Category Archives: IVF

Am I Crazy?

This post is me just shooting from the hip (which I try to never do) so please bear with me.

I’ve been wrestling for a few weeks over this one. It may have started when we found the kids’ baby books in the garage about a month ago. I came across pictures like these:

The kids and I both loved flipping through their baby books again. But by the end I found myself feeling sad and longing for another baby. Then we moved Rachel into a toddler bed and my hubby took apart her crib and put it in the garage. I had mixed emotions over that too. It’s the first time we haven’t had a crib in our house in almost 4 years – you’d think I’d be rejoicing! But instead it felt like the baby days were quickly passing us by – in fact, as Rachel uses 3-4 word sentences and colors by herself and tries to get herself dressed these days – the baby days are pretty much behind us.

But the facts of the matter are that the Lord has graciously blessed us with our two children. Our days are long, busy, and filled with excitement as well as meltdowns. I watch my friend’s 6 month old baby on Wednesdays and those days are just plain crazy. So I know adding another one into the mix would not be calm, organized or quiet. We live in a 3 bedroom home, and somehow I’d like to cram two more children into it. Thanks to (said) fixer upper house, we can’t afford IVF anytime soon (not that it’s something we’d hurry into even if we could afford it right now).

I thought maybe I’d get pregnant naturally after 18 months of trying and an HSG that reported my only fallopian tube to be open. Of course we’ll give it more time. But every month that I have a super painful period or have a cyst burst, I’m unsure of how long I can continue in this path before something more urgent needs to take place (excision surgery, hysterectomy, other treatments for endometriosis, etc.). And yet I have to look back and see that I also haven’t needed surgery in 18 months! That is a record for me! I (believe the longest I went off birth control before needing surgery was only 7 months– prior to having children.)

I’m trying to figure out if this desire for more children has been bred out of discontentment somewhere along the way, or if it’s a God-given desire for a good thing, a blessing. Is it okay to want more children? That desire for children was what drove us to IVF over 4 years ago, but there were some very unique circumstances that took place in order for us to arrive at that IVF clinic. It was definitely not our first choice (we were in the process of adopting at the time), and yet God had other plans and used it to bless us with these kids we love so dearly. I know that clutching anything too tightly can quickly turn into an idol, and thankfully that is not where I’m at today. I truly believe that if God closes the door that I will be able to trust Him that it’s for the best.

So I think a time of prayer and fasting is in order. I need the Lord to search my heart and reveal to me any discontentment I might have, as well as other endometriosis-related fears. And I need to trust Him for the future, even if it means we remain a family of 4!

Thanks for reading my rambling thoughts tonight!

P.S. I find it really hilarious that seeing pregnant women lately also makes me feel a little bummed. I had HORRIBLE pregnancies! I wrote blog post after blog post enumerating one pregnancy woe after another. Talk about amnesia.

 

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Filed under Baby, Endometriosis, IVF

Our Ongoing Home Reno & Other Updates

Hey there!

Here’s a little update on life for us these days.

House

We moved to our new fixer upper home almost 7 months ago. I joke with hubby that we ought to just dig a big hole in the backyard and start throwing money into it, because it has been one giant money pit! A mold report that came back showing high levels of (non toxic) mold less than a month after we bought the house really pushed us to replace the areas were there had been water exposure (floors, under kitchen sink) much faster than we had originally planned.  And then the snowball just started rolling as one thing led to another. That’s home renovation for you, I suppose!

Here’s a list of some of the things we’ve redone since we moved in:

Tear out back deck (was structurally unsafe).

Deck (removed).

New carpet in family room and bedrooms:

I didn’t really have any “carpet” pictures, but you can kind of see it here.

Removed wall between dining room and kitchen:

Before. (This wall drove me nuts because I couldn’t keep track of the kids!)

After. I love it!

Laminate in kitchen, fireplace room, hallway and master closet:

Closet doors (two sets), screen door, side garage door:

Tile floors in laundry room and kids’ bathroom:

I tried to pick tile that matched the laminate.

Replaced Kitchen counter tops, sink (chipping), faucet & garbage disposal (leaked whenever running):

Before. This wasn’t too long after we moved in.

Before.

After. My inner clean freak is very happy with having quartz counter tops now!

Tile back splash in kitchen (which we had to add because there was a big gap between the counter tops and the wall):

Pulled out melamine desk/cabinets and put in smaller desk area with upper shelving:

Replaced furnace and A/C (yes we wanted to cry when we learned we needed to replace BOTH):

New A/C.

Dishwasher (which died right after the furnace and A/C – more crying, hehe). New dishwasher will be here in two weeks.

Replaced fridge (died on moving day), stove and microwave.

Painted bathroom vanities and kitchen cabinets:

Painted ENTIRE house (including ceilings).

Replaced almost all light fixtures and 2 out of 3 fans (we saved the only one that worked).

Whew! That wasn’t even a comprehensive list. And what’s sadder is that the “to do” list is still a mile long! The bottom line, however, is that we LOVE living here. We love the space (1/2 acre), the neighborhood, the proximity to hubby’s work, and also the fact that we live super close to my in laws! (And as a side note, both my parents and my hubby’s Dad were instrumental in helping us get a lot of the above list completed!)

Kids

Josh & Rachel are doing fine. Josh is just over 3 and Rachel is 20 months. I sure do love them and enjoy my days with them. I know everyone else has adorable/smart/funny kids, but some days I seriously wonder which state penitentiary my kids will end up at–because they can be quite devious! Some days Josh and I really do battle it out. I’m no marshmellow Mom in any sense of the word, so I often have to remember to look for ways that I can answer “yes” instead of “no.” Rachel is very determined and doesn’t give up easily either, but she does have much shorter tantrums, which I am thankful for!

I like to remember the following so please tune out if this is crazy boring (I imagine it would be to most):

Josh wears 3T clothing and wears a an 8/9 shoe. He weighs 31.6# (No joke, he’s weighed exactly 31.6# the last several times he’s asked to hop on the scale!) and a few months ago he was just over 3 feet tall. We took away his paci back in April and it wasn’t a big deal at all (we were shocked! And thankful…).

Rachel wears 18-24 months clothing and is somewhere between a size 5 or 6 shoe. She is only a few inches shorter than Josh. She still doesn’t have to many words, but she’s working on it every day. She’s been in a size 5 diaper for a while. I use Pampers diapers and water only wipes or else she tends to be prone to really bad diaper rash.

Don’t be fooled. They’re wanna-be felons, I tell you! 🙂

Weight Loss

I wrote a while back about experiencing unintended weight loss. I’m happy to report that out of the 16# I lost, I gained 7-8# of it back and that seems to be where things have settled. I’m not unhappy about it, but I do wish I had a better appetite most days so that cooking would feel less like a chore.

Endometriosis

I don’t really want to go on and on when it comes to this topic. The synopsis is: The endo does seem to be back. Some months are bad and some are okay. I cut out caffeine back in February which seemed to really help with pain levels. I still seem quite unable to get pregnant without intervention (IVF), so that’s a drag. At the same time, I have little to no desire to go through IVF again (not that we could afford it right now after all these home repairs!). I’ve been thinking about my options for when things DO get consistently bad, pain-wise. One option is to see a specialist who would excise all endo (cutting it out, rather than burning it off) and see how far that gets me. Another option would be to do a hysterectomy and also have current endo excised. This may still not alleviate pain (endo grows back easily and hides, so that it can be tricky even for specialists to find) and I still may require further surgeries. In all honesty, I’m hoping avoid any surgeries at all, because the frequent pain I get from adhesions and scar tissue following surgeries is off the charts.

Well I think that covers some of the basics! Thanks for sticking it through the post!

 

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Filed under Baby, DIY, Endometriosis, Finances, Infertility, IVF, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Toddler

Letting Go… Or Not?

I think this is probably not a new struggle for a gal who’s been through years of infertility, but who also has been amazingly blessed with children. We went through IVF once and two FET’s. We have baby #2 (a girl!) on the way this fall and I think it’s highly unlikely we will go through another IVF again. We would love to have more children, but don’t want to risk getting more embryos than we can actually transfer in, should we do another round of IVF.

So that leaves lots of room for God to work a miracle if we end up having another child (naturally).

The source of my dilemma is actually over stuff. Baby stuff. Lots and lots of baby stuff. It is filling (my husband would say ‘taking over’) our garage. And every last nook and cranny we can find to cram it into. We have almost all boy stuff (minus some gender neutral stuff) and I hate to get rid of it in case God does work a miracle and brings us another boy some day. But God has never promised me another son (or daughter, for that matter). I have absolutely no idea what the future holds. So would it be unwise to keep all this boy baby stuff in the hopes that someday God might bless us in that way? It would be nice not to have to buy/search for cheap baby things– should that day come — but on the other hand I’m wondering if  not “letting go” isn’t such a great idea, spiritually and mentally.

I’m sure there are many of you out there who had hoped for more children at some point and had to make similar decisions. Any thoughts?

 

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Filed under Baby, Infertility, IVF

Another FET = Another Pregnancy

Yes. You probably already read my previous post. But in case you didn’t, I’m PREGNANT! We are expecting another baby in early October! Thanks be to God, we have made it past 12 weeks so far. We had a bit of a scare around 6 weeks — I wrote about what was happening at the time but wanted to wait to post about it. You can catch up on the past weeks and days below!

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{This post was written on Thursday, February 19th.}

A few months have passed by since our chemical pregnancy back in early December. I thought we would take a break and save up for the final transfer of our remaining two embryos, but  instead we jumped right back into it. The day after I miscarried I started birth control to start my next FET cycle. I didn’t have to order meds for the new FET because I was already stocked up from the last one. I also got to bypass a water sonogram and several labs due. After dealing with all the ups and downs of the last cycle, this FET just seemed so… easy.

Ease aside, I ignored the fact that we were going through another FET as much as I possibly could. I tried not to think or talk about it. I was still pretty numb from our chemical pregnancy. I prayed and asked God for another baby. I tried to hope. But I dreaded the idea of more heartbreak. Adding to this stress was the fact that these were our last two babies in storage. My husband and I were very uncertain as to whether we would go through a second full IVF cycle in order to retrieve more eggs and eventually embryos. In other words, we were coming to grips with the fact that our son might be an only child.

Those six weeks proved to be a hard time for me. For one of the first times in my life, I didn’t want to share with people what was going on with us. I just wanted to get it over with and take the time I needed to adapt to whatever scenario the Lord brought us.

On the day of the embryo transfer, January 21st, our RE transferred in two lovely 4AA embryos, one expanded and one not quite expanded. As the bed rest and two week wait progressed, I began to have mild cramping. I breathed a sigh of relief, taking this as a good sign. Sure enough, on the day of my beta at 12 dpo, my beta came back at 103. We were elated and even wondered if I were pregnant with twins. Two days later, at 14 dpo, my beta more than doubled and came back at 227. At 24 dpo, my beta continued to double perfectly and was 7,383. I was having very light cramping and some pretty extreme first trimester fatigue. The nausea started the night before I hit 6 weeks and I felt completely relieved that everything was seeming to be progressing as it should be. I allowed myself to dream a little, to think about my due date and maybe what kind of stroller I would purchase for two or more children. My husband and I were nothing short of excited.

And then on Sunday, when I was 6 1/2 weeks along, in the midst of feeling quite nauseous, I noticed that I had some moderate cramps starting while sitting in church. I wasn’t sure which was making me feel more uncomfortable — the cramps or the nausea — but I stayed seated during the service until I decided that it would probably be a good idea to go out to the car and lie down. My plans didn’t quite go as planned though as I heard Josh crying from the nursery as soon as I left the sanctuary so I grabbed him and the diaper bag on my way out. As I sat in the car with Josh on my lap, the cramps started to worsen. My husband came out to the car right after the service and I told him that I felt concerned that I might be starting to have miscarriage.

When we got home, I went straight into the bathroom and discovered that I was bleeding bright red blood. “Oh, no, oh no, oh no” I cried as I looked into the toilet bowl and discovered that it was completely red from blood. The cramps felt like menstrual cramps and I knew that they plus bright red blood were not a good sign in pregnancy. My heart sank lower than it had been in a long, long time. I started to sob and my husband heard me and came into the bathroom. His heart sank too when he realized that I was probably miscarrying.

I finally pulled myself together enough to lay on the bed and call the clinic. I left a message telling them what happened and that I had likely miscarried. Then I called my mom and the we both cried on the phone together. Somehow, hearing her own sorrow and pain at receiving my sad news helped to comfort me.

The nurse at the clinic called me back promptly and told me that she was trying to be hopeful about the bleeding and cramping and scheduled me for an ultrasound the next day. I told her that I knew about subchorionic hematomas (a tear between the sac and the wall of the uterus) but that I was bleeding quite a bit and that I still had a lot of cramping. At the time I had thought that subchorionic hematomas didn’t come with cramping. She didn’t say much at my comment but did acknowledge that a hematoma could be a possibility.

That afternoon and night I researched like crazy. My bleeding had tapered off and completely stopped by the evening. And I was still nauseous. That didn’t seem to add up to a miscarriage in my mind. I learned that the cramping from miscarriages are often pretty painful (although mine wasn’t with my chemical pregnancy, most likely because the baby hadn’t developed very far) and that the bleeding increases and lasts for days, not hours. I also learned that subchorionic hematomas often do come with cramping, because there is blood in the uterus and the uterus becomes irritated from it and tries to get it out (hence the cramping). As I learned more, I began to feel a little hope that maybe I wasn’t going through a miscarriage. But I also felt prepared to receive the possible news that there might not be a heart beat.

The next morning a friend graciously watched Josh, and my husband and I headed off to the clinic. My RE started the ultrasound and there I saw it — a sac with a flickering light! Our baby had a heart beat and was alive! Tears of joy filled my eyes. But then I saw a large fluid-filled pocket adjacent to the baby. My RE confirmed that it was indeed a subchorionic hematoma. The baby measured perfectly — 6w3d — but the hematoma was twice the size of the baby’s sac. My RE didn’t seem to be as concerned about that. The important part, he said, was that it shared about 30% of the baby’s sac with the hematoma. If it grew to share more than 60%, he said that it could constrict the baby from growing and cause it to arrest. Another possibility, he said, was that it could cause the sac and placenta to detach.

After the ultrasound, my RE discussed bed rest with us. He said I needed to be very careful not to exert myself or to lift anything heavy. We asked more questions to clarify — exactly what level of bed rest was he talking about? He never said “strict” bed rest but then he said we should “call in all our help” to get through this time, because I wouldn’t be able to pick up Josh at all, cook, do laundry or even go anywhere. My husband and I looked at each other. We were scared but we were determined. We would do everything we could to prevent a miscarriage. More than anything, we wanted to hold this baby in our arms when the time came!

When we left our appointment my RE wrote in big letters on my medical sheet “Threatened Abortion.” I felt sick just seeing him write it. “I have to write it on the sheet,” he said, slightly apologetic. “It’s not a high chance that you’ll miscarry (he couldn’t give statistics when I asked for them) but the chances are increased.”

On the drive home my husband and I began planning how we would both survive (potentially) weeks of strict bed rest. Everything I had read said to plan on WEEKS for hematomas to either be reabsorbed or to bleed out. Most resolved by 20 weeks, but the earlier the diagnosis in a pregnancy (meaning the first trimester as opposed to the second), the better the prognosis.

In the meantime, I am bed resting. Or rather, sofa-resting. Trying to make the best out of our situation. My husband has really kicked into high gear and is doing a great job taking care of Josh while also juggling the other jobs of the house. He’ll be going back to work next Monday and my sister will be helping out for a few weeks then.

As I lay low, we are all praying that this hematoma will miraculously resolve. We’ll find out more on Tuesday.

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Coming up next: Bed rest under my older sister’s care.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under IVF, Miscarriage, Pregnancy, Uncategorized

Injections & Headaches

Injections for our embryo transfer are under way. Gave my first IM shot on Monday! I didn’t even feel it! Since I started the process for the FET on Oct. 2, it feel like it’s been a long month of meds and headaches. I’m so thankful we’ve only got 11 more days to go until they transfer in those embryos! Not that many of my meds will change, and I’ll still have to give myself shots after that (at least until we know if I’m pregnant or not), but this initial period of sorting out my TSH and getting acclimated to new medications will be DONE!

What a huge difference between going through IVF last year and going through the FET this year. I’ve learned so much about the Lord and myself during this space of time. Last year I was a complete basket case. I cried a lot during IVF and during the two week wait (2WW) until the blood test to find out if I was pregnant or not. I could barely hold it together, and I was so afraid to HOPE. But other than feeling fatigued, I really didn’t feel that bad with all the medications I was on at the time. Fast forward a year and some months… this time around I have complete peace about our FET. I don’t know if I’ll get pregnant, but I pray for it daily. I know it’ll be really hard if I don’t get pregnant, though. On the flip side, this round has been very tough physically. I’ve had headache almost every day for FIVE WEEKS. It’s been a total pain! I thought back and I think there have been 3 days where I did not have a headache.

My RE said he thinks the headaches are caused by the Lupron, even though I told him I’ve had the headaches for 5 weeks and I’ve only been on the Lupron for 2 weeks. He gave me the option to stop the thyroid medicine (he said he thought it was doubtful that it was causing the headaches). But it’s the only thing I’ve been on consistently for the last 5 weeks. I feel a little nervous to stop it as the research shows that a higher TSH is linked with miscarriages. But my TSH wasn’t that high to begin with (2.6). So I’m going to pray about stopping it today. Because I’m tired of functioning so poorly with these headaches. My concentration has become very poor.

So that’s the news. Not a lot to report, it’s kind of the same old story: “Blah blah blah headaches blah blah headaches…”

Thanks for praying for us!

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Filed under FET, Infertility, IVF

Date Night & Pondering Life With Twins

I could hardly sleep two nights ago because, A) We were to meet with our IVF doctor yesterday (I guess I was excited/scared/nervous), and because B) my husband and I had a date night planned for the evening that day as well. By 5 am I gave up on sleeping, got up and showered, and headed to the grocery store. 6 am is an usual time for shopping, but man is it the way to go! I just about had the entire store to myself. But onto more interesting things…

Josh, my husband and I made the trip yesterday morning the infertility clinic. I admit I had mixed emotions about bringing Josh with us– after all, there’s nothing harder than sitting in those waiting room chairs while you’re hoping and praying for a positive pregnancy test, and having babies around you. (I’ll never forget waiting for an appointment in my Ob/Gyn’s office one time because I had a cyst and needed surgery, only to look around and discover that I was the only person in the room who wasn’t pregnant. It feels like salt in a wound!) In any case, I didn’t really have a baby sitter, and I knew the clinic nurses would want to see Josh. (Not to mention our IVF doctor.)

We had a consultation with our doctor, and he went over the statistics of me getting pregnant and the chances of having twins (if they transfer in two of the embryos), what the timeline looked liked, etc. We also reviewed the medications I’d be taking and injections with the nurse.

It was all pretty much old news. There were only two things that caught me off guard. Now I knew that the 4 embryos we had were of top notch quality. I hate to refer to human life that way (all human life is extraordinary!), but there is a grading system they use to decipher if there is cell fragmentation, how far progressed the embryos got prior to freezing, etc. All of our embryos are blastocysts (meaning they have survived for more than 5 days prior to freezing and have developed past the 8 or 10 cell stage to more like 100+ cells) and there is little or no fragmentation, earning them a score of an “A.” After I got pregnant with Josh, our doctor told us that when we did an embryo transfer, he would recommend that they transfer in 2, since they transferred in 2 before and I got pregnant with Josh and not twins. So all along, we had been thinking that 2 of our or embryos would be transferred. But then as we were sitting at the table in the consultation room, our doctor announced that he recommended 1 embryo, because he seemed to think that I had a really good chance of getting pregnant again. He asked about my work, and when I told him I worked very minimally, he said, “Well, you might do okay being pregnant with twins then.” My husband and I just looked at each other. The thought of twins really freaks me out. Not to mention the fact that I would probably voluntarily put myself on some sort of modified bed rest at 24 weeks to help ensure that we wouldn’t have 24 weeks twins in the NICU. And how would that work with a toddler? I have no idea. But conversely, if we transfer 1 in and I get pregnant, then that means we would probably keep transferring in 1 at a time until all 4 embryo have had a chance to survive. Best case scenario (assuming I get pregnant each time), that would be 4 embryo transfers, 4 more pregnancies, and a lot of money we would have to come up with while probably living on one income.

Lastly, there’s possibility that I might not get pregnant at all, and all this dithering would be for nothing.

The hubs and I went out on our date last night (thanks to his mom for baby-sitting!) to a fun burger place and hashed around the different possibilities of 1 embryo vs. 2, etc. I was shocked to discover that he was leaning toward 2. But it probably has to do with the statistics our doctor gave us which mainly imply that the chances of twins are low. Here are the stats:

Probability of getting pregnant if 2 are transferred in: 65-70%

-Chances of twins: 30%

Probability of getting pregnant if 1 transferred in: 50%

Chances of identical twins: 1%

I was more imagining trying to nurse 2 babies, and as Josh hadn’t slept well for the past 3 nights, I was imaging not one, but THREE young children all crying during the night–for most nights. And pretty much never sleeping. I was imagining carrying around Josh in the ergo front pack while pushing a double stroller. Oh, and don’t forget the triple high chairs! But the most concerning part to me was trying to be a good parent to Josh while simultaneously trying to keep twins in utero. And I really have no idea how that would work.

But am I willing to sacrifice a lot to have a family? To take love and cherish how ever many children God gives us?

You bet I am.

In the end, we decided we simply needed to pray and hear from the Lord on the matter. It’s as simple as that. We may get 0, 1 or 2 babies. As I have learned again and again, HIS plans and HIS ways are best. Always. What feels like an insurmountable challenge of twins may not be. The dread of getting a negative pregnancy test result might not be as devastating as it seems if that time comes. I have to look back and remember that when my Ob/Gyn told me I had another endometrioma and that I needed another surgery, I was devastated– but that was what pushed us to pursue IVF. At the time I thought I would never have children, and he we are considering the possibility of a second pregnancy. If you had told me this 18 months ago, I would have never believed you.

So, thanks for keeping us in your prayers. We’ll be starting this process in just a couple of weeks! Crazy!

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Filed under Baby, Endometriosis, Infertility, IVF, Pregnancy

Moving Forward

It’s taken me a while to muster up the courage to write this blog post. For a while I’ve been thinking that maybe I just wanted to have a more private life, and that I didn’t really want to broadcast on this blog the latest, the greatest, the saddest or the baddest happening in my life. Maybe I should stop blogging altogether, I thought.

Looking back, I didn’t blog much (okay, actually not at all) before, during and after we went through IVF. At the time, I felt that I couldn’t. I was realized that this was mostly due to the crippling fear I had that it wouldn’t work.

But then the Lord gave us Josh. A blessing greater than I could have ever surmised.

Since I find myself wanting to retreat from this blog again, you might have guessed why: We’re headed towards a frozen embryo transfer (FET) soon.

It seems a little soon,” you might say. And as Josh is a handful of days away from turning 6 months old, you would be quite correct. It is early. We had hoped to wait longer, so that my body could have more time to recover and so that I could keep nursing Josh for at least a year. But things didn’t turn out as planned (when do they ever?). If you read my blog much, you might remember my post about never ending PMS symptoms. At the time I felt pregnant. For a month I had nausea, heartburn, fatigue, bloating, cramping, spotting… which finally resulted in my first postpartum period, 30 days later. I felt relieved, as it meant my month of PMS torture was finally over. But at the same time, my heart sank. I knew that it meant my (aggressive) endometriosis would be able rear it’s ugly head again, and conceivably soon. In the past, I’ve gotten endometriomas (chocolate cysts) in just two months. That’s right– in just two cycles I had been diagnosed with two endometriomas and scheduled for surgery. And since I’ve had surgery three times, I’m not into waiting it out  to see how it goes. I’ve got 4 other embryos to think about, and I don’t want to risk having to have a hysterectomy or having multiple surgeries that might impair their ability to implant and grow. Our IVF doctor, taking the aggressive nature of my endometriosis into consideration, thinks it’s a wise plan of action to do the FET soon.

The biggest downside to doing the embryo transfer soon is that I had to wean Josh. I found it quite an easy thing to talk about and a much harder thing to actually do. Now, before I go on, I must say that nursing Josh has not been an easy feat. I didn’t write about it on this blog, but I dealt with Josh’s tongue-tie, multiple block ducts, never ending milk blisters, a mastitis scare (basically fever, chills and body aches that self resolved), low milk supply, and lots and lots of Josh crying with frustration while nursing. Often times, I would cry too. Despite all of the hardships that came along with nursing, I found it unbelievably hard to give up. I planned to make it as non-traumatic as possible–starting with one bottle a day with something like 3/4 breast milk and 1/4 formula, while slowly adjusting the ratio over time so that it was only formula, and slowly substituting nursing with bottle feedings over the course of a month. But Josh would have none of it. By the third day of my “plan” (remember, my plans don’t work out very often) Josh was completely refusing the bottle, even if it was solely breast milk. So, I had to force the issue and had to wait it out until he was thirsty enough to A) take the bottle, and B) take the formula all by itself. I felt awful during this process and cried buckets of tears. It was also a hit to my body to go from nursing 6-7 times a day to not at all. Talk about dropping prolactin levels! I prayed and asked God to not let Josh go 3 days or something horrible like refusing the bottle and without fluids. And to my great relief, he didn’t! He actually didn’t go any great length of time at all. I nursed him Friday night (his last time nursing) and when he woke up crying at 4 am, I gave him a bottle with formula and he took 2-3 oz. He sucked it down and sat happily in my lap while doing so. Now he is really cuddly and even cries sometimes if I don’t get the bottle in his mouth fast enough, taking anywhere from 4-5 oz at a time. So, although things didn’t go according to my plan, they still went remarkably well and sped up the process much faster than I could have imagined. And for all my attempts over the past 6 months to give Josh a bottle here and there, and to give him formula occasionally — well, let’s just say that it was pretty much pointless in the end.

I’m not sure when the embryo transfer will be (probably in the next month or two?) but I covet your prayers. I’m surrounded by fears again — such as: What if I don’t get pregnant? Or if I do get pregnant: What if I have another incredibly painful pregnancy, this time with a toddler to care for also? What if it’s twins and I deliver prematurely? What if it’s twins and one of them dies? And on and on the worries can build. But it’s just another opportunity to seek the Lord, to ask for another child, to rest and to not spin these worries out of control. I have to look around me and see all that He has done, and how greatly I have been blessed!

And now that I have gotten over my initial fear by letting people know about our plans to do an embryo transfer soon, I will do my best to keep you updated. The hardest part about this is not getting pregnant and then having someone ask you about it. But conversely, there is the great joy in also telling an inquiring person that it worked and that you’re pregnant! We just don’t know what the Lord has in store for us. Either way, I’m counting on Him to carry us through it.

Thanks for praying!

And why not end with some happy pictures of our little guy? (The first two taken by my talented friend Katherine while I was over at her house.)

IMG_3206 IMG_3228 DSC_0067 DSC_0069

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Filed under Baby, Endometriosis, Infertility, IVF, Pain, Pregnancy

The Hardest Day of the Year

At the brink of Mother’s Day comes Joshua’s 2 month-old birthday.

And I am undone. Memories of past Mother’s days filter through my mind. Images of church baby dedications come to focus. I hear the bursting applause celebrating all the mothers standing around me. A father holding a small child on my left. An expectant mother on my right. My own flat belly in view, void of children. I am left with the undeniable feeling of utter inadequacy and sorrow. Tears pooling, then falling.

As the memory fades, I think it’s safe to say that Mother’s day used to be the hardest day of the year for me.

I haven’t made it through an entire church service on mother’s day in three years. I always went into it with a light heart and the desire to honor my mother. But as the day unfolded, I was a tear-laden, sorrowful mess. The ache and sadness of being barren struck the deepest on Mother’s day. I desperately wanted to be a mother and to experience all that came with the title.

I spent some time on the phone today with a friend who’s in the same shoes I was in. My heart aches for her and her situation. She is facing the same familiar infertility crossroads and praying about the next step. Just in time for Mother’s day. And did I mention that she just got the news today that a good friend of hers is expecting?

And even though I’m no longer struggling with infertility, this struggle is no light skirmish. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that infertility can be a full-on battle, and it will suck every last ounce of hope and happiness from you if you are not careful. When I was going through infertility, I had to ask myself– again and again– Is Christ enough in my life? Children or no children, will I take Him at His Word and trust that He is sufficient? Will I refuse to make an idol out of having children? (Because it won’t happen passively.) Will I choose to believe that I will have joy and peace if I don’t have a future of being a mother?

I reminded my friend that sometimes being joyful is a really hard choice we have to make while going through infertility trials. And sometimes we have to choose to be hopeful about our future, even though all we may be feeling is despair. But we cannot let feelings dictate our lives, as hard as it may be when we feel like we’re only sinking into a pit of hopelessness.

I probably felt hopeless about our situation a thousand times during the years that I struggled with infertility. I failed many times to choose to be hopeful. So I do know how hard it is. But choosing to despair is never the better choice. It will take you to paths you do not want travel on, trust me.

I don’t know what the future holds, but if there’s something I’ve learned through this experience, it’s that God is a God of surprises. I never expected to be able to have children. We went through IVF and I was so certain that I wouldn’t get pregnant that I never even blogged about it. I suspected that I was headed for a hysterectomy. It was a terrifying time for me. I pleaded with God for a child, but I knew I could never “expect” God to bless me in that way. I don’t deserve children (or anything good for that matter). But God was gracious, because that is His nature and His character. Even if He didn’t bless me with a child, He would still shower mercies upon me. Just read my previous (pre-baby) blog posts for evidence of that!

Last year during Mother’s day I wouldn’t have expected that in a year’s time I would be typing these words as our precious son sleeps peacefully in his crib. But Joshua is not my peace, my fulfillment, or my hope in this life. Christ is. And if Mother’s day is a bone of contention in your life (like it was in mine), make the day about Christ. Celebrate His goodness and His perfect love for you. Hope in Him. Place your future in His hands.

Because all else will fail you. But Christ never will.

Happy Christ Day!

 

 

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Filed under Infertility, IVF

Heart Sick No More

When I do the dishes, I often look out from the kitchen window and notice this heart shaped rock.

Heart Rock_E

And it makes me smile. Especially when I think about my own heart and it’s own wild transformations that have taken place during the last year.

An incredible thought struck me today. I was listening to the radio and I can’t remember what song came on, but the words prompted me to think back over the past year. All 365 days worth– back to February 2013. What was I doing this time a year ago?

And then it hit me: Ah, yes. I was sitting on Dr. L’s exam table, bawling my eyes out while discussing the idea of getting a hysterectomy. So many tears. So much pain.

It was such a dark time in my life, filled with deep despair and regret. How I wished I had gone on birth control much sooner in my life so that I wouldn’t have gotten so many endometriomas and needed so many surgeries. And when my unsettling symptoms were beginning to appear in my early twenties, how I wished I had sought out more help in getting a diagnosis in the first place. But none of the past could be changed, and there I was, with eyes barely able to see beyond the day I was living in, let alone get a glimpse what hopeful changes an entire year might bring.

On that day I poured out my sadness and grief on my blog, and accurately titled it Heart Sick. Because that’s what I was living with those days– a horrible heartache that no one but God alone could heal.

What’s really neat is that God healed much of the ache in my heart before we even started IVF, or got pregnant for that matter. That’s because the wound wasn’t formed by endometriosis, multiple surgeries, infertility, an empty nursery, or any of those things. It formed out of my own disbelief in God. And out of my own unwillingness to trust God for my future, a nasty wound started tunneling deep into my heart. The more I despaired, the deeper the wound got. The wound had nothing to do with God, and everything to do with me and my lack of faith.

If there’s anything this journey has taught me, it’s that life’s situations change constantly– they threaten to cause anxiety, to wound, to shaken. But no external factor can single handedly shaken or steal our faith and our trust in God without our permission. That’s our domain and in our control. And I hope I’ll remember that in years to come.

After three awful despairing weeks, I repented of my distrusting heart to the Lord. And suddenly a prayerful plan was formed. We put our adoption on hold and started the process for IVF. I had no idea if the Lord would allow me to get pregnant. All I knew was that regardless of the results, I had to keep trusting God through it, because that was what I had committed to do: To trust the Lord through any circumstance, through children or none.

And so, as I was listening to the radio today, tears came to my eyes when I thought of the despair I was choosing to live in a year ago and how 365 days later I am now just days away from delivering our precious baby boy. God was faithful regardless of whether He chose to give us a son, but I can’t help feeling incredibly blessed. And when I forget these things (as I am apt to do), I will look out into my back yard and see little my heart rock, and be reminded once again of God’s faithfulness and steadfast character.

Heart Rock_EE

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Filed under Endometriosis, Infertility, IVF

Let Us Draw Near

Chronic pain is a tough one. Every day is a challenge — a monumental task at times to get a single errand run or to choose to not fall into despair. Often times the later is harder for me than the former. I feel like a complete wimp for acknowledging it, but I do get frustrated. I wish I had a natural dispensation to “look on the bright side” but I don’t; rather it is a discipline for me. It is a choice I must make when faced with sheer disappointment, over and over again.

For the time being I have given up on working altogether. The pain is too steady and often times very sharp and stabbing. I couldn’t imagine trying to work while occasionally doubling over in pain! How embarrassing! My mom encouraged me to wait until I had 2-3 “good days” in a row where I experienced less pain before heading back to work. Only trouble is, it hasn’t happened yet! So we are buckling down on our budget and I am trying to make the most of this time. Even with the steady pain, I’m beyond excited to meet our little boy.

I’ve been pondering the correlation between fear and pain lately, and how crippling fear often makes pain worse. I know this has been true for me, especially when I have a new area of pain that I can’t immediately explain or diagnose. It’s hard not to focus (okay, maybe obsess!) on the pain until it’s been figured out. Furthermore, fear is kindled by the question of “how long will this pain last? Will it be for a moment? A day? A month, maybe?” Lastly, kerosene is added to the anxious thoughts when we start to wonder if we will have to live with the pain forever. Trust me, it’s not a good place to be, and by this time the sensation of pain is often times blown out of proportion. At this point, we can choose to either despair or to allow the anxious thoughts to be put to rest by the Holy Spirit who assuredly reminds us that no matter what hardships we face, we will not meet them alone but by His strength and power. Without this reassurance, I have found it’s pretty hard to not spin out of control emotionally and find yourself in self pity and despair. I’ve had lots of practice at this, and yet I find myself still failing at times to look to Christ and to ask Him for help in trusting Him.

And trust Him we must. When the anxiety creeps in again, we must again choose to believe that He is good and faithful and will see us through any hardship He allows us to face.

This passage from Hebrews 4:15-16 has encouraged me again and again:

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

This, my friends, is what this blog is all about. Whether going through infertility, or muddling our way through adoption, living through the uncertainties of surgeries and then IVF, and now pregnancy and chronic pain– I am encouraged to draw near to our perfect and holy God (take a moment to ponder just how preposterous that statement is). A God who understands because He suffered too. Just being in His presence is enough, but instead He chooses to give us mercy and grace by calling us His own.

And so on days like today, where I look back over the weeks and can’t remember a day where I haven’t been hurting a lot, I choose to not despair. I choose not to be anxious about these next ten weeks of pregnancy, or even how long I will be suffering the consequences of having stage 4 endometriosis. Instead I choose Christ, who suffered far greater than I, who shouldered all my sins and who lovingly allows me grace even though I don’t deserve it.

His mercies are new every morning, and I can only wonder what they will look like tomorrow!

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Filed under Adoption, Endometriosis, Infertility, IVF, Pain, Pregnancy