One year ago today, Josh and I headed out to New York to do what would be our fifth and last IVF cycle. It had been a long, emotional and scary five years for us.
We were both exhausted in every way imaginable, we didn't know if we could handle another miscarriage or failed cycle. We left July 9th, egg retrieval was on the 11th and on the 16th we transferred 2 healthy embryos. It was the longest week of our lives! Fast forward to July 25th (Kaes birthday) Josh and I hadn't told Kae what was going on so we had to stay quiet about it. The phone rang, Josh and I ran outside to hear the news that would change our lives. We had gotten this call 4 other times, 2 of those phone calls were heart shattering and till this day I will never forget that heart dropping feeling when I heard "I am sorry, it was negative," the other 2 calls were "it came back positive BUT your levels are low."
Not this time, there was no "I am sorry or congratulations BUT," there was just YOUR PREGNANT! Josh and I looked at each other, laughed and then cried. We couldn't believe that we were finally going to have a baby together or little did we know 2!
Fast forward a year and I am now watching our beautiful boys sleep (I wish I could say peacefully) on their monitor.
Now to address the elephant in the room. I was very open before we got pregnant about us using an egg donor but haven't talked about it except with a select few.
Yes, we did use an egg donor. I have been going back and forth with whether or not I would confirm on my blog that we had actually used one or not, because I felt "why does it matter." But it does matter because I decided a long time ago to bring you on this journey with us and I kind of left you with a cliff hanger for a year. So I will answer the most asked questions about our experience using an egg donor.
We used an anonymous donor, we chose her through our doctors office.
We have not and will never meet her but we have seen her baby pictures.
She is not the mother of my boys, I AM their mom. She may have given her genetics but without me they wouldn't be here, my body nurtured their little bodies for 8 months and I am the one raising them. If you're talking to us about her please know that she is known to us as our donor not the mom.
I don't look at the boys and see her, I see Josh in Owen (obviously) and I see Kaedence in Finn with my green eyes.
I do pray for her every night, she gave me the ability to become a mom. She will forever be in my heart and I will be eternally grateful.
Last but not least we have 3 embryos frozen so if we are lucky enough to get pregnant again our boys will have full genetic siblings.
We want to thank everyone for all of your support! We love everyone!
Thursday, May 15, 2014
I feel as though I need to clarify some things that have been asked and also a few things that have been weighing heavily on my heart.
I want to start by thanking everyone who has liked the “Operation Baby Henrickson” fb page as well as the people who have been able to donate. I especially want to thank my sister Antonina for starting both of the pages, we love you so very much and it means the world to us! With that being said people should know that I am not the admin for the Operation Baby Henrickson fb page nor am I admin for the GoFundMe page, my sister is in control of all of that so anything that is posted on the page is from my sister. My sister came to us and asked if she could start these pages to help us with the cost of using donor eggs, in no ways were we trying to drag people into what we are doing, she wanted to help but doesn’t have a ton of money that she can just give us so she came up with this. We are forever grateful to her for everything she has done for us! Thank you sister!!!! On a side note Josh and I are not just sitting around waiting for “handouts,” we have worked our butts off trying to save money for fertility treatments. We save as much as we can every month!
I have been asked a lot when we plan on doing our egg donor cycle, but we do not plan on telling anyone (not even family) when we are doing all of this. As you can imagine this is going to be an EXTREMELY stressful process and we do not want to add to the stress by having people calling, texting or emailing me asking if it worked or not. We would also like the option of telling people that we are pregnant when we feel we are in a safe zone and that we are ready to tell people. I also have been asked if we are going to tell our child(ren) that he/she is from an egg donor and the answer is yes. I feel it is very important for them to know where they came from and to know the struggle and sacrifices that we went through to have them.
With that being said; as open as we have been about us using an egg donor it does not mean that anyone can just go and talk to our child about it, even if you’re family please know that it is NOT your place to talk to them about such things no matter what the comment is. Josh and I will decide what we disclose to him/her and at what WE feel is the appropriate age. This also goes for such things being discussed with Kaedence, Josh and I will decide if and when we want to tell her how her sibling was conceived. So when it comes to our kids please keep your mouth shut about the egg donor issue.
Lastly, I want to clarify that I am not forcing Josh to do ANY of this. I think people may get the wrong idea because he isn’t very vocal about this whole thing, but that’s because he is a private person and talking about it isn’t on the top of his list to discuss. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to do it or that I am holding a gun to his head or giving him an ultimatum. In fact when our doctor first told us we should use an egg donor I was the one who was hesitant and it took me a whole year to say okay to it, but Josh was on board from day one because he knew our chances would be greater and he so badly wants to have a child with ME no matter how we get him/her. None of this is being forced on either side and it kills me to know that people think that if I didn’t want this so badly that Josh would be okay with not having kids with me because he has a child already. Yes, he has a child but he only gets to see her 4 days a month so it is not the same. He loves me and would do anything for me but I love him just as much and would never force him to do something he didn’t want to do.
I am sorry that this wasn’t more of a happy blog but I felt as though all of this needed to be said.
We love everyone and hope all is well!!!!
Friday, January 17, 2014
It’s only January but I can’t help but think that May is slowly creeping up on me, the greatest thing in the world happened to me in May of 2009 and that’s when I married my best friend and the love of my life, but unfortunately May is also a reminder that it’s another year gone by and we are still struggling to have our first baby together. It seems insane to me that it’s been 5 years……I never in my life thought that I would have problems getting pregnant let alone having to sacrifice an ovary, both fallopian tubes and my sigmoid colon for even just a shot at having a baby and now we are finding out that I will have to sacrifice having a child that is genetically mine as well.
Last year after our 4th IVF cycle my doctor suggested that we look into using an egg donor because she felt my eggs were not of quality, she said she was willing to do another IVF cycle using my eggs but felt it would be best to use a donor. I needless to say broke down in her office….this was unfathomable to me; I am (at the time) only 27 years old how can this be happening. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around what she was saying to us, all I kept think was I will never get to look at my child and think “he/she gets that from me” or that Josh loves my eyes and has always said that he hopes our baby has them, it’s all gone...... I will never experience that and I was absolutely devastated! I have become very closed off the past year because of all of this, I stopped talking to a lot of friends and have even closed off to some of my family. My doctor explained that I had to grieve the loss of my genetics. I went through every stage of grief because it literally felt like someone had died, I can’t even describe the pain I felt and still feel.
I asked Dr. W to run labs to make sure that I didn’t have any blood clotting issues and as you know it came back that I in fact had problems. This discovery changed everything for me; I sucked up my tears and thought “I am going to prove Dr. W wrong” (clearly the denial stage of grief). I talked Josh into letting me do ONE more IVF cycle using my eggs, after all Dr. W said there is a cocktail of vitamins that could help improve egg quality so why not. I took those pills every damn day, some of them I had to take 7 pills a day. I did acupuncture and lost more weight, I did EVERYTHING I could possibly do to make this cycle work. We had 30 eggs and only had 2 embryos to transfer with none to freeze, and neither of them implanted. I, still in denial thought “well let’s get a second opinion,” hoping that when I told this new doctor about the terrible cramping I get in my uterus after my IVF cycle he would say “well that is an easy fix, let’s freeze your embryos, let your body heal and then transfer them.” Needless to say that isn’t how it went. He said he is concerned at the fact that we get so many eggs but only end up with 2 embryos and none to freeze, that is not good and something has to be happening after fertilization that is causing them to not grow. He said with my age I should be a great candidate for IVF and should have gotten pregnant by now, something is happening more than likely chromosome wise. They can run test on Josh and I to see if we have any chromosome abnormalities, but the only way to really find out is to do an IVF cycle and do genetic testing on each embryo to look at what is going wrong and then transfer the embryos that don’t have any genetic abnormalities but there is a fair chance that all of them have genetic problems and will not make it past implantation once in my uterus. He pointed out that by the time we paid for everything we would have spent the same amount of money that we would have spent to use an egg donor. He strongly suggests that we use an egg donor because he just doesn’t see it possible that we could have genetic children together. He is also concerned because of the cramping I have had during my IVF cycles, he isn’t sure what it is caused from but wants to do further tests including and endometrial biopsy to make sure I can carry a baby. I am hoping that everything comes back normal so I can at least carry my baby.
So it looks like Josh and I will be looking into using an egg donor, I hope we can find someone with my eye color and dimples. This isn’t cheap either, probably twice the cost of and IVF cycle. Before anyone decides to email me offering their eggs, I want to say I appreciate the offer but Josh and I would prefer to use an anonymous donor. I am still having a very hard time with all of this and I am still grieving but I know that all I need is time and support from family and friends.
Thank you all for your love and support.
SIDE NOTE: I know that many of you are not going to agree with or understand our decision to use donor eggs oppose to adopting, but the fact of the matter is that it is OUR decision what our next step will be during this journey. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I will NOT tolerate negativity or hatred toward my husband or I because of our decision. Remember that we didn’t choose to have infertility it’s a disease and our options of having a family are getting smaller and smaller and if you haven’t been through this then you have NO idea how we feel or how hard all of this all is for us. We only want and need love and positivity.
Friday, November 8, 2013
Thanksgiving is coming up and posting what you are most thankful for on Facebook seems to be the trend again this year, so I thought I would say what I am most thankful for through my blog. Let me start off with the obvious things such as Josh and I having jobs so we can put food on our table and clothes on our bodies and to give my beautiful step daughter Kae a good life. There are a lot more obvious things but then this blog wouldn’t be so interesting so let me move on.
I have to say the thing I am most thankful for is something that I NEVER in my life thought I would be thankful for and that is infertility……..I know, weird right? Don’t get me wrong I hate going through infertility more than anything in this world, it has done a number not only on our bank account but it has taken its toll on us emotionally and has almost killed me twice. But this “horrible” disease that is standing in the way of my body ever carrying a child and makes me cry myself to sleep almost EVERY night for the past 4 years is also one of the biggest blessings of my life.
Infertility has made my marriage stronger and has made me love Josh more and more every day. Josh and I have been trying to have a baby together since 3 days after we got married and after I had 3 surgeries and gone through countless fertility treatments most men would have said “we just need to stop” my wonderful husband says “we will never give up.” He has been by my side through everything and he lifts me up whenever I get knocked down or feel too weak to continue on with this journey. Without his strength I don’t know if I would have made it this far so I am truly thankful for Joshua Blaine Henrickson!
Infertility has made me super close to my family as well; my sister, Mom and Dad have been so great during all of this by reassuring us that we are not alone and that they have out backs! My wonderful parents last year hosted a fundraiser to help us raise money to do an IVF cycle with no strings attached, they never made us feel like we owed them and we know they did it because they love us and want to see our dream come true (thank you to all of our family and friends who donated last year). My sister has held my hand and listened to me cry and has cried with me more times than I can count, she has been one of my biggest supporters and I cannot say how much I love her for all that she has done for us!
I was told once that this journey will make me see who my true friends are and boy were they right! I have had many friends just kind of disappear or will say things here and there but not many of them are right by my side calling to see how things are going and how we are holding up. To me these small things are a HUGE part of a friendship and when your “friend” is going through hard times no matter how long they are going through it, you should always show your support. I now know who my true friends are and who are not and I am sure the people who are not will read this and wonder if it’s them. To my friends that have been there for us, we thank you for even just a simple phone call or acknowledgement that you care, we love you!
This journey has also brought out people who I was never very close to, they have surprised us by donating to our fundraiser last year, offering their bodies for 9 months or offering their eggs to us. Words cannot describe how much these people mean to us! To those of you who were serious about helping us or who have helped us we want to thank you and know that Josh and I are forever grateful!
Because of infertility I have met some wonderful ladies, who have been on or are currently on this journey. These women have reassured me that what I am feeling is normal and that I am in fact not alone. Thank you for sharing your stories with me and giving me someone I can relate too.
4 years ago we met with our first fertility specialist Dr. Horvath and at first we thought he was kind of an ass but later showed us such compassion. When I was in the hospital he came into see me even though he wasn’t my attending, him and my nurse (Amy Alix) would call me just to see how I was feeling, he made us realize that he wasn’t in this for the success rate or money but that he really cared and wanted to help us. Sadly Dr. Horvath was diagnosed this summer with Liposarcoma was given only a few more months to live. He is a wonderful man and he will truly be missed!
Last but not least because of our struggles we know the importance of family and when we finally become pregnant and have our baby we will never take for granted this gift from God because we have been through hell and back to get him/her! Life of course isn’t fair and it feels as though we will be on this journey forever but someday and somehow Josh and I will have a baby together!
We love you
all and hope that you have a terrific Thanksgiving!
Friday, December 7, 2012
I went in for my “WTF” appointment last month and I asked to have some blood work done to make sure I didn’t have any blood clotting problems; well sure enough I have high homocysteine levels which can causes blood clots and puts me at high risk for recurring miscarriages, stroke and heart attacks…….nice to know that NOW right!? On the plus side it is treatable and they have started me on a medication called Folgard which is a combination of folic acid, B6 and B12, it will convert homocysteine in the body into chemicals that are more usable. My doctor said along with the Folgard I will take baby aspirin and heparin shots during my next IVF cycle and if pregnancy is achieved then I will continue taking them until I deliver. I am quite irritated because I feel like this is something I should have been tested for way before all of this and my doctor even said there is a good chance I would still be pregnant had we had known about it before and taken action sooner.*sigh* I feel like pulling my hair out…..oh wait it’s already falling out from the stupid thyroid meds!!!!! I am happy that we have some answers but at the same time I am even more scared then I was before. Right now we are taking another break and we will figure out what we are going to do as we move forward.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Josh and started our 3rd IVF cycle at the beginning of October and just like the last two cycles everything started off perfectly! I responded very well to my meds and on October 10th they were able to retrieve 31 eggs, because of how many eggs they were able to get I woke up in a TON of pain (the more eggs the more times you get stabbed with a needle) everyone was so great and my doctor was very happy with the outcome.
Out of the 31 eggs 15 were mature and 10 fertilized which was great and we had 1 good blastocyst and one good morula (the stage before becoming a blastocyst) and there were a few that were still a little behind, we transferred 2 of them which was an amazing experience because at this clinic Josh was able to be in the room with me during the transfer and they had a huge TV where we watched them put our embryos in the catheter and then it switched over to the ultrasound and we got to watch them place them. They called us the next day and told us that none of our embryos made it to freezing. Then 2 days after my transfer they ran some labs and my progesterone and estrogen levels were super high (this is good; you need high levels to be able to hold a pregnancy). Of course like any woman going through fertility treatments I was paying attention to every little change that was happing to my body knowing that it could very well be from the meds that I was taking, but I told Josh something is just different this time I can feel it.
We went in on the 24th for my pregnancy test and was told that they would call us in a couple of hours………well 6 HOURS LATER (they were having a problem with their phones) we get the call saying that we are pregnant but my levels were only at 13 and normally they want to see them above 70 but she assured us that this sometimes happens and women go on to have perfectly healthy babies. Two days later we went in to have our second level check (they want to make sure the pregnancy hormone is doubling every 48 hours) and our nurse called and said that my levels had dropped to 11 but she said sense there wasn’t a significant drop they were still cautiously optimistic, she also said that my thyroid levels are elevated and they need to put me on meds for it right away and it being elevated was strictly fertility induced and can cause problems getting pregnant and staying pregnant. We were super scared but we were trying to be positive.
I had taken a at home pregnancy test after my first lab test because I had never seen a positive on one before, needless to say I was so happy that a second line showed up, and even the day after my levels dropped I took another test and this time the second line was even darker so I thought my levels must be going up if it’s getting darker. The morning of my next lab test I took another home test and there wasn’t even close to being a second line, I went in for my test and my nurse called and said my levels were at 0. Even though we knew it was coming, it still felt like a knife just went straight into our hearts, it made it all too real and now we were left to figure out what happened and what we are going to do next.
Today is especially hard because it was supposed to be my 6 week ultrasound where we would get to hear the baby’s heartbeat. I cannot tell you all the different emotions that we are feeling; it makes me feel insane sometimes! We thought this was it because everything preventing us from getting pregnant was taken care of but now my body decided to throw in another wrench and elevate my thyroid preventing me from staying pregnant. We meet with our doctor next week and we will see what she says, I refuse to move forward with any plans to do another IVF cycle until I have had every test possible to see what could have caused this.
We have been more open about using a gestational carrier but we are still not completely ready for it and probably won’t be for a couple of years, I still very much want to carry my own baby and feel that I have been cheated out of so much that most woman get to experience, I will never be able to get pregnant without IVF and that still hurts my heart and I don’t want to miss out on feeling my child grow inside me.
I was really hoping that this would have been the end of our infertility journey so we could move on with our lives and finally be able to have a child together. But I have to suck it up get ready for more tests and start saving for our 4th IVF cycle, if you don’t see me on facebook for a while it’s probably because I ended up having to be committed ;)
Thursday, July 19, 2012
I have had a lot of people ask me about the cause of my infertility so I thought I would explain everything on my blog. If things gross you out easily or if you don’t want to know the details of my messed up reproductive system then please don’t read this. Also just so this doesn’t come off wrong, I don’t mind AT ALL talking about my infertility this has been my life for 3 years now and I love helping people understand what it’s like to go through all of this because most people have no idea.
Each month our ovaries produce hormones that cause the endometrial cells in the uterus to thicken. Our bodies remove extra endometrial cells from the uterus when you get your period, but if these cells implant and grow outside of the uterus then endometriosis occurs.
How do endometrial cells get on the outside of the uterus?
I have been told from a few doctors that it gets there from something called retrograde menstruation, this happens when the endometrial cells shed when you get your period and travel backwards through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis. After this happens the tissue implants (most commonly on the ovaries) and will continue to grow when you get your next period and sometimes the tissue will even bleed a little. Endometriosis typically implants on the ovaries, bowel, rectum and bladder but it can also grow in other areas of the body as well.
There are 4 stages of endometriosis and unfortunately I am in the 4th stage which is the most severe. I have endometriosis on my ovary, pelvic wall and bowel; I would also get endometriomas (chocolate cysts) which are ovarian cysts that are filled with menstrual blood.
I have had a few women say that they think they might have endometriosis but the only way to tell is to go to a doctor. If you have a doctor who says that you have or don’t have it just by doing a pelvic exam or just by your list of symptoms then you need to get a second opinion because there is no telling for sure if you have it or what stage you’re in without having exploratory surgery, in which if you DO have it they can remove some of your adhesions.
I have always had painful periods which are one of the symptoms of endometriosis but when I was around 21yrs old the cramps I had were so bad that I would pass out from the pain. I went to my doctor and they did a pelvic exam and ultrasound and they said everything was fine, but about 10 months later I started having abdominal pain all of the time, so when I went to a different doctor they discovered that I had large ovarian cysts, after I had surgery to remove the cysts they told me that I had severe endometriosis. The point is that even if you have a normal pap and ultrasound they really don’t know what is going on unless they go and look. Listen to your body, if you have severe cramps during your period or a couple of weeks after your period (during ovulation), pain going to the bathroom during your period, lower back or thigh pain and last but not least pain during sex, these can all be symptoms of endometriosis.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
This is hard for me to share because some of the symptoms are VERY embarrassing!!!
PCOS is caused by a hormone imbalance. Women with PCOS usually have irregular periods, anovulation (no ovulation); some women may have multiple cysts inside of the ovary, acne, hair thinning, facial hair growth, insulin resistance and weight gain.
I started with symptoms of PCOS around the same time I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I first noticed that I had some facial hair but thought “well since I am Italian I knew this day was coming,” but then my hair started to thin out and I started getting acne on my back. I didn’t get anything checked until Josh and I started trying to have a baby and that’s when they discovered that I wasn’t ovulating every month and that I also had multiple cysts on my ovaries. They ran a hormone panel and saw that my hormones were not at the level that they should be and that was why everything was so out of whack, because when one hormone changes it triggers another, which changes another. Naturally, ovaries make a small amount of androgen (male sex hormones) but when you have PCOS the ovaries start to make a little more androgens which can cause facial hair growth, acne and can causes ovulation to stop which is clearly important when you are trying to get pregnant.
My fertility doctor in NY said that my PCOS case was unusual (go figure) because although my hormone levels were lacking in some areas, some of the other hormone levels were high compared to most women with PCOS. The hormones that I am lacking affect my egg production so they have found that I am closer to menopause then I should be at my age.
A hydrosalpinx in fluid that is in the fallopian tube which makes it close to impossible for an egg and sperm to meet. The fluid is also toxic so in my case I only had one fallopian tube and it was filled with the fluid, when we did our IVF cycles the fluid leaked into my uterus and made it hard for the embryos to survive. A hydrosalpinx can be drained but it will come back so the only treatment is to have the tube either tied or removed.
Well, there you have it. If you know someone who suffers from infertility talk to them and try to understand their condition, it’s not an easy fix like a lot of people think it is.