Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Root of My Heartache

     Today, like every other day, I prayed. I was driving in my car, pouring my heart out to God, and really 'talking it out' with Him. Now, don't get me wrong, I talk to God and express myself all the time, but there are many occasions when I 'hold back' a bit. As most people in my world know by now, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. Sometimes it is helpful and sometimes it back-fires on me. That's just part of who I am and I have to own that part of me proudly. I have expressed my pain and frustration on here, and in other forms, on numerous occasions, but I'm not sure if I have ever really put into words the deepest reason for my hurt. I have mentioned anger and bitterness before - both of which do no good for one's heart - but there is a root to it. I want to write this out because it is true. When I get angry with God and when I feel down and, perhaps, hopeless, it is not for a lack of faith. It is because of my faith. It is because I believe in miracles. It is because I really, truly, deeply, believe. I believe in the power of God with all of my heart. I know what God can do, and I have seen Him work. I have witnessed miracles. I've been asked before if I'm praying hard enough. Really? I have regularly sobbed to God on my hands and knees and cried out to Him. I know that if God wanted to He could take all of this pain and misery away from me in an instant. He could heal my body, and Matt's, and we could conceive a child with no intervention at all if He wanted that to happen. He could regulate my hormones and heal my medical issues; He could open up my blocked tubes; He could heal Matt; He could do any and all of it. He could have saved us from the years of heartache that we have experienced, or at least put an end to it by now. He could have made me a mother and Matt a father. But He hasn't. Why? And that's where I begin to question myself. Am I doing something wrong? Am I being punished? He has laid on my heart these intense desires and I am continuing to follow where my heart is lead, but I'm still waiting. I watch those in sin obtain our dream and I feel slapped in the face. And some of those same people have made comments wondering when I am going to 'give this up'. Who are they to say such hurtful things? We will never give up. As I cried today, I thought more about my life in particular. I, myself, am a miracle. My parents waited 9 long years and endured a lot of pain before they had me. Why? I was obviously born when I was for a reason. If they went through all of that to wait for me, then what am I meant to do? Am I accomplishing anything? I must be meant for something (as everyone is), but what is that? I feel God has big plans for Matt and I, and maybe He has something big planned for our future child(ren). I'm waiting, and waiting, but maybe the waiting has nothing to do with me. Maybe it has more to do with the future. I still can't help but feel hurt some days. I know that I do not make the calls, but haven't we had enough? My God can do anything. I say again, I believe in miracles and my faith is huge. God is real. So those are where my emotions are really coming from. They don't come from a lack of hope or not having enough faith in what is possible. Those emotions come from my deep seeded faith in my Savior who I know can make anything happen. I'll continue to believe that. Something big is going to come from this -- I have to stick by that and I will. I'm not waving a white flag and surrendering yet, because God is not done with me. He wants me to fight.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Four Years: An Overdue Update, Surgery, New Diagnosis, and the Future

      It is about time for me to do the update I should have done months ago. It is fitting that it is April and this month officially marks four years since we began trying to have a family. When I last posted, we had just received the fertilization report after the egg retrieval had taken place the day before. It was at this point that things began to take a turn for the worse. I had a rather robust response to the meds during the stimming process and we had anticipated on retrieving around three times the amount of eggs that we ended up with. Even though we were sad that there were complications, we were happy with what we had and remained optimistic all the way up until transfer day. On the morning of transfer, we were informed that out of the 4 eggs that were fertilized, only 2 made it to day 3 for transfer. Unfortunately, out of those 2 only 1 was of good quality. It was then that we found out I had poor egg quality on top of the other issues we were facing.

The transfer was supposed to be a very special moment, and it was, but part of me knew right then and there that this was over and devastation was right around the corner. Nevertheless, hope remained and we clung to that. This event was over 6 months ago now, and although some of the details are a bit fuzzy, the emotions are very real. I still look at this picture of my embryos regularly:

On October 10th we went to the hospital for blood work and my fears were confirmed -- it had failed. I was a complete mess. I'm not too prideful to admit that, and I'm not too prideful to admit that I'm still a mess. I believe there was life inside of me, and there was, and I would like to believe that those babies are waiting for me in Heaven one day. It may seem silly to some, but I miss them. For 12 blissful days, from September 28 to October 10, I was 'pregnant' and that is the closest I have ever come to having the family I desire. My heart hurts. I've been very angry and confused, and although I don't like to say it -- bitter. I've been angry with God because I prayed some very specific prayers and I felt betrayed by the outcome. The doors had been opened for us to do IVF, and I had prayed HARD many times that if this was not meant to be and that if this was only going to end in devastation that God would put an end to it before it began. He didn't. We spent money we didn't necessarily have to spend for a chance to become parents. God allowed all of these things to happen and I have struggled for months because of it. These aren't emotions I'm proud of, but they are real and I know that there are many others who have felt the things I have felt and do still feel on occasion. I'm human and although I have put my happy face on during many occasions, and have acted the way I felt I was supposed to act, I have often been throwing a fit inside. I'm sharing this because I have had people come to me quite often who feel the 'ugly' emotions about infertility and who think I am handling things so well and I want people to know that I do not always handle things gracefully. I cry ugly tears. I have ugly hissy fits. And I have had ugly arguments with God. It is not always pretty, but it is real. It is a good thing that God loves us so much, even though we don't deserve it, and that He shows us grace. I am continually amazed at the grace that God shows me.

Anyway, that is the outcome of our IVF cycle and I felt that I needed to start this off by wrapping up that previous chapter before I continued with the current. I had surgery last week so that my doctor could hopefully diagnose the cause of my chronic pelvic pain. During surgery, my doctor found that both of my tubes are blocked (they were not blocked a couple years ago) and he was unable to unblock them. This confirms that IVF is our only option for a biological child, which we pretty much knew anyway, but there was always the hope for a miracle to happen. During an appointment I had with my doctor a couple days ago, we discussed my surgery further and he informed me that I have adenomyosis. Adenomyosis is when the endometrial tissue that lines the uterus goes into the muscle of the uterus (and I guess my tubes, but that may just be scar tissue). There is nothing they can do about it, but it explains my pain and gives me an answer for that.

So what is next for us?
We had previously decided that adoption was our next move, but after further discussion and coming to terms with what my heart (and Matt's) truly desires, we have decided to try IVF one more time first. We love the idea of adoption and no matter what will pursue it in the future, but we do want to try again for a biological child. Adoption is always an option, but IVF will not be. We may be young, but our medical issues are great and will only get worse with time. My doctor and I agree that it makes sense to try IVF again now. We have felt a lot of pressure to move forward with adoption, but we have to do what our hearts are telling us. I have shed a lot of tears, but this is what we are hoping to do. A referral to an RE in Charlotte has been put in and we will be meeting with our new doctor in about a month or so. We are just going to find out the financial aspect of another IVF cycle (costs, possible payment plans, etc.) and go from there. I have a supplemental insurance until January of next year and hope to do IVF toward the end of this years before that insurance plan runs out. Our plan is to try and come up with the funds between now and the end of the year. Hopefully we can come up with some ideas, and God willing, it will all come together. Prayers that I find a great job soon, too!

I think that is about it for today with the update. I felt it was time to fill in all the blanks from the past 6 months. Please pray for us, and with us, as we try to figure out how to make things work and to (hopefully) make our dream of having a family come true. There is still a great amount of unknown.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fertilization Report

Yesterday didn't go quite as expected. On Sunday we were told by our doctor that he anticipated retrieving between 25 and 35 eggs. Because of my high estrogen levels and high number of follicles, I was only given a half dose of the trigger shot on Sunday night to help lessen the effects of OHSS. Anyway, the egg retrieval yesterday went well, but it was extremely painful and hard on me. I am still in quite a bit of pain, but so far the symptoms of OHSS seem minimal (thank God). After the retrieval, my doctor informed me that he had retrieved 10 eggs. I was very confused as to why we only got 10 when there were so many others available. I just received a call this morning and learned a little more about what happened. Apparently one of my ovaries was very difficult for the doctor to get to and it was causing me a lot of pain. He retrieved eggs from both ovaries, but had to start weighing the risks and benefits to me and had to leave some behind. It was just becoming too difficult to get to some of the eggs. 10 eggs is good though, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much about that. ANYWAY, here is the news about fertilization. Out of the 10 eggs that were retrieved, 8 were mature and 2 were immature. Out of those 8 that were ICSI'd (they injected a single sperm into each egg) - only 4 fertilized. 2 others fertilized later on, but they fertilized abnormally so they are no good. As of right now we have 4 fertilized eggs to work with. My babies!! Hopefully those 4 will continue to develop normally. We will not know the quality and grade of these until we go in on Friday. Our transfer is at 9 AM on Friday morning and I am praying very hard that we will have 2 good quality embryos to transfer and 'put back home' inside my uterus. I am very nervous. Please continue to pray with us and for our little ones. I also have an issue with my cervix and the doctors have a hard time with it so I have to drink more water than the average woman before the transfer. I will be a little uncomfortable, but it will be worth it. I am looking forward to a beautiful moment on Friday and coming home with pictures of my 'embabies'. I have a lot of mixed emotions right now about everything and am bummed with the number we ended up with after everything. But we only need 1 for this to work (although we would really love twins!). Now it's time to rest up, heal, and prepare my body for the big day :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ultrasound, Pre-Op, and Upcoming Egg Retrieval!

I am very excited to say that after this morning's appointment the egg retrieval is officially set for Tuesday morning! :) It's safe to say I have a lot of follicles and my doctor told me that he anticipates retrieving between 25 and 35 eggs. Holy cow! Now, we won't know exactly how many of those are actually mature until the retrieval takes place, and not every mature egg will fertilize. The goal is to have two great 8 celled embryos to transfer on Friday. Anything that we have left over will be frozen if it makes it to day 5 (blastocyst stage). I am definitely feeling everything though. I am sore, but overall I am handling things quite well I think. So far I have not been stressing and I am handling my emotions the best I can. My estrogen levels are through the roof. This morning's labs came back at 7000! I'm not quite sure if I have mentioned this in previous posts or not, but to put this into perspective, a normal woman's estrogen levels peak around 200 at the time of ovulation each month. I am definitely at risk for OHSS. In order to lessen this risk, or at least limit how bad I get it, my doctor told me to only take a half dose of the HCG trigger shot that I must do tonight. So only 1ml (5,000 units) instead of 2ml (10,000 units). I'm alright with that :). It's too bad that the needle can't be half the size, too. Haha. I've got a 22 gauge needle just waiting to be used tonight at 9 PM. The retrieval will be at 9 AM on Tuesday morning, although we have to be there at 6 AM. We are getting very excited, but are also quite scared and nervous about everything. Please continue to pray for us. We need it now more than ever.

Once again, I want to add in this link if anyone is wanting to help us out right now or feels led to.

Also, if anyone is local I received my order sheet in the mail for the cookie dough fundraiser. The fundraiser is for 2 lbs. of  gourmet cookie dough in a resealable tub. If you order I will deliver it to you when it arrives. It is $10 and you can choose from chunky chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, sugar, white chocolate macadamia, or snickerdoodle. Let me know if you want to order :).

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ultrasound - Day 7 of Stims

This isn't going to be a very long post because I am not feeling well tonight. Everything really started to hit me this afternoon and I guess it is time to listen to the doctors and just rest. The appointment went great this morning and things are right on track. As of this morning I had 18 (yes, EIGHTEEN) follicles (eggs) growing inside of my ovaries. I go back on Sunday for another check up and hopefully my pre-op, too. The follicles are good sizes right now, but not quite mature yet so we have to continue for a couple more days. My E2 (estrogen) levels are still very high and I am at risk for developing OHSS once egg retrieval takes place. If you remember from my last post, on Wednesday E2 level was at 1043 and today's labs came back at 2413. These levels tend to double about every 48 hours. To put it in perspective, the average woman's estrogen levels get to be around 200 every month around the time they ovulate. I am assuming that we will do the trigger shot on Sunday night and egg retrieval will most likely (fingers crossed) be on Tuesday. I'm just ready to do this. My emotions are all over the place tonight and I am crying a lot. I am wanting my own bed, and I miss my cat (lol...). Yes, we've only been staying out of town for a day so far, but I'm hormonal so cut me some slack. I honestly feel quite pathetic. My belly is bloated and uncomfortable. Not to mention how gross it looks from all of the shots. I really hope this is all going to be worth it. IVF is no joke and it is NOT easy! This is very hard on the body and mind. Please pray that I feel a little better tomorrow and that things go well so we can have the retrieval soon.

Also, again, if anyone feels led to help us out financially right now this is the link where you can donate:
http://creating-our-miracle.mydagsite.com/ . I really hate asking for help, but unfortunately we are on a military budget and are in need of it at the moment. I do not want to pressure anyone, however, so do not feel that you have to. Just know that it will not go unnoticed if you do.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Human Pin Cushion

This morning I had to add in another injection. Apparently this one causes my skin to turn all red for a while. I also ran out of one Follistim vial in my pen, so I had to stick myself twice for that one, too. Which meant I had to do three shots this morning. Plus I have to do one tonight. I am really starting to feel like a pin cushion! This is what my stomach is looking like right now (gross I know):

(Left side of stomach)

 (Right side of stomach)

I'm sure it is pretty obvious that I'm getting bloated, too. Oh well. It is part of the fun! lol. Looking forward to my appointment tomorrow morning and hopefully we'll be told when they think egg retrieval will be. I'm hoping I only have a few more days of these shots (well, of stimming, because I won't be done and that is when the big ones start.. but that's another story). I'm assuming trigger will be either Sunday or Monday night, which would put retrieval at either Tuesday or Wednesday morning at some point. I guess we will see how accurate I am! 

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ultrasound - Day 5 of Injections

So let me start off by saying that the quality of this video is not the best (it was taken from my husband's phone), but you can make out quite a few of the follicles she is measuring. Everything looked great as far as the size of the follicles and how they are progressing. The largest were at 12, but most were at 11 I believe. Unfortunately, when my labs came back my estradiol (estrogen; E2) levels were very high. At this point in a cycle (4/5 days of stims) they expect those levels to be around 400-600. My estradiol level came back at 1043. So, my doses were lowered just a bit for today and tomorrow. I also am adding in another shot tomorrow so I will be at three shots a day. I go back in Friday morning for more blood work and another ultrasound. I am definitely beginning to feel the side effects and am getting fatigued come the afternoon (taking lots of naps!) and am feeling very sore around my ovaries. With levels like this I am at risk for OHSS (Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome). Having PCOS puts me at a higher risk for developing OHSS. Hopefully my levels will balance out a bit. I am going to start pushing more fluids to help prevent that from happening. Overall, everything went great today and we are still really excited! Things are moving right along and I am optimistic that Friday's news will be good, too. Please continue to pray!! :)