Tag Archives: pregnancy

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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Filed under Endometriosis, Motherhood, Pain

Mysterious God

In a rare turn of events, we received a huge refund from the IRS this year. My husband claims he did our taxes properly… he’s pretty nerdy and even reads tax books for ‘fun,’ so who am I to second guess him on that? We were pretty sure we just grossly overestimated our tax withholdings the previous year. Which left us with a large sum. We weren’t really sure what we would do with the money. “Hmm…maybe we could save up for a new car when mine dies?” My hubby said. His car did have over 200,000 miles on it. “Or maybe we could save up for a new A/C in case ours goes out?” I suggested, sure that our A/C was over 20 years old. We threw some other boring ideas out there. None of the options were very exciting. For once, we didn’t seem to have a huge pressing need for income (such as needing to buy a new car, replacing the fridge, etc). It felt odd. So we decided to wait before making any decisions. And we prayed about it.

Little did we know we’d be using that tax refund to buy international plane tickets. Less than a week later, I started bleeding and was diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma (SCH). My doctor put me on strict bed rest. We weren’t given an exact time on how long it takes these things to heal, but were told that most heal up by 20 weeks. Well, that seemed a bit daunting as I was only 6 weeks along. I did a ton of research and discovered that the majority of women had markedly improved results from bed rest. There seemed to be a direct correlation between activity and bleeding. So I knew I would certainly be taking it easy. The only question was how much time off of work would my husband need? We still had 14 weeks to get to the 20 week point, with that being the worst case scenario. He had maybe 4 weeks of vacation saved up, tops. We weren’t really sure what the best course of action was. Burn up all of his vacation now? Save some for later? What if things got worse later on?

A day after my SCH was discovered, a thought occurred to me. What if my sister, who lived overseas, was able to come help us out for a few weeks? It seems pretty extreme but the fact of the matter was that everyone in our family has a job (which is a good thing!). My parents and my husband’s parents are all still working. Our siblings all have jobs. My sister who lives locally would have been a great help, but she had recently started a new job, making her free time almost non existent. My sister who lives overseas doesn’t have an official fill-out-a-time-card-type-of-job, per say, but she’s a full time missionary, a home schooler of her 3 children, and she does Bible translation and checking, as well as several other duties. I think she is probably busier than anyone I know! At the same time there was no ’employer’ she would need to ask for time off (other than her family). I gave her a call and set forth my proposition to pay for her and one of her three children’s tickets so that they could come out and help me get through bed rest. I knew I was asking a lot of her. At the same time, I know she wanted this baby of ours to make it just as much as we did. She responded to my proposal by saying that she and her husband would pray about it. The next day, they agreed for her to come and they were able to get tickets that same afternoon. The very next day, she and two of her children (they paid for another one of their kids to come) were en route to the U.S.! We were completely amazed at how quickly they were able to obtain tickets (and for an affordable price)!

My sister arrived pretty exhausted and obviously jet lagged, but I cannot fully describe the blessing she was to our family the nearly three weeks she was here (her kids went to visit their Grandma up North for half of the time they were here in the U.S.). She cooked delicious and hearty meals. When I was nauseous (which was about 90% of the time) she merely placed food in front of me –without even asking me if I was hungry– and I discovered that if I didn’t have to think about food, I could eat it. She cleaned, did laundry, prepared leftovers for my husband to grab on his way to work, and made muffins and cookies for the freezer, as well as extra meals. She also played with Josh, took care of him (did I mention that he loved her right off the bat? It was his first time ever meeting her!) and took him on walks every day. Best of all she MADE me stay on the sofa as much as I could stand it (there’s something commanding about older sisters….). In short, she was a total lifesaver. Literally.

A week later, we went in for an ultrasound. The hematoma hadn’t shrunk or grown. It had changed shape a little. Thankfully, the baby had grown a ton in just a week’s time and was almost twice the size from the previous week.

So bed rest ensued. And my sister continued to labor on our behalf (quite cheerfully I might add). We had my husband’s parents over for his dad’s birthday and my sister did all the cooking and cleaning for that. We celebrated Josh’s birthday with a party (invitations went out before the SCH was discovered) and she did a ton to prepare for that as well. By that time my SCH had shrunk to a narrow sliver- long but almost so narrow that it looked like it was almost healed. We were SO encouraged.

A few days after Josh’s party, my sister had to return home with her kids. I went in for another ultrasound not long after she left and this time, the SCH was no where to be found! My OB said I no longer had any restrictions, but I continued to take it easy for another two weeks. I didn’t want the tear, which had so recently healed, to rip open again. For the past week I have been back to regular life and I am starting to believe that the SCH is forever behind me.

And so God used a shockingly large tax refund, a new pregnancy, and a very scary SCH to ordain a special visit with my sister that I don’t expect to have again in my lifetime. My sister and I are very close– and if you could see the massive amount of emails we have written to each other over the years, the hours and hours of phone conversations that have taken place– you would understand what kind of sisterhood friendship I am taking about. My sister lives overseas, and I don’t get to see her much. The separation feels almost crushing to me at times, as much as I am grateful for the work they are doing. And I think the Lord just happened to heap blessings on my head when this SCH happened. What I thought was going to be the beginning of a miscarriage and a despair threatening to delve deeper than what I have probably ever experienced, instead turned into laughter and joy in having my sister nearby for many deep conversations and times of prayers.

I never thought i would be able to thank God for something as scary as having a SCH threatening my baby’s very existence. But I do. I see now how He has used it to bless me– a blessing I will remember my entire life.

God works in mysterious ways, does He not?

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

 

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Filed under FET, Pregnancy

Taking a Deep Breath…

I’m so sorry to keep some of you out of the loop about this pregnancy and hcg levels. Thank you for checking in with me.

I discovered that my first beta of 20 was actually done at 11 dpo instead of 12 dpo like I had originally thought. This made me feel a little bit better about it being on the lower side. I discovered that the average beta for 11 dpo is something like 24.

My second beta was done last Wednesday at 13 dpo and was 60. The nurse was very happy with this number, but did mention that I was pregnant “most likely with a singleton.” I definitely felt a sense of relief that things seemed to be progressing like they should.

After my blood test last Wednesday I headed to my parents with Josh to help them get ready for Thanksgiving. On Thursday, we returned as a family to celebrate. What a blessing to be thankful out of overflowing gratitude for this new baby instead of out of obedience had we gotten a negative test. But even then, I know I would have been thankful for this almost 9 month son of ours that brings daily smiles to our faces.

Over the weekend we headed to the mountains for a quick vacation at my parents cabin. Overall I’ve just been feeling… well, normal. Very normal. With Josh I was already feeling very “off ” by this point. But I guess I shouldn’t compare pregnancies. In any case, it’s been a little bit of a struggle not to worry and to just enjoy this period of feeling decent while it lasts.

I did, however, get my next beta test moved from Saturday to this Tuesday. I’m needing reassurance that things with this baby are okay. As you can see… I’m a little bit of a worrier. Not something I’m proud of.

Whether this baby goes to term and we get to hold him or her in our arms, or whether I miscarry and things don’t work out at all like we had hoped for — God is greater still, always working, always faithful.

Today I am 4 weeks 3 days. These are early, early days! Thanks again for your prayers for this little one inside. 🙂

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Filed under FET, Pregnancy

Torture Before Testing

Well folks, no one said this waiting period would be easy.

It’s far from easy. In the infertility world, I’m what you’d call 3dp6dt. That’s 3-days-past a 6-day-transfer, to equal 9 dpo (which translates to 9 days past ovulation). A little early for a home pregnancy test, although some women pregnant with multiples get positives this early. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to our embryo transfer.

Our frozen embryo transfer (FET) was on Tuesday. All in all, it was a rough day. For the first time ever, I blogged in real-time about the phone call from our RE announcing the poor prognosis of one of our embryo. After that blog post, I got an email from my RE. I won’t go into detail because it’s not important. But let’s just say that he was pretty rude and unkind in this quick email. It had nothing to do with the transfer that day, it was a response to an email I had sent him the prior week regarding my thyroid. On any given day, the email would have just made me mad. But on FET day, the day I am injected full of hormones, the day Josh is for some reason out of sorts and threatening to be screaming during our (already stressful) transfer, and most of all the day I hear one of my babies might be dying — well, I burst immediately into tears.

Thankfully, my husband called his mom to babysit Josh and she came to the rescue with 3 minutes to spare! I popped my prescribed valium, guzzled the prescribed amount of water, loaded up and hit the road.

And on the drive to the clinic, I let the email go. It didn’t matter. What was important was getting those babies transferred where they belonged.

When we arrived it was clear our RE didn’t want to transfer in our embryo that was looking less than great (I never did hear what the official “grade” that the embryo was). We went back and forth as I tried to ascertain what the actual status of the embryo was. My RE said that in his opinion, the embryo was a “demise.” A demise? A demise means dead. “Is it dead?” I asked. No, he said it wasn’t dead, but it was as good as dead. “Death is pretty black or white, is it dead?” I asked again. He said it was black or white for him — it might as well be dead. So he wasn’t willing to call it dead.

Because it was not dead.

He stepped out of the room and gave my husband and I a minute to decide what we wanted to do. But we already knew we were transferring in this struggling embryo. We talked about it for about one second. My RE came back in the room and we told him we wanted both embryos transferred.

Ten minutes later, both embryos had been transferred without any complications. He handed us pictures of our embryos, then in the blastocyst (about to hatch) stage. I looked at each embryo with wonder and amazement– these were our children. One of the embryos, the struggling embryo, had some cells that had burst, indicating that things were not good. But there were still cells that were intact. It still had a chance, even if it is a very, very small chance.

As my RE was walking out the door, he said, “This is good. You only want one baby. You don’t want twins. One baby is best.” The door slammed behind him. I couldn’t help it — I gave the biggest eye roll at his comment. Never mind the prior appointments where I told him we were comfortable with the idea of twins. Never mind the fact that it was his idea to transfer two embryos last summer. How wrong he was, and how frustrated I felt with him for not rooting even a little for our struggling embryo. I’m not sure what was going through his head, but he seemed to be wrapped up in the well being of his clinic’s statistics of viable pregnancies.

Then, our lovely nurse (who I adore) asked to see the pictures of our embryos. “Hmm” she said. “They’re not what I’d call great looking embryos, but you never know.” The truth is, I had been thinking the same thing (comparing only with pictures of blastocysts I’d seen on the internet) and inquired further. Why did she think that? I appreciated her giving me her honest opinion. She popped her head around the door to speak with the embryologist. The embryologist explained that no, one of the embryos was of excellent quality (4AA) but it just hadn’t had time to re-expand after being thawed. My nurse said, “Well, the embryologist is the expert!” I breathed a sigh of relief. It was clear that the nurse just didn’t know as much about it, although I know she’s worked at the clinic for a long time.

Lastly, during the thirty minutes that I had to lay still on the bed following the transfer, my husband laid hands on me and prayed over our embryos. There was nothing sweeter that happened that day than his act of headship over our family.

We came home from the clinic and the 3 days of bed rest and waiting began. Within a few hours I felt some tugging and pulling. Could it be the beginning of implantation? It was a little sharp, but didn’t last long. I felt the same thing later on that night and then the next morning. Then more consistent cramps began and didn’t let up for a day. They started again yesterday afternoon and took another break this morning. Then more cramps this afternoon. But none now. I had cramping with Josh so I see it as a very good sign that I might be pregnant. But then when the cramps fizzle out I start to feel unsure again. And the thing is, cramps are not a guarantee of pregnancy. It could be false hope. I just don’t know the outcome, and I won’t know until next week.

So thanks for praying for me. All in all, it’s going much better than last time. I’ve only cried once. But it’s still hard.

I was in the car today, taking Josh with me to Trader Joes to pick up some ice cream and chocolate (um, what else?!) and Seeds of Faith was playing for about the billionth time. The words from Isaiah 41, “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” played over and over and the words began to sink in after a while. And I thought: I’m not alone in this. If I don’t get pregnant, He is with me! and if I don’t get pregnant, He will strengthen, help and uphold me.

There is nothing sweeter than that.

I’ll have an update for you sometime next week. I’m not trying to be vague, it’s just that my clinic ordered my beta (blood test indicating a pregnancy or not) for Monday due to the holidays and I really feel that it’s waaay too soon. I’ll only be 12 dpo on Monday. I would hate to get a false negative– it’s like signing up for pre-planned torture. So I may just call the clinic Monday morning and request a later date for the lab draw. I haven’t decided yet.

Again, thanks for your prayers! And thanks for helping to support me through this journey!

 

 

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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.)

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

How Easily Forgotten is Contentment

How quickly I had happily forgotten. The years of negative pregnancy tests and the dashed hopes that I might be experiencing pregnancy symptoms. The pain of looking into the empty room that I had hoped would one day be a nursery. The baby items people had graciously given me but that were collecting dust in the garage.

These were long, hard years. Filled with pain and tears, and often the threat of another surgery. I wasn’t sure if or when it would end. I learned to live with it most days.

And then I got pregnant with Josh.

Just like a whirlwind, I was thrust into the world of pregnancy and baby love. As my belly expanded, I could feel Josh wiggling and squirming and kicking up a storm. My pregnancy was filled with chronic pain, but also with so much hope and joy.

But even greater joy ensued. The days that have followed Josh’s birth have been nothing short of wonderful. Getting to know this little boy has completely shattered me. Delighted my heart in ways I could not have imagined. Each day I am eager to get out of bed and see what new thing this little guy of ours is learning. I never guessed that being a momma would be so fun.

And then one day, there was a bit of cramping and spotting, followed by nausea. I was sure my monthly cycle was coming back to wreak havoc. But then it didn’t. The cramping, bloating and nausea ensued. And all of the sudden, something in the back of my brain clicked: “What if I’m pregnant?” As the hope of a second child began to rise and swell to the surface, I choked back tears as I prayed and asked the Lord in faith for such.

But then I did a home pregnancy test, and it was negative. I felt immediate disappointment and couldn’t believe how quickly I had gotten sucked back into the vicious cycle of pregnancy tests and turmoil. A day earlier I had felt complete contentment as I played happily with my son. Instead, thoughts of implantation bleeding, pregnancy symptoms and the hope of a second child consumed me.

The symptoms continued. More negative pregnancy tests followed. I have no idea what is making me feel sick.

But I am choosing, today, to move on.

I’m choosing to enjoy my son as he learns to eats solid foods and reach out to touch my face for the first time. As he babbles endlessly and rolls over. As he giggles when I sing his favorite songs.

And I will not mourn this not being the Lord’s timing for us to have another child.

I will thank the Lord for the good gift He has given us!

 

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The Myth About Endometriosis & Pregnancy

It’s 3 am. I woke up after wincing in pain too many times after trying to roll over in bed. So now I’m awake and doing further research on endometriosis and adhesions, particularly in pregnancy.

There’s a lot to be found on the subject of endometriosis when it comes to pregnancy. Everywhere you look you will read “Be free from endometriosis pain while pregnant!” and every doctor will tell you “Pregnancy is the only temporary cure for Endometriosis!” I feel completely frustrated with this. And as I’ve discovered first hand, it’s simply just not true. I know I’m not the only one out there who’s dealing with worse endometriosis and adhesion symptoms while pregnant than not. Not that knowing the correct information would have changed our decision to go through IVF– believe it or not I’d go through even a lot more to have children. But I was completely blind sided by the pain. It would have been nice to have been able to prepare mentally and physically for the challenges I am facing today.

Wednesday night I hit a low point. When I say low point, I mean too many hours and days of intense pain with no relief. It happens sometimes. I emailed my OB and just let her know that the pain had been pretty bad for about a month (my last  appointment had been with the nurse practitioner, so I figured my OB didn’t know about it). I wasn’t having any new symptoms, but I was at my wit’s end with the unrelenting pain. I sat at the table after dinner and started to cry as I typed out the email to her. So tired of sending these emails, which all basically say the same thing… “still hurting!” (If I were an OB, I’d let out a loud sigh when emails like mine came in.) I expected a response from her the next day but didn’t expect that she’d want to see me right away. I went in that day at 2 pm. She did an ultrasound to check my cervix (still fine) and did a NST (no contractions, and baby did great). Those things were a relief. I was glad to hear that all this pain doesn’t seem to be affecting the baby one bit.

Next we discussed options for this unending pain. (If I could describe the pain, I would say two things, first: Imagine (if you are a girl) you are about to start your period, but it is unusually painful with cramping. This is how most of my periods were before getting pregnant. Pretty miserable. Second: Sharp stabbing pain in various places, usually on my cervix and on my bladder.) Initially my OB suggested stronger pain meds, which I refused. I told her I’d have to be dying on the floor to take those. She then suggested Flexiril (a muscle relaxant) but I was hesitant to take that too, even though it’s a category B drug. I’m not sure how much of what I’m having is actually a muscle problem, and my OB suggested as much. She said it may or may not help. I decided to keep listening to see what else she recommended. She suggested a maternity belt and a heating pad, and I agreed to try those. Lastly, she suggested I take Protonix for the acid reflux I’d been dealing with over the past few weeks. I’d tried all kinds of different things to help with the heartburn and reflux but the fact of the matter was that I was having to stay up until 1 am every night in order to give my smallish dinner several hours to “settle” before lying down and going to sleep. Even then, my throat was becoming sore from the stomach acid not staying put where it should be.

I came home from my appointment and my sister called from overseas to see how my appointment went. I started to cry (again) as I told her I had agreed to take the Protonix and how hard I had tried to stay as ‘medicine’ free as possible while pregnant. I felt like a failure. She literally started to laugh and said, “Em, don’t listen to lies! You can’t be staying up every night until 1 am to wait for your food to settle. You needed to change something to be able to manage.” I paused to think about what she said. She was right. She prayed with me and when we hung up I felt infinitely better. Sometimes my sister really knows the right thing to say at the right time.

So, now it’s almost 4 am and I am still hurting, still wondering what exactly my insides could look like to be causing all this pain, but at least I don’t have acid reflux anymore! My OB said the pain would probably only worsen until I go into labor with this little boy. Not exactly encouraging news, but I’m glad she told me that because I don’t want to be in denial about these things. I’m praying often that I can make it to my due date without having to be induced or have a c-section because I can’t walk or function anymore from the pain. And if I can’t make it, well… I’ll have to remember that I did my best. I always thought I could tough out any level of pain to keep my baby growing a little longer but now I realize just how much pain wears you down. And it scares me. So I really need your prayers to help me make it as long as possible!

And… if you are a faithful reader of my blog, thanks so much. I admit that I feel like a broken record right now. There are so many other things in life which are far more interesting than the pain I’ve been living with these past months. It’s pretty boring if you ask me. So thanks for sticking with me.

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Filed under Endometriosis, Pain, Pregnancy

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

Struggling to See

Hey y’all.

I’m writing through a bit of a fog right now. My belly pain has come back over the past week. Today it’s been at it’s worst, landing me in bed all day. I’m discouraged. We cancelled all our plans for the day and hubby has been such a tremendous help, running errands and taking good care of me. I’m thankful for him.

I have to keep reminding myself that I only have to get through 13 more weeks. 13 more weeks until we meet our son face to face. 13 more weeks that I will have to endure this debilitating pain. Or, maybe less if God chooses to give me a reprieve from it. Please pray with me that this will be the case.

It’s hard not to let pain taint your vision. Or poison your outlook on life. I have to remember that in almost all situations, pain is just for a season.

And so I think about joy. I must dwell on the things that I’m thankful for. I must ask the Lord to help me when I think I can’t keep living with this for 13 more weeks. He hears my prayers, and He always gives grace. He’s the ONE thing in this life that I can count on.

Thanks again for your prayers.

“The secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.” — Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

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Filed under Pain, Pregnancy, Uncategorized