Thursday, January 2, 2014

How We Got Here and Where We Are Going

We are Kerri and Jason and this blog is our way of documenting our long and winding road to parenthood...we haven't reached our destination yet and have faced many bumps, roadblocks, and detours along the way but we are hopeful that we will get there someday soon.

We met on June 26th, 2008 at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta.  Kerri was 35 1/2 and Jason was about to turn 30.  Despite the age difference, our relationship progressed very quickly,  We were engaged within six months. Ten months later, in October of 2009, we had a beautiful beach wedding.

Since Kerri was already "Advanced Maternal Age", we began trying to start our family almost immediately.  After a couple of months with no luck we began to get serious about this baby-making thing and started using ovulation predictor kits, timing intercourse, taking temperatures, etc. etc. One month turned into two. Two months turned into four. Ten very frustrating months later we began to accept the fact that this dream of ours may not happen on its own. It was then that we turned to the first of three fertility clinics.   Initial tests could not find anything wrong and we were given the label "Unexplained Infertility".  The doctor recommended that we try an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination AKA turkey baster method)  We attempted our first IUI in November of 2010.   We anxiously awaited the results and got the phone call the day before Thanksgiving.

Just like that. First shot.  We were ecstatic!

At our 7 week ultrasound we learned that the heartbeat was abnormal and intermittent and we would likely miscarry.  Our joy was quickly replaced by a devastating sadness that would become all too familiar in the years to follow.
Over the next three years we would go through:

-3 fertility clinics (including one is St Louis)
-6 IUI's
-2 corrective surgeries
-4 IVF egg retrievals
-1 failed adoption attempt
-2  IV  Intralipid infusions
-4 miscarriages
-3 D&C's
-Hundreds of subcutaneous and intramuscular shots
-Thousands of tears

This past April we thought we had found the answer to all our problems conceiving.  After endless research, Kerri found a doctor in St. Louis who finally gave us a diagnosis and a reason for our miscarriages (by then we had experienced three losses, one with a chromosomally normal embryo). 

His Diagnosis: Elevated Natural Killer Cells (NK cells) in the uterine cavity.    Basically, Kerri's uterus recognizes the embryos as a foreign substance and these NK cells attack it.   While this sounds quite ominous, this doctor assured us that the condition is quite treatable with intrapilid infusions.  Intralipids are basically a mixture of soya bean oil, egg yolk, glycerin and water which is administered through an IV drip in the arm. Intralipid Infusion therapy provides the body with essential fatty acids that help to lower the activity of NK  cells.    
So, our long and winding road to parenthood led us to St. Louis.  This summer we made two 550 mile road trips to St. Louis and had two egg retrievals. The plan was to retrieve as many eggs as we could (20 total) and get as many 5 day blastocysts as we could (only 4) so that we could test them for viability.  Most miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities, so we hoped that if we could have at least one genetically normal embryo, this, combined with the intralipids would greatly reduce our risk of miscarriage.  After six long weeks of waiting, we learned that THREE of our four embryos were chromosomally normal!  We were ecstatic and  hopeful that we might even be able to have a sibling!  We transferred one normal embryo on October 23rd- a day before our fourth wedding anniversary.  We found out we were pregnant on Halloween!  Kerri happily did her second Intralipid Infusion, confident that this would make this baby stick.   It didn't.  She began bleeding a few days before our scheduled six week ultrasound. We moved up the u/s expecting the worst but were elated to find everything looked good. We even FINALLY got to hear a heartbeat of 116bpm.  A few days later we had our regularly scheduled u/s and the news that had become all too familiar was heard once again- the heartbeat had slowed down and was barely detectable.  Miscarriage was imminent.

To say we were devastated is an understatement.

There are no words to describe the complexity of emotions that we have felt over the last four years.  We do our best to enjoy what we have rather than what we do not have.  Honestly, at times, this is very hard to do. You go through life with a mask on, not letting others know how crushed you feel month after month.  Sure,  there are good times and laughter.  But underneath it all, there's still this incredible pain.  Infertility changes you.   It turns you into someone you don't want to be. It makes you bitter and envious and angry.  You can never be truly joyous when you learn of someone else's pregnancy as it just reminds you of your own sorrow.   Throughout our marriage there have been three different times that we knew we were pregnant, albeit only for a few short weeks.  Those weeks were so much easier.  It was like there was a heaviness that had been lifted from us- one we didn't even realize was there because we had just grown so accustom to it. It's as if we are always dragging a weight around with us.  Some days the weight is ever-present, such as when we learn we are miscarrying.   Other days it's less noticeable- until you see a facebook picture of a sonogram or birth announcement or learn that a friend is pregnant.   That feels like a kick in the gut.  But those  short weeks when we were pregnant were different. It wasn't just that we were happy.  It was that the absence of the weight was so apparent.

Over the years we have tried  many different things to help us cope with our emotions.  We've tried Buddhism.  Counseling. Exercise. Volunteering.  Scouring the internet for answers. Journaling. Vision Boards.  Worry Stones. Internet detoxes. Yoga.  Acupuncture.  Talking to friends and family.  Hibernating.  Leaning on each other.

In the end, it has been the boundless support of family and friends that has gotten us through this difficult time.   And mostly, it has been each other.   Luckily, we tend to see-saw with our emotions. When Jason is really down, Kerri is there to lift him up. When Kerri is at her lowest, Jason says the wisest things to help raise her spirits. Through all the challenges, we both feel incredibly blessed to have one another.  Here's a glimpse into what that looks like...

We are now faced with our biggest road block of them all- the realization that Kerri's body just isn't mean to carry our embryo.  It is a lot to come to terms with, but ultimately, we want a family and will take whatever road we need to in order to achieve that goal.  Next stop: Gestational Surrogacy.


  1. Hi Kerri! I just read your story and I am so sorry that things have not went well for you guys. I am a 3 time surrogate living near Charlotte, NC and I am considering doing one more journey. My last journey was completed March 2013. You are welcome to check out my blog. All 3 of my journeys were documented but the 3rd journey was kind of quiet due to some rocky circumstances concerning a twin pregnancy that wasn't desired (they only wanted one baby). Anyway, if you have any questions, I am happy to help. :)

  2. I expected my blog to be linked to my post, but it wasn't. It is:

    Just scroll down the page to "Labels" on the right side. You can click surrogacy from there to see my previous posts.

  3. Hi Kerri and Jason! I am a 3x GS, trying to get in touch with you. Kerri, can you please check your "other" folder in facebook messages, and also your email spam folder (I sent a reply via SMO as well and sometimes they end up there and never get seen). I really want to connect with the two of you!!