Blank Space

It was 8 days after the transfer, and I still hadn’t tested. I was pretty proud of myself. I hadn’t even been tempted by the three pregnancy tests my mom left sitting on the dresser before she left my house. During the waiting period, I had been busy with sorority recruitment (I’m an advisor for a local chapter) and catching up at work. Surprisingly, I had been able to keep my mind pretty well occupied with things other than the test. Plus, I didn’t mind putting it off. As much excitement and hope as I had about seeing a positive, the fear of seeing a negative was far greater. So honestly, I didn’t feel the need to rush it. I was focused. I was determined. I was not going to test early.

Then came the rainy drive home Wednesday evening. Suddenly, the unknown bothered me more than that fear of a negative. It was Day 9, and I couldn’t hold out anymore. I needed to test. I called Brennen who said, “And you promise you haven’t already tested?” He was hoping I had secretly tested and already knew like last time. He hates waiting on pink lines. I walked through the front door and headed straight to the bathroom. I did my thing then put the test on the counter, walked out, and closed the door behind me. Brennen started the timer…5 minutes to go.

Over the past few days leading up to the test, people often asked me how I felt. Boy was that a loaded question! Physically, I was cramping off and on and tiring easily. My hips were starting to get pretty sore from the daily IM injections. Mentally, I could feel myself becoming drained as I purposefully kept my mind busy with life outside of IVF. Emotionally, I was positive about this transfer. I told myself from the beginning, “Positive Vibes Only,” and I had stuck with it. And if I had to guess whether or not I was pregnant…let’s just say I was more optimistic than I had ever been. But on that ride home Wednesday something changed….and I knew I wasn’t.

Brennen’s timer went off, and we both took deep breaths as we opened the bathroom door. There it was on the bathroom counter – a pregnancy test with one dark pink line. Beside that line…nothing, a blank space. It’s funny how in that moment, something so small can fill an entire room. It was all I could see – that blank space. Negative.

Brennen braced himself on the bathroom counter and hung his head. I didn’t know what to say to him, but I thought to myself, “Is this ever going to work?” The next few seconds were a blur until Brennen raised up and hugged me. I could feel his heart pounding against my chest. His face was warm, and I could tell he was on the verge of tears. After that, there’s just more blurriness as we processed another negative.

I called my mom. She said a bad word. Brennen texted his parents. Then, we sat in the living room and got mad. I mean, it’s really not fair. It’s just not. And it sucks so bad. There are too many pieces of shit in the world with children. People who don’t want children have them. Why can’t we? Why is this so hard for us? What did we do wrong? It’s not fair. Period. And I know bad things happen to good people all the time. I know we still have so much to be thankful for. I know our situation could be so much worse than what it is. I know children aren’t rewards. But knowing all that doesn’t matter in those first moments after staring at what seems like the 100th negative pregnancy test in 3 years. Because in those moments, all you can think about is how this may never happen. You may never be parents. You may never have a child. That becomes your reality. And that’s what makes you so mad you could scream.

Deep breaths…

We have since chilled out a little. Still, we’re more mad than we are sad. In fact, I’ve yet to cry. In this journey, if I cried about every bad thing that happened, well, I’d be crying a lot. Instead, I’ve given myself somewhat of an emotional threshold. Things build up, and at some point, I break. Until I do, I push forward. And that’s what we’re doing now – pushing forward. Our perseverance has surprised us!

So now we’re waiting on what I like to call our WTF appointment with Memphis to see if we can find an answer for why this transfer didn’t work or, if like I suspect, it’s unexplainable and simply just didn’t work. From there, we’ll put together a plan for moving forward to transfer #4. As I type that, I can’t believe we’re at #4. I mean, at some point the odds have to be in our favor, right?

Finally, for those of you who have been following this journey from the beginning or since we started blogging a year ago, you may be running out of things to say to us in difficult times. That’s ok! We don’t expect you to find the right sentiments and words of encouragement, and it’s ok to admit you don’t know what to say. But I will ask that you please refrain from any phrase that has the word “time” in it. I can’t really explain why, but something like “Give it time” or “It’s in God’s timing” sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me right now.  A simple “This sucks” will do. Even a “Hang in there” or a “We’ll keep praying” is good. You can even throw an angry face emoji our way and we’ll totally get it! Or you don’t have to say anything. Just keep praying. Pray that in this struggle, we find strength, peace, and understanding.

And because I can’t find a way to close out this post, I’ll leave it here with a “This sucks!”

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Welcome Home Embryo #3

After several attempts at Transfer #3, we finally welcomed this little embryo into its new home!

Embryo Number 3.JPG

But first, let’s rewind to last week. In my last post – the one where I called my uterus a choice word – I vented about the disappointing 7mm lining I had after three weeks of Estrace. So, the folks in Memphis decided that I should come to the clinic for an ultrasound so they could get a good look at the lining. Even if it wasn’t thick enough (ideally, you want an 8 or higher), it may still have a those “pretty” triple layers they’re looking for.

I anxiously arrived at the clinic at 7:30 and settled myself into the now-all-too-familiar ultrasound exam table. And there it was! A beautiful, healthy triple layer lining! But then wouldn’t you know it – the dang thing didn’t thicken a bit. Not one bit! Still a 7.

I got dressed and headed back to the waiting room.  My mom had made the trip with me since Brennen was in Boston for work.  When I walked through the door, she immediately perked up and stared at me, waiting for any clue as to how the ultrasound went.  It may sound mean, but I found a bit of playful satisfaction in making her wait until we were in the hallway before I gave any indication of how it went.  “Didn’t grow at all,” I said. Then she added a much needed four letter word to the situation!

We hung around Memphis for a bit just in case we needed to go back to the clinic.  I had accepted that the transfer would be A) postponed once again or B) canceled altogether.  In fact, I had resolved that I wouldn’t stand for another postponement.  I was tired of being strung along, and I wanted a break.  I settled into the mindset of receiving bad news later that afternoon and tried to take my mind off the disappointment with some retail therapy. Memphis is good for that.

Then, at 1:30, as we’re finally heading home, my phone rings. It’s Nurse Memphis.  I braced myself for bad news, especially when she started talking about my trim lining.  Then the words,”But since it has that beautiful triple layer and looks healthy, we’d like to proceed with your transfer on August 22nd.” My mouth dropped and all I could say was “Awesome.” I passed the phone to my mom in the passenger seat and she scribbled down all the directions for medications – progesterone, Lupron, estrace, prednisone, doxycycline, and pre-natals. Shocked! That’s the best way to describe my mood at that point. Oh, and freaking relieved!

I called Brennen just before his plane took off.  Shocked and relieved pretty much sums up his reaction too.  I had never been so excited about starting IM hip injections in my whole life! Bring on the progesterone, baby!

Fast forward to yesterday, the day we left for Memphis.  We, along with several neighbors, woke up to find that our cars had been broken into.  What the heck, right? Luckily, I’m the idiot who left my car unlocked, so there were no broken windows. They passed over a camera flash in my console, tennis rackets in the trunk, and some Ray Ban sunglasses; the only thing missing was a checkbook.  We opened the bank up at 9am to close our account and all that jazz.

Then, after work, we met at home to load the car and hit the road.  We walk into an 82-degree house. Yep, the AC went out!  Stress level max! Luckily, we were able to get a tech to come out after hours to repair it, and my father-in-law was gracious enough to sit in our sauna of a house waiting on the technician so we could get on the road.

FINALLY we make it to Memphis, and the hotel upgrades us to a suite – a much needed stroke of good luck!  We binged on a little more Friday Night Lights and tried to get some sleep, anxiously awaiting the transfer the next morning.

We arrived at the clinic at 9am for my progesterone test – the results came back just where they needed to be. A win! As we were waiting to be called back for the transfer, I checked my phone. It was blowing up with well-wishes and words of encouragement, and I had to keep myself from breaking down right there in the surgery center.  I can never ever thank you all enough for those thoughts and prayers.  They are always felt, but they were especially felt today.

Then, it was “T” time!  I had been chugging water all morning because they want you to have a full bladder for the transfer.  Apparently, when the bladder is full, it’s easier to guide the catheter through the uterus, and sonongrams read through fluid.  We learn something new about this every day!  So there I am with a bursting bladder just moments before they retrieve us from the pre-op room, and what does Brennen do? He pees…with the door open…in the bathroom right behind my chair. (His mother will be horrified!)

IVF Husband

Just as I was wrapping up my “You asshole” eyeroll, Doctor Memphis came in with the picture we had been dying to see – our little embryo.  Much to our surprise, it had improved after the thaw from a 4AB to a 4AA.  We were over the moon!  He/she is a beauty!  The doctor left, and before the nurse could come back to retrieve us, I looked at Brennen and said, “I want this so bad, but I’m scared to want it this much.” “I know babe.”

The transfer went as smoothly as it could have gone, despite the full bladder.  I did cramp a little more than in the past when the catheter went in, but luckily I had Brennen’s hand to squeeze until it was numb! He says his injury is keeping him from doing this post-transfer blog.

After thirty minutes, I peed! Yippee! And we were on our way.  The rest of the afternoon was spent sleeping off my valium. Now, here I am, restless and waiting on Brennen to come back to the hotel with take-out! This prednisone keeps me hungry!

Over the next few days, I’ll be on modified bedrest.  We’ll head back home tomorrow, where my mother-in-law will have me some buttermilk chicken waiting.  Then, my mom is coming up to stay with me Thursday while Brennen goes back to work, and I can’t wait for some gluten-free chicken spaghetti from her!  With this embryo in tow, I am no doubt being spoiled!

After bedrest, I’ll return to work and my usual routine but continuing to take it easy.  My doctor told me no exercise or running.  He obviously doesn’t know me that well because I don’t do either of those things.  The 10-day wait will no doubt seem like a lifetime.  I keep telling myself I’m not going to test early. I told myself that last time too. And the time before.  I tested both times.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers over those 10 days.  Pray for peace, patience, and that this little embryo sticks like glue!

Embryo #3

Third Time’s a Charm

Third time’s a charm, right? Well if there is any truth to that, we’re going into this transfer with a double dose of luck – our 3rd try at a 3rd transfer.

On July 6th, exactly one year from the day we found out our first transfer from Round 1 was unsuccessful, we got the call from Memphis with a tentative transfer date – August 14th, the day after our 6th wedding anniversary.  We celebrated our new schedule with a wine tasting at the local farmers’ market that night.  After sulking for the past few weeks, we felt the beginnings of an upswing.  No matter how many times we get knocked down and how far we fall, the hope that a transfer brings somehow erases that pain. At first, I thought it was the Pinot. But no, it was hope.

The protocol for this transfer is a little different thanks to my superpower ovaries.  Our second attempt at Transfer #3 was canceled last month when my ovaries defied the odds, and I ovulated despite my estrogen overload. To make sure that doesn’t happen again, my doctor put me on Lupron, a subcutaneous injection that shuts down my body’s release of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). Basically, like my late-night Google search revealed, Lupron puts you in an “induced state of menopause.” Lights out, ovaries!

I’m currently on day 13 of Lupron injections. At first, I couldn’t tell if I was getting menopausal hot flashes or was just plain hot from living in Mississippi in July. Well, that mystery was put to rest a couple nights ago when I woke up with heat radiating from the inside out.  My body felt like an oven! I reached over and poked Brennen, “It’s hot. I’m hot. Are you hot?” “Ugh, no,” he grumpily responded as he pulled the covers tightly under his chin. Hot flash confirmed!

Lupron has also given me a nagging headache for the past week. Other than that, I’m good! The irritability side effect hasn’t been that bad.  Brennen may say otherwise, even thought he’s only had to hide from me once.  I will say, he had it comin’ though.  After two martinis, he gave me my Lupron shot, and with his inhibitions lowered proclaimed, “You know, Breezer, you’ve taken like 115 shots, but I’ve GIVEN 115 shots. That’s crazy!” I’m just going to leave that right there and move on…

Processed with VSCO with s2 preset

My baseline appointment was this past Wednesday, and since everything looked good, I was able to decrease my Lupron dosage and start taking Estrace.  Hopefully that will take the edge off! And I’m sure it will help if Brennen doesn’t make any more stupid comments.  After two weeks of Estrace, I’ll go for another ultrasound on August 9th.  That’s the big one where they’ll check my lining! So far, we’re still on track for an August 14th transfer, and here’s to hoping it stays that way!

Sad and a Little Pissy

In my last post, I described the June 14th lining check as “something we had to get through.” I had no idea what a loaded statement that was…

During the ultrasound, the tech said my lining was measuring a little over 6 mm. I immediately turned to Brennen, my human Wikipedia on female reproduction. He gave me a “That’s ok” nod as the tech proceeded to measure my follicles. They needed to be small, and they were. A win! As I got dressed, Brennen was busy on his phone, looking up what my lining should be. I had never had a lining quite that thin. I usually measured around 9, so a thin lining wasn’t a potential problem on our radar that warranted any pre-requisite research. Before we walked out of the room, he said, “I think we’re OK. It’s still growing, and you haven’t even started progesterone.” So with that reassurance and my trend of problem-free uterine linings, I assumed we would get good news that afternoon. I sent a few thumbs-up selfie Snapchats to my friends and family and headed back to work.

Then around 4:00, I answered the phone, with pen and paper in hand for my transfer directions, and heard Nurse Memphis say, “So that lining isn’t really where we need it to be.” ARGH! “I had a feeling,” I admitted, although I had tried my best to ignore it all day. Doctor’s orders were to stay on the Estrace for one more week to see if the lining thickened and to come to Memphis for a lining check. The nurse told me, “Even if it’s still a little thin, it may be pretty enough to proceed.” So that was the plan – keep popping the estradiol pills in hope that I develop a fluffy, pretty lining. Transfer postponed.

For a week, I did just as Dr. Memphis directed. I also took some advice from my acupuncturist and started drinking Raspberry Leaf tea and eating iron-rich foods that would either thicken my lining or clog my arteries. Then Tuesday night, we made the trip to Memphis.

We were only at the clinic for about 20 minutes – just long enough for me to get my blood drawn for estradiol and progesterone checks and for a date with “Wanda.” I don’t think I have ever been so nervous about an ultrasound. We’re getting pretty good at knowing what the uterus looks like on the screen, so when it popped up, we both perked up and said, “There it is!” It was beautiful, according to the ultrasound tech. Three pretty layers and measuring at 8.75 mm – right where it needed to be. We drove back home on a high note.

Later that afternoon, my phone lit up with a call from Memphis. “You’re lining looked really good,” the nurse said. “Duh!” I proudly thought. Then came the but. My progesterone was high which indicated that I had ovulated. Transfer cancelled.

We all know someone who got pregnant while on birth control, right? Birth control loads your body up with estrogen early in your cycle, which is supposed to shut your ovaries down and keep you from ovulating. But even with all that estrogen in your system, in rare cases, an egg will spring forward from a follicle and send you into ovulation. Thus the story of a “birth control baby.” Estrace has the same task before a transfer. It’s estrogen, and it shuts my ovaries down. But there are those rare cases, and this month, I was one of them. I mean, seriously?! My ovaries have super powers that defy the odds and release an egg amidst an ass-ton of estrogen. But unfortunately the buck stops there. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be in this infertile situation in the first place.

So anyway, it’s back to the starting line for us. I’ll start my cycle in a week or two then proceed with birth control…again. Then comes the Estrace…again. This time around, Doc is putting me on Lupron injections that will (hopefully) keep me from ovulating.  But first, we wait.

Before I get into what this means for us emotionally, let me say that this is not an invitation to a pity party.  I promised myself that I would never write a blog post about what not to say to an infertile couple because 1) there are a gazillion articles about this subject out there already and 2) we’re never going to open up the conversation about infertility if we keep shutting it down with rules. But I will say this – sometimes the best thing someone can say is, “This sucks.” Just a recognition of how shitty the situation is goes a long way! My best friend is my best friend because when I share bad news, she sends me memes of cats saying curse words! And encourage us with reminders of how strong we are. Yes, that may sound a little self-absorbed, but if people are going to feel sorry for us, let encouragement grow from that pity, not sad puppy dog eyes and an empty sentiment about how everything happens for a reason.

Sorry if I sound pissy. But heck, I am pissy. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m beaten down. We both are. Yesterday was the closest I’ve felt to giving up. I know we won’t give up, but that hope we had after a successful retrieval and a positive test (even though it resulted in a miscarriage) fades a little more with each cancelled transfer. We’ll get better, though. We’ll cope and push through. We just have to let this sadness run its course. One of the most inspirational quotes I’ve found during my IVF Pinterest-ing didn’t tell me about trusting God’s timing, having hope, finding strength, or believing in miracles. It simply told me it’s ok to be sad.Own the Sadness

So that’s what I’m going to do right now…be sad and own the hell out of it.

(And yeah, I’ll probably be a little pissy too.)

So We Decided to Start a Blog

Welcome! Let me begin by saying that my ovaries are not “fried” in any sense of the word. As we explain on our “Welcome” page, we’re just trying to find the lighter side of the infertility struggle.

We began addressing our infertility in the Fall of 2015 after a year of unsuccessfully trying to conceive. For that year, we didn’t let anyone know we were trying to get pregnant. We played it cool. We first started seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist (aka Ferility Doctor) in November and began to open up to our close friends and family little by little. What we found is that when we started sharing, we stopped getting those annoying questions like, “So it’s about time for a baby, huh?” and “Do y’all have baby fever yet?” or the much less subtle “When are you going to have a baby?”

After three failed IUI’s and over a year of trying to conceive, we scheduled our first round of IVF in April during National Infertility Awareness Week. If the timing wouldn’t have worked out like it did, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to make my first IVF-related Facebook post. But after watching a video that I ended up also sharing on Facebook about what it’s like to struggle with infertility, I felt empowered.

We weren’t quite sure what the response would be. If anything, we thought, “Hey, this will at least get the word out to more people to stop asking us when we’re going to have a baby!” But we were overjoyed with the amount of support that rolled in through phone calls, texts, and Facebook messages. To our surprise, we also heard from other couples who were also struggling or had struggled with infertility. Some had been through multiple rounds of IVF. Some had successfully conceived with IUI. Some were just starting the journey and had as many questions as we did. Every story was different. With that first Facebook post, we began building a network of support that would mean more than we could have ever imagined in the coming months.

During our first round of IVF, we bought a selfie stick and shared some of our favorite and most significant moments on Facebook and Instagram. It became our way of coping, and we like to think we helped others cope with their own struggle along the way. After finding out our first round was unsuccessful and knowing we still had a long road ahead of us, we started throwing around the idea of starting a blog. Brennen started throwing out names, and before we knew it “Southern Fried Ovaries” stuck!

Now, here we are. Our decision to blog was not an easy one. We know it means hashing out details about our personal life and our medical history, but we also know it means opening up the conversation about infertility, raising awareness, and helping other couples going through the same thing. We hope you enjoy our story!