Tag Archives: Endometriosis

Endometriosis Surgery – Check!

Where to begin? The past two weeks have been insane. Chalk full of unexpected blessings, changes, and trauma.

I flew to Gig Harbor, WA almost 2 weeks ago to have surgery by Dr. Mosbrucker, an endometriosis specialist, and Dr. Pai, a general surgeon she works with. My Mom accompanied me for the entire trip while my hubby took time off of work to be with the kids.

The surgery was expected to be 3 hours long. I was in pre-op, getting my IV placed by one of the nurses, when the anesthesiologist came in and introduced herself. She began to tell me, in her kind, nonchalant way, that I would be having the largest endotracheal tube placed down my throat, and it would be placed very deep into my left bronchial, in order to keep mainly just my left lung inflated while they operated on my diaphragm on the right side. She continued on to say, that, oh by the way, I would also need an arterial lined placed for the surgery (this was to be placed after I was asleep, but before the surgery started), and also a second IV. I didn’t have a huge amount of time to process this info, thankfully. I texted my hubby that I loved him, I gave my Mom a hug, and to the OR I went.

The bruise left over from my arterial line. Sometimes I think my insides are healing up faster than this yucky bruise.

Ironically, in the weeks leading up to my surgery, I had told a handful of people that if I made it out of surgery without a chest tube, I’d be happy. After all, chest tubes are super painful. And not only that, but it would mean that the surgeon didn’t have to perform a full resection on my diaphragm, leaving my thoracic cavity untouched. Ultimately, it would mean that the endometriosis hadn’t grown all the way through my diaphragm, and that the surgeon had been able to essentially “scrape” it off instead of cutting it out.

I had also hoped that I was completely wrong about all the symptoms I had been having up to that point. I had hoped that perhaps my endo wasn’t all that bad, and that maybe my surgeon could save my ovaries and uterus. I made a point to let her know that I was just fine with not having a hysterectomy, if she thought things were good enough to save it all. She said she would use her best judgement, and I was fine with leaving the decision with her.

Let’s just have a good laugh right now about how delusional I was about the status of my endometriosis. Let’s just get the details out there: My surgery was seven hours long, not 3. I had FULL thickness endo growing through my diaphragm. I did indeed wake up with a chest tube and resection of my diaphragm. My surgeon said I had more endo on my diaphragm THAN SHE HAD EVER SEEN (the good news is that it wasn’t in my thoracic cavity!). I had full thickness endo growing through my small intestine, close to the illeocecal valve, and so therefore had a small bowel resection. I also had endo on my colon, which was removed. I apparently had endo all over the place, so my surgeon made the decision to do the hysterectomy. There is one bright spot – the better looking ovary, my left ovary, was covered with a lot of endo, so she literally cut about half of my ovary out and sutured it back together. Apparently ovaries regenerate like livers, so it’s supposed to grow back. Therefore, I get to keep an ovary and do not need hormone replacement therapy.

Instead of staying in the hospital overnight, I wound up in the critical care unit for two nights and then was transferred to the med surg unit for two more nights. My surgeon wouldn’t let me leave Gig Harbor for four more additional nights, so my Mom and I had to book another Airbnb, switch to a later flight, and rent the car for four more days. It was not cheap to do this!

I don’t have a lot to say about the hospital stay except that I flooded my room while taking a shower. Major OOPS! I had put a towel on the floor and didn’t notice that it was covering the drain. All of the sudden I heard my Mom shout from the other side of the door “Emily! There’s water out here!” Enter the nurse, the charge nurse, the nursing aide, and environmental services to clean up all the water outside the bathroom (it was more than an inch deep). I was so mortified that I cried, but the nurse thanked me for giving them some excitement that afternoon.

As far as views from a hospital room goes, I’d say this one was pretty good.

When I finally got out of the hospital, the Airbnb we stayed at was really close to the water and they had a beautiful yard that we got to look at through a sliding glass door. My Mom was a wonderful companion and excellent nurse. She was working on knitting a sweater for my sister, and it was the most complicated pattern ever. But it kept my Mom occupied while I slept, or rested, or sat and watched HGTV with her. I was extremely boring to be around! She kept me fed, helped me get out of bed, talked with me, ran to the store for me, and was just generally great to be around. I can’t thank her enough.

I loved the view!

My Mom working on the sweater while we got some fresh air.

I called my kids and hubby twice a day and we video chatted each time, which was a huge blessing. I was gone from them 10 days, which is just about forever when your kids are little. I missed them so much. (I cried about that too.) My hubby always seemed to be in good spirits and things seemed to be going well with the kids. His Mom came over a few times to help out, and my sisters came as well. One of my sisters brought a meal, which was helpful.

I did end up at the ER a day after I got out of the hospital. I had a sudden migraine occur, and I’ve never had a migraine. After medicating, resting and icing, and with no success– I went to urgent care. After they learned of my major surgery they wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole. So we went to the ER where the ER doc insisted on a head CT. I knew they were going to force me into one and I was very prepared to refuse it until I remembered that I had gotten 4 Lovenox injections while in the hospital. And suddenly, a very slow leak or bleed in my brain sounded a tiny bit more plausible. The ER doc told me that if I did have a brain bleed and I refuse the CT scan, I would simply go home and die (I didn’t care for her much). She was pretty pushy, and I felt miserable. So I got the head CT, which ended up looking “perfect.” The nurse taking care of me pushed a med for my migraine way too fast and it gave me a horrible panic attack – my skin suddenly felt hot and I just wanted to jump out of my skin. It was a ROTTEN experience and by far the worst part of the trip. The nurse then gave me some IV Benadryl which helped negate some of the yucky side effects, but not all. I was very, very discouraged when my Mom drove me home from the ER late that night. After everything I had already been through, the whole experience felt traumatic. My ability to handle stressful things was pretty poor.

We did do something fun while in Gig Harbor – we rode on the ferry the afternoon prior to flying home. After going up two flights of stairs I was in pretty major pain, but it was a new experience with beautiful scenery. (I should add that my Mom discovered an elevator on the ferry after that!).

Mom and I on the ferry.

We finally made it home close to 11 pm Friday night. The next day I realized that I had a UTI – thank you hospital foley catheter! I mean, I understand why I had to have it (no one gets up and goes to the bathroom with a chest tube in place), but still, it was frustrating all the same to be back at urgent care, only this time in a different city. And I’m grateful for antibiotics, but I don’t tolerate them very well.

All in all, I had NINE incision sites (my Mom said it looked like I was in a knife fight) – and I have very little pain today. Things seem to be healing up quickly! My abdomen/pelvis feel GREAT. I have had food intolerance only one time so far, and even that it questionable. So – I feel very hopeful for the future!

 

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Thoracic Endo Options & Consultation Update

It’s 2:30 am and I couldn’t sleep because I was in too much pain. (I never was any good at sleeping when  uncomfortable.) My mind has been percolating this predicament I find myself in, and I’ve been weighing my options.

As I’ve blogged about before, I am fairly certain that I have thoracic endometriosis (endo on my diaphragm). Endo in this location is more rare and found only in women who have stage 4 endo – it makes up about 1% of women with endometriosis. I’ve had this peculiar shoulder pain for over a year now and didn’t make the connection that it could be endo related until last December. It was tricky to figure out seeing as I have shoulder pain almost all the time, to varying degrees. The day before my period starts the shoulder pain becomes severe.

This month, the pain has spread from not just my shoulder but now to also under my rib cage on the right side (same side as the shoulder that hurts). I’ve read that this is very common for women with thoracic endo. I’m pretty freaked out that the endo will grow through my diaphragm and into my lungs. I really DON’T want that to happen. I’ve read about ladies that have this – they get what’s called catemenial pneumothorax – basically a lung collapse due to being on their period. Super freaky. Some women have to be hospitalized for weeks due to this condition.

That being said – the only way to even diagnose this beast is through surgery. I’ve booked a consultation with one of the best surgeons in the U.S. to deal with thoracic endo. This surgeon coordinates with a thoracic surgeon. However, I took a deep breath when they told me my consultation date: 10/10. An 8 month wait – yikes. I started to pray “Lord, can I get in sooner?” They told me that their NP would review my records and that they would call me back at some point to let me know what her thoughts were. I wasn’t expecting a phone call any time soon, but I received a call a few hours later. “Our NP has reviewed your records and has decided that you need to get in sooner.” So now I’m booked for the middle of July! Thanking God! They also put me down as “high priority” for the cancellation list. So if someone cancels I’ll be among the top of the list of people called to get in sooner.

But now that the pain has spread, I’m sitting here and wondering if I can make it even until July. I talked with my hubby this morning about going on hormones of some sort to stop my cycle altogether until my consultation. Hormones really do a number on me – it’s pretty rough and in a lot of ways I think I’d just be trading one woe for another. I don’t think birth control would be a great option because it has estrogen in it and that can make endometriosis worse as the estrogen feeds it. I went on birth control for 9 days back in Jan for my IVF cycle and remembered that my shoulder hurt pretty bad that entire time. So that leaves progesterone. I read an email I wrote to my sister prior to my last surgery 5 years ago and at the time I was on progesterone. I wrote that I had constant headaches on it and that I didn’t feel like myself at all – I was super crabby and it was hard on my husband. Also it made my hair fall out. So that’s not really a great option either. However, I’m pretty sure that if I went on progesterone my shoulder would stop hurting. The endo may still keep growing through my diaphragm but I think that it would be much more suppressed and would grow slowly.

So I’m trying to weigh these options. Do I take progesterone and risk having an altered mood and deal with having a headache all the time (and baldness!), thus negatively impacting all my family members? (I’ve noticed that when Mom is doing well and energetic, the kids are happy too.) Or do I risk getting blood in my lung cavity? (I’m trying to find out how long women have had thoracic endo symptoms before they ended up with blood in their lung cavity, but I’m sure the variables are great.) I feel very inclined at this point to not take the progesterone as I highly value good relationships with my family and highly suspect I’ll feel miserable on the progesterone.

Perhaps this is unwise? I’m not sure. So please pray that I’ll have wisdom. And please pray my consultation will get moved up!!!

Well, now it’s 4 am and almost the entire family was up the last hour. Hubby was up (probably due to me tossing and turning for so long before getting up) and Josh had a low grade fever (he got his 4 year old vaccines yesterday) and runny nose. So I gave him a snack and water along with some Motrin. Only Rachel will be well rested today!

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Beta Results

My hope is built on nothing less but Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

Yesterday morning, at 6 am, I took a home pregnancy test (FRER) and got the results I was expecting: Negative. Later on I had my blood drawn and 3 hours later I called to receive my results: beta of 4. Oddly enough, I was just surprised it wasn’t zero. Upon receiving the news I had peace, contentment and joy. I always imagined myself crying and feeling very depressed were I to have an IVF cycle fail, but I believe the Lord was helping me to keep my eyes fixed on Him and to not worry about the future. It also helped that we had a busy day yesterday and not a whole lot of time to sit and despair. And when I did have a free moment, I decided to mow the lawn and get dinner started.

I called the IVF clinic and asked if I still needed to get the follow up beta in two days. Their answer: Yes. “Really?!” I exclaimed? “I mean, the chances of this being a viable pregnancy are like 0.00000000000001%, right?” The reply: “I’m sorry, I can’t answer that question.” Sigh… well, fine. So I’m still taking my meds and will get the follow up beta tomorrow morning. This time I am truly expecting it to be zero.

People have asked us if we’re going to try again… I have no idea. Maybe? We’ll see how the insurance reimbursement goes. We’ll see how bad my endo flares up from being on estrogen pills. I’m kind of thinking about  excision surgery with an endometriosis specialist at this point. I don’t want to live my life in chronic pain, if I can avoid it. The big caveat is that I’ll have to travel for the surgery, probably out of state. I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure I have endo on my diaphragm. If that’s the case I really need to see someone who knows what they’re doing, because most surgeons won’t touch the diaphragm (understandably – risk of perforation, pneumothorax, etc.). Not only that but the diaphragm is only 1/4 inch thick. If I were a surgeon I wouldn’t want to touch it either.

I’m enjoying catching up on all the stuff I got behind on during the past month of IVF craziness. Things like deep cleaning (many of my friends know much I love cleaning), yard work, decluttering, even grocery shopping for more creative meals other than just the basics. Also, I’ve got 6# to lose from IVF. And I need to figure out (once again) if we should get rid of our baby stuff or not. I’m feeling a little more ready to let it go. Used baby stuff is cheap to buy, anyhow, should we ever need it one day.

Your prayers have carried me through this process and it is only because of them that I can write today with a thankful heart. Truly, I thank you for your prayers and support!

 

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Filed under Endometriosis, Infertility, 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

Facing the Giant {Again}

This morning as I was reading my Bible I came across these verses:

“Look carefully then how you will walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

This is the prayer of my heart right now as I juggle raising two toddlers with my husband, managing our home, getting projects done around the house (hello new fixer home) and working part time. I want to be a light (Eph. 5:8)– not only to my children but also the community around me.

After eleven wonderful months, all signs point toward the endometriosis coming back with a vengeance. I’m so bummed. I actually thought I would have a bit more time. My periods have been barely making a blip on the radar with one, maybe two, days of mild cramping. And then this month happened. I actually believed I was possibly pregnant because I had cramping and nausea for seven straight days (around the clock) before my period started. I thought that maybe it was implantation cramping. However, my period started up 3 days late and once it started, the cramping was horrible with ibuprofen barely touching the pain. I had to rest a lot of else the nausea from the pain would become too great. It was a real drag, and lasted longer than I thought it would! All in all, this cycle affected me so that I was unable to function at full capacity for about 9 days. I’m not happy about that.

I semi-joined this endometriosis support group on facebook (meaning I occasionally read comments, but that I’m not very committed to it) and if there’s anything I’ve learned from it — it’s that so many women have much more HORRIBLE endometriosis than to me. We’re talking debilitating daily pain that causes endless surgeries, nerve blocker pumps being placed, years of requiring menopause-inducing medications, loss of employment and other daily activities because the pain is too great. And let’s not forget to mention that the scope of infertility affecting these women is vast. So, I have a healthy fear of endo – not only from what these women have shared, but from my own personal experience with it prior to IVF and having children. Crippling pain for two to three weeks out of the month was my thing back then, and it stunk.

I have enjoyed not living in pain and I want to keep it that way, if I have any power to do so. I don’t want this disease to try to take over my life, like I have seen it do to many other women. So I am prayerfully considering what the best “next step” will be. I want to be wise, so that I will be able to teach my son preschool, take my kids to the park and on walks, and be able to work on our house. I want to have energy to help and bless others when there is a need.

On another note, not being pregnant when I had so much hope that I actually might be (despite that <1% chance of a natural pregnancy that I had, ha) was hard– I shed a few tears over that one! But I’m glad it happened, because it revealed to me that I really do want more children. There was not a hint of “How will we afford another child?” “Where will they sleep?” or “How will we manage?” There was just sheer excitement. So this will be something I will need to hold onto loosely, because I don’t know God’s plans for our family! All I know is that His plans are BEST, and I trust Him for our future. I just have to look at Josh and Rachel to be reminded of that.

Thanks for praying for me, if you think of it. I’m going to start by getting an HSG this Friday (hysterosalpingogram). This will tell me if my remaining fallopian tube is even patent (open). If it’s not, or if there’s water blocked in the tube (hydrosalpinx) then there’s really no point in taking the time to try to conceive naturally (you know…because a 1% chance is still greater than a 0% chance…). My hubby and I will have to prayerfully consider where to go from there, depending on the HSG results.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from last December depicting God’s blessings on us through our marriage and children. How blessed we are! Pictures are by my friend Katherine Owens.

 

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Unwanted Weight Loss

I really hope and pray this post is not self-serving. I know many who feel sick most of the time, for reasons still unknown. As someone who has dealt with years of progressing endometriosis pain and now years of food intolerance and allergies, I get it. I have learned that I must be mindful to not allow pain, illness or the drive to find a cure to consume me. So I  write this post timidly, because although I’m confused and a little bewildered, in the grand scheme of things it’s really quite inconsequential.

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Unwanted weight loss. Now that’s not a title I ever expected to type! I’m quickly approaching my mid 30’s, and being post-baby #2, I really thought the baby weight would be more stubborn.

Although I have been the same weight for my ENTIRE adult life (excluding pregnancies, obviously), I have now dropped 16 pounds below that. I’ve been losing anywhere from 1-4 pounds a month while TRYING to gain weight.

I was sick for several months with joint pain, heartburn, constant belly pain, no appetite, and very low energy. This started in February, after I had a brief stomach flu.  I also was having cramping pretty often throughout the month, and was afraid the Endometriosis was rearing it’s ugly head again. I went to my GP twice and had multiple workups done. By the second GP visit I was down 9 pounds from my baseline weight. I was worked up for gall bladder disease (labs and an ultrasound), Lyme’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis (which runs in my family), Lupus, and thyroid issues (and probably some others that I forgot). And praise God- all the labs came back within normal limits.

But I was at my wit’s end with feeling terrible, and out of desperation I decided to try cutting out all gluten and dairy again (this is my third stint over the years) on August 1st. After all, my Dad can’t tolerate gluten and my sister can’t tolerate gluten or dairy. I decided it was time to accept the fact that I might as well be in the same predicament. So I cut gluten and dairy out and I felt really terrible for another 3 weeks and then BAM! I felt normal again, and the joint pain went away.

I also weaned Rachel around this time and expected my metabolism to slow down a bit.

I was wrong. My weight loss really started to skyrocket. Complicated diets make eating… well, complicated. I’m thankful for the easy solution to feeling better, but man, coming up with stuff to eat (when you lack a good appetite and don’t love to cook) is difficult for me.

Last week, I made a concerted effort to eat as much as possible. One day, I remember eating 1/2  bag of potato chips in addition to meals and other snacks. And let’s not forget that it was Thanksgiving last week and that I polished off more than 1/2 of a gluten & dairy free apple pie (thanks to my Mom for making it!). So I was pretty perplexed when I hopped on the scale Sunday to see that I had lost another 2 pounds in a single week.

I’m ok with being thin, and I know there are many people who would love to have my problem. But I’m just not sure where this weight loss thing will end, and that scares me.  I imagine it’s got to be just as maddening for someone to work out and eat carefully, only to hop on the scale and realize that they’re only gaining weight. It feels like your body is making a huge mistake!

So please forgive my whiny post about wasting away for no good reason (that I can come up with, at least!). I’ll leave you a few pics of the kiddos and the park nearby.

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Endometriosis: Is it Coming Back?

It’s 2 am and I’m sitting here wondering: Is the endometriosis coming back? Little by little, the pain has started to return with each subsequent cycle that I have had since Rachel was born. I sat up in bed last night and a very sharp pain in my lower right side took my breath away for a few minutes. The same pain had occurred the day before. There is now a dull ache in my side, almost like my ovary is tacked up against my abdominal wall. It’s a pain I am all too well familiar with.

The other thought I had, which seems much more unlikely, was an ectopic pregnancy. I only have one fallopian tube, and I’m pretty sure it’s mostly or completely blocked, based on the last hysterosalpinogram I had years ago. Although I am high risk for an ectopic pregnancy, it’s seems pretty unlikely that I’d been feeling pain from such this early on in my cycle (I think I’m on CD 25).

I’m tempted to feel frustrated that I seem to have crazy aggressive endometriosis, but miraculously we have two children (despite thinking I would need a hysterectomy 3 years ago). If there’s anything I’m learning these days, it’s that the past does not necessarily predict the future, and despite my best guess– I actually have no idea what God has for our future. I’m learning to stop making assumptions. So I don’t know if this means that more exams, ultrasounds and surgeries are in my immediate future. I don’t know if it means we will be able to have more children. But I do know that God can do anything, and that His plan is always best. (And His plans are usually a complete shock to me.)

In the meantime, I’m attempting to wean Rachel. The reasons for this are complicated and varied, and it’s going about as well as trying to get a lion to go on a vegetarian diet. She wants nothing to do with either the bottle or formula. She just wants to nurse, and it makes it doubly hard for this mama to see that. Weaning Josh was hard and yet still much easier than this, so I am not sure of the path forward from here. We’ve tried just about every trick in the book. I’m warming up formula at the moment that I’m 99% positive she will reject (but like I said, I don’t know the future!). Maybe this time she’ll take it. Or maybe we’ll still be at this in a few weeks — please say a prayer for us!

 

 

 

 

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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.)

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

Life Without Pain

“You think we should put the tree here?” I asked my mom. “Sure, that looks like a good spot,” she replied.

I wasted no time and jumped on the shovel to dig a hole. A hole was quickly dug and we dropped the beautiful Scarlet Laceleaf Japanese maple tree into the ground. On our hands and knees, we filled in the empty spaces around the roots with a combination of potting soil and dirt. We finished and as I jumped up suddenly a thought occurred to me: The last time I had used a shovel I was 15 weeks pregnant and ended up going on bed rest that evening because I started to have cramping from too much exertion while working in the yard. I shuddered at the thought. How scared I had been because I thought we might lose Joshua, all because I had wanted to dig out some weeds.

My mom and I walked over to some potted plants I had in another area of the front yard. “Remember this plant you bought me, mom? It was towards the end of my pregnancy, as I recall.” “Oh yes, I remember that!” she exclaimed. “We walked into the store just to buy you a few plants, and you were in excruciating pain the whole rest of the day because of it– if I recall correctly.” As she was talking, I suddenly remembered wincing in pain with each bump in the road on the trip home from the store that day. I then remember not being able to help my mom put any of those plants in a pot or in the ground. She had had to do it all.

But these were not singular memories. Most days of my pregnancy were pain-filled. Most days I was begging others for prayer and begging the Lord to help me get through it. During that time, I had forgotten what it was like to not be in pain. I learned a lot about myself and chronic pain during that time. But even greater, I learned about the Lord’s abundant grace. I don’t reflect on those days with fear or bitterness, because of how God carried me through it. I will always be grateful for the experience. There are some things you can’t learn about the Lord by simply having head-knowledge.

For the first time in a really long season, I am experiencing life without pain! I haven’t felt this healthy for at least 7 years, which was when I first started to experience symptoms of endometriosis. I see now how extremely good pregnancy has been for my body. I am enjoying being able to do pretty much whatever I would like without pain of any kind. It is marvelous! I am thankful for each day I have that I get to be pain-free. I don’t know how long it will last. Either way, I feel so blessed to be able to take care of Joshua in the absence of pain. It is a gift!

And so this Scarlet Laceleaf Japanese maple tree– which my mom bought in honor of Joshua’s birth– will always serve as a reminder to me of God’s grace– whether it be for the birth of our son or for carrying me through the hard days prior to his birth. I will recall the ease with which I was able to put this tree into the ground and thank God for these days in which I am living without pain.

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The Mini Pill & The Mega Planner

I’m a planner. I love to think about the future and the different possibilities of what it may look like, and prepare for it. It’s pretty ridiculous to some people, and smart to others. It’s the way I like to function, if I can at all help it. Spontaneity is definitely not my thing (which is something I share at the risk of looking like a complete stick in the mud!). But it’s true. Thankfully, hubby doesn’t seem to mind too much as he is very analytical in nature.

Which is why, even though I am only 33 weeks along (at least I will be tomorrow–I like to round up), I am already considering the period between when I have the baby and when our next embryo transfer will take place. For most women who have given birth and breast feed, their periods don’t return until they stop breast feeding. But that is not always the case. I’ve heard of some women getting their periods just two months after giving birth, even though they are solely breast feeding their baby.

Although I have no idea what my body will do when the time comes, this is a concern of mine. If I am having a period, then I am risking getting another endometrioma and needing surgery. The very last possible time when I want to have to surgery is when I am caring for a newborn! Not only that, but surgery means more scar tissue and another rough go with pain if I ever get pregnant again.

I talked with hubby the other night about my concerns. I told him that one of my limited options was to take the “mini pill” (progesterone only) after I have the baby. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: So, I could possibly go on the mini pill after I have the baby.

Him: What’s the mini pill? That’s the same as birth control?

Me: Sort of, except without the estrogen.

Him: (Frowning now) I don’t know… even though you’ve had some mood swings being pregnant, it’s been really nice to have you off of birth control.

Me: What do you mean?

Him: Well, you’re a whole lot less hostile when you’re not on birth control!

Me: (Stunned) Wow. Oh, wow… Okay, well, that’s something to definitely consider.

So we have some time to pray about these things. My husband doesn’t want a hostile wife, and I don’t want to be that wife! But I don’t want surgery either- and neither does he.

I’m realizing that sometimes life comes to this– there doesn’t appear to be any “great” options on the table and we must ask and trust the Lord through it. Actually, when it has come to dealing with endometriosis, it has seemed that there has never been any “great” options on the table. And yet, here I am– miraculously pregnant, in spite of stage 4 endometriosis, and after thinking several times that the best route for me to take was to have a hysterectomy. I can only thank the Lord for that, and remember how He has made beauty out of ashes in my life. I can trust Him for my future.

So there you have it. More insomniac 5 am ponderings from me. 🙂

On a completely new note, our fridge is fixed! Hubby was able to fix it with an inexpensive part. We are so thankful to the Lord for this! I am really enjoying not living out of ice chests anymore. I’m praying for a similar miracle for the leaking head gasket in our car. I would say that I don’t know for sure that it’s leaking, except for the fact that I can smell burning oil every time I get out of the car after driving it. Definitely not a good sign, but as a good friend reminded me the other day, anything is possible with our God.

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Filed under Endometriosis, Pregnancy