our infertility journey


Well, buckle up, because let me tell you, it can be quite the rollercoaster ride.

My husband and I crossed paths back in June of 2010. Neither of us was exactly in the place for a serious relationship at the time – life was throwing curveballs left and right. But you know what they say about life – it's full of surprises. We quickly realized we had a special connection and decided, "Why not? Let's see where this crazy journey takes us."

A year later, there he was, down on one knee at the finish line of the Vancouver USA Marathon – a race we had both trained for and run together. We decided to plan our wedding in just two months and tie the knot in August 2011, surrounded by our closest family and friends.

Kids were always a part of our conversation. We knew we wanted to start a family, and we weren't getting any younger. So, we thought, "Why wait?" The excitement was palpable, but fast forward a few months – no positive pregnancy test. I had that nagging feeling in my gut, like something wasn't quite right. I turned to Dr. Google (a.k.a. the internet) for answers, but trust me, that's a rabbit hole you don't want to dive into. Online searches left me with more questions than answers, and I realized it was time to consult a professional.

Within a month, we found ourselves in the office of a fertility doctor who pointed out male factor infertility as the culprit behind our struggles. According to this expensive doctor (because, you know, the more expensive they are, the smarter they must be, right?), things weren't looking too promising. It was disheartening, to say the least. We sought a second opinion, which unfortunately offered little new insight but did provide us with a referral to another specialist.

The next doctor brought a glimmer of hope. There was a way around this – it involved a biopsy through minor surgery and then going the IVF route. For us, it was a no-brainer. We were determined to have kids. And though adoption was an option we considered (and still do), we wanted to give IVF a shot.

If you've been through infertility struggles or know someone who has, you'll understand that this journey is neither quick nor easy. Plus, there's the financial burden, especially if you're not fortunate enough to live in a state that covers fertility treatments. We certainly weren't that lucky. My husband is a firefighter, and I was working part-time in human resources for an event company – tens of thousands of dollars were far from a casual expenditure.

Did you know that the average IVF cycle costs around $13k? Yeah, that number can feel like a punch in the gut. Especially when you learn that, on average, it takes about three cycles for it to work. I was overwhelmed. I took on extra hours at work and decided to start a side hustle – making jewelry. My husband raised an eyebrow at my out-of-left-field idea, but I was determined. I bought supplies like there was no tomorrow – and let me tell you, I had no idea what I was doing, so I just bought everything! Boxes were showing up at our house daily. My husband's expression every time the doorbell rang was priceless.

I started making jewelry here and there for family and friends, and it quickly became something I was passionate about. I squirreled away money every chance I got, and then in November 2012, we picked a clinic and decided to dive in. Our IVF cycle was scheduled for January 2013, and we were certain it would be a walk in the park. We could not have been more wrong.

In the final stages of fertility testing leading up to our first round, a shocking revelation: I had half a uterus. Yes, you read that right – half. Talk about a curveball. I had never even heard of it before. This didn't pose an issue for conception but could complicate pregnancy because there wasn't as much room for the baby to grow. We decided to proceed with IVF as planned, but a little more cautiously as we now had a new worry.

Our first IVF cycle yielded six embryos. Given my "mini ute," as I affectionately called it, and the space issue, a twin pregnancy wasn't ideal, so we transferred only one embryo. Unfortunately, that cycle ended with a big fat negative. The second cycle wasn't any better. We were emotionally drained, exhausted from spending money without any results, and needed a break.

So, we packed up and went to Kauai in May, found our dream home in the Pacific Northwest, sold our previous house on a whim to buy it, and just lived life without the weight of IVF and babies hanging over our heads for six months.

Come November, we were ready to get back into the game. We decided to transfer two embryos for the third round, and it worked – we were pregnant! However, it was short-lived, and we faced the heartbreak of a loss. At this point, we weren't sure if we could handle another cycle.

The holidays passed, and we spent a couple of months deciding how to proceed with our last two embryos. We wanted a fresh start. So, we transferred them to a new clinic, kept them on ice, and embarked on a new cycle in April 2014.

The first cycle at the new clinic (our fourth overall) gave us five embryos. We transferred two, and it was another negative result. The doctor couldn't explain why things weren't working – it seemed to just come down to bad luck. In times like this, you want a reason, but there wasn't one. The doctor told us to keep pushing forward. We were already so invested in every way that we decided to give it another shot. Cycle five in July brought more of the same results – negative. At this point, Ian, my husband, was losing his optimism. It was my turn to be strong and pull us through, even though I just wanted to give up. We decided on one more cycle, transferring two embryos, and leaving one in reserve.

It was September 22, 2014 when we went in for our embryo transfer. We were surprisingly calm, knowing that we had poured our hearts into this process, and, weirdly enough, it had made us stronger as a couple. We realized that, even without children, we were incredibly blessed. We had each other, a great marriage, good health, and promising careers. We were grateful for what we had, but it's easy to lose sight of that when you want something so badly.

We sat in the clinic while they thawed two of our embryos in preparation for the transfer. Unfortunately, one embryo didn't make it. They took the last remaining frozen embryo and thawed it, resulting in two viable embryos to transfer. This was officially it for us.

A few days later, I had a hunch that something was different. It turned out, it was more than a hunch – I was sure. I had a history of testing way too early in previous cycles, and my husband made me promise not to do that this time. Well, that promise didn't last long. Four days after the transfer, with my husband away on an errand, I gave in to the temptation. I took the test and left it on the counter, pacing back and forth, waiting for that single pink line that had taunted me before. But this time, it wasn't just one line – it was two! We were pregnant! Three years and over $60k later, we were finally going to have a baby. I couldn't believe it, so I took another test. And another. I called my best friend while walking around the house in shock. I was officially out of tests, and we were very much pregnant.

Now this is where it gets tricky - keeping the pregnancy a secret from my husband, Ian. I had this grand plan to surprise him on the day of our test at the IVF clinic the following week. I carefully collected all those positive pregnancy tests (after taking pictures of them, of course – for some added reassurance whenever I needed it). I decided to channel my inner secret agent and practice my "nonchalant behavior."

So there I was, working on chip+chisel orders, acting all casual. I peeked outside and spotted his truck coming down our long driveway. My heart started doing somersaults. He stepped out of the truck, and our three dogs rushed to greet him. I watched as he played with them in the yard, and my heart swelled – he was going to be the best dad. There was no way I could keep this secret for days; heck, I barely lasted 10 minutes!

He walked inside, and I heard the door close behind him. "Hey babe, I'm back," he said. I couldn't even help myself. I went downstairs to meet him and teased him about a funny picture I'd taken. I turned my phone towards him, and there it was – the positive pregnancy test. Once he realized what he was looking at and that it was undeniably REAL, he put his face in his hands and cried. We sat there, hugging, talking, and, honestly, just feeling on top of the world. It was utterly unbelievable. After everything we'd been through, this was it. And, just to be sure, he went to the store and bought two more tests – just for good measure, of course. (Can't blame him, right?)

With that early positive test, I had a gut feeling that it was twins. Exciting and terrifying all at once! Our clinic agreed to bump up our pregnancy blood test to confirm what all those at-home tests were saying. And what do you know, the blood test came back positive and with a pretty high HCG level for such an early test. The doctor said that both embryos had likely implanted, and we were probably expecting twins. A woman's intuition strikes again! We had an ultrasound a couple of weeks later, confirming that two little babies were growing in my petite uterus. It was surreal to see those little jumping beans on the screen – an unforgettable moment.



I want to share with you another chapter of our journey – the pregnancy part, which of course had its own twists and turns. Carrying twins with half of a uterus meant I was under close watch by my maternal fetal medicine doctor. Everything was going surprisingly smooth until around week 26 when my cervix decided to shorten quite a bit. The doctors advised me to take it easy and rest as much as possible.

A mere week and a half later, a curveball came our way – my water started leaking around baby A, who we now affectionately call Livi. The next thing I knew, I was being admitted to the hospital. So there I was, spending three weeks on bedrest. working from my hospital bed. And let me tell you, thank goodness for chip+chisel! I didn't let being in a hospital bed slow me down. I kept myself busy by transforming my room into a makeshift studio and shipping station. The nurses and doctors would walk in, and there I'd be, hard at work, stamping away, and creating jewelry.

On the morning of April 2nd, during a regular monitoring session, Livi's heart rate kept dropping. All of a sudden, the room was buzzing with nurses and doctors discussing prepping for a delivery. We were thirty weeks and two days into the pregnancy. Before I knew it, I was being wheeled back for an emergency c-section. The surprising part? I was remarkably calm through it all. I just went with the flow, confident that after all we had been through, everything would turn out just fine.

I laid down on the table, and with incredible care from my amazing doctor, a nurse who is now a friend, and their fantastic team, Ian and I welcomed Addison and Alivia into the world. Hearing their first cries was the most incredible and emotional feeling. They were finally here – the babies we had waited so long for, the ones meant just for us. Born prematurely, they were whisked away to be examined and cared for.

After what felt like an eternity, the NICU team declared them stable and wheeled them to my bedside in their little incubators, so I could briefly see them. They were tiny, but they were absolutely perfect. Our perfect little girls.

We spent five weeks in the NICU, where we watched our babies grow and learn to eat. I wouldn't wish the NICU experience on anyone - leaving your babies in a hospital every night is tortuous for a mama's heart, especially when waking up every three hours to pump and be reminded that your babies aren't with you. All things considered, we were so fortunate for the amazing team and facility where Addi and Livi received their care. We are forever grateful to our nurses and doctors.

Through all the struggles and hardships, our little family went from two to four, and we couldn't be happier. Every cycle, every shot, every negative test, and every dollar spent – all of the heartbreak was worth it to get to this point. There were so many times when I wanted to give up, move on from it all, but knowing what could be is what kept me going. Nobody could have prepared me for the immense love I would feel for our girls, and how instinctively I would become a mama bear, wanting to keep them close and protected. Addi and Livi are our entire world.

Dealing with infertility, no matter how many cycles or shots you go through, is incredibly painful and challenging. Over that three-year period, I'd often remind myself that everything was happening for a reason. Sometimes it takes a while to understand why things happen the way they do, and sometimes we may never know. But, I truly believe that our journey was meant for us and I'm so grateful for all that it was. It led us to the creation of chip+chisel, provided opportunities for us to give back, and connected us with others traveling a similar path. It all unfolded exactly as it was meant to and we wouldn't change it for anything.