earlier this week I had a conversation with someone who has been following our IVF journey. they told me how they had a member of their family go through this process with their spouse, but shortly after their baby was born, they ended up getting divorced.
I responded back saying how I totally understood how that could happen. everything about the infertility journey tests you and your partner. it's so intense, that I feel like the end result can either be two extremes: it will either make a couple stronger and closer, or it will totally break you. there's no in-between.
that night, after having that conversation- I looked over at this side of our fridge, and my heart swelled. my husband and I are in a really good place right now. and there's no coincidence that I'm feeling this so fully because for the first time in months, I'm not hopped up on fertility drugs (and oh MAN does it feel good). we're in this brief break from the madness. no shots, no hormones, no reports, no doctor's visits. no bad news. we're just simply living, relishing in the peace before the crazy starts up again in a few weeks.
these silly photo booth images of me and my husband over the years remind me of how much we've been through, how hard it's been, but also how much closer we are from it all. the top left image is from 2012, and we're making the exact same silly faces in the most recent image, taken last week at my husband's work (with the palm leaves frame). for how much things have changed, so much has stayed the same. the silliness, the sarcasm, the laughter, even the complaining from my husband when I asked him to wait in line for these photo booth pictures (ha!), are the core of who we are. and that hasn't changed even though there have been fights, and tears, and raging hormones, and an absurd amount of debt that has consumed our lives.
we've overcome so many hurdles, and there will be oh so many more in the future. and it will suck, and it will be hard, but right now I am reminded that we will always get through it and be able to take a silly photo at the end of it all.
happy friday, friends!
this is it. these are our potential future children!!!
out of the 9 frozen blastocysts we sent off for genetic testing, my nurse called me earlier today to let us know that 4 came back as normal!
it's hard to describe the love I feel in my heart, the excitement and tightness that fills my chest knowing that there are 4 possibilities of life, our babies, sitting in a lab just a few cities away. how surreal this all is right now!
I am so glad I decided to take a month off before jumping into prepping for a transfer. can I tell you how good it feels to feel normal? these last few months have been crazy....absolutely-hormonally-charged-total-mindf*ck-crazy. hormones are no joke, and what a difference my overall mental health and happiness is when not being on any sort of fertility related drugs. it's been just over 2 weeks since the retrieval, and I feel so refreshed already. for how anxious I was to keep the momentum going, taking the time off to decompress from everything was truly the best choice I could have made. we're one step closer. we are one tiny step closer. and really, it's only a 1 month delay from potentially meeting our baby....and I know, I KNOW, that it will have been #worththewait !
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let me capture those first fleeting moments in your home with your baby. it all goes by way too fast...
the master bedroom bed. it's such a sacred place to me. it's the place for morning cuddles, for crying alongside your newborn from exhaustion. it's where new families spend hours of awakeness while the rest of the world sleeps. it's where the days blend into night and right back into day again. it's where you stare at this creation you've made and wonder how you could ever love someone so much.
and I always, ALWAYS want to take a picture in that spot. the bed where so many memories are created, where such beautiful bonding happens. such a sacred moment in time.
over the course of the last couple of weeks, I've gained a lot of followers who are also IVF warriors, fighting the fight I've been documenting and sharing. hi ladies! ❤️
I wanted to give a precautionary heads up, as my livelihood is as a newborn and family photographer. and now that we're finally past the retrieval process (yaaaaaay!), I'm going to be getting back to sharing images from sessions and my amazing clients as well.
I want to be sensitive to all of you in the ttc community, that while I will continue to document and share our journey to parenthood, I will also be sharing images of newborns and children. and I know, I KNOW, how hard that feels sometimes to have it shoved in your face. it's a difficult road I have to navigate emotionally for myself- doing what I love also being a constant reminder of what I don't have yet.
I dream for the day where this instagram account is mostly filled with images of my child, and then speckled with client work. it's one of those silly technicalities that holds a lot of weight. and I know that day will happen, and I'm equally grateful for all of you who are here along for the ride as well as those that may need to unfollow me. ❤️❤️❤️ #worththewait
look at our glimmers!!
8 possibilities for life are in this image. from these 13 embryos, 8 of these little glimmers may be the start of our family-- our future son or daughter. how beautiful is that? how incredible is modern science? we all started like this, but my babies will have a picture of their very first inclining at life....and that is truly amazing.
the 9th one that the embryologist pushed to day 7 didn't make it, so in total we have 9 embryos that were sending off for genetic testing (we have 1 from our first cycle from june). we should get our results back in two weeks, hopefully!! I've decided to take a month off before starting the transfer process, and I am more than looking forward to relax and have time off from the hormones and drugs. it's a break I think I need more than I realize! slow and steady wins the race, right?
you guys. our glimmers grew. oh they grew!!! we have 8 frozen blastocysts sitting in the lab right now.... 8!!! 5 are rated high quality (4aa, 4ba, 4aa, 4bb, 4ba) and 3 are rated fair quality (4ac, 4bc, 4bb). there is 1 more that is compacted (still growing) so they're pushing it one more day, so maaaaybe we will get a 9th one.
but we did it. it happened. it finally, finally, happened!!!
one of the first things I told my husband was, "it feels so good to feel happy, I haven't felt this way in so long!". this is a chapter, that at least for now, is closed. we've overcome this huge milestone. we have embabies sitting on ice waiting for us. we have SO many other milestones and hurdles to face, but this is a victory. this is a step forward towards the goal we have, it's a step closer than we've ever, ever been. and my GOSH, it feels absolutely incredible!!! so what happens next? I'll give you one guess. more waiting! we'll be sending biopsies of our frozen glimmers off for genetic testing. depending on if this 9th one makes it, that means we'll have either 9 or 10 to send away (don't forget about our 1 little golden embryo that was our fighter from our first cycle!) once we know how many are genetically normal, we'll start prepping for the transfer process. this is uncharted territory, and all I really know is that it involves weeks of huge needles with shots into the butt of progesterone oil. I've never been so happy to know that that is what is coming next! ha.
from the bottom of me and my husband's heart- thank you so much for the constant support and encouragement you've given us through this wild ride. we're on to the next phase, which no doubt will have bridges to cross, but this support from family, friends, and those we've never even met has lifted us on the darkest moments. thank you, thank you, thank you.
the moment your heart leaps when the phone rings and you see it's your nurse calling you with the day 5 report on your embryos.
so. not bad news....but not the best news. our little glimmers are growing very slowly, and none of them are where they "typically" should be on day 5. we've got 2 early blastocysts, 2 morulas (the stage before blastocyst), 3 compacted (in between growing), 5 ten cells, and 1 two cells.
the reader's digest of all this? our most hopefuls are the early blastocysts and morulas. the compacted embryos have a 50/50 chance of growing more, and the others are likely to arrest.
so.. we wait some more. we wait again until tomorrow morning to see how our little glimmers are doing. I have a tight feeling in my chest and can't distinguish if it's excitement or anxiety. my patience is being tested on so many levels, I can't even begin to articulate. deep breath.
I sobbed this morning. never in my life had I sobbed so hard from absolute happiness and utter relief.
yesterday, 20 eggs were retrieved from me, 15 were able to be fertilized.....and 13 are growing!! THIRTEEN!
what a complete difference from our first cycle. I didn't know what to expect, and honestly I feared a repeated outcome. this news was the first feeling of a victory I've felt in over 2 years. wow, what an emotion.
this journey is far from over, even though we can celebrate that we overcame this huge obstacle. these little glimmers of life need to grow strong and become blastocysts. saturday is the day we find that out. and man, I'm sure it is going to feel like forever until that day comes.
but you know what? it'll be #worththewait .
this is infertility.
this is being 1 in 8.
this is 36 shots over the course of 19 days.
this is $13,000 in donations, and a $15,000 loan.
this is the hope that I will be a mom.
this is the reminder that if you're fighting this fight, you're not doing it alone.
oh hey there follicles, how you doin'.
I had my appointment this morning to check to see how these little buggers are growing. so far I have 18 follicles, measuring between 11-14mm. at this stage of the game with my first cycle in june, I had 13 follicles measuring between 13-18mm.
so I'm going to continue on with my tortoise and the hare metaphor....slow and steady wins the race! we're not overly pushing things this time, and making my body do it's thing a lot more slowly and controlled. I go back on friday again, and will find out if the retrieval stays scheduled for sunday or gets pushed back a few more days to let things develop a little bit longer.
in the meantime, my belly is covered in bruises, none of my pants fit, the familiar "fullness" feeling is back, and the brain fog is coming on real and strong. I flip back and forth between being annoyed to excited to angry to sad to hopeful to back to being annoyed. there's a whole lot happening inside my brain at any given moment....and I'll mostly blame the fertility drugs for that. but also... nothing about this is fun, so I'll also blame what is happening inside my brain on that too.
did you know that the rabbit is typically seen as a symbol of prosperity, abundance, and fertility? this was the only creative way I could segue using this image, haha.
on sunday I had an appointment to check to see how I was responding to the medication, and my husband was with me because we were heading down to san diego for the day immediately after. just to shake things up a bit, I handed him my camera and let him document whatever he wanted to. well, here I am playing with the exam light that was left on. because, ya know, shadow puppets at your reproductive endocrinologist just makes sense, right? right.
just as my first cycle, I'm responding very well to the medications (which are also a lower dose than last time). about 15 follicles measuring between 7-10mm. dr. kolb mentioned that he might keep me on the meds longer than we've initially scheduled for, which will push back the retrieval a few more days past the 27th.
oh! you know the story of the turtle and the hare? slow and steady wins the race! ...which was the turtle.. and not the hare... so I guess my bunny shadow puppet isn't as symbolic as I hoped it would be. pretend that's a turtle I'm making with my hands. 😋
next appointment is wednesday!