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#121 Infertility Series: Baileys on Reciprocal IVF Part 2

by Kira Dineen
May 1st 2020

This episode is part of DNA Today’s ongoing infertility series. The series was launched hearing from Genetic Counselor Lauren Isley, she shared about artificial reproductive technologies a... More

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I've already bridged the first few episodes So it's your time to catch up. Find it wherever you get your podcasts again, unlocking bryson's brain. How is it that we find ourselves surrounded by such complexity. Such elegance genes of you and me. We're all made of DNA were all made of the same. Hello, you're listening to DNA today, a genetics podcast and radio show. I'm your host here Dancin on this show. I explore genetics impact on our health through conversations with leaders and genetics. These are genetic counselors, researchers, doctors, patient advocates and more. This episode is part of DNA today's ongoing infertility series. The series was launched hearing from genetic counselor Loren Eiseley. She shared about artificial reproductive technologies, also known as a R. T. S. And infertility genetic counseling. Last episode we heard from Katie and Christina bailey. They were sharing their journey to parenthood through reciprocal in vitro fertilization or reciprocal. IVF. We continue this conversation on this episode.

So if you haven't heard the first part of our discussion, you're gonna want to go back and listen to the previous episode where Christina and Katie bailey talk about the beginning of their story with IVF. The Baileys have a large following of nearly 100,000 on instagram. So you can join their fans by following them at baby bailey mama drama. Anyways, here's where we left off the health care team you had was really receptive and able to like process with you and make sure that the decisions you were making you were thinking through and comfortable with and that I'm sure really helped the process because if you were with people that weren't that way and weren't very supportive and patient then it probably would have felt like a much worse process to go through definitely. And we had done our research before. We chose the clinic. And one of the reasons that we continue to go back to that clinic. And the reason we went back there to have our second child was because of the support and just feeling comfortable. They're feeling like it's another home for us. Um Just because they know us and they know our family and they know everything we've been through where we left off with that second round of IVF um you were able to get viable embryos from that.

How many did you end up transferring? Um to Katie? So during the 2nd round At a retrieval 18 eggs were retrieved which is a lot and they split that. So nine were X. E. And nine were naturally fertilized. And that resulted in 11 fertilized embryo. And then at that and then from there they transferred two embryos. And so they usually don't do too many. Because if to end up turning into a pregnancy that it's twins and any more than that can have a lot of complications. So I'm sure there was a lot of the thinking around that where did it go from there in terms of transferring those two embryos And then on the flip side what did you do with the other embryos that you weren't using at that time. So we did transfer the two because at the time we wanted the best chances and we were open to the idea of twins. In fact we wanted twins. You've already gone through so much of the process. It's kind of like if you have two kids out of this, that's amazing.

Yes. Yes, exactly. And then as far as the leftover embryos, they were frozen and they and they still are, so they're in storage. One of the embryos ended up taking, is that correct? Yes, that's correct. Um So there was, we had some complications. So I after I was pregnant and we had the um positive pregnancy test, uh time had passed and one of them actually, it was, it was like it was a miscarriage and right, so we lost the one embryo, but one remained, it did cause some complications throughout the rest of the pregnancy, but that one embryo did grow into our first daughter and so then Kennedy was born. Yes, it's a very exciting time, I'm sure. And how life must have changed after that, of going through this long process and then you end up having Kennedy and is it different looking back on this process then feel like while you were going through it just kind of knowing like now that you have Kennedy and all of that, I would say almost the entire pregnancy, you weren't sure if we were going to have a baby.

They told us for the most part that this was a high risk pregnancy and that our little embryo might not survive in there just because there was a huge blood clot resting up against the little sack that was in there. So the nose of the pregnancy, we tried not to be too happy about it, which sounds pretty sad. Um there were definitely moments of happiness, but still after the happiness, I would say, I'm like, okay, but prepare yourself, you know what if this doesn't happen, it's okay, you'll be fine, you have embryos that are frozen, you can try again, it's constantly reassuring ourselves that don't get your hopes up. Um but around the third trimester, they had told us we were safe, the baby was big enough now and the baby would be born, but I think in the back of our minds, we still thought, is there a baby in there? I remember when I felt her kick for the first time, I thought, oh my gosh, there's an actual baby in there. Just kind of blew my mind away, and I remember when she first came out, I thought, oh my gosh, I can't believe we made this baby.

It just, it was crazy to think that both of us played a role, she's here, she's ours, we could take her home. Um just totally shocked by the whole experience and how great, like you said that you're you're both able to play a role in this and really be a team throughout the process and have each other as support and then to be able to have Canada together is is so exciting and that you then not too long later um went to conceive a second time. How how was that process? Different than trying to conceive for Kennedy and going through and kind of knowing a little bit more when you're going into this because the first time you were really learning as you were going right I would say the second time it was nice because it was like cutting your journey in half. You're like you know fast forwarding through it. So I didn't have to do the injections this time. And it was mainly it was all Katie getting the injections. I felt really bad for her. Um But it was nice because it was a shorter time frame.

So we went back and it wasn't so much time before knowing if we were going to be pregnant. And I remember the day of our embryo transfer just thinking oh my gosh and just a couple minutes we could be pregnant all over again. And I remember just watching when they when they do the transfer there's an ultrasound screen on there and you see um you know the little screen is these little flicker of light leave the little needle thing, they stick up there and just seeing a little light flicker and thinking okay that's our baby. Um And now it's time for the dreaded two week wait which is where you wait and then you have your blood drawn to see if you have that pregnancy hormone in there. So we waited that two weeks and then Katie went to her blood tests and we anxiously waited by the phone for hopefully that news that we're pregnant. And so cool to be able to see the conception actually happened because most couples don't get to see that if they're naturally conceiving or even I ui or other other forms of artificial reproductive technology technology.

But it's so cool that you had that moment where you actually like watched it happen in some way. Yeah, it's pretty awesome. And we also have a first picture of our baby, which is awesome. So they give you a little embryo photos. So we always say that, you know, we knew you from the very beginning. Just having that first baby picture of them before. You know, they started to grow into a little baby. That is really cool. The first picture in the baby book, I'm sure. Yes, it was with that pregnancy. Were you able to use the same sperm donor? Were you using a different one is the same. So they were from the same batch of embryos as our first child. So in a way they were were almost the same age. Really right in terms of when the egg met the sperm, they're the same age. Exactly genetically they are than full siblings. Yes. During this time you said it was a little bit different of having only Katie having the needles for the hormones. How is that a little bit different of this time?

Only Katie going through the medical side of having the hormone shots and the other appointments were more centered around Katie. It was a lot easier. Uh mostly because Christina wasn't crying for no reason from the hormones, I'm sure that helped a little bit. So it was, yeah, like Christina said the whole process was faster, It was easier if we knew what to expect and then Christina was really just there to help and support me. We didn't have to worry about her own regimen of medications. And then how was this pregnancy may be a little bit different from with Kennedy, Was there a lot of aspects that was the same? Or because some, some people are like, yeah, my pregnancies are all kind of the same and others are like, oh my gosh, they are so different from each other. It's almost like I'm a different person with this pregnancy. So the second pregnancy was a lot different than the first one um when I was pregnant with our first daughter. Honestly, besides of pregnancy being kind of high risk in the blog plot ordeal.

I, the pregnancy itself was not bad. I wasn't super sick with charlotte, It was the complete opposite. I was really sick the whole time with charlotte so much that I was thinking like there's this pregnancy is different, there's no way she's a girl. She must be a boy because I always say different pregnancies. Uh No, she's definitely a girl. And uh but yeah, it's crazy how different two experiences can be. Yeah, I'm sure. And going through the first one, you're probably like okay I've done the pregnancy thing and then you're like, wow, this is a different experience than it was the first time. Did you get a chance during the pregnancies to have any genetic testing or like meat with a genetic counselor? So they didn't do a lot of blood work on me in regards to genetics. Just because they want to make sure in the beginning that you're getting a donor at doesn't align with your genetics. Bad way. Which can always happen. But luckily I was not none of my genetics had any red flags in there.

So we were okay to choose any donor we wanted. Uh Most of the time the donors are screened for anything crazy. But I remember them explaining about blood type or something in the beginning that there's sometimes where they meet the person choose a certain donor. Just because of blood type reasoning was it maybe carrier screening of saying if you carried a condition that making sure that the donor then didn't carry the same condition. So the child wouldn't be at risk. I'm taking a guess here. Yeah. Now you are exactly correct. I was going and so you were able to do that and you sound like you weren't a carrier for any conditions that they screened you for. So it didn't matter in terms of donor status. So did you then later Katie during the pregnancies? Did you have any non invasive prenatal screenings taking a blood sample from you and then isolating the fetal DNA? I did you like the state. I'm testing what they offer and that's just the blood test beyond that. Um I did do at nine weeks.

I did the testing where it tells you the gender and then it screens for any any of the other type of chromosome abnormalities. And then in hindsight we could have done additional testing when they were fresh embryos before our first child before they were frozen. And that would have done the same. It would have tested for all those abnormalities. It would have tested for gender. We opted out of it. But in hindsight we really wish we did it at that time because going back for our second we wanted to but in order to do it they would have had to thaw the embryos test them and then refreeze them. Which would probably it would be fine but it could it could damage the embryos and you could lose some of them. And so we really didn't want to do that. So looking back we wish we had just done it when they were fresh embryos with our first. Right If it sounds like doing the P. G.

T. Of pre installation genetic testing of the embryos. And it sounds like people talk to you about it maybe at that time. But it just wasn't something you wanted to do back then And now you're like kind of maybe would have been good. Yeah and at the beginning they actually told us that it wasn't really recommended because we were so young. We were in our early twenties and actually we were told at the beginning of this that there's no problem here you guys will probably get pregnant your first round because you're both so young you're in great health. Everything looks great um uterus looks great it looks great. And then of course that didn't happen. So we are really concerned about. Should we have these embryos tested? And they told us no the first time was just kind of a fluke we're not sure what happened there. But this time all the eggs look great. Embryos look great. There's no reason you should be alarmed. There's no reason to test them. It was also an additional cost. And at that point we were so you know so much money involved so we're like we don't need to spend any more money on this.

They told us it's fine so we're just not going to do it. And of course now to this day we still regret not doing it just because it's one less thing to worry about. They also tell you that if an embryo is actually having a genetic abnormality it probably won't take. So to this day we still wonder if one of those embryos we implanted or that we transferred had a genetic abnormality. Could we have prevented that one embryo from leaving? You know, would that have made a difference? Would we have had two Children at this point or you know to from that pregnancy? Just a lot of what ifs in this process. Of course Lot of embryos that get implanted that don't become a successful pregnancy is because of a chromosomal abnormality of not necessarily being inherited by one, but just sometimes when the eggs and sperm come together it's just not a perfect 46 chromosomes. And that stepping aside from IVF pregnancies, even a lot of naturally conceived pregnancies, a lot of people don't realize that they've even had a miscarriage because it happened so early before you even realize you're pregnant.

So the human body isn't so great at becoming pregnant that I think a lot like the general public kind of thinks, oh it's very easy and you start you know, going to do this and you're like wow, actually human body is not really efficient at doing this. That may surprise some people. Oh yeah, definitely. They showed us the statistics of actually a woman getting naturally pregnant and we were blown away at how low it was. Um just thinking, wow I guess it really isn't that easy to get pregnant on your own if you were to do it that way right? Even in high school they're very like oh you know protect yourself and everything like that, which of course we want to do but it kind of makes you think like oh it must be so easy and it's like you know some couples, it does take a while to become pregnant and depending on how which route you're doing to get there. Another point that you're talking about was the finances of all this and you've been pretty public about the costs of running this. I was looking at one of your blog post outlining um the money that you spent. How much did you end up spending? I don't know if you want to talk about like maybe per cycle or just what's the total at this point?

And is this similar to what you've heard of other people? Um Well since we ended up doing two rounds of IVF, which isn't really typical for someone going into the process and then also doing the cost of having our second child charlotte which is you know following an embryo and then having it transferred. We spent around 30,000. But there's also there's so many different financial plans that you could go on to. I remember they told us at the beginning that you could actually pay a little bit less and it would be financing I think three rounds of IVF and we thought, oh that's ridiculous, we don't need three rounds um turns out we did need to, so maybe we should have gone for that route, But I remember most of the costs were broken down into smaller amounts, it's constantly paying a smaller bill. There was one that came that was I think 15 and I think that one really shocked us when we got that in the mail. Um the overall, it's like you're spending money here, you're spending money there and then eventually look at your bank account and you realize, oh my gosh, we have spent so much money trying to create a child.

Um but you know, to us it was so worth it and we had been saving up for this moment, we didn't have a big wedding, we saved up a lot of money just so we could have a child this way and you really need to be able to save up in order to finance this and there's such a discrepancy in in terms of when you look at gay couples for straight couples and just straight couples can oftentimes just get pregnant for free. And so there is like unfortunately disparity there of gay couples having to pay all this money to be able to have a child himself and and being a factor there, right, I totally agree and I know that many um you know heterosexual couples also go through IVF too, but the fact that some of them don't have to go through that we're just a little envious of that, wishing that for gay couples, that there was a way for us to get pregnant and for it to be financially covered would be such a relief just because there isn't a set way to go about having kids for free. And anyway, Yeah, definitely. And hopefully we see changes in terms of insurance companies really realizing this in covering much more of the costs and they cover some costs depending on the insurance plan and just like everything else in health care, insurance plans vary so much.

But I definitely hope to see this change in the future and realizing that infertility can be defined in a lot of different ways. I completely agree. I hope to see a lot of changes and I think you're definitely helping with your presence on social media and really just educating the public on all of these topics. One of those I was thinking about is growing up with Kennedy and charlotte being on social media and someday they'll be able to google and find these things and I'm sure you're going to share as they grow up. Have you thought about how you're going to talk to them about how they were conceived in the story of their pregnancy? Yeah. And Kennedy's already at that age. She's three right now and she's already noticed that all of her friends that live close to us all have a mommy and a daddy. So we have already had that talk with her about how some families don't have a daddy or some families have two daddies. Um but it's hard because the friends that we do have who are gay, who have kids, they don't, they're not in our lives on a daily basis.

Her friends that are in her life on a daily basis all have a mom and a dad. So the concept can be very confusing, especially when Our daughters, one who's addicted to Disney movies and all of them have a prince and a princess and they all get married and they all live happily ever after. Which is really frustrating. When are we going to get a Disney film that features a gay couple. I, I don't know when it will be, but I'm anxiously waiting. I agree. I agree. I am waiting for that moment. Just so our daughter can see that happen and you know, oh my gosh, I'm just like, you know that family on that movie? It seems to be pretty understanding though. I mean even when we explain to her, Yeah, that's cool. They have a daddy. You know you have to you have two moms. Yeah. And it's like you love your mom's. Yeah, I do. I'm like, okay, well they don't, you know that friend doesn't have two moms know they don't, so I mean just at the age of three, she doesn't really understand it. But we've also told her that it's pretty awesome. That bolt of her mom's carried her at one point in her life. And then she told us that she wants to carry a little brother in her stomach. So I just see how the concept isn't really getting through to her yet.

But we plan on being completely open with her. Just explaining that you know, the sperm donor helped make you and you know, we're so thankful that there are guys out there who donate because without them we can't have any Children. So just you know, showing her everything I copied everything from that profile. So showing her what he looks like, What were his interest, why we chose him, How we're so lucky that we have him. So just being completely honest with her is what we plan on doing with both of our kids. That sounds like a fantastic approach. And just the fact that we're able to save all that information so that you know, when they are asking questions, you could be like, this is everything I know. Here you go. Um and be able to present that to them, Something else I was thinking about along these lines of just being in the genetics world and you know, whenever I'm at a party or something, people always asking about the direct consumer tests, the 23 and me, the ancestry, all of that. And the donor conceived community. This has become a really big change in terms of people that were donor conceived if they're doing this testing of potentially being able to connect with your kids, possibly sperm donor.

Has this been something that you've thought about or would explore with them? I don't know even what the rules really are around that because a lot of these concepts are new. It used to be you could be an anonymous sperm donor and that doesn't exist anymore. Yeah. So that's it's something that we've thought about just briefly, I would assume that they wouldn't really be doing any tests like that until they're older. So at that point if that's something that they really want to explore, you know that's fine. uh we've both done the 23 and me test and we both liked it. We we found out a lot of information. And I mean to be honest, the uh like where you can find your relatives. There's not a ton of people on there. Yeah. I'm assuming in the future there will be more. Um So I mean if that's something that they really want to do, I would uh maybe this is a question for you. But if there's someone who's a sperm donor and they're anonymous And they choose to be anonymous, I don't know if they would do a 23 me test or something like that where they would choose because you can choose to connect with your relatives.

All right. I don't know. Yeah, I think they have to choose that. But it's also that if, say their siblings or their parent did it, that they could show up on charlotte Kennedy is saying, oh, this is your biological grandmother, this is your biological aunt or uncle. Obviously, socially they're not. But in terms of genetically that that has been things that I've talked to a genetic counselor, Branko Patrick, who really focuses, um, and specialized in the adoptee and donor conceived community and having those pop up and just how to handle that socially and how to think about it before diving into conversations with people. And it's definitely a very interesting area and a lot of things to really consider before doing it. So, yeah, it's very complex. And we can follow some people just on instagram who actually do have the sibling registry. And we have seen, uh, you know, some gay couples will actually take their kids on hangouts with their other half siblings. It's not something that we even looked into also on our donors profile.

One of the things we were looking for so many things in a donor, but one of the things wasn't, You know, what do they leave their contact information? So when the child's 18, they can have that last contact, which who knows if the donors even at that contact information anymore. But our donor actually didn't have that option. And so when we had picked him, we were like, well we like everything else that happens to not be an option. So oh, well at this point, Hard to get everything in one go. Exactly. It is so hard. Well, before we wrap up, do you have any parting advice for other people that are going through fertility treatments? Anything to tease that maybe we can see from you guys in the future? Um As far as advice, I would say, definitely lean on each other and be honest. Don't ever keep anything hidden. I know we've seen unfortunately some couples that just don't last this process. I know we were very fortunate that even though we had a lot of bumps on both of our journeys to have our two kids that we did end up with two kids and I know some people go down this road and they end up with zero kids and I can't imagine the pain they're in or you know what they're doing to overcome that.

And sometimes the relationship just doesn't last. Um just it's a hard struggle. So just making sure that you are honest lean on each other. Don't be afraid to cry too much, definitely makes you feel better. And as far as a teaser, we are definitely going to be having, I I want to more kids, but Katie wants one more. Um we are planning on having another child soon and we're still up in the air about how we're going to try to do this. So who's carrying how we're doing it. Um Yeah it's still it's crazy but it will definitely happen once we finally make that decision. Yeah that sounds really exciting and just being able to have those conversations and say with the experiences you've had of what you're doing this round and I'm guessing this is like lockdown in terms of public and instagram. But I think I have to ask the fans would be mad if I didn't because you guys have a lot of fans. Any names on your list or any boy names because you have Charlene Kennedy or do we have to wait to find out Christianity?

No no Christina junior. Uh We definitely have um one set girl named in to set boy names in mind. Um But we definitely don't want to share. Well sure that the girl name starts with an A. And the boy name that we want for sure starts with a G. So that's definitely easier because we have not told anybody even that information. And Kennedy if you asked her if she wanted another sister or another brother, she would tell you she wants a brother and she'll take charlotte back in order to get a brother. She want I'm like that's not how it works. We don't take charlotte back to the hospital. Yeah they don't take returns surprisingly. No they don't and I'm like you can't get your money back. She's too expensive. We're keeping her. I'm sorry Well thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your journey and for just being so public online and raising awareness for that. This is an option for people to do and there are so many options. This is the one that has worked for your family and really can't thank you enough for just continuing to educate people and for educating my listeners.

I really appreciate it. Well, thank you so much for having us on. We really hope that everyone out there loves our story. Hope you enjoyed hearing from the Baileys. As I mentioned before, they have nearly 100,000 followers on instagram at baby bailey mama drama. You can also subscribe to their Youtube channel. They have a lot of content up there, same handle and they have a blog, baby bailey mama drama dot Wordpress dot com. I also want to thank all the listeners who joined us last week for our matchday zoom celebration. It was fantastic to connect with so many of you and answer your questions about grad school. Our marketing director Laura Markham also joined us with some helpful financial tips. Again, congrats to all those joining the field of counseling. It was very special to be able to celebrate matchday with you on zoom for those that may have missed it. No worries. We're gonna be posting it on Youtube as we are launching our Youtube channel next week. The team is really excited to be finally launching this as it's been an ongoing project for a while now. I want to thank Sophia Saladino for being our video editor and Youtube lead. Watch out for that now in May 2020 and the normal plugs check out all the episodes.

We've got 120 now DNA podcast dot com, connect with us on twitter at DNA podcast on instagram little different DNA radio. We have a lot of content up there and that's been really active and any questions that you have for myself, the Baileys, anyone on the team or you just want to say that this episode really resonated with you email in infinite DNA podcast dot com and one favor to ask from you, please take a moment out of your day and rate and review the podcast on whatever podcast player you listen to. This on. Apple is probably number one for most people. So if you can rate and review the show, that would go a long way with us. Let's get checked. Offers a variety of home testing kits including fertility, but also sexual health with S. D. I. Testing according to the World Health Organization of the 19 million americans who contract a sexually transmitted disease Each year, only 50% are aware that they're infected. Only 50% people who are sexually active should all be doing S D. I testing on a regular basis, luckily let's get checked.

Makes it easy by sending a kit right to you and discreet packaging. It's just like the other kids I've talked about, You collect a sample, pop it back in the mail. Wait time is quick with results in only 2 to 5 days as most of you know, let's get checked. Also provides fertility testing to if these episodes make you curious about your own fertility status. You can start learning with their kits. I did the female fertility test and had my sample run in their clia certified lab to know more about my hormone levels for specifically follicle stimulating hormone and lutin. Izing hormone and a bunch of others. Try any of these kids for yourself by going to let's get checked dot com and use code DNA today for 20% off your kids again, you can use code DNA today for 20% off your kids at let's get checked dot com. And that code works for any of the sponsors from the show. DNA today is the code to beginning all these exclusive deals as a DNA Today, listener and thank you join me next time to learn and discover the new advances in the world of genetics and DNA.

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#121 Infertility Series: Baileys on Reciprocal IVF Part 2
#121 Infertility Series: Baileys on Reciprocal IVF Part 2
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