Prepping for IVF Round 3

When I moved back home to Mississippi in November 2017, I was very concerned how that would impact our infertility treatment. I was very saddened to have to discontinue treatment at Arkansas Fertility and Gynecology since we had established such a deep connection with everyone in Dr. Batres’s office over the last three years. So, when Isaac’s Aunt Laura called me one night in January 2018 to tell me how she felt God had laid it on her heart to tell me about “Dr. KK”, I began to feel more at ease.

Aunt Laura raved about her experience with her new ob/gyn, Dr. Kara Brantley. Aunt Laura explained to me that during her visit at the doctor’s office,  Dr. KK described her own fertility struggles to her, and she felt that she needed to share it with me. I knew that I had to make an appointment with an ob/gyn before I could be referred to a new reproductive endocrinologist (RE), so I contacted Dr. KK’s office and met with her a month later.

During my exam, I explained my fertility journey to Dr. KK. She listened intently and quickly suggested that I go see Dr. William Schoolcraft. I was super excited that Dr. KK provided me a referral so quickly, but I was completely surprised to learn that Dr. Schoolcraft’s clinic is located in Denver, Colorado.

Dr. KK explained that she had gone to see Dr.  Schoolcraft when she and her husband were trying to conceive their two precious boys. Since then, she has sent 26 of her patients to him, and 25 of them have had babies. These are incredible odds! As impressive as these odds may be, the first red flag that popped in my head was the amount of money it would cost to fly out to Colorado and complete a 6-8 week IVF cycle.

Dr. KK informed me that I would only have to go to Colorado for one day for my initial workup and about ten days for the stimulation cycle/egg retrieval. Then, I would fly back out there again a cycle later for the embryo transfer since Dr. Schoolcraft only does frozen embryo transfers instead of fresh ones. She said that she would do all of the other blood work and ultrasounds at her office. This opportunity sounded enticing, but I was also skeptical.

After talking to Isaac and doing my research, we decided to contact Dr. Schoolcraft at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) in Lone Tree, CO and schedule our phone consultation with him.

We had our phone consultation with Dr. Schoolcraft in May. The purpose of this consult was for him to learn about our fertility journey. We discussed the diagnosis, my treatments, and my cycles. He was extremely surprised that we have not been able to have a baby based on my medical records. He encouraged us to come to CO to have a workup done at his clinic, so we made an appointment to fly out there in August.

For me, this is where the intense anxiety set in. Based on the research I have done about Dr. Schoolcraft, he is like the Dr. House of infertility. There are eleven CCRM locations, and he founded all of them (the first one in Colorado). He primarily deals with challenging infertility cases, and it was difficult to realize that mine qualified as one of them. So, we booked our flight, hotel, and rental car. Then, we traveled to Denver.

When we arrived at CCRM, we were directed to a conference room for our orientation session. There were four other couples in there for their one day workup, as well. Two of the couples traveled from another country, one traveled from Philadelphia, PA, and the other traveled from Chicago, IL. We were the youngest couple by far by at least 10 years. The orientation was very informative and cleared up almost every logistical question I had regarding how the protocols and procedures would operate with me living in another state during treatment. Then, we were dismissed, and the long day of blood work, ultrasounds, tests, and scans commenced.

After meeting with our IVF nurse (Erin), the genetics specialist, and the finance team, we finished up the day with a face-to-face meeting with Dr. Schoolcraft. He looked over my results from the day and looked very surprised. He told us that before we came out there, he was sure that he was going to tell us that we should consider an egg donor. However, “on paper” there is no reason why I should not be able to have a baby, so he wanted to try. I was astounded! There was honestly a part of me deep down that thought our journey would be over after this visit, but I was wrong.

We did some sight-seeing, climbed Mt Evans in the snow (in August), and came home. Isaac & I had to go see Dr. KK on day 2 of my next cycle to get more blood work and ship it to CO. Those results were perfect, so Dr. Schoolcraft called to let me know that he had written my protocol and sent it to Erin. So, I contacted Erin about our prospective cycle start date.

I am scheduled to begin my stimulation medications (the thrilling hormonal overload) in February 2019. In the mean time, Isaac & I both have been prescribed a vitamin supplement cocktail for the next three months. I have also been accepted into a clinical study trial at CCRM for a new Acai fruit supplement called OvaHealth that has shown to increase egg quality.

Many people ask me if I am excited about our third round of IVF. This is a very difficult question to answer. I am blessed for the opportunity to be under the care of a medical pioneer like Dr. Schoolcraft and to try to have a baby again. However, I am extremely nervous and anxious. It is going to cost us twice as much for this one cycle than it did for one cycle in Arkansas. Many people say, “Oh, money is just money. You can always make more.” That is true, but having to take out a $30,000 loan is going to affect our family no matter how you look at it.

I know I should not be anxious because it is all in God’s hands. He has blessed Isaac & me with really good jobs and insurance. We have recently learned that our medical insurance has a lifetime max of $7,500 for infertility treatment (like IVF) and another $7,500 lifetime max for infertility drugs. This in itself proves that God is providing a way for us to attempt another cycle.

I also believe that God has placed me at my job for this very reason. Three of my co-workers have undergone IVF, so I have a new support system that is very dear to me. Holly, in particular, listened to me cry even when she barely knew me. Her encouragement and kindness is so inspiring!

So, here we are prepping our bodies for our third IVF cycle. We have so many pills to take that I had to purchase large pill organizers! Please pray for us and our family as we continue this journey.

Much love,

KA

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The Diagnosis

I have played the moment Dr. Batres, my Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), said, “you are infertile” a thousand times in my head. I was honestly a little mad and frankly offended that he even had the audacity to speak to me that way. How dare HE?

Dr. Batres broke the news to me after a routine hysterosalpingogram (HSG) in 2015 which showed that both of my fallopian tubes had a bilateral distal blockage (meaning both of my tubes were blocked, so it would be impossible for natural conception to occur). At the time, he did know the cause of the blockage (which can be caused by Endometriosis), but we would later find out in my unique case that the blockage was caused by a birth defect, which is something he had never seen before. Because both of my fallopian tubes were blocked, Dr. Batres informed me that my next step would be to have surgery to either unblock them or have them removed (and move to IVF).

There are no words to describe the devastation I felt after I received what felt like a death sentence. I was at the hospital by myself, and I honestly did not think I could go home to face my husband. I was ashamed. I felt so useless and like such a failure (failure is not something I handle well). Ultimately, I could not face the fact that my body or I would be the cause of breaking the hearts of everyone around me (especially Isaac) if I could not naturally bear a child.

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 I wish I could lie and say I handled the news with grace; but, my heart and dreams were shattered that day, and I have never been the same since. I was so sad and angry that I literally cried, screamed, and questioned God the entire two-hour-long drive home from Little Rock. How could He let this happen to ME? Am I not a good and faithful servant? Why do I deserve this? I honestly felt like God was punishing me for something I had done, or not done, or would do. 

It took a couple of weeks for me to get over my little hissy-fit before I became rational and realized that I was not being punished. I began to pray that God would give me the peace and strength I needed to get through this seemingly impossible time, and He did.

The Sunday following my HSG procedure, Bro. Don Phillips preached about Genesis Chapter 22 when Abraham’s faith is tested by God. 

Abraham & Sarah waited and prayed for years and years for a son, and God blessed them with Isaac. And, when God called for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham proceeded to fulfill God’s will even though he did not understand why.

This sermon resonated with me for all of the obvious reasons, but something more significant stuck out to me that day. God sacrificed his one and only Son for all of us, and I know that any amount of pain that I feel will never compare to that. 

I truly believe that God is intentional, and He knows our needs and wishes before we even consider them. I have not made an A+ on this test, but I know now that God has given me all of the tools of faith necessary to endure it.

My life as a parent today is not at all how I pictured it would be when I found out I suffered from infertility, and I thank God for that every day. Many of our friends and family do not believe that we deserve to have to endure the pain of infertility, but I know that the test is necessary because it has led us to Hayley. Without these trials, we would not have been blessed with such an incredible gift! 

Even after undergoing a year of treatment with Clomid and Letrozole (which made me CRAZY!) that preceded two (unsuccessful) rounds of IVF, Isaac & I are still willing to endure the battle of infertility in order to grow our family. Even if every round of IVF fails, and we have $0 in our savings account, I know that it is all a part of God’s plan for our lives. Every success and every failure is shaping us into the people He intends us to be. 

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My Thoughts About Infertility (So far…)

I have dreamed of being a mother since I was a little girl. As I grew into an adolescent, I had many conversations with my girlfriends about our plans, dreams, and expectations of motherhood. My biggest goals were to go to college, marry my high school sweetheart, rock my teaching career, and buy a house before I started a family. Being as headstrong and determined as I am, I worked hard and exceeded every single expectation I had for myself. After I married the love of my life, graduated college, landed my dream job, and bought a house, I assumed starting a family would come just as easily; but it hasn’t.

Infertility is especially painful to experience when all of your cohorts are birthing babies left-and-right. The extent of my infertility did not really hit me until one of my best friends had her tubes tied. I did not have the heart to tell her the amount of envy that I felt. Not only was she able to successfully get pregnant and carry two healthy babies to term, but she was choosing to potentially end her reproductive years before I could even begin mine. Although I was super supportive of her decision, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself.

Now that my 28th birthday is creeping up in a few weeks, all I can picture is my Clock-of-Chance ticking away. Isaac & I have decided to start saving for IVF again. Hopefully, we will be able to begin our third cycle this fall. After the heartbreak of the last cycle, I was not sure that I could handle another round. No one can ever understand how taxing the emotional, mental, and physical effects of IVF are unless they go through it themselves. All of our family and friends are incredibly supportive, and we will be forever grateful for their love!

Despite the million+ emotions we have experienced throughout this journey so far, God has more than exceeded our expectations. God’s timing truly is perfect. I am embarrassingly impatient, so I have to remind myself of that daily.

Although we have not had a successful IVF cycle (yet), our Little (17-year-old) Hayley would not be here if I wasn’t born with pathetic reproductive organs. God answered our prayer to become parents when He placed her in our lives. Somehow, God knows what we need even when we think we have all of our wants figured out. I am so incredibly thankful for the blessings of this struggle!

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