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!

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