Wednesday, April 24, 2013

If at first you don't succeed...

If you want to get caught up, you can read from the beginning here...
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God." - Romans 4:18

I'm not sure how I could have forgotten this part, probably because I try to block it from my memory as much as possible. While sitting in the RE's office after our first failed IVF attempt, our RE placed several binders on the table in front of us. In the binders were page after page of donor profiles. Since the donor industry is a constantly changing enterprise, we chose to take our search to the interweb in order to get all the possible options available. We were referred to a specific donor agency (same one that had the binders in the doctor's office) and found a donor that looked like she would be perfect! She a donated before and had a great medical history. We actually started to think to ourselves, that maybe this might go pretty smoothly after all! Ha ha ha - yeah right! I found some relief in the fact that this donor had done this before and knew the process. It was so hard with my cousin, and all the not knowing, and how uncomfortable she was. As we started to proceed with the cycle we kept getting the run around from the agency, and come to find out, the donor we chose was freakin pregnant! Well, alrighty then. We had a backup donor picked just in case, and just moved down to the next one on the list, however this really should have been our first red flag about this agency. The second donor we chose had also donated before and with great success, so we really didn't have any apprehensions about it, and I'm a go with the flow kinda girl, so I didn't think much about it. We told the director that we were looking to move pretty quickly on this cycle. This was just me trying to be in control, all about my timing you know. As a teacher, you want to try and plan your pregnancy to work with your work schedule. I had not fully accepted the idea that God doesn't care about YOUR plans, and that everything is in HIS divine timing. Well, we kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and the director kept putting us off, ignoring our calls and emails, saying that they all of sudden started going to her spam folder - yeah right. At this point, Jason and I started to get really pissed, I mean what's the freakin deal lady, let's get this show on the road already! Eventually, we got the call, from our RE nurse of all people, that OUR donor was in the middle of a cycle with another couple! What the hell?! And why the hell is my nurse telling me this and not the agency director?! By this point, I was livid. We had already paid this agency a great deal of money and we just got royally screwed. Here's part of an email that I sent to the director that kind of sums up a little of what we went through with them:

"Throughout this process, we have given your agency the benefit of the doubt and hoped that you would do the right thing.  Yes we signed a contract, but this contract was signed with the pretense that (Agency) properly screened their donors.  We understand that you cannot control all actions of your donors, but it is quite clear that you are not in the least bit thorough with your screening.
The first donor that we chose ended up being several months pregnant.  While you cannot ensure that your donors will not become pregnant, if you were calling them each month to check in on them as you stated, this would have come up.  The donor that we moved forward with ended up being very deceptive, was working with another agency and was in the middle of a cycle for another couple.  As an agency, you are aware of that donors have profiles with different agencies and you should have asked if she was currently in the middle of a cycle or if anything had changed since she filled out a profile for you.   The agency is the only buffer between the donor and the recipient.  The recipient must put their trust into the agency and is paying them to provide a quality donor.  Even if you were lied to throughout the process by the donor, the fact that you asked us if we were interested in doing a shared cycle with the donor that had just deceived us shows your true colors.  This donor was obviously a horrible person who had lied to us and set us back several weeks, yet you were still willing to work with her.  
After we cancelled our contract, it took you two months and a barrage of calls before we received money back.  This put us in a huge financial strain.  I left several messages begging for a call back.  Not one was returned.  I'm not certain we would have received any money had we not annoyed you into writing checks. 
Throughout this ordeal, we have found several others that have had similar issues with (Agency).  This shows that you are not in this business for the right reasons.  On the Better Business Bureau website, it shows that (Agency) has seven complaints against it and an 'F' rating.  There will soon be an eighth complaint. 
Below is an article that (director's name) wrote in 2005 followed by two quotes that I pulled from it.  I'd suggest you re-read this article several times to remind yourself how a surrogacy agency should be run.
"The agency should provide thorough screening of all donors and surrogates."

"All agencies should provide couples and surrogates with 24 hour access to the staff. ""
It never occurred to me that someone would go into a business such as Donor Egg Donation and Surrogacy and exploit its clients vulnerability, violate their trust, and essentially steal their money. The director had promised to refund us all the money, granted I sign a waiver vowing to never discuss our experience with them. We never saw a dime. Shortly there after, she closed her business. All I can do is be thankful that no one else will ever have to experience what we did with that agency. We moved forward with a different agency that was completely professional, but we all know how that ended.
So, after all that craziness, we decided to take a break from family planning and just focus on us for a while. 2009 was not a good year for us and we could not wait to put it behind us. We met with our RE after the 2nd failed cycle to discuss options moving forward, and to be honest, I was DONE. I had been sticking myself with countless needles and hormones for months and was just over it. Our RE offered us his services for free should be decide to go through another round of IVF. And as incredibly generous of an offer that that was, I didn't think I could emotionally handle anymore of this. I was not cut out for this kind of drama and constant heartbreak. I'm pretty sure I could never make it in Hollywood either.
We made it through the holidays trying not to dwell too much on our own pity party that was going on and tried to focus on the positive things in our lives. I know that their intentions were pure in nature, but I was about to stab someone in the eye with a fork if they told me again to "just relax, it'll happen", or my favorite, "you know, my doctor told me I wouldn't be able to have kids either, but then I had 8 of them!" Ok, so maybe it didn't go exactly like that, but that's pretty much all I took away from it. I wanted to scream from the roof tops "Look people, no amount of relaxation is going to help me get pregnant! I could be in damn coma and not get pregnant!" I know that people just don't know what to say, I understand that, really I do, but it's so much better to just say "I love you and I support you and am here for you". That's it, I don't need to hear an antecdote about a friend of a friend and blah blah blah.
I remember writing this as a way to help me remember to be thankful for all that I DID have in my life:
When life stresses you out, sometimes it's easy to overlook the good things in your life. In trying to become a healthier person, it is important to me to not leave out my emotional, mental and spiritual well being. With that said, I have compiled a list of reasons why I am truly blessed:

I have an amazing husband who loves me for who I am, flaws and all
I have wonderful, loving parents who have always provided me with all that I need
I have a cousin who is more like a sister to me who is generous beyond belief
I have a beautiful puppy dog who fills my life with joy and makes me laugh everyday
My husband and I have a great home in a nice neighborhood where we always feel safe
I don't worry about how I am going to pay my bills each month
I know I can call on my best friends when something is bothering me or if I just want to talk
I am healthy (relatively speaking)

The list can go on and on... but at the end of the day, sometimes you just need to remind yourself that despite what may be going on, you really are blessed.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

We talked and prayed about our future a lot in those last few months of 2009 and ultimately decided that we would give it one last try. I can honestly tell you  that the financial aspect of it was a big determining factor in our decision. The fact was that we just didn't have the money to adopt, and here was our RE offering thousands of dollars of services for FREE! We had also agreed that if it didn't work again, then we DONE, for good. We would get a bunch of dogs or something, but we both knew that we could not emotionally keep putting ourselves through this craziness. We had a new found optimism and hope for 2010. I coined it the baby makin year. We also resolved to not tell a single sole about this cycle. Part of the hearbreak was having to tell your loved ones and friends who had been praying for you, encouraging you, and supporting you through this whole journey that it didn't work, and God forbid you forget to tell someone, and a little while later they bring it up and ask how it's going - talk about reopening a wound! It would just be easier this way. Well, then New Years Eve came around and my best friend confided in me that she was pregnant and scared shitless. She was married, but it was a definite surprise for them. She never really saw herself being a mom and was terrified about whether or not she would be a good mom. It was then, at a bar, in a bathroom stall, somewhere around midnight, that I told her that hopefully in a few weeks she would not be alone in her journey, and maybe our kids would be best friends too. She was the ONLY one that knew, and I know that just the mere thought of having me go through this with her calmed her nerves considerably! It was also nice to be able to tell someone, someone I could trust not to tell anyone else. We took a no-stress approach to it. It was almost as if it wasn't even happening at all. We really didn't talk about it much, we didn't obsess over follicles or embryos or timelines. I even took it upon myself to do my own bum injections, and would you believe that they were WAYYYYYY less painful when I did them myself?! Why did I not do that sooner! So that helped with the stress level too! We celebrated my 29th birthday on January 10th and by February were ready to go big or go home (whatever that means). You won't BELIEVE what fate had in store for us next!

We went through a completely new agency this time around, making it our 3rd agency. We liked the one we went with last time, but we donor we chose was with a different agency. We took out a loan from the bank to pay for the donor and hospital fees (anyone else go broke trying to get pregnant? No, just me? Cool.) Our donor had successfully donated once before and it ended in a pregnancy, so we felt pretty good about that. She was set to go in to our RE's office and start her stimulation meds on February 6th. After her appointment, I got a call from our nurse. I didn't think anything of it, I assumed she was just calling to give us an update and our timeline, but that wasn't the only news she had for us. She basically asked if I was sitting down and went on to tell me that the donor was very nice and seemed to be very responsible but there was something a little peculiar about her, and after looking into it a little further, discovered, are you ready for this? She was the freakin sister of the donor that deceived us in round 2! MIND BLOWN! Are you f-ing kidding me?! Seriously folks, I said it before, but you can't make this shit up! Our nurse had called the doctor that this donor used in her last cycle to get the inside scoop on her and was only given glowing reviews of her responsibility, punctuality, and demeanor. Soooo unlike her sister. Seriously though, at this point all you can do is laugh and say, of course she's her sister! It's us were talking about. This crap would only happen to us! Now, this donor had no idea that we had tried to use her sister or who we were at all. It was 100% fate. I guess in hindsight their profiles would have been practically verbatim, but they didn't look alike at all, and we had literally looked at hundreds of profiles, so it never occurred to us that we had seen it all before. I had to tell Jason when he got home, and he had pretty much the same reaction that I did, and then we laughed about it some more. Y'all if you can't laugh about life, it's going to get the best of you! We both came to the conclusion that our kid(s) we meant to have these genes, and that this was a God thing and we didn't think twice about moving forward with cycle. Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?!

The egg retrieval was scheduled for February 17th. On the day of the retrieval, we ended up with... wait for it.... 30 eggs! That's right I said thirty 3-0! We could not believe it! WOW! Now we just had to pray that a good number of them would fertilize and that Jason's boys were good swimmers! The next day (Thursday), we got the news that a whopping 27 of the eggs fertilized! Jason and I were over the moon excited to hear this news! In our first cycle we got 9 eggs and only 7 fertilized, and in our 2nd try, we only got 5 eggs, and only 2 fertilized! So you can see what a huge difference this cycle was for us! The transfer was schedule for Monday (2/22). We would not receive another update until the transfer on Monday, so naturally we waited with baited breath. I guess our prayers must have been heard, because when we got the hospital on Monday, we found out that we had two PERFECT blasts to transfer and possibly 4 more to freeze! They tried to convince us to just transfer one embryo - but we took into account our luck - and opted to put them both in and risk the high chance for twins. I literally told my doctor, "Look, this is the third time I have sat in this room, put the damn eggs in!"
That's what 2 PERFECT blasts looks like :)

We went home and vegged out the rest of the day and I took the next day off too (not wanting to take ANY chances this time around. I sat anxiously waiting for the call to find out how many/if any embryos we had to freeze, and... we've got 4! We have never had any to freeze before - this is such a relief - it's like a huge weight has been lifted and we can finally breath a little easier. FINALLY, things seemed to be going in our favor! I knew this was going to be a good year!

My beta test was scheduled for Tuesday March 4th, however that was a TAKS testing day for our school and there was no way I could even sneak out for 1/2 an hour to go get my blood drawn, so we would have to wait yet another day before learning our fate! Ugh, the anxiety! I tried not to think about it, which it was really hard to think about anything else besides that and my aching bruised bum (those injections are killer!) So there we were, all we could do was wait, and pray, and hope for the best, oh and buy a home pregnancy test! We had not done a home pregnancy test with either of the last two cycles, maybe it was because I somehow subconsciously knew what it would say? I don't know. But this time felt different, so with knots in my stomach, I trucked my way to the grocery store and proudly plopped down my purchase on the conveyor belt and thought about how badly I wanted to see those two pink lines. I had read that you should wait until morning to do a HPT, that you get the most accurate readings, so held out until Monday morning (I am seriously proud of myself for letting that test just sit there on my bathroom counter and not rip that bitch open and use it right away). We woke up and started our normal getting ready for work routine, the only difference this time, was that I held a little stick in my urine stream while I peed. I set it on the bathroom counter and walked away. I sat on the bed watching the seconds tick by. I honestly don't remember where Jason was or what he was doing, he could have been right next to me for all I know. I was in the ZONE. My heart was racing a mile a minute, I was on the verge of tears, mentally convincing myself that it was just going to be another negative and already talking myself off the ledge. It was time. Is it weird that I am reliving the exact emotions of that day right now, as I type? My hands are literally shaking right now! I walked into the bathroom, picked up the stick and this is what I saw...


Holy Shit Y'all! Are serious right now? Jason and I embraced each other, and I just started to cry. I think really he was the only thing keeping me from falling to the floor. I couldn't even feel my legs at that point. I just cried and cried in disbelief. It's a good thing I didn't already put my make up on! You couldn't have wiped the smile off my face if you tried. I knew that there was still a chance that it wasn't "real" and that only the beta could confirm a pregnancy for us, but this was farther than we had ever come in our journey, and I just knew that our luck had turned around and it was OUR time, it was our turn. God always provides, and whatever you ask for in his name, he will deliver. I was confident. I may or may not have taken like 5 more tests just to be sure though :)

Obsessive much?
Wednesday rolled around and I went in for my beta test. Even the phlebotomist told me she felt like this was the one! A few hours later, Jason and I sat anxiously on the coach awaiting THE call. I picked up the phone, and the nurse immediately started with, "well, I've got some good news for you", and there ya go, I lost it again, tears streaming down my face, but finally, FINALLY they were happy tears. She went on to tell us that we had a beta level of 668, which is pretty high. All I knew is that I WAS PREGNANT - HOLLA! Suddenly it occurs to you that, Oh my God, there is another human growing inside me RIGHT NOW, and I don't care who you are, that shit is cray! We had to wait a whole week before our second beta - which was torture! I thought for sure that we were going to receive bad news, as I was experiencing absolutely no signs of early pregnancy at all! But... low and behold... Jason called me at work with the good news that our second beta level was 12,000! Crazy high! The nurse said she was very interested to see the ultrasound - will there be one in there or two???? My kids were questioning me all day as to why I was crying and why I was smiling so much! One change of events that started shortly there after (March 7th I believe) that is not so pleasant was... HIVES! Jason ended up having to take me to the ER one night because he was so concerned (first time ever in an ER) - but in classic Candice style... apparently 1% of pregnant women develop hives because of the elevated hormone levels in the body - lucky me! Yup, I was allergic to being pregnant. Awesome. So I was covered in hives head to toe for about a week and a half before getting referred to an allergist.

He basically said he wasn't sure what was causing the hives, but he gave me a prescription for some Xyzal and gave me a back up plan if that didn't work. It's rather hard to be so happy when you are constantly scratching and itching and in such a state of discomfort. It was awful. Seriously, I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. Well, I take that back, I can think of one person (ahem, agency director).
We were set to have our first ultrasound at 6 weeks (which was actually only 2 weeks after finding out we were pregnant). I couldn't wait to have confirmation that a) I was still pregnant and b) whether we having one baby or two! And the very best part... getting to tell our parents. Remember, they had no idea that we were even doing another cycle, so imagine their surprise when we told them we were pregnant! For once, we were like every.other.normal.couple giving the good news of impending grandchildren! Jason and I were both the oldest in our families and our parents would be first time grandparents, so to say they were excited would be quite the understatement! Sharing the good news was by far my most favorite thing ever! But it doesn't end there.

"But the angel said to him, Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. "  - Luke 1:13,14


  1. Tears, seriously, tears! Our infertility stories are so very different, but of course share many similarities also. I can feel the emotion in this post. I lived it once also. Again, thank you for sharing your story and I can't wait to read the rest!

  2. Seriously, my heart was racing and hands shaking for you as I read this! AND. I'm at work totally tearing up everyone is looking at me like I'm totally CRAZY. Love your story. Love your writing. SO happy that God answered your prayers in this way! Can't wait until next chapter! :) -Helen (MLFC)

  3. omg, I cried reading this! you're an amazing storyteller.

  4. I am not even married, let alone trying to have children, and your story is so amazing. My sister has been in similar shoes and it's great your sharing you story. If no one has said it yet, Thank you. I am sitting at work wanting to cry reading all 4 parts! SkinnyMeg recommended your blog and I am SO glad I clicked her link!

  5. Found your blog through your story...can't wait to read the rest!