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Friday, September 21, 2012

You're not alone - Infertility 101 + IUI & IVF info

I have had so many people contact me and tell me how glad they are that I have blogged about my journey with infertility. Many people wonder why or how I can be so open about something that can be so devastating, embarrassing, and painful. For about a year or so, it was all three of those things. I created this blog to get my thoughts out there, but at first I had no intention of making my blog "available" for my close friends and acquaintances. I didn't understand why I was going through this and maybe, just maybe it would end soon and I would have a baby like everyone else. Well, I'm still waiting.

But the waiting is not devastating, embarrassing, or painful anymore. Through prayer to my Lord and Savior, I have learned so many things in the past 2.5-3 years. First, the Lord has a perfect plan for my life. That perfect plan is obviously not my perfect plan. I've learned to be ok with that. The Lord has blessed my family and I with such wonderful opportunities that I may not have experienced if I had gotten pregnant on my time. I'm thankful the Lord's plan trumps mine:)

I have hoped that my blog will encourage others struggling with infertility to be more vocal about it and realize that they are not alone. We are all in this together, and all of us know that strong desire for a child. For those of you who never had trouble getting pregnant, the desire infertile people have for a child may not be classified as more of a desire, but that desire grows stronger after a long time waiting.  I truly believe waiting for something makes it that much sweeter when we get it! The Lord promises us to give us our heart's desire in His timing, and the Lord's promises have no expiration people! He may not give us what we desire exactly when we desire it or how we desire it, but He'll give us exactly what we need.

Now, many of you have heard of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), but may not understand exactly what it entails. IUI (intrauterine insemination) is another treatment method some try. We have been through Clomid, Femara, and 2 rounds of IUI with no success. What's the difference between IUI and IVF? Well, the best way to describe it to you is like this:

IUI - male gives sperm sample, doctors "wash" the sperm, and use a catheter to get those sperm closer to the released egg (cuts down on the travel time for the sperm). The sperm still has to do its job--get to the egg and fertilize it.

IVF - female does injections for 10-14 days while every other day or few days is monitored via ultrasound to see how the follicles (sac that holds the egg) are growing. Once they are at a certain size indicating an egg has been produced, doctors will do a 20-30 minute egg retrieval (while patient is sedated). Male will give a sperm sample that day and embryologist will combine sperm and eggs (in certain cases, they will insert excellent, high quality sperm into each egg retrieved to ensure better chance of fertilization-ICSI-video below). Doctors/embryologist will watch the eggs for 3-5 days to see cells divide and become embryos. Certain embryos will be better that others. Once the doctor analyzes how many embryos would most likely implant well and grow into healthy babies, a determined # will be transferred back into the patient's uterus. After 12-14 days, the patient takes a pregnancy test to determine whether she is pregnant.

I don't know everything, but I've learned a lot and I hope I've helped some of you (struggling with infertility or not) understand what many infertile couples go through. Those who have not struggled with infertility sometimes want to console infertile friends by saying things like "just don't stress," "it will happen when you least expect it," "stop trying," or "it'll happen, don't worry" and no offense, but we don't want to hear that from you. We'd rather you just say something like "I'm sorry, you're going through this, it must be hard" or "I don't understand what you're going through, but I'm here for you if you need me."

Many times, fertility treatments like IUIs and IVF are the only methods some people have to get pregnant. I have the upmost respect for all the doctors and nurses at PREG who are willing to help me go through the process of IVF and hopefully become pregnant very soon. I've never met any other medical professionals in the infertility field who are as compassionate and caring as the ones at PREG. If you're looking for a clinic, you've found one at PREG!

I'm going to leave you with an animation of what IVF (with ICSI) is like. For those of you who don't know a lot about IVF, I hope this will allow you to become more informed and compassionate for those around you facing infertility. Until next time, tata!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Big word...very short procedure! Today was the day I visited the Greenville office of PREG to see if my fallopian tubes were clear or blocked. Leading up to the procedure, I asked a lot of friends/blogger friends how their experiences have been with this test. Some told me it was very painful while others said it's just uncomfortable. After disrobing and putting the fabulous open-back gown on, I sat down on the table awaiting the doctor and nurse. I was a little worried it would be excruciating, but about 2 minutes went by and it was nothing more than what a pap smear feels like (to me). I will fall into the category of "it was no biggie."

For those of you that don't want to hear the deets, click the little "X" at the top of the screen. You've been warned.

So, the doctor inserts a speculum (just as he would if he was doing a pap smear) to view the uterus. Once he had the speculum in place, he inserted a catheter. I then scooted back a bit to get myself positioned correctly under the x-ray machine. He then inserted the dye into the catheter and we were all able to watch the dye fill my uterus and flow out into the fallopian tubes then spilling out. I had NO blockage. Everything was clear and that was good news!

Something in my head wanted there to be a blockage so I would maybe KNOW why I haven't gotten pregnant, BUT the doctor said the results were great and going forward, this would be helpful in which ever decision we made. He asked Jason and me how we wanted to proceed. More IUIs? Or move straight to IVF?

We've talked about this often, and knew the answer before he asked the question. We've already done 2 IUIs and have not been successful. AND, because my tubes are fantastic, there's not a reason the IUIs we've already done shouldn't have worked. The chances of an IUI working versus the chances of IVF working is so much less (15-20%). PREG is one of the top fertility clinics in the US and their success rate with IVF in women less than 35 years old is 60% bring home!!! I can only hope when we do IVF this fall, we will be part of the 2013 success rates for PREG.

We are very exited and ready to work with such an amazing team of people who truly care about us and our desire to have a baby (or 2) :) I hope you will partner with us and pray for success. Thanks to everyone who has shown us such love and support! You'll never know how encouraging a "like" on FB is or a comment that you're praying for us is. We love all of our friends and family so much! We will update you guys when the next step happens!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's my BIRTHDAY and I'll blog cause I want to...

I can't believe another year has come and gone and I'm on the OTHER side of 25. It was kind of nice being stuck in the middle for a year but now I'm closer to 30 than I am 20. Yikes! Every year definitely seems to sneak up a little quicker. Yesterday, I thought back to when I was 16. I was a junior in high school and cheerleading was my life. Here's me then:
Well, I guess this was technically when I was 17, but this was about 10 years ago. It really feels like it was just yesterday. Especially since I work at my alma mater and teach girls just like me at this age...strutting around school in their cheer attire! It definitely brings back memories, AND makes me miss that BLONDE hair:) For those of you who have NEVER seen me blonde, here ya go;)

It's really neat to reminisce on the past and wonder how in the world you got to where you are now. I remember when I was 16/17 thinking I would never see the day when I would graduate college, get married, build a house...but OMG, I've done all that! In high school, I dreamed of going off to college, graduating and getting married, and starting a family of my own. I can say I have done that!

The only bump in the road has been our infertility journey. I can't complain though. Many people my age can only dream of finding the right spouse out of all the duds out there. Many people can wish they had an opportunity fall into their lap to build the house of their dreams at 25 years old. The Lord has truly blessed me more than words can ever say, and I will be satisfied with what He allows me if this is as good as it gets!

But, I do feel he has great plans for my husband and my life. I think he has called us to be parents however the children may come, and I can't wait to watch it unfold. Tuesday is my HSG test and from there we will decide on IVF as a next step or not. I feel like the Lord has given doctors such wonderful knowledge and ability to create technology to help infertile women/men and if it works, that child/children will be a true miracle from God. We will just wait and see.

Until then, my heart is full and my God has covered me with a grace that is ENOUGH. Happy 26th birthday to me!!

Monday, September 10, 2012 patient visit

Well, I had been anticipating this appointment for 2 weeks, it finally arrived, and I really couldn't be happier with my experience thus far. From the nurse practitioner to the receptionist to the doctor-everyone was so kind and made us feel so welcome and important. I hadn't truly had this experience elsewhere.

When we sat down to talk with Dr. Payne, he had already gone through my records and knew most of what I had previously been through. We talked about the next steps, which for us mostly will be the IVF process. Next Tuesday I will have the HSG test to check for blockage in the Fallopian tubes. That test will be an eye opener for sure to see if I've had any "unseen" issues up until this point or not. I'm really curious to find out. Regardless of the results, I still think we want to go forward with IVF. We feel like we've given the IUIs a try, they didn't work, and we don't want to keep putting money there when we have a better chance with IVF.

I'm excited for this journey. I don't know what the outcome will be. I'm obviously hopeful for a successful pregnancy, but also completely desire the will of God. Whatever path He puts us on is the right one, and we completely trust that He will provide us with everything we need-when we need it.

Thank you to all our family and friends who truly support us and are rooting us on! Your love an encouragement is so very appreciated and we thank you for keeping us in your prayers.