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  • Writer's pictureLynn

Our IVF journey

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

Lately I've been thinking a lot about our IVF journey. 3 years ago today we were in the middle of our fertility treatments. Between the memories on facebook popping up and the pictures in my phone from this time, it's crazy to think where we were then and where we are now.

It's not something I'm shy in talking about but I'll be completely honest with you... I don't usually talk about it unprompted because I have a weird feeling akin to survivors guilt.

That may sound overdramatic or even strange to some, but as my old therapist used to say to me, "your feelings are yours and it doesn't make them wrong or right, it's just how you feel."

So, what do I mean by this? Well, I'll happily tell you the whole story in a second, but the CliffsNotes version is that we only went through one round of IVF and completely skipped any other options before just diving head first into the full treatment. We did this because we didn't have the money to try other options that our doctor didn't think would work for us and we tend to be the kind of people who just got for it anyway. Spoiler alert... it worked. Right away. Just like that. So, for me, sometimes it's hard to want to talk about it and how lucky we are because I just know the heartbreaking stories of so many that have tried IVF and haven't been successful.

This doesn't mean that I don't recognize and give thanks for our success. It just means that I recognize that I am not an authority on this subject. We didn't go through the trials and multiple rounds and letdowns that others have. I recognize that we are some of the lucky ones. We didn't have the hardest route, but we didn't have the esiest either. I suppose that is similar to how I view life too. But that sounds like a whole other blog post! So, here goes...

It’s funny to look back at that time and remember all the thoughts and fears and emotions (so many emotions!) and feel them as a memory. Because when you’re in the middle of something so momentous and life changing every breath can feel like an eternity. As if nothing else in the whole world matters and nothing else could possibly be happening. ⠀

Danny and I got married later in life. I was 33 and he was 32 on our wedding day. We wanted to be married for a minute but knew that we also wanted a family and so we didn't want to wait very long to start having kids. We were married in September of 2014 and I went off birth control in May of 2015. Life and work was always busy and crazy for us so we decided to start tracking cycles and actively trying pretty soon after that, but because of the hustle and bustle of life it wasn't always easy to try when we should be. My husband traveled a lot for work. And when I could I would go visit, but to be honest, I wasn't necessarily making my travel plans around my fertility cycles. So when we had been trying on our own for a little while and weren't having any luck we decided to start the process of getting tested to make sure that we weren't facing any medical road blocks.

Turns out that it was a good thing that we decided to get checked because we found out that my husband had issues with his sperm that were the likely culprit to our lack of little ones so far. Thankfully all of my tests came back with no issues. Let me tell you, when you are going to face a difficulty in getting pregnant and having a successful full term pregnancy, this is the best case scenario.

As a hairdresser, I know and meet a lot of people. Thankfully I happen to have a few amazing women in my chair that helped me navigate the hard job of finding the right specialist for us. My gynecologist who we did our initial testing through was not the right person to take us through this journey. However, when we met Dr. Robert Boostanfar at HRC Fertility Clinic in Sherman Oaks, CA it was an immediate feeling of trust. We knew that he was the man to help us create our family.

We had our first meeting with Dr. B on October 23, 2017. We had a few more tests done at his request and then met back up again on November 15th to go over what those results looked like. We came up with a plan on that date based on what the tests had shown and what he thought the best course of action would be. Because it was the holiday season and adding on that additional stress and obligations to this hairdresser's already crazy busy season was not the best idea to start treatments immediately. So we scheduled one final meeting for December 15th to finalize the plan and order the first drug. It was really coming together at that point.

I took my first estrogen pill on January 1, 2018 while we were out of town to be with family in London. It was not the trip we anticipated it would be and we returned home from our difficult trip to start the next part of the process. We scheduled our trip specifically around the calendar we had made with Dr. B so that when we came home I would get one more set of bloodwork and levels taken to ensure that my body had been properly responding to the medication and that it was ready for the next step.

I'll never forget what he told us in the exam room that day. We had just experienced a tremendous amount of stress and sadness in the loss of our loved ones and we were concerned about what that would mean for my body and possible success of the treatment. He said... "I can't tell you how your head and heart are feeling, I can only tell you what your body says. And your body says, I'm ready to have a baby."

And that was that. We never looked back. The shots and post transfer drugs were ordered and delivered later that week.

'Dr. D', as my husband liked to call himself, was on duty and gave me my first shot on January 14, 2018.

I know that I had been on oral medications for two weeks but I'd been taking vitamins and supplements for months in anticipation. This first shot felt very different. This was when it felt concrete. We were really doing this now. The shots went on for a little less than 2 weeks. That was just how quickly my body was responding to it all.

The craziest and hardest shot to take was the HCG shot. Let me also let you in on a little secret... I HATE NEEDLES!!!! This was a fear that I really had to come to grips with during the whole process. It wasn't easy, but, when you know what the result of facing that fear could be, you take those pokes like a champ! That said, the HCG shot was the worst from the fear point of view. It was the biggest and most intimidating of all the shots we had to administer. It had to be given at an extremely precise time in order to drop the eggs in time for the egg retrieval surgery.

Anyway, Danny had to wake me up in what felt like the middle of the night (even though in reality I think it was 11:30pm) to take the shot. I was so anxious and worked up over it that I almost passed out. But eventually recovered and went back to bed.

Also, another weird side note that I had NO idea was coming in this whole process that no one talked about... by the time retrieval day came my ovaries were HUGE! And also quite tender if I'm being totally honest. I mean, the point of the shots is to stimulate and grow as many eggs as possible so that they can retrieve and fertilize them to get the highest number of possibilities for a successful transfer. But man, you could literally see them like two weird round humps through my pants. Again I say, because I wasn't the patient with the issue, my results in so many of these aspects was above average because I wasn't facing the same kind of hurdles as so many others. It didn't make it all less weird though.

All the while I was constantly getting blood work and ultrasound exams to monitor the growth and health of everything that was happening.

January 26, 2018 we arrived at the surgery center for the egg retrieval surgery. It was a very scary day especially because I had never really ever had surgery before. I knew that it was an exciting day, but I was still very nervous nonetheless.

The surgery was easy enough... especially because I was under anesthesia and didn't have to do anything. lol. We went home, rested for the remainder of the day and just followed instructions until we got the call a few days later on how many eggs took to fertilization and were growing.

We were so excited to learn that Dr. B was able to retrieve 17 eggs. 12 fertilized properly through the special PICSI process that we did because of the specific fertility issue that we faced.

We continued to wait and see how those eggs grew and at what point the doctor thought it was prime to do the transfer.

I will also note that we chose not to do any of the genetic testing on any of our eggs. This was for many reasons, but the biggest one being that had we been able to get pregnant through traditional means we wouldn't be doing any testing then so why do it now. We would just be forever grateful to have a baby. Plus, we had done all of the intense genetic testing on the two of us to make sure that we weren't carriers for anything that we needed to be concerned about. This helped give us peace of mind that we didn't feel the need to do anything above and beyond that.

Skipping the additional genetic testing meant that we could do an immediate 'fresh transfer' and not have to wait a full month for a frozen transfer or wait for my cycle to line up with when it would naturally be dropping and nurturing a possible pregnancy again.

January 31, 2018 we were scheduled for our big day. TRANSFER DAY!

It was a crazy experience. The doctor came in with a sheet of paper and showed us all our babies!!! There they were. All of the fertilized eggs (zygotes). If this worked we were picking which baby we would have. Crazy doesn't really even begin to describe it.

We talked through which ones he thought were our best possibilities. He pointed out 4 that were our best options. Those were the ones that had grown well and started to split and form new cells, which is a good indication that once implanted it should be able to continue to grow. We ultimately made him choose which ones to implant because, well, he is a DOCTOR and we are a hairdresser and a tv producer. So, clearly he is the expert and we are just 2 people who want to be parents. haha. I mean, who goes to that appointment and makes that decision and not the doctor? But maybe that's just my opinion.

Based on my age, health and quality of the eggs and anything else pertinant to his equation, Dr. B recomended implanting 2 eggs. I talked through my fear of having twins, but he assured me that with all of the important factors at play, this was the best move to help ensure a pregnancy. So we agreed and he went off to get our kid!

Dr. B came back into the room with the 2 chosen eggs and went through the formal procedure of confirming my identity and the eggs. And then the three of us watched as he implanted the eggs directly into my uterus.

Did you catch that? We watched on the screen as Dr. Boostanfar implanted our baby into my womb!!!!!!

31 days after the first pill was taken we took the picture above. A VERY SURREAL picture. It is the screen frozen on the exact moment that our incredible doctor put our embryos inside of me. ⠀

I remained on the table for about 30 minutes ( I think technically it was less because I had to pee so incredibly bad because you have to do the procedure with a full bladder to see everything clearly). Anyway, after I was allowed to move and get off the table I looked at Danny and we both started crying with joy, excitement and anticipation. We could be parents. So we took this picture and I remember him saying that we could have just taken our first family photo. ⠀

I am crying now just thinking of that moment.⠀

It was suggested to me by my amazing nurse that she had always seen higher success rates amongst her patients who did a full weeks bedrest after transfer. And considering the money and the stress and all of the hopes we had riding on this, I was happy to sit around and do nothing for a week to help ensure the best possible outcome for the procedure.

When the big day came to find out if we were successful or not we were told that our nurse would be calling us and we scheduled a time so that we could be together to hear the news. But like so many things in our journey to have a family, it didn't go quite as we imagined. But... here is a great video to share just how we found out!

It's not very often that the husband gets to tell the wife that she is pregnant, but that's exactly what happened. I'm not sad about it though, what a great story for us to tell!

The next few weeks were filled with lots more doctor visits, blood draws and ultrasounds to keep an eye on everything. I remember having to explain to my husband how rare it was to get so many appointments and images with a doctor at such an early stage of pregnancy. He didn't realize that most women don't see their doctor until they are around 8 weeks along. The day that we "graduated" from our fertility clinic felt like a really important day. My first visit to a regular OBGYN definitely felt like old hat by the time we got there. We were on our way to being parents. It was a beautiful time that I'll never forget.

We feel so blessed to have had a successful full term pregnancy that resulted in the cutest baby ever! Go ahead and argue with me... you will lose. She is the cutest EVER! 😉

I also wanted to share this great picture of when Emerson got to meet Dr. B for the first time! It was such a fun day and what an amazing and memorable experience to introduce our daughter to the man who helped create her.

I don’t share this story and these pictures to say, look at us! We are so great. It was so easy! No no no no no!!!! I share this because we are SO LUCKY. ⠀

The process of going through IVF can be a myriad of so many different types of stories. If I’ve learned anything it is this, it is so different for each person that goes through it. We just happen to be a success story. Who knows what the next time will bring. It may not be so easy. It may be heartbreaking. So many stories are. In fact as some of you might know, we experienced a miscarriage in March of 2020. So who knows what is in store for us in the future.

Our story is this... we could not have been blessed with a more perfect child for us. Emerson Rose is absolutely amazing and she is our precious miracle. We love her so much and are so grateful to modern medicine and our whole team of doctors and nurses who helped us bring her into this world. ⠀

We are so fortunate. And for those of you who have gone through it, are going through it or will someday go through it... I am here for you! If you need prayers, a hug or just something/someone to distract you... I got you!!! ⠀

We are part of a special group of warriors. Any time need baby dust or sticky vibes sent your way... I am here to help and support.⠀

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