What is a rainbow baby?

A rainbow baby is a baby born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, or infant loss. A rainbow appears after a rainstorm, a beautiful reminder of hope after dark times.

I saw this rainbow after we had learned that our gestational carrier was pregnant. Our ‘storm’ has included 3 miscarriages, the most recent a triplet miscarriage.

We have so much hope that we will meet our rainbow baby next year.

Check out this picture of a woman expecting her rainbow baby, simply stunning.

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Hello baby V!

Today was the first ultrasound since we learned our gestational carrier was pregnant.

Leading up to the ultrasound I was 95% confident we would see a heartbeat.

GC has been having some pretty bad nausea once the afternoon hits, a comforting annoyance to say the least. Top this with the continued daily shots in the rear and it’s safe to say she’s looking forward to the second trimester.

As soon as the ultrasound picture hit the screen Dr. F told us that he could see the heartbeat. It was such a relief to hear these words, but also a little disorienting.

Is this real life?

He confirmed that it was a singleton pregnancy, took measurements, and said it looked beautiful.

I asked if we could hear the heartbeat.

“Anything for you, Kelly,” he said.

Heart rate was 137 BPM.

He printed off pictures for us and I couldn’t resist reminding him that this was the embryo he had told us to “throw away.”

“Sometimes nature makes me look like a fool,” he told me.

GC and I had tears in our eyes.

I wasn’t sure if I should scream, cry, or faint.

I held it together but couldn’t focus on much because I was in shock.

I’m still in shock.

It is going to take time to process that things are going right.

I’m thankful to be able to share a pregnancy with our GC. She’s a perfect friend to be trekking through this adventure with.

Thank you everyone for the well wishes!

Decisions, decisions

One topic I haven’t covered is the quality of our embryos.

When I had my single frozen embryo transfer, I reported that the lab thawed the wrong embryo. I had spent months deciding which embryo to transfer to myself, finally settling on transferring the worst quality embryo.

You see, I knew my transfer wasn’t going to work no matter which embryo they transferred.

My lining barely made it to 6mm. It was not trilaminar. 

If I was going to “waste” an embryo in transferring it to my uterus, it was going to be the one that was graded the worst. It was decided that they would thaw the worst embryo for me, the one graded 6BC. 

But they screwed up.

They thawed 5BB. 

So then 5BB was wasted.

*Insert mad face here*

What do these numbers and letters mean?

(Embryo grading education here)

(And in this podcast here)

At this point we knew we were going to pursue surrogacy and we had our best and our worst embryo left.

5AB <– best

6BC <– worst

Our new doctor, Dr. F, told us to “throw away” 6BC.

Naturally I took his opinion with a grain of salt and turned to my logical decision making process.

The following is a schematic of what went on in my head the next several months.


6BC was dubbed “the underdog” by our GC.

I was thinking ahead and it came down to some main points.

I needed to know NOW if 6BC was any good.

I was not going to do another retrieval if it was not needed.

Whichever embryo we did first, if it failed, we would do the other one.

But what if the first embryo was a success?

If 5AB was a success, that would leave our worse embryo as the only one frozen. I would wonder if it’s any good. Wonder for years, maybe never know! What if we decide years later to do another transfer and it fails? Then I’ll have to do another egg retrieval with older eggs and with a child in tow.

If 6BC was a success, that would leave our better embryo as the frozen one and I would feel at peace about not doing a retrieval now.

It looks like the latter is what is happening. 

Our best embryo is the one still frozen and our ‘underdog’ appears to be growing.

I look forward to the day I can kindly remind Dr. F that this is the embryo he so brazenly told us to throw away.

We don’t know if we will ever do this process again and we are not going to even try to answer that right now, but keeping your options open isn’t a bad idea.

Advocate for yourself, only you know what’s best for your family.

Beta results

While on bed rest our talented gestational carrier drew and colored this monarch and gave it to me along with a pregnancy test she had taken 5 days after the transfer. I had never thought to look into the meaning of seeing butterflies and was encouraged by their symbolism of transformation and life.

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For those unfamiliar with infertility jargon, 5dp6dt means 5 days past a 6 day transfer. I was shocked to see a positive pregnancy test so early, on a dip strip nonetheless. I remained cautiously optimistic, as I could not let infertility catch me with my guard down again. We infertiles know better.

The first blood test to detect the pregnancy hormone in her blood wasn’t for another 6 days.

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A day after reading my blog post about the transfer, a family member of mine had to have her car worked on and stopped in to her local mechanic at a small shop and was surprised to see that the wife of the mechanic had started a venture in creating art with butterflies!

My family member told the mechanic’s wife about what was happening in my infertility journey and she promptly picked out this piece to give to me!

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Every day our gestational carrier sent me a picture of the pregnancy tests she was taking. I personally felt as if the lines should have been getting darker more quickly and thought the first Beta on 11 days past transfer would be a low number, even though she was starting to feel nauseous.

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We called the doctor’s office together to get the news of the first Beta and had the same reaction of surprised shock when they told us the number.

“What?!”

541 <— first beta

We were blown away.

Even though it seemed like a nice, high number, the blood test has to be repeated to check the doubling rate of the hCG levels.

GC asked me earlier in the day what the goal should be for the second beta. I very briefly thought about numbers and came back with “2000!” for a prediction. Halfway kidding.

Today we were blown away again with the results of the second beta.

2145 <— second beta

It appears that this embryo has been growing strong!

The next step will be an ultrasound to confirm a heartbeat.

We remain hopeful. In the words of our GC, “Maybe this is the beginning of a long series of things going right.”

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Within the hour of receiving the second beta results, I received word that a long time patient of mine had passed. This patient had told me on more than one occasion that (s)he prayed for me every day. I’m thankful that the last words I said to this patient was, “The prayers are working,” with a knowing smile on my face. I believe (s)he knew.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly.” Barbara Haines Howett

Single FET with gestational carrier

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I woke up the morning of the transfer feeling more susperstitious than usual. Our gestational carrier had gotten a pedicure the day before and was sporting “fertility green” toenails. I threw on a fertility green hoodie and a butterfly necklace, just in case the recent butterfly sightings had meaning. img_0122

Our GC had been instructed to have a full bladder for the appointment, so she sipped tea and water the whole drive there. My husband did the driving and it was nice to sit back and relax. Under my green hoodie I was wearing a shirt with a picture of Quoddy, because what kind of dog mom would I be if she wasn’t a small part in building the family.

We had barely sat down in the waiting room, 15 minutes before we were instructed to arrive, and they were calling us back. We were quickly given gowns, bonnets, and shoe covers, and I even had a mask to wear in the procedure room. The nurse presented GC with a valium and soon after she swallowed it, we were shown to the direction of the procedure room.

‘Doesn’t the valium take time to work?’ I thought.

Inside the procedure room our “extra-extravert” GC was learning the names of all the medical professionals while I sat down and tried to take in all the different machines and gadgets. There was a TV on the wall and a monitor next to the bed which I figured we would be watching.

In unison GC and I identified the Alanis Morissette song, ‘You Oughta Know,’ playing overhead.

“And would she have your baby…”

We started cracking up. She said something about it being an angry song.

“Do you want me to change it?” one of the ladies in the room asked.

“No,” I told them.

It was perfect. A feminist rock album that my 10-11 year old self used to listen to on repeat.

“Do you know what you’re having?” a lady who looked like a doctor in training asked me.

I was thrown off by this question. So many thoughts flashed through my mind.

  • No one is pregnant yet…
  • This is not a 100% chance we will have a baby from this cycle…
  • Doesn’t she know the hurdles we still have before she can rightfully ask us this question….
  • Is that really an important question to ask right now…

I answered her in two words before I saw my last name on the TV screen on the far wall. We watched as the completely hatched embryo was sucked up from the petri dish. In a matter of seconds we were then watching the monitor that showed the ultrasound image as Dr. F put the embryo right on the uterine lining. I had tears in my eyes watching him do this. It was surreal that we had finally gotten to this step. This embryo was the only viable embryo from my first retrieval in April 2016.

I was handed pictures of the embryo and GC was given permission to use the restroom before heading back to the bed for a 30 minute rest on her back. So many differences between clinics. After my embryo transfer they did not have me lay down afterward.

There was another intended parent-surrogate team that had an appointment right after us. It made me want to know their story, but of course I didn’t ask.

Our gestational carrier was instructed to be on bed rest the rest of the day and the following day, another change from the previous clinic.

We left the procedure building feeling cautiously optimistic that we wouldn’t have to return.

I sat on the couch at home to watch a movie under my prayer blanket that my aunt had given me. It came from her church and was prayed over for my infertility. I realized the pattern and felt my heart beat faster.

Butterflies! With a rainbow for our rainbow baby.

Maybe all those butterflies were trying to tell me something.
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And now we wait.

Lining check for GC

We spent nearly a year trying to thicken my uterine lining to an appropriate thickness for a frozen embryo transfer.

It never happened.

The appropriate thickness I mean.

My last lining check before my transfer showed my uterine lining at a measly 6mm thickness. No tri-laminar appearance that is arguably more important than thickness.

I knew that for our gestational carrier’s first lining check she would get an A+.

Sure enough, the ultrasound showed 8.9mm of lining with a tri-laminar appearance!

So perfect and so normal.

The oral estradiol and estrogen patches in conjunction with her functional uterus had done their job.

Two days after the lining check she was to start the daily progesterone in oil (PIO) shots.

I never had to do these particular shots so I wasn’t sure if these shots were going to be an improvement over the three times a day vaginal suppository progesterone that I had come to know.

Both must be unpleasant, but with the most important hormone to sustain a pregnancy, we do what we have to do.

Next step, transfer!

Ducks in a row

It’s a good thing that gestational carrier and I are the type of people that have our shit together, because if we weren’t there would have been near disaster scenarios happening.

In the past two weeks I have:

  • spent 2 hours and 50 minutes on the phone with specialty pharmacies
  • been sent a bill in error
  • been told scripts were in the mail when they were not
  • been told that scripts were called in when they were not
  • almost been billed an extra $775 in error
  • been told by a specialty pharmacy that estradiol and progesterone were the same thing
  • seen more 3 monarch butterflies

I was beginning to think there weren’t any competent people on this Earth, but I’m crossing my fingers that this was just an unfortunate streak.


Now for an update: Gestational carrier’s baseline ultrasound has been done and all is normal!

  • Ovaries: quiet and sleeping thanks to a Lupron injection
  • Lining: thin at the beginning of the cycle after shedding old lining
  • Labs: numbers right where they should be

I feel like I’m supporting a friend going through her first infertility journey.

‘Yes of course I will go to your our doctor appointment with you.’

Except she’s not infertile. And this could be her first AND last assisted reproductive cycle.

And she is doing this for me. That definitely has not sunk in.