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.
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…