And that is perfectly okay.

Yesterday I went somewhere I hadn’t gone in over 3 years.

To see Dr. L (my RE). I’ve been experiencing pain that I thought was from endometriosis but seeing as how blood was found in my urine sample, it looks like I might have a UTI. I’m on an antibiotic now and I’m to call back if the pain continues. I wasn’t expecting to find the UTI and it was such a relief to know that could be the cause of my pain.

Something else I wasn’t expecting was the avalanche of emotions that came over me just by being there.

I walked in and surveyed the waiting room and wondered what each woman’s story was. It immediately took me back in time about four years when I sat in that waiting room while undergoing our four IUI cycles and our IVF cycle.

I started to get very nervous sitting there waiting. I am not really sure why. I buried myself in my Google Reader and pushed the emotions that were creeping in away.

But then, when I was taken back to the examination room and found myself siting on the examination table with the paper covering over my lower half and the ultrasound screen staring back at me, tears started streaming down my face as I sat there in the complete silence. The radio wasn’t even playing. I hadn’t really thought about all I went through there in a long time because all that is in my past now, but I really had no idea why I was so overcome with emotion.

I was just trying to compose myself before my doctor walked in.

After I left and had time to process those emotions I figured out that the tears were certainly not because I desire to be pregnant. It wasn’t because I feel I’m missing anything in this life because I never achieved a pregnancy.

I think it was more of a wondering – a wondering that has been there since March 8th, 2009.

There is no doubt in my mind that on that day God set our hearts on the road to adoption. It was abundantly clear that God was telling us to STOP treatments and fill out adoption paperwork.

But always in the back of my mind I’ve wondered… What if we tried IVF again? I guess it seems crazy to me that that wouldn’t have eventually worked. I was told I’d have at most 1-3 follicles and my odds weren’t the greatest. I knew God was leading us to adoption so I didn’t really question anything that day.

I just walked away – and never really looked back.

Until yesterday.

I had no reason to look back until then. There is no doubt in my mind that God took us away from there to bless us with Little Bug and Sweet Pea.

But yesterday I couldn’t help but wonder…

What if I were to make an appointment with Dr. L as if it was the very first time I was seeing him. Would anything be different? Has medicine changed so much in three years that there would be some protocol that WOULD give me a chance at achieving pregnancy? Has Dr. L’s knowledge increased enough in three years that he would know just the thing I need? Am I crazy for even wondering this? [Probably.]

I also know that while medicine may have advanced over the past three years, my ovaries and eggs are still the same. And I am three years older, but I am not “old”.

I will probably go to my grave “wondering”.

And that is perfectly okay.

Our first day home

Our first day home was…busy, but wonderful!

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Sweet Pea had her first appointment with the pediatrician this morning.

At 10 days old, Sweet Pea weighed in at 6lbs. 3oz. and was 19.25 inches long!

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We have to take Sweet Pea for blood work (to check her levels from the rH factor at birth) on Monday and then a follow up appointment, along with her 2 week check up next Friday.

Today I had two goals:

1. Get Little Bug back on her routine at home.

2. Get Sweet Pea on Similac Allimentum formula.

I know getting Little Bug back into her routine (that will now naturally be somewhat different now that she has a baby sister) would not happen in one day, but we are off to a good start.

I was able to get Sweet Pea on the new formula. This is the formula my pediatrician recommends because it is most like breast milk. My plan was to mix the Enfamil Newborn with the Allimentum until she was on 100% Allimentum, but then after going to two stores that did not have a small can of the Enfamil, I gave up and just decided to see how she would do if I just gave her 100% Allimentum in her bottle.

She took right to it!

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Since my mom’s house is a 10 minute drive from the pediatrician’s office, we stopped there on our way back home for the 2pm feed. My Grandmother drove over to meet Sweet Pea, her second great-grandchild, for the first time!

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Little Bug ADORES her baby sister. She stayed with her Daddy while my mom and I took Sweet Pea to the doctor. When we returned, she bypassed us both in the hallway and with a VERY concerned little voice, she said, “Where is Sweet Pea? Where is Sweet Pea??” She seriously was concerned that we had taken her somewhere and not brought her back!

When I told her Sweet Pea was in her car seat sitting in the hallway, Little Bug immediately wanted to see her, hold her, give her a paci and put a blanket on her.

I hope this continues!

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First Tigger Picture at 10 days old!

The NICU had Sweet Pea on a 3-4 hour feeding schedule. The nurses told me if she was sleeping past the 3 hour mark she could sleep all the way to 4 hours before her next feed, if she wanted. Sweet Pea pretty much was going the four hours between feeds in the NICU.

Today, however, I have put her on a 3 hour schedule because four hours just seems like a long time for a newborn to go without a feed and I would rather feed her more often during the day in hopes that she will do the 4 hour and eventually 5 to 6 hour stretches during the night.

So feeding schedule at 10 days old is 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm, 11pm and then I let her determine what time the feeds are through the night. (Last night it was another feed at 4am and then at 7:45am.) Obviously, if she is hungry before those times, I feed her, but so far she goes the 3 hours no problem.

I would like her morning wake time to be 8am because that will give me 30 minutes to feed Sweet Pea before Little Bug wakes up, but we will just have to see what Sweet Pea thinks is a good wake up time and go from there.

Speaking of wake up times. Little Bug awoke at 6:45am this morning, hollering, “Sweeeeeet Peeeeeea!!!” She could not wait to see her baby sister.

I hope this does NOT continue!

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How am I?

Relaxed.

And that, in and of itself, is another miracle!

I was soooooo uptight with Little Bug, but I guess that is pretty normal considering she was my first.

When I say that God changed my life by teaching me through my journey to #2 that HE is in control of EVERYTHING, not me, I really mean that God changed every aspect of my life.

My mom is staying with us helping out and I know that things will probably be a little (or a lot) crazy when it is just me taking care of both girls, but I really have a different perspective this time around.

Part of that is the simple fact that Sweet Pea is my second child and I just have a confidence that wasn’t there with Little Bug at birth (poor little guinea pig!), but the main difference is God has really done a work in my life through Sweet Pea’s adoption process that has helped me relinquish my need to control all things and realize Who really is in control.

I am one incredibly blessed woman. I thank God for these two precious miracles He has entrusted us with.

Big Day Tomorrow

Six months of trying to conceive on our own, three failed IUIs, laparoscopic surgery to discover and excise endometriosis, a natural cycle post-surgery, a Clomid Challenge Test and it is time to answer the big question of, “What’s next?”

Thursday, January 15th, is my appointment with Dr. L to answer that question and make a decision about where we are headed next.

The ultimate decision lies in the direction God leads. We are trusting that as we are sitting with Dr. L in his office listening to our different options, God will guide us towards the way He would have us go.

God has guided our every step to this very day tomorrow and I know tomorrow will be no exception.

We are ready for tomorrow. It is time to make a decision and move forward.

Whatever decision is made will be just one step closer to discovering the incredible plan God has for us.

Please pray for clear direction and peace from God tomorrow as we decide our next step.

Beginning to ponder next step…

I came across this verse this morning:

What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Matthew 10:27

This verse serves as just one more reminder that all these truths that God is teaching me along the way while I am walking this dark road, I will one day be able to speak about as just one more testimony of God’s faithfulness towards me.

Bottom line is: One day darkness will be no more. God will shed His light on His Plan. From day one of this journey, I have known that it is just that – a journey. It will end. And I believe with all my heart that one day, victory will be won and on this road I will walk no more.

Somehow, someway, I believe with all my heart that God will one day bless us with children.

And then, the truths about God’s love and faithfulness that He has whispered in my ear along this journey, will be proclaimed for anyone listening to hear.

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I had the second blood draw today for this Clomid Challenge Test. As the new year approaches, it is time, once again, to be still and let God speak and direct us towards our next step.

Dave and I have briefly talked about another IUI cycle, but the discussion basically stopped when we both just were not ready to go through that again.

Three failures makes it kind of hard to head into a fourth with hope.

But then I think about the endometriosis being gone. It was so long ago that I talked with Dr. L, since we haven’t done anything fertility related since my surgery at the beginning of November, that what he told me about my chances of a successful IUI cycle post-surgery is in a fog somewhere in the back of my brain.

It seems he told me that since the endometriosis is gone, our success rates with IUI would greatly increase, as long as there isn’t an issue with the sperm being able to penetrate an egg.

If there is, then we are headed for two more failed IUIs at the cost of over 3,000 dollars and then back to square one of deciding what’s next! And to even start considering those options at this point would be silly.

It’s really all dependant on what Dr. L tells me on January 15th. He will go over my Clomid Challenge Test results and then he will lay out on the table the options best for us. I trust, like God has in the past, He will gently nudge us in the direction we are to take next.

Once decided, I will push forward, not looking back, rally my prayer warriors, feast on His Word and deal with things one day at a time. Those are my biggest coping mechanisms and how I survived the first three IUIs and how I will survive any future IUIs.

Post-op Appointment

Where do I begin?

First, we discussed the surgery. He told me the surgery was very successful in that all the endometriosis was excised (cut out), instead of burned. Dr. L and his partner are the only REs in J that excise endometriosis compared to just burning it. The benefit in excising verses burning is that when endometriosis is excised, the chances of it returning are very slim. Which brings me to our discussion of the next step towards pregnancy.

Dr. L told me that once a patient has had endometriosis, the concern after the endometriosis is surgically removed, shifts to egg quality. This is because endometriosis tends to decline a woman’s egg quality sooner in someone who has or had endometriosis. The average woman’s (with no endometriosis) egg quality typically begins to decline at the age of 32. Throw endometriosis into the mix and egg quality begins to decline in the late-20’s.

One of the best qualities in Dr. L is that he doesn’t just throw a treatment plan (such as IVF) on the table and tell us this is our only option. The patient’s best interest is his ultimate goal. So he will sit there with you to the point that you feel you are a team working together to figure out the best possible treatment plan that is unique to you. Being a former teacher, the push in education philosophy was always individualized instruction. I believe it is no different for an RE prescribing a treatment plan to his/her patient – it should be individualized to meet the infertility needs of that particular couple.

And that is precisely what Dr. L does.

So, what’s next?

I’m going to do a Clomid Challenge Test to check my FSH levels, which will tell the quality of my eggs. Dr. L told me this test isn’t a must-do and he expects my levels to be just fine. (Back in March, when Dr. L did my initial blood work, my FSH level was 4.5. Anything less than 10 is a normal range for a pre-menopausal woman.) I chose to do the test because I like to be completely informed and know as much as I can about what is going on within my body!

The Clomid Challenge Test requires me to take Clomid on Cycle Days 5-9. My FSH levels would be tested through blood work on Cycle Days 3 and 10. I am not sure which cycle I will do this test. I need to pray and see what God tells me.

I told Dr. L of our plans to do no treatments until the New Year because God just may want to allow it to happen naturally.

So the plan is to see what happens from now until the end of the year. If needed, we will probably do another IUI in January 2009, regardless of the results from the Clomid Challenge Test. Dr. L told me that even if my levels are above 10, that will not automatically mean our only option will be IVF.

Please keep praying another treatment will not be necessary … if it be God’s Will.

Our Next Step After Surgery

We headed into our final cycle of IUI in October 2008 knowing that if this cycle didn’t work we wanted to stop treatment until the New Year. We do not want to be going through treatments during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

We still feel this way after successful laporoscopy surgery to remove Stage 2 endometriosis. I talked to Dr. L briefly after my surgery but was still in a groggy state. So I am very anxious to talk to him at my post-op appointment on November 17th. The message is clear, though, that Dr. L successfully removed all the endometriosis and now my chances of pregnancy are very good. Even in my groggy state, I understood that much.

The past week I’ve spent recovering from surgery, I’ve had a lot of time to sit and contemplate and pray about what God is telling us our next step is.

We both feel at peace about taking a break on IUI treatments for November and December and doing our next treatment in January 2009 – if that is even necessary.

As I reflect back on the past year, there is no doubt in my mind that, if God Wills, He can and will allow conception to happen naturally before the New Year. I can, and already have started praying that this will be the beautiful masterpiece I have long awaited to see. I invite you to pray with me.

But three tiny words say it all. If God Wills

And I can honestly say with more understanding than I have ever had in my entire life, because of the journey of this past year, that I desire more than anything, God’s Will.

Because in the past year, the greatest lesson God has taught me through this battle with infertility, is that God’s Plan is perfect, beautiful and always best.

Tired

I worked today. So now I’m really tired because my energy level isn’t back to normal yet. I was ready to get back to work and see Ava and Ella today. Yesterday was their first birthday!

Ava and Ella are such good babies. On a normal day, I enjoy feeding, changing, going on a walk, reading and playing with the girls. Since my energy level wasn’t too high today and I am still sore, I did the necessities to care for the girls and then they played and mostly entertained themselves today. They are so precious.

Originally, the plan was for me to work for them until the girls turned one. But things have worked out so nicely and it really is the perfect job for me at this point in my life, so I will keep on!

I really am surprised that I am not "back to normal" after almost a week post-surgery. It’s taken a bigger toll on me than I expected. But I just have to remember where I was in the recovery process Thursday evening and Friday and know, compared to that, I’m doing very good!

Tomorrow I have the appointment with a nurse for a wound check at 10:20am.

Time for bed. (Which is a world record for me … I am rarely in bed before 11pm and it’s only 9:45pm!)

5 days after surgery

5 days post-surgery makes a big difference!

The air pain is almost completely gone! Praise the Lord. That really was the worst in this whole ordeal. I’m moving a whole lot faster now but still need to take it easy as my insides are not completely healed.

I am so thankful to be here in the process of recovery!

I have an appointment with a nurse at Dr. L’s office for a “wound check” on Thursday.

Then, on November 17th, I will have a post-op appointment with Dr. L. I have about a thousand questions I want to ask him concerning endometriosis and the surgery. Plus, we will discuss where we will go next as far as treatments are concerned.

Dave and I have spent some time talking about where we feel God is leading us next. I will share more on that later …

Thank you again for all the prayers and support through this.

God is still at work, painting a beautiful masterpiece, that in time we will all see.

Thursday’s Pre-op Appointment

Laparoscopy surgery is a minor, out-patient surgery but you still have to go through all the medical talks anyone going under the knife has to go through. Which makes a minor surgery feel major, especially when this is your first ever experience of surgery!

When it was time to read and sign the consent form, I stopped reading and just signed when I came to the part where they were explaining “… as with any surgical procedure there is risk for cardiac arrest …”. No need to make myself more nervous with things that are highly unlikely but yet legally have to be said.

The only thing I cared about concerning that consent form was giving Dr. L and Dr. L only permission to perform the surgery.

From Dr. L’s office I went across the street to St. Luke’s hospital, where the surgery will be, for pre-op testing. They got me registered with the hospital, drew some blood and I had to read and sign some more papers.

So I’m all set and ready for November 6th. I intend not to dwell on the fact the day is fast approaching and just go on the day and get it over with.

Dr. L told me Thursday that if any endometriosis is found, he will remove it right then and there. Also, if anything else is wrong, he will fix it. I wasn’t aware that he would fix anything right then – I thought the surgery was only diagnostic.

After the appointment I went to Dave’s work (which is literally 2 minutes from the hospital). His boss let him leave work around 3pm so we went to the Pumpkin Patch to buy a pumpkin! Monday, Grace and Evan are coming over and we will pull the seeds out and roast them!

Our Next Step

Since three IUIs have not worked there is a possibility for underlying issues. With me, the issue could potentially be endometriosis which can only be detected through laproscopic surgery. Or there could be an unknown issue with the sperm. Or both.

This is interesting. Dr. L told me even men who have absolutely normal sperm counts can have problems fertilizing the egg. In 40-50% of male fertility issues doctors cannot detect the problem. Especially if the male has undergone hormonal, chromosomal, and obstruction testing and all tests have returned back normal – which Dave’s did.

Dr. L said some people, after 3-4 unsuccessful IUIs, will jump right to in-vetro fertilization (IVF) without laproscopic surgery.

Dr. L said a woman with endometriosis has a lower success rate of pregnancy with IUI. He said there is a big controversy going on right now about endometriosis lowering the success rates of IVF. Dr. L is on the fence concerning this issue.

Our next step is laproscopic surgery on November 6th. I am trying not to think too much about it. I know it is an out-patient procedure but I’m the girl who has never been under the knife and never been under general anesthesia. So I am just a bit nervous about it all. But, my insurance covers the procedure and we feel at peace that this is the next step.

After that procedure, based on what is found, we will have another decision to make. Go back to IUI or proceed into the world of IVF?

If endometriosis is found, I could have it cleaned out and then Dr. L said we could do one or two more cycles of IUI. The only thing with this is if there is an unknown sperm issue, doing more IUIs won’t by-pass the issue. On the other hand, proceeding to IVF if I do have endometriosis, would by-pass my issues and a potential sperm issue.

If endometriosis is not found we can conclude that there is probably a sperm issue and proceed to IVF.

Yesterday’s doctor visit was very long and I took in a lot of information. Which is why I am so grateful Mama could go with me to take notes. As Dr. L spoke, I listened and Mama took 4 pages of notes!

We press forward. Keep praying!