Monday, October 12, 2015

A Letter of Hope

For the last five years, we have struggled to have a baby. And for anyone that has been down that road, they know it’s dark, gnarly, and pretty ugly at times. (Although I have to admit that I have made some true, deep, and beautiful friendships out of the terrible times, and for those, I am eternally grateful.) Because of my bitter and jealous feelings of others’ successes during those times (like I said, it isn’t pretty), this is a very hard post for me to write and share. I know that so many others are still in the depths of despair as their heart aches to have a baby, so please forgive me if this news stings or hurts your tender heart. But also know that God hears your every prayer, and He hurts when you hurt. He is holding you in the palm of His powerful and merciful hand and will carry you when your faith and hope are not enough to carry yourself. I don’t know the answer to the ‘why’s’ (Lord knows that I have asked until I lost my voice), but I do know that He is with you forever and always, no matter what. And this is a letter of HOPE. (If you are interested in more details, contact info for doctors, or just want to vent, please feel free to reach out to me.)

We had an early miscarriage in 2008. A few months of Clomid gave us our little angel, Helen Grace.

After HG turned one year old, we started casually trying for baby #2. A few months and then a year passed, and we began to realize that we needed more help. This was the beginning of our infertility journey.

March 2011- consultation with a clinic in Memphis after a few unsuccessful months of Clomid with my OBGYN

May 2011- a bout with melanoma (surgery)

June 2011- a bout with endometriosis (surgery)

Aug 2011-Jan 2012- 5 unsuccessful IUIs

Jan 2012- unsuccessful IVF #1 attempt (didn’t get enough follicles to continue, converted to above IUI #5)

Aug 2012- unsuccessful IVF #2 (transferred one)

June 2013- a last-minute surprise surgery for a polyp/cysts

June 2013- unsuccessful IVF #3 (transfer 2, freeze 2)

Nov 2013- Polypectomy to remove two polyps

Dec 2013- Unsuccessful frozen embryo transfer (FET) of 2 embryos

Jan 2014- Consultation with a group in New Jersey. My local doctor recommended doing a biopsy of embryos to make sure mine were normal. In NJ, they do it onsite (rather than mail it over which delays the process by a month) and do thousands a year. My sorority sister and fellow RE knew the NJ doctor from her residency and was very helpful in connecting us.

Feb 2014- IVF #4 in NJ- transferred one (FET) in March- became pregnant but miscarried in April. Biopsy proved embryo to be normal.

Dec 2014- Consultation with Dr. Laura Detti of Regional One in Memphis

Feb 2015- Hysteroscopy with Dr. Detti to remove uterine fibroid but found endometriosis had returned

April 2015- Since the ‘fertility diet’ was really the only thing I hadn’t tried (I even tried acupuncture for heaven’s sake), I started meeting with a nutritionist weekly and amped up my workouts with my trainer friend.

July 2015- IVF #5 with Dr. Detti- We retrieved 6 on July 20th, and 3 fertilized. In the end, one didn’t develop normally, but two were great quality so we quickly transferred those on Day 3 (July 23rd). I became pregnant in August. While I felt more hopeful than any time before, I still had doubts and didn’t feel like I could quite believe it yet. John, on the other hand, had a sense of peace and calm the entire time, swearing that it just felt different or right. We didn’t tell HG immediately, but she obviously knew that we were trying to get mama’s body ready for a baby so it was regularly a topic of conversation. After the two weeks of hormone injections (in my stomach) before the retrieval, I had to do several weeks of inter-muscular injections in my hip of progesterone. I asked several doctor or nurse friends (Brandy, Eddie, my neighbor Tara, my trainer Ashley) to help me with those, and HG went along most afternoons to get my shot. One day at Eddie’s office, it was a particularly painful shot, plus my hormones were at wit’s end. I started crying, and in an instant, HG climbed like a spider monkey up onto the exam table, sat in my lap, wrapped her legs and arms around me, and started comforting me and trying to cheer me up. It was a moment I will never forget. She is too young to have to have seen all that she’s witnessed in the world of medicine, but her heart spilled open and she and I switched roles of caretaker and needy patient. She has been such a great little soldier, a cheerleader, and a wonderful source of comfort and encouragement through this process.

August 23, 2015- Day 3 embryos before transfer2015-07-23 08.23.50
Transfer of two embryos on August 23rd2015-07-23 08.23.52
August 1st…ehhhhh??? John and I thought we might have imagined a vertical line but felt like we could see a tinge of blue. It was a very long night as we waited to retest the next day.2015-08-01 06.43.34
August 2nd- Now that’s for sure positive!2015-08-02 10.30.46
August 6th- Pregnancy confirmed by bloodwork and enormously high levels…twins???
August 8th- HG went with me for my second bloodwork, and she had no idea of the baby news. On the way, I texted my nurse, Jeanne, to let her know that HG was with me and she didn’t know. The phlebotomist and reception ladies passed me ‘congrats’ notes. HCG levels had more than doubled. We were on the right track.2015-08-08 08.21.19
August 17th- First ultrasound at 5 weeks 6 days. Saw *one* sac and heartbeat of 117!!Ultrasound 20150817 1Ultrasound 20150817 2
August 28th- Second ultrasound at 7 weeks 5 days. Heart rate 160. Spiffer came along and cried the whole time.2015-08-28 09.29.26 HDR2015-08-28 09.29.29

We told HG the good news that night after our second ultrasound. We had her open three cards that ended up spelling “You – are going – to be” and then she opened a bag with a ‘big sis’ tshirt. I can’t even explain how excited she was. She was thrilled that it was finally REAL and actually happening. She initially kind of looked at my tummy like ‘that doesn’t look like there’s a big baby in there’! Then, she erupted into giggled and didn't stop jumping for the next two hours. She wanted to see pics of what the baby looked like, so we watched a video of an embryo developing. She asked, "How are we going to decorate the nursery?!" And she brought me Kleenex because she knew happy tears were coming. When asked if she wanted a sister or brother, she wanted a SISTER because boys were dirty and stinky. She wanted to call everyone immediately, so she FaceTimed and called all of her people. “I’m going to be a big sister!!!!” She never lost steam and was furious when it was bedtime. In her tired delirium, she got a little teary that we might send her away when the baby came, but after we assured her that we needed her HELP and she'd likely be begging to get away from the crying baby, she calmed down. In bed that night, we read a book called Gemma and Gus about a brother and sister. Then, she cuddled up next to me with her head against me and heard my tummy rumble. She said, "Oh, the baby is talking to me!" The next morning, I called her 'baby girl,' and she quickly responded, "Hey, I'm also a big sister!"

2015-08-28 19.10.042015-08-28 19.10.282015-08-28 19.11.14-12015-08-28 19.33.232015-08-28 19.35.362015-08-28 19.35.52

September 3rd- Third ultrasound at 8 weeks 3 days. Heart rate of 173. Jeanne came along and was in complete awe.2015-09-03 09.31.102015-09-03 09.33.09
I picked HG up from school a few minutes early on the 3rd to head to San Fran, and I had the pics waiting in the car. As soon as she saw the black and white, she flipped out- “New pics of the baby!!!!”2015-09-03 14.25.25
Coming up with baby names for us in SF. Hot Dog was her leading favorite for a boy, and when we told her that wasn’t going to work, she literally cried. Rough night.2015-09-04 10.09.32
Babies even come up in her spelling homework.2015-08-30 16.07.15

September 10th- Fourth ultrasound at 9 weeks 3 days. Heart rate of 166. We saw the baby DANCING. No kidding. Like waving his/her hand and bopping his/her head. WILD.

2015-09-10 10.10.24

Sept 11th- 9 weeks 4 days2015-09-11 16.52.10

Sept 15th- Consultation with a great doctor at the Center for High Risk Pregnancies. He is a wonderful man, and we discussed the HELLP Syndrome that I had with HG’s pregnancy. The chances are very low that it will return this time, and I’m confident that he’ll monitor me closely. I got to see amazingly clear pics from their fancy ultrasound machine. Heartbeat was 172.2015-09-15 13.56.002015-09-15 13.57.56

HG drew this picture of us with my big preggo belly.2015-09-15 17.06.46

Sept 18th- Last ultrasound with Dr. Detti and both grandmamas came. 10 weeks 4 days. Lots of hugs and tears (from Spiffer) as we said thank you and goodbye to the team, as I’m transferred to my OBGYN.

2015-09-18 14.42.35
HG has designed this bunk bed plan for her bed to be built over the baby’s crib.2015-09-22 06.22.01

Sept 23rd- First appointment at my OBGYN, Dr. Neblett. 11 weeks 2 days. Heartbeat was 158.2015-09-23 11.32.552015-09-23 11.35.02

Sept 24th- 11 weeks 3 days2015-09-24 16.01.22HG came to my office to share her news with my coworkers. She was nervous as we walked inside, but as soon as she saw our receptionist, she spilled it. “My mommy’s having a baby!” She then basically went up to every person in the office saying, “I’m going to be a big sister!” Hank, our mascot, was in the office too, so she was a VERY happy girl!2015-09-24 15.23.13

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