Going through IVF and openly sharing our journey has led me to this amazing community of people with ties to infertility and IVF.  I’ve connected with so many people going through infertility issues and IVF personally and also those who have a loved one struggling.  I’m so thankful for this

I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that God had us go through this struggle so that we can help other couples and help educate and empower other women and couples.

I get so many questions and try to respond to as many as I can.  I thought it would be helpful if I rounded up some of the common questions and shared them here for everyone.  I plan on doing more of these in the future, so please continue to send in your questions here through the blog, through social or at samantha@samanthabusch.com so I can include them in the next Q&A.

How long did you try to conceive before going to a specialist?

We tried for a good year on our own before thinking something was wrong and going to the OBGYN.  First, they had us try Clomid, which is an oral medication that stimulates ovulation.  We tried for four months with no luck, so they referred us to our fertility clinic, REACH.

One of the most interesting things I was told by a fertility specialist throughout all of this is that you don’t need a referral to go to a fertility clinic, you can simply call and make the appointment yourself.

Additionally, if after six months of trying and you both are healthy and have no pre-existing conditions, you should go speak to a professional.  Your odds of getting pregnant from month six to 12 is only an additional 10%.  So save yourself the anguish of those extra six months and go straight to a professional.

How long does the IVF process take?

During the first round, from the consultation to embryo transplant, it was about 9 weeks. We opted to do a frozen transfer, so after the egg retrieval, I took a month off to let my body rest from all the hormones.  This lengthened the process more than a fresh transfer.

Now during this second round, because we already had the frozen embryos and didn’t have to do the egg retrieval, it’s about 5 weeks.

Did you take any supplements?

I started taking a prenatal vitamin several months before even starting IVF along with fish oil and CLA. I also take a few other HUM Nutrition vitamins for hair and nails regularly. I stopped eating processed soy (as much as I can) awhile back and have noticed a huge improvement in my PCOS symptoms, especially the acne!

Did you try IUI first?

An IUI is Intrauterine Insemination and is a relatively simple process that puts sperm directly inside the uterus, helping healthy sperm get closer to the egg and increase the chances of fertilization.  It’s often one of the first steps when couples are facing infertility issues.  Unfortunately, we were not candidates for IUI because of Kyle’s low sperm count and quality – it wouldn’t have worked for us so we went straight to IVF.

Did you experience side effects from the hormones?

I did experience side effects from the various medications. With Clomid, I was an insanely emotional, crying mess at the drop of a hat. With Lurpon, I felt pent up rage. At times I would just have to go to the gym and workout really hard and hit the punching bag, I had all of this aggression for no reason. With the progesterone in oil shots, my hip and upper butt felt like I got kicked hard and was sore and tender.

If you freeze your eggs do you still have to go through IVF to get pregnant?

The egg retrieval is just one step in the IVF process. The whole process in a nutshell looks like egg retrieval, sperm sample, make the embryos, do fresh or frozen transfer. Since we already have frozen embryos we were able to skip the first few steps.

How did you decide to test the embryos vs. not test?

For us, the decision to test our embryos was fairly easy because it was strongly recommended by our doctor. With Kyle’s sperm and my egg quality being subpar, we wanted to give ourselves the best chance at pregnancy (especially after trying so long). The technical term is Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) and it is a genetic analysis of each embryo that significantly increases the pregnancy rates per transfer.

After having our embryos tested, three out of the 11 did not make it.  We were informed that none of those three would have made it to birth, that I would have either not gotten pregnant or would have miscarried within the first few weeks. After everything we had been through to get to the embryo transplant point, I don’t know if emotionally I could have handled a miscarriage.  So I am very grateful we took the doctor’s advice.

The additional cost was around $5,000-$6,000, I believe, for this testing.

Do you get to choose the gender of the baby?

Well, you can’t choose the gender of the embryos that are created.  But if you do the PGS testing (referenced above), you can choose to know the sex of the viable embryos and, if you wish, choose which sex is transferred.  We did decide to transfer a male embryo this first time and a female embryo this round.

Do you notice any major differences between your first and second rounds of IVF?

During our first round of IVF, I really got inside my head and was a crazy person, literally obsessing over everything. I think a lot of that had to do with spending so much time trying beforehand and being unsuccessful.

This time around, I have Brexton, my store, the foundation, the show and of course still Kyle and the race schedule.  So I have lots of other things to focus on which I actually think has helped to make this round a bit easier.

What should you do when IVF doesn’t work after two tries?

This hasn’t happened to us, but I think if I was in the situation, I would have a sit down with your doctor and try to get as much information as possible. Are there different things you can try?  For example, a fresh versus frozen transfer?  The more information the better.

Also speak up and be your own advocate if something doesn’t feel right. I am blessed to have found the REACH clinic because they have very open lines of communication and thoroughly explain each and every step and are always there to take questions (and freak outs!).  You definitely want to find a clinic that does the same.

How did you become so confident and positive about IVF?

At first, I wasn’t.  When we were trying to get pregnant and had failed after failed test, I was depressed. I didn’t want to hang out with my friends because it was hard to be fun. I was extremely jealous of my friends that were pregnant and then felt guilty for not being happy for them. I felt like becoming pregnant was an obsession.

I did pray a lot, and one night I really felt it placed on my heart that God was having me go through this for a special reason to help other people. It was almost like a, “Hey, calm down I got this.  You are going to be fine. I’m having you go through this for a reason.”  And I did feel more at peace then.

It wasn’t until we were pregnant that I was able to comfortably share our IVF story. Then once we had Brexton, I had it placed on my heart again that we had to do more.  That’s when the Bundle of Joy Fund began. True story, in the first round of applications we ever received, one of the husbands wrote almost word for word what I had felt while praying and there was such a peace. I knew this was what I was meant to do.

While struggling to get pregnant, I was embarrassed as a woman that I couldn’t conceive.  I felt ashamed and broken, that something I was made to do I couldn’t.  But now I realize there is nothing to be embarrassed about. I have broken ovaries and crazy hormones, so what? I know that doesn’t make me less of a woman.

How did you overcome the “playing God” feeling?

Well, first, I believe God made these doctors so smart for a reason. Second, I look at it like I have body parts that simply don’t function properly and I’m getting them fixed. If I broke my leg, I would see a doctor for it. My ovaries are, for lack of a better word, kind of broken, so I saw a doctor for it.

It is hard to feel like you are making big decisions you shouldn’t be.  But I know every time I look at Brexton, I made the right decision. I know every time I see a new Bundle of Joy couple with their precious newborn, that I am so happy we didn’t conceive naturally because what we are doing in the IVF community, I know I was meant to be doing it.