Friday, April 29, 2016

Our TTC Story

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (#NIAW).  I absolutely love this week because all of the bloggers come together to write about the same topic.  This year, the theme is #startasking. 

This is a great theme because I have had a few friends that have said, “I had no idea you did this,” or “When did you go through that?”  Also, I have had friends tell me they were afraid to ask too many questions for fear of annoying me.  Therefore, I would like to say that Todd and I are open books.  There are few things we do not share.  However, if there is something we are keeping quiet, I won’t be afraid to tell you.  In order to know more of my story or any other infertile’s story, all you have to do is #startasking.  If you know we are infertile, chances are that it’s healing for us to answer questions.  All questions.  It not only makes us feel like you care, but it helps us feel less alone on a very isolating road.  (More on this tomorrow.)

That being said, I decided to do an overview on our journey from the beginning until today.  It won’t be short because our journey hasn’t been short.  I have never really put our entire story in one place, so here goes.  I have even added links to where each part of the journey starts on the blog in case anyone is interested in jumping back to something particular to read more detail.
This is what we used to look like know, life.

Todd has 3 children from a previous marriage.  After the last one was born, they decided he should have a vasectomy.  Fast forward 10+ years…

March 2010:  We got married and immediately became serious about our next steps to grow our family.  We had already researched urologists, but we weren’t sure if that was the direction we should go.

October 2010:  We went to Tulsa Fertility Center (TFC) to meet Dr. Prough about IVF.  The meeting did not go well, and we left there feeling uneasy.  We also met Dr. Steve Miller (who plays Steve Miller Band music during surgery – no lie), and decided that a vasectomy reversal was our way to go.  Spoiler alert:  What a waste…for us.

May 2011:  Todd’s vasectomy reversal.

August 2011, November 2011, February 2012, May 2012:  Negative tests for sperm in Todd’ hem…specimen.  We were told it was time to pursue IVF or adoption if we wanted to grow our family.

IVF Cycles 1 and 2 – Dr. Clark Bundren
July 2012:  We met Dr. Bundren.  He promptly scheduled me for a laparascopy and hysteroscopy.

August 2012:  Laparscopy and hysteroscopy where I was diagnosed with stage 3 endometriosis and a uterine septum.  He fixed both of those during the surgery.

August 2012 – January 2013:  Depot Lupron…aka Devil Lupron, if you ask Todd.  Hot flashes, night sweats, depression…oh my!

April 2013 – May 2013:  IVF Cycle 1.
  • Eggs Retrieved = 9
  • Todd had MESA procedure performed by urologist.
  • Fertilized = 6
  • Transferred = 2 on day 5
  • Ended in biochemical pregnancy around 5 ½ weeks

November 2013:  IVF Cycle 2.
  • Eggs Retrieved = 12
  • Mature eggs = 8
  • We used frozen sperm, which turned out to be a very, very bad idea because of the way it was retrieved and the immaturity of the sperm.
  • Fertilized = 8
  • Transferred = 3 on day 3
  • BFN (Big Fat Negative)

We were devastated.  I can still remember having to go in to talk to Dr. Bundren to get the results (which is abnormal) and getting to the lobby to sob into Todd’s chest.  That was one of the hardest cries I have ever had in my life.

January 2014:  Interviewed a doctor in Dallas, Dr. Douglas.  This is when my faith began to change.  I can still remember the day.  Also interviewed Dr. McKinney at TFC.  It went much better than our first encounter with TFC.  We decided to move forward with Dr. McKinney.  I have to make a quick statement to say that I am so glad we did.  She’s become one of our all-time favorite doctors.  She has cried with us, laughed with us, and spent many hours talking us through our options.

At this point, we had three doctors telling us our problem was 1) Todd's sperm, 2) my eggs, or 3) Todd's sperm and my eggs.  Literally, each doctor disagreed on our diagnosis.

May 13, 2014:  The inaugural meeting of Infertile Myrtles, my support group and LifeGroup begun to support women struggling with fertility challenges.

IVF Cycles 3 and 4 – Dr. Shauna McKinney, Tulsa Fertility Center (TFC)
September 2014:  IVF Cycle 3.  This is the cycle where we started using Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), commonly known as genetic testing.  It was performed on day 3, so the results were received before transfer on day 5.  Also, Dr. McKinney put me on the maximum amount of stimulating medication (stim shots) that she legally could.  We found out around this time that I had Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR).
  • Eggs Retrieved = 6
  • Mature eggs = 5
  • Todd had epididymal aspiration performed by Dr. Prough (the one we didn’t love on our first visit).  Turns out, we really do like him.
  • Fertilized = 2
  • Genetically tested = 1 (1 was too deteriorated to test)
  • Chromosomally normal = 0
  • Transferred = 0

I was not prepared to have nothing to transfer.

November 2014:  IVF Cycle 4.  We refer to this as “The Good Cycle.”
  • Eggs Retrieved = 9
  • Mature eggs = 8
  • Todd had epididymal aspiration performed by Dr. Prough.
  • Fertilized = 7
  • Genetically tested = 7
  • Chromosomally normal = 2
  • Transferred = 2
  • BFP!!!  (Big Fat Positive)
  • Blighted ovum miscarriage L

We found out around 8 weeks that we would miscarry, and it took until 11 weeks to start.  I won’t even go into what that miscarriage was like.  I have said it before, though.

February 2015 –April 2015:  I had said from the beginning of our IVF journey that we could not quit IVF until we tried Dr. Ahlering in St. Louis.  I had heard really great things about him.  We had a chance to meet him in person, and I loved him.  I knew he would be our next doctor.

I went to see the doctor that would monitor me in Tulsa for my cycle with Dr. Ahlering.  He found that my miscarriage had not completely finished.  Basically, I understood that I had tissue left in my uterus.  We scheduled a hysteroscopy and D&C.

IVF Cycle 5 – Dr. Peter Ahlering, Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine (MCRM)
May 2015:  IVF Cycle 5.
  • Eggs Retrieved = 7
  • Mature eggs = 5
  • Todd had TESE procedure performed by urologist.
  • Fertilized = 6
  • Transferred = 0

This was just a mess of a cycle.  I don’t even need to go into it all again.  It was a lot of unfortunate incidents coming together to rock my world. J

August 2015:  Ovarian cyst found.  I do not have cystic ovaries, despite being told I did when I was just out of college, but occasionally, this happens to a woman.  The problem is, it pushed back everything we were planning to do next.

IVF Cycle 6 – Dr. William Schoolcraft, Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM)
October 2015:  After many months of waiting for the cyst situation to fix itself, we headed to Colorado for a One Day Workup (ODWU) at the well-renowned office of Dr. Schoolcraft.
December 2015 – January 2016:  IVF Cycle 6.  Retrieval only.  Dr. Schoolcraft put me on Clomid, Testosterone, and Viagra during this cycle, which was so strange and new.  We loved the idea that he was trying new things.
  • Eggs Retrieved = 11
  • Mature eggs = 7
  • Todd had MESE procedure performed by urologist.  Um, here is another doctor we love.  Dr. Cowan, the urologist.  If we ever need a urologist, we plan to fly to Denver for this guy.  He’s that good.
  • Fertilized = 6
  • Genetically tested & frozen = 3
  • Chromosomally normal = 1

Dr. Schoolcraft does Comprehensive Chromosome Screening (CCS) for his genetic testing.  It’s performed when the embryo makes it to blastocyst stage (usually on day 5), so the embryos have to be frozen until the results are received.

February 2016 – March 2016:  Devil Lupron…again.  The shame!

April 2016:  Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) meds started.

That brings you up to date.

So, to sum it all up:
  • Failed vasectomy reversal
  • 6 surgeries for Todd
  • Stage 3 endometriosis & diminished ovarian reserve
  • 6 IVF cycles
  • 6 egg retrievals
  • 54 eggs retrieved
  • 35 embryos made
  • 3 embryo transfers - 7 embryos transferred
  • 1 embryo transfer on the way - 1 embryo to transfer
  • 4 doctors
  • 3 states
  • 4 cities
  • 2 miscarriages
  • 6 total months on Depot Lupron (It's that important to mention.)
  • Hundreds of shots
  • I’m not even going to say how much money we have spent.  (Insurance covers nothing for us except for the occasional patch or antibiotic.)
  • More acupuncture and massage than I can remember.
  • Loads of love!

In the end, what we have to show for all of this is 1 frozen embryo waiting for us to bring them home, a better understanding of how we handle crises, a stronger marriage, and a deeper relationship with our Lord.  We have had days overflowing with joy and days full of sorrow.  We wouldn’t change a thing.  God has blessed us in ways we could have never imagined.  No matter what the future holds, we know He will be with us to the end.
I hope that answers any lingering questions anyone might have.  Basically, I just summed up the last 3 ½ years of blogging in one really. long. entry.  If there is anything I left out, please don’t be afraid to #startasking.

Today, I am participating in a blog link-up with Caroline, at In Due Time.  Can you tell I really like her blog?


  1. God Bless.

  2. Laura, I have prayed for you but never mentioned it before . I will continue to pray for you. Your light shines bright and you have touched many with how much you share and your love and dedication to your faith.

    1. That is so incredibly kind, Monica. Thank you so much for sharing that with me and encouraging me today. *Hugs*

  3. Praying for success! I know it's been a long road for you but no matter what, God's will is what will prevail and the really cool thing is how you have recognized your growth and also I know without a doubt that you have positively influenced others.

    1. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. That means a lot to me. And yes, God's will is what will prevail. Absolutely!