First off I just want to say that I feel so unbelievably blessed to be in the position I am in today. I have a healthy, beautiful baby. I have an incredible husband. And so many supportive and loving friends and family. The heartache of infertility is so real and is all around us, even when we don’t see it. With each of my posts I want to let everyone know I love my Cooper so much, and we worked so hard to get him here. I want him to be an example of a success. I know that there are so many unsuccessful challenges and my heart breaks for each of those. I have to show excitement and love in sharing our story, but know I always have others who struggle in my thoughts and prayers.
When Tommy and I had our egg retrieval and had twenty viable eggs that were fertilized. We were so thrilled. Each day after fertilization we would get updates from our embryologists about their status. Each day our number would decrease and it was so heartbreaking to think of the ones we lost, but we were still so thankful the ones that were left. Our number went from 20 eggs, to 4 surviving embryos (1 being textbook PERFECT). Those four were such a blessing. I had always had great egg production during all of our previous fertility treatments, so I wasn’t worried about getting egg numbers (I was even on low medication doses comparatively), but to have 4 embryos make it past the blastocyst phase was the greatest news.
From there, the difficult decisions started. How many to implant? 1 vs 2.
At UCRM they recommend only transferring up to three embryos at a time. The risk of multiples drastically affects the rate of successful pregnancies and births.
I was told even before we began IVF or IUI’s that they wanted to limit us to prevent multiples. In our IUI cycles I was always prescribed the lowest doses of medication to inhibit multiple eggs. I have several autoimmune diseases (type I diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis) and I am already considered a high risk candidate for pregnancy. Adding multiple pregnancies on top of that was something all of my physicians were forcibly preventing.
My thought process at the time was this: We had been TTC (trying to conceive) for over three years. Nothing was successful. My health was slowly decreasing with each passing year, therefore making future pregnancies that much harder and taxing on my body. We were paying so much money to not be aggressive. Why not do everything possible to have the best chances for success? Why didn’t the doctors care about my feelings and thoughts?
I had told our doctors from the very beginning that I wanted twins. I strongly wanted twins. I wanted twins because if pregnancy is going to be tough, why not get two babies out of one pregnancy? Maybe I would hate being pregnant, or would only have one shot. With twins we would have two children. We could be done trying if we needed to be. They would always have a buddy. It just seemed like the best option at the time. And I knew I could handle it. I felt capable and ready.
God works in mysterious ways.
We met with our physician (Dr. Hammoud) for our IVF consult because my cycle fell on his week to do the procedures. You meet with multiple physicians during the process and they work as a team to give each doctor a rotation in the IVF process. When we met with Dr. Hammoud he told us –nicely– we would only be transferring one embryo. I knew he had twins himself and I argued with him on the subject, and in the end we had to agree with the medical advice he was giving us. But he did say it was our choice in the end. He recommended each embryo being stored individually after the retrieval. That was the one thing we strongly agreed on.
Weeks went by of shots, so much medication, alarms for more medication, hormones that you never thought possible, and stress on top of more stress.
I can honestly say it was the second (the top spot goes to after Cooper’s diagnosis-but at the time it was #1) most stressful time in my life. I had to basically quit my job. I could not handle life. My employers were incredible and found me a less stressful part time position with the company so I could put my entire focus on getting pregnant. I knew this was our shot and I didn’t want to have any regrets. I was going to make it happen. I was going into the doctor just about every other day for testing and ultrasounds. Also to get more medication during each step of the process. At one ultrasound the doctors discovered I was responding so well to the medication that they actually needed to move my retrieval dates up because I was doing so well. If they waited any longer they ran the risk of me becoming even more hyper stimulated and having to retreat the process completely.
So because our dates were changing, this meant our physican was changing as well. This didn’t bother me because I felt 100% confident with each and every physician in their clinic. I had met each doctor multiple times and had worked with them during previous fertility treatments. All except 1 doctor. Dr. Moore. And guess what? Dr. Moore’s rotation fell right on my scheduled transfer day. At this point they asked me if we wanted to suspend our cycle and go through with the retrieval and hold off on the transfer until another month. That way they could guarantee I was with Dr. Hammoud and I wouldn’t run the risk of losing a pregnancy due to hyper stimulation.
Without hesitation I told them I wanted to continue. I had no intentions of not completing this cycle. It took me months and months, even years, of mental, physical, and emotional preparation to get ready for this. And the doctor doing my transfer was NOT going to stand in my way. In the back of my mind I was also thinking about what Dr. Hammoud had said about only transferring one embryo. It was almost a sense in relief to not have to have that same argument with him again.
At this point I had prayed, researched, and contacted everyone I knew was a viable source to get their opinions on twins. My mind was made up. I wanted twins. I was getting twins.
The morning of the transfer came and we headed to the clinic excited and nervous. I was more nervous about how bad this was going to hurt (because I was in an incredible and unexpected amount of pain I hadn’t had with any of our IUI’s) and not so much about anything else. The nurses kept asking us if we were nervous and ready, and I just kept thinking- are you kidding me? I was nervous for the retrieval because that was new. But the transfer, we had basically already been through this 4 other times already. Piece of cake.
They had us dressed and in the procedure room. The nurses had my IV in and said before they could give me the calming medication I needed to meet with the doctors. I knew it would be about a discussion on how many embryos. The nurses left to let the doctors know we were ready and Tommy and I had a last minute conversation about how we hoped this new doctor would just ask us, “So how many embryos do you want?” and not lead to an argument.
Side note – Tommy agreed very strongly with Dr. Hammoud, he only wanted to go with one embryo. He argued a pregnancy with twins would be very difficult for me considering my type 1 diabetes and auto immune disorders.
The doctors came in. It was two doctors. Dr. Moore and another female doctor, Dr. Link. I had met with her several times and had grown to love on a personal level. It was so great to see her smiling familiar face when she walked in. Dr Moore came in and pulled a table tray up and put a document and a pen on the desk in front of us. He explained that he had just gotten off the phone with Dr. Hammoud who had called to give him a report of his embryo(s) opinion. I burst into tears. I couldn’t hold it back at this point. I had been so strong up until this point. And I just lost it. I felt like I was losing my battle. He explained that the paperwork needed to be signed and filled out with how many embryos were going to be transferred. Both doctors signed their portions stating that they recommended one embryo. Then at the bottom there was a final spot of us to fill out how many embryos and a signature from both Tommy and me. They handed us a pen and awaited our decision.
I was still sobbing. Tommy picked up the pen and started signing his section. Then he hesitated. He asked the doctors if they would give us a few minutes alone. They reluctantly acknowledged and left the room. Tommy said let’s pray again. He said a heart felt prayer asking for help on what decision we should make. I was finally able to pull myself together and quit bawling. Tommy simply handed me the pen and said “It’s your call.”
I signed and wrote the number 2 in the blank spot.
Tommy found the nurses. Told them we were ready. They administered my anxiety medication (which I probably needed way before this point) and things started happening.
(I’ll save the actual transfer procedure for another post)
Fast forward four weeks to when we went back for our viability ultrasound. We had already known we were pregnant for two weeks. Now we were just finding out if it was one or two babies. My blood work was pretty normal. It was elevated, but not enough to give us a definite answer on more than one baby.
We were so excited to hear the heartbeat(s) and see our baby (no longer just a embryo!) for the first time. We met with Dr. Johnstone this time, who did my retrieval. She was so great. She got the ultrasound up to show us and excitingly said “Congratulations! There is one heartbeat. You have one baby!” I suddenly felt the biggest sense of relief. A calmness just fell across me. Tommy was the one crying now. We were holding hands and we were just so thankful. This was the moment we had been waiting years and years for. It was finally happening. We had one baby. I had been preparing myself to not be disappointed if there was only one. Every other time we had been told an embryo hadn’t made it I was so emotional and sad. This time I was relieved. A boulder was lifted off my chest. Tommy just looked at me and said I am so grateful you knew to transfer two.
She completed all of the measurements and documentations. We listened to the heartbeat and she let us know baby had a strong heartbeat and looked perfectly healthy. She wanted to keep me on increased dose of progesterone until I made it past the 12 week mark just to be safe. They printed us ultrasound pictures for us and both of our parents. They also gave us a darling homemade knit hat and baby mittens.
We left the office on cloud nine! We were having a baby. One perfect embryo. Our decision of 1 vs. 2 had resulted in something absolutely perfect. I was set on two. I wanted twins. But I knew I needed to have that mentality to make sure we got one baby. ONE PERFECT, healthy baby.
We still thank God to this day that we choose 2 vs. 1.