Embryo Biopsy Results

March 19, 2015

Out of our 6 embryos, 3 are normal.  Normal frozen embryos have a 50-75% chance of implanting.  There are not a ton of studies done on embryos that have been unfrozen, biopsied and refrozen again (ours) so the odds may be lower.  It seems insane to me even though the embryo is 100% normal there is still a large chance it wouldn't implant.

The results were bittersweet.  We were hoping for 2 because there are several ethical issues that come up with "what to do with the extra?"  I don't want to say the genders because if we ever do get pregnant with one, we want to be as "normal" as we possibly can  with getting to "surprise" our families around the 24 week mark. We are in no rush and will most likely give them all a chance at some point.

Someone had commented that I needed to read through the scriptures to see where life begins and that even the abnormal embryos are life.  I wanted to clarify that we didn't do genetic testing to "get rid" of embryos with diseases, etc, we did it because we have had 5 embryos transferred that resulted in nothing or early miscarriages.  Science can now tell if an embryo is missing a certain # of chromosomes, it is doomed to miscarry.  We simply wanted to avoid the pain of that.  Also, I know this is a personal decision that varies from person to person.  After prayer and discussion, Darren and I felt like the testing was best for our family.  In regards to life, the Bible talks about "being knit together in the WOMB."  Although these little embies have grown a few days, they do not have a heartbeat-they are not in a womb.  With that said, we do still highly value them as potential lives and will do our best to give them a chance at some point.

I'm grateful to have this information and we are discussing a timeline in the distant future of when we would go down the scary/exciting road of me trying to carry again.

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:
 







 
 
 
 
 

Our Surrogacy Story Part 3: Saint Becky

December 14, 2014

I couldn't continue on with our story without writing a special post about Becky.  As noted in the previous post, this woman signed up voluntarily asking for nothing in return.  She has repeated several times "This is a small sacrifice for you to have a family."  The funny thing is NO ONE else thinks it's just a "small sacrifice."  Allow me to explain.

First off,  she quit her job right before the transfer to "show us how serious she was." She told us she wanted to be all in and wanted to put all her focus on the pregnancy.  Without any asking on my part she gave up all caffeine and artificial sweeteners and did every old wives tell in the book to make sure her uterus was perfect. 


I talked about how she had to do endless tests to be cleared to be our gestational carrier.  Then the 3 weeks on the awful Lupron shot to shut down her ovaries and then 12 weeks of the 2 inch PIO.  I attended the training for the shots with her and she seemed fine until they pulled out that big one-it scares us all.  She is really slender so they were ok with allowing her to go down to an inch and a half-I was also there for her first injection and she took it like a champ.  Over. and. over. again.

It's common to hear people complain about the discomforts of pregnancy, let alone two.  The body grows and stretches more than normal.  Since multiples is automatically high risk pregnancy, the appointments are endless.  Sleep is hard.  At 18 weeks into the pregnancy there was a scare with a shortening cervix (I automatically assumed the worst) and the doctor suggested a pessary (kind of like a cerclage but its a plastic ring they put around the cervix in hopes of helping it hold).  I felt horrible.  Becky had already done enough and now they wanted to insert the pessary.  I told her it was her choice.  Without hesitation she said "If it's keeps these boys in longer, it's worth it." She did it that day.  Through all of this she would never ever complain.  She would just repeat "small sacrifice."

On Mother's Day this year, while she was pregnant with my babies, she sent ME a Mother's Day Card Thanking ME for allowing her to carry my rainbow babies...yes, you read that correctly.  Someone who quit their job, did all the tortuous things that come with IVF, and was dealing with MY twin pregnancy thanked ME.

I have been so humbled by this whole experience.  At my baby shower I couldn't help but compare her act of pure kindness to my faith.  Christ came to earth, died for me, carries the burden of my sin, giving us new life-asking only that we believe in Him-His gift to mankind.  She came to me, risked her health, literally carried the burden of pregnancy for me (because God knows being pregnant right after my loss would have been the most horrifying, scary, and risky thing), all why expecting nothing back for the gift of life she was giving us.

There really aren't enough words to explain what she has done for my family.  I thank God daily for this woman.  She has taught me so much through her loving sacrifice.

1. Selflessness.  As a Christian, I often do kind things for others because I should- and it's so human nature to expect something in return.  I want recognition, I want people to know I did something so nice.  I imagine that for most women dealing with someone else's pregnancy, even if it was out of pure kindness, would sure let the intentional parents know how hard it was, how much suffering was done on our behalf, etc.  Becky has reminded me that when I do something nice for someone to NEVER have strings attached.  To never do something half heartily with a you-really-owe-me attitude.  Her selflessness has been so sweet and so heart-warming.

2.  Love-We live in a world full of divorce, cheating, fighting, and disrespect in marriage.  I really admire Tom and Becky's marriage/relationship. They are a united team. Tom supported Becky's idea to help us from day 1 and was willing to watch his wife go through the trials/hormones of pregnancy all so Darren and I could have a family.  He attends the millions of doctor appointments and has been excited along with us.  He is loving, and patient, and kind.  I see the way he looks at her, with love, respect, and admiration.  Where some men would maybe be turned off to the idea of "losing" their wife for 9 months for someone else's baby, he supported her goal 100%.  They just celebrated 20 years of marriage while she was pregnant with our boys.  They are a great example of how love and marriage should be.

3.  Attitude-After losing Jude and Brinly I became so so negative with pregnancy.  I had been jaded
by their death.  My faith in God and His goodness had been shaken and although I was happy Becky was pregnant, I was scared and still doubtful. Becky's blood type is B+ and she has taken this to heart.  Before the transfer her and I went to Red Robin for dinner and I was expressing concerns of possible miscarriage she scowled at me and said "BE POSITIVE."  That has been her attitude throughout, she has chosen to be positive.  Anytime in the pregnancy I said something doubtful, or got nervous she would respond almost in a cheer "BEeeeeeee possssiittttivvveeee!!" waving her hands in the air with a cheer leader like motion.  I love this.  She has reminded me to chose to be positive.

Tom and Becky and their daughter Kaela went to a wedding this summer and when the found their name card, her's read Saint Becky.
I am so grateful that there are some genuinely caring people like Becky.  A few months ago I came across the quote: "You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you." All I can say is Becky has really lived. ♥
 
Here is a video of the first half of our journey we showed at the Baby Shower:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv0T7hXRMak



Our Surrogacy Journey Part 2: The Beginnings

November 27, 2014

I have never known pain the way I did that day that Jude laid there in my arms last November.  The morning after delivering him my husband got an email from a friend/old co-worker who wanted to tell us how sorry she was for us.  She said she didn't know if timing was appropriate but offered to surrogate for us if we wanted to go that route.  She mentioned that she would do it for nothing in return.  I got this email hours after saying goodbye to Jude.

I was touched by her kindness but in that moment didn't think we would need to go the route of  using a gestational carrier (a woman who carries our embryos/genetic kids in her body).  The desire to have a living child became a quick obsession and the ache of burying my twins made me want to try again ASAP but I was told I would have to wait at least 6 months.  After meeting with our specialist, he did say I could try again but would have to get a cerclage (cervix stitched) and take shots throughout the pregnancy-with a 20% plus chance it could all happen again.  When we mentioned the idea of surrogacy to him, he actually thought it was a decent idea.

I emailed Becky a few weeks later asking if she was serious.  Sometimes in the heat of the moment of emotions people say things but in reality couldn't do it.  She replied that she would not have offered if she wasn't serious.  To make sure she knew what she was signing up for, I sent her a LONNGGGGG email entailing all the "delights" of IVF she would have to do-transfer embryos that could miscarry (I had miscarried 50% of what I had transferred in the past not counting J and B).  I had to tell her about all the pokes/prodes she would have to go through just to be approved.  Then of course the 2 inch PIO shots she would have to take for 12 weeks on top of Lupron.  Then the millions of appointments and the pains of pregnancy.  After I sent the email I got a short reply saying "I already knew all of this, I'm in." 

In the days that followed I would often find myself sobbing when I thought of her and this sacrifice she was willing to make for our family.  I would dream about being in the deliver room with her.  I felt so much love and connection to this woman-as if she were my own sister.  She quickly started all the pre-testing/screening and passed with flying colors.  She had two successful pregnancies in the past but both her children are grown now.  We decided that since the embryos were frozen and hadn't been genetically tested that we would transfer 2.  She was open to the risk of twins.  Since our last FET resulted in zero, we all felt like 2 would be the best bet.

On March 27, 2014 her amazing/supportive husband Tom, Becky, Darren and I were all back in that transfer room at OHSU using our 4th transfer we had paid for before.  Becky was calm and we were all so excited.  The RE knew our story and simply said "I hope this works," as he shot our two embryos into the most amazing woman on earth's body.  I knew this was right.  Although I desperately wanted to be pregnant again and to carry the kids on my own, I knew that they were safer in her body.  This picture was taken minutes after the transfer.

The 2 week wait was different because my brain got a break.  Sure, I wondered if it was working but I didn't have symptoms to analyze or obsess over and Becky didn't freak me out with updates of what she did/didn't feel (fyi she had 0 symptoms)  8 days after transfer she texted me these pictures and I cried uncontrollably-hope had began to enter again and I was terrified and thrilled all at once.







Although I was happy, I automatically went back into "guarded" mode.  Now we needed some serious milestones:

doubling beta
seeing a heartbeat
making it to 12 weeks
getting a normal anatomy scan at 20
making it to viability at 24
making it to term

I had been burned too many times in the past by passing the positive pregnancy test and thinking it was smooth sailing from there-we had many many obstacles to get through. 

Although my faith in God and His goodness was not non-existant, I knew that just because I believe in Him doesn't guarantee that this ending would be any better than the last.  I could hardly pray for success but took comfort in knowing so many people were praying in general for us to build our family.

Another aspect of faith this journey required was faith in Becky; Darren and I were putting our lives, our dreams, our flesh and blood, our most desired babies into her body.  From day 1 I had 100% trust that she was going to be the best home away from home to my children.  And she was...

Our Surrogacy Journey Part 1

November 16, 2014

Our Surrogacy Story Part 1

After losing J and B I have never trusted a positive pregnancy test since.  I am too guarded and to scarred from the stillbirths.  This exact day 1 year ago I found out I would deliver Jude and that he would die.

An amazing, selfless friend stepped forward in our deepest grief and offered to carry some of our left over frozen embryos from Jude and Brinly's cycle.  She asked for nothing in return and hasn't complained once (more on her in upcoming posts, this woman is a saint).  Becky has given me a hope I never thought I would have again and has literally saved me from dying of pain for not having live children.  We transferred two.  Both stuck.  Twin boys. 

I have used this blog to mourn Jude and Brinly while hoping, praying, and trying to remain positive with a surrogacy pregnancy.

I was overwhelmed with joy to have the chance to have twins again but also extra scared knowing the risks.  We kept this entire thing a secret from even our own families till she was 24 weeks along-minimum viability.  We couldn't bare the thought of dragging them through the horrors of the slow week to week to make it to a chance of survival and keeping it a secret helped me cope too.

As posted earlier, we took family to Multnomah Falls for Jude and Brinly's memorial service.  My entire family on both sides cried as we said our final goodbye's too Jude and Darren and I spread the ashes.

We then told our family we wanted a family picture at the base of the falls (our surrogate Becky, her husband Tom, and daughter-all strangers to our family-where at the base of the falls).

We got up there and everyone got in front of the falls and we asked a "stranger" (gestational carrier's husband and daughter) to take a picture.  They were really filming.  They counted to 3 and Becky, our surrogate, walked into the picture.  Our families were confused by the stranger so I eventually turn around, touch her stomach, and say "this is our surrogate Becky."   Here is there reaction in the video.  I cannot express how much this woman and her family have changed our lives.

 (if video is not displaying type in: surrogate surprise reveal on youtube to view <3
I will continue to tell our story in my next few posts.  Thank you to all the followers for the love, prayers, encouragement, support, mourning with us and rejoicing with us.

I'll Be the One if You Want Me To.

October 10, 2014

I've mentioned it before but since the loss of Jude and Brinly, it's hard to trust Him again.  Going to church is like going to the gym.  I know I should, I know it's healthy, and I know that discipline pays off, but it's hard to get there, its hard to stay there, and I'm still a bit indifferent. 

Recognizing the need to force myself to do something I know is right, I joined a Bible study on the book of Jonah (for those non-Christian's long story short it's about a guy who ran in the opposite direction God had asked him to go so he got swallowed by a big fish.  This made Jonah rethink his initial choice and in the end, he goes to Ninevah, obeying what God originally asked him to do).  I am not going to lie, it's hard for me to go for many reasons.  They call painful things "divine interuptions" and ask really tough questions that always lead me back to thinking about Jude and Brinly.  It hasn't been a whole year since there loss yet so it still is so overwhelming at times.  I'm in a room full of strangers (minus one of my best friends I drag along) so I haven't mentioned anything about our infertility struggle/loss yet.

On the first night we had to go around the room and say our name and if we had kids (cute ice breaker right?).  I was stressed to the max about how to respond:  2 but they died a birth.  I had stillborn twins last year.  None.  No living children.  My mind swirled and it finally got to me. "No children yet."  I always instantly feel like I betrayed Jude and Brinly someway in these situations but for the love of all things social I don't want to dump this on this proper group of women.

At our first meeting one of the discussion questions was along the lines of "when do you see a divine interruption as something horrible or can't see God's purpose?"  The room was quiet but then someone said "when a child dies."  I was listening.  Another mom, with twin 21 year old boys piped in, "We lost our first son as a baby."  My eyes stayed glued to her.  I needed her all the sudden.  Someone that knew my pain to some level.  Someone that would maybe take me to coffee and listen to my story and share her own.  Someone who would/could acknowledge that she truly understood what I went through opposed to be those that "can't even begin to imagine."  I wanted to grab her email but I didn't get a chance.

This Wednesday her and I showed up late, but at the same time.  I thought timing was perfect.  We were walking in together so I began the conversation:

Me: "Are you the one with twin boys?
Her: "Yes!"
Me: "We lost twins last year.  A son and a daughter.  They were stillborns."
Her: "Oh, I am so sorry, losing a baby is the worst.  I lost a baby too."
Me: "I know!  I heard you mention that last week and I wanted to talk to you and get your email, it was such a horrible experience, I was 21 weeks along...
Her: "Did we pass the house? Oh hi (to her friend pulling up).
Me: "Oh, um, here is the address, here is the house."

The end

Maybe she thought I was going to be really needy (I'm not).  Maybe it's still to hard for her to talk about (doubt it).  Maybe she didn't want to connect/share with a stranger (understandable I guess).  I wasn't hurt but more shocked.  As we discussed Jonah I just sat there thinking about what just happened.  She lost a baby.  She should know how it feels to be treated differently or awkwardly.  In those moments I felt over empowered to BE someone who will listen, talk, hug, comfort, share and validate.  I needed that woman.  She owes me nothing and doesn't even know me, but I needed her. 

When Darren's uncle lost his wife at a young age, he suddenly became the one people would go to if they lost their spouse.  The comforter of the widowers.  Someone who tasted hell, lived a nightmare, and came out alive.  When it comes to baby loss, Darren and I are professionals.  An early miscarriage at 6 week with no heartbeat, miscarriage at 9 weeks after seeing a heart beat twice, and delivering my stillborn twins 3 weeks apart, 1-at-a-time.  I get what a failed IUI feels like.  I get what a failed IVF feels like.  So much hope mixed with doubt you feel sick before you even take the first injection.  Do you need someone to talk that has been though something similar to you?  I'll be the one if you want me to.

I promise I won't be awkward or change the subject.  I promise to look you in the eye and when things get horrific to hold eye contact.  I promise not to say stupid cliché phrases or "christianese" inspirational statements.  I will validate you for the mother you are.  I truly believe we all become mother's once the desire to grow a family conceives in our hearts.  To the mom who has been trying for years, pursuing adoption, going for another treatment, waiting, hoping, praying, you are not alone.  I see you.  I know those paths.  They suck they suck they suck.  They are unfair they are unfair they are unfair.  I think faith is extra hard in these losses-although more fragile and vulnerable, my faith remains in His goodness.  Please, email me, text me, reach out.  I'll be the one.

The Bible talks about sorrow lasting in the night and joy coming in the morning.  The hardest part about that is it never says how long the night actually is and how dark it will actually become.  We have had a very long night and, as mentioned previously, I plan to blog about the morning soon as little sun rays have began to pop over the mountain top giving us hope to believe that  morning isn't that far away.  The morning helps heal the darkness because the sun is more powerful. 

For you women who have been in the night for a long time, or are just entering those nasty nasty dark nights that seem the world will stop spinning forever, I know your sorrow.  I love you already.  I am full of compassion for you and I am so sorry.

My Bucket List:

My Bucket List: