next steps.

We know what we want. (A baby). We know what seems to be the best means of getting there (IVF). We know that it’s physically draining (ER visits, surgeries, shots, probing). We know it’s emotionally stressful. (I know my followers feel this stress too!). We know the second IVF cycle brings the greatest chance of success. (Up about 10% since the doctors know your body, responses, and your body is less resistant since it’s been through this before.)

So with all this in mind, we set out on a prayer mission to figure out what’s next. And it led us to make the following decisions:

  1. We would proceed with another fresh IVF cycle (like we did this time) vs. a frozen embryo transfer.
  2. I would resign from my position at work.

What?!

Seriously, I am not quite sure how God worked all of this out in our minds and hearts so quickly, and yet, giving us so much peace about our decisions, but He has.

Let’s work backwards.

We decided that we wanted to take advantage of the knowledge that the doctors gained on my first cycle and wanted a chance to obtain more frozen embryos. The cost of a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET for short) is the same cost and physical hardship if you transfer 1 or 2 embryos. We know that the chances of the embryos making the thaw process are about 50% and that transferring 2 have a higher chance of resulting in a pregnancy than 1. With that known, we feel more comfortable working to obtain at least 1 more frozen embryo before moving to a FET. (We currently have 1). Now, if we get pregnant from the fresh cycle, which is our real goal and objective (duh!), we still plan on using our frosty baby/babies in the future as we grow our family. So essentially we are postponing the FET in a hopeful attempt to increase our odds when that time comes.

With that decision in mind, we knew that the mental focus and rest that was put on the cycle last time was helpful. Being off of work helped immensely as the physical reactions and side effects, in conjunction with the appointments and such would be difficult to balance with my job.

For those who don’t know, I have had the opportunity to be the HR Director for a quickly growing, multi-site psychiatric organization, providing both inpatient and outpatient services. I have been able to devote the last 5 years of my professional life (ok, and personal life – those 60+ work weeks get in the way!) to being part of something incredible. What was once a small, 30 person company when I started has now grown to 200+staff members and I have enjoyed every minute of being part of something that touches so many people’s lives. (I mean, who gets to be a part of an executive team that starts and opens a HOSPITAL!? That hasn’t happened in MN without a partnering hospital for dozens of years.) With that said, it has been very busy and stressful, and while I truly love it, it’s tiring and draining. When anticipating another fresh cycle, I knew that while my company would likely continue to support me, but that it wasn’t fair to them to ask them for more time off, that may or may not result in a successful pregnancy, or may or may not result in a high risk pregnancy, which may or may not result in needing even more time off for a FET cycle should it come to that. We are working on continued expansion plans and my HR role is a critical piece of that growth. Thus the dilemma.

We knew God had an answer and believed He would guide us…and He did. I had to make the difficult decision to leave a job and company that I love, for the unknown. SCARY! Honestly, the decision has only been final for a few days and while I am incredibly excited about the future, I am so sad to be leaving this piece of my professional life behind. Through conversations and emails with staff members, I know I was able to make a difference and feel incredibly validated and honored for what I have been a part of. (I want to make this clear that this was my personal decision and my company has been nothing but supportive and has honored this decision with a lot of grace!)

My last day will be April 12th– 12 weeks away and it seems both too close and too far away. The exciting part is that I will be able to truly focus on starting a family without many outside stressors. The scary piece is not working and having an income while doing that. But … I believe that God has brought us to this decision and will provide. It falls perfectly inline with the fact that our next IVF cycle will begin on April 17th. YEAH!

I was in line at Starbucks last Friday, with my Christmas gift card in hand, thinking about how our lifestyle will change once we are down an income (and my gift card runs out!). I immediately panicked, thinking “this is so stupid!”. The “logic” behind this is crazy, giving up a great job I love for such an unknown – seriously, who does that?! I immediately questioned if this was the right decision and basically, doubted the God would provide. Then I pulled up to the window where I was informed the person in front of me paid for my coffee. Now this may seem small to you, but to me, it was a definite sign that God was trying to tell me “My child, don’t worry. I will always provide. I am in each moment. Go in faith.”

Around the same time as making this decision to leave my job, a new friend, one I met on Instagram no less, offered to send me unopened boxes of medication from her last cycle, medications costing HUNDREDS of dollars – for free. She is pregnant now and wants them to be used by someone who needs them … man, what a blessing that was! Honestly, since making this difficult decision, God has done nothing but reaffirm that no matter how silly/stupid/irresponsible/rattling this decision may feel, that it is where He is calling us.

So change is coming! The excitement of trying all of this again is high. I feel like a seasoned pro with IVF now, ha. Never in a million years did I think it would come down to this. But we know the calling in our hearts right now is to become parents and I know that I will never regret giving it 100%. Who knows what the future holds but I have seen in all this, that God is always a few steps ahead and His wisdom isn’t always something we will understand.

I think of Noah – who was called to be build and ark, and obeyed despite looking insane. Moses – who was called to bring the Israelites out of Egypt because a burning bush told him to. Mary – who carried a child despite the fact that she was a virgin. Truthfully, God doesn’t call us to look sane or to always do what makes sense. He calls us to obey what He is prompting us to do and then it requires us moving in line with His spirit. And so onward we move into a new norm, one where I don’t work, and one where I can focus on better self-care and reducing my stress levels. We are hoping and praying that this is the perfect mixture to result in a happy and healthy baby next January.

So, send me articles about coupon clipping, recipes and things to keep me busy! : ) We are excited for this next adventure and can’t wait to see what God has planned. I get to be a stay-at-home mom before I am, well, a mom. It’s weird, but exciting and I am so grateful to have a husband who is so supportive in this venture. Keep praying that God continues to affirm this decision and that bringing closure to my work “baby” goes well over the next several weeks. I wish I knew how this will all end … but until then, we trust and wait. :)

be washed in sunshine.

“Chelsea, I am touching base to let you know that your hCG levels are finally negative today. So that’s good. I’m glad it went down so we can move on with things.”

HURRAY! This is exactly the message I wanted to hear on Monday. I never thought I would be so excited to hear my doctor call to confirm that I was no longer considered “pregnant” by my hormone levels, but honestly, what a great thing to be able to close that chapter! A sincere thanks for all of the prayers and support. I am constantly grateful that our prayers were heard and answered so quickly, and that even despite the circumstances, that we were offered grace in a tough situation.

As I sit here at my computer typing this, I can’t help but notice a zip loc bag next to me that holds the pictures of our embryos from our transfer. I don’t know what to do with them. I could never throw them away. Those are our babies. I can’t hide them away like it never happened. I can’t frame them and it feels too sad to even pull them out of the bag. So in the bag they will stay, watching Mom clack away at the keyboard.

A few people keep telling me how they admire how “positive” I am being. It makes me want to laugh, because I truly feel quite the opposite of “positive” at times. In fact, at the end of last week, I just felt downright cranky. I wish I could blame it on hormones, or a lack of sleep, but instead, I was just bitter. Not at anything in particular either. I couldn’t pin my annoyance on a certain event or conversation. I was just in a funk. I made rude comments, I couldn’t attempt a smile at times, I felt like I had a grimace on my face for a few days straight. I even felt a twinge in my heart that I hadn’t felt before, or at least in a lonnnnnng time …. *jealousy*.

Whoa.

I have always been so good at separating out emotions, my situation from others. Remembering that’s “their baby”, not mine. But for some reason, for about 48 hours, I couldn’t do that. I just felt angry and sad whenever I saw a baby, heard about a baby, looked at a baby. I felt a sour taste in my mouth and rocked Death Eyes that probably hasn’t been pulled out since I was in 3rd grade. I didn’t want to pray about. I didn’t want to remind myself it wasn’t right. I just wanted to sulk in it and validate myself that it was okay.

The sour taste turned into an irrational panic on Saturday night. Josh and I were sitting in the dimly lit sanctuary at church, singing a song (me, still feeling in a funk), when all of a sudden this young couple in front of us starts to move around. It caught my attention as I saw the man bend down and BAM!, pops up with a tiny infant boy whose eyes were wide open and locked firmly into mine. I felt like the room froze and I suddenly lost my breath. It was my first experience being face to face with a newborn since my miscarriage and here was this adorable little boy, no more than 2 weeks old, propped up staring at me, just a few feet away. I feel like it was a moment I will never forget. I instantly looked away and reminded myself to breath, keep standing and singing, when in fact, I literally wanted to scream “GET THAT BABY AWAY FROM ME!”. I felt immense sadness mix with the fear that the couple would never be us. That I would be the one looking at babies in church for years to come. Part of me wanted to leave the service immediately, the other part of me thought about stabbing the man with my fine tip 0.38 G-2 pen just hard enough to release some of my tension and cause enough damage to make him leave. Thankfully, I “toughed” it out, avoided eye contact and flew out of there when the service was over.

And I ended up being fine. In fact, I was around 134 more children 5 and under at church the next morning when I volunteered as scheduled. But it reminded me of how human I am. And can be. And will be. Yes, I will be positive. And try to stay positive. But I have my bad moments and my good moments. And I don’t want to give anyone the false impression that this is easy, or that I am fakely positive. Because I’m human and it’s hard! I’ve tried to be as transparent about this as possible and I hope you walk away with encouragement, knowing that even in the hard times, we serve a God that is in ultimate control and that His plans will not only prevail, but are what’s best for us. It’s hard to believe when we are in a sinful world, but I know it and trust it to be true. So that’s where my hope comes from. It doesn’t mean days and moments aren’t tough. And my husband can certainly attest to my sometimes childish outbursts. But we live without the fear of the future. (And for me right now that means trusting that the scary newborn panic moment was a one-off, because I have lots of friends and family whose little babies coming into the world very soon! I have no time for this fear!)

“Still, if you set your heart on God and reach out to him… You’ll be able to face the world unashamed and keep a firm grip on life, guiltless and fearless. You’ll forget your troubles; they’ll be like old, faded photographs. Your world will be washed in sunshine, every shadow dispersed by dayspring. Full of hope, you’ll relax, confident again; you’ll look around, sit back, and take it easy…” (Job 11:15-19 MSG)

So let’s set our hearts on God, reach out to Him, hold on tight and forget our troubles. Let His peace wash over us like sunshine and let His spirit renew our confidence as we wait in Him.

So what’s next for us? Well, we know we still want a family. And are praying continuously about what that means for us. We know that another IVF round is likely a part of us future in the next 4-5 months. And we are praying for continued guidance. direction, provision, and validation that our plans are His plans.

So let the sun shine in. : )

just laugh.

The People’s Choice Awards seem painfully awkward to watch this year! I can’t help but multitask and blog as I watch the lame jokes and crickets chirping. Is this even a real award show?? As I sit on my couch though, I can’t help but savor this time when the house is quiet and life is calm. I watched my TV show when I came home from work, I made a dinner that didn’t require being cut into tiny pieces, leisurely read my new magazine, will take a quiet bubble bath shortly … I know life won’t always be like this. Sometime soon, I will have to make a dinner that can be grasped by tiny fingers. The house will be filled with the songs of Sesame Street and the magazine subscriptions will likely end, or at least change to parenting ones. Instead of bubble baths, I will crash in bed. Those days will be wonderful. But, until those sleep deprived days come, I will enjoy every single second of this life. Life is just too darn short, and there are too many unknowns to be worrying about tomorrow. To wish for something different. Let’s not let today pass by wishing for a different life. We are exactly where we are meant to be. I will likely look back on these days and wish I worried less about the future and enjoyed the moment more.

My appointment on Monday resulted on wonderful news …. We were pleasantly blessed with the news that there was no residual sac or tissue in my uterus that would require us having to make ANY decision from the earlier 3 choices. My tubes looked great and the ectopic pregnancy was ruled out. I thankfully passed the majority of it this weekend and my levels dropped substantially. I will return to the clinic next Monday and hopefully those numbers will have continued to drop and soon be negative. I can’t even begin to tell you the relief we feel with this answered prayer! THANK YOU for praying!

Infertility is brutal. Those going through it have had too many doctors visits, blood draws, probe exposures, highs and lows, tough calls and difficult decisions. We used to be terrified of needles and now we slide that thing into our belly as easy as we pop a chip into our mouths. It can feel so serious, and it is. It hurts and I can’t pretend like it’s all a joke.  We try to be so polite about infertility, say the right thing, make it a polite experience. But its sucks way more than that. The feelings are too … big. But I do find laughing through the tough days to be a good coping mechanism. ( Q: How many infertility patients does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: Screw in a light bulb? Hmm, do you think that would work?)  Sometimes, you just have to break the ice in your own head. It can be too much to carry. Give yourself permission to cry and be angry, but also give yourself permission to laugh at the cruelty of this.

In the end, we survive! We will defeat this. It doesn’t always seem “fair”, but “those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” (Ps. 126:5). Hang in there. Take your Thing and give yourself permission to be real with your emotions. Savor the day for what it is. And keep fighting. God is ever present. He is fighting with us, for us. Keep the faith, sleep while you can, and save your money …. because this reproductive disease is expensive!

miscarriage malfunction.

It’s amazing how quickly people can fall back into a routine after heartbreak. Sure, the sadness is still there but your mind and body just take over. You make the bed again, wash the dishes, return to work. Respond to emails, attend meetings, order your Starbucks. Laugh. Life goes on. I realize that few people I interact with daily know all of what’s been going on in my life. My attitude can’t change based on my emotions. People still deserve kindness, grace, timely responses and smiles. We pick up the pieces and keep going. It’s getting easier. I feel like part of God’s grace is creating a blanket over the pain. It all feels like of “fuzzy” now. I look back to a week ago and think, “Did we really go through that? How am I still standing?” It sort of feels like it happened to someone else. We just keep marching forward. Life is still moving.

Or course there are still triggers that bring up the painful memories and physical and emotional achiness. Pregnancy announcements on TV showers, seeing baby bumps everywhere (and I mean everywhere! Are they multiplying!?), putting on a scarf I wore to the transfer or a pair of earrings that I bought when I was pregnant. The pain is briefer but just as intense. But again, life moves on.

I had my doctor appointment yesterday to ensure my blood work came back negative. When my doctor called me, I anticipated setting up an appointment for our next consultation to discuss next steps. Instead, what I was told is that I can’t even miscarry correctly. (My words, not hers). Essentially what has happened is my body still thinks I am pregnant. My pregnancy hormones that dipped so significantly a week ago have now quadrupled. No, not to a level where I could have a healthy, viable pregnancy, but to a level where it’s obvious I am still carrying a sac and placenta, but without a baby inside.

So what does this mean?

Well, my doctor kindly explained that it could either be an ectopic pregnancy, one where the embryo has attached outside of the uterus. The chances of this are low because I am not in significant pain. However, still possible and I am to be looking out for symptoms this weekend. Of course this would be an option we pray against, as it could result in the loss of a fallopian tube.

But likely, it’s just what I explained above – the embryo sac is still attached and my body is still producing hormones for the “baby”. I have to go in for a 6 week ultrasound on Monday afternoon to see exactly what’s going on and discuss next steps.

A few options –

  1. I could have a D&C surgery to remove the tissue. This would likely be the simplest solution in the terms of it being a 1 day surgery and the doctor being able to get it all. It does hold with it the risk and expense of another surgery, as well as a required minimum 3 month wait before trying again.
  2. We could take medication to induce it. I have heard that this doesn’t always work and is an incredibly painful way of solving it. This would certain be something I would need to find out more about before considering it.
  3. We wait for my body to handle it naturally. This would result in a “phantom” pregnancy. My bump growing, my body mimicking that it was pregnancy but without a baby. This option doesn’t appeal to me at all.

To be honest, the whole thing is almost comical at this point. I think I am more irritated and annoyed than anything. I mean, come on! First I can’t get pregnant for 4.5 years. Then I go through multiple methods to conceive, including IVF. I end up in the ER with complications. I find out I am pregnant. I begin to miscarry on Christmas. And then find out I actually haven’t miscarried correctly and have to drag this out even more. Sigh.

As I was driving out of the work parking lot yesterday, I realized I had been singing this verse over and over again in my head, a subconscious prayer of worship and submission:

“The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear, And I don’t know the reason why You brought me here.… And I’m clinging to the promise You’re not through with me yet so if all of these trials bring me closer to you then I will walk through the fire if You want me to.” – Ginny Owens

I know I shared that song back in June in this blog entry. And it remains the same. I don’t know why. To many, it seems cruel. We don’t understand why a God that is inherently good, allows people to go through painful times. But, He IS good. And He DOES care. So we keep giving it over to Him, accepting His timing and road bumps. We grow stronger by the day, grow closer to one another and to God and feel more prepared to face the future than ever before.

As always,we welcome prayer as we venture into a new unknown on Monday and figuring out what is medically necessary to close this chapter. One foot in front of the other … we keep marching.