Hand In Hand

Hand In Hand

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Letter of Gratitude to South Jersey Fertility

Dear Dr. VanDeerlin, Dr. Sawin, and all of the staff at South Jersey Fertility,

It has been on my heart for quite some time to tell you just what you mean to me. I know you see hundreds of couples every year. You are a big and often busy office. As a patient since June 2009, I've grown accustomed to the hustle and bustle of early mornings in the Marlton office. I've grown fond of the warm smiles and sincere encouragement offered by the receptionists and the nurses. There is something so comforting about walking through the doors of your office. And while saying "Thank You" just isn't enough, maybe this letter will help. 

Back in June 2009, I was a nervous woman who had struggled for two years to get pregnant. I fear doctors and really deal with a lot of anxiety and worry with new situations. Having spent two years trying to conceive on our own, Hubby and I were referred to you by my most trusted OBGYN. Trust goes a long way. We followed his advice and found ourselves in your waiting room, twiddling our thumbs and waiting for the consultation that would eventually change our lives. 

We met with Dr. VanDeerlin the first time we visited the office. His laughter and sincerity is something I will never forget. In that moment, he offered us what we needed-hope. He told us we would find success one way or another through their skilled practice. But he let me call the shots. Rather than pushing me towards something that scared me (injectables and IVF), he let me choose more rounds of Clomid. Hindsight shows me that it was a naive decision on my part, but it was huge that he let me take that road first. Baby steps. After four failed rounds, I ordered injectables and was so hopeful about starting. But it was not to be the way I saw it. 

I came in for CD 3 bloodwork and I had been so excited for what was to come of that month. Instead, I received a phone call that changed my outlook and quite honestly, depleted me of my hope. Dr. Sawin called and had the difficult job of explaining to me that my ovarian reserve was not what it should be. My fertility problems were more severe than first thought. My first thoughts were "what does this mean?" And then the "why me?" And then "are you sure?" And Dr. Sawin was so gentle on the phone and he took the time to reassure me and encourage my broken spirit. He set up an appointment to meet with me and regroup. We needed a new plan. I'm so thankful for that appointment and the honesty he spoke with. 

I met with Dr. Sawin in Mid-October 2009. I'll be honest. I was an emotional basketcase. I had no idea what to expect. I had little hope left within me and what was left was compromised by my own negativity. I clung to the little ounce of faith I had left of conceiving a child. Dr. Sawin was so reassuring and so encouraging. There is something that words cannot express for what he did for my discouraged and wounded spirit. I am so thankful for how he handled this emotional woman. He made the decision to move straight to injectables and I had no choice but to agree if I were going to have any chance of conceiving. He was, after all, the expert, not me. And I trusted him. 

November 2009, a month I will never forget. My first month of injectable meds. It seemed easier than it should have and I assumed that meant it wouldn't be successful. But God used your skills as a practice to bless me with the miracle I would eventually name Isabella. That cycle was nothing short of a miracle-elevated FSH to start, stimming for 4 nights, IUI on CD 9, positive pregnancy test on Thanksgiving morning. Nothing short of a miracle. Hearing that heartbeat for the first time forever changed me, filled me with all the hope that had faded on the hard journey, and brought joyous tears to my eyes. 

Fast forward two years, Summer 2012 arrived. With Isabella being weaned and now two-years-old, we were back to try again. This journey would be a different journey filled with bigger obstacles, more challenges, and no shortage of tears. An HSG, a hysteroscopy, four failed injectable cycles, lots of tears, and a diagnosis of early menopause. But as always, your staff was there to offer kind words, smiles, and encouragement. Above all else, they offered hope. Hope is something couples journeying through infertility need. Hope for a positive outcome. Our future and expansion of family won't come as originally planned, it won't be the same journey we took with our daughter. But your staff will be there with us when we embark fully on the journey to donor eggs and IVF next year.  

I can't thank you enough for everything you have done for my family. From the gentle words, to the early morning smiles, to the encouragement and unending support, I am forever grateful. The blessings you have given me are unending. Your practice isn't just about helping couples conceive. It's about offering hope, walking the journey with us, and celebrating the victories with us, whether they be a successful cycle or just an improvement from where we were before. I am forever grateful for all you do. I have one miracle child that you were God's working hands to help me with and if it is in God's plans, I will have another miracle child when the time is right. 

In the meantime, we are taking a year off while we save for donor eggs. I will miss all the smiling faces each morning at 7 am. They truly make the journey brighter and easier to bear. I can't wait to see the great things that await when we return at the end of next summer. I can't imagine ever going anywhere else, you are God's miracle workers! Thank you for all that you do for so many couples. Saying "Thank You" just doesn't seem like enough. We love you all so much and I am forever grateful for your miracles. And we will be back before you know it! 

Forever Grateful,


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Reflections in the Storm

It's been almost a year of trying for a second child. When we made the choice a year ago to try to conceive a second child, we never dreamed it would be as much of a roller coaster as it has been. Infertility is such a difficult journey. Nothing about it is easy. For us, it's been one downhill free fall after another. Over the course of ten months, we had attempted only four injectable cycles. It's taken that many months to just do the four cycles. But each one has been a failure. This latest one is the one that makes me sad the most. I'm not sad because I can't have any more children. We do have other options. I'm sad that I can't have another child from my own DNA, sad that my body has failed to give my husband the big family he always wanted, and sad that my daughter has to wait longer to have a best friend who happens to live with her, too. Being premenopausal, there isn't much I can do about this. My eggs are just stale. 

At the same time as I am sad, I also have hope. I am not devastated. It is not the end of my world. My marriage is not suffering because of this. We have placed our hope and trust in Christ and He is preparing our journey for us. He has plans for us to be parents again, in some way or another, somewhere down the road. I just have to hold the hand of the one who knows my path and hold the hand of the partner, best friend, husband God has blessed me with. Yes, there is hope. God does not have plans to harm me. His plans are for me to grow in my love for Him, learning to lean on Him when I  can't do it on my own. God is my refuge, my friend, and my hope. He allows my heart to be sad, but He also gives me the strength to carry on and keep going. 

So where does this leave me? This leaves me in the place where in order to have more children, we either need to adopt or we need to use donor eggs in an IVF cycle. In God's unbelievable way of reminding us that He loves us, he placed us and our need on the hearts of two different women who know nothing of each other. That is the power of prayer at work. I feel blessed beyond measure because these two women saw my need and stepped out in faith. We have our first consultation for donor eggs on Tuesday. 

We will see what God has in store for us after this meeting. But after seeing His hand in all of the events of this past year, I know He has something in store for me, I just have to have patience. My heart will again be filled with the hope that comes with knowing God is at work in my life. I will enjoy my daughter, the miracle that will soon be 3 years old. I will enjoy my husband, who never gets upset with the things we can't control and handles this infertility journey with hope, patience, and encouragement for me when I am weary. And I will enjoy the life that God has given me. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Discouragement and Moving Forward

It's been a while since I last posted. Let me quickly update you on why I am discouraged but moving forward with new hope. It's been a rough road with trying to conceive child #2. In August, we went for our consultation with our fertility specialist. I place my full trust in this team of doctors, after all, they are the medical reason I have my daughter. God blessed their hands with the work they do and blessed me with the reward. We have been long hoping to be blessed again. So, in August, I had my HSG (hysterosalpingogram). This is when they check to see that your tubes are open by inserting dye into your uterus and through your fallopian tubes. The x-ray showed that there was something potentially wrong with my uterus. So, I moved on to a hysteroscopy (a scoping of the uterus). This is an out-patient treatment where they place a small camera into your uterus to look for scar tissue or other abnormalities. Turns out, everything was just fine. So we moved on to injectables with no delay. But that month, I had no response, either. My eggs didn't grow, even with the high doses of hormones. It was disappointing, to say the least. We took another month off, regrouped, and in December, did high doses in injectables again. For a normal woman, these high hormone doses would almost assuredly cause OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome). Me? Not so much. I'm lucky I get three eggs, if that, out of it. Needless to say, December was a huge bust. Then, immediately following that, my FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) levels skyrocketed. They are already elevated, as I have Pre-Ovarian Failure. I knew that. But they went from 13 to 36 in one month. This puts me closer to premenopause. I'm only 33, so this news is definitely scary. We went ahead with another cycle with injectables in January. That cycle, too, has been a bust. 

So, now onto the discouragement. We are no longer going to be able to take the "easy" road with injectables and IUI (intrauterine insemination). We now have to have another consulation with the Fertility Specialist and discuss our options. I'm a bit crushed, a bit scared, and quite discouraged. My body tells me I don't have all the time in the world to waste, spinning my wheels. Discouragement is unfortunately expected when everything you have been doing to have another child is not working. 

I'm not mad at God, so please don't think that. I am fully walking in faith right now, because it's all I can do. My husband and I have prayed many times about children, expanding our family, and whether or not this is for us. And God has never said "no." But as we walk on this journey, roadblocks have appeared and doors have shut. He keeps giving us detours, having us take the long way, and teaching us to walk in faith and trust. It's not easy. We learned this lesson the first time around when we struggled to conceive our beautiful daughter. It's the hardest thing in life sometimes, to walk in faith when the future is so unknown and what you WANT may not be what God PLANS. I'm taking each day as it comes. I'm thankful for the blessing of my daughter and the miracle that she is. Two and a half years of age, she is the delight of my life. God has richly blessed us with her. But what parent doesn't want to give a sibling to their child, or hold another sweet baby in their arms and raise them?

Where does that put me now? Well, I know (I'm 99% sure) that we will be talking about IVF at our consultation on the 26th. It's the most obvious next step. I'm nervous about IVF. As a teacher, I'm nervous about possibly missing time from my classroom for bedrest. I'm nervous about the Pre-ovarian failure factor. It places me in the possibility of needing donor eggs. Will my eggs be good enough or are they now the problem? How will I feel if I need to use donor eggs? I tell myself I will be okay with it. After all, I've always wanted to adopt and isn't using a donor egg like adoption, only you get to have your husband's DNA in the child AND carry them in the womb for nine months? It still makes me nervous.

I now am taking a few weeks off from the journey. In those few weeks, I'll hold my daughter extra close, steal more cuddles and kisses, and hold my husband even closer. After nine and a half years of marriage, the struggles that have strengthened our marriage the most are those that have involved expanding our family. So now, I prepare my mind and my courage to be tested again, in a new way. I know that God never gives us anything that we cannot handle with His help, so I trust in His plan, even when I cannot see it. I have no idea what He has in store for me, or even IF it involves more children. But I will continue to trust in Him and walk in faith. Nothing happens the way WE want it to, or WHEN we want it to. God is on control. 

Today, I will pick up the broken pieces of my heart, put them back together, and enjoy the blessings I do have-a loving and tender husband and a sweet and sassy little girl. My next miracle child will have to wait for another day, there is snow to play in today.