August 28, 2014

What You Want to Know about Our IVF Experience (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Over the past several months I've had a few people ask some good questions about what IVF means and how it works for us. Most of these people were people we are close with, so they were able to ask us things that other's might not. Others were people who are considering fertility treatments themselves. I thought I'd take the time to answer some of those questions and give people the opportunity to ask others without worrying about offending us or making us uncomfortable.

How much did it cost?
In total, the whole shebang cost us approximately $14,000. We didn't h
ave to pay that all at once though. The package our fertility specialist provided for one round of IVF (you can actually pay for two or three rounds at once at a discounted price, but if you get pregnant the first time; you've paid for three and only used one) cost about $9,500. That was with a discount because I'm a full time teacher. We had to pay all of that up front. There were some thing that were not included in that original price including the mock embryo transfer and a few of the ultrasounds. Our insurance covered little to none of the meds I needed, so they cost over $1000 total. After our eggs were fertilized, we also had to pay a storage fee for each of the four remaining embryos. Those are the major costs I can think of right now.

How did you come up with the money for it?
People pay for fertility treatments in different ways because very few insurance companies provided much coverage for what are considered "unnecessary" procedures. I know of some people who saved for years and others who started or similar accounts and asked other people to help them out. We actually ended up withdrawing most of the money needed up front from Steve's 401k. We were able to do this without penalty because his 401k allowed for a certain amount of withdraw from medical procedures not covered by insurance. The rest we paid out of pocket as the bills came up.

Did you use a sperm or egg donor?
This questions surprised me and was actually what inspired me to write this post. I didn't realize that people would wonder about that. Because our infertility issues centered mainly around that fact that I don't ovulate like a normal person (I have plenty of eggs, they just don't get released), we had no need to use either donor eggs or donor sperm. In other words, biologically, Cai is fully Querns/Templeton.

Is your pregnancy considered high risk?
No. Once the doctor heard the heart beat, our pregnancy was considered completely normal. If both embryos had implanted, having twins would have placed me as high risk, but because this is a singleton pregnancy, we are totally normal now.

What will you do with the remaining embryos?
This was a huge concern for me. I had read about women who had far more eggs harvested than we did, and I was afraid we'd end up with more embryos than we could conceivably use in a lifetime. Because Steve and I believe that life begins when sperm and egg meet, this would have presented some major ethical dilemmas for us as we would consider discarding those embryos as abortion. Thankfully, only nine eggs were harvested; eight successfully developed into embryos; two were used in this, our first attempt at IVF; one implanted and resulted in this pregnancy; four are frozen for our future use. The hope is that all four of those embryos will survive the thawing process in the future and result in two more pregnancies with one or two babies each.

Does that mean you won't try to get pregnant naturally?
Some people say that getting pregnant helps to correct fertility issues caused by PCOS. As much as I would love for this to be true, we have decided that we will be using some form of birth control (probably something on the more natural side) to prevent that from happening because we basically have four more babies already in existence. This doesn't mean it won't happen, but that would be totally God's doing and not ours.

Other than discarding the embryos or using them, what else could you do with them?
We could offer our frozen embryos up for adoption to a family who cannot conceive on their own. This is something we have talked about, but unless God would put a specific situation in our paths and on our hearts, we do not feel it is something we want to do. These are our babies.

What fertility doctor did you use and would your recommend him?
We went with Dr. Peters in Asbury, NJ (he also has a Bethlehem, PA office) who is a part of Sher Fertility, a respected fertility chain (look them up at We chose him originally because his new office is on the floor above my dad's office. My dad is building inspector and actually did some of the inspection on Dr. Peters's new office; he was very impressed with the doctor and told him about us and us about him. We decided to make an appointment and were impressed with both him and all of his staff. A frustration we had with the other reproductive endocrinologist we had tried years ago was the office and nursing staff (we liked the doctor herself), so this was a big deal to me in particular. We also liked the way Dr. Peters explained everything to us in an understandable way. He was forthright about our issues and options and encouraging about what he recommended we do. I would not only recommend Dr. Peters himself, but also Sher fertility as whole. They have several offices throughout the country, and I am impressed with their results and their attitude (seen through what they and their patients post on their Facebook page).

Do you expect any problems in or after your pregnancy due to PCOS?
I've read about different things that PCOS and other aspects of my hormone imbalance could cause, but haven't had any major problems because of them yet. I did have anti-thyroid antibodies that put me at a slightly elevated risk of early miscarriage, but obviously that didn't happen (I plan to go to an endocrinologist after the baby is born because I'm sure I have thyroid issues). I could have issues with breastfeeding like low milk supply or really high milk supply. I may be more likely to deliver a little early rather than go past my due date. I am more likely to gain excess weigh (which is why I've made such a big deal about the relatively low amount I've gained so far) and to have gestational diabetes (which is why I'm nervous about my glucose test). I also may struggle more with losing the baby weight afterward.

I know there are more questions out there, but I can't think of them at the moment. If you have any you would like to add, either because you just want to know, you've been through it already and have been asked those questions, or you're thinking about doing IVF yourself, please feel free to  The whole point of the infertility aspect of this blog is to help others going through it, so please don't worry about asking an awkward question.

August 26, 2014

Ridiculous Things My Husband Says During My Pregnancy: Part 1

Me: Rolling over in bed  with my great big body pillow

Steve: I know, Finn, when Mommy rolls over it's like an earthquake.

Me: What?!

Steve: Nothing. I'm just talking to Finn.

August 24, 2014

Pregnancy Update: 27 Weeks

How far along: 27 weeks. About 13ish to go (holy sh**). Hello, third trimester!

Showing: Haha! My belly pushes my laptop off of my lap making it difficult to even type without a pillow on my lap.

Weight Gain: I think 14 lbs.

Maternity Clothes: Yes, but today I'm wearing my non maternity yoga pants and loving them.

Food I'm Eating/Craving: More blackberries. I love Simply Raspberry Lemonade.

Things that Make me Sick: Bending over, coughing too hard, and gross things like emptying the drain catch in the kitchen sink.

Other symptoms: I'm feeling huge and achey right now. I feel like my belly can't stretch any farther. I'm peeing CONSTANTLY; sometimes having to go immediately after walking out of the bathroom. One weird thing happened this week that I need to ask my doctor about; I woke up to pee at like quarter to five the other night, and just as I was drifting back to sleep my heart started POUNDING. I wasn't short of breath or anything though. So I got up and used our little blood pressure monitor. My blood pressure was normal but my pulse was 128. It stayed that high for like five minutes then dropped back down to the eighties which is where it normally is. It was weird and freaked me out, but it hasn't happened again. I get short of breath more easily now too; I think because the baby is putting pressure on my diaphragm.

Pregnancy Brain: I loaded and put soap in the dishwasher and didn't realize until the next day when I tried to empty it that I never turned it on.

Miss anything? Sleeping on my stomach or back. 

Best moment: Laughing with Steve. He thinks all of my annoying symptoms are hilarious.

Movement:  Yes. A ton at the beginning of the week. A little less often now. I think maybe he's going through a growth spurt right now (which is accurate according to the baby apps).

Gender: It's a boy! Cai Alexander.

Happy or moody most of the time?: Mood swings were less this week, but I had a rough day yesterday. Life is still kind of up in the air right now too. One minute I think we're not moving and the next I don't know again. I'm ready for some stability. Some of my irritability has gotten better (I've been super annoyed with my mother and grandmother lately), and I'm actually okay with being touched. I noticed that yesterday when my mom was rubbing my back and I didn't want to punch her, haha. She was feeling sorry for me because I was so uncomfortable last night while we played cards.

August 18, 2014

Pregnancy Update: 26 Weeks

How far along: 26 Weeks, about 14 to go (Oh. my. goodness.).

Not loving all of my chins...
Showing: Yes.

Weight Gain: The doctor's scale said 13 lbs. on Thursday. So, if I gain a pound a week in the next 14 weeks, that still puts me under 30 lbs. of gain. I'm hoping I can do that.

Maternity Clothes: Yup, but still not wearing very many maternity shirts. I just bought two striped scoop next tshirts from Target and feel pretty good in them. I'm on the lookout for a maternity dress as I have one or two weddings in the next two months, but I've had a hard time finding anything.

Food I'm Eating/Craving: It varies. It's blackberry season, and I made myself an amazing personal blackberry cobbler (blackberries, raw honey, blackberry balsamic vinegar cooked down in a pot, then I strained the berries out and topped it with a crumb topping --white whole wheat flour, raspadura and butter. I saved the sauce in the pan and cooked it down to make a glaze for meat).

Things that Make me Sick: Bending over makes me gag. Other than that, not much.

Look! I still have a waist!
Other symptoms: Difficulty sleeping, mild anxiety, tiring quickly. I also had a yeast infection this week (again TMI, but this is the kind of honest thing I want to read when I read other people's blogs). I've only ever had one before, and it was awful.

Pregnancy Brain: I left my hair straightener on. Luckily my sister noticed it after I left the house to go on our anniversary date.

Miss anything? Knowing what's going on with my body. I feel like it keeps doing new and unexpected things, some of them normal for pregnancy, but not normal for me, and I can't keep up with it. I'm also missing going back to school shopping. I feel totally at peace about not going back to work, but I miss the preparation.

Best moment: Watching my whole belly jump when Cai moves.

Movement:  At the doctor's office, he kept moving while the doctor was listening with the doppler and she said, "You've got a wild one in there. Do you know what you're having?" (There are two doctors and a special ultrasound tech who comes in just for the scans, so she doesn't always remember). When I told her she said, "Oh that explains it. They're always crazy." He had been hurting me when he moved that day and the day before, so I asked her about that. She said she's seen women with bruises from the baby's movement! He moves constantly, and sometimes he's rough. Some days I feel like he's trying to bust out through my belly button!

Gender: It's a boy! Cai Alexander.

Happy or moody most of the time?: Mood swings were less this week, but I did have some mild anxiety, more like a restlessness at night. Some of it is restless leg syndrome, but I get the feeling that I need to get up and move, my heart feels like it's racing (but it's not; I check) and I get really hot.

I have to get my glucose test in the next week or so, which makes me nervous. I also will probably have to get the rhogam shot because I have a negative blood type, so all that has to be done soon. The other thing the doctor said that at 25 weeks 5 days, my belly was measuring at 27 weeks, so at my next appointment (which is another half hour scan of the baby) they will "make sure he's not a moose." Geesh. I was counting on a small baby because I was a small baby and because my weight gain isn't out of control, and I've been eating decently. I'm praying he's normal sized. 

August 14, 2014

My Best Friend

This month is a big month for Steve and me for a few reasons. It marks six years since we first started trying to conceive. Monday is our seven year wedding anniversary. And, today is Steve's 29th birthday. So I thought I would take this opportunity to brag about him a bit.

At a Thrice and Thursday concert a few weeks
before our first date. I remember Traci
dressing me and adding the fake
lip ring, haha.
I first met Steve in May of 2003 when we were both in a scholarship competition at Roberts. I remember coming home and telling my friends that there was one really cute boy in my group who was super funny. I met him again when we were in the same group in orientation, but didn't have very much contact with him for the first couple of months. Still, I remember being impressed with him. I remember a particular time during chapel having a hard time keeping my eyes off of him as he was so clearly worshiping the Lord and not thinking about what was going on around him (clearly that wasn't the case for me at the time).

We started hanging out more and more and went on our first date just after Christmas, I think. This was my first date ever. My wonderful best friend offered to pay him $20 to kiss me on the first date, but he refused saying he had too much respect for me for that. 

Niagara falls, December 2005 I think
Anyway, by February 7th, 2004 we declared ourselves "official" at B.T.'s snack shop at Roberts. Since then, it's been a wonderful adventure. And "adventure" truly is the right word. Most of our dating adventures centered around ridiculous car issues. I remember the driver's seat started to rust out of his car and it would bounce up and down and nearly scrape the ground as we drove (they welded it later). And the passenger door in that car didn't have a seal, so I would literally get snowed on. On the way home from a Relient K concert, we dragged the Oldsmobile's muffler throughout downtown Rochester when is started to fall off. When that car died, he had his parents' van. It had the two front seats, no middle seats, and the very back seats. The only door that opened was the front passenger door. I remember he took me and four or five of my girlfriends to a movie and we all had to pile in and out of the same door. Another time a friend of his borrowed it and returned it after someone thew up in the passenger seat and did not clean it up. We went to church together in it the next day, and I had to sit in the very back while he drove.

A Lebanese dinner at our friend Bob's house.

One of my favorite things about Steve is how he pays attention to the people around him. I remember one of my Townies saying to me senior year that she was always so encouraged when she ran into Steve on campus. He would notice when she was wearing a new skirt or when she looked like she was feeling down or stressed out. Not in creepy way, but because he pays attention to people and who they are and what makes them tick.

At The Spot coffee house our junior year of college.

In fact, Steve came home late from work the other day because he was talking to an employee who didn't get the promotion he wanted. It turned out the guy was dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide and Steve stayed late to talk with him about it. He come home feeling like he had really made a difference just by listening. 

Engagement photo, around February 2007
I have a husband who is loving and kind...
Quick to laugh and slow to anger...

Patient with my craziness  (and right now my ridiculous mood swings)

Who loves my family like his own to the point of moving in with my grandparents at one point and loving them like his own.
He fills me with joy.

 We've dealt with some difficult trials in the past seven years. For six of them we struggled to have a baby. This was difficult for each of us in different ways. I made the mistake at some points of thinking that it was really only hard for me, but once in a while I would see just how hard it was for Steve.

A little over two years ago we celebrated the opportunity to welcome a little boy into our family through adoption. Then a week later we celebrated the opportunity to welcome two little boys into our family. And our hearts were broken another week later when all of that crumbled. But Steve was amazing through it all.

I remember when were engaged my mom expressed mild concern that Steve didn't seem very "ambitious." She was afraid he might not be a very hard worker. I laugh when I think of that now and I'm sure she would too. Steve works harder than any person I know, not simply to make money but unto the Lord. I am so proud of all he has accomplished and continues to accomplish.

In February we embarked on a new adventure with an uncertain outcome. It was a risk emotionally and financially, but we took it together trusting in God through the process. And the Lord has blessed us with a healthy pregnancy. I am inexpressibly excited to get to know Steve as even more than husband, provider, and friend, but as a father now also. I can't wait to see him fill that role as I have known from before we started dating that he would be ridiculously good at it.

And now we're at another crossroads in our life facing more uncertainty as to where we will live and how we will do that. I'm stressed. I'm really quite nervous about the possibilities. I'm anxious about the next turn.
But really, I know we'll get through it no matter where we end up. I trust my husband to make the right decisions for our growing family.
Christmas 2013, both of us a little bit older and a little bit fatter.
 I am so thankful for Steven and all that we have learned and experienced together. I look forward to many more years filled with laughter, and probably some tears and shouting too. I wouldn't want to do it all with anyone else.

August 12, 2014

Pregnancy Update: 25 Weeks

How far along: 25 Weeks, about 15 to go (This is the first time I've realized that I only have 15 weeks left. At the moment, that doesn't sound like enough).

Showing: Ha! I feel like a whale.

Weight Gain: I think about 12 pounds. Like I said in the last post, I think my weight gain is picking up. I've been super hungry (and I was on vacation for a week since the last post, and I ate terribly) lately. I have an appointment on Saturday, so I'll see for sure then. I still feel pretty good about where I am with weight gain though, considering I was overweight to begin with.

Maternity Clothes: Yes, all my pants/shorts are maternity, though I have started wearing some of Steve's gym shorts around the house. They are so comfy! I said last time that I've been wearing mostly Target v-neck t-shirts that aren't maternity, but I think I'm going to need to buy some more actually maternity shirts.

Food I'm Eating/Craving: Bruschetta (I've made a big bowl for myself about five times in the past two weeks), Thai food, fruit, sorbet, French fries, and at moments tacos and burgers.

Things that Make me Sick: My morning sickness is back. Not to the extent it was before, but I've thrown up about once a week for the past three weeks, and I keep putting off breakfast until it passes. If I cough or bend over for too long, it gets me started. Sometimes I can breath through the nausea, but other times, I just can't stop it. 

Other symptoms: Difficulty sleeping (I bought a huge body pillow to help with this), major mood swings, super hungry, sciatic pain, general hip pain in my right hip especially after sitting or vacuuming, mild restless leg syndrome, easily short of breath, HOT ALL THE TIME, morning headaches (I think this is mainly from not being able to sleep comfortably). All of this is minor though. No major issues.

Pregnancy Brain: Um, I think I checked three different times to be sure I turned the oven off the other day, and each time realized I had already checked.

Miss anything? Wine, sleeping on my stomach, being even-keeled emotionally, and  (TMI for most of you, but in the interest of full disclosure for those reading this for a purpose) my sex drive. 

Best moment: A few days ago, I could feel Baby Boy's back pressed against my belly and made Steve feel it. He hasn't been super interested in feeling the baby move himself, but his eyes lit up when he realized the hard spot on my tummy was the baby. That was really cool for me. His comment? "Don't poke too hard; it might be his eye." My husband has a joke for everything. I really love being able to feel where baby boy is sometimes now. It makes me feel like I'm touching him, not just my huge belly.

Movement:  He's definitely moving a lot. Sometimes it makes my whole belly shake and other times it's almost like he's kicking toward the inside of my not the outside.

Gender: It's a boy! Cai Alexander.

Happy or moody most of the time?: I'm really struggling with mood swings. I HATE it. I feel like a different person. Even knowing that it's because of hormones and that I'm overreacting doesn't make it any less real or easier to handle. Usually it's about things that would upset me normally, but that I would be able to move on from quickly; instead I just lose it and either get really angry or cry for hours. It ruins my whole day. People crack jokes about pregnancy mood swings, but there is nothing funny about not feeling like you can control yourself.
It doesn't help that our life is kind of up in the air right now. Our house has been for sale for almost a year now even though the realtor expected us to sell it within the first three months on the market (we just met with her yesterday and she showed us that there are many houses in this area that aren't selling for some reason and that our house is well priced compared to theirs...for some reason it's just been a slow market lately). Our relocation package with Steve's employer is up at the end of next month. There are also some other possibilities on the table that I can't share at the moment, but it's all very overwhelming. I'm halfheartedly cleaning out my craft room/spare bedroom so my sister can move in there (she's been living in the smaller bedroom which we intended for the baby) in case we are in this house when the baby comes (which seems likely no matter what right now), but I don't want to get it set up (which I'm so excited about doing) and then find out we're moving immediately. Currently I have a huge pile of baby stuff in the corner of my living room that doesn't have a place yet. It's hard because my nesting drive has started to kick in, but I feel like I can't fully give in to it yet. I guess I'm just tired of living in limbo. Basically, the Lord is teaching me (again) to stop trying to plan out my life and to trust him for tomorrow. Apparently I didn't learn it well enough in the nearly six years I prayed for a baby.

July 22, 2014

Pregnancy Update: 22 Weeks

How far along: 22 Weeks, about 18 to go 

Showing: Yes. I think I've grown a ton in the past week. I have more stretch marks to prove it (sigh). I hope my bridesmaid dress fits on Saturday.

Weight Gain: 8 lbs. according to the scale at the Dr.'s office. The nurse said that's good. I have a feeling my weight gain is picking up now though.

Maternity Clothes: Yes, but most of my shirts aren't maternity. I've been wearing a lot of v-neck tshirts from Target in a size bigger than normal. They're comfy and fit well.

Food I'm Eating/Craving: Nothing in particular. I did make some homemade bread and a sort of sour dough starter. I made waffles today too. They were yummy.

Things that Make me Sick: I threw up on Sunday for the first time in weeks, and I've been feeling nauseous most mornings again. I think my hormones must just be out of control right now. I also spent over an hour crying on Sunday for a dumb reason, and couldn't stop even after the dumb reason was resolved.
Other symptoms: Difficulty sleeping and achy hips/lower back. I tire really easily when I'm not at home too. I talked to my doctor about some other things at my appointment too. She recommended that I start taking a magnesium supplement in addition to my prenatal vitamin to help with my headaches, hip pain, skin crawling sensation, and my tendency to pull muscles.

Pregnancy Brain: Just a little bit of difficulty remembering words and what I was about to say.

Miss anything? Sleeping well. Feeling rested after a twenty minute nap instead of a two hour nap.

Best moment: Steve felt the baby move on Wednesday. It made me cry, but he wasn't quite as affected. We were watching the new Planet of the Apes movie...

Movement:  Lately, little man has been moving way more. Like all day long. Every time I wake up to go to the bathroom, he's moving. It's great.

Gender: It's a boy! Cai Alexander.

Happy or moody most of the time?: Still struggling with anxiety and occasional weepiness.

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