Monday, December 22, 2008
There also appeared to be a second gestational sac, but there was no yolk sac or baby with this one. There is still a possibility that this is second baby that is lagging way behind or is difficult to see because of its position. However, this is probably not the case. Hopefully, we will know more once we hear from the doctor's office. Of course I am very excited about seeing the other one's heartbeat, but I am concerned about this second baby. If you would, please keep this in your prayers.
John and I can't thank all of you enough for your prayers and encouragement throughout this process, we have been so blessed by all of you.
We are just about to leave to spend Christmas with my family in Melbourne, FL so I won't by blogging much until I get back. I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I wanted to say thank you to everyone who left comments or sent emails congratulating us and letting us know that you are praying for us. It has meant so much to both John and I to have the support and prayers of so many people as we have gone through this process.
I did have a bit of a scare last week. Late Wednesday evening, I noticed some spotting - very light and almost orange in color. Needless to say, I was beyond scared. I completely broke down, spent some time crying out to the Lord, and then cried myself to sleep. First thing Thursday morning, I called Dr. K's office to let them know what had happened. I had previously committed to helping with the table decorations for the women's luncheon being held that day, so I went on to church with my cell phone in my pocket to wait for their call. Thankfully, they called back fairly quickly and before the luncheon started. They assured me that everything was fine. She said that the spotting is due to the progesterone inserts that I am taking and the increased vascularization of my cervix. They said I shouldn't worry unless it is red. Even so, anytime you see any amount and any color of blood in pregnancy, it's just plain scary. I have had a small amount of light spotting since then, but I have managed not to let it bother me too much.
These last couple of days, I have been less worried overall and I have been able to rejoice more in what has happened. Sometimes it still doesn't seem real though. I am really looking forward to our ultrasound on Dec 22nd when hopefully it will become more real, but at the same time I am nervous. It is hard not to wonder if sorrow awaits. I am optimistic though and so far there is no indication that I shouldn't be. I know this probably sounds like a bunch of mixed up emotions, but that is just how it is. I oscillate back and forth between different emotions. Throughout this IVF cycle, I have thought a lot about hope and I know there is reason to hope because my hope is in the Lord and He is able.
"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
In fact, it was a pregnancy announcement that precipitated us finding out that I am pregnant. The Sunday after Thanksgiving I received my second pregnancy announcement inside of 2 weeks and I was feeling very upset. I was happy for the other ladies but frankly I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I was sure I was going to get a negative because I was feeling major PMS symptoms which is not that unusual for me in the week before I start. Apparently, John did not agree that it was PMS so he basically said "that's it, I am going out to buy you a pregnancy test." I took it Sunday night and it was faintly positive. At first, I was thinking maybe it's the Ovidrel (hCG hormone they give you to trigger ovulation in IVF) still in my system. The next morning, okay it was really 4:00am when I woke up to pee (now a frequent occurrence), I took another test and it was a stronger positive. At first, I was going to try to wait the full 2 weeks as Dr. K had said, but I just couldn't, especially when my husband is a nurse and can get a pregnancy test ordered for me anytime. So I went in on Monday and they confirmed that I was definitely pregnant. I went back for more blood tests on Wednesday and Friday to see if my beta (hCG levels) had doubled and they had which is very good news. Dr. K's office said everything looks good and they scheduled my ultrasound for December 22nd. If heartbeat is seen on this ultrasound, then that will mean things look very good for the pregnancy. Even though things are going well and I feel very pregnant (fatigue, mild nausea, frequent urination, and breast soreness) I am still very nervous. I am finding it very hard not to worry or be fearful. I know that everything is in the Lord's hands, but trusting in that is easier said than done. I am also concerned about hurting others so between the two issues, I haven't really celebrated this yet. However, I know I need to praise God for what He has done. He has done a wondrous deed and I am completely overwhelmed by His grace and mercy to me. Yes, we used advanced reproductive technology, but Dr. K was merely the instrument, it was God who brought this about and all the glory is His. The fact is every one of our prayer requests was answered.
There is some sad news, however, the other 3 embryos that were not transferred did not make it. Dr. K's office freezes on day 5 which is the blastocyst stage of development. From what I understand this is a difficult developmental hurdle to overcome as only 40% of embryos will develop to blastocysts. The 3 that weren't transferred were also the 3 weakest since they choose the 2 best embryos to transfer. It is hard not to wonder if they could have survived if they were transferred into me, but I know that would not have been a good idea to transfer all of them since it would have placed all their lives at risk. I prayed that all of them would survive, but I also prayed that the Lord's will would be done in each of their lives and I must accept that it was.
I have read Psalm 65 a lot throughout this process. It is described as a hymn in praise of God's great goodness which seems like an appropriate way to end this post:
1 Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.
2 O you who hear prayer,
to you all men will come.
3 When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.
4 Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.
5 You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness,
O God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
6 who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
7 who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
8 Those living far away fear your wonders;
where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy.
9 You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
10 You drench its furrows
and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers
and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the desert overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
- First and foremost: My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
- A wonderful, loving husband who also knows the Lord - my heart aches for so many women I know whose husbands are not believers
- Family and the many new friends we have met this past year - our first year here in Florida was a pretty lonely one
- A church family and especially the small group at FUMC Niceville that we became apart of this year
- Being able to serve God with my hubby in a local ministry that feeds the poor and as small group facilitators - I had prayed for J and I to be able to serve God together for a couple of years - God brought it about this past year
- Serving in BSF and Alpha course - God used these to show me His plans were so much better than my own. He taught me more about His sovereignty, His provision - He knows what my greatest need truly is and He will always meet it, and about surrendering to His will.
- What God has taught me through infertility (though I hope it will end soon) - I am thankful because I have drawn closer to God and my husband through it and because God has used it to teach me so much about who He is through this experience. Sometimes I wish He would have chosen another way to teach me these things, but He knows I would not have learned them any other way. He knew I needed a deeper understanding of His grace and forgiveness. He knew I needed to give up control of my life, my plans, and my will. Oswald Chambers said that everyone has their own personal Gethsemane, I think infertility has been mine. He knew I needed to trust Him and to know that He is trustworthy. I needed to know that God is Good and that His love for me is unfailing. And now I do know these things.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Bed rest was not so bad. The instructions that I was given stated strict bed rest for 3 days, but then when we talked to the doctor on Friday after transfer, he said it didn't need to be strict, that I could get up and get food or move from room to room. I wish they wouldn't give conflicting instructions, it leads to confusion and then you stress is it really okay if I do this or that. I did get up several times, but for the most part I stayed on the couch. My doctor says research shows that bed rest does not improve pregnancy rates. I mostly read and watched movies. When I had gotten home from the transfer on Friday, I was surprised by several gift bags/boxes that friends had brought in while we were gone. They contained books, movies, and all kinds of stuff to help keep me busy during the 2ww (2 week wait). So I dug into those and watched several of the movies, a number of which were quite funny, which brings me to the "crazy" that has been going on in my head. When I laugh, I think "maybe all that jostling isn't good for them." When I get up, I can't help but think "are they going to fall out?" I'm fairly certain these thoughts are pretty common to women going through infertility treatment. I think we all worry that we are going to mess things up somehow. I have to remind myself who is in control and continue to put every care before God every minute (someone called and reminded me of this just this morning, but I will get to that later).
Yesterday, I worked on getting my house back in order and caught up on some emails. I was really struggling throughout the day to maintain a hopeful attitude. I was feeling depressed and thinking that the result is going to be negative. Finally, I just had to get out of the house so I went to the book store and then shoe shopping since I had some birthday money to spend. Unfortunately, even shoe shopping didn't cheer me up. I knew my attitude was not right, but I was in that place where all you can do is say "Lord, help." And He did. This morning I got a call from a lady who saw the advertisement for our support group in the church bulletin. She offered to give her testimony to our group so I asked her if she would mind sharing it with me first. Too often, I have heard stories from women who said well I couldn't get pregnant, but then I tried ________ and I got pregnant. While those stories are great, I feel like they are not what women experiencing IF need since only God knows His plan for each of us. It was not one of those kind of stories. It was the kind that reminds you that even though you may have already or you may in the future experience loss upon loss, God is in control. There is a plan, there is a hopeful plan, and though it may be hard to see why the plan is hopeful at the time, His plan for you is hopeful, good, and perfect. It was the kind of story that reminds you to be patient, to depend upon God, to put everything before Him every minute of every day, and to have faith in what God can and will do.
So now even though the waiting is still the hardest part, I wait for the Lord. A line from "Great is Thy Faithfulness" (my favorite hymn) comes to mind often, "Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow," that is what I am promised.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
1 2-cell stage, this one has not been graded yet
1 3-cell stage, grading 3+
1 4-cell stage, grading 4
2 5-cell stage, grading 4
Grading is on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best and anything 3+ or higher being capable of producing a pregnancy.
So things are looking well for transfer tomorrow. The transfer procedure is scheduled for 10:30am. We have to be in Mobile at 9:30am. This procedure is less intensive than retrieval and does not require anesthesia, only Valium. After the procedure I will have a 2-hour recovery period, which will be followed by 3 days of bed rest. I am allowed to get up to use the bathroom and take a shower, but that is it. Tomorrow is also my 34th birthday. I am hoping it will be my best birthday ever.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
"The God who make the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." Acts 17:24-26
I was also comforted when God brought to mind two conversations I had in regards to the number of children J and I might have. In one I was discussing how many eggs to fertilize and I had said that if we assumed a 100% success rate throughout the entire process the most I would be comfortable with was 5 children. The second conversation took place after a very close friend who also happens to be a family member prayed and asked God to bless J and I with many children. After we were done praying, I was wondering about the "many"part, so I asked her "uh, many, how many is that exactly." She said, "I don't know, about 5."
Obviously, I don't know that we will have a 100% success rate, but I don't think these conversations were coincidence either. If nothing else, they have been a means by which God has given me comfort during this time because they remind me that He sees me, He knows me, and He is taking care of it all.
I also wanted to thank the many people who have left comments or sent emails and/or cards letting me know they are thinking of us and praying for us. We have been greatly encouraged by your support.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Please pray that:
1) God would bless us with a child (and hopefully more children in the future)
2) This cycle would be successful, for those of you who like to get specific when you pray, here are the specifics:
- Stage 1: Ovarian stimulation, monitoring, and ovulation triggering - this is the current stage until tomorrow when we move to stage 2, please continue to pray for adequate response and hormone levels, no premature LH surge, and no excessive response (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome)
- Stage 2: Egg retrieval - please pray that the procedure go well, that a sufficient number of mature eggs be retrieved, and that there would be no problems with anesthesia
- Stage 3: Fertilization - please pray that fertilization would occur and that a sufficient number would begin to divide and develop properly. Ideally, we would have 2 grade 5 (symmetric with no fragmentation) embryos to transfer. We really don't want too many or too few (one can be enough), the Lord knows what number is sufficient and I am trusting Him with this.
- Stage 4: Embryo transfer - please pray that the procedure go well and that an embryo would implant into my uterus and develop into a healthy girl or boy
4) That I keep my eyes focused on the Lord, take one day at a time, and allow Him to lead me step by step
5) For freedom from worry and fear, for God's peace throughout the entire process, especially the 2 week waiting period
6) We be reminded of God's presence with us
7) God's will be done in our lives, that He fulfill what He has planned for J and I
I don't know the outcome, it is in God's hands, but I do know these things to be true - God is good; His love for me is unfailing; His plans for me are good, His will is good, pleasing and perfect; He is faithful; He is unchanging; He is gracious; with God nothing is impossible. I use to know that the Bible said these things were true, but now I know personally that these things are true. And, "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I am definitely nervous (but also excited) about retrieval. I have never had surgery or been under anesthesia. I think it is the control freak in me that dislikes the idea of being under anesthesia. However, I have been learning to be less of a control freak through all of this. You just can't be, too much is not in your control. I'm thinking that there is a surefire way to "cure" a control freak - put them through IVF. Please pray that I not be anxious or fearful about the retrieval and that I be reminded continually of God's presence with me. I will post more prayer requests tomorrow.
Friday, November 14, 2008
In other news, J is back!!! He went to the conference to present research he had worked on for the past year and a half at one of the conference poster sessions. I am so proud of him, he worked really hard on this project. I am definitely glad he was able to do this, but I think I am even more glad to have him home.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
A couple of praises and thanksgiving:
1) J was diagnosed with shingles about a week and a half ago. We had asked our small group and one other person to pray about this. Last night when I talked to J, he said he is feeling almost completely better, only minor pain in one lymph node. Shingles can take a very long time to heal and be extremely painful, so I am so thankful that God brought about such a miraculously fast recovery, especially with everything else we have going on.
2) The price of gas!!! Under $2.00 a gallon. If there was ever a time I was thankful for low gas prices it is now with all the driving I am doing.
I will do a post that lists all the requests for this IVF cycle soon. For now I will just list the ones that are applicable to this point in the cycle:
1) Pray that I would continue to trust God, fix my eyes upon Christ, and take one day at a time
2) Freedom from worry or anxiety, that I would continue to have God's peace
Up to 25% of cycles are canceled prior to retrieval due to inadequate follicle development or hormonal levels, premature LH surge, or excessive response.
3) Pray that my follicles would reach the necessary level of maturity and that they would do so at an equal rate, and that I would produce adequate hormone levels
4) Pray that I would not have a premature LH surge
5) Pray that I would not have an excessive response - ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
Thank you for praying, I wait in expectation of what God will do.
"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." Psalm 5:3
Monday, November 10, 2008
I was freaking out a little bit this afternoon waiting for them to call with my results and new instructions. When I called the office the after hours message came on. Psalm 121 came to mind,
"I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth."
I must admit though that the low estrogen does have me feeling discouraged, which is leading me to worry and fear. Right now I am having to remind myself who is in control. I know that God is sovereign and that this whole process is in His hands. His ways and timing are perfect. I must remember to take each day as it comes, to "put my hand in His,"and allow Him to lead me step by step.
Tonight I am also feeling a little lonely and I am really missing J. I am thankful that I am having lunch with a friend tomorrow and that tomorrow night is small group.
I am also thankful for the guy in the black jeep that I saw on my way to Gulf Breeze this morning. This is what he had written on his front windshield, large enough and in the right orientation so that the person in front of him could read it in their rear view mirror:
SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT
Anyway, I got a good laugh (I was behind him, not in front of him). I am feeling better that someone out there is more type-A them me.
I will be posting specific prayer requests tomorrow.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Birth control pills - Oct 11-31st (I know it probably seems weird that the first part of treatment for IF is birth control, it is to prevent cysts and get your cycle in sync with when the doctor wants to do IVF). This part of treatment went pretty well. I am so grateful to everyone who prayed for me while I was on the pill. God really protected me from a lot of the emotional side effects. Physically, I did not feel so well and I am very glad to be done taking them.
Oct 31st - ultrasound(US) to see if I had any ovarian cysts and to get baseline measurements of everything, I think she counted about 7 follicles, no cysts!
Nov 1st - J gave me my very first shot, it was huge - 3mL, J says most SubQ shots are only about 1 mL, it hurt, but no side effects at all. I was really concerned about this because it was our 5th anniversary and I wanted to be able to celebrate. We went to dinner at a great restaurant and then to see the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra (which I would highly recommend). This shot is to prevent premature ovulation.
Nov 4th - 1st US and blood work (b/w), everything looked good. I think she counted 8 follicles, all my b/w was low which is what is wanted at this point in the process. I started my first shot of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) that evening.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday - I gave myself a shot in the morning and a shot in the evening. I wanted to give them myself rather than have J do it because he has to go TDY to San Antonio Sunday through Thursday. I wanted to get comfortable giving myself the shots while I had J there to oversee. I think I have managed to get fairly proficient at SubQ injections already. The side effects have not been too bad. I have had quite a bit of lower abdominal pain and a feeling of fullness. This has actually been very reassuring, it helps me to know I am giving the shots right. I have had a couple headaches, a little insomnia, and a couple of crying episodes, but nothing major. I would take crying over irritability any day and so would J and I'm sure everyone else around me :).
Nov 8th - drove over to Mobile (a little more than 2 hours away) for US and b/w, my US was good, I had about 19 follicles, she didn't tell me, but I looked on the screen and I think they were measuring about 7 mm. I think they want them to be about 18-20 mm when they are mature. My E2 (estradiol) level was only 129. Dr. K said it would normally be double this at this time, but that since I was limiting the number of eggs he was not giving me as much medicine. I explained to him that he could take as many eggs as he wanted to, I just want to limit the number of fertilized - take the best of the bunch. So he upped my evening dosage a little bit for Saturday and Sunday. I go back again on Monday, but this time I only have to drive to Gulf Breeze which is about an hour away.
After this, I will have both US and b/w on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
I will continue FSH and add in 2 other types of shots this coming up week. I should go in for retrieval on the 17th. It could go a day or two before this or several days after this. After retrieval, we will wait about 3 days while the embryos grow and then I will go in and have 2 transferred into me. I will be on bed rest for 3 days following transfer. We will then wait about 2 weeks to find out if the pregnancy test is positive. Here is a schedule of a typical IVF cycle for those who are interested.
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21
I realized that we could not bring forth life except for that which God allowed. We have been blessed by a doctor who is also a Christian and respects our desire to limit the number of eggs fertilized. I had to finish my summer semester of school before beginning. Then we had an appointment in September 2008 to get things started. We were suppose to start in October, but there was a delay due to a blood test that had to be drawn on a specific day of my monthly cycle which did not get drawn. Our first IVF/ICSI was in November 2008. On Nov 30, 2008 I got a BFP, but sadly my pregnancy ended in m/c on Jan 13, 2009. We believe our baby was a girl and so we gave her the name Johannah Elise. We went through IVF/ICSI #2 in April 2009. Right in the middle of the cycle, I received some very distressing news from the embryologist concerning an issue she saw in our previous cycle. She believed it was very likely the cause of my m/c. After researching the issue, it became clear to me it was going to take a miracle for me to get pregnant and carry a baby term. Unfortunately, IVF #2 was a BFN and we are still waiting on our miracle. At this time, we have decided not to pursue any further infertility treatment and plan on moving forward with adoption.
Friday, November 7, 2008
"Yet to all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God" John 1:12-13
Secondly, redeemed is pretty much my favorite word. One of my favorite books is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It was after reading this book that I turned my life to Christ. The story is basically about a woman who believes that she is soiled and unworthy, but finds the way back to God through Jesus Christ. I once believed I was beyond forgiveness, beyond redemption, that I had "out-sinned" the Cross of Christ. Eventually, I came to understand God's redeeming love and received His forgiveness. I finally know what people mean by "forgiven and free." The practice of redemption comes from the Greco-Roman slave market where slaves could be freed by the payment of a ransom. But I also have come to understand something else - I belong to Christ.
"You are not your own; you were bought at a price." 1 Cor 6:19b-20a
"You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men." 1 Cor 7:23.
"...Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good." Titus 2:14
What was the price or the ransom that was paid for us?
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." 1 Peter 1:18-19
When we trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are no longer our own. This means my identity is now in Christ. My purpose, my significance, and my confidence are in Him. My life is to be surrendered to God's will, His purpose and plan.
"You also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God." Rom 7:4
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9
The reality is we were never our own. The freedom the world offers is an illusion. Apart from Christ we are in bondage to sin, its power and its penalty. The fact is we all serve someone in this life. We "are slaves to the one whom you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness" Rom 6:16b. I once lived this "empty way of life." I was self-destructing and full of despair. I was completely lost and felt terribly alone.
"What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!" Rom 6:21
But now I have been set free. The Lord has lifted me out of the pit, He took me out of the downward spiral of self-destruction and set my feet upon the Rock (Psalm 40). Where there was once self-destruction, there is now restoration. Where there was brokenness, there is now healing. Where there was despair, there is now hope. Where there was condemnation, there is now none (Romans 8:1). I was once lost, but now I am "found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ" Phil 3:9. I was lonely, but now I know God is with me always and has promised to never leave me or forsake me (Isaiah 43:2, Hebrews 13:5). I know now that no one is "beyond redemption," no matter what they have done.
"I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you." Isaiah 44:22
"If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord,"and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." Romans 10:9-13