i am still infertile

It’s been a while since I’ve been here to write. I started blogging here and for Fertility Matters Canada back in 2017 amidst our first medicated IUI cycle. Over the next 18 months I would continue to blog through 2 more medicated IUI cycles, 3 IVF cycles, 3 transfers and, eventually, a successful pregnancy. As most of you know, our son Elton was born in February of 2019.

Fast forward to 2020: I returned to work after a lovely 10-month maternity leave and was finally getting used to the crazy routine of working Mom life. Then, COVID hit.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard remarks about a COVID baby boom or how “maybe it’s time to try for number 2”. There are a lot of things wrong with the second statement, but I will sum it up as best as I can – I am still infertile. While I am grateful every single day that our journey ended with one baby, it does not magically erase the reproductive issues that both Shawn and I have been diagnosed with and does not guarantee us any subsequent children. Having a baby did not cure our infertility.

When we do decide to pull the trigger on a sibling cycle, it will not be a simple process. We haven’t been with our clinic in almost 2 years. We will need to be referred again, consult with our doctor and ultimately, I will need to have most of the testing re-done in order to proceed. We will be hopeful that our embryos thaw and are viable for transfer and will also hope that just one more “sticks”. We will have all the same fears with transfer and failure. We will trust in my body’s ability to host another embryo to term but, again, none of this is guaranteed.

The long, hard days of our infertility struggle are not lost on me simply because we had a baby. We will continue to struggle to build our family. Infertility was a tough road to navigate and I do not imagine secondary infertility being that much easier. While we are lucky to have frozen embryos and the days of shots and egg retrievals may be over, there is still so much unknown. Try to be mindful of the words you use with your infertile friends – “trying for number 2” isn’t as easy as being locked down in a house with my husband for months on end.

coming soon (no, not another baby… yet)

It’s been a minute since I last blogged here (almost 16 months to be exact) and I’m thinking of getting back in to it. Not only has the last 18 months with our sweet miracle been a whirlwind, we are actively starting to think about a sibling cycle (still probably a year out, but on the radar nonetheless). With that comes a lot of different emotions including navigating secondary infertility. You would think after all we have been through it would be a breeze the second time around but trust me, it’s not. It’s a lot to take in while also being reminded that we are, indeed, still infertile.

Looking forward to sharing our journey once again and for your support. In the meantime, I’m hoping to share what we’ve been up to the last 18 months.




elton shawn michael long

On Thursday February 14th at 8:00 pm, Shawn and I arrived at Southlake Regional Health Centre to begin the induction process. I was 39w3d, 0 cm dilated and 0% effaced when first checked at triage. We started with our first dose of cervidil and we were then admitted for the long haul. I remember the first OB we met came to our bedside and immediately noticed how much stuff I had packed. He asked how long I was planning to stay and I said I had a feeling it would be a while. Our Doula came to check in on us but we all decided sleep would be key and she would come back in the morning. 12 hours later, on Friday morning, I was checked and I was 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I was excited there had been some progression and the new OB gave me a second dose of cervidil. The next 12 hours went by fairly slowly. I started to have light contractions in to the evening but the worst part was they were all in my back. I couldn’t lay in the uncomfortable delivery bed so my Doula kept me up and moving. I was on the stability ball a lot and we did some laps up and down the stairs of the hospital. I was checked again Friday night around 8:00 p.m. and I was still only 1 cm dilated but was now 80% effaced. I was frustrated but also knew the process could take some time. I was finally able to get to sleep that night around 2:30 a.m. with the help of some light sleeping pills but woke up to more contractions around 6:30 a.m.

Saturday morning we had another new OB who came in to check me. At that point I was only 2 cm dilated and they decided to break my water and would then put me on pitocin. I asked for some time to shower and go for a quick walk before I was given the pitocin because I knew once that happened I probably wouldn’t be getting up for a while. The breaking of my water alone started speeding things up for me and my contractions were getting closer. I was also aware I was now on a 24 hour clock to get this baby out. One thing the OB had let me know was when they broke my water there was some meconium that had come out. They then prepared us that once baby was born, he or she may have to go to NICU and that Shawn would go with the baby. This mildly terrified me but it was good to know there was a plan in place in case we needed it. At 11:00 a.m., after my shower and walk, we started on the pitocin drip. It wasn’t long after that started that I went in to active labour. My contractions became more intense and closer together and by 2:30 p.m. I had an epidural. The anesthesiologist was great and I guess the good thing about having intense contractions while having it put in was I didn’t feel a thing. We were checked again at 5:30 p.m. and I had only progressed to 3-4 cm. I was exhausted and frustrated and it looked like we would be having a Sunday baby at this rate.

Much to our surprise when the night nurse came on at 7:30 p.m. I was 7 cm dilated. At 9:00 p.m. I was fully dilated and was told I’d be getting ready to push within the hour. That’s when shit got real. We were going to meet our baby and maybe even that night! At 10:00 p.m., with Shawn and our Doula by my side, I started pushing with one of our favourite albums – Secrets by Ian Fletcher Thornley – playing in the background. I highly recommend having a Bluetooth speaker at the hospital. Music kept us happy as we opted to not have TV while we were there.

It was harder to push than I thought especially since it took a couple tries to figure out exactly how to push. One thing that happened, which I did not find out until I saw myself in a mirror in my postpartum room, was I pushed in to my face the first time and burst almost every blood vessel in my face as well as my eye. I didn’t even know that was a thing. After 70 minutes of pushing our sweet Elton Shawn Michael was born. My entire world stopped in that moment and nothing else mattered. We were also very lucky that he did not have to go to the NICU.

Our parents were in the waiting room but given how late it was they were just waiting for news of his arrival and would come back Sunday morning to meet him. Shawn and I just took the time as a new family of 3. We were moved in to our postpartum room around 1:30 a.m. and our Doula finally headed out around 3:00 a.m. after being with us for almost 48 hours straight. We were so thankful to have her through labour, delivery and the first few hours of Elton’s life. Not only was she so super knowledgeable about the whole labour and delivery process, she also helped Shawn to understand what he could do to help me through contractions and any other pains I was experiencing.

Seeing Shawn as a father makes me heart explode. He is so hands on and helpful and Elton loves him so so much. He had to go back to work the day after we got out of the hospital to finish our home so we could move in a couple of weeks later. After we moved, he started a brand new job and has been working his butt of 6 days a week but the first thing he does when he walks through the door is makes sure that Elton and I are okay and if I need a break, I take it.

Elton is now just over 6 weeks old and we are learning something new every day. There is no handbook on this parenting thing but we are slowly working through it day by day.

Our Long road to baby was filled with ups and downs, heartache, loss and wondering when we would ever be parents. Elton has lessened all of those feelings but we will never be able to forget just what we went through to get here. We are just so grateful that our story had its happy ending after all these years. To everyone who stuck by us through thick and thin, we love you and Elton will know just how much each and every one of you means to us and how much you love him. As always, much love to you all.


another year in review

December is upon us and that always means time for reflection. 2017 was a difficult year on our road to Baby and we ended it on a bit of a sad note. 3 failed IUIs, our first IVF cycle which resulted in our first ever pregnancy (albeit short lived) and a failed frozen embryo transfer (FET). I hated Christmas last year. One of the positives we took from it all is we ended 2017 knowing we had more options (new clinic, new doctor, adoption consult) but still without a pregnancy or a child.

We completed the rest of our re-testing in January of 2018 with our new doctor at CReATE fertility in Toronto and by the end of that month we were officially back in a full IVF stim cycle. I had been medication free since our last failed frozen embryo transfer (FET) in October and injection free since July of 2017. By CD (cycle day) 9 we were ready to trigger and move on to egg retrieval #2 (or, #1 with the new clinic). We yielded much better results than my first IVF cycle and that brought us 3 beautiful embryos. Shawn and I had previously discussed wanting to have 4 embryos to send off for genetic screening so it meant we would move forward with a third and final retrieval cycle. I took a quick break after the retrieval to go visit my best friend out west and then quickly hopped back in to my final cycle at the end of February. That cycle really took a toll on me both physically and emotionally. It also took a toll on us financially. You see, we had planned for one out-of-pocket cycle this year, not two. Add in the cost of meds to one of those cycles and it was a lot. I remember around CD5 of my third retrieval cycle I wanted to stop. I wasn’t progressing well and I was an overall miserable mess. With an amazingly supportive husband, who is very good at talking me off ledges, we carried on with this final cycle. Notwithstanding the fact that I was already $3K deep in meds after 5 days, we knew there was still time to turn that cycle around. Well, I’m glad we (I) kept at it. It was our most successful cycle out of the 3 and we ended up (to everyone’s surprise) with 7 beautiful embryos. It was at that time we sent all 10 off for genetic testing. After the heartache we went through in 2017 from the chemical pregnancy and a flat out negative from our FET we wanted to make sure we were only transferring genetically normal embryos this time. The cost was high but ultimately, worth it. After what felt like years of waiting we received the call that we had 7 PGS/PGD normal embryos. We were thrilled. It was also at that moment that we took a hard break before moving forward with a transfer.

I learned a lot from my first IVF cycle. Personally I don’t think we should have proceeded with a fresh transfer. My body was under a lot of stress. I was at risk just days before my retrieval for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and while it corrected itself somewhat through the retrieval process I had a rough couple days of recovery and then boom, they transferred an embryo. I wanted to make sure I took the time to fully recoup this time around. Given I did two back-to-back egg retrieval’s, my body my pooped and confused. We went on a trip to Bahamas which was exactly what we needed. I then went on a girls trip to NYC in advance of my 35th birthday.

After 3 months of regulating cycles, taking time for ourselves and doing lots of celebrating, we were ready to move forward with our FET. On June 4, 2018 we transferred one of our beautiful embryos and it stuck.

Pregnancy after infertility is a total mind f*ck. I suffered from some of my worst depression and anxiety in the early months but have really been enjoying the second half of this pregnancy. I am 30 weeks today and with less than 2 weeks until Christmas we can finally say it will be our last one with just us two (so I should sleep in, right??!!)

While 2018 is ending the way we wanted to, it has still be one of our most challenging years yet (have I mentioned we are building a house too? More on that another day). I am grateful for our clinic, my OB, our Doula, all of our friends and family who have stood beside us through thick and thin and Shawn. None of this would be possible without a circle of love and support and our cup overflows with that!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and happy new year no matter where you are in your journey. I know it may not be a merry one for a lot of my friends still in the wait but I’ve been there and what I can say is do you. If you don’t want to go to that holiday party or brunch at your Aunts, don’t. Protect you heart and yourself this holiday season because your feelings matter.

Much love XO

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.


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!