Our IVF Story – Part 2

CLICK TO READ PART 1 OF OUR STORY

I still remember the day when Jamie came home from work and told me he wanted to make a drastic career change. At the time, he was a finance manager at a dealership and was making some pretty amazing money. We were used to living it up! Ha! But, his current career just wasn’t his passion. He was extremely passionate about golf and extremely good at it, I might add. He shared with me that he’d like to go to school to become a Golf Pro.

“So, wait… there’s a SCHOOL out there for Golf Pros?” I asked him.

Ha! I had no idea! He started to research all of the places he could go and narrowed them down to the top picks. One of the places was Las Vegas. When I heard that.. I told him I’d go ANYWHERE but Vegas. With us trying to start a family, it just seemed like the LEAST family-friendly place on earth to live!

We prayed about it and received our answer. Vegas it was. Apparently I was to eat my words! We set off to Vegas leaving behind the beautiful home we built together (and that Jamie proposed to me in), our four-wheelers, our boat, downgraded our cars, sold almost all of our beautiful furniture, and said good-bye to all of our family and friends. We were about to be “poor college students” with me taking on a NEW role as the family bread-winner.

There are SO many miracles that happened during this time period to get us from Utah to Vegas. Some are too precious and sacred to share. One thing I CAN share, that might give you a glimpse into how the Lord makes the impossible possible involved finding a job. At the time I applied to be a teacher in Las Vegas, there was a hiring freeze in place. This meant that they would not, for any reason, hire on any new teachers into the school district. In order to support ourselves, I HAD to work and having a teaching degree, it made the most sense for me to continue teaching.

I was miraculously able to interview with a principal who was determined to get me on board. When the district told her she couldn’t “have me,” she went on a mission to find a school that was short-staffed and in desperate need of a new teacher. She then convinced the school district to hire me on with THAT school. I mean, things like this just don’t happen! It was a more involved process than that, and we saw so many unusual things (aka miracles) happen, that it was just more of a confirmation to us that we were meant to be in Vegas, for whatever reason…

ENTER: The “Barren” Bunch! Once we settled into our new home and we started making friends in our new church (ward)… we soon realized that the majority of us had one thing in common… NONE of us had kids. We began to open up about it and infertility was the name of the game! We didn’t know it at the time, but the Lord had placed us in the middle of our support group that would help us get through some extremely rough patches coming up in our future. We felt like the Lord had deliberately placed us with this group. We went from hanging out with friends who were “fertile Myrtles” to friends who understood exactly what we were going through. 

Beautiful Quote About IVF

I’d like to share something that one of these friends taught me. Her name is Bethany. This girl is one of the most amazing women I think I’ve ever met. Besides being friends with her, we were able to serve together in our church and I was privileged to see how her talents benefitted all of those around her. I remember that she was once asked to speak to a group of women in our church and I couldn’t wait to hear what she had to say. She opened up and shared a little of her personal trial with us. At that time, I believe she had already tried IVF on top of other fertility treatments… and none were successful. She shared that she had picked up running with her husband. One day, as they were running around a track, she began to think of their journey. She shared that she had been so angry that her body, a beautiful gift from God, that was supposed to do this ONE thing – carry a child…was failing her. As she ran, she then began to think of all of the other amazing things her body could do and was overcome with gratitude. The fact that she had healthy lungs, healthy legs, the use of both arms, her eyesight and hearing… and was able to push her body hard enough to race around that track, it was a gift! Her attitude changed and she was able to focus more on what she COULD do rather than what she couldn’t. As she shared her story, I silently thanked her in my mind for the reminder. I’m happy to share that this beautiful friend of mine adopted the cutest little girl less than a year later. The story of that amazing adoption is nothing short of a miracle as well. Bethany and her husband shared that private story with us and we just sat in wonder. I know deep down that little girl was MEANT to have both of them as parents and the Lord made sure of it. There just no other way to explain their story of how they found each other…. but it’s her story to share. 😉

Over time, our other friends slowly started seeing success with their different attempts. One friend found success with Clomid. Another friend tried IVF multiple times and was finally successful with beautiful twins! One friend tried IUI and we were all shocked and so excited when they announced they were having triplets. And yet another friend tried IVF and was successful on their very first attempt! We celebrated each time with these couples and learned a lot as they shared what to do and what not to do. It was information overload that would all be needed down the road.

A quick “Infertility Treatments 101” for all of you who are new to this….beware, I’m going to use the correct terms for everything. No sugar-coating things here! Ha!

Infertility Treatment Guide

  • CLOMID: A medication given to the woman that stimulates ovulation. The average cost of these pills is around $40 per cycle. In 2016, the stats stated that about 80% of women taking clomid would ovulate but less than half would conceive. This might be a great place to start if you’ve done a lot of tests and have determined that neither spouse has ANY issues. (My disclaimer: We weren’t able to find out OUR issues until we tested our embryos created from IVF… so not every issue will be caught with the initial tests.)
  • IUI: Also known as Intrauterine Insemination. This is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus. The goal is to increase the number of sperm that actually make it to where the eggs are. The cost is usually between $300-$1000 and the success rate is around 10-20% who will get pregnant this way. Again, if the sperm has been tested and is 100% in the clear and the woman has done every test available and has come up clean… this would be a cheaper route than IVF.
  • IVF: Also known as In vitro Fertilization. This is another fertility procedure where the mature eggs are retrieved from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Once fertilized, the fertilized eggs (now called embryos) are then carefully placed back into the woman’s uterus in hopes that it will “take root.” The success rate is around 41-43% for women under the age of 35. The older you are, the lower your success rate will be. For example… for ages 35-37, the success rate drops to around 33-36%. Still higher than IUI success rates, but a drastic drop. It continues to drop and if you are over 40 then the anticipated success rate drops to the “teens.”  As for pricing… brace yourselves! On average, a IVF cycle will cost between $12,000-$15,000 and that is BEFORE medication, which will cost anywhere from $3000-$5000 (and on up!). Some insurance companies will cover this, but because infertility is becoming so common, most don’t. Ours was completely out of pocket. 🙁 Ahem… having said all of that, that pricing above is for a FRESH transfer (which I will explain later on). If you are doing a frozen transfer and want to test the fertilized embryos… expect to tack on a few more thousand. Let’s just conclude by saying that this option isn’t cheap.

These are all “averages” and I’m sure both pricing and statistics will change over the years. I would hope that the pricing would go down and the stats would go up for each treatment listed above. 😉 To shine a little light on how expensive shots/medication can be… go ahead and feast your eyes on the below picture. To the average eye, it might look like I’m holding four shot cartridges… but to ME, I’m holding almost $4000!!!! That’s right, every. single. one. of. those tubes. is. $900!!!!! It’s ok, go ahead and faint. WE sure did! Each cartridge lasted three days (three shots). This was probably the most expensive shot I did. (Thank GOODNESS!)

Now, let me rewind just a bit in our story to share what Jamie and I were doing during all of this (THIS meaning our time in Vegas). The first year we were in Vegas, the idea for this website was born and I threw myself into it! I remember teaching my adorable students all day long, coming home utterly exhausted… and then DIVING into my 2nd passion… this website. I would work long hours into the night. There weren’t enough hours in the day and I juggled both passions/careers for two years until the day my sweet husband came home and told me he was giving me the gift of “retirement” from teaching so I could focus entirely on the website. He decided to start working full time along with still attending full-time school in order for us to make this happen. I was SO burnt out, that this was the best present he could have ever given me.

Beautiful Religious Quote

I then spent the next five years working 60+ hours a week on the website, pouring my heart and soul into what I believed was something GOOD in the world. The only way I was able to accomplish all of that was having my husband’s support, leaning on the Lord, and embracing our trial of infertility. If we WERE able to have children during these years, I honestly don’t think this website would be where it is today, and I know creating this website to help as many marriages as possible was meant to be part of my journey on earth.

And then… it was our turn! We decided it was finally time to be extremely proactive about starting a family. A few years had passed since we’d moved to Vegas, Jamie was nearing the end of his schooling, and we knew we didn’t want to waste any more time trying things that *might* work. We made the decision to skip both Clomid and IUI and instead, to go straight to IVF. We’d seen our friends do cycle after cycle of clomid, IUI, and even IVF… and saw the emotional and physical toll it took on them. We weren’t getting any younger and we didn’t want to wait a year trying out all of these other options that might not work. True… IVF might not work for us but we wanted to go straight for the treatment that had the highest success rate. Now remember, we were poor college students! IVF is the most EXPENSIVE fertility treatment out there! However, we both felt good about it and then another miracle happened right after we made this decision.

Out of nowhere, Jamie received a phone call from a buddy he used to work with. His friend was now a Finance Manager at an RV dealership in Colorado. He told Jamie that the Regional Manager wanted to hire a Finance Manager for one of the Colorado stores… and then he told Jamie what he was making…

Jamie told me the amount and I miiiight have fainted. Not only would this be an adventure (and boy was I ready to get out of the hot desert of Vegas) but paying for IVF wouldn’t be a problem at. all. with this career change!

Just to catch you up to speed… Jamie was almost done with his degree and receiving his PGA card. You don’t exactly make a lot of money being a Golf Pro (as we quickly found out) and Jamie was having his doubts. We both enjoyed being financially free in the early days of our marriage, and we were sure his new career change (Golf Pro) wouldn’t provide that nor would it be enough to pursue fertility treatments. Cue – the phone call above!

We prayed about it and we felt like this was the right thing to do. The Regional Manager flew Jamie out to Colorado and pretty much fell in love with him. Guys – I married a charmer, I tell you! Anyone who meets this guy just LOVES him! He was immediately offered the job.

In order for this life-changing move to happen, Jamie was going to have to convince the director over his program to let him take his remaining classes online. This was pretty much unheard of, but yet, another miracle… he was granted permission.

Off we went! We settled into our new home in Colorado, a cute little rental, and the following year (2015) we decided it was time to start the IVF process.

Two of our friends had found success with a prominent Infertility doctor in Vegas. He was famous for his technique and was known across the U.S. as a leading expert. We decided to go with him.

This would mean flying back and forth from Vegas and Colorado but we now had the funds for it, so we decided to go with “the best” and we were confident we’d get pregnant with our first attempt. I mean, that’s what allll the doctors had told me, so it MUST be true, right?

We had a skype conversation with this doctor and he basically told us that we were “young” and with zero complications in our past (Note: We hadn’t even had tests done yet.) that he was confident we’d get pregnant immediately and he instructed me to be put on a lower dosage of meds (I later learned this). Peeps, “lower dosages” doesn’t mean jack! Ha! It’s still just as many shots, just not quite as much being injected into you.

This was just from ONE visit to the lab. Lots of vials needed for all the tests they needed to run.

We went through a few months of being tested. I went in for blood tests after blood tests. Insurance didn’t cover the majority of these tests and the bills started coming in. I would guess we spent $1-2K on tests alone. In the meantime, I started looking like a drug addict! There were so many needle marks in my arms. And then it was time to start the meds…

Awesome quote about IVF

Can I just stop here for a second and talk about what IVF REALLY means? I’d heard people tell me they “conceived” their children through IVF and our friends had filled us in on the shots and medicine you have to take… but now that I’ve gone through it, I have to say, ANY woman who does IVF is a freakin’ WARRIOR! I’m not kidding!!! I had NO idea. Nothing could have prepared myself for what was to come. I now have so much respect for anyone who has been through the IVF process. I have lived through it and it’s not pretty, it’s not easy, and it’s a complete physical AND emotional roller coaster.

When the two HUGE boxes of meds arrived, I burst into tears! It was SO overwhelming! I was still in shock that we were allowed to give ourselves these shots! And then the tears continued as I unpacked everything. Soooooo many needles! Sooooo many instructions! I was so completely overwhelmed and utterly scared to start all of it! I mean, I’m SCARED of needles… and now not only was I expected to inject myself multiple times a day, but I had to do it myself. It was almost too much and we had just started the process.

Oh don’t you worry… this is just a sampling. There were a WHOLE lot more meds and shots in the fridge. #SoManyMeds

Luckily, one of our close Vegas friends who had found success with IVF treatments now lived in Colorado! We went over to their house and she and her husband went over all the meds with us and showed us how to prep the shots, get the right dosages, and tricks to make it all easier. We felt a lot more confident by the time we returned home.

That photo above? That is my “discard” pile for one day of shots. Intense, right?

The majority of the shots were to be “subcutaneous” shots, which just mean that it needs to be just under the skin. The injection spot can be your abdomen, thigh, or back of your arm. Jamie and I decided the abdomen would be the best place to inject. When we first started the shots, I was pretty skinny. Trying to find “fat” to grab in the abdomen area to administer the shots proved to be a challenge. (I’ve since decided that having a little bit of “fluff” in that area is SUCH a good thing! It hurts a lot less!) Some shots weren’t too bad, others hurt like a mother! I was so scared to do them myself so I’d play the “Fight Song” to distract me as Jamie did all the shots in my stomach. Weeks and weeks of shots and medicine. My stomach area soon looked like a battlefield!

All of this was just to prep my body AKA grow as many follicles as possible to be as BIG as possible! (Each mature follicle would hopefully contain a healthy egg.) I can give you a quick run-down of the process of IVF… ready?

STEP 1: Most doctors put you on birth control to get you on a cycle that is predictable. This is called the “pre-IVF” cycle where the goal is to “shut down” your reproductive cycle.

STEP 2: When you are deemed “ready” the next step is to grow your follicles (eggs) as big as possible and to get as MANY eggs as possible AKA ovulation stimulation. Your body is pumped full of drugs that grow your follicles (eggs)… larger than what is usually normal. You normally have a lot of ultrasounds and blood work done during this to monitor that growth. Your abdomen can also start looking swollen or bloated since your eggs are growing to unusual sizes and/or, the drugs might be helping your body “grow” more than normal. 

STEP 3: Once the eggs are large enough, you do a “trigger” shot (holy huge needle!) and that medicine tells your body that it’s time to release those eggs/follicles. You then go in for a surgery where the mature eggs are removed from the ovaries while you are asleep. You’ll wake up feeling bloated and bleeding a little (hello… you just had a surgery.)

STEP 4: Immediately after removal, the eggs are placed in individual petri dishes with sperm (thank you, husband) and you wait…. What are you waiting for? To see which eggs have survived and are now fertilized. You will usually receive a call on Day 3 giving up an update and then by Day 5… it’s the final update. It’s normal to lose some at every step of this process.

STEP 5: Whatever is left at that point, you can do a FRESH transfer, which means going in and placing the embryo(s) in the uterus (you are awake during this and usually only take a valium). OR, you can freeze the embryos and have them genetically tested. In this case, it takes a few weeks to get the results back and if you have any healthy embryos, then you go back in at that point to do the transfer.

Now, our confident fertility doctor had told us that he didn’t see ANY reason why we wouldn’t find success with our first attempt. Being buoyed up by his extreme confidence (which I now interpret as overconfidence) we decided it would be perfectly fine to do a fresh transfer and not have the embryos tested…. so we went for it!

After doing all of those shots for weeks, we had ten follicles. Yes, this is low… the crazy thing is that my bloodwork showed that I had pleeeeenty of follicles AKA eggs, but in reality, my egg count was super low. This was our first clue as to what our issues were. Up until then we had just relied on blood work so we didn’t know any better. BTW – A mature follicle should be 16mm or larger.. and I only had ten follicles and not all of them were large enough. 🙁 We remained hopeful! I mean, if all ten survived the WHOLE process… we could have as many children as we wanted. I was prepped for the surgery, kissed Jamie good-bye, and let the drugs in my IV take over…. I peacefully slept as the doctor removed our mature follicles.

I woke up to find out that only five eggs were large enough to retrieve….and only 4 survived the retrieval. The process of waking up this first time was a bit scary. I hadn’t had a lot of experience with surgery and apparently I scared my nurse due to not coming out of it soon enough. When I woke up, I was extremely nauseous and they hurried to administer new drugs to make me more comfortable. I’ve since learned to tell the nurse before heading in that I experience extreme nauseousness with anesthesia and they are then able to create the perfect combo of drugs to combat that.

Each “stage” of IVF, you usually lose 50%. It’s a waiting game… and not a fun one. If the fertilized embryos make it to Day 3, that’s hopeful! If they make it to Day 5, then they have survived. At that point, you can do a LIVE transfer which means you put those embryos back into the woman OR you can do a frozen transfer later. This means they immediately freeze the embryos for the couple to do the transfer at a later date. The pros of this is that you can then test the embryos to see which ones are actually genetically healthy. If they are deemed “genetically healthy” then they have a higher chance of creating a baby and making it to a live birth. If they aren’t “genetically healthy” then your odds of miscarrying are pretty huge. Most doctors won’t transfer an embryo that ISN’T genetically healthy… the problem with not testing is that you don’t know if you have healthy embryos.

When you wake up, you are swollen (I actually looked like I was pregnant) and need to be on bed rest for a few days. In the meantime, our doctor’s office fertilized our eggs and called us on Day 3 with the news that only 3 had made it. We were still hopeful! By Day 5… we had lost another one BUT, we still had two surviving embryos!!! We decided to transfer both. Having wanted children for so long, the thought of BOTH of them “taking” and having twins actually excited us. I went back in to do the transfer and then the most painful experience to date….

Our two little embryos we transferred in our first IVF attempt!

You are supposed to show up for the transfer with a full bladder, which helps the doctor with the placement of the embryos. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had enough water that morning. MOST doctors would then give you water to drink until your bladder was full enough for the surgery. But nope, not this doctor… he was on a SCHEDULE! Instead, he decided to PUT the water in me… and I can’t even tell you how excruciatingly painful that was. I remember tears spilling down my cheeks. I was only allowed one valium (which is common) but that did absolutely nothing and both this unexpected procedure of inserting water into my bladder combined with the actual placing of the embryos, was SO painful. I later found out that this isn’t really supposed to hurt at all… unfortunately, I learned the hard way.

Our doctor declared that the embryos were placed PERFECTLY and out of all the embryos in “the bunch” (he performed this procedure for a series of women each day) that these were the best looking of them all. We were clueless, so of course this raised our hopes even higher! We braced ourselves mentally to be holding twins in our arms in the near future.

After that, it was another waiting game. Did the embryos attach? Did our LONG journey of shots and medication pay off? Was all of this pain worth it?

Now, you may THINK that as soon as the transfer is over, so are the shots. MMMMMmhhhmmmm… now THAT, my friend, would be wishful thinking. The most painful shots are yet to come. Before the actual transfer, progesterone shots begin. These are large needles that you get to stick into the upper booty, and you are basically injecting thick oil into yourself on a daily basis. It hurts!! You need to rub out those spots afterwards or they form lumps. Jamie had to administer the shots as it’s super awkward and tricky to try to do them yourself. Hands down, it was the worst part of each day. Here’s the kicker… If you ARE successful, the shots continue 11 weeks into your pregnancy. So NOT fun… but so worth the end result.  

The dreaded progesterone shot… don’cha LOVE how big that needle is?

We waited 9 looooong days and then I went in to get my blood tested. If embryo implantation has occurred, they would be able to detect the HCG hormone in the blood.

We received a phone call that afternoon and I heard the words I’d been waiting for…. “Congratulations! You are pregnant!!” I burst into tears and thanked the nurse over and over. I was shaking and barely heard the rest of what she told me. She went on to say that although I DID have the HCG hormone in my blood, it was lower than normal so they didn’t think that both embryos took, but one definitely did. We may not get our twins, but we were still getting a baby!!!! I was scheduled to have another blood test in a few days to make sure the HCG level continued to rise.

We hung up and I ran to get that tiny little onesie I had created years ago. I wrapped it all up in the cutest way and set it on our kitchen table. I couldn’t WAIT until Jamie came home from work!!! When he arrived, I let him know that I had a surprise for him and I videoed him opening the onesie… we were both ecstatic!

A few days later, I went in for round two for bloodwork. I received a phone call that afternoon with results and it wasn’t what we wanted to hear. The HCG hormone was still in my blood but it was significantly lower than where it was supposed to be. My HCG levels should be doubling every 2-3 days… and it wasn’t. The nurse tried to comfort me over the phone and told me that I was still pregnant but that they wanted to test again on Monday just to make sure everything was OK. She instructed me to continue all shots/medication as normal and she would talk to me after the next blood draw. As I hung up the phone, I had a sinking feeling that Monday was going to bring bad news. It was a Friday and I knew it would be a long weekend. We’d come SO far and it just didn’t seem fair that we’d be told good news only to have that ripped away from us. I called Jamie immediately and he was able to comfort me, but I still had a sick feeling in my stomach. I felt like I needed to prepare for the worst and I felt like a zombie as the weekend progressed. I wasn’t really present and I just wanted Monday to be over.

Monday approached and I went in for bloodwork. By this time, I had become friends with the lab peeps, I was there so often! I had to fight to hold back tears when they were surprised to see me back so soon. At this point, I should have been “cleared”… but they were very supportive as my blood was drawn, yet again.

I went back home and tried to throw myself into work. I couldn’t focus, so I opened up facebook and this post was the first thing in my feed. I don’t think it was by accident and it helped me prepare a little more mentally for that afternoon. I think the Lord was preparing me and trying to give me hope to hang onto.

When my phone rang a few hours later, the tears began even before the nurse started talking…

“Tara, I’m so sorry to tell you that your HCG levels have dropped and you are in the process of losing the baby. We are so sorry! At this point, you can stop administering progesterone and any other medication you are on. We’ll schedule an appointment so you can speak to the doctor about the next step to take.”  

I could barely respond to her with the tears pouring down my face. I already knew deep down what she was going to tell me but hearing it spoken out loud was like a dagger to my heart. I hung up and just felt numb. Completely numb. I was absolutely devastated.

I called Jamie and that sweet, sweet man talked me “off the ledge.” I knew he was as disappointed as I was but he used all of his energy to calm me down and to bring me as much peace as possible. He let me know that it just wasn’t our time and that the Lord knew better than we did. He lifted my spirits enough to stop the tears. By the time we finished talking, I was emotionally drained but I wasn’t numb anymore.

I said a prayer and I decided to close my laptop, eat chocolate, and try to lose myself in a SUPER happy (and cheesy) chick flick and then the craziest thing happened….

I started to feel like I should share my story immediately on Social Media. And not only that, but I felt prompted to post it on our WEBSITE social media accounts. What?!?! I KNEW without a doubt that this wasn’t a thought from me… but rather the Lord… and here is why. We hadn’t ONCE spoken of this on social media, let alone the WEBSITE social media account… which had thousands and THOUSANDS of followers and we had barely told anyone what we were doing. Our friends who had gone thru this experience knew, because we had reached out to them for advice… but both Jamie and I wanted to keep it extremely private in case this didn’t work. We didn’t want to have to re-live the disappointment every time someone asked us how it was going. Better to keep it as private as possible so we could grieve once together and then move on.

I shook off the feeling, telling myself that was ABSURD! Nobody knew our story so why would I share my utter devastation with the world? What purpose would that serve except to have me live this moment over and over again. It just didn’t make sense. In my mind, that would only make things worse.

I tried to ignore that thought but I couldn’t shake it. I continued to have this feeling and it continued to get stronger and stronger. I finally had to admit that this really was the Lord telling me this was something important I needed to do. I didn’t understand it, but I decided to act upon it.

I knew I couldn’t just come out and share the details of what Jamie and I were going thru… it wouldn’t be fair to either of us, but I COULD share that we had just received devastating news, that I was quite shaken, but that I also had faith. I knew deep down that this was the message that was supposed to be posted.

I felt like this quote was the perfect way to capture my feelings.

I posted it on social media with the following words, Today was hard. A REALLY hard day. I received devastating news that broke my heart and made the world stop for just a brief moment. This was something I had dreamed about, prayed about, worked towards, and believed in. When the phone call came that sent my world crashing down, I collapsed and cried. A lot. One of my sweet friends says that a good cry always makes you feel better. She was right. When I was done, I said a little prayer and I knew. It was just not time.

Blessings might not come right away, but they will come. I’m not sure how many of you are spiritual or believe in God, but I sure do! I feel so strongly right now that I should share this in case any of you are struggling to understand trials in your life or blessings that are a long time coming. God’s promises are not always fulfilled as quickly or in the way we might hope. Today, I felt my world crashing, but it will make me stronger. I’m already able to smile again and the news is still so fresh… and raw, and my heart still hurts. I know He is aware of me and can see my bright future even in times I can’t. I absolutely love this quote shared by my friend, Somewhat Simple. I believe it’s 100% true. May we always look to find the silver lining in any situation and know that it’s all part of the journey… to make us into the amazing individuals we were always meant to be.”

Once that was posted, I immediately felt peace. Such peace, that I just can’t describe it. I felt like I was being wrapped in a giant bear hug and I knew at that moment that everything was going to be OK. Jamie and I were being watched over by a higher power and this was out of our hands. I might not understand the “why” behind everything we went thru, but HE did and I was at peace with letting Him take the wheel for a while.

The next morning, I woke up to a FLOOD of emails, messages on our posts, and private messages on both social media and instagram. The response was overwhelming.

Our readers shared their OWN stories of trials and how they were able to get through it.

Our readers let me know that this was exactly what they needed to hear… in fact, one reader said she woke up that day and literally didn’t know how to continue on. She opened up Instagram and my post was the first thing she saw and she said it gave her hope.


Our readers sent me songs, scriptures, and quotes that completely lifted my spirits.

Here’s a quote from another sweet reader: Sometimes I think I hit rock bottom, but today seeing this on IG, and knowing I’m not alone, it’s people like you that give other people the strength and courage and hope and all the faith that YES things will get better, way better than you think, it just takes time.”

I recently scrolled through all the public messages (there were so many more private messages & emails that are so special to me) and it touched my heart once again. I’ll post the links here in case this helps anyone else out there with any trials they are going through. Here’s our FB post and here’s the Instagram post. The comments are amazing!

One mother reached out to me letting me know that her son had been going thru a really hard time. She noticed that he shared MY post on Facebook. She was surprised since she didn’t know he followed us (she was an avid follower). It gave her hope that he wasn’t completely lost. I sent her some scriptures that my dad had recently sent me and she was able to pass them along to him. She let me know he was grateful for that kind act and she later let me know that he had returned to church.

Another email REALLY touched my heart. One of our follower sent me the sweetest email. She guessed that our trial was infertility and shared her OWN story. After a disappointment similar to ours, and with her being utterly devastated, she let me know that her husband sat down with her and told her, “It’s not always about us.” He went on to share that some things we go through are to strengthen us and for us to be a source of strength to others. She was able to share her story with others and in turn, give them hope and encouragement.

Last of all, a reader shared this beautiful song with me. I’m posting it below because it touched my heart and gave me strength. To this day, whenever I hear it, it brings tears to my eyes.

After reading all of those messages, the thought occurred to me that perhaps part of my journey is to encourage others along the way. My spirit was lifted by all the kind words sent my way and the difference between when we first received the news and next day after reading the overflowing messages of support was like night and day. Knowing I have helped others, in turn, was helping me get through this trial, as is the thought of so many out there who don’t even know me (and those who do) who are praying for Jamie and I. I decided that one day, I would be that source of strength to those who needed it. I was still too fragile to open up and Jamie and I felt that privacy was the best route for us at that time. But in time, we would be ready.

We took a break for a few months and decided to try again in late 2015. Our doctor told us he was “upping my meds” and we highly expected to be able to produce more than 10 follicles with this round.

I started on my shots and medications again and our spirits were high. It was time for our retrieval and I figured I was a “pro” by now so the plan was for me to fly to Vegas, stay in a hotel (we were keeping this round SUUUUPER secret), and then 2 days later when it was time for the retrieval, Jamie would fly out to join me… cuz, ya know… we kiiiinda needed his sperm. Ha!

On the flight there, about 25 minutes before we landed, I started feeling like something was really wrong. I felt like I was in a tunnel of sorts. My vision started going out, I felt violently ill, I broke out in hot flashes, and I knew I was going to pass out. I haven’t passed out in years, but I had a feeling that was about to happen. I felt trapped! I’d lost my speech and with my eyesight almost gone, I started panicking. I couldn’t even speak to ask the lady next to me to call for a flight attendant. I couldn’t raise my arm high enough to press the call button either. I felt myself slipping, so I just started to pray. I prayed with all my heart for help. Not a moment later, I looked up and through my blurred vision, I saw one of the flight attendants miraculously stop to chat with the guy at the end of my row. I felt like I had seconds to grab her attention. With my speech gone {and barely conscious}, I raised my arm a little to wave at her. I heard her say, “Oh my goodness! Are you ok?” I was able to shake my head no before I completely passed out.  The odds of her stopping at our particular row in the few seconds I had before losing consciousness was just too great to be a coincidence. She later told me that my face was as white as a ghost and my lips were blue.

I came to with the lady next to me rubbing my back trying to wake me back up. They called the EMTs to meet us when we landed and they brought water and a barf bag… ha… which I then realized I needed! I was soooooo sick! I was too sick and too weak to even be embarrassed about throwing up on a plane! I threw up over and over as the kind woman next to me continue to quietly comfort me and rub my back.

I was thinking about this later and realized how many angels I had around me. We’re not sure what caused this reaction… it could be because I was dehydrated, or a reaction to all the meds I was on, or because I had the flu, or maybe something else was going on… but I’m 100% positive that my simple prayer worked. Help was sent through guardian angels on this earth, and I was able to get through that awful experience on the plane. I truly believe I was meant to sit next to that particular lady on my flight. She was SO kind and offered to stay with me as long as I needed. The flight attendants wouldn’t leave my side even when the EMTs arrived. The EMTs were so nice as well and stayed with me until I stopped shaking {I was shaking pretty badly after the episode and had a hard time stopping}.

I thought that was to be the worst of my trip… but little did I know, the next day would be even worse. I arrived at the doctor’s office extremely excited. I was so ready for us to see success. It had been a year of shots, blood work, medicine, highs, lows, and extreme emotional exhaustion. I thought getting pregnant would be the perfect way to end the year!

When I think back to this particular day, it brings a lot of mixed feelings. What was to happen next completely changed the direction of our lives, so I think it was meant to happen, but I also think it scarred me a little emotionally.

I was sitting in the exam room ready for the doctor to come in to check the progress of my follicles. Living in a different state, I had no clue how many we had in there! He came in, and when he checked me, I was able to view what was going on inside the uterus on a screen in front of me. I just stared. There was no way that what I was seeing on that monitor was correct. He did the exam, while I was trying to make sense of what I was seeing on the screen. He then said, “Hmmmmm…” and my heart sunk.

“Well, it looks like there are three in there.” His voice confirmed what I THOUGHT I was seeing on the screen. THREE FOLLICLES?!?!

“Wait, “ I managed to splutter… “You are telling me that even though we upped all of my medication dosages, we now have LESS eggs than we had in the first try?!?”

Remember how we had 10 in our first attempt and when it came time to retrieve them, only five were mature and only 4 survived the retrieval process. Having that thought in the back of my mind, I immediately saw our hopes of being parents, once again, being crushed. Three follicles. Three. The odds of any of them surviving the retrieval, let alone the entire fertilization process was slim to none. I had zero hope in that moment.

I stared at the screen and felt a few tears escape. I was dreading calling my sweetheart to tell him that once again, my body had failed us. I thought of the months of praying, hoping, doing injections, being in pain, taking medications, being on an emotional roller coaster, and having a battered body… and for what? To once again be told we wouldn’t be able to hold a little baby in our arms at the end of all of this? I was crushed.

My doctor looked at me and said, “Don’t CRY! This isn’t worth crying over. You are too pretty to cry.”

I think I may have blanked out at that point. I saw the nurse look at the doctor in shock and hurry to get a tissue for me. We were both shocked at his lack of compassion. He was an infertility doctor, for heaven’s sake! He should know how hard this journey is for couples… and it was in that moment that I realized he wasn’t the doctor for us. This wasn’t a place where dreams came true… at least not for us. He treated his clinic as a factory. Couples coming in and out and the more times you come in, the more money in his pocket.

He pressed me to continue on with the plan… do the retrieval. I was a lot more educated at that point then I was with our first attempt with him. I knew that the odds were not in our favor and the likeliness of having a successful outcome just wasn’t there.

I quietly asked if I could call my husband so we could decide what to do next. I called Jamie and sobbed out what had just taken place. I’m sure Jamie experienced a multitude of emotions in a matter of minutes. He was saddened with the news of the egg count, he was outraged that the doctor had so little compassion, he was wishing he could be there to comfort me in person. We decided I should go back to the hotel room, we should both pray about it, and then let the doctor know our decision later that day.
When Jamie and I talked later on, I felt a lot more comfort. Jamie always has that effect on me. He’s the one who carries us through the hard times and lifts me up when I don’t think I can go on. He always knows how to see the bright side of things. We made the decision to cancel the cycle. I would fly home immediately and Jamie came up with the brilliant idea to use some of the money for this cycle… and get us outta town! I posted this on Instagram before I flew home and it seemed the perfect way to sum up my last trip to see this particular doctor.

We took an amazing trip to Vail as soon as I returned home and it was JUST the thing to get our minds off all the medical drama we’d been through lately.

This was the turning point that put us on the right track to finding the doctor that would help us start our family AND help us figure out exactly what was wrong. A doctor whose main goal was to help couples have a successful end to their journey. A doctor who listened to what the couples’ goals were and made a plan accordingly. A doctor who not only was extremely knowledgable and stayed up to date on the latest and greatest… but who actually cared. Little did we know, he was in our very own backyard….

CLICK TO READ PART 3 

 

About the Author: Tara

I am an outgoing and fun-lovin’ gal who was lucky enough to marry the man of my dreams! You could probably say I am an “extreme extrovert” as I LOVE to talk and be around people! I love ANYTHING creative and am not a fan of the “norm.” My favorite things in life are my family… especially my HOT husband, my friends, and my faith! We recently had a miracle baby boy after years of struggling with infertility. I have a passion for life and I am having a BLAST running this website with some of my closest friends. Life just keeps getting better and better!

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8 Responses to Our IVF Story – Part 2

  1. I visit the Divas every now and then.
    Today I found these posts, and they made a big difference to me.

    I’m in a different situation. It took some time, but we managed to conceive. Two weeks ago it looks like everything was going great, Sure, the nausea is killing me, but I wasn’t complaining too much.
    Yesterday I visited my doctor for a standard appointment, and it looks like the baby stopped growing, and no pulse to be found.
    In a week I have another ultrasound, to make sure that is indeed the case. Right now I don’t know how I’m going to get through a work week.
    I am facing a termination of a pregnancy I waited for a long time, but your words give me strength.
    I’m happy I found this at this time, and I’m sure God might have had something to with it. So thank you.

    In Judaism there is a concept called “Tikkun”, which means to fix. Sometimes things happen to you, you meet certain people so that you can better yourself. Do a “Tikkun”.
    I think this baby might have been meant for that. I know what the this news has done to my relationship – it had made it stronger for we found comfort in each other.

    And hopefully, next time will be better.

    I wish you the best.

    1. Oh my heart is breaking for you, Karen. I’m not sure how far along you are in your pregnancy, but losing a little one is absolutely heart-breaking. It sounds like you turn to the Lord, like we do. I’m so glad! He got us through our hardest times! Keep praying and looking for peace and guidance from Him. I promise you He is aware of you and loves you SO much! Sending love and prayers your way! xoxo

  2. What a journey! I love how you keep such a positive perspective through it all. That doctor experience was not a good one but you saw the light at the end of the tunnel when your bad experience led you to the right doctor. Good to remember to find the good lessons learned from your trials.

  3. I’m utterly speechless. You are amazing. Your doctor is a jerk. And I just can’t wait to keep reading!! This is an AMAZING story and truly testifies or your strength, grace and faith.

    1. Yeah, he wasn’t exactly a “gem”… he DID help others get pregnant, but his “bedside” manner just wasn’t what we needed and his methods aren’t the best. xoxo

  4. My heart is so sick over your experience with that doctor. What. A. Jerk. You are nicer than I am to keep your words so kind when describing that entire process. I am sooooo excited to hear the next part (and want to hear the Jones adoption story now too)!

    1. Haha, right? I probably had different words I used in my head! And oh my gosh! The Jones have the BEST adoption story ever. Like… CRAZY amazing!!