How it all began....

Paul and I were married in July of 2005 and every day since then has been a complete joy! We moved to Central Florida and found an amazing church home at Family Bible Church ( There we met so many life-long friends. In August of 2007, we had our precious baby girl. Her name is McKenzie Renae. She was so beautiful when I saw her for the first time! After the delivery, we had a couple hours to talk and laugh with friends and family before something went terribly wrong. The next thing I knew I was being sent into emergency surgery. The doctor tried everything, but my uterus continued to bleed. So, after I was given 3 units of blood, her only option was to remove my uterus in order to save my life. Although I would have liked for things to turn out differently, I am so thankful that I am able to be with my family and friends. Of course, everyday wasn't all roses as I coped with the idea of not being able to have any more children. Paul and I had always thought we would have four children. After our McKenzie turned one I started to research other options for growing our family. It was solely a God-thing that caused all the pieces to fall into place.

One morning Kari called me up to ask if McKenzie and I wanted to go play at the park with her and Joselyn. It was there that Kari first expressed to me that she and Jon were interested in becoming a surrogate for Paul and me. I was blown away!! I let a few months go by and started to convince myself that it was a nice gesture, but she probably wasn't serious. Little did I know that she would be the "kick in the hind-quarters" that I needed to turn this dream of having more children into a reality! After those couple of emotionally low months, I was given the inspiration I needed to dive into the web of IVF. She assured me that this was something that God had placed into their hearts and they were the people for the job! Kari and Jon continue to amaze us with their eagerness to be a part of this adventure. As a matter of fact, one of the things Kari told me to get me out of my slump was, "We can do this together. This can be our little adventure!". So that is exactly what it has become! I can't wait to see what the future holds; and I hope it holds a new little baby...possibly two...Kari says three would be pushing it! hahaha

How I became "Kari the Carrier"

I remember exactly where I was standing when I was told that Andrea had a few complications post delivery and that her uterus had to be removed in order to save her life. The shock wave hit me like a ton of bricks. I was standing outside the church after a Wednesday night service when Jill broke the news to me. I immediately welled up and started crying, feeling broken-hearted for them. I couldn’t imagine the possibility of not having another child again. Over the next several months, every time I sat next to Andrea in church, a strong compassion would rise up inside of me. I felt like I wanted to help her in any way that I could, and that is when the surrogacy seed was planted in my heart. I never said a word about the idea to either her or my husband Jon, but the seed continued to grow week after week. I believe with all my heart that the supernatural compassion I felt in those moments was from God, preparing my heart for something special.

I decided to ask my husband about what he thought about me becoming a surrogate for Paul and Andrea; his response was an immediate “yes!!!” He was completely supportive and even encouraged me to speak to Andrea about it right away.

A few months later, I was at home with my daughter, Joselyn, and was thinking about going to the park. I called Andrea up and asked if she wanted to bring her daughter, McKenzie, to play with Jos. As the girls were playing, I asked Andrea how things were going and about their plans for future children. She began to tell me about a possible carrier she had in mind and a second person as another possibility sometime in the future, but nothing was definite. The next thing I know, I had said to Andrea, “Keep me in the back of your mind for a possible candidate to be your surrogate too.” I had not planned to turn that play date into a lifelong friendship, but that is what it has turned out to be. The moment I realized that my offer was a real possibility, my first feeling was kind of a “reality check.” However, soon after, and I believe it was by the grace and peace of God, I began to become more and more excited about the idea. I knew that I would never have offered if I wasn’t ready to follow through, so the decision was solidified in my heart. I left for the month of December to visit my family in Montana for Christmas, and during that time I was telling everyone my plans. I was already 6 months pregnant with my son, so I got some pretty funny looks as I talked about being pregnant again so soon. By the time I came back home, I had talked about being a surrogate carrier so much, it was already a done deal for Jon and me. The next time I saw Andrea, I asked when we were going to get this thing going; tears fell and the rest is history in the making.

I believe with my whole heart that this is a God-inspired bond between our families. I have an overwhelming sense of peace and knowing that this whole process will go quickly and smoothly, and I am looking forward to telling you all about our journey together. I am also more and more confident every day that God is a good God and he WILL provide for us. The hard parts are all done, now it is just a matter of walking through the steps and trusting Him…can’t wait to meet the new Miller(s)!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Did all of this really go by this fast?

Friday, July 16 – Paul and I celebrated our 5th anniversary! We took time to reflect on all that God has done and will do in our lives. I couldn’t ask for a better friend and soul mate than my Paul!

Thursday, July 22 – Kari and I had our ultrasounds done. Like always, Kari’s uterus, lining, and ovaries were doing exactly what they were supposed to do. Up to this point she has been on birth control and 10 units of Lupron daily. During my ultrasound the doctor was able to make sure that I was on track too.

After our scans, we spoke with Cindy (our nurse). You know you are getting down to the wire when you receive your “calendar.” Filling in all the dates for when to start and stop what medications always makes me a little anxious. We double checked that we had ordered and received all the medications that we would need.

Friday, July 23 – Kari started her Climara patches today. She starts with one patch and every other day she takes it off and changes it out with 2 more until she reaches 4 patches per day. She feels like one big sticker by the time she is a few weeks into it!

Monday, July 26 – I took my last birth control pill! I never felt terrible while taking them this time around, just a little emotional every now and then. I started up with my Dexamethasone (antibiotic), to be taken for the next 15 days.

Friday, July 30 – Protocol for this cycle is requiring that I take micro-dose Lupron. I only take 10 units twice per day up until the retrieval date. Last cycle I had time to get very anxious before I took my shots, but this particular day I took my first shot in a bit of a rush. Our previous cycle in February required me to take Lupron only once in the evening and I was assuming I was to do the same again. I decided to take a peek at my calendar just before I left out for work and noticed I was to have a dose in the morning AND evening. I had 2 minutes to get all my medication out and ready before I was late for work. I wasn’t even thinking about it and I stuck myself and ran out the door. When I got in my car I thought, “Go me!”
While I was working, Paul, Kari, my Aunt Ericka and my dad were holding down the fort at our garage sale. It was almost 100 degrees outside, but they managed to pull in about $350! Not too shabby for selling what many people would consider “junk.”

Saturday, July 31 – We decided to have another garage sale to see if we could get rid of the remainder of the donated items and make a bit more moolah. Of course, we also decided to add a little drama to the day because getting up at 4:45am isn’t really exciting enough…I got up when the alarm went off and went to the kitchen to take out my medications that are refrigerated so they have time to warm up before I take them (otherwise they sting really bad). This was supposed to be my first day of the follicle stimulating medication called Follistim. This particular one has a pen that is used to help you dial up the exact amount of medication to administered and unfortunately because Follistim is measured in IUs it was quite difficult to find information on how to convert IUs to just Units (like in an insulin syringe). After completely turning the house upside-down, we realized that we had never followed up with getting our replacement pen from my nurse and therefore we did not have it in our house! For several hours and in the midst of working with fine garage-salers, we were racking our brains doing mathematical conversions, were on the phone with several different pharmacists (keeping in mind it is 6am on a Saturday) and finally figured out a way to give me the exact dose I would need without the pen (300 IU). Whew! It wasn’t until about 11am that I was able to get in touch with Cindy, who very graciously met me on a Saturday afternoon at the clinic with a pen. The crisis was averted and life was good again. Not to mention we made another $300 at the sale.

I know most people are not fond of working a garage sale, but in our three garage sales we racked up about $1300. To me, that is worth the sweat (and I mean SWEAT in the 100 degree heat of Florida) and being up at the crack-butt of dawn to get rid of things people just didn’t want anymore!

Tuesday, August 3 – Kari and I were scheduled to have another ultrasound and bloodwork appointment. I had to get my FDA bloodwork sent off, so that all the appropriate tests could be run before the transfer. Dr. Trolice decided to decrease my dose of Follistim from 300 IUs twice a day to 225 IUs twice a day. The only “out of the ordinary” thing that happened this time was Dr. Trolice recognized a cyst on Kari’s ovary that was not there a few days prior. The cyst is not detrimental to her health per Dr. Trolice; however, it could be detrimental to the cycle itself. The cyst could be her bodies’ way of trying to avert the medications that are shutting down her ovaries so she could ovulate. This means if the cyst got to be a certain size she might actually ovulate on her own and that would cause her hormone level to decrease. If her hormone level decreases her uterine lining will decrease, which would not allow her to be in a position to receive an embryo at the specifically calculated time. The doctor did not seem alarmed, however he wanted to follow-up with her on Thursday to make sure it was not growing. When they called that afternoon to let us know that her bloodwork level was completely fine we felt much better. Kari said, “Oh no! My body caught on and said you’re not going trick me this time with those meds!” haha She is such a “Fertile Myrtle!”

This was also the day that we dropped the payment for the IVF fees. We could get back almost $2000 at a later date if we don’t have to have the ICSI or assisted hatching, but since we had to do that last time we are assuming the same will happen again. We shall see…

Thursday, August 5 – Kari came with me again to have another ultrasound to check back on her cyst. There was no growth and it even measured a little smaller than it was on Tuesday. Absolutely nothing to be worried about and by the way, this cyst is less than 10(mm), smaller than the size of one egg they retrieve from me. While this was very exciting news, we ended our appointment with some sad news. Cindy, our wonderful nurse for well over a year now, would be briefing us for the last time. She had given her resignation letter 3 weeks prior for personal reasons. While this made us very sad to know she would not be there to the very end, we knew this was the best decision for her and her family. In reality, she will be kept up to date with our families because of the lasting friendship we have all developed. We love you Cindy!

Saturday, August 7 – I was scheduled for another ultrasound and Dr. Trolice actually told me that my response to this medication protocol was “textbook!” YAY! In our cycle in February we were kind of in a tough place with the way that the follicles were growing. We had about 3 strong lead follicles that were growing well, however, the rest of the follicles were trailing several millimeters behind. This is not such a good scenario because they have to take the large ones out when they are ready, but this does not allow the smaller ones to have as much time to mature. This time all of the follicles were bunched all together and there were more of them on this day than compared to last time. He logged 13 measurable follicles with possibly more to mature before the retrieval! Everything was looking good!

Monday, August 9 – This is to be the last day of my ultrasounds! This last scan revealed that there were 19 measurable follicles! They all have had time to grow and mature much better than last time. Our new nurse was very sweet and gave me the run down on what Kari and I were supposed to do to prepare for the retrieval. This morning was my last dose of Lupron and Follistim. When the nurse called me with the bloodwork results I laughed out loud. My estrogen level was 4,277, which is great news! No wonder I felt like I could tear up at a toothpaste commercial! Aside from that, I was directed to take my IM HCG injection (Pregnyl) at precisely 7:45pm. The retrieval will be exactly 36 hours from then. My nurse drew a circle on my butt cheek with a permanent pen so that Paul would know exactly where to do the injection. It didn’t hurt much at all when he put the needle in, but boy did it hurt when the medication went in! It sent a tingle right down my leg! I remember this happening last time; otherwise I would have been really nervous about that. It was a little sore, but not too bad. It made me realize just how much Kari has to go through for us to have this baby. She has to do the IM injections every night up until the pregnancy test. Not just that, but hers is in an oil suspension which is quite a bit thicker than mine. Did I mention I love that girl?!

Tuesday, August 10 – Life is so good! Jon got Kari and me a “massage” by a therapist who also does reflexology. The lady was so sweet and we felt so pampered after she finished. She concentrated on certain areas of our feet that supposedly coincide with different organs in the body. She worked on our feet for my ovaries and Kari’s uterus. Whatever she did it was the most peaceful and relaxing afternoon I have had in a long time! The music was divine, the wind whistled outside the window, and the rain fell so softly onto the window. I tell you, I felt like I was in another world during that hour of my life. She says she doesn’t make promises, but she believes in what she does and she knows this IVF cycle will work! We were so glad to have met her and before we left she said she wants grandchildren so hurry up and call her when we get pregnant! Hahaha

Kari is still on her Climara patches that she switches out every other day. She started Medrol and Tetracycline to be taken for the next 4 days as well. She is also adding her progesterone shot in the evening until we take our pregnancy test.

Wednesday, August 11 – Retrieval Day!!!! Paul and I got to the clinic at 6:45am. The nurse escorted us back and we waited for the anesthesiologist to finish up with the patient before us. I got my beautiful gown, hat and booties on and waited patiently as my heart began to beat faster. As much as I tell myself to breathe, I always get a little anxious. You’d think I would be used to this by now! They checked my vital signs, put in my IV and walked me back to the operating room. I said hello to Dr. Trolice, a couple of nurses, and the embryologist before I hopped up on the table. The last thing I remember is giggling a little bit as the anesthesiologist stood over me and I was out like a light. In the mean time, Paul was escorted to the waiting room where he could view the monitors during my procedure just like the time before. He took a couple videos and said it lasted all of about 10-12 minutes then he was back in the area with me. It took me a little longer to wake up than last time, but I felt great! I think I asked them three different times how many eggs they got. 16 eggs total! More than we got in our first attempt. I drank some juice and ate some crackers, got dressed and we headed home. Now we wait for a call from the embryologist who will let us know just how many of those 16 eggs were mature enough to combine and be fertilized by Paul’s sperm (which due to FDA regulations had to be frozen since we are dealing with a third party, Kari).

Based on how the eggs and then embryos do will depend on if we have a day 3, day 4, or day 5 transfer to Kari. We will keep you posted!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pregnant by the end of August?!

Here is the timeline for the last few weeks:
Monday, June 14- Kari started her menstrual cycle and she started her birth control pills. This is the beginning of syncing our bodies’ timing.
Thursday, June 17- I had a blood work appointment to see if I had ovulated yet (since I don’t get periods anymore they don’t know where I am in my cycle). The results showed I had not ovulated because my estrogen levels were low. I had to check back the following week.
Thursday, June 24- Another blood work appointment was scheduled to check my estrogen levels to know if it is time for me to start my birth control pills; however we weren’t able to keep the appointment because Paul’s Grandmother (“Big Mama”-she will be missed) passed away and we had to go out of town for the funeral. Instead, I was asked to purchase an ovulation kit. I took my test on Thursday morning (right before we got on the road to head to North AL) and I had ovulated! After speaking with the nurse we were told to start my pills on Thursday the 8th of July.
Remembering my response from the first IVF cycle, I am only to take the pills for just over two weeks to keep from suppressing my ovaries too much. So, my last birth control pill will be July 26th.
Thursday, July 8- Kari had her first IVF appointment for our second round of IVF. She needed to have an ultrasound done to check out her uterus and ovaries. Everyone probably knows the story by now…everything looked perfect (as usual)! Dr. Trolice gave us his best wishes on a successful cycle and now off we go! Kari, Cindy, and me all had a good reunion after several months off from our last attempt and it was a lot of fun seeing her again. She gave us our calendars with tentative dates of when to start what med. It looks like we are going to have a retrieval the week of August 9th, a transfer the week of the 16th, and a positive pregnancy test by August 31st! We were all so giddy again, like little school girls.
Cindy gave me a list of all the meds and the quantities so that I could call around to all of the pharmacies for the best pricing. Note: It pays (or at least saves you money) to call around! One particular medication was priced from $499 to $899 at different pharmacies! I gave her my choices of where to order and she sent them off.
Cindy also recommended that I consider using acupuncture for myself this round. I didn’t think I would be so nervous-I am way more nervous this time than last. She said that she has personally witnessed several cases of women with uterine lining that wasn’t thickening and after acupuncture it responded immediately. It is supposed to help with increasing blood supply and calming nerves. Even if it only helps to calm my nerves it is worth a shot.
There is a new financial counselor who is an amazing woman! We got a chance to talk about all kinds of personal things. She has truly helped us feel comfortable about what we will face financially. Each time we talk she comes up with creative ways to save a few dollars here and there. It’s nice to feel the love from every angle in this process.

Monday, July 12- Jon and Kari celebrated their 13 year anniversary!!!!! They also celebrated her first day of Lupron injections!!! Hahaha….what an anniversary, huh? I can’t begin to express how much they mean to our family.
The time has come again for appointments, phone calls, medications and raising money. We have been blessed by our friends and family over and over again by helping us afford the opportunity of growing our family. We just can’t say enough about how it touches our hearts and makes me cry (uncontrollably sometimes due to the birth control…haha). Life is so good and this time I hope we can continue this blog with updates on her pregnancy and the birth of the new Baby Miller. All our love goes out to all of you who take the time to share in this journey with us.
Garage Sale coming soon! Of course, the Paypal is open as well. If you still have a baby bottle it’s not too late to turn it in :) XOXO

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June...I love the sound of June!

Hi everyone!! I’M BACK!

I had to read my last post to catch up on what I left off with. Sorry for not being consistent in my posting…I took an entire IVF mental break.

So we are excited to start up again, but it is time to get creative with finances. The first place we started was the fertility clinic. We simply let them know our circumstances, how badly we wanted to try again, but how restricted our budget was and asked what was the best they could do for us. We got an additional 10% knocked off the IVF fee. It never hurts to ask, y’all (that goes for everything…meds, medical bills, etc.)!

I got this great idea while I was dreaming one night…what if I volunteered my services to the clinic in exchange for the cycle. He could have “free” labor and I could get a “free” or discounted cycle. I set up a separate appointment to talk this over with the doctor. While he was open to the idea of bartering, it really wasn’t going to work out as easily as I had imagined it, so it was back to the drawing board!

When the doctor let me know how much of an increase in follistim I was going to require, my jaw hit the floor. For our first IVF cycle, I signed up for the Compassionate Care Program and got our Gonal-F completely free. Unfortunately, that program is a one time deal. Now, not only do I have to pay for it, but it is going to run us almost $6,000 for that one medication for me!!! WHAT?! That alone was enough to stop us in our tracks. Is it really a good idea for us to pursue a second round of IVF? As a side note: while we were meeting with Dr. Trolice he told us very honestly, you have to figure out what is best for you and your family. If money is not an object, by all means, keep trying until you succeed. If money isn’t growing on trees for you, I want you to consider your family and the sacrifices it will take for a chance at another pregnancy. To me, this showed he is not money hungry enough to push someone into making a decision that may not be right for their family. So, getting back on track, our nurse called us up one day and told me she had something for us when we showed up for our appointment. She met us in the lobby with a bag full of EVERY BIT of the follistim we needed!!!! She knew how badly we wanted to continue and she wanted to see it happen just as much as we did. Can we say thank you Lord for favor?! WOW!

After much deliberation, my husband and I, along with Jon and Kari, finally decided on a timeline. The thing we had to keep in mind was fitting the cycle in before all of our testing expired. You have one year to keep all of the work-ups for Kari and me and then you have to redo them all. That year is up for us in October 2010. On the other hand, we had to have enough time to build our bank account back up so this process is not a financial strain. The compromise is, drum roll please…… JUNE!

Kari and her family are going on a much needed vacation with their family from the end of May until late June. We planned on having her first appointment scheduled when she started her June cycle around the 25th or so. Well, Mother Nature is funny sometimes. She never visited Kari in the month of May and after talking with Cindy, the nurse, we have decided that we may be able to go with this coming cycle, which could be any day now!!!

That means back on the birth control and start psyching ourselves up for the many shots to come.

As far as fundraisers for this go ‘round, we have already had a yard sale (with at least one more to come), we have a possible spirit-night at Chick-Fil-A, and some other events on the horizon. God is good and there is no question as to whether God will provide!

Let’s do this thing!

Time heals...let's get going!

I talked to Dr. Trolice this past Monday (March 15th)! I finally got a minute to call the office just after 5pm, so I really wasn’t expecting them to answer since I thought they closed at 5pm. Someone must have forgotten to turn the phones over to the answering machine, because after several rings Dr. Trolice was the one who actually picked up. I’m sure he must have been busy with something that afternoon (especially since they close at 4:30pm), but he took about an hour away from what he was doing just to talk with me. Isn’t that awesome?! He could have very easily told me to call him back the next day or set up another consultation with him to discuss everything, but he didn’t.

He started off by expressing his sentiments for our failed cycle. I thanked him and began to ask what his thoughts were on why things didn’t work out and what we could have done differently? The first comment out of his mouth was, “I remember Kari had textbook uterine lining. She responded exactly like we would expect her to, so I think you have an absolutely perfect carrier. We had a very easy transfer with no sort of complications either.” All of this was good to hear! He went on to say that, “If everything looks right with the carrier, we then know we have an issue with the egg or the sperm.” Since Paul’s analysis came back as a near perfect sample, as far as the sperm count and the motility…that leaves me. The doctor looked back at my chart and recalled that they had used an unusually high dose of medication to stimulate my ovaries, compared to other 24 year old “donors”. He explained that while they hadn’t really expected me to need that much stimulation, that it was not necessarily a bad thing considering the partial hysterectomy I had 2 years earlier. Apparently, there are five main reasons why women would have “ovarian aging,” and major pelvic surgeries is one of them, due to the lack of blood supply to the ovaries. He didn’t seem like we would be up against a hopeless cause, he just needed to make a few minor adjustments to get the result we want…a tiny baby. He simply said, “We will definitely do an anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) test to see what your ovarian reserve looks like.” In a sense, they will test to see how “old” my ovaries are so, for example, they know if they need to treat me with medication doses for a typical 35 year old versus a 25 year old.

Another thing that he picked up on was the amount of suppression of my ovaries before we stimulated them. I was on straight birth control pills (I never took the placebos, so it basically shuts down the ovaries) for just about 2 months. In a normal situation, this wouldn’t necessarily matter, but since I have lazy ovaries (haha), it is harder for them to wake up and do their job after being “asleep” for so long. He said I won’t take birth control any longer than 3 weeks this time to help combat that. Also, he will reduce my lupron to micro doses (also called a “flare”), so as not to suppress my ovaries that way either. All in all, he seemed very optimistic about a successful second try.

So, speaking of a second try….how long will it take for us to get to that point again? Well, Dr. Trolice says as soon as Kari hits day 2 of her period we can come in and start right back up! Technically, we could be back on our birth control in about 2 weeks and have a transfer 6 weeks from then (mid-May)! We don’t have to do the whole “mock cycle,” the measuring of her uterus or any of that. That was awesome news to us! The only down side is that we have to come up with the money first. I did get a chance to talk with the new financial counselor at the clinic on the same day that I talked to Dr. Trolice, and she said that they could offer us an additional 10% off of the IVF fee. However, we are still looking at paying around $13-$15,000 for the IVF and the medication. Ugh!

When we first started this process, we had to speak with a psychologist whose job was to inform us of as many scenarios that could play out along our IVF journey. One of them was if we had a failed cycle, we may not feel like we could move forward either emotionally or financially. Sitting there we all thought, “we don’t care what we have to do to get the money…we will try again” and we also thought, “why would anyone not try again because of emotional strain? Not us!”-After going through it, I can totally identify with the feeling of not being able to go through this again…in my case, the saying “time heals” fits perfectly.

Here we go again! :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

If at first you don't succeed... - post 29

Well…’s been a while, huh? It’s amazing how life keeps moving even when you think it should stand still, so you can have a minute to breathe. We found out that we were not pregnant on February 22, 2010 and that evening we had company come in for a pastor’s conference at our church. Of course, we didn’t have to house them if we didn’t feel up to it, but I knew that it would be the best thing for my emotions to not sit and dwell on the negative. For everyone thinking, “You have to give yourself time to grieve”….I did and I still am. We lost our baby, so sometimes I feel like I go through every emotion in one day or even one thought process! However, it makes life so much easier when you realize that God is a GOOD god and He is not the reason that this baby didn't live. It wasn't His plan and never will be His plan to cause us harm or grief. Anyway, we enjoyed our visitors so much, and I was so excited to be able to attend the conference too. It was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. To God, I am the most important thing on His mind and with every emotion I feel, He is right there with me. I am glad for the way that I was able to step away from myself and see that my circumstances are not the end of the world! After the conference ended, I packed for McKenzie and me, to go to my mom and dad’s house for the week. They just found out that they are selling their house (it took just over a year) and needed help packing up 22 years worth of memories. I will admit, it was bitter-sweet because that was where I grew up. It was really fun to watch my daughter running around and climbing the same trees that I did when I was a little girl, but it’s all worth it because they are moving closer to us (maybe even in our neighborhood). McKenzie is so blessed to have both sets of grandparents close by…she won’t be spoiled at all (sarcastic tone)! I came home for a couple of days and then went back to get the second load of things before they closed on their house on Friday, March 12. Today is pretty much the first day that I have had to sit back and reflect on everything that happened, so here goes…

On Monday morning (Feb.22), we loaded up into Jake and Rachel’s SUV and went by to pick up Kari. We all talked and laughed on the way to the clinic. I guess I was a little nervous, because even though we were running late for our appointment we had to stop so I could use the restroom :) (sorry if that was TMI). We got back on the road and surprisingly made it on time to the clinic. It must have looked so funny to see all of us pile out of the car and use the front door as a photo opportunity, but if you know me at all, you know that I am a picture taking fool. Even though we knew it would only be a blood draw appointment (which would only take about 10 minutes at the clinic and wouldn’t even tell us the result right away) we all wanted to go. Kari seemed very nervous while we waited and I must admit, every time the nurse opened the door to call someone back, my stomach dropped. Finally, it was our turn. All of the nurses were so sweet and told us how excited they were for us, they drew her blood and that was it…We were getting ready to leave and Kari and I had been discussing if we were going to take one of the at-home pregnancy tests. Secretly, we decided to pee on the stick before we left the office. We waited and waited only to see that the stick read “NOT PREGNANT.” The two of us were somewhat silent as we gathered our crew and got back in the car. Even though we didn’t know the final outcome and we wanted so badly to hang on to the hope that the pee test was wrong, we spoke our sentiments over text messages in the car ride. It was too difficult to speak out loud in the car. It felt like a moment meant just for Kari and me. Our tone was somewhat comical though, considering the circumstance.

We drove around the area trying to waste time and finally decided to stop and eat an early lunch. We finished and started to head back home and then the phone rang…

The nurse on the other end asked me how I was doing and I said “good?” thinking that it was some sort of signal that everything turned out ok. She put the doctor on and all he said was, “I’m sorry, it’s not good news.” I was silent. I couldn’t speak. The car was silent and I couldn’t hold it back any longer. The tears started falling and the doctor asked if I had any questions and all I could think was OF COURSE I DO, BUT THIS LUMP IN MY THROAT WON’T LET ME ASK! I was sort of angry at this, but I know it was just my emotions getting the best of me. It stinks to be told “NO” about anything. I felt bad for our friends that had to endure the sound of sniffling as we drove the last leg of our trip, but thankful for the support they gave us. Even though you try to prepare yourself for the “what if,” you are never fully prepared.

I do have to say that I am very proud of myself. The night before our appointment I was lying in bed next to Paul crying to him about how I didn’t want to be devastated if we found out that it didn’t work. I can truly say that I was very sad (a little angry, somewhat hopeless-feeling), but not devastated! It is NOT the end! Thanks to encouraging family and friends that continually reminded me of the promises of God and the hope in Him, I am ready to start again! Wahoo!
Kari says, let’s get this show on the road! I love that girl! I only hope that everyone can find a friend like her in their lifetime. I am ready to get the show on the road too, but I never did call the doctor back with my questions. Like I said before, it has been a VERY busy couple of weeks. I’m thinking on Monday, March 15 I should have a chance to call and speak with him. I know that we have to set up another consultation to address everything that went on and what changes we may make for the next time. Since we weren’t able to freeze any embryos we are going to have to start from scratch…meaning we will probably have to pay the entire IVF fee again ($10,556 just for the IVF, not including the medication or pretests). I am hoping for miraculous things and since we have already experienced a miracle in finances for the first time, there is no reason not to expect it this time too. Paul has always said that the money is the easy part!

I wish I had better news to share, but…..maybe next time. I’ll update everything when I talk to the doctor.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's a "No"

So, it wasn't good news. The test came back negative...I'll post details later...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Video of Andrea's egg retrieval - post 28

The following link is the video of Andrea's retrieval. This is the view that Paul had during the actual procedure. The monitor on the left is an ultrasound view of the needle actually extracting the eggs from Andrea's ovaries. The monitor on the right is the microscopic view that the embryologist had as he was sorting through the retrived specimen. Notice the digital counter in the center of the two monitors as it increases with each egg accounted for.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Transfer done and now we wait... - post 27

I’m sorry about the delay of information. To tell you the truth, I didn’t feel much like recapping Monday’s events right after it was finished. I had some strange emotions come over me and I had a hard time getting past them. I thought for sure after the retrieval was over that I would have a sense of relief come over me, but for some reason my mind went to a place of uneasiness. Instead of sharing in the overwhelming excitement that Kari, Jon and Paul had about the baby in her belly, I felt distant and even somewhat scared. I don’t really know why, because I know the plans that God has for us are good. My worrying isn’t going to change the outcome, but simply cause me unneeded stress! It is Wednesday (2/10/10) now and I am feeling much better today. I actually feel like my baby is growing and becoming acquainted with its new home inside of Kari. Two days down, only 12 to go! Now to catch you up on Monday:

Like I stated in my previous post, an hour before we showed up to the transfer, David called to tell me we were down to only one embryo and that he thought we might want to consider “assisted hatching.” Assisted Hatching is a process which uses a laser to make a small opening in the “shell” of the egg to help the embryo hatch out of its protective layering and implant into the uterus more easily. Again, this process is typically used in patients that are older than 35, but because of the way that my options for embryos dwindled each day, he wanted to “pull out all the stops” to give the one embryo the best chance at survival. He gave us this option and told us to talk about it before we got there with our decision. That part was tough to swallow, so again….tears, tears….dried up by a strong, faithful and encouraging husband (As a little side note: Most guys don’t know what to do/say when a woman is crying her eyes out, but my husband always knows exactly what to say and when to say it. I love him!)

So, we dropped our kids off and all four of us jumped in our car to head out to the clinic. The nurse called us back and told Kari to put her hospital gown on and sign some papers. There was so much joy between the four of us in that room that you would have never been able to tell the weight of the situation. This is exactly why I love all of them so much. After we signed our lives away (haha) the embryologist came in to talk with us about what was ahead. It was then that he took out a picture of our baby! It had divided into 7 cells by that morning. How many people can say they have a photo of their baby a little over 2 days after conception?! Absolute craziness! After we asked all of our questions (some comical, some not so much), I was handed my “marshmallow suit.” I didn’t realize that I was going to get to go back with her. Kari and I were escorted to the operation room where the nurse prepped the station for the doctor. She walked us through as the doctor did a test run putting the catheter in her uterus before the actual transfer. We were able to see a white line go across the screen and then back. The doctor has to play like the game “operation” when he puts the catheter in because if he touches any of the sides of her uterus it could cause her to start cramping, which is not a good environment for an embryo to enter in to. The boys were escorted to their waiting room with the monitors. One showed the microscopic view of the embryo seconds before it was transferred and the other monitor showed the ultrasound of the uterus as he placed the embryo in. If that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what would! After the practice run, the doctor called for David, who was in the lab adjacent to the operating room placing the embryo with some fluid into the rubber tubing. He walked over to the doctor, repeated both my name and Paul’s (I’m sure to prevent any embryo mix-up…eeek) and we got to see the white line again, but this time a flash of white came out of the end of the tubing at the back of her uterus. That was it! It’s insane how much life can change in a matter of minutes!

After the procedure, she was wheeled out to the big room where the boys met up with us again. I was in a fog, the guys were excited about what they had seen on the monitors and Kari had the biggest grin you can imagine. 30 minutes later, she got to use the restroom and get dressed to go home. We scheduled our beta test (pregnancy test) appointment for February, 22 at 10am. So, that is the official day to find out if our future holds another tiny baby.

I am trying my best to fill up every day of my calendar for the next two weeks! So, anyone that is looking to hang out or wants to drop their kids off at my place feel free!

Transfer? Easy as Pie! - post 26

I was sitting in church when my phone rang. It was a call from the fertility clinic! I ran out into the hallway and answered the phone, it was the embryologist. He said he was calling to confirm the time that I was to be there on Monday. He told me to be there at noon and come with a partially full bladder. I couldn't’t believe it! I thought it was going to be Wednesday, how exciting! Monday morning, Jon stayed and did his work from home for the first part of the morning while I got myself and the kids ready to go. And of course, before I knew it, it was time to leave and I was running behind. I joked to Jon that I can’t even make it on time to my own pregnancy! We dropped of Kaden with Lisa Coffman (thank you soooo much!) and then to Paul’s mom’s house to drop Jos (Y'vonne is such a blessing!) Soon enough we were all on our way to Orlando. At 11:45 I had to take a Valium so that my muscles would be completely relaxed during the transfer. Let me tell you…I was sure relaxed! At the clinic, they took me through the same secret door that Andrea had gone before and I got dressed up in my awesome fashion-ista gown, hairnet, and booties. Pre-yow! David joined us and showed us a picture of the “little embryo that could.” It was so amazing to see that little grouping of cells and knowing that this little thing, less than the size of the period at the end of this sentence, would grow into a beautiful baby in only 9 months.

The boys went into the waiting room and were able to watch the whole procedure on the monitors while Andrea and I went into the “operation room.” I laid on the gurney (which was surprisingly very comfortable) and the nurse started the external sonogram so we could see what was happening on the inside during the transfer. They inserted a practice run and we got to see the “white line” enter my uterus and then back out. Finally David came out with the real deal and we were able to watch the sonogram and see the tube actually leaving a little white dot at the top of my uterus and back out. Amazing. There are no words to describe seeing this miracle happen and watching this little baby getting to know its new home. Another great part is that there was absolutely no pain and very little discomfort. Afterward, I had to lie down for 30 minutes, and then was able to get dressed and go home. Easy as pie! I am supposed to have bed rest for a few days and then light activity the following days. Andrea and Paul had both our kids stay the night with them for TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW!!! I can’t tell you how wonderfully rested and relaxed I've been for the past two days, I love you guys!

So now the wait begins. Two full weeks until I get to have a blood test that will confirm the baby found a good place to burrow in and decided to stay awhile. I am still putting the estrogen patches on every other day and taking progesterone (OMG shot) in my butt every night. A small price to pay for such an amazing miracle from God.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I think this emotional roller coaster is going to make me puke! - post 25

Post retrieval-

Well, since Friday (2/5/10) was the retrieval, David, the embryologist, said he would stay in touch with us over the weekend with the progress of my eggs and our embryos. I was so excited and nervous that I could hardly fall asleep, and when I finally did, my mind would wake me up every so often thinking of every possible scenario. Finally (after what seemed like forever), I got a call from David the next morning at 9am-just like he promised!

We were under the impression that we were going to have 12 eggs to work with, but apparently when he measured them there were only 8 that were “genetically mature” (meaning they were large enough to make an embryo). Those 8 were then combined with Paul’s sperm using a process called ICSI (ICSI is a procedure that uses a needle the size of one sperm to inject one sperm into one egg. Bare with me for the next bit of details if you are not planning on using IVF in the future…..ICSI is usually a process reserved especially for men with fertility problems-which Paul did not have. However, since we thought we could save some money by skipping out on an extra FDA screening on Paul we decided to freeze Paul’s specimen. We were not informed that simply freezing a specimen would pretty much guarantee the use of the procedure. So, instead of paying another $200 or so for a second blood test, we paid $350 to freeze his semen, $200 for blood work, and $1650 for ICSI. I guess this is where the phrase “hind site is 20/20” can be inserted.) As I talked with David I got more and more nervous because the 8 eggs that I thought we had was now decreased to only 3 fertilized eggs and 2 “possibly fertilized” eggs. He said that he would know by Sunday (2/7/10) whether or not the other two were going to show any more of the signs of true fertilization. This conversation was so crazy for me. In one way I was excited because we had three fertilized eggs to work with, but on the other hand I couldn’t help but think why did the other ones not work? 12 to 3 is a big difference….

When David called on Sunday I learned that the other two did not make it. They were no longer showing signs of progression. This hit me like a ton of bricks, but I was encouraged by everyone around me that at least we had three more to work with! On this same Sunday morning call, he also informed me that instead of a Wednesday transfer, we were going to have the transfer on MONDAY (2/8/10)!!! WHAT?! Monday? Ok, so that was pretty exciting, but once again I got knocked backwards…the three fertilized eggs that I thought were certain were not so certain any more. Only one of the three was showing signs of division. Revert back to your high school biology class for a minute. The fertilized egg is only that. It must start cleaving or dividing to show that it is a thriving organism. 1 of the 3 was already a 2 celled organism on Sunday, so if the other 2 were going to divide they would have to do it before Monday morning. He gave me a glimmer of hope that they might still come around, but come Monday morning at around 11am (one hour before we were to arrive at the clinic for the transfer) he called to tell me that the other two did not make it. I lost it. I cried and cried…Now, not only do we not have any embryos to freeze for the future or for another round of IVF if this round doesn’t work, but now we only have one chance at a pregnancy. We were planning on transferring 2 embryos into Kari’s uterus because we weighed out all the pros and cons of 1 vs.2 embryos implanted and decided that 2 embryos matched all of our desires/concerns better. If you were able to understand and keep up with everything in this post, now do you see why this process could make someone crazy??

2/5/10- Andrea’s Retrieval: 12 eggs retrieved
2/6/10- Only 8 genetically mature, only 3 fertilized, 2 "possibly fertilized"
2/7/10- "Possibly fertilized" did not make it, only 1 fertilized egg has divided, waiting on other 2
2/8/10- Kari’s Transfer: Only left with one 7-celled embryo to transfer

This embryo was affectionately referred to as “The Little Embryo that could!”

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Retrieval finished! - post 24

Our Friday (2/5/10) morning started at 5:15am. We got showers and got out the door since we have about an hour commute to the clinic. I thought we were going to be late, but we got there a few minutes early. Whew! We were called back by a nurse named Angela who led us to a whole different side of the fertility clinic that we had never seen. There was such a joyful atmosphere the moment we opened the door to the room. One of the other nurses even greeted me with an excitable, “Hey Andrea!” That may not seem like much for some people, but this means the world to me. I got into my hospital gown and signed a few release forms while they checked my vitals. Shortly after the prep work I met the anesthesiologist who was so nice. I got to learn a lot about the team of people that were going to see me through the operation. It was obvious that my nurse, Angela, was pregnant and turns out she is due in April. The cool thing about that fact is that she is actually a gestational carrier (like Kari) for another couple that has the same situation as Paul and I (they had an emergency partial hysterectomy directly after the birth of their son, who happens to be the same age as McKenzie)! Angela was so excited to meet us because she knew that their situation was pretty uncommon and to meet another couple in her clinic involved in the same thing was very exciting. She gave us her email address and phone number and told me to tell Kari if she ever had any questions or just wanted to talk she would be there for her. How awesome is that?

After I got my IV in and was ready to go, Dr. Trolice poked his head around the corner and said, “Are we ready? Let’s go!” I kissed my husband and was wheeled off to the operation room. I was fine all morning, but just like my last retrieval, as soon as I got on the operating table in that freezing cold room that reeked of alcohol, my heart began to pound. It wasn’t long after that happened that I saw the anesthesiologist injecting my IV with a white liquid that made me drift away to la-la land. Next thing I knew I was waking up to the anesthesiologist handing me his fancy phone to show me a picture of his 5 year old daughter that they conceived through IVF too. I was glad to “see” it (my eyes were so blurry I couldn’t even tell you what she looked like), but I remember dropping his phone twice! Oops! Guess I had an excuse? I ate a few crackers, drank some juice and laughed so hard at the embryologist, David. He is such a funny guy! You can tell he loves what he does. He has been doing it for 24 years! They sent me home and just told me to take is easy for a little while. I had some slight cramping, but nothing worse than a menstrual cycle. We should expect a call sometime Saturday morning with news on how the eggs/embryos are doing.

While I was in surgery Paul was able to watch everything on two monitors in a waiting room. One monitor showed an ultrasound view of my ovaries with the needle and probe, while the other monitor showed a microscopic view of the eggs as they were retrieved. As each was taken out he was able to watch the digital counter increase. They were able to retrieve 12 eggs. It’s not as many as we were hoping for, but you only need on good one. Check out the pictures and video (if I can get it uploaded...)!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love ya Tomorrow! - post 23

Good news! The retrieval will be FRIDAY! It feels good to type that and know it is truly going to happen. Everything went so well today (2/3/10) at my appointment. My ultrasound proved to the doctor that he made a good decision to wait the extra day. The grouping of the small follicles grew like he wanted, so he is fully expecting at least 16 good sized eggs to be retrieved. Quantity is good, however quality is better. It only takes one good egg to fertilize and make a good embryo to implant.

Tonight I will take my trigger shot of HCG at precisely 8:30pm. My blood work came back showing my estrogen level at 3100. The doctor was a little shocked because beforehand my estrogen level only rose about 600 points per day and today it went from 1900 to 3100. I was supposed to be measuring around 3000 by now originally, but they didn’t think that I was going to get there. They were planning to give me a higher dose of the trigger shot, but now they won’t have to! Cool! Although today is my last day for injections, I guess they wanted to end them out with a bang. I thought that I wasn’t going to have any intramuscular shots, but I was wrong. Tonight I will get to have a tiny taste of what Kari will have to go through for about 3 weeks (except her shots will be in an oil suspension – much worse than what I will have to endure). Paul will definitely have to give me this shot because it will be given in the back of my hip. Cindy drew a smiley face with a marker on one of my cheeks so that Paul would have the perfect target to throw the “dart.” 36 hours after I get my shot I will be in the clinic about to have my eggs retrieved. It’s crazy how this stuff works.

Since we have been postponed a few days for the retrieval, we are expected to have a transfer on Wednesday, February 10th.

So, I am writing this part of the post on Thursday night. I am pleased to tell you that the IM shot was actually not as bad as I was expecting. I did ice the area for about 2 minutes before Paul gave me the injection. I didn’t even feel the needle go in. I even had to ask if he had done it yet. It was about that same time that I was able to feel the medication stinging a little bit. It didn’t last that long because I only had ½ cc, but I am sure when Kari does her shot tonight with 1 ½ cc of the oil suspension she might have a little more pain than me. It did, however, cause a slight stinging sensation to run down my leg and I could feel a sort of “heaviness” for a few minutes where the needle was inserted. Other than that, it was all good.

Kari and I were talking on the phone today and (after we got past the talk about the shot she is getting tonight) we got into our high-pitch, girlie, giddy voices. We simply can’t believe this time is actually here! All the waiting (which the hardest period will come while we wait the two weeks for the pregnancy test) is almost over. Tomorrow morning is it! We will arrive at the clinic at 7:30am for an 8:00am procedure. Paul will not be able to go to the operating room with me, but he will be in another room where he can watch a digital counter display the number of each egg as it is retrieved. The procedure itself only lasts about 20-30 minutes, but I think it takes about an hour to wake up from the sedation. We were told that the embryologist, David, will be in contact with us everyday up until the transfer to let us know how the eggs and embryos are doing. I like the fact that I will be getting a call everyday. It kind of puts my mind at ease to know I will be informed every step of the way as our little babies grow. If you get to read this before Friday morning, keep us in your prayers for an absolutely perfect retrieval and the BEST quality eggs anyone has ever seen! Haha! We are so blessed by our little girl and we know that we are about to be totally blown away by what is in store for The Miller Family! BTW-pray for Kari and her shots too.

Almost there! - post 22

My last appointment was on January 28th, and our nurse Cindy said that would be the last time that I would see her before "T-day" (transfer day). She gave me a shiny new shots/meds chart and told me she would call me to put dates on it once we got the go ahead with Andrea's little follicles. So Andrea's little pip-squeaks liked their current home a little longer than we expected, so we were delayed by two days. It is kinda like the anticipation of getting to the top of the hill, but when you get there, you realize there's a whole new hill! Ugg! We are now very patiently waiting ;) for Friday to come.
Cindy called me on Wednesday and told me to start my new regiment of meds and shots on Thursday. So now for me, the feeling of Christmas has now turned into the feeling of my first day at a new school--exciting, yet I'm a smidge nervous! After Cindy called me, I went and got all my Rx stash out of my closet, including my "new" needles. YIKES! Jon and I watched a video on how to stab me in my behind, and I figured since the lady in the video didn't even flinch, it will be a piece of cake! Jon's actual comment was, "that lady didn't even flinch! I bet it is a fake person." But then she moved. Nope she was real.
I am no longer taking the Lupron shots in the stomach anymore, which is kinda nice because I think I was having a slight allergic reaction to the needles. I've got big red bumps all over my tummy. I'm wondering if my hind-end will look like a war zone after I start with the big dog needles! I'll keep you posted on that first shot is tonight *que scary music*
Overall, this process has been a wonderful and crazy journey with Andrea, our families and our awesome nurse Cindy, whom I'll miss dearly after all this is said and done. I am hoping that my new shots are not as terrible as my over-exaggerating mind has made them out to be, and I can't wait until next Wednesday "T-day" da da dum.....God is so good!
UPDATE Post big butt shot...
I sat on an ice pack for 10 minutes and warmed the needle in my hand. I leaned on the couch and jon played darts with my behind and guess what...I DIDN'T EVEN FLINCH! Yeah, that's awesome. Really, the shot was not as bad as I had made it out to be. The only thing is that today I'm a little sore, but other than's all good. I'll be able to do this for three more weeks no problem, and what's more amazing is that by the end of this three weeks...we'll know if I'm prego! Yay!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Another Appointment? - post 21

I really don’t even know where to begin. My mind is racing with worries, excitement, money concerns, medications, appointments, family, friends and everyday life that exists outside of the IVF realm. I seem to have days like this every so often that end up making me break down and cry. I have to keep reminding myself that I am ramped up on hormones and that the overwhelming feeling to let the tears come pouring out is mainly contributed to them. However, I believe this process is so full of ups and downs that even without the hormones it could break a person with stone cold emotions.

My last post left off telling you about our appointment on Thursday, January 28th. Like I said, everything was right on track for a retrieval towards the beginning of the first week in February…well, did you notice that it is now Tuesday (February 2) and I am not typing in all CAPS with excitement? Yep, you guessed it! We have been delayed, once again.

I went to the office on Saturday and after the ovary check they told me that I must just be a slow starter (as far as my eggs are concerned-they are taking a little longer to get jump started) Cindy says this could be due to the fact that I was on full strength birth control for nearly two months and my ovaries just needed a little more time to “wake up.” Dr. Trolice was not concerned in the least, but told me he would like to monitor me again on Monday (2/1/10-Happy Birthday to my sister, Caty!) for a possible Wednesday retrieval. Well, Monday came and it was almost the same story. My follicles are growing and doing fine, but they just aren’t growing at the rate he thought they would. So, now he wanted to bring me in again on Tuesday morning leaning more towards a Thursday retrieval. Not necessarily what I wanted to hear, but ok. At this point, I am fully expecting Tuesday to be the last day of monitoring so that we can get this retrieval over! That was my up….and then I came down…Today (Tuesday, February 2) was a little hard for me to get through.

I could tell that there was something on the doctor’s mind when he was measuring the follicles. He didn’t say anything bad, but it was the fact that he didn’t say anything great either. He measured two follicles that were 20mm and one that was 19mm, which is exactly what he was wanting. However, there were only about 5 or 6 more that were measuring above the 15mm mark. Apparently, the eggs will not fertilize if they are not at least 15mm in size. The problem with my scenario is the fact that there is such a split between my egg sizes. I had one grouping of 6-8 follicles (15mm+) that was in a good size range and I had another grouping of 8-9 follicles (12-14mm) that could be of size if they were given the chance to grow for another day.

The decision the doctor had to weigh: 1) does he give me the trigger shot tonight for a Thursday retrieval so that he doesn’t run the risk of losing the 3 largest lead eggs or 2) does he allow me to stay on stimulation medication for the 12th day in a row in order to give the group of smaller eggs a chance to get to 15mm so we have more eggs to retrieve on Friday.

I think it would have been a tougher decision for him to make if my blood work did not come back with great progesterone and estrogen levels. From what I gathered, my hormone levels were high enough that he wasn’t worried that I would lose the lead follicles if we postponed the retrieval one more day. So, that means another appointment tomorrow (Wednesday, February 3) with a hopeful retrieval on Friday! If the follicles continue to grow like he is expecting he should be able to retrieve between 15-20 eggs! This time has been so exciting, but I think I am totally ready to move past this phase of it. I'll let you know what tomorrow holds.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Kari-The Perfect Carrier - post 20

Ok. So, today (Thursday, January 28) was our appointment and we are doing GREAT! Kari and I went to our separate rooms for our ultrasounds. Shortly after her exam, Cindy and Dr. Trolice came into my room raving about how perfect she looked! Again, they said her uterine lining was “absolutely perfect.” Of course, that was very exciting to me. After my ultrasound was over the doctor informed me that I already have a few measurable follicles, which is a good thing. Kari and I are to continue with our same protocol and I have another appointment on Saturday (January 30th).

Cindy says that follicles tend to grow about 1-2mm every day, so if everything continues like it has, we are looking at a retrieval on Wednesday, February 3! There is a possibility that my follicles could grow a little bit faster, so it could even be on Tuesday. Y’all I can’t even believe that this time is here. I think today is the first day that it finally sank in. I got chills while we were making the last minute changes and adjustments to our calendars in the office. I told Kari that I used to have this GIANT to-do list and now there are only a few things left to complete. To me-“the list lady”- this feels like a huge accomplishment.

What’s left? I had to place one last order for some medication that we are running low on. Kari needed more patches (right now she is putting 4 estrogen patches on every other day…I think she feels like one big sticky pad) and I needed 6 more vials of Leuveris. We got Kari’s life insurance coverage squared away, and all of our wills are in line as well. These are typical measures taken in a situation like ours. Aside from those things, all we have to do is make some good eggs, make some good embryos, and transfer them to that “perfect” uterus (haha)! Do y’all realize that you are reading a miracle in the making? Whew! Right now, all I can say is Jesus is THE MAN!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another appointment down - post 19

Today my appointment went by really quick. I went back, they took a blood sample, and I was out of there. After the results were in a few hours later, the nurse called me to let me know what changes needed to be made. Apparently, my estrogen levels were reading low today. They would have liked to have seen my estrogen level around 300, but I measured at 106. I don’t have a clue why this is, but Cindy didn’t seem too worried about it. Remember that medication that I thought I bought for nothing? Well, turns out I get to use the Leuveris after all. Leuveris is a luteinizing hormone (LH) normally used in combination with Gonal-F to stimulate the follicles in the ovaries.

As soon as I got off of the phone with Cindy I was supposed to give myself another shot (that makes three per day now)! I was confident (at first)….I mixed the medication and went to give myself the injection, but I must not have gone in fast enough because I simply pricked myself instead of going all the way through the skin. As if that wasn’t bad enough I decided to mimic that same action for a second time. Now I have two tiny pricks on my belly that are bleeding and I am still holding this large needle. I was giving up and calling my mother-in-law, but at the last second I decided that I should switch the needles out (I had to mix the medication in three different vials maybe the needle had dulled). It worked. Y’all, the shots are not that bad, so I hope I am not giving anyone the wrong idea about them. I still can’t figure out why I get all worked up. You would think by now it would be old hat.

So, the only changes I have to make to my calendar are to decrease my lupron from 5 units per morning to 2.5 and add in the leuveris injection. I continue with the Gonal-F at night and then Kari and I are due back for another check up on Thursday the 28th. They should be able to give us our retrieval date that day too!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Shots...Shots...Shots....- post 18

On the 12th of January I started taking my first lupron shots. Either these needles are much smaller than the ones I used in the past or I am becoming more comfortable with the thought of having daily shots. My mother-in-law gave me my first shot and I decided to be brave the next day. It's probably because I had no choice, Paul was at work and I didn't want my mother-in-law to have to drive across town early in the morning just because I am a little wimpy. I gave MYSELF the second shot! I did great...if I do say so myself! I have given all of my lupron shots to myself for the past two weeks. There were a few days that I "freaked out" and it took me almost 10 minutes to talk myself into going through with the shot. It sure is annoying to count to three 20 times in a row and not go through with it! I have no idea why I was like that, it doesn’t even hurt (unless it is cold…make sure to let the medication get to room temperature or it will sting). At one point, McKenzie was even helping me count to three! Y’all would have gotten a kick out of that sight.

As of January 16th, I no longer have to take my birth control pills! To me, even though it is just a tiny pill this is a big relief! Not only does it mean I get to move on to the next step of the process, but now, hopefully, my hormones can level out a little bit. I guess you could say I tend to be a bit moody when I am on them, but I think I am back to my old self again. YAY! My husband is so patient and kind and has been so supportive through everything (even when I turn into the one-eyed, green monster). I love him so much!

Kari had an appointment on the 15th to check her estrogen levels and her ovaries. Everything was great, so she started on her patches like she did in the mock cycle. On the 22nd, I had an appointment to check on my ovaries and to check my thyroid, estrogen and LH levels. My thyroid level was great and my LH level was high enough that I don’t have to take the Leuverise. I am glad that my body is cooperating, but it is kind of a bummer that I already paid $100 for that medication and now I don’t need it. You can’t return it or get your money back. All you can do is keep it for your own pleasure or donate it to your facility. Guess I will be doing the latter. Glad to help out the next couple :)

I added a second shot to my calendar on Saturday the 23rd. In the morning I take the lupron and at night I take a shot of Gonal-F. This medication is to help the ovaries make more eggs. I have another appointment on Tuesday (January 26). Throughout this whole process it is very important to monitor the ovaries and hormone levels regularly (thus the appointments every few days). In a sense, the doctors want to have complete control over our body and the timing of its natural cycle. They want to make sure that we don’t prematurely ovulate and also make sure that we are responding correctly to the dosage of the medications. So, I will have more information Tuesday and we are confident that everything will continue on the same path of “perfectness” that we have had from the start. We are still on schedule with a February 1st week retrieval. It’s almost here! Can you believe it?? We have two couples that are friends of ours that are due to have their babies around the week of February 21st. So, we are hoping that around the same time all of us will have so much to celebrate; two new babies born into this world and one (possibly two) just beginning their lives! God is so good!

The Perfect Path:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The real deal! 17

So much has happened since my last post! This whole process is a funny one. It seems like nothing was happening and we were waiting so long, then all of the sudden everything is happening so quickly. I started my mock cycle in November and had a series of blood work and ultrasound appointments. The trial run didn’t include any needles, thank the Lord, but it did involve patches, lots of patches. It was hysterical! I started with putting 1 at a time on my butt and ended up with 4 at a time! And mind you, these patches are about the size of a post-it note. I tried not to put them in the same spots all the time, so it was pretty funny shifting and maneuvering to find new places to stick those things. After I was done with the patches, I was ready for my uterine biopsy. They took a “corkscrew” like piece out of my lining to check the thickness and make sure my body was responding correctly, and of course, it was. I expected no less. We went from rush rush all the time, having 2 appointments per week in Orlando, to waiting for results again. We were delayed due to the holidays, but it all worked out anyway because no matter how far I plan in advance for Christmas, it always seems to sneak up on me. December flew by quickly, even with the delay for our start date.
Here we are in January, and we have finally started the “real deal.” I was pretty freaked out about 3 weeks of Lupron stomach injections, but let me tell you, I am so glad to report that they are not bad at all! Jon gives me the shot every morning. I am his very own private pin cushion; I gotta make sure I’m extra nice to himJ. The only hurdle left in my mind are the soon to come intra-muscular injections *queue music from Jaws* I’ll make sure to keep you updated when I get to that phase.
Overall, I am so excited. I feel like a little kid at Christmas! This month, my son Kaden turned 8 months old, got his first tooth, and is trying to crawl. Jos is almost 3 and is such a sweetheart. I look at them and feel so much love for her and that little guy that words could not begin to describe it. When I think about this whole process, the difficulties and sacrifices, I always think to the future when Paul and Andrea will be looking into their new baby’s eyes and falling in love. It is all worth it, a million times over.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Time for 16

Well, I have to apologize for not giving any kind of updates over the past several weeks. We were so excited when we started taking birth control pills that when they told us there would be a little delay before starting the medications we got kind of bummed. Waiting is kind of like being told what your Christmas present will be, but you have to wait 2 months before you can open it!
When Kari had her biopsy done in November we were told that it may take up to 2 weeks before the results would be in due to the Thanksgiving holidays…little did we know that it would take nearly 6 weeks! It turned out not to matter that it took that long anyway. Cindy, our nurse, called to tell me that the clinic closes for 2 weeks during the Christmas holidays and also for a week at the end of January, so instead of having a January 1st retrieval week we are now looking at a February 1st retrieval week. Oh well…at least we had an awesome Christmas vacation! We are thankful that we got to travel and spend time with the family (my brother and sister-in-law even came in from Germany)!

When the nurse informed me of the delay, I asked her if she knew what kind of medications we would be using so that I could do some research on prices with the different fertility pharmacies. Let me tell you, it is sooo worth it to call around for the best price. I called 6 different pharmacies and all of them had very different prices for the same medications. On one medication alone I saved just over $300 because one company had it so much cheaper. Cindy told me that some pharmacies merge with different brands so they are able to offer better prices. Also, another awesome blessing was being informed of a program through Fertility Lifelines. We applied for their program and got approved for $3000 worth of FREE medication! Wahoo! Thank You Lord for favor!

Finally, we were told that Kari’s biopsy came back with an excellent report. She has great uterine lining (haha), so no problems there. Also, we received the psychological report for Jon and Kari…that report…not so good…just kidding! They passed with flying colors and there are no hold ups there either. Dr. Burnett got a chance to figure out what Paul and I have known for a while-they are the most awesome people you will ever meet!

One of the last requirements that the clinic has before we begin the medication is the legal contract. This could seem like a daunting task to complete without a patient and very knowledgeable lawyer. A few calls and emails back and forth with our lawyer to discuss questions and concerns produced a contract that met the needs of both couples. Since all four of us are so easy going and have the same beliefs about this whole process there was nothing that we didn’t agree upon. The contract has been completed and that makes us one more step closer to the final result!

Now, to catch you up on our latest appointments:

Kari and I talked several times over the Christmas holidays and we were like giddy school girls counting down the days until her first appointment back. Finally, January 5, 2010 came! We showed up for the scheduled ultrasound to check out her ovaries, once again. Of course, they said everything was perfect and doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing. Later, we were escorted into the meeting room with Cindy, the nurse, to discuss our calendar. This is the real deal! We have been waiting for this “calendar” for a long time! It will list out what day to take how much of each medication. It can be a bit overwhelming to throw it all out there, so Cindy decided to give us a little bit at a time. Right now, Kari has to take one injection of Lupron every morning and continue with her birth control for a few more days. I am supposed to start taking my daily shots of Lupron the following week along with a few more days of my birth control. Last time we did our mock cycle there were so many appointments and things to be doing that the time flew by! We know these next few weeks with our real cycle will be an absolute blur, and we are excited about that!

I have to put out there that we have an amazing support group of friends and family that have helped us out by watching our children while we go to all of these appointments. We couldn’t have gone through this process as easily without them all. Thank you guys soo much! You are such a blessing!

While we were meeting with the nurse she asked us if we had ever done the trial transfer. “Trial transfer?” Oops. Someone forgot about scheduling that for us and apparently we can’t move on until we complete that. During the trial transfer the doctor places a catheter the size of a spaghetti strand in the uterus to measure the depth of the uterus. They need to know exactly how large the uterus is so they know where to drop the embryos off during the real transfer. So, of course, we scheduled the procedure for the following day. It’s these kinds of “oops” and “by the ways” that make this process so much like an emotional rollercoaster.

On Wednesday, January 6, 2010, we showed up for what we thought was just the trial transfer, but ended up being the hysteroscopy too. The doctor used a fiber-optic endoscope to look at her uterine lining on a video monitor. They were looking for polyps. Guess what? All the doctor could say was that everything looked absolutely perfect over and over!

Well, now that you have been caught up with all of the happenings I should be able to post more regularly. Kari took her first shot of Lupron on Wednesday and said she was so glad to find out that she had been making a whole lot out of nothing. I was so glad to hear that it wasn’t that bad since she has to have at least 3 weeks of those particular shots. All I can say is that girl must really love me to endure all the poking and prodding that she has been and will continue to go through (not to mention the 9 months of the pregnancy)! I’m telling you, you won’t find another girl like her in the world! I love you, Kari!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We started our REAL cycle - post 15

With all the studying that Kari did to prepare for her “test,” I think she may have passed…just kidding about the studying part. We got to Dr. Burnett’s office around 10am and all four of us talked and had a good time. I’m not sure if all visits with Dr. Burnett are as joyful as ours, but we can’t help it! We are having so much fun and can’t wait to see what the future holds. Later, Paul and I were dismissed so that Kari and Jon could have a minute to talk with her. After Jon had his brain picked he was then released so Kari could talk things over and take her 2 hour test. It probably sounds a lot worse than it actually is. Dr. Burnett is so nice and it just seems like natural conversation with her. While Kari finished up, Paul and I had our blood work and analysis done. We got a lot accomplished in one day.

On Friday the 13th of November, Kari had a biopsy of her uterine lining. While she was on these hormone patches and pills her uterus responded by thickening up and the doctors were able to measure that by ultrasound. The biopsy, however, will check to see if “her cake (lining) is properly baked” (as the doctor put it). She said it was a little uncomfortable, but it only took a few seconds. After the procedure, she was told that she could stop all of her hormones and that she should get another menstrual cycle shortly after. Cyndi, the nurse, told Kari to give her a call on her first day and on day three to start on her birth control pill. Do you know what that means? This is the official start of our real cycle! I started my first pill last night (Nov. 16) too, so now we just kind of wait for the stimulation start date! My doctor should call me soon with my treatment plan so that I can start researching pharmacies that have the best prices for the different medications (which is a pretty big portion of the fees). You know me…I have to find the best deal!

Like I said before, we plan to meet with Robert Terenzio, our reproductive lawyer, toward the end of the month. Other than that, it is just a waiting game. Thanks to all of you who have expressed interest and care for us during this process. It is so nice to know we have such a huge support group during all of this.

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