Friday, February 2, 2018

Our IVF Journey isn't over even with a baby on the way

In my last post I asked you to stayed tuned so I won't delay the results of our embryo transfer any longer....we are pregnant! We just didn't get pregnant with our first transfer.
 
We opted to have a fresh embryo transfer which took place just five days after our egg retrieval. I don't believe in looking at the past but I know some of you are going through IVF or planning to. All I can say is don't underestimate how invasive IVF is to your body. It was a combination of my underestimation of IVF and being impatient that lead to us opting for a fresh transfer.  Some studies have shown a slight advantage in frozen transfers but it is always best to consult with your own medical team before making a decision.

Having an unsuccessful transfer was difficult but we still had hope. We were very fortunate to have two other embryos that were available for us to try again with. Our medical team wanted us to try again with a frozen transfer right away. I on the other hand was not ready to begin another regimen of shots, blood work, and ultrasounds. In total we took two months off from IVF. This time off allowed my body to fully recover from the egg retrieval. We also took a vacation for some much needed fun.

In October 2017 we were ready to begin our frozen embryo transfer. Both types of transfers are similar but a frozen transfer actually required about five weeks of preparation before the transfer would take place. Once again I began taking shots. This time I only had to take one shot per night. This lasted for about three weeks until we were ready for transfer day.

I have been asked about how we picked a time to do our shots since they must be taken at the same time each day. We chose to do our shots around 9pm. This way we could get everything we needed done through the day and be able to do the shots at home. Now that doesn't mean that we were always home. There were a few times I had to "shoot up" in parking lots like when our good friends got married and the time we attended a broadway show. We even took our medications along to the NASCAR race in Martinsville because we weren't sure if we would be home in time.

Transfer Day arrived on November 8th.  Having been through a transfer once before I knew what to expect. Not going to lie when I say the best part is getting to take a Valium before the procedure. IVF is nerve-wracking so getting medical assistance to stay relaxed was alright by me. Plus the nap you get to take after transfer is some of the best sleep you can get.
My best part of transfer day is getting the first picture of the embryo.  Sorry parents of non IVF babies but this is where IVF wins. A first ultrasound picture is cool but it just doesn't get any better than seeing a picture of your baby when it is only cells, which you only get when doing IVF. 

Once I was wheeled into the procedure room we were able to see our embryo on a TV screen. Next comes the really fun part. We were able to watch as our embryo was transferred from the petri dish into the catheter, and then placed in my uterus. It is the craziest thing getting to see your future baby be placed into the womb. Thank you science!!
Us on transfer day in all our medical gear..and Jarrett sporting one of his goofy faces

Once again it was time to now spend the next 12 days waiting for the results. Waiting is the hardest part so this time we decided to get away for a few days. The day following our procedure we drove to the beach to spend a couple of nights. We took our dogs and just spent the days sitting on the beach and eating at all of our favorite foods. I highly recommend doing something like this if you go through IVF. I'm not saying that this is the reason why our transfer was successful but it certainly didn't hurt.

Some relaxing beach time

Finally the day came for the blood test to confirm if this transfer worked. It was the Monday before Thanksgiving when we got the call that we were finally pregnant. Hearing the doctor tell us she had
good news was surreal but it didn't mean we could just sit back and celebrate. In IVF you have to continue progesterone shots and take extra estrogen into your 11th week of pregnancy. That's right...more needles. IVF pregnancy's are also monitored on a weekly basis.

Baby Glass is due in late July. He or She will be the 14th baby born thanks to the Bundle of Joy Fund. Jarrett and I believe that all of this happened for a reason. We are determined to stand up for the rights of those facing infertility. I am actively petitioning my workplace to add infertility coverage to the insurance plan offered. Surprising fact, research has shown that adding infertility coverage can actually lower cost of insurance.

We share our journey through infertility and IVF to help lessen the stigma attached to it. IVF isn't just something famous people do, it isn't something that people chose because they think adoption isn't good enough. We do IVF because it gives us the best opportunity to have a family. The United States is one of just a few nations that does not treat infertility for what it is which is a health issue. It's time that changed.

We are going to keep blogging to keep you updated not only on the progress of Baby Glass but the progress we must make in honor of Baby Glass. We have dealt with the challenges of IVF and infertility. I am not afraid of any religious group who says IVF should be banned because it is not "god's will." Yes these people exist and are actively trying to pass legislation to make IVF illegal. I won't fear in taking on a CEO, member of congress, senators, organizations, or anyone else who wants to stand in the way of the rights of those with infertility any longer.

Baby Glass due July 2018
 




Tuesday, December 12, 2017

That is a lot of needles...

 Thanks to Bundle of Joy we had our funding and could begin the IVF process. We chose to begin our treatments in July when we had some downtime from travel and work.
Since we had already undergone the preliminary testing we were able to start the medications right away. Prior to ordering the medications we sat down with our IVF nurse to learn how to give the shots. I am not afraid of needles but I decided that Jarrett would be the one to administer my shots every night.  This was a great way for him to be involved and I could just focus on being relaxed when the medication was given.

One by one we learned what each medication did and familiarized ourselves with the various needles we would have to use. Our IVF nurse even had us practice the shots on a rubber stomach. We left the appointment feeling confident and ready to start. About a month later UPS delivered 2 giants boxes filled with needless, syringes, glass vials, estrogen patches, more needles, pills, sharps collector, and even more needles. Total cost of IVF medication was $3,600.  It looked like we robbed a Walgreens. A lot of the medications had to be stored in the fridge. Nothing crazier than opening your refrigerator and seeing vials of baby making meds next to the milk.

                                                                                
 Just some of our medications

Soon the day arrived that our doctor gave the go ahead to begin treatments. It started with a drug called Gonal-F.  Gonal-F injection is a naturally occurring hormone used to stimulate a follicle (egg) to develop and mature. This shot had to be taken at the same time every night, and was administered in my stomach. Next came a does of the hormone HCG, which is used for ovarian stimulation during IVF.

The first few nights everything went smoothly and I kept wondering when I would start to feel the effect of the medications. I had been warned about the weight gain, swelling, mood swings, hot flashes, nausea, exhaustion, bruising, soreness, etc. The first few days I had no signs of any of this. Then came day 5 and all of the above arrived. This was also the day that we had to add another shot to our nighty regimen. This shot was of a drug called Cetrotide, used to prevent premature ovulation.  As the eggs get larger so does your abdomen. Around 8 days into the shots my stomach was extremely swollen. I had bought a pair of stretch linen pants in preparation for this. To give you an idea of how swollen and sensitive my stomach was, I had to hold my seatbelt away from my abdomen because the belt touching my stomach would cause pain.

After about 10 days of treatment I was ready for what is called the "trigger shot." A trigger shot is needed to allow recovery of mature eggs that can be fertilized with IVF. This night of shots was by far the worst.  The swelling causes your abdomen to harden. This made the injections tougher to penetrate the skin and the injection site would bleed after reach shot.  After 10 days of shots my stomach was covered in several small bruises due to the repeated injections.

36 hours after the trigger shot it was go time. The eggs were ready for a process called retrieval. This is an outpatient surgical procedure where the eggs are removed. Then the eggs are taken into the lab and mixed with sperm. After that it is just a waiting game to see how many will become embryos.

                                                                                  
Waiting for our egg retrieval
                                                             
Each day the embryologist  would call and give us updates. (Embryologist are pretty much the first and coolest baby sitter a kid can have.) We ended up getting 3 embryos that were viable. This was a positive step because we now would have embryos to freeze.

About 5 days later we were back at REACH for our embryo transfer. This is where the embryo is transferred back into the body and placed inside the uterus. It takes another 12 days to confirm if the embryo implanted and is a positive pregnancy.


To be continued.....



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Find out why Everything is great


By now most of you have probably seen our Bundle of Joy surprise with Kyle and Samantha Busch.

Some of you told us you saw the surprise live on Samantha's snap chat, and many of you saw the photo Kyle Busch tweeted of us to his followers. Once that happened our phones did not stop going off.  Within just a few hours we were getting calls and text from family and friends. We even had strangers reaching out to congratulate us. That's the awesome power social media can have.

  No fan base is more loyal than NASCAR fans. Being a NASCAR fan myself, I can tell you that we will buy products just because they sponsor their favorite driver. NASCAR fans are very giving as well, and they often support the charities of the driver they cheer for. Bundle of Joy is part of the Kyle Busch Foundation. 

Now to most charities a $15,000 donation would go a very long way. When it comes to IVF however, $15,000 is only one round for one couple. Needless to say, Bundle of Joy is always in need of donations and creative ways to bring those donations in. Now if you follow NASCAR at all (or even a little) you might know that Kyle Busch sometimes can get a little hot headed. (Don't we all!!) Well back in March of 2017 he and Joey Logano tangled on the track which set of a chain reaction that would lead to us getting $10,000 for our IVF.

When Jarrett and I received our grant, there were media members present to help document the surprise. One of those media members was Théoden James of the Charlotte Observer. He wrote an article that was published about a week after our surprise. I loved this article because it tells where the funds Jarrett and I received came from.

I will let you read the article that I have linked below, because he does a much better job at telling the story than I ever could. I promise this is a great read about Bundle of Joy and Kyle & Samantha Busch.

 Read Now....

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER - WHY EVERYTHING IS GREAT

So now that you have read Theoden's article you know why #everythingisgreat.


Many of you have asked where you can purchase your own #everythingisgreat t-shirts at. You can get them here
EVERYTHING IS GREAT T-SHIRT

All proceeds benefit the Bundle of Joy Fund!


It has been really awesome when we see fans wearing the Everything Is Great shirts knowing that their purchase helped us out so much. We try when we see someone with the shirt on to thank them personally.

We promise to post some updates soon  on just how our IVF treatments are going.

Nena and Jarrett

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Bundle of Joy

The traffic in Charlotte is the thing I like least about the city. It's bad enough on a sunny day but when it starts to rain it is even worse. It was a rainy day at the end of March, that I was sitting in traffic on I-77 to drop off our Bundle of Joy application to REACH. REACH is our fertility clinic that came highly recommended to us.

Having worked in the NASCAR industry both Jarrett and I were familiar with the Bundle of Joy Fund. NASCAR driver Kyle Busch, and his wife Samantha created the Bundle of Joy Fund after they had their son, Brexton, through IVF at REACH. Kyle and Samantha wanted to do something to help other couples with infertility by provding financial assistance for IVF.

Once we received the news that IVF was going to be our only option we decided to apply. The deadline for that round of applications was only a few days away, so I worked on the application day and night. Part of the application process is both Jarrett and I had to write a letter to Kyle and Samantha. I had followed Samantha on social media for years and knew all about her IVF journey. Many times she would post something on her blog about the difficulty of infertility. So many times I would have experienced the exact same thing. This made writing our letters a little easier. We already felt such a personal connection with Kyle and Samantha.

Traffic finally cleared and I dropped off the application. I wanted our application to stand out so I added pictures of us, our families, our pets, and our hopes and wishes for our future kids. I had no idea when or if we would hear anything from the application. All I could hope for was that the application made it's way to Kyle and Samantha.

Around the middle of May I received an e-mail from Charlotte Motor Speedway. They said I had won a contest and had been selected to be the guest of Daniel Suarez for the NASCAR All Star race. If you know me at all you know NASCAR racing is my sport. I eat, sleep and breath it. I even moved from Indiana to North Carolina just to work in the industry. Early in our relationship I made sure Jarrett knew that he either had to like racing or he was out lol.  Lucky for him he fell in love with the sport too. (probably because in his mind he thinks he is a NASCAR driver)
Getting an e-mail saying I was getting free tickets to the race and getting to meet Daniel was a welcome surprise.

So on May 20th we drove out to the speedway for our meet and greet with Daniel.  I knew we were going to be in the garage area, and most likely we would be seeing people we used to work with. Sure enough as soon as we arrived we saw one of our old co-workers who is a camera operator. He said he was on the shoot with Daniel and would be seeing us later. What do you mean shoot?  No one told us there would be cameras!! I thought I would get a picture with Daniel but a full video camera production?! Good thing I did my hair and make up!!  Usually when attending a race I'm in a ball cap, tank top, and jeans. At least I was sort of camera ready.

We were waiting to meet Daniel when we were approached by a woman named Lori Halbeisen. We were told she was with Toyota Racing (She actually works for Kyle Busch Motorsports) and Lori was taking us to the Toyota Racing motor coach to meet Daniel. That was more than fine with us. It was about 90 degrees outside and this place had air conditioning. So off we went with Lori and a camera following us every step of the way.

As soon as we walked in the motor coach we were welcomed by about 3 more cameras and several other people we worked with at SPEED Channel.  All of this attention for us meeting Daniel Suarez?? This was more Dale Earnhardt Jr. level attention. The thought had crossed my mind before that maybe this had something to do with that application. I had revealed to Jarrett my suspicion of it all. He agreed that it was very odd we had just out of the blue won this contest (that we never entered), and when I received the e-mail from the track they used an e-mail that I hardly ever give out (but it was on the bundle of joy application.)  He didn't want to get his hopes up and I didn't either. Still this just wasn't adding up.

Now sitting in this small area surrounded by all these cameras I was really freaking out inside. All they kept telling us was Daniel was on his way. I kept thinking about what I would ask him. There was lots of pressure now that cameras were all around, and we were the only people there to meet him. All I know about Daniel Suarez is he is from Mexico and loves old Volkswagen Beetles.

Just then the doors opened and Kyle and Samantha Busch walked out. I knew right away what they were there for. I couldn't believe it. The entire time they were speaking to us I didn't register one word they said. I was just completely stunned.
Jarrett had a similar reaction. Even though he told himself to not get his hopes up, he was just never fully convinced we were there to meet Daniel Suarez.

Kyle and Samantha are awesome people. They took their hardship and turned it into something that is changing lives. To date 11 babies have been born with more on the way. It is all because of the financial assistance provided to couples from the Bundle of Joy Fund.

Jarrett and I  received $10,000. This has helped tremendously with cost. I can't tell you just how much things all changed the moment Kyle and Samantha walked through that door. The burden lifted off our shoulders was instant. We got back a feeling of freedom we hadn't had in a long time. Jarrett and I finally had something truly wonderful to celebrate. We hadn't had much of that the past few years.

Back to all of those cameras. This life changing moment was all captured for a feature story on Fox Sports and NASCAR Race Hub. Our old SPEED co-workers had been in on the plan all along.  After Kyle and Samantha surprised us we were promptly fitted with microphones and did an interview with Kaitlyn Vincie. All the years we worked at SPEED were spent behind the camera and now the tables had been turned. For our first national television interview I think we did pretty well. Click the link below to watch......

NASCAR Race Hub Interview

Kyle Busch Foundation Surprises Recipients of the Bundle of Joy Fund





Thursday, June 22, 2017

Where to begin


 

Not many of you knew Jarrett and I were dealing with infertility.  We are not the type who broadcast our problems to the world. We are the type who when faced with an obstacle, we just get to work trying to solve the problem. That is exactly what we did when we first visited our doctor to figure out why we couldn't get pregnant.

Our plan was to only reveal when we were expecting. We figured why make others feel sorry for us, worry about us, etc. Plus we thought this would be a quick fix. Well the truth is there is no quick fix for infertility.

In March of  2017 we learned we would have to do IVF if we wanted to have a baby. We had already spent about $4,000 out of pocket  for testing, medications, and other procedures. Now we were looking at estimate that totaled nearly $20,000. Unlike when you buy a car there are no sales on IVF. You can get a medical loan but they often charge huge interest rates no matter how great your credit is. All cost must be paid in full before you can begin treatment.

The vast majority of health insurance plans do not cover infertility, including ours. Unfortunately too many still view IVF as an elective procedure and do not view infertility as a health issue. We are here to tell you that infertility is NOT an elective. We did not chose infertility, and we did not do anything to our health to cause infertility.  Infertility is a recognized disease by the CDC. The good news is slowly more & more companies are starting to included infertility coverage in their health plans. 15 states even mandate that employees provide coverage. Here are some quick facts you may not have know about infertility.

  • Fertility decreases with age in both men and women

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 8-10% (1 in 8) of couples experience some form of infertility problem. On a worldwide scale, this means that 50-80 million people suffer from infertility

  • The average cost of IVF is around $15,000 per round, not including medications which range from $3,000 to $5,000 extra.

Jarrett and I wanted to start this blog to share our journey through IVF with our family, friends, and whoever else might find their way to this site.

We are no longer in what many who have faced this call the "infertility closet."

In our next blog we are going to tell you about two very special people who helped out us out.

 

 

Nena & Jarrett.

 



Our IVF Journey isn't over even with a baby on the way

In my last post I asked you to stayed tuned so I won't delay the results of our embryo transfer any longer....we are pregnant! We just d...