We Are the 1 in 8

Hi! We're the Booe's and we are the 1 in 8.
Did you know that 1 in 8 American couples will battle infertility? It's okay if you didn't know, I didn't know either. In fact, it wasn't even on my radar until we were introduced to the term in 2018. When we first heard that we were becoming part of this statistic, I immediately felt isolated. 1 in 8? That doesn't sound very "common." But after I did some more research, I came to find that the 1 in 8 actually reflects millions of people! That's an easier thing to swallow- okay, now I don't feel so alone. Yet, it still took me a long time to understand this and to be able to grasp the fact that there is a community of people all around the world who are going through similar situations.
In the beginning, I felt so alone. I didn't know anyone that had ever experienced infertility.
That beings said, it is my mission to make sure that people know and understand that infertility is a real thing and the baggage it comes with is HEAVY. But above all else, I am determined to break the stigmas associated with infertility. I hate hearing that people feel embarrassed by their infertility or feeling as though they can't talk about it because for so many years that's just been the "norm." Well, I say let's create a NEW norm where people feel comfortable talking about this so that in their journey they can find community and support.
We are coming up on the three year mark from when we first started IVF and I always feel compelled around this time of year to share our story and how we began the process of IVF and that's kind of what this post was supposed to be about. But the more that I've thought about it, the more that I've come to realize- I can't share our story of starting IVF without telling about how we got to IVF.
So, today, I'm sharing an overview of our story and the steps leading up to why we chose to pursue IVF. If you've been around for a while, you know that I can be long-winded. I promise, I'm going to try to keep this one short, sweet and to the point. It also helps that I've typed up more in depth posts about our journey and if there's a specific section of our story that you'd like to read up on, visit the blog archive.
I feel like I should've known that something was wrong a lot sooner than I did. Alex and I got married in June 2015 and right away, we weren't doing anything to prevent pregnancy. So for a year and a half, we were just having fun and "practicing" some may say. As time continued on, we began to start discussing when we would want to build our family. In January of 2017, we made the decision to begin actively trying for a baby and I was ECSTATIC! Every month was so exciting as we began tracking and trying, but by the middle of the year, we became more and more frustrated with the process. Wasn't this supposed to be easy? Weren't we supposed to be pregnant by now? November of 2017 came and we were both convinced that I was pregnant! I was a few days late on my period (which was weird for me) and we were CONVINCED that now was the time. Spoiler alert: it wasn't. My period came and we were heartbroken and tired of trying. We decided at that point to make an appointment to visit my OB at the start of 2018 just to make sure we were doing it "right."
Well, January of 2018 came. I remember walking into our appointment feeling optimistic and positive, thinking that she would give us hope that we were right on track and all was well. That didn't happen. She asked how long we had been trying to conceive and after telling her our timeline, she made a statement that I will never forget:
"Usually, couples tend to conceive within the first 6 months of trying. Since you and your husband have been trying for over a year, I fear that something more may be going on. We may need to run some tests and discuss the possibility of fertility treatments."
Hearing those words made me feel like someone had punched me in my gut. It was worse than the last thing I expected because I never expected to hear that something more could be going on- that something could be "wrong." As an outsider, you may see through different eyes and feel compelled to comfort me by saying that nothing is wrong with us. But in the infertility community, that feeling circulates pretty well and it's hard not to think that something is "wrong" with you.
So, we began the testing. We did blood work, a sperm analysis, and an HSG (they shoot dye into your tubes to check for blocks, breaks, scaring, etc.). The initial testing took about 2-3 months and felt like forever. In the meantime, we were doing medicated cycles and still trying. I was taking Clomid and we were tracking and watching my ovulation window. In February of 2018, we found out that our infertility was partly that my ovulation was off kilter with an additional male factor (slow moving and odd shape). AKA- we wouldn't be able to conceive naturally.
My world was shattered. My dreams of a large family were now distant and appeared unobtainable. We were devastated. 
But! We had hope. Our doctor began talking to us about our options and we immediately felt more comfortable with IUI procedures. In they year of 2018, we did a total of 5 IUIs and they all failed. We didn't do them all back to back, they were scattered throughout the year. Our hardest NO happened in August and after that, we took a break and didn't pursue any treatments for 2-3 months. 
If I'm being honest with you, IUIs SUCKED. At the time, it felt like we were living our lives in sections according to what we needed to do for the IUI that month- whether it be ultrasounds, ovulation tracking, timed intercourse, or the dreaded test day. It felt like the longest year of my life and looking back, I can really take inventory on how traumatic they were for me. Being on the other side, I see that they took a significant toll on my physical and emotional and mental health. At the time, I felt okay but deep down, I was unraveling and I didn't even know it.
Our final IUI (thank God) was in December of 2018 and that nasty little negative reared its ugly head while we were on vacation in Disney. 
That was the final straw and we both knew that we had to be DONE with IUIs as 2018 came to a close. I refused to start the new year with another failed IUI and, thankfully, our doctor didn't feel comfortable doing any more for us. So that's when we really started talking about our next steps and what the heck we were going to do going forward. Clearly, IUIs weren't going to work for us and clearly, neither was good ole natural plain sex. We spoke of adoption, foster care, and IVF. Every day was different. Some days, one of us felt more comfortable with one avenue than another and the next day it would change. But no matter how many discussions we had or how many days went by, we still continued to find that IVF was the route that we felt naturally comfortable with as our next step.
Was this always the case? HECK NO.
If you've followed our story for a little while, you will know that I did NOT want to do IVF. I pushed it off as long as I could and I prayed against it for a really long time. I yearned for control in our situation, but IVF seemed like it maybe had too much control. I struggled with the thought that it was "playing God" and honestly, from the very start it was just not something I wanted to do. Over the course of 2018, God did a SERIOUS work in my heart and He radically transformed my perspective of IVF. He showed me that it wasn't playing God and that, instead, it was where He was calling us to go. 
Once we both felt comfortable with pursuing IVF, we decided to call and schedule the first appointment. We agreed that the appointment would be the final contingency. If we went to the appointment and still felt comfortable moving forward, then we would and if we went and felt otherwise, we would figure out another plan.
Our first IVF appointment was in February of 2019 and OH MY GOSH. It lasted for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. They gave us a binder of information and y'all, it was HEAVY. But honestly, I feel like every time I talk about this binder, I do so with disdain. Let me make this clear- I freaking LOVE that binder. It broke down EVERY DETAIL of IVF and held a plethora of information! Basically, it explained everything we needed to know about IVF and it even had print outs about our doctors and who they were. I was so in love with this binder because if I had a question, it had the answer! Okay, but regardless of how helpful it was, it was intimidating to receive that at our first appointment because it was so overwhelming.
After we talked with the doctor for a LONG time- probably an hour or so- we moved on to the ultrasound room where they did a baseline ultrasound. I'm not sure if I've shared this detail before, but I had just started my period and was on the tail end of it when we had this appointment. I remember asking if that was an issue and they were like, "nahhh, let's do this." LOL WHAT. Clearly, they're used to this kind of thing and I thought to myself, if they don't care then I don't care either.
We did the baseline ultrasound and all looked well! Then they moved us to the next room where we had to give blood. I gave SEVEN vials of blood and Alex gave two. This was checking us for genetic issues etc. and we were told that we would get the results in two weeks. I remember that while we were giving blood, the nurses couldn't stop singing the doctor's praises. They told us how people flew from all around the world just to come to this office for IVF. I felt honored and humbled in the fact that we only had to drive an hour. After the blood draw was finished, we moved along to the check-out stand and they showed us the break down of costs, including that five figure price tag- DAMN. That hit me in the throat and it took a second to catch my breath. The lady said that our pricing could fluctuate depending on what medicine we needed and how long we needed it for. The range for medication would fluctuate from $3,000-$5,000 and I was horrified that it would be the latter.
We left that day and I remember the walk to the car was SO LONG. We got into the car and I just immediately started sobbing. I was overwhelmed, I was scared, and I didn't want to be part of this statistic. I wanted sex to work for us like it should.
We had a lot of long discussions after that day and in the days leading up to our blood work results. When that call finally came through, I was so nervous to hear what could potentially be "wrong" with us. I think it's safe to say that we were both very happy to hear that the genetic results came back and they looked GOOD. Our first source of good news in a really long time. A few of my hormone levels were a little low, but it wasn't anything we couldn't handle and here's the kicker- Alex's sperm analysis came back looking GREAT, too!
Please believe me when I say that this was the BEST news we could've heard. But then what was the issue? Well, they aren't sure. We were now classified as "unexplained" and I'm not sure if that's better or worse. I don't know what changed in our testing from when we did it at the beginning of our IUIs, but the change was real and it was there and I was SO HAPPY. And I think this is really where we felt solidified in the fact that IVF was definitely our next step.
From that point, all we had to do was decide when we wanted to take the first step and move forward with our appointments. After a lot of thought and consideration and A LOT of prayer, we chose to take a break before starting IVF. We wanted a break in time where we didn't have to worry about appointments, medications, etc. and we could just live our lives according to us and not a clinical schedule. 
In June, I called the clinic and we dove right back in! We set up our next appointment based off my cycle and we got things in motion. The whole process of our first IVF cycle took about a month and I've written up a detailed account of all of our steps with IVF. You can find them in the blog archive. 
We did our STIMS at the end of June-early July and had egg retrieval shortly after. The embryo updates were my favorite part because HOLY COW we got the incredible honor of watching the lives of our children form from a molecular level- something I would never have had the privilege to experience had we not done IVF.
Our FET (frozen embryo transfer) was in the final week of July and we found out 8 days later that it was successful- our beautiful baby boy was born in April 2020.
It's crazy for me to type up this whole journey. It's as though I'm bringing information from a previous life because I've forgotten what it feels like to live life by a clinical schedule. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would fall in love with the process of IVF. I never thought that I would be able to understand all of the moving parts that go into IVF or what it requires and NEVER in my life did I expect God to create such a beautiful change in our story.
For the longest time, I hated being part of the 1 in 8 statistic, but now I'm comfortable with it and I can't imagine our lives without it. From our pain and disappointment, we've found beauty and change. I'm thankful for God's hand in our journey and I'm thankful that He is calling us into a ministry to help others along the way through this shop and our children's book- You Were Worth the Wait (purchase a copy in the shop).
So that's our story! I tried to keep it as simple as possible while also including as much information as I could! If you have any other questions about our story, please dig through my blog archive, I'm sure there is something there to help!
If you are part of the 1 in 8, we want you to know that we are here for you and that we support you endlessly! Please send me a message if you'd like to connect, I would be honored to chat with you. We are so happy to have you here and our hope in sharing this, as always, is to make sure that you never feel alone!