Good morning and TGIF my friends!
I am so ready for a very low key weekend at home with Trevor and Zain and couldn’t be more excited about it. Today’s post is a long one, so grab your cup of coffee and curl up 🙂 I have covered most of our infertility back story on the blog previously so if you missed any of that, you can check it out here.
I thought I would share a bit about this most recent trip, our plans, why we continue to choose CCRM Fertility and answer all the questions you all sent in! This most recent trip was a check in for myself since Trevor and I are exploring the idea of a second child. It’s an interesting feeling because both Trevor and I feel very content and happy with our family the way it is.
I think Trevor would be fine never trying for another child but there are so many aspects of having siblings that we both love. Trevor is one of 3 (he has a twin and a little brother) and I have an older brother. You can never predict how a sibling relationship will play out but we both like the notion of Zain having someone else in his immediate family other than the two of us.
We went back and forth about it for a while and since our situation isn’t one where we can say ‘if it happens, it happens’ we have to be a little more proactive about it. I will be turning 35 at the end of September and although my embryos are 31 years old, I am physically not and always have that in the back of mind. My parents, especially my mother, help us so much and everything would be easier in theory the sooner we do it.
With time looming in the back of our mind, we decided to go ahead and make that first step. Our last trip to CCRM 3 years ago was a full retrieval and IVF cycle, which was much longer. During a full cycle you spend a few weeks ‘stimulating’ your body for an egg retrieval. After the retrieval is done you wait to see how many fertilize and then in our case, how many are genetically normal. We chose to do genetic testing on our embryo’s and are so happy we did.
This time around would just be a frozen embryo transfer or FET, so we would just be making two shorter trips to Denver. This first one is what I just traveled for and consisted of some testing and bloodwork. Since it’s been over a year since my last workup, I am required to do it again.
I shared my agenda over on Instagram stories but it essentially consisted of an ultrasound, lab work, financial consult, nurse consult, hysteroscopy and a regroup with our doctor. If Louisville offered more nonstop flights to and from Denver I would have gone and come back in the same day but I ended up having to stay the night and fly back the next afternoon. Overall, it was relatively painless and if everything looks good, we would choose when we wanted to attempt our transfer. We haven’t gotten much farther than that but once we do, I promise to keep you all updated!
Now, onto some of your questions: For a few of these, I reached out to Dr.Kondapalli of CCRM to get her expertise and shared both mine and her answers!
Why do you go all the way to Denver?
CCRM is the fertility center where we originally did IVF and conceived Zain. I had previously been seen at a center in Chicago and was not happy with the care so we started to explore other options. We had heard from friends and our own research how great the clinic was and upon stepping into it, we knew we made the right choice. The care and results they deliver are nothing like I’ve ever seen before.
CCRM delivers some of the highest IVF success rates in the industry. It’s essentially why we chose the clinic and I continue to recommend them now. They really are dedicated to offering prospective parents the fastest path to the healthiest baby.
Unlike several other fertility clinics that outsource their specialists and testing, CCRM leverages its own data, as well as houses a dedicated team of in-house reproductive endocrinologists, embryologists and genetic scientists in order to deliver consistent, successful results which was so important to us.
Our thought process was that we knew this road would be painful and if we could, we wanted to be at the best place possible and make the journey as smooth as we could. We felt like that place was CCRM and continue to believe it.
How can I empathize better with friends going through it?
Love that this is a question and everyone is becoming more aware of how common this struggle can be! I shared an entire post all about this earlier this year.
How many months did you ‘try’ before seeing a specialist?
Me: We tried for a full 12 months before making an appointment but I always felt something was off and wish I had gone in sooner. I believe the general rule is 12 months and if you are over 35 they recommend seeing a specialist after 6 months.
Dr.Kondapalli: This depends on a woman’s age—12 months for women under 35 vs 6 months for women 35 and older
How many follicles do you need before doing a retrieval in Denver?
Me: As far as I know there is no magic number, everything is personalized to your situation. I do know that they offer a treatment plan for people who may have a lower number where they go through the stimulation and retrieval process 3 times before moving on. This way they retrieve a substantial number of follicles to work with.
Dr.Kondapalli: At CCRM, we don’t have a minimum required follicle count to proceed with retrieval. This number has so much variation across women—some patients will only have one follicle and we will try to get that retrieval if the patient wishes to move forward.
Why wouldn’t it be possible?
I think this is referring to me mentioning on Instagram stories that we weren’t sure if another baby was in the cards for us. I say that just because nothing is ever guaranteed. I have plenty of friends who had no problem having their first child and now have secondary infertility or vice versa. After struggling with infertility, I try to remain realistic about our situation and not get overly excited.
How did you know your doctor was the right fit?
Oh geez, I knew from the minute I met her. She was the perfect mix of science, data and support I had hoped for. Even now when I see her, I feel like I’m talking to an old friend and I’m so thankful for everything she has done for our family. If you don’t feel comfortable or don’t absolutely love your doctor, find a new one. You are your own best advocate and infertility is hard enough.
How is the process for #2 different than #1?
Me: I covered a little bit of this above but if you have frozen embryos from your first retrieval, you won’t be doing that part. The stimulation and retrieval portion was the toughest for me. It’s a lot of medication, I had to be in Denver for almost two weeks and the days following waiting for results are agonizing. The process should be much easier and hopefully less stressful this time around!
Dr.Kondapalli: Since Shaheen has frozen embryos, the process will be simpler and faster. Also, we found a protocol (recipe) for her transfer that was successful in the past, therefore we will use the same combination of medications for Shaheen’s next transfer.
I know I have said it before but I am just so thankful for all of you! Your messages, prayers, well wishes and support meant so much to me while I was in Denver. It was a weird mix of emotions being there again, especially alone and you all made me feel so much better. I really hope to make infertility a subject that is discussed more and hopefully remove the loneliness and isolation that often accompanies it. Please never hesitate to reach out (email is always best) and if I happen to miss it, just follow up!
Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts for all your love and support and I promise to keep you all updated!
It felt so surreal being there. It almost felt like I never left.
So thankful for Dr.Kondapalli and her big heart!
This post was sponsored by CCRM, a leading pioneer in fertility advancement, research and treatment. As always, all opinions are my own and I am so thankful to you all for supporting companies that make Lows to Luxe and my babies a possibility!