a little more to be thankful for this year

I started this blog in 2016 to document our assisted fertility journey and to keep our closest friends and family up to date with what was happening instead of having to communicate the same story over and over again after each appointment. Once I signed on to blog for Fertility Matters Canada in 2017, this blog became public. It was at that point I joined the infertility Instagram community and starting making connections to other women, and bloggers, battling the same struggle as us. Over the past 2+ years I have connected deeply with women who would have otherwise been strangers to me. We are grateful for the support we have received both through the infertility community as well as our own network of family and friends. I am also so blessed to know that I’ll be entering motherhood with a strong tribe of women behind me to help guide me through all of the unknowns.

Over the course of the last 2+ years we have been through many obstacles on our assisted fertility journey. October has always been a really hard month for me as it’s our anniversary and also the month we started try to conceive in 2012. Every year that we have celebrated another anniversary without a baby has been difficult. Last year marked 5 years of trying to conceive with only one pregnancy, one embryo and no live birth. We went on to transfer that final embryo in October of 2017 which also resulted in failure. We were back to square one; heartbroken and scared of what was next.

2018 brought some renewed strength, two more egg retrievals, heavy out of pocket costs, and ultimately our 7 PGS normal embryos. The other night as we celebrated our 8 year wedding anniversary (with soda water for me and a diet Pepsi for Shawn), I was finally able to admit that this would be an October I could be happy with. I am currently 20 weeks pregnant which means we are half way through this pregnancy. As the 6 year mark of trying to conceive approaches, I can now take comfort in knowing I am pregnant. For the first time in years we also have hope that we will have more than one child (something we always wanted but never thought would be a reality).

One thing I have learned now that we have finally achieved a pregnancy is that it was not the exact answer I had hoped it would be. I spent most of the first trimester dealing with depression and, at times, severe anxiety. You see, we had spent the better part of 5 1/2 years dealing with negative results and coping mechanisms for those results that I had never once prepared myself for what would happen if I actually did fall pregnant. Don’t get me wrong – I was thrilled our frozen embryo transfer worked – but seeing those two lines on the test and even after finding out my blood work came back positive was not enough to truly believe this was happening. I remember our first ultrasound at 6 weeks where the tech said “congrats, there’s a baby in there”. She went on to show us the heartbeat and while I got all teary eyed, I still wondered if this was really happening.

I was closely monitored at our fertility clinic weekly from weeks 6-8 and then bi-weekly from weeks 9-13. After our NT (nuchal translucency) scan at 13 weeks, we were then released out in to regular care. Except I felt anything but regular. My anxiety became worse once we were released from the care of our fertility doctor. I was constantly worried and almost waiting for the other shoe to drop. We are now 20 weeks along and that shoe has not dropped. I have worked closely with a therapist to navigate my way through my pregnancy and all of the fears that have come with it. We have an at-home Doppler which has allowed me to check in our on babe on the really tough days. I am now feeling movement which is pretty neat and has really helped me to believe that this will be our take home baby. I know things can change but I am choosing to believe that this is our time. I, finally, will be a Mom. We, finally, will be parents.

I did not beat infertility. I am still very much infertile and the last 6 years will always stay with me even once our sweet babe is here. What I am happy for is the chance to finally overcome an obstacle I was not so sure I would ever overcome. I am grateful beyond measure for this little wonder growing inside me and we can’t wait to start this next chapter. Finally our Long road to baby is starting to feel a little bit shorter.

All the love.

XOXO

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where has the time gone?

Did anyone else feel like January was approximately 792 days but then the rest of 2018 has flown by in an instant? That’s where I’m at right now.

I have kind of pushed my blogging to the side since March and for a few different reasons. Firstly, there was nothing IVF related to blog about. Our long road to baby was once again on hold after we received our amazing PGS news. Shawn and I, along with three other couples including my “brother” and his wife, took a nice 5 day vacation to Bahamas in April. It was exactly what we needed after two back-to-back egg retrieval cycles. We relaxed, drank all the drinks and ate all the foods. Fast forward to May and I went on a much need girls trip to New York with 3 of my fave ladies. We saw a Broadway show, ate at some of the most delicious restaurants and I drank all of the prosecco my little heart desired. Shortly after we returned, I turned 35. It was a bit of a tough day for me at first but by the end I left my own pity party and enjoyed dinner with Shawn and my family.

We had been preparing for our FET (frozen embryo transfer) to align with my July cycle as when we first booked our trip to Bahamas, it was still on the Zika list and I would need to wait 60 days after we returned. Before we left in April, Bahamas had been cleared from the Zika list as there hadn’t been a reported case since 2016. It was shortly after our trip that I decided I was done with waiting. Since there was no real reason to I wanted to start prep for our FET as soon as CD1 (cycle day 1) arrived in May. That day was May 20th so on May 22nd I headed to the clinic for the first time in over 2 months for a baseline ultrasound and blood work. Everything looked good and I was clear to start meds for our FET. I started on baby aspirin that day as well as 12 mg of estrogen (2 x 2mg tablets, three times a day) as well as 600 mg of progesterone ( 1 x 200 mg suppository, three times a day). FET prep is a far more simple process especially when you’re on what they call a “short protocol”. I took my meds and didn’t have to return to the clinic for 7 days. On May 29th I went in for a lining check where everything looked “beautiful” (as my doctor said) and we scheduled our embryo transfer for the following Monday, June 4th. My doctor also suggested I have an intralipid infusion in advance of my FET.  Intralipids essentially reduce your body’s natural killer cells in order to reduce the chance of them “attacking” the embryo and increasing the chance of a successful pregnancy. These infusions are rather expensive and not covered but I was willing to do anything it took to make sure our little embaby got to stick around this time.

On Monday June 4th, Shawn and I arrived at the clinic nice and early. My naturopath met us there as she was going to do acupuncture for me both before AND after transfer on site. I was so happy to be able to have this done. I had downloaded my Mindful IVF pre and post transfer meditations and the whole day was just perfect. At approximately 10:15 a.m., we transferred one of our 5 day PGS normal embryos. Shawn had previously decided since there were 7 embryos, we would name them after the 7 wonders of the new world and first up was Chichen Itza (aka Chich).

After our transfer we received our discharge papers which outlined next steps. Our first Beta hCG test was scheduled for the following Saturday, June 16th. In just 12 days we would know if we were pregnant. Just kidding, in just 5 days we would know if we were pregnant. You see, Shawn annual boys trip would fall over the weekend of June 15-18. This trip is planned 6 months in advance every year and it is probably the only time every year that Shawn actually goes away without me (unlike me who hops on a plane on a moments notice). We talked about it a lot and decided that we would take an at home test early so that if the result was negative, he would stay home with me for the blood test and ultimately, to support me. I told myself I would wait 7 days. I would test on the Monday and that way I could take any additional tests I wanted to before he left. I caved on day 5. I used one of the First Response Early Response (FRER) tests as I find them most accurate when testing insanely early (yes, I’m a pro now). I had previously ordered these on Amazon prime to save some money as pregnancy tests are NOT cheap. On the Saturday morning I had woken up around 5:00 a.m. to pee anyways so I figured, why not? I walked away from the test and got myself a glass of water and returned to the bathroom about 5 minutes later. Much to my surprise, there was the faintest of lines. A line I had not seen since July of 2017 when we lost our sweet little Poppy. I was excited but also very very cautious. I thought I would fall back asleep since it was 5:00 a.m. but I did not. In fact, by 6:30 a.m. I had to wake up Shawn and tell him. His response “I thought you said we were going to wait until Monday”. Ya right! I continued to test daily and saw some pretty great line progression. Could this be it? Was Chich going to stick around for the next 9 months? Needless to say, I sent Shawn on his merry way to Ohio for a weekend of sun, drinking and rest (oh, and strep throat which he gave to me so kindly before he left). I was able to move my beta test to the Friday as it makes more sense for me to go to the clinic on week days when I already have to be in the city. My beta hCG levels on test number one came back at 427 11 days past my 5 day transfer and while I was excited that we really were pregnant, I knew those numbers needed to double in 48 hours. On Sunday I returned to the clinic for a repeat beta test where my numbers came back at 889 and that’s when it hit me that this was going in the right direction. My doctor had me come back for a third and final beta on the Tuesday which came back at 2400 and we booked my first ultrasound for June 29th.

The days between final beta and our first scan crawled by. I remember seeing little Chich on the screen for the first time at 6 weeks 2 days and it brought the happiest tears to my eyes. At one point the ultrasound tech said, “am I hurting you, why are you crying?” and I said “no, I just can’t believe I’m actually pregnant”. Since then, I’ve had 5 more scans and have been able to see Chich grow almost weekly. We have seen the heartbeat every time but I can’t wait for the day we can hear it too.

Today we had our Nuchal Translucency ultrasound at 13 weeks and subsequently graduated from our fertility clinic in to regular OB care. It was a bittersweet moment for us but one we are so happy to have made it to.

We have a long way to go before Chich is in our arms in February but our Long road to baby is finally starting to feel just a little bit shorter. WE ARE PREGNANT AND PLANNING TO STAY THAT WAY.

our final retrieval

It feels so weird to type the title of this blog but so much has happened between February and now! We moved forward with our third and final egg retrieval this month and are overjoyed with the results. It was almost identical to our February cycle meaning our protocol didn’t change at all and Shawn was still my early morning nurse. One thing that did change from the start, we found out we maxed out on our lifetime maximum for fertility medication through my corporate benefits. So the day before I started meds, we were hit with an extra $5,000+ cost we did not budget for. We would make it work.

What was majorly different this cycle were our results. If you read the last blog post, you know that we decided to proceed with one last retrieval cycle as we wanted 4 embyros to send for PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) and after our February cycle, we had 3. On March 1st, I started back on all of my meds for the final cycle. After 4 days of being on the stimulating medications, we had our first follicle check up. I was not where I wanted to be. We had 5-6 good follicles and one giant follicle that would have been post-mature by the time we went to retrieval. I was discouraged. I remember calling Shawn (for the second time in days) in hysterics wanting to just call off the cycle. Was this worth it all? Was I putting my body through all of this for nothing? Thankfully he was able to talk me down off the ledge. He reminded me I had been in this position before and that we still ended up with great results. We kept on our path and continued moving forward. A few days later we had another scan and while the numbers were slightly improved, I was still a little bummed. Based on my calculations (and don’t ever ask me for “egg math” tips, I’m TERRIBLE) I figured we’d have a cycle that compared with our very first cycle in 2017 and if that was the case, we’d still end up with another 2 embryos. On March 9th, we pulled the final trigger and had our FINAL EGG RETRIEVAL on March 11th.

If I said this wasn’t the hardest of all my cycles, I’d be lying. The side effects reallllly got to me this time. I was in maternity gear again early on and I was tired and miserable. I think I cried a lot more and definitely ate everything I could get my hands on. I tried to keep up with my exercises but after 6 days of stims found it almost impossible to even walk. Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY. I remember coming in and out of sedation after the procedure and hearing the number 17 tossed around a lot. When I finally came to, Shawn was outside putting money in the parking meter and the nurse came to see me. I asked her how many eggs we got and then made her repeat it more than once. 17. It was really. We got 17 eggs. I was FLOORED. For a cycle where I had so little hope, we got the best results. Of our 17 eggs, 14 were mature and 12 fertilized with ICSI. Then began the 5 day waiting game (or in our case, 15 days of worrying). By day 3, 11 of our embabies were still growing strong and on day 6 we received the most wonderful news of all – we had 7 embryos that were biopsied and frozen. WE ONLY WANTED ONE. Together with their 3 brothers and sisters from February, our 10 precious embabies were sent off for PGS. I would also be lying if I said I was completely patient waiting for those results. We were told it would take 10-12 days to receive the report back and by day 7, I was a basket case. Again, Shawn (and many others) did a fantastic job of talking me off ledges and yesterday we received the best news we’ve had all year: of the 10 embryos that were sent off for testing, Shawn and I are the proud parents of 7 PGS normal embabies. It brought tears to my eyes and saying it out loud didn’t, and still doesn’t, even feel real. Our baby is in there somewhere and I truly and strongly believe, for the first time in a very very long time, our baby will be coming home with us soon. We still have a long road ahead. We aren’t entirely sure when we’ll transfer but are definitely taking some time off to enjoy some travels and my big 35th birthday!

Lucky number 7. Our 7 wonders. We are incredibly blessed.

ivf .. take 2

It’s hard to believe we are already 6 weeks in to 2018 and we have already completed our first egg retrieval for our second cycle of IVF.

Let’s take a quick step back; Shawn and I decided, in advance of this cycle and in proceeding with a new clinic, that we would go forward with all the things we didn’t previously do for our first cycle. Any additional testing we had previously declined, we decided to do, no matter what the cost. This included some extra blood work as well as the PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) testing. You see, this is our final shot at IVF. We are all in. If we ever have to close this chapter, we want to be able to look back and know that we did everything we could to have a biological child.

When making all these tough decisions we also had to look at how much we were comfortable with financially. Shawn and I were very fortunate to have received a government-funded cycle last year which covered most of the costs (outside of the medication which costs between $5,000-$6,000 per retrieval cycle). This time though, we would be fully out-of-pocket. Our January cycle alone was $17,900 and for March we are looking at around $12,800. That is a grand total of over $30,000 (and this does not include any subsequent transfers of any PGS normal embryos in the future). Fortunately, about $6,000 so far has been covered through my corporate benefit plan but I fear we likely have reached our lifetime maximum for fertility medication.

So far, this cycle has been a bit of a whirlwind. It all happened so quickly, or so it felt, this time. I started my stimulating medication on Cycle Day 2 (CD2) on January 23rd. My new doctor had me on 300 IU of Puregon (previously 150 IU with my last clinic) and 75 IU of Repronex. All injections are taken in the morning (where previously I took them at night) and on cycle monitoring days, my nurse administers my injections. These injections also go in my backside where for my first IVF cycle I gave all my injections to myself in my stomach. In fact, through 3 injectable cycles of IUI and my first cycle of IVF last year, I had given myself ALL my injections with no issues at all. This time, a different needle was used and while it did not hurt once in, I had a very hard time looking at it. It really freaked me out so Shawn gave me every injection this time (apart from my Lupron trigger). He really is the BEST nurse. On CD5 I went for my first monitoring appointment since stimming and my Repronex dose was upped to 150 IU. I also started the Orgalutran on CD5 this time. By this point, my side effects were in full swing. The headaches were just as bad, or worse, than I remember. I had nausea for most of the first 5 days but that eventually subsided. On CD8 I went back for another scan and the doctor let me know that we were close, so I would return on CD9. By CD9 I was very uncomfortable. Notwithstanding the fact I must be up at 4:45 a.m. on monitoring days, I was starting to bloat again and the maternity pants were back in the fashion rotation. I was told at this appointment that we would be moving forward with egg retrieval on CD11! Trigger happened on the night of CD9 at 12:30 a.m. (so I guess you could consider it CD10). We did a double Lupron/HCG trigger again which was consistent with my previous trigger protocol, just slightly adjusted.

The morning of my egg retrieval (February 1st), I was extremely uncomfortable. We arrived at the clinic early and got settled in. We were informed that Shawn would be allowed in the room for my retrieval which he previously was not. I was consciously sedated once again and don’t remember much after saying good morning to my doctor and waking up in recovery. I do remember coming to at one point and hearing the number 14. I thought I was dreaming. How would I ever end up with 14 eggs? It was not a dream, when I finally came out of my sedation induced nap, Shawn confirmed we had 14 beautiful little eggies. I was ecstatic. If you’ve followed along our first IVF cycle, we only retrieved 8 eggs so this was a great number. We returned home and spent most of the day relaxing watching Netflix and keeping my heat pad nice and close. Recovery was a bit tougher this time but I kind of chalked it up to retrieving more eggs. The next 5 days after eff retrieval are the LONGEST. The day after retrieval is considered Day 1. On that day we received the report that of the 14 eggs retrieved, 11 of those eggs were mature and of the 11 mature eggs, 7 were fertilized by ICSI. Already we had 3 more fertilized eggs than we had last time. The next report comes in on Day 3 which is when we found out that of the 7 fertilized eggs, we had 6 embabies growing strong. At this stage they were all graded 1-2 which is great for a Day 3 report. Then, from Day 3 to Day 6, we hear nothing. We received our final report on the Wednesday following retrieval. We currently have 3 embabies that made it to blasocyst which were biopsied and frozen for PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) once we complete one final egg retrieval.

We will be moving forward with that one final egg retrieval when I return from vacation next week. When we decided on testing and all of the numbers, we decided we wanted 4 embryos before we moved forward with PGS. Even though 3 was really close, it wasn’t 4. I thought long and hard about moving forward again, both mentally and financially, but we are comfortable with the decision.

If we thought the 6 days of waiting from fertilization to final embryo stage was long, I can only imagine how long the 7-10 days will feel once we send our embabies off for PGS testing. What are we hoping for? At least 2 PGS normal embryos, one of which we will transfer in June. I have had a lot of questions around our decision to PGS test and while it is costly and really only gives us a 55% chance of a live birth, I didn’t want to continue transferring embryos that weren’t resulting in pregnancies.

The next month will be a very interesting time for us. There is a lot more at stake now and emotions are high. When we started a year ago, we had so many options. Options we never even thought we’d have to resort to. I remember, very clearly, being at a friend’s cottage a couple of years ago talking about starting IUI in 2017. Talking about how we would give it at least 4 tries before we even thought of moving forward with IVF. In fact, I specifically remember saying “we would totally do an IVF cycle if it’s funded but that’s it, I don’t think we would ever do an out-of-pocket round”. My my, how things have changed. We truly believed IUI would be our answer after years of trying naturally and when that didn’t work, and we were granted the government funding, we totally thought that IVF cycle would bring us our baby. While it did result in our first ever pregnancy back in July, it was short-lived.

Moving forward with this final IVF cycle brings up lots of extra outcomes that we have to  mentally prepare for. This includes the fact this may not work (again). While this thought is terrifying, we won’t stop our journey to parenthood there. We will, however, be closing the door on having a biological child and will cross that bridge if we get there.

As always, your love and support keeps us going daily. Much love. XO.

 

infertility in the workplace

When preparing to start our fertility treatments early last year, I sat down and thought about all of the ways I could minimize stress throughout the process. I took a look at support avenues and who we would really need to be there for us. When I looked at our life as a whole, I knew our family and friends would be there for us without a doubt. Then I thought about how I was going to manage this process around my work schedule.

Fertility treatments are complicated. It’s not just taking a bunch of meds and then, voila, procedure day. From the time your cycle starts you have a series of early morning ultrasounds and blood work appointments as well as procedure days and recovery days. It can be a lot. If you employer doesn’t know what you’re going through, it can be even harder. I thought about all the things I would have to say as to why I would be late a few times a month or even, as I figured out later, daily. The thought of having to make up excuses or reasons as to why I was adjusting my schedule constantly was already exhausting me. It was then that I decided to be open about my infertility at work.

Before we started our first IUI cycle I sat down with my boss and explained what we were about to go through. I let him know that my in-office schedule during monitoring would be altered and I would ultimately require time off for procedures and even some work-from-home days to accommodate various appointments. His response to everything was amazing. I am fortunate to have a flexible work environment to begin with but bringing this to light was welcomed by even more support, not only from him, but many others in my office.

I know everyone’s workplace situation is different, and I do consider myself very lucky, but the moment I could cross “work” off the list of potential stressors, it was a giant relief. On the other hand, when I told him this would be happening, I was still under the impression that a couple of IUI’s later I would just be pregnant. Going back to work after failed procedures has had its own moments. I’ve been lucky enough to work-from-home on test result days so I can deal with my emotions in my own way but then I’m usually very ready to return to work the next day.

Going back to work after finding out we were pregnant, but would most likely lose it, was probably the hardest. I gave the people I work the closest with a heads up before I came back because I wasn’t sure of my ability to actually speak about it in real life without losing it. The day I found out I was no longer pregnant I was actually at work, had a good cry and then carried on. Throughout everything over the last year, my coworkers have made this process a lot easier by just being there (and they may not even know it).

I never thought that one year later I would be having the same talk with my boss again about altered schedules and needing time off but with our second IVF cycle approaching, I find myself here. I still maintain that of all of the things I often worry about during this process, work still isn’t one. I have been able to manage both my work and personal life and while it may be at wonky hours, it allows me to carry on with building our family.

how quickly a year can pass

When we started out 2017 we had so many goals and expectations. Goals we for sure thought we were going to crush. From hiccups in starting our first IUI to finally getting the ball rolling in March, we assumed it was the “one last thing” we needed to finally conceive. Were we ever wrong. Honestly, I thought I had done a pretty good job preparing myself both mentally and physically for anything 2017 threw my way but in fact, there was no way to prepare for half of what was thrown at us.

After we found out our first IUI failed, I was devastated. But we quickly picked ourselves back up and moved right in to our second IUI cycle. After that one failed, we decided to take a break. What we hadn’t really prepared for is how much of a toll the hormones and everything else would take on my body. I was exhausted all the time (like a permanent walking zombie) no matter how much sleep I was getting. My moods were debatable on any given day. I was irritable and sad and just generally not in a great head space. That’s when we decided to run away at the last-minute for a week in Portugal. We took time to recharge and enjoy and just focus on ourselves. It was much-needed. We returned in June for our final IUI which also failed and decided that would be our last. Luckily in the same month we received a call that our funding had been approved and we could move forward with IVF in July. We had so many emotions around all of it but were happy we were moving forward with a new plan. It was a plan with higher success rates and better statistics as well as a fresh start. If I thought I couldn’t have prepared my body for and IUI stim cycle, I certainly could not have imagined what an IVF stim cycle would do to it. I bloated to a point that I left a meeting at work one afternoon to run to the mall and buy maternity pants. Nothing fit. I was at risk for ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome and just an overall mess. After a successful retrieval and fresh day 5 transfer of our little Poppy seed, we saw our first positive pregnancy test in 5 years of trying. We were cautiously optimistic. I had lots of things going wrong with that cycle and so I had a gut feeling the pregnancy wasn’t going to last. It didn’t. A few short days after we saw our positive test(s), beta numbers confirmed that I was indeed pregnant but that it wouldn’t last. We were heartbroken but also more hopeful since it was the closest to actually being pregnant we had ever been. We had our one last shot with our frozen embryo, Sesame, and we transferred that embaby in the fall. Sadly, Sesame did not result in a pregnancy either. It was after our final negative we decided we would give IVF another shot, but, with a new clinic and doctor. Things are progressing well with our new clinic and we look forward to starting a new retrieval cycle in February.

What I will take away from 2017? An even stronger bond with Shawn than when we started all of this. We are far from perfect, and have had our fair share of challenges over our 7 years of marriage, but if infertility hasn’t torn us apart, and it has had its chances, I know we can make it through just about anything. He has been nothing short of incredible throughout this entire process. He recognizes constantly how much my body is going through and always puts me first. He deals with uncontrollable bursts of tears on my saddest days and is truly the only person who can snap me out of my worst moods. I know he hurts too but he would never show it in order to protect me. I can’t wait for the day he is a father to our sweet child.

Moving forward 2018 also means we will be moving in to our new home where we will start our adoption home study. We are both very excited for the opportunity to be able to expand our family by way of adoption whether our IVF cycle works or not.

While we are ending 2017 without a baby in our arms (or my womb), I thought I’d be a lot more sad. Don’t get me wrong, the holidays have stirred up some buried emotions but I think it’s all a part of grieving. Grieving a year that did not end in a way we had thought it would but truthfully, we have made major moves in the last 2 months and 2018 promises to bring us closer to our goal of being parents. We will be parents.

I know I have said it a million times (and I will continue to do so), but we would not have made it this far in our journey without the love and support of our family and friends. Every one of you who continues to stand by us in good times and bad are so very important to us and our one day babe. I am also beyond grateful for the community of women I have surrounded myself with who are also fighting the good fight. What I would have done without some of you this year is beyond me!

Merry Christmas and happy new year to all!

our adoption consult

If you’re reading this it’s because I finally had time to sit down and blog about Monday’s adoption consultation (thanks to 5 hours on a plane last night uninterrupted). It’s been a crazy week to say the least but by the time this post is published I will have landed in Bogota, Colombia. I will spend one day at our head office and then I have 3 days to roam the city and relax. A much welcomed break.

Monday evening we met with our adoption practitioner in our home. I was so nervous leading up to it although I’m not sure why. Shawn spent all day cleaning the house so that everything was perfect and I puttered around making final touches when I got home from work. I should note that we decided to meet with a private practitioner for our consult because I wanted 100% of the attention to be on us and our questions and in the end, we were very satisfied with that decision. I had my list of questions ready for her and we talked in great detail about each adoption avenue. I figured I’d summarize our consult by each avenue.

First, we spoke about private Ontario adoption. I’m talking adopting a newborn baby from a couple that is placing that newborn baby up for adoption. This avenue is not common and in fact, only 22 private Ontario adoptions took place in 2017 and of those 22 a majority of the adoptive parents were somehow associated with the parents who were placing their child for adoption. We can move forward with private Ontario if we choose but the timeline is not guaranteed of when a newborn would be placed with you. There is also a cost associated with private Ontario adoption in the range of $15,000-$20,000.

Secondly, we spoke about public CAS adoption. For those of you don’t know, CAS stands for Children’s Aid Society. The children in CAS’s care range in age from newborn to 18. Timing is not guaranteed on this route either but the more open you are to children outside of the newborn to 3 years of age range, the shorter the wait period may be. If you are willing to take siblings, your chances also increase. Some of the children is CAS’s care come from a wide variety of backgrounds and may have medical, physical and/or mental health issues. From what we have been told so far, this is discussed and disclosed throughout the adoption process. There are no adoption fees associated with CAS adoptions unless you opt to do your home study and PRIDE training privately (which I will discuss later in this post).

Lastly, we discussed international adoption. While the wait times are much more predictable, the costs are a lot higher. Once we broke down some of those costs though, it started to make sense. I often wondered why international adoption was so expensive but just like anything else every time a document has to go to the prospective country or be registered overseas, there are fees associated. Along with that, there are also fees included for visiting the country which, depending on the country, may be once or twice before you even bring your child home. The fees for the home study and PRIDE training are also included in the international fee amount. We still have more research to do on the international adoption route and what countries we may or may not be interested in but in any case the fees are around $30,000+

I have mentioned the home study and PRIDE training more than once now. Basically it is mandatory to complete 27 hours of PRIDE training (which stands for Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education) before you are adopt ready. You must also complete a home study which covers a whole bunch of things like background checks, criminal checks, finances, 5 references, employment letters, etc. This can be completed through the CAS if you are going the public route free of charge but you can also have your home study done by a private practitioner which we have decided we will do instead. So far we love our practitioner and felt a really great connection with her. This is someone who could be working with us for a few years and who has also been doing this for over 20 years. The thing is if you do your home study privately you must also complete your PRIDE training privately too. We are also fine with this as if we do opt to go the international route, it will already all be done.

It was a lot to take in (and I probably missed a lot in this post) plus we still have a lot more research to do but we will likely start PRIDE training in the spring. We will need to wait to do our home study until our home in Aurora is done and we have moved next summer as the home study is linked to an address and we won’t be in our current home by the time we have a child.

We are still proceeding with our final IVF cycle (and any subsequent transfers) in late January but figured we would get the ball rolling on this sooner than later because if our final IVF is not successful, we would like to be adopt ready by the end of next year. Even if our IVF is successful it is very likely we will still adopt one day down the road.

I’ll keep everyone posted on the process as we move through it and as always, we appreciate all of your love and support.

XO

infertility costs how much?!?

We’ve had to sit down recently to work out some of the finances around our next IVF cycle. I figured while I was at it, I’d do a rough calculation of how much treatments have cost so far.

For each of our IUI cycles it cost approximately $1,650 for 14 days of meds, $750 for the sperm washes and about $100 for the progesterone. Luckily, in Ontario, the actual procedure of the insemination as well as all ultrasounds and blood work for monitoring is covered. We also spent about $450 to have Shawn’s sperm frozen in advance of our Thailand trip so that we wouldn’t have to wait 6 months when we returned. In total, three IUI cycles were approximately $7,650.

Moving on to our IVF cycle we were also fortunate to receive a government-funded cycle from the government of Ontario. Even still, I will break down the approximate cost of an IVF cycle as the cycle we will be starting in January will be fully out-of-pocket. I will also note that the government funded cycle does not cover the cost of medication. 12 days of stimulation meds in advance of my egg retrieval was approximately $5,000 with an additional $350 in progesterone suppositories after my retrieval and another $380 for the meds in connection with my FET cycle. The egg retrieval itself costs approximately $7,500 and ICSI (which we did on our first cycle and will do again) is approximately $1,500. Embryo cryopreservation is around $975 and each frozen embryo transfer is about $2,000. Our first round of IVF including one frozen embryo transfer was approximately $18,000. Thankfully, we were covered for almost all of it between my medical benefits and government funding.

In total, our treatments thus far total over $25,000 and that doesn’t even include things acupuncture which was costing approximately $340 per round of IUI and IVF, counselling (which averages $150-$180 per hour) and the cost of all of the supplements.

The only difference between our first IVF cycle and our cycle in the new year is we will be opting to PGS test (preimplantation genetic screening) our embryos which is approximately $4,000. We are also paying for additional blood work we haven’t had done before which will be between $700-$1500 which means we will be closer to $22,000-$25,000 fully out of our own pockets for this next round depending on how many frozen transfers we have to do.

I’m not saying any of this for sympathy, we are fortunate to have had some time to save up and prepare ourselves (and our credit line) for this part of the journey. I truly just wanted to paint a bigger picture for those of you who aren’t going through this and who have asked us about the costs that are associated.

#aLongRoadToBaby

fresh new beginnings

First of all, HOW IS IT MID-NOVEMBER ALREADY?! I honestly can’t believe how quickly 2017 is flying by! I believe when I last left off I had mentioned we were exploring the possibility of seeing a new IVF doctor/trying out a new clinic. After some research on clinics, and more specifically doctors, we decided on CReATe Fertility in Toronto. There were a number of factors that went in to our decision but I felt based on reputation, location and real life testimonies from people I know (or are friends and family of people I know), that we would be referred and decide from there. The problem with these big downtown clinics – there are really long wait times. I was told to expect to wait 2-4 weeks before they even call for a consult and expect another 6-8 week wait for the appointment once they did call. Last Friday the admin from the doctor’s office finally called to book a consult (just shy of a 4 week wait) and let me know that they would be booking in to late January. I was expecting this but what I didn’t expect was she would figure out that they had an opening just 5 days later at lunch time. I didn’t even think, I took the appointment because it was SO SOON.

That appointment was yesterday. There is still so much going through my brain but overall our experience was extremely positive. I arrived at the clinic just before my appointment time at 12:30 p.m. with a full bladder for my ultrasound. The place is HUGE like an entire floor but what I like is that everything is done in-house (ultrasounds, bloodwork, follow-ups, procedures, PGS testing, you name it and it’s there!). I got in for my pelvic and internal ultrasounds almost instantly and then waited to meet my new doctor. I was nervous because we had been with the same clinic for so long (and two different doctors in a four-year span) so I had NO idea what to expect. The doctor came out right on time (shocking, right?) and we went to his office for the consult. The one-on-one consult time with the doctor was one FULL hour. I had my list of questions and also my file from our previous clinic so I could just hand it all over. He asked me for a brief run down on what brought me to his office and I explained the last 5 years to him. From there, he listed out all of the issues he could think of in terms of our infertility and went through each scenario one by one with me.

I won’t break them all down but will summarize the main things that stuck out to me. Firstly, based on his preliminary review, he is actually questioning my DOR diagnosis. You see, I told him about being at risk for OHSS with my first egg retrieval/stim cycle in July. The two, apparently, don’t go together. He said it’s very rare for someone with diminished ovarian reserve to overstimulate. We decided that checking my AMH levels again would be a good idea as it’s been 15 months since the last check and I’ve made many lifestyle / supplement changes since then. I guess we will have to wait and see. The next thing we looked at were the anatomic reasons I may not be getting pregnant (abnormal paps, chemical pregnancy, etc.) and decided that I should undergo a hsyteroscopy. I had not heard of this before. A hysteroscopy is when the doctor will go in to my uterus with a little telescope to check out if there are any polyps, fibroids, etc. that maybe need to be removed and he can also take a biopsy at the same time. I will be sedated for this procedure (the same way I was for my egg retrieval) and will be able to leave that day. He doesn’t necessarily think he will find anything but it’s one of those things I’d rather just have ruled it. He then went on to tell me that I have “beautiful ovaries” I laughed out loud because my old ultrasound tech used to always say “wow your ovaries are beautiful” and I never really understood what that meant. Hearing a doctor say it (more than once and even told me I could be an ovary model) made me wonder what bad ovaries look like? I decided NOT to google that. Lastly, we looked at male factor and what role that’s playing. I explained the testicular microlialithis (I don’t even know if I spelled that right) to him and he didn’t seem bothered by it at all. He does want to do another semen analysis as well as a sperm DNA fragmentation test which will measure any DNA damage to the sperm.

After we finished up talking about the issues, he made a plan. Shawn’s supplement regimen won’t change all that much but mine will. I will be adding two new supplements to aid with fertility which are DHEA and PQQ. I will also keep taking my prenatal vitamins, CoQ10 and Vitamin D. So then what’s next? He gave us many options but I think the path I am on right now is another IVF cycle. I will likely wait until my January cycle to start stims again and will do a retrieval in early February. Depending on the results, we may do a second retrieval to bank embryos and, essentially, save costs on PGS testing. Oh yes! PGS testing. This is something we did not opt for previously as it is rather expensive but as this is our last shot we are YOLO’ing the eff out of this final cycle. Basically PGS testing is pre-implantation genetic screening which tests specific chromosomal abnormalities before the embryo is transferred back into my uterus.

So after my FULL hour-long convo (along with a few laughs and a corny joke) with my new doctor I left his feeling SO GOOD. I can tell this doctor is results driven and that is exactly what we are looking for. He also seems to have a great personality which is an added bonus. Just when I thought I could be on my way they suggested I start to get some of the blood work out-of-the-way. What does “some of” entail? Well 28 vials of blood, on an empty stomach, to begin with. Luckily I was saved by a large bottle of apple juice and an immediate visit to the closest Thai restaurant after for some delicious pad thai.

CD1 should be next week and while we won’t be moving forward with a stim cycle quite yet, we have plenty of tests to keep us both busy until that point. I should add that as we already received our governement funded cycle (which we are extremely grateful for), everything going forward will be fully out-of-pocket.

It’s SO refreshing and SO nice to feel excited again even if it means starting all over.

XO

life will carry on

As some of you may know, we moved on to our FET (frozen embryo transfer) cycle in October. It started on CD2 with a baseline ultrasound and then Estrace (estrogen) twice a day.  Nothing needed to happen again until CD12 which was a dream compared to my egg retrieval cycle. On CD12 I went back for another scan and my lining was a perfect 10! What did this mean? It meant I would transfer on CD16! On Wednesday October 11th, we transferred our final embaby. Everything went perfectly. I was 100 times more relaxed than during our first cycle and even made a playlist to listen to during the transfer. “Sesame” was successfully transferred and then began the dreaded two-week wait.

The weekend after transfer was filled with farmer’s market visits and friends and brunch. A very easy way to pass the early stages of the two-week wait. I went hiking with my dog and even enjoyed a light BodyFlow yoga class. By 7 days after my transfer, things started becoming not as easy. I had an urge to test. I had already had a couple of tests leftover from our fresh transfer back in the summer so I figured I’d give it a try. Negative. I was a little concerned but then remembered that I didn’t see my first positive test during our fresh cycle until about 8 days after our transfer so I waited. I tested again the next day and the result was the same. Negative. Of course when this happens you turn to Google and every support group you belong too. I read a lot of things about late implantation of day 6 blastocysts but based on my readings and in speaking with other women by 9 to 10 days past frozen embryo transfer (and even with a late implanter) an early response pregnancy test should be able to detect enough HCG to confirm a pregnancy. I was holding, loosely, on to hope but also was starting to accept what I knew was the truth: I was not pregnant. Our final attempt at this round of IVF was over and it meant we were back to square one. I continued to test the next two days and saw the same stark white negative I had seen all week. It just so happened that I had some yoga teacher training to complete over the last few days of the two-week wait and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only was it a great distraction, it totally kept my mind at ease. I did make a decision to drop out of my prenatal training as I would have had to wear a pillow to mimic pregnancy and as I knew I was not pregnant, my heart wouldn’t have been able to handle it. Instead I spent that day running errands and just practicing some general self-care.

On the Monday morning I went in to my beta with a smile on my face already knowing what my email would say later that day. I even sent Shawn to work that morning as I felt like I was already prepared for what was coming. It’s like I’ve seen the emails so many times now that they don’t even phase me anymore. Except they do. Reading the words always get an automatic reaction and this time was no different but then, just moments later, I carried on with my work and my day. I went back to the office the next day, because sitting around and feeling sorry for myself gets old real quick, and surprisingly I was okay. People checked in throughout the day and offered to bring us food or take me out. It was all very nice. The surprising thing was that as the days passed, I continued to feel okay. It was like I had no emotion towards what had just happened. We decided the day of our confirmed negative that we would give IVF one more shot. Keep in mind this now means we are fully out-of-pocket (to the tune of about $20,000) and there is still no guarantee. At the same time we also solidified our decision to move forward with adoption. Adoption is something that Shawn and I have talked about since all of this started. We have both acknowledged that no matter how a child comes in to our lives, that it will be our child. So with that, we were referred to a private adoption consultant that friend’s of ours had used for both of their adoptions and we have an appointment with her in a couple of weeks. We also decided on a new IVF doctor and are waiting on that consultation too.

Earlier this week, my emotions took a complete turn. It’s almost as if everything I was trying to bury deep down and not feel came out to play. I currently feel empty and really scared. I cry (a lot) and I wonder if the day will come where I have a child of my own. I know these feelings will come and go but right now they’re just all so raw and very real. To think at the beginning of this year, when we finally started treatment, my biggest fear was having a baby too close to Christmas as he or she may grow up having their birthday overshadowed by the holidays. These feelings then moved on to wondering if our baby would share a birthday with me to then hoping so badly I could be on maternity leave with a few of my closest friends. None of this is currently a reality and as of right now we are at a complete standstill. I was almost asleep the other night and I shot awake sobbing yelling that I wanted our sweet Sesame back. It’s all too much some days and yet others, not at all. We will get through this as we always do because what other choice do we have? This just happens to be our current reality. Our daily, shitty, all-consuming reality. But with any luck, this will not be our reality forever. Life will carry on.

XO