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! :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Our First Heartbreak

This post is long and was very difficult to write, but it was such an important event in our fertility journey that I didn't want to leave anything out. It may not be as beautifully written as I would like, but it's real.

As I wrote in my last post, Mike and I got pregnant for the first time after we had been trying for a year, and after 3 months on Clomid. I will always look back on that first week as a really special time. We were so ecstatic and thrilled, and we truly felt as though this pregnancy was God delivering us from the past year of trying and disappointment. Mike and I had always assumed we would wait a little while before telling people, but because our journey was a little different than we had planned, we had family and close friends praying for us. That being the case, we told those people who were praying for us within the first few days about our exciting news!

I will never forget us telling our parents and videotaping their reactions, hearing friends scream their heads off when we told them, and people at work being so thrilled for us. My mom literally called me every day that week to see how I was feeling because she was so excited! I was also sad that I couldn't tell my dad, since he had passed away a year and a half before...that was one of the first times it really hit home that he was never going to be able to meet my children. Mike's sister Ali was still in China on missions at that point, but his mom was going to see her a week later, so we got her an aunt card for her birthday, with plans to have her open it with us on Skype to let her know she was going to be an aunt. We had fun telling friends and family, and immediately began making plans for our little one on the way!

If any of you know me well, you know that I am a planner, I love to learn and read about things, and I put my whole heart into whatever I'm doing...it was no different with this pregnancy. The day after I found out I was pregnant, I was downloading pregnancy apps, a pregnancy book, and planning. I think because we felt like we had already been on a long journey to becoming parents, it didn't even enter our minds that things might not work out like we planned.

That Saturday morning, I went to the bathroom and saw blood, and my heart stopped. I honestly think I knew from that second what was happening, but of course I wanted to be hopeful that things would be okay. Mike wasn't home (and I can't even remember where he was!) I called my doctor's office immediately, but of course since it was the weekend I had to leave a message for the on-call doctor. Waiting for that call back felt like a million years. I looked up symptoms of miscarriage in my pregnancy book and online, trying to get some answers. Unfortunately, the on-call doctor who called back was not my doctor, and he was completely insensitive. He said, "Well if you are miscarrying, then there's not really anything we can do about it. Just wait until Monday and come in then. And until then, stay off the internet and try not to worry." Says the man who has never and will never experience the agony of a miscarriage!! He definitely added insult to injury with his comments and his attitude, and I was left with no answers and many questions.

I remember talking to my best friend Christen on the phone, who had called me about a work situation. I remember waiting until she was done and then saying, "Please be praying, I started bleeding today." She flipped out, so mad that I had let her go on about work before saying anything. When Mike got home, of course I was crying hysterically, and he tried his best to calm me down. We had plans to go see my brother's new house, and I asked Mike what he thought we should do. He said since we didn't know anything for sure, we should just go like we planned and try to keep our minds off things. I hadn't started cramping or anything, so we decided to go ahead and go.

The cramping started on the way to my brother's house, and at that point I was really freaking out. I told my parents what was going on, and my mom assured me that some women bleed some early in their pregnancies, so it could be normal. We had gotten my brother and his girlfriend a house warming card, and had written in it that they were going to be an aunt and uncle. They of course were thrilled, and even after we told them what was going on, they insisted that it could be normal. I didn't want to ruin the night, so I tried as best I could to act normal. Each time I went to the bathroom, as the pain and the bleeding was getting worse, I knew what was happening. By the end of the night, the pain was so severe that I was worried I might be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. I told Mike that we might need to go to the ER when we got home, but after sleeping all the way home, the cramps had subsided some, and I chose to just go to bed.

The next day, the bleeding and cramps were so severe that I called the on-call doctor again to see if I should go to the ER. Thankfully, this on-call doctor was much nicer, and said that if the pain and bleeding got any worse, I needed to come in to the ER. He said, "If nothing else, so we can check for an ectopic pregnancy and for your peace of mind." About an hour later, Mike and I decided to head to the ER.

I will always look back on that Sunday as one of the worst days of my life. As if the pain of losing our first child were not enough, the ER visit added trauma to the equation. If you've ever been to the ER, you know that you have to tell what brought you to the ER about 50 times to 50 different people. There was the girl at the check-in counter, the admitting nurse, the hospital rep who collected your money, the nurse in your room, the sono tech, and finally the doctor. Saying the words, "I'm pretty sure I'm having a miscarriage" over and over was awful. Throughout our time at the ER, I had to endure an IV, a vaginal exam, and a vaginal sonogram. The last straw came when the nurse asked me to give a urine sample. I assured her that it would probably be nothing but blood, so the doctor then decided he wanted to do a catheter to get the urine sample. I drew the line and said I would not be having any more invasive procedures that day! She was very sweet, and allowed me to just do the urine test. I remember Mike having to help me across the hall to the bathroom, and there was so much blood...I am so thankful to have such an amazing husband who stayed with me and helped me through it all. After all of the procedures and several hours, the doctor came back in and reported what we already knew, and handed me paperwork with MISCARRIAGE emblazoned across the top.

We began breaking the news to family and friends, and I remember after Mike got off the phone with his dad, he bawled in my arms like I have never seen him do before or since. That was his one release, his one moment to break down, and other than that he was a rock for me. After passing the majority of the tissue, the cramps subsided, though the bleeding would continue for several days. I had to go in Monday morning for them to check me out, and I got to do a vaginal exam with the jerky on-call doctor from Saturday, which was loads of fun! I think the worst pain, though, was the emotional loss that came with this.

Our friends and family rallied around us, to pray with us, cry with us, and bring meals. I can't even put into words the extent of my feelings of despair. I don't think I will ever be the same, but I certainly wasn't myself for several months after this miscarriage. Something I learned from this was to NEVER undermine a woman's pregnancy loss just because she "wasn't that far along". I was "only" 5 weeks along but I felt like I had lost a part of me, and I didn't know how to get past it. I was angry, incredibly sad, and so confused. I remember questioning the Lord, asking why He even allowed us to get pregnant if we were just going to lose the baby. I remember saying I would have rather never have gotten pregnant than to get the exciting news and then have it taken away. I was pretty angry at God for a long time, and even angrier when everyone else went back to normal life and I was still stuck in my grief.

I think Mike and I will always consider this as this loss of our first child, and one of the hardest things we had ever endured. Although it was incredibly hard and painful, the Lord proved to us what we had always known...that He would never give us more than we can handle, and that He never leaves or forsakes us. I think the Lord is still bringing about healing from this time, but I know without a doubt that this experience strengthened our marriage, our faith, and us as individuals. I don't think I'm yet at the point that I can be thankful for this experience, but I do hope that sharing our experience can help normalize the immense pain and sense of loss that comes with a miscarriage for other women who have experienced it. Mike and I always said, "I hope it's never in the Lord's plan for us to have a miscarriage, we could never survive that." The Lord proved to us that we could indeed survive, only through His divine power working through us, and we give Him all the glory for getting us through this time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Our Journey Begins...

Mike and I decided to try to start our family in March of 2010, after we had been married almost 5 years. We have always known we would be parents, but we wanted to enjoy married life before making a huge commitment that we knew would change our lives forever. We finally felt ready to start trying, but I think we were still a little nervous when I threw my birth control pills away!

When I look back on that time, I remember thinking I could plan everything out...man, was I wrong! I remember deciding when to try because I never wanted a "football season baby", because I wanted to have the baby around the beginning of summer so Mike could be home for my maternity leave...I know it sounds naive to think I could have planned it that much, but honestly, it seemed like it had been that way with most of my friends. I had never had any "female problems"other than pretty bad cramps, and before I got on birth control, you could set your watch to my cycle, I was that regular. Also, my mom is super fertile and she had always told me, "You better stay on that pill until you're ready to get pregnant because as soon as you get off, you'll get pregnant!" I really had no reason to think that I might have any problems, which is why Mike and I assumed we could start our family when we were ready.

I remember being surprised the first few months when the pregnancy tests were negative, but I wasn't too concerned or upset the first few times, especially since we weren't really tracking my cycle. Mike and I decided to go on our first cruise that summer in July, and I just knew for sure that I would come back pregnant. I didn't. In August we started using ovulation tests and I began tracking my cycle better, and I realized that my cycles were running closer to 40 days than the normal 28 day cycle, which I knew was not normal for me. When it still hadn't happened in September after 6 months of trying, I was starting to get concerned. I knew most doctors wouldn't start testing for problems until a couple has been trying for a year, but my yearly check-up was scheduled in November so I decided to talk to my OB then.

 I have to take a minute to brag about how wonderful my OB is. I have been seeing Dr. Michael Howell since I was a teenager, and he is one of the most compassionate, caring doctors I have ever seen. He listened to my concerns about my cycle and still not being pregnant, and he said something I will never forget. He said, "Most times I have couples wait a year, but if you were my sister/daughter/wife, I would say let's start testing now to see what we can find." After being so scared that he would laugh at me for being concerned or brush me off, I felt so relieved. He scheduled me for the first step of testing, which was a sonogram.

Now let me explain what a sonogram is when it comes to fertility testing. *Note, this may be more info than you want to know, so please feel free to skip this part!* When I thought of a sonogram, I thought of the kind where they run the wand over your belly, like when you're really pregnant. With no warning, I had to endure my first vaginal sonogram...the wand goes...well, you can figure that out! Nowadays, I almost feel like I'm missing something if I DON'T have a vaginal sonogram every day, but back then, this was pretty scary! However, I survived and the sonogram showed that there were cysts in my ovaries, which is usually consistent with PCOS, or Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. Since my best friend has PCOS, I was familiar with it and was immediately worried about the diagnosis. I know it's certainly possible to get pregnant with PCOS, but it's also a lot harder. My doctor did say he thought I had a mild case of it, since the cysts were my only symptom, but he wanted to start me on some treatment for it anyway.

We decided to wait until January to start it, since they ran a bunch of blood tests as well and we were waiting to get the results back. In January of 2011, I started my first month of Clomid, which, for those of you who don't know, is a basic fertility drug used to help women ovulate correctly. (For me, that meant getting me back to a regular 28 day cycle and eliminating the cysts.) I started on the lowest dose, 50 mg, and was increased each month by 50 mg for every month that I didn't get pregnant. I also had to go in for a monthly sonogram, just to make sure I didn't have any cysts that would be stimulated by the Clomid.

After my 3rd month on Clomid, which marked a year that we had been trying, I found out I was pregnant! That in itself was a crazy story! I got up on Sunday morning to test, before Mike was up and before we would normally get up to start getting ready for church. I had a home pregnancy test from the Dollar Store, one that had the 2 lines like most normal pregnancy tests. I took the test and got what I thought was a negative test. I (of course) got really upset because I really thought I might be pregnant this month. (I had irrationally gotten upset with Mike that Friday when he told me he was thinking about coaching girls basketball the next year instead of boys...which made absolutely no sense! When he asked why I was so upset, I started crying and said I didn't like when we fought. Later that night I remember saying to him, "I better be pregnant so I have an excuse for that! I don't even know what that was about!" Luckily, I was pregnant so I had an excuse for the craziness!) I crawled back into bed, woke Mike to tell him, and cried with him and vented my frustrations. I then decided I would stay home from church that day, as the "negative test day" each month is always the hardest day on me emotionally. While Mike was at church, something just didn't feel right about that first test, so I asked Mike to stop on his way home from church to pick up a digital pregnancy test. (Much easier to read...it says "pregnant" if you're pregnant and "not pregnant" if you're not!) I know Mike thought I was crazy since I got a negative test already, but I think he also knew not to question a hormonal woman, especially after what had happened Friday! We decided I would wait until the morning to test again, if I still hadn't started my period by then. Well, I just couldn't wait, I wanted confirmation! What I didn't tell Mike that morning was that the test was really faint, most likely because the test was too diluted with excess urine, so I don't think it was an accurate reading, which is why I felt like I needed to take another test. After I took the digital test and saw "Pregnant" I was so shocked. I had always imagined coming up with a cute, creative way of telling Mike that I was pregnant, but all of those ideas went out the window at that moment! I ran into the other bathroom where he was, burst through the door and handed him the test! I think he was as shocked as I was, as he said, "Well, I guess you need to call the doctor." By Monday morning I had taken 2 more tests, all of which read "pregnant", and I called my doctor that day to schedule our first appointment.

We felt like our prayers had finally been answered, that the Lord had delivered us from this struggle after a year of trying, and we were immediately making plans and getting excited. As you can probably guess (seeing as how we still don't have a baby), the Lord had different plans in mind for us. In my next post, I will share about our first heartbreak, the loss of our first child.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Something to Blog About

Well, we all know that I am not a consistent blogger. (Obviously, since my last post was in July of last year!) I enjoy reading others' blogs, but when asked why I don't update ours, my response has always been, "Well I don't have much going on to blog about." That's not entirely true...Mike and I have had a lot going on with us the past few years, that until now I have not wanted to make public. Of course, close friends and family know about our struggles, but I have not shared details with people who don't know us as well, or posted it on Facebook. (And we all know once it's on Facebook, you're ready for everyone and their mother to know about it!)

The struggle I'm talking about is infertility.

Mike and I have been trying to start a family for the past (almost) 2 years, and it has been the hardest thing either of us has ever had to endure. Throughout this incredibly difficult journey, I have thought a million times about blogging about our struggles, but have always chickened out. I feel like God has been laying it on my heart for a long time, but I kept pushing aside the thought of it because it's such a personal and emotional subject. However, a dear friend of mine (who is also struggling with infertility) sent me the link to a woman's blog who has begun blogging about her fertility journey. I don't even know this woman, but she was able to put into words everything I have been feeling for the past 2 years. It felt cathartic and freeing to realize that other women out there are experiencing the same emotions, doubts, fears, and frustrations that I am in this journey. I also know that I have already been able to minister to several women who are dealing with this same issue, and I want to use this pain to (hopefully) encourage and normalize this experience for other women. What better platform for that than our blog?

There are several reasons that Mike and I decided I should finally share about our struggles:
1. To let other women struggling in this area know that they are not alone.
2. To bring awareness to a topic that is not openly discussed, but probably should be.
3. To provide an outlet for me to express my feelings about this struggle.
4. And most of all, to share with others how the Lord has been (and still continues to) work on mine and Mike's hearts through this difficult journey.

Over these next few (or many??) blog posts, I am going to share with you the ups and downs and ins and outs of infertility...at least how we have experienced it personally. You'll probably learn WAY more than you want to about fertility treatments and my personal experiences, but I hope that my transparency will speak to others. If just one person feels some sort of comfort after reading about our journey, if just one woman says to herself, "I am not alone in this after all!", if just one person learns anything about relying on the Lord's plans even when it's so hard, then I will have accomplished my purpose in writing this.

I pray that the Lord will use me through this blog to minister to other women out there struggling with the battle of infertility, and that He will get all the glory through this blog and through our lives.