a baby - A sermon reminding us that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13) - a 2 week whirlwind of home studies, background checks and fingerprinting - 2 weeks of not telling our families ANYTHING about potentially bringing home a baby -  then meeting our daughter with my husband on Facetime stuck in Ohio for work - and now my sweet first born is 8 years old!!  For the rest of Brennan's Adoption story read here. 

With a newborn and infertility I don't think we necessarily kept "trying" but we did nothing to prevent for the next 2 years.  My cycle kept showing up every month and I knew we were going to need some help.  My antral follice count prior to IUI was 11. My AMH never quite matched what they saw on ultrasound so I've since forgotten that but know it wasn't great.  After my endometrioma removal my left ovary was never seen again and my antral follice count dropped to 4.

Embryo adoption had already been placed on our hearts and knew a stim cycle and tradition IVF just wasn't for us.  When Brennan was 1 1/2 we were gifted embryos from incredible selfless couple in Texas.  Just after her 2nd birthday we started meds for our first frozen embryo transfer.  The cycle was flawless until transfer day. They thawed the highest graded embryo of the 4 embryos we were gifted and the straw was empty!  They thawed the next best and my incredible "baby snowflake" Blake is now 5 years old! Here is a little bit more information on Embryo Adoption.

We were literally gifted 2 daughters. The first through domestic adoption and the second through embryo adoption.  We figured what better way to pay it forward then to help another family build their family. Enter surrogacy.  At first my husband said "hell no" and after months of research started to get on board.  

Our first journey was incredible but it did take us 3 transfers to get pregnant.  Clara is now 1 and took her first steps last week!!  She has amazing parents and wonderful older brother.  The entire experience was so rewarding we had to do another.

We are now 11 weeks along carrying sweet Baby Bubble Gum as my girls have affectionately named him. I am proof that there are A LOT of ways to make a family and the most important thing to remember is to never lose hope. The women I have and am carrying for have had hysterectomies and didn't have a choice but to seek third party help to continue growing their families. 

A friend of mine reminded me early on in our journey that it's ok to pray for God to grant my heart's desires.  The morning that Brennan's birth mom signed her relinquishment papers the bible verse on my scheduled reading plan for 2014 was Psalms 20:4.  Another gift from God, a peaceful heart!  

Then when I first started to read about embryo adoption I came across a blog highlighting another woman's journey to motherhood.  Her blog had used the same verse!!  It was in that moment that I knew we would be building out family in yet another non-traditional way. 

I hope these versus give you peace and that no matter where you are in your journey that you never give up and continue to walk through every open door.  And remember, if it's not open yet, it's ok to knock!!  God will find a way.


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9 Week Update

Saturday, April 16, 2022

 I've gotten several messages lately asking how I'm doing which means I'm over due for an update.  We are 9 weeks and chugging along!  We had heartbeat confirmation at just over 6 weeks and repeat checks at 8 and almost 9 weeks.  Look at this adorable necklace IM (intended mom) got me for good luck prior to first heartbeat check.  A good friend of hers got her the same necklace for her birthday as good luck prior to transfer.  It's a horseshoe and baby elephant and I wear it every day. 

 It's kind of neat having this blog to refer back to and to be able to compare pregnancies. With my keeper, Blake, I had a few weeks of mild intermittent nausea.  With my 1st surro babe I started with nausea 8 hours a day at THREE AND A HALF weeks!! That continued until about 16 weeks.  With this pregnancy I have a few hours of nausea every day starting around 3 pm and continuing most of the evening. It's pretty mild and I've only thrown up a few time.  Truth be told I had reflux surgery and can't really vomit so I just dry-heave violently.  But it hasn't happened often.  My IM phrased it perfectly and said she hopes it's just the right amount of nausea and she's so right. Just enough to provide reassurance but not so much that I'm miserable.  

6 weeks
8 weeks

 

 It's been a great journey so far and I'm so honored to be able to carry for such a sweet deserving family.  

Now a shameless plug.  My office, Greenville Midwifery Care, has been nominated for Best of the Upstate for another year!!  But we need your help with daily votes until the end of April.  

PLEASE click this link to vote and go back and vote every day.  We have an amazing birth community and couldn't provide such great midwifery care without such incredible local support.

https://Greenvilleonline.secondstreetapp.com/og/f7a71865-3896-4e13-b894-01e4e5ab575f/gallery/328077051

Photo of me helping a sweet mama with her rock star water birth


When I was pregnant with Blake her nickname was baby snowflake (like a snowflake every adopted embryo is frozen & unique)… last journey the girls nicknamed her baby butterfly… current contenders for this little guy are cherry, little bob and Harold. Help! 


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We’re PREGNANT!!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

​My Intended Parents have had 2 retrievals but only had 1 genetically normal embryo. It was very highly rated and the Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) quoted us a 70% chance of success. We did the most aggressive protocol, extra screening with an additional ultrasound and extra blood work x2. The transfer was flawless and at 5 1/2 days post transfer (dpt) I got my first positive pregnancy test!! My first quantitative HCG on 11 dpt came back at 221!!! 48 hours later we increased to 618!! These are great numbers. 


We are scheduled for one more quantitative HCG on 3/21 and an ultrasound on March 28th (6 weeks 2 days)…. Praying this baby keeps growing!!! 


I don’t know if fertile people do this but us infertile people don’t believe a positive urine pregnancy test when we see it so we test daily and scrutinize every line comparing it the last to make sure it’s getting darker. Here’s our great progression (and now you all know I’m crazy, if you didn’t already know)






The Intended Mom wasn’t sure if she wanted to know about a positive home test or just wait for the confirmation blood work. I waited a few days to ensure it was getting darker then surprised her with the good news during her trip to Jamaica. 






We are all thrilled!! Please keep praying, so many more hurdles to come. Thanks for being on this journey along side us. 

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Transfer done! - 5th time but a new and amazing experience

Friday, March 4, 2022

Being my 5th transfer I thought I knew exactly what to experience. This transfer was extra magical.  

Gift Basket I made for the IPs
Lucky Transfer Socks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day started with a coffee date with the intended mom. I was so grateful for the time we got to spend together. Conversation was easy, we have so much in common and I could already start to feel the bond growing. And look at these adorable lucky transfer socks she got for me!

 

We headed to the clinic and IM and I were brought back pretty quickly. They require a full bladder to help force the uterus to lay flat and make the transfer easier.  Mine wasn't full enough so the chugging began.  80 ounces in and it was finally time. Now here's where it gets cool.

For the previous transfers the embryologist just brings the thawed embryo into the room in the straw and is ready for insertion.  You get to see a photo but that's it. But this clinic was different. They bring the embryo into the room in a newborn isolette. We got to see the embryo in real time under the microscope hatching in it's little petri dish. The embryo was REALLY hatching!!  We got to watch them draw the embryo up into the straw and then be transferred. Seeing the embryo in real time was magical! 

After that my husband and I headed back to the hotel to relax. I had the best nap of my life (thank you Valium) then met the intended parents for dinner. We were so grateful for more time together and we got to meet their sweet (almost) 3 year old. We genuinely enjoyed our time together and really look forward to growing our bond as we embark on this journey together. 

Having gone through 2 previous failed transfers I am always a bit guarded but this just feels right.  The transfer day was amazing, the embryo looked great, the doctor was very happy with the transfer. 

While we hold our breaths until the beta HCG 11 days after transfer I'm feeling really positive! Now we pray!!










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Transfer update

Monday, February 28, 2022

The clinic wanted us to wait until my last surro baby was 1 before transferring for our second journey. So we are transferring Thursday March 3rd, a week before her 1st birthday.  

This protocol has been very similar to my last (successful) transfer per my request. We started a long acting Lupron for endometriosis suppression back in November.  Did 1 shot each month for 2 months and enjoyed hundreds of hot-flashes.  So grateful to do that part in winter!  Then this month we started the pretty typical protocol (oral estrogen, injectable progesterone or progesterone in oil/PIO injections).  We had a baseline lining check to make sure everything was suppressed and an "endometrial scratch" which is thought to increase the chances of implantation.  

During my routine lining check 1 week prior to transfer the lining was nice and fluffy (similar to my cycle with my keeper) but the sonographer couldn't document that it had the trilaminar or triple stripe appearance. I began to stress as this clinic required a trilaminar appearance for transfer. They decided to bring me to their clinic (2 hours away) to see the lining for themselves and to decide on next steps.

I was panicking!  I couldn't believe that the 2 months of menopause and endometrial scratch (not terrible but not fun) could have been for nothing!!  I was devastated. I drove the 2 1/2 hour drive the next day and stayed over night to not risk traffic in the morning. On my way I listened to surrogacy podcasts interviewing different surrogates.  One of the surrogates that was interviewed had a similar experience and her 2 day recheck showed a perfect lining which then turned into a successful transfer. I was in tears.  My mother-in-law would call this a little God wink.. He gave me just enough to calm my nerves and remind me that He is in control.

The next morning the Intended Mom (IM) met me at the clinic.  We headed into the ultrasound together and got the best news.  My lining was the perfect thickness and pattern and we were cleared for transfer!!  The nurse gave me my first IM PIO injection at the clinic. Hers has hurt ever since. Fortunately my husband is a pro at this point and they have been going much better since he took over. We head back to Georgia Wednesday afternoon for a Thursday transfer and then back to Greenville Friday.  I can't wait to hopefully spend a little time with our Intended Parents and then get this baby on board!!  

So grateful for my in-laws watching the girls and my neighbors taking care of the dog while we are gone.  It really does take a village!

Prayers for a sticky baby please!!



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Here we go again, again!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

6 years ago today we traveled to Charleston South Carolina for our first ever frozen embryo transfer (FET).  Blake, formerly know as Baby Snowflake, was our adopted embryo and the first baby that I carried. 

This time 2 years ago we were about to have our second FET for my journey as a gestational carrier. That transfer failed, then COVID lock down, and eventually we got pregnant after our third transfer in June 2020. My sweet surro-baby ("Baby Butterfly") is now about to turn 1!!!  We have had such an amazing experience before during and after the birth. We've seen the family several times since then and are so grateful for their friendship. 

 


Which brings us to now. I could probably give you 15 reasons why we have come to this decision but I'll just go with #1.  We had an amazing experience with our first journey and I just HAD to do it again. 

We decided to go with an agency this time... can you say surrogacy concierge?? We have matched, passed medical clearance, signed contracts and started meds. I've been in medically induced menopause for the last 2 months. We have our baseline ultrasound in a few days then start meds for transfer in March!! 

Our new IP's (Intended Parents) are awesome!!  We've only met in person once but have chatted over the phone and through zoom as well. I look forward to seeing them again for our upcoming transfer. They remind me a lot of our previous IP's.  She too was able to carry her first child but had complications and ended up with a life saving hysterectomy. I have been blessed with fairly uncomplicated pregnancies and births and am grateful to be able to share this part of myself again with someone in need.

We appreciate all of the love and support from each of you and ask for your prayers for this upcoming journey.

Bring it on!!

 


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