Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Making a Baby is Fun?

Making a baby is supposed to fun.  Or at least the practicing is supposed to be.  That’s what most people think, right?  This process has proven to be the exact opposite and today is no exception.

I had an appointment this morning for another ultrasound and more bloodwork to monitor my follicles and my hormone levels.  Everything is so scientific and timed perfectly so I’ve been going back for check-ups practically every other day so they can keep a close eye on me.  I can almost make the drive to and from Fargo with my eyes closed.

The medications that I’m on are really quite amazing to me.  The first week I was on two shots that encouraged multiple follicles with eggs to grow.  Like I said I was closely monitored so they could watch the progression and growth of said follicles.  Once a good number of them reached a substantial size, I added another shot to keep me from ovulating.  It was also around this time that you’re banned from…’practicing’…unless you want to risk having 8 eight kids.  To be honest, in the world of infertility when you are doctoring, there is a lot of NO SEX orders when you’re trying to make a baby.  Odd, right?

Our doctors had told me I was a model patient as they checked my ultrasounds and measurements and labs.  I was responding perfectly, textbook you might say.  I have about 24 follicles which is a great number.  But just because there is a follicle, doesn’t mean there is an egg inside of it and there’s no way of knowing that until my surgery on Friday when they take them out.  

At my appointment this morning the doctor mentioned I am at risk for something called OHSS, or Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome.  Remember how I said I was such a good patient and responded so well which resulted in 24 follicles?  It’s kind of a blessing and a curse.  Obviously the more follicles you have, the greater chance that there will be a higher number of eggs giving you a better chance for a successful pregnancy, but it’s also causing my estradiol (estrogen) levels to sky rocket.  Usually that high estradiol number is an indicator there are a lot of mature eggs which is great news as well but it’s also an indicator that you’re at risk for OHSS. 

After getting back to work this morning, I received a phone call to tell me all of that^ and then was informed that I need to pick up two new medications at the pharmacy back in Fargo tonight.

When I ordered all of my meds a few weeks ago an HCG trigger shot was sent as well.  This trigger shot is to be taken at an EXACT time a day and a half before your egg retrieval surgery (not kidding, my order from the doctor says to take it at 11:59 PM exactly).  This shot ‘triggers’ ovulation so you ovulate right before the procedure occurs. HCG also happens to play a role in causing OHSS.  The doctor obviously doesn’t want to give me a surge of HCG under current circumstances so one of the new medications will do the job instead.  The second medication is to help reduce the effects of OHSS.

I’m not even sure I followed all of that so if you made it down to this point, kudos to you. 

Our egg retrieval surgery is scheduled for Friday morning.  Same rules apply to this procedure as to any other surgery i.e. no eating or drinking after midnight, no makeup, no contacts, can’t drive after, etc.  BUT for this surgery neither Joe, or myself, or any of the doctors or nurses are allowed to shower in the morning, wear deodorant, use lotions, perfumes, or anything scented.  The eggs and eventually embryos are EXTREMELY sensitive to smells (weird, right?!?) which can damage them so everyone in the clinic that day is au natural.  Gross.

Side notes I found interesting:
-It’s ‘IVF Week’ at the clinic this week.  I feel like we all should get t-shirts or something.  Each month our clinic services anywhere from 5-10 couples going through some aspect of IVF and it all culminates to procedures occurring during this ‘IVF Week’.  The limited number of couples each month also results in some pretty long waiting lists to start IVF.
-Our clinic has one Embryologist and one in training.  It takes roughly 6 years of additional training beyond your college degree to become a full-fledged Embryologist.
-With everything that occurs during IVF Week, an Embryologist flies in from Florida to assist in the lab for the week to help with the fertilization and growing of everyone’s embryos.

So here is a simplified timeline of what’s coming:
-Drive back to Fargo tonight and pick up new meds
-Take trigger shot tonight at 11:59 PM
-start additional med to combat OHSS
-keep fingers crossed OHSS doesn’t occur (it’s terribly painful and can have scary side-effects)
-Go in Friday morning for egg retrieval!!
-The lab will then fertilize the eggs and monitor them for five days
-After the five days see how many embryos made it to blastocysts and are healthy enough to freeze
-healthy blasts are frozen for a couple months
-After a couple months we go back and have two embryos put back in and PRAY AT LEAST ONE STICKS!  (We wait a couple months to let my body recover and give my hormones a chance to return to normal.  Success rates are higher when mama’s not crazy ;) )

We are able to freeze our embryos for pretty much as long as we want for when we’re ready to try for more children after or if this round doesn’t work.  There have been children born from embryos frozen for over 12 years!!!! That’s so crazy! If we have any embryos left after we are done having kids in the future, we are able to donate our embryos for adoption.  It works much like a normal adoption but I’ll go into that in a different post some other time.  This takes out the pressure of choosing a number to fertilize as Joe and I do not believe for moral and religious reasons in destroying the embryos.

For those of you who are willing to pray for us, here is what we need you to pray for right now:
1.     That Amanda does not develop OHSS
2.     That surgery is successful on Friday and the doctors are able to retrieve a good number of eggs
3.     That the eggs fertilize and that the perfect number grow to be healthy by Day 5 to freeze

Our heads are spinning, our minds are racing, and we’re trying to keep anxiety levels to a minimum as we take this one day at a time.  We so appreciate those of you who have offered support along the way and continue to do so.  This is a long and trying journey but we are hoping it’s all worth it when we are able to #BringHomeBirdie !

Joe and Amanda

Friday, September 9, 2016


I’m assuming that the majority of you that are here came from Facebook where we recently made a post about starting IVF.  I had mentioned that you could head over to our blog to learn more about our story so here it goes…

I remember the first time I met Joe.  It was 10 years ago. We were freshmen at Jamestown College.  Myself and some of my volleyball team were out causing mischief with the football players on campus, and by mischief I mean we were throwing pinecones at their dorm windows and then scampering away. Joe’s window happened to be our particular target and after a few rounds of ammo he came running into the courtyard to find who was to blame.  As my teammates and I were nonchalantly walking away there came busting through the doors this tall, curly headed guy that almost ran us over.  “Oh sorry! Hi! My name is Joe, I’m from Blaine, MN.”  And that was it.  That was the beginning of the rest of my life with that cute curly headed boy from Blaine.

Fast forward 7 years to a quaint farmstead in Barnesville named The Vintage Garden.  We said our I do’s beneath the oak trees, dined under the tent, danced like crazy in the hayloft, and partied the night away with some of our closest friends and family.

We lived the next year within the blissful newlywed glow.  We enjoyed being in our first house together, getting used to being called a Mr. or Mrs., and didn’t put much thought to trying to have kids.  If it happened, awesome. 

Our first anniversary came and went and we started to give serious thought to starting our family.  To make sure everything was ‘ok’, I searched out fertility specialists in the area and made an appointment with one of the best.  Our doctor found it odd that we hadn’t conceived on our own yet and under their guidance we started down the rabbit hole of tests, appointments, medications, and procedures.  This would continue over the next two years, each month and each procedure bringing with it what would become an all too familiar sadness and heartache.  We watched friends and family make pregnancy announcements, post pictures of their children’s first steps, first birthday parties, first teeth, and their children’s first time becoming a big brother or sister. 

After the last failed procedure, we sat down with our doctor to discuss our options going forward.  He told us that we could continue with the type of procedure we had been doing but he didn’t see any reason that it shouldn’t be working.  If we chose to abandon that plan, our next and final medical step would be IVF.  We were given the details, the enormous price tag, and were sent home to take some time and discuss it.  Joe and I agreed that we didn’t want to continue to throw money away on a procedure that should be working.  We decided that we would move forward with IVF in the hopes that this would help us start the family we so desperately want.

We scrounged up the few thousand dollars that were needed for the initial consult and met with our doctor.  A single round of IVF at our clinic can cost a couple upwards of $20,000 and beyond.  We are fortunate that our insurance covers a fair amount of infertility services, but after two years of trying we had depleted that amount significantly.  At this time I haven’t actually started the injections.  We still need to come up with a good chunk of money to pay for them. 

We have read some blogs and I have communicated with quite a few women who have gone through this process before us.  The financial burden that this places on a couple is staggering so I asked them how they came up with the money.  A common theme was holding a t-shirt fundraiser.  Seemed odd but we looked into it.  We liked the idea of not just asking people for money but that if people are generous enough to help us, they get something in return.  We decided we would give it a shot which has ultimately lead you here today.

The link listed below leads you directly to our fundraising site.  There are a variety of shirt styles to choose from all with our one-of-a-kind #BringHomeBirdie design.  All profits will go towards our fertility treatments with the hope of making our dream to start our family a reality.  We would be so humbled and incredibly grateful if you choose to participate in our fundraising efforts.  We have a steep mountain to climb but with your help we know we can get there.  Please feel free to share this link with others. 

We are hopeful that one day we will be able to share with our Little the story of all the people that loved them enough to help bring them home to us.

Hopefully positive,

Joe and Amanda Gerding

Friday, May 27, 2016

Father Knows Best

Have you ever had days where you feel like you’re on the edge of bawling your eyes out but you don’t really know why?  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I envy you.  If you are nodding your head at the screen because you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about, I feel ya, sister.  That’s how my day went on Wednesday.

My day started out like it always does.  I drug myself out of bed silently kicking and screaming on the inside (I’ve never been a morning person, y’all) and headed to the shower.  I wouldn’t even say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, the day just had a different feeling to it.  I headed off to work, which has been exceptionally trying this year, and as the day progressed it was as if all the tiny things that happened throughout the day each put a pebble onto my emotional scale, slowly but surely weighing me down and tipping the scale down towards ‘meltdown territory’.

After work I went home and flipped on the TV before I had to head off to my second job.  I scrolled through the DVR and selected a recent recording of ‘Outdaughtered’.  If you’ve never heard of this show it is about a young couple, Adam and Danielle Busby, their daughter Blayke, and their QUINTUPLETS.  Yeah, 5 of them, and ALL girls at that.  I’ve been following their story long before they were ever on TV.  I have spent a lot of time reading blogs of other women who struggle with infertility and Danielle’s happened to be one of them.  Their story started a lot like ours.  They got married, after awhile decided they were ready for kids, tried, and tried, and TRIIEEEDDD, and nothing happened.  They ended up doing IUI’s for over a year I believe before they got pregnant with their first.  They decided they wanted a sibling for Blayke so they started IUI’s again and after only TWO MONTHS they got pregnant again, but this time with five!

As I sat there watching Danielle on TV with those 6 children of hers, I was happy for her, truly. All children are blessings but I find myself feeling a bit different over the pregnancies of couples who have struggled with infertility.  I know the pain, the work, the money, the struggle of what they went through to get those beautiful children.  But as I continued to watch I started to feel that emotional scale start to tip even further as the thoughts crept into my mind of “We may never experience anything like this.  It is a very good possibility we will never see a positive pregnancy test, or a heartbeat on an ultrasound, or the excitement of feeling your baby kick.”

One of the side effects of this wonderful syndrome I have can be depression.  I’ve been pretty fortunate as that side effect hasn’t really been a huge issue, but there are definitely times where I feel like everything is going wrong and I have completely and totally failed at life and I can’t dig myself out of it.  Apparently Wednesday was one of these times... all of a sudden that scale broke, taking the flood gates with it and I lost it.  It was as if every little thing that had gone wrong, every negative thought that I had had about work, and the future, and life that I had let creep into my mind over the past few months all became one huge rock that had now fallen and I felt completely crushed by it all. 

I texted my dad who has always been a voice of reason in my life (whether I’ve always liked it or not is another story… hello high school), and you guys, I wish everyone had a dad who is as loving, and caring, and wise as mine.  This is what he told me, “Your Creator and Heavenly Father knows the answers to your questions.  He has a plan for you and has not forgot about you.  Start asking Him to open and close doors and provide you peace in your heart.  You have much to be grateful for.  Try to dwell on what you have and are doing while you seek guidance on what may be next.  Blessings dear daughter. Love you.”

If I thought I had been a mess before that message, you should have seen me after that.  Crocodile tears… like the kind that drench your shirt, make your eyes swell, and make sure you can’t breathe for the next two hours.  The part I needed to hear so desperately was this, “He has a plan for you and has not forgot about you.”  What powerful words you guys!  I think we all find ourselves, at some point in time, comparing our lives to those around us, wanting our lives to be as wonderful and TLC-miniseries-worthy as those who seem to have it all together.  I have felt all too often over the past two years that somehow, that big God up there had forgotten about little me down here.  Have You not heard our unending prayers?  Are You ignoring what You know are the desires of my heart?  Why have You forgotten about us?!”

Isaiah 49:15b-16: “I will not forget you.  See, I have engraved your name on the palms of my hands.”

And just like that, I felt peace. 

Yeah, I’m still stressing about work, and finding something I’m passionate about, and what the next step in our infertility journey will be, but for the time being I’m ok.  I’ve been reminded by both my fathers that I have not been forgotten, that there is a plan for my life, and I’m going to be ok.

Whether you believe there is a God or that the Bible is true know this:

You have not been forgotten, there is a plan for your life, and you’re going to be OK. Promise.