Infertility · IVF

Science is seriously cool


I just got home from our IVF consultation and all I can think of is – wait, what just happened?  Information overload! Props to the doctor and nurse for covering everything and anything but holy shit that was a lot!

What will you do with the leftover embryos?  What will you do with them if you die? What if your partner dies?  What if you both die simultaneously? What if you get divorced?  Will you donate them to research? Destroy them? Keep them forever?

Geez Louise.  I went in there feeling so prepared with my list of questions nicely typed and printed out.  Luckily the doctor covered 99% of the questions I had on my list without me even having to ask.  I felt like everything I’ve been preparing for the past few weeks went out the window in those 30 minutes I sat in his office.  I felt like a sponge trying to soak up every last piece of information he was throwing at us knowing as soon as I walk out I’ll forget everything! I better jot this down while it’s still fresh.  To sum it up this is our plan:

  1. When my next cycle begins I will start by taking birth control. Yes, birth control.  This allows everything to shut down and gives the medical team control over what my body does in the weeks leading up to IVF.  The goal of birth control is to prevent spontaneous ovulation and hormones from interfering with stimulation.  The last medication I thought would help me get pregnant was birth control but it makes sense now.
  2. During the birth control phase I will also be giving myself daily injections of Lupron which prevents a premature LH surge that would cause ovulation of the eggs from the follicles before egg retrieval.
  3. Stimulation aka multiple injections a day to make lots of follicles (my doctor expects me to make 14-17.egg-818191_1280
  4. Shot of HCG to mature the egg in the follicle and get it ready for retrieval
  5. Egg retrieval – eggs are surgically aspirated from ovaries.  This is the part I am most nervous for.  Just looking at this picture scares me. Like seriously, what.the.hell. That needle is giant.78cd771578d83a1c21398a6afb9bc937
  6. Fertilization – Brandon’s favorite part of this whole process cuz ya know.  Well, you know…
  7. Embryo culture – growin those babies in a petri dish
  8. Embryo transfer – ideally the embryos are strong enough to last until day 5, if not doing well then transfer on day 3

After consulting with the doctor we sat with nurse who had us sign A LOT of paperwork regarding the care of our embryos and the agreement that we understood the risks of multiples.  Yes. We understand.

The best news I received tho was our chance of success given my age, health, and diagnosis.  Drum roll please…


For the first time in a very very long time I have hope you guys! Not just because of this percentage but because the wonderful and amazing things people have said to me since “coming out” with our story.  The words of encouragement, the personal testimonies of successful IVF, and even the “hey I have no idea what you’re going through but I’m here for you” comments.  All of that is what is pulling me through this and for that I am beyond grateful.

Another great piece of news I received was regarding our insurance coverage.

A little bit of history regarding our insurance:  our insurance company is generous enough to cover 90% of all the procedures and monitoring but we have been fighting with our prescription coverage to cover the injections.  You call one day and they tell you the medications are covered and you call 10 minutes later and you’re not. We ended up not getting coverage for the medications during our IUI.  We were lucky enough to get 08fec784448bb651671d6f7368f0d99eFollistim samples through our fertility center but we had to pay for the HCG injections out of pocket.  These medications are extremely expensive without insurance.  IVF meds are like IUI meds on steroids – the list is a lot longer which = $$$$. I was really worried over the idea of paying out of pocket for all these medications (we’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars).

Anyways, the good news is that by some miracle of God, everything is covered! I feel like the stars are starting to align for us.

Things are finally starting to go our way.  We’ll be starting our journey through IVF in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned!



for those who don’t know me…

  • My name is Antonia but I’ve gone by Toni my whole life
  • I live in the burbs of Chicago
  • I’m a CVT (Certified Veterinary Technician)
  • I have two pitty mixes who are my world – Eden and Janet

edenmarie  janetlouise

  • I have two sisters, Gina and Sam, who are my best friends

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  • And they both made me the Auntie to two of the sweetest angels in the world, Grace and Lyla

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  • In my free time I like to work out, be with friends and family, hang out with my pups, and watch trashy reality television (it’s a really unhealthy addiction, i know)
  • My favorite holiday is the Fourth of July.  It’s kind of a big deal in our house

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iui #2

It was nice that we were in Michigan when we found out the result of our first IUI because it kept my mind occupied.  We were with my family who, at the time, had no idea about our infertility struggles so I didn’t get bombarded with questions of whether it not it worked.  It was nice to be around my family during this weekend.  They have never have asked me when were having kids or even made comments suggesting they want another grand baby.  They know these are inappropriate questions to ask (unlike most of the world who feels your reproductive system is their business). This is exactly what I needed.  I needed to escape the rejection.  Here are some memories from that weekend:

When we got back home a few days later it was just about time to jump into the beginning phases of our next IUI.  My doctor decided to try this cycle on lower doses of Clomid and Follistim in hopes that the my uterine lining wouldn’t thin out.  I took the medications as directed and we went in for our second IUI on December 15, 2016.  This day was pretty significant for Brandon and I.  It was the day we met for the very first time 7 years ago.  I was hoping this was a good luck charm.  This IUI was later in the day which was nice for both of us.  We went through the same motions as before when we got there.  Brandon’s numbers were even better this time and I was working with 2 good follicles.  When they were ready for us we went into the room and I laid down with my feet in the stirrups.  The nurse came in to perform the IUI and when she went to turn on her light it wouldn’t go on.  It’s obviously pretty important that she be able to visualize where things are being inserted so we had to have a light.  It was quite a sight to see everyone scrambling to get it to work while I lay there with no pants on waiting to be inseminated!  I was also holding on to our sample between my two hands to keep it warm since the IUI was being delayed due to all this.  At one point Brandon was laying on his back on the floor trying to see if he could fix it for my poor nurse who told us she had no idea how to do it since this rarely ever happens.  It was entertaining watching this unfold.  No one could fix it and we ended up having to switch rooms.  The picture below was the second room with a working light!


We all laughed at what had happened and my nurse said hopefully this would be a good story to tell in the delivery room.  Fingers crossed it would be!

We went home and proceeded with the next 2 weeks like we did before.  Progesterone was consistent with ovulation again! The day I got my progesterone checked (7 days after our IUI) I started to spot very lightly.  I knew this was different than every other time I spot before a period.  I’ve never spotted this early in my cycle and all the research I’ve done has said that implantation bleeding happens right around this time.  For the first time I was actually excited to be spotting and thought this could be our month.

Implantation spotting, at most, only last a a few days.  The spotting I was experiencing was going beyond that.  I was confused what was going on so I took a home pregnancy test 2 days before I went in for my blood pregnancy test.  It was negative.  I was crushed again.  I dealt with it the same way I dealt with the first unsuccessful IUI but this one I took a lot worse.  I cried even harder and hated myself even more.  I told Brandon I was sorry.  I was sorry because if he ended up with someone else he could have had a family by now.  He told me I was crazy for saying something like that and he only wants a family with me but I couldn’t help but have thoughts like these.  I decided that I couldn’t continue to deal with this pain.  I just couldn’t even bear to think about going through 2 more IUIs that wouldn’t work.  The success rate of an IUI for me was 15-20%.  This is the same success rate for an average couple who try to conceive without infertility issues.   The rejection from these IUIs was taking so much out of me.  I made a decision to do what was best for me.  I needed a break and I didn’t want to put myself through anymore when the success rate wasn’t even that significant.  I told Brandon I didn’t want to jump into another IUI next cycle and he wanted to do whatever I thought was best for me.  I wanted a break from the world of infertility for a month or so.  I was ready to move on to IVF.

I went to have my blood pulled 2 days later even tho I knew what the result would be (or so I thought).  I had to work that afternoon but kept my phone out so I could talk to the nurse when she called.  I wanted to tell her that we were ready to move on to IVF.  When the nurse called she started asking me if my home pregnancy tests were negative.  I was confused why she was asking this and wondering why she just wasn’t telling me the result was negative.  She then told me my HCG level was above 5 which technically meant I was pregnant.  She started to explain what was going on but I didn’t hear anything she was saying.  I stopped her. Whoah whoah wait, did you just say I was pregnant????  She could tell I was in shock and also confused.  She went on to explain that any HCG level above a 5 means pregnancy.  My level was an 8.  Wayyyyy to low to be a healthy and stable pregnancy.  She said I was having a biochemical pregnancy. A what? What the hell is that?  What I came to learn was that an egg was fertilized but for whatever reason my body rejected it.  She told me to come in 5 days later to have my levels rechecked but to not get my hopes up.  It wasn’t a good pregnancy and I should expect to get my period over the weekend.  Without me even bringing it up she said our doctor was OK with us moving on to IVF.  This made me feel more confident with our decision.  I fought through the tears on the phone with the nurse and managed to schedule an IVF consultation with our doctor in the upcoming weeks.  Remember this whole phone call took place while I was at work.  Not ideal but it’s a good thing everyone at my job knows what’s going on or else it would have been very hard to hide the tears and disappointment.  They embraced me with hugs when I explained what was going on.  They know by now that nothing can be said to make it better and a hug is the best form of support.

I went in 5 days later to have my HCG rechecked.  I had gotten my period in the mean time and everything was confirmed that the pregnancy didn’t stick.

Our IVF consultation is January 23, 2017.


iui #1

Our first IUI was on November 18, 2016

The 2 weeks leading to the actual procedure were not as scary as I thought they’d be.  The injections of Follistim that went in my tummy weren’t all that bad.  Sure they stung a little going in and it took some self-convincing to poke myself but after it was all said and done it was easy breezy.  The nurses and doctor monitored my follicles and blood levels and would call me each night to direct me how on how much Follistim I should be giving myself.  This cycle I ended up administering 75 units for 5 straight days.  The idea was to produce 1-4 follicles each time that were big enough to potentially produce a healthy egg (ah-ha that paperwork on multiples made sense now).  This is where IUI’s and IVF differ.  The idea with an IUI is to control the amount of follicles produced to a small number whereas with IVF they want you to make as many follicles as possible with the idea of making a lot of embryos.  IUI has a higher chance of multiples because they can’t control how many of the eggs would be fertilized and IVF they know exactly how many embryos they are transferring back into the woman.  It sounds confusing if you don’t live in an infertile world.  Here is a basic explanation of what the difference is.

I ended up making 3 good size follicles during this cycle.  And… NOW WE’RE PREGNANT WITH TRIPLETS!

Just kidding

3 follicles was a great outcome for someone who was struggling to produce 1.  When the doctor got the result from my ultrasound that these follicles were the appropriate size he decided it was time to induce ovulation with an injection of HCG, yay another shot! This injection was a lot more intimidating.  The needle is scary big and you inject it in your butt muscle but I had to do what I had to do.  Acutally I didn’t do it at all.  I knew that there was no way in hell I could psych myself into injecting myself with this huge needle.  So I did what any normal person would do and asked my friends at work if they’d give it to me.  Thank God I work in a place where we give multiple injections a day so this stuff is second nature to us.  My good friend (and co-worker) Ashley volunteered and it still makes me so happy and honored that I have friends like her who are more than willing to help me with weird infertility shit.  I was so brave tho. NOT. I fa-reaked my shit out.  I like to believe I’m a pretty strong person and a lot doesn’t scare me but something came over me right before Ash injected me.  I had a full on panic attack.  I started sweating and crying.  Honestly I don’t think it was just because the size and look of this needle.  I think it was a combination of this and all the emotions I was feeling.  All the hormones I had been injecting into myself probably didn’t help either.  Either way I was not in a good place.  My other friend at work let me hold his hand while Ashley stabbed my ass.  I think I squeezed and dug my nails into his as hard as I could.  I hyped this up to be the worst experience of my life.

I barely felt a thing.

This video still makes me cringe.  The pathetic whiny sound in my voice, ba gross.  What a baby I was.  I honestly would rather do these shots then the tummy shots any day.  That’s how painless it was.

I went in the following day to officially be inseminated.  Our appointment was really early in the morning.  Poor Brandon had to wake up ready to go and ready to produce his sample.  Ah, how awkward this all was for everyone involved.

We showed up an hour before the procedure in order for them to do the “sperm washing”.  Again, I know, so weird.  But this is the world we live in now!  This process weeds out the weak, slow, or abnormal swimmers and leaves us with a concentration of the best of the best.  After the “washing” they tell you the numbers you’re left with and how they compare with what is ideal.  A good number is above 10 million, we had 17 million.  The motility they want to see over 50% and I think we had it in the 70’s (can’t remember exactly).  So we were working with some good little guys.  Yes! One more thing that was helping us towards making a baby!   To put it all together we were working with Brandon’s great swimmers and my 3 follicles.  Good odds in scheme of things.  Remember all it takes is 1 sperm and 1 egg.

The insemination wasn’t too bad.  Some mild discomfort but nothing awful.  I was told to come back in 1 week for a progesterone check to make sure I ovulated and a week after that for a blood pregnancy test.  We were going on a mini vacation to Michigan the day we would have to get the pregnancy test so we scheduled it in the morning before we got on the road.

The TWW (two week wait) is always the worst.  This is the period where I over analyzed every little thing.  Every thing I felt I wondered if it could be a symptom of pregnancy. In the mean time, the nurse called with the good news that my progesterone was consistent with ovulation.  Yay!

And then the morning came where I began to spot.  I knew it was over and it hadn’t worked.  I remember calling Brandon and telling him on my way to work.  He is the sweetest man in the world every month we go through this.  He always tries to tell me I could still be pregnant.  Well, after trying for this many months I knew that my body was telling me it wasn’t going to happen this time.  I began to hate that he’d tell me this.  Believe me I know he was just trying to stay positive and help and keep the faith but it was harder for me that he just wouldn’t accept that it wasn’t happening this month.  It was like a false hope he would give me when in reality I knew it wasn’t going to happen.  I remember this was the first month where I finally told him to stop saying things like that and that it only made it worse for me.  He understood.  I went home from work that day and skipped the gym to take a nap, I needed it.  When I woke up, the reality of what happened hit me.  Brandon still wasn’t home from work and I remember feeling so alone.  I started to sob uncontrollably.  That kinda cry where you can’t catch your breath.  I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself I was a failure and my body sucked.  I was a in a really low place.  I hated myself.  I hated that I had no control over what was going on.

Like I said before – we went in for the pregnancy test right before getting on the road to Michigan.  They would call me later in the day with the result.  I knew what the result would be anyway but when my nurse called and confirmed it was negative it broke my heart.  Unless you have gone down this road you have no idea the heartbreak that comes on this journey.  You hope and pray each month that this will be it.  This month was a lot different than all the others months we tried to have a baby.  It was harder to accept the negative result with all the assisted help we got this month.  The clomid, the shots, the blood work, the ultrasounds, the IUI – all of it for nothing.  It was a huge blow to my confidence.  For the first time on this journey I had a thought I never had before.  I thought this might never happen.



doctors, ultrasounds, and needles OH MY

I took the first steps to getting some answers by making a general check-up with my gynecologist.  Well, what would be my former gynecologist (they were awful).  I told her my symptoms and she ran some baseline tests (blood work and ultrasound).  Everything came back normal and in this clinic’s mind that was the end of the story.  My problems with my cycles and difficulty trying to conceive didn’t seem too important to them so I moved on to another office.  This doctor was a lot more receptive.  She also ran some blood work to make sure everything was OK and even had Brandon take a “test” to make sure his uh, things, were functioning normal.  She wanted to make sure everything checked out before starting me on Clomid (a drug used to stimulate ovulation).  She was assuming the abnormality of my cycles was related to anovulation which is when a woman goes through a cycle without ovulating (this assumption ending up being correct). The only abnormality she found in my blood work was low levels of Vitamin D which isn’t uncommon especially for living in the Midwest.  She told me from the beginning that I would do a max of 4 rounds of Clomid with her and if still no pregnancy I would have to see a specialist (a reproductive endocrinologist).  I was certain it would work since I knew a good number of girls who had gotten pregnant on it and I was excited to get started.  I think Brandon felt like he was on pins and needles the months I was on Clomid.  I felt like a woman going through menopause on it.  Horrible hot flashes and cranky mood swings.  My doctor was really good about monitoring me while on it.  She would do an ultrasound to check the number and size of the follicles growing (to lower the risk of having multiples) and then I’d get a progesterone check to make sure I actually ovulated.  My body wasn’t responding the way we wanted it to and before I knew it I was already on my 4th round and as you can probably guess it didn’t work.  I only ovulated 2/4 times.  I balled my eyes out when my doctor told me it was time to go see a specialist.  I knew that this was going to be a whole new world that I wasn’t sure I was ready for.  I think I was so upset too because it made it really real.  It was like I officially had a stamp across my forehead that said INFERTILE.


It worked out that I wasn’t ready to see a specialist just yet because it took me about 5 weeks to even get in with one.  My appointment was September 19, 2016 (a day short of our 2 year anniverary ♥).  The day of my appointment I had no idea what to expect and Brandon couldn’t make it due to work.  I had so many thoughts and questions bouncing around in my head.  Are we doing the right thing?  Maybe we just have had bad luck and we should keep trying on our own.  Do we start treament right away? What will “treatment” be?  Do they care? Are they nice?  It turned out that the appointment was a consultation with the doctor where I sat in his office and we talked about my history, what we’ve tried already, and what the very next step would be.  He didn’t go too far into detail about what the plan of action would be because it all depended on how my blood work came back.  Yes, more blood work but these tests were a lot more elaborate than what I’ve done before.  They tested me for everything and I mean everything.  Brandon even had blood pulled too.  I think they drew about 6 giant tubes of blood on each of us.  I also had an HSG performed which pretty much just makes sure my “plumbing” works.  Finding out the results was another waiting game.  I had to wait til my next cycle began for the appropriate time to have my blood drawn and then had to wait another 3-4 weeks to get in with the RE to go over the results with us.

These appointments with the RE are all on their timing and convenience, not ours, which I totally understand but it makes it hard with 2 people who work full time.  My work has been understanding of what is going on and has let me take the time off that I need for these appointments.  We were able to work it out so we could go on a weekday that Brandon had off but the only catch was that our doctor was in the city on the day we could see him.  So to Chicago we went.

The day of the appointment brought a lot of nerves and excitement.  I was really looking forward to hearing what our plan would be and for the first time in a while I was feeling hopeful that something might actually work for us.  He started by going over our blood results – everything on Brandon’s end was normal and mine was pretty normal overall but some of my numbers did reflect that I have irregular cycles (nothing we didn’t know already).  He then explained that the best step for us to take would be to try an IUI (intrauterine insemination).  This included taking more Clomid and injections, BA!  I’m ok with needles and I’m used to using them everyday at my job.  I’m ok with all the blood draws and I was never one of those people who was scared of needles and I’m still not but the thought of injecting myself with said needles just creeped me out.  The doctor laughed when I made a face and reminded me that I’m a vet tech and I’ll be just fine giving myself injections.  Brandon, being Brandon, wanted to clarify his role in all this and in so many words asked the doctor if he just needed to “go in a cup” the day of our IUI.  Him and the doctor laughed at how easy his part is in this process and it felt like I was sitting in the room with 2 frat boys talking about sex for the first time.  This lightened the mood but at the same time I wanted to slap both Brandon and the doctor!  The doctor said he would have me do up to 4 IUIs before moving on to IVF – of course depending how my body was reacting to the medications.  After we were done talking with him we met with his nurse who sat us down and had us sign paperwork.  The paperwork was pretty much an agreement that we understood the risks of multiples by going through this procedure.  This was a scary part of this whole process.  I started to envision myself as Octo-Mom.  That’s not what I was signing up for!   In all reality that couldn’t possibly happen with all the monitoring they put you through but still it was a tad unsettling thinking of myself with more than one baby at a time when I’m not sure how I’ll even handle one!

We left that day with a plan and that plan was an IUI.  We waited for my next cycle to start and we began what would be the next big step down a long road.

Infertility · TTC

the story of us and our infertility

The story of Brandon and I began on a Wednesday night in December of 2009.  We met at an open mic night (no, neither of us were participants and if you heard either of us sing you’d know why).  I would refer to Brandon that night as the “guy in the yellow shirt” because after a slew of drinks that’s all I could really remember him as 🙂 He likes to tell people he approached me first and even slid me a beer down the bar that I caught in my hand — what probably actually happened was friends brought us together because they were sick of us staring at each other from across the bar all the night and the beer bottle definitely ended up on the floor or knocked over cuz there ain’t no way in hell I was coherent enough to catch it in my hand.  I won’t go into detail about the rest of the night (you’re welcome) but let’s just say we were inseparable ever since.


We got married on September 20, 2014.  It was and still is the best day of my life.  I went from Antonia Barren to Antonia Gabry.  Wow, the irony of my maiden name.  Barren.  God was either sending me a sign of what was to come or playing a cruel joke on me.  For 27 years I was a Barren and it wasn’t until I became a Gabry to realize I was actually still barren.  Get what I’m saying?

There’s a lot of you reading right now who have absolutely no idea what we have been going through and that’s ok.  It was our secret to keep and it’s also our secret to tell, anyway we want to — whether it be in private conversation, email, text, or a blog.  I honestly didn’t want anyone to know for a long time.  The journey of infertility really shows you the dumb shit people can say or the things people say that they think will help but in reality you wish they’d never open their mouths again when it came to this topic.  I think I can write a whole post on the number of things people have said to me that would make you go – Are you fucking serious???

So why in the world am I writing a blog? Because I want to.  Because this is how I would like people to know.  Because this is how I can cope and get through it.  This is our reality.  Yeah, I could easily not say anything and keep it to myself but the truth of the matter is that 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility.  The first thing I did while going through this journey is read infertility blogs because it made me feel normal (whatever that is, right?).  It felt so reassuring to see that couple who have been struggling for years to finally have their family, or the girl going through rounds and rounds of IVF but still no baby, or the family who decided to adopt, etc.  If I can help one person relate by writing this blog than I did my job.  Let me get a few things straight tho.  This blog does not open the doors for anyone to discourage me or bring me down.  It does not give you permission to sit behind your computer and type negative or rude comments.  These are the last things I need right now so please, to put it simply, just be nice.  This is our infertility story and this is how we’re telling it.

Brandon and I started to try for a family in September of 2015.  Each month I would hope that this would be our time and would obsess over every little symptom  I thought I had.  What a sick joke that PMS symptoms mimic pregnancy symptoms.  I would google everything looking for someone who had a similar story.  It was a roller coaster ride of grief and disappointment with each cycle that came and went.  As each month passed with a negative pregnancy test it started to become clear that something was wrong.  I’ll be honest, before we started trying I was completely oblivious to the regularity of my cycles.  I couldn’t tell you how far apart they were of how long they lasted.  I didn’t care.  I had no reason to pay that close attention.  I quickly learned how important it was to become mindful of how my body was functioning.  After monitoring for a few months I realized this was something that wasn’t going to happen on our own.  We needed medical help.