Welcome to our story

Welcome to where I share our journey to family.  This blog was created as a way for me to tell the story of infertility and IVF; a place where I could be honest;  give my perspective and hope that this might assist others that go through this process.

Please keep in mind that the blog starts with the most recent entry and goes back to the first, which begins on November 25th, so you may want to scroll to the end and read them in order to understand the full story.

Also, this is told from my heart, so is transparent and holds very little back.

Our journey ended happily, and we know how truly lucky we are to now be in the second phase of our adventure.  I hope our story inspires others to believe in each other, to give something scary a try and to trust in the power of love.

Wishing everyone happy endings!

Steph sig

P.S. – To jump to the beginning, click here. From there you can click on the November archives.

A new year, a new journey

Today, December 31, 2013 was the longest day on record for me.  Despite an early start and a quick stick, from 9am on, it felt like the day that would never end.  I’m not sure what part of my brain thought we would have the results and be off celebrating the new year and whatever that meant by noon, but I was definitely wrong.

After departing the doctor’s office once again, we headed to try to pass the hours, first with a stop at the outlets in St. Augustine and then with time spent wandering the famous city.  With every passing minute the butterflies in my stomach grew larger.  I was completely distracted and unable to focus on anything going on around me.  When asked to decide where to eat, I was at a loss, angry with again not knowing, do I avoid the turkey sandwich or can I indulge in an adult beverage.  The unknown still loomed all around and my anxiety was ever present no matter how much I tried to focus on the lovely city.

We wandered the streets and the Flagler College campus, finally deciding the distraction wasn’t working.  The journey home was via the coast road, offering the familiar vistas that usually produce a sense of calm and happiness.  But no matter what house was pointed out to me, or discussion of the bike lanes, the silent phone haunted me.

Knowing that the doctor’s office was closing for the holiday at 2:30, by 2:20pm I was beside myself, and we determined that calling was the best solution.  After being informed that the nurse was still making calls and it might be a while, we finally broke down and headed for the pharmacy to buy an over-the-counter test.  As we drove home, I joked that as soon as I opened the box  the nurse would call.  Fortunately, she did not, and to my ultimate delight the first test quickly turned positive.  As my husband looked at the stick and  announced to me, “you’re pregnant, sweetie,”  I was still filled with doubt.  Upon some quick assurance via the internet that my hormone drugs could not cause a false positive, I took the second test getting the same result in record time.

Not five minutes later the phone rang, and we were given the official news.  Yes, I was pregnant.  My numbers looked good and to come in on Thursday for a follow-up test.  I was pregnant, I am pregnant.  I still can’t believe it.  There is life growing inside of me.  We have completed the journey and the ultimate prize is ours.  One hour to midnight and I’ve Good News 2014never had a year with more promise;  with more excitement;  that I’m more terrified of.

 Eighteen years ago today, my dear grams suffered the heart attack that would take her away from us. It was a sad day for my family, but a day she smiled.  Today a new memory is attached to this day. It’s not the day one of the dearest people on earth started to leave me, but the day my future dearest person started their journey to be with me.

So goodbye 2013.  I have a special date waiting on me next year!

 

The Eve of the Eve

It’s the eve before New Year’s Eve, and the night before we find out the results of our IVF journey. Thankfully, the Christmas holiday has passed, but not without a few ups and downs with the emotions.

Each day has been taken as it has been given, wondering what symptoms might present themselves. Nausea, hot flashes, crying and strange twinges in the belly. You find yourself wondering if every little thing is a sign of success or failure. On top of the symptoms, my stomach has expanded making me feel pregnant, even if I am not. I know these can all be side effects of the hormone drugs that are currently part of my daily routine, but I cannot help hoping and praying they are a sign of better things to come.

And so, we wait. Today has been a better day with the symptoms, but I find myself wishing for them when they are not there. During my online reading (yes, Google is too tempting), I discovered that sometimes the “pregnancy symptoms” can be brought on by the dream of success. I am hoping that is not the case, but must admit that last evening when I felt like I would be ill from my vitamin, I was excited. Never thought that vomiting would be something I would ever hope and pray for.

Over the past twelve days, I have tried to remain positive. Telling myself, “your are pregnant until someone tells you you are not.” But some days have been more than the heart and mind could bear. Christmas was one of those days, as my sweet husband and I had our quiet celebration, and I kept daydreaming of the possibilities of Christmas 2014 with our new little one.

On the opposite side of the coin, I also try not to build myself up too much so that the fall will not be so far if the news is not what I hope for. I have a fabulous husband, a great job, am pretty healthy and friends that love me. All things to be thankful for, all things to remember no matter what happens tomorrow.

The biggest positive of finally knowing the result will be the ability to move on. Since August we have been in a holding pattern, pausing our home search and any 2014 plans until we knew how many McFees might be involved. After tomorrow, everything can start to resume. For me, that is a huge positive no matter what the results reveal. No more waiting and wondering, no more pushing pause. Life is meant to be lived and we will have our answer.

So whether 2014 is the year of the baby carriage or the next Disney cruise, my co-pilot and I are ready. T-minus fourteen hours to go…

Waiting part deux.

Three days since our two little embryos were transplanted.  Three days until the Christmas holiday, and here we are again playing the waiting game.  Is it wrong to ask Santa for a positive pregnancy test?

We have completed the last and final step of our journey.  It feels as if we have crossed the finish line and are waiting to hear what place we will receive.  It’s exhilarating to know that we have completed the entire race, and it’s excruciating waiting to know the outcome.

Transfer day was an out of body experience.  The strict instructions of trying to keep a full bladder coupled with an hour drive and a 20 minute delay at the doctor’s office, lead to a waiting room of dancing women.  When we were finally taken back and given a bed, I almost hugged the nurse.  When the woman next to me broke down and used the restroom causing us to be moved up, I nearly jumped for joy (with my legs crossed).

20131221-174047.jpgBefore we knew it, both my husband and I were kitted out in our “party hats”, as the IVF nurse had referred to them in our orientation,  me lying and he sitting in the sterile room where we would meet our little embryos.  The comedy continued as they strapped me in the bed and we waited for the doctor, the nurse trying to keep me distracted from my full bladder.  It was difficult to embrace the moment, but soon the doctor and embryologist joined us, confirmed our information (making sure we didn’t mix up any embryos with the patient switch), a quick “how many are we putting in”, and next thing we knew he was pointing out two small specks of white on the screen as they were dropped in.  Voilà!

We were informed that we had two healthy, pretty high level embryos, not that we really understood the report card we were given.  What we did understand was the confidence in his voice, the assurance of a “good looking uterus” (yes they do say that sometimes) and that we had a 50 – 60% chance it was going to work.  And with that, it was over.

As they wheeled me out, it hit me.  We had just witnessed something amazing.  Taking a moment to pause and grasp hold of our fortune in this process, we actually got to see our embryos go into their new home.  As the doctor said, I was now “technically” pregnant.

And so the difficult part remains, the waiting.  So far, day 1 was a piece of cake.  Day 2, I had a meltdown. Day 3, has been a little of both so far.  But now I am on the other side of the worry again.  I have put down the Google (yes, I have slipped at the beginning of every new stage) and am now trying to embrace the moment.  In ten more days, we will start a 20131221-174100.jpgnew life.  That is how we are looking at it, no matter what.  A new outlook, a new focus, a new passion.

Until then, we keep pumping the new hormones, will eat a little red velvet cake and will patiently wait.  About as well as a child does on Christmas Eve.  Can we open the gifts yet?

 

 

 

Twas the night before transfer…

‘Twas the night before embryo transfer,

And all through the house, a wife was keeping busy as was her spouse.

The day dawned quite lovely, cool, crisp and bright

But those six waiting embryos was all was in site.

They had done so much prep work, between shots, food and pills,

But wondered their fate over the next hills.

The experience was nearly over, the journey soon to end,

What once was unknown was almost gone with the wind.

And six little embryos awaited a home, a freezer or womb, was as yet unknown.

But the husband and wife, filled with their love

Awaited their fate as the stars shone above.

The end of the story is yet to unfold, but whatever the outcome, their hands they will hold.

For although the journey was not part of the plan,

the couple is content having done all they can.

Twas the eve before embryo transfer, the eve of our fate,

And no matter what, life’s what we’ll celebrate!

 

The Envelope Please…

Friday, December 13th dawned crisp and bright. After staying up until midnight to get in one last snack and sip of water, I woke at 9 am and prepared to greet the day. Fortunately we had decided to stay near the clinic in Jacksonville to avoid a morning drive, and so the time to arrive was soon upon us.

As we prepared to walk in, my stomach turned into knots and I grasped my husband’s hand. Having not had anesthesia since getting my wisdom teeth out as a child, I was nervous about the entire process. While I count my blessings that I have been healthy with no surgeries in my 38 years of living, again the fear of the unknown took grasp of my senses.

Within a few minutes of arrival, I was whisked away to the “dressing room” and given my attire for the days feastivities. The comedic element to the production was my lack of vision due to contacts and glasses not being permitted. As I lay there, faceless nurses and doctors came to speak to me, asking questions, hooking up monitors and having me sign things I couldn’t see. After a couple of misses with the IV line, we were soon on our way to the room where I was given my “mark” and my “cocktail”.

20131215-121714.jpgThroughout the entire time, I nervously laughed with the staff, and continued to breathe and remember my affirmations a dear friend had given me at the start of this journey. The staff was surprised when they realized what I was doing and were proud of my ability to remain calm. Before I knew it the lights began to dim and I knew it was show time. I wish I could remember what I dreamt, but no dream would have been any better than what I awoke to thirty minutes later.

Out of the haze of the moment, I heard my name and the joyous news, “we retrieved six eggs”. I was overwhelmed and tears flowed from my face, alerting the nurses who soon realized the smile through my sobs. Six eggs, six. I couldn’t believe it. I actually had to ask the nurse to confirm it. What I didn’t know was at that very moment, my sweet husband was handed a card and given the good news. My little ovaries had done their job, and we now had something even better to work with.

The ride home was a bit of a blur as I was in and out of reality due to my earlier “cocktail”. My feet felt like lead, despite the euphoria I was sensing and by the time I arrived home I was starting to sober up. Throughout the entire process, I was was very lucky, feeling no pain until the evening when the medication wore off. My best advice is to listen and stay in bed, because eventually it does catch up to you. While I only felt discomfort and my movements were slightly hindered due to my swelling belly, I behaved and rested. All the time thinking of my six little eggs.

Now we wait again to hear what the results will be. Now I am content in the thought that we did it, that I did my part. That my ovaries gave a stellar performance. Soon the results will be in, and no matter what is revealed, I am happy in this moment. So now I ask, “may I have the envelope, please.”

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The Final Four

“You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.” (unknown)

The final countdown has begun.  The day of “harvest” as I call it (or the egg hunt as the nurse referred to it) is set for Friday.  Two more days.  I am overwhelmed with excitement today.   Focus is all lost on me.  I know there is work to be done, but my heart and mind cannot stop thinking about Friday.  While I am nervous, I am more anxious than anything else.  My stomach feels as if a flock of butterflies has stopped to reside.  The finish line is in sight.

IVF_final 3Last night we began the process of the “final four” injections.  Unfortunately, due to a swelled belly, last night was the worst for pain.  But with three under my belt and only one waiting to be completed this evening, I am filled with joy that our IVF journey is nearly complete.  Upon that last injection, we will be able to cheer and know we have made it through the unthinkable.  We will have accomplished something we never wanted to face or ever thought that we would.  Both my husband and I will have survived the needles and only the waiting and hoping game is left to play.

Tonight is the critical injection, the “trigger shot”.  This injection has to be delivered at a specific time with only 5 minutes leeway either direction.  My alarm is already set, at 11:15 pm we will prepare and at 11:30 pm on the dot, we will inject.  We will make our last play, put in our last “man”, and then we will sit back and know we did everything we possibly could.

Despite the anxiousness, I am filled with a since of contentment today.  A peace that only comes from the knowledge that you have done all that is within your power.  My mind cannot focus, and I sit and smile at nothing.  It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you took a chance, that you have done what you thought was impossible, to know that the timer is running out and no matter what the outcome, you have the best teammate on earth.  And that is what matters most.

While I am hopeful that we can complete the last and final step this weekend, I am not focusing on anything beyond Friday.  I am cheering for the victory that is making it this far.  I hold my husband’s hand and thank the universe for the gift of the moment.  Surrounded by sounds of holiday music and the wind on the water out back, I embrace this point in life and know that I am truly blessed.  While my sweetie and I have not won all the games we have played in life, the celebration is that we have been able to play.  We have been able to navigate life together and whether the next quarter will introduce a new player or not, we will continue to play the game.  If there is anything that I have learned from my college team over the years, it is to be proud of who you are;  to stand up and shout it out loud; to roar like a Tiger and love with everything you have!

So put me in coach, I’m ready to take the ” final shot”!

Hurry up and wait

Sitting in the doctors’s office today I noticed a sad reality. Infertility does not discriminate, it doesn’t care what you look like, how old you are, or where you are from. It can strike anyone. There were so many people in the office, that not a seat was available. I realized then that we are not alone on this journey and my heart began to hurt. While there is a comfort in knowing we are not alone, I am saddened that so many couples, including those that are very young, have to navigate this path as well.

There we all were, on an early December Monday, waiting. Waiting to know our fate. I don’t mean to sound downtrodden, but the reality is sad. While I hope we all eventually have our happy ending, how many of us will have to rediscover what that is? Perhaps it is the constant waiting, perhaps it’s just the hormones. Let’s go with both for now.

I will not lie and this post may be difficult for any friends or family, but this is not a journey for the faint of heart. There are days, where I am just not sure I can do it. Days when the thought of the needles outweighs any happiness. Days that I am just angry. Thankfully I was reminded by a mentor that has been down this road, that these moments are perfectly normal. To remember no matter what, that each day is a victory; to take care of myself; and to “never forget that you’re jacked up on drugs.” You might laugh, and I know my dear husband says it to me every day more than once, but to hear another person that has been through this give you permission to embrace the “crazy”, to call you “normal”, really brings you back to reality.

And so after almost 3 hours of waiting, we finally had our moment with the doctor. Now I am able to focus on the positive, but at the time, the wind was knocked out of my sails as he revealed we had only 3.5 follicles. I mention the “half” since it was still there, and I am trying to remember I did have progress. But I truly had hoped for more, my goal of five or six was not achieved and my heart sank. To offer advice to those that come after me in this process, do not give yourself goals. While that may seem obvious, when in the moment, it is easy to get wrapped up in the numbers.

The rest of the appointment ran by me in a blur as I signed waivers and received instructions. It wasn’t until we were at lunch later that I realized we had made it. The finish line was set for Friday and we were almost there. Only four more injections, only 3 more days, only a little more waiting.

20131209-203426.jpgThis evening I sat at the beach and breathed in the sea air. I soaked in the cool breezes and let the waves speak to me. I have always felt comfort in the sound of the water, and once again I found my solace. Just a little more waiting.  Besides, as the saying goes, “things worth having are worth waiting for.” (Anonymous)

 

Slow and Steady CAN STILL win the race!

We have survived our first full week of IVF!  That alone is enough to celebrate, but  we also received good news today that we are still “a go”.  While my progress isn’t speeding along, we have produced the magic number of three follicles needed to continue.

I realized today just how my competitive nature is really ridiculous!  When the three were found and the doctor explained that I was a Ferrari only going about 35 mph, I started my usual processes of “well how can we get this car moving faster”.  As usual my husband took over the conversation and made sure the doctor confirmed that we had “steady” progress and at this point we had made it through another hurdle, we could continue. We were reminded that progress is progress and it doesn’t matter how fast we get there, it just matters that we cross the finish line.

So here we are, getting ready for three more evenings with injections and I am finding myself wishing the day away to get those injections done and jump start my ovaries some more.  I just can’t help it, I want to go to that appointment on Monday and hear, “I see 5 follicles!”.  For that matter, six would be even better.

As I sit here trying to focus on my work, all I can think about is seeing those three little follicles.  It’s really an amazing process when you pause to take it all in.  We just saw our 3 potential eggs, one part of the equation that could make up our child.  So now we focus on trying to add a few more to the equation so that we can have the best shot possible.

I find myself taking it one day at a time, one injection, one doctor’s visit, etc.  Every day is a win, every time my husband receives the ok to give me another injection is a win.  And standing before us is the ultimate finish line.  While the end goal of breaking the red tape would be a dream come true, the concept of just reaching the end and crossing the line is what I’m most focused on.

For now, I’ll accept cruise control and sit back and relax and let others zoom past me in the fast lane.  I’ve always been one to enjoy the journey as much as the destination anyway.

Please keep your hands and feet inside the ride!

Up and down we go, the roller coaster of emotions has begun.  We are now into our seventh day with the injections.  Overall, I feel things have been going very well.  My sweet husband has become a pro at giving them, despite how much he detests the chore.  I am amazed at just how good he is and my tummy has only two tiny bruises, indicating the level of his talent.  In my previous “Google craziness” in November, I saw some horrific photos of bruised and battered bellies.  But thankfully, I am a very lucky girl.

The first few days had low activity, therefore I was not certain that things were working.  Despite a little discomfort a few moments after the injections and a headache, I seemed very calm and normal.  I wasn’t sure what I excepted, but I felt like I was waiting to see myself explode with emotion.  Unfortunately, that day did arrive and ironically after our first check-in point where we heard excellent news of our “perfect progress”.  I just felt upset, alone and desperately sad.  It was a rough day to say the least and at times I was inconsolable, weeping as if the end of the world was at hand.  I was relieved and thrilled that we were making progress, but the weight of everything, the impending needles every night, the exhaustion over little movements, and the weight in my growing belly.  It all just came crashing down on me.  And so I cried.

For me the worst part of these moments is how it hurts my husband.  I hate knowing that nothing he does can soothe me.  I hate seeing him at his wits end with me.  I hate hurting him.  But again, he triumphs and pulls me out of my desolation.  Yes, I am a very lucky lady.  While he doesn’t see it, to me he is the strongest person I know.  He is my hero and my inspiration.  Because of him, I am pushing myself to get through this.  Because of his love and support, I know I can do it.  Because he’s so good at the injections, I continue to “just lie back and think of happier times”.roller coaster

Yes, IVF is a roller coaster for so many reasons.  And yes, I’m not a fan of the really crazy, topsy turvy roller coasters.  But the fast, exhilarating, middle of the road just hang on and go up and down…I say, bring it on.