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)!

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! :)

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