Family Planning for Infertiles

Maternity painting

Babies are generally made in one of two ways. 1. A couple decides they are ready to grow their family and they start trying to get pregnant the old-fashioned way. 2. OOPS!

When you’re infertile, neither of these methods really apply to you. The first time around, we didn’t know we were infertile, so we spent many years trying to avoid 2. and then a few years desperately trying to achieve 1. When trying naturally produced no results, we turned to fertility treatments and were put on a path that eventually lead to IVF, which gave us our most precious gift, our daughter. It also gave us another unexpected gift: the possibility to grow our family again through frozen embryos.

This leaves us in a weird fertility limbo. While I’m not sure we’re ready to get pregnant right now, we know we would like more children and it seems weird to sit around and get older/more infertile. We also are hyper aware that time is not on our side. Do we try on our own and see if things magically work this time around? After all, our diagnosis was unexplained infertility and it is possible, but not likely, that I could get pregnant naturally. But where does that leave those little frosties?

I remember clearly the mix of emotions I experienced when the clinic called to tell us they were able to freeze some embryos. Four to be exact. Wonderful! But wait…four!? Four means the (unlikely) possibility of five children. How did we get from wanting a child so desperately to the possibility of five children?

Our perfect daughter was created through the same process as our frozen embryos and I feel an obligation to give the others a chance at life. I don’t necessarily see them as our children, but as the real possibility of life — much more tangible when I see my growing, healthy little girl. We made the decision to create them, out of both love and desperation, and it is hard to consider the possibility of not using them if we are able to have more children the natural way. You see, there are no easy decisions when it comes to infertility.

We are enormously blessed to have had success with IVF, and even more lucky to have frozen embryos that will allow us to try again. And soon there will be big decisions to make…



Symptom Spotting in Early Pregnancy

I realized this week that I tracked these symptoms but never posted this update. I’ve incessantly poured over posts on other people’s symptoms in early pregnancy, so I thought I would share mine in case they are helpful for anyone else. The biggest thing I noticed was a lack of symptoms in very early pregnancy. In my failed IUI cycles, I had way more cramping, aches, and pains that would get my hopes up each cycle before my period arrived.

2dp6dt*: Had two hot flashes around dinner time and my steak dinner tasted weird/unappetizing to me.
4dp6dt: Walked into my office and could smell the shampoo of my colleague from across the room. It smelled SO strong! (Got my first faint BFP this night)
6dp6dt-7dp6dt: Brownish/pink spotting, mixed in with my progesterone suppositories. Yikes!
4do6dt-8dp6dt: Foods I normally love don’t sound appealing (meat, eggs). I’m craving bland things like crackers, cereal, and soup. If I don’t eat on time I get extremely hungry. Also find myself getting hungry right before bedtime around 11 (night cheese, anyone?!).
8dp6dt: Starting to feel some sporadic small cramping above my pubic bone.

Week 4: Hungry all the time. Breasts start to hurt, but not too bad. Switched to progesterone in oil injections and spotting stopped. Very bloated.

Week 5: Let me eat everything! Seriously, have the craziest appetite. This week I want all the junk food I can find. Can’t stay awake past 9:30pm.

Week 6-7: First weeks of feeling crappy. Breasts really start to hurt and noticing some veins. Starting to feel a little bit of nausea and having some food aversions, including red meat. Extreme fatigue.

I didn’t notice any implantation cramping and didn’t have sore breasts in the beginning, two symptoms that I always assumed I would notice right away.

*For those not in the know, dp6dt=days past 6-day transfer.

There’s Still a Baby in My Belly

Baby at 6 Weeks

Baby at 6 Weeks

We had our first ultrasound last Friday when I was six weeks to the day. I think I was more worried for this appointment than I was for any other procedure or appointment in the last 2.5 years of trying to conceive. I was so scared that we would see inside my uterus and it would be empty and our dreams would be crushed.

When they got in there, we could see a perfectly round gestational sac right away. They pointed out the yolk sac and the teeny tiny baby beside it. Because I was only six weeks, they warned me beforehand that we might not get to see a heartbeat, and that would be completely normal. To our surprise, we were able to see the heartbeat and it was measured at 100bpm, which they said is right on track for this early stage. The baby measured 5 weeks, 6 days, so one day behind where it should be. The doctor said it is hard to measure when it is this small, so the really important part is that we saw the sac and the baby with a heartbeat. The tech was able to zoom in and give us a photo of our little apple seed!

I felt an amazing amount of relief and joy after the appointment, but know it is still early and we have more hurdles to cross. Our next ultrasound is this coming Wednesday, when I will be 7 weeks, 5 days along. We’re hoping for a growing baby with a strong heartbeat!

Betas 2 + 3

HCG is over 2,000!

HCG is over 2,000!

Last week we had two more beta tests. The first one didn’t double in 48 hours, so we were a little nervous going into the third one. On Friday we got the great news that our third beta doubled in 42 hours and that we graduated from our betas! Right before I left to get that blood draw, this little guy popped up, so I was feeling confident we crossed over 2,000 hcg. We scheduled our first ultrasound for Friday — I’ll be exactly 6 weeks. Trying to remain sane until then.

Beta 1 (17 dpo): 610

Beta 2 (19 dpo): 1,025

Beta 3 (21 dpo): 2,124

Beta Results Are In

Beta rising!

Beta rising!

I was delighted when I saw my Clearblue test show up as 2-3 weeks on Sunday because I knew that meant my HCG was over 200 well before my first beta. I was scheduled to go in on Tuesday (18 days past egg retrieval) for beta #1, but I woke up with what felt like the beginning of a urinary tract infection on Monday morning. No!! My nurse suggested that I come in to give a urine sample, and while I was there said it was ok to do my beta one day early, on 17 days past egg retrieval.

I got the call later on Monday afternoon to let me know that my beta was 610! THIS IS SO VERY EXCITING! All the positive tests were wonderful to see, but hearing this nice strong number really made everything seem a little more real. I know there are many more hurdles to jump, but we definitely did some celebrating last night.

Because we did IVF, our families knew ahead of time when we were scheduled to have the beta and there was no point in waiting to tell them the news. We still got to have a bit of a surprise by telling them one day early, when they weren’t yet expecting it. In an ideal world, we would get to surprise everyone by sharing this happy news when we’re a little further along and confident that we have a healthy pregnancy. But after seeing the looks on everyone’s faces and hearing their reactions (my mother-in-law actually squealed!), I don’t think I would change a thing. This will be the first grandchild and niece/nephew on both sides, so it was a very special announcement to share. And I’m comforted knowing that if something were to go wrong, we have so much support and love around us. What a great night!

Right after we Facetimed our families to tell them the good news!

Right after our Facetime with our families to tell them the good news!

Now back to reality, including this undiagnosed UTI and beta #2 tomorrow. They are doing a culture on my urine sample, so we won’t know until tomorrow if I need antibiotics or not. In the meantime, I’m chugging an insane amount cranberry juice and water, hanging close to the toilet for my fire pee every 10 minutes, and praying for a beta that is rising appropriately. I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that I’m both elated and terrified at the same time.

A Little Bit Pregnant



I’ve been putting this off for three full days now because I’m scared if I acknowledge it, it will go away. After 27 very long months, I have seen one of the most beautiful sights: a positive pregnancy test! In fact, in the past three days, I’ve probably seen about 10 because I cannot stop testing. I’m completely overjoyed, but that is tempered with worry and doubt because it is very early on, and since yesterday I’ve had some brownish/pink spotting.

Today I’m 7 days past 6-day transfer (so basically the same as 13 days past ovulation for those keeping score the regular way). My first positive came on the evening of 4 days past 6-day transfer and totally shocked me. I read that it is possible to get a BFP then, but I figured it was way too early. It was very light, but definitely noticeable! Since then, I’ve tried multiple types of tests and they are all positive, with the lines getting a little darker each day.

I asked my nurse about the spotting, and she said it could very well be from the Endometrin suppositories that I’m taking three times a day. They are known to cause irritation and bleeding, and she said that I can switch to progesterone in oil and see if the spotting stops. I ordered some and will start this weekend if I keep spotting.

For now, we are cautiously optimistic, hoping for a great beta on Tuesday and an end to this spotting. I keep telling myself it will do absolutely no good to worry and I should try to enjoy being pregnant regardless of how long it lasts. Please hang in there, little one! We love you so much already!

God vs. Science

Sistine Chapel - The Creation of Adam

Sistine Chapel – The Creation of Adam

When we first started seeing an infertility specialist, I could tell my mom was having trouble wrapping her mind around me going to such lengths to have a baby when she was able to have children “naturally” after a few years of trying. When she was having trouble conceiving, people suggested she see a specialist, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted kids if it wasn’t part of God’s plan for her life. Lucky for her (AND ME!), she went on to have me and my brother naturally, my brother after four years of trying with only had one ovary left. I love my mom, respect her decisions, but acknowledge her approach certainly wouldn’t work for everyone — myself included.

I don’t classify myself as religious (I grew up going to church but don’t go much anymore) but I do believe in God and would say I am spiritual. I’m also highly educated and surround myself with smart, open-minded people who make our society better every day through science and their own curiosity and hard work. Sometimes I find myself clinging desperately to the notion that there is some greater plan for me, and if I just believe that God is in control, everything will work out. Other days, I firmly put my trust in science and am satisfied knowing that I’ve taken the necessary steps to create the family that my husband and I so much desire.

After driving myself crazy trying to understand our infertility from these different perspectives, I realized that I don’t have to choose one or the other. I can choose to believe in the power of science and the comfort of faith — they aren’t mutually exclusive. I can look into the eyes of a child and see God’s work, and also see the splendor of science — tiny cells that grow into a miracle. I believe my faith guides my decisions and God never gives me more than I can handle. I believe that science and medical intervention are part of the path to grow my family. And I believe that my faith in God and my trust in science will only deepen from this experience.

As a fellow blogger recently pointed out, it is refreshing to be a part of a community where everyone respects each other’s beliefs. Thank you to everyone who has prayed, shared medical advice, or sent best wishes, positive vibes, and kind words to help us along on our journey!