It’s been a while since we’ve made time to update everyone with the happenings on the Achen front. It’s been a roller coaster to say the least. However, we figured it was time to let you in on what’s happened since the last time we posted. I know this is a travel blog temporarily turned fertility blog. I promise to get back to posting about travel soon, so hang in there.
In the fall of 2016 we wrote about the direction our family was headed and our quest to grow our family. We knew it wasn’t possible for me to carry another baby, but we knew that having someone else be a gestational carrier for us might be an option. We weren’t sure how or when we would find someone, but we decided to do what we could do to start the process on our end. We reached out to the nearest fertility specialist at the time in El Paso, TX, only to be told that the doctor would not even talk to us because he didn’t “deal” with surrogacy. So we started looking at options in Albuquerque. We had received a referral to an older doctor in Albuquerque, so we gave them a call and our call was not answered. So finally, I reached out to a friend I knew had successfully done IVF (in vitro fertilization) who highly recommended a different doctor in Albuquerque, who turned out to be amazing and the only board certified fertility specialist in the state of New Mexico.
We made the three hour trip up to Albuquerque to meet with Dr. Lee Caperton at the Caperton Fertility Institute. We weren’t sure what he would have to say or if I’d even be a candidate for IVF. We knew that I still had ovaries, but we weren’t sure if there would be too much damage from all of the previous issues I’d faced (see previous blog post). However, Dr. C walked into that waiting room where we had been nervously waiting, confidently shook our hands and walked us back into his office where we talked about options and after a quick exam were told that we were good to go! Woo hoo! So we did.
The egg retrieval part of the IVF process was a little taxing, involving giving myself injections (not a fan of needles) or Scott giving me injections (if you know clumsy Scott, you feel my pain). We decided to spend the two weeks leading up to the egg retrieval in a hotel up in Albuquerque to make getting to doctor appointments easier and because we like to travel. 🙂
Side note: Funny Story. So our first night in Albuquerque we checked into the hotel fairly late at night only to realize we had brought everything except all of the syringes to do my injections. So as Scott is frantically calling local pharmacies trying to get needles, Liam randomly projectile vomits all over me, himself and his bed in the hotel room. Needless to say, we were off to a rough start. I’m pretty sure I was crying cleaning up the mess while Scott was driving to every 24 hour pharmacy in the middle of the night trying to get needles within the time frame that I had to have my shot. It was terrible when it happened, but really funny now looking back on it. Liam was fine the next morning, we got the needle, and everything worked out.
We went in on egg retrieval day praying for the best, but I knew it was going to all work out when Dr. C put some Patsy Cline on for me to listen to during the procedure. Scott got to watch a screen in the room next door of the embryologist doing her magic.
The next few days, weeks, and months were a waiting game. Waiting to find out how many of our eggs fertilized, how many made it to blastocysts, how many embryos were genetically healthy. Then it turned into a waiting game of when will we find the right person to carry our baby.
Immediately after the last post was made we were overwhelmed with offers of people who were willing to carry a baby for us. Some were genuine, some were not, some were good intentions that couldn’t be fulfilled, and some were just a little weird (including nude photos…long story). People we hadn’t seen in years, people we hardly knew, people we didn’t know at all, and people we knew too well reached out to us. We went through several months of up and down heart wrenching trials of trying to find the right person. We had people offer who weren’t serious at all…frustrating. We had people lie to us about their medical history, which luckily was caught in a medical screening…frustrating. We had people whom we love dearly want so badly to help us out, but ultimately changed their mind…heart wrenching. When we finally thought we had found the perfect person to carry our baby and started the process, only to have them change their mind, we were devastated. In their defense, it is a really big commitment and we understood but were still heartbroken. Just when we felt like giving up hope, God sent us the perfect person at the perfect time. She came to us and had been praying about it, done her research, and gave it plenty of thought. She had an excellent husband on board as a support system and was fully invested in helping us out of the goodness of her heart. You don’t come across people that selfless everyday. We were overjoyed.
Then started the long journey to having a baby. The following months were filled with blood, sweat, and tears…literally…BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS. We put countless hours in at the gym to be the healthiest for the best chance at making a baby. We put hundreds of miles on my car and so many hours of road tripping up to see Dr. C in preparation of an embryo transfer. Late nights driving across town to stick my sweet friend with a needle when she couldn’t reach or didn’t have it in her to stick herself with a giant needle one more time. We laughed really hard. We cried really hard. We ultimately built a bond that I never could have imagined.
We weren’t sure the transfer would be successful, but we had faith in Dr. Caperton’s abilities and ultimately we had faith in God. A couple weeks later when we got the call that it had worked, we were in church and literally dropped to our knees weeping. It was one of the happiest days of our lives.
The following months would be no less of a trial. We had a few scares, a few ER visits, and countless sleepless nights. A few days before Christmas we had a scare where we thought there may have been a miscarriage. Dr. Caperton drove all the way from Albuquerque to his newly opened El Paso office on a snowy morning just to meet us and make sure everything was okay…and it was. Again, another one of the happiest days of our lives. You see a trend here? 🙂
Well, after 9 long months of waiting, we finally got the call that our sweet baby girl was ready to meet us. We spent 21 LONG hours of pacing the halls of the labor and delivery ward of the hospital until the moment came. We gowned up and headed into the delivery room where I got to help deliver our sweet baby girl and Scott got to cut the cord, and at 6 o’clock on a Sunday evening, we finally got to hold that sweet 7lbs 11oz baby in our arms! We instantly fell in love with Mila Jolie Achen. We immediately began bonding to make up for the nine months that I didn’t get to hold her. It was especially wonderful thanks to the beauty of induced lactation (shout out to Kim Smetzer at Mountain View Hospital for her expertise on this matter) which took lots of work leading up to that moment, but totally worth every minute. Over the next few days we bonded with our little Mila Jolie in the hospital (coincidentally in the same room we spent weeks in during the whole ordeal after Liam was born) while a few doors down Mila’s womb-mate recovered. The L&D nurses at Mountain View were absolutely amazing. We were all so well taken care of.
Since we’ve been home, we are adjusting well and Liam is super excited to have his “little, tiny baby” as he likes to call her. There is a sense of completeness in our house and in our hearts and Scott has already started planning our first few trips as a family of four!
Thanks to Brittany Miller Photography for capturing amazing images of our beautiful babies and our family of four!
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.”
1 Samuel 1:27