The Blood Test.

Hello everyone!

I just can not get over the love and support that you all have shown us through this long and difficult journey. We thank you for joining us and appreciate it from the very bottom of our hearts.

This morning, I will have my blood drawn for the umpteenth time. But this time will provide us with the answer that everyone is dying to know: DID THIS WORK?!

With that said, I would like to gracefully ask for some privacy at this moment in time. I am completely aware that I have invited you all into this, and that you are very much invested into the entire process and results. And I don’t regret that one bit.

The thing is, this can go either one of two ✌🏼ways.

What they are testing for is hcg (the pregnancy hormone) in my blood. If this is detected and at a certain level, we are pregnant. But it does not stop there and we will have a plethora of hurdles to continue jumping over. We will continue to test this level to assure that it is rising appropriately. If it is, we then begin the long wait, 2 weeks, for the first ultrasound. And then we have to wait ANOTHER 2 weeks for another ultrasound to confirm that everything looks great.

And although we would love to hear this wonderful news that we just may be pregnant, we could find out that it did not work at all or that the hcg level is not rising correctly, in which case, myself and Jason would need some time to grieve together, as a couple, and with our families before announcing it to you all.

No matter the news we receive today, we will be dealing with intense emotions that I don’t believe we will be ready to share right away. So I kindly ask that you be patient with us.

With that said, we want you all to know that when we are prepared, we WILL let you know! It is extremely important to us that our families are the first to know if we receive good or bad news, and sharing with them may take some time. We also think it is important to let you all know since you have so graciously followed us down this path of our life. So if you ever start to wonder, and see that we have not announced anything quite yet, take that as a sign that we need another prayer sent our way and hope that you see an announcement very soon.

Lastly, and quite honestly, I am scared to death of whatever news we receive. My heart still aches from our past failures and I am not sure how to handle the heartache once again. For now, I am clinging on to the hope that my journey has been planned for me and that everything will fall into place as we need it to.

We love you and thank you all ❤️️❤️️❤️️

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Transfer Day.

If you haven’t figured it out quite yet, I will let you in on a little secret…

Our transfer day was last Friday 3.10.17!

The night before, my mother in law (remember, she is talented) made me a wonderful dinner packed with nutrients. She has dubbed it “magic baby soup” in hopes that it will help my little embabies stick and grow. Either way, it was delicious!

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The morning of the transfer, we arrived at CCRM to meet with our nurse at 9am to review and sign some consents, I got blood drawn to check my estrogen and progesterone levels, and then we were sent upstairs for the big moment as the first transfer of the day!

I was taken to my room, changed into a gown, and told to drink 16-24 ounces of water so that my bladder would be partially full for the procedure. Then came the VALIUM. This medication is used to relax the uterine muscle for the actual procedure but also helped to calm me down from my rollercoaster of emotions running though my mind at the moment. I also had some socks and a t-shirt made to help me in my positive thinking that this was going to work out.. because I believe that the mental aspect has at least something to do with success. Also, socks keeps your feet warm and helps blood flow to the uterus. So go with me here..

I started drinking my water, and kept drinking, and drinking, and drinking. Soon enough, it was 10am, with the procedure scheduled at 11am, and my bladder was WAYYY FULL. There was no way that I was going to be able to hold it in THAT long. So the ultrasonographer scanned my abdomen and allowed me to empty my bladder a little. I was such an overachiever that I actually had to empty it 3 times.. oops! Here is my full bladder in all of it’s glory…! (It’s the huge black space)

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Dr S. was a few minutes late (busy man with all these ladies he is trying to knock up) but he finally arrived and the time to transfer was finally here. We have only been waiting for this moment since we started at this clinic in August 2015. And we honestly couldn’t even believe we made it to this final moment in our hope of starting our family. But here we were.

My legs were put into stirrups, a speculum was inserted, and my cervix was “washed” with some saline solution. At this point in time, the incubator was rolled into the room and I was able to see my embassies for the first time! It was quite an emotional moment for J and I.

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In the image of the embryos, you can see that they are beginning to hatch out of their shells. They were both graded as 3BB when frozen but would now be graded as 5BB, which basically means that they are hatching and look good! This can be a very good sign for many people, and we hope that includes us! When Dr S. stated that he was ready, the embryos were placed into a small plastic tube which was then inserted through my cervix and threaded to the correct placement of where the embryos needed to be in my uterus, not too high and not too low. This happened at precisely 11:40am On the picture below, there is a bright white dot, those are my two embryos after being transferred. We decided to transfer two because of our history of failed IVF transfers. This does come with some risk. Though rare each embryo has the ability to split and implant. If both embryos were to split and all four were to implant and continue to grow, we would be pregnant with quadruplets. But we will cross that bridge when we get there..

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The procedure took all of about 10-15 minutes, but I was to lay in a reclined position with my head tilted back slightly for another hour afterwards. I was able to get in a small nap at this point. I honestly just tried to stay calm and listen to the peaceful music they provided, breathing in tune with the beat and keeping my heart rate down. My hour was then up and the nurse had me change back into my clothes, which I did EVER SO CAREFULLY as to not let these embryos fall out. Which they won’t. It is just an irrational fear that every woman going through IVF has. Imagine a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Now imagine putting two sunflower seeds in the middle of that sandwich. That is how protected my embryos are at this point. But it still doesn’t stop us from thinking they will fall out when we cough, sneeze, pee, poop, bend, or twist. It’s just how we think and we just can not help it.

On the way home, I was in and out of it from the medication but I know that I reclined the seat back and propped my feet on the dashboard, how else would you think I would ride in the car after this! When we got to my inlaws house, I was on bedrest for the rest of the day and the next day, only getting up to use the restroom. My back was achy very quickly and it honestly sucked but it was over soon enough. Sunday I was back to normal activity minus any heavy lifting and exercising.

And that is where we are now. I am now obsessing over every little twitch and twinge in my abdomen or boobs, googling early pregnancy symptoms (even though I know them all from googling in the past), and trying to fight the urge to pee on a stick like an addict.

Folks, I am officially PUPO. Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise. And hopefully I will stay this way until way later this year, preferably November or December. And I also get to continue all those wonderful medications I was taking beforehand, which are neatly written in my planner so I don’t forget any.

 

Tomorrow we are headed back home to Jacksonville. Early next week, I will have my blood drawn to find out whether this worked or not. Please, please, please I ask that you send your good thoughts/vibes, prayers, baby dust, or whatever you believe in our way. J & I would absolutely appreciate it and thank you in advance. We love you all for the continued support and for reading this very personal journey of ours.

And thank you grandma for the beautiful flowers you sent to me, they brightened my day! Love you very much!

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Also, before I go, let me take a moment to plug Bark Avenue Pet Resort in Jacksonville at this time. I love the facilities, I love the owners, but mostly I love the fact that my dogs are safe and loved there and I can watch them on the webcam to my hearts desire. Take your pets there if you leave town, they are amazing! (This was a non-paid advertisement by a real person who believes in quality care for her fur children).

 

 

Until next time ❤

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Out West.

Surprise! I’m in Denver.

I flew out on Thursday for an appointment on Friday. Unfortunately, with certain circumstances, I had to fly out alone. But thankfully Jay will fly in tomorrow and my pups will enjoy a nice little vacation at the pet resort!

If you have never flown west, you should definitely try to. The views on the way are just amazing, especially when you get to the mountains, which are pretty much my favorite part.

The first picture is somewhere over northwest Arkansas and the second is somewhere over Kansas with all their windmills. I do not have pictures of the mountains because I was too enthralled at their majestic and beautiful snowcaps. I really can’t get enough..

ANYWAYS

So a status update.. we are getting extremely close to our FET (frozen embryo transfer)! And my anxiety keeps rising with every day that passes. 😬 We have done fresh IVF transfers three times before with no results and no embryos that even developed enough to freeze. So to get to this point where we have multiple genetically normal embryos just waiting for us is such a blessing.

My appointment on Friday was to check on my uterine lining and also my projesterone and estrogen levels. Everything is right on track and I will continue to prepare my body for pregnancy with the medications.

I actually had to write everything down in my calendar because there are so many and I didn’t want to screw anything up 😳

So right now I am on the following medication..

FOUR estrogen patches every other day.

TWO projesterone suppositories every day (and they are definitely as bad as they sound 😖).

COUNTLESS pills including prenatal vitamins, DHA, vitamin D, biotin, B12, doxycycline, and baby aspirin. Pretty soon I’ll be adding the antihistamine protocol to that which includes prednisone, pepcid, and Claritin. This protocol was recommended to me for my history of failed transfers. What I understand from it is that when the embryo attempts to attach to the uterine lining, some people’s bodies treat it as an immune issue and release histamines to basically prevent implantation. This will stop those histamines from being released if this is the case for me.

Last, but certainly not least, I am on Progesterone in oil, otherwise known in the fertility world as PIO. I started this medication this morning and was absolutely dreading it so very much. I listened to others who have used this medication in the past and I iced my bum for 15 minutes while the oil warmed up in my bra.. no I’m not kidding 😂😂😂. And guess what! It was so easy peasy and way less difficult to give it to myself than I had originally thought it would be!

So that is where we are at right now. I know it’s not too exciting and everyone is just way excited for when the embryos will be transferred. I’ll tell you all that it is sometime this week but I won’t divulge the actual date because I was raised as a superstitious crazy woman who hates to jinks things.

Tomorrow I get my progesterone level checked and I get to pick Jay up at the airport 😍! Which by the way, he just turned 30 last month so wish him a happy birthday 🎉 🎈!

Here is to our hope of beginning a new adventure with the love of my life ❤️❤️❤️

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Until next time!

PS.. I’m really not sure how I lucked out in not only the husband part of life but also the in law aspect. If it weren’t for them, who knows what direction this infertility journey would have gone for us. To say I am blessed with them is an understatement and I could not even begin to thank them enough for their support through this if I tried. It’s a rough road but with everyone who has our backs, I believe we’ve got this. Also, my MIL Michelle is downright talented with just about everything, and she gifted me a beautiful snuggle quiet for my graduation! Which was perfect timing since it gets chilly here for this Floridian ☀️

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Okay now seriously, until next time 😉

Hiatus.

I took quite a break from blogging the last couple of months.. and honestly not much happened. And in the same breathe I could say that sooooo much happened.

On December 24th 2016, I gave my husband the best Christmas present ever.. or I should say he gave it to me.. My Depot Lupron injection. And yes.. it hurt going in.

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This lovely medication has caused my body to go into temporary menopause. And with it comes all the symptoms of menopause, ten fold.

HOT FLASHES.

NIGHT SWEATS.

CHILLS.

TIREDNESS.

HEADACHES. x1000

NAUSEA.

INSOMNIA.

UNSTABLE EMOTIONS.

The list goes on as I am sure you could imagine. The five symptoms I had the most trouble with were the hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, insomnia, and definitely unstable emotions.

At night, I would need the air set to 68 degrees just to be somewhat comfortable due to the hot flashes and night sweats, and I am pretty sure the reason I had so much trouble sleeping is because I was so damn hot at night. Also, the headaches were just never ending and although I hate taking medication for headaches when I get them, I broke down after maybe 3 weeks of no relief. Advil and tylenol helped for a few hours at a time and I didn’t really want to take excedrin due to the amount of caffeine, which I am trying to avoid.

Now let’s talk about the emotional rollercoaster this medication sent me on. It’s almost hard to explain. I would cry, laugh, and  be angry all in the same minute. My husband and coworkers can all vouch for this. Let me tell you about a situation, that actually really truly happened, I can’t make this up! I was at work running the OR during a c-section, and after quite a busy morning I finally sat down waiting for the docs to deliver the baby. The pediatric nurse practitioner looked at me and asked if I was okay.

And for no reason I started breaking down crying. I can’t even tell you why. I was an absolute mess. Thankfully, another nurse came in to relieve me so that I could run the recovery room instead. This gave me some time to recoup before the patient was finished in surgery and came to me. In this time, one of the residents came into the room I was in and asked me if I was okay. I started laughing and telling her my emotions are just out of whack and that I will be okay.. to which I started crying again. I wiped my tears away and calmed down while we chatted a few more minutes. And then the resident offered to buy me lunch, to which I start crying.. AGAIN. Honestly, it’s pretty obnoxious but I just can not help it. I was extremely sensitive to anything and everything. Mind you this is one example of one morning on one day of this medication. I could tell you a PLETHORA of stories just from work.

At home, my husband was smart. He hides in his man room for the most part when he is not working. We’ve had plenty of arguments, plenty of nights where I don’t even want to look at him, let alone talk to him. But he understands that it’s the medication. Which sucks but in the end we both know it’s for a good cause.

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT MY SENSITIVITY.

Thankfully none of these symptoms kicked in until a couple days after the shot so we enjoyed our Christmas!

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The first week of January I got to fly out to Denver for a couple of days to hang out with my inlaws and go see Dr S. for a checkup before our transfer! It snowed a few days before I got there and a few days after so I didn’t actually get to see it falling, but I did get to make a snowball from some leftovers!

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I had some blood work drawn and another hysteroscopy, which all looked great. Then I sat down with Dr S and discussed our case. He also called me kiddo.. which was a little bit ridiculous. I know I am short and look a little young but damn, I’m about to be 28. I am no kiddo. Oh well.

And now here we are, February 20th! I have started a new chapter of IVF. We are officially on our embryo transfer protocol! And that protocol looks a little something like this..

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And in just TEN days I make my way out to Denver (without Jason, who will be coming out at a later date) to finish preparing and eventually transfer our embryos. And yes, that was meant to be plural. 😉

So, definitely be on the lookout for updates as we continue on this journey to hopefully what will be the end of our infertility struggle and the beginning of a brand new journey!

adiós por ahora <3<3<3

 

What is in the box..?

A few week ago, I received a box in the mail.

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I am sure you all are wondering what could possibly be in this box?!

Well, it is the beginning stages of our next step in this IVF journey. All of the medications I will be taking for the next 3 months arrived in this special package.

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Lupron will be taken over the next two months and during preparation on the last month in order to make my uterus habitable for an embryo. Apparently, this medication will send me into a swirling vortex of faux-menopausal symptoms. So, ladies and gents, please pray for my other half as he has to deal with menopausal Amanda..

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Then there are the estrogen patches that will be used in order to make the lining of my uterus JUST RIGHT for our perfect little embryo. I will be applying these to my abdomen every other day starting with one and eventually ending with four patches EVERY OTHER DAY. And I don’t remove any unless they fall off! My poor stomach is going to be a sticky mess.

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The dreaded progesterone in oil. It is sesame oil, so very THICK. And it gets injected into my gluteal muscle (otherwise known as my behind) in order to support a growing embryo. Not sure if I am going to let Jason do this one or figure it out (maybe coworkers?). He has been pretty decent with administering shots in the past but, FINGERS CROSSED, if this works, I will be taking this one every day well into the pregnancy. So I’ll keep you updated on that!

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Then there is the Endometrin, it’s a suppository not for your rectum 😉 This one ALSO supports a growing little embaby and is taken twice a day, every day well into a successful pregnancy. Excuse me while I send Jason on a Target run for pads..

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Here we have all of my needles and the container I will angrily throw them into once they exit my muscle. See how long they are? Ya, pain. It’s funny because I am a nurse, I can use needles on other people all day, every day, and not even blink an eye. But when it’s my turn, I freak. BUT IT WILL BE WORTH IT!

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My two lonely pill bottles. One is an antibiotic to make sure there is no infection what so ever in any part of the body when we do the transfer. If there is an infection, it is more likely that the body will reject the embryo resulting in a negative test. The other is a steroid, which I am under the impression that it suppresses the immune response of the body to the inflammation from transfer, which can also cause rejection of successful implantation of an embryo.

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Finally, we have the world’s most amazing ice packs. I can’t tell you how many of these we have but I save them every time I get medication from the pharmacy because they are just that awesome.

 

So that is it. The medication that will HOPEFULLY get & keep me pregnant!

 

My next update will be when I take my first shot of lupron.

Stay tuned for an guaranteed interesting update 🙂

 

Until next time… ❤

Little Blessings.

You asked for it, so here it is!

I have been pretty quiet since my last post because I have been anxiously awaiting the call I received yesterday. As you may know, Jay and I have 10 frozen embryos in Denver right now. These 10 little frosty embabies were biopsied the day we left for home and sent for chromosome testing. We have been so nervous about the results due to Jay’s inversion (if you missed that, read about it here – Genetics.)

Now typically for my age range, which always falls in the “>35yrs” category in fertility talk, the percentage of embryos that come back labeled as EUPLOID, or normal, is roughly 70%. Here is a graph that may help you to visualize this. Sorry it is difficult to see, it was taken on a cell phone so forgive me…

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Remember.. Euploid = Normal and Aneuploid = Abnormal.

With that said, with Jay’s inversion of chromosome 9, it was estimated by the genetic counselor and our doctor that our rate of normal embryos would most likely be lower than average. My hope was to have 2 or 3 normal embryos as our best case scenario..

It was a long and agonizing 16 days but FINALLY, yesterday October 12th, I received the call. When I answered the phone, the nurse asked if it was a good time to talk about the results. I said yes but I was super nervous, which she replied with “oh I don’t think you should be nervous!”

So she told me that..

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We have SEVEN perfect little embryos waiting for us!

SEVEN, y’all!

And then she told us that we should probably celebrate tonight.. In which we did with some fabulous wine and cheesecake. Because, ya know, I just don’t think we have ever been so happy or had anything to celebrate on our infertility journey. And finally, we do! So we did!

Now I am all sure you are wondering what’s next? Well I’ll save that for another day since I’m not exactly sure yet. We of course would like to move along as quickly as we can but we have to take care of some other things along the way. For now, we have a phone consult with Dr Schoolcraft TONIGHT in order to discuss everything that has happened thus far and our next steps in this process.

Also, I would just like to take a minute and say that 4 years ago yesterday, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. That was such a life changing moment. But I will tell you what, I have not let MS define me or slow me down. I am not my diagnosis whether it be MS, infertility, anxiety, or anything else that wants to rear it’s ugly head at me.

I am Amanda, and I am kicking ass at life!

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Until next time.. ❤

 

Retrieval, fertilization, & blastocysts, Oh My!

Last Tuesday morning, September 20th, I woke up around 4am, unable to sleep and anxious for the what was to come that day. See, this is my fourth time having an IVF retrieval done, but a lot is riding on the results we get at this clinic. I was slated to arrive at the CCRM surgery center at 6:30am for a 7:30am procedure. I woke Jay up, took the dogs out and got ready.

I knitted the whole way to CCRM. Jay says I am going to be the old lady knitting while waiting for surgery, I didn’t disagree.

We arrive and head up the the waiting area until the nurse comes to get us. My nurse for the procedure is ironically my original IVF nurse. When we had our initial consult, she was the one to walk us through everything we needed to do. Shortly after that, I found out she moved to the surgery center to be more hands on, and I don’t blame her. I am the same way. Anyways, she remembered us and we discussed life since we last saw her. It is such an incredible feeling when people remember you at such a high profile clinic with a large patient population.

Next, I got changed into my homely hospital gown and surgical cap. I was offered socks but I had my own that I felt may possess some good luck.. it’s a thing in the infertility world to have good luck socks! I got hooked up to all the monitors and an IV was placed, with one try!

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I met the anesthesiologist, who was incredibly nice and made me feel very secure. She explained that although this procedure is done under general anesthesia, they don’t typically use any breathing tubes at CCRM, which has been my least favorite part in the past. Waking up with a sore throat is never fun.

I kept an eye on the clock. It was 7:28am when Dr Gustofson (the physician performing retrievals for that day) came in to discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure. He ended with a question he has to ask all patients, “Do you want to change your mind?”…..

OF COURSE NOT! No way I would put myself through everything I just did, just to change my mind. I am certain he has never heard ‘yes’ to that question before! He smiled and told me he would see me a while later. I never did end up seeing him later, but that is okay.

At 7:35am (and yes, I was getting anxious when the clock started ticking past 7:30am), the anesthesiologist came in and gave me some medication to relax me (fentanyl, maybe?) and rolled me into the surgical suite. The last thing I remember is the anesthesiologist pointing to a window on the other side of the room and telling me that this was where the lab is that my eggs would be passed off to. And then I was out…

I woke up to an itchy nose, like always. The best thing for this is chapstick! Easy application and makes the itching go away. I was still pretty loopy at this point but the embryologist came to talk to us.

The news she gave us had me in tears. THIRTY TWO eggs retrieved!

THIRTY TWO!

In my three retrievals in Jacksonville, I had a total of 22 retrieved. This was such a big improvement and way more that the 17 and 15 that Jay and I had predicted, respectively.

So that was it for the day. We wouldn’t get an update until the next day. So I got dressed and off to breakfast we went.

If you are ever in a city with a Snooze, do me a favor and please just go! You will not regret it..

We ordered the two plates on the left but our waitress gave us a free blueberry cheesecake pancake on her. It was as amazing as it sounds.

I kept it pretty low key the rest of the day. I actually was in quite a bit of pain which may have been partially attributed to OHSS or Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome. Either way, I got through it without needing to be hospitalized, so I guess I did well in the end.

 

The next day, Wednesday the 21st, I woke up around 8:30am to my phone ringing. It was CCRM! I didn’t expect to hear an update so early, but I’m not complaining 🙂

We got good news at this point as well. Out of the 32 eggs retrieved, 20 of them were mature and able to have ICSI performed on them. ICSI is also known as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. This procedure is done when there are any male factor issues that may be contributing to infertility, such as low sperm count. During this procedure, one sperm cell is injected into each egg cell. This procedure is performed around 4 hours after retrieval.

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So as I was saying, the embryologist was able to perform ICSI on 20 eggs. Out of these, 17 of them fertilized normally and were beginning to grow into embryos! WOW was all I could think. That is an 85% fertilization rate which is stellar! We were thrilled but that was the easiest wait.

The next update would be how many of the fertilized eggs made it to the blastocyst stage by day 6 after retrieval. A blastocyst is defined as an embryo with differentiation of cells into two main parts: the inner cell mass that would eventually become the baby and the trophectoderm which would eventually become the placenta.

In our three prior IVF cycles, we have never seen a blastocyst. We always transferred embryos on day 3, when they are 4-8 cell structures. Whatever we had leftover after the transfer was watched but they never grew.

So we knew we had quite the wait ahead of us. We tried to stay extremely busy.

We went to the zoo…

 

The Hammonds Candy Factory…

Yes I wore my hat the ENTIRE time and embarrassed Jay. And my MIL did too 😉

We went Mini-Golfing, and I lost by 2 points (but Jay was keeping score so I’m not sure how accurate that is).

We went to a corn maze in Littleton, and discovered how much we like that area… hmm.

And I knitted. A lot. I actually finished a scarf in a week after quickly learning how to knit.

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FINALLY, after what seemed like an eternity, I received a call from the embryologist just before noon on Monday morning, September 26th. I had prepared myself for the worst, we have never made blastocysts in the past so what made this different?

Needless to say, the supplements I took must have helped. We currently have TEN embryos that made it to this critical stage, were biopsied for chromosome testing, and were frozen with no complications. We have 10 frosty babies!

The embryologist told me the grading for them but I was too excited to write them all down. I do know that we have four day 5 embryos and six day 6 embryos. Once I speak with my nurse again, I will make sure to get the grades of each and every one of them!

 

Even though this is amazing news to us, we still have obstacles to cross in this journey. But for now I will cling on to the hope that at least one of these embryos is my future baby.

MY FUTURE BABY.

I just can’t help but smile when I type that.

We flew home yesterday. It felt weird leaving those 10 little pieces of Jay and I in Colorado. But, it won’t be for long.

Until my next post.. <3<3<3