Commitment to the Pain

My heart is at rest and I feel a different sense of peace in my body compared to the last time around.

This morning, early, I woke with painful cramps, almost as though I was in labor. They literally took my breath away as I coached myself to breathe through the pain of the clenching abdomen.

My body is releasing all the build up from the last IVF medicine injections a few weeks back and it is more intense then I have ever had in the past.

I stand up and feel lightheaded. I sit back down and feel nauseous.

“OK, God, if this is you reminding me of the pain of childbirth, thank you and I accept the challenge and will welcome this pain again if it means having another child.”

I felt as though God wanted me to acknowledge and openly choose… declare, to Him that I will gladly go through the pains of childbirth again if it means having a second healthy baby.

I called Nurse Emily to report my cycle day 1 and wait my next steps.

She is going to give me the plan to prepare my body for a transfer of an embryo, hopeful we will hear the results soon and know what direction to take.

As I wait my next steps from her, I have to temper my thoughts.

Just because she is drawing up plans for a transfer does not mean we have an embryo to transfer.

I look to anything to ‘stand on’ to feel comfort that we will have a baby.

I’m not looking in the right place.

Just because we plan something on paper, doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to happen.

We still have to wait to hear the genetic testing results.

We then have to prep for transfer, have the transfer, pray for implantation, pray for a positive pregnancy test, pray for a 2nd pregnancy test, pray for a confirmed ultrasound, pray for a heartbeat… and the list goes on until we get to hold that beautiful little life in our arms.

Will I go through the labor pains again, absolutely? Sign me up for the most painful experience I have ever felt… because it has brought the most rewarding outcome.

The Fierce Four

Over the past days, I have been praying for God to work a miracle. In my journal, I find myself writing, “for God to prevail against the odds”.

As I mentioned, the numbers and data would point us to conclude that we will not have any day 5 blastocysts from the four fertilized eggs.

The last two retrievals show that consistent attrition rate.

In my spiritual practice this week, it has been more focused on acceptance and remaining present for the day with the facts that are known.

“Today, we have 4 fertilized eggs, come on fierce 4!”

At 7:40am, we receive a call from an unknown number, it’s her.

Dr. B is on the other end of the line with a very cheery disposition.

I walk into Hubby’s office so he can hear what she has to say at the same time.

Before I have time to settle, she shares that we have two Day 5 blastocysts!

I begin to feel my eyes well up with tears.

“Are you kidding me?” I exclaim.

What an incredible surprise.

She shares that one of the fertilized eggs did not have more than 7 cells and has pretty much stopped growing and that there is still one that they are watching that will hopefully blast tomorrow, on day 6.

Understand Embryo Grading | Fertility Center in Utah

For now, though, they have biopsied and frozen the two beautiful looking day 5 blastocysts and we will wait until the call tomorrow for confirmation of the total that will be sent to the genetic testing lab.

Another early morning call from a nurse at Shady Grove.

She confirms that two biopsies will be sent to the lab, meaning the final one did not make it.

I am elated.

Our Tenacious Two!

50% blast rate vs. a 16% in 2018 and 14% earlier this year.

That is only God showing me His incredible powers to defy the odds of scientific data.

I praise Him for this encouraging news and continue to pray for my heart to be surrendered to His will and my mind to remain in the moment of what is.

I would be lying if I didn’t already start to calculate when we could potentially do a transfer, and quickly close my Excel document that I have created and close my eyes.

God, you have shown me that you are the giver of life.

This process of bringing life into this world is so precious and so particular.

I mourn for those lives you wanted to be here but were terminated early.

I so wish people understood what it is like to go through this deep and intimate of a fertility journey.

If they didn’t, I think more people would hold the preciousness of a new life with so much more respect.

We are not even to the transfer/pregnancy stage which is in itself delicate and fragile.

Lord, please spare us from the heartache of a miscarriage. If you want these two little blasts to walk this earth, I will bring them into the world through my body. Use me, Lord.

If it is not your will or it is not right for one or both to be here, breathing the air I breath next to me, please have it become clear in these next few weeks of genetic testing.

I would rather have the heartache of the genetic report then the hope of a life and a miscarriage or stillborn child.

Lord, thank you for all you have already done and continue to show me through this process.

Today, I accept what is- I have a beautiful healthy daughter because of god using the IVF process and today, I have two frozen blastocysts in a freezer in Atlanta, GA awaiting genetic results to then be thawed and reunited with me.

Fertilization Report

We return to our comfortable, cozy, familiar home in time to receive the call from Dr. B with the update on our little eggs.

My heart falls heavy, again.

It turns out we actually retrieved 17 eggs which is wonderful and 13 of them are mature, even better.

The upsetting news is that only 4 of them fertilized.

I want to cry.

If I was more naïve to this process, I would be thrilled.

“We have 4 fertilized!” I would shout.

Instead, I am full of fear and doubt and sadness and question.

“What happened?” “Why such a low fertilization number?” “What’s wrong with my eggs and Hubby’s sperm that they didn’t fertilize well?”

As you can see in the chart below, we have had high fertilization numbers in the past with zero to one healthy PGT genetically tested blastocyst (which is now our daughter).

Here’s a little comparison chart:

Year2018Early 2021Spring 2021 (this cycle)
Final follicles 1717
Mature eggs131013
Fertilized eggs1274
Day 5 Blastocysts21TBD
PGT- genetic test- healthy10TBD

The science and the data point to this being an unsuccessful cycle and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because of the misstep by the clinic regarding the HCG trigger shot a few days ago.

24 additional hours of egg growth could have over-ripened the eggs and the eggs could have become too mature.

An additional day of ‘build up’ on Hubby’s part could have also changed the mobility of the swimmers.

A few unknowns leave me unsettled and those are questions we won’t have answers to.

I can’t control that.

What can I control?

At this point, I need to control my thoughts.

I receive this text from my dad “4 is better than none- love you!”

He is right.

I can be so grateful we have four little ones in the lab.

It just takes one!

This is a space where God can show how big of miracles he can perform. Against the science, against the numbers, He can prevail.

He is the giver of life and right now, today, he has given us 4 little ones.

Now, we must wait, in prayer.

I will pray for His will be done while also asking for these 4 to continue to grow healthy and strong and be formed perfectly for us to be able to transfer into a pregnancy.

In the same space, I learn of a friend’s miscarriage.

God, I am so sad to know the end of a life, the loss of hope.

While also planning a friend’s baby shower and celebrating the gender of another pregnant friend.

How do we hold these different emotions?

How can I feel the disappointment in my own life and not be consumed by the self-centered nature in which I so easily am drawn?

I say I want what god wants, but have a difficult time accepting what is while also staying present and grateful for the facts of what is given today.

If I were fully present and not doubting the past days or wondering what the outcome will be in a few more days, I would be excited that we have 4 little potential lives living in the lab.

God, help me accept today exactly as it is.

Help me show up for friends who are celebrating new life and new adventures while mourning with and for the loss of life.

It truly does remind me that life is not ‘fair’ and any suggestion or promise that it is comes from misguidance.

Life is.

It’s time for me to start accepting it exactly as it is.


Relief comes over me.

My body put in such a great effort to create these eggs and I am beyond grateful for the outcome.

The process was the same as last time.

I arrived at Shady Grove, Atlanta at 7:45am and was greeted with a friendly staff who has gotten to know me over the past two cycles.

At 8am, I was taken back into the coveted “IVF Suite” and ushered into the same staging room as my last retrieval.

After some brief conversation and the exchange of Hubby’s sample, I change into the ever-attractive hospital gown, hair net and booties. No picture this time.

Dr. B comes in with such a happy voice and we talk through the steps of the procedure.

The nurse explains all the aftercare with me and then my anesthesiologist walks in.

Blown vein

“My veins are tricky”, I say.

I tell everyone this who is about to prick me.

There have been multiple occasions when I’m pricked like a pin bag in order to get a blood draw. Other times my vein is blown.

Today is no exception.

Although she did her best, she did blow my vein and yet was able to save it.

Phew! I’ll just look like a druggy for a few days which is better then being pricked again with an IV starter needle.

Before I know it, I’m wheeled down that chilly, familiar hallway into the OR room.

It’s cold.

I have goose-bumps and my feet are ice cubes.

Onto the retrieval table I go with my legs in the stirrups and my bottom hanging off the end of the table.

It’s only a matter of moments when I fall into the deep sleep only to wake up in a different room.

Completely out of it!

I am crying.

I have tears of joy and relief.

The egg retrieval is finally over and I can rest knowing that I have done my part.

I find myself crying and praying (possibly out loud) to God and praising Him for all that he has done.

It’s so lonely not having Hubby there by my side- Darn COVID.

Dr. B quickly moves in and shares with me that we have 14 eggs! The 16 follicles that were counted yesterday were drained today and we were blessed with 14 eggs.

I praise God again for this outcome, audacious with my faith in Him.

He has done this in me and has gifted us with these eggs.

It is finished!

We call Hubby so Dr. B can share the outcome (I think she saw that I was still pretty loopy). Check out the pic

When I am strong enough to stand, I cloth myself and shuffle out to meet my family.

The rest of the day is full of horizontal living. Giving my body the space and time it needs to heal.

I’m grateful the bleeding has slowed; this is a sign that I will not have any complications tonight.

It’s time to put this tired and well-deserved body to bed.

Dr. Angel

The sun is shining.
I look for the good in the day, knowing it will be a long day. 

Turning to Hubby I say, “Can I just sleep all day today and then when I wake up it will be egg retrieval time?”

He laughs. I’m sort of serious. 

My drive to Shady Grove is full of fear and I call a friend who reminds me that I don’t have all the information and to just stay in the day. 

My stomach doesn’t have the same uncomfortable bloated feeling as it does a few days ago and I fear it’s because I lost the follicles. 

My arm is pricked for what I truly hope is the last time. 

Upon my arrival, I see the friendly, caring eyes (I’m sure she is smiling under her mask) of Dr. B. 

She greets me and asks how I’m feeling.

Doctor Angel High Res Stock Images | Shutterstock

She listens.

I share with her my fears and am wondering if it’s possible that I’ve lost some follicles. 

She assures me that my hormone levels were too low for ovulation to have occurred and then offered to have me do one more ultrasound monitoring to see. 

I gladly accept. 

She cares for me and my feelings. How refreshing to be seen and heard by a doctor. 

In minutes, I’m looking at 8 beautiful black circles in my right ovary and 8 beautiful black circles in my left ovary. 

They are all there.

We don’t know the egg quality yet but I can see that everything that was there a few days ago is still there with just a little more growth. 

I am at ease. 

Dr. B calls with the results from my bloodwork and all looks good and we are ready to go!

I will pack up, rest up, and be ready for the retrieval tomorrow at 8:45am.

Thank you, God.

Medication Day 17

Medication: Azithromycin (2 tabs)

Follicles: 28, 25.3, 21.9, 20.9, 20.3, 20.2, 19.3, 18.9, 18, 16.9, 16.7, 16.6, 16.5, 15.7, 14.9, 13.8