Chris & Jenny Baby Fund

This is hard for me, harder than (mostly) any of you know! Until now I have chosen to open up to only a select few people because before now I was embarrassed by our issue, I felt as if I would be judged for it or worse pitied for it. I do not want either of those things from this, if anything it’s to get it out and to not feel ashamed about it anymore, and well in all honesty for some financial help with it.
 
Our Story…

We have been married for 6 years and trying to have a baby for about that same amount of time minus deployments and missions so realistically like 4. It has been heart wrenching and exciting all at the same time witnessing friends and family have children sometimes
several children during this time. Every time I experience several emotions first joy, then extreme sadness because it has not happened to us yet. People always say the WORST things when you tell them that
you are trying but have not had success yet… some of my favorites are “don’t try so hard” “just drink a bottle of wine and relax” really I mean REALLY??? We were in Italy still when I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I was referred to a Doctor on base who
“dabbled” in fertility issues. He assumed that I was having cycle issues and suggested temperature tracking for several months. When that did not work the doctor suggested progesterone inserts, and when that did
not work he suggested an HSG. An HSG is a procedure where x-ray dye is injected into your uterus and watched by live x-ray machine. My results were not what was expected. I clearly remember that gut
sinking feeling and trying to lock myself into the attached bathroom to avoid anyone seeing me sob. The Dr. told me “you're dealing with fertility issues now, you're swimming in the deep end of the pool just
make sure you don’t drown.” We were told that we could go out onto the economy to be seen by a specialist or we could wait until we returned to the states. After a LOT of consideration we chose to wait until we were back stateside. When we returned to the states in 2012
I began to aggressively research fertility doctors. I came across one that was highly recommended and had amazing statistics. It took me 3 months to get an appointment. I had my initial consultation and we
collectively came up with a plan. Monitor for a month and repeat the HSG. Upon repeat of the HSG the results were the same but still unclear why. As a result, exploratory laparoscopic surgery was scheduled. When
they went in they discovered that when my appendix ruptured the toxin that leaked had collected in my fimbriae and scarred my tubes.  One tube was removed and one tube was tied because it was so scarred
it had attached to my small bowel. When I woke up from surgery Chris was there to break the news to me that we would indeed have to go the IVF route. I was devastated, literally heart broken. I felt like my whole world was flipped sideways and would never right
itself. A few weeks later we met with the doctor and talked about the IVF process and all that it would entail. Injections several times a day, oral medication, blood hormone level draws daily and internal ultrasounds
daily. Retrieval day comes and we get 11 eggs. Chris and I are super excited. The following day I receive a phone call from the nurse practitioner that had been doing most of my testing. She informed me that my eggs did not fertilize … I ask her to repeat what she said again because I didn’t think I heard her right. She repeats herself and I literally fell to the floor and sobbed. Chris was away doing things for Dive School so I was alone. Everyone that I tried to call was not answering their
phone so I just sat there and cried, alone. Eventually Chris returned my call and we cried together. We both felt very let down and betrayed by the doctor and his staff because through the whole process we were
told that we were “poster children for IVF”...."you will have great success because you're so young and in such good health.” I was very VERY sad and became depressed for quite a while....

We moved from Florida to Virginia in December of 2012. I wanted nothing to do with babies or friends with babies, pregnant women or children. I became angry and
bitter. The whole "why not me and her” set in. I started to judge people and their parenting and started saying “I would NEVER, and how could she do that.” It was a very awful path. One that Chris continued to stand by me and walk down with me. He never turned away.  He always held me while I cried. He was ALWAYS there. 

We purchased our home in Virginia July of 2013 and began to fill it with positive new memories. I refused to continue on this path, REFUSED!!! I started to look into doctors again and continue with my research. That's when was referred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2014 by my primary care doctor. I began another LONG road. A road that I feared would lead me to that all too familiar depressing state. A road that would give me no answers, let alone the hope of a family, of being a mother. Meanwhile I got a lot of encouraging words from the few people that I did share our dream of having a family with. This is what it boiled down to....if I didn’t choose to try I would never know if I would succeed or fail at our dream, having a child of our own, with the man that I love, with a man that would be an incredible father. That's when I decided to try again. Chris and I started all of our testing March of 2014. For me it was blood work and for Chris it was a semen analysis. Then I got a phone call with the results while at
work, everything for me came back “within normal limits” but Chris’ sperm count was "non-existent.” This takes the air out of me. I will never forget that feeling, empty, alone, confused...lost. While we were in Florida going through treatment he was referred to as having superman sperm. Now, we find out the complete opposite. I am devastated. My heart and mind
immediately started running, that’s it, we really cannot have babies. 

Let me tell you, Walter Reed has some AMAZING doctors, nurses, and support staff because the HEAD of the IVF department called me personally to talk to me. He explained our options and what
and how we could go on from this point. He made it very clear that this was not the end of our road. Chris and I did a lot of talking about our options. We talked about me carrying a child that was not his, us raising a child that was not his, bringing a child into our family
that was not his. To an outsider these may seem like awful questions but I will tell you when you are going through something like this you talk about EVERY SINGLE POSSIBILITY.... Every possibility of fulfilling your dream of being a mommy, a daddy...a family. 

Remember that doctor I referred to earlier? The one that said “you're dealing with fertility issues now, you're
swimming in the deep end of the pool just make sure you don’t drown."  Well he was right. We are swimming in the deep end. If this works, if we are fortunate enough to get pregnant we want to make sure that the choices we made while trying are ones that we can live with when the baby is born. Chris and I then decided, together, that we did not care if the baby was genetically his baby. We did not care if the baby did not genetically fit into the family. I did not care if the baby
was genetically his baby. We cared that he would be the daddy, that I would be the mommy. It was just that simple. After that decision was made we started to look for donors. Let me tell you that it’s not easy, you are              
in essence reading biographies about someone and praying that they were not lying about themselves or their family history. We made a decision and we were confident in it. All of the extra decisions that we had to make pushed us out to a 2015 cycle. January 5 was my baseline appointment. Blood work, a baseline sonogram, and getting all my medications.

When you go through IVF they get your ovaries to mass produce eggs. A normal woman's ovaries are the size of almonds and produce 1 egg a month (sometimes more causing multiples). A woman going through IVF produces several eggs and while you're taking medication (injections) to do this you're also taking medication (injections) to prevent ovulation. My ovaries were the size of mandarin oranges when retrieval day came, yes it was uncomfortable.

January 5-21 consisted of appointments every other day. Then towards the end the appointments were daily. All five hours away from our house. On January 22nd we did the retrieval. The Doctors came in before the procedure to explain some details. Because my ovaries were so large and they pushed them so hard my progesterone level was at 1.9 and 2.0 becomes a “grey area” where they are unsure of implant possibilities. They said that right now it is nothing to worry about
but it’s something that we need to think about due to the fact that we could possibly not implant or even transfer when we are supposed to. I was nervous, scratch that, I was terrified. We had made it to this point before and that was it. I knew if this didn’t work it was it for us, we could not afford another cycle. I was holding myself together (or so I thought) until Chris had to go do his donation and I was sitting in the pre-op area alone. Hooked to an IV listening to the beeping of the machines while the silence lead me to a state of panic. The nurse and Chris both came around the corner at the same time. When Chris looked at me he asked me what was wrong, I looked at him and said “I am fairly certain I am having an anxiety attack”. He held my hand and
kissed me and told me that it was going to be ok. He said that his sperm turned out to be better quality and quantity than the donor sperm.  All I could do was stare at him, I had so many questions but could not form a coherent thought, let alone speak. 

The doctors came for me. (mind you I am having an anxiety attack). When I get into the operating room they are going through what procedure they are going to do asking me my name and birthday and explaining what is going to happen Then, the anesthesiologist, who is a Major in the Army, is over my head and I look up
at her and I lose it. I was a mess. I ask her to hold my hand and tell her that we only made it to this step the last time and it was over. The last thing I remember is her squeezing my hand and telling me that she would take care of me and that it would be ok. I gained a
whole new respect for doctors in that moment! When I woke up from surgery I had a number written on my hand and that number was twenty-two (22) yes that is how many eggs I had produced. We went home and a new waiting game began. We had to wait until the next day to see if the eggs fertilized. At 9 am the following morning my phone rang. It was the head nurse calling with the results. I thought for sure I was going to throw up, or pass out, or possibly both.
She told us (I had it on speaker phone) that out of the twenty-two eggs twelve (12) matured and 8 fertilized, 4 with Chris sperm and 4 with donor sperm. I couldn’t believe it, she literally had to repeat it 3 times. We were so excited we had stupid grins on out faces for the rest of the day. She tells us when our transfer day is and that I need to continue and discontinue certain medications and some instructions for transfer day.

January 27th transfer day. We cannot even tell you how excited we were. The doctors came in and he told us all about our embryos. We have 5 beautiful embryos 4 belong to Chris and 1 is the donors and that there is 1 more that could make the grade needed to freeze but that the decision would be made the following day. We were ecstatic!!! So now came the progesterone talk. My levels were 1.9 and my chance of implant was 50% because of that. I looked at the doctor and asked him “If I was your wife or your daughter, knowing what you know what would you advise them?" He told me that he
was comfortable implanting today that he had no concern with it because we did have several embryos but that he was also comfortable doing a frozen cycle. Chris, myself and the doctor collectively decided to transfer the middle grade embryo. We didn’t choose the best one because of the 50% odds and we didn’t choose the lowest one because of the 50% odds. We were all 100% comfortable and confident with this decision. At that time they gave me a paper with my orders to have blood drawn on February 5th to find out if I was pregnant and also my projected due date of October 2015. I just stared at the paper, this is happening, this is really and truly finally happening. Bliss pure bliss is what I felt, I felt as if I was floating. When I looked at Chris he looked ecstatic as well.
We went through with the transfer and let me tell you I thought it was going to be a long complicated process but it literally took less than 10 minutes. And that was it my IVF cycle was complete. I went home with different medications and instructions. Enter the LONGEST 9 days of my life. It’s something that you try not to think about and try not to stress out about, I mean I was eating healthy and I was taking pre-natal vitamins but I tried not to let it consume me. It was hard not to do. My body was tricked into thinking it was already pregnant
before the transfer was done so on transfer day my body thought it was already 19 days “pregnant.” So things were changing well, at least my boobs were, they were huge and everyone and I mean EVERYONE who has been pregnant says “my boobs were the way I knew I was pregnant” now remember that 50% chance they said I had, I was trying to remain hopefully optimistic about it because in my head I knew that it was still only 50/50. I worked, I cleaned, I crafted all the while being
mindful not to lift more than 10lbs and not to hit my stomach on anything remembering to eat healthy and what you can and can’t eat. As exciting as it was it was also a wee bit stressful. February 5th, I worked that morning and all day I was a nervous ball of craziness.  I cannot tell you how many babies came into work that day and pregnant women, good lord, there were a lot of them that day. I get off work and I go to the lab and they tell me that the results will not be in until tomorrow… ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!! So I wait.. again…. the next morning I called because I cannot wait any longer. 

She tells me that she isn’t at her desk that she will call me back in a few minutes. Wait again….. She calls me back and she says “I am sorry that I don’t have good news, but the test is negative." Now I knew in my head that it was only a 50/50 chance but my heart was broken. More than broken. More than shattered...

 Remember, I told you that Walter Reed has amazing staff, well the head nurse reminded me that we did have 4 embryos that were frozen (that one we were unsure of did make the grade) and that we could do a frozen
cycle. She reminded me that frozen cycles are much MUCH less stress on your body, less medication and have a 70% success rate. I called Chris to let him know the news. I had held it together until he asked me if I was ok. I cried and told him that while I was devastated I knew we still had/have options.

And we do have options! In fact, we have 4 of them! But
after 2 IVF cycles we are financially tapped out. I have not talked dollars and cents until now. 

One, because I hate money talk. Two, because I felt it was important to know our story, IVF and infertility is not easy. It has tested our marriage, tested and ended
friendships. That doctor was sort of right, it is like swimming in the deep end, but he failed to mention that the deep end is filled with things that try and drown you, no one is going to throw you a life preserver, you have to figure out how much you're willing to swim and know when to ask for help. We have been swimming in the deep end for 6 years and we are now asking for help.

 IVF is expensive and insurance does little if any to pay for it. Yes, that includes Tri-Care, and while Walter Reed has an IVF clinic is it by no means cheap. Tri-Care did cover the surgeries and the HSGs that I had to have done along with all the blood work and sonograms but they do not cover medications or cost of the procedure itself. Here is an out of pocket price breakdown for you: 2012 IVF: medications $350: cycle $5,500. Total $5850. 2015 IVF: $6,383 (including medications Embryo cryopreservation $568. Total $6,951. That's almost $13,000 that we have paid on our own, without asking for help. 

If we want to continue we need $2,404 (including medication) for each embryo. So that’s $9,616. A lot, we know but this is my last hope to become a mommy, his last hope to become a daddy...our last hope for "our family." 

We have 4 chances to become parents, 4 and then we are done swimming. That statement is sobering and heart breaking to me, I do not even have words for the way it makes me feel. We need your help to try and make this possible. If we are successful on the first frozen cycle and we have money left over we plan on donating it to another couple to try and help them keep swimming.
  • Jenn Bridwell 
    • $25 
    • 56 mos
  • Linda Jillson 
    • $100 
    • 74 mos
  • Catherine Stewart 
    • $50 
    • 74 mos
  • Deanna Greene 
    • $50 
    • 74 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 74 mos
See all

Organizer

Jenny Esqueda 
Organizer
Newport News, VA
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