One More Shot – Documentary Review

I just finished watching the documentary, “One More Shot”, on Netflix.

Guess what?

I am still crying.

This film is so real. So truthful, so heart wrenching, so me. In 90 minutes this movie managed to completely transport me back in time and to accurately explain the roller coaster of emotions we went through just over two years ago.

ONE. MORE. SHOT.

A perfect title that can be interpreted in many ways. One more shot of medication. One more blow to your heart after another negative pregnancy test. One more attempt at conceiving. One more shot of tequila to numb the pain. Or, one more chance at a miracle.

The story follows a couple in their early thirties as they try to expand their family and navigate the uncharted waters that are infertility. They aren’t a glamorous Hollywood couple. They aren’t doctors or scientists who know all about infertility. They are the couple down the street that stop over on Thursday night for a glass of wine. The couple you pass in the grocery store while looking for a ripe watermelon (how DO you know if a watermelon is good??). And they are the couple that sits across from you at the fertility clinic, wondering how long you have been trying, if you were already pregnant, or if you had just suffered another loss. The ones whose eyes you meet before heading back for your consultation who can tell you with just one look that they understand.

There were several moments in the film that I could identify with, but there were also several that I could not. This couple suffered longer than we did, and more loses. But, some points that really hit home for me, were:

 

The fear of the unknown.

As an OCD, control freak, I spend every spare moment planning, making lists and setting goals. Infertility was something I knew nothing about, and treatment had no guarantees. Yes, there were dozens of options for starting a family, but nothing was guaranteed. I often thought to myself “I would go through this 10 times, spend $100k if someone, somewhere could promise me that it would all end with a baby in my arms.” But the truth of the matter is, they can’t. And the fact that I had no control over the outcome was debilitating.

 

Feeling broken.

Nick checked out OK. Borderline for sperm morphology but otherwise, good for baby making. This made me feel like it was all MY fault. That I was broken. I couldn’t do the thing women were SUPPOSED to do – make babies. I feared this would break our marriage, and I feared it would break me.

 

The shots hurt.

Those shot were NOT a walk in the park. They hurt like a b*tch! They left me sore, bruised and hormonal.

 

Punishment.

Was I being punished for sneaking out of the house in high school? Or for that time I swiped some beer mugs from a college bar? Or for all of the things I have taken for granted or selfishly just assumed would happen?

 

IVF is the ultimate “treatment”.

When we started at our clinic, we were given a less than 1% chance of conceiving naturally. So we jumped straight into IVF. And we were positive it would work. When it didn’t work the first time, it was an even bigger blow. The miracle treatment we had just shelled out $15k for was a bust. It’s hard to pick up the pieces after that.

 

Obsession.

The sheer obsession of all of it. I think infertility made me a hypochondriac/Google genius. I spent all of my free time Googling symptoms, or lack thereof, grants, adoption, embryo donation. I needed to constantly feel like I was being proactive.

 

The comfort of knowing I was not alone.

From the moment I made my blog public, it was like the heaviest weight was lifted off my shoulders. The out-pour of love and well wishes we received was amazing. But what was even more amazing was the number of women who messaged me and said, I understand. I too, am suffering from infertility. I too, find it hard to be happy for my friends having babies. I too, am scared.

 

This documentary was everything I never knew that I always needed. I think it is something that every struggling family should watch. And all of their friends and family. And everyone else. It is relatable, funny when it needed to be, and informative. I highly recommend that you check it out now on Netflix. You won’t regret it. The only thing you might regret is forgetting the tissues, or that you didn’t watch it sooner.

And for all of the women, men and couples out there trying to grow your families, find hope and comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Infertility is hard. It will push you, it will test you, and it will break you. But there is a light at the end of that tunnel. There is always another option – maybe it’s another crack at IVF. Or maybe it’s a surrogate. Perhaps it is coming to terms with never being parents. Or maybe it’s adoption. Whatever it is, make sure it is YOUR decision. Not anyone else’s. And let that decision be the one that puts you back together again.

Are you sure there aren’t two?

The moment I asked the ultrasound tech that question has lingered in my mind for the past several weeks, “Are you sure there aren’t two?”

Two weeks after our second beta, which sky-rocketed up from 697 to 2003, we had our first ultrasound. Let me tell you, the days leading up to the appointment were some of the longest of my life. I didn’t quite FEEL pregnant yet, and I certainly didn’t look pregnant, so how could I really BE pregnant? Maybe the tests were wrong, or my third beta wouldn’t have doubled? Shouldn’t they be doing betas every other day until that first appointment??

Week 4-5 was a piece of cake in the symptoms department. I felt normal, no sore boobs, no nausea, just a little extra tired. Shouldn’t I be feeling something by now? By the end of week 5, I felt like I had been hit by a bus. I was exhausted, nauseated, my legs were sore and I had a headache. But that couldn’t be the pregnancy, right? I was sure that I had caught something from a coworker who had been out of the office for most of the week. Dang him for bringing me his sickness! I felt much better after a few days.

We went in for our first ultrasound when I was 6 weeks and 4 days along. Nick took a half day off from work so that he could come with me. I picked him up from our house and we rode together to the doctor’s office. On the way, we heard a commercial about a woman hearing two heartbeats at her ultrasound and she found out she was having twins. Nick looked at me and said something along the lines of “that could be us, maybe it’s a sign”. I laughed it off and said, yea right! We only transferred one embryo, it was a miracle in itself that that had stuck!

To say I was nervous and anxious in the waiting room would be an understatement. I knew how early it was, and how quickly things could go south in a pregnancy. I said numerous prayers, just hoping that my little nugget was OK and that we would see all the things we needed to (according to Dr. Google, a yolk sack and something about a fetal pole were vital). They called me back, drew my blood, and then it was go time.

My doctor was out of the office that week so I was seeing one of the ultrasound techs. As soon as she stuck in that magic want I immediately saw two little white blobs. But then she started moving it around and they were gone just as fast. The first thing she said was “there it is”, and I finally let my breath out (I think I had been holding it since the blood draw). She took its measurements, and showed us the little flicker of the heartbeat. I was grinning from ear to ear. They warned me that we might not be able to hear the heartbeat this early, but we could try. I held my breath again and all of a sudden heard the most beautiful sound, the thump-thump-thump of my baby’s heart. Queue the tears.

After that, I’m not sure what came over me, but that is when I blurted out the “are you sure there aren’t two in there?” She said, “Well hold on let me check, I am going to do a scan of the uterus.” I watched the screen change and then she stopped on another blob and said “Yep, there’s another.” Well HOLY CRAP. TWINS!!! Disbelief, shock, joy, fear, excitement – I felt all of these emotions in that single moment. We were able to hear the heartbeat of baby 2 as well!

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It looks like we are having identical twins. This automatically makes my case high risk, and with identical twins there is a risk of Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), where basically one twin would take over the majority of the nutrients and doesn’t get enough (more about that in the future), but that is a risk we are willing to deal with should it arise. All we knew is that in our time of need, and pain, and doubt, God had blessed us with two beautiful heartbeats.

We made one wish, and two came true.

Happy Transfer Day! NOT.

Transfer day was Thursday, January 21, 2016. We went into the day super excited, and I was especially excited for a four day weekend of binging on Netflix and napping. We would be transferring one embryo at 10:45 am and 11 days later our pregnancy test was scheduled.

This time Nick came with me, there was no way I was going to let him miss the big moment again. We goofed around in the waiting area (thank goodness I didn’t wet myself because a full bladder is required for transfer) and once again it took the nurses a good three tries before they were able to draw my blood for testing. Nick looked very dapper in his hospital gown and hair net (see below) as we prepared to see our little embie on the big screen.

Once in the operating room the embryologist checked my bladder and actually let me get up and let a little bit out in the restroom which was AMAZING. When I returned they showed us our little cell blob on the big screen and then transferred it right on into its home for hopefully the next 9 months. As I laid there for about 10 minutes after the procedure, the nurse brought us a picture of the embryo and one of the ultrasound after the transfer had been made. We were SO excited.

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Then the bad news came. A nurse handed me a piece of paper to sign, and being the good girl that I am, I actually read it. It was a form stating that we had one embryo left frozen from our October cycle. Immediately my heart fell. One embryo? I thought there were 5 left, total? One from the October cycle and 4 from this cycle. After all, five had made it to freeze back in December. A great number. I asked the nurse what this meant and she told me she wasn’t sure.

We went back to my waiting “room” where I was to lie down for another 20 minutes or so. I asked the next nurse I saw why I only had one frozen embryo listed on my sheet of paper. She too was unsure and said she would call back to the lab to ask. After about a half an hour we were FINALLY visited by a representative of the lab.

If you recall, our cycle was part of a clinical study where the embryos (either all of them, or all but the best looking one, would receive Preimplantation Genetic Screening). Apparently all 4 of the other embryos tested from our December retrieval came back genetically abnormal and were thrown out. WHAT!?!?!

Well what about the one in me? Was that one normal or abnormal?? Because of the study, we were not allowed to know what group we were in, so there was no way to tell. Four out of five were for sure abnormal. All I could think of were, what are the odds that one out of five was normal, IF it have been tested? I was devastated. Basically this was our only shot because we did not have any genetically normal embryos leftover. Yes, we have our little guy from October, but the quality was weak and probably not worth an FET on its own.

I spent the entire drive home crying, and convincing myself we were going to have to either start all over from scratch or begin pursuing adoption. The clinic sent over some paperwork explaining what was abnormal about the other four embryos but it didn’t make any sense to me. I was just for sure that I did not produce any good eggs and that I would never have a baby of my own.

As much as Nick tried to get me to think positive, I could not. I spent the next week plus depressed, sporadically crying, researching infertility grants and seeking information on adoption. I am nothing if not prepared. But nothing could have prepared me for the miracle that happened next.

Embaby its cold outside!

Guess who had FIVE embryos make it to freeze……this girl!! Words cannot describe our excitement! (Get it, embaby its “cold” outside….because they are frozen)?

We had our egg retrieval last Tuesday where 9 eggs were collected, 6 mature and 6 fertilized. I was actually pretty upset by this news. Last cycle we had 13 eggs collected, 11 mature and 9 fertilized! In my mind this cycle was worse because the odds seemed to be against us. More eggs = more fertilized = more embryos, right? Wrong.

We spent the week following the transfer waiting for news. Our clinic does not provide daily embryo updates, so it was an extremely long week. I thought we would find out on Monday, but Monday came and went with no news. And so did Tuesday. I was convinced all of my eggs had died and that I would receive horrible news. Like pregnancy test day.

Wednesday afternoon, just when I thought I might have a panic attack from the waiting, the clinic called me with the wonderful news that 5 of our 6 fertilized eggs had made it to freeze. Three were frozen on Day 5 and two on Day 7. Can you believe it? I still can’t! Those are great odds considering last cycle only 3 of 9 were good enough (two were transferred and lost, and one was frozen). So we have 6 frozen embryos, total. That means 6 tries for our little human. One of those will be our take home baby, I just know it.

We have nothing else scheduled for the rest of December, which will be a nice little break. I look forward to spending the holidays with my family and drinking wine. Come January we will dive right back into the meds, ultrasounds and bloodwork, in preparation for our FET. I can’t believe I am saying this but I am actually excited. I feel positive that this will work. 🙂

 

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Thing 1 & Thing 2

We are officially PUPO (Pregnant until Proven Otherwise)!!! I am beyond excited, as this is the closest I have EVER come to real pregnancy. It all seems so surreal!

Sunday morning we went up to the clinic for my embryo transfer (ET). Nick couldn’t make it so the next best person came with me, my mom. It had to be one of the coolest experiences of my life. My mom was allowed back in the operating room with us, where they pulled up my two strongest embabies on a large screened TV so that we could see them.

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Mom & me!

My doctor then inserted the catheter up through my cervix into my uterus (no pain this time, so the cervical dilatation did its job!) and found the best spot to deposit my babies. Once the optimal spot was found, the embryologist sucked up the embryos one at a time (still on screen) and brought them to my RE who then inserted them into another catheter that was woven through the first catheter. We were able to see the catheter on the ultrasound and then BAM, both embryos were transferred right into the top of my uterus where I hope and pray that they will make a home. My mom cried a bit, and I almost did. I have since cried a few times.

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I have to say that science is pretty darn cool! I now have two little embryos hanging out in my womb. I call them Thing 1 and Thing 2, and I have been talking to them daily. We were given a picture of both babies as well as the ultrasound to take home and they are currently hanging on my fridge. It makes me feel like I am really pregnant, having an ultrasound on my fridge like most normal woman TTC.

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Thing 1 & Thing 2!

Upon arriving back home on Sunday bedrest was prescribed, as well as Monday. I relaxed for two days straight and it was amazing. Monday I started taking (orally) 2mg of Estradiol twice per day, along with my daily morning progesterone injections. I went into my clinic this morning for a blood draw and was told that if I do not hear back from them that everything looks normal!

So now the torment of the 2WW really kicks in. What am I going to do to keep my mind off of things? I am only 2dp5dt (2 days post 5 day transfer) and I am already symptom watching (I have none, is that normal??). I am counting on my husband, family, and friends to keep me occupied, but not to pry into how I am feeling too often.

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Once we receive the results of our pregnancy test, Nick and I will decide in private how we will proceed with sharing the news. We ask that our friends and family at home please respect our privacy and know that we will tell them, no matter what the results, when we are ready. Everyone keeps saying that they are confident this will work, but I am so nervous that it won’t. But right now I am going to try to kick back and live as though I AM pregnant. So bring on the food and laziness!!