Meet the Underdogs

Monday, March 23, 2015

I wanted to introduce you all to our two lone survivors...

This is a print out of our two embryo that survived. The one on the top (right) is our Tier 2 embryo, the stronger of the two. He's a fairly strong little guy, but you can see that parts are starting to fall off. But this little guys is not terrible and we are hoping he'll generate "power" from Ambree's uterus.

The second embryo is on the bottom (left), he's the tier 3 embryo. He is not in such great shape-but we love him none the less. He is starting to fall apart, particularly on the bottom. We are hoping he too generates some power while in there.

And do you want to see their first selfie...

 This is a high contrast image I produced so I could see them. The round part is Ambree's uterus and right in the middle are two white, thick lines. They look like grains of rice or tiny little fish swimming. They are actually too small to see in a photo, but the clinic puts little air bubbles around them so we can seem them. This is after they went through the catheter and right into Ambree's uterus.  This is exactly where the doctor wanted them to be, now we are hoping they'll attach!

So these little fellers are who you are cheering on this week. Our fighters. Our underdogs.

Go, emby's go!

The Underdogs: Transfer Day

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Before our appointment on transfer day. Deja, Lucas, Derek & Ambree

I’m not sure I’m ready to write this post, but so many of you have reached out to me, and have been anxiously waiting to hear about today. Many of you have followed our story so closely and when I promised to share our journey, I promised to share it all…  I consider you all my dearest friends and family—and we share our heartaches and achievements, today is no exception. 

We went to our appointment at 3:00 today. Derek, Ambree, my mom, Lucas and I all went. They tell you that transfer day is a big, special day, at it certainly is, so we wanted to be there together.

Ambree took a Valum when we got there, to relax her before the procedure. She was then taken to a room, the same room I did my egg retrieval in, and we all followed her shortly after. I had to run to the restroom and out in the hall I ran into my incredible doctor, Dr F,  he’s wonderful! I smiled at him, and he at me, but immediately I senses something just wasn’t right. We went into the room and Dr. F came in shortly after. He sat down next to Lucas and me and handed us a piece of paper, a black and white print-out. On this sheet of paper were two little circles, which turned out to be our embryos. Remember from the previous post he told us that we would pick out our embryo upon arrival.

As he sat down he said, “First off we were amazed the day after transfer that you had a 100% fertilization rate, out of the 30 patients this month, yours was the highest. Then on day 3, we were still so happy that we had 6 solid embryo and 3 semi-solid, 9 options, again we were thrilled. Deja and Lucas, then something happened yesterday, most all of them started falling apart. Today, today we have 2, one is fairly good and the other has already began to deteriorate”.

My heart stopped. It sunk to my gut as I stared at that sheet of paper. I was numb and my eyes started welling up.


He went on to tell us that on day 4 we “hit a brick wall” (those words are still ringing in my head). The embryo’s starting falling apart, and quickly. He told us that my endometriosis was more severe than they had imagined and was in turn, contaminating the eggs. All I could think of in my head was FAIL, FAIL, FAIL!!! My body had failed me and now I’m looking at just TWO embryo. He rated them between Teir 1 and Teir 3, one being the best, the first was a tier 3 and the second a tier 2. In the blink of an eye I went from so much hope (6 solid embryo) to complete and utter heartbreak!!

I stared at that sheet of paper and my heart burned. I couldn’t control my tears anymore and I sobbed. Dr. F was so kind and caring and said, “We still have one good strong one we can use today.” Ambree asked if this type of thing was normal and he kindly replied, “No, to go from that many to 2 is not normal”. Again…FAIL FAIL FAIL!!!

At that point I think we were all in tears and/or shock and just kind of looked around the room at each other. Of course we would implant the one semi-strong one and hope for the best, but what are the odds of it working? He said it wasn’t great odds, but by implanting both the odds would increase slightly. Dr. F explained to us that it was an incredibly hard decision, but that implanting both embryos would increase the chance we would get pregnant—and because the embryo were not of great quality, Ambree’s odds of having to carry twins would be just 5%.

Ambree asked a lot of great questions—she was super calm and collected. I listened as hard as I could but felt like I was in someone else’s body. We talked for a few minutes about what to do, all along Ambree has said, “Only one embryo”, and I’ve tried to respect here decision. I asked the doctor if we could have a minute to talk, Lucas and I went outside and talked, and Ambree and Derek staying in the room and talked. It felt like I cried in Lucas’ arms for a long time but I don’t think it was really that long. A few minutes later they called us back into the room.

At this point Ambree was already prepped for transfer, the doctor was in there and was already prepped to go for it. One of my favorite songs of all time was playing in the room, “Clocks” by ColdPlay, for some reason it brought me some comfort. At this point, none of us (my mom, Lucas, nor I) had any idea what Ambree and Derek had decided, but I knew it had to be her decision. It was her body and she was just letting us borrow it. The doctor preceded to “prep” her for implantation and NONE OF US ASKED WHAT THE DECISION WAS.

It was just a weird experience—and I didn’t want to feel like I was pressuring her (although it was clearly about to happen anyway). The doctor let me stand real close to the ultrasound machine so I could see what he was doing. After Ambree was prepped, and they inserted a catheter to load the embryo, the sweet women from the lab, who has a great Australian accent, and who was the one who called me the first day to tell me I had a 100% fertilization rate, came in with our embryo.

She repeated back to the doctor, “Powell/Hatch embryo” and handed the doctor a long needle syringe. I watched on the monitor and you could see one tiny embryo (that looked like a white strain of rice, make its ways up and into the uterus. And then another tiny embryo followed behind.

Ambree decided to do both embryo to increase our chances and I cannot tell you how blessed we are she was willing to do that for us. It’s something she has not wanted to do, but in that moment she felt it was the best choice for us and I love her for that.

At the end of the day, we have two little embryo sitting inside Ambree.

I can’t begin to document the emotions I’m feeling. When I got home, I bawled and cried and screamed and yelled at Lucas. I was angry and heartbroken at the fact that my body “did this to me!” That I failed at the one thing I needed to do to make this process work…make an embryo. I still feel like we had a huge loss today, a loss of hope, and a loss of a second change. Today, the two surviving embryo are clinging to life—and that’s it. There are no more to freeze. There isn’t a second chance this go around. There isn’t the comfort that if this transfer doesn’t work, we still have “a few saved up.” In 48 hours, all of that went away. The two we do have aren’t particularly strong, one is visibly falling apart already. My. Heart. Aches. It hurts so badly that I want to rip it out of my chest. My eyes are swollen and red and I feel pain all over my body. I went from an enormous amount of hope, to a glimmer.

BUT we have 2 that survived! We have 2 little fighters that hung in there long enough to make it to today. We have 2 little slivers of hope to get us through the next 10 days. We have 2 embryos that despite all odds, are here. Lucas is a constant reminder to me of looking at the bright side. Sometimes I want to slap him for it, but it’s true. Today we implanted not one but TWO little embryo. He is also a big fan of the underdog, he always roots for the underdog when he can. So this week, this week we are rooting for our two underdogs and we hope you’ll join us in rooting for them too. My heart aches tonight as I write this—but I know eventually, eventually I will also realize that the joy of what happened today. I will better understand why we are here. I will know, maybe not tonight, but sometime soon, that even if this doesn’t work out, there is a glorious plan for me.

And if I may, please throw a prayer in for myself, Lucas, Derek, Ambree and I, that we can find peace in our decisions, and peace in our hearts and minds.

Join us in praying for, and cheering on, our little underdogs this week! On April 2nd, we will know if they were meant to hang on.

P.S. So sorry if this doesn’t make sense. I’ll try to edit it later.

Final Embryo Count & Transfer Day

Friday, March 20, 2015

Gorgeous Purple Cupcakes
These beautiful cupcakes can be found here.
As I mentioned earlier, we had 13 embryo the day after my egg retrieval (Wed. 3/20/15), 1/3 of those are expected to survive up to today (day 3). It took ALL day long but I got the call tonight around 5:00 with our count.

We actually have 11 embryo as of today, which is a big number! It's a little more complex than that though. Each embryo is "rated" on a scale from 1-10, the hope is for the embryos to be ranked between a 6 and a 10. 

We have 4, which are ranked a 4, which most likely means we will not be able to use these 4 at all. They are kind of out of the picture at the moment.

We have 1 embryo that's a 5 rating. This ones on the cusp, meaning it could fertilize more and become a 6, or is could stop growing all together.

We have 2 that are 7's, 2 that are 8's and 2 that are 9's! 

So we have six that are within the range of "good embryos". 

We are pretty happy with these numbers, as our coordinator told us, "We just need ONE STRONG embryo". We are praying and crossing our fingers that they just keep getting stronger.

So what's next?

Sunday, THIS SUNDAY (3/22/15) at 3:00 pm we go in for our transfer. Guys, this is the day I've dreamed about for over a year. I have longed for this day with all my heart, I get teary eyed just thinking about it. Ambs will take a little sedative at 3:00, upon arrival. Then Lucas and I will go into a room and they will show us pictures of our cute embryos and we "pick" the one to implant. I'm sure we will be guided in this process by the lab--it seems so bizarre that we "pick" THEE embryo but that's how it works. They then go to the lab, get the one we pick and we transfer it to Ambree, at 3:30 pm THIS SUNDAY!

What an incredible process! I had no idea how much my brain could think about embryo until this week. As weird as it sounds I think about them sitting there in the lab, what they look like, where they are, who's with them...I sound crazy right!?! But that's OUR babies and my heart melts thinking about it. 

We need lots of prayers this week as we prep for transfer. Lots of good, STICKY vibes sent our way. We need this feller to STICK!!! My eye fill with tears as I write this because this is what all of you, and we, have worked so hard for, THIS MOMENT. Transfer day is going to be a HUGELY emotional day for us!

Thanks for your love and support! We cherish each of you who follow our story and share in this journey with us!


Eggs & Embryos

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Forget all the reasons why it won't work and believe the one reason it will |
Forget all the reasons why it won't work, and believe the one reason it will.

So it's the days after egg retrieval.

Everything went really well yesterday. I went in, they put me under, I woke up and BAM, they were able to retrieve 15 eggs. This is a solid number--a good number to work with.
Recovery was not too bad post-surgery--despite the fact that I kept telling everyone how handsome my husband is...and may have told the anesthesiologist he was a little handsome too, but no big deal!

I came home and just rested most of the day. I've had a low-grade fever for the last 12 hours or so, so we are watching that. I did pretty well with the pain, until about 10:00 last night, I had to take some ibuprofen. I have not had to take any today for pain. I have been pretty nauseous all day, but sometimes anesthesia does that to me. I'm doing well, but still have that lingering low-grade fever we are watching out for. 

Just a few minutes ago the endocrinology lab called me. The endocrinologist has the most awesome Aussie accent, I love it. She said of the 15 eggs, only one was pre-mature (that's great from what she said). One embryo didn't make it, so we have 13 strong embryos right now. Within 3 days (Friday), it's expected that only about 1/3 of those embryos will survive. We are hoping and praying to have a handful (at least) by Friday. She said that age is on our side so there is a good chance we'll have more than 1/3 survive, but there really is no way of knowing. I will be getting a call on Friday with an update on how many have made it! 

My nerves will be a mess for the next few days, to say the least.

I'm pleased with these numbers though, it gives us quite a few to work with. So Friday, they will decide which embryo looks best for transplantation, they'll prep that embryo, and SUNDAY is our BIG transfer day!

Everything has gone so well up to this point, I pray that it will continue. I can't tell you all how incredible this journey has been so far, and I can't believe it's coming down to these next few days. My heart is racing constantly. I also want to just say how incredibly miraculous it is to get pregnant. I always knew it was--but never to the depths I understand now. It is a true miracle to be able to get pregnant, for everything to fall into the perfect place! Watching us "create" a baby has been miraculous for us and has make me see, without questions, that God's hand is in the whole process. Funny isn't it, that watching science do its thing has made me see how very much God has his hand in bringing to earth, life.

Some have asked about our fundraising efforts. I have to tell you that we plan on continuing these efforts. We estimated early on that we would need about $20,000 for this process, and we have already spent close to $25,000. It's all so worth it, but Lucas and I have taken out several loans to make this happen. We never want you to think your money isn't being used for this cause--it is and always will be. I hope you'll never doubt that. Thanks for all who have already donated--and who will still donate in the future. We promise that we will stop fundraising efforts as soon as we reach an end to all the out-of-pocket expenses that keep popping up.

I can't thank you enough for all your love and support. You simple comments on this blog and Facebook keep me going some days. Your love and generosity brightens my day. Your sweet text messages, emails and private message mean more to me than you'll ever know. This process is trying and having friends on your side makes an enormous difference. We love you and thank you!


Our LUCKY Day!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Find this delicious cupcake here.

Well folks, I have 10 folicles on my left ovary, and 6 on my right--and on today's ultrasound, THEY'RE HUGE. This means it's GO TIME!

Tuesday morning I go in for egg retrieval. This has been a coveted day for me for over a year now (even longer because I've only been able to produce eggs once).

So Tuesday, St. Patty's Day is 

I got quite emotional in the doc's office this morning when she told me it was "time to go". I can't belief it's finally here.

This means implantation with me 7 days after (approx. around March 24th) and we will take a pregnancy test on APRIL 1st. I've already informed A.M. (our awesome nurse) that she'll get punched in the face if she tries to pull any April fool's jokes that day.

So here we are folks-the days I've been longing for. I could NOT be more excited today--it's an emotional moment for both Lucas and I both.

This journey has been long and hard and this just feels like such a momentous moment for us--we are thrilled!

Update: Growing Eggs

Monday, March 9, 2015
Easter Egg Cupcakes: Recipe Here

I have come down with a bit of a sinus infection, after a quick trip to Instacare, hopefully I'll be better in now time. I need to be healthy because we are just a week(ish) away from egg retrieval day! This girl's Easter hunt will be early this year. I know, bad joke. I am on heavy doses of drugs to get me to produce as many eggs as possible. The shots are BIG and THICK and not fun at all. Poor Lucas gets teary eyed giving them to me because I bleed. He is such a soft-hearted guy, the shots have been harder for him than me.

I haven't had too many side effects with the new meds, but it's hard to tell what's part of the sinus infection and what's part of the drugs (fevers, hot sweats, sleepiness). Ambree is injecting away also, getting her uterine wall as thick as possible and read for implantation. She's bee wonderful through all this--a real trooper. It has not been easy for her but she has stayed so strong.

I am hoping to start feeling some pain in my ovaries. Yep, hoping! I need to grow some strong folicles that will produce as many eggs as possible, so we have options. When I previously took a much milder drug to get me to ovulate, it worked, so all things considered, this should work too. We want those ovaries of mine to just go egg crazy! The more eggs, the more options we have for embryos. Cross your fingers those suckers grow this week into strong, usable, eggs!

On Saturday, I start going in for an ultrasound every day, to check on my eggs. The day the eggs are ready I will go in for surgery to get them removed. I won't know until the day before that it's surgery time--it's up to my body to decide when that will be...but should be next week sometime.

That's the news so far. We will keep you posted! Thanks again for your love, prayer and generosity. You make this so much more bearable with your encouraging words and love!


IVF: Becoming a Druggie, the Thug Life

Saturday, March 7, 2015

I try to update this blog as much as possible, but these last couple of weeks have been tough! I try to throw out a few things in here and there on our Facebook page, but finally feel mentally okay enough to write a post...

I am on week two of Lupron injections.
The injection itself is easy-peasy but there have been some side-effects..

1. The pregnant belly. Because infertility likes to be super fun and super fair, the first dose of injections bloats your stomach so much it looks as though you are pregnant, quite pregnant. It's a funny game, isn't it!?! Here is the picture of my stomach after 2 weeks of LUPRON, it's NOT pretty but I promised to share everything so here goes..

I've always dreamed of having a cute selfie pregnancy photo to share--well folks--this might be as close as I'll ever get to one--somehow it's not as adorable as I hoped it would be. :)

2. I have had some minor bruising on my stomach, at various injection sites, but nothing too bad.

3. Mood swings. I mean all over the place. I haven't been too angry, just extremely sad. I talked to the nurse yesterday and she said that's normal--but it feels so abnormal. I won't even tell you how many times a day I cry...

4. Joint Aches. I tool Depot Lupron many years back (similar to this drug, but a little more hardcore). Because I took the Depot I have had early osteoporosis and joint pain--taking the Lupron again seems to have re-flamed these pains.

5. Hot flashes. No description necessary just get hot, real fast! :)

6. Hungry, ALL THE TIME!!! Guys, I can't stop eating, seriously, I wake up in the middle of the night to eat.

There are other small side effects like it makes it more tough to exercise, I just struggle to keep any stamina.

OTHER THAN THAT...the Lupron isn't too bad. I have 2 weeks left of it.

Now on to the next meds. Today I started new injections of Bravelle and Menopur. These meds will simulate my ovaries and hopefully produce follicles, which will produce many, happy eggs. That's the goal! Here is a pic of Lucas mixin' up the meds. He's turned into a physicist/nurse/drug dealer...
I have to say that Lucas has been amazing. He looks so sad when he has to inject me every morning but he does it so lovingly. He's been a pretty terrific support to me even though I've not been the easiest person to deal with! :)

As for Ambree--I don't want to write to much because I don't know how much she wants me to share but  she is being a real trooper through all this. She has some nasty inter-muscular shots that are TOUGH. She has also experienced many of the same side effects with Lupron as I. We don't spend a ton of time together as avoid hormone raged episodes! :) No, really, she has been AMAZING through it all.

I will keep you posted on how the new meds go. Not this week, but the next, we could be doing egg extraction...holy crap!!! It's happening...