Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Story

I'm in a "life after infertility" mommy Facebook group that actually has a lot of my blogger friends.  It's been amazing to connect with this group of ladies that have all struggled with infertility in some way.  It has been a huge support network for all of us in the group, and I now consider these gals very good friends.

This last week, everyone was assigned a day to write and share their biography, detailing each person's infertility journey (this will continue for a few weeks so everyone has a chance to share).  Most of us are familiar with each other's story already, but it's been a great exercise to look back and remember all the struggles we went through to get our precious babies.

After writing my biography last week, I thought it would be fun to share it here as well.  For some of you, it may just be a recap if you've been reading my blog for awhile.  Maybe for others, this will be the first time you've heard my whole infertility story.


Tony and I met our first week of college at Western Oregon University, when I was just 17 years old, in 1992.  He was 19.  We dated for 5 years before getting married in 1997, and have now been married for 18 years this September.  I went off bcp a little over a year after being married.  Another few years down the road, I ended up having surgery to remove a cyst on one of my ovaries.  We went through some testing and were told that while it wasn’t impossible for us to get pregnant on our own, it was highly unlikely.  At the time, we thought it was mostly due to Tony’s low sperm quality and count.  We couldn’t afford treatments at the time so we spent several years  with me temping and doing timed intercourse.  Eventually we tapered off doing that and pretty much left it in God’s hands.  We definitely weren’t preventing, but we didn’t do a whole lot other than have sex and pray.

We spent YEARS coaching softball together.  We invested our time into those softball girls.  They were our family.  They were our kids that we couldn’t have.  However, once the majority of those girls graduated, they moved on with their lives and other than some Facebook contact here and there, we lost them.  We do have a few that have remained close, but it is just not the same as having your own kids.

In October of 2011, I turned 37 and 3 days later, I had the honor of watching my sister give birth to her third child.  This was actually the second birth I was witness to, as I’d also been there for the birth of her second child as well.  (I missed my niece’s birth because our softball team qualified for Nationals and she came early!)  Between me turning another year older and watching the miracle of my nephew being born, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I didn’t want to end up in my 40’s/50’s and living with regrets that we didn’t try absolutely EVERYTHING to have a baby.  Tony and I had pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact it just wasn’t going to happen for us, but after talking with him about how I was feeling, he said “let’s do it!”

So after 12+ years of trying and hoping for a baby, then pretty much giving up on it, we had our first consultation with our RE in November of 2011.  We did one IUI, which everyone expected to fail, and it did.  Our fist IVF was the beginning of 2012.  5 eggs were retrieved, and we had 3 embryos that barely made it for a day 3 transfer.  All 3 were transferred.  On the morning of beta #1, I started spotting and I knew it was my period.  Tony didn’t understand why I was still making the hour drive to the clinic for the beta if AF was coming, but I went anyway.  At the clinic, they told me that spotting can be normal.  That afternoon, I got the call that I was pregnant!  I called Tony at work to tell him and he started crying.  He left work early and surprised me with flowers.  This was a Friday.  On Monday, I went back for my second beta.  This time the phone call was to tell me I was NOT pregnant.  I had a chemical pregnancy.

Two cycles later was our attempt at IVF #2.  We did not even make it to retrieval.  At the suppression check, I had 8 follicles.  After stemming, I only had one measly follicle that made it out of the gate, so it turned into failed IUI #2.

At this point, it seemed totally insane to continue wasting money if I wasn’t going to produce enough eggs due to my diminished ovarian reserve.  Donor eggs was something neither one of us ever wanted to consider, but it turns out that when that’s potentially your only path to parenthood, you start looking at things differently.  My sister was willing to be an egg donor for us, but we weren’t sure if using her as a known donor or instead using an anonymous donor would be our best option.  Ultimately, we came to the decision to use my sister as our donor.  It was our best chance and the closest route to getting a little Amber and Tony.  My sister and I look a lot alike.  In fact, we have been asked many times if we are twins, but she is actually 5 years younger.

With my sister, right after my nephew was born.

November 30, 2012 was our baby making day.  Out of 14 eggs retrieved, 9 were mature.  Of those 9, we got 5 fertilized embryos.  Of those 5, one didn’t cleave, so we were left with 4.  We transferred 2 embryos on December 3, 2012.  We were not left with a lot of hope that the other 2 embryos would make it to freeze.  Our clinic never freezes before day 6, and they weren’t optimistic for these other 2 embryos making it.  However, 3 days later, we got a call from the embryologist and one of the embryos was growing strong and met all criteria to be saved.  The other was very borderline and didn’t hit the milestones they were looking for, but they would keep it since they like to freeze the embryos in pairs anyway.

On December 11th, I got my first positive pee stick.  On December 17th, the bfp was confirmed with a positive beta.  Our first ultrasound at 6w3d was disappointing.  We could see the sac and fetus, but there wasn’t a confirmed heartbeat.  A week later was the second ultrasound, the fetus was measuring a little small, but there was a heartbeat of 108.  The third ultrasound however, was excellent!  We had a strong heartbeat of 153 and the measurements were on track.  At the last ultrasound appointment with our RE a week later, we found out that Bob was dead.  (That’s what Tony named the baby, so we weren’t just calling it, IT.)   I had a D&C and chromosomal testing showed that the baby had Trisomy 18.  Ironically, it came from the donated egg, a less than 1% chance of happening.

My sister found out she was pregnant the day after our third ultrasound where we had gotten good news.  Her plan was to wait until after we made our own pregnancy announcement to share her news.  She wanted me to have my moment in the spotlight.  It devastated her when she found out that Bob was dead.  She waited a little over a week to tell me she was pregnant.  Just one month after donating her eggs to us, she got pregnant with her fourth.  They had planned to have a fourth baby, but didn’t think it would happen so soon.  It was a very hard time for us both.  There was no blame.  It was just so unfair that Tony and I couldn’t have kids of our own.  It was also unfair that the joy was sucked right out of their own happy time, when my sister and her husband should have been happy and celebrating their last baby that they had always planned on having.

On March 13, 2013, I went in for a Saline Infusion Sonogram and got the all clear for our May FET.  I spent the next few months coaching softball, while I was also preparing for that FET.  On May 24th, we transferred those last two embryos and I officially considered myself pregnant that day.  It was our very last chance of having children.  After this, we were done.  I couldn’t ask my sister to donate again, and we were at our limit of what we could afford to take out in loans.  It had to work!

At 4dp6dt I took my first hpt and got a very faint line.  Over the course of the next week, I watched that line get darker and darker.  I shared the tests with Tony, but he remained very neutral and wasn’t at all excited.  He was extremely guarded this time around.  On June 3rd, my beta HCG came back at 416.  Two days later, my beta was 992.

I was originally scheduled to have our first ultrasound on a Wednesday, but I started spotting the Friday before, so my RE had me come in that Saturday to check things out.  The good news was we were able to see and hear a heartbeat!   The maybe bad news was that there was also another baby, but a heartbeat couldn’t be detected.  By that Wednesday, at 6w4d pregnant, both babies had heartbeats!  Twins!

I had a relatively “easy” pregnancy.  We had a few things that caused concern along the way, but for the most part, it was fairly uneventful.  I had a rash that covered my stomach and itched starting at around 23 weeks and continued the rest of the pregnancy.  I had pretty intense rib pain that was potentially coming from my liver, which they monitored.  I didn’t sleep almost the entire pregnancy!  I developed carpal tunnel syndrome in BOTH hands that was quite painful, mostly at night.  I had some nausea till about 17 weeks, but it was fairly manageable except for a few occasions.  Despite all of this, I continued to work….

Last bump photo, 32w1d

Until one day at work, at 32w3d, my water broke!  I wasn’t completely sure it was my water breaking or if I’d totally peed my pants.  I called my OB and she directed me to go to L&D, where it was confirmed that it was indeed Baby A’s water that broke.  I was admitted to the hospital and wouldn’t be leaving.  I was given the first of two steroid shots to develop the babies’ lungs and started on a magnesium IV drip to slow labor.  The magnesium made me very sick.  I was extremely dizzy and couldn’t focus on anything.  I could not for the life of me keep my eyes open, but I also couldn’t sleep at all.  It was a very weird feeling.

The goal was to keep the babies on the inside until 34 weeks.  After 2 days, Baby A took a dip in her monitoring so an ultrasound was ordered.  During the ultrasound, she was fine, but Baby B was very sluggish and wasn’t responding.  They were preparing for a potential c-section that night.  However, by that afternoon both babies were doing well and it was determined that the steroid injections and magnesium were starting to affect them, so the mag was turned off.   As the meds wore off, both babies became Kung  Fu fighters and were very active.

My blood pressure climbed more and more each day and I had extremely intense swelling.  From my toes and up through my legs and into my back.  My lady bits were sooooo incredibly swollen I could hardly walk.  I gained a grand total of 26 POUNDS in the final 6 days of my pregnancy while I was in the hospital!

One night, I got up to go to the bathroom and I felt so sick!  I was dizzy and could hardly move because my legs and labia were so extremely swollen.  I was immediately put back on the magnesium because I had developed pre-eclampsia.  The mag was to help prevent me from having a stroke.  They had been doing a 24 hour urine analysis, but decided at that point that it didn’t matter.  It was time to deliver the babies. 

Until that day, I was having a difficult time deciding between a vaginal delivery or a c-section.  I was terrified of both!  However, Baby B decided for us by turning breach that last day.  Turns out it was a very good thing, because Baby A had her cord wrapped around her head pretty good.

On December 23, 2013, at 33w2d, the babies were born.

Rylee Viola, born at 8:27pm, weighed 4 lbs 10 oz and was 16 ½ inches long.

Ayden James, born at 8:28pm, weighed 5 lbs 4 oz and was 18 ¾ inches long.

I found out later that I had hemorrhaged during the c-section.  Apparently, I also developed sleep apnea, because I stopped breathing every time I dozed off while they were cleaning and stitching me up.  It seemed like I had to stay in recovery forever, but they eventually wheeled my hospital bed to the NICU so I could see my babies.  I was only able to see and hold Rylee because Ayden was on a c-pap at the time.  I was only able to stay for about 10 minutes.  Tony stayed with the babies all night while I had to go to my own room, where they continued to monitor me for the pre-eclampsia.
Thankfully, Ayden only needed the oxygen help for about 5 hours and they were able to remove the c-pap.  He had an IV for a few days to help regulate his blood sugars.  Rylee was a rockstar and only needed an IV for a little bit.  Both had feeding tubes for about 2 weeks.
The day after they were born, the doctor finally approved for me to be wheeled back to the NICU in my hospital bed.  I was only able to stay for an hour, but I did get to hold both my babies.  I barely got to see them for the first 2 ½ days.  Tony was the most amazing daddy and husband during this time.  He spent almost every minute with Ayden and Rylee doing skin to skin and learning how to care for them.

Holding both my babies for the first time
Kangaroo care with Daddy
Ultimately, we had 19 days in the NICU while Rylee and Ayden learned how to keep their body temperatures up and learned how to suck, swallow, breathe so that they could eat.  From the time I was admitted until the babies were discharged, I only left the hospital once.  It was the longest month of my life, but we came home with the two most precious bundles we could have ever imagined!  Now, we have two toddlers ruling our lives and we are so incredibly blessed beyond words!  We thought we would never have the opportunity to be parents, but we just had to be patient, for many, many years….
The day we brought them home

This past weekend.  Almost a year and a half!


  1. So many speed bumps and struggles but oh, the blessings that you have now!!!! Just gives me goose bumps all over again and just continue sending prayers and love for continued blessings with your little family who couldn't be any cuter!!!!! Lots of hugs and love, Auntie

  2. I just love this story. Amazing what you endured for these two precious miracles!! Such wonderful blessings :)

  3. If I wouldn't have read your blog and just looked at you and your sister I totally would have thought it was you in the hospital bed!

  4. What a great story. I can't believe I've "known" you for years!

  5. What a great story. I can't believe I've "known" you for years!

  6. What a great story. I can't believe I've "known" you for years!

  7. I think that I started following you in the midst of your pregnancy so I didn't know about all of the stuff in the beginning (just bits and pieces). And yes, you and your sister look very much alike! I love your story. :-)

  8. What an amazing story! You are truly blessed, and they were definitely worth the long wait! The things we will go through for our children! They were heavy for preemies, weren't they? You had about 10 lbs of babies, even though they were so early. Congrats again - they are gorgeous.

  9. Even though i followed your story from the beginning, I always love reading it. You have persevered through SO MUCH!! I admire you more than you know my friend <3 <3

  10. You and your sister do look a lot a like! It wasn't until I caught the date on the photo that I realised it wasn't you as the postpartum mom! I've so enjoyed learning your amazing story and getting to know you over these years!

  11. I can't believe I've been following you for almost 3 years! I love reliving your story. Even though it had so many bumps along the way, it makes my heart so happy that Rylee and Ayden are the happy ending.

    Is there any way I could become a part of that Facebook group?

  12. I just love reading about your happy ending. It's so crazy some of the similarities we had in our birth experiences. I didn't realize how big Ayden was when he was born. Can you imagine how big they would have been if you had stayed pregnant longer?

    I'm with Aislinn. How do I get in on this FB group?

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