Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reflecting on the past year

So many people have commented to us about how special these first holidays with Bentlee are going to be, and we couldn't agree more! We have already celebrated some wonderful occasions since she has been home with us: her first Halloween, her baby dedication, my 30th birthday, her first Thanksgiving, and now we are looking forward to her first Christmas. As I thank the Lord for these wonderful holidays we are enjoying as a family this year, I can't help but reflect on how drastically different our life is this year compared to the holidays last year.


Last year, we stayed home for Halloween; we handed out candy, commented on all of the adorable kids in their costumes, and wondered and wished for our chance to dress our little one up for this day. We were also waiting anxiously in anticipation for me to go in for my blood pregnancy test to see if that month's IUI was successful or not. 

On my birthday last year, I began the morning at the fertility clinic, getting my blood drawn, and waited with my stomach in knots all day for a phone call telling me whether or not I was pregnant. When they called and told me that my blood pregnancy test was positive but my hormone levels were very low, we  were cautiously excited. We wanted to celebrate but we were scared to until we went back to the doctor for more bloodwork. 

The Monday of Thanksgiving week last year, we went to the doctor for our first sonogram, excited to see our baby for the first time. After weeks of rising hormone levels, we were shocked to find out that I was going to miscarry again. We spent the week of Thanksgiving by ourselves in complete devastation, waiting for the miscarriage to happen. We stayed home from our yearly Thanksgiving family reunion for the first time since I was born and ate Thanksgiving dinner by ourselves at Cracker Barrel. It was one of the worst weeks of our lives. 

The first week of December last year, I had my second miscarriage. Just before Christmas we went in for a lot of bloodwork to be done to figure out why I kept miscarrying, and we were told we would potentially get some answers at the beginning of January. Our Christmas was still good, but our hearts were hurting and angry, and we weren't really in the "Christmas spirit". We weren't even looking forward to getting any answers; at that point, we were seriously ready for 2011 to be OVER! 

Now, a year later, our hearts are full. We experienced the birth of Bentlee on October 1, followed by a seamless placement of her into our homes and our lives. We have had an amazing time getting to know Bentlee as our daughter, and getting to see our families and friends embrace Bentlee and love on her. We got to dress Bentlee up as Minnie Mouse for her first Halloween. We dedicated Bentlee to the Lord on my 30th birthday and celebrated with family and friends. Bentlee got to meet tons of extended family at her first Thanksgiving reunion. And we are now approaching our first Christmas as a family, and our first Christmas with a grandchild on both sides of the family. It is all so exciting and we could not be more thankful. What a difference a year makes! 

When I reflect on the fact that last year at this time we had just lost our second baby and now we are parents, I can't help but be amazed at the way the Lord has worked in our lives. And He has definitely worked, because there is no way that things could have happened as seamlessly as they did for us to bring Bentlee home. As I write this on the night before our adoption is finalized, I have a lot of emotions. While I may never understand or be thankful for the years of painful and expensive fertility treatments, the repeated losses of our babies, or the daily turmoil of not understanding why the Lord wasn't answering our prayers to become parents, I do rejoice in the fact that the Lord WORKED ALL OF THESE THINGS FOR OUR GOOD...just as He promised in His word. I see now that all of the pain and anguish was part of the journey to get us here. Mike and I now see that the Lord's timing is perfect, because He was preparing us to enter into this journey exactly when we did because of when Bentlee was to be born. We believe that the Lord handpicked Andy and Danielle to be Bentlee's birth parents, just as He hand-picked us to be Bentlee's forever parents, and this is the way our story was always meant to go...we just didn't know it. 

Bentlee is a beautiful gift that has brought so much healing and love to us and our families. During this time of year, I am also reminded of another baby who brought healing, but He brought it to the world. As I thank the Lord for the gift of healing through Bentlee, I also thank Him for the gift of healing and salvation that He sent through His son, also in the form of an infant. Jesus was born that we might all have life, and that is the greatest gift of all. It is because of this gift of Jesus that I am able to recognize the amazing gift that Bentlee is to us, because Jesus is the reason I understand sacrifice, pain, and unconditional love. Because of the Lord's gift of Bentlee to us, I feel that we will experience Christmas differently this year, and we will be even more grateful for the blessing of Jesus' birth than we have ever been before. 

"But the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.' Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-armies of heaven-praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased."    -Luke 2:10-14

Sunday, October 28, 2012

My life as Mommy

As of tomorrow, I will have been a Mommy for 4 whole weeks! In some ways it feels like she just came home, and in other ways it seems like she has been home for much longer. I have always heard that becoming a mother changes your life, but I don't think I really understood the magnitude of it until Bentlee was born. Our lives have been completely changed, forever, and we could not be more thankful!

Here are the top 10 things I have learned so far being a mother:

1. It's amazing how many things you can accomplish one-handed.

2. Seeing Mike be a daddy is probably the cutest thing in the entire world, and he's so wonderful at it!

3. There is a magical world called "Baby Land" that you get sucked into when you bring a newborn home. This place consists of feeding, changing, cuddling, not sleeping, and staring...lots and lots of staring!

4. Sleep deprivation is INTENSE! 

5. Seeing our parents be grandparents and our siblings be aunts and uncles is so special, and their love for Bentlee has been so incredibly deep, from day one. 

6. Only the Lord could have orchestrated this entire process-we found out about Bentlee on June 3 and brought her home exactly 4 months later on October 3. AMAZING! 

7. A baby sneeze is about the cutest noise ever. 

8. The Moby wrap is so complicated!! 

9. I was absolutely born to be a mother, Mike was born to be a father and Bentlee was always supposed to be our daughter.

10. Giving birth does not make you a mother-an intense, God-designed love for your child makes you a mother. 

Bentlee is by far the greatest blessing the Lord has ever bestowed on us. She is the most precious, beautiful, amazing child and we could not love her more. Biology or not, Bentlee is our daughter and we thank the Lord every day for her life, the birth parent's sacrifice, and that God chose us to be her parents. 

Feast your eyes on this beauty! 




Saturday, September 15, 2012

Adoption Update

We have had so much going on lately, between this adoption process and football season, that I have been neglecting to blog! I think about it and then get busy with something else, but I figured I had better blog now before Miss Bentlee comes home, because then I will definitely won't have time! :)

One of the things I have been meaning to blog about for a while now is our Adoption Benefit Dinner. It was awesome! We had a great turnout (about 120 people) and everything went really smoothly. We had a wonderful response to the themed baskets and the dessert auction, and I think everyone had a great time! We had people come that we knew from high school, college, church, work, and other friends and family, and it was so amazing to see how many people love and support us! Overall, we made about $3500 from the dinner! It has been such a blessing to see how the Lord has provided for us through this journey. (You can check out pictures from the benefit dinner on Facebook!)

We also had a few more fundraisers, at Mooyah and Fresco's, in addition to our Adoption Bug t-shirt fundraiser. Again, we were overwhelmed by the number of people who came out and supported us! These are the fundraisers that helped us raise money:
-Garage sale
-Adoption Benefit dinner
-Mooyah fundraiser
-Fresco's fundraiser
-A friend at church who did photography mini sessions
-A friend at church who did a Scentsy fundraiser
-A friend who ran 60 miles in a month and had people sponsor him per mile
-Our Adoption Bug t-shirt fundraiser
-Our cleaning lady gave $50 per each new cleaning service we referred
-Our friends are running a marathon and people are sponsoring them to run
-Lots of people sent us donations either through mail or PayPal

Between all of these fundraisers, we have raised the ENTIRE amount of our adoption! That's right, in about 8 weeks we have raised over $17,000!! If you had told me 8 weeks ago that we would be able to raise the whole amount we needed for our adoption, I would have told you that you were crazy! In fact, I think we are both still in shock! We believe this is totally a God thing...how else could we have raised this amount in such a short time??

Over the past few months (as a reminder, this whole process started June 3!!) many people have asked us questions about this process, and we have certainly been learning as we go. One of the most common questions we hear is surrounding the finality or legality of the process....meaning, "What if...." We know that a lot of people are unfamiliar with the adoption process, and these types of questions are normal, so I wanted to explain this part of the process.

So far, we have submitted our profile, been chosen by the birth parents, met them in person, done our home study and GOBS of paperwork, had background checks, took some classes on bonding, attachment and CPR, submitted more paperwork, paid several huge amounts of money, submitted more paperwork, attended doctor's appointments with the birth parents, and....you guessed it, submitted more paperwork! At this point, we have completed everything we need to do (except submitting our last payment) and we are just waiting....waiting for our home study to be officially approved, and of course, waiting for our baby girl to make her appearance. So what's next? The hospital...

Even though we will have everything wrapped up by the time of delivery, there will be one more obstacle to hurdle before our sweet baby girl can come home with us. That obstacle is the 48-hour-period. Basically, the birth mother has 48 hours after the birth before she can sign her rights away. The reason for this wait is because in the past, birth mothers have signed immediately after the birth, and later argued that they were still under the influence of drugs and the adoptions were overturned. So to protect the birth mothers and adoptive parents, the law was changed to 48 hours. During that 48-hour waiting period, the birth mother has the right to change her mind. Even though we have paid our money, jumped through all of the hoops, and done everything we needed to do, she could make the decision to parent and we would go home empty-handed....with no refund of our money and no baby.

Some days, that thought can paralyze me with fear.

We also know it's in the backs of other people's minds as well, and some even have voiced that fear to us (although, honestly, that just makes it worse for us, so please believe and be positive for us!!) But when those doubts creep in and threaten to cut off my ability to breathe, I have to remember one very important thing...

GOD IS SOVEREIGN!

God has been completely in control of this entire process from the beginning. He impressed it upon me to finally share our story publicly on our blog, which my friend read. He led us through the journey of infertility treatments, and put it upon our hearts to stop treatments in May. Before we knew what the next step would be for us, he put it on my friend's heart to approach us about adopting a certain baby girl. He allowed us to meet the birth parents, have a great connection with them, and encouraged them to choose us. He allowed us to raise the ENTIRE amount of the adoption in less than 2 months. He has allowed this process to progress smoothly from the beginning, with no hiccups or set-backs. And He has brought so many friends and family around us to support us and love us through this process.

When I have doubts about whether or not the birth mother will go through with this adoption, I have to remind myself of how incredibly the Lord has provided for us and orchestrated this whole process from the beginning. I also believe Jeremiah 29:11, that the Lord has plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Mike and I have prayed from the beginning of this process that the Lord would close this door if this was not our baby. We have been praying over her crib every night, that the Lord would protect her and bring her home to us. Even though we have been hesitant to put our whole hearts into this process, the Lord has thrown the door wide open over and over again, showing us that this is His will for us. Part of faith is believing WITHOUT seeing. We don't SEE our baby girl in our house or FEEL her in our arms yet, but we do BELIEVE that day is coming soon. Fear is powerful. We can either choose to live in fear, holding back and stressing and wasting this exciting time, or we can choose to trust in the Lord and His plan, we can choose to be excited about this process and enjoy every second of anticipating our baby girl's arrival.

We are making the choice every day to trust in the Lord and His plan, and to believe until we bring Bentlee Danielle home with us forever!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Lord's provision

Since we began this adoption process, Mike and I have been amazed at how the Lord has provided for us and shown us that this is the plan He has for us. This past weekend was no exception! On Friday and Saturday we had our garage sale fundraiser and we were incredibly amazed by how everything played out. We had some great friends from our church help out with the whole garage sale, from setting up, working the garage sale, protecting the items by sleeping outside in the church parking lot, and by cleaning up afterwards. We could not have done it without these friends, and we are so thankful!
Another amazing fact is the amount of money we raised...our 2-day garage sale total was $5576.73! I mean really, who makes that at a garage sale?!? I was talking to Mike on Saturday night, saying that this garage sale experience reminded me of the loaves and fishes story in the Bible. When I was looking at everything after we set it up, I couldn't believe that we had all of the stuff in our house at one point! It was like the Lord multiplied not only the amount of things we sold, but the amount of money we made off of what we sold! It was incredible to see what we ended up with, and  so funny to see all of our faces as we asked each other, "WHAT did we SELL to make this much??" We had some really cool experiences at the garage sale that I want to share.
1. A friend of ours from high school showed up at the garage sale on Friday to give us a donation. She works in downtown Fort Worth and she drove all the way to Burleson on her lunch break just to bring us a $100 check! Her sweet gesture really touched us!
2. On Saturday, some of our friends came and hung out with us at the garage sale for a little while, and as they were leaving he slipped some cash into Mike's hand...after they left, we realized they had given us a $400 donation! We were floored!
3. Several friends and friends-of-friends gave us $50 for things like a flower vase, a purse, etc. and many more contributed to our donation jar!
4. Late Friday afternoon, a man drove up and walked up to the table where I was sitting and asked me what we were raising money for. I told him that it was our adoption fundraiser and he said, "Well I don't want to look around, I would just like to give you a donation." He handed me some money and I asked him if he was sure he didn't want to look around for anything and he replied, "No, I just felt like I was supposed to give you this." When he got back in his truck and drove away, I counted the money and realized he had give us $135!! This was a random man that we didn't know who felt like he needed to donate to us. Obviously, He was following the Lord's leading!
With our amazing garage sale total and the additional donations we had already received, Mike and I realized that we have raised $7386.73 so far toward our adoption! Once the birth parents give the go-ahead, our first payment of $8,000 will be due, and we had almost raised all of this. We were blown away about this figure, but the Lord wasn't finished yet! Last night we received a $70 donation, and today we received 2 checks in the mail, one for $50 and one for $500, which took our total to just over $8,000! The Lord has amazed us more each day through this process by providing exactly what we need.
This is also such confirmation to us that we are walking in His will. So many times over the past 2 1/2 years we have questioned what the Lord's will is for us and how we are supposed to become parents, but now we know that this is His plan for us, and that is an amazing and liberating feeling!
To top off this awesome weekend, I also talked to the birth mother today and we are going to dinner with the birth parents tomorrow night at 7:30! Please be praying for our conversation with them, that we would all feel comfortable and at peace with each other, and that they would decide to place their baby with us!
We can't thank you all enough for your prayers, donations, support and love as we continue on this adoption journey. God is so good! :)
Below are some pics of the garage sale so you can see how massive it was! :)
















(Above is the couch Mike and Kip slept on outside Thursday night!)



Massive amounts of clothes!!




Monday, July 16, 2012

Adoption Bug Fundraiser

Thank you so much to everyone who has been supporting us thus far in our adoption journey! We are so excited that things are progressing and moving in the right direction, and we are trying to stay patient and wait on the Lord to work out all of the remaining details. Just as an update, so far the birth parents both really like us after seeing our profile (the scrapbook I made about us) and they want to have a phone conversation with us, which we will have tomorrow at 4:00! If everything goes well, we will then arrange an in-person meeting with the birth parents and both of our caseworkers. Our caseworker said typically we would arrange a time to go out to dinner with them so that it's more comfortable for everyone.

So please be praying: Pray for the birth parents as they make this decision, that they would have a peace about us as adoptive parents for their child. Also, please be praying for patience for us as we wait to hear their feedback and their decision. We want them to feel a peace about their decision, but after 2 1/2 years of waiting, we are also sooooo ready to bring our child home and be parents, so we are anxious! Also, please pray for our finances as we continue to fund this adoption.

On that note, we have a new fundraiser up and running that you can contribute to if you would like to! It's a website called Adoption Bug, and they have set up a personalized store for us through which people can purchase really great t-shirts, and we receive a portion of each t-shirt sold! The link is now up on our blog (to the right!) and all you have to do is click the link and it will take you directly to our store! (You will know you're in the right place if you see a picture of Mike and me at the top!) This is a great way to contribute to our adoption in a way that doesn't cost much for you, and you also get a great t-shirt for yourself out of the deal! Also, if you can't buy a t-shirt, we also get a commission for every time someone "clicks" the Adoption Bug link on our blog, so even if you can't buy a t-shirt, please click away!!

Mike and I are so thankful for the outpouring of love, support and prayers that we have already received-THANK YOU!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Well, God certainly took the pen...

If you recall from my last blog post, Mike and I decided to end the fertility treatments since it was costing so much money and they were not working for us. We made the decision to take a break and pray about the Lord's direction for us from here. We knew that either In-Vitro or adoption would be our next step, but we were unsure where the Lord would lead us. We just knew that whatever decision we made, we wanted it to be the Lord leading us. A very wise friend of mine has said to me several times to make decisions from a place of peace, not from a place of fear, and I thought that was such great advice. The title of my last blog post was "Letting God write our story"...well, He certainly grabbed the pen and ran with it! And it certainly caught us off guard, but in such a wonderful way!

A few weeks ago, in the midst of this waiting period, I was contacted by a friend of mine from college who told me that the Lord had put us on her heart and she felt like she just needed to share something with us. I have not talked to this friend in several years (probably since college), but we were in the same sorority in college. She has been keeping up with my blog, which is how she knew what we had been going through. She told me that she knew of a young couple who were pregnant, due in September, and have made the decision to put their baby up for adoption. She said the Lord brought us to mind, and she felt like she needed to share with us.

Initially, when I read the message, I got really excited, and shared the message with Mike. Then I started thinking about the logistics and decided that it probably wouldn't work. I thought that 3 months was not enough time to get everything done, so I was quick to dismiss the idea. Mike said, "Let's just pray about it and see how we feel about it in a few days." I'm always so thankful for his approach to situations, and agreed to just pray about it. That night I "left" for a work conference. (It was in Fort Worth, but I stayed in a hotel with my co-workers, so it felt like I was away!) I found myself praying and thinking about this situation and this baby constantly, and when Mike met us all for dinner on Tuesday night, the first thing he said to me was, "Have you still been thinking about this baby?" I just laughed and agreed that I had. Through the course of praying and talking to Mike over the next few days, we decided that whether or not things worked out with this baby, we felt like the Lord was leading us to adopt. We felt like maybe this was the baby for us, or maybe the Lord just used this situation to make the decision for us that adoption is the way we were supposed to go. Either way, we felt such an immediate, overwhelming peace, which is something we haven't felt in this area of our lives in a long time.

I sent a message back to my friend letting her know that we were interested in seeing if adopting this baby would be an option. She then had her friend talk to the birth parents about us, and told me the couple was going through the Gladney Center for Adoption. The next day, my friend told me that the birth parents said we sounded like a great family for their baby, and said they were going to talk to their adoption caseworker about us! That Friday I called Gladney and was told what we would be going through is considered an independent adoption because Gladney is not having to match us with a birth mother/parents. I left a message with the caseworker (who was, of course, out of the office that day!) Then we had to wait for more information from her.

Last Monday, the caseworker emailed me back and said she needed to check with the birth parents' caseworker to see if they had talked to her about us. On this past Thursday (which seemed like an eternity of waiting) the caseworker called me and said she had spoken to the birth parents' caseworker and she reported that the birth parents are definitely interested in us as a possible adoptive family for their baby! So what that means is....

We are starting the adoption process for this baby girl!

We talked to the caseworker about the process briefly and on Friday as we were leaving for our anniversary trip we got the social and medical history on the birth parents, which was great! After hearing this, we gave our caseworker the go-ahead and she put the paperwork in the mail to us (all 60 pages of it!) So now our next step is to get our profile together to give to the birth family, so they know some more information about us, and lots of pictures of us (which I told her was no problem for me!) After that, they will (hopefully) agree to move forward with us and then the next step would be our home study. And then, if everything works out, we will have our baby girl home in 4 months!! (We found out Friday that she's actually due October 11).

This whole situation has been crazy...the fact that the Lord just dropped this in our laps, that He changed our hearts and desires almost in an instant, and that we feel just as excited about starting our family through adoption as we would be if I were pregnant. I can't explain the sense of peace that we feel about this decision...Mike and I just know that this is definitely a God thing.

These next few months are likely going to be really crazy (in a good way!) so we have some prayer requests: First of all, pray for the birth parents to have a peace about their baby becoming part of our forever family, and deciding to go forward with us and this process. Pray for a healthy pregnancy for the mother, and safety and health for the baby girl. Pray for us: we have to come up with the money for the adoption, everything we need for the baby, and if she comes home to us, I will be on maternity leave in a few short months, and won't get paid for the majority of it, so please pray for our finances! We are going to try to fundraise as much as possible, but we don't have a huge amount of time. I am also planning to apply for some adoption grants, but we have to have our completed home study done first, so again, time is a factor. So please pray for us as we begin this next phase of our journey to become parents!

As crazy as these past few weeks have been, we are feeling such a peace about starting our family through adoption, and we know that this is the Lord's path for us. We may still have biological children if the Lord chooses to intervene, or we may adopt all of our children. Either way, we know that His plans are better than ours, and that He uses any means necessary to bring His plans to fruition. I told Mike the other day, how amazing would it be if this baby comes home with us, because that would mean that the Lord used our blog about infertility to bring us our first child...and in 4 months, after 2 1/2 years of waiting!

His plans are always better.

--Becky

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Letting God write our story

As I said in my last blog post, Mike and I are currently in a waiting period. We have finished our last month of fertility treatments for now, and we are praying about what direction we need to go next. While we are trying to enjoy the break and each other during this time, it is also really hard to remember some days that this is not the end of our journey to becoming parents. With all of the disappointments we have endured these past few years, it's hard to be optimistic and think the best is yet to come for us. It's so hard to know what the Lord's plan is for us, and if that will include children, and if so, how that will all come about. It is a constant, daily struggle to give it back to the Lord and trust in His plan and His timing. Luckily, He is right there with us, walking beside us and giving us little reminders that He is still working, and His plans are going to be so much better than what we could ever have imagined.

I have been doing a Facebook bible study with some ladies at our church, and it has been really good for me. Basically, we all are reading the same book, usually the same chapter each week, and we have a Facebook group that we use as a discussion board for everyone to write on to share what spoke to them the most. We have been reading the book "Stumbling into Grace: Confessions of a Sometimes Spiritually Clumsy Woman" by Lisa Harper. A part in one of the chapters really spoke to me this week. In this passage, Lisa is talking about letting God author our life stories, even when it doesn't match up to our own plans.

"I am stingy when it comes to handing God the pen. Sometimes He has to pry my fingers loose, but with each new page of my story, I'm learning to trust His narrative more. I'm learning to believe in an ultimate happy ending, even when I don't like some of the chapters He writes, because as Paul reminds us in Romans: 'And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.' (Romans 8:28). We can become more content by giving God the sole authorship of our biographies."

I think this is such a powerful statement, and so important for us to grasp, but oh so difficult to actually do. Ultimately, I think all believers know and acknowledge that God is the one in charge of our lives, and the one in control of our destinies. But how often do we wrestle with Him for control of the pen? I know I do! Maybe I'm the only one, but I certainly think that sometimes the man upstairs can use a few pointers from me, and a little help to bring my great ideas to fruition. I'm trying to convince the author of my life that I know better than He does how the ending should play out. I think sometimes He must just laugh at my ideas, thinking, "Why would you want to settle for that when I have so much more to give to you?"

Lisa writes in this chapter that she never thought she would be approaching 50 having never been married and never having had kids, but that is where she is. In the same way, I never thought I would be turning 30 without having children, or at least being pregnant. I never imagined that I would have to celebrate 2 pregnancies, only to lose those 2 babies weeks later. I never imagined having to spend thousands of dollars on fertility treatments and putting my body through crazy physical demands with no good results, but that's exactly how it has happened. In my mind, this is NOT how my story was supposed to unfold! And I know I have told God more than once just how I thought my life should go instead.

But when I am close to becoming overcome with sadness and frustration, I always have to go back to Romans 8:28, and ask myself if I truly believe those words. It says God works ALL THINGS for the good of those who love Him...not some things, not most things, but ALL THINGS. That means that God will work good out of our countless fertility treatments, the loss of our first 2 babies, the tears shed and the stress endured. I don't know HOW or WHEN, but I have to trust that the Lord WILL, in HIS timing. And I have to trust Him for that now, not after we have our miracle home with us. I posted a passage on Facebook earlier this week from a devotional that I read that gives good advice for trusting God during the waiting periods.

"A lot of times people think, 'I'll have a good attitude as soon as I get over this health issue' or 'I'll give God praise when I get through these tough times.' But that's not how faith works. As long as we're negative, discouraged, and focused on our problems, it limits what God can do. You've got to give God praise first, and then the breakthrough will come. You've got to change your focus first, and then things will change in your favor. Praise always precedes the victory."

I think this is such a powerful message, but again, tough to put into practice. I am trying to meditate on this and stay in the Word so that I am reminded of these messages. It is so easy to be overcome by the insignificant life stressors that are thrown our way, but it is so hard to remember to trust ONLY in the Lord during this waiting period. No one knows what our story will look like, or when it will come to pass, but until then, I am waiting and trusting that the Lord has plans for our life, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future.

"Waiting! Yes, patiently waiting!
Till the next steps made plain will be;
To hear, with the inner hearing,
The Voice that will call for me.
Waiting! Yes, hopefully waiting!
With hope that need not grow dim;
The Master has pledged to guide me,
And my eyes are unto Him.
Waiting! Yes, still waiting!
I know, though I've waited long,
That, while He withholds His purpose,
His waiting cannot be wrong."
-Streams in the Desert

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Latest update

For those of you following our blog and our journey with infertility, I wanted to update you on the latest with our situation. If you have been reading our blog and remember the last post, we were about to enter into our last month of treatments with the specialist before taking a break for awhile. We were diligently praying that my left ovary would respond, since the last 3 months my right ovary had been responding very well, but since that is the side with my blocked fallopian tube, I was unable to get pregnant. We were praying for at least one last good shot at getting pregnant, since we determined this would be our last month with the specialist.

We went through taking the pills and giving myself the shots, and when we went in for the first sonogram, the doctor said that my right and left ovaries were both responding, and they were about even, which was good news. I went back 2 days later and the doctor was really happy to tell me that my left ovary had pulled ahead, and I would definitely ovulate from that side, giving us a much better chance of getting pregnant this month! We were so thrilled that my left side FINALLY responded and went ahead with the IUI 2 days after that sonogram.

Then came the 2 week wait...I always hate this time, but I was relatively calm about this one because I was so HOPEFUL that this could be the month. Everything went the way it was supposed to, and about a week and a half into the wait I began to have symptoms of pregnancy. I was really tired and really hungry, which were my main 2 symptoms with my other 2 pregnancies. I began taking extra care of my body, just in case I was pregnant. We went to Vegas for 5 days for my brother's wedding, which was a great distraction, and got back last Tuesday. I was scheduled to go in for the blood pregnancy test on Friday, and couldn't wait for the day to get here!

Usually about 2 days before I start my period, I have early signs of cramping and I can just tell that I am about to start my period. The last 3 months, I have actually started my period before the doctor even called with the blood pregnancy test results. I took that as a good sign that by Friday, I was still not feeling at all like I would be starting my period. I was also still tired and hungry, so I was just convinced that I was pregnant. On Thursday night, I even said to Mike, "I'm going to be surprised tomorrow if they call me and tell me I'm NOT pregnant....that's how sure I was.

Friday came, and I went in for my blood pregnancy test at 8. They always tell you they will call you after 4:00 that day, so I went back to work to wait on the call. I was nervous, but in good spirits, sure I was going to get great news! The doctor's office called about 1:30, which surprised me, and I picked up immediately. Then came the verdict from the nurse:

"I'm sorry, but I don't have good news for you."

She told me the blood pregnancy test was negative, and I was shocked. I asked her to verify my levels, and even went and took a home pregnancy test just to confirm (as if that would be any more accurate than the BLOOD test!) I was devastated, more so than I have been in a long time. I called Mike and sent out a text to some close friends and family, and then I just lost it. I was SO sure. I just couldn't believe it, and I was so heartbroken I could barely breathe or think. I learned a long time ago during this journey to not get my hopes up, but this month I couldn't help it. My body responded the way it was supposed to, I had symptoms, my period was late for the first time ever while on the fertility drugs...it just didn't make any sense.

We got that news on Friday and have been dealing with it since then. I told Mike that because our hopes were so high and because this was our last month of treatments, this disappointing news was almost as bad for me as our 2 miscarriages...that's how devastated I was. I know that is hard to understand, but I had already begun making plans for this baby that I thought I would be carrying. It was a very rough weekend emotionally, and then I ended up having the period from hell, which only made things worse. I had the worst period I've had in years, and I guess maybe that's why I was experiencing such strong symptoms the few weeks before. Needless to say, not my favorite way to spend a weekend!

Now Mike and I are faced with trying to heal from the past 2 years, trying to understand why this has all happened, and trying to figure out where we go from here. We are taking a break for awhile to pray about the direction the Lord would have us go. The next step for us would either be In-Vitro or adoption, both of which are huge decisions and require lots of money, so we don't want to jump into anything. Plus, our emotions and our hearts need a break. These past 2 years have been a beating, and we want to spend some time just being together and enjoying each other, without the pressure of trying to conceive. I am looking forward to not having to plan our lives around shots, have 6 doctor's appointments a month, and worrying about making sure I do everything at the right time. I am also curious to see what my body does now that I am off all of the fertility drugs, since I have been on something for the last 15 months straight. We are focusing on relaxing, getting healthy, spending time together, and growing closer to the Lord through this time. We aren't tracking ANYTHING this month, and maybe for a few months. We also aren't discussing or checking into other options right now. We are simply taking one day at a time, and when we feel like moving forward, we will start checking into the options of IVF and adoption, and see what we feel is right for us.

We would appreciate your prayers; prayers for healing, for understanding, for patience, and most of all a sense of peace. This month felt very FINAL, like this was the end of our journey, and I am struggling to remember that it's not over, that we WILL be parents one day, one way or another. I KNOW the Lord has plans for us, to give us a hope and a future, and we are just clinging to that right now. I may not have the promise that Sarah did, that I will bear a child, but I do have the promise that the Lord has a plan for our lives, and I am resting in that. I wish I knew what the plan was, or even when it might happen, but then that wouldn't really be relying on faith, would it? This is by far the hardest thing that Mike and I have ever gone through, and I guess the Lord must think an awful lot of us to think that we could handle something like this. As we are about to celebrate our 7 year wedding anniversary next month, Mike and I are extremely thankful for our incredible marriage, and that we have each other to lean on through these times. We are also so blessed by family and friends who continue to love us, encourage us, and pray for us. But most of all, we are grateful for a loving God who comes alongside us during the hard times and gives us the strength to get through another day, when we don't have it within us to do it on our own.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Waiting

It seems that this week the Lord is speaking to me in a lot of different ways about the same topic: WAITING. I consider myself a patient person, but the waiting involved in the infertility process can test the most saintly person's patience! In the bible study I am doing called, "Surviving Infertility: What the Bible Says About Your Baby Hunger", this week's lesson was entitled "Faith & Waiting". Below is an excerpt from the study that explains it beautifully:

"So much of the fight for our sanity in the quest for a baby is waiting. We wait for the next cycle to begin. We wait for the next round of IUI or IVF. We wait for the blood test. We wait to get past the point of the last miscarriage. Everybody despises the dreaded two-week wait. It seems like all we do is just sit around and wait. Why is it that even God tells us to wait? After a while, we get weary in battle. We can boldly proclaim--at the beginning--that this is merely a season in our lives and we know God will show himself mighty on our behalf. Our faith is strong! But then month after month passes with no baby. Year after year, our nurseries and wombs remain silent. Sometimes faith grows weaker as the wait grows longer."

I know that was a long passage, but I felt that it described the waiting process that goes along with infertility very poignantly. Waiting is without a doubt one of the hardest parts of infertility, especially because there are times when I doubt that at the end of the waiting I will have a baby. It is also such a hard balance of waiting on the Lord but at the same time taking action to treat the physical issues I have that have caused problems with me getting pregnant and with miscarriage. 

In this session in the bible study, the author details the struggle that Abraham and Sarah went through to have a baby. The Lord promised a child to Abraham and Sarah, but they had to wait 25 years for that promise to become a reality. Throughout that time, Abraham stayed pretty firm in his faith, believing that the Lord would follow through on His word. Sarah, on the other hand, got impatient and tried to take matters into her own hands (which didn't go so well!) When the Lord's messengers came to Abraham and Sarah to tell them that they would have a child by this time next year, Sarah laughed sarcastically, because she knew she was well past the child-bearing years. One of the Lord's messengers heard her and called her on her unbelief, reiterating to her that she would indeed have a child the following year. 

I think it's so easy for us to read about Sarah's journey with infertility and say to ourselves, "I would NEVER do what Sarah did, I would never doubt the Lord's promises." But being in the midst of this struggle for a fraction of the time that Sarah endured it has made me really relate to her. Sarah's laugh was not a disrespectful mocking, but a cry of pain and a defense mechanism. I too have laughed and joked sarcastically about never having children, when really it kills me inside to think of that possibility. I have also done that in an attempt to not get my hopes up AGAIN...just for more disappointment at the end of the month. I am so thankful that the Lord allows us to experience all feelings, and He knows us well enough to know what our hearts are crying out, even if our words or actions try to cover it up. The author said it like this:

"He [the Lord] heard the cries of her heart. He knew what she was thinking and feeling even if she laughed to herself. Sarah's laughter said all the things her words were incapable of voicing and God heard every unspoken word. Her silent laughter told all the frustration of all the years of watching other women grow their bellies and their families, while her womb and her tent remained quiet. Her laughter cried the devastation of growing old without grandchildren, of no child to call her 'Mama'. God heard every frustration even though Sarah never uttered a spoken word. You don't have to put your feelings into words for God to know the hurts your heart carries. Sometimes, there are no words to describe how you feel inside. What a relief to know that God hears the cry of your heart, even when you cannot tell Him, or anyone else, what you are feeling."

And despite Sarah's sarcastic laugh and unbelief, the Lord still made good on His promise to give her a child and make her a mother. I have had so many people insinuate (and actually SAY) to me that if I had more faith, the Lord would grant me a child. Or people say, "If the Lord wants you to be a mother, you'll get pregnant, and if not, He won't allow you to get pregnant." I don't believe that. I don't believe that the loving God that I serve is picking on me, or is withholding the joy of motherhood until I deserve it. If we all had to wait to receive blessings until we deserved them, we would all be in sad shape! God finds favor with us when we are unworthy...that's the power of GRACE. I am so thankful for God's grace, especially through this time. Lord knows I have many thoughts that make me unworthy, but I am so thankful that I serve a God who blesses us despite our faults!

The author used the examples of Abraham and Sarah, David, and Joseph to illustrate that God was WORKING during those times of waiting. Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years to become parents. David waited many years to become King. Joseph waited almost 20 years before his dream became a reality. But through the waiting times of these men and women, the Lord was actively working "behind the scenes". I think sometimes we assume that if we can't actually see or experience God's hand at work, then He must be just up there chillin' on his throne, half-asleep, sipping a latte, when in fact, He is working on us and circumstances around us until His perfect timing is revealed. 

There are many instances in scripture that refer to God's timing coming to pass: Things happened "in due time", "in the fullness of time", "at the right time", and at the "appointed time". The common denominator in all of these phrases is that these things happened in GOD'S TIMING. That is such a hard concept for me. There are times when I vehemently want the Lord's timing to be revealed using words like "next year"or "next month" so that I have a clear picture of WHEN our prayers will be answered. But I also know that His plans are perfect and if He is not revealing His timing and His plan to me right now, there is a reason and a purpose. Waiting on the Lord's timing is a DAILY struggle for me when it comes to waiting for a baby, but one way I can see the Lord working during this time is by sending me constant reminders of his goodness, his faithfulness, and the promise that our reward is coming! 

On Friday, we found out that we did not get pregnant this month, and yesterday I went back to Dr. K to begin our next and last IUI cycle. He is being a little more aggressive with my meds this month, and our prayer is that this can get my left ovary to respond, since it has not for the past 3 months. I will take the Clomid and do the injections starting yesterday until Sunday, and I will go back Monday for a sonogram to see if the left side responded. This week is going to be a process of waiting to see if my body responds, and then the dreaded 2 week wait to see if I am pregnant, and if it doesn't work, we will be taking a break and waiting on clear direction from the Lord before we pursue any other options. Our prayer for this month is that the left side responds so that we at least have a CHANCE of getting pregnant. If the left side responds, at least I can walk away from this process knowing that we tried everything we could, it just wasn't the Lord's timing yet. 

I know the waiting for us is not over, and it's definitely not something that I have mastered BY ANY MEANS, but through this season of waiting I am thankful for God's grace, his forgiveness, and His constant reminders to me that He is still present and evident, even during these waiting periods. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Encouragement and Understanding

One of the main reasons I wanted to share our journey with infertility is to minister to other women going through this struggle. It's an unbelievably hard thing to go through, but going through it alone is even worse. Also, I wanted to bring this issue to light, and help those who haven't been there understand a little bit of what we go through on a daily basis. Sometimes, insensitivity can cause deep wounds in a woman battling infertility, and many times insensitivity is caused by the inability to be empathic.
Okay, I'm going to play the therapy card here and explain what empathy means: Empathy is the ability to feel what another person is feeling. This is different from sympathy, which is feeling sorry for someone. An empathic person tries to put themselves in someone else's shoes. A sympathetic person thinks, "Oh that's too bad for them, I'm glad that's not me"; an empathic person thinks, "Because I can imagine what they are going through, I am going to do whatever I can to be sensitive to their feelings." Empathy doesn't mean that you will ever truly understand someone's situation, but it means that you want to try...and sometimes that is the best thing you can do for a woman going through this difficult journey.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a detail-oriented, organized planner and I like to be informed. If  a client of mine is dealing with something I'm not experienced with, I ask them to educate me, and do what I can to educate myself. Infertility has been the same for me. I have read several books, blogs, articles, etc. for more information, but perhaps the most helpful information that I have found throughout this journey is the encouraging blogs, websites and books that have been recommended to me by friends and other women who are going through or have gone through the struggle of infertility. The factual information is helpful, but the most cathartic thing for me are the personal testimonies written by women who have been there and can put into words exactly what I am feeling. I want to use the platform of my blog to share these resources with other ladies who can benefit from them as well.
One of the reasons I decided to blog about my journey was because of reading a woman named Hannah Bunker's blog. I have no personal connection to her, a friend of mine just shared the link to her blog with me and it has been a great encouragement to me. She is honest, funny, and expresses a godly view of the struggle of infertility. I would highly encourage anyone to read her blog! The part of her blog that contains the fertility posts is called "Waiting for Grace". (She also blogs about photography and blogging). Here is the link: www.hannahbunker.com/waiting-for-grace.
Through Hannah's blog, I found a ministry called "Dancing Upon Barren Land: Spiritual Nourishment for the Infertility Road". This website contains devotionals and prayers designed exclusively for women going through infertility, and it has a lot of great resources linked to it as well. Here is the link: www.dancinguponbarrenland.com.
Another really awesome encouragement to me has been the Stepping Stones Ministry of Bethany Christian Services. They publish a newsletter 6 times per year to offer hope and support to Christian couples who are facing fertility challenges. The newsletters have personal stories, poems, and information that I have found speak to me on a very personal level. The link to this website (including the way to sign up for the newsletters) is at the following link: www.step.bethany.org.
A funny and informative book that was given to me by a friend is called "A Few Good Eggs: Two Chicks Dish on Overcoming the Insanity of Infertility" by Julie Vargo and Maureen Regan. Sometimes it's good to just get a good laugh about the insanity of infertility...and insanity it is!
A bible study that I have just started but was highly recommended is called "Surviving Infertility: What the Bible Says About Your Baby Hunger" by Beth Forbus. As I said, I have just started this study but I have heard great things about it.
I hope that you will find some of these resources helpful if you are going through infertility, or that you can pass these along to a woman you know who is dealing with infertility. One of the ways I hope to educate those who haven't experienced infertility is by sharing some parts from several of the above resources about what NOT to do and say when dealing with fertility challenged friends. I always joke that by the end of this I will be able to write a book on what not to say to those struggling with infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss, and I have found several women who have put my feelings into words for me.
The first list that is a must-read when trying to know how to (or how not to) talk to and approach your fertility challenged friends is a post on Hannah Bunker's blog entitled: "The Dos and Donts of Dealing with a Fertility Challenged Friend". She does a great job of expressing this topic, and the link to this specific post is as follows: www.hannahbunker.com/waiting-for-grace-the-dos-and-donts-of-dealing-with-a-fertility-challenged-friend.
The next 2 pictures that I am going to upload (hopefully you can read them!) are from the Stepping Stones newsletters. The first is a short list about things said to women dealing with infertility that can be harmful, entitled "Just Relax". It's in the Mar/Apr edition of the Stepping Stones newsletter, just in case you can't read the picture I post. The second picture is an article from the Stepping Stones Jan/Feb newsletter entitled "After My Miscarriage" that tells you things not to say to a woman who has just experienced a miscarriage. None of these lists are meant to cast blame or point fingers, but rather to help those unfamiliar with the struggles of infertility to be able to relate better and be more sensitive to those in the midst of the battle. I hope these resources will educate, encourage, and speak to my fellow women struggling with infertility, as well as the friends and family we are surrounded by and interact with on a daily basis.









Sunday, March 25, 2012

Latest Update...

...equals more frustration!! This month, we went into the IUI cycle planning for this to be our last month of treatments, at least until we figure out what to do next. If you will recall, last month we did all of the treatments up until the IUI, and then didn't get to do the IUI because the egg would be coming from the right side, which is the side with my blocked fallopian tube. That gave us a 15% chance to get pregnant, so we decided to just try on our own and then do our last IUI in March.

Well...the exact same thing happened this month! In a typical woman, the ovaries switch back and forth each month which ovary releases the egg. Apparently, I am not the typical woman, because it just keeps coming from the right. It's so frustrating because we know it CAN come from the left ovary, because it did both times I got pregnant. The problem is, there's no way to make it come from one ovary or the other, we just have to rely on my body to do the right thing.

At my appointment, when Dr. K asked me what I wanted to do, I asked him, "What do you think I should do?" His response was, "I don't know, I'm kind of stumped." NOT what you want to hear from someone you are paying a lot of money to in order to get you pregnant! He then proceeded to lay out several options, none of which were promising, and asked me to talk to Mike and then call him the next day. He said he would also think about it that night and would hopefully have a better idea the next day. I do appreciate his honesty and his willingness to take the time to figure out the best plan instead of jumping into something...but it's still not very comforting to hear that the specialist is stumped!

Our options basically consisted of trying on our own, doing the IUI anyway, going to IVF, or doing a surgery to try to clear out the tube. We tried on our own last month and it didn't work, a 15% chance is not great odds to pay for an IUI cycle, and we're not ready for IVF just yet. When I asked about the surgery, he said that he could get in there and not be able to do anything, or he could clear it out and it still not be a good tube, and it could make me more susceptible to a tubal pregnancy. We also found out later that it would cost us about $4500 even with my insurance, so we immediately ruled out that option.

After talking to each other and Dr. K, Mike and I decided to just try on our own this month, and then try one more month of IUI in April, doing the IUI no matter what. We decided that surely it can't come from the right side AGAIN, right? We figure it's either the third time's a charm, or 3 strikes and we're out! Either way, next month will be our last month of treatments and then we will be taking some time off to pray about and research other options, mainly IVF and adoption. We both want to feel a peace about whatever option we choose, and we know finances will also come into play, as neither option is cheap by any means! Of course, in the meantime we are praying that we get pregnant in either of the next 2 months so we don't have to worry about any of this, but we can't bank on that. This whole process is such a balance of taking one day at a time, but at the same time having a plan of what to do next.

We would greatly appreciate the continued prayers for us. I feel like each month gets harder...each month we are a little more heartbroken, a little more frustrated, and sometimes even a little more bitter. I have also noticed this taking it's toll on Mike in ways it hasn't before, and that is hard for me to see. Mike never gets stressed or down, so when he does with this infertility stuff, that's when I know we're probably getting ready for a break from all of this. Realistically, I know even if we stop treatments, we won't be really getting a break, because it will still consume our minds as much, and our desire for a baby will not lessen. We are just praying that during the break we will feel an all-consuming presence of the Lord, and that He will give us a sense of peace and direction that can only come from Him. Our prayer is to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what to do next...because right now we are at a loss! As always, thanks for the continued prayers and support. When it's hard to be hopeful and keep the faith for ourselves, it's comforting to know that we have so many people around us praying and hoping for us!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

December until now...

After our second miscarriage in early December, Mike and I were feeling very drained and not wanting to jump back into trying to have a baby like we did after the first miscarriage. It was almost bizarre how differently I felt after the second miscarriage when compared to the first. I was much angrier this time, and felt like I was saying, "Really, Lord? REALLY?" It is such a hard thing not to become bitter in this journey, and that is definitely something I have struggled with, and still struggle with to this day. Mike and I had to take a month off after the miscarriage, and we weren't even sure we would resume treatments in January. Dr. K asked us to come in for blood work so we could try to figure out why I was miscarrying. He felt like we had figured out why I couldn't get pregnant, and now he wanted to figure out why I couldn't sustain a pregnancy. We did the blood tests and Dr. K said he would call us to come back in January after all of the tests were back to discuss the results.

Mike and I had been praying that through the blood tests they would figure out why I was miscarrying, and that it would be something we could fix. I was extremely nervous going into the appointment, but tried to stay calm. When we sat down with Dr. K and he opened my file, I immediately noticed that on the page of test results, one line was highlighted. I felt like my heart stopped...all I could think was, "They found something!" but I didn't know if that was going to be good news or bad news.

After explaining all of the things that weren't wrong, he said that one of the tests came back abnormal. One test was positive for a DNA mutation in me, called Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR). Try to say that 3 times fast! Basically, it is a condition I was born with that makes me severely deficient in Folic Acid, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12...all of which are very important in being able to carry a baby full term. [On a side note, when I told my younger brother that I had a DNA mutation, his first question was, "Are you an Xmen??" He even gave me an Xmen name! LOL] This deficiency can also make you more susceptible to blood clots, heart disease, miscarriage and neural tube defects in babies (like spina bifida). Obviously, all of this sounded really strange and scary, but then Dr. K told us the good news...the treatment for this was vitamins! For the rest of my life, I will take a vitamin called Folguard that has very high doses of Folic Acid, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 in it, in addition to my prenatal vitamin. Once I become pregnant again, I will increase the Folguard vitamin to 2 a day, plus my prenatal vitamin. Dr. K said he had now checked everything on me and he was very confident that this was the reason I had been miscarrying.

We really felt like the Lord has answered our prayers about finding something they could fix...and as easily as taking a vitamin! We felt like this was the first ray of hope that we had received in a while, and it gave us the desire back to resume treatments. Another good thing was that we could start back in right away with an IUI cycle for January. We felt confident and excited that if I could just get pregnant again, we would have a much higher chance to carry full-term.

We completed the first IUI cycle of 2012 in January, but it was not successful. The day I found out, I was just crushed. I guess I just thought that we had gone through this really hard past year to find out this important information about me that we probably wouldn't have ever found out otherwise, and now it was time for this to work for us. I always think that maybe I will get used to the negative pregnancy test after so many months of the same result, but it's never any easier. In fact, it's harder each month...harder not to want to just quit and give up, harder not to become depressed, and harder to not grow bitter with the Lord and the 6,754 other women around me announcing their pregnancies and celebrating the births of their children. Of course, I am so happy for those women when it happens for them because it's something I want with all of my heart, but it's so hard not to think, "When will it be MY turn?"

Mike and I had decided in January that we would do 3 more IUI cycles and then take a break from the treatments for awhile. So the day after I found out I wasn't pregnant in January, I was back at Dr. K's office to begin our IUI cycle in February. [That is such a hard thing about fertility treatments...there is no break in between cycles! You have no time to grieve the loss and the disappointment before you're back at it again...it gets exhausting!] In February, we did the normal dosages of Clomid and the Follistim injections, and in my first sonogram Dr. K noticed that my right follicle was larger than my left, which meant that my right ovary would release the egg. Because my right fallopian tube is blocked, we really want the egg to release from the left side. (I had released from the left side when I got pregnant before.) They had me do more injections and come back for some more sonograms (4 total this month...yes, I was at Dr. K's office 7 times this month!!) At my last sonogram, the left follicle hadn't done anything, so they were convinced that the follicle would be coming from the right side. Dr. K said that meant we had a 15% chance of getting pregnant this month. 15%...wow, not the odds we wanted to hear when we're spending so much money to try to INCREASE our odds! Dr. K suggested that we wait until the next month to do an IUI to save us some money. (In reality, we still spent MORE money than normal because of all of the extra sonograms, and we didn't even get to do the IUI! SOOOO frustrating!!) Dr. K told us to try on our own and then come back in 2 weeks for a blood pregnancy test.

Unfortunately, we did not get pregnant in February either. I wasn't really that surprised, since I knew it was a 15% chance, but of course I was still so disappointed. I was also frustrated that we had spent $2500 in 2 months and had nothing to show for it. (And I got even more frustrated when I realized we've spent almost $7,000 since August with nothing to show for it!) After those results, I told Mike, "I only have one more cycle of this in me right now, and then I'm done for awhile." Mike agreed, so we decided that March of 2012 (which marks 2 years that we have been trying to conceive) will be our last IUI cycle, at least for now.

Dr. K actually recommended the same thing, and said that if this month doesn't work, he would recommend In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) as a next step for us. In the past, this has always really scared me, but I felt like he gave us some encouraging news about IVF. He said that because of my age and my eggs, it would probably have a 60% chance of success for us. Also, because I respond well to the fertility drugs, I would need a much lower dosage of them, so it would only be about $11-12,000 instead of $15,000-$20,000 that it normally costs. All that being said, that is still a LOT of money for something that's not guaranteed. And if we do that, we would have no money left in savings for adoption or anything else. This only reinforced mine and Mike's decision to try once more with IUI and then take a break to pray about the situation and see what we feel like the Lord wants us to do.

So that catches you up to present day...we are currently in our 3rd IUI cycle of the year, and the last one for awhile...maybe forever. I'm almost scared to be hopeful this month, which is a place I don't want to be but don't really know how to prevent. Of course I would love to think that THIS will be the month the Lord will bless us with a pregnancy, but I think that every month and it's only happened 2 times out of the past 24 months. In a way, I think a break will be good for me, because this process is so draining on me time-wise, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially (same for Mike, except for the physical part). But another part of me knows that I am going to be really sad when we stop treatments because I will feel like I'm giving up. Because it's been so hard for us to get pregnant even WITH the fertility treatments, I'm so scared to try on our own while we figure things out because that will just delay the process longer. No matter what option we are faced with, it will mean more waiting, and that is so hard because we have already been waiting 2 years to have this dream realized.

We do know that we serve an Almighty God who has plans to prosper us, not to harm us, and plans to give us a hope and a future. I think my prayer this month (and the next however many months) is for the Lord to reveal to us how He plans for us to start our family. We firmly believe that we will be parents one day, we just aren't sure how or when. We ask for your continued prayers as we face this month, waiting on the Lord for direction and patience.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Our Second Heartbreak

As I wrote in our last post, we found out we were pregnant for the second time on my birthday, November 4, 2011. After having to go in every few days at first for blood work, Dr. K finally said my levels were steadily increasing at a pace that he was comfortable with, so we scheduled our first ultrasound appointment where we would get to see our baby for the first time and hear a heartbeat. We were eagerly awaiting this appointment, since we didn't get to this point with our first pregnancy. 

The day of our appointment, Mike met me for lunch first and then we went to the appointment. I remember us talking about the appointment over lunch and about how excited we both were. I even remember saying to Mike, "You know, the funny thing is, I'm not even nervous about this appointment. I feel like the Lord has just given me a peace about this pregnancy." You would think that after already having one miscarriage, I would have been scared to death about this pregnancy, especially with the way things started out, but I really just felt like everything was going to work out. 

When Dr. K came into the room, he congratulated us again and asked how I was feeling. When I told him I had been really tired and hungry, he gave me a high five and said, "Sounds like pregnancy to me! Let's take a look at your beautiful baby." I remember asking him if he could take pictures that we could show to everyone and he said, "We can take as many as you want!" He began the sonogram and then said the words that made my heart stop:

"Have you had any bleeding?" 

I knew at that point that something was wrong, but told him that I had not had any bleeding or cramping at all. He finished the sonogram and said, "Well I'm afraid I don't have the best news for you." (UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY!!) He told me that instead of seeing the gestational sac, my uterus was filled with blood, which meant that I would be miscarrying sometime in the next few days. He apologized and left the room, and told me to come to his office when I was dressed so we could talk about it. Mike and I were both stunned and just sat there, and as soon as Dr. K shut the door I broke down. I just remember saying, "I can't believe this is happening again." I don't think Mike said anything. 

We went into Dr. K's office and he again apologized profusely, but said that he saw no evidence that this would be a viable pregnancy. I asked why my hormone levels had continued to rise, and he said he thought something must have happened in the week between my last blood test and my first appointment. He said in several pregnancies, sometimes they don't see the gestational sac at 6 weeks, but he said that was a very rare occurrence out of thousands of pregnancies that he saw. So I said, "So basically I just have to go home and wait to miscarry??" Dr. K's response was, "Unfortunately so."He gave me a prescription for some pain medication for when it did happen, and just said to call when it did. He went ahead and did some blood work just to check my levels and said he would wait on those before he offered any other solutions. 

We left the office devastated and angry. What was supposed to be one of the happiest days of our lives had quickly turned into one of the worst. I remember calling Christen, my best friend, after the appointment. It was her birthday and she had been joking about me calling to tell her I was having twins on her birthday. When she answered the phone, she said, "So, is it twins??" And my response was, "No, it was bad news..." I had also told the church staff where I worked that I was going for our first sonogram that day, and told them I would come by after the appointment when they would all be in staff meeting with pictures for them to see. I went back by to deliver the news, which was so hard. Then I called my mom, who was out of town for Thanksgiving, and I know it was so hard for her to be so far away when this was happening. I told her we didn't really want to see anyone anyway. 

That night, Christen and Ronnie came over to bring us dinner and hang out with us for a little while. The rest of that week, we spent pretty much alone, not wanting to see or talk to anyone. That Monday began one of the longest weeks of our lives. Since it was the week of Thanksgiving, I was only planning to work that Monday and Tuesday, but we were supposed to go see my family for Thanksgiving like we do every year. I just couldn't do it...I was afraid the miscarriage would happen there, and I remembered how painful and messy the first one was. I also didn't feel like being around many people when I was so down I couldn't even pretend that I was okay. Mike and I ended up spending Thanksgiving dinner at Cracker Barrel...not my favorite Thanksgiving by any means! We just held on to each other and waited....

Dr. K called the next day to check on me and to let me know that he got my blood test results back. He said they were at 3200 (which sounded good to me!) but he said it was not nearly what he would expect to see at this point in my pregnancy, so he said he thought I would still miscarry. He said that if nothing had happened by Monday, to call him back and they would have me in for another scan. 

With each day that passed, I became more frustrated. I had so many questions...why would my levels increase and get us excited, if I was only going to miscarry? Why the sense of peace about this pregnancy when it was going to turn out like this? Why the wait?? If I was going to miscarry, I wanted it to just happen so I could get it over with. I knew the physical pain and heartache that was coming, and I just wanted it to start so it could end. 

By that Sunday, I was starting to wonder if maybe Dr. K was wrong, or maybe the Lord was going to work a miracle out of this situation. When nothing had happened by that Monday, I called Dr. K and went in for another sonogram. He said that the results were still the same, and he still knew that this was not going to be a viable pregnancy, but he wasn't sure why it was taking so long to happen. He then gave me 3 impossible choices: 1. Continue to wait for it to happen on its own. 2. Have a DNC (a surgery where they go in and remove all of the tissue and evidence of  the pregnancy) or 3. Take a pill (which is basically a pill form of Pitocin, the drug they use to induce labor in pregnant women) that would make the process start. I felt like none of these were good options!! I wanted to be carrying this baby full term, not deciding choices about miscarriage! I felt like the DNC or taking the pill were always going to make me wonder, "What if I would have waited??" Rationally, I knew there was no way this pregnancy could work, but emotionally I knew I would always wonder. And I had already been through the most agonizing wait you could imagine the entire week before. Dr. K told me to think about it and they would call me that evening to see what I had decided. 

We went home and I told Mike to go back to school to get things figured out while I slept. I knew Mike needed his time away from the house to process things, and I needed to be alone with my thoughts, and with the Lord. I talked to Mike's aunt, who has been through 4 miscarriages herself, and asked her what she thought I should do. She was the best person to talk to, because she told me she had basically done it every way and was able to tell me how each worked. She didn't tell me which one to choose, just gave me the information and empathized with the horrible decision I had to make. 

After I got off the phone with her, I really began to just deal with God. I was so angry, and I remember my prayer exactly: I prayed, "God, if this is going to happen, please just let it happen. I don't want to make this decision. You say that you never give us more than we can handle, and making this decision or continuing to wait is MORE than I can handle." I don't think I've ever prayed that angrily or emotionally, and as soon as I said, "Amen", I felt the blood. I know this is a weird thing to say, but I felt like the Lord completely heard my cries at that point and honored my wishes. I felt such a peace in that moment, even though I was still angry, hurting, and confused. The cramping and bleeding picked up shortly after that, and I figured it would all be over soon. 

But I was wrong. I always joke (it's a defense mechanism, I know) that this was the never-ending miscarriage. While the first one began and was over within 48 hours, I felt like this one lasted FOREVER. We already had the week of waiting, and even though the bleeding and cramping started Monday, the worst of the miscarriage didn't happen until Wednesday and Thursday, with complications on Friday. It was awful. 

I knew that when the cramping got intense, it would really be the beginnings of the miscarriage, but that didn't start until late Wednesday afternoon. Of course, that was the day I had volunteered to go pick up the Christmas presents for my clients and the other girls' clients who work with me! It started to get really bad that afternoon, the excruciating pain that I remembered from the first miscarriage, and I passed the tissue later that evening. 

*Disclaimer: this part may be TMI, but it's an important part of this whole process, and the part I think of as the most traumatic.* During the worst of the cramping, your uterus is basically having contractions in order to expel the "tissue" that is inside the uterus...in other words, your baby. I believe in life from conception, which is why I viewed that "tissue" as my baby...passing that into the toilet and flushing it is one of the most devastating things I have ever experienced, in both miscarriages. I know that is way more than most people want to know, but it's a reality and something that most people who haven't experienced don't think about. This process was worse this time, since I was about 7 1/2 weeks along at this point, but I finally started to feel a little bit of physical relief after this part was over. 

The next morning, I had decided I would get up and drive down to Austin where we were having our big work meeting/Christmas party. I thought it would be good for me to keep my mind off things and be distracted. Since I told Mike I was going to Austin, he went back to work and I started getting ready. About halfway through my morning routine, I started to feel nauseous and started to cramp again. I thought maybe I was just having some after-effects of the miscarriage, so I just brought a stool into the bathroom, and figured I would just take some Aleve after I ate breakfast. Very quickly, the pain and nausea got worse, until I was lying on the bathroom floor, unable to move. After about 30 minutes of lying on the floor, I finally made it to the bed and grabbed my phone to call Mike. I don't remember what I said, but something to the effect of "You need to come home now." I must have sounded bad, because Mike was home in about 5 minutes!! He said when he walked in and saw me lying there, he freaked out. He could tell I was in so much pain. I thought something was wrong, because all of this pain should have been over by now. He called the doctor and they said for him to bring me in right away. It was another 20 minutes or so before I could even get up, and before we left, I went to the bathroom and passed another large piece of tissue. The pain had started to subside again, but we went to the doctor just to be sure. He did a sono (JUST what I wanted to have done that day!!) and said it looked like most of the tissue had passed and the worst was probably over. We went back home with more pain meds and I ended up sleeping half the day because my body was worn out! 

There is no way of knowing this for sure, but I believe this pregnancy was twins, since I passed the separate pieces of tissue at such different times. Of course, we can't know since we never got to see anything on the sonogram, but I think that is something I will always wonder about. The next morning (Friday), I again was feeling better so Mike went back to work. An hour or so later, I began feeling pain again and was thinking, "Not again!!" Mike came home and when even the pain meds weren't working, we went back to the doctor. This time, the pain was from a UTI (urinary tract infection), probably from the length of time that the bacteria, tissue, and blood was in my system trying to be expelled completely. This was just the icing on cake after 2 weeks of HELL! (Yes, that's really what it felt like, or the closest thing I have come to it before or since.) They sent me home with antibiotics and by Saturday I was finally starting to feel human again. 

These 2 weeks will without a doubt be considered 2 of the hardest weeks of our lives. We are both still grieving this loss, as well as the loss of our first baby, and I still have so many questions. In January of 2011, we began our first fertility treatment, and here we were finishing out 2011 with nothing to show for it besides 2 miscarriages, a LOT of money spent, and a lot of grief. Whereas with the first miscarriage I was ready to jump right back into getting pregnant, this miscarriage was the exact opposite. I needed a break from fertility doctors, appointments, and this whole process. I was bitter, overwhelmed, sad, and just...numb. I felt like this was happening to someone else, and I almost didn't want to deal with it. Dr. K wanted to run some tests to see what was causing the miscarriages, so we did about 12 different blood tests. As I said before, insurance doesn't cover any of the treatment for infertility, and my doctor suggested I called to see how much the tests would be and if my insurance would pay. When I found out the blood tests were going to cost $3700, I about had a heart attack! We had already paid $3000+ dollars in 3 months with the specialist, which was taking it's toll on our finances. Luckily insurance paid for all of the tests, and we were so thankful for this blessing! 

Dr. Kaufmann suggested we wait until January, when all of the test results came back in, so we could discuss them all at once. We spent the holidays relaxing and enjoying it with friends and family, trying to grieve our losses in 2011, and try to find a way to be hopeful for 2012. 

We are so thankful to be blessed with so many wonderful friends and family who supported us through this past year. They brought us food, prayed with us, cried with us, and loved us. When you are going through the pain of infertility and miscarriage, it is so hard to remain hopeful and keep the faith, but that is something that our friends and family do so well for us. When we have nothing left in us to hope for, they continue to hope and believe that one day Mike and I will be parents to our own biological children. It is this faith and love from our friends and family that reminds us to continuously give this struggle to the Lord and to remind us that His plans and timing are better than our own. 



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Fertility Specialist

As I said in our last post, my OB referred us to a fertility specialist after getting the results that my right fallopian tube was blocked. We scheduled our first appointment, which was just a consultation with the Dr. When we got there, I paid my co-pay like I always do at my OB and we met with Dr. Robert Kaufmann. We immediately felt at ease with him, and he spent almost 2 hours with us talking about our history and our options. After detailing what had happened in the previous year and five months, Dr. Kaufmann said, "Wow, you really know your stuff! I wish all of my patients and med students were this knowledgeable about their own bodies!" Of course, I wanted to be detailed and thorough...it's that OCD thing! :)

When I finished laying out our history, Dr. Kaufmann discussed the option he wanted to try for us, and said the words that were confirmation that he was the Dr. for us: "I am not recommending In-Vitro for you guys. I am confident that we'll get you pregnant without having to go there." Of course there were no guarantees, but just to hear that he was optimistic and wasn't jumping straight to In-Vitro was a huge blessing.

After doing a baseline ultrasound and talking about my previously diagnosed issues, Dr. Kaufmann talked to us about his thoughts. He said that he thinks I have Poly Cystic Appearing Ovaries, rather than PCOS because the ONLY symptom of PCOS that I have is that I sometimes produce cysts when I ovulate. He also said that he didn't want to do anything at the moment about my blocked fallopian tube. We were kind of shocked by this, but he explained it this way: He said that if my tube is completely blocked, I can still get pregnant with just one tube. He said that the fallopian tubes are so narrow and tiny that we could risk him rupturing one if he tried to go in to get a better look. He said there was no reason to do a risky surgery when it only takes one tube to get pregnant! Also, he said that it could be that the muscles around my tube contracted during the HSG procedure, not allowing the dye to get through, so it may not be entirely blocked. Either way, he said I had already gotten pregnant (which was a good sign) and he felt like we could just begin with IUI at his office, which they do a little differently than my OB. He said we would wait for me to start my cycle and then would start the IUI process.

By the end of the consultation, we were both feeling relieved and confident about working with Dr. Kaufmann. He explained the process of an IUI cycle with them (which was a little overwhelming!) and then sent us to talk to the lady who deals with the finances. Then she dropped the bomb on us...it would cost us $1200 a month for each month that we did an IUI cycle. Unfortunately, my insurance covers the diagnosis of infertility issues but not the treatment. (Can someone please tell me how that makes any sense??) We said okay, walked out of the office, and I immediately burst into tears over the money! Mike was so calming and encouraging, assuring me that we could make this work, and it would all be worth it to have a baby. I agreed and we made plans to begin in September with an IUI cycle.

So with any IUI cycle, this is basically how it works: I go in once I start my cycle for a baseline sonogram. As long as there are no cysts, I start on Clomid (100 mg) and take that at the same time every day for days 3-7 of my cycle. Starting on day 5 of my cycle, I also begin injections (shots) of Follistim, another fertility drug that is stronger than Clomid. Each night, for usually about 5 days, Mike has to give me a shot of this drug in my stomach at the same time each night. I go back in after I finish the shots for another sonogram. If the follicles (what releases the egg) are large enough, we stop the injections and schedule the IUI. If they are not big enough, I continue the injections for a few more days and come back from another sonogram. I then give myself another shot in the stomach 36 hours before the IUI of a drug called Ovidrel, which triggers ovulation. Then comes the IUI procedure, which I already detailed in the previous post. (What I didn't mention in the last post is Mike having to give his...contribution at the fertility clinic the morning of the IUI, which as you can imagine is his FAVORITE thing!!) After the IUI, I endure the dreaded 2 week wait, and go back 2 weeks after the IUI for a blood pregnancy test to see if it worked. Also during this 2 week wait, I have to do progesterone suppositories every day, to help support the pregnancy...lots of fun! If not, we start this process all over again 2 days later.

*Side note: One of the most frustrating things I hear from people while going through this struggle is, "Just try not to think about it and dwell on it so much." As I detailed above, my life is pretty much consumed with fertility treatments when I am in the midst of an IUI cycle. I have to remember when to take my pills, when to do the shots, how many days I do the shots, how are we going to pay for all of this, and I am in the fertility doctor's office at least twice a week. HOW am I supposed to just "not think about it"?? When you are having to do so much to your body during this process, it becomes difficult sometimes to NOT think about it! Just a word of advice...don't tell someone going through this to not think about it, not worry about it, or stop trying and it will happen...sometimes it's a daily struggle to balance work and other life situations with making sure you do all the doctor has told you to do. It can be pretty exhausting and consuming, so that comment can tend to rub some women enduring this struggle the wrong way.*

So, we endured this process of an IUI cycle with the fertility specialist for the first time in September of 2011. I was terrified of the shots (anyone who knows me knows that I hate needles...hence the "numbing medicine" story, for those of you who know it!) and Mike had to do the shots for me without me looking. As with most things in the process, the shots aren't really a big deal anymore, but they were at first! I always joke with Mike that I hated taking pills and shots before all of this, and now it's just an everyday part of my life! When I went back in for a sonogram after that first round of Clomid + Follistim shots, my doctor realized that they had totally overstimulated me. With Clomid, he explained that they wanted to see 1-2 follicles, with the Clomid + Follistim they wanted to see 3-4 follicles, and I had about 7-8 follicles! He said it was good that I responded to the drugs so well, but he didn't want to do the IUI that month and risk me having a large number of multiples, as that would not be safe for me. We were pretty bummed, but decided to go ahead and try on our own that month to see what happened. We didn't get pregnant that month, so we started over again in October of 2011.

In October, the IUI cycle worked the same way, except they reduced the amount of Follistim that I was injecting each day. When I went for my sonogram, they said everything looked great, and scheduled me for an IUI a few days later. When I was finished and was scheduling my blood pregnancy test, I realized that I would be getting the call about whether I was pregnant or not ON MY BIRTHDAY! I told the doctor that he could make my birthday either really good or really bad! Of course, everyone was telling me it was a good sign that I would get the results on my birthday, but I was trying not to get my hopes up.

The 2 weeks after an IUI each month (or even just after ovulation) feels like years. The waiting is horrible, and the over-analyzing of every "symptom" is agonizing. This month, it felt even longer because of the added hopefulness that I would find out on my birthday. When you go in for the blood pregnancy test, you go between 8 and 9 am and they call you with the results that day after 4:00. That day alone feels like forever!

On November 4, 2011, the nurse called to tell me that the pregnancy test came back positive (YAY!) but I sensed a BUT in her voice. She said, "Your pregnancy test was positive, so you are pregnant, BUT your hormone levels are low." Basically, anything from 1-5 is a negative pregnancy test, and my level was at a 6. She said at this point the only thing we could do was wait to see if the levels increased....there wasn't anything they could do. She said they wanted me to come back on Monday to do more bloodwork and see where my levels were at. I had such conflicting emotions at that point that I didn't know how to feel. We went ahead and told family and a few friends (no fun reveal this time) so that everyone could be praying that my levels increased. That Sunday night, Dr. Kaufmann called me at home to see how I was doing and to let me know what he wanted to see in the bloodwork. He said that they wanted my levels to be doubling every few days, so if I was at least at a 12 by Monday that would be good; anything 15 or above would be great.

On Monday, after the dreaded waiting period, the doctor called to let me know that my levels had risen to a 16!! Mike and I were thrilled and finally felt some relief that maybe this would actually be a viable pregnancy. My doctor wanted to continue to check my levels every few days to make sure they were still rising. At each subsequent appointment, my levels rose to 32, 78, and finally 302! Every test that came back higher was an encouragement, and after the last blood test, Dr. Kaufmann said I didn't need to come back for more blood tests, they would just schedule our first sonogram appointment at 6 weeks. I also went to see my OB during this time and we agreed that I would stay with Dr. Kaufmann through the first 9 weeks, and come back to him at week 10, so we scheduled that appointment. I was so excited to have made it past the 5 week mark (the furthest I got in my first pregnancy) and Mike and I were eagerly awaiting our 6 week appointment where we would get to see our baby and hear the heartbeat for the first time! I was certainly feeling pregnancy symptoms, and relished every one! We felt like it was a good sign that I found out on my birthday that I was pregnant, and my tentative due date was July 12, which is both my Mema's and Mike's Grandmother's birthdays! Despite how our first pregnancy ended, we really felt like this would be the pregnancy we would carry full term.

Little did we know, the Lord had other plans in mind for us and this baby.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Back to Square One

After our first miscarriage, we sort of felt like we were back to square one. We were so heartbroken by this loss, but we were also ready to jump back in and try to get pregnant again. I think part of me realized that nothing would ever make this better, but getting pregnant again would be the closest thing to healing this loss. The only good thing we felt came out of this loss was the fact that we learned that I could get pregnant, which was something we were unsure of before. We got pregnant in March of 2011, and miscarried a week later in the beginning of April, so my doctor asked us to take May off for my body to have a break and get back to "normal". My doctor basically wanted me to wait until I started my period before we tried again, but he said that sometimes after a miscarriage it can take a while for your body to adjust back to its normal cycle. He offered to prescribe me a medication that would help me start my period so that we could start trying again sooner, and I opted to do that. After 2 rounds of the medication (the first didn't work for some reason), we were ready to start again.

We started back on Clomid at a higher dose in June (100 mg), and then again in July (150 mg) when that didn't work. After not getting pregnant for 2 more months, my doctor decided to send me for another test, called an HSG. The purpose of this test is to check for blockages in your fallopian tubes, which are obviously an important part of getting pregnant! My doctor scheduled the test, which is actually done at a radiologist's office.

The day of the test, Mike drove me to the appointment, and we got lost so I was super stressed that we were going to miss my appointment. (Luckily, one of the teachers at Mike's school recommended that he go with me; I didn't know much about the procedure so I was initially planning to just go by myself!) We finally found the office, and when it was time for the procedure they wouldn't let Mike come back with me, due to the radiation used in the procedure. I went back by myself, not knowing what would be happening.

Let me explain a little bit about how this procedure works. Basically, the radiologist inserts a catheter (NOT a pleasant experience!) and they pass a balloon up through the catheter. The balloon is filled with dye, and once the balloon is inserted, they inflate the balloon inside you, which shoots the dye out through your fallopian tubes. You are also inside an X-Ray machine as they do this, so they can see the dye contrast and can tell if the dye goes through your tubes and spills out the other side or not.

For me, this procedure was incredibly painful, and I have heard the same thing from other women. First of all, the radiologist couldn't get the catheter in, so that took forever and was very uncomfortable. Also, once they inflate the balloon inside you, it causes severe cramping throughout the procedure and for the rest of the day. But perhaps the worst pain of that day was the result of the test. I didn't expect to get any answers that day; I assumed they would just send the results back to my doctor and he would call me. (That's what was supposed to happen.) Instead, the radiologist sat me down and said, "During the test we discovered that your right fallopian tube is blocked." I was thinking, "Well at least they found something." I asked the radiologist what that meant as far as us getting pregnant, and he said that we basically have a 50% chance of getting pregnant because the tubes alternate which months they release eggs from, and when the egg came from my right side I would not be able to get pregnant. So my response was, "Okay, so what do we do about that?" When the radiologist answered with, "Well, unfortunately there's nothing they can do about it", I freaked out! I had just had this awful, painful procedure, found out bad news, and then learned that there was nothing we could do to fix it...all while Mike was in the waiting room!

I walked out into the waiting room and immediately started bawling when I saw Mike. I broke the news to him, and he was so comforting and strong for me. I went home to rest for the remainder of the day, breaking the news to close family and friends. I knew I still had a 50% chance, but that was a tough pill to swallow after it had already taken us so long to get pregnant and we had lost our first child. Mike and I had been praying that they would find something that they could fix, so hearing that there was nothing we could do about it was devastating. I was so upset that day, but anxious to speak to my doctor and see what he thought the best plan of action would be. The 2 days waiting for my doctor to call felt like years!

When my doctor told me that the test results showed that my right fallopian tube was blocked, I repeated what the radiologist had told me. My doctor was extremely frustrated, because it turns out that the information the radiologist told me was not accurate. My tube was blocked, but Dr. Howell told me that it did not reduce our chances of conceiving to 50%...he said in a perfect world, the tubes alternate each month, but that's not necessarily the case. He also said even if it worked perfectly like that, it didn't reduce our chances to 50%; it would certainly make it more difficult, but wouldn't reduce our chances quite that much. He also told me that the radiologist was wrong about the fact that there was nothing they could do about it. He said there was a laproscopic surgery that they could do to try to get a better look at what was blocking the tube. If it was just some tissue, they could potentially flush that out. If it was tubal decay or just the way my tube was formed, then there wasn't anything they could do. My doctor was extremely frustrated that this doctor had talked to me before he could, especially since he gave me incorrect information!

Based on this information, Dr. Howell decided to try IUI, or Intra-Uterine Insemination, to help us get pregnant. I feel like I should explain this, since many people confuse IUI with IVF (in vitro fertilization). With IUI (also called artificial insemination) the man gives a sperm sample, and they inject the sample into the woman using a catheter, as close to the time of ovulation as possible. Many people think that artificial insemination means using a sperm donor, but that's not the case. They artificial part is referring to the fact that the insemination process is being done by a doctor, rather than through normal intercourse. Just thought I would clear that up!

I went in later that week for a sonogram and to get a shot that would trigger ovulation. Later that week, we did the first round of IUI with my OB. That cycle was not successful for us, and that, coupled with the news about the blocked fallopian tube, made my doctor decide to send us to a specialist. He said that the surgery to fix the blocked tube would have to be done by a specialist, and he felt like he had done all he could do for us at this point. We made an appointment with Dr. Robert Kaufmann, who came very highly recommended by my doctor, and prepared to meet with him for our first consultation.

Throughout this whole process, I was still having a very difficult time dealing with the first miscarriage and the news about my blocked fallopian tube. I was frustrated that we were having to see a specialist, when I should have been 5 months pregnant at this point. The whole situation was scary and frustrating, but we were hopeful that maybe the specialist would have some answers and a plan for us. I also remember that Mike and I were scared that the specialist would automatically recommend In-Vitro for us, which was not something we wanted to jump right into, partly because it's extremely expensive (anywhere from $15,000-$20,000) and partly because it's hard on your body and not a sure thing. Mike and I began praying that if this was the doctor for us, he would not mention in-vitro as our only option. In the next post, I'll begin detailing our journey with the fertility specialist, whom we are still working with today. I know it seems like it's taking me so many posts to get through our history, but a LOT has happened in the past 2 years! Stay tuned! :)