Thursday, December 31, 2009
I've struggled so much this year. Most of you know this. I know with what we've gone through this year most people say it's understandable, but for me it's against my nature. What I've gone through internally and the strong effect it's had on my everyday life has been horrendous.
Call it depression, call it confusion, call it exhaustion...call it whatever you like but it isn't my normal self.
I've struggled with the change in my life. I've desperately wanted something to go to some sort of normalcy...whatever that is. But nothing in my life has stayed the same. Everything has changed. Large changes. Lots of them. Which made every small blip on the radar nearly impossible to make it through. When I say I barely made it through the last couple months it's no joke. My health has suffered, my work has suffered, and I hope against hope that my family and friends haven't suffered too bad.
And again, most would say it's understandable when faced with what we've faced. But the thing is I'm usually REALLY over adaptable to change. So much though that I constantly seek it out. Constantly look for ways I can improve myself (and others...oops).
And so it's been extra-difficult for me, in my weirder 2009 state, to figure out what the heck has been wrong with me...why it's affected me so much. Why I couldn't cope like normal. Part of what has bothered me so much is that I couldn't figure out WHY God was letting me go through all this. I knew it was for good. I knew He was building me and possibly tearing me down first to rebuild the way he wanted. I knew, in the end, it would work out. Yet I struggled to be excited about it. Many times I could gather up the excitement that was temporary about a particular thing, but it would usually fade as some other obstacle would jump in my way.
But I've had an epiphany the other night after watching Hoarders and Intervention (I throw that in for kicks). God has been taking away all of my "rocks" so that I would be forced to lean on Him.
Literally everything in my life has faced great change this year...most of it occurred in the beginning of the year. And the reason why it affected me so much is that I was looking for my constant, my rock, my unchangeable, my stability, in everything HERE and as I leaned on something God took it away. I was running around this world this year like a crazy woman. No joke. I'm sure there was something clinical about it. Not kidding even remotely. I picture in my head running around a forest through quicksand and tall tall trees, trying desperately to find something stable and not being able to find it. That's how I've felt all year. and now that I get it, I can finally truly Thank God for it. I could thank Him before, but it was still with one eye open waiting for another shoe to drop and not quite understanding like I needed to.
Of course, I don't pretend to get it all. In fact, I know that I only know a part of what God has been teaching me and what he is continuing to mold me into. But what I do know, is that God intentionally took away (or allowed me to be relieved from) the stability of everything we usually count on...my husband, son, family, home, work, school, health, friends, church, everything. Until, a few days before the end of the year he revealed to me why. Only HE will remain constant. Only HE can be my reserve, my strength, my rock, my fortress, my shield, my comfort, my safety, my energy, my reason why, my all, my stability. Rather than looking from one "worldly" thing to another to find that stability (like my job, my family, my school, my home, etc.), as the chaos continues to surround me, and it will, I know that HE is what I need to run to. He will remain stable for me.
I know this isn't profound, in fact I "knew" this all along. But, He has used 2009 to teach this to me in a way that I KNOW it, from my head to my toe in everything I am.
So, good riddance to you, 2009. I'm happy to leave the events behind. But the lessons will never leave me and I enter 2010 on THE Solid Rock.
Thank you all for helping support me through this year and into the future!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
So, in an attempt to get back into the swing of things, I thought I'd join the hip-new trend of posting blogger favs. Of course, I'll pretend it's a new thing...it's been going on about as long as the sun's rising/falling cycle, but hey.
- Pampered Chef Stoneware - What great chef/baker (that's me!...if I do say so myself) could be successful without this wonderful line. Last time I went to a party I counted at least 10 different pieces that I own. That doesn't count what I just bought my mom partly to bless her with the genious cooking ability that these provide but also to give me something better than her aluminum cookie sheets when I visit. I think my next piece will be a pie plate.
- http://www.starfall.com/ - My son loves it...it's a computer website with lots of learning activities for my son to do. Keeps him entertained while learning something new. It's not an every day activity, but certainly something I keep in my back pocket.
- This one is a two-for. No really, because if it's not one, it's got to be the other and together they've saved the relationship I have with my hair. When I was growing up, my hair sucked. It was frizy, thick, not quite straight, not quite curly, not quite wavy and I was a mess. If someone would have told me that it would be this way when I grew up, I probably would have walked around with much more pride in my developing hair because now I LOVE my hair, thanks in part to these two products by Garnier Fructis: First, when I'm feeling curly, there's Garnier Fructis Wonder Waves Wave-Enhancing Spray. All I have to do is have damp to slightly wet hair, spray (yes spray!) this stuff in, comb through with my fingers, and start my day. I get the perfectly smooth, defined curls without the crunchy effect. Second, when I'm wanting to go straight, there's Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Serum. Actually this link leads to the milk, which scares me a bit because I don't see the serum on here, but the description here is right on to what I currently use. Just a little bit of this silky but not greasy goodness is perfect to make my hair smooth when I use the hair drier. Perfect hair day everyday with one of these two products!
- White Chocoloate Reese's Peanut Butter Mini-Cups are the perfect little candy snack for those who don't like chocolate....chocolate haters unite!
- I wouldn't have survived the last two months trying to sell this house, especially the last two weeks with sick dogs without this wonderful carpet cleaner. Cleans great, easy to move around, doubles as a hard-surface cleaner, and the new design for the tank is great too. I've always had a Bissell and this new version doesn't disappoint.
- J bought me this crockpot cookbook for Christmas along with a 2qt crockpot to join my 4 and 8qt versions. WOOHOO. This thing is awesome. I made baked apples with ease on Christmas day with ingredients around the house and can't wait to have something hot cooking for me most days when I come home from work starting in January. And hot deserts with ease! So fun. On a side note...with all of the different recipes available in here for some of the same types of dishes, you really can find something to make without going to the store if you need to in a pinch.
- After sleeping in a tent on the floor last night with my son...I have to reiterate that the Tempur-pedic bed is one of the best things we have ever purchased. Mind you, we saved up for this one by using the twin mattresses my sister and I had when we were younger, pushed together, for almost 6 years before dropping the dough for this new mattress. We've had it for a year now and can't imagine life without it. Or we can, because we have plenty of memories and nights camping on the floor with our son.
- Any list of the things I can't live without wouldn't be complete without my newest med...Nuvigil. Actually Provigil was just fine and I think i liked it better, but this one is CHEAP!!! At least for me. The old was about $60 per month...this one is $10. That's with insurance. When I run out of my current supply (just stocked up!) I'll have to pay full price until deductible is met. Don't know what that will be for the new stuff, but with Provigil it was $400+. A month. Nevertheless I always meet my deductible within a couple months whether or not I go to the doctor. But for me, it's worth it for sure.
Alright. The son is totally bored despite the toys thrown around the room, the movie playing, the 3 cookies I've given him, and the various agmes I've given him to play while writing this. It seems I've maximized my time on the computer tonight...such is my life being my son's sole occupier of time when I'm home.
*Edited to say that I mistakenly noted Garnier Fructis Curl Defining Spray as my favorite. Actually, this is the new one I have that I HATE!!! My actual favorite is the wonder waves wave-enhancing spray...LOVE IT!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
- Paint upstairs bathroom
- Clean upstairs blinds (4 sets...already did 8)
- Fix laundry room floor (glue & caulk)
- Touch up downstairs bathroom paing & caulk
- Fix wood trip around downstairs toilet
- Paint trim in master bedroom
- Finish installing master closet fixtures & baseboards
- Fix base of wood around posts
- Replace patio fan
- Replace/fix electricity in logan's fan
- Paint trim in 3 bedrooms
- Patch living room celing
- powerwash back patio
- Powerwash exterior (front, sides)
- Mow, hedge, trim outside
- Pull weeds in the front flower beds
- Paint trim around windows
- Wash extrenal windows
- Clean air vents
- Touch up frontroom paint
- Clean fireplace screen
- Fix fireplace transition piece
- Finish painting TV wall
- Trim up the stairs
- Clean the carpets
- Organize closets
- Replace scents
- Recaulk master baths
- Fix Undersink Cabinet
- Finish reading 40 pages of the textbook & take the test
- Start two final projects
- Pack for a 2week vacation (and do laundry for it!)
- Fill out seller paperwork
- Finish financing for the new home
- Wash the cars
- Clean the garage
- Trim backyard flowers
- Fix serpentine belt on the car
- "Stage" the house...put things away/pack things up
- Watch a friend's baby for a day
- Turn in last piece of adoption paperwork
- Do homework for Wednesday's class
- Iron curtains
This is only a little more busy than normal...mind you I have three more days to work this week, one evening in school, and J has three more nights to work.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
If you've followed my blog for a while, you'll notice I have had a few blog links that were all named the same thing...something about unable to sign in...these are my password protected friends and when I set them up it didn't give me the chance to rename them. Today when I went in to add new friends (Hello Chambers family!) I saw I could rename them...unfortunately, I didn't know which was which...I did my best job testing links and trying to match, but this is what I ended up with...didn't even get one right...
Should be: ------------ What I renamed it:
Pure Pandamonium -----Ferguson Family
Aggie Widmers ---------Pure Pandamonium
Dusek Family -----------Celebrating the Chaos
Hello Newmans ---------Dusek Family
Ferguson Family -------The Calames
Celebrating the Chaos ---Aggie Widmers
The Calames -----------Hello Newmans
You'd think by chance I would have gotten one right! Argh....here I go to fix them again :)
Monday, November 02, 2009
1) We are thinking about selling our house. Not so much because we don't want our house anymore but because we REALLY want another house we found when we weren't really looking. Unfortunately, because we weren't really looking we weren't really ready to put our house on the market either, at least to my standards and the house needs a ton of sprucing up which we couldn't realistically get done soon, at least it would take a couple weeks on the G household time, but throw a slightly poorly timed vacation in the mix and we won't be able to list, we think, until mid-December. This throws a wrench in our plans and frowns on our faces. Oh well...we said from the beginning we'd be happy either way.
2) We are continuing to progress through the maze of foster/adopt licensing. We have spent the last 5 Saturdays in a tiny room in South Dallas with some funny folks learning a few of the ins & outs of fostering, and, a little bit about adopting, but mostly fostering. This is all only to find out that this past week those in charge have decided to stop focusing on fostering and instead focus on straight adoption. We are hoping to finish our last class and paperwork before our instructor is officially axed and we have no one left to finish our licensing. This should, without other complications, see us licensed around the first of the year sometime. It could take shorter, but because of our vacation, these crazy changes in the system, and then Christmas & New Years I'm trying to be realistic. And trying not to focus on the fact that I'm already planning my schedule into the new year. In any case, what we are thinking is that this change will a) slow down the process for us, b) limit us to older children through straight adoption despite their insistance that we stick with younger kids because we already have one in the home, and/or c) require us to go to a private agency afterall which would also require us to start over, at least at some point, in the process. WOOHOO! Par-tay! not.
Anyway...we are crusing along in this crazy, crazy time. Anyone feeling like throwing up some prayers on our behalf we'll take it. And if you have someone that might be interested in buying our house, we'll take that too.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
So we were left, me driving to avoid motion sickness and my husband captive to discussion about our options. (see a previous email on those). We decided that night that although in our hearts we'd prefer to have more biological children and maybe one day we will either by "accident" (hehe...that takes on a whole different meaning with infertility!) or by planning and medical intervention (IVF-ICSI), we really feel that the best option for expanding our family is to pursue adoption.
And then we got excited and had the opportunity to think about so many of the millions of directions that could lead us. Our initial decision was that we, at this point in our lives, are not interested in International adoption. And, we feel that if we have to spend 20K or so on increasing our family size we'd rather pursue the biological options. So, that leaves us with two main options...adoption through finding a random friend/family reference or adopting through the "system".
We attended an informational meeting on August 8th at the CPS office in Arlington. It didn't really prrovide us with any additional infrmation but did give us the opportunity to officially start the process and further discussions in my home. While I left the meeting less sure that this was our option, J was confident and even excited. We waited to fill out the application until we were able to think about it some more, pray about it, and then talk to others who've been down that road.
We met with our wonderful friends who opened their home and hearts to us to share from their experiences and knowledge bank about adoption, particularly from the foster-care system. While I will never share with anyone else what they shared with us, what I will say is that we are both so unbelievably grateful and indebted to them for allowing us to share in a glimpse of their lives as they were, as they are, and as they hope it will be. We left that special time 1000000% confident that we were heading in the right direction for so many reasons. We were so excited about pursuing this option and haven't looked back.
It was during this conversation we felt the initial plan was really outlined for us. Pursue adoption through the foster care system while simultaneously saving for IVF-ICSI. Afterall, if we save up the money and decide at some point that we don't want to go through with trying for more bio-kids, well, there really isn't a downside to that.
We decided to put our application in with DFPS on August 14th. I drove it there myself and dropped it off in person to make sure it got there and give it an extra chance at getting started on time. It took us 2 weeks to hear back from them and I was getting anxious (see previous post about what I'm learning!), but we did hear back from the recruiter on Saturday (8/29) at about 9pm saying that she was ready to put us in our training class. It was such a glorious moment! I can't explain it...it was wonderful. It's almost comparable to not taking that first birth control pill when you are trying to get pregnant. It's like going to the pre-conception appointment. And so now we're eager to become actively trying adoptive parents!
Some of our decisions:
- We will be initially open to accepting 1-3 kids, ideally a sibling group of 2-3.
- We are undecided about the age, but know we want additional boys for our son to play with and grow up with for sure...we are leaning on having children younger than him enter our home...either that or right around his age. I think of how great it would be to have a 2 1/2 year old, 3 year old, and 3 1/2 year old. But I'm crazy and in reality we're just excited to go on this journey
- We do not want to pursue foster-care right now but are willing to consider foster-to-adopt with the idea that we'd be pursuing younger children who require 18 months in the system before being eligible to adopt anyway...we are also willing to pursue straight adoption and believe that over the next few months we'll probably get a little clarification on this.
We'll be going to training in October, which means we'll be doing our home study sometime through November to January...we've been advised that it may take longer because of the holidays. We'll see. Like I said, the reality is that we're really excited to go on this journey. We're praying for our family. We're praying for our future children. We're praying that we get closer to Christ now and in the future. We're praying for our son and for wisdom to parent him now, through this transition, and forever. We're eager to get started and yet we know that this whole adventure will be more challenging than anything we've ever expected we'd face.
And we're so grateful. But we might need your help making it through and additional grace as we learn once again who we are...letting Christ shape our family rather than planning it all out ourselves.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Let me put it this way. I learned along time ago that life isn't about me. The answer to the question "why me?" in good times and bad is as simple as this: Because I am me. Because He is God. He created me as he did and has allowed whatever has been in my life as he has because of his perfect will and provision. He knows me more than I will ever know myself. I matter to Him. But His will is supreme above my own and that not only doesn't mean that he doesn't love me or I don't matter but even more emphasizes that He is sovereign and somehow still loves me. Amazing huh? Crazy.
And yet, the reality is that I'd forgotten for a while, or at least my will became much more important than His. This year I've really struggled and not just because of the fertility challenges. Anyone in my shoes I think would have probably struggled if they were looking at my circumstances as I was. Here's how I saw it...
1) New year starts, I'm really looking forward to returning to work with all of the ideas I had to put into place...the challenge I faced...after taking 2 weeks off for mother & son bliss over the holidays.
2) A few hours into that first day back I'm tentatively offered a promotion to take over a position I'm not nearly as passionate about as the one I had been in. Shock #1. Step against my plan #1.
3) In the next few weeks the plan I had to return to the job I loved, having a perfect work-life balance, finishing up my last semester of residency (with a practicum making up 3 units!...that's basically free credits!), paying off debt, and quickly returning to the actively fertile world via clomid unraveled at an amazing pace:
- The position I was offered I received. A week after I officially took over the role changed completely and I went from managing 1 person with a ton of projects to managing a team of over 60 in 2 countries with additional global responsibilities...the team was created at the same time as a 10% reduction in force...no time for planning and immediate action was necesary.
- I became violently ill with no time to take off due to the new job...it lasted 5 weeks and by the time I saw the doctor I had walking pnuemonia
- I was committed to traveling 1 week per month, at least, which is difficult when you don't have anyone to watch your child overnight during the week.
- I walked into a mess of a job
- My husband started a new work schedule which although gloriously brought him home Friday nights took him away an additional weeknight and put more pressure on me to handle full childcare responsibilities during the week.
- I wasn't able to immediately give up any responsibilities of my old job
- After a while, it was decided that I wouldn't give up my old job...I still have much of my old responsibilities
- I struggled to be interested in getting school work done because I wasn't interested in getting the work done...I was always leaving something undone which isn't ok with me.
- I didn't get to spend nearly as much time with my son as I'd hoped
- don't get me started about the Johnson Grass in the backyard
- Finally got an appointment for my annual (3 months late) where I expected to get a quick prescription...you've probably read the story from there
Basically, nothing went "my way". But let me put it this way:
- I was given great responsibility at work, a great opportunity particularly for someone my age, and was given a HUGE pay increase only 2-3 months after I received a different one.
- I was given the opportunity to really speak into and touch so many lives
- My son continues to grow happy and healthy
- My husband loves his new shift and we get to spend a whole 18 hours together including a Friday night/Saturday morning combo!
- I've had the opportunity to travel again which has led me to visit a few places I haven't been and allowed for the majority of my wonderful summer vacation to be paid for
- I've been in several accidents but have been spared serious injury in any of them
- i've been able to take the medication I wouldn't be able to take if I was pregnant and it really helps me live my life!
- I was able to get through another semester, picked a Major Professor, filed a degree plan, and got that much closer to finishing the degree and doing more i've been passionate about.
- I had the opportunity to visit my family a lot despite my schedule
- I had the opportunity to help two great friends through major challenges in their lives
I could go on and on. The point is that, like most people I think, I'd put so much faith in what I thought my life would be like, both in the short term and long term. After the first shock in the first few days of the year theoretically I could have simply turned to God and let him adjust my expectations to match his and then kept going, learning more and more about who he is and who he's created me to be. Instead, I chose to continue to rely on my own abilities, delving into my pride and arrogance, fighting within myself to keep going with my chin up trying to figure out how to get things back on track "my way".
And it's now so simple to me. It's not my way. If I had my way would I go through all of this again? The work situation? The family situation? My inability to be a stay-at-home mom? My inability to be "healthy" and awake without taking daily doses of highly restricted medications? The infertility? (and on and on and on)....
If I'm honest with myself...I'd say no. I'd say I'd put it back the way I wanted it. And that's exactly the reason why I've gone through it. I'm sure there's more in time, but for now I'm finally resting in this assurance. I'm not in control. I'm a failure on my own. My plans are not perfect. I'm not able to do it all. I am not perfect. And yet I have a loving God who IS. Who loves me and really honestly provides me with everything I NEED. Who understands not only me but everyone around me...he knows me so much more than I know myself so much so that he has taken me down this path despite my arrogance and pride in the abilities and circumstances he gave me in the first place so that I can turn back to him completely and learn to trust him in such a more deep level. Neither I nor my life will turn out to be perfect as I would have designed it.
But thank God. Because if it were up to me I'd have 3 kids that I gave birth to, a husband who is the perfect leader of our family and home, a son who sleeps through the night wihtout taking 4 hours to fall asleep, financial independence from my husband's career alone so that I could be a stay-at-home mom to those 3 kids while I served in ministry, did play dates, finished school, and had a chance to workout everyday. And while that would be great, I'd be lacking the one thing I need most...reliance on The Almighty.
I've started a private journal, not so much because I didn't want to share with all of you but because I needed a more immediate opportunity to write down what was going on within me and I've allowed other things to take precedence over finding time to get online to blog. Plus, by the time I'd go to blog I would be in a different mood, too busy, or have different opinions than I had in the morning. And, I didn't want to turn this blog into a fertility-centric journal. Maybe sometime I'll share what I've written in there. Maybe I won't. What I know is that although there will be a ton of challenges in my life and this isn't a declaration that I'm no longer struggling with infertility or anything else for that matter. I will struggle. I will fall.
But I will be caught.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Hold On - Abandon:
She sits alone and wonders...When is the end of broken dreams
This isn't what I pictured...She says as tears run down her cheeks
She needs a friend beside her
She's looking for a Savior
(Chorus) Hold on, hold on, someone will find you
Hold on, hold on, somebody loves you
Hold on, hold on, your not drowning this time
Hold on, hold on, look for the searchlights
She grabs her coat to leave...So sure it's gonna be the end
Another broken family...Tears are her only friends
This isn't the life they wanted
She's hoping that Heaven comes through
Does anybody care and do you even see
Look past my skin until you see me
Do you even know what I'm going through
I need to talk to someone can I talk to you
Does anybody care and do you even see
I'm running out of hope and sanity
Do you even know what I'm going through
I'm having a hard time facing the truth
Does anybody care
The other song is "Control" by Clemency....I can't find the lyrics anywhere...but the chorus includes:
The whole world's getting heavy to hold, So I'm letting go.....so I'm giving up control.
It's clear to me who you want me to be...you're who I want to follow...
Part 1 - The Results
Part 2 - The Options
Part 3 - Our Reaction
Part 1 - The Results
Part 2 - The Options
Welcome back to Part 3 of our infertility announcement. I chuckled at that...it just seems a bit humorous, not sure why. This one by far is the hardest one to write. Not so much because it's painful but more so because there is SO much to sort out about it all and it's hard to pinpoint where we are in the whole thing. The mood changes by minute sometimes and we really haven't had time to process it all properly.
I'm not exactly sure what properly means. How do you process something like this?
Overall, we're doing ok. That may be because we're able to avoid thinking about it a lot, at least together. And I don't think we're intentionally avoiding it...it's just the reality of our life that is getting in the way. Thankfully school is out for a few weeks and we're headed on vacation, but even still we won't get to process I'm afraid. We're so time challenged as a couple. We have maybe 10 hours a week to spend together in which we have to choose how to allocate our time. Usually we manage to find a little time for fun things, but usually we learn to make what is normally a chore into something fun for us to do as a family. It was our great pleasure (no, really it was) to go to Kroger together, as a family, on the 4th of July. We perused the aisles, took pleasure in watching our son enjoy pushing the little cart. Cleaning the house, folding laundry, caring for our son...these are the things that take up our time. And those 10 hours are broken up on 5 days...so it averages out to be very little time each day...it's hard to do all the "necessities" like cooking dinner, eating, cleaning up the food mess, bathing our son and putting him to bed in the time we have together let alone additional chores like finishing all the projects around the house. It's hard to start a discussion like the ones we need to have knowing that you really only have 5-10 minutes before being interupted by the meal being done, the cartoon going over, your sleepless son calling you from his room, or sleep taking over. Needless to say we haven't been able to process either individually or as a couple as much as we need or like.
Some would say get a sitter...and, although it may come to that, the reality is that our son spends 5 days a week in someone else's care and only has the same 10 hours with mommy and daddy...it's difficult to miss that time that is critical in our opinion by putting him with someone else for a while.
And the reality is that this isn't a one time conversation...it needs to be something we talk about freely on an ongoing basis without spending all of our time talking about it. In our situation that's extremely rough to figure out how to do. It's funny...I usually want to talk about it in the morning on the way to work. It's when I feel the most about it. J is usually sleeping and not available. Or, he's taking Logan in and when he calls me to let me say good morning to Logan I want to talk but he doesn't give me the opportunity (not intentionally) and I shut down about it. When he realizes later that I wanted to talk, he calls ready and I'm no longer interested. None of this is in a bad way...it's just that our lives continue to move on despite our world being knocked out of orbit.
So, most of the time we are fine. Or, at least we appear fine. For the moment. And we are. We are really torn between a few major themes...
Wow...we are really blessed to have our son.
The joy from realizing how blessed we are with him has changed our outlook on parenting him dramatically. I no longer worry about how many times he calls me to check on him at night or that he always wants me to cuddle with him to go to sleep. I don't care if he's trying to manipulate me or if society at large thinks I need to be trying to get him to sleep on his own. He's disciplined...we have rules and we stick to them...but we're enjoying the time we have with him on a whole new level both because he's such a miracle and because he may be our only opportunity to do this.
Wow...we are really blessed to go through this.
Huh? I know...but we really are. I've always...or at least since my late teens, realized that the "why" behind things is this...because I am me and He is God. That's it. In fact, that's the first line to a book I plan to write someday with a two pronged approach...both the good "why's" and the bad. But I digress. I've learned when you go through something like this you learn so much and grow so much. In this case we're learning, though painful, about sovreignty and our place in this world. We're also more understanding of others who've faced infertility and know, at least on the other side if not sooner, we'll be able to be a support system for someone else. This will end well, this we know.
Our source of infertility was shocking. Not only were we surprised to learn that we struggle with male-factor infertility, the fact that it is a systemic issue/physiological issue that may have been caused at/before birth or at least when he was very young is hard to comprehend. not the why part, but more so the fact this is a "real" issue. Not that others aren't. But it's not like it's a hormonal imbalance. It's not stress. It's not a lifestyle issue. It's not even a physiological issue that can be corrected through surgery (or at least, not that we know of yet). This is similar to a permanent sterility from birth. Crazy. It's like growing up and finding out later you have a congenital heart defect or a third kidney or that you had a twin that was separated at birth that you never knew of. Huh? What? Where did that come from? This isn't something that developed over time or was caused recently. It's always been there. Silent. Haunting. Ready to pounce when we least expected it.
Huh? part 2
How...what...why...Logan? It's amazing what God can do. And this leads to thoughts about how I'd guess most parents who see their child without infertility problems have no way of understanding what awe there is in producing a child...not as much as someone who's struggled with infertility for sure. I may be wrong. But in most cases infertility is not something you grow up and expect to be an issue...you expect and are certainly reinforced over the years will all the emphasis on pregnancy prevention...that once you start intending to have a child...it will happen. It's natural. It's meant to be. It's supposed to happen. "It only takes once". It's a fact of life. Until you really experience the reality of infertility, there is no way to fully appreciate the miracle of life and realize nothing, not even the most basic things like that, are guaranteed. And, in reality...there's nothing basic about it.
The shock and surprise of the situation really are probably our biggest reactions. This has really changed and will continue to change what we have always thought our life would be like. Some people grow up with the desire to adopt, or have had people close to them struggle with fertility. Let me tell you...this is not our case! Both of my parents have 7 siblings...most of those siblings have had at least 1 child over the years...up to 6...my first cousin count is somewhere between 55-65. First cousins. Yep. And now, many of them have their own children. I haven't even tried to do that count. I have at least met and know all but 1 of my cousins...and most of my cousins from one side know those on the other. Crazy large family. Crazy emphasis on the importance of family and kids. That's not to say there weren't fertility challenges. I know of at least a couple who struggled with fertility over the years and know full well there are some that I don't know about.
My mom & sister were definitely fertile. I'll leave their stories for them, but the point being within my own family there was no reason to believe I'd have problems growing a family. The problems I was aware of had to do with delayed ovulation/PCOS and miscarriages caused by other factors. J's family, for all I know...was the same and bringing up our challenge hasn't spurred anyone there to say "well...you know...so and so experienced..." (That's another post altogether...or maybe will come out as I continue to write)
It's funny looking back. Growing up I was always so curious about what it would be like to be pregnant and have a baby. What a crazy thing that would be. I couldn't wait. There were always multiple people pregnant and I was amazed to watch them. I would sit and think...I don't think I could ever decide to stop having babies. I can't picture myself being done with being pregnant and having kids. So funny...not only because I was young thinking about that but also because of the irony. Anyway...I wanted a large family but didn't know what that number would be. Probably at least 4. At some point I heard a sermon and changed that number to 5 or more. J wasn't there and actually at the time we were separated so although I tried to bring up how passionate about it later it had lost its impact...and he wasn't there to hear it from someone else...somehow hearing things from your wife doesn't make it quite as real as hearing it from your friends or others...but I digress. He's always assumed he'd have three...it seemed that was the number most people went with and he was no exception. We agreed to take it one at a time and figure it out as we went.
We talked about this stuff for years. We talked and sometimes argued and sometimes cried many many times before deciding to have Logan. So funny how you agonize over certain decisions when they really do become trivial or pointless in hindsight.
Needless to say we both wanted multiple children and assumed we'd do it like everyone else...decide to start trying...get pregnant...have a baby...repeat when ready. We never expected what we face. We were certainly unprepared for this. We walked in an arrogant ignorance that we could control our fertility and reproduction.
These are some more of the thoughts/emotions we face on a minute-by-minute basis:
I won't have any more kids
I won't give birth again
I won't get pregnant again
I won't nurse again
I'll never have the chance to stay home
What would it be like to adopt?
How are we going to come up with the money for all of this?
How will our son react to all of this as he's older?...gosh I wish we could give him the "brother" he keeps asking for...I wish I could explain it to him.
Are we really done?
How do you get through all of this? What steps do you take to heal?
How do we keep our marriage together through this? How do we not let this take over without ignoring it?
How do we talk about it to others? How do we share what's on our hearts with people who get it?
Why don't people care?
How do we get through the pain, the sadness, the uncertainty, the fear, the overwhelmingness of it all?
Is it something we did wrong? How could we prevent it? How can we fix it?
Do we want to raise Logan as an only?
Should I quit work to stay home with Logan while I have the chance?
If I quit work to stay home with Logan, we certainly won't be able to afford any sort of family building options.
Are there kids out there waiting for us to be their parents?
Would we want to adopt an older kid? How would that impact Logan? How would our relationship with Logan impact other children?
How long will it REALLY be before we have more children?
Will they let us foster-to-adopt?
Aren't we good parents? How come we can't have more children when others who harm their kids can so easily?
Maybe someone will leave me their child on my doorstep
Isn't there anyone who really understands?
I feel so alone
(I smile as I write these thoughts out)
You can imagine that there are a world of emotions associated with our situation. The feeling alone in this is super strong. Once again we've learned a little bit more about those who really care about us vs. those who don't. Lesson learned...it's hard to figure out what to say to someone...but if you say nothing, it "means" you don't care. I still know of no one in our situation. I've met plenty of people along the way...my IF sisters...who struggle and their companionship and stories and support means the world. But without exception they struggle with different issues...either miscarriage or ovulatory/endometriosis related IF. I don't know anyone who struggles with male-factor infertility due to physiologically-related causes. I don't know anyone who has that as the cause of secondary infertility. This is important in that those without a child face different issues than someone in our shoes. I don't mean to infer that any other situation is less painful or more easy. It's just different. It doesn't help me to read a story of someone with male-factor like ours going through primary infertility...they don't have to worry about how treatments, or adoption, or no decision will impact the (amazing) child they already have. It doesn't help me to read a story about someone who has female-related infertility either primary/secondary because their choices and options are different than ours. I need to know of others who've gone through this and made it. And, to some degree, it doesn't help to have J be the only person I have to go through this with. Men and women face things differently and as much as we need to be on the same page as we move forward in life I don't want this to be the only thing we talk about.
I don't want us to be defined by infertility, but I do need to work through it with those who get it. And, as much as I don't want this to define us, I DO need people to understand that this is serious...this is lifechanging...this is a major thing we are dealing with. It's not like...oh, they've got a cold...they need some rest and will get better. I need stories, examples, people who made it. I need some dear friends that understand our scenario...who really get all the stuff we face in terms of grieving our "loss". What loss? The loss of what we thought our life would be like. We know life will be better than we could have imagined on our own. Without a doubt we know that. But this is a season of "plowing the fields" so to speak to get ready for a radically different garden. Plowing hurts. It will take time. It will be beautiful in the end. But we are neither the plower nor the landscape architect anymore. We now get that.
In reality...I use this blog to get out some of the yucky...so it might seem that this is a huge struggle right now or that I'm depressed, or that we're angry or something. And, to some degree, those things are probably true some of the time. But in reality...I'm amazed at how well we're taking this. I'm amazed at my reaction...it is more positive than negative and that surprises me. A whole new world has opened up and I'm ready to explore. I got a lot of the initial crying and mourning over with the first test results in May. There will be more I know through all the phases we go through. But for now, I just wish I knew what was in store for us so we had some direction on where we need to be headed. And, I wish my husband and I had more time together through this time to be able to deal with it together. And, I wish we could put life on hold and process things. We have more joy than we did before and certainly know more than we ever have about our creator.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Part 1 - The Results
Our options to expand our family are actually still pretty numerous. The challenge is to deal with the feasability of the options we have available. They pretty much fall into the three categories below: No more children, Biological Children, Adoptive children.
No More Children
This is probably the obvious option for many. We can choose to not have any more children. Essentially we can do nothing and leave it to chance, which, according to our doctor means a 0% chance of having more biological children. Of course, we've had our son under these conditions which can be taken two ways...he's 1 in a bombillion which even further reduces the chance of us having another or it's happened once so it can happen again. Either way you look at it the chances our slim.
- No more costs associated with additional children
- Additional chance to have "miracle" children
- Focus on Logan and raising him, he's a cool kid
- No worries about how to expand our family...decide against it and move on
- We'll be empty nesters more quickly and then can focus on being a couple sooner (ok...I'm stretching here)
- Our son won't have any siblings...will be an only child (If anyone spends any time with him they know that this bums him out. Even at 2. He talks about his "brother" on a daily basis, referring to different people each time...sometimes it's his cousins, sometimes it's his friend Chance, sometimes it's superman or spiderman or batman. Sometimes it's a mysterious person named Charlie or Benjamin. Plus, he desperately needs someone besides mommy and daddy to play with him.)
- Certainly not what we had planned or wanted (we'll get into that in Part 3 I think)
- I'll be done child-bearing...no more pregnancy, giving birth, breastfeeding, nurturing an infant, etc. No more chance to stay home with my children.
An additional consideration with "no more children" is that even that choice comes with strange costs. We would either have to re-begin birth control or "ensure" sterility to have some sort of peace with that choice. Of course that peace takes away the ability to have a surprise. If we don't, I have to monitor my fertility daily for the rest of my fertile life due to my medication, which would be a constant reminder of our infertility. Forever. Or at least until menopause.
If we want to have more biological children again good ol' doc believes there is a 0 chance. Now, some would say "yes, but you have one so that chance has to be more than 0". It really depends on how you look at it. I believe it is possible whether or not we had one already because Christ is all powerful. Logan is proof of that. Statistically though, Logan was a crazy percentage and already took up that "chance". Who knows. "Scientifically" our options to have biological children are:
IVF: In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF-ICSI)
The doctor believes this is a good option for us. I had a very good pregnancy before and for all purposes appear to be a good womb. He believes we'd be successful with this route.
- We'd have another biological child
- Multiples (50% chance for twins, possible triplets or quadruplets)
- I'd get to go through pregnancy and childbirth (!!!) again
- I'd get to breastfeed again
- I could potentially stay home with my baby(ies) (see disadvantages below)
- We'd get to go through the process of raising our child from pre-birth and participate in all the stages of their life
- $14K per attempt
- 65% success rate per attempt
- Lots of medication and intervention on our bodies
- Higher chance for high-risk birth (may not experience natural childbirth???)
- We don't have that cash and don't believe in using credit...so, we change our minds about credit or wait until we save the cash (about a year, maybe?), which means by the time we have a child our son would be almost 5. Not what we'd wanted.
- Either way, because of the cost of this attempt it would delay my ability to stay home. Which means for most considerations, I still wouldn't get the chance to stay home afterall
- That would likely be our last attempt so we'd get what we'd get (successful or not, one child or more)
- That's a lot of money...
Increase Density + IUI+Sperm Wash
The dr. and my own research suggest this isn't very likely but with the further testing we'll see if we can increase sperm density. Again, we'd have to increase it to at least 5000% of what it currently is just to maybe qualify and have a shot.
- Cheaper ($500-$5000 per cycle, depending on a few options/needs)
- Better chance than we currently have! :)
- It would be nice to be able to get sperm count to that level anyway and if hormones or something else can do it...great
- 30% chance of multiples
- It's still expensive
- Success rate only about 25%
- I'm not ready to count on this being an option yet. There's too much at stake for my sanity
- Involves lots of doctors visits, monitoring, and probably injectibles
Adoption is certainly an option for us! That being said, there are the normal considerations when deciding to adopt including the several types of adoption and choices to be made about it. I'll lump advantages and disadvantages together, but understanding that we would be considering international, domestic infant, foster-to-adopt, older child, and embryo adoptions at this point.
- We could expand our family either with individual or sibling group adoptions
- There is the potential to go through the pregnancy process as well (embryo)
- There is the potential to adopt a baby and go through a similar process of raising a baby as if we'd given birth to him/her
- THere are SO many options in terms of how to increase our family, what our family would "look like", the speed at which we increased our family. Lots of opportunities.
- Giving a child/family a forever family
- We both have adoption benefits through work which would cover some of the costs
- If the costs were lower, we may be able to work it out for me to stay home
- Quicker option than any of the others to expand our family
- Not having a biological sibling for our son...he is really awesome and I'd love for him to have a biological sibling even if we did adopt
- Adjusting to being adoptive parents and an adoptive family
- All of the choices that would have to be made...so much to think about...so complicated
- Still takes a while, particularly if we were going to want to have a caucasian baby with specific characteristics
- Not knowing how well past experiences would impact our son, nor how expanding our family in that way would impact him
- Not knowing whether we'd be able to integrate other children into our family and have them feel as loved as Logan is.
- Can be very expensive (domestic infant & international can be 25-40K), with the exception of foster-to-adopt (and even then, depending on the circumstances) can be just as expensive as IVF
- Will our family accept our adopted children?
- The process to become eligible to adopt is difficult. Being that J is in the career he is makes it more complicated due to weapons in the home, our family schedule, my working (now), and also the consideration of the children's stories and how they might be impacted by their previous experience with police officers.
- The process would likely to take at least a year.
- Would still have to process the "not having bio children" aspect as with having no children
Oh...I could go on and on. Essentially it all boils down to these basic factors:
- Nothing will be easy
- Nothing will be guaranteed from here on out
- We are forced to mourn what we thought was mostly a given regarding childbearing
- Nothing will be inexpensive
- All options have difficult decisions involved
- No options support me staying at home with my baby(ies)
- No options really support us having the child spacing we'd hoped for (except, maybe adoption, which would be more expensive because at this point we'd think we'd want Logan to be the oldest, which would mean we'd be looking at younger child/infant adoption)
I completely know that in our current circumstances it isn't clear partially because we don't know what God has in store and there is no way for us to see all of the benefits and disadvantages for any of the options. We don't know what doors will be opened for us or which will be closed. There are SO many options to consider and choose from that in itself is a problem. I write these things down partially to get them out of my (our) head and partly to get them out in cyberspace to see other perspectives some of you might have.
One note of caution...although we REALLY would like comments on this particularly if you've had an experience that would contribute advantages or disadvantages we haven't thought of, we'd appreciate a little bit of grace in terms of what we're going through at this point because we fully know we may have made something here seem worse than it really is or was in your experience. Judgements on what we've put into the advantage or disadvantage categories probably won't be helpful. (ex., "Why don't you think you could love an adopted kid like you love Logan? Wouldn't you treat them the same?" etc.) We're trying to be as honest as possible to ourselves to go into any option as best prepared as we can which means we need to be honest about our preconceptions about things...we didn't plan this and all of these thought processes are new to us. And, with the exception of the L family, we don't know anyone personally who has gone through most of these scenarios. No one. I'll get into that in Part 3.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Ok...so since the last update we've had a series of appointments. First, we met with my OB/GYN for a consult and she verified my understanding of the first set of tests...it did not appear I was having ovulation problems but assured me that this was abnormal. I tried to excuse our situation as having been busy and stressed with full-time school again and she said "yeah, but you've done that before right?"...she wasn't convinced that the stress was a factor. J and I sat together as she explained basically everything I explained in the previous post. We left really having wasted an hour of our life, but at least we were making progress in the infertility testing process.
The next steps were two-fold. An HSG (Histerosalpingogram) for me and an SA (Semen Analysis) for J. Due to the timing of it all, we were able to get the SA done first during the 1st or 2nd week in May. It was a few days before we got those results and they shocked us. I actually got the call from the nurse at my OB/GYN, and afterward I bawled my eyes out. At my desk. With my direct reports and peers listening in. My boss walked by about two minutes later and told me that if I needed to go take care of something then go do it (I have an incredibly supportive boss...she really meant it). I had stopped crying by then, but apparently she knew something was wrong. And I knew that going home wasn't going to help me...there wasn't anything I could "take care of".
At first the nurse simply told me that the results were abnormal. This was my favorite nurse from the first time when I was pregnant with Logan. NOT. I'll follow the Bible's advice and pray for her. Anyway...I didn't accept her first answer and asked for more details. The next piece I got from her was this:
- Decreased Density
- Decreased Motility
- Abrnormal Morphology
Basically, an SA takes a look at three main factors and a few other subfactors. The worst case scenario would be "Azoospermia", meaning 0 sperm in the seminal fluid. Next to worst would be what we had...bad on all 3 factors. Decreased Density: Low sperm count. Decreased Motility: Low # of sperm actually moving and low # of sperm moving forward. Abnormal Morphology: refers to the shape of the sperm cell itself...apparently ours was abnormal. Essentially this appointment confirmed that there was a problem with J. Beyond what I've written here we had no details. No understanding of the problem, how severe it might be, or what cause might be involved. No knowledge of really what was next. I had to break the news to J and had him come "eat" lunch with me. On the way out I ran into my boss's boss...the head of HR for 7-Eleven, who also asked how I was clearly seeing I was not well.
This was devastating. The recommendation was to continue with the HSG the following Tuesday to see what that showed, just for fun or maybe to get an understanding of the situation for the future, and then followup with the recommended Urologist specialist. Apparently he is the best in North Texas at this.
If you've never had an HSG you are missing out! Seriously fun stuff. Or, seriously awkward and eventually painful. But, the good thing is that you get the results immediately and the actual procedure itself wasn't that bad until afterward. The procedure is done at the hospital in the radiology department. Basically a dr. takes a long tube with a balloon on the end, inserts it through the cervix, then fills the balloon with a dye and shoots it into the uterus, all while laying under an x-ray machine that is recording the process of the dye as it moves through the system. Ideally the dye flows through the fallopian tubes and pours out into the uterus and eventually into the abdominal cavity. The doctor is able to see the tubes, any blockage, any structural issues, and any scarring or endometriosis. That's it!
In my case, the results were perfect. He saw exactly what he needed to see apparently and all was well. I cleaned up, had J drive me home, and then started feeling the discomfort and eventually pain. It felt to me like the first few days after having Logan...particularly while nursing. Nothing equals that. I slept for a while and laid on the couch then had a wonderful friend visit and bring dinner (Thanks Mandi!!!). J stayed home with me that night and we enjoyed a nice family day. And, my sister cleaned the carpet on the stairs so overall it was a good day.
This left us back needing to investigate male infertility and all evidence pointed to that being the largest culprit in our infertility. Our doctor though didn't have an appointment to see us for another 6 weeks, so we waited, me largely in a fog of agony, crying a lot, etc., and then realizing that living day to day was much better than trying to plan too much for the future. Then I was ok. I'll get to the reaction to our appointments and how we're handling it all in Part 3, I think. In the meantime I did a little research but couldn't find anything to clarify our results before the appointment. I really had no idea what the problem was, only that there was abnormal results in all factors of the SA.
On 6/29 we had our appointment. We were nervous and excited, ready to move forward. We had no idea what to expect. It poured rain as we got there and then the whole time we were there. It seemed appropriate. We met our dr. (Jeffrey Buch) and liked him from the start. He has a quirky humor, which is probably pretty good for someone who does what he does. Apparently he is highly respected for what he does, particularly in vasectomy reversal and infertility work. We laughed a lot, even while he gave us the results. He was somewhat upset that we received the results as we did. I told him that we knew about the decreased density. And he went from there. I tried to mention the other abnormalities and he shut me down and said "with these results we don't even worry about those factors". I figured he meant statistically low density meant the other pieces weren't statistically reliable or something, but once he talked more I realized that wasn't what he meant.
Literally with our density results what he meant was that the other factors weren't relevant. He went on to tell us our density number, but I'll wait to reveal that until a bit only because at this point WE didn't know what normal was and it meant relatively nothing to us. He started to say that he wanted to do a basic exam expecting that he would find a varicocele, a varicose veins of the testes an easy problem to fix that causes 60% of low sperm count results. As soon as we started the exam he noticed a scar J had. J explained he'd had a surgery when he was 7 for a hernia repair but didn't know much about it. The doctor continued with his short exam and noted a few other things I'll leave private for now but essentially the idea that there might be a varicocele was no longer a consideration. We moved to his office where he showed us all the actual test results and talked us through them. This is where it started to hit us.
Our sperm density count was 10,000. He explained how they got that count to a painful detail. I then said..."what is normal? About a million?"...he said "about 20 million". and ours is 10,000? Holy cow. He showed us the other numbers that weren't nearly as abnormal as this, but again, didn't matter. He told us that we have 0% chance to conceive on our own and that the only chance to conceive a biological child would be IVF-ICSI...which he explained. In order for us to qualify for IUI, we'd have to get sperm density up to 5,000,000 motile (moving) sperm. He wrote down that IVF-ICSI would run about $14K and that we'd try to get the density up, maybe, with hormones, maybe. He seemed to acknolwedge that this was extremely optimistic. You probably have quite a miracle on your hands in your son. Based on the exam he was fairly confident that either the problem that led to J's surgery, or the surgery itself, or a procedure they may have done while doing the surgery, likely caused him to have this challenge. And since it was so long ago, there was nothing that could be done. Except maybe hormones. Maybe. We have to do another SA to verify the results (normal proticol but he doesn't expect anything to change...we need a baseline). And we had some genetic testing done, and some hormonal testing done to check certain levels. So that in itself was bad and we both left in a strange mood...happy from the dr and just shocked. This is real infertility. Again, I'll get more into that later.
I've been able to do more research since we left the doctor. Low sperm count is technically called "Oligoospermia". In order to be diagnosed with that condition you would have 2-3 results with less than 20 million. 20 million is not "normal"...it is the line to be considered "low". Normal is actually 60-120 million. Severe Oligospermia is diagnosed when there is less than 10 million. This is the level the dr said we'd need to get to for IUI...10 million with 40% motility (which is the line for average/abnormal) = 5 million motile. I found a website that reference the World Health Organization's standard for a successful vasectomy at <100,000.>
We're at 10,000.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Last Friday we got the results from some basic testing I had done at my most recent annual visit. A little history to catch some of you up. It took us 9 months to conceive Logan...in that time I ovulated only 2 times, conceived the first time but lost it a few days later and two months later (when I conceived again) we were blessed with Logan. Looking back over my lifelong history it became apparent that I'd experienced delayed or non-ovulatory cycles my whole life. I'll spare you the details of why we know that. In any case, we had a happy, healthy preganancy and received a wonderful little boy. I knew that it was possible that we'd struggle to have another child, but secretly hoped that somehow pregnancy would heal my body's hormone problem that seemed to cause challenges.
We were open to getting pregnant when Logan was 3-6 months old and hoped to get pregnant sometime between him being 6-15 months old. It took 12 months for my cycle to return, so I knew it was unlikely to get pregnant before that happened (although, when going through it, you also know it could happen anytime). My cycle literally started on Logan's first birthday and we were officially trying again. I charted for a few months and found that I was extremely regular in all factors (cycle length, luteal phase, ovulation day, etc.). It seemed as if my secret hope had been granted and I started wondering if I ever had challenges with Logan (you forget a lot about trying after you've had the kid!). This extreme regularity (like, to the hour!) surprised me and was certainly something knew to me so I stopped charting and just figured we'd take it as it came. Whatever happened would happen, and seeing as how my problem was that I didn't ovulate in the past, if we got to a certain point and decided we wanted to be more aggressive with treatment (as my dr calls it) then we'd pop some pills and take care of it. No big deal.
I saw my dr. 16 months after Logan was born for the normal visit and since i wasn't begging for more aggressive treatment and technically my cycle had only returned 4 months before I went in for my appointment she recommended to come see her in the summer (08) if I still had problems. That time came and went and I was accepted into the Ph.D. program officially so I decided to finish residency before getting help having a baby. I'd been holding onto the idea that all I had to do was take a pill to get help and yet I didn't want to do that when I was working & in school full-time. If I was going to try to that level I wanted to be sure I had time to rest or deal with side effects if necesary. So, we decided to wait until sometime this spring to get help.
All that time though we didn't really believe that we would need to get help. I remember after my first checkup after having Logan when I scheduled for my next annual and thinking there was no way I was going to make it until then. There was always the next milestone...for sure I'll be pregnant by... I always thought with a chuckle. Those times have all come and gone. I thought about now I'd be trying for #3. as a chuckle again.
So, because of my work schedule the normal annual was delayed a few months and I figured hey, she was going to bring it up anyway, so I might as well bring it up. (remind me to get to that in a minute). So, sure enough, I get to go through the whole deal with the checkup nurse:
Nurse: Are you using any contraception
Nurse: Nothing? Timing? Anything?
Me: No (what, do you think I'm lying?)
Nurse: Oh, ok. It's been a while. Did you just stop contraception? What were you using?
Me: No, we haven't used anything since my son was born.
Nurse drops the subject.
Anyway, sure enough the dr. came in and did the normal pleasant stuff and asked me several times if there were any problems. Nope, not really I said. I mean, I'm not having any problems. Eventually she asked enough times and enough variations to get me to admit that there is, of course, the fact that we hadn't become pregnant in 2 1/2 years. I reminded her what she said last year and explained about school and our desire to wait for "aggressive treatment" until that was over. She was ecstatic that it was the oh so special day 21 (of course, I didn't know that, but i guess it worked out), and we did blood work and scheduled me for a sonogram that had to be rescheduled twice before I could finally make it in.
It took 2 weeks for me to get the results. By this time I knew I wasn't pregnant that cycle and just wanted to know what I was supposed to do next based on the results she had for me. I really didn't think about the results too much during this time, but was curious what they'd have to say.
I admit, deep in my heart I knew that I was ovulating. I also admit that even after 2 1/2 years (1 1/2 years if you count from the time my cycle returned) of trying that even though I've told everyone I have fertility challenges that I didn't believe in my heart that we did. Part of the reason for that is that I hate to be embarrassed or look stupid for things like this. Not that I'm embarrassed to have a medical condition (hello...not allowed to drive in CA?), but more importantly because I didn't want to admit seriously to myself and others that we really had problems because I was sure that as soon as I did admit how painful that admission is, the next cycle we'd be pregnant and I'd look foolish for not being patient enough or faithful enough. Plus, I knew I was ovulating, so it was easy to go ahead and blame it on stress or just saying that it was God's timing and how grateful I am that I'm not living my life the last 3 months with another newborn. And, knowing I had just a short time before I'd be forced to acknowledge that I really wasn't ovulating, take the pills, and get pregnant this summer, easy breezy.
Or so I thought.
When the nurse finally called with her results it was unexpected. All they did was check my hormone levels after what should have been ovulation to make sure I was indeed ovulating and a sonogram to prove that I didn't have large cysts on my ovaries (something I've had before). Even though I mostly expected to hear that I was ovulating I also expected to hear that I had ovarian cysts or odd hormone levels. I was correct with the first but not with the second. She said everything was normal.
Which of course sounds good at first. I asked a few questions about the results to verify what exactly she was looking at to say I was normal and sure enough, no cysts, hormone levels were great for that time in my cycle, etc. I'm looking great. She started to go into her spiel about fertility taking a little while and the dr. won't see me until blah blah blah...sometimes I wonder why they even write in those charts if they aren't going to look at them before talking to him. Eventually I got her to talk to the dr for me to see what I was supposed to do next after hearing lecture about how the dr wasn't going to write me a prescription for clomid over the phone...which was completely unsolicited particularly because I wasn't asking for clomid especially after hearing I was ovulating just fine!!!
Anyway. I have an appointment on the 20th. I know it sounds good that I'm normal, but its about 99% chance that hearing that was not good news. What that really means is that I'm ovulating fine, and for the past +/- 2 years we haven't been able to get pregnant even still. This indicates a much greater problem. It could be a various form of three issues...either it is male-factor infertility or I have structural issues, or I have a chemistry problem (but not a hormone problem). None of these are good.
I believe the next step will be to test for male-factor infertility which could result in three things: normal (everything's fine), no sperm, or problem sperm (low counts, problem with movement, shape, etc.). If its no sperm, there isn't much that can be done...maybe there are structural problems that can be fixed by surgery but not likely. If its a sperm problem, there are a couple options including "artificial insemination" known in the fertility world as IUI or in-vitro fertilization or IVF. IUI is only good if the problems are mild. If everything's normal, then onto more testing with me.
For me, there could be chemical problems so that my body is seeing the sperm as an intruder and killing it off. Or it could be structural problems like a blocked fallopian tube. Chemical problems can be treated by surrogacy or IVF, depending on the situation (but this isn't likely since we already have one naturally). Structural problems are very possible and would be treated with surgery or IVF, depending on the exact problem.
So if you've followed all of this, it appears our options will boil down to the following with the approximate costs:
We can't do anything to improve our chances of becoming pregnant (i.e., no sperm)
IUI - $300-$3000 per cycle, depending on the complexity necesary
IVF - $7000-$15000 per cycle
Surrogacy - depends on the surrogate and specific situations...essentially would be like an IVF procedure with someone else carrying the baby
(notice I've left out donation, either sperm or egg...not against this necesarily for anyone else but we lean away from this for ourselves for now)
Then there is there are obviously two other options other than proceeding with those treatments...adoption or take life as it is and move forward without plans to have any more kids. Either one of these isn't easy either. Adoption obviously is costly for an infant or we have to have the discussion about whether we want to do foster-to-adopt which would be really challenging with me working. Lots of decisions in that as you could tell. But the other option isn't easy either. Because of my medication and knowing that stranger things have happened than having an infertile get pregnant, I will have to track my cycles until menopause or sterilization, which would be hard to deal with the reminder each month that we're not going to have another baby and making the decision toward sterilization would be extremely difficult as well.
So these are the things running through my head over the past couple days. It's extremely hard to know at this point what we'll do because we've got a ton to face in this process. We don't know what the problem is to be able to determine how we could, let alone would want to, fix it.
Before I go to sleep for the night, because I'm tired and drained and my 2 year old is still awake upstairs in his bed and its midnight and I have to wake up and face it all again tomorrow, I want to make sure I mention one more thing. I have not lost faith. Not at all. I am completely ok with accepting either that we have to be patient in knowing God has perfect timing or that God's perfect will is for us to have only one. My heartfelt desire is to have a lot of kids. I don't know that this is God's desire for me. Jason and I have never agreed on the exact number of kids that we'd want and neither of us feel like God has promised us anything more than we have already. So, the challenge isn't that we don't believe God has a perfect will for us or that we don't believe God could and would make us pregnant, but more that we don't know what he wants us to do at this point. We don't know....we don't understand what this is that we are facing. I strongly believe it is for a reason. I strongly believe that with any of the possible outcomes, either that I can deduce or that are left unknown, that God will be glorified as this is my/our top goal in our lives.
But I face the reality that either God wants us to wait, God doesn't want us to have more, or God wants us to have more but have it be a struggle both financially, physically, or emotionally. All of those are hard to swallow. And it will take time. We don't have the money for any of the options above...Logan continues to get older and it makes me sad that he doesn't/won't have a sibling close to his age that he can grow up with (we're looking at about 3 1/2 right now if we get pregnant pretty soon)...I may never get to stay home with my infant, something we've looked forward to with future children. I may never again get to go through the wonderful experience of birth that I loved so much and looked forward to so much. I may not be able to give my husband the daughter he desires. I may never have the house full of boys I desire. maybe no more breastfeeding, no more making baby food, no more cloth diapers. If we do need to pay for some sort of family building option, we'd need to consider if we want to wait a few more years or put off paying debt to pay to have more children...how horrible is that I feel like no matter the option I'd be buying a child.
Anyway...if you're interested there are plenty of "what to say/not to say" articles out there online to help friends/family going through the infertility process. Please promise that if I do get pregnant next month on "our own" you won't say anything to the effect of "see...you just had to wait a little longer" or "see...you were worried for nothing". Right now I just need prayer for strength, peace, and wisdom to get through this season grieving what I thought it would turn out to be and getting excited about what God has in store for us. Pray for my husband and our marriage as this obviously can be a strain in so many ways.
I'm really tired now. I'm going to bed.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I strongly believe in being positive and focusing on the blessings rather than dwelling on stuff that goes wrong. Although part of the purpose of this blog is to let me ramble to someone about whatever's on my mind, I want to make sure that I'm modeling what I believe in. And I believe in being a person of gratitude. So, there are 107 days of school left this semester. So, I'm starting this thread to be one where I can take time, every day, to be grateful. At the end of 107 days, I will have 107 things I'm grateful for. And hopefully that will be something to help me focus on the good. Like we're called to do (whatever is good, pleasant...). So, here it is!
- I'm extremely grateful for a happy, healthy son!
- I'm so grateful that I got to see the beautiful birds on Lake Ray Hubbard this morning on the way to work. Not sure what they were, looked like Pelicans, but not sure if they are around here...there were 20 or 30 of them.
- I'm happily grateful my husband and I enjoy playing rockband together...it's a husband and wife having fun as a couple...and now as a family with Logan on the new guitar too. So much fun.
- I'm grateful for wonderful friends and family that joined us on Superbowl Sunday...the house was full of kids running in every direction and the adults had fun too...at least I did!
- I'm extremely grateful I made time to lay down and cuddle with Logan when he went to sleep. I went to sleep before he did, but thankfully woke up in time to still get some homework done before actually going to bed
- I'm thankful I have a boss who really supports me. Everything else can be falling down around me and she's always there to help me find my mind again.
- I'm grateful I have a job where I can leave work early and spend time with my son at soccer tots...so much fun!
- I'm grateful that the Lord provides me with energy when I don't have any of my own...I'm grateful for the sustenance he provides.
- I'm grateful that I am trusted with much!
- I'm very grateful my sister moved here so we can all spend time together and the kids can play a lot together.
- I'm grateful for our church, class, and small group!
- I'm very thankful I don't have to worry about sick time.
- I'm thankful I have a wonderful husband who knows when I need help and stays home to take care of me.
- I'm grateful for rest, even when it comes in the form of the flu.
- I'm very thankful I have friends who forgive me when I miss our lunch date and don't even call.
- I'm thankful I'm feeling better and was able to enjoy our first parents night out!!! (The plus side of having the flu ahead of time is that you aren't very hungry when you go out and don't over eat TOO bad!!!)
- I'm grateful for the movie Fireproof and my husband's willingness to spend our time alone on V-day in tears as we watched it.
- I'm extremely grateful for my nephews and the joy they bring us, and the friendship my son has with them.
- I'm happy and grateful for a daycare that takes such great care of my son while I'm working.
- I'm grateful I finally get the opportunity to catch up on #'s 20-60 :)
- I'm extremely grateful I get to take time off occasionally to play with my son.
- I'm very grateful for the wii fit...it's been a blast recently.
- I'm grateful for traditions...even simple ones like watching America's Most Wanted alone on Saturday nights.
- I'm thankful my husband and have similar beliefs on most of the important things.
- I'm grateful Christ is patient with me when I'm not patient with others.
- I'm very thankful for rest.
- I'm thankful for my work...no really, I am.
- I'm thankful for my family, all of them.
- I appreciate that my husband tries to take care of me and is concerned about my well-being on a regular basis.
- I'm thankful we're paying off debt fairly rapidly.
- I'm grateful that I have the physical ability to work in the garden.
- I'm very thankful to have people in my life to coach me in becoming a better person.
- I'm thankful my son is more/less potty trained!
- I'm very grateful the shock collar worked to stop the barking...in two days!!!
- I'm thankful my husband has come home every night from work.
- I'm grateful we didn't get trampled on by the elephants at the circus today.
- I'm grateful for coupons...they give me that crazy thrill that only a budget-nerd, thrifty woman could appreciate :)
- I'm thankful for the rose bush that blooms well each spring...even for the one that never seems to grow well.
- I'm thankful for a doctor who allows me to make my own choices in fertility care. Aggressive or not, its up to us...no pressure but options are there.
- I'm grateful that God knows what our family will look like in a month, a year, a decade, and a century and that I don't have to worry about it.
- I appreciate my son's humor and the time I get to spend with him to enjoy it.
- I'm thankful my new dryer is FINALLY coming this week! It only took 4 months...almost to the day.
- I'm thankful for our weekly Costco trip. It's another tradition I highly value.
- I'm grateful for our family's safety after the events of last week and over the last year. Lord continue to protect as all.
- I'm thankful my son has been doing much better going to sleep at night!
- I'm very thankful my son went to sleep without a peep tonight!
- I'm thankful my husband likes to go to church as a family.
- I'm grateful I had the opportunity to take care of several adorable babies in the nursery today.
- I'm grateful for the wipes that took the hair dye off my fingers.
- I'm thankful for the talents I've been given, especially the ones that allow me to be creative in so many ways.
- I'm grateful for warm weather again!
- I'm grateful my husband is home unexpectedly on a Sunday night!
- I'm thankful for the Dallas weather that helps us to not get bored with it.
- I'm grateful my husband and I can laugh together and be silly together without worrying about what each otehr will think.
- I'm thankful for the guidance of my professors, both in my career and education.
- I'm thankful my son loves to play with his cousins and they enjoy having him over and getting us a break every once in a while.
- I'm thankful for the new recycling bins.
- I'm grateful for my husband's love for our son.
- I'm very thankful for our "family cheer".
- I'm thankful for weekends where I do no work or homework.
- I'm grateful for life.
- I'm thankful for TMZ and the laughs it gives me when I'm up late at night.
- I'm thankful my son can help take care of me when I'm sick. It's sweet.
- I'm thankful for living in the DFW area.
- I'm thankful for coupons!
- I'm grateful for my husband who is wonderfully supportive.
- I'm thankful my husband and I are still married!
- I'm thankful for the silly things my son says...like..."Mom...stop lying to me with your eyes!"
- I'm grateful I was able to finish prepping the garden (with help!).
- I'm grateful for the new fence...it looks good AND I don't have to go searching for the dog each night.
- I'm thankful for our mattress which is really comfortable and has other unmentionable benefits.
- I'm grateful for my son's joy when seeing the plants grow.
- I'm grateful the plants have started to grow! WOOHOO...
- I'm grateful that the plants are still growing after the dogs trample them everyday and one has picked a blueberry push as his personal toilet. Grr
- I'm grateful for my friends.
- I'm thankful that I'm free!
- I'm thankful for the simple joys in life.
- I'm grateful for what my company provides to help me pay for healthcare.
- I'm thankful my husband allows me to have bad days.
- I'm thankful for my new dryer!
- I'm grateful for my negotiating skills.
- I'm thankful for the days my son goes to bed "easy"
- I'm thankful for Saturday mornings when I can sleep in
- I'm grateful my son is growing up healthy
- I'm thankful my husband has come home safe every night so far.
- I'm grateful for my new stand mixer.
- I'm thankful for Pajama Sam. So much fun.
- I'm thankful for time tonight to pay bills.
- I'm grateful that we have been blessed with resources to help pay off some bills and have that snowball rolling.
- I'm grateful for peace
- I'm thankful for my parents
- I'm grateful for my car
- I'm very grateful for a loving home
- I'm grateful I love to cook and bake
- I'm grateful for our son, even more so than ever.
- I'm thankful for air conditioning, even though I like the heat.
- I'm grateful it is pool season again!
- I'm thankful my son loves the water as much as I do.
- I'm grateful for the way God makes us take a break, even though i don't necesarily like it at the time.
- I'm thankful school comes easy to me.
- I'm thankful for Sam Moon's.
- I'm thankful for rest and relaxation, at least the dream of it.
- I'm grateful for Costco and our weekly routine!
- I'm grateful for my husband's ability to make me laugh
- I'm thankful for the perks I get at work, like sneak preview tickets to popular movies
- I'm grateful for my opportunity to work with a variety of people from a variety of different countries.
- I'm grateful I was able to finish this semester!!!
And a big thanks to all of you who continue to look at my blog despite spending 107 days+ to be thankful without many other updates.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Thankfully they aren't pressing charges (it was over $2000, which would qualify to be a state jail felony for 180 days-2 years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine! Fun Fun!).
The only way to cure it, however, as the oh so rude undergrad assistant told me (sometimes you just want to reach through the phone and strangle someone...then I'm sure I wouldn't avoid the felony) is to make a trip up to Denton by the 6th with "guaranteed funds" and talk to the dean (again) to reinstate my classes (and good name). I was done with the girl on the phone who was wonderful enough to ensure me that even when I talked to her supervisor I'd hear the same thing. Peachy.
I did talk to her supervisor, who assured me that it was policy to force me to come up to campus. Which is when I lost it. I burst into tears and explained to her that I just couldn't take it anymore. I already had to head up to campus last week, which is hard enough for an extremely overworked narcoleptic because of a mistake that was largely due to their error.
As I've said before I'm not one to use tears to get my way, but there's only so much emotion one can handle. Seriously. Really though. I just couldn't handle anymore. Eventually she calmed me down enough to stop my sobbing long enough to tell me that she was going to get "the person who could make that decision" to call me when he/she was done with a meeting. (I guess it was good that it was an ice day or I would have done all of this in my oh so private cube).
A little while later she called me back to say I was once again eligble to pay online.
It shouldn't be this hard.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Let me start out by saying that the reason I haven't been here was MOSTLY because I spent a great deal of time resting and playing with my son and family over the break. Oh...that was wonderful. Only one day I woke up at 4:30am...this was because I had a little boy who though tit would be fun to wake up so early. It wasn't. But it turned out well as we made our first trip to the zoo later that day. No, he didn't take a nap. But it was fun anyway.
Every other day I woke up at 9:45am or so...woohoo!!! I felt really rested.
But then I went back to work. Immediately I was faced with my real world again. We had planned on one thing happening as we went back...it seems the plan was changed on me over the holidays but I wasn't made aware. This started my downward spiral and really was a rude awakening. So was 5 am that morning.
And it continued...working to reinstate the original plan (which, by the way, takes a great deal of effort and was required for my sanity). Then, as soon as I got that done, I was asked to come into my bosses office for a surprise appointment the next day.
Ugh...it turned out to be a good thing (?). She was offering me a promotion. It comes with more than a 10% pay increase and an annual bonus increase. Sounds great right? It is a major switch in focus than what I had planned...it is taking me a completely different direction than I was expecting and than I've been involved with. And there is no one qualified or willing to take my spot. So, as my bosses boss told me on Monday...it will likely be 4-6 months before we fill the position (because we'll be looking for the right candidate). *sigh*
The problem (?) is that I just can't do something half way. While many, many people would be able to just drop the old job and let someone else deal with it, I can't do that. I just can't. There are things that I've committed to or have been working on over the last year that I want to make sure get done...right. And I've really had a great opportunity to change things for the better in SO many different ways. My role directly or more closely dealt with that before...I'm not sure how much my new role will deal with that, so I don't want to let go of that responsibility as I let go of the tasks of my old job. It's hard to explain.
And then there is school. Can I tell you how school has gone so far (and its only been in semester for a week!)? It started out by losing a scholarship because someone lost my paperwork saying that I accepted it (really?)...I called and called throughout the semester to check on things but didn't get any response until the last week of the semester (when I owed $500 for the scholarship) and finally hear that I need to prove that I sent it...how do you prove that you sent a fax from a fax machine at your work (a large corporation) eight months ago? (let me tell you...its impossible...especially because that fax machine has since been replaced)...so it took a while for me to come up with the money...meaning I couldn't register until the day school started...the next day, while I was at class (the last day to pay...) I had planned to get to class early to pay for classes, but there were several early afternoon accidents and it took a long time to get there...during class I got the message that one of my classes was canceled...which is devastating because I'm in the middle of residency which means I have to do 2 semesters in a row full-time and I needed that class, otherwise would have to start over again. which isn't an option. So instead of paying the tuition on the break, I was rushing to figure out what class I was taking (i was already taking an independant study because none of my other classes were available, and, because registration was closed for the semester) now since the other was canceled. On the way home from class (9:30pm...after everything else so far)...the darn blackberry gave me the message that my classes were cancleed because I hadn't paid tuition. Don't forget registration was already closed and I need to take full-time otherwise I have to start full-time year over. Shear panic and depression. The rest of the night I was contemplating whether this was my sign that I need to quit.
The next day I was able to call and they told me I had to come down there by 4:30 pm to speak to the academic dean...not only do I not know who or what that is, nor could anyone tell me on the phone, and, don't forget...I'm working 2 full-time jobs that are extremely stressful and I had a full agenda that day. I had to drop everything, last minute, postpone several meetings, then drive up there, meet with a crazy number of people I didn't know, and 3 I did. But I had to wait 3 hours to speak to the last one. By the end of the day I was tired and all cried out.
Oh, I forgot to mention that because my classes were dropped, the one class I had "for sure" from the beginning was full and someone else got the spot I left behind. Fun huh?
It all got worked out. I'm tired. I'm drained. I'm frustrated. I'm almost never a negative person...I almost always see the glass half-full. Right now though..I'm not there.
I'm doing my best to be grateful...and I'm having more and more minutes and hours where I'm back to me, but I'm less resilient to bad stuff. I'm worn down.
Oh...did I mention when I got back to the office Friday I thought I'd have a great day catching up and getting things started right? That was, of course, until lunch when one of my best friends collapsed and at points I thought she was going to die in my arms. Yeah. It sucked.
So, please, forgive me for being depressing and stressed and absent for a little while. I'll get back to being "myself"...but isn't there something about when I am weak He is strong? Then, as Paul says, to God be the glory...for me to live is Christ, to die is gain..., so let Christ grow in me now when I myself am nothing. The day before my friend became ill she was encouraging me and I told her something along the lines that I know that in situations like this, when I'm just beaten down, it becomes obvious to me if no one else that it is Christ who provides for me and cares for me and gives me everything I need...it is not about me...I just keep moving, trying to go His direction, and He'll do the rest.
Sometimes I need humbled.