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.

Clomid Challenge Test

Back in November, during my post-op appointment with Dr. L, he suggested I do a Clomid Challenge Test. Remember during that appointment he also informed me that having endometriosis declines a woman’s egg quality sooner. This test checks the hormone FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). A woman trying to conceive wants an FSH level of <10. Levels over 10 mean you have poor egg quality.

Back in March 2008, during my initial blood work, my FSH level was 4.5.

He said this test is not absolutely necessary for us to determine our next step in treatment post-surgery, but considering I like to be as informed as I can about what is going on with my fertility, he said I’d probably want to do the test. And he was right!

So I will do the Clomid Challenge Test this cycle for two simple reasons. 1) to find out my FSH levels and 2) Dr. L said he has seen women conceive from a Clomid Challenge Test since you take 100mg of Clomid for five days. The test will cost me 15 bucks out of pocket. If we conceive on this cycle and avoid another expensive IUI cycle or two … glory be to God!!! 🙂

So here’s the Clomid Challenge Test schedule for the next month:

Cycle Day 1: December 20

Cycle Day 3: December 22, Blood draw #1 (checking FSH level)

Cycle Day 5-9: December 24-28, take 100mg Clomid per day

Cycle Day 10: December 29, Blood draw #2 (checking FSH level)

Cycle Day 12: December 31, Ultrasound

Cycle Day 21: January 9, Blood draw #3 (checking progesterone level – to see if I ovulated the follicle(s) I had)

January 15, 2009 – Appointment with Dr. L to discuss results of Clomid Challenge Test and our next step.

Please pray with us as we are in another time of praying and then listening for God to lead us to our next step.

Walk of Faith

As I was writing my last post, I knew I would need to clarify something in the next post.

The underlying message of my last post was not that people going through infertility need to stop all treatments and let God fight their infertility battles for them.

It’s not that anyone took it that way, I just think it might be easy to assume that was what I was saying.

But that is far from what I was saying. And it opens the door for me to write about something I’ve wanted to for a while now.

I’ve been going through this devotional book about prayer and one of the chapters was about journaling prayers. I’m a journaler. I’ve kept an ongoing journal from the time I was 15 years old. I started the journal for the purpose of journaling my love story of meeting and marrying the man God had chosen for me. Through the years, I’ve come to see that my journals are far more than what I set out for them to be. As the devotional book was saying, my journals have become a written record of my walk with the Lord and His faithfulness to me.

Beginning in August, I started keeping a separate “Infertility Journal”. Even after only 4 months, it is amazing to go back and read what I have written.

I read something just this morning that I am going to use to help me explain what I clarified above about my last post.

I’ve called this infertility journey my “Walk of Faith”. And it truly is a “Walk of Faith”. Think about normal everyday walking. How do we walk? One step at a time. And because God has called us to have child-like faith, we walk holding the hand of our Heavenly Father as He leads the way.

Because of this, there is no possible way I could have set out on this journey with the mindset of, “I am going to do three IUIs. If they fail, then I will have surgery. After surgery I am going to do no fertility treatments for a cycle to see if God will allow it to happen naturally. If He chooses not to, I will go back to do another IUI.”

My journey through infertility has been a step-by-step, walk of faith with God, my husband and all the faithful prayer warriors He has placed in my life.

On August 10th I wrote, “God, today I pray for obedience. I want to listen and obey. You are going with us on this journey. God told Jess and her husband to stop treatments – they did. It was hard but they obeyed. At this point in our journey, I don’t feel God is saying stop treatments. But the fact of the matter is I want to listen to God and obey whatever He says. That is what I am called to DO. God, give me the ears to listen and the heart to obey.”

That has been my prayer through every crossroad, every decision we have had to make concerning treatments.

After that first failed IUI, I really struggled with whether or not that was God saying, “Do no more.” or “Move on to Cycle 2.” Before that awful day was even over, God dropped the funds for Cycle 2 right into our lap.

After cycle two failed God said, “Rest.” and I enjoyed possibly one of the bests months so far in this journey. God spoke so much and I soaked it all in.

Then cycle three came and went and God said, “Surgery.” and low and behold, Dr. L found Stage 2 endometriosis and now it is gone and no longer a factor in my fertility!

And then God said, “No treatments. Let me fight for you this month. You need only to be still.”

God is not limited in what He can do. His purpose is to receive glory through us – His Creation. I firmly believe that whatever path to conception God has chosen for me–naturally or through an infertility treatment–He will receive the glory and honor either way.

The underlying message in yesterday’s post was that the important thing on our journey down the road of infertility is that we must walk step-by-step, hand-in-hand, with God, allowing Him to speak and guide us every step of the way. And then, our response must always be a response of obedience. I believe the only thing that does limit God is a disobedient heart. Disobedience opens the door for us to miss the blessings of God.

And missing out on the blessings of God is like missing out on your most memorable Christmas morning – times a million!

A Leap of Faith

I am pretty much recovered from the surgery. So the next thing is the month of December – the month we are praying it happens naturally.

There are several choices I must make concerning December’s cycle:

  1. Should I do the Clomid Challenge Test?
  2. Should I take my basal body temps and chart like I was doing over a year ago when we had just started trying to conceive?
  3. Should I use an Ovulation Predictor Kit?

I believe God is saying no to all three.

It’s taken me a few days to come to this conclusion because I have really wanted to at least do the Clomid Challenge Test for several really good reasons:

  1. Taking Clomid, there is a good chance for more than one follicle to ovulate. Doing a Clomid Challenge Test there is an 8-10% chance for twins and (thankfully) only a <1% chance for triplets or more.
  2. We could time things better because Clomid regulates your cycle.
  3. I would have one ultrasound and be able to see how ready the follicles are for ovulation which would help with timing.

This morning as I was praying and writing in my journal about all this I realized I hadn’t really stopped to consider those positive aspects of a Clomid Challenge Test.

Timing is crucial when trying to conceive and, for us, timing things just right is very tricky for reasons I won’t get into. So as I was writing in my journal about the positives of doing the Clomid Challenge Test it was very tempting to change my mind about not doing it during December’s cycle.

But here is why I can’t change my mind:

This morning I felt as if I was standing at a crossroad and God is calling me towards one direction and asking me, "Elaine, are you going to trust me?"

Nothing is impossible with God. And I knew this morning, that the real reason God had told me "no" is because if God indeed is going to perform a miracle in December for us, we need to take our hands off, let go and let God do His work. To sum it up, I need to take a leap of faith and trust Him.

This is scary. On one level, it makes no sense. We so want to have our hands in EVERYTHING! We are like the 2-year-old who likes to "help" Mommy with chores around the house. But in the end, there is more of a mess, and I’m sure, that mom thought something along the lines of, "I’m glad my little boy wants to help but I sure do wish he would go find something else to entertain himself with so I could just fold this laundry once and not have to keep refolding it!" I wonder how many times in my life God has thought that about me?

If only Elaine would just back off, let go and TRUST ME to get the job done!

This is hard, really hard. But I’ve said from the beginning that I desire God to receive the glory in everything we must go through on this road. If I get pregnant naturally next cycle, I want ALL the glory going to God and not even a tad bit of it going to me or to a Clomid Challenge Test.

So by packing up the prescription for Clomid, thermometers and the folder I keep all my charted temps in, I am saying to God, "If we conceive next month, this baby will truly be a miracle from You!"

And all the glory will be His.

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.

Perseverance

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Paul was flogged, shipwrecked, persecuted and imprisoned and yet he said, “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

I am learning what it means to persevere through a trial. It means when you get knocked down you bounce back with your faith still intact because you know Who is in charge of the situation.

So it means when I hear that my first IUI was not successful, I persevere – knowing God will work His perfect plan.

It means I resist the enemy (Satan). I resist him by not listening to the doubts and fears he tries to plant in my mind and heart.

For about three weeks now, I’ve been in a resting time. And it has been wonderful! But the time has almost come to, once again, get up and fight the battle. I know Satan is getting excited because he knows it is in the midst of a battle that he can bring me down.

But I must persevere. And when something knocks me down, I must get back up and continue the fight.

But I don’t fight empty-handed. In Ephesians 6, Scripture reveals armor God has given us to fight whatever comes our way. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:13

Much of the battle I face through infertility is my mind. Satan loves to make me think negative, to make the situation seem hopeless, and to make me feel like everything is a failure and I will never have the desire of my heart and become a mother.

And when you hear news like I heard on August 4th it is so easy to allow these thoughts to consume my mind. It is so easy to say, “Forget it. I quit.”

But God has called me to persevere through trials and not give up. And it is only through my perseverance that I will be able to one day fully see the glory of God be revealed in and through my present circumstances. If I give up now I am essentially saying, “God, you have no power”, but if I persevere, I am telling God, “God, I press forward because I know you press forward with me. And your grace is sufficient to give me everything I need to continue to fight. And I know, one day, your glory will be revealed and I will receive a blessing far greater than anyone can imagine today.”

And to all my prayer warriors out there, please join with me in prayer as a new cycle is about to begin. Your prayers are an essential part to this battle.

Powerful Words

As I continue to be still and know that God is God, He continues to speak His Word into my heart.

I love how a storm in life (this time I’m not referring to a hurricane) forces you to cling to the Words of God in the Bible. The Words of God are just POWERFUL

They give you hope when you are feeling hopeless.

They give you strength when you are weak.

The interesting thing is is I can be in the midst of worrying and fretting about something and then a part of Scripture will pop into my mind. Suddenly, the worry turns into hope. Hope in Jesus Christ. The problem still exists, of course, but I am no longer flailing about in the tormenting sea of worry. I am resting in the arms of God.

Consider these Words I came across this morning in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.

Chew on that and taste the POWER!

Hard pressed implies pressure. But a certain amount of pressure is needed to release our faith and God knows just how much pressure to apply. He takes us to the place where we exhaust our own resources and have to trust in Him.

God has brought Dave and me to this place. We have no other means but to trust in Him. And we know He will remain faithful.

It is during the valleys of life that we have the opportunity to experience a greater degree of God’s Power at work in our life.

You just never know…

You just never know what people are going through or what just may be waiting for them around the corner.

We have some neighbors that live down the street from us who have a little baby boy. She was big pregnant with him right around the time we started trying to conceive.

I’ve shared with you all before that seeing couples pregnant or with their newborn babies can sometimes be very hard. This particular couple takes frequent walks around our block with their baby in the stroller. As time passed, and month by month was going by, it became harder and harder to see this couple on walks with their baby. Why? Because I so wanted that to be Dave and me! (I know, I know, you aren’t supposed to covet your neighbor!)

To anyone they walk by, it would seem everything is just perfect in their little world of three. But just this past week he was experiencing headaches and went to the doctor. He was told he has a cancerous tumor the size of a tennis ball in his brain. Last Thursday, they operated and were not able to get all of the tumor because it has tentacles. He is 28-years-old, and, like I said, has a baby boy under the age of one.

I say all this not to say, “Ha, their world has come crashing down too.”, but to say that I guess hearing this just gave me a huge reality check.

We’ve all heard this a thousand times, I’m sure, but we just never know what tomorrow holds. Each day is a gift. Who would have thought a seemingly healthy 28-year-old man was walking around with a tumor the size of a tennis ball in his head?

Life is tough.

I think about other blogs I’ve read, which are all linked to the right of this blog.

Who would have thought their 5-week-old baby would be taken from them and still not be back in their arms almost half a year later? (Cowtown Times)

Who would have thought their 11-week-old baby would have leukemia swimming around in his blood? (A Journey of Prayer for our Sweet Baby Boy)

Who would have thought their fourth daughter would be born only to live for two hours? And who would have thought this same family would also bury a nephew only a few months old, just two months later? (Bring the Rain)

Who would have thought their 3-month-old daughter would never wake from her nap? (Surviving Life’s Curveballs)

Who would have thought? GOD! He knew. He knows.

To me that brings out two very different emotions. One is a feeling of anger. Why? Why must babies be sick? Why must babies die? Why must all this bad stuff happen to people who love You?

And the other emotion is hope. Hope because I know the God who knows. He is Sovereign. And He works everything, the good and the bad, for good. (Romans 8:28) How He does that is beyond my comprehension because He is God and I am not. But it brings much peace to know that God is working everything for good.

I have no idea where this post came from. Usually when I sit down to write a post I have an idea of where I want to go with it. But this one…I have no clue.

I guess hearing about our neighbors just once again puts into perspective our infertility struggles. I’d take infertility problems any day over a brain tumor.

But the fact of the matter is, whatever God brings into our lives, it is ok. Ok, not in the sense that we desire our children to die or our health to decline in a matter of days, but ok in the sense that we acknowledge that God is God and He is working everything for His glory and for the ultimate good of those involved.

Please pray for my neighbors, James and Rebecca and their baby, JT. James is home from the hospital (amazing to me considering his brain surgery was only 4 days ago). They are waiting to hear what the next steps will be. Talk about waiting. Now that is the ultimate unnerving wait.

Seize the day.

Our Next Step

Today I had an appointment with Dr. L.

I asked him if we could begin being more aggressive this cycle to increase the odds of pregnancy. He said the next step is to superstimulate the ovaries with the goal of having 2-3 follicles that are mature enough to ovulate. While superstimulating the ovaries increases the odds of pregnancy it also, of course, increases the odds of multiples. However, if there are more than 4 follicles mature enough to ovulate, we would cancel the cycle and not inseminate. And, maybe, just maybe, God is indeed trying to prepare me for twins…I’ll explain that in my next post. 🙂

From all my research on the computer and reading other infertility blogs, I had come to the conclusion that even though Dave and I have struggled for a year to conceive, we are tremendously blessed in the simple fact that our infertility issues are minor compared to many of the infertile couples out there. I wanted to discuss this with Dr. L. His response to me was, “I can’t ensure a pregnancy, but I am pretty optimistic about you guys.”

We then began discussing the failed IUI cycle. We were talking about statistics and odds and how there was a 16%-18% chance we would have conceived that cycle when I suddenly said, “Dr. L, I believe God is the creator of life. It’s amazing what you as a doctor can do, but ultimately you can’t create life. Only God can. That is just how we have looked at this failed cycle and it brings much peace.” He looked at me, and with all sincerity said, “You are exactly right.” It made my heart do a flip to know the very doctor who can insert a sperm into an egg through possibly the most complex and aggressive fertility treatment available (ICSI), recognizes that his hands are tied behind his back as far as creating life goes.

Cycle 3 (which is really Cycle 2, since we did not inseminate during Cycle 1) begins approximately September 5th. I chose not to ask detailed questions about the protocol for ovary superstimulation. I’m sure it just means more medications and more shots, but I am in a month of resting now and just didn’t want to deal with all that today!

So, I continue to be still and know that God is God this month. I know He is at work in my life.

Thank you for your continued prayers.