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Sara's Journey of IVF, IUI, & Surrogacy

My name is Sara, and our story begins back in 2009 when I met my husband at a small college in Wisconsin. We hit it off right away. He was sweet and funny, and I was sold.  Soon after, we got married, and in October of 2013,  we started trying to conceive. I thought for sure we’d get pregnant right away. I mean infertility was something that happened to other people, right?  Well as the first few months passed, I began to feel less confident. Even though we had only tried for three months,  I remember telling my girlfriends at Christmas that I thought something was up, but I pushed it to the back of my mind, and we stayed positive. The following year, we did some basic tests, and in November of 2014,. a year into trying, our local OBGYN thought it would be an easy fix to try an IUI. Brandon and I were both healthy, had all the working parts, and were doing all the right things. Three cycles later...and nothing. They said that anything more than three indicated a possible issue, and they suggested we look into new options.

We then spent some time researching adoption, attending meetings, and weighing all of our options. We were open to adoption, but the reality of adopting domestically hit us hard. Our hearts just weren’t ready.

In August of 2015, we went to Aurora Baycare Fertility Clinic in Green Bay. The people there were so kind and from the start they made us feel like we could do this. Dr.  Witmaack is an incredibly intelligent man, and we are forever grateful for his expertise. The care and love from the nurses was unmatched. You could see instantly that they wanted this to work so badly for each family.

Later that year, we were thrust into the crazy world of IVF-  shots, meds, appointments,  and an egg retrieval.  They retrieved 16 eggs and fertilized 11. In the end, we were only able to freeze two. I overstimulated on the medication- a painful and dangerous risk of IVF. They put off the transfer until my body healed and my next cycle started.

Since we had two frozen embryos, we started the process of getting my body ready. Then came the biggest blow to date- we began three separate  rounds of IVF...all  of which were canceled because my ovarian lining was not thickening. These few months were very difficult. We had found our answer, and one that did not have a clear fix. No matter what medication they used, nothing changed. 

 On March 11, we had a meeting with our doctor and he told us I could not carry children.  So  Brandon and I sat at a table in the office,  and I listened to him tell me that it just was not possible for me to do this alone. We had created  two embryos, and we had nowhere to put them. I knew so  little about surrogacy at the time. However,  God puts angels in the most unexpected places. Our nurse casually mentioned that her sister-in-law  wanted to be a carrier. She could not give me her information, but if I found her myself, I could contact her. So that day, on the drive home,  I messaged Heather.

Over the next few months, we prepped for the transfer. Thank goodness for Heather leading the way through this. There was SO much to do to prepare -- physically, legally, emotionally.  

On Sept. 20, 2016 we transferred one embryo. The clinic picked the embryo that was graded higher. Our  other embryo was refrozen and put in long-term storage. That next week we received the best photograph  in the world from Heather- a positive pregnancy test.  On Sept 30, 2016, our doctor confirmed it- she was pregnant!

We spent the next 9  months getting ready for our sweet little baby- a BOY who we planned to call Theo. Heather put herself through so much to bring him into this world.

On May 19, 2017 Theo was born! Our amazing life as a family of three began. I have never taken for granted all it took to get him here. He is smart, silly, loving, strong-willed, and kind. He is our little love, and we thank God everyday that He, science, and Heather all worked hard to make him possible.

As we happily watched Theo grow, it was hard not to think about our other embryo.   We knew we wanted to go through another  transfer, but we didn’t know if it was possible.  Heather’s labor and delivery was not easy, and her doctor advised that she not carry again for her own health.  We understood, and we began to brainstorm other options. 

One person that immediately came to mind was my wonderful cousin Lauren. She  had casually talked about how she might be able to carry our next  baby. Just like with Heather, it was hard to imagine someone so selfish that they would go through this for us. I remember at a Christmas party with our family, Lauren said to me- , “No, I really will do it!”  Ahhh! So the next few months we began the steps of preparing for transfer. Once Lauren moved back from South Carolina with her family, we really got things going. 

In May of 2019, although we still had one embryo from our first round of IVF  We knew that this embryo was graded lower and had been frozen, thawed, refrozen, and would  need to be thawed  for the next transfer. It was a lot to expect from a tiny little bean. So, we decided to do IVF again and see if we could create more embryos, and we did! We had three embryos to use. We were thrilled, but this really took a toll on my body physically. Brandon and I felt blessed, but exhausted.

On Sept 19, 2019-  We transferred two embryos into Lauren. The embryologist felt the two best embryos were two we had created earlier in the year.  The transfer went well, and we felt good about everything. However, after a long, hard week we found out the transfer failed.  October was a really hard month, but Lauren said  she wanted to try right away again. We did too. On Nov 27, the day before Thanksgiving, we transferred our last two embryos (one created in Nov 2015 and one in May 2019).  We called these our little “Hail Mary” babies. They were our last shot , and it was a long one. They were our two worst rated embryos of the five and the transfer didn’t go very smoothly. 

Well the little fighters worked hard because on Dec 2,  Lauren texted us a picture of a positive pregnancy test.  On Dec 6, our doctor confirmed that she was indeed pregnant. We were elated. Those few weeks were SO fun. We loved celebrating the holidays with our family knowing that it had been successful.

On Dec 26, we went in for an ultrasound in the morning.  Lauren’s HCG numbers had been high, and she was feeling nauseous already, so we thought something could be up. Our doctor showed us two little flickering heartbeats. It still feels so unreal...how six years later we are preparing to welcome twins into our family and into this world. 

Sadly, at 10 weeks, we lost one of the babies. We prayed constantly that our other baby would hang on. In March of 2020, we learned that this baby was a GIRL, and my husband and I both cried. 

Our sweet Madeline was born on August 10 of last year. She is our happy, giggly ray of sunshine. 

 

It is never lost on us how blessed we are. 6 years ago, our hope was dwindling and I cried often. However, thanks to two angels here on Earth, Heather and Lauren, the power of Science, and a whole lot of help from above, we have our family. One positive to come from this is that I try to  be a light for those who are on their own journey. Infertility can be extremely  isolating, and often others just need to know that someone is listening. I hope in the future I can walk beside couples who are in the same spot we once were and be a beacon of hope as they continue to fight for their families.

 

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