It’s finally our time. After Perry was born, I knew that our family was not complete. In my heart I kept feeling like there was one more little spirit that was meant to be apart of our family. But I knew it would be a long time before that would happen. It was strange because I had this number in my head of seven years. I knew there would be a this long period where we would have to be patient and wait. I was ok with that but there was still that lingering feeling of how… How would we make it happen? I tried my best to have faith that if we were supposed to have another, our Heavenly Father would provide a way. We had spent every last penny we had to do IVF to get Perry here. Between getting our two children here we had spent it all. I tried to avoid bitter feelings. Those feelings that it costs everyone else not a penny to get pregnant and somehow we had spent 40k getting ours here. Whenever those feelings would creep in I would quickly remind myself that we are the lucky ones. We had two successful rounds of IVF and two healthy children. What more could I ask for?
Fast forward to April 26, 2016. There I was on the other side of delivering a baby for another family. Read more about how that came about HERE. As a means to bring another baby into the world for our family, I carried the sweetest baby boy for the Pollock family. His birth story is a post I have been meaning to write for a while but it has taken some time to be in the right place emotionally to share. He will be one at the end of April! I’m hoping to share all the details in time for his year birthday.
So here we are with a schedule in hand and an overwhelming number of boxes of shots and medications. Our two children, anxious with excitement, have been a part of this whole journey. They knew throughout the process of my surrogate pregnancy and delivery that the baby I had in my tummy was not ours but it would help get our baby here “someday”. We had numerous discussions of how incredible the human body is and the advances in medicine that allows this baby to grow inside me but not have our genetics but belong to the family that we would see regularly. Their understanding amazed me but did not surprise me. Often I was asked “how did you explain that to your kids??” It was simple to them. Children are more understanding than most adults!
We finally decided the timing was right. I wasn’t sure if my body was ready to do this all over again, I felt like I was just pregnant! And Brett kept reminding me that I was. My first injection begins on January 7th, a little over 8 months after I delivered him! A little overwhelmed we jump in with both feet as a family of 4 looking to add that final member of our family. Here we go!
Follistim, is an injection in the abdomen that stimulates the follicles in my ovaries. Within each follicle, the hope is that there will be one healthy egg. I will continue to take a few other medications that allow the follicles to all grow at the same speed. It allows the doctors to control the rate at which they grow and another prevents me from ovulating prematurely. Regular blood draws and ultrasounds have been scheduled. There is so much exactness that has to go into this process. It is a very intensive process. Perry loved cuddling my tummy and encouraging the little eggs to grow. She would always rest her head on my stomach when we would cuddle on the couch.
Perry came with me to a few of my ultrasounds to check on my ovaries and the whole family came to one of my last ultrasounds before retrieval. It was right before church so we made it a family event. This is the fourth time I have gone through this, although the last time it was quite different because they didn’t take out my eggs. Every time I am surprised by how familiar this whole process feels yet each time it is nerve wracking all over again and all of those emotions come flooding back. I love involving my kids because it makes the process seem a little more simplified by the way I have to explain things. I’ve learned to trust the process and have faith.
Each time I have had less and less eggs. The ultrasounds show the same this round. It’s crazy how age plays such a huge roll in the success of this process. I’m only 30 years old! My left ovary just kind of gives out. They only see a couple good follicles on that side, hoping to get at least one. My right has about seven decent follicles so we are praying they can get at least those ones out. Even though I don’t have a ton of eggs my ovaries are super large and my stomach starts to swell from all of the medications. Monday, January 16 I take my trigger shot which releases my eggs and allows for them to be retrieved two days later. I easily look 3-4 months pregnant by retrieval time.
On Wednesday the 18th I go into the operating room and they surgically retrieve my eggs. It’s all such a blur to me. I am under anesthesia and it takes me a bit to wake up. Brett meets me in the recovery room and we wait anxiously to hear the news of how many eggs they were able to extract. Dr Foulk comes in and tells us that they were able to get eight eggs total. One egg from the left and seven from my right. A little disheartened we have to wait to see how many of those eggs will fertilize successfully. We discuss the fact that the last two of our cycles we have have done three day transfers but it is more common to do five day transfers now mostly because the embryos have time to grow and reach a stage of blastocyst which means they have a better chance of attaching to my uterus because they are more developed. We transferred three embryos with Steele and two with Perry. We are so blessed that they stuck each time! We always had a couple extra embryos and we always hoped they would grow and make it to day five so they could be frozen but they never made it. I told him I was worried because our babies have never survived to that stage. What if we try to push our eight embryos to day five and none of them survive? And then what? We start all over again? There is so much work that has gone into this process. It has to work! I asked him his opinion on a day three transfer. I explain my reasoning behind thinking our babies just thrive better in my body. He surprisingly agreed with me. He said he felt good about doing a three day transfer but we should check on them on Saturday. If they are all growing really well and we still have eight embryos we should let them grow to day five.
The next morning we received a phone call from the embryologist letting us know that ICSI was performed and all eight eggs fertilized successfully! Good news! But the anticipation over the next couple of days is almost unbearable and the good news fades into more uncertainty. It’s all we can think about and talk about. All of the ‘what if’s’ and possible outcomes. How many embryos with we transfer if we do a day three and how many would we do if we do a day five? Finally Saturday arrived. Our appointment wasn’t until later in the afternoon. My sister Heidi was in town form California so the whole family decided to keep busy by enjoying the blizzard outside. We went sledding in the snow behind my brother-in-laws razor before the roads had been plowed. We enjoyed the snow and chatted about all of our nerves and possibilities of the day.
I went back and forth whether I wanted my kids to come. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen and if the transfer would even happen. I asked my Mom if she would come with us and stay with the kids in the waiting room while we go discuss the situation with the Dr. She was more than happy to come and be apart of our day. We arrived to Utah Fertility Center and went back to discuss our little embryos.
There were six little embryos. Two of the embryos are perfect eight cell embryos, two are six cell embryos and two are three cell. The eight cell embryos will probably be the only two that would have a chance to survive to day five. He tells us that today is the day and we’ll get them back into the best place for them to grow, ME! I take the Valium that they give me so I can relax during the transfer and Brett goes to get my Mom and the kids. I get comfortable on the table and everyone comes in. Both rounds of IVF with our other two were in California so my Mom had never been to a transfer. Dr Foulk comes in and gets everything set up. He threads a small catheter through my cervix into the thickest part of my uterine lining. The embryologist is broadcasting his microscope from the other room onto the screen in front of us so we can see exactly what he is doing. He performs the assisted hatching on both embryos, which means he takes a laser and cuts open the outer layer from the embryos so they have a better chance of attaching to my lining. They never did this process before my other transfers so it was really cool to see everything they were doing. We all watched in amazement. He siphoned them up into a little tube and soon he came into the room and made the hand off to Dr Foulk. He used an ultrasound on my stomach to determine which was the best place to deposit the little babies. On the screen in front of us we could see the two little bubbles release from the catheter and into my uterus. It was incredible. He took everything out and said “Now don’t move. We’ll do the moving for you.” They slowly slid me up the table and got me comfortable and had me remain on the table for another twenty minutes. They want those little babies to settle in!
The next three days are my “princess days” as they call them and I’m not allowed to do much. I get so nervous to even go to the bathroom because I’m afraid they’re going to fall out or something. Ha! The waiting time before the blood draw is ten days. The longest ten days in my life. I swear. It’s excruciating waiting that long, not knowing what’s happening inside your own body. Are they still hanging on. Is there one? Are there still two? Anyone who has done IVF knows how long these ten days are. Long, very long.
Tuesday, January 31 is the big day. I wake up feeling good but oh so nervous. I take Perry to school and head to get my blood drawn. The phlebotomist tells me I should receive a call between 1-6PM. Ugh, more waiting. I decide to go to my Mom’s to shellac my nails to stay busy. My mom is out running errands and my Dad is home, which is strange. He normally would be at work. I start to paint my nails and my phone keeps dinging. My dad asks from the other room if I have looked at my phone and that I should look at my phone. I tell him I’m doing my nails and I will in a minute. He tells me again to look at my phone. I push the home button and up pops a picture drawn from my little nephew McCoy sent to my whole family. It’s a picture of their family with a big bump drawn on Heidi’s belly with the writing above it “my mom has a baby in her belly!” Half of my heart sinks and I just start to sob. The other half of my heart is so beyond happy for them! They had been trying for almost two years. My other sister Jennifer had just announced her pregnancy on Christmas Eve. Both of my sisters are pregnant. Suddenly I have a storm of emotions and I’m so beyond overwhelmed. What if I’m not..??? My mind starts to spin. I just can’t stop crying and my dad comes and gives me a big hug. Then my mom walks in the door with a big smile on her face that fades quickly as she sees my reaction. She explains that her suitcase is packed and her flight leaves in a couple of hours. That’s why my dad was home from work. Heidi gets extremely sick. She gets hyperemesis when she is pregnant and can’t even function. My mom needed to get out there to take care of her. She told Heidi she had to tell everyone because I was at her house and would wonder why she had a suitcase packed and was leaving. I understood the predicament but it was just the worst timing. Could it not have been just a couple hours later? My heart was so heavy. The pressure became so much more intense. I just wanted to be pregnant. So much doubt filled my heart.
I decided to go up to lunch with Brett after I picked Perry up from school. It was a nice distraction and he kept reassuring me that it had always worked. Why wouldn’t it work this time? I felt a little bit of peace and felt like I could make it throughout the next couple of hours. On my way home from lunch at about 2 o’clock my phone rang… Utah Fertility Center. It takes everything in me not to burst into tears but I take a deep breath and answer the phone. Heart pounding I say hello. I don’t even remember the small talk that followed all I remember were the words “You’re PREGNANT!” and I felt this huge sense of relief, joy and beaming happiness. I’M PREGNANT. As I hung up I told Perry that I’m pregnant and she said “I know Mom. I was there when they put them inside your tummy.” She was so certain that I was already pregnant, she didn’t need me to have a blood draw. I immediately called Brett and told him the good news. It was time to get Steele so I got to pick him up and tell him the good news. We went home and Perry drew a picture of our family to send to out to everyone. She of course drew three tummies because she was convinced we were having triplets. Could you imagine having three separate stomachs for each baby?!
Now the wait to find out how many little babies are in there. I kept feeling like it was just one. We never had more than one stick with our others. And I had always felt like there was just one more little person supposed to be a part of our family. Perry was adamant that there were going to be three. She kept telling everyone she wanted me to have triplets. I just kept laughing. Brett didn’t think it was all that funny.
On Monday, February 13th I was in a car accident. A young college student hit me going full speed when I was completely stopped at a light. He said he didn’t even see me stopped. The police came and he was sighted for distracted driving. My neck started to hurt and I told the officer that I am just barely pregnant and I was concerned about the impact on the small fetus. I didn’t need an ambulance but I was nervous. He urged me to go to the hospital if anything got worse. A couple hours later I started to feel some cramping so I called the Fertility Center and told them the situation. They told me to come in immediately. I called Brett and had him meet me there. My heart pounded as the ultrasound tech started looking for our little baby/babies. I saw the little yolk sac and knew it was just one little baby. She confirmed and said it was one little baby and we could barely see it’s little heartbeat but could not hear it clearly yet. It was so early. Brett was relieved and I felt a twinge of disappointment as I always do but also a sense of relief that there was still one healthy baby. Next to the baby was a bleed, possibly from the car accident. She put me on pelvic rest to hopefully help heal the bleed. My next ultrasound would be the following Wednesday, the original date of my first ultrasound.
Feburary 22 we had our real first ultrasound and I wanted to bring the kids so they could hear the heartbeat and see how real the baby is! I felt calm and was sure the bleed was going to be gone or doing better. The teach started to look at the baby and tried to listen to it’s heart beat. It sounded different than it normally does. I could tell it wasn’t quite as clear as it normally is. I started to feel uneasy by the way the tech was looking at the screen and looking around. She started to zoom in on what looked like could be the bleed. And then I saw it. A little blip. A little blinking grey and black heartbeat. I looked at her and she made eye contact with me. In a quiet whisper I started to say “Is that what I think it is…” and she said “that’s another heartbeat…” My heart started to pound. Why did it look so small? The black amniotic space around the baby seemed really small. I asked her why it looked so much smaller than the other baby. She confirmed my feelings. The baby may not stick. It’s there but may not be at the next ultrasound. She measured the baby and turned up the heartbeat. There it was. My baby. There is another heartbeat! I became so scared. There are two. How do I not get attached. Look at my little baby! Perry caught on and said “Wait TWO babies??” and was thrilled!! I explained that there are two babies but one might not make it. I started to regret bringing the kids but at the same time I’m glad they were there for it. Baby A’s heartbeat was a little hard to hear because it was picking up both heartbeats. She measured both babies and surprisingly baby B was only measuring a bit behind baby A. 7 Weeks, 2 days and 6 weeks 5 days. I took a quick video to be able to send off to our families. I had mixed feelings about sharing with anyone beyond our immediate families. I decided to only tell a few of our closest friends until we knew more. Also, notice Perry’s legs in the stirrups. She makes herself right at home!
March 7th was our next ultrasound and was even more nerve wracking than any other we had. Was our baby still going to be there? Would it be there but have no heartbeat? Praying more than ever that I would see my babies growing and strong. And there they both were. Two strong heartbeats and growing perfectly. Baby A, 9 weeks and Baby B, 8 weeks 4 days. Only 3 days behind now. Baby B didn’t seem to be affected by the low fluid levels but they remained low. Still a concern but the baby was moving around like crazy which is a great sign. This time there really was a bleed. A large area of black fluid above baby B. Back onto pelvic rest. I was to come in the next week for another ultrasound with Dr Foulk so he could take a look at the fluid levels and get his opinion.
The next ultrasound was my favorite so far. He spent almost 45 minutes with us looking at our babies. We got some fun video of them moving around and kicking like crazy. Baby B was so active again which he said is such a good sign especially with low fluid levels. He said when a baby is in distress it does not move. This was the first ultrasound that I started to feel like we’re having TWINS! TWO babies! It kind of started to sink in. I think this whole time I have been keeping myself from really getting excited as a way to protect myself from being heartbroken if things didn’t turn out. But really it didn’t much because I love listening to Perry talk about taking care of them and what names she likes.
Now to find out what we’re having. We’ll find out in 3 weeks! I am in my 2nd trimester now and 13 weeks! Our hearts are beyond full to be able to add not one but TWO babies to our family. Thank you for all of the prayers and positive thoughts. Thanks for reading our story and cheering us on. We love all the support. It means the world. This road has been longer than I ever thought it would be. Our journey has definately been unique but I guess that’s just the way the Brady’s make BABIES!!
For more information about InVitro Fertilization or Fertility Treatments visit www.utahfertility.com