Hand In Hand

Hand In Hand

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Stepping Out In Faith With Reckless Abandon

God is asking for complete trust. I knew this back at the end of August. I knew this after my HSG results weren't the best. I knew this in September. I knew this after my hysteroscopy results were great. I knew this in October. I knew this when I had an injectable cycle that ended without the fairy tale ending. I knew this when November flew by with nothing to show for it. I knew this in December. I knew this when I had the most perfect setup for being pregnant only to see it all crumble with nothing to show for it other than negative tests. I know it now with another rest cycle starting tonight.

I know that God is in control of my crazy, out of control hormones. I know God is in control of my uncooperative reproductive system. I know that He must have big plans for me or for my family. His time table doesn't match what mine was, but I trust that His plans are more awesome than mine. God sure has a way of placing obstacles in our path and using them to test out faith.

I am stepping out in faith. I am trusting in God's plan for my family. I am willing to walk this unknown and often discouraging path with reckless abandon, trusting in God's plan. It isn't easy to do. There are a lot of tears involved. Sometimes, it takes a broken heart to fully give our desires to God and allow Him to take control.

I won't sugar coat things. I am discouraged. I am very much afraid of not having the chance to be pregnant again, to love another child, to nurture another little love. I'm sad that I'm not pregnant. I'm frustrated that it comes so easily for most people, yet it is something I clearly have to work for.

This walking in faith with reckless abandon thing isn't going to be easy. God is challenging my faith. And I must admit that I am sometimes filled with doubts. These doubts seek to pull me from my faith journey. We all fail at times when we walk on our faith journey. I am trying to keep my heart on Jesus and walk hand in hand with the one who carries me when I can't do it on my own.

This journey towards child #2 is hard. It isn't what I expected it to be. But it's everything God planned it to be. So I am trusting in His plan as I move on, walking into the unknown. Whatever obstacles may be in my way, I know I can cross them as long as I trust.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Menopur, Follistim, and Ganarelix, Oh My!

It's been a while since I have posted any updates on life, TTC #2, and raising my beautiful little miracle. There's a lot to catch everyone up on, so I'll try and do it as quickly as possible. For the record, No, I am NOT pregnant....yet. So, with that said and out there, I can update you all on what has been happening.

Back in August, we started the process of TTC #2. As was the case when I conceived my beautiful daughter, my FSH levels are NOT good. Before starting any new cycles, my baseline FSH was 12.7. Although it was a smidge higher when I started the process 3 years prior, this FSH level is not good. It means that I have pre-ovarian failure, basically the early stages of premenopause. I knew this three years ago and was relieved to see that it has no progressed into full premenopause. My FSH numbers are still relatively the same. So we were given a yellow light-we had to have an HSG first in order to get a green light.

In late August, I had an HSG. It was an epic fail. My uterus showed signs of a "defect." The RE was unsure if this was from scar tissue from my c-section in 2010 or if it was a polyp. No matter how I looked at it, I was stuck at a red light until I had a hysteroscopy done. I was discouraged, upset, feeling beat up. I scheduled the hysteroscopy for mid-September. In my mind, the faster I got things moving, the faster I could get on the road to TTC #2. Hysteroscopy day, I had a low grade fever and almost couldn't do the hysteroscopy. It was determined that because I had myself so nervous, my body temperature couldn't adjust and I was running on little sleep. So they did the procedure anyway. Turns out that the Epic Fail from the HSG was a fluke and everything was, indeed, fine. I was given the green light to start a new cycle as soon as I finished my pack of bcp. Amazing news. I was so relieved. 

The end of September, I started injectables. I started with 2 vials of Menopur and 75iu Follistim. My eggs showed no growth. They upped my meds across 11 nights to 3 vials of Menopur and 300iu Follistim. Ugh. Talk about hardcore meds! Across those 11 nights, my eggs never grew. Talk about defeat. I was feeling very broken, more discouraged than ever. I felt like I waited too long after having my daughter before conceiving a second child. I was sure my eggs were duds and we would need to discuss donor eggs. The RE gave me Provera for 5 nights. I faithfully took my meds, waited 2 weeks, no sign of AF. No new cycle. Nothing. So I called, went in for more bloodwork, and started 7 nights of Provera. Finally, a new cycle came and started. By now, we were in the beginning of December. 

This has been a longer process than we expected or wanted it to be. Ideally, we wanted to be pregnant before now. But we are not. I started a new cycle on the 3rd and started injectables on the 5th. My starting dose? 3 vials of Menopur and 300iu Follistim. This is not a good starting dose. That amount of Menopur is just pure evil. But I did it, I knew what the outcome could (and hopefully will) be. For 3 nights, the routine was to mix the Menopur an hour before injecting (apparently, playing "Chemist" and mixing up the good stuff an hour before injecting makes it burn a LOT less), injecting the Follistim and Menopur at 9, and putting my feet up because my thighs KILLED me after each injection. My eggs apparently responded very well this time and I had to bump up the Menopur to a whopping 4 vials for two nights with the 300iu Follistim and the Ganarelix. I triggered on Monday and had my IUI today! 

Where does that leave me? I'm now in the dreaded Two-Week-Wait. I'm trying to not think about anything. I have a beautiful daughter. She is such a miracle. I would love to give her a sibling to play with. But God is in complete control. He has been reminding me of that every step of the way. He is in control, even when His plans are not our plans. I guess I'll find out just before the new year if this cycle worked. I'm not going to overanalyze anything. It will be what it will be. Just pray for us, as this is definitely what we want for our lives and have received God's blessing to try. 

Now, you may be wondering how my daughter is doing. Isabella is doing so well! Can you believe she is almost 2 1/2 years old? She talks so well and definitely has a well-formed little personality. She has spunk, is extremely opinionated, and is stubborn (like her Daddy, not at all like Mommy). She has been sick off and on for over a month. These toddler colds are the worst! She seems to be feeling better now, just in time for Christmas. We are trying to teach her more about the Christmas story. We still haven't bought a child-safe Nativity set, but that is on the list of things to get. She has a story all about Christmas and the story behind it. She especially loves talking about Baby Jesus and how He had a mom and dad. Isabella also likes to entertain with lots of tea parties. As long as that is the only kind of party she likes to throw, life will be good.

Isabella is still the best miracle for Hubby and me. She is a blessing every single day. I knew I would love being a mom, but I never knew how much I truly would love it. God has blessed me so much with Izzy. 

With all that said, I shall leave you with some pictures from the fall of our little family. 


Monday, October 15, 2012

Being Strong When Inside, You Want to Crumble

It's not been the easiest of starts with TTC #2. Of course, I had the HSG back in August. It wasn't good. The results showed that something was wrong with my uterus. I was scheduled for a hysteroscopy in September. I had the hysteroscopy done and as it turns out, everything is okay. There was nothing wrong with my uterus after all. No scar tissue. No fibroids. No polyps. Surprising to all of us, yes. But great news that was much welcomed. I was quickly given the all clear to start TTC #2 and a rush order was placed on securing my injectables. I got my injectables and was strangely excited to break out these needles every night in the hopes of what was to come. 

I stimmed on my injectables for a total of 11 nights, the whole time trying to stay optimistic. But my hope and joy was quickly fading as each ultrasound showed no growth of my follicles at all. I knew I had high FSH and I knew my egg quality was severely compromised. But I dealt with that the very first time around and God blessed me with my beautiful daughter. Fast forward to today. After eleven nights of high levels of Menopur and Follistim, I am staring my now canceled cycle in the face. I refuse to let it get me completely down. It will not cause me to crumble. It will not own me. 

A canceled cycle, the first cycle back on the journey. I will not lie about it. I'm scared. I'm scared that my egg reserve is so low and such poor quality that I won't be able to conceive another child. I'm scared that I will never experience the joy and beauty of pregnancy. I'm scared that I may never have the intimate relationship of breastfeeding again. I'm scared that I will not be able to give my husband another child. All these fears running through my mind. I'm frustrated, I'm annoyed, and I'm scared. But I will not let it own me.

I have to come to a place in my heart where I can fully say that all I have is more than enough for me. I have to accept the richness of God's blessings and know in my heart that they are more than enough for me. I may want another child, but I do not need another child. I have been blessed so very much with my daughter. She is the delight of my heart. God made me a mother and I don't ever want to seem ungrateful or unhappy with what I've been given. I've been given so much. My husband is amazing. He is so patient. He is so understanding. This can be such a lonely process if your spouse doesn't get down to the heart level to know how things are. But my husband does. He prays with me, encourages me, comforts me, dries my tears, eases my fears. I could not ask for a better partner in this journey. And my daughter. She is beautiful. I love watching my toddler run around, barking orders at everyone. She really is the delight of my heart. Her cuddles are the best. Her kisses make my heart melt. And that loving look she gets in her eyes, I couldn't ask for anything more. I must be content with what I have been blessed with. Anything I get beyond this will certainly be extra blessings.

If only my heart could understand all of that so easily. I want to be content. I want to appreciate what I have and not want for anything more. I want to be strong and brave. I want to stare this setback in the face and take it head on. But inside, I am crumbling. The thought of not having more children scares me. It breaks me down. And then, instead of the contentedness I need to have, I have this longing in my heart. And with each fear, I crumble some more. 

I know I will get through this. It's not my will that will be done in all of this. God's will trumps mine any day, any hour. I need to trust that His will is being done, whatever it is. And I need to be content in that alone. I can be strong in Christ, even when I want to crumble on the inside. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Guest Post: Support in My Darkest Days

*This is a guest post from Heather Von St. James. She is a strong, courageous woman, a mother, a wife, and a cancer survivor! I am so glad I am able to share her story with all of you!

Support in My Darkest Days

We have all heard the old saying "It takes a village to raise a child." Before I became a parent, I did not understand what that really meant, but I now believe it with all of my heart.

August 4, 2005 was one of the happiest days of my life. That was the day that I became a mom after a wonderful pregnancy. The days that followed were filled with joy. My "village" began to form as my parents, in-laws and other wonderful friends and family came by to meet our sweet Lily. We never could have guessed the trials that were ahead.

After I returned to work, I realized that I was feeling awful. I had no energy and was breathless many times throughout each day. I thought these problems might just be because I was a tired new mom, but I decided to see my doctor. I will never forget November 21, 2005 because I received my diagnosis on that date. When I heard that I had malignant pleural mesothelioma, I realized that I was not just the mom of a 3 1/2 month old baby girl. I was now also a cancer patient.

Pleural mesothelioma is a cancer of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos. I was surprised to find out that I was accidentally exposed to asbestos as a child. Over 30 years later, this exposure had manifested into cancer. My prognosis was not good. The doctors told me that I had 15 months to live without treatment. My first thoughts were for my baby girl, so I decided to try the most intensive treatment for mesothelioma possible. This involved flying to Boston and undergoing a extrapleural pneumenectomy, a procedure that removed my left lung. After my surgery, I was in the hospital for 18 days. I also went through both chemotherapy and radiation.

All of this occurred when I was a new mom to my sweet baby girl. There is no way my family would have survived without our supportive village. While I was undergoing treatments in Boston, Lily lived with my parents in South Dakota. I know it was challenging for them to move from being grandparents to parents, but many wonderful people stepped up to help them. Some of my childhood friends watched Lily during the day so my parents could continue to work.

My little girl kept growing and developing, but I was not able to witness these things firsthand. My parents did their best to keep me informed. They would e-mail me pictures, and my husband would print them out on the hospital's low quality printer. I would proudly share these new photos with my nurses, but inside I was crying for everything that I was missing. When I became discouraged, I remembered that I was fighting for my life for Lily. She needed her mom, and I was going to do everything possible to get well for her.

I would not have chosen to have cancer, but I learned so many things throughout my journey. I am blessed to know there are people in my life who would do anything for my family. I appreciate my village so much more now that I have experienced cancer.

You can find out more information about Heather Von St. James here.

Show our guest poster, Heather, some love and leave her a comment! ♥

Thursday, August 16, 2012

TTC #2-RE Visit, HSG, and the Start of Something New

Yesterday, we went back to see the RE. It's been almost three years since we were there last, so I was quite nervous. I'm not naive this time around. I KNOW the tests, I KNOW the possibilities, I KNOW the possible roadblocks. And that knowledge makes me VERY nervous. With having a c-section with Isabella, I knew there would be a possibility of extra testing. I had no idea I would need another HSG.... Nobody enjoys the HSG! 

I'm nervous as can be as that appointment looms over my head for Wednesday. There are a few different possible outcomes. First of all, not only are they checking to make sure my fallopian tubes are open, but they are checking for scar tissue on my uterus. I had a "special" c-section. My beautiful little princess wouldn't come out during her caesarian birth. So, the OB had to do an extra cut-vertical-on my uterus. So, internally, I have an upside down T. That makes for a possible scar tissue issue. If there is scar tissue that isn't removed, it can cause a miscarriage. So, the possible outcomes are: everything is open, clear, and ready to go. Or, the tubes are clear but there is scar tissue. Or, one tube (or both) are blocked, but there is no scar tissue. Or, there is a tubal blockage and there is scar tissue. This whole unknown situation is what is making me nervous. But it's just another thing we infertiles must go through to achieve the same results as our Fertile Myrtle friends. 

I had an ultrasound yesterday to check how many eggs are in my ovaries at the present moment. I had seven. The mere fact that the number can be counted on TWO hands is good news for me. But, it's a low number compared to most women my age. It is a bitter reminder of my diminishing ovarian reserve. I still need to get updated hormone bloodwork done and that makes me more nervous. I am anxious about my FSH and AMH levels. They didn't check my AMH levels three years ago, but my FSH levels were around 13. Not good. So we will see what this time around brings.

The game plan is in the place. The RE is on board with an October or November start date. But, the hormone testing will determine what injectables I use and what the possible dosage will be. But this is one of those times when I know that Hubby and I have prayed about this, we felt all along that God was having us wait until this moment. We purposely chose to wait until Isabella was two before even thinking of starting for a second. She is now two and here we are. Last night, I prayed that we were on the right path, that God was directing us correctly, and that our plans matched His. But I have this sinking feeling like God has some tests of faith in store for us again. Only time will tell, I suppose.

So here we are, in the waiting game, hoping to start TTC #2 in the next few months. I just have to get these pesky tests out of the way. Oh to be fertile and be able to conceive if someone even so much as sneezes on me when they are pregnant. That's never going to happen, but one sure can imagine and dream!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

National Infertility Awareness Week

It is National Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-April 28. This is a very personal diagnosis for me, as I have battled infertility and come out a victor. As a woman who has journeyed through infertility, thus giving the name to this blog, I wanted to be a voice who did speak. I want to share the journey, the good and bad.

Many women walk this path, but not enough are willing to speak about it. Our personal experiences, good and bad, victorious and still struggling, they are all stories that can help someone who is on the journey. Too many women walk along the journey not speaking about it, keeping the emotions bottled inside, ready to burst with anger, frustration, sadness, and a deep longing for the very thing they struggle to have-a baby. 

This diagnosis-Infertility-is the one word no woman EVER wants to hear. Those words are not spoken right away. In fact, as the story would begin, everything is sunshine and daisies. You are finally at a place in life and in your marriage where you and your spouse are ready to start a family, you prepare yourselves, do everything you can to prepare your body, and begin to prepare your home. There is nothing more exciting than the thought that at the end of the month, you may be pregnant. The end of the month comes and much to your disappointment, it didn't happen. Month after month, you continue to try for the same thing-a positive pregnancy test, the possibility of that long-awaited child. And month after month, the same disappointment greets you. It becomes difficult to continue to try. You feel like everything has become more of a routine, planned, and unspontaneous. Your marriage may start to feel the effects of it as you begin to feel useless and barren, unable to provide the link to continuing the family. You feel broken, unable to have a body that works the correct way. You want an instant fix, something to make your dream happen instead of the nightmare you now find yourself in. But there is no instant fix, it isn't that easy.

I know that not everyone walking the journey shares the same faith in Jesus that I do. For me, that was the one certainty in life that made the journey and all the obstacles and challenges easier to deal with and face. I did hit the point of feeling broken. I completely fell to pieces and cried out to God. I wanted to know WHY. Why had He given me this lot in life? Why had He chosen me to walk this journey? Why did He allow my body to work in such a bad way? Why me? I wanted so badly to be pregnant, to bear a child, to be a mother. And yet, here I was, on a journey riddled with obstacles, mountains to climb, and oceans to cross. Yet, Jesus reminded me that He was walking with me, carrying me. Only He could move mountains, walk on the water, and remove the obstacles in my path. Where was my faith? He begged me to trust in Him, to know that these things along the journey were simply testing my faith. Would I remain faithful and continue to praise Him despite the storm that swirled around me? The answer was (and still is, for every obstacle that I face in life) YES, I would trust that He knew my future, He knew the journey I was on, He could see beyond the mountain, He could see the land on the other side of the ocean. It's hard to be in that place of complete trust in the midst if such desperation. But we women who battle with this ugliness of infertility, we find ourselves in the beauty of complete trust in Jesus. And He is there. 

I am one of the blessed ones. Once I hit the point of complete and utter despair and helplessness and fell, broken into a million pieces, at the feet of Jesus, then and only then did He hear my prayer and remind me that I am His child, He loves me, and I needed to have faith in His plans. Not only did I battle with infertility (thanks, PCOS!), but I also battled a secondary issue called Preovarian Failure. I discovered after trying to conceive a child for over two years that I also had this reproductive issue. It scared me. The truth to this issue is that my body, at what was then 30 years old, had the eggs of someone 10 years older than me. The quality was considered to be poor and the number of eggs left in my reserve was significantly less. That scared me to the core. Talking of that desperation, if that doesn't cause you to feel so completely broken and helpless, I don't know what will! But Jesus was right there with me. He continued to remind me of His love. When, in complete helplessness, I wanted to give up and abandon my dream, He reminded me that my choice to do that would be a choice to not trust Him. I did conceive my daughter the month after finding out about the Preovarian failure. I consider her a miracle. Despite all the odds being against me, I conceived a healthy, beautiful little girl. We named her Isabella Joy, which translates to "God's Promise of Joy." There is no name more beautiful than that to express the emotions of my heart. I battled infertility and won and my "prize" is turning 2 at the end of July.

Infertility. More common than people realize. Unbelievably difficult, tiring, and challenging. Many people do not understand it, and they don't understand the emotions that go with it. If you struggle with, share your stories for all to know. You never know who needs to hear your story, to know what you went through. You never know who you may be helping with your experiences. And to be honest, there is nothing more therapeutic than sharing the innermost emotions of your heart along this journey. Infertility. Would you be willing to share your journey with your friends and loved ones?

I'll conclude with a few pictures, two from the journey to get pregnant and two of my precious little daughter, my triumph over infertility.

What it took to get pregnant

Finally seeing the positive pregnancy test

July 28, 2010-the day my life forever changed

My little miracle baby now

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Some New Pictures

In all of my lack of postings lately, I have neglected to post recent pictures of my sweet daughter. So here are a few very recent pictures. Enjoy!