Saturday, May 8, 2010

194 injections, 16 blood draws, 11 ultrasound exams, 1 egg retrieval, 3 embryo transfers, lots of pills and a lot of hoping and praying...

...we are finally pregnant...with TWINS! Oh, and those figures do not include our very first IVF cycle that resulted in our miracle, Karissa. It has been a very long and emotional journey to get where we are today, but it has been well worth it!! I am so thankful and so very blessed. This is a dream come true. Here is a glimpse of our journey, from the time it all began to now.

In 2004, we were told that IVF, or, in vitro fertilization, was our only hope of having a biological child. In May of 2004, we started the intense and arduous process of IVF. We were very successful and pleased with the results, not just because we got pregnant on the very first try, but because we had embryos to freeze for later use. Here is a run-down of our first cycle with IVF:

* 31 eggs retrieved...yes, I am an egg-making machine!!!!
* 17 eggs successfully fertilized
* 10 perfect-to-excellent quality embryos

In July of 2004, 2 perfect quality embryos were transferred back into my uterus, with one going on to implant which resulted in our first pregnancy with Karissa. About a year-and-a-half later, we proceeded with our second cycle which was a frozen embryo cycle or FET. The day of the embryo transfer, we found out that the 10 embryos we thought we originally had was really 8. It turned out that 2 of the embryos stop developing. So, we only had 6 frozen embryos left rather than 8. We also found out 3 of our embryos did not survive the thaw, thus leaving us with 3 embryos suitable for transfer. Our 3 remaining embryos were transferred and we got pregnant again. Unfortunately, the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 7 1/2 weeks. At that point, I had decided that I would NEVER put myself through not only the emotional, but physical stress of another cycle. I was perfectly content and had absolutely no desire to ever get pregnant again.

Certain of the fact that we wanted more children, our plan was to adopt. That was the plan, although we never really pursued it. People would ask us "are you going to have more kids?" and the response was always, "yes, we are planning to adopt."

On July 8th, 2008, our world was turned completely upside down. Obviously, any plans or thoughts in the way of having more kids was put on hold.

Early the following year, I started thinking that I wanted to get pregnant again and if that meant going through another round, or 2 or 3 of IVF, then I was ok with that. My heart's desire literally changed. I expressed this to Mark and he said that we should wait until a year had passed since Karissa's death before even considering the possibility of pursuing IVF again. So I waited and prayed and my desire grew even deeper.

In August of 2009, we proceeded with our plans of IVF. We shared our plans with our parents, my sister and a few of my very closest friends. It was by no means an easy decision. First, the possibility of having another child with epilepsy terrified me and still does. Second, other than the epilepsy, we never knew what type of metabolic or genetic problem Karissa had, if any. My faith was tested, and still is on a daily basis. Throughout this whole process and even now, I pray on a continual basis for peace. I am so blessed and thankful that the God has granted me peace and the ability to trust Him.

So, here is the run-d0wn of our third round of IVF, or second fresh cycle done in August:

* 23 eggs retrieved; not as good as before but then again, I am 5 years older
* 17 eggs successfully fertilized
* 11, 5 days blastocysts, or 5 day old embryos

In September, 2 perfect quality embryos were transferred to my uterus. The embryologist said "you may just get twins because these embryos are perfect." Wow! Music to my ears! Two weeks later, we found out we were unsuccessful. Huh? We were all stunned. Even my doctor said he was shocked. Everything we perfect...the embryos, my hormone levels and the lining of my uterus was perfect and ready to support the implantation of one or both embryos.

December 2009 we went for our 4th cycle, which again, was an FET cycle rather than a fresh cycle since we were using frozen embryos. They thawed 3, transferred the 3 and again, we were unsuccessful. To say we were all frustrated is an understatement! My doctor said he thought I would be pregnant by now.

In February we continued on with our 5th cycle, again an FET cycle. This time, 4 embryos where thawed and transferred. I knew from the very beginning of this cycle that we would be successful. I felt very positive. I was right!

On the day of my pregnancy test, 2 weeks after our embryo transfer, I found out that they ran a pregnancy test the week before when I was getting my hormone levels checked. Turns out it was positive and my HCG (pregnancy hormone) was 67. That was a great number, considering how early it still was. The HCG is supposed to double every 48 hours. As I was waiting for the results from my test, the embryologist said she expected my HCG to increase from 67 to 500-600. A good four hours later, the nurse called and said "we have the results of your HCG and it is a very strong number. Your HCG is 1,397." I asked her to repeat the number, like 3 times! I remember saying something like "1,397 as in one thousand three hundred and ninety seven? Are you sure you have the right number?" I immediately got on the phone with my parents, my sister and texted Mark's parents! We were all elated! I knew that we were pregnant with twins but I would have to wait another 2 weeks for a confirmation as to how many actually implanted. On April 9th, 2010, my dream of having twins came true, well, actually, my dream of just getting pregnant came true. I am blessed!

~ 6 weeks 5 days ~

~ 10 weeks 2 days ~

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