I don't believe I ever actually shared this part of "our beginning", in detail anyway. So I'll do it now. (Fair warning this will probably be more then anything you ever wanted to know about your son (son-in law) and daughter (daughter-in law), you've been warned and are encouraged to stop read now lol. However you may find it highly informative, so read at your own risk).
We got married April 7, 2007 and started TTC (trying to conceive), ok well actually playing the "let's just see what happens" game. (To me TTC is more like timing things, temping, all that stuff). I was convinced that I'd just stop taking birth control pills and it would happen, that is what happens right? Little did I know it would take so much more.
A few months went by, we had some tragic family events come up and once things settled we decided that since "see what happens" hadn't "happened" we'd get a little more in tune with things. I read some stuff about all the things you should/could do to help things along and we tried. Months went by where I'd think "Could I be, I might be, am I?", only to be discouraged by a very late cycle or negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test. I went to the doctor. The first OB/GYN I saw (ironically later became my OB when I finally got PG and delivered A & B) wanted to take a wait and see approach. He thought we were young enough, and had plenty of time, everything appeared normal, except some weird cycles and he believed if we waited there was a chance my body would get it together. At the same time I was working for a GYN who more then once ordered a blood pregnancy test for me because things were so out of sorts and I just had to be sure. Finally, one day he spoke up and asked more. I am forever grateful.
He ordered more blood work and diagnosed me with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). My "current" OB still wanted to wait. The other, gave me knowledge, power, insight, and offered a solution. I switched OB's, started a pill called Clomid and we tried, again and again, for months. Nothing happened, ok well something happened. I ovulated, but nothing else happened. It was Jake's turn to be poked and prodded. We waited, took a break, explored options. My OB said he could get things started on Jake but obviously couldn't treat anything related to him and made more reccomendations, one specifically, "Go to Shady Grove Fertility and start treatment with an RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist)." At the time our insurance didn't cover much past what we had already tried so things went on the back burner.
Sometime in the beginning of 2010 I finally made our first appointment at Shady Grove, after wasting a year with another RE who basically sucked. Nothing like sitting in the waiting room at the RE's office and starring at a visibly pregnant woman and then later listening to the sound of her child's heartbeat echo out into the hall where I waited...waited for answers and my time to be a mother. An RE should never really share an office with an OB, it's sort of sucky for those other patients, no matter how happy I could be for everyone else there was still heartache there for me. Shady Grove was so very different. From the staff to the environment, it was all just...different... and better. I felt like it could actually happen for us finally. I learned we'd have to have a lot more tests done before we could even get started, and then right in the middle Jake changed jobs, which ended up being a huge blessing because of their Infertility coverage, to say it dramatically lowered our out of pocket costs would be an understatement. His new job also gave us the opportunity to pursue IVF, which would not have happened otherwise. Many people have success with IUI, but our RE felt given our history, age and other factors it would be safest to do IVF and reduce the risk of multiples.
It took 8 months from start from that first visit until we made it to our first IVF cycle. The irony in this process? I had to go on BCP (birth control pills) to prep my body...TO GET PREGNANT! Oh and I also had to loose about 20 pounds. The week before our cycle was to begin I was still up 5 pounds... I went to the gym every.single.day. and ate as many low calorie foods as I could. I probably was the healthiest I have ever been in my entire life prior to getting pregnant. The irony in that? After my egg transfer I was on modified bed rest and encouraged to avoid any exercise other then some easy walking until our 6 week u/s. All that working out and then I couldn't for 6 long weeks.
The in between - I was on two shots twice a day then three shots, I went for monitoring every other day for a few days, then everyday for a week or so. Looking back I wish I had been a blogger back then (or at the least kept a journal), but I didn't. Either way I do vividly remembering writing in my planner about watching the sun rise in morning traffic on way way to monitoring appointments and how peaceful it was. I recall bits and pieces of details throughout. They seem like a distant memory now.
Once they felt like I had decent sized follicles, they scheduled me for the egg retrieval (follicles are retrieved and are mixed in a pee-tree dish with "the boys" <--- medically correct I know, lol) and gave me protocol to follow after that (which included Progesterone suppositories OH WHAT FUN). I also had to take a trigger shot...which had to be done at a very specific time...which happened to be, at the same time as kickoff for a Ravens game we had tickets too. The RE's office marked the area that we needed to inject that final shot into, my brave husband was terrified and couldn't perform (get your mind out of the gutter, he is terrified of needles and was shaking to bad to attempt it). So ladies, I stood in the MedStar First Aid booth, they pulled a curtain and a Medical Assistant who I had never even met prior to this event, "pulled the trigger" pun intended.
Let me just say, there was absolutely nothing glamorous about this. Nothing at all. Nothing "normal" about this. On Monday morning I was in the RE's office and prepped for the procedure, I remember none of it, including the nice shot of HCG (yes the pregnancy hormone) that I got. I know I felt that later though. They retrieved 12 follicles on Day 1 - 9 had fertilized, Day 2 - only 8 remained and so it went... Day 3 - We had 4 (or maybe it was 6, I don't recall) embryos 2 A's 2 B's (A= best quality, B= decent quality), we were planning to transfer that day but our RE recommended we wait until Day 5 in hopes that one of the embryos would pull ahead and he could make his best reccomendation on which embryo to transfer. He had one rule, we could transfer no more then 2 embryos. He was that confident. So we had two more days to decide, contemplate, hesitate. Day 5 arrived, we went back to the RE's office. By this point I craved some normalcy and Jake and I had a running joke about a "conception song" (Ya know all those stories about "Oh we had few drinks, a song came on and next thing you know here was little Jake...ok ok cheesy but play along), and I had brought my iPod with me. This was Labor Day weekend, we planned a getaway for that weekend so I truly could focus and relax.
The RE brought us our Fert Report. Still 2 beautiful 8 cell A quality embryos and 2 B's. There was no option in our mind. We'd put back two. Our best two. I laid back on the table, turned on my iPod - Chris Young's "Gettin' You Home" played and we watched a small flicker on the screen as those two embryos where put in place. I had to lay there for some ridiculous amount of time (with a full bladder at that) and then it was over. The RE came back in with a picture for us. A snapshot of our two embies... The two that later became Addison and Blake. A snapshot of life the moment it began.
I would return in 10 days for a blood test to find out if it all worked. At the same time they shared the news that those other two embryos (the B's) didn't make it... they had planned to wait 2 more days and then freeze them. Those 2 embryos arrested the next day. Only the two we transferred survived.
It was (what I thought would be) the longest 10 days of my life (hello 153 days in the NICU) and I couldn't wait. So I cheated a little. I bought several dollars worth of tests and started testing at home on 4 days after our egg transfer (a Wednesday) it was negative. I fought hard not be disappointed. And promised myself I wouldn't test again. I broke that promise 2 days later, 7 days after our egg transfer (a Saturday) and it was positive. It would be another month before we'd know it was twins (10/13/10) to be exact. Nothing can explain the joy felt that day.
It was an emotional and sometimes terrifying ride. There were days we felt hopeless, and alone. I'd be lying if I said it didn't take it's toll on our marriage in some form. Something what was meant to be so natural, romantic and spontaneous; suddenly became about timing and schedules and precision. We pulled ourselves together and pulled closer together because of it, in the end. And just when we thought things were "better", we had healed and recovered, we were slapped in the face with two preemies who rocked our world and tested our faith all over again.
Despite it all, we don't regret a single moment of it all. Don't get me wrong, I questioned it...maybe we weren't meant to be parents. Were we tempting fate by going against the "normal", was God against IVF, would we be punished because of it? I have accepted this is "our normal" and I am beyond thankful for it. I've had to put my faith in medicine and accept the fact that God made man and gave man the power to do these miraculous things. To perform His work, His work of miracles. And most importantly, that Addison and Blake are indeed our meant-to-be's. From 12 to 2...nothing would stand in their way. Our fighters since the beginning.
And that adoring fans, is our story. I hope that by sharing our story, someone out there will benefit from it. That it will give them a voice, courage and inspiration and most important, let them know they are not alone. Infertility doesn't have to be a dirty secret.
(For more information about Infertility and Support visit Resolve or Shady Grove Fertility )