Seed Story : Brandy & Roy (Shannon) (aka Shandy)
Occupation: Purchasing & Engineer, Owners of RSP Entertainment
City: Troutville, VA
Often times, our deepest wants and wishes aren’t made true, especially at the time we want them. We’re taken through valleys and over mountains to get where we need to be, and many times to teach us lessons along the way.
2014 was all about patience for Brandy & Roy. Almost two years went by with the hopes of getting pregnant and starting their family. Here is their story.
“After much research, I knew it was time to press on because I felt we needed help. Roy on the other hand, was in the mindset of “it will happen when it happens.” We had many arguments, but after talking to a friend who is an infertility advocate, he finally realized that we may need to try something else. It’s very common for couples to NOT be on the same page when it comes to infertility and trying to conceive, sometimes it can make or break a relationship. It definitely made our relationship stronger.”
Continuing the journey to start their family would be a long…and bumpy one. After many months of “Big Fat Negatives” (as Brandy calls them), they decided to try IUI’s (Intrauterine Insemination).
“There is only one doctor in our area that could do these. This was frustrating because we felt this doctor didn’t really “care” about our situation, he basically came in, did his job and left. Most insurances do not cover infertility treatments so we were paying cash and not getting the results/nore the care we were hoping for. I basically told him what I wanted to do and he did it…..I was my own dr and that was very frustrating.”
“After 2 IUI’s locally and no success, we decided that we needed to go elsewhere and the closest place was in Charlottesville Va. That brought new challenges, but the treatment there from the doctors and staff made it worthwhile. We had perfect numbers on everything, and our bloodwork showed no signs or reasons why we were not conceiving. We were then placed in the “Unexplained Infertility” category, which is a frustration in itself.”
Between a seven month period, Brandy travelled to Charlottesville 40x for treatments, bloodwork, ultrasounds, etc.
“I would leave my house at 6am for an 8am appointment and then drive all the way back and go to work, and there were weeks where I had to do this daily which was exhausting.”
“We decided we would do 2 IUI’s with injectables at Charlottesville and then move on to IVF and the doctors there agreed that would be best. The injectable hormones really put a toll on your body and I had to learn to inject these medications by myself. The first few times was scary but I have a Youtube channel to document it, so I recorded my first injection. This way I wouldn’t take so long doing it and look like a chicken on the internet haha!”
Although the injections were working, Brandy still wasn’t getting pregnant. They took the next step to move to IVF.
“IVF is a whole new ballgame and our insurance didn’t cover the procedures which can cost anywhere from 8K-12K per IVF. We were blessed that Charlottesville offered a Shared Risk Program, where you essentially pay for 2 rounds of IVF upfront. If the first IVF worked, then you would “lose” money, but if it didn’t work, then you moved on to your 2nd round. You got 4 Fresh IVF Cycles with this program and if you didn’t go home with a baby in your arms at the end of it all, then you got your money back. Being that we were in the “Unexplained Infertility” category and had no idea what our issue was, we felt this was the best route to go for us.”
“After medications and daily injections for about a month, we did our first IVF. They put me under anesthesia and took out 16 eggs. We were extremely excited for that number and Roy’s sperm count was excellent. I prayed to get at least 2 good embryo’s out of the bunch, but was told that we could end up with more than that.”
The next day, Brandy and Roy received a call from the doctor, none of the eggs had fertilized.
“Basically, one of us (we don’t know who) is missing a “signal” that would attract the other so that fertilization could happen. The doctor recommended “Rescue ICSI” to try to salvage a few eggs. ICSI is where the sperm is manually injected into an egg to fertilize it. Even with this attempt, we ended up with no embryos.”
“At this point I remember thinking, I don’t know if I can do it again. All the medication and injections…. they made me feel sick at times and I had bruises on my stomach from running out of spots to inject. The medication also made me gain weight and stay bloated, it was no fun for sure. I knew that I didn’t want to wait either, so I immediately asked when we could start round two.”
The next month, Brandy’s treatments were more aggressive. At her final ultrasound, they found her Estrogen levels to be higher than desired and decided to take the route of a “frozen transfer.”
“I would do the Egg Retrieval part of the procedure, they would let the fertilized eggs grow until they become a blastocyst and then they would freeze them. Freezing them would allow my body to get my levels back to normal and the protocol for an FET is less aggressive, so my body would essentially be more ready to accept the embryo’s. My success rate would essentially increase slightly going this route. It was a no brainer for me, I agreed that i would do the FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer). I mean at that point we had waited a little over 2 years to be pregnant whats another 45 days? They were able to get 16 eggs again and they were able to freeze 3 beautiful grade A embryos! I took the next 45 days to just enjoy life which had been so hard to do while TTCing.”
“We planned our beach vacation for that week. Like every person dealing with infertility, you want to test early because you want to see that “positive” on a pregnancy test. So, I tested a few days early. We had family on vacation with us, so the only person I could tell was Roy. We kept it a secret until we got our blood results a few days later.
I got up early that day, and my mom went with me to the hospital at the beach to have my blood drawn. The wait for the nurse to call with the results seemed like forever but was literally only a couple of hours. I went to my room to take the call and they congratulated me and told me that my numbers were in the 900s. They said they were looking for anything above 50! They couldn’t verify multiples by the numbers, but it was definitely a good sign. I stayed in my room until Roy got back from a walk on the beach and then we called his mom, while we had my parents and his uncle in the room at the beach with us. I immediately broke down trying to explain everything. The feeling was excited, nervous, and scared. We were pregnant! Being through IVF and knowing the unknown…. you still have that realist in the back of your mind saying “Don’t get too excited because anything could happen, and it could be taken away.” So, I was very cautiously optimistic.”
“I know before infertility, I always said I would never spoil my kids….welp, that may definitely change lol. They will be spoiled rotten, and loved to death. I will forever be grateful for these 2 blessings, and I have definitely gotten closer to God. I may not go to church on a weekly basis, but I’ve had many many talks with him.”
“Being on the “other side” I’m definitely more aware of those suffering with infertility and the emotional stress it can cause. I try not to “brag” about my pregnancy, I may post a few things here and there, but overall I have a Facebook page where those who want to keep up with our pregnancy, can, and those who are struggling and just can’t handle it at this time, don’t have to. Nothing hurts more than when you are struggling and you check your FB timeline and get bombarded of positive pregnancy tests or pregnancy announcements, although you are happy for them, it’s just a reminder of what you don’t or may not ever have.”
“My biggest lesson has got to be Patience – You can ask Roy, I struggled with patience a lot before this journey. I know my husband is wonderful, but this journey definitely just amplified that as well. Those hormones can make you a bit crazy, and he put up with me through that and he was always there to comfort and support me.”
“When Roy and I were just trying naturally and didn’t have a plan, it was very stressful because you have no control of the outcome. I think that’s the hardest part, you don’t have any control of what happens. When Roy and I had a plan, I felt more in control, which helped me be less stressed. It also helped me deal with the failed cycles. Yes I cried and was upset, but I picked myself up and was able to say “ok lets keep moving forward.” We sat down and decided we would try X amounts of IUI’s, then move on to IVF and worst case scenario, we couldn’t conceive our own child, then we would move on to adoption.”
“Make sure you surround yourself with people that support you. There are some people that just do not understand the struggle, and so they don’t understand why you are depressed. They may give you advice like “oh don’t stress it will happen” …ironically I can say that advice wouldn’t have helped us at all in our situation, but I just have to remember that those people were just trying to be helpful and do not understand the full process.”
“Join support groups on FB, go to YouTube and find people that you can ask questions. You will find that most couples documenting their journey want to help you! You do not have to post videos of your own to get help/support from the YouTube community. Some areas have local support groups where you can get support from local people that are going through or have been through the journey. If someone doesn’t support you or you feel that they don’t understand, don’t get mad at them. Often times, that’s just it, they don’t KNOW the real struggle, so smile, let it roll off your back and carry on.”
When I first started talking to Brandy about her journey in starting a family, she wasn’t quick to mention the hardships or the frustrations she had, but instead, without her saying much, I could quickly see how she gave much of herself to help others.
She took me down the path of the mediations and injections she had to take. These medications can get quite costly, especially if you minus any help that would be given from insurance. In many instances, the medications alone can cost up to $1,000. Any unopened medication Brandy had leftover, she donated. It’s incredible to see people, like Brandy, give others a chance, however they can. No matter how hard her journey gets, she’s just one of those people that would help others, that in itself, is inspiration for me.