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

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6th Anniversary

Earlier in the week, Breanne asked me if I was going to write an anniversary post for the blog like I did last year. Without thinking, I blurted out “Is this gonna be an annual thing?”  I could feel her eyes burning a hole through me.  “Well I hope not…”  Of course we don’t want to still be blogging about infertility in a year! As Forrest Gump once said, “I’m not a smart man.”

not a smart man

As dumb as my comment was, it did get us talking about our 6 years of marriage.  We have been trying to conceive a child now for half of our marriage.  Half!  And we’ve been going through fertility treatments for a third of it.  Infertility is no longer something we just have to deal with or get through – it’s now a part of who we are, both individually and as a couple.  I never thought I would have given my wife over 100 shots during our first few years of marriage!  And she never thought her husband would know as much or more about the female reproductive system as she does.  Taken out of the context of infertility, that would be pretty damn creepy.

Looking back, this is not where we expected to be at our 6th anniversary and in our 30’s.  But in spite of all the pain and sadness that infertility has caused us, it’s made our marriage stronger.  After our first couple years of marriage, we thought the next step in the maturity of our relationship would be the connection we formed over being parents.  But in reality, it happened unexpectedly when we couldn’t become parents.  We’ve seen each other at our most vulnerable, we’ve talked each other out of giving up, and we’ve comforted each other after leaving yet another disappointing doctor’s appointment. We have learned to rely on each other to get through these difficult times.  And when the unexpected happens, as if often does these days, we’re each other’s constant.

So this weekend, to celebrate our anniversary, we decided to try and hit refresh and enjoy what we have in each other.  We deserved a day or two to set aside the dreams of what we want our family to be, to enjoy the family we already are – the one we became 6 years ago today.  At dinner last night, I brought up something about the transfer and Breezer burned another hole in me with that look. “Nope, we’re not talking about that,” she said.  So I shut up, because we’ve already established the fact that I say stupid things, and after dinner we came home and continued our weekend binge of Friday Night Lights.  It got us fired up for football season, but more importantly helped us clear our minds.  So as we approach this week with a doctor’s appointment to find out if we can transfer this month, I’ll just leave you with the wisdom of Coach Eric Taylor (who I’m pretty sure Bre has a crush on…because she told me), “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!”  And a little advice just for me for next year’s anniversary – “Stay away from dumb, gentlemen.”

Coach-Taylor-eric-taylor-30564566-400-267

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…

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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!

It’s Over

“It’s over. It’s over.”

That’s all Breanne could really say the day everything hit her and she finally broke.  She had been strong throughout the whole ordeal, and up until that point had somehow held it together.  With every doctor’s appointment, every hCG test that wasn’t rising properly, every ultrasound that showed that the pregnancy wasn’t progressing as it should, and even the miscarriage, she managed to stay positive and focused, able to see the silver lining in this dark cloud of infertility.  Still, I knew at some point it would hit her.  It needed to hit her.  Otherwise, how could we move on?

The miscarriage happened on Christmas morning.  Yes, you read that correctly – Christmas morning.  Certainly not the holiday we had in mind.  We were opening presents at Breanne’s parents’ house like we do every Christmas morning, when all of a sudden she started cramping.  Being the trooper that she is, she was able to make it through breakfast and opening presents before retiring to her old room to sleep off the cramps.  So while Breanne was incapacitated, I headed outside to fry the Christmas turkey on our 80-degree Mississippi Christmas morning.  About an hour later, I got a text from Breanne.  She was in the bathroom…miscarrying.  My heart sank.  Not because we didn’t expect this – we did and had prepared ourselves – but the timing of it seemed like a cruel joke.

She said the rest of the day was a blur for her.  If you remember from my last post, Breanne LOVES Christmas.  We have a tradition of eating Christmas dinner with the Ivy crew (her mom’s family) and playing games afterwards, so Breanne was determined not to miss out on the festivities.  So I passed her her straightener and make-up bag through the bathroom door so she could slowly get ready, she “hopped on the saddle” (a term I wish I had never learned), and we headed over to the Ivy’s with a bag of feminine products and pain relievers in hand.  Breanne wasn’t quite herself while we were over there – she even relinquished her duties as Dirty Santa coordinator to her sister.  At that point, I knew she didn’t feel good!  Despite the difficult timing of our loss, we wound up having a great night surrounded by family, which is exactly what we needed.  It turns out that having the miscarriage occur on Christmas Day was a blessing in disguise.

We had an appointment with Breanne’s OB/GYN the Tuesday after Christmas.  The ultrasound confirmed that the pregnancy was officially over.  There was no longer a sac.  Ironically, we looked at each other with relief.  After what we went through on Christmas morning, we had hoped the worst of it was over.  Her hCG was still measuring at 3,100, so we were instructed to keep checking it every week to confirm that it was continuing to decrease.  A plateau or rise meant a D&C (surgery).

The next day was Breanne’s first full day back at work since the holidays.  I had taken the entire week off, so I walked her to her car and climbed right back in bed.  A few minutes later, Breanne was back home.  I knew something was up.  I greeted her with a “Well hey there!”  She just stood in the doorway to our bedroom, shook her head, and started crying. And even though my wife always gets bummed every year when Christmas is over, I knew that wasn’t what the tears were for.  She had finally broken.  And in a way, I was relieved.  She’s such a fighter that she often blocks out her emotions to keep her mind focused on the process and our goal of being parents, but sometimes it’s good for her to stop fighting and just feel. And when the tears slowed down long enough for her to speak, she whispered, “It’s over. It’s over.”

She was right, the pregnancy was over.  This chance was over.  But here we are almost 5 weeks later, and even though the pregnancy is over, it feels like the miscarriage isn’t.  We’re still waiting for her hCG levels to drop below 5 and for her cramping and bleeding to stop.  A week after Christmas, her hCG had only dropped 300 points, from 3,100 to 2,800.  We felt so far from the end.  We wanted the bandage ripped off, not slowly pulled back.  A week later, her level had dropped all the way to 850.  We high fived each other when the lab called us with the “good” news.  When people say infertility is like being on a roller coaster, boy are they right!  A few weeks ago, we were praying with everything we had that her levels would keep rising.  Now we are celebrating every drop. She’s now at 59, which means this should all be over in a couple weeks.

We appreciate the outpouring of love we received since we posted that the pregnancy was likely not viable.  I can’t say enough how everyone’s thoughts and prayers are felt and have helped us keep going. We’ll always hold a special place in our hearts for this embryo and the hope it brought us – our first pregnancy!   Now we’re ready to use that hope to push forward to the next step – Transfer #3, coming Spring 2017.

Transfer #2 – A Second Chance

Last time Breanne posted an update, she was shouting from the rooftops about her thick uterine lining (a phrase I never thought I would type).  Now, she’s hunkered down in a hotel room in Memphis on bedrest, so I’m handling this update on our transfer.

Monday evening after work, acupuncture, and a progesterone injection, Breanne and I hit the road to Memphis.  She had a suitcase packed with nothing but pajamas, a box of gluten-free cupcakes courtesy of my parents (Thanks, Mom and Dad), and plenty of Christmas music on her iPhone to pass the time. For those of you that know Breanne, you know that she loves Christmas.  And I don’t mean the normal kind of love.  I mean the already-has-all-of-her-Christmas-shopping-done-in-mid-November kind of love.  So with “Let it Snow” playing in the background and the air conditioner on full blast, we made our way up I-55.  Like a pitcher on a hot streak, we didn’t want to change up our pre-game routine, so we ate a late dinner at Memphis Barbecue Company on our way.  We’ve stopped there every time we’ve come up to Memphis for IVF.  If this round works, I bet it was the BBQ.

The morning of the transfer before we left the hotel is a bit of a blur, and I didn’t realize it was a blur until I started writing this post.  It’s almost like we were on auto-pilot.  I think we both had so many emotions running through us that morning – anticipation, excitement, hope, fear – and they all somehow cancelled each other out, leaving us numb and just going through our pre-transfer checklist.

We arrived at the clinic at 10:00 so that Breanne could have her blood drawn for a progesterone check; then, we spent the next thirty minutes in the waiting room where Breanne chugged water.  Evidently, a full bladder helps the doctor view the uterus on the ultrasound monitor so he can guide the catheter.  So there Breanne was, playing a chess match with her bladder all morning, trying to decide when to take her last pee before the procedure.  Checkmate: Bladder.

The transfer is a much less invasive procedure than the retrieval.  For the retrieval, Breanne was put under anesthesia; for the transfer, she only got a Valium.  The transfer basically involves the doctor guiding a catheter into her uterus and then injecting a solution holding the embryo right up next to the uterine lining.  That way, when the embryo hatches from its shell, it’s close enough to the lining that it can implant and begin to grow into a baby.  Because the procedure is less invasive, I was allowed to be in the room with Bre.  I just had to throw on a lunch lady hairnet and some massively oversized scrubs.  But when you’re 5’7, just about everything is oversized.

When the doctor finally came in for the procedure, he gave us a picture of the embryo we had been dying to see. Suddenly, we weren’t numb to our emotions anymore.  We were overwhelmed with hope.  Right away we could tell that this little guy was a higher quality embryo than the one we transferred in our first round.  It was more advanced and, without getting too scientific, had better cell differentiation.  The embryologist gave it a grade of 4AB.  The “4” indicates how far along the embryo is in its development.  At stage 4, it’s considered an “expanded blastocyst,” which is exactly where you want it to be for transfer.  The first letter in the grade represents the quality of the “inner-cell mass,” the group of cells that will eventually form the fetus.  This part of our embryo got an A!  It takes after its dad.  The second letter in the grade is the quality of the outer cells that will develop into the placenta.  This was a B.  Not perfect, but still pretty darn good!  For reference, the one embryo we had and transferred after our first round was a 2BC, so we knew we were already ahead of our first round.

The doctor left us alone for a few minutes while they prepped the procedure room, and we stared at our embryo.  It’s hard not to get emotional looking at the little clump of cells that could grow into our precious little boy or girl that we have fought so hard for. And I’ll be honest, I teared up.  Not many people get to see their children at this stage.  Going through this infertility struggle has been unbelievably difficult for both of us.  I bottle a lot up inside trying to be strong for Breanne, and my emotions wind up coming out when I least expect it.  I actually broke down in our Customer Service Manager’s office a few weeks ago (sorry Bennie!).  But getting to see this little 5-day old embryo before it hopefully grows into our beautiful baby made us feel so lucky…and me so emotional.

Next, they walked us into the procedure room and strapped Breezer in.  The nurse looked through our chart to once again verify who we were (a lot of verification goes on during the transfer process which is very much appreciated).  She laughed at how our names were so close, and Breanne, in her Valium-induced state of relaxation said, “Oh, it gets better!” and proceeded to explain how her maiden name is also Hancock.  The nurse jokingly asked if we were sure we weren’t related, so to break the tension I said, “Well, if this baby comes out with a third arm, we’ll have our answer.” Hard to tell if that joke landed or not.

The procedure went about as smoothly as it possibly could have.  Our doctor was incredible – he walked us through every step of the process so we could follow along on the ultrasound monitor.  And being able to both be in the room meant so much to us.  Breanne has had to fight so much of this battle on her own.  She’s the one getting poked and prodded almost every day.  She’s the one who has endured multiple surgeries in order to give us a fighting chance at a child together.  But in that moment, getting to hold her hand through this precious piece of the process, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so connected to one person in my entire life.  As the doctor transferred the embryo, we could see a little glow appear on the screen.  The embryo is microscopic, but the solution it was in could easily be seen on the monitor.  And when we saw that glow, we both teared up (again).

After laying flat for 30 minutes following the transfer, Breanne was finally allowed to empty her bladder (hallelujah!)  She told the nurse it was the greatest pee of her life. The doctor gave us our post-transfer instructions, which involved a lot of bed rest for Breanne.  Once doc was finished with us, I went to go get the car to pick Breanne up.  About halfway to the car, I heard a woman’s voice calling for my help.  Once I walked over to her, I saw her and her husband trying to get a stroller to fold up so they could load it in their car – I’m guessing it was their grandchild’s stroller.  The woman said, “You look young – I bet you have kids.  How do you get one of these strollers to fold up?”  Not wanting to share our whole infertility story with a stranger in the parking lot, I awkwardly laughed and tried to help.  When I couldn’t figure it out, she said, “Well I thought you’d be more helpful – you look like you have a couple kids, don’t you?”  Guess I need to work on my dad bod…  After I swung by the hospital entrance to pick Bre up, we had to stop to let two very pregnant women walk across the street.  It was as if the universe was taunting us, but we laughed it off.  No negative vibes for our little embryo on board!

In order to make sure she followed the doctor’s instructions (and to allow me to get back to work), Breanne’s mom met us up in Memphis and is currently staying there with Breanne until tomorrow morning, then they are heading home.  Thanks, Connie!  If anyone can keep her in line, it’s you.

I’m not gonna lie – it’s been really hard being away from Bre over the last few days.  Knowing (and praying) that our embryo could be implanting as I write this is crazy to think about. Yet being 200 miles away from each other sucks. I’m just ready for tomorrow evening when we can start spending the rest of this 10-day wait together.

Thanks so much to the dozens of you who have messaged us, encouraged us, and prayed for us over the past few days.  If that little embryo can sense the love y’all have sent our way, he/she will definitely want to stick around!

 

Hurry Up and Wait

You would think that as much waiting as we’ve had to do during the IVF process, we’d get better at it; but I guess practice doesn’t always make perfect.  We received a call this morning from the embryologist to update us on the development and growth of our embryos, so we wanted to pass it along.  Before we do that, we want to clear up all the numbers we’ve thrown around lately.

Number of eggs retrieved on Monday = 41

Number of mature eggs fertilized using ICSI (sperm injected into the egg) = 26

Number of embryos on Day 1 after fertilization = 21 (5 of the eggs didn’t successfully fertilize)

Number of embryos on Day 2 after fertilization = 21 (11 rated A- to B+, 10 rated B to B-)

That’s where we were as of Wednesday morning when the embryologist called us.  We had gone from 41 eggs to 21 embryos.  We didn’t get an update on Days 3 and 4.  On Day 3, the embryo cells continue to divide.  On Day 4, differentiation occurs.  During differentiation, some of the cells form a border around the edge of the embryo; these cells become the placenta.  Another group of cells clump up in the middle and will eventually become the baby.  You can clearly see these two groups of cells in the embryo that we transferred during Round 1.

 

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Transferred Embryo from Round 1

 

From what we’ve read and been told, a high rate of embryo arrest occurs on Day 4 during this differentiation stage.  We’ve heard it referred to as the “die off day.” So naturally, we expected our number to drop from 21.

This morning (Day 5), Breanne’s phone rang at 9:45, and we flew to it with me yelling, “Let me answer! Let me answer!”  The embryologist informed me that we had 6 embryos – 3 that looked really good and 3 that looked pretty good.  However, they weren’t quite ready to be frozen.  It sounded like great news to me, but when I told Breanne, I could see the worry in her eyes.  Like last time, it looks like we have some slow growers.  And last time, our embryos didn’t make it.  She made the connection pretty quickly and just sat in bed staring across the room.  I let her stare for a little while then asked, “Well, what are you feeling?”  She responded, “Chocolate.”  That’s not exactly what I meant, but it summed it all up.  I went and bought my wife lots of chocolate.  So much, in fact, that the lady at Livingston Sweet Shoppe asked me if we were having a party.  I said yes to avoid looking like too much of a fat kid.

The embryologist told me he would check the embryos again this evening, and if they were ready to be frozen, he would call.  If not, he would check again Sunday morning and call us.  Let me just stop right here and say that waiting on a phone call that may not even come is miserable.  As the eternal optimist in the relationship, I hung up with the embryologist this morning feeling really upbeat.  But as the day went on, my excitement turned to nervous anticipation.  Breanne’s sister called around 6:15 this evening, and I jumped.  I could feel my heart in my throat.  Her phone hasn’t rung since.

It’s 8:30 now, and at this point we aren’t expecting a phone call until tomorrow.  So, it looks like tonight will be another night of Tylenol PM and Netflix until we can’t hold our eyes open anymore.

OVARYchiever

Since Breanne is still feeling sore and groggy and is operating on a very short fuse (trust me), I will be handling this update on the egg retrieval.

Day Before Retrieval – Sunday

As Breanne mentioned in her last post, she took the trigger shot of Lupron Saturday night in preparation for an egg retrieval Monday.  She had an appointment Sunday morning for some blood work, and we were told that no news was good news.  So since Sunday just consisted of hoping we wouldn’t get a phone call, we had some big plans for the rest of the day – see the Peabody ducks, grab lunch downtown, do some shopping in Germantown, and celebrate with a nice dinner that night.  Well, Breanne’s ovaries, and her hormones for that matter, had other plans.  She woke up Sunday morning feeling pretty bloated and crampy, so after the doctor’s appointment, she came back to the hotel to nap. I supported her by napping too.  Around 10:00, I woke up to a whimpering noise and looked over to find Breanne sound asleep with tears running down her face.  I woke her up in a panic asking what was wrong and she told me in the most pitiful voice, “I dreamed you left me.” I felt horrible and held her while I reassured her that was not going to happen.  Then, in true Breanne fashion, she muttered through her tears, “But you bought me a cake.”  I don’t think she ever even opened her eyes.  She just cried for a little bit and went back to sleep. Hormones.  We spent the rest of the morning lounging around the hotel room, eating take out, napping, and watching football. Or as I like to call it – heaven.  She finally started to feel better Sunday evening, so we grabbed us some good Memphis Barbeque and some frozen yogurt for dessert and headed to bed…after we went back to the barbeque joint so we could get Breanne’s purse that she left.

Retrieval Day – Monday

We had to be at the surgery center at 7:30 to check in.  The tricky thing about an egg retrieval is that the doctor had to retrieve the eggs before she ovulated.  That’s why the doctor instructed us to take the trigger shot at 8:30pm Saturday, precisely 36 hours prior to retrieval.  I was so nervous we would over sleep and not make it to the clinic on time that I set both cell phone alarms, had Breanne’s mom call at 6:15, had my mom call at 6:30, and asked for a wake-up call from the front desk.  Breanne would like for me to add, “After all that we still didn’t leave when we wanted to because Brennen didn’t account for his morning bowel routine.”

We made it to the clinic on time and checked in.  While Breanne waited to be taken back, I had to go upstairs to donate my sample, a much easier process than what Breanne went through.  I was able to see Breanne again just before she went back for the procedure at 9:00.  She was in good spirits and ready to lighten her ovarian load!  During Round 1, Breanne had about 16 follicles on the day she triggered, and 10 eggs were retrieved. On trigger day during this round, she had 32 follicles.  So when the nurse came out 45 minutes later to take me back to see Bre, I expected her to tell me they had retrieved 20 to 25.  Nope! She looked at me and said, “Now, she’s going to be sore.  We got 41.” 41? 41! I was in shock! I knew my wife was an overachiever, but I didn’t realize what an OVARYchiever she was!  They took me back to see her in recovery where she was drinking Ginger Ale.  She looked at me in a fog and said, “I don’t even drink Ginger Ale. But I guess I do now.” We had to hang out for a little bit in recovery so that she could use the restroom before we left. Doctor’s orders.  The doctor that performed the retrieval also talked to us about the potential for freezing some off the eggs since they had retrieved so many.  We gave him permission to do that, understanding that it depended on how mature those 41 eggs were.  In other words, if the majority of those 41 eggs were mature, we would freeze some of the eggs.  If not, we wanted them all fertilized.  After only having 10 mature eggs during Round 1, this was a conversation we did not expect to have.

We finally headed home from Memphis.  I love her to death, but Breanne was pretty short tempered on the way home.  We stopped at a gluten free café to get her some oatmeal.  She told me to get something easy to eat while I drove, like a grilled cheese.  I chose oatmeal.  She rolled her eyes and stormed out of the café to the car, the best she could storm.  Then, on the way home, the sound of me eating my oatmeal was making her nauseated, so she needed music to drown out my chewing.  Well, nothing on the radio was good enough, so she opted for her Amazon Prime playlist.  We were just south of Southaven, and service kept cutting out, which led Breanne to tweet some pretty mean things at our cell phone carrier.  Breanne is new to Twitter and still trying to figure it all out, but yesterday she got her first replied to tweet.  Sorry CSpire!

Bre’s mom met us at our house to help cook, clean, and keep Breanne company while I ran errands and what not.  She was a big help, especially in choosing what to watch Monday night.  1 vote for Dancing With the Stars from Bre and 2 votes for football from us.  Thanks, Connie!

Post-Retrieval Day 1 – Tuesday

The lab in Memphis called us this afternoon to let us know that 26 of the 41 eggs were mature enough for fertilization, so they fertilized all 26 yesterday.  21 made it to two-celled embryos today.  We’ll get updates over the next few days on how the embryos are growing and surviving and will know how many we can freeze on Day 5, Saturday.

It’s crazy to think that our future baby may have been created yesterday afternoon while we were driving from Memphis to Jackson.  His or her mother was either napping, fussing at me about oatmeal, or mad tweeting to our cell phone provider.  But whatever she was doing, she was being pretty damn awesome.

 

Happy Anniversary (from Brennen)

Today marks five years of marriage for Breanne and me.  Five years of a Type-A and a Type-B personality somehow making a relationship work.  I’ll let you guess which is which.  Five years is a milestone anniversary.  It’s the anniversary you talk about when you first get married.  And that conversation often includes wanting kids by the fifth year of marriage.  But things don’t always work out the way you planned.

By now, you are all familiar with our infertility story.  Breanne has such an incredible talent for telling stories and being able to put our struggle into words.  So I want to take a minute to brag on her a little bit.  Let me start out by saying that my wife is a rock star.  It’s no secret to her close friends and family that she is a bit of a hypochondriac.  I can’t count the number of late night “heart attacks” that have turned out to be a little indigestion or the brain tumors she has survived (headaches).  But when it comes to our infertility journey, she has shown more strength and courage than I knew she had in her.  When her OBGYN told her that she might need surgery to confirm her Endometriosis diagnosis, she responded with “Sounds good – how soon can we schedule it?”  She has endured countless uncomfortable procedures, injections, and monitoring appointments without batting an eye.  She’s been in stirrups more often than John Wayne.  The most difficult thing I have had to endure involved a sterile cup and a dimmly lit room at the doctor’s office.  So after five years of marriage, I can definitively say that my wife is so much braver than I ever could hope to be.

It’s no secret that this has been a tough year.  We’ve seen more than our fair share of negative pregnancy tests and have been through three failed IUI cycles and an unsuccessful round of IVF.  And the worst part for me is that there’s nothing I can do to make things better.  We guys always want to fix things (Breanne would point to our garage door that’s been broken for the past three months and roll her eyes at that comment, but that’s beside the point).  But if there is a silver lining in this cloud of infertility, it’s that we have grown so much closer as a couple over the past year.  When you go through a difficult time as a couple, you have two options.  You can either let it tear you apart, or you can find strength in each other.  We chose the latter.

So hopefully in another five years, we can look back on this difficult time and be thankful for this journey.  Thankful for how much it has strengthened our relationship with each other and with God.  And hopefully how much it has made us appreciate our beautiful children.  So happy 5th anniversary, Breanne – hopefully our next 5 are the best yet!