Pressing on – Meet Curtis and Kim Brown

Curtis and I met in college in 2003.  He says he tried to “hang out” with me on several different occasions, but I wasn’t really having it.   After a couple years I finally gave in.  We hung out on September 5th, 2005 and everyday after that.  We were married a year later on August 12th, 2006.  Life was good.  We got a dog.  We bought a house.  We both graduated from college.  We had good jobs.  All that was missing was a baby.  So after a few years of marriage, I got off birth control and we started “trying” to have a baby.

Month after month passed and nothing.  Pregnancy test after pregnancy test was negative.  I wasn’t too worried about it because I knew it was normal to take a few months before it worked. A year passed and I thought something may be off.  I met with my regular OBGYN who discovered cysts on my ovaries (PCOS).  She had us try a few different drugs (Clomid, Femara) to help with ovulation (which made me break out like CRAZY), but still no baby.  I had an inclination to have my husband checked out.  I had heard that 50% of infertility is from the male – and it’s so easy to get checked – so why not.

My husband thought he was going to have sharks!  He got his swimmers checked out and found out they were minnows.  Only 1% of his sperm are normal shape and swim well enough to fertilize an egg.  The diagnosis was infertility.  The only possible way we could ever get pregnant was through In Vitro Ferilization (IVF) with intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). So, at least there was a chance to still have kids…right??

Our ride has not been easy.  Here’s the rundown:

May 11th, 2010: First appointment with a fertility specialist – Dr. Hatasaka. He had such high hopes for us and was SO confident we could get pregnant.  We were young, healthy, and no major problems he could see with me.

June 14th, 2010: Medications, injections (lots and lots of injections), and ultrasounds begin.

July 9th, 2010: IVF #1, Retrieval (Where they insert a needle directly into your ovaries and retrieve any eggs that have matured there): I responded well to the meds so they were able to retrieve 25 eggs.  Of those, 14 fertilized.

July 14th, 2010: IVF #1 Transfer: We implanted 2 embryos back into my uterus and hoped for the best.

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July 28th, 2010: Pregnancy test is NEGATIVE.

I was in shock.  The Dr. seemed SO confident it would work.  I thought IVF was almost a guarantee.  Little did I know…  We had 2 frozen embryos left so we decided to try again. So began meds, ultrasounds, etc.

September 16th, 2010:  IVF #2 Transfer: We transferred 2 embryos again.

September 30th, 2010: Pregnancy test is NEGATIVE.

Back to the fertility Dr. we went.  We had no more frozen embryos left, so we decided to try a fresh cycle again.  The Dr. assured us that a fresh cycle was the best way to go and the chances were extremely high for it to work this time.  He said the first 2 rounds were a fluke.  “It’s like flipping a coin”, he said, “and we just landed on tails twice.”  We were shooting for heads this time.  He said everything looked so perfect.  Back on meds, shots, ultrasounds, etc.

November 25th, 2010: (Thanksgiving) IVF #2 Retrieval: The Dr. was worried about hyper stimulation (which I was close to the first time around) so they cut my medications back a little.  This time I only got 14 eggs. Of those, 7 fertilized.

November 28th, 2010: IVF #3 Transfer: We implanted 2 embryos and froze 2.

December 11th, 2010: Pregnancy test is NEGATIVE.

At this point I am extremely disappointed.  I thought the Dr. said everything looked perfect?  Now what?  I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.  I had this burning desire to be a parent.  We decided to switch Dr.’s and try something new.  We had heard really good things about Dr. Marrs, so we went to him for a consultation.  We still had 2 frozen embryos left over, so we decided to use those.

April 28th, 2011: IVF #4 Transfer: We defrosted the 2 embryos, but only 1 survived. So we implanted the 1 embryo and waited…

May 9th, 2011: Pregnancy test is NEGATIVE – again!! 

I was so lost.  What do I do now?  I asked Dr. Marrs, “If I was your daughter what would you tell her to do?”  He advised us to try a fresh cycle with him.  The frozen embryos we used before were from a different Dr. and he wanted a fresh start with us.  We really thought this was going to work.  Even though we had 4 failed IVF attempts in the past, we thought that if Dr. Marrs started fresh, maybe it would work.  He started me on a couple different medications and ran a few other tests that came back normal.  The hardest part about all this was everything looked perfect.  All the tests they ran on me pointed to a normal/healthy body.  Why wasn’t the embryo sticking?  I couldn’t give up hope without trying with Dr. Marrs.  

People ask me why I decided to try again?  Why did I keep going after so many “Not Pregnant’s”, after so many injections and blood draws, after so much heartache and emotional roller coasters?  I don’t really know why.  How could I not?  I wanted it so bad.  So onto attempt # 5 it was.  Back on meds, shots, and fun ultrasounds! 

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August 26th, 2011: IVF #3 Retrieval: They got 27 eggs and 19 fertilized.

August 31st, 2011: IVF #5 Transfer:  We implanted 2 embryos and froze 4.

September 14th, 2011: Pregnancy test is POSITIVE!!!!!!  Oh my gosh.  Finally!!  We were SO excited to finally see a positive.  It was all worth it. I was so glad we didn’t give up.

September 24th, 2011: I started spotting.

September 25th, 2011: (My sister’s baby blessing) I went to ER for a blood draw and ultrasound and found out the baby wasn’t growing.  Miscarriage.

October 8th, 2011: D&C

I was in complete and utter devastation.  I thought we were finally out of the clear.  I seriously was SO extremely LOW at this point.  The excitement I felt when I finally saw a POSITIVE  was shattered.  What was going on?  Why was this not working for us?  So now what???  Five rounds of IVF, no baby, and no answers.  The Dr. could not believe it hadn’t worked for us yet.  What do we do now?  Another round of IVF?  Adoption?  What?  All we wanted was a baby.

We looked into adoption.  We went to conferences and orientations to learn more about adoption.  I LOVE adoption and think it is such a great thing, but at this time in my life, it didn’t feel right for me.  My husband was done with IVF.  After seeing what a miscarriage did to me emotionally, he didn’t want to ever go through that again.  I knew I wasn’t  done.  I still had this small amount of hope that kept me pushing along.  I felt like a “pregnancy” was a good thing, even though it only lasted 6 weeks.  Was that a good sign?

About 2 years ago – after 3 rounds of failed IVF cycles – my brother’s wife made the comment, “I’d totally have a baby for you guys.”  We kind of laughed and were thinking, “Yea right, there’s no way she’d really do that.”  Then she got pregnant with her 4th baby and said, “After I have this baby, I’ll just pop one out for you guys.”  We still thought, “No way, she’s just saying that.”  A few months after she delivered her baby she asked us “So when am I getting implanted?” We finally asked her if she was serious.  We asked her what my brother thought of this all, knowing it would have to be a joint decision.  She told us that they had already talked about it and both thought it was a great thing.  My husband and I were floored. Who would do that?  Who would go through all this IVF crap without having to?  Who would get fat and put their life on hold for a year to be pregnant for someone else? My sister-in-law!  She’s freakin’ amazing.  So my husband and I talked about it and thought it was such an awesome opportunity for us.  She was an answer to my prayers.  We met with my brother and his wife the next day for lunch and asked everything…What if you had twins? What if you were put on bed rest? What if you had to have a c-section? What if, what if, what if?  She still was 100% for it.  So we started the process…

We talked with our Dr. to see what we needed to do to get the ball rolling.  You have to be legally, mentally, and psychologically cleared before going through with a gestational carrier.  We already had 4 embryos in storage, so we planned on doing a frozen IVF transfer.  It took us about ten months to get all the background stuff done.

June 24th, 2012: IVF #6 Transfer with Gestational Carrier: We defrosted our 4 embryos, but only 2 were good.  We implanted the 2 embryos and waited 2 weeks.  My sister-in-law said she totally felt pregnant.

July 7th, 2012: They drew her blood and called us that night with the news – Pregnancy test is NEGATIVE!  What the heck?  At this point we were financially and emotionally exhausted.

My husband and I prayed and prayed and felt good about one last try.  This was it.  Lucky number seven.  If this didn’t work we were moving on – knowing we tried EVERYTHING we could.  We would try one last fresh IVF cycle and implant them into my sister-in-law.

A few months later we were ready.

September 6th, 2012: IVF Retrieval #4: The Dr. retrieved 33 eggs from me!!  I was definitely over-stimulated, but at this point I didn’t care.  I was SO uncomfortable, but was so happy to hear they got 33 eggs!  25 eggs fertilized.

September 11th, 2012: They implanted 2 embryos in my sister-in-law and froze 9!  And we waited…

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September 19th, 2012:  Jamie took an at home pregnancy test and it said PREGNANT.  She test me the picture of the positive pregnancy test.  I fell to the floor in tears.  We were still so nervous, knowing our history.  Two days later she got a blood test that came back positive as well!

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A week and a half later my sister-in-law started bleeding.  Not spotting.  But actually bleeding.  I couldn’t believe it.  We called our Dr. and he said to go get an ultrasound.  He said it was really early but we just want to rule out an ectopic pregnancy and see what we see.  We got an ultrasound a couple hours later.  Driving to that ultrasound felt like we were driving to a funeral.

The ultrasound tech didn’t sound very optimistic.  She said she saw a considerable amount of blood around the uterus.  She said that it looked like one of our embryos didn’t really grow – the gestational sac was empty.  The other gestational sac had two yolk sacs inside – which means that the embryo split into identical twins.  She was worried because she didn’t see a fetal pole – which normally develops between 5-6 weeks.  We left the ultrasound with no answers.  Our Dr. told us to go back in a week for a repeat ultrasound to see if we see any progression.  We could come back and see babies, or nothing at all.  I felt like it was all over.  Our emotions were all over the place the next week.  We were so stressed out!!

We went back to the same ultrasound tech exactly a week later.  I walked in thinking we weren’t going to see anything.  She started the ultrasound and immediately saw a baby!!!!  She said it looked like a completely different patient.  Things were looking SO good.  The bleeding around the uterus was a lot less.  The ultrasound tech was a bit confused because she saw two babies – but this time they were in two different sacs.  The embryo she thought didn’t work actually had worked – and had a baby with a heartbeat inside!  The best sound I have ever heard.  I immediately started bawling.  I was ecstatic! She moved over to the other baby and started measuring that heartbeat.  My brother was looking up at the ultrasound on the big screen and thought he could see two heartbeats on that baby.  The ultrasound tech wasn’t convinced.  She was like, “No…that’s just the baby…OH MY GOSH, THERE ARE TWO HEARTBEATS OVER THERE. YOU GUYS ARE HAVING TRIPLETS!!!”  The babies were up against each other.  When she moved the ultrasound machine around you could distinctly see two babies in that sac.  I couldn’t believe it. Three freaking babies!!  One embryo split into identical twins and the other embryo grew into a baby as well.  We were all in shock.  Going from thinking we were going to see no heartbeats to seeing three heartbeats!  What a miracle!!  I can’t even explain to you the feelings that were going through me.  I’m not really a crier, but I was bawling!  SO CRAZY!  My sister-in-law was shocked as well.  Three babies?!  She had been feeling really sick/tired the past week and was relieved it was actually for something.  We never thought we would implant two embryos and end up with three babies!!  We all just kept saying, “Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh, Are you kidding me?”  I never thought we’d have triplets, but couldn’t be happier!

We are now the proud parents of TRIPLETS – two identical boys and a little girl – born April 9th, 2013.  They are all healthy and doing well.  Our sister-in-law gave us the family we have always wanted.  What a selfless gift.  Truly amazing!

Click here for Kim’s blog
kimberlyvball7.blogspot.com

Click here to watch Curtis and Kim’s News Story
http://www.kutv.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_4958.shtml#.UZOubuGH8A0.facebook

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2 thoughts on “Pressing on – Meet Curtis and Kim Brown

  1. Your story is one of the most inspiring stories I’ve heard. Thanks so much for sharing! We are in the process of going through in vitro right now, preparing for our second transfer. Reading your story has given me hope and a greater resolve to be strong when it’s hard and to keep going when the going gets tough.

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