Thursday, April 11, 2013

An Unbelievable Blessing

When the hubby and I were processing all this information we had received from our new doctor... it was time to have a serious conversation about finances. I have always been frugal, but like any other girl... I like to shop, though I don't do it in excess. We had been squirreling away money into a "baby" account for months. We wanted to go the IVF route per the doctor's recommendation... but it was just so expensive! We had to be prepared to spend $15,000 and it was clear on every form we filled out from the beginning that any procedure must be paid for up front. That number alone was enough to put me into pure panic mode.

It was time to take off our "mommy/daddy" hats and put on our "husband/wife" hats. Our instincts said... DO IT! FIND A WAY!... But the rational parts of our brains said, you have a family to provide for. So we talked it out... we wanted to do this, but we wanted to do it right. We did not want to put ourselves deep in debt and then not have anything left over to provide for our little one if it worked. So we prayed... Dear God, You are leading us down this path, we trust You and want to follow Your will. Lord, if this is Your will we pray that you will provide a way for us. If it is not, we pray that You will give us wisdom to make the right decision on where to go from here. I shed a few tears, which by now should be no surprise to you... and we went on about our night.

The next day, my sweet husband went to his boss and told him where we were at. They have known about our loss and struggle with infertility and told him if there was ever anything we needed to come to him. He showed him the price list on what everything would cost. Then his boss said something to the effect of "let me look this over and talk to some people and I'll get back with you." Conveniently the man he needed to talk to called right after to talk about some other business, while they were on the phone, he immediately informed him of our situation. After being informed of everything, this wonderful man proposed this... they would pay for the entire procedure up front. $7,500 of that would be an outright payment from the company for our cause... the rest would be a loan to us. Zero percent interest. With however long we needed to pay it off. Mike told them what we had in our "baby" account, and he was told, you keep that, you might need it... we would pay it back by them "keeping" his bonuses or however else we wanted to pay it back... interest free. An amazing proposal right?! But now we had to wait... this proposal would be made to the Head Honcho of the business. All we could do was pray. God if this is your will, please let this go through.

We prayed all weekend. We went to the zoo with my family... we saw the movie I had been wanting to see... we had an amazing church service... found a new favorite pizza place... Monday morning, I went to work and Mike went to physical therapy (for a bad knee). I had more blood drawn. I waited and waited and waited for news... but nothing came.

I went to get groceries, was making a dish for my church women's meeting that was the next night, then I got the text. "Can't call right now but just talked to the boss... approved!! I love you!! Tell everyone for us!!! I love you so much!!!!" I dropped the spatula I was holding. I immediately dialed my mom... when I was telling her I burst into tears. I was laughing and crying... I had chills, goosebumps... it was the most amazing feeling ever. I called Mike's parents next... everyone was overwhelmed by this amazing blessing. I couldn't wait for my husband to get home... I felt so blessed. And proud... proud of the man he is, I felt like it said so much about his character that his company would do this amazing thing for us. I am sitting here in awe still. As soon as he got home we hugged and kissed and prayed the most thankful prayers of our life!!

So that is where we are... amazing blessed... feeling so loved. IVF here we come!!

April Fool's Again...

On April Fool's Day, I saw the fertility doctor, but you know that already... I worked that morning... it being a slow morning I played on my phone a little while waiting on my patients to arrive and to curb the nervousness I was feeling about my upcoming appointment. There is an organization that I am "friends" with on Facebook called "I Am A Mother To An Angel." I love the woman who leads it, I've read her story repeatedly and so often can relate to her musings and posts. I also received one of the necklaces that she makes from my mother this past Christmas.

That morning she posted a sort of "public awareness" picture about thinking twice before you start with the joking April Fool's "I'm Pregnant!" -just kidding posts. You know these. Somehow they become all the rage on this day, because what is a bigger joke than people thinking you're knocked up, right?! Unless you're infertile. Then that would be the greatest news on earth, no joking. Here is the picture:

The very first person to comment under the picture, remarked on how "stupid" (yes her exact word was stupid) this is and went on and on about how basically we should just get over it... I wish I could quote the entire post but it was so hurtful that the owner of the page deleted it... but I do remember this. She said, you can't change the world.

It hurt so much that a fellow woman would be so cruel about this. Not only to seek out this page to be negative but to intentionally make crude and harmful comments to those followers of that page that have lost children and/or cannot conceive. As you have seen in previous posts on such Facebook photos... as an infertile woman I can personally say that we usually suffer in silence, trying to ignore the pain publically and often times it is a personal very heavy burden that is carried in private... and the tons of tears come later, when we are alone... because usually that is where we feel is the only appropriate place to release our emotions.

So maybe we can't change the world. Maybe society will always look at us like we are "less" of a person because we cannot to do the thing we feel like we were made to do... give our husbands children when it is "time" at the drop of the hat. So we often struggle in silence, keeping the eyes of the world off of us because that is where we feel safest. God forbid we make any normal people feel uncomfortable.

Side note: I would also like to say that those fertile women should NEVER feel guilty for their ability to have children. I have gotten backlash from previous posts about such Facebook photos getting to me... If you know me at ALL, you know that I would never mean to make anyone feel bad about loving their children!! Yes, there was a time when I could not look at pregnancy announcements without breaking down in tears... I pray for every pregnant woman that I see, whether I know her story or not, that she be happy and healthy and have the beautiful family that I so desire and that she never ever feel the pain that I have felt. I said in my previous post, that I KNEW that was not posted with any sort of malice, but it did not make it hurt any less. I would never ever wish for anyone to go through what we have gone through. To be completely honest, I couldn't even remember who posted that picture, but I remembered exactly what it said [see previous post on you haven't known love]. I pulled that particular photo from a google search rather than going through the tons of history on my facebook news feed to see who posted it. On that same note, I don't expect everyone I know to read my story or agree with my thoughts. This blog is to support those who are on this journey and help them to know that they are not alone... and that this struggle is not a punishment from God, rather it is an opportunity to walk WITH God and be uplifted by him through every bad day.

So back to the subject at hand. You cannot change the world. This is stupid. Get over it. I'm pretty sure Jesus was told the same thing, at least in some sense... He is living proof that one person can change the world. Now, I am NOT comparing myself or the founder of that Facebook page to Jesus or his chosen disciples, the thought of that just makes me laugh... I feel completely unequipped and unworthy of such a task as changing the world, but we are trying. When she created that page, she did not expect it to impact many people. Currently she has 21,000 followers. She's changing someone's world. She changed mine. I did not start this blog with the intention to reach people all over the world, I created it to keep friends and family informed of our journey and to offer support for those who I know are suffering and also to spread the word about how God has changed me through all of this... and as therapy for myself. But I've had thousands of views... countless e-mails and people that I would never normally have the opportunity to witness to contact me and say that I have helped them in some way or another. My story has changed someone's world, and blogging has absolutely changed my world.

I really believe that if you are working for a good cause, you are going to ruffle some feathers. Many people don't like to hear the truth. Even more hate the feeling of guilt. Even more than that hate to be called out on something that they are doing that is hurting others. If we can raise this awareness in just a few people, our battle is worth it. If with every step forward, someone speaks out against our fight... I will keep fighting, no matter how "stupid" others think it is. If one person helps another person who helps another person... is that not changing the world?

Change takes a catalyst. Be that catalyst. This person and her "why don't you just get over it already" attitude is a big part of what I feel is wrong with society. That does not just apply to infertility... that applies to everyone who is struggling with anything. Before you respond to someone, be empathetic... put yourself in their shoes. Be compassionate. If we had compassion for everyone around us, how much beautiful would this world be? Christ carried our sins to the cross so we may be saved and free. How amazing would it be to help carry each other's pain and burden to keep them from being completely broken? Would the world not change? Have there not been thousands of instances throughout history where one person spoke out, which led to hundreds of others speaking out... did the world not change from that? If no one had ever mentioned that women should have rights, would we be voting now? If no one had ever preached the Gospel... would Christ's death have been in vain?

There will always be opposition. There will always be someone who says what you are fighting for is pointless and that you will have no impact. There will always be someone who thinks your feelings are "stupid" as this person put it. On this one post alone there were countless people who made obscene comments towards women who are grieving their losses and infertility, all of which comments have been deleted to keep others from being hurt by them. They have even rallied together to "get the word out" on how awful that page is... But I can tell you this... there will ALWAYS be someone there to help you fight, to push you through, to hold it all together when you can't. That person is Jesus.

Keep fighting. Keep working for your cause. When you need help and support ask for it... you will find it. Rally together. Keep trying. You can change the world. Have faith. Do not give up.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

If Only it Were April Fool's

April first... a day I had been both anticipating in joy and fearing so greatly. It was time to bring in the big guns. My heart had been pounding all day... I hardly slept the night before. Suddenly it felt like the first day at a new school and I didn't know if anyone would ask me to sit with them at lunch. Then I remembered my hubby would be there... every step of the way.

Enter Fertility Associates of Memphis, at least if we were going to do this, we were going to do it with the right people. I was ready. They had my records... and I had my handy book of questions and answers. 21 questions to be exact. Mike actually laughed when I told him how many I had written down, but I did NOT want to forget anything in front of the firing squad! We walked into this office, greeted by the nicest people. That didn't stop my heart from pounding... and pounding. I was taken back for the regular doctor things, blood pressure, weight, height, etc. Then we were taking into a room... heart pounding and pounding and pounding. We tried small talk with each other, but it would not calm my nerves. Then entered Dr. Ke.

I was forewarned that he had a very dry personality... that wouldn't bother me. I wanted someone who would be straightforward with me under these circumstances. He asked many questions... personal of course. I honestly loved the way he talked to us. He was straightforward but not in an uncaring way. He was personable. He genuinely cared about our situation. He laughed with us at the good things (like my husband's excellent test results)... and gave us honest options about the bad things. When we were close to the end of the appointment I looked at my notebook and he had already answered about 19 of the questions I had written down. Suddenly, I felt completely at ease with him. I trusted him. That was a huge weight lifted... knowing I was in good hands, some of the best if you look at all his awards. After that I had 6 vials of blood drawn, was set up for one more and would have to call back to schedule the final one before our next appointment, because the last one had to be done after the start of my next cycle. I was terrified of getting that much blood drawn but the girl was so efficient and barely left a mark.

Here is the information he could give us based on everything I had done so far... minus the pending blood work. We could try IUI (intrauterine insemination) and he would try to get us up to a 15% chance of that working, but he wasn't very optimistic about it (I could really tell) 1. because of my funky shaped uterus 2. because of everything we had tried so far 3. because he suspected something more was going on chemically with my body that was causing me not to become pregnant (but wouldn't be able to confirm that without the blood results) and 4. because I have a history of OHSS (over stimulation) he said it was likely to happen again, and in that instance the procedure would simply be cancelled... and all those injections would have been for nothing. He was willing to try because it was so much easier than our one other option. IVF. In vitro fertilization. He was clear that this was our best shot. Conservatively he gave us a 50-60% success rate... and that was without my test results. The biggest thing would be to check my egg reserves but was confident based on how my body reacted to letrozole, the injections would be successful in getting us our desired amount of eggs ripe for harvesting.

I asked him straight up, "If this was you and your wife in our situation, what would you do?" Without hesitation, he said "IVF, absolutely." I knew he was right. The medical side of my brain told me he was right. The $15,000 price tag however had me shaken. We had about half that. The good news was that he didn't see any reason that I would not be able to successfully carry a child to term. He was clear however, that if I ended up pregnant with twins I would be seeing a high risk doctor just to be on the safe side. He absolutely did not want me pregnant with a higher number of multiples that that. He also said to be glad we were at the point of seeing him while we were still relatively young... even though we've been fighting this for 2 years... we felt fortunate that we weren't just getting to this point 6 or 7 years down the road.

We needed time to process.

I left feeling okay. I knew we were in the right hands... I knew that God wouldn't let us make a mistake in deciding what to do... but I had to process... and grieve. You see he also told us our chances of conceiving on our own... let's just say it was slim to none. Yet again, I knew how much of an absolute miracle our first baby was. He didn't say it was impossible... but it was awfully close. It was a lot to take in. And I had to take time to grieve the fact that it was not likely that I could. That was a hard blow as a woman, a wife and a mother.

I knew one thing for sure... it was all in God's hands and whatever God had in store for us... we were ready.

Our next appointment was scheduled for April 29th. Then we would have a definite plan.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Finding My Truth

I know some of you are highly anticipating the arrival of this post... and I want to tell you if you were expecting the story of us miraculously conceiving our desired child, this is not that story. This is the story of who I am now... My turning point. The story of the discovery of my truth. To me, this is the most important part of my personal journey so far, the best part of my story. This part of the story happened sometime between the first and second round of our letrozole journey.

My husband and I had been talking things over... After months of treatment and frustration... I was upset. Very upset. Over everything. My failure. My guilt. My loss. My shame. I wanted to rip out my defective ovaries. I wanted to give up. I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't bear the weight of this "disease". I know to some of you infertility may not sound like a disease... but it sure feels like one. I started asking that same old question again... Why? Why was this happening to me? I was completely discouraged. COMPLETELY. My faith was literally crumbling beneath my feet with every negative pregnancy test... with every new failure. Then there it was... yet another unplanned pregnancy announcement. I lost it. Why them? Why not us? WHEN is it going to happen for US? When would WE get our miracle?? I was, once again, lost. I was lost in the emotion of our struggle. I had to find a way out... I had to find a way back to being me.

When someone says they need to "find themselves" I usually roll my eyes over how ridiculously cliché that sounds. I often find that people who are "finding themselves" are using that as an excuse to be selfish and hurtful and go live the lives they want, indulging in anything they can find despite the consequences and ignoring anyone and everyone around them. Those who choose to be wild and free and just want to "sow their wild oats". Eye roll... So back to the story... finding yourself. What does that even mean? I see these cutesy quotes that say "life isn't about finding yourself... it's about creating yourself." Eye roll.

I was at a point where I felt abandoned. I felt alone. I knew Mike would never abandon me in this and that I was not completely alone. But I felt like we were alone in this... The more discouraged I got, the more I doubted. It started as most things that go straight to my heart begin, with a song.

I remember when, I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You and You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on, if I can't find You?
But as the thunder rolls, I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you."
And as Your mercy falls, I raise my hands and praise the God who gives...
and takes away
And I'll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands
For You are who You are, no matter where I am
And every tear I've cried, You hold in Your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
That is when it hit me... what I was doing wrong. I was trying to trust God along this journey, but when the journey is hard? The trust doesn't come easily. I was not praising Him in our storm. I was questioning him... I was trying to give it over to him, but I wasn't doing that completely. The more I held onto everything, the heavier the burden got. The heavier the burden got the less I trusted. The less I trusted, the harder the path became. The harder the path became, the more I held onto anything I could. It was a vicious cycle. Hearing this song one day in my car on my way home from work, I burst into tears. I was finally listening. "I'm with you. I have a plan for you... even though it isn't the plan YOU want. It is a plan that will lead you closer to Me... am I not enough for you? I have so much more planned for you, I need you to trust me." Although I had been working to change my life... to be better as a Christian wife and mother... I was still missing the point. I was living in "my" world... when I needed to be a child of God in His world.

I have heard people say that I am tough... I am strong. I am neither of these things. I wanted to be faithful... but it was so much easier to fall into my discouragement. I knew this was going to be hard.

James 2:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

So I started with a prayer that I had prayed many times before... each one different than the last. "God, help me" It was a prayer much like the story in the book of Mark, where the father brings his ill son to Jesus and asks for him to be healed. The father says, if you can do anything have compassion on us and help us. Jesus replied "If you can! All things are possible for one who believes." Then the father cried, "I BELIEVE! HELP MY UNBELIEF!"

This is exactly how I felt. I trust you God, but help me trust you... Sounds almost silly right? I was believing but I had so much unbelief because I felt like our situation was not changing. Our pastor put it perfectly when he said "the need for submission to God comes when our hopes are dashed and things aren't happening like we want." I was going down this path, praying along the way but was not giving it all over to God. I had a long, long talk with God that day... I knew I had to finally give him everything. I had to devote this journey of loss and infertility not to having a baby... but to bring glory to my God. So that is where I am, with my faith constantly being tested as we go farther along into new parts of our journey... and now? The more I am tested, the stronger my faith becomes. The more I lean on God, the less I have to worry. The more I let God lead our path, I finally know that we will not falter because He sustains us. When I start my prayers with "Lord, thank you for this journey for it has brought me closer and closer to You." I know I am finally getting closer to the point. I will praise Him in this storm. I will praise Him every day. I will praise Him even when I am scared and start to feel discouraged. I will ask him to give us wisdom to choose the paths that HE wants, regardless of whether it is the path we want.

Our pastor made the point that "God doesn't have to check in with you before He puts His plan into action in your life." I had unintentionally embarked on this infertility journey and ended up learning who I needed to be. I did not need to "find" myself... I knew who I was. What I needed... was to learn to become the best version of myself. That is who I was meant to be... the person God made me to be. I am not tough... I am not strong. But my God is... and His grace is sufficient. I am a child of God. I am walking this path with Him by my side. I trust him. Completely. Whole-heartedly. I have no doubts that God has used these circumstances in our life to bring me to Him as the child He knew I could become. I am not perfect, but He has so much grace for me in that respect. He knows I will stumble... but now I KNOW that as long as I trust Him I ultimately will not fail. He has amazing things in store for us. This story will end only the way He wants it. Now that I have learned to get of the way and let him lead me? I feel free. I feel so free! I can trust in this!! After everything that has happened... all the times we have fallen... all the times we have failed, I finally learned the lesson...

Faith does not make things easy... Faith makes them possible.

With God... all things are possible. And that is the one thing I will never again deny.

Yes, there will be times when I am weak... I will absolutely never be perfect. There will be times when I, most likely in my discouragement, falter and question things once more... but now I know the real answers. I can better discern the thoughts of the enemy from the thoughts of my God. God will never abandon me in this. NEVER. And when I fall? I will fall straight into the arms of my Savior.

These revelations came just in time (as all things of God do... in His perfect timing)... because things were about to get serious... as we prepared to see a specialist and find out what our very few options would be.


I also know that getting our story out was His idea... not mine. I was not keen on the idea of putting these intimate details of my life, my lack of faith, my short-comings and my emotions out into the world. Vulnerable was not a place where I was even remotely comfortable, but He was clear that He wanted our story to be told... to help others... to give us the opportunity to bring glory to Him. I am trusting Him to help me with that... to say the right words, to put the thoughts out that He wants to get across and not follow my own agenda.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I started Letrozole (brand name Femara) on December 27th. Finally a welcome side effect, super short periods. I took these meds on days 3-7 of my cycle.

This medication is commonly used in high doses in women who are fighting breast cancer. I often find myself wondering how they determine these "other uses" for medications. For example, the shots my mammaw gets in her eyes to treat wet macular degeneration is actually used in high doses to treat colon cancer... it baffles me... who thought "Oh we should inject this in that gimp eye just to see what happens"? Clearly this sector of science is above my pay grade... I never did care for chemistry. Anyways...

Some of the side effects were similar to what I felt with Clomid: headaches, hot flashes, some dizziness, fatigue, night sweats... but the worst thing? Muscle and joint pain. I have a fairly high tolerance for pain... after numerous run-ins with kidney stones... there isn't much pain that I can't deal with. This was intense. I found my OCD self laying on a heating pad with muscle relaxers instead of doing laundry and cleaning. The symptoms also lasted longer on the Letrozole, most likely due to the fact that it stays in your system longer than Clomid does.

These side effects would later come back to bite me when I had gotten more used to expecting the pain, and then confusing the pain for a side effect and trying to muscle through it when I was in actuality passing a kidney stone, however I could finally tell the difference when I started having the tell-tell bladder spasms of yet another stone being stuck at my bladder wall.

Despite all that I was very hopeful for this medication to work for us. I was excited to be on it... my sister-in-law conceived on her second month of taking this drug... and I just knew we would have the same experience!!

No baby round 1. Started round 2 January 23, 2013. No baby. Started round 3 February 22, 2013. I ovulated all three rounds!! Upon the start of our third round, we were informed that this would be the last treatment she could do with us. We would need to go on and make an appointment with Fertility Associates of Memphis, she suggested seeing Dr. Ke. I was encouraged to go on and call them because it can take weeks (and sometimes months) to get in with an initial appointment to see him. I like to be proactive sometimes, so I did as I was told. His first available when I called in February was April 1st. Wow. Guess they were right! And I could always cancel the appointment if I ended up pregnant... which I just knew after all this would happen and I could happily call and cancel, elated that we would begin a different journey.

During our last round, after I ovulated I was given the date to test for pregnancy if I had not yet started my period. March 19th. This was fate... that was our anniversary. What better gift to give my husband on our day of celebration of love than to show him that we were pregnant?! I fantasized about that day... how beautiful it would be to celebrate a pregnancy on the anniversary of our wedding day... I dreamed about it... I day dreamed about it. I tried, in vain, not to get my hopes up. But it felt right. It felt like it was finally going to happen. I prayed harder than ever.

But that didn't happen. Although I ovulated all three rounds, we still did not get pregnant. I was not one of those lucky people who get pregnant after their medications and HSG test... Our anniversary, as much as we tried not to be disappointed, was a hard emotional day for both of us.

Discouraging right?

After crying it out the morning of yet another negative pregnancy test... (I really should own stock in Clear blue easy) We chose to spend the day focused on one another instead of wallowing in our sadness, there was time for that later. All in all it was a good day. At work I received a beautiful delivery of red roses. Surprised and so happy (flowers are a straight shot to my heart)... I was not expecting the second delivery later... chocolate covered strawberries. He really went all out to make me feel special. I did feel that. I felt loved beyond measure. I felt so blessed that this man sees past all of my inadequacies and loves me whole heartedly. We went to our favorite date-night restaurant, splurged on dinner, crab cakes, prime rib, red wine and crème brulee. It was a good day. It was a day filled with love.

But during that three month period, something better... something amazing had happened during that time...

Read on...