Trying to Conceive, Round Two: Part I

When Addie turned one, Kendra and I started talking about trying for a second kid. We had four vials of sperm left from the same donor we had used with Addie. We were lucky to have even that many – when I called to order more after Addie was conceived, I was told he was sold out. With only one vial on ice, we were saddened by the thought of having to find a new donor. However, not long before Addie’s birthday, a woman who had children with the same donor posted a message on donorsiblingregistry.com that she had three vials left. I was the first to respond, so she sold them to us. Kendra did all of the paperwork. Not surprisingly, there were no contract templates to draw from, so Kendra modified a contract used to purchase bull semen. True story.

Just after Addison’s first birthday, we had our first IUI. A positive pregnancy test followed two weeks later, along with incredible beta numbers! We were elated for Kendra to get pregnant on the first try. A few short weeks later, we saw our little baby’s heart beating on an ultrasound monitor… at 99 bpm. At 7 weeks gestation, the doctors like to see it over 100 bpm. We figured one less bpm was not a big deal, but as the nurse ushered us into the doctor’s office, we knew something was wrong. She told us the news – there was a 50% chance of miscarriage. The next two weeks were excruciating as we waited for a second ultrasound. The minute the nurse put the ultrasound wand into place, I looked at Kendra and shook my head, “no.” I gently squeezed her hand as the nurse told us she could not find a heartbeat.

Kendra underwent a D&C three days later. The woman who scheduled the surgery screwed up, and had us come in while the operating room was setup for egg retrievals, so they made us wait THREE HOURS to get the procedure done. Meanwhile I was holding Kendra’s hand as she sobbed the entire time. It was unbearable.

It was another three months before the pregnancy hormones finally left Kendra’s body, and we were able to start again. It was a really difficult time for both of us – more so than either of us expected. Yet when it was time to try again, we pushed aside the pain with excitement and hope that the next IUI would work. It did not. Nor did the third one. With one vial of our donor left, we dipped into our savings, and opted for a “mini-IVF.” Unlike a typical IVF cycle, which involves injecting A LOT of drugs, when performing a mini-IVF, fertility stimulating drugs are not used, and doctors only harvest the number of eggs naturally produced during the cycle. In our case – two. Both took, and developed into three-day embryos. We chose to put one back into Kendra.

In the days that followed, with each negative pregnancy test we felt the hope of having siblings with the same donor fade away. The blood test confirmed that the mini-IVF did not work.

Kendra was too sad to pick a new donor, so I started combing the online catalogs and settled on one that sort-of sounded like Addie’s donor. We tried him on the next IUI – a total bust. When I went to order another vial for our next round, I was told there were no more left. At this point, I had no enthusiasm left for scrolling through donor profiles. I did a basic search, picked one, and ordered two vials.

After two more failed IUI’s, including a chemical pregnancy, our insurance picked up the cost of IVF. Nothing can really prepare you for the IVF process. I cried when we got the shipment of fertility meds for our first round. It was so overwhelming. I had to give Kendra injections twice a day. I had done trigger shots during our IUI rounds, but IVF involved precise measurements, mixing different drugs, and bigger needles.

Kendra's Fertility Meds

Kendra’s Fertility Meds

Our first attempt at IVF was a complete disaster, and an emotional roller coaster. A few days into the first round of injections, we realized that I was giving her ten times the amount of a particular drug because the pharmacy had sent us the wrong syringes. In addition to being freaked out about overmedicating my wife, we were both devastated with the idea of having to skip the cycle. Luckily, with some adjustments to the dosage of the other medications, we were able to go forward. Despite being pumped full of fertility drugs, Kendra was not producing a lot of follicles. Then, our fertility center screwed up and waited too long for her to come for followup bloodwork, and she started to ovulate on her own. We had to use yet another drug to try to stop the ovulation. Again, we were overwhelmed with feelings of frustration and anger, and again, we were lucky in that the medicine worked. When we finally went in for the retrieval, they were able to get three viable eggs.

They then promptly “forgot” to fertilize them.

Yes, you are reading that right. The fertility clinic somehow never managed to add sperm to the petri dish filled with Kendra’s eggs. Anger does not begin to describe how we felt. The mistake wasn’t discovered for 24 hours – at which point the eggs were not nearly as receptive to fertilization. The clinic performed emergency ICSI, a procedure where one sperm is injected directly into each egg. Again, we got lucky – two of the eggs survived and developed into three-day embryos. We put both back into Kendra, and prayed… all to no avail. We were devastated. After over a year of trying, a miscarriage, and a chemical pregnancy, we were not sure if we could continue…

Click here to read part two.

About Jen

Outdoor adventurer and traveler. Writer, Photographer & Communications Professor. Wife. Mom of twins plus one. Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador. Blogger at gayfamilytrips.com.

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20 Responses to Trying to Conceive, Round Two: Part I

  1. Meghan J. Ward May 20, 2013 at 1:06 am #

    Wow, Jen. Thanks for writing about this. It has really opened up my eyes to the struggles that some couples have in the process of ‘creating’ a child. What an ordeal. It sounds like you have a strong partnership through it all. I’m looking forward to reading the other half of this story.

    • Jen May 20, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

      Thanks Meghan :) It’s amazing how much stronger our relationship got through the process. Part II is coming soon!

  2. Brian Spector May 20, 2013 at 4:53 am #

    Wow what you 2 have been through is truly amazing. This has to be so very hard for you and yet I also know that when you wake up every morning and see Addison, that just makes your faces smile.
    You have given me a science lesson in what you have gone through,,,,only wish you 3 nothing but good times from now on.
    KEEP SMILING….Jen drop me a note and let me know how you 3 are

    • Jen May 20, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

      Thanks Brian! We are all doing well – thanks for asking :) More to come in part II.

  3. Mommy Hiker May 20, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    This brought me to tears. Thanks for being so open about your journey. My husband and I went through 3 years of trying on our own… tracking, peeing on sticks and lots of crying when it read negative, which finally led us to a year-long fertility journey full of HSGs, exploratory laproscopic surgery, being stuck with needles and IUIs.

    I must admit that the word miracle was never really a part of my vocabulary until we finally got pregnant. Then, after 6 months on bedrest, when I held our baby girl in my arms, miracle was truly the only word to describe her.

    Thanks again, Jen and we are sending your whole family tons of love and light and fertile thoughts!!!

    • Jen May 20, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

      Thanks :) It is unbelievable the lengths we will go to get that miracle – but in the end, it is so worth the hard times.

  4. BLLD May 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    Thank you both for sharing this. It is so good to know that the stop and start and expectations have similar effects on others (although I wish you did not have to experience it) because it can seem so isolating at times.

    We have been on hold for four months due to reactions to hormones. Every two weeks I would show up for another scan or test and be told successively more disappointing news. It has been exhausting, disheartening, devistating, confusing, and probably so many other things. I find it hard to be in my body on a daily basis: the body that I had hoped to be incubating something wonderful by now. It is still the same shape as before and holds no fledgling life. That is not something that is easily understood by those who are not trying for a baby or who do not have the added stress of needing to do things through doctors and with limited ‘supplies’.

    Thank you again for sharing.

    • Jen May 20, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

      Hang tight – it’s such a difficult process. You two are in our thoughts and prayers. If you ever have questions, just drop us an email!

  5. Lisa Stott May 20, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

    You two are an incredible source of hope and support! Thanks for sharing your pain and struggle. Not only does it help others who share similar experiences but it educates the rest of us. My family has been blessed to know and be a part of your family!

  6. Janeiack May 22, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    We take so much for granted. Your willingness to share is powerful. I am happy you are writing the sequence to this. You supported each other so much the painful years, that you can both own the present joys.

  7. focusedliving October 3, 2014 at 2:12 am #

    Beautiful story! Wishing you all the best!

  8. Sarah October 20, 2016 at 1:28 am #

    Very inspiring. We are currently on our second IUI attempt – our journey has been hard, but to see it work for others gives us hope! Thank you for sharing!

    Sarah
    ourjourney528.blogspot.com

  9. Karen Ung August 30, 2017 at 11:56 am #

    How heartbreaking the clinic screwed up so many times!!! I hope it all works out for your family!!!

    • Karen Ung August 30, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

      I just realized this is from 2013 before the twins. So happy it all worked out!!!!!

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