Saturday, July 31, 2010

having my doubts, and my frustrations

this month, i had a higher dose of clomid. surprisingly, i didn't have crazy side effects like i thought i would. i was fairly normal this time.

it changed my ovulation from day 16 to day 17, though i swore for three days that it was going to happen the next day because of all of the signs (read taking charge of your fertility). i would assume that if given a blood test, i would have super excellent levels of whatever it is that i'm supposed to have after a "good ovulation."

we had the iui on day 17. it took longer than normal, which worried me - maybe the nurse isn't doing it right, maybe she is messing it up, maybe maybe maybe. but then i had some cramping for the next day, so i figure it was as normal as possible.

i can't help but feel like a dairy cow - and i know i've said that before, but really. how much would i love to have a normal conception, and to have the surprise of a positive pregnancy test without procedures and medicines. oh well. it is what it is.

i have been having some serious doubts this time around. sometimes i think i doubt to "protect myself" from getting my hopes up again. sometimes i think i have resigned myself to thinking that the endometriosis will prevent me from ever getting pregnant without medical assistance.

i have had some frustrations about people refusing to be understanding through this, too, and i'd like to vent. still telling me to "just relax and have fun" clearly isn't an option. it's tacky and my gosh don't you think that with the summer off it would have happened by now? with endometriosis, relaxing doesn't do anything. glad i could get that off my chest.

another frustration i'm having is that i can't lose weight. not that i should WANT to lose weight but i keep GAINING weight because i can't exercise for two weeks of every month, "just in case" and i'm pretty sure the clomid is causing weight gain as well.

i'm definitely ready for it to be "my turn," which people have been telling me is coming for a year now...

Monday, July 26, 2010

here we go!

so it's been a year and three days since we started trying to have a baby (this will be month 13 of trying). i know this because i was hired on the third thursday in july last year and i have a "go to date" option on my phone calendar.

so after all this time and surgery and many other garbage-y things (including a false positive pregnancy test in april - don't use blue line tests! only pink!), i just got off the phone with a girl in st. louis who gave me my time line for ivf, and i cried immediately after i hung up. it's terrifying and it's a relief all in one.

we are trying iui this one last time, so we will find out if that worked around august 12. if not, i start birth control then and continue through early september.

i also will start suppressing shots in early september. these basically shut everything down. around september 10 i start stimulating shots, which kick start everything that was shut down.

september 20 is the tentative egg retrieval date. this is a surgical procedure and i have to be sedated. no biggie. it can't be as bad as my surgery in february. they will call me three days after that (september 20 would be day zero, so they call on day three) and let me know if any and how many fertilized and are little growing babies.

the embryo transfer will either be on that day or two days later when the babies have grown a bit more, so anywhere from september 23-25.

two weeks later, i have a blood test done to see if the baby/babies implanted and is/are growing healthy.

i do want to ask for prayer for our decision making. with ivf, you can limit the number of eggs that they attempt to fertilize and thus limit the number of babies that have to be frozen to wait on you. (they say embryos at the doctor, but realistically, they are babies.) so anyway, we are just mulling all of these things over and thinking about birth rates for "fresh" embryo transfer, birth rates for frozen embryo transfer, the effect my endometriosis might have on the whole process, and what we can do to ensure that all of our babies - if there are even that many or any at all - get the best chance at life.

big things are happening!

if you are interested, here are the stats for the clinic we are going to:
fresh cycles

frozen cycles

Friday, July 23, 2010

when you have to,

you do things you never imagined you could do.

for example, today i gave myself a shot. it was just some saline solution and it was just for practice, but i stuck a real live needle in my belly and pushed the plunger.

ok, it wasn't quite like that. i started to, about ten times. then i kinda freaked out about it. i almost cried because my gosh what does a girl have to do to get pregnant?! stinking shots. that's what. i prayed, "God, You have given me this so give me strength to get through this and do this." and i shook like crazy. i was frustrated with the whole situation.

finally the nurse saw my hands shaking terribly and asked if i wanted her to do one so i could see it didn't hurt, and then i could do one myself. i agreed.

she was right. it didn't hurt at all. i barely felt it.

so i wiped off my skin, pinched it up, and thought about it. and tried. and went to do it again. but i didn't.

then finally, i DID. but i didn't put enough behind it to get it all the way in, so it just went "poke" really little into my skin. i had to push it in, and it was clumsy and slow, and it STILL didn't hurt.

and so, i did another thing i never thought i would be able to do.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

waiting for the final go-ahead...

monday, the nurse is supposed to have all of our final test results in, but so far, so good.

well, so as-good-as-it-gets.

yesterday i had to have two ultrasounds. the first was just a general checking things out ultrasound. i ask a lot of questions because i've been waiting a long time for answers. "what's that?" "is that normal?" "how does it look?"

that is your uterus. here is some endometriosis inside of it. see these little lines? (then me freaking out a little because there were a ton of them.)

"i think i have a cyst on my left ovary again."

yes, there's a cyst. (i could be an ovary doctor by now.)

then she went to the right ovary - the "good one," as i call it. "does it look ok?"

(she made a face and then spoke.) well, there's endometriosis inside of it. i doubt the surgery would have removed any of that because you destroy good tissue trying to get rid of bad tissue.

then she said...

i have seen a lot worse than this come out with a happy ending.

and then i cried. this was just the ultrasound tech person, so i felt bad for being so overwhelmed. i told her the clomid didn't help, and she agreed.

then the doctor came in. she said, "well, there's endometriosis, but that's not a problem for us. we already knew that. that's why you're here." whew.

then there was the other ultrasound. it was basically finding a good home for the baby or babies. it was slightly painful and i'll spare the details, but we did get to see the place where they are going to put the baby or babies when that day comes, God willing.

and you know, He just might be.

Monday, July 19, 2010

the twisted-up view

so i have a confession. it's really, really hard to get myself to ever EVER read my bible and pray. there, i said it. i started a reading plan, finally, but then i had class for two weeks from 8-4 every day and got out of the habit. excuses.

so what happens here is that - and i'm sure some of you know this who have gone through these seasons or eras or whatever they might be/have been - i get this twisted-up view of God because i keep myself ignorant and shut off to Who He is.

and i choose this. i close off to the One thing that will really fill me up and spend too much time feeling empty.

i get on facebook, i type this blog, i look up whatever it is that i'm interested in that day. i work on the house. i get my classroom ready. i sit and watch tv.

and in all that, i find myself avoiding God. after all, in my current situation, He may just say something i don't want to hear. but then again, He may have these totally amazing baby plans for us that are just stinkin' mind-blowing.

i think what it comes down to is that i am afraid to trust God. just let me go to st. louis, let me talk to the doctors, and let them fix me. don't tell God what is going on because He might come in here and ruin my plans.

but what IF - WHAT IFFFFF - His plans and my plans aren't really all that different? what if He does want us to conceive and have a baby? (i must say that as i write this, i almost choke on the words, swallowing and pushing down the thought that believing it will happen will somehow "jinx" the process.)

the past few days, as if it wasn't my idea, i have caught myself musing over little things i haven't in a long time or sometimes ever: imagining watching our kids become adults and seeing the people they become, trying out a love seat and thinking how nice it would be for holding babies in, keeping paint color pamphlets that would have been discarded if not for those little pastels there in the corner, considering how little sleep justin and i might get next summer if things go really well in september, talking with justin about thinking about how things will affect "the baby" or "the babies," and just an hour ago resisting the urge to say, "what will we name it if it is a girl?" (we do already have a boy name, actually.)

little scenes and snippets play out in my mind before i can stop them, and i don't want to stop them. i want to know that God wants these things for us too.

i want to stop the twisted-up view and start realizing there is no "jinx" or "fingers crossed" or "luck" and there is a plan, and sometimes we just have to wait on it. if i get discouraged and don't believe it can happen, that does NOT mean it can't. God isn't going to take it away just because i think it can't happen. if i get excited and believe it can happen, that does NOT mean it won't. God isn't going to take it away just because i let myself assume it can happen.

maybe this blog will come to someone who is in my shoes and has been thinking the same things. maybe it will help me to tell you about my infertility and take you on this wild ride with us. maybe the end of our story - or rather, the beginning - will help someone find hope in something they thought was a lost cause. maybe someone is looking at God from the same twisted-up view i sometimes do.

i need to step up, i really do. i have to learn to trust, and maybe that's what i've been learning. i have to get in the habit of making good habits, like reading my bible and talking to and listening to God.

i know i can, but i'm going to need some Help. thankfully i know Where to get It.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

i am not at church right now...

because my stomach kills me after i eat, but i had to eat breakfast because i had to take 100mg of clomid this morning. i'm sitting here waiting on it to go away, trying to relax myself by typing this. i'm going to try to go to small group, anyway, where i can slightly recline on a couch and where everyone knows i'm in pain so i'll be forgiven if i writhe like a demoniac.

i wanted to write a verse about a demoniac to go with this, so i looked in my concordance for one. yeah, i cheat on "Bible blog" posts - the verse doesn't always come first. the idea usually does, and i know there's something i can use for it in the Bible.

so i checked out the demoniac section (that sounds like a very scary library catalog), and i came to this:

"The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics, and He healed them." -Matthew 4:24

Him, of course, is Jesus, just in case we need a little context. (you just never know who may come across the blog.)

no, i'm not a demoniac. clomid makes me kind of feel like one and sometimes act like one, but i'm really not. i do, however, have various diseases and pains. what the doctors tell me seems so final that i forget that my Savior is One who can heal anything. He can overcome anything, even the mystery weirdnesses of my inner workings.

i think sometimes we distance ourselves from that reality because we can't physically walk around following Jesus as He goes from place to place in the middle east. we don't always see the miracles. the diseases don't always go away, and the barren woman (sounds very old testamenty) doesn't always get her baby. it's not that we are distanced from the miracles and that we are not as special now. i think the bad stuff happened a lot and just didn't make the cut for the Bible. (not to say there's no bad stuff in there - there's plenty. i mean that for every story about someone getting raised from the dead, how many people didn't get raised from the dead? that kind of thing.)

there are people who even think God doesn't "do" miracles anymore. true story. i don't believe that. i just think a lot of times He uses different methods, and a lot of times we are too jaded to recognize miracles.

a miracle is that i exist. my dad wasn't supposed to live past the age of 3 and had open heart surgery when he was 6. my mom had a man try to kidnap her when she was young. she knew what was going on and promised to meet him somewhere after supper. he left her alone and she made it home and broke that promise on purpose.

a miracle is that my brother hasn't killed himself by accident. once he fell very far out of a tree stand and landed on his back on the ground with a broken, jagged tree capable of running someone through on one side and a barbed wire fence on the other.

miracles are several of my very young cousins, who have showed my family joy in times of great, great sorrow. God's timing for them was impeccable.

a miracle is a cute little baby i know with chubby cheeks that wasn't supposed to be able to happen and because of God and medical technology, she did happen.

a miracle is that my job survived the cuts and that it somehow is one of the only jobs around that provides infertility insurance - which i had no idea i would ever need when i got the job.

a miracle is being placed in a church situation where at any given point i might be approached with a new encouraging story about someone for whom God has "fixed" infertility in any number of ways, from adoption to in vitro to "holy crap how did that even happen?"

please be praying with us as we go to the doctor this week to find out about the condition of my uterus. bad news could change our lives, and good news means that we go on as planned.

please be praying with us for the miracles of pregnancy and children.

(this list is so incomplete compared to what God is actually doing, so if you feel you want to share your miracle, you can leave a blog comment or a facebook comment.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

the infertility file.

i think i have been in denial since january. i thought that surgery would cure me totally, and that i was NOT infertile. i have good fertility genes. people in my family just have to think about a baby to get pregnant. justin and i are healthy, young, and though we aren't as active as we'd like to be, we aren't in too bad of shape. my blood tests from our health insurance came back with the most healthy rating i could possibly get.

there's something in my brain that sometimes goes, "that person could get pregnant because she is ready and she is better than you. she is a better christian and God wants her to have a baby and He doesn't want you to." and month after month after month of negatives, that's pretty hard to shake. you feel like a failure. you feel like a let-down. you feel like your prayers don't get answered. you feel forgotten. you mourn sometimes like you have lost a baby, and often it feels like you have.

getting to july without being pregnant has been bewildering. i told my doctor that it didn't seem like there was "enough wrong" with either of us to keep us from having a baby. she looked at me very seriously and said, "stage four endometriosis is very serious." and that was that. suddenly, in my head, i went from being this healthy, fertile screw-up who couldn't get it right to being the victim of a disease that had robbed us of pursuing a family the natural way.

we are dealing with infertility. even though i'd thought about it before that point, i don't think i actually believed it.

there is something liberating about it, and there is something frustrating about it. we may never be able to have a family naturally. the four kids i wanted to just "have," aside from extremely successful in vitro cycles or a miracle, may not happen. but then, it isn't my fault or justin's fault. there's nothing i can do to make myself better. there's nothing i can do to make it work. medical technology may be the only thing that allows us to have our own child or children, and somehow after feeling like a failure for so long, it does help to know that.

no, it doesn't make everything better. it doesn't comfort me a great deal. but it does help me sort it out emotionally and mentally to put it into that category and file it away sometimes. i'd like to end on a positive note so that everyone just doesn't stop reading my blogs until they get prozac to make it through them, but i'm not on an incredibly negative note either. we are just kind of...suspended. we are waiting. there is joy and sadness in it, and the situation would not be real if that wasn't so.

*update from the medical realm: i got my 100 mg of clomid this month - a prayer answered. i got my FSH/estradiol blood test today and i should find out results tomorrow. i am scheduled for the mapping/measuring and blood testing next tuesday, and our orientation is still on for next friday.

**update update: my FSH/estradiol came back normal.

Monday, July 12, 2010

a timeline for treatment, etc.

today i experienced my 12th month of negative pregnancy tests. it's still not "officially over," ahem, but the test would likely tell by now, and honestly it feels the same as it has every other month on clomid. i could run copies of my charts by now - that's how similar every little symptom is. i am trying to be ok, but it is hard. my patience is drained and i am ready to be done with this emotional roller coaster, and i have no control over any of it. it sucks. big time.

that being said, i want to share with you what is going to happen over the next few months, tentatively of course.

aside from some miracle happening over the next few days:

this week i call my doctor and get a prescription for this month's clomid. please pray he will increase the dose - if not at my insisting, then by my specialist's recommendation.

this week i also get a test for FSH (follicle stimulating hormone, as in egg production) and estradiol (another regulatory female hormone). please pray that these will both come back normal and healthy.

at some point soon, i will be getting an ultrasound in st. louis to look at my uterine lining and basically find a place to put an in vitro baby (or two!) if we should get to that point. please pray that this will also be normal and healthy.

this month we will be doing another IUI, as we have the past two months. it should be around the 28th. please pray with us that this one will result in pregnancy.

if it does not, in about a month, i will be going on birth control pills for around three weeks. i think this gives my body a rest and enables us to start in vitro treatment in september. please pray for justin, because that stuff makes me crazy.

in september, i will start the injections for in vitro fertilization. i'm not sure of the exact schedule of these because we have not done orientation yet, but i do know that justin will have to administer these (yes, he will have to give me shots). please pray for this whole process, from the actual injections to the function of the medicines.

during this time, i will have to be monitored in st. louis several times with ultrasounds and bloodwork. this means getting up very early, going to st. louis, and returning to work and school for the afternoons as very tired individuals. please pray for our patience and rest during that time, and for my students to be super well behaved.

then comes the egg harvesting and fertilization. eggs are taken with a needle, and the whole process freaks me out, so just pray with us that this goes well. i will be sedated for that ordeal.

after that, half of the healthy eggs will be injected in an attempt to fertilize, and half will be allowed to just sort of "do their thing" in some little glass dishes. the doctors will watch and see if any eggs are fertilized and if fertilization occurs, then they will watch and see how the babies grow. if several are doing very well at the end of a few days, they will be allowed to grow into the blastocyst stage before they are placed in my uterus. if only a few are doing well after a few days, they will be implanted before the blastocyst stage. please pray with us that we will have viable eggs and that some will fertilize and grow and be healthy. please pray with us for patience and a bigger house if 12 of them do.

then, of course, is the point where the babies no longer stay in the dishes. one or two (i am not eligible for only one transfer if two are healthy because of the stage of endometriosis i have had, so i will have two if there are two) babies will be placed in my uterus. at this point he/she/they will have to dig in and get cozy and grow strong for nine months. please pray that they DO dig in, get cozy, and grow strong!

if any are left, they will have to be frozen. it would be a detriment to my health and the health of the babies to put more than two in at a time. please pray for this process to be successful and healthy both at the beginning and at the end when we would do the placement process again when we decided the time was right.

thanks. we really appreciate it, and if you have read this far, i know you really want to know what is going on and you want to be praying very specifically with and for us. if it took you a few separate sessions to read, i'm sorry, i just wanted to be thorough. ;)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

logs and garlic.

we are not fans of garlic in this household. ok, we like garlic bread, and garlic powder, and even garlic salt, but fresh garlic or garlic flavoring in sauces can be pretty overpowering. once you have that taste in a dish, it's pretty difficult to mask.

justin and i went grocery shopping the other day. he had asked me to make alfredo noodles, but instead of making my homemade sauce and noodles (which are so unhealthy we call them 'fat noodles'), i had him choose a jar of sauce from the store and i would fix it up semi-homemade style with some little additions at home.

we were bringing groceries in and putting them away at home when i pulled out his sauce selection and sat it on the counter for the next night's meal when i noticed a little purple word on the label: garlic.

i said, "justinnnn, you got GARLIC alfredo sauce! you really have to be careful when you are picking things out and actually pay attention to what you are getting."

he was disappointed and he apologized.

only minutes later, i was pulling canned goods i'd chosen at the store from the plastic (no, we don't go green) bags. pork and beans, corn, petite diced tomatoes, and fire roasted diced tomat- what?!

GARLIC fire roasted diced tomatoes?! TWO cans?!

"...First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye." -Luke 6:42

and then i had to tell justin about the garlic tomatoes.


happy saturday!