Andy's Story

my raw Point-of-View

Before I begin, let me start out by saying thank you for allowing me to share my life with you.  Many of you know me personally, but for most of you, it’s hard to know just what I’ve been through these last few years.  Hell, even I don’t understand some of this stuff.  What I do know is getting this out and writing this down is both healthy and cathartic for me.  This stuff has been bottled for years, but I think I’m ready to “scream and shout and let it all out!  It’s been a long time coming, but there is a liberating feeling about letting my guard down and finally letting others in. 

Along this roller coaster of a ride, there were many times I felt completely alone, wondering how I will ever get through this.  Several people reached out and were brave enough to share their own experiences with me.  I could never thank those people enough for the time they took to send me, and Pilar, their kind words and love.  I wasn’t so alone after all.  And, if I can provide someone else with that small slice of comfort, then in a weird way, I could find some purpose or reason in this whole thing.  We all go through our challenges in life.  Nobody’s is bigger or more important than anyone else.  We all come from different life experiences and backgrounds and educations and upbringings and families.  What may seem “the worst” to some, may not be to others.  But for me, mine is huge, all-encompassing and defining… this is my life.  This is my story.


Never in a million years did I think I would find myself in this situation.  This happens to other people, not us.  Not me.  How did I get here and what did I do to deserve this?  Well… let me take a huge breath and rewind back to September 2009.  I didn’t know it then, but for me, this probably marks the beginning of this long journey.  Back then, Pilar and I had been together for over 14 years, married for 4.  After being together so long, everyone had asked “when are you going to get married?”  Quickly after that happened, the questions turned to “when are you having a baby?”

Funny thing, as much as we loved kids, we really didn’t want any at that time in our lives.  We just loved being together and enjoyed life.  For some, it was hard to imagine.  For us, it was “us.”  I didn’t think we were anywhere ready to be parents.  Nor did either of us feel this urge to have a child.  I figured that time might come in the future.  Maybe?  Others thought about it more than we did.  We were different, in a good way.  We did things on our own accord.  It was who we were.  We were happy living in San Diego, had great jobs, were making good money and surrounded by so much love from our family and friends.  We really cherished our simple life together.  And then September 27, 2009 happened…

Like most people, I had already been through some pretty heavy life experiences.  But September 27, 2009 was different.  This was the day my brother-in-law Shaun died.  He was only 24 at the time.  It was sudden, it was tragic and it changed my life forever.  I felt horrible for my brother-in-law Keven, and having to personally watch a mother mourn the loss of her son was by far the worst thing I have ever experienced.  THE WORST!  I never knew sadness until that day.  The kind that drains you of all your energy and makes you feel a sort of empty desperation that is just not normal.  I felt this overwhelming “need” to protect my mother-in-law Nancy.  I had never felt this feeling before.

People would tell Nancy to “stay strong,” but she would tell me “I don’t care anymore.  I don’t want to be strong.” In a weird way, it was almost refreshing to hear her honesty.  I would tell her “you don’t have to be strong Nancy.”  She didn’t have to!  I was going to be strong for her.  I watched her grieve like I’ve never seen anybody grieve before.  There were things I saw that I will never forget, and god I wish I could.  The tears streaming down her cheeks from her puffy eyes, her uncontrollable crying in the middle of the night.  The way she would struggle to find the words to explain her unbearable pain.  It literally made me sick several times.  The love that she had for her child was indescribable.  And now, Shaun was gone.  And yet, that love seemed even more powerful and profound.  I really don’t know how to explain it.  That’s just the way it was.

Months had passed before I began to deal with Shaun’s passing.  I think a lot of it was because I didn’t understand what I was even going through.  I had so many different emotions and feelings, some of which I am still dealing with.  Looking back, I seemed so young, so naïve.  Just sailing through life… then BAM!!  It was shocking, especially knowing that life could change so fast.  It made me appreciate it in an entirely different way.  I loved my family and friends more than ever.  Past grudges were no more.  I just wanted all of them to know how much they meant to me and how deeply I loved them with every fiber of my being.  I couldn’t tell them enough.

Ok… I’m getting there.  Hang with me.  Fast forward to September 26, 2010.  Yes, I know the exact day.  Friends and family had planned a picnic to celebrate the 1-year passing of Shaun.  It was a great time with family and all of Shaun’s friends, who had over the year become my friends.  Lots of laughing and reminiscing, and just a real happy, relaxing day.  Pilar and I took the train home from Dana Point and I remember talking.  And we started talking about having a baby, seriously for the first time.  And it didn’t scare me.  I had always told people “I wasn’t ready,” which was usually followed up with the “you’ll never be ready.” Eye roll!  But you know what, for the first time in my life I WANTED a kid and I KNEW I was ready.  And I knew we were ready.


So…  I think we started trying in December 2010 or January 2011.  We figured it would take a bit since Pilar had been on the pill for a long time.  Didn’t happen with our first attempt, then we got a little more serious.  We used a phone app and really started to understand the days and timing.  I didn’t realize it then, but I would never look at “days and times” the same again. They would soon take on a whole new meaning.  Sometime around the middle of March 2011, I remember asking Pilar “if she got her period yet” and she said “she was probably going to start in the next day or so.”  She was cramping a bit.  I didn’t think anything of it and thought we’d just try next month; although it seemed like the wait would be forever.

I came home from work on a Friday and Pilar said she had a surprise for me.  I said “what is it?”  I thought it was a new pair of shoes.  She showed me a pregnancy test with two lines.  I was so confused and SHOCKED.  I said “I thought you started your period.”  She said “she never did and took a test.”  Probably, one of the truly happiest moments of my life.  And the best… the due date was on Shaun’s birthday.  All positive tests after that will be coupled with caution and fear.  But this time, this first time, we were unharmed by any events to come.  Just absolute, 100% pure elation.  A feeling I fear I will never ever experience again.

After a couple weeks, I remember coming home and Pilar was on the bed sobbing.  I immediately held her and wanted to know what was wrong.  She said “I lost it.  I’m not pregnant anymore.”  She could barely speak from crying uncontrollably.  I remember having to take 10 seconds to really comprehend what she said.  I felt the blood drop from my head to my feet, and got instantly cold.  I immediately spooned Pilar and held her the rest of the night.  I woke up early the next morning in a total blur.  Pilar was still asleep and I just sat on the couch in the dark in complete silence.  I couldn’t even keep up with all the thoughts going through my head.  I was in total shock.  I sat there until I heard Pilar move around in the bed, and I knew I couldn’t worry about my thoughts, I had to be there for her now.

Someway, somehow, we got through those dark days.  Slowly, we were able to finally talk to people and began to tell family and friends about our miscarriage.  It wasn’t easy.  Family and friends were so incredibly supportive.  As difficult as it was to talk about the miscarriage, the love and support all around really helped… even if people didn’t understand what we were going through.  One thing I did learn fast was that everyone wanted to know how Pilar was doing Oh poor me!  So very understandable considering she was the one physically dealing with the “miscarriage,” but I was hurting just as much as she was.  It’s just one of those things.  Something I had to learn to get over quickly. 

It’s an extreme range of emotions you go through.  The highest of highs, and the lowest of lows.  The kind where you feel like you just got sucker punched in the gut.  Everywhere I turned, I saw a dad pushing his kid in a stroller.  A dad carrying his kid at the zoo.  A little girl clamped on her dad’s pants at the grocery store.  It was everywhere.  I couldn’t get away from it.  I would learn that would become a norm in my life I would have to deal with.  Anyway… we managed and got through April 2011.  It seemed like eternity, but you start getting back into the work and life groove.  Doesn’t mean you’re not hurting on the inside.  It's just that life does not stop.  You can’t.  You have to find a way to keep moving, however slow it may be.  Just gotta keep moving.  It broke my heart to watch Pilar go through this.  I assumed there was also a “maternal thing” about this that I would never understand.  That is so much bigger than what I had to deal with.  I wanted her smile back.  I felt so sorry for her.  But I was hurting too.

What better way to get over your first miscarriage than a trip to Las Vegas?  Just like a parting gift on a game show.  Johnny… tell the lovely couple what they’ve won!  Sounds confusing now, but that’s where I was.  Maybe a little getaway will help take our minds off what we were going through.  Part of me felt guilty to have fun, the other part thought it was a good idea, if only to distract from dealing with the overwhelming hurt we were going through.  And then the distractions ended and we were dealing with April 2011 again.

When we got home from Vegas in July 2011, Pilar was not feeling well at all.  She even said she didn’t feel good and Pilar NEVER complains about pain.  Seriously, that girl’s pain threshold is freakishly impressive.  A couple days later we found ourselves rushing Pilar to the emergency room because she was losing so much blood.  Two blood transfusions later and a D&C surgery the next day.  I couldn’t even keep up with everything that was happening.  Doctors would come out to the waiting room and sit right next to me.  NEXT TO ME!  I felt like such an adult and the severity of the situation couldn’t have been more apparent.  I wonder what others in the waiting room thought.  What did I look like?  Probably like a deer caught in the headlights.  Like I was 13?  They would try and update me with what was going on, but I literally could not hear them.  My hearing would go in and out.  Everything was muffled and slow-motion.  Like a movie.  I would hear bits and pieces like “we’re doing everything we can.”  What does that mean?  Is she dying?  My brain was a wreck.  Watching Pilar lay in her hospital bed drugged up with tubes going everywhere makes me cry typing about it.  That is my soul-mate.  My wife.  My best friend.  I’m supposed to protect her.  How did I let her get into this situation?  This was beyond anything I could comprehend, and definitely a sign of things to come. 

After our doctor’s recommendations, we had to wait a few months before we started trying again.  We really educated ourselves, or more like Pilar educating the both of us, about miscarriages and getting pregnant.  I didn’t realize miscarriages happened as often as they do, and for our age, they were more probable.  It made sense and I found comfort in knowing that it’s not so uncommon and others have gone through the same thing.  I didn’t feel so “abnormal” and thought for sure that next time we should be perfect.  So after trying again after summer, we got pregnant in a snap!  I thought for sure it was my Olympic swimmers, or at least hoping it wasn’t me.  I never thought about what if it’s Pilar?  I didn’t care about that. ‘I’ just didn’t want to rob her of her chance to be a mom.  She deserved this.  I knew this time would be different.  I didn’t want to let myself get excited, but I couldn’t help it.  That hurt I had in my heart would finally go away when I hold my baby in my arms.  Finally!  When I look down and that little face that looks like me calls me “Dad,” that’s when that pain will go away.  I was excited to be a Dad, but also to rid myself of this hurt I didn’t know how to shake.

After a few weeks, we found out Pilar’s hcg levels were decreasing, a clear sign of an impending miscarriage.  She was given a pill from her doctor and told that would help the process.  She experienced labor-like cramping all night which killed me to have to watch.  How horrible!  What more are you going to make this poor thing go through?  Make her simulate labor pains? This is so fucked up.  I was angry at someone, but I didn’t know who.  After Pilar dozed off I sat on the couch ready for the bleeding that was supposed to come.  I wanted to be up and ready if anything happened.  I sat there, TV off and started sobbing.  It was the first time I really started to understand the brevity of the situation.  It was only for 30 seconds and then I heard Pilar get up.  I wiped my tears and quickly snapped out of it.  I got up from the couch and she said she was “just going to the bathroom.”  Back into “care mode,” I’ll have to deal with the other stuff later.  We made it to the next morning, and Pilar was done cramping.  No excessive bleeding like they said, but the doctors at that time thought it wasn’t abnormal.  They tracked her blood levels for the next week to make sure it went back to zero.  I remember it was Thanksgiving week and she had called a couple times early that week and to confirm her levels were decreasing as normal.  With Thursday being Thanksgiving, Pilar was supposed to call on Friday when everyone will be back in the office.  Well… early Friday morning, Pilar woke up cramping and feeling faint.  We rushed her to the ER and found out she was still pregnant with an “ectopic pregnancy.”  Really???

For those that don’t know, and why should you?, an ectopic pregnancy is when the embryo grows outside of the womb, usually inside the fallopian tube.  I had never even heard this word before that day.  Apparently, about 1% of pregnancies happen in an ectopic location.  Of course, we defy the odds yet again.  Oh great! Right when you are starting to get up each day to deal with the new loss, piled on the old loss, this happens.  At this point, I didn’t even know what to cry about, what to focus on, what to think about.  My mind was all over the board, and with my OCD, I often couldn’t find a way out of my thoughts.  Those were some of the worst times.  I felt trapped and no way out.  I had been through years of therapy for my OCD and anxiety issues, so I knew what I was going through was not a good place to be.  But I knew I couldn’t worry about myself.  Pilar had so much more to deal with.  I knew I had to be there for her.  One good, if any, that came out of this was we met Dr. Barmeyer who was on call that day.  An amazing, respected doctor who from that day forward became Pilar’s OB/GYN.  It gave me a little faith and hope at a time that I really needed it.  Putting my life in your hands Dr. B!  Please don’t let me down.

We were able to start trying again after the holidays & New Year.  April 2012 came and we quickly got pregnant again!  I think after the first two miscarriages, I wasn’t feeling elated, but definitely more wary and anxious.  I wanted to know how Pilar felt every minute of every day.  I’m sure my constant asking didn’t help.  Because of our history, Pilar was under close watch as soon as she got pregnant.  Great…thanks for the special treatment!  Unfortunately, the doctor’s visit ended no different.  Dr. B determined it was another ectopic pregnancy (found early) and gave Pilar methotrexate shots to “terminate.”  Third time, third failure.  This felt like heartache, piled on heartache, piled on heartache.  The doctors and hospitals were starting to feel like the norm, but this hurt was compounding and I couldn’t figure out how deal with what I was going through.  I found it much easier to be strong for Pilar, than myself.

In July 2012, Pilar underwent a hysterosalpingogram (hsg) test to see if she had blocking in her fallopian tubes, possibly causing the multiple ectopic pregnancies.  Surprisingly, it came out normal so we thought it would be safe to try again.  That’s the thing with all of this.  They can’t predict what will happen, only rule things out AS they happen.  It’s like having a big list and crossing them out as they occur.  So you’re left with fewer and fewer possibilities each time.  It’s scary because on that list somewhere is “You can’t have kids.”  That is the reality of it.  And it hurts so badly.

We decided to take the rest of the summer off and just relax and regroup.  It was so nice not to have to worry about dates and times and when we can start.  After a year and a half of that, we took a break and it was very welcomed… and much needed.  And then enter November 2012… and yet another miscarriage.  I was so hopeful from the fallopian tube tests Pilar had in July.  I thought this would clear any blockage and the embryo would flow right through the tubes to the uterus like a waterslide. Believe me, sometime I think I know way more about a woman’s body than I should.  Welcome to my world!  Nope.  Not this time.  We had only known Pilar was pregnant for a couple days, and then she started bleeding.  Of course the day before our doctor appointment. This one was extremely early at around 6 weeks, and in all honesty, we weren’t even surprised anymore.  It was so sad.  We had no hope left at this point.  We didn’t even tell anyone at all about this one.  I don’t know if it was the fact that this was number 4.  Are you kidding me? Number 4!  It was beginning to become evident something was very wrong.  On the outside, we treated this miscarriage like it was “routine,” but it was anything but.  I was done watching my wife go through this mental and physical anguish.  I had just started a job and knew that I had to keep everything together.  Just put on a happy face!  Stay busy and keep your head down.  No Pressure!

The 2012 holidays came (blah! But put on that happy face as usual!) and finally went.  Time to regroup. 2013 is the year.  This will be it.  With a new year, there was this renewed sense that “this would be our year.”  I mean c’mon.  We were surrounded by cousins and friends everywhere having babies.  Yes, it really was everywhere.  We’ve got to catch a break sooner or later.  The odds HAVE to be in our favor at some point.  And so… we got pregnant in January 2013.  I must say, getting pregnant was not our problem.  If only that was it.  We’d be set.  We were very surprised the pregnancy happened so fast, yet again.  Not even sure if we were ready.  I kind of felt like we were on auto-pilot at this point.  And as always, we entered this unknown voyage with renewed hope.  Even when you didn’t want to be hopeful to protect yourself, you were.  It’s that simple.  You try not to be, but you can’t help yourself.  This is your child.  But as it turns out… it was just not to be. 

We were out enjoying the day and Pilar knew something was wrong.  She recognized the “feeling” and I knew what was happening.  God, I just knew it!  This really can’t be happening.  I really couldn’t believe we were going through this AGAIN!  I remember driving Pilar to the ER immediately.  She wanted to go home first, and I said “NO!  We are going straight to the hospital.”  I was thinking this is it.  I can’t do this anymore.  Something is not right and this situation just seems very WRONG!  Another emergency surgery, another ectopic pregnancy.  This time, they were able to perform a laparoscopic surgery (oh yeah!) so the recovery time was less (I know P appreciates that), but the mental destruction had been done, for me and her.  But I was a mess, and I knew it.


Not a good time for me.  It was January 2013.  We were depressed, defeated and ready to throw in the towel.  Grieving over a miscarriage is a difficult thing.  When someone dies, there is normally a funeral where people gather and mourn together.  Then there’s usually some closure.  For each of these miscarriages, there was never that sense.  Just more hurt, heartache and loss piled on each other.  There was never that finality or closure that you so very need at that time.  I don’t know how else to explain it, but it’s something only the two of you can understand, if that is even possible.

Pilar and I had enough and we knew that was it for natural childbirth.  If this was going to happen, it would be a different way.  I had an idea, but really could come to terms that we would be “those” people.  I didn’t even know what “in vitro” really was, but knew I would soon come to learn about it at some point in my life.  I had so much hurt and pain in my heart, it was unbearable.  I used to have anxiety attacks wondering if I’d ever feel different.  And then my mind would take over and that was it.  Thank god for work!  I can’t say it enough.  It was easy to absorb myself “there,” so I didn’t have to deal with “here.”  We were going through a big move and I was able to immerse myself and focus everything I had on that.  It was a huge undertaking and for me, a welcome distraction.  During this time, I knew I was not doing well mentally.  I had started becoming unsocial and found myself only reaching out to a very small group of people... if that.  I didn’t want to deal with life, I didn’t want to deal with my situation and most of all, I wanted Pilar to be happy and I couldn’t provide that.  So… I went into depression.  No stranger!  Most people around me had no idea.  Behind all the smiling, joking and laughing, there was a total different thing going on.  Fake it 'til you make it they say.  Well, I did just that. It came to a point where I had to take it day by day, sometimes hour by hour, and at times, minute by minute.

Now… I have many years of therapy under my belt so I’m pretty good at using the tools I’ve learned to handle life and its problems.  But this was about two plus years of stuff that I had never truly dealt with.  It was a freight train of emotions coming at me full steam and I just didn’t have the strength at that time to stop the inevitable “crash.”  I found myself obsessed with thoughts, and honestly didn’t want to be thinking.  Nor did I have the energy or will to.  I became so hopeless and jealous of those around me with happy families.  Even though these people meant so much to me and I was so truly happy for their joys, it made me jealous and it made me only think about MY sadness.  I hated feeling like this.  I felt so guilty for feeling the way I did.  Like I couldn’t truly appreciate the joy of my family and friends.  I never wanted to take that from them.  Or ever admit that is how I felt.  It was the first time I really started dealing with my demons from this whole thing.  I didn’t like where I was at, I knew I didn’t like it and I couldn’t find a way out.

After our big work move in April 2013, I eventually had to deal with the depression I found myself in.  I didn’t know what to do, but I started finally telling Pilar how I felt.  I always feel so guilty telling her my problems knowing she has had it the worst through all of this. Much worse.  Still breaks my heart so much to think of her and what she has had to endure.  It is so not fair.  Sometimes, I get so heated and anxious that life has treated her like this.  As if “life” was an actual person.  My poor P.  She deserves so much more in life.  But, I finally started coming to terms with where I was and wanted out now!  I started focusing on myself after what seemed like forever.  I just wanted a change and to be happy and to be able to deal with life again.  And people and relationships.  Not sure why, but I really wanted to start working out.  I thought joining a gym and dedicating time to me each day could only help.  I had a lot of crap pent up and I just wanted to get it out.  It reminded me of those dramatic scenes on The Biggest Loser when people are sobbing while exercising, finally confronting the demons that got them to that point.   It seemed like I could use a huge dose of that.  Little did I know it would change my life, pull me out of this hole and prepare me for what was to come. 

I started working out with a personal trainer in July 2013.  In all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect.  I was so lost at that point in my life I thought having someone else push me was what I really needed, because I couldn’t do it for myself.  Thank god for my trainer!  He pretty much saved me and probably doesn’t even know it.  I think about where I was both physically and mentally back July 2013 and it seems a lot longer than seven months ago.  I was vulnerable, spent and sad.  I had no motivation, no focus.  But it was a new beginning.  Baby steps!  It was time to invest in me again and make sure I was healthy for myself, and especially Pilar, and hopefully, our family one day. And thank god I did because it was the best thing for me.  It’s been a huge release and very cathartic.  Getting into the best shape of my life has definitely helped me regain my confidence.  I got my fight back, my focus and most importantly, my happiness. 

So with a clear head and renewed purpose, we regrouped and started talking about these three words… IN VITRO FERTILIZATION (Zoiks!)


Who are we?  It’s like we felt like adults for the first time in our lives.  In vitro fertilization?  What does that even entail?  Seemed pretty simple at the time.  Get my best sperm and Pilar’s best egg and bam!  Insert and wait for 9 months.  If only!!  After we considered all the advice from our doctors, we felt confident that IVF would be the next logical path to have a baby of our own.  Our blood, our traits, our genes.  Ours.  For some reason, I seemed so confident about this.  I’m not sure if it was because it was a different method, the incredibly caring doctors and nurses or the fact that since we spent so much money, they would have to make this work.  It was probably a culmination of those and more, but this was going to be different.  And easier mentally on us!  Right??  So I thought! 

Our first appointment to the Fertility Clinic was a quick reminder that this was not going to be the cake walk that I thought.  My excitement and hope changed immediately.  I was scared, overwhelmed and my confidence was weakened.  And this was the first appointment.  I didn’t know what to expect, but a 2 ½ hour meeting with doctors, lawyers and financial teams to establish a protocol for our “baby” was not what I expected.  It was as if I was thrown back into that abyss of confusion and helplessness.  The same abyss I just struggled to pull myself out of.  If Pilar dies, who has the rights to the embryo?  These were the kinds of questions that we had to answer.  Our first appointment we paid $1000 out of our pockets before we walked out the door.  Just for appointments.  This should have been a wake-up call for what was to come.

Thank god for Pilar and her attentiveness.  I feel like I miss so much in these appointments.  The ADD doesn’t help but the information is just too much sometimes.  It quickly gets overwhelming and I’m lost in a heartbeat.  P is so diligent about taking copious notes and making sure she asks all of the questions she’s wrote down in her huge IVF notebook.  Everyone should have one.  So adorable!  That poor brain of hers just must be so shot.  She has been instrumental at researching and constantly educating the both of us these past three years.  She gives me the cliff notes version of things and makes them seem a lot more manageable.  The only time I feel like I pay attention is when they talk about “money” or “cost.”  Too bad my mind doesn’t possess the ability to tune out here!  Oh the money…. a whole different discussion.

So… I am pretty anal retentive when it comes to our finances and money.  SHOCKING!  I knew this would be a lot, but had no idea what to expect.  The previous years before, with all of the miscarriages and ER visits and surgeries, we usually ended up paying around $5000-$7000 out of our pocket each year.  Oh but not this time!  When people tell you insurance does not cover IVF and it’s expensive, BELIEVE THEM!  These people are telling you the truth.  I’m sure it varies for each situation, but of course, ours is unique, as always!  And it requires additional, atypical medications.  Of course… those damn odds again!  We can never find ourselves on the right side of them. 

When the financial team came in to discuss costs, I think I physically became ill.  They sat down with us and before they reviewed anything, I noticed the paper they just handed Pilar had written at the bottom “$32000.”  I think I actually laughed.  I sat there wondering “how in the hell are we going to pay for this?” It didn’t seem real, but at the same time, it never seemed more real what we were about to do.  Oh… and this didn’t include any medications or anesthesiologist costs.  So let’s just make it $40,000 to be more accurate.  For the first round!  Ok things just got a bit more serious.  Yes, I obsess about this a lot and get overwhelmed.  We are fortunate enough to be able to go through this process, but in all honesty, it doesn’t make it easier.  Tapping out 401ks, running up credit cards, depleting savings accounts, asking for a little help!  We’ve done it all.  Some ask if it’s worth it and I never hesitate to answer.  YES, this is all worth it.  No matter what happens in the end.  For our own peace of mind, in the end, we have to believe that we did everything we possibly could to try and have our own child.  Mine and hers.  My blood, her blood.  My genes, her genes.  Our child.

So let the shots begin!  Not those shots, but they would probably help.  Going through this process is nothing short of crazy.  Sometimes I would just shake my head and say to myself “crazy.”  For those that don’t know, the IVF protocol is extremely structured and timed, sometimes down to the hour.  Miss a timed shot and Pilar could end up ovulating 10 eggs by mistake.  GULP!!!  Yes, this can happen.  Basically, they give a woman the same chemicals that trigger an egg to ovulate each month.  The only difference is they pump her up with lots of these drugs to psych out the brain and make her follicles fire up as many eggs as possible.  It involves about 2 weeks of shots (at about $500 per day) and once the eggs are ready, they go in and retrieve them.  In a petri dish just like science class, they fertilize each egg with my sperm and grown them for 5-6 days in the hopes they become a blastocyst, the next phase.  If they do, they’ll freeze them and send them off for testing to make sure they are even viable.  If they are, they will use those to implant in the uterus and hopefully result in a viable pregnancy.  That is the goal!

We were hoping for 10-12 eggs on retrieval, but only got about 5.  Whaaaah Whaaah!  Then, each day you wait for the clinic to call you to tell you how many eggs you have left.  Not how the good ones are doing, just what you have left.  The waiting is excruciating.  You are quietly cheering for each embryo.  These are ours, what we made.  How can you not be so attached?  Each day, the likelihood of the number decreasing is normal.  It’s all about odds.  The more eggs you have the better your chances in making it to the next steps.  They called to let us know that after the first full day, there were 4 left.  Damn!  Day 3’s call said we still had 4, but some not maturing.  Some?  How many is that?  Are there none, but they’re just telling us 4 so we don’t go crazy?  You think of everything under the sun, and then some.  At this point, I wasn’t feeling very confident about our chances.  I figured we would start out with around 12 then end up with about 6.  Boy, was I way off!   Day 5 came and then the call.  The magic number was ‘2,’ but they wanted to give it one more day to see if any other embryos made it to the blastocyst stage.  So finally, Day 6 and they let us know there was 1.  One?  That’s it?  Are you sure there were no more?  This is not what we had planned.  It was so very disappointing and I really felt defeated at this point.  That ‘one’ can be our child one day, but at this point, we are very realistic.  And one does not really give me much hope to be honest with you.  I felt like I threw a $40000 chip on ’red,’ only to watch Double-Zeroes come up… not even black!

So this little guy, or girl, is tucked away in some cryogenic freezer waiting for our next steps.  I wonder if that will be our kid one day.  Will that one little blastocyst be the one thing that makes this entire roller coaster ride worth it?  Will I be holding my kid in my arms one day?  It’s painful.  And I obsess about it constantly.  Anytime in life, if Pilar and I wanted it, we went, worked hard and got it.  Nothing seemed out of reach.  Except this!  There is so much we have no control over and it’s difficult to put all your hopes and dreams into someone else’s hands.  And just trust.  To be honest with you, it gets old.  Sometimes you feel stupid “hoping” for something that the little voice tells you will never happen.  It’s great to have faith and be optimistic, but you need to be realistic.  And, anyone who has gone through something similar is probably more realistic than hopeful.  That’s just how it is.  I feel like all that optimism has slowly drained out of my body these last few years.  At this point, I’m exhausted and just want someone to tell me what happens in the end.  Either way.  I’m ready to handle the outcome, but just don’t drag this on any longer.

It’s so easy to go right back into that dark place and not deal with the many, many things running through your head.  Some days are harder than others for sure.  The holidays really suck!  And that’s the truth.  You think it would help to be around your family, but all you think about is that is what you don’t have.  It’s just the way it is.  We did the family gatherings for over a couple years now.  Hiding in rooms crying while everyone is having a blast behind those doors.  Trying not to depress family with your stories, but how could you not?  It’s all there is.  Every day since this journey begun, I wake up in the morning and give whatever I can to get through each day.  You have to be positive because you don’t want to be depressing around others, but sometimes you can’t help it.  You can cry at the drop of a hat.  Watch out for those triggers.  They’ll get you every time.  Dad with a newborn for me.  Trigger!!  Sometimes you cry because it’s the only release.  The problem is still there, but for the time, it’s a tiny consolation.  I think about my mother-in-law Nancy and say “You know what.  Today I’m going to be depressed because that’s how I feel.”  I know I can tell Pilar this because she understands, but others can get concerned that we’re not acknowledging everything we have and should be thankful for.  It’s hard to show it, but we are so very grateful for our family and friends, and everything we have that we’ve worked for.  We could never have gotten through any of this without the constant love and support around us.  We probably don’t tell them enough (we don’t) or show them enough (we don’t), but our family and friends are everything to us.  We would not be standing today if it weren’t for each and every one of them. 

But right now, we are going through the biggest challenge and most significant moment of our life together.  For us, it’s all we have right now and we can’t afford to lose sight this late in the game.  We get up, go to work and put in our best efforts… and whatever is left over from there, is what we got to work with for the night.  Gotta go to work.  It is what’s funding this journey right?  I’ve definitely had to put phone calls and relationships on hold for some time because I need to focus my energies on my wife and our child.  I have to be ready for anything on any given day.  Pilar is my priority right now and I can’t really do much else than make sure she is safe, comforted and taken care of.  I pray that people will understand and still be there after this ride comes to an end.  Maybe my words will help, I hope.  Maybe not and that will be something I will have to deal with after this is over.  Seems like just another gamble in this wild ride!

So…. Round 2 of IVF starts in a couple weeks.  New protocol, more drugs, more money, but this is pretty much our last breath.  After this, it’s probably it.  Because in all reality, I think I’m coming to the conclusion that we’ve done all that we could do.  I’ll be posting regularly once we start our next round of IVF.  I want people to know our struggles.  How can they truly know who we are if they don’t understand what we are going through?  Until then, thank you for allowing me to share.  Please feel free to ask me anything and I will be totally honest with you.  If you know someone going through a similar situation, please pass our blog along.  It really does help knowing you’re not alone.

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