"But if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea', and it would obey you." -Luke 17:6

Monday, April 30, 2012

Bring. It. On!

Tomorrow is our official IVF consult!  I have three little words to describe how I'm feeling: Bring. It. On! Ever since my husband and I made the decision two weeks ago to take this giant leap of faith, I've been super excited to get this process started!  Tomorrow we will go through all the details with Dr T, sign the consent forms, pay the money (gulp!), and start our testing (ovarian reserve, something call "uterine mapping"--sounds like a blast, doesn't it?!--and routine blood work).  I am going into this trusting that my God knows what best for us, and also continuing to pray for Him to use us and our situation however He sees fit!

Since I'm on call at work all week and weekend, I may not be able to write a post everyday.  But I will try to catch you up with what's going on when I can!  Until then, I'll leave you with this verse: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ready, Set...Go!

I woke up early this morning and, within seconds, I already had a million thoughts buzzing around in my head.  I had a mental list going of things I need to get done today...laundry, groceries, taking pictures of my friend's baby (I'm excited about this one--I get some baby-snuggle time!), pick up BC pills.  Eek!  This is it!  How exciting!  Today marks the start of a new beginning, because once I start these pills, I will officially be on track for IVF next month! But first things first...I have to take another home pregnancy test.  Hopefully this will be the LAST time I ever POAS (pee on a stick) and get that dreaded BFN!  But then again, it could be positive...after all, nothing is impossible with God!

Well, it didn't take long (3 minutes, precisely), to see that oh-so-familiar one line in the window.  I took a second and thanked God for this negative result (I know that sounds crazy--bear with me), because I knew that this is part of His master plan for my life.  I wasn't upset, nor did I cry my eyes out like I usually would over a BFN.  I felt nothing but peace...peace that only God can give and peace that passes all understanding.

So today I will pick up my prescription and officially start on this journey.  I ask all of my friends and family who read this or know about our situation to please be praying...pray for strength, for God to touch my body and bless us with a miracle of our own, for God's will in our lives, for patience, and for peace.  The Bible says "Again, I tell you, if two of you on earth agree on anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:19) I know He is going to move in our lives (maybe not even in the way that is expected--but in some amazing way), and I can't wait to see what He has in store for us!

Ready, set...go! IVF, here we come!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jammin' Out to Jesus!

Ok, so since not a lot is going on in the way of baby-making this week  (our official IVF consult isn't until next Tuesday, and I start BC pills this Saturday), I figured I'd share a few verses from some of my favorite praise music to help get us through the end of the work week!  These are especially good for driving around town with the music cranked up, singing at the top of your lungs, with your hands lifted in worship to God....just kidding, Mom! I only lift one hand, and keep the other safely on the wheel. ;) These are just a few that are currently on my playlist:

-"So I shout out Your name, from the rooftop I proclaim...that I am Yours.  I am Yours.  All that I am, I place into Your loving hands, and I am Yours.  Here I am, I stand with arms wide open to the One, the Son, the Everlasting God." -Rooftops, Jesus Culture (Thanks, Em, for recommending I download this one!)

-"He'll break open the skies to save those who call out His name. The One the winds and waves obey is strong enough to save you." -Strong Enough to Save, Tenth Avenue North

-"Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God You are higher than any other.  Our God is healer, awesome in power, our God...our God.  If our God is for us, than who can ever stop us?  If our God is with us, than who can stand against us?" -Our God, Chris Tomlin

-"And I find myself just living for today, cause I don't know what tomorrow's gonna bring...So no matter if I rise or fall, I'll never be alone.  Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You Lord, oh no...nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You Lord, oh no." -Nothing Compares, Third Day

-"Make a promise to me now; reassure my heart somehow, that the love that I feel is so much more real than anything. I've a feeling in my soul, and I pray that I'm not wrong...that this life I have now is only the beginning.  Feels like I'm born again, feels like I'm living...for the very first time, for the very first time.  Feels like I'm breathing, feels like I'm moving...for the very first time, for the very first time." -Born Again, Third Day

Come on, how could you NOT be totally pumped for God after listening to those songs??!  I hope they bless your day as much as they have mine!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Fertility Friends

I have to tell you about one of the best "God things" (you know when something awesome happens and you say "It's a God thing!"? This is one of those!) to come out of this whole infertility battle...my Fertility Friends!

In Oct 2010, I was desperately looking for answers to my predicament, so I joined an online forum for women who were TTC just like me.  I posted about my situation and asked for suggestions...but no one responded!  After a few days, I was starting to think maybe there was an online clique or something, when I got a response from this girl named Jessie.  Little did I know that that response would be the start of a seriously wonderful friendship!  We started discussing our diagnoses, current treatment plans, and a few personal things (jobs, husbands, etc).  Over the course of a month, I grew to know her better, and I realized that God placed her in my life for a reason.  We could vent to each other, go through treatment together (all through emails, of course), and just support each other (which is very important during this whole infertility process, since it will drain you).  She is one of the funniest, sweetest people, and I am so incredibly blessed to have "met" her!  I assumed the Lord had just blessed us both with this awesome friendship, but, of course, being the Ultimate Contractor that He is, He was just setting the foundation for so much more!

As our emails continued, Jessie told me about a good friend of hers who's cousin was also dealing with her own infertility problems.  We decided to include her in our emails, and in November, another beautiful friendship was born!  Beth is so spunky and has such a kind heart; I can't imagine my life without her now!  I could tell she wanted to be a mommy soooo badly, but my Master had bigger plans for her in the meantime.  We all exchanged phone numbers and started texting more than emailing, and we grew closer day by day.

From time to time, I would enclose an excerpt from my devotional or a verse that really touched me for the girls to read.  I wanted to encourage them to stay faithful during this process, and know that God's will the ultimate blueprint for our lives.  Proverbs 19:21 says "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."  This is so true!  We plan for things our whole life, assuming that we'll meet our soul mate in high school or college, get married a few years later, and have 2.5 babies before we have time to get our first wrinkle.  We can make all these plans, but in the end, it's HIS plan that will unfold.  And even though we don't see it at the time (because we're sooo disappointed that OUR plans didn't work out! How rude!), His plans are always what's best for us!  These were the types of things I share with my Fertility Friends.

Beth, at first, didn't say much about my references to God.  I had no clue that she didn't have a very religious upbringing.  But I continued to talk about how I was going to trust God, even when things weren't going well, because in the end all I wanted was God' will for my life.  One day, she told me she had been praying more often, and that it felt good and was making her more at peace about how things were going in her own struggles.  After her fifth failed IUI, she still remained faithful and kept praying that God would give her strength and would one day bless her and her husband with a baby.  I am a firm believer that the Father hears His children's prayers, and I am so grateful that Beth got to see that firsthand!  IUI #6 was successful and she is now 6 weeks pregnant with God's little miracle!  I praise the Lord everyday that He brought her into my life and I know for a fact that He had our paths cross so that she could hear more about Him and draw closer to Him.  Now tell me God isn't good???!

Through all of this, God was also working on Jessie's heart.  It wasn't until a few weeks ago that she told me that she also wasn't a strong believer before starting TTC.  She had lost her grandmother a few years before and was having trouble understanding how a God that loves us would take someone so special away from her....because of all this anger and doubt, she stopped praying.  Jessie went on to marry her sweetheart, and they started TTC shortly after.  Sadly, she suffered a miscarriage not long after beginning her journey (in Jan 2010), and this just widened the gap between her and God.  When she met me in Oct, she said she noticed how strong my faith was, and I believe it was then that the Lord started planting tiny seeds (mustard seeds, maybe?? ;) ) that would soon grow into something much bigger!  Jessie said the first night she prayed in a long time was the night before she got her BFP (big fat positive)...I don't know about you, but that gave me goosebumps! All she could do was sit there and look at the positive test and thank God over and over for giving her this gift.  She felt forgiven, like the Lord had just wiped her slate clean again, wiping away all of the doubts and anger she had towards Him, and was giving her a fresh start.  And He was!  Jessie is in her second trimester now! :) She didn't know it when she started trying to become a mommy, but this pregnancy would change her life in more ways than one!  When she told me this, it just further verified that God had placed me here, in the middle of this infertility battle, to share His light with someone else.  And, as I told my husband, if I can make a difference in ONE person's life by sharing the love of Christ with others, that makes this entire infertility battle worth it...all 20 months!

It's so difficult sometimes to see the light through the darkness, especially when you feel like you'll never make it out of the dark hole you're struck in.  But if you stand still, let the Lord speak to you, and look really hard, you'll find it.  You'll find that tiny light that God has started burning for you, to guide you and give you hope.  It may not be in the most obvious place, and you may have to do a little extra searching, but it's there.  Going to His word is a great place to start looking...Psalm 119:105 says "Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." It's when you find this Light and start to share it with others in the same dark, dreary place, that God really starts to use you to His glory!

With this all said, I want to thank my wonderful Fertility Friends, Beth and Jessie, for being there for me and letting me share the Light of God with you both!  :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our TTC Journey

So I guess I should probably give you a little summary of the fertility treatments we have been through since we started TTC (trying to conceive)...I'll try to make it short and sweet, but as you can probably already tell from my first post, I am quite wordy.  "I get it from my Mama!" ;)

-Oct 2009: I married my best friend; the man God intended to love, protect, and put up with me for the rest of our lives...what a lucky guy! Haha!

-Sept 2010: I stopped my BC pills. I thought it would happen right away...man, was I in for a rude awakening!

-Sept 2010-Sept 2011: I only would have a period if I was given Provera to start it (and my GYN would only give me this every 3 months), so I only had 4 "cycles" in this 12 month period. But I was reading that it is quite common for couples not to conceive right away, and that you should give it a year trying naturally before starting to worry.

-Sept 2011: We hit the year mark.  I started to question my GYN about fertility concerns...she acted surprised, like she didn't know we had already been trying for a solid year.  I had labs drawn, exams and ultrasounds done.  My husband had a SA done.  Out of all this testing, the only thing my MD could diagnose me with was PCOS (which would explain why I never had a period if I wasn't taking BC pills or Provera).  I was started on Clomid 50mg to make my follicles grow and had frequent ultrasounds to monitor their activity.  I produced one 20mm follicle, and took 250IU of hcg (the pregnancy hormone) to induce ovulation...but my doctor never had me come back for a scan to make sure I ovulated.  Needless to say, I did not get pregnant that month.

-Oct 2011: My husband and I went on our 2nd anniversary trip.  I took Clomid 100mg this time, but because I wasn't going to be in town for monitoring, I couldn't take the hcg shot.  I don't even know if I had any mature follies. Once again, BFN (big fat negative).  Bummer.

-Nov 2011: After a 56 day cycle, I started Provera again to get things moving.  Started Clomid 150mg at the end of the month, so that takes us into Dec.

-Dec 2011: Grew one 19mm and two 17mm follies.  Yay! Took the hcg shot again, but (once again) didn't go back for a follow-up scan.  And, once again, BFN. (Starting to notice a trend, yet??)

*At this point, I decided maybe we needed a little more assistance in the matter...so I googled "Reproductive Endocrinologists" in our area, and there was only ONE. If we didn't like him we would have to drive 2 hours away to a bigger city to find a specialist, so I figured we should give him a shot.

-Jan 2012: Met with the RE, Dr T. He is probably the sweetest little doctor, and really loves what he does!  So glad we decided to give him a shot, and I was starting to see how God was leading me towards the path He had for me!  Dr T said I had borderline hypothyroidism, and started me on low-dose Synthroid.  He also did an ultrasound and said I had several Nabotheian cysts in my uterus partially blocking my cervix, which could prevent sperm from reaching my eggies.  (But he chose not to do anything about these right now, because that would mean surgery.) I had a HSG to check the patency of my tubes...this came out a-okay.  However, while looking at my husband's SA from Sept, he noticed his morphology was low (1%, where 4% is "borderline normal").  Since the test wasn't done there, he recommended having another SA done, since morphology less than 4%= NOT GOOD.  (Isn't it odd how all these tests were done at my GYN's office, but everything was considered "normal"?? But I digress.) Due to my husband's schedule, he wouldn't be able to do another SA for awhile, so we just went along as planned with my cycle...but I didn't start my cycle on my own this month either, so I was given Prometrium 400mg.  Still didn't start until February.

-Feb 2012: Started Femara 2.5mg (didn't make me feel as bad as I did with Clomid--praise the Lord!).  Had 24mm, 20m, and 19mm follies grow (whoop whoop!) and took the hcg shot.  We elected to have an IUI (intrauterine insemination) done to ensure the little guys got up to my eggies! Had a follow-up scan done a few days later and found that I had released TWO eggs!  I was super excited at the thought of twins!

*Now, during this month, my husband's stepfather was diagnosed with cancer.  Three weeks later, he passed away in the hospital.  Days before he passed away, we told him that we were trying to have a baby, but that we were having trouble so we were getting treatment...I think he was pretty excited. :) I kept having this verse pop into my head in the days before and after his death: "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away...blessed be the name of the Lord!" (Job 1:21)  I honestly believed that God was going to help us through this devastating time by blessing us with a baby...but God said, "Not yet. All in My timing". So, the day of my father-in-law's funeral, we got another BFN. And so the next cycle began.

-March 2012: We decided to stay on the same protocol because I had such good response the last cycle.  This time, though, I only grew one mature (20mm) follicle, but it did release, so I was grateful.  After IUI #2, we still weren't pregnant. I started to get restless, but kept remembering Psalm 46:10: "Be still and know that I AM GOD." My husband finally was able to do another SA, but we had to wait 7 days for the results, so we decided to go ahead with the new cycle in the meantime.

-April 2012: Started the same protocol once again, thinking maybe stress was a factor in my poor response last month. But this time I only had one follie get to 12mm and then stop growing. I was thinking "Is it something I'm doing wrong?? Should I not be exercising? Should I cut out caffeine all together??" But in the end, it didn't matter whether they finished growing this month or not.  My husband's morphology came back at 3%, which Dr T said was not very likely to fertilize eggs since the 97% abnormal sperm would be surrounding the egg and not let the normal guys in.  He said the best thing to do would be to pick out the good sperm and make sure they have a chance to do their job...so that began our talk of IVF.

-Today: We are planning to go down this path that God is leading us...this path to IVF.  I start my BC pills (to help suppress my ovaries) this Saturday.  That will last for 3 weeks.  Then, starting the week of May 20th, we will begin injections to kick my ovaries into high gear. I am nervous, yes, but at the same time, I am sooo excited to see what God is going to do!  He has placed this obstacle in our lives for a reason, and I know he is going to do BIG things--after all, He is God! And like the guest speaker said at church this Sunday: "NOTHING is impossible with God!  If you're not sure, write it down and see what He does!" So this is where I start my daily blogs (as time allows, anyway)...I plan to keep you updated on what's happening with the IVF process, other little tidbits to help the time pass, and (most importantly) how God is moving!

Divine Imperfections

Infertility sucks.  It is an emotional, physical, and mental roller coaster for all persons involved.  It is something many people like to keep private, mainly because they feel as though something is "wrong" with them.  You may be wondering why I chose to blog about such a personal issue.  Well, as crazy as it sounds, I feel as though God has given me an unexpected gift.  Now I know what you're thinking: "a gift?? You just said it sucked!" But I have learned through these last 20 months, through all of the fertility drugs, ultrasounds, blood draws, and negative pregnancy tests, that God doesn't make mistakes.  He made my husband and I just the way He intended to, and in His eyes, we are perfect.  He knew that we would have these struggles and that through these we would draw closer to Him, and at the same time be able to draw others closer to Him as well.  That is why I am writing this blog.  To give Him the glory for the "divine imperfections" He has blessed us with.

Now, trust me...it has taken me a long time to get to where I am spiritually.  As I began this journey, I wasn't where I needed to be in my walk with God.  I would go to church sporadically, read my Bible once in a while, and pray the same prayer every morning on my way to work.  I was in a rut. After a few months of trying to conceive (and reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan--AMAZING book!), it hit me.  It was as if God said to me, "If you don't spend time with me NOW, with no baby and no big responsibility, what makes you think I am going to give you a gift that will take up most of your days for the next 18 years??" So I started reading a devotional (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young--also amazing!) and writing in a journal.  I wanted to give my all to God, hoping that, in return, He would give me the gift of being a mother.  I dove into His word and began praying heartfelt prayers, actually talking to God and waiting for Him to speak to me.  I felt like I walking closer to God than ever before, and it felt great! But it wasn't until just recently (last week actually) that I had another revelation.  I noticed that while I was saying with my mouth, "I trust you, Lord.  Use me", but I wasn't opening my heart and accepting the fact that through this obstacle He IS using me.

As you read through my posts, you will notice a trend...I LOVE my God, and I aim to see the blessing in every trial, every obstacle, He gives me in life.  I can do this because I keep this verse close to my heart: "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you...to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) God doesn't give us obstacles to say "Take that!", but rather to watch us grow as Christians.  My prayer is that while you read these posts, you learn that God loves you just the way you are, and that it's your own "divine imperfections" that make you perfect in His eyes.