Remembering

September 12, 2016

"There are three heartbeats."  I stared at the screen.  Darren and I had been through 7 failed IUIS, an early miscarriage after our first IVF, and a failed FET.  Despite his and the doctor's hesitations, I insisted on transferring 3.  I had had enough.  My body had had enough.  All I wanted was a child and the previous 4 embryos that made it through on the last two IVFs resulted in nothing.

Three heartbeats.  I knew instantly it was 2 boys and a girl.  Darren was white.  I was pumped.  Although I had a clue that multiples could come early, I didn't realize what that meant.  I didn't even know why "hitting 24 weeks" was a thing or a big deal.  I was just happy that after the years of struggle, the years of pain, injections, and tears that I would have a complete insta-fam within 9 months. 

I was also arrogant.  I was young, athletic, thin, and tall.  The doctors told me I had a perfect body for carrying three.  I LOVE challenges and I knew I could do it and I knew having three babies at once would be a challenge that I could face with joy.  A friend told me some random story of a woman who was pregnant with triplets and only 1 ended up living.  I said, I am pregnant with three, I will at least end up with 1 as well.

As we drove home I asked Darren "Why do you think God let all three stick now?  Why these ones, after all the failed ones before?"

He was quiet for a moment.

"Triplets will get a lot of attention.  Maybe God wants us to share our story so others can have hope and see His faithfulness." 

I smiled.  Yes.  That made sense.  By the time we got home we had already become so excited about this journey ahead of us and couldn't wait to tell our family.  The dream of becoming a mom was a reality.  I saw three heartbeats at 6 weeks, again at 7, then again at 8.  Strong ones.

At 9 weeks I spotted once.  I went in to be safe and sadly found out Baby B had miscarried that morning.  He was the same size as the other two.  I felt sadness but convinced myself that maybe it was for the best for the other 2. 

Jude and Brinly continued to grow as our dreams of boy/girl twins grew.  One of each.  I remember placing my hand on my stomach thanking God for His faithfulness and apologizing for ever questioning His goodness from all those painful years of ttc.

Most people know the story.  Something called pPROM that happens to literally .07% of people happened to us.  My water on my daughter broke at 17 weeks.  In the most horrific of events we chose to believe and trust Him for a miracle.  A week later her cord collapsed and killed her (no water to protect her).  I delivered her dead at 18 weeks.  I was awake for her delivery.  Brinly was not a miscarriage.  Many people refer to the twins as that and it stings.  She was 9 inches.  She had a face. 

I got an emergency cerclage to try to help my body stablilize and not labor Jude.  I was in the hospital on antibiotics 7 times a day for 10 days.  We begged God to let us make it to just 24 weeks where he could have a 50% chance survival.  Things looked hopeful but again, the things we only think of in our nightmares happened again.  Contractions.  Minutes before I delivered Jude I felt him move.  I actually said outloud "see you on the other side."  He was sick, my body was, and the impact of labor killed him.  My sweet stillborn son Jude Samuel Benson was born 1 day shy of 21 weeks.  Just 22 days away from MAYBE being able to live. 


That summer I thought our painful attempts to create a family were finally over, but they were only beginning.

An amazing friend Becky (who actually started a blog about her experience as a carrier, check it out here) carried our biological embryos 3 months after losing Jude and they were born 3 days before his 1 year old birthday. 

In the meantime while Becky was going through all the loop holes to become our carrier, I was drownding in grief and the desire to mother living children was becoming an obsession.  I did a few back to back IUIs out of desperation while waiting for her transfer.  Nothing worked, which led us to 11 failed IUIs. 

Noah and Beckom have healed our hearts in ways that words will never express.  While I think of Jude and Brinly daily, I don't live in the deep sadness that engulfed us after their death.  I feel awkward when people ask how many children I have or if they say "are you going to try for a daughter."  There are days when I still cry, if I really think about what happened.  But then I cry again when I remember the engraved scene in my end of the doctors pulling out my living sons from Becky's stomach-an overwhelming feeling of gratitude, humbleness, and thankfulness as I basked in the redemption that Jesus finally brought us. 

We had some frozen embryos left.  Despite my hellish pregnancy, I had not lost the desire to carry a child.  We had always wanted 3.  The doctors had told me that by transferring "just 1" and taking some precautions I would have a better chance.

This January 2016 we transferred our only female embryo, making it my 4th IVF.  She didn't implant.  This brought back some waves of emotions but we were determined to face infertility again.  We were able to grieve the idea of ever having a daughter here with us as it allowed us to know and choose that moving forward would mean another son.  This was helpful in the sense that we had time to see the pros of another boy/all boy family and get excited. 

We transferred again in March.  I had never done IVF so closely to each other and Darren and I had both agreed that if this 5th IVF didn't take that we would take a long break from the shots/hormones etc.  My gut told me from the beginning he would implant.  He did. 

When you know you have only boy embryos left and have been trying to conceive for almost 6 years, you have a lot of time to pick names. 

Darren and I always loved Jude and Judah.  Noah and Beckom's names are so meaningful to us because of the "rainbow" in the Bible and Beckom is a combo of Becky and Tom's names...this one though?  Judah.  During my 2 week wait I looked up the name.  Biblically Judah was the fourth son of Jacob and Leah.  He will be our fourth son as well. 

I would be lying if I didn't say that this pregnancy has been easy. I have lived on egg shells since the injections began.  For months and months I was convinced I was in pre-term labor or my water was breaking or I was miscarrying.  Besides delivering Jude and Brinly, this is mentally the hardest thing I have ever done.  Panic, fear, anxiety, have been a part of my daily life.  Choosing to try to carry again after stillborn twins born at different times brings up A LOT of PTSD that I didn't see coming.  It again challenges my faith.  But the idea of birthing a live child from my body, although it seemed impossible for years, is starting to look like a reality. 

I'll be posting a bit more about all that this rainbow pregnancy has entailed (including my surgery, MFM appointments, etc).  In the meantime I'm working on a new blog called "Raising Captain America."  I will be the mother to THREE boys who all happened to be frozen, just like him <3  My goal is to make Captain America their fav.


Here is us on transfer day, March 21 (notice I'm sporting the Cap. America shirt to support my little frozen baby boy).  If you want to see updates on little Noah and Beckom (TWO in November!) my Instagram is hbenson10

On Being Human

May 27, 2016

As I sat in the ultrasound room at the MFM (high risk doctor), I could hear his nurse on the phone next door-"Yes, there is a baby here that needs to get picked up.  Can you pick him up at 2?  He needs to get picked up."  He was dead.  All in a days work in the high-risk office-it almost sounded like a nuisance.

Next thing I knew I was in that room with my list of questions for the specialist.  Having lost my last pregnancy in the most dramatic way: One. At. A. Time. I was scared and had done several searches online for what is/isn't allowed with assumed incompetent cervix.  The Dr. came him.  He is dry and sarcastic-I'm assuming his way of keeping things light with high strung women patients.  Unfortunately I didn't grow up with sarcasm so it comes off as cold and confusing to me.

"So, I'm here to talk you out of getting the cerclage." (I guess he was joking?)

My mind panics.  We had talked about how I would need one considering my water broke at 17 weeks before.  I had talked to him several times...I needed the cerclage. He asks what questions I have.

"Can I take baths?"  He stares at me like I'm an idiot in silence for 9 seconds.  "Yes" he replies as if I had asked him before.  "What about sex?"  Again he stares.  He shrugs his shoulders and says "What do you want me to tell you?" 

I sit there quietly mind racing, flashbacks to the hospital in 2013.  "It doesn't make a difference" he finally responds even though 85% of what I read on-line says "pelvic rest after cerclage." 

I secretly determine I will do none of the above to be safe.

"Can I start the progesterone shots earlier than 16 weeks?"  I ask
"Depends on your insurance.  Many companies are a$$holes and only let you take the expensive non-generic brand" (did he really just say A-hole?)

"Will you do the cerclage earlier than 14 weeks?"  I shot another question. 
"When?"
"At 12 or 13 weeks?"
"Sure."

"How long will I bleed for, will it be like a period?"
Long stare again.  Shoulder shrug:
"I don't know, I've never had a period."

Ok then.  I shift in my chair.  He has to be able to tell I'm uncomfortable and nervous.  He deals with this daily and is probably thinking about what his wife is making for dinner.

I left feeling a bit sad.  I had such strong connections with my MFM who delivered Jude and Brinly but had switched insurances.  This Dr. has been practicing for 38 years and says his transvaginal cerclages  have a 90% rate.  He knows what he is doing, just not the kindest/gentlest person.  Whatever, I decided to embrace his personality and try to banter back a bit.

Fast forward 3 weeks to the surgery.  I wasn't scared of the surgery, I was scared of the risks-it can break your water, cause pre-term labor, and I was guaranteed to bleed for a few days.  Can we say PTS would most likely creep back in from my last cerclage with Jude?

There I was laying on an operational table again.  The last time I was in the OR alone was when they were removing Jude. 

Today in surgery, the anesthesiologist was an angel.  As they were gearing me up to go to sleep I felt something on my arm.  I look up.  It's my MFM is rubbing my arm? 

I look at his eyes, and they are looking down on me with a lot of care, fixed.  I stared back.  He keeps rubbing, like 60 seconds without a word.  Then, he moves down and holds my hand.  He never says a word.  I hold it back.  It was so powerful to me.  A Dr. that seems a little disconnected at the end of the day is a human and I'm a human.  He wants this for us too. 

Even When There Was Just Hope For You

September 14, 2015

I follow so many ttcers at so many different stages.  Some have happily completed their families, while others are still in the trenches begging God for "just one."  Many are in the middle-they got a baby and dare they hope or try for another?  I recently saw an Instagram post from someone who posted:

"We loved you before we knew you, even when there was just hope for you-we loved you."

Oh. My. Heart.  I loved Noah and Beckom before I even knew they existed.  They were just the random frozen embryos in the freezer at OHSU that I would say hi to when we drove by when I was pregnant with Jude and Brinly, but I loved them for the hope I had in them.  When I lost Jude and Brinly, my love for the remaining embryos increased as I desperately wanted to meet their siblings.

That March morning when we sat in OHSU with Becky (our carrier), Tom (her husband), Darren and I in the transfer room, there was just hope.

My mom had my sister and I pick out Halloween costumes for the kids as a gift and we did pre-Halloween photo shoot this weekend. 

I have a special Magnolia tree a family friend gave me in honor of Jude and Brinly.  For people who are not familiar with the story, I spread a little bit of Jude's ashes in the tree the day after we surprised our family with our surrogate's pregnancy.  The tree has a whole new meaning to me because of what it represents and because it's all I have left of Jude on this earth.

I got this idea for a photo of putting Noah and Beckom standing by the tree.  It would be our first family picture of all the brothers.  The closest thing to a sibling picture we will ever know.  How sweet would that picture look, in our new house of my three boys?  It's not heavy.  It's not sad.  Only close friends and family would realize how deep the picture is.

For the shoot, the boys were sleepy, not smiley, and honestly, probably super confused as to why they were in ridicoulsy puffy lion outfits.  But my brother took the picture, and it is so sweet.

Darren and I were looking at the pictures last night and all the sudden I had a wave of sadness mixed with terror.  I realized that little Noah or Beckom literally could have been Jude.  They could have been the ones that didn't make it and could have been the ones cremated inside that tree.  It was a matter of what random embryo the embryologist selected to implant out of the 9 embryos that had made it to the "blast" stage.  With one flinch of his hand, he could have implanted Noah or Beckom instead of little Jude and Brinly. Because Jude and Brinly went first, they saved their lives. 

Jude and Brinly, I love you so much.  Noah and Beckom do not replace you, but they have filled our hearts with hope and redemption and love and  happiness.  You will always be my first born daughter and son and their older sister and  brother.  I love your brothers with every ounce of my being.  Seeing their faces lets me imagine what your faces would have been like now.  I am sorry that you didn't get to stay and we miss you.  Because of your deaths, we were able to figure out the problem with my cervix and give Noah and Beckom a safer journey to life.  Thank you for that, my little loves.

To all the women still fighting, keep loving your babies, even if there is just hope for them in this moment. 






 


Pain Inspires More than Happiness

August 31, 2015

Wow! This is the longest I have gone without blogging.  Here is a list of my excuses:

1.  We are living with my parents this summer while we build our new home
2.  Darren hurt his back really bad and is currently getting spinal surgery
3. I have twins

Jessah at  Dreaming of Dimples has been in the blogging world forever and recently brought home a gorgeous baby boy.  She is inspiring and has been fighting this nasty battle for years.  She recently posted something that I could totally "amen" to.  She wrote about how she will never forget the struggles and doesn't want her blog to just turn into another "mommy" blog.  She feels a bit at a lost of what to do with the space.  She wrote "Pain inspires more than happiness."

I never really thought it about that, but it's so true, at least for me.  When I was in my weakest moments of failed treatments, early miscarriages, and then losing Jude and Brinly, I personally could only relate to pain.  I know there are several women with different personality types that are struggling with infertility and are genuinely happy for anyone who gets pregnant, but I was in a much darker place.  For mental health  I had to unfollow blogs of people even going through treatments because it was too much for my heart.  I just needed the mommies who had known loss this tremendous as well.  I know my case was extreme, but I'm so sensitive to those old feelings that I don't want my blog to turn into a place that followers cannot relate to.  So I'm a little lost myself in my own blog.  Here's a little update on our life the last year...

August 24th marked the 1 year anniversary of when we spread Jude's ashes with the family and then surprised everyone with our gestational carrier Becky for the first time. 

We are nearing Noah and Beckom's 1 year birthday which will be November 14.  I can't believe it.  We tried for 4 long and hard and nasty years to be parents to live babies, and here we finally are 9.5 months into it.  

I have been MIA for so long, I wanted to answer some common questions people ask me (I'm an open book and love helping spread awareness about infertility and options).  Feel free to email me or ask questions in the comments to, I love answering:

Are they identical?
Nope.  2 embryos were transferred.  Beckom has blue eyes and is about 1 inch taller, Noah has brown eyes.

Are they genetically you and Darren's babies?
Yes.  When I did IVF the 2nd time, we had 9 embryos.  We transferred 3 and froze 6.  Noah and Beckom were frozen.  It is literally the situation of our bun, her oven. 

Typically the term surrogate means the surrogates eggs/husband's sperm.  Gestational Carrier is when the woman carries the couples embryos.  Many people do not think the babies are connected to me, which is fine.  It's a confusing situation (specially for older people).  Science is amazing.


Was it hard on you that you could not carry your own child?
No.  If you would have told me when I was 20 I wouldn't carry my babies I would have been sad.  When I held Jude in my arms knowing he would have survived in someone else's healthier body, I wanted so bad to have given him that.  Becky was an answer to prayer in the most amazing way.  I knew my babies were safer with her.  I cried once, feeling bad that I could not provide that for them, but out of love for them, I wanted them to be in the safest place they could be and that happened to be someone else's body.  She worked really hard to include me in their kicks and flips.  It gave me a really unique experience because essentially I got to "feel" like how the husband usually does-excited and out of control watching babies grow in someone else's body.

Did you nurse them?
Kind of.  I was able to induce lactation and got a full milk supply, but wanted to make sure I was dividing it evenly since they were preemies.  I pumped 97% of the time, 6 times a day, and would sometimes comfort nurse at night.  I weaned once the boys turned 6 months, to give my body a break from the 8 pills a day I was taking to keep the supply going.

Do they sleep through the night?
Miracously Noah and Beckom started sleeping in 8  hour chunks through the night at 3 months and are still going strong (about 12 hours now).  We never get up once we put them to bed.  I know we got lucky in this department but we deserved easy babies!

Will you use a carrier again?
I am planning on doing an FET soon.  We are so done with infertility and treatments that we want to move forward and close the door on all the "what ifs" forever.  I always wanted to have my kids back to back.  After much research and thought, I'm going to go an extreme route and get a surgery called a TAC.  Basically, they do a C-Section cut and tie my cervix shut with a thick band.  Apparently my water breaking early is almost impossible with this surgery-which would allow me to carry to term.  I could do a traditional cerclage and was given a 75% chance to carry to term (I could do this cerclage in 1 day); the TAC takes up to 2 weeks to recover and eliminates my chance to have a vaginal birth, but it gives me  95% success rate to carry to term.  Honestly, I would have done IVF this summer, but the TAC isn't covered by our current insurance and costs 7k out of pocket.  Darren and I both felt that patience would be a good choice.  We have 2 babies.  We are not in a rush.  I can wait till January to get the surgery and then a few months after that to TRY.  Notice the all caps on TRY, we know there is no guarantee an FET will work, and we accept that.  Any child now is an added bonus.

Does the carrier see the boys?
As we were friends before we wanted to keep a very close relationship.  Becky and Tom love our children to death and we love them for it.  We see them a couple times a month and Becky will actually be watching them 1 day a week when I return to work. 


Are you afraid to be pregnant again?
Of course.  Its kind of like people that have been in horrible car accidents-they are scared to drive.  This time though the doctors know the issues and precautions will be in place.  When we made the decision for me to get the TAC our MFM said it was like I was putting on a helmet and bubble wrap to be extra safe.  I did love being pregnant and would love the life experience of being able to carry a baby to term.  I never have lost that biological desire.


So many topics I want to write about-their sweet baby dedication at our church, their relationship, my heart, but another day <3




It Was Another Lifetime and It Was Yesterday

May 12, 2015

"Sometimes infertility feels forever ago, and then someone announces the Stick Turned Blue and I’m right back in the emotions, the longing, the feeling left out.  It was another lifetime and it was yesterday.  A part of me will always be that woman with her face pressed up against the glass looking in on what she can’t have."  - Melanie Dale

I came across this article above felt so connected to it.  It was another lifetime and it was yesterday.  I longed for, fought for, injected for, begged for, paid for, bled for the chance to be a mom for four long years.  During those 4 years I experienced 11 IUIs, 3 IVFs, a 6 week miscarriage, a triplet pregnancy that resulted in a miscarriage at 9 weeks after seeing his heartbeat 3 times, my water breaking and going into preterm labor with my daughter at 18 weeks, and then when I thought there would be a miracle, lost my son Jude at 21 weeks.  I have been an infertile longer than I have been a mom to living children.  I have more experience on that awful side then on the side of parenting.

Beckom and Noah have brought an unexplainable amount of healing to the nasty hole that was left in my heart from the loss of my stillborn twins, and the compound years of negative pregnancy tests, stressful ovulation mating, countless pills and tears.  They will never replace Jude and Brinly, but like stiches, they have helped my wounds close and have allowed me to live again.  They have in a sense, saved my life. 

I have avoided church on Mother's Day for years.  I was over the "all moms please stand up" section where I would have to desperately watch mom's get flowers and hugs and applause.  It worsened when I lost the twins.  I deserved to stand, I wanted to stand. I had HELD my own child, he was just dead.  But if I stood-would people think I was pregnant?  Would people be confused?  Would the really fertile women who have no clue what it is like to miscarry/deliver babies roll their eyes? I wasn't jealous.  I wish their was a word that mixes a twinge of jealously with deep deep longing for something just and good that isn't happening for no-good-reason; a word that captures a woman holding her empty stomach and sobbing, a word that captures the unbearable silence in the ultrasound room after the words "I cannot detect a heartbeat".  Melanie Dale puts it perfectly=for so many years I felt like that woman with her face pressed up against the glass looking in on what she can't have. 

This year I attended church, twins in tow, and sat with my own mom.  The moment came.  All mom's stand up.  I did, but I felt weird.  I was so conscious of the fact that there were women in the room who had suffered silently, who were longing for the title, who were fighting themselves to beat infertility.  I got my flower.  I got my chocolate.  But to the majority of the strangers there, I just looked a lucky girl that got 2 for 1.  I have actually had strangers tell me "you are so lucky you got two."  While I am beyond lucky I got twins through a selfless friend/carrier and a 2835723895732 treatments, I am not lucky.  My story has been bumpy, and messy, yet somehow beautiful. That is His way I guess.  On Mother's Day I was happy and sad-Dale also puts in her article, it's a tension between wooo-hoooing that I am finally a mom and mourning for the women who are not and want to be.  Mother's day reminds me of ALL my children and that makes me happy and sad too.

On a lighter note, I will tell you about Noah's Mother's Day gift to me.  Mother's Day afternoon we spent quietly at home relaxing.  The boys are really really into their jumperoos (it's almost like a baby bungy) and Noah was jumping his little heart out with a huge smile for a long time.  I eventually went to sit by him and then I saw it-#3 running down his leg and getting grounded into the carpet with each soul-felt hop.  I yelled for Darren to come look at his son.  I couldn't stop laughing.  I carried him to the bathroom at an arms length away while Darren started the bath.  As I was holding him awkwardly in the bathroom, I turned to look at the scene in the mirror.  Noah turned too, caught my eye, and with his little poop filled onsie he gave me the biggest gummiest smile ever.  I just have to say to those designers of Dolce and Gabanna that recently said "IVF babies are synthetic" there is NOTHING synthetic about their #3.  I smiled the whole time I cleaned Noah up.  His mother's day gift reminded me I'm a mom, to living kids too.

 For those mommies to children that have died, and to women who are mother's in their hearts but have not yet gotten to hold your child, keep fighting.  Miracles still happen.

Me holding Jude, 2013, then me holding Noah and Beckom, 2015
 



In Loving Memory of Brinly and Jude


March 16, 2015

This month I have gotten a few "reminders" of Jude and Brinly-two "Happy 1 year old Birthday" cards from their old registries included in that.  Yesterday would have been their twin due date.

When I lost them I joined this great group on facebook for women who have lost all their multiples.  In my deepest grief there was this small pool of strangers who 100% got it.  The horror and pain of losing 1.2.3.4 babies during the same pregnancy.  Many women had lost their twins+ years ago and were still so so sad.  One person asked "Will I ever be happy again?  If I go on to have more kids, will it help heal the loss?"  Many people replied.  Some said no, they were still sad daily even with their kids.  One women wrote that after she had her rainbow son that there was so much love in her heart for him that there was no room for sadness for the twins she had lost.  She explained that it was sad, and always would be, but that she was moving forward and putting all that love into her live son.  I remembered that I wanted to choose that option.  I personally don't want to go through each year saying "She would have been 2"  "She would have started Kindergarden" "He would have been playing this with his cousin" etc.  Because the reality of it is, no they would not have.  They died, there is no "would have been."

We have decided that each year, on March 15 we will do something kind in their honor and make it some kind of a special family holiday.  Maybe when the boys are older we will take them to the falls where we spread Jude's ashes.  If I am being perfectly honest, now that I have Noah and Beckom the pain is more like a distant painful memory in comparison to the overwhelming can't-breathe type of pain I was experiencing last year.  The whole thing is bittersweet-If we had Jude and Brinly we would not have transferred 2 more embryos at once meaning we would never have had Noah and Beckom.  All this to say that I find that I have fallen into the category that I had hoped to.  So full of love for Noah and Beckom that I am not daily sobbing about the loss of Jude and Brinly.  I will forever have a sad spot in my heart but I am also so grateful to get to raise their little siblings.

For those that are new to the story, here is a very sad video of our pregnancy and then loss of Jude and Brinly I made days after they died.  I won't forget them and I won't stop honoring them by doing kind things in their honor on this day.  <3




Microblog Monday #Winning

March 9, 2015

So I've heard the horror stories of the great "Spring Forward" messing up baby schedules.  Since I'm such an amazing, perfect, awesome mom (please read with sarcasm), I decided to start early to help my little love bugs adjust early.  I was actually very proud of this great mommy-move. They usually go to bed at 8 and wake up at 8.  So, after much discussion, thought, and planning, I bumped it up an hour so they could adjust to spring forward and got them on a perfect 9-9 schedule.  All was well until last night when it was bedtime.  Our main clock hadn't yet been sprung forward and it said 7:00 pm when the new clock said 8:00.  I DID IT BACKWARDS.  So for the last few days my kids have been going to bed closer to the new 10.  We will adjust but now I might have them 2 hours off instead of 1.  #Winning

Also, side note.  On Tuesday last week I all the sudden had this really strong feeling to pray for my little embryos being biopsied.  I just knew it was happening in that moment (they didn't tell what day it was going to happen, just sometime in the first week of March).  Sure enough, I got a call that afternoon that all 6 had been de-frosted and biopsied.  Now we wait for the results.

Lastly, since Oh Baby, Baby has been the story of our infertility, I am starting a new blog that is about life with Noah and Beckom (I'll post link soon).  When I was deep in the trenches of loss and infertility the last thing I wanted to see was babies popping up on my feeds. I plan to keep this blog to update on our fertility/family building attempts and to talk about Jude and Brinly, my first born twins that were born still.

If you want to see more current pictures of Noah and Beckom, my instagram is hbenson10

Happy Monday!! If you ever need advise on how to help your kid adjust to time changes, I'm just a message away ;)

The Rest of the Frozen Embryos?

March 3, 2015

About two years into our infertility we did our first IVF which resulted in 6 "5 day" Blastocysts.  We transferred two and told since I was young and since these were such high quality-the odds of pregnancy were very high.  One embryo implanted but resulted in an almost immediate miscarriage (a blighted ovum) that eventually was removed via D&C.

We waited the three month minimum and went back for our first even frozen embryo transfer.  My lining was perfect, they de-frosted magnificently, and I was SURE at least one would stick.  My HCG at the beta blood test wasn't even one. 

Although we had two more frozen embryos from this cycle left, we were beginning to wonder if we had a "bad batch."  We had already paid a package for another fresh cycle, so we decided to move forward with that.  For those that have followed on long for awhile, this 2nd IVF result in 7 "5 day" Blastocysts and 2 "borderline" blasts they froze on day 6.  With four failures behind me in embryo world I boldly (and desperately) said:  Transfer 3.

All 3 stuck.  I saw it.  Three heartbeats.  I saw them at 6.5 weeks, 7.5 weeks, and at 8 weeks.  We were scared and thrilled all at once.  I began to get excited.  I had never seen heartbeats in my body and three???  I felt as if it was a miracle.  I loved them.  I like a good challenge and I was confident Team D and H could handle and succeed at raising triplets.  Long story short, I randomly miscarried one at 9 weeks exactly, went on with a healthy twin pregnancy of a boy and girl until my water randomly broke at 17 weeks-a rare and random condition call pPROM that impacts like .07% of the population.  I delivered my daughter Brinly at 18 weeks and my son Jude at 21 weeks.  Although 3 embryos took, I lost them all. 

In-between failed transfers and my triplet pregnancy, I would make sure to yell out "Hi babies, I love you!" Every time we drove by OHSU (where our frozen embryos are stored).  I partly yelled this because I did/do love them, and partly to annoy my husband. 

After losing my triplets, we had 8 frozen embryos left-2 from that first cycle were the previous ones didn't take, and 6 from the Jude and Brinly's cycle.  When our amazing friend Becky stepped forward to carry our embryos for us, we transferred 2 from the 2nd cycle and both took.  Noah and Beckom Benson were almost born to the date a year after I delivered their older brother Jude.

So, as a recap 4 embryos resulted in nothing but 1 very early miscarriage.
5 resulted in a pregnancy-w a 9 week miscarriage that may have related to triplets, so technically 4 pregnancies-I didn't lose Jude and Brinly due to bad embryo quality-it was due to lame cervix.

We are 4 for 9, under 50%

We have six left on ice (which are in theory our lowest quality ones but still with high grades).  We want to give them a chance but since I can never risk carrying twins again, the idea of transferring one. at. a. time. seems so overwhelmingly hard.  I can't do it emotionally.  I'm horrified of pregnancy and miscarriage.

We have decided to pay to have the embryos genetically tested and it will take place this month.

It's fascinating really.  They defrost all 6, and remove 1 cell and then refreeze them.  They send the 1 cell off to a genetic testing company where there they can determine some diseases, gender, and most importantly, if the embryo has the right amount of cells to become a successful pregnancy.  Although we have 6 great-rated blastocysts, it doesn't mean they would all implant.  If they are missing chromosomes, I would have another failed cycle or early miscarriage.

Obviously we are in no rush.  We are in love with our sons.  I guess my mind has been so infertility obsessed for these past 4 years, I want to know what we are dealing with.  I need to know.  I don't want to spend years wondering if any are normal.  If none are normal-we have our answer.  We can have closure and not a big "what if some day" hanging over our heads.

If a couple are normal than there are some frozen transfers in our future.  Even if there are some normal ones, they are not "guaranteed" success.  They are given 80% success rate in a fresh cycle-mine will have been frozen, de-frosted and biopsied, refroze, and then unfroze again-not exactly what happens in normal pregnancy.

We get the results by the end of the month.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

February 18, 2015

Top is the boys at 5lbs next to their cousin who is 17 days older, bottom is a more current picture.  GROWING!!


So sometimes little babies go cross eyed when focusing.   LOVE.


BROTHERS

#NewestBlazersFans

Inducing Lactation 101

February 6, 2015

I can't remember how I heard about inducing lactation, but I always knew it was an option.  Once Becky got pregnant I started researching it.  There is very little information out there so I thought I would share what I did.  Many people were shocked that this was even a possibility. 

From my research I found it's very rare that a woman make nothing, but just as rare that she get a full supply.  I joined an "Induced Lactation" group on facebook and it seemed most women, at the peak of the protocol, were getting 4-8oz a day.  It's amazing in once sense a body can do that without giving birth, but somewhat discouraging in the other sense considering my boys would be consuming about 24 oz a day EACH.  My prayer was that I would produce at least 8 so I could give them each 1 four oz bottle a day (I have heard that to benefit from breast milk a baby just needs a minimum of 3 oz a day).

Obviously since I had lost my twins before so late in the game, I refused to do anything about inducing till we hit 24 weeks.  Everything I read pointed to the sooner you start the better and many women were starting the protocol once their carrier got pregnant, but my heart couldn't handle the thought of having my milk come in again with no child to feed.

I did find that a woman will have better luck in inducing lactation if: A. she has nursed a child before  and B. she has had a pregnancy last over 12 weeks.  When I had my first miscarriage at just 6 weeks, I had a minor milk supply come in about a week later.  When I lost Jude at 21 weeks, I was full blown engorged and leaked for several weeks, but never expressed since I wanted to dry it up ASAP.  Although my milk coming in after Jude felt cruel and horrific, the silver lining was it meant I had a better chance of being able to give something to my sons.

So, back to the protocol.  This is CRAZY but birth control pills actually make your body thinks it's pregnant!?!  So, first step was to be on birth control for as long as possible (this is where the sooner the better thing kicks in, they prefer you be on the pill closer to 9 months).  I started the BCP at 24 weeks.  The 2nd drug involved is called Reglan or domperidone. 

Reglan and domperidone are actually for people that suffer from stomach issues but they found that it does something to the brain to trigger lactation.  Domperidone is not legal in the United States and very few OBs will write prescriptions for it.  However, after researching, most women (and lactation coaches) suggest using Domperidone.  It's literally legal in every other country so there are several trusted sites on where to order it from.  I didn't want to mess with it though so I used Reglan to start out.  Here is what I did:

  • At 24 weeks started daily birth control pills
  • At 24 weeks started taking Reglan 3x a day
  • At 24 weeks started dry pumping 6-8 times a day (or ever 2-4 hours).  I did not get milk from pumping, the idea is the pumping helps prepare your body/develop the needed tissues to lactate-based on this protocol, one would not lactate till "delivery" aka stopping birth control.
  • At 24 weeks started taking Fenugreek (a herb that is supposed to help increase lactation)
  • At 30 weeks started taking "Lactation Blend" off Amazon (recommend by lactation coach).
  • At 33 weeks (2 weeks before they were born) I stopped the BCP.  This made my body think I had just given birth. 

The lactation coach suggested I stop taking the birth control pill 4 weeks prior to the scheduled C-section.  Once I stopped I started getting droplets that equaled about 1 oz a day.  I continued the protocol and the boys came about 2 weeks later.  At this point I was making 6 oz a day and was able to immediately put them to breast after birth and they actually got some of my own milk!  For the first few days since they don't eat a ton, I was able to fully supply them with what I was producing (and Becky pumped colostrum for them).  By day 3 or 4 the twins already needed more than my 6oz so we used donor milk.

I was told to keep putting the babies to breast, skin to skin and that my supply would increase.  It eventually went to about 16 oz a day and at that point I made the switch to domperidone and it jumped to over 24+ oz a day (what I produce now).  Reglan is the only legal drug to induce lactation but there are some scary possible long-term side effects.  I have a fully supply for 1 child, so my boys get about 40-50% breast milk.  I pump every 3-4 hours and 1 longer stretch at night and bottle feed them.

Oddly enough I rarely breastfeed them.  I like to pump and put it in a bottle to know exactly how  much they are getting and to divide it equally.  I thought breastfeeding would be this intense bonding but personally I'm more passionate about providing my sons with the benefits of breast milk.  With twins nursing can be insanely time consuming. I do nurse from time to time for comfort/soothing or if one seems very hungry before the scheduled feeding and it is cool.  I wasn't able to carry my sons so being able to provide for them in this way has been very satisfying.  It's something my body can actually do right for them and I'm so grateful.

Noah and Beckom

January 7, 2015

Noah Jude Benson
Once I lost Jude, I knew that if we ever had a little boy I wanted to name him Noah.  Yes, every other baby boy in the world is named Noah and I never loved the name before, but by using the name Noah, I'm able to talk about my faith in God and redemption and I'm able to talk about how he is my rainbow baby-which allows me to mention Jude and Brinly in a non-depressing way.  Naturally, we loved the name Jude and since Jude is his big brother, the middle name was easy.

Beckom Samuel Benson
We originally were going to name him Jace Beckette Benson.  (Beckette trying to come up with a girl version of Becky).  I eventually asked Becky which middle name she preferred to honor her Beck or Beckette.  She came up with the middle name of Beckom because it's a combo of her name BECKY and her husband TOM.  She said she could never have done this journey without Tom.  Darren and I loved the combo name so much we decided to make it his first name!! As it's important for me (if people ask how we came up with the names, to talk about Christ and our other children, it's also really cool for me and important for me to talk about the surrogacy journey.  People LOVE hearing how we came up with Beckom's name).  Samuel is Darren's middle name, was Jude's middle name, and his dad and grandpa's middle name.  In the Bible Hannah struggled with infertility and eventually had her ever-so-longed-for son: Samuel.  It fits.

Life with Noah and Beckom has been both fun and challenging while all the while incredibly healing.  I get to hold Jude and Brinly's little brothers every day.  I can't stop telling them I love them.  I can't stop thanking God they are alive.  I'm an official stay at home mom for 3 months (I go back to work February 13). 

There have been some very sweet gifts given to us through their birth.  Obviously the gift of surrogacy.  Along with that a highly skilled photographer felt like God was asking her to give us a free newborn photo session.  4  women, my childhood friend Kayla, my sister, Becky, and Pamela, one of my sister's best friends, have all dontated ounces and ounces of breastmilk to me.  Kayla, who I hadn't talk to in years also randomly said she felt like God was asking her to do this (Thanks guys and thank you Jesus!!).  Breastmilk can sell for $4 an oz and most of these women have babies of their own.  HUGE gift. 

Here are some of our picture from our session with Lindsay at http://livejoyphotography.com/.  If you live in Salem/Portland area, check this baby whisperer out!!













Born. Our Surrogacy Story Part 4

December 24, 2014

The boys original due date was 12/13/14 (cool right?) but we knew with twins we wouldn't be allowed to go full term.  As mentioned before, I refrained from posting much because although the pregnancy was going smooth, I wasn't going to fully accept that I was going to be a mom to my twin boys till they were screaming in my arms.  That. has. finally. happened.

Becky was doing 2x a week appointments to have the boys monitored and have her blood pressure checked.  Due to twins she had also developed minor gestational diabetes so they wanted to be extra safe.  The boys passed every test with flying colors and Becky was constantly compliment "GREAT JOB" by the doctors and us.  I mentioned it before but at just 18 weeks her cervix was measuring under 2cm (anything under 2.5 is worrisome).  We were prepared for the chance of pre-term labor but we wanted to make it into the 30's (Jude and Brinly were born at 18 and 21).  Becky's cervix held strong and always stayed "stable" ranging from 1.2 cm to 2.5.

On Friday, November 14, 2014, just 3 days short from the day Jude was born still the year before, she went in for a weekly appointment and they noticed a higher blood pressure.  After some monitoring they determined she was at the start of pre-eclampsia and since the boys were 1 day short of 36 weeks they decided that would be the day.  My first text from Becky was "I'm being monitored to be safe" then 2 hours later turned to "Today's the day, I'm next in line for the C-section, it will be in about TWO HOURS."

We packed quickly and sped to the hospital.  Although I wasn't in labor, I told Darren this maybe his only chance in our lifetime to speed to the hospital because our babies were on their way.

We got there with lots of time to spare.  I was so so so so so excited. Almost giddy. Although 35 weeks 6 days is still fairly early, this felt like full term to us when we had been praying for at least 30 weeks (and after praying Jude and Brinly would just make it to 24).  The nurses were excited too and Becky looked peaceful and beautiful.  She didn't have much time to get nervous since it was all happening so fast.

Darren and I had hired a lawyer to help us with the paperwork so the boys were legally ours at birth-so the hospital gave us our own room right next to Aunt Becky and Uncle Tom.  The doctors also agreed that although it was a C-section, to let ALL of us (Tom, Darren and I) in the delivery room.

They took Becky back alone to give her the spinal and then came and got us (we were all scrubbed up).  Darren and I got to sit at her feet in the operation room and could see everything.  It was all happening so fast and it felt like a dream.  I asked Tom to pinch me (he did).

C-sections are really really fast.  Within 5 minutes the doctor said "OK, we will have babies out in 39 seconds."  At this point I could see a head moving inside the sac.  My children.  My live children.

This is when the crying began.  The healing type of crying.  Sobbing really.  The reality that exactly one year ago I was in labor with Jude who was destined to die and now 2 new sons who I would hold and hear crying overwhelmed me.  As they pulled them out I was crying "they are so big, they are so big" 5 pounds 10 ounces and 5 pounds 13 ounces.  Most people in the room were probably thinking "these are late preterm babies, they are not that big" but to me, in comparison with my 1 pound son I held last, these boys were full grown babies.

The nurses took them over to their little stations.  It took Noah a bit to breathe on his own, but no NICU for either.  The moment didn't feel real.  Once Beckom was ready to be weighed the nurse said "okay mom (OMG MOM!  Me??) take him over to the scale" and I carried him.  I carried Jude and Brinly's live little brother as he screamed all the way over.  A few minutes later I brought him over for Becky to meet. 

Shortly after, they brought us to the recovery room and I got to nurse them both at the same time.  I induced lactation (more on that later) so I was able to provide them with my own breast milk after birth.   Family came in shortly after to meet the little miracle boys while we took turns snuggling them.

Here are some pictures from the delivery room:
 







 
 
 
 
 

My Bucket List:

My Bucket List: