Posted by: Babyblues | January 2, 2017

The Two Week Wait

January 2, 2017

effect-adversity-reveals

We are in the home stretch of our two week waiting period post transfer of our two embryos.  This is a crucial time for embryo implantation. Wednesday is the first pregnancy test, and the hope that the procedure is a success. Each day becomes more tense. I awake each morning and attempt to go about my business, but find myself worrying and wondering. I am unsure what is going on inside my body. Are the occasional symptoms I feel related to my Crohn’s disease, the hormones, or are they signs of pregnancy? In the alternative, if I do not feel anything does this mean that that the procedure was unsuccessful? My analytical mind is in full gear, and hindering my ability to relax.

Since December 20th, our lives have changed. The first few days we were able to keep busy exploring Prague and Berlin. Neither one of us showed angst or stress. We tried to enjoy our time away, and not to focus on what may or may not being going on inside my body.

Once we returned home, our moods drastically changed. Initially, the fatigue we experienced from jet lag made us both cranky and irritable. I endured not only jet lag, but the impact and side effects of the hormones I am forced to take to assist with the embryo implantation, and the normal fatigue I experience  from Crohn’s disease. There are days that I am bed ridden from fatigue. At times, I  burst into unexplainable tears. I am a nightmare, but thankfully Jeff stands by me and does his best to deal with my ever-changing moods.

Meanwhile, stress is heightened. The tension at times is so thick you can cut it with a knife. I often feel alone and unsure who to reach out to. I do not want to be a burden. I am not comfortable asking for help. Especially during the holidays when everyone was spending time with family and friends.  There were moments that neither one of us knows what to say to each other, the result of the fear of the unknown. Our fears often manifest in unhealthy dialogue. Once we calm down we are back to supporting each other.

To compound the stress is the limitation on my ability to exercise.  I miss the endorphins of exercise, impacting my mood. As a life long athlete, I have lived in the gym since age thirteen. The only times I have foregone weight training were my three prior IVF attempts, and for foot surgery two years ago. As an independent person, it is hard for me to ask for help. Especially when it is to a lift a bag or heavy item. I have to remind myself that it is for a good reason. I am not weak, but rather making a sacrifice for the hope of a child.

I know that this all a test. Another obstacle that we have the strength to overcome. I just pray that come Wednesday we will be on the road to parenthood. I am not blind to the long road that may lay ahead, but am hopeful that this time we will make it to the finish line.

Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

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Posted by: Babyblues | December 25, 2016

We Are ThankFul For You!!!

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

December 25, 2016

When Jeff and I started the egg donor journey back in April we felt alone and isolated. We did not know anyone going through the process. There were no visible support groups, no friends to reach out to for comfort or ideas. We navigated the best we could through unchartered and unknown territory. We buried ourselves in research and tried our best to work through our frustrations about our future.

From the moment I started this blog, the amount of support and encouragement bestowed on us through social media is truly amazing. From old friends to new, we have been overwhelmed with the kind emails, Facebook messages, texts and calls.

We are dedicating this blog to you. We love you and appreciate your support in our journey.

Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Love,

Burke and Jeff

Posted by: Babyblues | December 20, 2016

A Few Minutes of Pain For the Hope of a Miracle


December 20, 2016
We arrrived bright and early to Sanus IVF for the transfer of two embryos. I had the worst night of sleep because of the anxiety as to the day and weeks ahead. I was confident in our doctor, but there was still so much unknown. I was nervous because even though I went through two embryo transfers in New Jersey,  I was unsure how the procedure is performed in the Czech Republic.
After approximately one hour of waiting, I was rolled down to an operating room that looks very similar to the ones in the United States. As I was being wheeled down the hallways, all I heard being spoken was Czech. No familiar words, just the faces of two pleasant women. Once I arrived in the room, I was greeted in English by my doctor and two staff members. 

The next few minutes were uncomfortable and tense. You need to have a full bladder for the transfer, which makes the process and pressure being placed on one’s uterus that much more uncomfortable. 

The doctor started by inserting a speculum to allow for easier insertion of the catheter and then the embryos.  Once the  procedure began I felt pain, as he maneuvered to reach the exact spot for implantation. I tried to focus on the ceiling tiles and breathe deeply. In previous transfers, there was a nurse to provide comfort, this time there were no comforting words spoken. Instead I had to self-soothe.

The Embryos in Green Were Transferred Today


In a matter of minutes the transfer was done and Dr.Silhan showed me through an ultrasound where the embryos were placed in my uterus.

I was immediately taken back to my room where Jeff was waiting. I layed in bed with my legs propped up and awaited our next set of instructions. Within an hour we were ready to leave. 

As we headed to Prague I began to tear up because I know that the next two weeks will be torture. My normal activities will be limited and with every pain and cramp I will wonder if it worked.

Posted by: Babyblues | December 19, 2016

Try To Remain Calm

December 19, 2016

After six months of research and planning, and a journey of over 4,000 miles (by planes,trains and automobiles), we finally complete the last phase of the IVF/Egg donor process on Tuesday December 20th.  We are both nervous because this is not our first trip around the IVF Merry-Go-Round. Sadly, all three prior times did not result in pregnancy. We try to support each other and stay strong, but secretly we are both petrified. 

For the last four days we have waited anxiously for the daily updates from Dr. Silhan on the development of the embryos. We kept ourselves busy by exploring different cities (Prague, Kutna Hora, Omolouc and Pardubice), but found ourselves frantic to find free wifi to check for the daily updates. Thankfully each afternoon we received the following updates from Dr. Silhan:

December 15th (post collection of the oocyctes from the donor): the Embryologist performed ICSI on fourteen MII donor oocytes.

Day One: (December 16th) eleven fertilized oocytes.

Day Two: (December 17th) eight embryos continue in cultivation. Three embryos were excluded from cultivation because of poor quality. 

Day Three: (December 18th)

  • 3 x 8 cells embryos quality 1. 
  • 1x 2cells embryos quality 2.
  • 1x 9 cells embryos quality 1-2.
  • 1x 6 cells embryos quality 2.
  • 1x 5 cells embryos quality 2.
  • 1x 3 cells embryos quality 3.

Day Four: (December 19th)

  • 2 embryos of 10 cells quality 1
  • 1 embryo of 8 cells quality 1
  • 2 compactations quality 1 and 2
  • 1 embryo of 9 cells quality 2
  • 1 embryo of 6 cells quality 2-3
  • 1 embryo of 5 cells quality 3

The five day waiting period is a necessary component for embryo development in IVF. For anyone unfamiliar with the IVF process the following link provides a great explanation of the period of fertilization of the oocytes. 
http://txfertility.com/ivf/ivf-process/

For both of us this has been a period of high anxiety. Tomorrow brings the hope of a pregnancy, and the chance that our lives may change. We are hopeful, but cautious. The support of our family and friends is a source of comfort in this time of uncertainty.

Please keep us in your prayers.

Love,

Burke & Jeff

Posted by: Babyblues | December 14, 2016

We Finally Arrived


December 13, 2016

After a long day, which encompassed a one hour shuttle ride to Charles de Gaulle airport, a one hour fifteen minute plane ride from Paris to Prague (the check in and security process took longer than the flight), and one and a half hour drive from Prague, we arrived in Hradec Kralove (74 miles from Prague), and went directly to the Sanus Medical Center (http://www.czechivf.com/). We were warmly greeted by Dr. Vaclav Silhan and his English speaking nurse Petra. Since early September our modes of communication have been limited by geography to email and FaceTime. We were both happy to finally meet the man that will G-d willing help us get pregnant.

Neither of us knew what the facility looked like. We were pleasantly surprised by its modernity. Sanus is a facility that serves many medical needs including gynecology and infertility. During the course of our consultation, Dr. Silhan reiterated the standards that Czech Clinics must adhere to under law:

“Czech national legislation states that all fertility clinics require a valid license granted by SKUL (translated to the State Institute for Drug Control) in order to function. What’s more, SKUL has a duty to inspect the IVF clinics at least every two years. This license applies to all aspects of the clinics’ functioning, for instance organisation and management, written procedures and documentation, equipment, storage system of reproductive cells and many more.” http://www.invictaclinics.com/ivf-in-the-czech-republic-what-are-the-pros-and-cons/

He quelled our fears, and after gathering the necessary information performed a routine exam. We then discussed the medical plan moving forward which includes collection of our donor’s eggs and Jeff’s sperm on Thursday December 15th, and transfer of two viable embryos on December 20th. In addition, I will increase the necessary hormones to ensure that my lining is ready for the embryo transfer. 

In the course of our conversation, we shared the concern of many family and friends that we will never have the chance to meet the donor. Dr. Silhan provided two justifications for the privacy afforded to donors in Europe. The first is that in many countries, the lack of anonymity for donors deters many women from participating in the process, thereby creating a shortage of viable candidates. The second reason, is more emotional. It is his belief that a short meeting between the donor and couple will not be enough time to get to know her personality and relevant family history. He assured us that he and his staff spent time vetting our donor. His nurse was confident, after seeing me in person, that our physical characteristics are very similar. 

Tomorrow we will put our faith in science and G-D to create viable embryos that will hopefully lead to pregnancy.

Posted by: Babyblues | December 12, 2016

A Labor of Love

laboroflovelogo

For most people, labor day is spent enjoying the last official day of summer. For us, it was spent on Skype communicating with fertility clinics in Spain, Russia and the Czech Republic. Guided by our own personal questions and standard form questions we found on the Internet, it was our hope and intent to gather as much information as possible about the three clinics.

First on this list, a clinic in Barcelona,Spain (Barcelonaivf.com) We read great things about this clinic, but unfortunately it was not the right fit. In order to undergo treatment at this facility, a couple needs to be in Spain for three to four weeks. Realistically, we could not afford to be away from work for this length of time. We quickly scratched this facility from the list.

Our next call was with a clinic in St. Petersburg, Russia (Avapeter.com). The clinic is very similar to the ones we explored in New Jersey because it offers several packages, and the chance to see baby photos and brief descriptions of potential donors. The prices are on the high end of the spectrum for overseas, but it is attractive for couples looking for more options. The downside of the clinic is the requirement for United States citizens to obtain a visa in order to enter Russia. Furthermore, in order to receive a visa one must obtain a formal invitation to travel to the country. Despite this reality  were not ruling this clinic out.

Our final call of the day was to a clinic in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic (czechivf.com). Unlike the other facilities, we actually spoke to the doctor in charge. He was thorough and answered all our questions. This clinic offers a seven day package which includes accommodations and transportation to and from the airport ($5,290 Euros). 

During the phone call, we learned that European egg donation is an anonymous process. Information provided to couples wishing to use these facilities is limited to a brief description of both the physical characteristics, and interests of the potential donor. Donors undergo the same level of testing and screening in the United States.  Instead of the couple picking the donor, the doctor uses pictures of the couple along with their preferences to match up potential donors. Initially, we were both uncomfortable with the level of protection afforded to potential donors, but understood that we chose to go overseas and therefore needed to be flexible.

We were exhausted from our laborious day and still no closer to picking the proper facility, but at least we were on the right track.

Posted by: Babyblues | December 12, 2016

Money Another Obstacle

Infertility is both emotionally and financially draining. We were fortunate that when we did IUI and IVF, it was covered by insurance. Unfortunately, egg donation is not covered under medical insurance. Alas, the next hurdle, how do we pay for this procedure without going into bankruptcy?

4554937-money-falling-in-the-sky-and-green-grass-background-stock-photo

We consulted with two facilities. Each offering various packages and options, but none really affordable. A wave a fear crashed over me. I began to retreat to a dark and negative place, questioning if in fact this was a wise choice. I was upset that once again we were facing a mountain without the proper equipment to tackle and climb.

In the meantime, Jeff pushed forward making countless phone calls to egg banks, and agencies that worked with potential donors in an effort to gain information upon which we could better make our decision. In the end, we were looking at a cost of anywhere of $20,0oo to $45,000. A reality that made us both sick and sad at the same time.

Meanwhile, there was still a disconnect as to where to go and how many times to try. Jeff and I are different in our approaches. I am more cautious and scared. He can be more impulsive, especially if it is something he is passionate about. We were not making progress and more fights ensued.

Before our last consultation with a fertility center in New Jersey, we came to a compromise in therapy deciding that $25,000 was our max. We still needed to figure out where this money would come from. Would we take a personal loan or would we tap into our retirement savings? Admittedly, I was uncomfortable with taking money from our future, as I knew that if we got pregnant we would need this money to support our family.

In early July, we spent three hours at a facility in New Jersey. We met with a doctor, a nurse and finally the financial coordinator. After three hours, we were tired and when the numbers and packages were laid out in front us, the reality set in. This was not going to be easy. In addition to the exorbitant cost, is the wait time for a suitable donor. For anyone unfamiliar with the process, the couple is asked to fill out a questionnaire and the facility looks for a suitable match, which can be long depending on the pool of suitable donors.

We left with a sick feeling in our stomachs and a sense of hopelessness. Cost aside, neither facility worked for us. One felt like a factory, churning through infertile couples. The other is too long of a wait for a potential donor, as it is much smaller. Once again, we were back to square one, hopeless and unsure as to where to go next. Neither facility was the right fit. At the suggestion of friends and acquaintances we continued to pursue additional options, but nothing was a viable or realistic.

Not too long after, in an effort to figure out a more viable options, I began research with thr simple phrase, “more affordable options for egg donation.” I was immediately flooded with messages boards and information about options overseas. One article in particular piqued me curiosity and started us down a new and potentially promising path.

And so began our next chapter in the quest for a child….

 

Posted by: Babyblues | December 12, 2016

Can You Hear Me?

“You never know how strong your are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

Faced with our new reality for conceiving a child, the next few months were anything, but easy or pleasant. My husband Jeff and I struggled both individually and as a couple to grapple with our new reality. The more he pushed the more I froze. Our strengths and wills were tested on almost a daily basis. We both felt like hamsters on a wheel, and knew that in order to move forward with the next step, we needed to learn how to better communicate our needs and feelings.

After some research, Jeff was able to find a therapist who has first hand experience herself with the realities of infertility and IVF.  Our first session was emotional and raw. A wave of fears crashed over me. My insecurities welled up and overcame me. I began to question my value and worth as a woman and wife. We grow up, good or bad, with an ideal picture of marriage, which includes: kids, a house and a pet. Unfortunately, the most important component for both of us, despite our best attempts was missing.

For the past few years, I have sat back and watched my friends live what I perceive to be the pre-conceived ideal. My strength has been tested, and in many senses I had given up on ever having my own child. I felt like I was a disappointment to my husband and family.

The concept of egg donation re-kindled a sadness that I had tried to bury deep inside. Initially, I was not onboard or even comfortable with this idea. In my mind, I believed that  I would not have a biological connection to this child. Additionally, I felt like I was an outsider to a pre-consentual affair that Jeff was going to have with some strange women to create a child for us. Albeit, dramatic and completely inaccurate, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I struggled to make sense of this new reality.

Jeff was not completely comfortable with the idea himself, but instead of communicating his feelings, his pain and sadness manifested in counter productive words. He chose to dwell on what he perceived to be missed opportunities in the first two years of our marriage. His pain was heartbreaking, but refreshing. I realized that both of us were in fact on the same page. We desperately wanted a child and were committed to figuring out how we could make our dream a reality.

As we worked through our next few sessions, with the help and guidance of our therapist, communication become positive and productive. Additionally, thanks to the shared experience of a women who had successfully used an egg donor, I was able to see the big picture: a child that comes from an egg donor will be our child.

Our next challenge was to locate the proper facility to move forward with the process, another test of our strength…

fullsizerender

 

 

Posted by: Babyblues | December 12, 2016

The Ring that Rekindled Our Quest

Infertility both a blessing and a curse….

I have faced many challenges in my life. You may say who cares, I have my own problems to deal with. I am not asking for pity, but rather a chance to share my experiences. A forum that is judgment free. Perhaps there are others out there who have their own challenges and struggles, but are afraid to open up and share. Sometimes it is easier to open up to someone you barely know, then the people closest to you. I am blessed with family and friends, and therefore never really face challenges on my own, but yet I find that no one can truly understand my pain or frustration. Other times I feel like a burden, and think to myself why would anyone want to listen to my problems when there are far worse things happening in the world.

In the past few months, my infertility has once again become a hot bed of stress and conversation. Everywhere I turn I am reminded that I am a forty-two year old woman with no children. Meanwhile most of my friends are busy raising kids and basking in the joy of motherhood.

In the spring, I saw a friend I had not seen in quite some time. In the midst of catching up, she asked what I had done with the kabbalah ring she gave me years a few years ago jewish_jewelry_kabbalah_jewelry_hebrew_jewelry_jewish_wedding_ring_love_jewelry_jewish_ring_kabbalah_ring_blessing_ring_wedding_ring_israel_jewelry_holy_jewelry_love_ring_religious_jewelry_2__74557-13when we first starting trying to conceive.  This is no ordinary ring, to my friend and so many others, it is believed, amongst other things, to help infertile women conceive.  I confided that we gave up on ever having children. We had already endured three failed IVF attempts, one miscarriage and an infection. This is not the answer she wanted or was willing to accept. In fact, she insisted I come to her house so that we could talk in private  and she could share stories of other women’s struggles. This night was the beginning the of the third leg of my quest to get pregnant.

After that night, I was once again reminded of my failures, and fearful of opening up the door that I had for all intents and purposes was closed. Just when I was trying to convince myself that I was destined not to have children, a generous and loving soul pushed me to reconsider. While I could have anticipated the stress of restarting our quest for a child, I could never have anticipated the blessing of strangers. Women I have never met face to face opening their hearts and struggles, as I grappled with our new reality.

This blog will chronicle our journey for a child. A road that is not traditional, but will g-d willing bring us a child. And so began our pilgrimage for pink or blue…

 

Posted by: Babyblues | December 4, 2016

A Human Obstacle in Our Path

dont-let-the-behavior-of-others-destroy-our-innter-peace

We spent six long months navigating the egg donor process. We finally picked the clinic and were ready to move forward, but found ourselves up against a challenge that threatened our future. Namely, the unwillingness of a medical provider to stay true to her word.

In order to be able to use an overseas clinic for egg donation more efficiently, important medical steps need to be completed here at home. First, we both needed to undergo routine medical tests to ensure that we are free from disease, and healthy enough to participate in the process. This required both tests of our reproductive systems, and blood work to rule out any issues or problems. Thankfully, we each got the green light from both our  primary care doctors here, and our gynecologist Dr. Silhan in the Czech Republic.

The next step was to find a gynecologist here in the United States willing to work with Dr. Silhan in the Czech Republic to prescribe the required hormones to prepare my body for the embryo transfer. Despite the fact that these hormones are regularly used in fertility clinics in the United States, Dr. Silhan cautioned that in some instances, American doctors have been unwilling or apprehensive to prescribe the required medication. Their apprehension often stems from an unfamiliarity with the European names and dosages for fertility medications.

We were hopeful that my gynecologist, who knew we are pursuing the egg donor route, would work with our gynecologist in the Czech Republic. I asked Jeff to reach out to her nurse to gauge the doctor’s willingness to prescribe the necessary medication protocol. Initially, the doctor was willing to help, and requested the medication protocol prescribed by the Czech physician. Days later, the doctor changed her mind. She was no longer comfortable or willing to prescribe the medications, and gave no credible reason for her change of heart.

When I heard this news, I was overwhelmed with sadness and despair. In the midst of doing housework, I collapsed into a ball of tears. I saw her lack of cooperation as an impediment that we could not overcome. I was ready to give up. Meanwhile Jeff was determined to find another option. In his quest to find a solution, he reached out to a woman who serves as an American contact for the clinic in the Czech Republic. She suggested using a pharmacy in the United Kingdom, https://www.fertility2u.com to purchase the required medications.

We quickly reached out to Dr. Silhan, who in the midst of his vacation, prescribed the necessary medications, thereby putting us back on track. We turned what could have been a deterrent, the unexpected and unprofessional behavior of another, into a chance to use our creativity and determination to push forward to our goal.


Two weeks later, with medication in hand, I began the hormone treatment, and the doctor began to prepare the donor for a December egg retrieval date.

Our inner peace was once again restored, and now it was time to plan for our journey to the Czech Republic.

 

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