Processing My Thoughts

It has been a hard month for me to process all the different thoughts that have been flowing through my head.  About a week after my doctor’s office froze our one sole embryo, we had a follow up call with him to discuss the way ahead.

After my last retrieval, my doctor was able to do a little bit of analysis on my eggs and he has come up with one conclusion: my eggs are genetically abnormal.  There were a few different scenarios that had been occurring with my eggs:

Egg Scenario #1:  “I don’t need no stinkin’ sperm!”
Some eggs decided to just start dividing on their own, absent any sperm.  I guess they decided they could reproduce asexually and create clones of me.  Unfortunately, this isn’t normal and so they died off after a few days.

Egg Scenario #2:  “Sperm!???!??!  EEEEEEK!  ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!”
Some eggs had one look at the sperm that had entered their territory and decided that life just wasn’t worth it.  They either died upon first sight of their new mate, or else within a few hours.

Egg Scenario #3: “Yawn…….this splitting and growing thing is just plain ol’ boring.  I think I’m going to take a looooooooong nap.”
This scenario actually sounds pretty typical of me.  I’ve been known to have the ability to nap on demand — anywhere, anytime.  My fertilized eggs carried on that trait — except their naps were so deep that they just ended up dying.

Egg Scenario #4: “Fertilization!  Woohoo!  Lets grow, grow, grow!”
This is the best case scenario.  Grow and divide, grow and divide, repeat for nine months!  So far, we’ve had two embryos follow this scenario.  The first one, however, when tested for chromosomal abnormalities, came back as abnormal — and not just abnormal in one way (i.e. Downs Syndrome), but more than three abnormalities.  The word the doctor used was “chaotic.”  Our second embryo that grew has yet to be tested.  I’m really afraid that it, too, will come back as chaotic.  We will find the answer to that question soon.

So where do we go from here?  Our doctor gave us a few possibilities.  The first was to use Mama M’s eggs.  A “her bun, my oven” scenario.  The second is to use a donor egg with our current sperm donor.  The third was to accept and use a donor embryo.  These are extra embryos that were created by other couples for use in creating their own families — but they ended up being surplus.

After a little bit of thought, we’ve decided to try using Mama M’s eggs.  The process to retrieve her eggs is identical to the process that was used to retrieve mine.  The only difference is that I, at the same time, am taking medication to prepare my body for a (hopeful) transfer of 1 or 2 normal embryos that will be made up of Mama M’s egg and our donor sperm.

This scenario has definitely put us in a financial bind due to yet another retrieval and surgery, has resulted in us having to find a new sperm donor (our original donor resembled Mama M…….this new one is a bit more white), and, for me, created a big mental hurdle for me to overcome.  This entry is long enough, though, so that’ll have to wait for another day.

Your continued thoughts and prayers are appreciated as we endure this cycle.  We’ve both started medication and two hormonal women living under the same roof is definitely making for a test of our patience and love.

Where We Stand

Part of me wanted today to get here quickly so that I could know the answer.  The other part of me wanted today to never get here — so that I could live in the “They retrieved 12!” bubble forever.  In reality, I knew the number could be no greater than 4 since a phone call last week let me know that only 4 of our 12 fertilized properly.  Nevertheless, the number 4 kept circulating through my head as the number that I’d love to hear the embryologist say come Monday.

The call came this morning while I was in the library, printing off handouts for my Intro to Korean class.  I was trying to whisper due to the setting, which I’m pretty sure made the embryologist on the other end of the line think that I was waiting with bated breath for what she was going to relay to me.

“Yes, this is Dannielle.”

“Hi, this is _____ from the embryology lab, calling with your Day 5 report.”

At this point, in my head I kept thinking “please, please, puh-lease let us have a bunch to work with.”

“We were able to grow one Day 5 3BB blastocyst, which we are going to freeze for you since you wanted us to skip chromosomal testing if there were only 1 or 2.”


“I’m sure that Dr. ________ will be calling you in the next few days to discuss specifics.”

“…….oh………, okay.  Well, thank you for the phone call.”


Only One.

A Dozen

Just a quick not to say that egg retrieval surgery yesterday afternoon was a success!  The doctor was able to retrieve 12 eggs (!!!!), which is great news.  As you might recall, my last two surgeries retrieved 4 and 6 eggs, respectively.  Due to natural attrition that will take place over the next few weeks, I’m really hoping that these 12 will result in 3 normal embryos.  Please pray for them as they grow this week and as they are sent off for testing in a week!

A 1:45AM alarm clock

What do a Nebraska Gas Station, an Orland Park movie theater, and a Denny’s parking lot have in common?

The precise timing of injections is one of the key components of a stimulation cycle.  For this round, my injections must be given exactly 12 hours apart.  For me, I chose the 8 o’clock hour as the lucky time when I’d have to give my shots.  At the time, I didn’t think of all of the things that I’d be in the middle of at 8AM or 8PM:

  1.  Watching Beauty and the Beast at a movie theater with my family and friends.  Nothing like having Mariya give me three shots (in the dark) while singing along to the Prologue.  “…..Bonjour! There goes the baker with his tray like always…”
  2. Driving on our road trip to Denver, it was awesome giving myself a shot in the car while at the gas pump.  “Babe!  We need to pull over now!  The alarm on my phone is going off!”
  3. Giving myself shots in the bathroom at school before classes start in the morning
  4. Excusing myself from night school classes in order to give myself shots, again, in the bathroom at school.
  5. Leaving the dinner table with friends in order to go to my room and give myself shots.

The list could go on for, well, weeks worth of injections.

The good news, is the shots and medication are working.  At our doctor’s appointment yesterday, numerous follicles had finally reached the ‘magic’ 20mm+ size.  At this size, they are each (hopefully) filled with one tiny egg that can be extracted during surgery.  As mentioned in a previous post, one of the medications that I am currently taking prevents my body from ovulating and releasing those eggs.  In order to induce ovulation, I have to take an intramuscular shot that is perfectly timed with my scheduled surgery time.  For this go around, the time of that shot had to be at 1:45AM.

Yes, 1:45 AM.   I really can’t describe the immense pleasure of setting an alarm clock to wake you up at 1:43AM so that your wife can give you a shot with a 1.5″ needle in your hip area.  I would say that it was a definite highlight of my life — something akin to stubbing your pinkie toe on the coffee table.  🙂

The upside you might ask?  SURGERY IS SCHEDULED AND I AM DONE WITH SHOTS…..(for now).  Please pray for us and for my surgeon tomorrow.  Surgery is scheduled to start precisely at 12:45PM (Mountain Time) on Tuesday.  Please, please, please let there be multiple eggs that are all mature and ready to become our lucky embryos!

A Herd of Turtles


When you are preparing yourself for egg retrieval surgery, there are a few weeks (or more) of preparation.  At the beginning of it, you are given a calendar with all of your medication doses, days that you’ll need ultrasounds and lab work completed, and a day when they anticipate your surgery will take place.  For the past two egg retrieval procedures, the estimated surgery day has been pretty spot on — or within a day of what was listed.

This time around, my body is responding great to the medication.  Instead of 6 or 7 follicles, we’ve been looking at the double digits!  The downside to this cycle, you might ask?  For some reason, my follicles are taking their sweet time absorbing the medication and growing.  As my nurse put it a few days ago, it is like moving a herd of turtles.  It is great that they are all in the race, but OMG, please just grow already!  My surgery date was supposed to be yesterday (Thursday), but has now been pushed out to Monday (at which point, we will literally be leaving the surgery center and driving immediately to Kansas so that I can be back in classes on Tuesday!)  I’ve been asked if the surgery is tough.  I’ll be honest, I’m asleep for it, so I have no clue.  I can tell you that the recovery period afterward is…..uncomfortable?  I mean, you don’t expect getting a needle poked through your vaginal wall multiple times to suck out eggs to be painless, right?

Our turtles earlier this week:IMG_4758Hoping that one of those little follicles listed above grows into the angel that we have been waiting for!

Here We Go Again

I’m sorry for not writing much recently.  I’ve had a little bit of a hard time convincing myself that there is nothing I can do to make this situation any better.

After deciding to push ahead with another round of retrieval, I’ve tried to focus on the little positives with this whole situation.

1 — My fear/aversion of injections has disappeared.  Seriously, giving myself an intramuscular injection in my “love handles” with an inch and half needle has convinced me that I can handle any shot/IV without flinching an inch.  Ha.

2 — I’m appreciative of being born when I was.  My grandmother had problems getting pregnant for years – 14 years to be exact.  In the end, she had a miracle pregnancy at age 37, resulting in my mom (her only child).  Since then, incredible advancements have been made in the field of infertility.  I’m glad that I have access to those, both financially and physically.

3 — My relationship with my wife has become stronger.  The vulnerability that we feel, together, is just another thing that we can share in our marriage.

4 — I’ve reconnected with friends that I had lost touch with.  There are so many of you reading this blog that been on the same road that we are heading down.  You’ve reached out, shared your stories, given your support, and, most importantly, shown the love that you have for us in our journey.

Our journey over the past two weeks hasn’t been terrible.  I went to visit an acupuncturist twice before driving to Denver.  There isn’t a ton of evidence that acupuncture works for improved retrieval rates, but honestly, I’ll take any hope at this point.

Additionally, our doctor has put us on a new protocol — one that involves many more shots (5 per day).  It is a careful balance between a hormone that promotes follicle growth and a second that diminishes my ability to ovulate (to protect my ovaries from ovulating early and releasing all of these eggs prior to surgical retrieval).  It is a slow and steady race — but we are looking at 15 follicles right now!  This is amazing for my body.  To compare:

IVF #1 — 5 follicles grew, 4 eggs retrieved, 2 fertilized and transferred (no pregnancy)
IVF #2 — 7 follicles grew, 6 eggs retrieved, 3 fertilized, 1 grew to Day 5 but was abnormal

With 15 potential follicles, we will hopefully get more eggs to work with, and maybe, just maybe a normal embryo that we can transplant back in!

Thank you again for the prayers, thoughts, messages, and love.  Please cross your fingers (and your toes!) that this round goes better for us!

The Little Engine that Could…..Couldn’t

M and I decided to push ahead with another round of IVF, despite it causing us to stretch our finances seriously thin.  This yearning that we have for a child and a family is so strong that, at this point, we’d do anything to achieve it.

As part of the preparation for the next round, I had to have an ultrasound and labs done here in Kansas today.  I had to laugh because my ultrasound was scheduled for a day when I had to wear my “fancy” uniform to school/work, and I was on a tight time schedule, so I didn’t have time to change before heading off to my appointments.  Trying to finagle my way out of my pantyhose (clearly invented by a man….), my spanx (because, honestly, what woman doesn’t wear these nowadays….), heels, and uniform in order to get my ultrasound done made me chuckle……getting dressed again made me chuckle even more.  It really made me appreciate the leggings that I seem to wear on a daily basis when I’m sans uniform.

As I was driving home from the ultrasound/labs, relieved knowing that the ultrasound looked normal, my fertility doctor called to let me know that our one little embryo, the “little engine that could”…..couldn’t.  It came back as abnormal.  Our one little hope from this last cycle turned out to be hopeless.

Needless to say, tears were shed in the car.  I ugly cried most of the way back to school.  Cried because my body was failing me — failing us.  Why was this not working for us….again?

Missing Out

Precision.  Lots of precision.  And luck.  Preferably luck of the good kind.  Those are probably the two words that describe this whole ordeal best.

When I look back over the past two years and think about the heartache, the majority of the thoughts that come to my mind all relate to the fact that we are not holding a baby in our arms (or in my body!).  But there is an entirely different side to this heartache that most folks don’t think about.  The heartache that comes with missing out on events — all tied back to the “precision” that goes into the process.

I can think of three distinct times where baby-making won out over events and experiences that I will never get back.


Beautiful Ravinia — great place for a concert!

In August of 2015 — my birthday to be precise — we spent the weekend in Chicago at a Ravinia concert with my mom and stepfather, Paul. Unfortunately, while we were at the concert, my grandfather fell ill and had to be rushed to the hospital.  We didn’t know it at the time, but this was one of the last times we would get to see him and spend time with him, as he passed a few weeks later.  I wish I could have stayed at the hospital with him longer — heard one last story, seen one last smile.  Instead, we rushed back to Louisville because my trigger shot had already been given and we needed to complete our IUI at a precise time (intra-uterine insemination, for those unfamiliar with the term).


Really wish I had seen this wedding rainbow in person!

In June of 2016 — my beautiful wife stood up in our good friend’s wedding in Denver, CO.  The scenery was breathtaking, as were the brides.  At least, that is how it looked in the photos.  I was stuck home in Louisville, feet propped up, after undergoing our first (failed) attempt at IVF. Travel was out of the question as we were not risking anything after spending thousands of dollars on this future ball of cells.


missing a sibling or two…..  😦

Most recently, a few weekends ago, we were happily on our way to Chicago for my sister’s surprise 30th Birthday party.  While on the road, we received a call from our doctor in Denver.  Apparently, a scan earlier in the day showed a sizable cyst on one of my ovaries.  Although this would normally not be a cause for concern, as women get these all of the time throughout their lifetime, this particular cyst meant that we would have to cancel our IVF cycle completely.  With our ever-looming move to Korea in the future, we are on a somewhat tight timeline now to get pregnant.  Our only option in order to save this cycle was to turn around, return to Kansas, and catch an early flight to Denver in order to undergo a minor procedure to drain the cyst.  I’m sorry for missing your party, lil’ sister, but your future niece or nephew will hopefully make up for it!

You don’t really think about the ripples that extend out from infertility, but they really do reach parts of your life in unimaginable ways.

The Little Engine That Could

I might be guilty of doing the Carlton dance in my living room about five minutes ago.  The embryologist called and our last little embryo made it through the night and is a 6BA.  Now it is just the waiting game on receiving the chromosome testing results.  For my age, there is a 62% chance of the embryo being normal.  If it does come back abnormal, it will come with a report letting us know what was wrong — i.e. Down’s Syndrome, Trisomy 13, etc.  Any abnormal embryo will be ineligible for transfer and either destroyed or else we’ve agreed to let testing/research be completed on the embryo.

If you aren’t familiar with the grading of embryos, there is a very helpful explanation here.  The grade of an embryo doesn’t equal success — there are 3CCs that go on to become healthy kiddos and 6AAs that turn into negative pregnancy tests.  It really is just the luck of the draw.


A visit from my favorite FedEx man

First of all, thank you to everyone that has reached out to us in the past 24 hours to show their support. It has really been wonderful and appreciated and humbling. Our world might be a big place, put the common thread of humanity that we all share really does weave a wonderful, supportive web during some of our darkest moments. For that, I’m so very thankful.

Today starts another round of medication, hopefully leading to a retrieval in a few weeks that will give us better results.  Thankfully, today was an easy to swallow pill and the injections don’t start until tomorrow.  But, to gear up for those injections, I had to wait for my favorite FedEx man to arrive with medications that required immediate refrigeration. Last month, we missed his delivery and ended up having to drive 45 minutes to Kansas City to get our package. I wasn’t going to let that happen this time around. Thankfully there was no school today, so I was able to sit here in my pajamas and devour a box of Samoas while waiting for the doorbell to ring.

Yes, a box……minus one little cookie that I’m trying really hard to save for later. Whatever, I’m hormonal.



Ignore my embarrassingly large stash of cookies, but they are my happy place during all of this

Unpacking the box of medication feels like Christmas, until it sinks in that I’m going to be injecting myself with all of this over the next few weeks.


Yup, that’s all getting injected in the next two weeks….ouch!

There is a definite bonus to going through all of this — we have definitely acquired a ton of free ice packs!  The nice ones that have a block of foam on the inside!


Yay for free freezer packs!

The downside to all of this medication?  The cost.  Definitely the cost.  This box contains about 2/3 of our medication for this one cycle.  The other box will arrive next week — at a cost of $1,100.00 for two medications (Saizen and a microdose Lupron).  I’ve been trying hard to not think about the cost of all of this and instead focus on the light at the end of the tunnel — a sweet, sweet little bundle of joy.


Ouch! This might hurt more than the shots!