our {fertility} journey

this post has been in the making for quite some time now.  actually, it was the first post I ever started and yet I still haven’t hit the publish button.  I’ve tried to prepare my heart to write this post as it is guaranteed to bring me to tears…

I’ve had multiple emails and inquiries on here, Facebook and Instagram to share our story. Of course, aside from the usual 20 questions in the grocery…

do twins run in your family? did you use medicine? IVF? are they your only children? were you not able to get pregnant on your own? 

the short answer? no. yes. kind of. 

there really isn’t a short answer and there’s a lot of pieces to this puzzle so grab a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and stay a while. if you need the short version, we’ve been blessed twins 🙂

**my very, very sweet husband has agreed to share our story because if it helps just one couple… it will be worth it. we are not perfect. we’ve had a lot of really hard and sad days, but we have ALWAYS had each other.  If you are somewhere in the midst of infertility, have an angel baby, are praying for #2 {or 4}, or simply aren’t sure where you stand, please know we pray for you daily.  I don’t think I will ever stop praying for you.  we stand together.**

the beginning

the beginning was pretty normal for us.  we knew we always wanted to have a big family.  this was actually a topic of conversation on our first date as we sat in Fudrucker’s for 4 hours and discussed our future family. so we got married in July 2012, were living with our best friends and enjoying life.  we wanted to have a family sooner rather than later and decided to start trying at the start of the new year.  we found out we were pregnant in march and we were soo excited.  my sister was pregnant with Parker and we made the big announcement to our family on Easter. we couldn’t contain our excitement and we had an apt scheduled for the ultrasound + to meet with our new OB/GYN.

miscarriage

it was the Monday back from spring break (we were both teaching then) and I got up to go to the bathroom.  blood.  I instantly panicked and called Christine.  I didn’t want to scare Zach and was praying I was over reacting.  I called the doctor and he immediately sent me to get blood work to check my numbers.  I got the call the next day that yes, I was pregnant and they were hopeful.  so three days later, I was to get bloodwork done again and come in for the results.  Zach and I went together and he gave us the news that although my numbers still showed I was pregnant and my body still thought I was, the numbers weren’t quite doing what they needed to.  he didn’t think we needed to do an ultrasound because he was certain that I soon would miscarry and I did on April 1. we were devastated. it’s such a brutal process. you’re sitting around waiting for the inevitable and yet your body still thinks it’s pregnant.  I was thankful we had told our families so that we had the support we needed when we needed it. in hindsight, I can truly say this was a blessing.  my heart will always ache with the thought of our first sweet baby, but I also believe that God was able to use that for good.

testing

after we got the clear, we spent the next 10 months trying on our own.  in January, we felt like something wasn’t right and we made an appointment with my OB to get his opinion.  he ordered various blood work, ultrasounds, and a HSG to rule out any blockage or endometriosis with my mom’s history.  it all came back clear. he also ordered Zach to get a semen analysis.  I’ll never forget getting the call. “hi Lindsey, I’m really sorry to ask this, but has Zach had a vasectomy?” “no?” “are you sure?” “yes. I’m sure” Zach is standing next to me.  I hung up and the rest was kind of blurry other than, “we’ll figure this out.”

there was zero sperm. not one.

so we went to a male fertility specialist. and he was the best. he sent Zach to have an ultrasound. and then the call came. he had called Zach but wanted to call me personally as well.

“there is a tumor.”

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cancer + surgery

this stage was a lot of tears. a lot of prayers. a lot of appointments. blood work. ultrasounds. doctors. I don’t remember a whole lot during this time quite honestly… I think it was harder on me than it was Zach.  he was way stronger than I was.

so the diagnosis came: testicular cancer. it was a tumor that had taken up over 50% of the testicle and yet no doctor we saw could actually feel it.  it was weird. and the doctors were baffled by it.  Zach went through a variety of testing but it came down to the surgery.  he would need surgery to remove the testicle and the tumor.

March 13, 2014 was the day of surgery.  he did so great. I couldn’t have been more proud to be this man’s wife.

the next two weeks could have been the longest weeks of my life until that phone call came.

by the grace of God, Zach was cancer free.  the doctor’s explanation was “he was in the less than 3% that kicked cancer’s ass with surgery”  I still don’t fully understand and I’m not sure they do either, but I didn’t care.  he was cancer free.  we had a new love for each other, for life, for God.

testing

we gave it a few months and tried to get back to a normal life. we still had doctor’s appointments for Zach and he needed to heal.  we started meeting again with the male fertility specialist and were really encouraged.  he gave us lots of tips and we were hopeful the sperm would come back, but it just never did.  

who knows what came first…the zero sperm or the cancer. it could go either way.

so we had a decision to make.

we now were in the 1/3 of couples in infertility to have a male and female factor.  while Zach’s was diagnosed, mine was not.

sperm donor

we took some time to pray and figure out what we wanted to do.  we wanted a family. and we had options.  adoption or sperm donation.  we started pursuing adoption and were going through the process when Zach made the selfless decision to use a sperm donor.

if you have ever had to experience this whether that be egg or sperm donation, you know this is a rocky road.  you’re body isn’t doing what it is supposed to do and it’s a knife-stabbing pain that makes you question your purpose. it’s hard. and it’s not for everyone… but it was for us. I will forever be grateful for our donor and his decision to donate. more importantly though, I will forever be grateful for Zach and his prayerful decision to grow our family.

we started doing a LOT of research and it came down to us using the cryobank closest to us so we could save some of the cost by picking it up ourselves.

it is so strange. the whole process. I poured a glass of wine, Zach got a beer and we sat on the couch to pick out our sperm donor.

we decided to choose someone who looked like Zach – height, weight, eye + hair color… we chose the option to see a picture, read a letter he wrote, and get extended medical history.

we decided to get 3 rounds and store it at our clinic so it could be ready.

reproductive endocrinology {RE}

so we went back to square one. because we had already tried rounds of clomid with zero success on my end (not having enough eggs), we decided to switch it up. this is a lot of ultrasounds. a lot of doctor appointments… we had limited resources and we wanted a healthy baby.

IUI#1

clomid + femara (meds to increase # of eggs)

I had 1 egg that was maybe okay, but it was questionable. the doctor thought we had a good enough chance to go for it.

so we triggered (using Ovidrel) and went in for the IUI (intrauterine insemination).

at this point, we had to find some humor.  we had been through a miscarriage + cancer. it was time to laugh at how ridiculous our situation was.. so the doc comes in. please try to imagine. i’m sitting on a table, about to be inseminated. Zach is holding my hand and in walks the doc + a nurse holding another man’s sperm. we were nervous…. so Zach starts playing a little Marvin Gaye, “Let’s Get it On….” our doc didn’t find us as amusing as we did…. ha. we got a kick out of it.

so. two weeks and then you test. if it’s positive you go in for blood work.

negative.

we were upset, but okay.  determined #2 would be it.

IUI#2

we decided to up the meds with higher doses this round to try to get things moving.

same deal. barely one, but again, doc thought it would be okay.

negative.

IMG_2380.JPGIUI#3

we were pulling at straws at this point.

we were down to our last vial of sperm and there was still nothing to show for it except my very bruised stomach and a lot of cramping.

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we decided to use low doses of FSH stimulating injections (we used Follistim)… meds they use for IVF.

winner. winner.

IMG_2374.JPGwe had 3 eggs that were a definite yes and 1 that was a maybe.  we knew the risks, we had been to counseling (required by our clinic) and were prepared for twins, but we went for it.  as a team we decided we could handle what came our way and that this was the last time we were going to try. so we went for it.

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November 6: positive.

blood work

I called the clinic and they were as excited as we were!! next step was blood work… they called immediately and said we needed some more bloodwork.

November 17: my birthday. Zach and I sat in the office as the nurses filled us in on the excitement… they had all been taking bets on how many babies we had been blessed with… the majority had money down on 3. triplets. as in 3 babies. some had 4 and some had 2.  you know it’s a little crazy when your clinic is taking bets on your babies… I absolutely l o v e d them and the support they gave us….

as we sat in our ultrasound, Erin (our sweet, sweet nurse) finds Baby A right away… we were blessed with a baby. a healthy baby with a healthy heartbeat.  praise God.

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and then she scans over just a little and she didn’t have to open her mouth.  I knew before she said it. there were two. there was another sweet little peanut. I started crying (and let me very clear, these were tears of pure joy) and she said, “do you see it?” she filled Zach in with the incredible news, we had been blessed with twins. the nurses huddled outside of our door started cheering.

we were blessed with t w i n s.

first trimester

the next few weeks were stressful.  I cringed every time I went to the bathroom, praying I wouldn’t see what I had before.  those first 12 weeks are the most critical of them all, so we stay with the RE until we enter the second trimester.

IMG_2429.JPGbecause of complications and results we had found through other blood work throughout the process, I continued to started Heparin as soon as we got a positive test.  we continued these injections 2x per day until we entered the 2nd trimester so that my body wouldn’t fight against the pregnancy and terminate before they had a chance to survive.  and yes, I had quite the baby bump at 7 weeks.

I was so sick. soooo sick. and it really never went away through my pregnancy (you can read about my puking on the OR table during delivery here, ha!) every time I would throw up it was a reminder of just how blessed we were.  we were given the greatest gift of life with two sweet and precious little girls and I would do it all over again if given the choice.

vasa previa

it is worth noting that at 19 weeks, I was diagnosed with vasa previa.  one of the risk factors for having VP is using the FSH medications (and another is having twins).  you can read more about VP here, but know that with diagnosis comes almost a 95% survival rate.  if you are pregnant, please do your research and ask your doctor for a color doppler u/s.  it could save your baby’s life.

so here we are.  we have two beautiful, healthy, perfect little girls.

we have been blessed beyond measure and although our journey was tough, we have never been stronger.

let me be clear about one thing. I give ALL the glory to God throughout our entire journey.  only He could shed light on so much darkness.

every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17

as always, if you ever have any questions or want any other details, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Zach is so open to sharing our story and we are both more than happy to share our story.

xoxo,

Lindsey

 

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10 thoughts on “our {fertility} journey

  1. Another great read! You have been through a lot it is so nice to see how you rejoice in the gift that is your little girls.

    My doctor told me that I was miscarrying with my daughter. I waited over the weekend for the full miscarriage to happen and by Monday my numbers had doubled. Almost 3 years later I have a healthy little girl as well.
    God is good.

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! We’re certainly pretty good at beating those odds. I so appreciate you reading! I’ve been loving all your posts lately 🙂

  2. You have such a way with your writings… Thank you for sharing 🙂

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