two steps forward, one step back.

I really don’t know where to begin. I find blogging so therapeutic and it helps me process my emotions. Interestingly enough with a massively large audience, but that’s okay. When I started this blog, I wanted to give people a peek inside the world of someone who is struggling with infertility. I knew it would be filled with highs and lows, emotion and rawness. I hoped it could be filled with authenticity and others could relate while reading it, whether they were struggling with infertility or not.

The story of infertility is truly the story of finding complete peace and satisfaction in God, trusting Him always, leaning not on ourselves, and of daily surrender.

I never thought that our story would contain a miscarriage. I never thought our story would pull at so many people’s heart and I never thought that this blog would bless me so much, by allowing so many people in to support us, especially when we needed it most.

Thank you for everyone’s unbelievable support. For taking the time to text us and honor our babies (short) lives. To ask how I am, daily. To understand that space is helpful. To send flowers, cards, strawberries. To solicit prayers from your Facebook friends through statuses and for the endless amounts of authentic, raw responses, sharing your own tough stories. While this has been one of the hardest weeks of my life, it has been one of the biggest blessings, as I have seen God rally His troops to bless us so much and to support us in this time. It is beautiful.

So how am I doing? Well, each hour is different. Each day gets a little easier. The tears are a little less, but the ache in my heart is still there. It’s tough.

Thursday

I laid in bed. All day. Literally in the dark. Shades pulled down. Worship music on repeat. Working my way through an entire box of tissue. My dog patiently laying next to me, refusing the cries of her bladder as she knew asking to go out wouldn’t have an answer in her favor. I felt like a shell of who I once was. I didn’t have my contacts in and my glasses were not comfortable to lay with so I sat in the dark, feeling blind (both figuratively and literally) and completely out of control. I was so comforted by all the incoming messages, texts, promises to pray from friends and family. On Thursday I didn’t know if I would ever be able to get out of bed again. Every time I went to the bathroom, I was re-reminded that my babies were literally being ripped out of me.

Finally, at 6:30 pm, Josh gently peeled me from the tear stained sheets and I went downstairs for a bit. My appetite was gone. I was certain I would never be able to eat again. I felt empty, heartbroken, but never alone. The peace of God surrounded my heart so entirely that I never felt abandoned or forsaken.

Friday

I had to get up on Friday because I had to go back to the clinic for blood work. This was by far the most painful visit of my life. It took me 2 hours to get ready (and by get ready I mean shower and dress, forget hair and make-up). I kept going to lay back down. I hated that the sun was shining. I hated that I had to drive 40 minutes for another needle poke to ensure the miscarriage was happening “properly”. I made myself go to the grocery store, where I was angry that no one around me knew the sorrow that I was walking around with. People seemed too chipper. I felt like I was walking around in a strange reality. Of course I chose the one cashier who wanted to have a long and cheerful conversation, to which I grunted a little and tried to act human. I wanted to spew out my sadness but knew that wouldn’t help.

The call came, confirming that while the miscarriage was indeed being handled naturally, that they needed to continue to follow my pregnancy numbers into the negative range and that I would need to come back in a week to have another blood test done, to confirm the pregnancy was completely gone. I am dreading that visit and appointment.

Friday the sadness came in waves. There were times I felt filled with hope again, knowing this was going to pass and I would return to my new “normal” soon. Then there were times I just cried. Times I pitied myself and times I was just still with God.

Saturday

Larger periods of time between the Funk. Continuing to have hope-filled, encouraging messages sent our way. Feeling so grateful for each of you. Went to a movie with Josh. Laughed and it felt strange. Should I be laughing already? Back home. Cried. Thought about where I was 2 weeks ago today. Sitting on the same couch, but with 2 little babies in my stomach, on bed rest and filled with such optimism and hope. How did so much happened in 2 weeks? Where were my babies? The cramping and bleeding still continued. A constant reminder of how much things had changed.

Sunday

Didn’t get out of my pajamas all day, but the first day I didn’t cry. Or at least cry where tears ran down my face. I am realizing now that I have to go back to work in a few days and need to get my act together. Made dinner and felt like I accomplished a huge feat. Declared to Josh that “tomorrow I will get up, shower and get dressed!” Felt motivated to move on. We continue to discuss what our next steps will be and are anxious to talk with our doctor.

Monday

Woke up. No longer feeling the motivation to get out of bed. Contemplated not moving all day again but knew that wouldn’t solve anything. Showered. Got dressed. Did dishes. I am glad my body and mind can take over such routine things. Jumped in the car to run errands and flipped on the radio, praying that I would make it through the day. Immediately my car was filled with the soft spoken words of a Focus on the Family radio program.

It was so hard, struggling with infertility. I prayed so hard that my wife could conceive.”

My heart stopped. They never talk about infertility on the radio. And this could go one of two ways, the “so we gave up on that and now are foster parents” or “God answered our prayers”. I needed so badly to hear prayers were answered. My heart couldn’t take the “changed heart” response.

And so we were prayed over, asking for God’s blessings to have a child. And 3 ½ months later we found out we were pregnant. And then came Ryan and Whitney and Tyler and Anna and Emily … and then we asked to be removed from the prayer list.”

God heard his prayers! He answered and healed their hearts with children. It WAS possible. At this point, I began to cry as I drove. And the host said that so many people listening had lost their hope, were feeling discouraged and beat up. And the guest began to pray this prayer of blessing. (At this point, I turned off the road into an empty parking lot in search of tissue.)

In the name of Jesus Christ, I bless you with the promises of God which are “yes” and “amen”.

May the Holy Spirit make you healthy and strong in body, mind, and spirit. To move in faith and expectancy. May God’s angels be with you to protect and keep you.

Be blessed with supernatural strength to turn your eyes from foolish, worthless, and evil things, and to shut out the demeaning and negative. Instead may you behold the beauty of things that God has planned for you as you obey His Word. May God bless your ears to hear the lovely, the uplifting, and the encouraging. May your mind be strong, disciplined, balanced and faith-filled.

May your feet walk in holiness and your steps be ordered by the Lord. May your hands be tender and helping, blessing those in need. May your heart be humble and receptive to one another and to the things of God, not to the world.

God’s grace be upon your home, that it may be a sanctuary of rest and renewal, a haven of peace where sounds of joy and laughter grace it’s walls, where love and unconditional acceptance of one another is the constant rule.

May God give you the spiritual strength to overcome the evil one and avoid temptation. May God’s grace be upon you to fulfill your dreams and visions. May goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life.

Amen

Wow. (The guest by the way was Michael W. Smith.) I sat in my car, completely filled with hope and promises that blessings were ahead, and even if not the specific way we were asking for them, that we have all we need in Him.

In painful times, I have learned (and continued to learn), that we have a choice.

We can allow our pain to cause a division between us and God. Or, we can choose to allow that pain to bring us even closer to Him, to allow Him to be intimately nestled into our pain, our confusion, our tears and our struggles. This choice to trust Him regardless of how I “feel” or what we have gone through is one of the easiest choices I have ever made. He has carried us every step of the way. Him carrying us doesn’t shield us from feeling the pains of grief. But it provides us with a way to get through each day, each hour, each minute. A popular Christian author, Beth Moore, writes “God’s word never said we were not to grieve our losses. It says we are not to grieve as those who have no hope. Big difference.” How true is that? Even in these painful times, these tear-filled days, and this physically and emotionally devastating time, we have hope. He never lets us go.

So what’s next for us? We are not sure yet. We know that we want to continue the fight for a family. We plan on meeting with our doctor in the next few weeks to discuss our options. We may choose to go forward with our one frozen embryo, or wait and save to do another fresh cycle (as this one was). We will not forget about our frostie baby, don’t worry. It’s so difficult as future attempts are so financially draining, scary and unrealistic. With literally no insurance coverage, some options may just not be possible for us. That’s a scary reality that I am working through and trusting God to provide. So we continue to pray for guidance and peace as we figure out our next steps.

I return to work on Wednesday. Please keep me in your prayers, that my tears stay away, that I have the energy to fight through a long day, that I don’t feel overwhelmed, and that the return goes smooth.

Bring on 2013!

PS – And yes, I am bitter that Kim Kardashian is pregnant, while still being officially married to another man. That Jessica Simpson is pregnant, again, while her first is only 8 months. And that the woman at Target today asked me if I had any kids and wouldn’t stop yacking about her two kids under 2 that are holding her “hostage” tonight. But maybe my opinions will change in an hour ….

angel babies.

Joy. Sorrow. Grief. Pain. Loss. The emotions of our week.

On the morning of Sunday the 23rd, Josh and I had the joy of finding out that we were indeed pregnant and expecting. We were in complete shock, couldn’t stop smiling and praising God for our miracle baby/babies. It was so surreal, a joy unlike anything we had felt before. I “felt” pregnant. I was sure everyone I saw could tell. We took the first side profile shots, bought onsies, schemed all day about how we were going to tell our family and close friends. I know our babies thought my jokes were funnier than Dad’s as we talked to them and fell in love.

Christmas Eve we were able to confirm the pregnancy with strong lab results and congratulations from our doctor. We were able to shock Josh’s parents with the news. We celebrated and cried. We had little visitors at the family Christmas Eve celebration that no one knew about yet. What a Christmas present.

Christmas morning we were able to surprise my parents and sister with the news. What a blessing and precious memory that is. To say people were “excited” is an understatement. I felt on top of the world. We wondered if it was one or two (I think two), boys or girls, what sports they would play. The due date of September 2, 2013 is burned into my brain. Your baby is the size of an orange seed, the apps told me. We read what was not allowed during pregnancy. Josh made sure I knew what kinds of cheeses I could and couldn’t eat. We celebrated this Christmas miracle.

Midday I began to cramp. I had read that cramping was okay as long as it wasn’t accompanied by bleeding. It felt strange, cramping, since I hadn’t experienced those kinds of cramps in a while. However when I went to the bathroom, the fear kicked in as I realized I was also bleeding. Not old brown blood, which they tell you is normal, but bright red blood, which they tell you isn’t good.

I went upstairs to lie down. We prayed. We were scared but felt that God had this all under control. My family graciously left, allowing Josh and I to be together. Attempting to relax while continuing to bleed and cramp made for the longest Christmas day ever. We paged our doctor who told us this could be normal and not to worry, to come back to the clinic in the morning for blood work.

I gradually stopped bleeding over night and we felt a sense of relief. Just one of those “weird pregnancy things” we would have to get used to! “This will be a long 9 months” Josh kept saying. He became so protective of me the instant we found out I was pregnant. I went to the clinic for my blood test, waiting for our numbers to come back strong and positive. Our little babies were just being trouble makers already.

Then the call came. “I am so sorry Chelsea, to tell you, that your numbers lowered, indicative of a pregnancy that is not viable. You are experiencing a miscarriage. Please come back on Friday for blood work to ensure that your body is naturally handling the discard.”

Our world stopped.

We held it together till 4:30, when Josh and I were back together. And then we lost it. What would our baby have looked like? What would their names have been? Whose eyes would they have had? Why is this happening to us? Wouldn’t a negative result just been that much easier? Why the hope and then the devastation? I feel like my heart has physically been ripped out. I feel empty inside. I can’t look in the mirror, I just see someone who won’t see her baby bump grow. Who feels beaten down. We are filled with a sorrow we can’t explain. I can’t open the bathroom drawer, for that’s where we stashed all the positive pregnancy tests, ones we took just to see the two lines appear again and again. I can’t touch my phone, for that’s where all the pictures of our baby story is, our videos of us telling our parents, pictures of me with “I love my Mommy” newborn clothes, pictures of Josh with his “Daddy & Me” onsie is, pictures of Cali angrily stuffed into an “I’m Gonna Be a Big Sister!” shirt.

Why?

Why will I never be able to hold my babies in my arms? Why will I never hear their cries? Why will September 2nd come and go without new life?

I don’t know. I am heartbroken. I am so sad. I am not angry. I knew this could happen, statistics say 1 in 4 pregnancies result in a miscarriage. I just didn’t think this would happen to us. After all we have been through, couldn’t we have just been able to experience this miraculous joy?

I share this with you and beg for your prayers. Please allow us to grieve privately right now. Many people are awaiting news and are still hoping for the best and praying for a test this weekend. The encouraging, excitement texts are too painful to receive. We can’t quite say these words out loud yet. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want visitors. I will be lucky if I can pull myself out of bed today. We just need prayers. We don’t know why God has allowed this to happen, but we know that our babies are with Him. We know that “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5) He loved them just as much, if not more, than we did.

I don’t understand, but I will continue to put my trust in His promises. I know He will help us through this period of sorrow. It doesn’t make sense but His constant love for us will always be true. God has proven to continue to work in our hearts and more than ever before, do we need to lean on Him each minute. Each day we will pick up more pieces. The thought of the future and trying this again is overwhelming right now. I don’t know what lies ahead for us. But today, we grieve. Please say a special prayer for us.

Love,

A Mommy and Daddy that were

baby

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Eve all! This is one of my most favorite times of the year. Christmas music blaring, the fire blazing, hot cocoa in hand and lights everywhere … it truly is a magical time of the year! And I think now, more than ever in years past, do I realize the true miracle and glory that was shown when Jesus came to earth. A virgin, Mary, became with child with the Prince of Peace. In the midst of shots, pills, ultrasounds, surgeries, blood work and patience, the realization that there was a real pregnancy, a real child, a real birth is incredible. What courage, anxiety and hope Mary must have been filled with!

I think about all the tender moments that Mary share with her precious newborn son. Remembering the Jesus was fully human, I think of all the nights she stayed up late trying to get him to calm down and go to sleep. The first smiles that might have just been gas but still made her so excited; Joseph gagging over the first really stinky diaper; the arguments about whose turn it was to get up to soothe his tears. The giggles, the first steps, the first words. It all makes me smile and appreciate even more the humanness of our Lord. We talk about Him going to earth in the flesh and dwelling among us. And this is what it means – He was born on this earth to become a sacrifice for each of us. I cannot imagine the sorrow God felt when He knew that His son was born to die. I can’t even imagine having a child, knowing it would be a sacrifice. Yet that’s exactly what happened.

So often we read and envision Christ as a 30-something year old adult man, sharing stories, breaking bread, walking with His disciples. But, during this time especially, I urge you to stop and reflect on the beauty of His flesh, birth and childhood.

My plan for your life is unfolding before you. Sometimes the road you are traveling seems blocked, or it opens so painfully slowly that you must hold yourself back. Then, when time is right, the way before you suddenly clears – through no effort of your own. What you have longed for and worked for I present to you freely, as a pure gift. You feel awed by the east with which I operate in the world, and you glimpse My Power and My Glory….As you persevere along the path I have prepared for you, depending on My strength to sustain you, expect to see miracles – and you will.” – Jesus Calling

Savor His goodness and His glory, His presence and His power, His humanness and His love … Merry Christmas!

and the waiting begins (again).

So last time I blogged was last Friday (where did a week go!?). We were waiting for a call about our embryos. We were told that as of Thursday night, they were all still alive  (the 7 that is), and that the 6 split into an 8 cell and that our little straggler was still a 2 cell. Day 4 of incubation is the most critical developmental day so they do not disturb them on that day. They let us know to come in the morning to meet with our doctor who would tell us the final details on our embryos.

Josh and I were SO excited going into our embryo transfer! It really was such a special day. We were able to go out to breakfast together before hand and enjoy some special time together before the transfer. Once we got to the Center, we met with our doctor who let us know that our little straggler didn’t make it (which we kind of expected). Of the 6 remaining, 1 of them became a blastocyst, which mean that one would be transferred for sure. Then they look at the remaining embryos and depending on their stage and grade, they transfer the next best. We had one that was the stage right before the blastocyst stage (called a morula). The lab grades the embryos on a scale of 1-4. Our blastocyst was given a grade 3 and our morula was given a grade 2. (It mainly has to do with cell fragmentation within the embryo.) We were assured that both embryos looked great and that these are average grades.

Our doctor suggested that we implant 2 embryos, which is where Josh and I were feeling lead as well. She said with those specific two, and knowing my own medical lab work, etc, she gave us a 51% chance of getting a positive pregnancy result and a 15% chance of twins. I think Josh and I both wished it was a little higher than 51% but were happy that it was much higher than any percentage we have had in the past.

She also let us know that the remaining 4 embryos would be given 1 more day to become blastocysts. In order to freeze, they need to be in that stage.

Josh was able to be in the room with me during the embryo transfer which was wonderful! It was so special to watch on the screen together the actual transfer and to see the babies nestled in my uterus. I was relaxed with the help of Valium for the procedure and apart from the uncomfortableness from a very full bladder (32 oz in 30 minutes right before the transfer), I really didn’t feel a thing. We spent some time there resting and then were sent home. Our doctor explained to us that the embryos weren’t going to fall out (I was worried!). She said to think of them like 2 peas on a peanut butter sandwich, haha.

The first few days after the transfer I was on strict bedrest. Josh made sure I wasn’t scrunching or bent or moving in any way. The first day I was incredibly antsy. I am not a back rester/sleeper so not being able to be comfortable on my stomach was annoying. But the time passed quickly. The next couple days were better as my body’s exhaustion took over and I found some more comfortable ways to lounge. We were also informed that 3 of our embryos didn’t make it, but 1 did and it became a blastocyst so we have froze that. We were told that it has a 50% chance of making it through the dethaw process and about a 30% chance of resulting in a pregnancy. Again, not amazing odds but better than most and I am grateful we have another chance. It brings a lot of mental relief knowing that there is a chance to do a frozen embryo transfer assuming it survives the thawing process.

We were told if the embryos would implant, it would be within the first 48 hours. Essentially once they transfer the embryos into me, they then have to implant themselves. So the reality is, either they are in there right now or not. It’s a scary reality. Throughout this entire TTC journey, I have always had some feedback throughout the process. Checking follicles, lining, uterus shapes, lab work. Now I just wait. And can do nothing about the end results. Most days are really good days. I talk to the little babies. I envision good news and think positive thoughts. But I have bad days too. Wednesday was exceptionally difficult as the reality that there was a chance that I am not pregnant set in. I feel like I have gotten attached to these two little peanuts and spent the day “pre-grieving” negative news. I wish I could have snapped out of it. I had friends and family thrusting good thoughts my way. But my brain and eyes just wept for the journey, for the exhaustion, for the reality, out of fear that this truly may not be God’s time yet. It’s completely out of our hands. I know hormones don’t help logical thinking. In the end, I know that regardless the outcome, that we will be okay. We have each other, our friends and family, our fur baby, and most importantly, our Father who cares far more than we could ever imagine.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

All of our Things, whether trying to conceive, dealing with pain and suffering, struggling to get by … in the long run, these things are very small. But we have an opportunity to take these tough times and use them to strength us, make us better people, share His light, rejoice in Him and bring Him glory. When we focus on Him instead of on us, it takes the power away from Satan, no longer allowing him to run the “what if…”’s and “how come”’s that attack our brain. It’s not easy. And I fail at this, like Wednesday. But joy comes in the morning and we wake with renewed strength. Josh is my forever optimist and positive light. I am so thankful for him and the constant reassurance he brings.

A lot of people are asking “so when do you find out?!” This is a tough question to answer because the reality of the heartbreak and pain, or the joy and celebration can’t be shared or pinned to one day. So please know that we will find by the end of the year and will share with all of you the end results after we have had time to process, share with close friends and family and such. Your continued prayers mean so much. Your thoughtful texts, cards, and messages have encouraged me each day. We have been blessed with an amazing small group and family that have supported us with meals nearly every night for about 2 weeks. This has been a gigantic blessing as I still continue to gain strength and motivation.

Can you believe we are here? It all seems surreal still. I know that God doesn’t work on percentages or grades, chance or luck. It’s a comfort to know that our hope lies in Him and He is always watching out for us and for our future children. Keep waiting with us and praying …. You all are the best!


The morning of, enjoying a 7 am date with my husband :)

The morning of, enjoying a 7 am date with my husband : )

Meeting our 2 babies for the first time!

Meeting our 2 babies for the first time!

We love them. (I think they have my eyes.)

We love them. (I think they have my eyes.)

There they are! (Upper left hand side, the tiny white spot about the cursor.)

There they are! (Upper left hand side, the tiny white spot about the cursor.)

Lots of sleeping. Good thing I have a snuggley puppy. :)

Lots of sleeping. Good thing I have a snuggley puppy. : )

my week.

Settle in friends. Maybe go make a bucket of popcorn or stop and get a coffee refill first. I have a feeling this will be a long one. (When I realized I hadn’t blogged since before the egg retrieval surgery, I felt mad at tired, I-‘can’t-blog-right-now-Chelsea. I have my work cut out for me now.)

I will try to be prompt and efficient.

ZzzhzzZhhZHHHzhhzzhhhhhhh (the sound effects of going backwards in time)

Monday

10:00 am

C – (in head) I am so glad I am remembering to shave my legs.(Author’s note: See, only the important stuff is making it today)

10:15 am – 11:30 am

We leave for the Center! The roads were bad and we knew we had to be there by 11:30, not a minute later. So we left early, and am glad that we did! We got there a little early but were able to prep ourselves for the day ahead. Waiting in the waiting room, I realized that Josh is totally not cut out to be in serious situations. I was trying to be mature and composed and he kept making jokes and making me laugh. (Ok, at one point I did wrap my scarf around my face and he reminded me I wasn’t at home, alone.) Either way, we were getting kind of goofy. I was so thirsty (no food or liquids since the day before) and I am blaming that on our silliness. (He has no excuse, for the record).

11:30 am – 12:30 pm

We go in for pre-op! We met our nurse who seemed so nice. She explained what would happen, asked a lot of questions and was so excited for us, it made the experience seem even more exciting. The doctor on call that day came in and visited with us, not the same doctor we have had through the whole thing, but we knew that it could be any of them. Dr. C was very nice and thorough as well. Then the anesthesiologist came in, talked a little about the medication portion and split us up. Josh and I said goodbye and I went back to the surgery room with her. Getting up on the table and swinging my legs over the stir-ups was nearly impossible. At this point, I felt so incredible swollen and sore (yes people, the 4 months pregnancy piece is true. I was HUGE. And uncomfortable.) so they needed to assist me.

The IV thing is always tricky with me. I have teeny tiny veins and both of my arms were already very bruised from all the blood work I had been giving over the weeks. I explained my teeny tiny vein situation (TTVS for short) to the anesthesiologist and she said she excels at TTVS’s. At first we got one in my left arm, or so we thought, until my arm started burning and we realized it wasn’t going to work. (The saline went into my blood and it burned up my arm a bit. She felt really bad.) Finally after some digging we found one in the other arm and she administered me something to make me relax (which was nice). The team finished setting up and I was making small talk with the nurses. They started talking to each other and I decided to pray. I prayed for Josh and then I prayed that all the prayers of everyone who was praying for us that day would be released on me …. And then I woke up. Seriously, she didn’t even tell me she was giving me the sleeping stuff! (Now as I type, I wonder if she thought I was already sleeping because my eyes were closed from praying. That makes more sense.) The doctor popped up from the other side of the table and said “Good job! We got 11 eggs. Nice work.” I remember being excited and then confused as they begin to tug me from the table and had me move into a hospital recovery bed.“No, scoot over more. No, more. No, more. I can’t put the rail up.”

A quick zip down the hall to a quiet little room. The nurse gave me some Tylenol with my first sip of water of the day (YEAH!) and I waited a few seconds for Josh to join me. We were both really excited about the 11 eggs, being right around average. Everything went fast from there. I was waking up fine, making jokes and finished my water and my bag of fluids. I was popped in a wheelchair, wheeled to the car and to home we headed! At this point I was just very swollen and tender still in my abdomen but that’s really it.

The rest of the day was relaxed. Josh made me some soup, we watched a TV show. I was really sore but Tylenol helped.

Tuesday

I woke up in the middle of the night, around 4:00 am and was so disappointed to realize I was still in pain. The swelling in my stomach was not going down and I was feeling a lot of pressure in my lower abdomen. It was painful to walk, but bearable. I called my nurse at 8:00 am and she told me that swelling was to be expected. Sometimes, after the procedure, the follicle cavities will fill back up with fluid. It should go down naturally but would cause that pressure I was feeling. She ordered me to drink a lot of Gatorade and increase my protein and that the doctor would call to check on me around lunchtime. (Thankfully my parents brought me over Gatorade and a rotisserie chicken.) I tried to drink, but my insides were feeling so full and bloated, it was hard. I was continuing to get more uncomfortable.

Wednesday

My uncomfortable-ness was moving to pain. My abdomen pain was not staying in the lower portion of my body, it kept moving up my chest, making it feel nearly impossible to eat or drink, yet I had to keep trying to push Gatorade. The pressure on my abdomen had me getting up to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes or so (so this is what pregnant women feel like!) and I was having a hard time getting fluids in.

We got a call from our embryo lab that 7 out of the 11 eggs were mature and usable and that they all fertilized! At this point, it had been about 40 hours and 6 of them had already split into a 4-cell embryo (the best at this point) and we have one little 2-cell split straggler. The embryologist seemed excited for us and said we would be able to do a 5 day transfer vs the 3 day transferred based on the strength of the embryos. YEAH! Josh and I officially had 7 little embryo babies. We would get another call on Friday with another update. More waiting.

My friend Becky brought over dinner, which was wonderful. I ate a little bit, since it looked and smelled so good! It took up the last little cavity of space between my ribs and now I officially looked and felt like a whale. I had been weighing myself since the day of the surgery and had gone up, up, and up in water weight. I thought I was going to be getting better when I went down a bit, but it shot back up. At this point, I had gained nearly 12 pounds in 2 days. I was so uncomfortable. Josh got home, we rested and relaxed and I continued to get more miserable. About 10:30, we headed up to our bedroom. The climb up the stairs seemed horrifically painful and I remember thinking, “it shouldn’t be this bad. Something isn’t right.” When we got to our room, I ask for the garbage can. I was so hot and felt nauseous. I told Josh, “I don’t know, I feel like if this doesn’t get better, we might have to go in somewhere.” I then started praying for discernment. I truly needed God to intervene and make it clear if I needed to get additional help or if this was normal. I kept praying “Give me discernment.” The word vomit popped up in my head and I said “Ok, if I throw up, then that’s a sign I need to go in.” Within minutes, I was on the bathroom floor vomiting. But I thought perhaps that would make me feel better, so I thought “Ok, if I just go lay on the bed and think I can fall asleep, then I won’t go in.” And then when incredible abdomen spasms hit, causing me so much pain that I literally could not uncurl myself from the ball on the floor. I cried out to Josh that we needed to get to the hospital. He dressed quickly and I realized, I could not physically get myself to stand up. I was certain an ambulance would have to pick me up in my t-shirt and underwear off the bathroom floor. Luckily, I just kept praying for strength to get up and was able to a few minutes later. I quickly threw on pants (you’re welcome ER) and off we went.

The drive seemed so long. I was in so much pain I knew that this was absolutely the right thing to be doing. I could tell Josh was scared for me. He did an awesome job driving to the hospital quickly and smoothly and I just kept asking God for mercy.

The ER wait seemed forever (Clearly there was no such thing as “emergency”, as the check-in lady calmly helped a man that cut in front of me figure out how he could charge his phone battery while I riled in pain in line). But soon, we were in a room (22), with our nurse (Ann) going over triage information. We met our doctor, Dr. Elijah E., who was truly so kind. Of course they don’t see a lot of IVF egg retrieval post-op complications but he listened to my concerns and talked through a game plan. I was so dehydrated at this point since the follicle cavities were pulling all of my fluid into them and both Josh and I were so grateful when they started me on fluids, and then pain medication. (Ah, yes, the blood work and IV starting process was even more fun this time around … not.) But I kept having horrible attacks of pain. They called in for an ultrasound and the women came in from home, since they don’t staff someone 24-7 (which makes sense. I was just glad she lived close!).

The ultrasound was truly the most painful experience of my life. The morphine didn’t touch my pain and the internal pressure and spasms made me feel like there was no chance of ever feeling better. I was heaving from the pain, just wailing to God to help. The ultrasound technician was incredible kind and explained that she would do the external ultrasound, then the internal one. She let me writhe but let me tell you, having a swollen, painful-to-the-touch stomach go through a pressure filled, 5 minute+ ultrasound was the worst thing in my life. I was in too much pain to cry, I kept getting so hot. I begged for my gown to be taken off (thank God looking back, that no one listened to me as that would NOT have been pretty). Josh fanned me with a checkbook, which is all we could find in the room. She let me get up to go the bathroom after the external ultrasound and I just sat in the bathroom bench and felt like I was going to die. I couldn’t get my gown completely off because the IV ran through the arm but just tried to breath and pray and calm down.

Finally, I was able to get my gown back on and get back on the table for the internal ultrasound, which, was painful in an entirely different way. I just remember looking at Josh while I moaned and saw how helpless he felt. I had to twist my body in weird angles to feel somewhat comfortable. Finally, I had a few moments of relief. Our Ultrasound tech shared that she too had some difficulties conceiving and had a Clomid baby. She was excited for us and our IVF journey and even did a sneak peak at my uterine lining to let me know it was still nice and thick for the implantation.

She shared with us that there didn’t appear that the fluid from the follicles were leaking, which was a huge relief and a big concern of mine going in. But she did say that the follicles were very big, some over 3 cm and that my ovaries, which normally are around 2.5 cm themselves, were over 9 cm. What was happening is that the pressure from the swollen, gigantically enlarged ovaries were pushing on my intestines which are wrapped around and throughout them and causing these awful pressure spasms. We still had to wait for other results to come in, but it was nice having an explanation, and also a relief that there wasn’t sign of fluid leaking.

The pain started coming back awful again. They paged for a tech to bring me back to my room. I had to go sit in the bathroom again on the little bench hunched over in pain just praying the pain passed. Finally, I was able to get back on the gurney and brought down to my room.

Now the funny part …

We were in our room, in a brief moment of relief, when our doctor came in. His mannerism looked like he had something to tell us.

DR – Well, you guys. I have some news. I wanted to wait for the blood work and the urine sample to confirm, but its confirmed … you’re pregnant.

I wish I could have paused the room at that moment. I wasn’t looking at Josh, but at the doctor. For a quarter of a second I thought “What kind of joke is this? Is this for real?” and then instantly I realized that the hCg trigger shot we took on Saturday night causes false positive pregnancy tests for about 6-9 days after administrated.

C – Oh, no I am not. It’s the hGc shot I took on Saturday.

DR – Oh, you didn’t tell me about that.

C – Yea, I forgot. It will give you a false positive. I am not pregnant. I don’t think that’s even possible.

DR – Well, we have to operate under the assumptions that you are because of the lab numbers.

C – Yea, I am not pregnant.

He asked for my doctors number and went out to page her to confirm the truth in my statement (which indeed was true, I am NOT pregnant). Josh and I could not stop laughing. The doctor clearly felt bad and poor Josh was very confused during the conversation as well, trying to figure out if this had a truth possibility. We kept announcing to each other that “you’re pregnant” and trying to reenact our faces and reactions. I felt terrible for this poor doctor who thought he was giving us the best surprise ever, when in fact, it was just that I couldn’t remember the names of all the medications I took over the last few weeks. Awww. Well, I just never ever imagined the moment I was told I was pregnant being like that.

Finally, after talking to our doctor, getting my pain under control and my body re-hydrated  it was a lovely 4 am and we were released. The fluids began to help my body flush out the fluids in my ovaries and the pain medicine helped my body begin to relax, which let go of so much of the tension in my abdomen. I could stand when I left and the spasms, while still there, were so quiet that I wanted to leap for joy.

Honestly, if we had not gone to the ER, I would have continued to have the pressure and fluid build, likely rupturing, causing an infection and absolutely making it impossible for us to have an implantation done. I went in at exactly the right time and as of today, am still cleared for a embryo transfer tomorrow!!! Praise God. He heard our prayers and answered them, not in a way I expected, but clearly in a way that’s praiseworthy. (A great example of Isaiah 55:9 which I shared on Monday! “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”)

Thursday

Josh is a serious rock star. The man got barely 2.5 hours of sleep and went back to work the next day. I woke up feeling like a million dollars, weighing 10 pounds less than I did 12 hours ago. I felt SO much relief from the pressure in my abdomen. Granted it’s still very tender, but more of what is to be expected. I need to continue to rest and they have me on some nausea medication and pain medicine still to keep the muscles loosen and me feeling comfortable  This is helping my body naturally return to its normal state. I slept most of the day, had a few visitors, had an amazing lasagna brought over by a friend and was able to go to bed extra early with my very sleepy husband.

Today

Whoa, right? (I told you this would be long). Today we are waiting to get our final embryo report. We are praying that the babies have split into 7-10 cells at this point and will be entering the blastocyst stage. We will get some exact percentages for us to conceive based on the quality of these embryos and will then have the decision to make on how many to implant (choices are only 1 or 2). We most likely will do 2, but will not finalize that decisions before more information and thoughtful prayer. Keep praying for this report today, we are so excited! We know that the continued life and development of all of these embryos is unlikely, so we pray that we have some strong ones that make it so Mommy can take care of them in her tummy soon. :)

Thank you for ALL of your texts and prayers! The cards have made me smile, the meals, flowers, mailed packages – they all make me so happy and I truly feel so loved. What a blessing it has been to open up this journey to all of you! Can’t wait to celebrate soon. : )

egg retrieval day.

Well, today’s the day! Our appointment on Saturday brought news that the average size of our follicles were within range. (Josh reminds me that bell curves are good when I worry too much about the super big ones). Even better, when the nurse called later that afternoon, I was informed that my hormone levels squeaked up to a solid 1,011, just enough about the 1,000 minimum to move forward! YEAH!

Josh administered a “trigger shot” to me at 12:30 am on Saturday night. *Yawn* He did SUCH a good job! I seriously didn’t even feel as the 2” inch needle slid into my hip/glut muscle. I was almost worried he didn’t actually put it in right until the muscle soreness came yesterday morning. Ah, yes, there was a gigantic needle in me. But that set everything else into motion.

So with good follicles and good hormone levels, we have been cleared for the egg retrieval surgery! Hurray! Pre-op is 11:30 today and the surgery is at 12:30. I will be released after I wake back up and they clear me to go home. I am not sure if they will tell us around how many eggs they were able to get or not today. Some Centers do and others wait the traditional 2 days. I have been told anywhere between 6-15 eggs retrieved is average. They will take all they can, with or without being in size range. They will try to fertilize all that make it, although those that become fertilized are typically much less than what they retrieve. From there, the embryologists will take care of them, trying to keep them alive, monitoring them each minute of the day, and providing them with nutrients to stay alive and develop. Our goal is to do an implantation 5 days from today, although a 3 day transfer is an option as well. The strongest embryos are most likely to make it to day 5, although you do take a risk waiting that long.

Ok brief medical talk – skip this paragraph if you are bored – We want our implanted embryos to be a blastocyst. A blastocyst is an embryo at an advanced stage of development when there are two cell types present: one group of cells that form the placenta, and another group of cells that form the fetus. The further developed the embryos, the better our ability will be to have the healthiest and most viable embryo(s) transferred. A blastocyst embryo also has very low changes of developing into multiples at this stage.

So, the prayers for today!

  • Pray that there are good quality eggs retrieved today that become fertilized.
  • Be praying this week that the embryos make it and continue their strong development.  We would like to have 2 strong ones for implantation and ideally 2 more that we could freeze for another round if needed (and/or a sibling down the road).
  • That the surgery today goes well and that our embryos can make it to a day 5 transfer (Saturday).

It’s so funny how much “ahead” of us God is. I take the wrong medication and it’s actually “just right” for my body. I “tentatively plan” on a Sunday egg retrieval and my hormones comes back too low so we have to wait an extra day, and then on Sunday a blizzard hits, leaving 16” inches of snow behind. We would have had a stressful commute to and from the Center yesterday, and with timing being as critical as it was, who knows if things would have gone the way they should have. It’s a continued reminder that “’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’” (Isaiah 55:9 NLT) He knows best, He always has and He always will. And REGARDLESS of how today turns out, this week, or this month, He will still be the same constant, faithful God, which is really all we need.

I was thinking last time what a big step this really is for us, and how surreal it feels to actually be here. My devotion reminded me that this is exactly where God wanted me to be. “Be willing to go out on a limb with Me. If that is where I am leading you, it is the safest place to be. Your desire to live a risk-free life is a form of unbelief…In order to follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your tendency to play it safe…As long as you stay close to Me, My Sovereign Presence protects you wherever you go.”

My mind has been operating like a seesaw, when I let the fear and worry and anxiety go up, the trust I have in Him, the peace I feel goes down. Right now my energy is precious and I have to solely focus on the positives, the trust and Hope and joy He provides. The rest is in His hands and that’s exactly where I want it to be.

Here is a little peek at all of the daily work that has brought us to this place today! :)

blog7blog5blog9blog4blog2blog1photo (68)

GOD IS GOOD!!!! Keep praying and praising! :)

update.

2 post in one day – whoa! Settle down, thankful this one will be short too. I wanted to thank everyone for their prayers and all the encouraging words sent this morning. I really needed it and am so thankful I can rely on each of you to help support us in prayer and thoughts. There are times I don’t know the words to pray or say, and knowing that you are all supporting us gets me through a hump. So thank you.

An update – My ultrasound shows two “packs” of follicle sizes – ones that are mature and to the size they want them to be, and other smaller ones, that are nearing mature size but not quite there yet. The doctor wanted to see lab results to determine which “pack” of follicles that they should go after. Walking out of the appointment, it seemed likely we would go after the current mature follicles. However, my lab results were less than ideal.

There is a certain hormone that is lower than they would like to see – they would like it to be minimally in the 1,000+ range in order to result in mature, usable eggs. Many women are between 2,000 – 4,000. I am at 923. My doctor says that needs to get higher before we can do a retrieval. What this means is they are going to double my medication doses tonight and tomorrow morning and have me come back to the clinic for another ultrasound and lab work in the AM to determine next steps.

Follicles can grow 1-2 mm a day. My mature follicles right now are at a stage where they can and may quickly grow past the point of mature and become “too big” (they are within 1-2 mm from hitting that stage). So we are praying that the smaller ones, which are 3-4 mm under the minimum “ripe” size, grow quickly. Big follicles tend to absorb the majority of the medication so we truly need to recruit prayers for these smaller follicles to grow, the larger ones to stop growing, and for my hormone levels to skyrocket … overnight.

The plan from here – in order to have the egg retrieval, 36 hours before its scheduled I will be injected with what is most commonly known as a “trigger shot”. This is a hormone shot that helps with getting the follicles ready to ovulate. It has to be timed very carefully as we need the follicles to be just about to ovulate, but retrieve them before they do. (Literally the minutes count here!). We anticipate if the results tomorrow improve to what the doctor would like to see, that this shot would be administered tomorrow evening with the egg retrieval surgery taking place on Monday morning.

This has been a continued emotional rollercoaster! It is such a helpless feeling having no control over what my body is doing and relying so heavily on the knowledge and experience of the doctor. I’m scared things won’t go as hoped but know I can’t get ahead of myself. I need YOU to help support us in prayers and pray against discouragement. I have no other option but to fully rely on God during this. Josh has been such a positive, confident supporter. And each of you – gosh, the words and messages I have received today have met me right where I am. I love what one friend said … “IVF is such a blessing … but I love that it still takes GODS MIRACLES to make it happen …” That is the truth and I need to be reminded of that each hour. The hormones don’t help logical thinking and truthfully, we are still absolutely in this and excited for the next step. Please join us in praying:

1) for hormone levels to rise;

2) for the follicle sizes to be and become what we need them to be to give us the most optimal changes;

3) for clarity and direction of the doctor; and

4) for hope to continue to penetrate my heart.

I am reminded of God’s goodness in this passage someone sent to me …

“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; He saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; He surrounds and defends all who fear Him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him! Fear the Lord, you His godly people, for those who fear Him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:4-10)

Thank you my friends.