Hand In Hand

Hand In Hand

Friday, January 10, 2014

One Word 365: Embrace

Welcome, 2014! I didn't make any resolutions for this year. I made goals to get in better shape, lose some weight, and pursue the Donor Egg we have had on hold for almost a year. In seeking to make this a better year, a year that brings positive changes, positive adventures, and a journey that doesn't leave me feeling broken and empty, I came across the "One Word 365" website. I quickly took on the challenge of choosing my word. My choice? 


This word, embrace, holds so much meaning to me, for me. This is the word that will keep my emotions on track, keep them in check, keep me grounded in my faith in Jesus. I've always placed my trust in Him, even in the midst of the hardest times with infertility, when we almost gave up right before getting pregnant in 2009 with Isabella. And I've had unwavering faith in what God is doing with my menopause at 34 years of age and infertility. Embrace. A challenge to myself to embrace the bad things in life that come my way. Embrace the hot flashes, the night sweats, the mood swings, the migraines. Embrace the softer, more curvy hips (even though I do plan on working on that once my gluteal tendinitis heals). Embrace the dark nights where I cling to the dream of having more babies that wouldn't be someone else's DNA. Embrace my infertility and the blessings it has brought to my life. Yes, blessings. Infertility is not easy, never has been. But I have been blessed beyond measure because of it. I have learned to not hold it as a secret, but rather share my story, share my faith and how it has carried me through, share my lessons learned, and share my experience. My infertility has blessed me with friendships that have grown stronger over the course of the last several years, women who pray for me, encourage me, and bless me with their love. Yes, I have been blessed by my infertility. I have a beautiful daughter, my miracle child. My marriage is stronger because of my infertility. We have been challenged to grow closer, embrace each other in the dark walk of the journey. 


Embrace the changes life throws at us. Friends moving away. Family members passing away and going to be with Jesus. Doors closing. Physical challenges. Change. I am challenging myself to embrace it. I always seek to be the one in control, I try to make Jesus sit in the passenger seat while I drive. But He always changes the course, adds obstacles to the journey. Change discourages me because I feel the inner chaos, the lack of control. Embrace. Embrace the inner chaos, learn to let Jesus control it, be in control of me. I'm not in charge. Embrace the lack of control, the task of sitting in the passenger's seat.  


Embrace the joy, the delight, the daily graces God gives us. 

This is my challenge to myself to embrace all that life has to offer, all that God leads me to, all that is found along my journey. Embrace. Embrace the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the joyous, the painful, the emotional, the chaotic, the blessings. All of it. Embrace it all. 365 days to embrace all that comes along.

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.   

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.