journey to #2

Not sure if you read Mrs. Hammer’s blog. My heart breaks for her today.

Four and a half years of trying to have a baby while battling infertility. Four cycles of IVF. Three beautiful embryos were placed in her womb during her fourth, and final, chance at IVF. They were the best embryos they had ever had and they were so hoping this would be their miracle.

But today her beta came back as negative.

Man, why do people have to go through this?!?!

And then an even weirder, odder question is this:

Why didn’t I have the chance to go through that?

I know that calls for a little explanation.

You remember March 8th, 2009, I was told IVF wouldn’t even help me conceive. Truth be told, I’ve always been a little leery of that “diagnosis” because it wasn’t my RE who told me that – it was the other RE in the practice because my RE wasn’t on call that fateful day. Logic tells me that obviously the other RE knows what he’s talking about because he’s been doing this since before I was born. But my heart wants to cling to the hope that maybe, just maybe, he was wrong and my RE could figure out something that just might work to finagle around the obstacles the other RE says make conceiving through IVF very unlikely because he’s the best RE in the entire Universe.

And so, as the time approaches for us to start thinking (yes, thinking, not necessarily wanting…yet 🙂 ) a second child, I can’t help but let my mind wander.

There are so many stories out there of women who had a poor response many times but, finally, after three, four, five tries, they got their miracle.

T’s blog is private, but her story is amazing. After many tries at IVF her last try was filled with miracle after miracle! It was her last try. She went it to it knowing if this failed, they had done everything possible to try to conceive. They prayed for a miracle as they had done with their previous cycles. She was a poor responder, but this final cycle, they had beautiful embryos transferred. More beautiful than they ever imagined. Beta day came and her beta was negative, however, against all odds, the clinic called her back several days later and told her there had been a mistake in her first beta and they needed to recheck her. Trying not to get her hopes up, she went in for another beta draw. And lo and behold, that beta came back indicating she was pregnant! Her numbers were extremely low, but with every beta draw after her second one, the numbers kept doubling and tripling. Around 5-6 weeks into the pregnancy she saw the most miraculous thing on the ultrasound screen: the tiny, healthy heartbeat of her precious baby!

So how does all this tie into me?

I honestly don’t know at this time.

I’m trying to figure it out myself as I seek the Lord about why He has me wondering about all this.

I guess, if I could have things my way (which I know full well may not be God’s way AND I know full well that I ultimately desire God’s Will because I know full well HIS WILL is best and perfect and better than anything I could ever wonder or dream about) I wish I could have a second try at IVF.

We didn’t give IVF another thought after our first cycle where I responded very poorly and we ended up converting to an IUI mid-cycle. The reason we didn’t give IVF another thought is so obvious now.

At the time, getting up from that examination table and walking away from it all just like that was nerve-wracking and it felt like I was just giving up prematurely.

But I knew I had to say no to another try because of one reason:

God was telling us to move to adoption because he wanted to give us Little Bug!

Obviously, what I am saying here is I do not, for a second, wish we had given IVF another try back in the Spring of 2009 because I would not ever trade my Little Bug for 10 biological children!

What I am saying is this: When I think of adding to our family, excitement pours into my soul because now, more than ever, I know God has another miraculous plan ahead for us in building our family and I am so excited to see where He takes us on our journey to #2. I am not naive to think the journey will be filled with only joy and no heartache and pain. Unfortunately, when you mix infertility and trying to add to your family, there is bound to be some pain and heartache along the way. But now, more than ever, I know God has a plan bigger and better than all the pain and heartache I will ever experience in my lifetime. I know that what is required of me on my journey to #2 is trusting God and patiently waiting for Him to reveal HIS PLAN. The waiting is bound to get hard (waiting is never easy!) but every day I will have a blue-eyed, blonde haired little reminder that His ways are perfect and His timing is impeccable.

So I guess, right now, my heart is just open. Open to whatever way God would choose to add to our family. I wouldn’t say any of this stems from a desire to experience pregnancy but it stems from a curiosity and wondering if what I was told on March 8th, 2009, is really what would have happened had we pursued another IVF cycle.

Which means all this will probably be just what it is today: my wonderings. Because I can’t see giving IVF another try simply because I am curious to see what the outcome would be. That is how I know this is not a “pregnancy desire” speaking. Sure, if I was told I could do an IVF cycle free of charge, I don’t think I’d have to think twice about jumping on that offer! But, we all know IVF isn’t free.

And so, I guess I will always just wonder. But I can live with that because I do believe if God wants to build our family by a biological child, He most certainly does not need IVF to do it.

My God (our God!) is just awesome like that.

Picking Up the Pieces

What can you do but pick up the pieces after a day like yesterday?

It’s no joke that the road of infertility is full of ups and downs. While yesterday was probably the lowest of the lows for us in our journey so far, I still found myself watching the clock and waiting for the day to end so a new one could begin.

I know a new day signifies a fresh outlook and while we never assumed the outcome of our first attempt at IVF would be this bad, we can only move forward from here and deal with the new set of circumstances that have been given to us.

I decided long ago that I am going to choose to set my mind on God and not my circumstances that seem to grow dimmer and dimmer with each passing treatment.

However, this blow knocked me down hard. Yesterday put me that much closer to the reality of having to accept that I may actually never be pregnant and give birth to a baby.

But yesterday also made me realize once again that I am not in control here and neither is my doctor. God is in control and yesterday did not take Him by surprise at all.

Now, more than ever, I must trust that God has a perfect plan that somehow involves the bleak circumstances of yesterday. If I don’t believe that simple truth, I literally have nothing.

As for now, we are converting this IVF cycle to an IUI. I will go in tomorrow at 8am for another ultrasound to monitor what this solo follicle hanging out in my left ovary is doing. I’m predicting (based on how the three IUIs before surgery went) that we will be ready for insemination towards the end of this week. Assuming, of course, that this one follicle doesn’t decide to take a leave of absence as well.

Honestly, I’m not allowing myself to think too much about this IUI and the possibilities that lie within. I just can’t allow my mind to think that this could be it.

As far as our next step beyond an IUI goes … we are once again at a crossroad of decision-making and need your prayers as we make (another) big decision.

When not-so-great odds, a huge sum of money and a deep desire to be a mother are all thrown into making one decision, it makes for a very complex decision to be made.

I know without a shadow of doubt that the prayers of many faithful prayer warriors is what pulled me through yesterday. Thank you, from the bottom of my broken heart, for all the prayers, comments, emails, Facebook messages and phone calls.

I could never convey to you in words how much it means to me to know that I have an army of prayer warriors lifting me up to the Father on a consistent basis – especially on a day like yesterday when I literally just didn’t know what to pray.

We will probably never fully understand this side of heaven the complete impact your prayers have made.

But I am completely confident that one day we will all be able to look back on this entire journey and see a beautiful outcome that is far better and far greater than anything we can even imagine today.

I, for one, am looking forward to that glorious day!

IVF Consult Appointment

The appointment went very well, as usual.

Dr. L started by explaining each step of the IVF process and then I had many questions I wanted to ask him.

My chart has been sent to the nurse who will make my IVF schedule. Depending on when the dates fall, we will be doing IVF in either March or April! I hope to receive the schedule soon.

I am planning to write a post titled “IVF 101” where I will describe each step of the IVF process. I hope this post will help those of you who have never been through IVF to learn about what I am about to go through. Plus, I want to learn as much as I can about this process because I find it just fascinating. 🙂

Thank you for your prayers and kind words of encouragement today.

[I wrote two posts today … scroll down to read the first post.]

Decision Made

After much prayer, thought, seeking the council of my parents and waiting to see if all necessary details would come together, we have made the decision to proceed with IVF.

At first, just thinking of going through IVF scared me to death.

Fear was forefront on my mind. I couldn’t imagine putting myself through something like IVF just to hear those five dreaded words for the fourth time: Sorry, you are not pregnant.

When I left the doctor’s office on January 15th, I knew God would speak clearly and let me know where to go next because I was all ears.

And sure enough, He did.

I came to realize that fear is paralyzing. And if God is leading us towards IVF, who am I to say to the very God who created me and loves me, “Sorry, God. I can’t go there. It’s too frightening.”?

So I started digging through the Bible finding verse after verse about fear.

And as I dug, something else became crystal clear to me, as well.

These past 18 months have been my “training and preparation” to be able to, in God’s strength and in God’s strength alone, run this upcoming “marathon” called IVF.

I believe God, in His Sovereignty, has used the heartache of negative pregnancy tests month after month, three failed IUIs and surgery to strengthen my faith and mold my character to be equipped to open the IVF door and walk through with confidence in God’s Sovereign plan for my life. I do not know what the outcome of this IVF cycle will be, but I do know whatever happens will be best.

In the past month, God has clearly opened the IVF door widely for us. I will not back away in fear and run.

Instead, I must grit my teeth, my strength coming only from the Lord. When something goes wrong, or there is an unexpected hurtle along the way, I must fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith. I must take one day at a time, filling my heart, soul and mind with the truths and promises found in God’s Word.

I will have an IVF consult appointment with Dr. L on February 12th.

Thank you for your prayers during this decision-making process. Don’t stop now… 🙂

We Need Your Prayers

Your prayers are still greatly needed at this time as we are making a decision about our next step.

Because of the surprise CCT results (we were not expecting failure), this decision has become an even bigger decision than it was.

God will show us the way – of that we are confident.

Please just pray for wisdom, peace and a clear direction from God.

Failed CCT & a Window of Opportunity

I failed the Clomid Challenge Test.

Day 3 FSH: 7.8

Day 10 FSH: 13.3 (Should be <10)

Day 21 Progesterone: 19.7

I couldn’t help but start crying right there in the doctor’s office.

However, contrary to what I had read on the internet about failing a Clomid Challenge Test, I quickly learned that failing for me was not complete gloom and doom for one simple reason.

My age.

Dr. L told me that a Clomid Challenge Test is an indirect measure of my egg quality and age is a far more important factor.

So basically, finding all this out could not have come at a more perfect time.

I am 27.

The endometriosis is gone.

The events of the past almost 18 months have been woven together into a window of opportunity that only the Hand of God could do.

If we are going to have biological children, NOW is our window of opportunity, given these newfound circumstances.

I believe this window of opportunity is a gift from God.

God’s Timing is always perfect and way better planned out than we can plan things out.

At first, I couldn’t help but be mad and angry that it was me who had to have the endometriosis and consequentially, fail the CCT.

But looking at things from God’s perspective always gives you the brighter side.

God is still at work bringing this journey to completion for His glory alone.

I still wait in great expectation of what God is going to do next.

Please pray with Dave and me, especially in the next few days, as we pray for God’s guidance and peace towards choosing the next path and moving towards it.

Thank you for your prayers today!

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.

Another Fork in the Road

Three days away from standing at another fork in the road.

Another decision that will have to made.

I have finally learned what it means to be in the midst of a huge storm and yet to feel complete peace.

It is complete freedom to know that God is at work and I can trust Him to “make my paths straight”.

As I explore each possibility with Dr. L on Thursday, God will speak.

There will be undeniable peace.

And I will obey and move forward to whichever direction He chooses.

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

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.