So this is my first blog post. Ever. I have worked in computers and technology my entire adult life, yet I'll be the first to admit I don't know anything about blogging! It's really not the same as troubleshooting a server or setting up a printer. It's very foreign to me so please, bear with me as I learn the ropes. :)
Before we knew we'd be dealing with infertility, I used to think "Blogging is silly. What in the world could people ever possibly want to know about ME?" But as we eventually learned we would not have children the "normal" way, I realized how important a community of support was in getting through the dark world of infertility. I found so much comfort in reading blogs of others with similar experiences. I felt like I wasn't alone. I hope that by blogging about our journey I can lend the same sense of belonging to others in similar situations.
2011 was full of so many harsh blows for us. We had planned to start trying for children in May 2011. And as cruel fate would have it, the exact day I ovulated that month, my 53 year old mother was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer on the weekend of Mother's Day!
We continued to try to to get pregnant, and in September 2011 my OB/Gyn wanted to run some bloodwork and ended up misdiagnosing me with PCOS. I was skeptical about her diagnosis because everything didn't add up, so we decided to make a trip to the RE (fertility doctor.) The RE ordered an array of tests and on December 6th, 2011, I was officially diagnosed with severe Diminished Ovarian Reserve. I had an an AMH level of <0.16 (undetectable.) This basically meant I was facing menopause at only 30 years old! I don't think I fully comprehended what a diagnosis like that meant at the time, but we were heartbroken and confused. At that point, we only had insurance coverage for an unmedicated IUI. So even though we knew that it wasn't going to work because of my awful eggs, we gave it a shot anyway and hoped for a miracle. Sure enough, as expected, it didn't work.
My mom had always been my biggest cheerleader and knew of our hopes to conceive. When I told her of the diagnosis that day she cried with me. She said she would go to the ends of the earth to see us have a family and if she couldn't help us in this life, she would "pull some strings from heaven." My husband and I flew to Utah to see her a few days later since we knew she was nearing the end. We visited the gorgeous Temple Square Christmas lights display in Salt Lake City and attended a live Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert. It was surreal knowing these would be my last moments with her on earth. I said goodbye to her on our way to leave for the airport on the morning of December 12th - this was a moment I had absolutely dreaded since her diagnosis in May. She held me for a long time and her final words to me were "I will always love you. Families are Forever. You will always be my little girl." On the plane ride back, I prayed God would take her home and end her suffering. Hours after arriving home in Texas, she slipped into a coma. She joined the angels in heaven on December 18, 2011. We flew back the next day and had her funeral on Christmas Eve. I was terrified that the Christmas season would be forever tarnished with these gut-wrenching memories for the rest of my life.
We hoped and prayed that 2012 would be better. With my mom now safely on the other side, we began gearing up for IVF. We knew that we were embarking on a difficult road that would take huge emotional, physical, and financial tolls. We had no infertility coverage with our insurance at all. IVF cycles range from $12k-$18k with absolutely no guarantee of success. For someone with a diagnosis as severe as mine, the cost is at the high end of that range because I would need the maximum amount of medication for my ovaries to even have hope for any response. And even then, the prognosis for success is only at around 30%. We knew we had to give it one try even though the odds were incredibly stacked against us. Prior to beginning IVF, I had a saline ultrasound procedure to check my uterus. We were surprised when the RE found a polyp. I had to undergo surgery to have it removed. Thankfully, it didn't set our cycle back and we were cleared to continue. We used the most aggressive protocol available, but just as we feared, I had absolutely no response to the cycle. I will always remember August 10th, 2012 as the day my RE told me that we had tried everything and it had failed. My doctor and and my husband held me as I sobbed uncontrollably in the exam room. We knew our next step would be to pursue embryo adoption. It was something I had discovered in late 2011 just prior to my mom's death and I had felt very drawn to it. It's a beautiful option that the majority of people don't know and it's a hopeful means for a path to parenthood for couples in our situation.
To me, our dreams of children include gleeful Christmas mornings, soapy mohawks in the bathtub, little arms thrown around us and "I love you, Mommy" whispered in my ear. None of that has anything to do with genetics. I still daydream about these moments to come.
Our clinic was in the process of starting a donor embryo program and we were placed on their waiting list. We also posted an ad on Miracles Waiting, a classifieds ad type of site where donors and recipients can try to make contact and adopt embryos. We waited, and waited, and waited. We had a few false starts on Miracles Waiting, but the potential matches ended up dropping off of the face of the planet creating a whole new level of pain.
But through what I believe was divine intervention (or maybe my mom pulling her strings) a woman who I will refer to as "V" saw a post I made on Baby Center in early November where I had expressed my sadness, grief, and depression around our current situation with no donor embryo prospects. She said she knew how I was feeling having gone through the same thing a few years earlier and she had five frozen embryos she wanted to donate to a married couple like us. She had received them herself from an anonymous donor couple who had used an anonymous egg donor to create them in the early 2000's. V and her husband had a beautiful son who was four and a half years old. I immediately felt a kinship with V because she understood what we were feeling. She had truly been where we were having been a recipient of embryos at one point herself. We were speaking on the phone and on November 16th, 2012 when she said the magical words to us: "We want you to have our embryos."
We worked through the legal aspects, and on December 6, 2012 (a year to the day after my DOR diagnosis) the embryos were officially ours! We have since become friends with V and learned what an incredible angel she is. We truly love her and are so grateful for the gift she and her husband chose to give us. I hope she never gets tired of us telling her this, but we seriously can't begin to express the level of gratitude in our hearts. I honestly cannot believe that we have real hope at building a family again.
So there, now I can say I've done it. I've written my first blog post. I hope it gets easier from here on out because that was a lot of information to throw at you at once. I hope you'll keep watching as our journey unfolds. :)