IVF · Uncategorized

My Miracle Baby and the Guilt I Feel About His Birth

**I began (and did not complete) this post on January 7th**


My miracle baby boy Henry Patrick Shanahan was born on 12/20/2018 at 8:16 pm.  Even as I type that, I feel a tremendous amount of guilt about the entire process….

Everyone told us not to go in with a plan, and not to have expectations about childbirth.  I laughed this off every time because (I thought) we had NO plan aside from knowing I wanted an epidural.  Bryan and I never were the type of people that had everything mapped out, and we had no official birthing “plan” in mind.  I thought that I would be a go with the flow type mom in labor, and that I was ready for anything….boy was I wrong.  It turns out I had expectations-and big ones.  Those expectations, however, were only for myself.

When I arrived at the hospital to be induced on 12/19 I was already 5 days overdue.  I didn’t realize this at the time, but I felt a certain amount of guilt about that.  I assumed I would go into labor on my own…that my body would do “what it was supposed to do” in order to bring my son into the world.  Re-reading that sentence makes me see how silly those feelings were, but they were also very real and laid the foundation for the wall of guilt that I would build during the next week.

It turns out I was already in labor and was having pretty regular contractions.  I remember the shock of the nurses when they hooked me up to the monitoring machines and saw that I was in labor because I was so calm…and I remember the sense of pride that I felt.  I was proud of myself for being tough enough to handle early labor without even realizing it was going on.  I was proud that I was IN labor on my own.  As the evening progressed I was not dilating, and they began a pitocin drip.  By 7 am the next morning I was in active labor…and I was in pain, but it was bearable…and I was proud of myself.  By the time the epidural was administered I was ready to go and feeling good about Henry’s impending birth.   I was excited to show the doctors how tough I was, and how I would push the right way because I was an athlete and in control of my body.

By 7 pm everything started to spiral out of control, here’s what went down…

The epidural (given to me around 8 am) worked initially, but slowly began to wear off.  I remember the feeling coming back into my legs and some serious pain around my pelvis.  My nurse Allison (my angel) was very receptive to my feedback, and she brought the anesthesiologist back in several times to give me a “bump” (extra medicine to try to even out the pain).  They even tried fixing the epidural at one point to no avail.  Even with the pain I was still OK, and I was ready to proceed with a vaginal birth.  Was it comfortable?  Hell no…but I was tough enough to handle this, and I was going to have a vaginal birth.  Here’s where the “plan” I never thought I had would begin to rear it’s ugly expectations.

By 7 pm I knew something was wrong.  There was no longer any kind of relief coming from the epidural.  Nothing was numb, but it was also intolerable.  It felt like someone was tearing apart my pelvis.  I had lost control of my body.  All the breathing I learned, all the visualizations that we were taught in childbirth class, all the pushing I thought I would impress my doctor with flew out the window.  All the expectations I didn’t realize I had were no longer reachable.  I was screaming and writhing in pain with each contraction.  It seemed like each contraction lasted for an eternity, and I will NEVER forget the shear terror that took over as I waited for the next to begin. My poor husband.  He said that I jammed my face against the side of the hospital bed so hard that the nurses were afraid I was going to break my nose.  I remember people trying to move me, and refusing because whatever position I balled into was the only way to get through the ever increasing pain.  I remember screaming, and sweating, and shaking…wishing it would all end.  The nurses knew that I was in a tremendous amount of pain and they did what they could for me.  The anesthesiologist came in on 3 separate occasions to infuse fentanyl into the epidural but nothing worked.

**The completion of this post was written on August 9, 2019**

My doctor came to me and said that they could try to re-do the epidural and that it could take another 10+ hours, or they could perform an emergency C-section.  I knew something was wrong, and so I screamed”get him out!”.

Then my doctor said something that still haunts me to this day….

“You need to get control.  You were born for this, your body was made to deliver this baby.”

FUCK YOU.  When I originally started this blog I was fully under the impression that I had done something wrong.  That by electing to have the emergency c-section I was somehow weak.  He never should have said those words to me.  My husband has a different perspective on this.  He thinks that was just our doctor trying to give me a pep talk…but it’s not HIS body, and it wasn’t HIS choice to make.

As it turns out, New Jersey has one of the highest c-section rates in the country.  Whether or not this played a role in his decision to try to push me into a vaginal birth I will never know.  What I do know is my body, and I knew that something was wrong.

It took what seemed like forever, again, for an anesthesiologist to be ready for me in the operating room and the unbearable pain continued.  When in the operating room they had to insert the anesthesia in my spine in order to numb me for the surgery.  They had to insert a needle into my spine while I was having excruciating contractions…and I couldn’t move or I might have been paralyzed.  I am just going to let that sink in.

I remember a nurse holding my hands telling me that I can’t move…and then my angel appeared.  Nurse Allison…she was supposed to have been off of her shift for more than two hours at that point, but she stayed to see me through the surgery.   I will NEVER forget her. Somehow I didn’t move and the needle was in…later I found out I almost broke the hand of the nurse who was trying to keep me steady.  Whoopsie.

When the spinal anesthesia finally kicked in and the pain stopped my body began to shake and I felt relief, quickly followed by intense guilt.

I had failed.  I wasn’t able to do “what my body was born to do”.  I remember apologizing over and over again…telling everyone I tried my best.  The anesthesiologist at that time was so sweet, she stroked my head and told me there was nothing to be sorry about.  When they took Henry out of me he was almost ten pounds and had a head so big he was caught on my pelvic bone.  He also had the umbilical chord wrapped around his neck and was covered in meconium (poop),

Then the assisting surgeon said something I will also never forget.  He said “I heard you apologizing and I want you to know you did the right thing.  You could have pushed for days and he wouldn’t have come out.  You were right to listen to you body because if you hadn’t your baby might have been in more distress”.

My baby, my miracle boy was here…but instead of feeling joyful, all I felt was guilt and shame.  I wasn’t strong enough, I was tough enough, I had taken the “easy” way out.

I tell myself every day that this is not the truth, and for the most part I know it is not.  I know Henry needed to get out, and that more time pushing would have caused him even more distress and who knows how many problems.  BUT…there is still a part of me that wonders if I truly wasn’t tough enough.  If I had just been a little bit stronger, could I have avoided everything that happened to my baby and the next 10 days in special care…Was my miracle baby boy on a CPAP machine and feeding tube because of me?


This is something I MUST process.  I am my child’s champion and have been since that very first day that we met.  I cannot continue to question my strength, or blame myself for what happened to Henry. This is where therapy comes in.  My goal is to someday look back on Henry’s birth and see myself as a strong Mama who fought for her baby, and not as a failure.

I will get there.



#IVF Strong



Fear · IVF · miscarriage · Uncategorized

Fear (cont’)

At lunch today a friend of mine asked me what it was like being pregnant after miscarriage.  I had to pause for a second, and move past my urge to sugar coat everything to give her an honest answer.

It was scary.

What’s crazy is that I hadn’t really thought about that.  I haven’t REALLY thought about anything that has happened to us….and a lot has happened.  On the ride home I realized that I have been forcing myself NOT to think about our pregnancy/birth journey.  When I arrived home I put Henry to bed, and looked through old pictures…and I thought about EVERYTHING,

I also called to make an appointment for therapy.

When I started writing this blog it was a place for me to be open and honest about our fertility journey.  When we got pregnant, I let my fears silence me and spent the next better part of a year running from them.  As I sit here today, I can see that same fear creeping into my daily life-especially when it comes to my miracle baby boy.

I must process what we have been through, and there is no shame in asking for help.

Anxiety does not make me weak. Today is a new day.

Also, look at that face (SWOOOOOON).

IMG_9574 (1)

Fear · IVF · Joy


It’s been a while since I have written, truthfully every time I sat in front of the computer my nerves kept me from typing.  I am 25 weeks pregnant with our baby boy…and I am scared it will somehow turn out to not be real.

Typing that thought brings me so much relief. <deep breath>

We’ve been through so much on this journey.  The loss, the victories.  Just like with anything in life, I hold on to the loss and it stays with me longer than the victories.  This is the farthest I have ever gotten in a pregnancy, but I still struggle to immerse myself in happiness about it.  I see some mothers walking around with their cute little bumps, embracing every moment….chatting away about birth plans and registries…but every time I am asked a question I hesitate.  I hesitate because I don’t know if I should talk about it.  I don’t know if I am allowed to be one of those mothers, blissfully engulfed in my pregnancy.   I wear baggy clothes and try to hide because I don’t know if tomorrow something will happen, and I will lose my  precious baby boy.

Don’t get me wrong…it’s not as if I am walking around in a perpetual state of morbid fear.  There are more times than most where I feel perfectly happy, and I am excited about the life growing inside of me.  It’s just that there is a large part of me that hesitates to share that joy with others because of my fear.  In fact, it wasn’t until I could feel my baby boy move (and share those movements) that I felt comfortable(ish)  talking to my husband about the future with our baby.

I know my fear is not unwarranted.  When we were waiting for our blood test results after Henry’s abnormal nuchal translucency test we were both terrified.  Terrified and devastated.  The waiting game is so painful…and how could this be happening after everything we have been through?!

During that time my cousin Kelly gave me some great advice.  She went through something similar with her twins, and she told me that I shouldn’t be afraid to connect with him.  Did she know that I was?  She told me to find quiet times during the day to talk to Henry while rubbing my belly…and I did.  Now when I spend these quiet moments with my son, my fear is transformed for a little while and I feel like I am a part of something incredible and happy, and purely beautiful…no fear.  When he moves or kicks and I feel him I can’t believe the peace that washes over me.  Without even knowing it my face becomes one huge smile.


This led me to prenatal yoga (which I HIGHLY recommend) where I spend a little over an hour connecting with my baby while stretching out all of the body parts that are in a tizzy because of his growing body.

The fear is still there.  It doesn’t help that I am addicted to shows like “Call the Midwife” where people suffer miscarriages late into their pregnancies.  Change the channel, Sara!  I think the fear will be there until I am holding him in my arms, but I also think that he knows about my feelings and does his best to make mommy feel better.  There have been many times when the fear starts to creep back in, and I feel him moving around as if to say “Mommy…I am still here!”.

My goal moving forward is to EMBRACE my pregnancy, and live in the moment with my baby boy.  After all, he is my miracle and what is happening inside my body is nothing short of amazing.

#IVF Strong



Good News · IVF · Joy

Staying Positive

It’s been a while since I have written, and that is because I have been battling with 24-7 “Morning Sickness”!!! I could not be happier to be this miserable.

We got the amazing news on April 6th that our pregnancy test was positive.  It was the looooooongest morning I can remember.  Bloodwork at 6:30 am, and we didn’t get the call until almost noon.

Bryan had to work, and poor Chase was my only distraction…

When my nurse finally called and I saw the caller ID my heart began pounding, and for a second I didn’t know if I should answer….but I did!


Little did I know, this was just the beginning of an epic battle to stay positive (both mentally and on the stick!) I have been keeping a log of my symptoms, particularly the scary ones, so that I can have piece of mind if they ever happen again.  For example:

(Get ready for a little TMI…)On Wednesday the 18th when I wiped in the bathroom the tissue was FILLED with pink blood.  I. PANICKED.  In my mind it was all happening again.  After all, this was exactly how each miscarriage began….with blood in the bathroom.  I tried flushing the toilet, forgetting that I was at school and YOU HAVE TO HOLD THE HANDLE FOREVER….the toilet ended up spinning/refusing to flush and there I was…staring at the pink tissue, screaming and cursing at the toilet.

When I finally got back to the classroom my coworker came in and knew something was wrong.  I blurted out the words “there was blood when I wiped” and she knew…she had been through the same thing.  I started to cry.  Thank God for Nicole because she spoke to our Vice Principal and I was able to leave.  I got to RMA within a half hour (hysterically sobbing the entire way), and they squeezed me in for and ultrasound to see what was going on.  After all that anxiety, and all that sadness, I SAW AND HEARD THE HEARTBEAT!  It was amazing, and it was the first time.  My doctor took a good look but couldn’t find a reason for the bleeding.  It happens sometimes, and it is more common than you realize.  In fact, I know two people that are currently pregnant that experienced the same bleeding.   I am still learning not to assume the worst.

This would happen once more, and there would and will be discharge and pains that makes me anxious, but we are 8 almost 9 weeks and I am happy to report that our little boy is still growing strong!


#Staying Positive

#IVF Strong

IVF · Two Week Wait · TWW

Two Week Wait

The Two Week Wait…you might see this referred to as TWW on all the fertility blogs.  This was news to me, thank goodness again for my IVF guru Nicole.

I like to call the two week wait emotional quicksand.  Slow, suffocating, and scary as hell.  This will be our third go with the TWW-after our two failed IUI’s.  The good news is that with IVF we only had to wait 9 days.  The longest 9 days of my life.

Our transfer was on a Wednesday, and I have to admit I was pretty chipper until the next Monday.  Thursday I spend cuddled up watching Grace and Frankie for the second time.  I swear I LOVE those ladies, WHY can’t we have season 5?!?

Anywhoo, I was in a little cocoon.  We bought a new king sized comforter right before the transfer.  This was more of a marriage necessity-we often fight in the middle of the night about who was stealing most of our old, regular-sized comforter.  Our new oversized, crispy white comforter was like laying in clouds.  I thoroughly enjoyed escaping into those clouds and watching Frankie be downright hilarious.  It was still so early after the transfer that nothing of significance (symptom wise) was happening, and I was basking in the glow of my “doesn’t get better than this” transfer.  Friday Bryan was off from work and we made a day of it.  Blood work, then breakfast, then we took Chase to the beach.


Saturday we had a lovely day at Bryan’s rugby game.  My entire family was able to make it!

Sunday Bryan and I hosted Easter.  Another perfect day surrounded by family and distractions.

I was on spring right after the transfer, and so Bryan and I booked a shore house for three days so that I could relax and keep my mind off of the wait.

That. Did. Not. Work.

Weather down the shore was pretty icky.  It was not only cold, it was WINDY.  It also rained pretty heavily, which meant we were confined to the house longer than we wanted to be…but at least I had my family.

Even surrounded by family, I found myself lost in over-analysis of every cramp, twist, turn, grumble…you name it.  Here is a small sample of the thoughts running through my brain:  I felt nauseous at 12am Sunday and Monday, but not Tuesday….does that mean the embryo didn’t implant?  I have a full feeling in my uterus…my period is DEFINITELY coming.  Oh wait, today I am super nauseous…I heard that nausea is a sign of a good pregnancy-VICTORY!  My boobs (or titties as my eldest niece called them OH EM GEE!) hurt like hell…this is a good sign, but I was told this could just be the progesterone so maybe it’s not a sign at all.  No nausea today, and the full feeling is back.  I am definitely getting my period………….


The day we were scheduled to leave the shore house, it was Thursday, there was spotting on the TP when I went to the bathroom.  I have to pat myself on the back, because I didn’t crumble into a million pieces. That could have been because I was (THANK GOD) at the house with my family surrounding me.  Bryan also happened to be in the midst of a mean case of food poisoning…(but he still got up at 6am to give me my shot.!)

He is an angel.

Along with the spotting I had cramping and a fullness that ALWAYS comes with my period.  I was SURE that the salty bitch was on her way, and that our IVF cycle failed.  Then, the sun came out….

It was the first time the sun emerged from behind the dark, grey clouds since we arrived on the island.  We hit the beach, and I found myself connecting to the ocean.  While my nieces made sand castles, I laid down and closed my eyes.  The rhythm of the waves was so calming, and I had a talk with Barry (our nickname for the embryo).  I told him that he was strong, and this was his new home, and that I was proud of him.  I would love to say that from this moment on I was confident, but that would be a lie.

I was still a secret wreck as I continued to cramp and spot lightly for the rest of the day. BUT, my sicky hubs needed me to get him home and there was no time to obsess.  On the drive home I decided to make a change.   I imagined that with every cramp and pain, Barry was nestling into my uterus.  This when my anxiety ceased.  Instead of assuming all the things I was feeling were bad, I imagined that they were signs of our little boy making his home inside of my body.  When we got home that evening, and began my new obsession “New Girl” I felt electric and calm.  Pure joy, and pure excitement….no more worries.   We were ready for our pregnancy test.

Here are a few more pics form our fun down the shore!

#IVF Strong


#Positive Thinking Actually Works…Who Knew?!?

Acupuncture · Joy · Transfer Day

Transfer Day/Mastering Progesterone Shots

I have to shout out my husband again, because on Transfer Eve he came home with the most beautiful flowers.  He designed them himself with blue and yellow flowers (meant to represent our embryos-2 boys and a girl!) and arranged them on the bed of his truck after rugby practice.  Swoon!


Now let’s get to March 28th, one of the best and strangest days of our lives!

We woke up ready to go!!  I made Bryan sing “What day is today? Today is Transfer Day!” (think Full House/mother’s day episode) for most of the day while we waited for our call with the exact timing of our transfer.  There is A LOT of waiting involved with this process, and adjusting to that has been slightly difficult for me 🙂

We woke up at 6 for our morning progesterone shot as usual.

At this point I was barely able to walk because shot #2 the week before had created quite the lump on my back.  We hadn’t done enough research to know that progesterone in oil needs to be warmed before administering, and that it takes a fair amount of muscle movement and/or massage after injection to disperse the medication.  After quite a but of experimenting and reading up on how other people had success, we were able to develop a protocol that resulted in way less lasting pain after the shots.  Here is the routine that worked best for us pre-transfer (no heating pad post-transfer):

  1. Heating pad before the shot while Bryan warmed up the primed needle by squeezing it in his hand.
  2. Standing (hurt much less for me) while keeping my weight on the leg that was opposite my injection site.
  3. Using my buzzy just above the injection site.  I chose not to ice the injection site before or after because I read that icing might cause the medication to pool and knot-exactly the issue we were trying to fix.
  4. Immediate thumb massage on the injection site following the shot.
  5. Swinging leg for 1 minute followed by 15-20 squats, then walking the dog (to get the juices flowing!)
  6. Heating pad and massage with a tennis ball to work out the knots.

With our injections happening so early, we had a good amount of time before the procedure.  IMG_6866I am eternally grateful for this, because during this time a long rest on my heating pad finally broke up the knot of medicine that was causing my back pain!  It was such a strange sensation.  I could feel every muscle on my right side (hiney muscles!) pulsating and then POOF!  No more pain!  Additionally, we were both able to shower with the no fragrance shampoo, conditioner, and body wash that we special ordered from amazon (because our instructions said to wear no fragrances).  If you know how I have been throughout this journey you will know how much these veryyyyy specific instructions caused me anxiety.  I didn’t even want Bryan to go to the bagel store after his shower because I didn’t want him to smell like food, worried that it would impact the embryo.  Whoopsies 🙂

We got the call around 9:45 from Anita (she called me Miss Sara and I loved her), and we learned that our transfer would take place at 1:45!  Then came more veryyyyy specific instructions (YEY-anxiety!).  I was to arrive with 24 ounces of liquid.  At 1:30 I should drink 8 ounces.  You should have seen me measuring out water in mason jars.  I originally wanted to have the 8 ounces separated so I wouldn’t “mess up”.  Eventually that become too many jars so I went with two 12 ounce jars, knowing I would have to drink until the water hit 4 ounces.

After the great water fiasco we donned our matching shirts/packed all of our milestone cards, tons of extra socks, my mason jars of water and hit the road!

The ride to the Basking Ridge office wasn’t bad.  I expected to be nervous, but we were literally bursting with joy.  This was a BIG day for us.  Something we had been working towards for so long.  We arrived early enough to drink the first 8 ounces in the parking lot.  I, true to form, waited until exactly 1:30 and started to drink down to the four ounce line.  Bryan took a picture, and for a minute I lost my head.  This is my reaction when I “came to” and thought I had consume MORE than 8 ounces….

BAHAHA we laughed about that picture for the rest of the day!  In hindsight I realize I could be a bit more relaxed about this in particular. They simply want to fill your bladder, an extra ounce or two would have made zero difference.  That said, you couldn’t have stopped me from worrying in that moment.  Like I said, this was a BIG day for us.

When we arrived and checked-in we were sent to the exact same waiting room that we started in on retrieval day.  THIS time I was able to capture a photo of the bat phone! IMG_6885It’s so crazy, you pick up the phone and they already know who you are.  Everyone is so incredibly friendly.  No matter who I talk to at any time (receptionist, nurse, the finance department…) they treat you like FAMILY.  I will never be able to express what an amazing experience we have had with RMA. Thank you Michelle and Kate for the recommendation!

We had to wait a little while before a nurse came to get us.  It was during this time that we shared the bulk of our laughter about my freaked out water drinking picture.  I am chuckling right now, so ridiculous!

When we were brought back for the procedure everything looked so different.  The office was quiet, dark, and incredibly relaxing.  I leaned this was intentional because it was a transfer day.  On our way back to our room we were able to see an isolette in the hallway.  This is where they bring the embryo (in a petri dish) to your room.  It looks like a spaceship, and the embryo looks sooooo tiny sitting inside!  That embryo wasn’t ours, however, and so we went into our room to relax.

Inside our room there was lovely wallpaper, and spa style relaxation music playing.  After signing our release forms, our acupuncturist came in for the pre-transfer session.  To say that I was relaxed is an understatement.  I HIGHLY recommend acupuncture for anyone going through fertility treatments, ESPECIALLY on transfer day.  I was so relaxed, in fact, that I didn’t notice how odd my acupuncturist was (but I would!).  What I do remember was that she called us hipsters because of my mason jars, and likely Bryan’s beard.

After acupuncture a nurse came back in to scan my bladder and make sure it was full enough for the procedure.  Pee peeI have heard a lot of people that were really uncomfortable with the full bladder business, but it didn’t bother me at all.  Honestly, I didn’t even notice.  I wonder if that is due to so many years teaching and holding my pee!  My bladder was full and it was TIME!

Next, the transfer team came in-the doctor, embryologist, and nurse. Dr. Doherty was excited to see us, and mentioned that it was a “Freehold Reunion”.  This made my heart smile because I love it when people remember us, makes you feel like you are part of a family (LOVE RMA!).  We showed everyone our T-shirts and my socks, and they all loved the gear (another heart smile).  We got to see the embryo in his petri dish projected onto a large screen, and were given a picture of him to take home.  HIM!! I said he looked like a blob, and Dr. Doherty said he was a beautiful blob! (Heart BURSTING!)

Baby Boy Shanahan!

The transfer itself was painless.  The only thing I felt was the speculum (just like a pap smear) and the slight embarrassment of having my bits wide open to the medical professionals in the room.  Dr. Doherty and the nurses joked that I better get used to it because that would be the position I would be in during childbirth (silent scream of excitement!).  We got to watch the entire procedure on the ultrasound camera.  It was AMAZING.  The little guy just slid right in, and Dr. Doherty said the most magical words we had every heard “Transfers don’t get any better than that!”.

It’s funny because I immediately felt different.  I was so warm, and so happy.  The nurse gave me permission to pee, but honestly I was perfectly content just laying there basking in our joy!  After emptying my bladder the acupuncturist came back in and this is where things got strange.  When she entered the room she immediately said “So, what’s wrong with you guys?” Bryan and I sat there stunned, and finally I responded with “what do you mean?”  She said she hadn’t read our chart, and so I gave her a brief run down of our infertility journey.  Then she says, and I am not EVEN joking “you guys are probably related…like distant second cousins…it happens all the time.”  GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!  At this point, Bryan and I both stopped talking.  Luckily I was so relaxed by the acupuncture itself that it hadn’t occurred to me that she was WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE!  We still talk about whether or not we should let the practice know.  If we were a more sensitive couple, she could have really caused some emotional damage.

Anywhoo.. the transfer was complete and I was GLOWING!  I don’t know if it was the acupuncture or the transfer, but I really felt different.

On the way out of the office we stopped for a photo-op to document the fact that we had an EMBIE ON BOARD!


Our little boy was in my uterus, and we knew he would fight to stay there!   Equipped with my fluffiest winter boots (warm feet, warm uterus!) we made our way to the car.  Next stop…McDonalds french fries (the salt helps with implantation!) and home to our first born boy to celebrate!

Now for the two week wait…

#IVF Strong


#Stick Baby Stick!

Good News · IVF · Joy · Transfer Day

Transfer Day is COMING!

Ok, so now that I have unleashed the sadness of what was a very dark moment in our lives, it is time to get excited!

Bryan and I received the AMAZING news on March 2nd that ALL THREE of our embryos are normal and recommended for transfer!  THEY SURVIVED GENETIC TESTING!  My nurse Samantha called us early in the morning to let us know.  I am so grateful for our team of doctors and nurses, they really go above and beyond for us.


She also left word in the voicemail that she knew the gender of all three embryos, and could give us that information if we wanted.  It was so odd because without even thinking about it we both agreed we wanted to know.  I always thought I would grapple with a choice like that a little more.  It seemed right to know.  We have, drumroll….

TWO BOYS AND A GIRL!  I teared up when we got the news.  How amazing is science?  We know that our embryos are normal, and we know what gender they are.  This process blows my mind every single day.

We then needed to wait until the insurance company gave us authorization to move forward with the transfer cycle.  This didn’t happen for another week, and while it was annoying at first I was ultimately glad that my body was able to calm down a bit longer following the retrieval.  You see, our first ultrasound after the retrieval showed cysts (which are apparently normal, despite our complete shock/horror/worry at hearing “cysts”) that were still measuring in the 20’s and so I had a lot of calming down to do!  In the meantime they put me on birth control to control my cycle.  None of this was going to bother me, we had THREE HEALTHY embryos!!

Once we got the approval from insurance (March 9th) I stopped taking birth control. My nurse warned me that I would bleed a little…for some reason I always get a monster period when I stop taking the birth control.  Bring on the diapers, opps I mean pads!  We ordered the meds right after getting authorization, and they arrived on the 13th.


This delivery was both more and less intimidating than all of our previous meds.  All I needed to do for the first week or so was take Estrogen pills, but we also got our gigantor needles, the progesterone, and a BUNCH of suppositories.  I am not kidding, there are like 3 boxes….

Grossed out

My doctor usually gives me notes step by step (instead of front loading information) and so Bryan and I had a dandy old time trying to figure out what all the suppositories were for.  The first day of morning monitoring after taking the pills my estrogen levels were rising, and the uterine lining was thickening nicely (thank you pills).  My doctor said I “should” be fine, but she was definitely not 100% sure my lining would be thick enough by our scheduled transfer date.

After this appointment I went a little IVF crazy, reading blogs…



(thank you Nicole) and gathering information about foods that help your uterine lining thicken. We bought pomegranate juice, brazil nuts, red raspberry leaf tea, and tons of kale which I have been eating pretty routinely.  I don’t know if its a bunch of malarky but when we went back for monitoring 5 days later my doctor said my uterine lining looked BEAUTIFUL, and we got the go ahead for our transfer on MARCH 28th!!!

That appointment was this past Wednesday (the 21st of March). Today (Friday March 23rd) we started the progesterone injections.  I was EXTREMELY nervous about this injection because Bryan has to stab me with the inch and a half needle…the needle you always hear about when you begin IVF.  I was so nervous, in fact, that I barely slept last night before.  The injection needs to occur every morning between 6 and 8am (BUT NOT BEFORE 6!).  This morning Bryan watched all the instructional videos, and I set the mood with our milestone cards and a Tommy Bahama pineapple candle I found yesterday during my “snow day” off.

I also had my trusty buzzy in hand to take the sting away.  Truth be told, it wasn’t that bad!  Definitely hurt less than the menopure.  It wasn’t pleasant, don’t get me wrong, but it certainly wasn’t the horror I was anticipating when looking at the length of that needle!

As I sit writing this blog, and the injection site on my bum bum hits the chair, there is a soreness.  It feels like a rugby injury, like an area where some biatch kicked you.  All in all, I feel like a million bucks right now.

Transfer day is Wednesday…I took Wednesday and Thursday off from work. Luckily our sprint break starts that week and school is closed Friday.  I know it’s crazy because this is super important, but I HATE being away from school and my kiddos.  The spring break factor takes away so much of that stress and guilt.

It is GO TIME my friends.  By this time next week I will have a little Shanahan Embie on board!!!

#IVF Strong

#JOY in the process

#I know you aren’t supposed to have spaces in hashtags

# I’m in my 30’s I do what I want






The Day That Changed Me…Forever

A warning to my Mom and Dad (who read this blog)…this might be hard for you to see.  I have so much to be happy about and look forward to in this IVF journey, but there is a part of me that I feel compelled to share first.

I remember every detail of that day as if it has been etched into my mind, and my soul, for the rest of my life…

We already knew that we lost the baby.  That we found out on the day before my birthday.  For some reason my OBGYN didn’t schedule the DNC until 3-4 days later.  At the time I didn’t think twice, I was so numb.

You would think learning we lost the baby would have been the the day that changed me, but it wasn’t.  We had already lost 2.  I knew something was wrong because the severe pain in my chest vanished.  Then…spotting.  When I went to the doctor the heartbeat that was so strong at our last visit vanished as well.  I cried, and hid in the changing room.  After that it was business as usual.  We had been through this already…the pain wasn’t anything new for us.

Then came the day…that day.  I had plans with my friend Alyssa to have some summer fun.  You see, we were both teachers at a charter school notorious for working teachers to the bone.  This summer we were going to live up the days we had earned with our blood, sweat, and tears during the school year.

We had plans…we were going to Six Flags.  I dragged myself out of bed and took one of my husband’s prescription strength ibuprofen pills.  The cramps were killing me.  I was unfamiliar with this sensation because the last time I lost a baby this far along the DNC happened immediately.  The surgery for this loss wasn’t scheduled for another day.  You can imagine how dark it feels to walk around with the baby you love so much still inside of you, no longer “viable”.

I remember driving to Six Flags and buying Coke because for the small price of the worst thing you can put in your body, you get discounted park tickets.

We drove in Alyssa’s new car.  This new car was something Alyssa was really proud of, and she deserved it.  It kind of reminded me of a space ship because it was so shiny and new.  I remember the sugar rush of the Coke, and loving that the sugar seemed to make me feel happy.   For that small amount of time I didn’t have to pretend to be happy.  Thank you, sugar.

At the park we went on a water ride, the one that has you get into a giant octagonal floaty and you spin around the rapids.  We got soaked, and I remember the maxi pad I had on (because I was bleeding) felt like a wet diaper.  We found a bathroom and I changed that wet diaper.  Then, we decided to get in line for the gondola ride to the other side of the park. That’s when the worst day of my life began.

The cramps were debilitating.  I remember struggling to stand up, and struggling to leave the park.  On the way home Alyssa was trying to make me feel better but there was nothing she could have done.  The pain, both physical and emotional, was unbearable.  Looking back I think my body was preparing to “give birth” to what was once our baby.  The ride home seemed to take forever.

When we finally got to my house Alyssa wouldn’t leave my side, and when I went into the bathroom it was incredibly comforting to know that she was there.  I was so, so scared.  The blood and matter coming out of me was fast and furious.  I had to change my pad every 2 minutes, and even then it was everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  So….I decided to take a shower.  You would have thought I was being murdered in that shower, and it just…kept…coming.  I didn’t know what to do.  I needed to go to the ER.  Alyssa came back that night and cleaned the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to see the blood when I came home.  She will forever have the biggest part of my heart.

I strapped on the biggest pad I had and put on a pair of Bryan’s underwear.  They were the kind that resemble spandex and I don’t know why, but they felt like armor at the time.  Like, if I put on his underwear the bleeding would stop…or at least it wouldn’t bleed through anymore.  I remember worrying that I would bleed on Alyssa’s seats on the way to the ER so I brought a towel to sit on.  Her new car…she worked so hard for that car, I was so worried I would ruin the seat.

When we got to the emergency room there was younger woman at the front desk.  She asked for my information and told me to sit down in the waiting room.  As I stood there bleeding out what was my child I begged her not to make me sit there and wait.  There was so much coming out of me, I didn’t want to have to continue to miscarry in front of all those people.  All those people.  She refused, and so I left.  I would rather be at home than have this happen in the waiting room.

I was back and forth with my OBGYN the entire time.  By the time I left the ER they were calling me wondering where I was.  You see, one of the gynecologists of the practice was on call and in the ER waiting for me because he knew….he knew what was happening to me.  He knew.  After reliving the story of the woman who turned me away the nurse at my OBGYN’s office instructed me to head back to the ER.  She assured me that they would be calling the front desk, and that I would be brought back immediately.  At this point I was broken,  I was angry, and I was scared.

By the time we got back Bryan was there.  Alyssa, thank God, had been in contact with him as we bounced back and forth from the ER to my house.

I was put in a wheel chair, and said goodbye to Alyssa.  She told me I was the strongest woman she knew and that gave me courage. I didn’t feel strong, I felt like I was crumbling.  I looked down, and the blood already soaked the wheelchair.

When they brought us back there wasn’t a room immediately ready so we had to wait outside while they cleaned after a previous patient.  We might have been waiting ten minutes, and in that time the blood had risen over my thighs.  My new tank top, the one I bought to make me feel pretty during my summer pregnancy, was soaked around the bottom.

There was an elderly couple across from us as we waited in the hallway.  The woman was the patient, and her husband was tenderly holding her hand.  I remember feeling so embarrassed.  The blood was everywhere.  At this point it had gotten all over my forearms and hands.  I kept apologizing, and shaking…I was so cold.

When they brought me into the room they cut off Bryan’s underwear and I took off my new tank top.  I was put into a hospital  gown, and I remember that my legs and stomach were covered in blood.  I laid down and the nurses set me up with an IV.

For the next hour, in waves, my body got rid of what it had created to keep our baby alive.  I will never forget Bryan’s face.  He looked terrified.  My husband is the strongest man I know, a true thrill seeker…and his face was white.  I learned, after the fact, that he thought I was bleeding out.  He didn’t realize that what he was seeing was mostly placenta and separate from the blood system that keeps me alive.

The entire ordeal was so uncomfortable, and I remember at some point resigning myself to what was happening.  I was going to be covered in blood until this was over, things were going to keep falling out of me and being collected.  So, I went numb.


I don’t remember much else leading up to the surgery.  So much blood.  I vaguely remember being put onto the operating table and shaking uncontrollably.  I remember hearing my surgeon (the same doctor from my OBGYN that fought for me earlier) yelling for the nurse to get me a warm blanket.  I felt protected, and then I fell asleep.

When I woke up in post-op I met the most amazing nurse.  She had curly red hair, and her smile made me feel warm.  She asked how I was doing and, for a moment, I was happy.  Then I remembered….I remembered why I was there and my soul ached.  The nurse hugged me.  I will never forget that hug.  She smelled like love.

She asked if I was in pain, and I said I was.  I’m not sure if the pain was from the surgery or my broken heart, but I hurt…so deeply.  The nurse gave me morphine and I fell asleep.  I remember being in and out of sleep for the next few hours.  At some point I was in a hospital room with Bryan by my side.  It was late.  I would wake up and remember, and struggle to keep my eyes open.  Bryan would squeeze my hand, tell me everything was going to be ok, and I would fall asleep again.

When I was discharged we went to Wendy’s and got cheese fries and a lemonade.  I didn’t even know Wendy’s had cheese fries until that night.

I have not been the same since this experience.  It felt like a little bit of the light inside of me dimmed.  For a long time I wondered if I would be able to come back from what happened, and for a long time I didn’t think I would…but I did.  I am a more anxious and skeptical version of my previous self, but I am once again relishing in the magic that comes from the little moments that happen every day.

I will never forget that day.  I will never be able to thank my dear friend Alyssa enough.

#IVF Strong




IVF · Retrieval · Side Effects

The Great Shanahan Harvest of 2018

It’s been a while since we actually had our egg retrieval.  In fact, as I am looking back it has almost been a full month…wow.  I have to be honest, the retrieval was so much more physically and emotionally draining than I ever could have imagined.

When the black cloud of the Estrogen snafu had been lifted the retrieval day had, once again, become something very exciting for us.  It was another early morning, I was not allowed to eat or drink anything…no makeup (no big deal) and no lotion.


When we arrived at the Basking Ridge office there were already so many people.  This place is like a well-oiled machine.  You go upstairs to check -in, and the lobby is AMAZING.  So many beautifully upholstered chairs.  If you know me, you know I love a mix of patterns and fabrics on my chairs and this did not disappoint.  Bryan and I were separated after check-in…I was sent downstairs to the surgical center and he was sent into the “specimen collection” area.  I wish he would share his point of view on these situations because it is HILARIOUS.  All I can recap is that he made sure not to touch any of the walls or furniture.

When I arrived in the surgical waiting area there were beautiful flowers everywhere.  I, of course, took pictures…


When you enter the waiting room there are instructions to pick up a black phone, which I did.  The person on the other end already knew who I was.  It felt for a second like I was in some kind of a spy movie, and although I know I was NOT it definitely made things a little extra exciting that morning.  Bryan soon met me in the waiting room, and then we were brought back by the nurse who was going to be with me both pre and post-op.  The nurse loved my T-shirt, and I love positive reinforcement so this was already going well for me.

When we got back to our “bay” as they called them, I got down to my birthday suit and wrapped the oh-so-comfortable hospital gown around my body.  My nurse put in my IV, and I acted like it didn’t hurt like holy hell (which was a lie).  I couldn’t help but notice that she looked so much like our friend Shala…it could have been her sister!  For this reason, and so many more, I was instantly comfortable.

As we waited for surgery many more people came in until the area was full.  There was so much to take in.  There were people crying because the stimulation shots had made them so incredibly uncomfortable, people groggily coming out of anesthesia, and there was the surgeon bopping from bay to bay giving the EXACT SAME speech to each person that was about to go in for their retrieval “God gave you bandaids, they are called platelets….”  By the time it was my turn Bryan and I were pretty much able to recite his entire speech.

Fast forward to being on the table…

The anesthesiologist started the sleepy meds, and this is what I remember:

  1. It burned and I made sure to tell him.
  2. I met my embryologist and let her know she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen (sleepy meds clearly kicking in).
  3. I began to belt out whatever song was playing in the OR which knocked out the oxygen….and then I woke up.


Apparently I was a hit in post-op.  I told my nurse about 100 times that she looked like Shala, and I made her write down the names of two shows I was currently watching on Netflix.  I was also trying to pump up the women in the bays around me by shouting “You’ve got this my IVF sister”.  I remember being very happy, and having no pain.

Shortly after waking up our nurse came in with our egg count and we were blown away.  We had 23 eggs that were retrieved.  IMG_6327Even our nurse thought that was pretty amazing.   We chose to hide our excitement, however, because we could hear the sadness of the woman in the bay to our left who hadn’t had as much success.  I will never forget her words, over and over…”what happened?!”  I can’t imagine how she felt.  After all of those weeks of shots and hoping.  I still think about her.

We left that day feeling on top of the world.  23 eggs….TWENTY THREE EGGS!  This was amazing.  Surely this would mean that we would have a solid amount of eggs after everything was said and done.

False fucking happiness.

Here is how it works:  On the day of your retrieval you find out how many eggs were harvested.  The next day you find out how many eggs were fertilized, and then 5 days later you are given your final count.  What they don’t tell you…the number you get on the day of retrieval gives you false hope.  The VERY NEXT DAY we learned that out of those 23 eggs only 14 were mature…and out of those 14 mature eggs only 8 fertilized. In a matter of one day we lost 15 eggs. Everyone kept telling me that “8 was still a good number” but I knew what it really meant.  8 Would be a great number if that was our final count, but we had a long way to go.  It would take 5 more days to see if those 8 eggs made it to the blasto phase (if they grew they way they should).  Even after that, they still had to survive the genetic testing.

So much about the fertility process revolves around waiting, and hope. Our embryos were in the hands of the experts, and there was quite literally nothing we could do.  Those 5 days were harder than I thought they would be.  We got a call from Dr. Rauch on Saturday the 25th.  Our doctor is the best.  She knew that we would be waiting, and although she hadn’t gotten the official report she dug through the paperwork to find that they had frozen three eggs.  We both shared a huge sense of relief, and she confirmed what I had known all along.  14 mature eggs was a low number for me, and she too was nervous that we would end up with only one egg after the 5 day wait.

For us, at this point, 3 was a solid number.

The waiting was not over.  Our three little embryos had been biopsied before they were frozen.  The biopsy was being sent off for genetic testing, something that was VERY expensive (think $8K) but very necessary given our history of miscarriage.  Dr. Rauch was honest, she let us know that there was a 30% loss attached to genetic testing, which meant we would likely lose one of our three eggs. This was OK, because we would still have two.

Such a whirlwind…and although we had 3 (and that was good considering what we started with) I was sad.  I cried for the loss of every egg during every phase.  We started on such a high, and yet were now in crunch time hoping and praying we at least end up with two healthy embryos.  How did this happen?

Mixed deeply into this emotional rollercoaster was the physical recovery.  Here is how that panned out.

Monday/Surgery: No pain, super sleepy.  Watched a ton of Grace and Frankie and slept. By the evening I felt well enough to get up and do laundry….I thought this would be easy peasy.  I was drinking a ton of pedialyte and water because dehydration is common after egg retrievals, that routine continued for the next two weeks.

Tuesday/1 Day Post-Op: Feeling OK in the morning I went to work.  BIG MISTAKE.  By 9:00 am I was in so much pain I had to go home.  It felt like someone was stabbing my female organs.  I looked 4 months pregnant from swelling, it hurt to stand up straight and it hurt to pee.  I learned that day that constipation is common after this surgery, and boy did that hit me hard.  Bryan got me a heating pad, prune juice, stool softeners, and raisin bran and I watched even more Grace and Frankie in between sleeping with my two caretakers by my side.


Wednesday/2 Days Post-Op:  The supplies Bryan bought me worked and I was feeling “lighter”, although I was still very VERY swollen.  The janitor at work smiled at me and said “eating for two!”.  I said “Not yet, but soon if science does its job!”  It still hurt to pee and stand up straight…but it was manageable.

Thursday/2 Days Post-Op: Finally cleared out (if you know what I mean) and feeling better.  Still swollen, but looking 1 month preggo instead of 4.  At this point I was used to this level of discomfort because it was a lot like how I felt on stim shots, and we had been through 3 rounds of those.  What was even better was that I no longer had the symptoms of hyper -stimulation which meant I was in the clear.

By Saturday I was feeling more like myself, but it would take a few weeks to feel “normal” again.

#IVF Strong






IVF · Shots · Trigger · Whoops

“Mistakes are Part of the Journey”

So much has happened since my last blog, I don’t even know where to begin.

When I last wrote, we were scheduled to trigger on Thursday night for a Saturday retrieval.  We went in for morning monitoring and it was pushed back “one more day” for the next two days (which felt like an eternity).  My life as a human pincushion had me shook (as my students say) and not in a good way.  IMG_6070Each night that our trigger was postponed meant ANOTHER night of MENOPUREEEEE!!!!!  Each night that we pushed the trigger back also meant an early morning trip for monitoring.  On weekends this takes us about a half hour away because the Freehold office isn’t open…which means up at or before 5 every day for about 6 days straight to be poked and prodded.  On these mornings I was especially thankful for the warm and caring staff AND doctors.  Dr. Molinaro seemed to be in charge of the monitoring hours every day, and every day he came in with such excitement.  It made US excited.  I’ll never forget when he said “You are going to do great” the night before the retrieval.  It was the approval and positive reinforcement that I needed in that moment.  I wanted to jump up and hug him…but quickly remembered I was naked from the waist down aside from a verrrryyyyyy thin sheet of paper.

Fast forward to “Trigger Night”, which should be named the most confusing concoction of medicine and time requirements known to man.  After blood work/ultrasound I always get  call from my nurse (or a nurse on call if she is out) to give me next steps.  On this day, the next steps were to trigger.  I thought, OK!  We’ve got this…we have triggered twice before during IUI’s.  Nope.  This was NOTHING like the triggers of the past.  We had to trigger once at 7:50 (yes, that’s right…to the minute) the night before and then again at 7:50am the next morning.  This added another complication because that meant we needed to be at morning monitoring extra early so we would be able to administer the second trigger at EXACTLY 7:50am. There was more.  Two shots, but not the kind that you can just pick up and jab right in… WE HAD TO MIX!


Ok, not a big deal (again)…but when you are pumped full of hormones and juggling several vials of medicine (while a kind lady named Maria whips through directions) you just might panic.  Maria assured me that she would email me everything that we talked about.  Relieved, I put my pad and pen down and focused on looking at/understanding the medicine in front of me.  If time travel was possible, that pad and pen would never, ever, EVER leave my hand (insert monkey covering eyes emoji).  One giant piece of advice for anyone about to embark on this crazy fertility journey is WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING.  It doesn’t matter how repetitive it seems, or how annoyed the person on the other end of the phone or table might be at having to repeat themselves…this is YOUR body, and the more confirmation you have about the VERY confusing and many steps you will need to take the more confident you will be.  I will regret this moment for a long time, and here is why…

After an extremely early morning of blood work and ultrasound, Bryan and I arrived home for the last trigger.  This was supposed to be our last shot for at least a month.  We were PUMPED (see above).  I was so sure Maria said to take the HCG (Estrogen) again in the morning and not the Lupron.  Bryan thought we were supposed to take both, but I assured him “I am 100% sure it’s the HCG, I would remember!” I was fucking wrong.  Boy was I wrong.  We re-read one of the several pages of directions that were emailed to us (the very, very confusing directions) and realized it was supposed to be the Lupron and NOT the HCG.  We had just taken the HCG.  Fuck.  In a panic, Bryan jabbed me with the Lupron well and we called the doctor’s office to page a nurse on call.  Then I googled…

What did I find?  Of course, an article that said extra Estrogen could compromise the quality of eggs during the retrieval process.  It was ONE article, but it was the first that I looked at…and then I lost my mind.  My world came crashing down.  Had I ruined everything?  Did I just negate EVERYTHING we had been through…all the shots, all the blood work, all the tears?!?  I haven’t cried that hard, and that deeply, since the last miscarriage.  Here I was pumped full of hormones, trying to wrap my head around the fact that my fuckup could have cost us a successful retrieval.  Then, I went eeeeven deeper.  If I couldn’t keep this straight, how could possibly take care of a baby?  I couldn’t keep the three babies we were supposed to have alive, no wonder I fucked this up too.

Poor Bryan.

All he could do was try to squeeze me.  I let him, then I pushed him away, then I let him.  He is a saint, and his support of me that day was unwavering.  He even texted me that he was proud of me (while picking up meds that I will explain later).  Can you imagine? Proud of me?  Why?!?!

For the next three hours we spoke to nurses and waited.  The first nurse said “It’s probably no big deal”…the next “it shouldn’t impact your cycle”…and then the last “it’s probably ok, I mean we can’t go back and change it now anyway”.  Thanks.

I was in a haze.  My mommy was on her way to spend the day with me and all I could do was mindlessly watch “The Ranch” hoping for some of that comfort I used to feel on shot nights.  Then, magic!  It was my doctor.  Dr. Eden Rauch, the best damn doctor I have ever had.  I could hear her children in the background, she was not on call that day and had no duty to call me… I had spoken to the nurses already and could have spoken to a doctor on call.  She said, and I quote “Sara, I was worried about you and wondered if you knew that  everything was fine.  I need you to understand that your eggs will not be impacted by the extra HCG…” HappyEgg

Holy shit.

Music to my ears.

Thank you forever, Eden Rauch.  I think I love you.

She went on to explain that the only side effect would be extra discomfort and pain for me following the procedure.  That’s it?  I will take it!  It also meant more shots (Ganirellix) and more pills (Letrozole) to prevent me from going into overstimulation.  Again, I. Will. Take. It.  My eggs were fine, and the black cloud that was once looming over the transfer disappeared.   I made a mistake, one that I thought was devastatingly huge…but everything was OK.  It’s like the feeling you get when you think you lost your wallet, but find it shoved between the couch cushions (times one million).  Pure euphoria. A joy that wouldn’t have been possible without the preceding turmoil.  We were going to be OK.  It’s hard to see that when you spend so much time diligently following all of the rules, and all of the processes that come with with fertility treatments.

As a wise IVF sister told me, “Mistakes are part of the Journey”.

Nobody is perfect, and IVF is really, really hard…and that is OK.

Up next, the retrieval and recovery.

#IVF Strong