Friday, December 23, 2011

9 week ultrasound and exit appointment

Today was our 9 week ultrasound and exit appointment with Dr. Beltsos and Fertility Centers of Illinois. The babies continue to be growing strong. Everything looked perfect and they are actually starting to look a little bit like babies. They have little arm and leg buds now. It is amazing what a difference two weeks makes. After the ultrasound, we met with Dr. Beltsos and she released us to our surrogate's OB. It was really bittersweet. I am truly going to miss seeing all of the doctors and nurses that have become so close to me throughout this journey, but I know we will stay in touch. I can't wait to send them pictures of our precious babies in July!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

7 week ultrasound

We had our second ultrasound this morning. Our GS is exactly 7 weeks pregnant. It was an amazing start to our day. We were able to see both hearts beating strongly at 151 and 142. Everything looks perfect!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

First Ultrasound

This morning was our first ultrasound. Greg and I drove to FCI Naperville to meet our surrogate for the appointment. You will never believe what we saw on the screen....two sacs!! It looks like both of our embryos stuck. We even were able to see one of the heartbeats. The ultrasound tech told us that we should be able to see both heartbeats at next week's ultrasound. We are so thrilled. See below for the first picture of our babies.

Monday, November 28, 2011

3rd Beta

Our third beta was 27,546. We are excited at the prospect of twins, but are told that this is still within the normal range for one baby. Obviously, all we want is a healthy baby. We can't wait until our first ultrasound on Friday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Second beta

Our surrogate's numbers more than doubled! I just got the call. 4131!! One more blood draw and then the first ultrasound on December 2nd!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

So much to be thankful for....

This morning was our GS's scheduled blood pregnancy test. You would think by the sixth time, it would be a little easier to wait for the results, but it does not get any easier. I was so anxious all morning and my self-talk kept switching from positivity to negativity. Finally, a little after 2:00pm, I had a text and voicemail from my nurse and friend, Charlene, asking me to call her. I was so nervous that I did not know what to do. I ended up calling her back right away and I am so thankful that I did because she finally had wonderful news for us. Our GS was pregnant, with a nice strong first beta level of 1368!! I was so excited. I couldn't believe it. I started to tear up a little and I could not stop smiling. I heard congratulations from my doctor next and I immediately called my husband and mom. That night I celebrated at Wildfire with my mom, Charlene, Dr. Beltsos,  Dr. Feinberg, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, Meghan, and her husband, Scott, my other sister-in-law, Kellie, and my friend, Austin. Greg had been hunting all weekend, but came to meet us as soon as he got home. It was so nice to be able to celebrate the good news with family and some doctors and my nurse, who have become so much more than doctors and a nurse. I truly consider them my friends and feel blessed to have gone through this journey with them. Our GS will have two more blood draws and her first ultrasound is scheduled for December 5th. I am so excited to turn this "trying to conceive" blog into a pregnancy blog. So many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!! I feel so blessed and this day truly makes everything that Greg and I have been through worth it. Our baby is finally on the way.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Transfer Day

We transferred two day 5 blastocysts bright and early this morning. They were graded 4BB and 4BA. It was great to see our GS and her husband. They had a nice trip into the area and she was able to enjoy acupuncture treatments before and after the transfer thanks to my wonderful acupuncturist, Nanci Bankier of Natural Balance Healing Centers. Now starts that dreaded 2 week wait. At least with a day 5 transfer, it is more like a week and a half. I always have a hard time waiting. I try to stay positive, yet also don't want to get my hopes up. We sure will have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving if this is a successful cycle. Hoping and Praying....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fertilization

It's funny how when you are in the midst of your 5th fresh IVF cycle, nothing really phases you in the process. I have grown so close to my doctor, Angie Beltsos, and she always makes the process so comfortable and positive. She has such confidence that it is hard to lose hope when working with her. The night before my retrieval I had watched the latest episode of Private Practice. It hit home because one of the doctors on the show was going through IVF on this episode. In one part of the show, they showed her watching the fertilization of the eggs through a microscope. How neat would it be to see what goes on in the embryology lab. My most recent IVF cycles have been done at the Highland Park Lab within FCI. The medical team there really goes above and beyond for their patients. After our last transfer with our GS, they made the morning extra special by showing us the lab afterwards. This time I asked Dr. Beltsos if there was any way to actually see the fertilization of the eggs. I knew it was a long shot considering they don't actually fertilize the eggs until a few hours after the retrieval, but I figured it can't hurt to ask. As I have mentioned in previous posts, Dr. B. moves mountains for her patients. She asked her med student to try to tape the fertilization using her phone if she was able.

This morning I had an email with a link to a site where I could see some videos and pictures of the fertilization that takes place in the lab. I couldn't believe it! How neat to show this to our children someday when they are old enough to understand. Below is one of the videos of the fertilization.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Egg Retrieval


Yesterday morning was our egg retrieval. Dr. Beltsos was right when she decided to change up the protocol for this cycle. As she mentions in the video, she was able to retrieve 15 eggs. Of the 15 eggs, 12 were mature and able to be fertilized. Of the 12 that were mature, 11 fertilized. This is our best fertilization rate yet!!  We will find out tomorrow whether we will have a day 3 or day 5 transfer. Hoping and praying that our 11 embryos keep growing strong. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Post IVF Consult

I always remember the reason I love Dr. Beltsos so much when I see her for our consults. This afternoon we had our post IVF consult and even though we did not receive the news that we were hoping for earlier this week, Dr. Beltsos seemed to find a way to make us feel hopeful again. She took us back through all of our previous cycles, analyzing the results of each one and decided that we would try a new protocol with the next cycle. Instead of being on birth control leading up to the start of stimulation medications, I would be doing something called estrogen priming the month before. In all of my previous cycles, I had used what is called the antagonist protocol for stimulating the ovaries. This time I would be using the Micro-dose Lupron Flare Protocol. Finally Dr. Beltsos reminded us that even though we have had a lot of disappointments, this was only our first "no" with our surrogate. She remains confident that this will work for us. Her confidence is truly contagious. Greg and I left feeling that even though this first try didn't work, we were getting closer to becoming parents.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another no

Yesterday was beta day. I felt more calm than I ever have in any of my previous cycles during this 2 week wait up until Monday. On Monday, I began feeling a little anxious about the upcoming news. Beta day is truly a day in which you wish you could remove yourself from the rest of the world until you get your news. I tried to start my day off in a positive way by getting myself Starbucks on the way to work. When the end of my school day came and I still had not heard from the nurse, I knew that it was probably bad news. I was right. Another negative pregnancy test. :(

I was so angry this time. I feel like Greg and I have been through so much already and I can't help but wonder when it will finally be our turn. I immediately called Greg and my mom to share the devastating news. Then I had to continue my day by coaching my volleyball team. They brought a smile to my face at the end of a bad day by winning!! After my game I stopped by my friend's house to vent and get some support. I was also able to talk to my amazing and incredibly supportive doctor, Angie Beltsos, and my wonderful nurse, Charlene. Finally I got home to my husband who is a true blessing in my life so that we could grieve together. I truly can't imagine what I would do without him. He has been such a support through all of this, but I am definitely ready to put this part of our life behind us. Love you so much, Greg!!


We will meet with Dr. Beltsos on Friday to discuss the next steps. While yesterday's news was devastating, we are not ready to give up. We will be trying again when the time is right and are thankful to have a wonderful gestational carrier that is willing to try again with us.

Thank you to all of the friends and family who have offered so much love and support to us throughout our fertility journey. We would not be able to stay so strong without you. The road may be long and has not yet come to an end, but we know that we will one day have our baby and all of this will be a distant memory.

Hugs to all,
xoxo

This picture was taken just before our golf outing when my mom and I had a girl's night with Dr. Beltsos and my nurse, Charlene. Thank you Dr. B. for your continued confidence, positivity and determination. I know that we will get there soon. Love you mom, Dr. B. and Charlene. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Transfer Day

Yesterday we went to the Northside Summerfest in Chicago to enjoy the beautiful weather, hear some great music, see some friends and family and keep our mind off of our IVF cycle. While at the street festival we received the phone call that the transfer would be a day 3 transfer today. This is our very first day 3 transfer. All of our previous transfers were able to be done on day 5 with blastocysts. In the world of reproductive medicine, there are many different schools of thought as to whether it is better to transfer on day 3 or day 5. Allowing the embryos to grow to day 5 in the lab reveals which are the strongest and best to transfer. However, some doctors believe that the sooner the embryos are put back into their natural environment the better.  Due to our low numbers this cycle, our best option was to put the embryos into a healthy uterus as soon as possible. We are hoping this difference might be the bit of luck we need to make this a successful cycle, in addition to the fact that we are transferring into our gestational carrier.

Greg and I arrived at the Highland Park IVF Center at 7:15am. It has become a tradition for me to bring Starbucks on these early morning days and Dr. Beltsos was kind enough to treat all of us this morning. I was a little nervous as to how this all would go with me not being the one undergoing the transfer. All of the HP staff made us feel so welcome and comfortable. The embryologist informed us that we had 2 good embryos to transfer. We transferred both of them and I was able to be in the room with our gestational carrier. They showed us magnified pictures of the embryos and even gave us a tour of the embryology lab after the procedure. Our carrier also received a post-transfer acupuncture treatment thanks to my acupuncturist, Nanci Bankier, of Natural Balance Healing Centers.

I am hopeful, yet scared to think that our only two embryos are inside of our carrier. Greg and I continue to pray that this cycle will be successful and finally bring us our baby.
This is a magnified picture of the two embryos that were transferred into our gestational carrier.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fertilization Report

This morning we received the phone call with our fertilization report from yesterday's egg retrieval. Of the 14 eggs that Dr. Beltsos retrieved, only 5 were mature. Of the 5 mature eggs, only 3 fertilized. This was pretty devastating news for us. This is our last IVF cycle that is covered by insurance and we were hoping to have embryos to freeze in case the first transfer was unsuccessful. It just figures that things never go as smoothly as you want them to. Despite this setback, Greg and I continue to remain positive and try to remember that it only takes one embryo to bring us our baby. Tomorrow we will find out if the transfer will be on day 3 or day 5. Please keep us and our embryos in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Egg Retrieval

This morning was my egg retrieval. My mom came with me so that Greg would not have to miss work. He had done his part back in July. When using a gestational carrier, there are a lot of things that need to be completed ahead of time and sent off for testing and his part was one of them. We arrived to the IVF center at 7:45am and I began being prepped for the procedure. This was my fourth one so I am pretty familiar with the process. I decided to take pictures this time to document all that we are going through to bring a baby into our family.
Before the retrieval-my mom wanted to get the booties in the picture.

Before the retrieval-Dr. Beltsos and me.

The retrieval went smoothly and Dr. Beltsos retrieved 14 eggs. My mom took me home and I rested the rest of the day. The nurse will call tomorrow to let us know the fertilization report and we will find out on Sunday whether it will be a Day 3 or Day 5 transfer. We continue to pray and think positive thoughts that this cycle will bring us our baby.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Family of My Own Conference-Glenview, IL

This Saturday there will be a free Fertility and Adoption Conference in Glenview, IL. It was organized by Preya Shivdat, the director of A Family of My Own Fertility and Adoption Conference. I learned about A Family of My Own when I was looking for sponsors for our July Birdies for Babies Charity Golf Outing. I shared our journey with Preya and they became one of our hole sponsors.

Saturday's free event offers the opportunity to meet many specialists and professionals in the area of fertility and adoption. My Reproductive Endocrinologist, Dr. Angie Beltsos, of Fertility Centers of Illinois will be one of the featured speakers. She will be speaking about Third Party Reproduction. Beth Heller and Tami Quinn, founders of Pulling Down the Moon, will be sharing holistic practices to use in conjunction with fertility treatments. In addition, there will be sessions for those couples that choose to pursue adoption. My friends, Katie and Pat Davis, will also be sharing their personal fertility journey. It will be a great opportunity for couples in all phases of the fertility journey to meet professionals and share their stories with others. There will also be a chance to win a free IVF cycle. You can register for the event and purchase raffle tickets at the following link.

The Chicago Tribune just released an article sharing information about the conference.  Please visit the following link to read about Dr. Angie Beltsos, The Broken Brown Egg, Katie Davis and my own personal story: For infertile couples, help and support.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 16th Birdies for Babies Golf Outing


Yesterday was our Birdies for Babies Golf Outing at Tamarack Golf Club in Naperville, IL. We could not have asked for a better day. We had 60 golfers and another 40 guests that joined us for the reception. It was a little cloudy with a few drizzles in the early morning hours, but that didn't keep the golfers from having fun on the course. A special thank you to my sister-in-law, Meghan Patera and her friend, Emilie, for selling 50/50 raffle tickets and for taking pictures of all of the foursomes, as well as the Hole Sponsor signs. Another thanks to my other sister-in-law, Kellie O'Brien, and family friends, Debbie Holland, Nancy Taylor,  and Cathy Wermeling for helping out at the betting hole. Greg golfed with my dad and his friend, Nick. I drove around with my mom and mother-in-law to say hi to all of the golfers and sell raffle prize tickets. When we reached a foursome that my RE, Angie Beltsos, put together, she invited me to play with them. I spent the rest of the morning golfing with her group and had a great time. By the end of the morning, the clouds had parted and it was sunny and warm.
Registration

Golfers

Greg's Group

Selling raffle prize tickets with my mom and mother-in-law

Dr. Beltsos brought a foursome to our event. I played several holes with them. 



Following the golf, there was a luncheon. During the luncheon guests continued to purchase raffle prize tickets and bid on our silent auction prizes. Todd Trader, co-founder of Birdies for Babies, spoke and thanked all of the sponsors. Then Greg and I were given the opportunity to thank everyone for their support. I gave a special thanks to Dr. Beltsos who has gone "above and beyond" in terms of support from the moment she knew we were planning this golf outing. The remainder of the luncheon was spent handing out golf awards, raffle prizes and silent auction prizes. It was the most amazing day to be surrounded by so many family members and friends that are supporting us in our surrogacy journey. We are also thankful for all of the people that are cheering for us that were unable to attend our event. We can't wait to announce our grand total of money raised for our cause.
Raffle Prizes

Silent Auction Prizes

More Raffle Prizes

Thank you speech

Me and Maggie

More Raffle Prizes


There are so many wonderful pictures to post. If you would like to see all of them, please follow the link to my facebook album.



Friday, July 8, 2011

Medical Clearance

Two weeks ago Greg and I had the opportunity to go to Chicago to meet our prospective surrogate and her husband. They were coming into town for their appointment with my RE, Angie Beltsos. We met them for lunch before their appointment. Despite being 45 minutes late due to every single traffic light being out because of the previous night's storm, we could not have asked for a better lunch. Our prospective surrogate and her husband were an absolute delight to meet. We enjoyed the opportunity to get to know each other and were hopefully that the remaining medical screening would go smoothly. Our hopes came true. Our prospective surrogate was granted medical clearance. We are so excited to be able to move forward in the gestational surrogacy process with this wonderful woman. Our next steps include getting contracts written and signed, as well as preparing for an upcoming egg retrieval for me and transfer into our surrogate. We are so excited for the journey ahead of us. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers and things continue to move forward.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Eve Feinberg's North Shore Half Marathon



As I mentioned in a previous post, Dr. Eve Feinberg, a reproductive endocrinologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois, dedicated her run at the North Shore Half Marathon to us in an effort to raise money for our cause. To show our appreciation, Greg and I attended the race in Highland Park last Sunday to cheer for Eve. It was such a fun event. We were able to see Eve at several spots throughout the race. We first cheered for her around the 8 mile mark after she had come up a hill. Then we saw her in her final mile before the finish line. We also met her after the race to thank her once more and take pictures. Eve ran a great race!! Her time was 1:59:16. She also raised a grand total of $789 for our July Birdies for Babies Charity Golf Outing. We have chosen to use some of this money to sponsor a hole on her behalf and the rest has been submitted as a monetary donation. Congratulations to Eve on a great race and a big thanks for helping us raise money and get closer to our dream of having a baby!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Old Neighborhood-Hyde Park Ave/Elmwood Ave

I spent about 12 years of my life living in a two-story house on the corner of Hyde Park Ave and Elmwood Ave in Waukegan. It was a great house. It was 3 bedrooms and had 2 and a half baths. My sister and I shared a huge bedroom and my brother had his own room. The basement was unfinished which was great for rollerskating and pushing each other around on scooters and hot wheels bikes when we were younger. I also remember my mom drawing hopscotch squares on the basement floor for one of my birthday parties. However, the best part of the house was the huge side yard. Many sports were played with the neighbors and family in that yard. Every summer, we had a huge block party with all of the neighbors....soda from Glen Rock, a skateboard ramp, different sports being played, water balloons, etc. I could not have asked for a better neighborhood in which to spend my early childhood years. We moved to the other side of town when I was in 7th grade and fell out of touch with many of the old neighborhood friends, but whenever we would drive somewhere I would always ask if we could pass the old house. Such good memories were made there.

The years have gone by and I have not thought about that old neighborhood for awhile. I have found a few of my old neighbors on Facebook and just the other day was reminded of how special that neighborhood really was. One of the girls from my old neighborhood that I had found on Facebook sent me a message asking for clarification on how to make a donation to our July Birdies for Babies Golf Outing. I told her to email me the confirmation that she received and I would check on it to make sure things had gone through correctly. As I was scrolling down the email confirmation she had sent me, I was in shock by the amount she had donated. As I kept reading, I learned that she was donating on behalf of my old neighborhood. 

When she had read my blog for the first time, she contacted all of our old neighbors to share my journey and round up donations. Several of my old neighbors gathered money to sponsor a hole at our golf outing and make a cash donation. The sign at the hole will read: The Old Neighborhood--Hyde Park Ave/Elmwood Ave. Reading her email brought me to tears. I immediately called my parents and my husband to tell them the story about our old neighbors and their overwhelming generosity. 

I have mentioned in many past posts how in awe I am of the support that people have given us. This is yet another example of how people really do come through for you in times of need. I never would have expected this type of support and want to express my gratitude to the old neighborhood and everyone else in our life that continues to show us support. We are truly blessed!! 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

School's out....for summer!!

The end of the school year for teachers is often bittersweet. The months of hard work and dedication to all that goes into running a classroom of 20-25 students comes to an end. It is amazing to see the progress that each student makes academically and socially. I know that my job is finished with them, but it is still sad to say goodbye and begin to take down all that was set up in the classroom. I just finished my tenth year of teaching and my fifth year of teaching first grade in Lake Bluff. This year has been particularly hard for me for a number of reasons. It is now the second school year that has come and gone without a baby on the way for me and Greg. While these past two school years have been difficult with having to take time off for surgeries and fertility treatments, it is seeing my students each and every day that also helps me to stay strong and reminds me of my ultimate dream of having a child. This year my class presented me with one of the sweetest, most heartfelt gifts I have ever received. It was a serving plate that they had decorated with each of their names and thumbprints.
The class also gave me a Visa gift card. I have been thinking about what I would like to use it for and have decided to dedicate the money to our July Birdies for Babies Golf Outing in honor of this group of students. I am so thankful to work in a profession in which I am able to impact the lives of children in such a big way. They brighten all of my days.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Running for Our Cause

In my last post I mentioned another doctor at Fertility Centers of Illinois that offered to help us raise money for our July Birdies for Babies Golf Outing. Her name is Dr. Eve Feinberg. She is running the North Shore Half Marathon on June 12, 2011 in Highland Park, IL. She is dedicating her run to our cause and donating all money she raises to our Birdies for Babies event. You can watch her fundraising progress through the widget on the top right side of this blog site. Greg and I are so thankful to have her help and are truly amazed by her generosity. Her actions are just one example of the many ways the doctors at FCI go "above and beyond" for their patients. It is so important to be treated by doctors like this, that are not only medically knowledgeable, but also understand the emotional side of infertility. While our fertility journey has been a challenging one, I am truly grateful to have met some amazing new friends and be surrounded by such a wonderful support system. Thanks again to Dr. Feinberg!! Good luck in your race! We will be there to cheer you on.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Little Bit of Sunshine

So many emotions come into play when one is experiencing infertility. It begins to feel like you are on a roller coaster with the constant ups and downs and many unexpected situations that sometimes throw you for a loop. When Greg and I chose Gestational Surrogacy as our family building option, I felt as if a tremendous weight had been lifted. I no longer felt the same pressure to get my body to cooperate and carry our child. Because of this I thought that maybe this was the end of all of the crazy feelings that come along with the territory of Infertility. Through the planning of our July Birdies for Babies Charity Golf Outing, I have come to realize that I have shifted my energy from trying to get myself pregnant to trying to plan the best event possible. While this can be a great distraction at times, the same feelings still creep up on me from time to time. The twinges of jealousy each time I hear an announcement of pregnancy have not gone away. I am always happy to hear the good news of others, but it reminds me how sad I am that my body was not able to cooperate. I still feel like I am stuck in the "waiting game". Even though we are so much closer to having our baby, it is still hard to be patient and trust in God's plan.

This week seemed to be especially hard for me for whatever the reason. I would like to attribute some of it to the gloomy weather at the beginning of the week. One of the things that has helped me to stay positive and strong throughout this entire journey has been seeing my students every day at school. They make me laugh, forget my worries and remind me of my dream to have a child of my own. One student in particular brought "a little bit of sunshine" into my otherwise gray week and since then things have been looking brighter. I would like to share the story of how this student brightened my week.

I was standing with my class in the hall, waiting for them to go to Spanish and a sweet little girl that was at the front of the line looked up at me with big bright eyes and a huge smile and said, "Mrs. O'Brien, my dad is going to golf in the golf tournament." I replied with, "my golf tournament?" and she answered, "yes"with an even bigger smile. I had no idea if what she said was true or not, but to see her that happy to tell me that information reminded me of what an impact I have on the lives of children each day. She made me remember how much the children look up to me as their teacher. I sent the little girl's mom an email that night to let her know how touched I was by her daughter's comment. The response that I received from her mother further solidified all of the support we have around us. She told me that what her daughter had said was true. She and three other Lake Bluff moms were organizing a foursome for their husbands to play in our golf outing and sending them to our event in a limo. She went even further to remind me of what a special gift I have with children that makes me an excellent teacher and will also make me an amazing mother. I was brought to tears while reading her email.

This experience was the beginning of my gloomy week turning around. It seems that the weather has turned around, too, as I type on this sunny afternoon. Last night I found out that a new friend, who happens to be another doctor at FCI, is running a half marathon in June and she wants to raise money for us through her race and dedicate her run to us. I was overwhelmed by her generosity and willingness to reach out to me when I am not even her patient.

I also continue to be amazed by my doctor, Angie Beltsos, with each passing day. She continues to support me with phone calls, emails and meetings offering any help she can to make our outing a success.

It is little moments like these that remind me of how blessed Greg and I are to have such amazing and supportive people in our lives. The ways in which they show their love and support truly bring "a little bit of sunshine" on otherwise cloudy days. Thank you to everyone who has shown and continues to show their support for us during this journey.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Final Medical Clearance

Today was a good day. We found out that in mid-June we will get to meet our surrogate and her husband. On this same day, she and her husband will meet Dr. Beltsos and have the final medical screening completed. If all goes well, we will start drawing up contracts and be ready to start our cycle. It is exciting to know that we are so close to finding out if this is truly a good match. Please pray that things continue to go smoothly and that all goes well for us in June. As always, we will continue to keep you updated on things.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

I feel blessed in so many ways on this Mother's Day. The most important person that I celebrate on this day  is my own mother, Margaret McKeown. God chose her to be my mother when she and my dad adopted me at three days old and He couldn't have made a better choice. My mom is my best friend. Every day starts with a phone conversation with her, sometimes two or three. She has helped me remain positive when times are rough and is my biggest fan when things go well. I know that when I am a mother I will be a great one because of what she has taught me. She is the best mom a daughter could have and I love her very much.
I am also thankful for a wonderful mother-in-law, Janet O'Brien. I am so lucky to have gained another mother when I married Greg. She was so welcoming from the moment I met her. I am also thankful to her for being such a good mom to my husband, Greg. She raised a truly amazing son. He is my rock. He is smart, kind, compassionate and funny. I know that he will be an amazing dad to our children someday.
While I may not be a mother yet, I feel so blessed to be an aunt to an amazing little girl named Maggie. She amazes me everyday with all of the new things she learns. She is such a sweetheart. Her smile lights up a room and her laugh is contagious. I love her hugs and kisses. She is a true gift from God.


With each day, I am one step closer to becoming a mother to a very special baby. I am especially thankful to the woman that is going to make this dream come true.  I look forward to the day that I am able to celebrate this holiday as a mother, with all of the wonderful mothers in my life. I would like to close with a Mother's Day poem that I found on several websites.

“Happy Mother's Day”
It comes around every year;
but when you have empty arms,
it's very hard to hear.

It's a day to celebrate a mother,
for all the trials she overcame;
and a reminder to an infertile
of her loneliness and shame.

But what really makes a mother,
Is it just conception and birth?
Or is there something more,
that shows a mother's worth?

It's putting your child first,
in everything you do;
it's sacrifice and determination,
and love and patience too.

An infertile woman makes all her plans,
around a child not yet conceived;
she loves them even though they aren't here,
more than she ever could have believed.

She appreciates and understands,
what a blessing that children are;
she works hard for just a chance,
that motherhood is not that far.

All odds are stacked against her,
and yet she still has hope;
everyday is another struggle,
finding ways to help her cope.

So even though her arms are empty,
she can still be a mother too;
So say a special “Happy Mother's Day”
for those waiting for their dreams to come true!

 Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful women I know who are already moms or hope to become moms soon!! 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Busting an Infertility Myth



Myth:  Surrogacy is only for the rich or celebrities.

Busted!: When most people hear the word surrogacy, they think of Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman, or one of the other celebrities that has used a surrogate to have a child. Others might just think of dollar signs. Well, Greg and I are not celebrities(at least not yet) and we are definitely not rich. It is true that surrogacy is an expensive process. The cost of surrogacy can range from $50,000-$80,000. There are many fees associated with surrogacy including, but not limited to the following: agency, surrogate compensation, legal, criminal background checks, mental health examinations, life insurance, health insurance and other policies, and escrow management. 
 

The variance in the cost of surrogacy depends on a number of factors. Do the intended parents have a friend/family member that is willing/able to carry the baby for them or will they need to find a surrogate? Will they use an agency/infertility consultant to help locate a surrogate or will they try to find one independently? Does the surrogate have health insurance or will the intended parents need to purchase a health insurance policy for her? Is the intended mother able to use her own eggs or will they need donor eggs? The cost of surrogacy can differ depending on these factors, but like everything, there is a certain amount of risk involved in any path. 

Intended parents can find the money to pay for the surrogacy process in a variety of different areas. Some may have had enough time to save a portion or all of the cost. Others are lucky enough to have family members that can loan them some or all of the money needed. Another option is borrowing against retirement plans/insurance policies or taking out a Home Equity Loan if you are able. 

Our fertility consultant, Mindy Berkson, of Lotus Blossom Consulting, has a new ebook out in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week(NIAW) called "Everything You Need To Know About Navigating the Infertility Maze". She wrote this to help couples set clear expectations and explore financial options before embarking on their journey through infertility. It is her hope to help her clients become their own best advocate through the process. 60% of the proceeds of this book go to The Jude Andrew Adams Charitable Fund, the not-for-profit arm of Lotus Blossom Consulting. This fund was established to help a financially needy couple receive a complementary treatment cycle. More information can be found on Mindy's website

A final option for funding surrogacy is to search for any grants/financing options on the Internet. There are financing options available for couples that do not have insurance. Assistance for couples that choose adoption as a way to build their family is also available. However, there does not appear to be much in terms of grants for surrogacy. Greg and I were lucky enough to meet Todd and Melissa Trader, the founders of Birdies for Babies, a non-profit organization that was started to help couples start their families. Their annual outing in September, which is sponsored by Fertility Centers of Illinois, raises money for families that have to pay out-of-pocket for fertility treatments. Our special July outing will help us to raise money to cover some of the cost of the surrogacy process. 

As you can see, surrogacy does not discriminate. If it is your "plan b", there are ways to make it happen by taking the time to learn about the surrogacy process and financial options before rushing into anything. I would like to close with a quote from Mindy:

 "In my experience taking the time to build the foundation for surrogacy and pull together all the necessary pieces that need to accompany a surrogacy arrangement is the best approach.  In the long run this always maximizes chances of success for my clients and minimizes financial expenditures not just for one cycle, but for the end family building goal."

To gain a basic understanding of Infertility, visit http://www.resolve.org/infertility101
To learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week, visit http://www.resolve.org/takecharge.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fashion for Fertility and Golf Outing Update

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend an event called Fashion for Fertility at the Four Seasons in Chicago. It was a luncheon and silent auction to benefit Resolve, the National Infertility Association and to kick off National Infertility Awareness Week. The event was sponsored by my fertility center, Fertility Centers of Illinois. My mom, mother-in-law, Janet, and sisters-in-law, Meghan and Kellie attended the event with me. There were several FCI doctors present, including my fabulous doctor, Dr. Angie Beltsos. The best part was that a new friend that I have met was the main speaker at the event. Her name is Katie Davis. She and her husband, Pat, were the recipients of the annual Birdies for Babies golf outing last September. They are an awesome couple with an amazing story. We have become good friends and are so thankful to have their support with our July Birdies for Babies event. Things are really starting to come together for our golf outing. We are in the process of obtaining sponsorships and raffle prizes, as well as participants. Please visit our event website to register. www.golfinvite.com/bfbjuly It is definitely going to be a great event!

Monday, April 18, 2011

July Birdies for Babies Golf Outing

Greg and I are excited to announce that the website for our July Birdies for Babies Golf outing is up and running. A special thank you to Todd and Melissa Trader, the couple that started Birdies for Babies and Katie and Pat Davis, the beneficiaries of last year's annual event, who have helped us get things started with our outing.

There are many ways that you can help us with our outing. We hope you will consider participating in the event by playing golf or attending the luncheon. If you are unable to attend, there are many opportunities for sponsorship and donations. We appreciate anything that you are willing to give. Thanks for helping us and supporting our journey!

You can visit our website at the following link:
http://www.golfinvite.com/bfbjuly

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Birdies for Babies Fundraiser Date Set

Greg and I will be hosting our Birdies for Babies fundraiser on Saturday, July 16. 2011. It will be a golf outing at Tamarack Golf Club in Naperville, with a luncheon to follow for non-golfers. There will be a 50/50 raffle or raffle prizes of some sort, too. We are still coordinating pricing and exactly what will be included so look for more details to come shortly. In the meantime, mark your calendars for July 16th and get ready to help us raise some money for Baby O'Brien.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Upcoming July Fundraiser

When Greg and I first decided that we were going to pursue gestational surrogacy, we knew that it would be a big investment. In an effort to cover some of the cost we are planning for a golf outing fundraiser in July. We had the fortune of coming into contact with an amazing couple, Todd and Melissa, that are going to help us in the planning of our event. They currently have an annual fundraiser of their own called Birdies for Babies. It raises money for a couple that is undergoing fertility treatments and does not have insurance coverage or has exhausted all insurance coverage. You can learn more about their annual fundraiser at the following link: http://www.golfinvite.com/bfb

We are excited to be working with them on our own fundraiser in July. We will be sure to update the blog when a date is finalized and fundraising can begin. We know that with the help of our wonderful and supportive family and friends, we can raise a lot of money!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Match

Within a few days of working with Mindy Berkson, she had a profile of a potential surrogate for us to look at through email. Greg and I read through the profile and thought that this woman sounded perfect. Reading about her and her husband made us feel like they were people that we would have had as friends. Mindy set up a conference call for me with the potential surrogate. I was a little nervous, but mostly excited to speak with her and see if she would be someone that we would want to have carry our baby. During the phone call, I first shared some background information about me and Greg and how we met. Then I talked about our fertility journey and how we had come to the path of gestational surrogacy. Afterwards, the potential surrogate shared with me her background, past pregnancy and delivery experiences, and why she was interested in being a surrogate. The conference call went better than I could have ever imagined. We got along so well and seemed to have a lot in common. I felt very positive after the phone call and knew that this was a woman that Greg and I could move forward in our journey with. The next day as we were driving to Dubuque to visit some of my college friends, we received a phone call from Mindy telling us that the potential surrogate had liked us too and wanted to move forward in the process with us. We were so excited to hear this wonderful news!! It finally seemed as though things were turning around for us. There are still some more screenings that our potential surrogate will need to go through before our match is finalized, but Greg and I are very hopeful that things will continue to go smoothly.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gestational Surrogacy

At our post-IVF consult with Dr. Beltsos it was agreed that gestational surrogacy would be our next step. The condition of my uterus seemed to be the obstacle that was keeping us from success in our past cycles. Greg and I were very impressed with Mindy from Lotus Blossom Consulting, but decided to research some local surrogacy agencies before making a final decision. We spent the next few weeks exploring all of our options. After meeting with the other agencies and talking to other women who had used gestational surrogates, we made a decision to work with Mindy. We felt that she had the most experience and resources to help us find the perfect surrogate. We also really trusted Dr. Beltsos' referral. You can learn more about Mindy Berkson and Lotus Blossom Consulting at the following link: http://lotusblossomconsulting.com/

Greg and I feel very confident in our choice and are excited to start the surrogacy process. We know that we are in great hands with Dr. Beltsos and Mindy Berkson. We continue to pray every night that our baby will find us soon. We are looking forward to keeping you updated in our journey. Please keep us in your  thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

IFV #3 Pregnancy test

I traveled to the FCI Highland Park office yesterday morning for my blood pregnancy test. From my previous experiences, I had decided that I would work in the morning and take the afternoon off to be prepared to receive the phone call with the results. I had requested that my nurse or doctor be the person to call as I knew this could be a hard phone call to receive. Right around noon, I received the call from my nurse, Charlene, who broke the devastating news to me. All I could do was cry. In between breaking the news to family and friends for the next hour and crying, I decided that I needed to do something to make myself feel happier and as if I was taking action toward a better ending. I immediately contacted Mindy Berkson, who we had spoken to in December to find out how we could get started in the surrogacy process. During our January cycle, Greg and I had talked a lot about our "plan B" and decided that we would find a way to make surrogacy work. It was great to talk to Mindy and know that she would be able to help us through the surrogacy process. She sent us her contract to look over and in the meantime we would talk to Dr. Beltsos in a week to discuss this cycle and next steps. That night Greg and I prayed for strength, as well as a sign as to whether or not surrogacy should be our next step.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

IVF #3

I went through this third IVF cycle feeling a new sense of hope. My quotes were helping my start out each day in a positive way. I received many comments from family and friends that were enjoying my quotes each day. Greg and I were stronger than ever and really enjoying our time of prayer together each night. My acupuncture sessions were helping with the emotional stress involved in an IVF cycle, as well as the physical side effects from all of the medications. I responded very well to all of the stimulation medications again and my egg retrieval was scheduled for January 14th. Dr. Beltsos retrieved 25 eggs!! This was by far my best response yet. Of the 25 eggs, 22 were mature and 18 fertilized. This was incredible!! Five days later we transferred three beautiful embryos into my uterus. The next day we learned that none of the other embryos were able to be frozen. We were absolutely devastated, but focused on praying that the three embryos that were transferred would make a home inside of me. We would find out the results of this cycle on January 31st. We continued to pray and hope for the best.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Acupuncture

Since I had enjoyed acupuncture treatments so much during the Frozen Transfer, I decided to continue them throughout this third IVF cycle. I really enjoyed my sessions at Pulling Down the Moon, but I was traveling an hour to Arlington Heights once a week and it was not covered by insurance. Because of those two factors, I decided to seek out a new acupuncturist to use during this cycle. Through my insurance, I was able to find a woman named Nanci Bankier who has her own business called Natural Balance Healing  Centers. She is located in Riverwoods, which is much closer for me and treatments are partially covered under my insurance. You can read more about her practice at the following link: http://www.nbhealing.com/
I had my first appointment with Nanci yesterday and absolutely loved her. She is very knowledgeable about treating infertility and uterine fibroids and I felt very confident in this change that I was making. I was excited to work with Nanci during this IVF cycle.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New year, new attitude

Since I am a positive person by nature I knew that I couldn't continue with the negative attitudes and emotions that were prevailing after the failed frozen transfer. I decided to start the new year off with a new attitude. I made a decision to post a positive quote as my Facebook status every single day. Greg and I also decided to start praying together each night before bed. I chose a prayer for us that I found in the Fully Fertile book. It was written by Sir Thomas Merton and its words are below.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.