the babies are “home”!


Our first family picture!  (Minus Cali who was too busy burying her bone to join us. Rude. Ha!) We are SO HAPPY to share that everything went wonderfully today! PRAISE GOD! I’m now officially a PUPO. (Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise)
It’s been 1,075 days since our last transfer and to say my emotions were high would be an understatement. (I’m so thankful for Josh’s calm and positive spirit!) We felt your prayers surrounding us in volumes and the transfer was smooth and a surreal, God-given moment. Our 2 babies thawed perfectly, in fact the embryo that looks like 2, is actually just 1, just incredibly advanced and fully hatching out of its shell and ready to snuggle in! I’m now back home on strict bedrest for the next few days. We’re praying 1 or 2 of these peanuts get cozy and implant for the next 40 weeks! 

Thank you to everyone who reached out or were praying for us today. It was incredibly emotional, in the best way, to see how God has provided us with such a incredible community to carry us through and celebrate such an exciting day with us. We feel so loved! (Responding at the moment is emotional and I have to slow down the overwhelmed tears! Please forgive me if I don’t reply right away. Each one means sooo much.)

We are trusting God in whatever lies ahead and know He is standing right next to us. These days ahead are long and we continue to ask for prayers for peace, hope, trust, and comfort for our spirits. We believe in the God who does the impossible! 💛

Lots of love,

Josh and Chelsea 

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

exciting update!

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Guess whhhaaattttttt!?!?!

Remember that new protocol I am on? The one CCRM – Minneapolis cleverly concocted based on our past cycles and their brilliancy? Well, I am THRILLED to share that its working wonderfully. So wonderfully in fact, that our transfer date has been moved up!

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YES!!!

So that October 3rd date that has been burned into your brain? Erase that. Update your calendars my friends …. Our new date is …

THIS MONDAY! YES! September 26th!

Whoa baby! (Or babies!)

We got the call this afternoon that everything is looking perfect and things are being escalated because this typically faulty body of mine, is FINALLY doing what it’s supposed to do, ahead of schedule at that!

*CUE THE TROMBONES! PRAISE HANDS!*

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Friends, GOD IS JUST SO GOOD! Despite the date change, everything has lined up perfectly, from our acupuncturist working us in to her schedule, to my meds being ordered and ready to change up. These prayers are being answered one by one! Prayers we didn’t even know to lift up. Friends, we can’t thank you enough for your prayers.

So, going into our transfer next week, we would love to share some specific prayer requests with you. We are calling it them TOP FIVE.

1 – that the transportation of our embryos tomorrow (Wednesday – Thursday) would go smoothly. We want these precious babies of ours to arrive safely and will feel incredibly relieved once they are at our clinic.

2 – that the new medications work, as we are adding in new ones starting tomorrow. And specifically, that my lining, estradiol and progesterone will be perfectly where God wants it to be so that pregnancy is possible and sustainable;

3 – that our embryos would thaw perfectly on Monday morning. (We won’t find out their status until we arrive to the clinic.)

4 – that the transfer goes well on Monday, exactly according to God’s will. Our exact transfer time is 11:30 am CST. (If you want to make a quick note of that on your calendar, feel free! J). Also, that the hands of our embryologist, doctor, and nurses would be blessed and allow for the transfer to be as smooth and pain-free as possible. (I will be completely alert during transfer, thanks to a mighty pill called Valium, which relaxes the uterus during transfer but allows me to be present.)

and finally,

5 – that our hearts would be filled with joy, peace, encouragement, hope, and trust as we step into this emotionally overwhelming, but exciting path again. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious about the days to follow post transfer and am praying hard that we can walk away with excitement and hope.

I wrote these words in 2013 and reflect back on them tonight:

I am constantly re-reminded of the words in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) “Always be joyful. Always keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ.” I am sure we can all reflect back on the troubles in life, the hardships and the frustrations. But the words of Christ have never been more true – Always be joyful. It can seem so hard to find that joy sometimes but I learn and experience more and more each day that our joy is not to be rooted in our wants or desires, our successes and our victories. They are simply to be rooted in Him. Joyful always. No particular circumstances required.

I read this quote from a book tonight: “Today we suffer. Today we don’t understand….Someday all the scattered, broken pieces will fall into place, and we will suddenly understand the hand of God has been upon us all the time. All the tragedy – all the darkness – will instantly be swallowed up by triumph. What a perfect ending to our imperfect stories!”

I love that. He wipes every tear from our eyes, He holds us so close. I have to choose to believe that if I knew everything He knew, that I would choose this exact same journey for us. We are more than conquers in Christ Jesus.

Tonight we are thanking Him for His blessings in this cycle so far and are choosing joy for whatever lies ahead. We pray, that this is our time, a time when all the broken pieces fall into place and we see the darkness swallowed up by triumph. Ultimately, He is the one who writes our stories and can I be honest friends? I am so very thankful He is the author and not me. His endings are always better.

If you are looking for a GREAT message on waiting and the timing of answered prayers, specifically wondering why certain doors open and others feel closed, I encourage you to listen to this message our pastor gave last weekend. My heart was incredibly encouraged by the reminder that God is a BIG PICTURE God. We look in front and all we see is the traffic jam, but God has the helicopter watching over the city, seeing it all. We can trust Him. (I am preaching to myself here because, boy, the nerves are there!)

We are so blessed to call you our friends and supporters. He has placed you in our lives for a reason and we are ever so thankful for that! I will do my best to keep you posted in the coming days!!


PS –

1) Despite the change in dates, I am still heading to San Francisco on Thursday for the FertilityIQ Basecamp! If you haven’t read up on it yet, click here to do so! I have to say – the agenda is PHENOMENAL! A few trip highlights ahead:

  • Talking about what you’ve shared for what you would like to see more support with, specifically affordability, finding support groups and getting reliable information.
  • Meeting with and touring Instagram to discuss building online communities. (Shout out to my TTC Sisters!!!! Whoop whoop!)
  • Meeting with Stanford Medicine, a top RE and Urologist, to look at and discuss the GREAT topics you have asked about, like unexplained infertility, technology progression, lifestyle and BMI, recurrent pregnancy loss, male factor infertility, PCOS and endometriosis.
  • Meeting with a RESOLVE Support Group therapist to talk about how infertility affects couples and how you can be supported in the challenges.
  • Meeting with Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine to learn about saving money when getting ready for and going through treatment (YES!).
  • How to navigate 3rd party reproduction with the founder of Donor Concierge.

and then …

  • Working on getting ALL this information back out to you – to offer you support, knowledge and insight!

Want to follow along? Keep an eye on my Instagram page @chels819 for updates and info about some fun Facebook Live activities and also, choosing a $150 Amazon gift card winner based on the survey you filled out! (Not yet entered? Click here to do so!)

2) The TTC Mug Exchange closes at 11:59 CST TONIGHT. (No late entries allowed). I wasn’t planning on doing this during my transfer week so I am going to work HARD to get as much ready as possible. I am hoping the timeline still will fall as planned on when you will receive your partners (9/28). If it doesn’t, I will let you know immediately!

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the gift of silence + fet update.

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Scratch, scratch, scratch.

I looked up from my book to see Cali standing at the back patio door, begging to go outside to watch for squirrels, her usual daily activity. I grabbed my book and walked over to the patio door, opening it and watching her dart down the stairs, ready to cozy herself into the blades of the grass and snoop. As I walked over to the top of the stairs to sit, I realized my feet were wet.

Did it rained?”  I asked myself.

It was then I realized it was raining, so lightly, so mist-like, that I didn’t even realize it. I stood there for a while, watching Cali scout out which squirrels to keep an eye on, realizing with a towel, I could stay out there too, as that mist was that gentle.

A few minutes in, I realized while I could handle the gentle mist, my book pages could not, and so I called Cali back to the top of the steps and ducked inside my house door to watch her from within.

It was then I realized how quiet it was.

It was if the world had turned off its noise. The birds, who usually sing and chirp and call loudly in the field and forest next to our house, were silent. The normally noisy neighborhood filled with children’s laughter and parents calling out, were gone. There were no sounds of lawn mowers running, bonfires crackling, car horns blaring or airplanes flying overhead. It was if the whole world came to a halt, all because of this mist.

I sat there, inside my house, observing how wet everything was getting, even though the mist was so fine. I was awe struck at the silence, the beauty of the quiet. The air was still. I couldn’t help but feel God in that moment.

It reminded me of 1 Kings 19:11-12:

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”

If you are anything like me, sometimes you look for God in the big places. We expect Him to be loud and forceful, shouting at us what to do next or shaking us so greatly we simply know. But that moment profoundly reminded me of the gift, the importance, the peacefulness of silence and stillness. And how, when things are quiet, our souls tend to notice more. The sounds of nature began to pick up as the mist died down, and I noticed the deep ribbeting of the frogs start first. Then there was a brave bird, who popped out of the bird house in our yard and made the first call out to his friends. I noticed the squirrels began to kuk and soon over it all, I heard a voice begin to perform sporadic, loud, beautiful, African tribal calls. I had no idea what neighbor it was, someone calling out from inside an open window, but paired with the gentle silence, the voice, the sound, the abstractness to my ears, it paired so well with the world around me.

So often, I think we walk into our day and we simply hear noise. The world throws so much at us, blending together phone calls, text notifications, car horns, chatter, phones ringing, minds running, radios playing, tv’s turning on, birds chirping, coffee brewing, dogs barking …. And we simply become accustom to trying to do life over the noise. We cry out for answers to God –

Should we list our house?

What school should we send out kids to?

Are we supposed to be considering adoption?

Do I take this promotion knowing it will be more hours away from home?

Is it time to start volunteering?

Should I marry him?

What do we do if this next fertility treatment doesn’t work?

And then, because we have so much noise in our life, we can’t find His voice. We assume He isn’t willing to get involved or nudge us. Maybe we aren’t spiritual enough. And so we live in a world with a conflicted spirit, searching for guidance, desiring to hear Him, but we get nothing.

Ah, sweet sister, we have forgotten about the value of stillness. Silence. Stripping away all the other noises in our hearts and lives so that we can hear the sound of His gentle whisper. It may take some work, but our God is SO ready to respond. We have just desensitized our souls so much to His nudging that we have forgotten what silence is like.

That misty, rainy Monday reminded me so much. It was a gift.

In Shauna Niequist’s new book Present Over Perfect, she says “He has all the time in the world to sit with me and sift through my fears and feelings and failings. That’s what prayer is. That’s what love is … He is love itself, grace embodied, holding the fullness of who we are – strong, weak, good, bad, wild, fearful, brave, silly – in his hands. He can be trusted with every part of it, the silly and the enormous.”

I want to encourage you today to find some silence. It’s hard in this swirling world. But make the time. Perhaps it’s as simple as driving with your radio off. You don’t even need to pray or think. Just get comfortable with the silence – the buzzing of the cars next to you, the occasional horn honk, the squeal of your breaks. Tune out the big stuff and quiet your soul.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength….” (Isaiah 30:15)

Breathe deeply. He is there.


FET Update: YOU GUYS. This is crazy! I shared with you last month that we have a plan and it is well underway! I am thrilled to share that I am officially weaned off of birth control pills, which make me crazy, and have transitioned to Lupron and the full lining-building regime. A mini summary of everything so far:

  • My baseline ultrasound went great. Lining is nice and thin and my labs are where they need to be.
  • I have lowered my dose of Lupron to 5 units, where it will stay till we approach transfer.
  • In addition to the Lupron, medications this cycle include: Metformin, Estrace 2 mg (estrogen), Del Estrogen 5mg injections (more estrogen), Vitamin E (800 IU daily), baby aspirin till transfer – Lovenox injections after, Viagra vaginally 4×25 mg day (this is SO weird for me, but apparently it produces a rapid and profound improvement in uterine blood flow, which in cases of implantation failure in the past, enhances endometrial development – we will see!), Endometrium (vaginal progesterone), and Progesterone in Oil injections. As we approach transfer, we will be adding in steroids like Medrol and Prednisone, Tetracycline (antibiotic), Pepcid and Claritin (antihistamine protocol). Yes, I do have a daily chart with what to take when, since most of these are administered anywhere from 1 – 4 times daily. My brain forcibly needs to stick to this schedule!
  • What all this medicine is doing: Essentially we need to shut down my ovaries from producing any eggs (known as suppression) while making my uterus think I am producing eggs so that it’s thickens my lining for possible embryo implantation. All these meds work hand in hand to put my body in an immediate menopausal mode (no eggs), while getting my uterus ready for our babes. (Hence the immense amount of progesterone and estrogen). The other medications treat my Factor V (blood clotting disorder) and the steroids/allergy meds will help me body from rejecting the embryos once transferred. (This is a new protocol for me).
  • How I’m feeling: overall okay/good! I started back up at acupuncture since that seems to help with the terrible Lupron headaches. My lethargy has been through the roof, but it seems my body has gotten used to a slightly slower pace and I am learning in this season that rest is a good thing. I’ve slowed down on intense cardio and have been enjoying daily walks with Cali. My ovary area is very tender and I feel uncomfortable sitting at times. Basically other than occasional headaches, I am mainly just super tired.
  • Diet changes: no caffeine (occasional chocolate still okay right now). Drinking coconut water daily to maintain hydration and electrolytes and drinking 1 cup of Pomegranate juice a day (for lining).
  • Our next appointment is on the 20th to see how my lining is doing. Prayers are always appreciated!
  • And lastly, I just need to give one giant THANK YOU for those of you who faithfully and routinely check in on me. It’s incredibly kind and overwhelming to see different people message me each day offering their prayers and seeing how my body is doing adjusting to these new meds. It means more than you know. You demonstrate regularly that you don’t need to be going through infertility to support someone who is. You don’t need the “perfect” words to say in order to say “I care, I am praying.” This means the world to me, so thank you. <3
  • As of now, we are still set for a transfer in the next couple of weeks! While our transfer day continues to be calendar set for October 3rd, my doctor has informed me that as soon as they can see everything is ready, it’s time! So if that day changes at all, you will be among the first to know. :)

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Thank you for caring as much as you do!

Reminder: Check out this post for a chance to win a $150 Amazon Gift card! #FertilityIQBasecamp

Don’t forget to sign up for the TTC Mug Exchange if you haven’t already! Sign ups close 9/20 and we already have over 500 women signed up! Whoa!

 

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And lastly … because FURst day of school pictures are so important! :) 

TTC Mug Exchange 2016.

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It’s time for our 2016 TTC Mug Exchange! Wooohooooo! Last time we had nearly 800 ladies participate and it was a BLAST! All women in all phases of infertility (trying to conceive, pregnant, adopting, new moms, etc… more details on this below!) are invited to participate.I absolutely LOVE how all of these women come together to support one another and spread positive energy and love.

Before I share how to sign up participate, let me answer a few commonly asked questions about these exchanges: (even if you have done this before, I still suggest skimming this as things always change a bit!)

Who can participate?

Anyone who is currently trying to get pregnant, including those suffering from secondary infertility; those who have recently adopted, are in the process of adopting or searching for their new family member; anyone who is currently pregnant after dealing with infertility or recently having had a baby after a struggle and lastly, anyone who is using a gestational carrier, egg donor, sperm donor or surrogate.

Please note that while I will do my best to partner you with someone in a similar stage, you may be given anyone to purchase for. As this exchange grows, it has become increasingly more difficult to ensure that you get an equally appropriate match. My very best efforts are given! Just try to remember that you are encouraging another TTC sister no matter what their story is!

How does it work?

Once you sign up and get the name of the person you are sending to (more details below), you will work to put together an exchange box for them, including a coffee/tea cup/mug. You will be given a “send-by” date and I ask that you respect that date unless there are extreme circumstances. You will send and receive a box to the same person.

How much is this going to cost me?

Typically the suggested amount per box is $20 plus shipping. I don’t advise that you spend more than $20 but we definitely do have some generous women who put together a box worth more. Since not all mugs cost $20, you are able to fill the package with ANYTHING else that might make someone smile! Lucky socks, a special treat, a fun lipgloss or nail polish …. You can’t go wrong (unless you break the law) – this is definitely a situation where it’s the thought that counts.

I do ask that you invest in a lot of bubble wrap and a good box. It helps tremendously to ship it US Priority and get a tracking number just in case anything should happen during transit. (Plus it comes with $50 insurance!) No one wants to receive a shattered mug due to poor packaging!

Besides a mug, is there anything else I HAVE to include?

A note! Please include a card inside with a special word of encouragement for your new friend.

I live in the US/Canada/UK/Australia/etc, can I participate?

Yep! We always have women from all over the world participate and I think that is what makes it so much fun! HOWEVER, you will only be assigned an overseas person if you agree to be open to shipping internationally. (More about that below). I do ask that if you live outside of the US, that you be open to shipping internationally, as many of the participants are located in the United States, however I know that sometimes that’s not an option and that’s okay too. If I cannot find you a partner I will let you know.

What kind of mug do I need to send?

You can get ANY kind of mug. Travel, big, small, delicate, clunky. It could be a cute mug from your local coffee shop, something you ordered on Etsy, bought at Walmart, or ordered off Amazon. There are SO many adorable mugs out there – be creative! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – this can be a mug that you adore or that you think someone else would love.

Because shipping a mug can be tricky, there may be some women who just want to order a mug online and have it shipped directly to their person and then they can send a separate little box of surprises if they didn’t spend $20. (If you do this, take advantage of the “gift card” section in a order to let them know that’s what you are doing).

How many women participate? Is this a legit exchange?

Our Mug Exchanges have been doubling rapidly. Back in 2013, we had about 30 women, n 2014, we had over 400. Last year, we had nearly 800!  I am excited to see what this year brings!

What happens if I send a package but never get one back?

Ugh, guys, it does happen, I have to be honest. It doesn’t happen often but there are definitely a small handful of women each exchange that are subjected to a lost box, a flakey partner, or some other sort of weird circumstance. I will do my best to reach out to your sender once or twice but sometimes due to the sheer volume of participants, it just becomes impossible to make sure everything gets straightened out. From the very beginning of the exchanges I have warned participants that you have to come into this exchange with the understanding that you may not get a box. It stinks that there are some people that might taint this experience but I do promise that it is far and few between. I am a firm believer that it is a blessing to give and if you are one of the few unfortunate few that receives a shattered mug or nothing at all, just know that your gift has blessed someone else. So please understand the risks involved but know that you likely won’t have a problem! In exchange for my time coordinating this, I just ask that you follow through with your commitment to send a package, sound good? :)

Can I share this on my blog/with my instagram followers/on facebook/twitter/etc?

Of course! We LOVE new participants and their friends. Anyone in the infertility community is welcome to join in. We will be using the hashtag #TTCMugExchange2015 so feel free to share and let’s spread the love! (Also, if you want a live link, you can send them to this one: https://trialsbringjoy.com/mug-exchange-2016/

What are the dates I need to know in order to participate?

You will need to sign up no later than end of day Tuesday, September 20th. That’s a good 2 weeks of time to sign up, spread the message and start brainstorming. You will then receive your exchange partner from me via email on either September 28 or 29. (Because of the hours it takes to coordinate, I am not always able to get ALL the emails out on the same day. So if you see someone post that they got their person and you have not yet heard from me, it’s likely due to the amount of time it’s taking me to email everyone back individually. Do not panic!) Once you receive your person, you will have until Saturday, October 15th to put together your package and mail it out. Please make sure if you sign up that you are able to get your box out on time.

What happens when I get my package?

This is the fun part! I LOVE seeing all of the posts where people show off their package! Post your mug to social media and tag it with #TTCMugExchange2016 so we can all peruse the pictures. Send a shout out to your person, blog about it, Instagram it, do whatever you want to celebrate this fun exchange! I do understand too that there are many women who are not publicly sharing their infertility journey with others so know that you don’t have to share it publicly in order to participate. The key thing is that we offer encouragement and support to one another, even if that circle stays small.

Enough FAQ’s! HOW DO I SIGN UP!!?!

Alright, here is how you sign up!

1. Click here to complete the form:

http://tinyurl.com/jbsvye3

You will be routed to a Google Form. If for some reason, you have an extremely difficult time getting this form to work (it’s only happened 1-2 out of hundreds), you can email me at TTCExchange@gmail.com. (Please allow 24 hour for reply.)

I will close the exchange at midnight on September 20th (CST) and will not be able to accept stragglers after that.

2. Make sure you receive a confirmation page! This will verify that your entry has been received.

3. Share! Let your friends know about the exchange! You can share my blog or instagram account so that they can find out more information. I feel awful when someone finds out “too late” and can’t participate so help me make sure no one gets left out. Again, use #TTCMugExchange2016 to share – the more the merrier!

4. Shop, write, smile and sip! Once assignments go out, shop and send out your package with an encouraging note. Then wait patiently and enjoy your mug once it arrives. Share the thoughtfulness of your new friend! I have seen so many amazing friendships form as a result of this exchange. Cell numbers are swapped, emails are exchanged – I have even seen friends plan trips to visit one another due to the friendship formed over a simple package! I LOVE THIS PART!

That’s it guys! I am so excited for this. These exchanges are among the highlight of my year. YIPPEE!!!!

Ready, set, GO!

we have a plan!

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The update is in!

For those who have been following our infertility story (Trilogy? Series? Volumes?), you know that thanks to our April egg retrieval with Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine – Minneapolis, we have SEVEN embryos frozen and awaiting their eventual transfers. You’ve been patiently waiting for an update and I am thrilled to share that WE HAVE A PLAN!

That’s right, the date has been penciled in and as of tomorrow, our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) will officially be underway!

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Here’s the deets:

Friday, August 12th (tomorrow!): Hysteroscopy and endometrial scratch procedures

The hysteroscopy is where the doctor will go into my uterus and make sure everything looks okay for transfer. It’s done with a thin, lighted tube that is inserted to examine the cervix and inside of the uterus. Pretty amazing what technology can do!

The endometrial scratch is a bit more uncomfortable (said with a tense smile). Here my doctor will scratch or “scrape” the inside my uterus. Why? Well, there’s some solid research that suggests that scratching the uterine lining causes the body to go into a “repair mode”. The natural repair process in the weeks to come releases different hormones and chemicals that are said to assist with implantation. Also, the new lining that’s created after it “scabs” is thought to be more receptive to an implanting embryo.

Hey, when you have done all we have done … Scratch away.

(But feel free to send some extra prayers my way tomorrow afternoon during the procedures.)

Friday, August 26th: Hardcore IVF drugs and injections begin.

Bring on the crazy. Or more crazy. If that’s possible. I don’t know, either way, pray for Josh. ;) I’m on just a few basics right now and it’s been brutal.

September: Drugs, drugs, more drugs, ultrasounds, acupuncture, blood work, drugs, drugs, cupping, drugs.

Oh, and a quick trip to San Francisco for the FertilityIQ Basecamp. (SO PUMPED.) Consider this your reminder to go leave us some question feedback for your chance to win a $150 Amazon giftcard.

ANDDDDDDDD…

*DRUM ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL*

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Monday, October 3rd: TRANSFER DATE!

That’s right friends; we will be transferring 2 baby Ritchie’s on Monday, October 3rd assuming all goes well with my cycle prep. We are SO excited for this to finally be on the calendar and to be taking steps forward to bring our babies home.

So, here are a few ways you can be praying in the weeks to come:

1) For the safe transportation of our embryos from their storage in Florida to Minnesota late September.

2) For all of the preparation that need to go smoothly, from ordering medications to my body’s physical readiness to receive these babes.

3) That the changes we have made to our protocol would be successful and smooth, ultimately leading to success.

(For those wondering, things we are doing differently this FET are: a Del Estrogen FET protocol, the endometrial scratch, and an Antihistamine Protocol prior to transfer, and also, will be treating my Factor V with Lovenox injections post transfer. All of these are modifications made from prior transfers and we feel incredibly positive about them.)

and lastly, and most importantly,

4) That ultimately we would get (and stay) pregnant and that God would be glorified in it all.

So, get excited my friends, this is happening! We can’t wait!!!!!

PS: Thank you all for so many wonderful comments, emails, and messages on my post “messy emotions“. I’m happy to report I have felt your prayers and appreciated your kindness so much. Your responses reminded me of a post I wrote a few years back called “do something“. The simple act of letting someone know you care carries with it such a significant weight. God gave us community for a reason and I am so blessed to be a part of yours. Truly, from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU! I hope to get another good update up SOON, however, you know how summer goes …

In the meantime, we have been enjoying spending time with our grandparents who are in town, watching the Olympics, finishing edits on our In the Wait Leaders Guide, and starting celebrations for my birthday, which is next Friday (the 19th), (you know me, I LOVE a good birthday celebration!). I’m heading to Seattle, WA very soon with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for a little girls trip which will be fun and relaxing too. (Send any must-do’s our way, particularly good restaurants!) Plus, there’s the Minnesota State Fair which is THE BEST and I have a growing stack of amazing books to dive in to, like Present Over Perfect. (YES!!!!!!!!!!) All in all, this month holds some great things, as does the months to come! YAY! So thanks for patiently sticking with me and praying for us, encouraging my heart and letting us know you care. It means so very much. Love you all!

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How great is my precious family!? I love this picture! (Shout out to my squadie Jana for taking this picture for us!)

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These balloons are flying high in my house this week! I LOVE THEM! I could binge watching the Olympics ALL. LIFE. LONG.

 

fertilityiq basecamp. we need your help!

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I NEED YOUR HELP!

Friends, I’m so excited to share that I’ve been invited to FertilityIQ’s Basecamp in San Francisco this September with a handful of other infertility community influencers. We have a rare opportunity to sit together and discuss what we can do to better serve the infertility community, learn from one another’s stories, talk with some of the top doctors at the Stanford University Medical Center and tour their labs and facilities, and put our needs and ideas into action. I don’t know about you, but I see this as a GIGANTIC GIFT to our community and I am so honored to participated and excited to work collaboratively to better support YOU, a dear friend, who, like me, is 1 in 8, suffering from infertility and fighting to stay afloat.

So here’s what you can do to help – and trust me, there’s exciting stuff in it for you too!

1) Go to THIS LINK and a Google Form will pop up. Share with us what you are wondering about! What is lacking in this community? What do you wish you had at your fingertips easier? What questions do you wish you could ask a doctor? What could bloggers do to better support you? No question is too little or big! These are the questions that will better form our time together and ensure our takeaways best support you!

Friends – we will have Reproductive Endocrinologists, Urologists, dietitians, therapists, social media experts, women like you and me – sitting around us, talking to us, desiring the chance to help you. Let’s not let this opportunity slip by! Share!

CLICK HERE! CLICK HERE! CLICK HERE!

Everyone who fills out this form will be entered to win a $150 Amazon Gift Card! 

Just note on the form (you’ll see the spot) that I’m (Chelsea) your Basecamp Ambassador and I will make sure to advocate for you and your questions, and be sure to address them when I am back as well. YAY!

Send your friends this link too because the more questions, the better! It helps us find and address themes that are lacking information and will allow us the chance to get you what you need. We will announce the winner later in September, but don’t miss out on your chance to get your questions in now!

Thank you friends! (Plus, if you spouse has some questions to ask too – tell him to send a form over too! We know infertility affects both partners and want to ensure all sides are provided support!)

#FertilityIQBasecamp

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messy emotions.

Shauna Niequist writes: “For me, writing is about control. Or, more accurately, loss of control…Writing for me feels like getting naked in public. It feels like falling to the bottom of a well and finding lots of creepy crawly things down there with you. It feels like opening up a box of snakes. It feels kooky and scary and out of control. It makes me upset sometimes, because it makes me honest … Writing is my best chance of happiness and it is the riskiest thing I can do.”

I’ve put off writing this post because I hate the feeling of exposure associated with public writing. You see, there’s nothing more vulnerable and humbling than sharing the emotions you’re feeling, and processing through them for your neighbors, your gym partners, and your friends and family to see. {Truthfully, I’d love to be anonymous today}. For me, I lose the control when my fingers start typing. And I feel SO exposed, because it’s hard to admit when you’re having a hard season to everyone around you. But I do it because I know I am not alone and if you are in the same place, you need to know this happens and you will be okay.

So here’s my struggle lately: I’ve been really sad. Weary. Defeated. Overwhelmed. Jealous. Angry. Bitter. But mostly sad. The kind of sad where you cry several times a day and you aren’t really sure why, you just know your heart is hurting and the tears are falling down your face.

I feel out of control with my emotions. As a writer, we pray for ways to relate to others, looking for messy, honest, relatable stories to write and share, but I forget it often means I have to live through those seasons myself. The gritty, tender, tear-filled ones. The ones where it feels like I am being swallowed up by grief, grief for things I can and can’t describe.

I’ve been wrestling with God – asking Him how I can feel such exhaustion and weariness and yet, be filled with joy and peaceful trust. I know all the “right answers” but it seems I’m leaking nothing but sorrow for things I can’t quite pinpoint. So I have been going back and forth, asking God why He is allowing me to feel such heavy emotions and why I am struggling so much to live out this command: “ Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Here’s my conflict. I don’t want to numb myself out – ignoring the emotions that are messy and ugly and focusing only on the joy. I have felt more convicted than ever to walk through the murk and let myself feel. So I just keep bringing these honest emotions to God and asking for help, guidance, direction, deliverance and His only response lately has just been “Eyes on Me, not your circumstances. It’s okay to feel.”

As I have been sorting, here are some thoughts:

  • God can handle my grief, sorrow and questions. MY job is to bring them to Him. When I bring them to Him, it takes my eyes off of my circumstances and places them on the One who is greater than my world. It invites Him in. I can still be real while keeping my gaze upward.
  • Often times I feel like I have to go – go – go to find God. Verses like “Come to me all who are weary …” and “Draw close to me …” make me exhausted in these seasons. Partially because physically I am so drained that I don’t want to “come” or “draw”, but even more so, mentally and emotionally, it feels like so much work. My friend Kyle sent me the best text the other day: “No one can tell you what’s best for you at this time. There’s not a book for all this infertility stuff. Sometimes we don’t have to stand in our trials. We can cozy up in a blanket with our Morkie {Cali} because God will find you on the sofa too.” Her words freed me to stop trying to stand with exhausted weary legs and simply collapse down, because the truth is real – God will come to us when we are too tired to go to Him. We just need to cry out His name and He meets us.
  • Similarly, we have to be able to ask our friends to carry us when we can’t. In Mark 2, it talks about a paralyzed man who needed his friends to carry him to Jesus so he could be in His presence and be healed. This story touched my heart so much these last few weeks because it reminded me that it’s okay to ask your friends to carry you. To pray for you, to encourage you, to lift you up to Jesus when you can’t get there yourself. So to my friends who have listened to me cry on the phone to them the last few weeks, texted me reassuring words, sent silly snaps, and mailed encouraging notes – thank you for carrying me with your encouragement, your sensitivity and your prayers. Thank you for taking the time and energy to listen and enter into my murky emotions and tell me it’s going to be okay.
  • Feelings don’t matter when it comes to God’s goodness and presence. There may be times we don’t feel like He hears us or is at work in our lives, but feelings aren’t reality. So we are to TRUST HIS WORD, above all, TRUST HIS CHARACTER, above all, and continue to PRESS IN above all. Even when we don’t feel like it will end.

Now I know what you are thinking – what in the world do you have to feel so sad about?! You have 7 embryos on ice, an upcoming transfer this fall, a great husband, blessed life, awesome friends … huh???

I totally get it and wish I could explain it to you. Because ALL of those things above lead me to rejoice! I am incredibly blessed and when I read that, I wonder how I could still have so much grief mixed into each day.

We have another miscarriage anniversary coming up this weekend (Sunday), and for the past 10 days, I just remember what it felt like 3 years ago to be pregnant. To have so much hope in my heart. I remember the positive tests, the excitement, then the bleeding, the grief. I remember how tender my heart felt at the time and I am feeling that tenderness all over again. Because friends, truthfully, I didn’t think we would still be here. And that sorrow is overwhelming. I am learning I can still fully trust God’s and be weary at the same time. This typically mellow emotion of grief is just coming in a bigger wave than usual.

I am afraid of the hope that’s to come with the cycles ahead. I am terrified at the positivity the doctor feels. I have seen, felt, experienced, hoped, for 7 embryos in the past. I have their pictures tucked away in my desk and the thought that there are 7 more to be added in the future terrifies me. Because of the potential pain, because of the lack of control, because of the love I have felt and will continue to feel. Trusting God is dangerous and I keep bringing my fears to His feet and asking Him to help me let go of them, but the waves still come. I don’t know what the future holds but I have to trust the one that does.

I’m frustrated at the expense of infertility. I get crabby when I see people able to do things or buy grand things because their babies were free. I hate that we have to think so far out, being so careful with our savings, knowing the significant cost of transferring each of these 7 babies, the tens of thousands of dollars of meds and ultrasounds and blood work to do so. A beautiful blessing but also, something additional to worry about. We keep writing a check to a storage company to properly freeze our babies, a daycare bill in an icebox for something that may never be – so few people will ever understand this financial budgeted item. Then I hate that I feel jealous and weighted down by the financial worries, because I know God will provide and take care of us. I want to buy new silverware, replace our old couch, and install some shelving without feeling like we are being irresponsible with our money. I am frustrated that I stopped working full-time to pursue treatments because I would “certainly become a mom soon”, only to be left without said title. I am tired of trying to make wise decisions so that we can live life without being handcuffed to infertility, while being kind and generous to others, and also, always being prepared for the fact that it will be a few thousand dollars each month for medication to sustain a pregnancy for 9 months. I hate that I feel frustrated that some people will never understand how hard it is to know a “normal” pregnancy will never be ahead for me.

My sorrow builds when people get offended that I can’t do it all, be it all, meet their every expectation. I am letting people down. I hear their passive comments and it just beats me down more. I am so sorry that I didn’t get a chance to text you back, or visit more often, or help you out in that way. I am so sorry. I wish I was stronger right now. I wish I could be that person for you right now. And then the cycle begins again. I am so tired.

The triggers are everywhere this month. Pregnancy announcement after pregnancy announcement. New babies born. Sweet questions asked by tender little voices about whether I am a mom yet. An abundance of miscarriages and stillbirths in the lives of people I love, restirring up the grief as I try to meet them where they are at. I want to have it all together. I want to be able to like every Facebook post you share of your family. I want to celebrate genuinely. I don’t want to feel stuck. It’s all overwhelming my heart.

And yet, through it all, God keeps speaking and reassuring me HE IS HERE WITH ME. He reminded me of this hymn the other night:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

ALL OF THIS. These messy, gritty, dirty, sinful, stubborn, ugly, brittle emotions of mine, the ones I am so tempted to stew in, are released when we look to Him. And so I am left to navigate which emotions to let go of, and which emotions to sort through with Him, all while keeping my eyes on Jesus.

The tender instruction to take my eyes off of ME and lift them up to Him is so humbling yet incredibly freeing and refreshing. Because the me-me-me thinking depletes my joy. But looking at Him is a peaceful comfort that gives me strength. His character floods my heart. Goodness. Compassion. Mercy. Love. Full of grace. Forgiving. Wise. Faithful. Eternal. All knowing. Unchanging. Holy. The list continues on … And that list, in knowing Him, looking at Him, makes all of that “me” stuff grow so dim, diminishing in size and its power to control my emotions.

I know He doesn’t want us to be stuck but He also cares so deeply when I do feel sad. We are allowed to grieve friends. He wants us to allow Him to tenderly take care of us and trust Him enough to do just that.

And so, today I can’t really end with an answer. I believe that God has a purpose for this messy month of mine. I believe that full joy will come again. I believe the ONLY way through this is to hang on tightly to Him. Someone emailed me the other day and asked “How do you keep your faith strong during all of this, even on the bad days?” and my answer is simply to invite Him into the hard. I try to flood my ears with worship music and podcasts, journal, pray, often out loud, not be afraid to cry and keep seeking Him. Keep reading your Bible, your devotional, something that points you towards Him.

Also, take naps. Practice self care. Give yourself grace. {I have to keep reminding myself that my body is going crazy right now, readjusting to significant drops in hormones post retrieval cycle, adjusting to a new birth control pill, chilling with my cysts, struggling with this intense back cramping again, trying to reset before changing it all up again next month …} Ask your spouse and friends to give you a little extra grace too, because you will fail them in seasons of sorrow and remind them you still love them immensely. Our lives have to be woven with the good and bad, the highs and the lows, the moments of strength and the moments of utter weakness. God takes it all and works it for His good.

And so I will continue to wrestle. To figure out how to deal with this mess with joy and thanksgiving, with tears and sadness. I will work to strip off the ugly and let the Spirit renew my thoughts and attitudes. I will trust that God knows what’s hard. I will learn to be okay with not being strong all the time. I will pray for grace, for myself, to give others and for others to give me.

I will do my best to not delete this raw post because I know I am not alone in these seasons and if you are there too, let me encourage you to sink down on the sofa with me, because God’s here too. If we will see one another soon, can I please ask you for the grace and space to process these emotions with you on my lead? This is a super vulnerable shared world and bringing it up a million of times in an unsafe place feels overwhelming to me. Just give me a little extra love and if the time is right, we can talk about it. *Hug*

Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearls. And strung together, built upon one another, lined up through the days and the years, they make a life, a person.” –Shauna Niequist

My current pearl – June and July 2016 – is a little battered, but that’s okay. God knows, He sees. He sees your pearl too – shining and exciting, scared and grieving, or simply content and routine. He’s stringing them together, knowing what the finished product will look like. Let’s trust Him.

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