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?!?

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





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








IVF · Reality · Shots · Uncategorized

Human Pincushion


Since my last post we started taking 3 shots a night, adding Ganirelix (to make sure I don’t ovulate prematurely).  I. Feel. Like. A. Human. Pincushion.  Between the shots, the bloodwork, and the flu shot I threw in for good measure….there seems to always be a needle being shoved into my skin.

Last night was a rough one for a few reasons.  I decided to start watching the series “Call the Midwife”, which chronicles the life of a young midwife in 1950’s east London.  You would think watching all the babies being born would be what upset me, but no.  There was a man that reminded me of my dad who ended up dying from gangrene after having his legs amputated (because his tenement was torn down and NOBODY TOOK CARE OF HIS ABSSESSES IN THE NURSING HOME!!!!) which sent me into an emotional tailspin.  I spent a large part of the rest of the night hysterically crying because at some point in the far future my dad will eventually die, and my mom will eventually die, and my brother will eventually die, and Chase will eventually die and Bryan “BETER NOT DIE BEFORE ME”…irrational with a capital I.  Hormones.

My hyper-emotional state made the shots sting a little bit more.  After the menopure I definitely cried again.  It BURNS so much, I am pretty sure yesterday I screamed “GET IT OUT OF ME!” like one second after Bryan jabbed me.

Sad Chimmy After Midwife Show

On the bright side, the extreme suck that comes along with the menopure makes the third shot seem like a vacation.  I actually can’t wait for the third shot (Ganirelix) because it doesn’t hurt as much, that means the menopure is over, and it’s all easy peasy lemon squeezy from there.

There is another bright side that has emerged from all of this, and that is the gratitude I have for what has become our family routine in this journey.  Bryan jabs me every night at 9:45.  Around 9:30 he starts prepping alllll of the needles while I light a candle and sanitize my buzzy (still a little machine sent from the heavens).Captain Chase Chase takes his seat at the head of the table, and watches over pretty much everything that goes on. We start with the gonal, I grit my teeth through the meopure, and I begin to feel a little bit of excitement as Bryan jabs me with Ganirelix.  Bryan hands me a gauze pad if I am bleeding while he tells me how proud he is of me, my buzzy ices the injection sites, and we clean up.

After the shots, the whole family climbs into bed and we watch “The Ranch”…a kinda sorta OK show starring Ashton Kutcher.  We started watching “The Ranch” by accident, and it has now somehow become my comfort show-nudging out Big Bang theory (which I thought would neeeeeverrrrrr happen).  I love these moments with Bryan…they feel like victory.  We survived another night of shots, we are one day closer to Baby Shanahan, and we did it together.

I look forward to these moments every night…they have become such an important and meaningful time for us…and without all of this, without the struggle and the shots-I would probably still take this time together for granted.

It’s not ALL bad.  Tonight was a good night (despite a quick Valentine’s Day fiasco which involved me sitting on a broken chair at dinner and a three hour meal).  The shots still sucked, but there were no tears…in fact, I was smiling  and dancing the entire time.  Side note, it is NOT a good idea to dance when getting jabbed in the belly.  Bryan bought me a bangin box of handmade chocolate with the intention of giving me one piece after each shot as a reward (#IVFValentinesDay), and as I type we are all watching “The Ranch”.  I am so lucky.

We go for bloodwork and an ultrasound tomorrow.  If things look good we could trigger tomorrow night and the retrieval will be Saturday.  It’s all happening so fast!

#IVF Strong





Emotionssssss · IVF · Reality · Side Effects

Side Effect Tsunami


Sooooo Bryan has only been jabbing me since last Thursday, but the side effects of all these crazy hormones hit me pretty much immediately.  It wasn’t until today, however, that I allowed myself to believe that everything I am feeling is a side effect…like I had to pretend this wasn’t going on because admitting the impact somehow made me weak.  Going into this I always pictured Bryan talking to friends and saying “Chimmy has been such a champ, I’ve barely noticed a difference.”  I am a rugby girl, I am tough…shouldn’t I be able to handle this better?

Get over yourself girl.

I am injecting hormones into myself nightly, and this is how it makes me feel…I feel sad.  Not all the time, but there are moments where I feel like I am going to break down into hysterical tears for no reason at all.  It’s almost like perpetual PMS, that day RIGHT before your period when you drop the butter knife in the sink before you are done with it and it turns you into an emotional jellyfish.

I also feel tired.  Extremely tired, and there is a haze within which I currently just exist.  I see people in front of me, and I know they are there…but I end up staring for a little too long before I actually begin to speak.  This happened today at the doctor during morning monitoring.  There was a nurse in the hallway, and as I was entering the exam room I stopped and just stared at her.  Wide-open fly catching mouth, tilted head, and what I assume was the most blank stare she has ever seen.  The moment seemed to last FOREVER until Bryan snapped me out of it.  I promptly apologized, and we laughed about my awkwardness for like 15 straight minutes.

Another amazing side effect…I am forgetful, but only about personal things.  For example, the other day I went to ShopRite to buy my Perrier (don’t judge me I can’t drink and I like the feel of the fancy glass bottle…k?) and some yogurt, and left my purse in the shopping cart.  I got home and realized that my purse was in the front of the cart…in the parking lot…at ShopRite.  I also lost my keys recently.  Went to the car to grab something in the morning and POOF, they were gone.  This, of course, sent me into an emotional tailspin as I was trying to run out of the door to work.  Poor, poor patient Bryan.  Luckily this hasn’t bled into my teaching duties yet.  Maybe I am using up all the brain space I have to keep myself organized and on-point in my classroom?  I do love those little buggers.

Finally, I am having hot flashes.  This is a particularly lovely side effect because, as you know, we are in the middle of one of the worst flu seasons ever.  I love teaching children about ordered pairs and being overtaken by a hot flash that has me CONVINCED they have given me the flu, and I will soon be a headline in the Asbury Park Press because I have died from the flu.  Have I mentioned the medicine makes me feel emotional/irrational?

I could sit here and feel like a crazy person-but I won’t.  I HAVE to remind myself that I am injecting myself with HORMONES EVERY NIGHT.  I am not weak, and I am not crazy.  If I need to cry, I will.  When I am tired, I will take a nap (at home, of course…well definitely not when teaching or driving for sure…) If I forget something, I will go back and get it.  If I have a hot flash, I will drink ice cold water and remember that it doesn’t mean I am DYINGGGGGG.

This is already such an incredibly wild ride, but I am strapped in and ready for whatever natural disaster of side effects that may come my way as we start with THREE SHOTS A NIGHT TONIGHT (errrr merrrr gerrrrrrrrrd)  Lucky for me, I have a husband that is both strong and 100% in my corner.

#IVF Strong

P.S.-Chase already at my buzzy…lucky for him it still works…