Infertility · IVF · IVF round 2 · TTC

Just heartbroken.

Since my last post lot has happened. I’ll start from where I left off last time. I went in for a few more scans and they ended up seeing a total of 17 eggs. I knew all of these were not completely mature and they’d end up retrieving less than this but I was so hopeful that we were looking at retrieving a decent amount. I triggered on Friday October 2nd and my egg retrieval was scheduled for Sunday October 4th. We stayed the night in the city on that Saturday and enjoyed an amazing dinner out together.

We woke up Sunday morning and drove to the FCI location in River North. I was so sad that Brandon couldn’t be there with me and I was scared to go under anesthesia without anyone there when I woke up but there was nothing I could do about it and these eggs needed to get out! I signed all the paperwork and waited patiently for it to be my turn. They put me in the room right next to the procedure room so while I waited there I could hear them counting the eggs they were retrieving for someone else.

Before I knew it it was my turn. They led me to the procedure room and the nurses, anesthesiologist, and embryologist all introduced themselves. They placed an IV catheter in my hand and before I knew it I was on a Fentanyl high and couldn’t be happier. Shortly after that they gave me Propofol and the next thing I remembered was waking up in my recovery room. I was on cloud 9 and never felt better. I kept thanking the nurses and telling them how wonderful they were. They reported that 11 eggs were retrieved!

I face timed Brandon in my stupor and told him I was doing great and I’d see him soon. The drugs wore off and as soon as I was able to stand and walk I met Brandon outside and we drove home. Now it was the embryologists turn to work their magic and make some beautiful embryos.

I received a call the following day with our first report: 11 eggs were retrieved, 8 were mature and 4 fertilized.

I was a little disappointed. I was hoping to be working with better numbers but hey it could be worse. I got another call 2 days later and they said we still have 4 embryos growing and my transfer would be Friday October 9th 🥳

We decided to stay in the city again because when someone offers to watch you kid for the night you take them up on that offer. Always. We went to the same restaurant for dinner because it was all I could think about. We walked back to our hotel room, watched the Bears game and went to bed. I was getting knocked up in the morning!

We woke up and got some breakfast and a few hours later I started filling up my bladder. A full bladder changes the angle of the uterus to make the transfer easier. It also helps the doctor visualize the catheter better through abdominal ultrasound. I dreaded this part. I have a very weak bladder and what feels “full” to me probably feels like nothing to other people.

We arrived at my appointment an hour ahead of time as directed. Brandon gave me a kiss at the door and I was off on my own to get pregnant. Do you have any idea how weird it is getting pregnant without your husband in the room? The doctor came in to give me my embryo report and tell me about the one we would be transferring that day. He started the conversation with “well it’s kind of the same thing that happened last time.” My heart sunk. No. Please no. Please don’t tell me all the other embryos stopped growing.

They did.

My heart was shattered. I couldn’t believe this happened again. He could tell I was visibly upset as my eyes immediately began to fill with tears. He told me I still have a good shot. I still had 1 embryo left to transfer. It was graded a 3BB. My heart sunk again. Vivian was a 1AA – literally the best graded embryo you can get. He tried to assure me that this was still a good graded embryo. He told me that earlier that day he had to cancel another girl’s transfer all together because she didn’t have anything to transfer. He also has a patient who has 10 leftover embryos – no one wants 10 babies so now she’ll have to decide what to do with all those.

It put things into perspective. Yes, things could be worse. I was lucky to have something to transfer but I just couldn’t believe I went through all of this again to end up with only 1. If this doesn’t work I have to do this all over again.

I face timed Brandon and told him the news. As I cried he also assured me everything was going to be OK. The nurse came in and asked if I felt like my bladder was full. Umm heck yeah I do. She checked with the ultrasound and said no not even close 😫. She brought me in some more water and I chugged it down. Within minutes the pressure of my full bladder was absolutely horrific. I know that sounds dramatic but I couldn’t stand it. It was extremely painful. I asked them if we could get this done because I wasn’t sure how much longer I could wait.

In about 10 minutes (omg my bladder was going to explode) the room was filled with nurses and my doctor. He placed the catheter up into my uterus and the embryologist came in with my beautiful little embryo.

Immediately after it was done I ran to the bathroom. I think I peed for 5 straight minutes.

The two week wait had officially begun. The worst part of this entire process. I told myself I wouldn’t stress and I’d keep busy. The days were filled with house cleaning, a visit to the pumpkin patch with Viv, I let Viv do my makeup and hair one morning, work, etc. The days were also filled with a lot of stress and wondering. Even though I promised myself I wouldn’t worry and obsess, I did. Some nights I’d be up for hours scared it didn’t work.

Later into the week I started having some light spotting. It was extremely light. Most people probably wouldn’t of even noticed it. I was a little worried but I’ve heard of plenty of success stories where woman spot so I tried not to overthink it (🙄). I didn’t have anything the next 2 days so I was back on the “hey this could of worked” train and feeling hopeful.

That Saturday rolled around and I had to work. The spotting happened again and this time it was definitely noticeable. I cried in the bathroom and decided that I had to test when I got home. I needed to know. I couldn’t sit in this land of limbo anymore.

Immediately after I got home from work I peed on a pregnancy test. I looked at it after just seconds and saw nothing. Not even a faint second line. My heart shattered. Brandon thought I was being ridiculous considering I JUST peed on it but I knew. I knew it was fucking negative. I somehow feel like I knew from the day the embryo was transferred. I had a gut wrenching feeling it wasn’t going to work. I fell to the floor and lost it. I cried my eyes out while Brandon held me. I can’t fucking believe this. I just put my body through hell for nothing. We have no leftover embryos so it’s not like I could even look on the bright side. That’s the most expensive period I’ve ever paid for. I hate my body, I hate that this has to be so hard, and I hate that I can’t make Vivian a big sister.

I laid in bed the rest of the night and Brandon brought me all sorts of treats and goodies. I definitely coped with food that day. I was devastated, depressed and scared of what this means. Are we ever going to be able to have another child? Is Vivian ever going to get to meet her baby brother or sister?

Later in the night we all ate ice cream cones in bed and I forced a smile on my face for my girl.

I went in 2 days later for my official beta test and they called later in the day to confirm it was negative 💔 My nurse said I could start another cycle right away but I can’t. I can’t put my body through it all again. At least not now. I’m scared of how intense the medications made me feel. I didn’t feel like this during my first round of IVF. It’s hard to feel such strong side effects and then not get what you want at the end.

I need time for my body and heart to heal.

Infertility · IVF · IVF round 2 · TTC

Co-No you didn’t

It’s crazy to read my last post and think of everything that has unfolded since March. 2020 has been a legit shit show. Let’s review what has happened since then…

We didn’t go to Disneyland 😭

Covid-19 has led to a global pandemic leaving our country in a state of economical depression, record unemployment, a toilet paper shortage (yeah, still way confused over that one), and an overall state of panic across the world. We contemplated even going through with our IVF cycle in March given the current status of the world. It didn’t matter what we wanted to do because on March 17th hospitals were told to delay elective surgeries. Even if we wanted to go to through to with it, we couldn’t.

So we waited in uncertainty. Unsure when we’d be able to start, unsure if we’d even want to start given everything that was going on.

We received an email from our physician on May 11th stating that they were going to (safely and with precautions) restart IVF treatment for all patients. I was excited to hear the news knowing we weren’t in a state of limbo anymore but there was one precaution that they put in place that put us at a screeching hault.

They were not allowing spouses in for anything meaning I’d be alone at my egg retrieval, the embryo transfer, and any ultrasounds if I get pregnant 💔. I was devastated to hear this. I remember being an emotional wreck at my egg retrieval and the thought of Brandon not being there with me scared me. It also broke my heart to think he couldn’t be there to see the first ultrasound of our baby. So at this point we decided to wait. We were hoping the world was going to get back to normal by the end of the summer 🤣.

We all know that didn’t happen. I think it actually got worse 😫. We came to the decision that no matter what, policy change or not, we were going to start in September.

So as I write this today (September 28th) let me update you where we are.

I started birth control on August 29th. As I’ve mentioned before, this is the first step in my protocol to begin IVF. On September 12th I began Lupron which is the “down regulation” shots that prevents my body from prematurely ovulating during the ovarian stimulation process.

On September 21st I went in for baseline ultrasound and blood work to get the green light to start stims. Everything looked good so I was started on 375 units of Follistim and continued on the Lupron. I was instructed to take these injections for 4 nights and then return back on September 25th for a monitoring scan and blood work. The nurse called later in the day to report that they saw 4 follicles growing on the left and 1 on the right. My stomach dropped. I was hoping they were going to see more. I asked the nurse if those were good numbers and she assured me they were, we still had time for new follicles to emerge. I was instructed to start another injection called Menopur at 150 units. This one stimulates follicle production. I was to decrease the Follistim to 225 units since we added on the Menopur. Again, still continuing with the Lupron. I got off the phone and cried. I think I was just reminded that this is all so real and we’re actually going through with it. Everything happened so perfectly the first time around and I think I was going into it this time thinking it will be the same but it might not be. So I had my moment of panic and moved on. It is what it is. I was told to return Sunday the 27th for another scan. We had to go to their River North location since it fell on a weekend.

We went out the night prior to an Oktoberfest that was held at a local brewery. I decided I was actually going to drink and have a good time. The first time I did IVF I didn’t have a sip of alcohol during the whole process but this time around I’m going easy on myself. I didn’t overindulge by any means – I had a responsibly good time 😊. I had to bring my 3 shots with me and shoot up in the bathroom. I lifted up my dirndl and injected myself 3 times in the belly and returned to my friends and family to continue with the Oktoberfest celebrations.

We woke up Sunday morning and drove to Chicago for our 8:45 appointment. Everyone at that location was so sweet and helpful. The woman doing my ultrasound stated thing were growing “oh so good” and the woman that drew my blood told me a nurse would be calling later with my report.

The nurse called and reported they were now seeing 5 follicles on the left and 8 on the right 😲 13 total!! I almost asked her if she was sure she was talking about the right patient. I couldn’t believe it!! 13!? Helllll yeah!! No wonder I’ve been feeling awfully bloated and crampy.

So that’s up to date on where we stand now. I go in tomorrow morning for another scan. I’m guessing my egg retrieval will fall later in the week. Please cross your fingers and your toes for us!!

Infertility · IVF · IVF round 2 · TTC

Yeah, I’ll take your sperm

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“You want my sperm if I die?”

“Yeah I’ll take your sperm” I said nonchalantly to Brandon.  We were on page what felt like 1000 of signing documents to undergo our second round of IVF.

Yep, here we go again.

We had to sign all the paper work again that decides what we will do with our leftover embryos and Brandon’s little guys.  Brandon jokingly said we should leave them to someone we know if we die and not tell them.  You get a car, and you get a car, and you get… our embryos.

Seems surreal to be starting this journey again in hopes of having baby #2.  I told my OBGYN we were going to try “naturally” on our own and she said that was a good idea but to not give it more then 6 months.  Pretty naive of me to think we could do it on our own but I really thought we could.  I’ve heard plenty of success stories of second children being conceived the old fashioned way.  Even right after we had Viv I remember my gynecologist telling me “We should talk about birth control.  Don’t think it can’t happen naturally, I see plenty of patients who don’t have any trouble the second time around.”  Listen lady my own body is my birth control, I’ll be fine.

6 months came and went with not a positive pregnancy test in sight so back to FCI we went.  We went through all the same stuff we went through before – blood work, ultrasounds, semen analysis, and a saline sonogram.

We met back up with our physician on March 5th to discuss the results and the plan moving forward.

He explained how my ovaries have aged more than they should have over the last 3 years.  He said my AMH (a blood test to assess a woman’s overian reserve) has dropped below normal for a 32 year old.  My original diagnosis for infertility was due to ovulation dysfunction but he said that this has also probably been a contributing factor.  I whispered under my breath “damnit, old ass ovaries.”  I asked if this means I will go though menopause earlier than average.  He said it could mean that.  Yippy.

Branon’s sperm count went up.  74 million sperm.  Sweet.

Bastard.

My doctor is hoping we get at least 10 eggs at my egg retrieval and 2-3 embyros.

A refresher of what we had the first time around:

  • doc hoped to get 10-14 egss.
  • we got 9
  • 8 were mature
  • 7 fertilized
  • 1 perfect embyro (Vivi Pearl) and the rest didn’t make it

I so wish we were working with higher numbers this time around.  But we’re not.  I don’t know why the other embryos didn’t make it. The quality? Wasn’t meant to be? Who knows.  I remember being absolutely devastated and heart broken when they called to tell me that all the others had stopped growing but they reminded me that it only takes one.  And they were right.  So I’m just trying to keep that mindset.  Vivian Pearl was our “one”. Our perfect little embryo.

We explained to our doctor that we would have to wait until April to start the process due to Brandon’s intense work schedule.  The egg retrieval and embryo transfer would fall during a time that he wouldn’t be able to be there.  My doctor responded by saying he doesn’t technically need to be there for the egg retrieval if we have a frozen sperm sample.  However he did say he encourages couple to be together for the embyro transfer since he thinks couples should be in the same room when they conceive.

Good one doc.  Wonder how many times you’ve used that one.

I know Brandon doesn’t technically need to be there but I want him there.  He wants to be there.  That’s how we work.  We’re better together.

With that said my doctor said he can manipulate the drugs to work with our schedule.  So crazy.  Science is cool,  and weird, but also really cool.  So we’ll start this month.  Just like last time, I need to go on the pill first then spiral into the injections.

We leave for California in 2 weeks as a last hurrah before we start IVF round 2.  I can’t wait to see Vivian’s face light up when we go to Disneyland.

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.

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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.