Tag Archives: IVF

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.

 

u53a8882_e

u53a8911_e

u53a8949_e

u53a8950_e

u53a8958_e

u53a8962_e

u53a8983_e

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Endometriosis, Motherhood, Pain

Only a Month to Go! {Inducement Date Scheduled}

I had my 32 week appointment today with my OB as well as antenatal testing.

I found out that Kaiser doesn’t mess around when it comes to intrahepatic cholestasis in pregnancy. I’m being induced on 9/13, when I will be only 36 weeks and 2 days. I sort of expected my OB to say “This isn’t really a big deal, but as a precaution I guess we’ll induce you at 38 weeks.” Nope. They want this baby out before 37 weeks. At 37+ weeks, apparently, my bile acids could spike dangerously high at any given time and harm or even kill the baby. Scary.

While I feel relieved to not be worrying that my baby will die in utero, I’m fighting some fears today that she will be little. Really little (Josh was 6 pounds 13 oz at 39 weeks). And that maybe she might not nurse so hot right off the bat. That she might have some respiratory complications. Of course, there are many 36 weekers out there that eat and breathe like champs and act like grown up term babies. I’m praying that our little girl will be one of them!

The NST went really well and baby passed with flying colors. She had good movement and good heart rate. I have an anterior placenta so her movement is muffled a bit — I have to be paying attention most times to notice her movements. Baby was already in vertex cephalic position, which was awesome! (Now please stay that way, little girl!) The ultrasound showed excellent fluid levels and lots of fluid around her umbilical cord. The nurse was great and she felt like an old friend by the time I left. Another nurse came in and wanted to discuss my ultra-hot feet at night time and came up with 3 or 4 solutions for me to keep them cool. They took good care of me, and I’m grateful for that! I’m going to be spending lots of time with them before this baby comes.

The nurse then gave me a TdAp and I didn’t even feel it. Not even a pinch – nothing (I admit to looking for an injection site). I’m so thankful for this vaccine which will protect my baby from pertussis until her 2 month vaccines– given that she’ll be little and it will be the winter months by the time she gets her first round of vaccines.

In the exam room, my OB answered a lot of my questions today (I brought in a long list). Information she passed along to me:

  1. The medicine I’m on (Ursodiol) may or may not help decrease bile acid levels, but it should decrease the amount of itching I have.
  2. She will not be checking my bile acid levels again unless I have a major change of symptoms (i.e. I become jaundiced, etc). Since baby is being delivered early I am fine with that. Currently my liver enzymes are normal and the bile acids are just slightly elevated.
  3. She said that diet changes won’t help– but that it would be a different story if I had gall stones (which I don’t).
  4. They don’t know what causes Cholestasis in pregnancy, but they do know that there is a genetic component and that it’s related to hormones. Patient with twins and triplets are more likely to get it, as well as patients who went through IVF (increase in hormones = higher risk of cholestasis). Since no one else in my family has had this, I’m guessing that the IVF/embryo transfer is the culprit in our case.

I can’t believe our baby will be here in a month. I’m not even to that really uncomfortable pregnancy stage yet or feeling like it’s time for this baby to come out. As I process her early inducement date, I’m definitely feeling a mix of excitement and fear. I will be praying much over this next month for our little girl’s safety. Please pray with me!

Now off to get this toddler of mine to sleep for his nap. Teething has ruined his happy napping schedule!

1 Comment

Filed under Baby, Pregnancy

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!

_____________________________________________________

{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.

__________________________________________________

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

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under IVF, Miscarriage, Pregnancy, Uncategorized

FET News: TSH levels, Abdominal Pain and (back to discussing) Twins?

(I have to thank many of you dear readers for checking in with me, either in person or online, and letting me know that many of you are praying for us during this time. It has been a HUGE encouragement to me!)

But I have to be honest: It’s very tempting to just disappear from this blog space right now! A huge (insecure) part of me wants to take a blogging break and let anyone reading this know the results of our embryo transfer well after it’s happened. To tell you it was negative after I’ve grieved and healed a bit, or to tell you it was positive after I’ve heard a heartbeat and made it through the first trimester. But I made up my mind that I was not going to do that this time around (as I did when we went through IVF), because I didn’t want to be dictated by fear. And I’m not a very private person in general, so I can’t use that excuse either. 😉 So, here’s the latest in our upcoming frozen embryo transfer (FET):

1. Many of you have asked the difference between IVF and and FET. Essentially, IVF stimulates the ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible (without over-stimming them). The eggs are then retrieved (usually under anesthesia) and fertilized and left to grow on their own in a lab over a period of usually 3-5 days. The best 1-3 embryos are then transferred back in (if there are any remaining they are frozen), and 2 weeks later a blood test reveals whether a baby (or babies) is on it’s way or not. An FET is much more relaxed and there is less monitoring overall. This is due to the fact that the ovaries are left completely alone, since there is no need to retrieve more eggs when there are already embryos ready to go! FET involves injections of both progesterone and estrogen to get the uterine lining nice and thick before transferring the embryos in. There are also other injections to keep you from ovulating during the cycle (and while I’m at it, I might as well mention that steroids, antibiotics and baby aspirin are all usually part of the regiment as well). So, there are still a lot of hormones and injections involved, but it’s overall much lower key (and no anesthesia!) than IVF. Moving on from this mini lecture…

2. As some of you already know, I seemed to be cursed with ovarian cysts. Multiple kinds, including the kind that need surgery! Aside from having 3 surgeries to remove cysts, I’ve also had (now) three occasions in which I was certain I was experiencing a rupturing cyst. The first time the pain came on immediately and within 10 minutes I was in agonizing pain for around 2 hours. I didn’t go to the ER because a cyst had been confirmed by ultrasound the week prior, and I was pretty sure I knew what was happening at the time. The second time was not very long after Josh was born. My mom was over while my husband was at work, and the pain came on over a period of about an hour. I stood up after nursing Josh and realized that I could not straighten all the way up or walk on the affected side. The pain escalated quickly at that point (and to be honest I think I was still pretty traumatized from my delivery with Josh and generally anxious about experiencing out-of-control pain again) so my mom took me to the ER. Hours later, the pain subsided and by the time I finally got the ultrasound, no cyst was to be found (I figured because it had ruptured). Now, finally I bring you to last Sunday. It was a week before my period was due and I had cramping most of the day, which I thought was unusual as it seemed to early. I rested on the couch for a while and when I stood up, I felt the same intense pain on one side and thought “Uh oh.” I tried to walk around a little but the pain soared. But this time I had another plan. I told my husband, “Guess what? I’m NOT going to the ER this time.” Instead I took a Tylenol with codeine, loaded up on Ibuprofen, and placed a rice sock on my abdomen. Within 30 minutes I felt much better and even ate dinner. It was the best bursting-cyst experience to date. But to be honest I am discouraged as to why I have had 2 of these cysts burst in the past 6 months and don’t feel like it bodes well for the future if I don’t get pregnant again soon.

3. I got my pre-FET labs drawn. My TSH came back at 3. Not a horrible number for an adult by any measure, but my IVF doctor wants it under 2.5 (higher numbers are associated with both negative pregnancy results as well as  are miscarriages). So I get to have it rechecked next week (not sure it will change much in a week, but I am praying that it will!). If it’s over 2.5 then I get to start thyroid meds. I’m not sure if this will delay my FET cycle, but since my doctor is pretty careful, I’m willing to bet that he’ll delay it a month and recheck my TSH level again before proceeding with the cycle. The downside to this is that I believe this will have us finding out if we’re pregnant or not right around Christmas. However, I looked back and saw that I got pregnant with Josh when my TSH was 2.75 (so he must have accepted it being a little higher then, or he may have implemented new standards since then).

4. Since my doctor didn’t specify if taking thyroid meds would delay my FET cycle, at this point I’m supposed to call on day 2 of my period and start birth control on that day to start the FET cycle (which usually takes about a month). Usually I dread my period coming and arm myself with ibuprofen, but this time I’m wishing it would just start already!

5. My husband and I took some time out to pray and talk through whether to transfer 1 or 2 embryos. I also did a ton of research on twin pregnancies. I am not under any delusion that a subsequent pregnancy (whether a singleton or twins) for me will be easy and pain-free (although I am ever hopeful!) — after all I was told that all my pain would be gone when I got pregnant, (and that was clearly not the case), and then I was told the next pregnancy would a piece of cake… I find that if I don’t have expectations about such things then I am far less disappointed when my expectations aren’t met. So what I discovered is that, irregardless of adhesions and scar tissue, carrying twins is very, very hard. That was no surprise to me, as carrying just one baby seemed pretty hard at the time! But what I really wanted to know were the statistics of how many twins delivered early (before 36 weeks). My doctor told me that if I’m compliant (i.e. I take it easy when I’m told to) the chances of delivering twins after 36 weeks is pretty good, around 65%. So, before praying and researching, I felt very strongly that we should only transfer 1. However, my husband thought that transferring 2 might be a better idea. We prayed and discussed and I researched. Oddly, over time I became more and more comfortable with the idea of twins. (Although I get the idea that being pregnant with twins is anything but comfortable.) But for now the plan is to transfer 2 of our embryo babies! We’re still continuing to pray about it, and I think the Lord is revealing to me the times when I am tempted to make decisions or base thoughts out of fear. At this point I can honestly say I am moving toward transferring 2 not out of fear of not getting pregnant (because the statistics for getting pregnant are lower when only 1 is transferred) but because twins seems like it would be an amazing double blessing, and I so would love to be a mama to several children.

So there you have it. Cyst, TSH, period, 2 embryos. But really, this is a time of huge struggle for me. I am not in any kind of denial thinking that just because I got pregnant with Josh, I’ll get pregnant again. Believe me, I have read several blogs documenting a successful pregnancy with twins, only to endure several subsequent embryo transfers with no babies to show for it. It’s hugely disheartening, and you may just say “Stick with the positive stories for now!” But that is not real life, and I want to learn to lean on and praise God through any storm He sends us under. After all, my life is not about infertility but about learning to be a servant of God! So even though I’m dying to buy some new maternity clothes (seriously; it’s weird) and to hear a heartbeat on a doppler I’m looking to Christ who is my Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3) and knowing that hope comes from Him! (And not from a positive pregnancy test.)

Thanks again for praying with us during this time! It is invaluable to me!

3 Comments

Filed under FET

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Baby, Endometriosis, Infertility, IVF, 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!

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Infertility, IVF

You Just Never Know What’s Around the Next Corner — (Part Two)

(If you haven’t read part One and would like to do so, just click here.)

Part Two 

I recovered nicely from my surgery. It was actually a very social time, as my mom, sisters, and friends came over to help take care of me or just hang out while my husband was at work. Another wonderful aspect following my surgery was the fact that the pain (other than from the incision) was completely gone. I knew that I’d once again be able to go running and participate in other activities because I was no longer worried that the endometriomas may burst. I was excited to be pain-free again.

Five months later, with no positive pregnancy tests to show for it, I ended up going on a mission trip to Uganda with my church. Being a nurse, I was the “medical” person on the team who administered basic medical care to hundreds of school kids and many of their family members. Many people on our team jumped in there to help me out, whether they had experience or not. It was an exhausting but wonderful time.

One evening, after a long day of working in the make-shift clinic (i.e. a school office) there in Uganda, I was talking with another guy on our team who told me that he had met a Ugandan Christian man with the gift of healing. I had never met anyone with that gift before, but I did not believe it to be impossible. “Please,” I told my teammate, take me to him!” I longed desperately to be healed, and I figured it couldn’t hurt. This man, who’s name was David, happened to be nearby, and he and my teammate anointed my head with oil and prayed over me. And for the first time in my life, I was prophesied over when David said, “You will be healed, and you will conceive this year.” I gasped in amazement when his words sunk in. Had I been in America, I would have been skeptical about a prophecy like that. But this was Africa. I had gotten used to seeing the Lord work in different ways there, and I wasn’t about to discount David’s prophecy. I went back to my quarters where we were staying and journaled my experience, praying that night that God truly would heal me.

Fast forward 2 months. Still having been hopeful that God would allow me to conceive, I started to doubt the chances of that happening when my chronic pelvic pain returned. My hope turned to despair and worry as I wondered if I would need to have another surgery. “Two surgeries in one year?” I lamented to my husband. Thankful for the logical man I married, he encouraged me to schedule another appointment and “get the facts” before delving into despair. Oh, yes, that’s probably a better plan! Time for another ultrasound and trip to my ob/gyn’s office. This time, there was a 6cm endometrioma on my right ovary and a 2cm one on my left (I was getting good at identifying them on the ultrasound monitor by this time). Also, as it turned out, my left fallopian tube was blocked and it was strongly recommended that it be removed. A month later, I had laparoscopic surgery and the cysts (along with my fallopian tube) were removed. My diagnosis from “probable” endometriosis got bumped up several notches to the top of the list: Severe Endometriosis.

Take Two. Ready for surgery (again).

Given the diagnosis, we had a few options in front of us on the table. We could do nothing and I could keep having surgeries every 6-9 months. That didn’t sound like too much fun to me. Another option was to try IVF (in vitro fertilization). Lastly, I could go on birth control for a really, really long time (like until I either hit menopause or had a hysterectomy) and we could adopt. At first my husband and I went for the IVF option. But the more I researched it, the more I realized that even with IVF, my chances of getting pregnant were still pretty low. And because IVF’s so expensive, we would then have to wait even longer to adopt if it didn’t work. So after much prayer and discussion, (oh, and did I mention after many tears on my part?) we decided to adopt.

Well, we certainly didn’t pick the fastest route to having children, that’s for sure. Adoption takes a long time! We are hoping and praying to adopt a baby domestically at this point. Five years ago I never would have guessed that my husband and I would be in the adoption process right now. No one in either of our families is adopted (because they keep having a lot of kids!). But I know and look forward to this: The Lord has a massive blessing in it for us, and He will be glorified through it. What I also know is that His mercies are new every morning. They might not be what we expected, but if you look around enough you’ll find them. Yesterday may have been bleak, it may have hurt bone-deep. But you just never know what’s around the corner. His blessings may hit us square in the face.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his step.” Prov. 16:9 ESV

Leave a comment

Filed under Adoption, Endometriosis, Infertility, Marriage, Missions