Yay!!! Today was the day! The transfer went very well and our little wee one is now inside my womb! It's been a holy day in our lives that we'll never forget. Tonight, we are overwhelmed with emotion and pretty tuckered out. We are hoping that the next couple of days will be full of rest and chilling out, which we are really good at. We've already watched 2 movies since we got home from the hospital :)
We took a few pics of the day as you can see above (Proud Papa!). That's a picture of our baby in case you can't tell. I think he looks like me.
And below you'll see the rest of the day.
Just arriving at the surgery center getting settled in for our short stay. "Tired" is my new response to how I feel on a daily basis, so I'll take any chance I can get to lay down.
Magazines that kept me occupied while we waited.
Other activities that kept Felipe occupied while we waited! :)
I can't say I've missed this outfit. But if you have to wear it, you might as well wear it well.
This time I got pink footies. Now I have 2 pair!!! I love fuzzy footies!
And don't forget the hat! Or the fact that I have a lot of fun while taking Valium!
(They give it to all the women to help them relax and stay calm during the procedure)
We are both thankful that the day was full of joy!
Here's the before shot of our little buddy!
And here's the after shot of our little buddy inside his/her little Momma!
We thank all of you for your prayers. The doctor and embryologist said that the the embryo looked really good and they expected the best. The embryo was placed inside my uterus and should implant in the uterine wall in the next 24-36 hours. Please pray for this to happen successfully. And that it will stick! We feel very supported by all your prayers, emails and calls/texts. Thank you so much.
This Thursday is the day that we will go and get our little buddy! I'm growing in excitement as I think about being able to be in his/her presence. Along with that, I definitely feel the injustice of the situation (that this is not the ideal of circumstances). Embryos are supposed to be formed and immediately grow in their mother's womb. It is a grief for us that our little embryo has not had that up to this point. The Enemy has done much to keep this little life from existing, from thriving.
Our story has been different from the ideal, that's for sure. Recently someone was telling me how they see that I am different because of going through this and that it is something that will mark my life forever. I responded to my friend and said, "I feel as though my heart has been branded." Literally, I imagine a metal branding iron, red-hot from being in the flames then being deeply pressed onto my heart, searing, smoking, burning, leaving a flesh wound that will scar. That scar I count as a small piece of the Cross; it's a piece of my glory. And I give thanks.
Also recently, I have been so encouraged by the saints. By you, the people around me.
A dear friend of mine from college just recently lost her little boy (whom she was 23 weeks pregnant with). She also spent years trying to conceive and this was her first child. I was unable to attend the memorial service but I just read her husband's speech on their blog. Throughout the entire speech, he gave glory to God and thanked our sweet Father for the life of his son. He recognized that the Father had sacrificed His only Son and he knew that God wept with them. They want to keep walking with God in the midst of deep deep pain. They want to say thank you and not grow bitter.
Last weekend I heard a woman share her story of losing her husband to a terrible long-term illness. Her daughters are in college and have left home. She is alone for the first time in 26 years. She gave honor to God and said how thankful she was for her husband's life. She said how she now wanted to honor the Lord in her singleness. She wants to keep walking with God. She wants to say thank you and not grow bitter.
I met another woman who shared with me that at her first child's dedication (she adopted 2 girls after not being able to conceive) she told the Lord that He had "fulfilled her barrenness." I saw on her face that she felt completely satisfied in the Lord. She still carried her scar. But she felt peace and joy. And she gave thanks and was not bitter.
Another friend of mine from college (who also has been trying to conceive for several years) has just gotten pregnant with triplets!!! That's right!!! It calls for 3 exclamation points each time!!!
It's amazing and yet could be very scary. She and her husband are rejoicing and giving thanks... and laughing with God for these little miracles.
I'm not sure why I'm sharing these things. These people have greatly encouraged me recently and I guess I just want to pay it forward. The gospel is real. Jesus is real. And He's coming back for us! Alleluia!
So, the next 2 weeks are our days to wait on the Lord, to pray for our little baby, and to trust in His goodness. We have 3 main requests that we ask you to pray.
1) That our little one would survive and be protected through the preparation process he has to go through.
2) That our little one would be guided by the Lord to the lining of my uterus and implant strongly. That he would get everything he needs from the Father to go through this process. And that my body would be prepared and do everything it needs to do to help him along.
3) That Felipe and I would get everything we need from the Father to joyfully walk this journey. That we wouldn't miss one thing He has for us.
Thank you dear friends. May we fall on His mercy to keep walking, give thanks, and not grow bitter.
As some of you know, this past weekend I had the opportunity to go on a Tres Dias retreat. Tres Dias is unlike any retreat or conference I've ever attended. I really didn't know what it would be like when I went. I knew that I would hear a series of talks about the Christian life and my prayer for the weekend was to be spurred on. God answered. What I didn't know about the weekend is how many ways God and the team would surprise me with expressions of Love. And I didn't know that some of you would surprise me either with your amazing notes and letters. I am overwhelmed... literally brought to tears by your words, Love and prayers. Thank you so much to each of you who wrote me.
I won't say too much more about the retreat because it is designed with many surprises and I won't ruin it for you. I'll just say if you ever get a chance to go on a Tres Dias retreat (it's all over the country), don't miss it.
I've wanted to write an update for a little while now and just haven't gotten around to it. We are drawing nearer to the embryo transfer day, which will happen on November 5th, a week from Thursday. I'm still taking shots of Lupron as well as oral doses of Estradiol (estrogen). In the last week, I have started getting migraines again. I have gotten them every time I have taken Lupron. Sadly to say I had a headache 3 of the 4 days of my retreat but I was still able to remain engaged for the most part. Several of these headaches aren't the "I'll take some advil and it will be gone" kind of headaches. These are the "I've taken 2 doses of Vicoden and I still feel like my head will explode and I'm going to throw up" kind of headaches. Sorry to be graphic, but now you get the picture.
The last cycle, I was only on Lupron for about 2 weeks and the headaches only lasted a few days. I've now been on Lupron since October 10th and I have about 10 days to go. If the headaches last that long, I'll survive and it will be okay. But man, it would be nice if they didn't right!? We are praying and ask you to join us that they will go away. They are being caused by the extreme shift in hormones, so we are praying for my hormones to stabilize.
I also want to tell you that I went in for another sonogram last week and now a 3rd (of the 4) cysts I had has disappeared! So, now only one remains. We are very happy about that.
We ask for your prayers:
1) that my body would be made ready for our little buddy to reside there for 9 months.
2) that our child's life would be protected next week as they get him ready to be put into my uterus... that God would put a shield of protection around his little life and make him (or her :) very strong.
3) that Felipe and I would receive everything we need from the Father to continue this journey and that we would receive the fullness of all He has to give us through it.
Thank you so much. We love and appreciate you our brothers and sisters.
On Saturday, we started the process of preparing my body for the second embryo transfer (i.e... going back for our little embryo). I got an ultrasound on Friday and the two cysts we were waiting on are now small enough to continue. Not totally gone, but not a total nuisance either. I don't think I've updated in a while, so here's a little refresher: after the first IVF cycle I had 4 cysts on my ovaries. I started taking medication to get rid of them and within a month 2 were gone completely. Within 10 days of that the other 2 had shrunk. So now we can get going.
Felipe started giving me injections again and then in a few days I'll start a series of medications to prepare my body for the transfer. Basically, they are waiting on me to be in the right part of my cycle and they are preparing my uterus for the little buddy.
As you know, we experienced a great loss last month losing our two little embryos. So, the beginning of this IVF cycle is different from the first. We are hopeful. Yet, we are sober. Honestly, I feel a lot calmer as we step into this one. We now know what it feels like for this to not end with a baby in our lives. And we have experienced peace and joy on the other side of death. We know that God is faithful to comfort. Yet, now I want to hope and laugh and rejoice as we walk through this. Please pray for courage for us both. We want to be present to this little life and give to him all that we have to give.
We also ask for your prayers for our little one. This process is more difficult than the first on the embryo. And we know that this is a life. This little embryo has all the potential of becoming a baby. They watched this embryo for a couple of days beyond the others and the cells were dividing beautifully. When the time comes for the transfer to occur (probably the first week of November), they will begin the prep process for the embryo. Please pray for God's protection over this little life... and that my womb would be the perfect place for him to grow.
Still not knowing what to say, I think I'll blog a little. That makes sense right?
Start with the facts: we saw the doctor a few weeks ago and discovered that I have 4 new cysts as a result of the IVF process. It's normal for that to happen, especially in endo(metriosis) patients. The Dr. put me back on the birth control pills (re-read the blog from May 10, entitled "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills".) There's no reason to re-write that post, but again it rings true. The birth control pill is the only thing I have ever taken that has actually worked at getting rid of my cysts. So, here we are again. I will see the Dr. on Tuesday to get an ultrasound and check things out.
For the first time in a really long time, I have no weekly appointments to keep up with. I have been going to acupuncture twice a week for almost a year. And I stopped. This month I will only see the dr. twice. This break feels awesome and yet, strange. I have gotten used to my life of "appointments." Though I could very easily get used to a life of no appointments. That's in my future someday!!
One of the things Felipe and I have not shared on the blog yet is that during the last IVF cycle there was one little embryo that grew so big and strong that they saved him for us using cryopreservation. We have one little guy waiting for us to return for him. I say him out of instinct to say him... but it definitely could be her. We are hoping to return for the little one as soon as possible. That being as soon as my body recovers and these cysts go away.
I have lots of emotion about what all has happened and what will happen. I am still grieving the loss of our 2 little ones. Being on crazy pills, it's hard to know what is really happening and what is really hormones and chemicals running their course. I'm now nominating Felipe to be an official SAINT with a cool name and title and everything. San Felipe d' Austin. It works right?
Together we Hope. Not for saint-hood of course, but for the future. We know that our next step is to return for this embryo. Though, to be honest, we are both a little scared by this. I guess this is what people feel like when they "try again" after a miscarriage. Or how people feel after any great loss. With so much disappointment knocking at the back door, hope is scary. I completely understand shutting down and giving up. But we know our God is real. And He is trustworthy. No matter what. I say this without knowing what His exact stance is on our situation. I have no great prophetic word to hold on to. Or any special "knowing" in my heart.
Yet, we press on.
I have a great love for this little embryo that we go back for. From the moment we learned that he kept growing, I felt a wave of love gush out of me. May God have mercy on us, the parents of this little one. And carry out His perfect will for us all.
I wanted to write and say thank you for all your notes, texts, emails and calls. Even though we haven't responded, we grately appreciate it. We just haven't been up to talking much and don't really know what to say. We know many of you had invested your hopes and prayers into these 2 little ones. Again, we thank you. So many of you have said that you are grieving with us and for us. That means a lot. We feel very loved and not at all alone.
We will see the doctor today to see how my body came through this process (with the cyst on my ovary and all).
We are praying now for peace and rest from above. And also for wisdom for our future.
Woo Hoo! The transfer went better than we could have expected. I got the call this morning that it would be today. We had 2 embryos ready for transfer and the doctor and embryologists all said that they couldn't have looked better. They are perfect!!
So, we went in today at 11 o'clock and the nurse helped us get ready. Then we waited. Here's a little glimpse of our wait:
Getting all geared up once again. I'm really growing fond of that hat!
Felipe read a little.
I admired my fuzzy house shoes, complementary of St. David's fertility surgery center. I definitely brought those home :)
Then I started playing...
They gave me Valium to help my muscles relax!! I think it worked!!
We played a game of 10,000.
Felipe won. But I let him win.
Time for Felipe to get ready...
Aren't we cute?
Shortly, after we took this they came to get us to take us back. The transfer itself only took about 15 minutes. We got to watch on a big screen the embryologist get the embryos and bring them into the operating room. I was awake for the whole thing. Then they wheeled me back to our room and I had to lay still for an hour. Felipe and I cried and prayed together for a while. Then we started texting our friends and family!! Directly after the transfer appointment, I went to acupuncture and fell asleep on the table for the whole 30 minutes. I guess I'm a little tuckered out. I'm now on basically bed rest for the next 3 days. They said the embryos will mostly likely implant in the uterine wall in that time. This is a very critical time for our little ones. It's completely hard to believe that there are 2 living beings in my uterus right now. Whoa!
As we prayed over our little ones today, we told them that there are so many people praying for them and lifting them up to our Father in Heaven. We told them they have lots of friends and family who can't wait to meet them. We thank you all so much for walking through this with us in love, support and prayer. We don't walk alone and we feel that today. We feel so loved by all of your words, emails, texts and loving drop-bys. Please keep praying. The battle for these little but mighty ones is not yet over. I'll keep you posted on how we're all doing. I will be able to take a preggers test week after next.
To use the words of Mr. Steve Hawthorne, a dear friend and local prayer guru! Today we were onsight to pray with insight:
And we looked awesome doing it!!
Praying for the embryos was a really significant experience for us. Tom, the embryologist, dressed us up from head to toe and took us back and showed us the incubator holding our embryos. He opened it up and let us see the petri dishes where they are. They are still microscopic at this point, so we couldn't see them. But it was awesome to be there. What an amazing day in our lives!
Hi friends. The egg retrieval went very well. The doctor said I was a great little chicken! :) The procedure itself only took about 20 minutes and I was under anesthesia for about 30 minutes. I'm feeling pretty good... still in a bit of pain and loving Vicoden at the moment :) I'm at home resting and Felipe is taking good care of me. Felipe's mom brought us lunch along with bags and bags of groceries. Sooo wonderfully sweet. She's so loving and a great mom to us. We feel our heavenly Father's gentle hand caring for us as well. I wasn't nervous at all about the procedure. Actually, I was so excited that throughout the night I woke up a couple of times and looked at the clock, thinking "is it time yet? when will it be time?!"
We got to speak at length today with Tom, the man in charge of the embryology lab. He told us exactly what would be happening with the eggs. And he helped us arrange a time to come back tomorrow to pray over our then embryos. We will go at 2pm to the lab and put on the fun, clean gear to go see our little ones in their incubator. Tom was very kind and patient with us (it was definitely apparent that no one has done this before.)
The doctor told us that we should expect to go in for the transfer of 2 embryos back into my uterus on Friday. Though, there is a small chance that they will wait until Sunday to do it. Felipe and I just can't believe all this is happening. It feels so surreal and amazing. Right?!!
I took a few pics that I'll share with you guys. If any of this is written poorly, I blame Vicoden. Smile.
In my morphine-filled brain I thought it was a good idea to bring that hat home.
It's in my bag!
Isn't this funny! They just had to let everyone know.
I forgot to send this out yesterday :). This morning (bright and early) we go in for the egg retrieval!! I got my final sonogram on Sunday and everything looks really good. The little eggers are ready. Yay!
Please pray for a successful retrieval of all the eggs and a great meeting between them and their little friends :) And pray for God's protection over them while they grow.
Please pray for a quick recovery and for our hearts and minds to rest in the peace of Jesus.
We went in to get a sonogram today and the eggs need a little more time to cook. There are a good number and they look strong. Tonight I'll take my last shot of "Wheaties" and we'll see the doctor again tomorrow morning. And tomorrow night we'll take the "trigger shot." This pushes the retrieval back to Tuesday instead of Monday.
Our hearts feel very peaceful about all of this.
A few weeks ago, Felipe and I asked Dr. Silverberg if we could go into the lab where our children will be conceived and pray over our potential embryos. We asked again today and Dr. Silverberg called the head guy in charge of the lab. A few people have spoken to us about the man who runs the Austin IVF lab leading us to believe that he might be a believer. We have been praying for favor in this matter. It feels very important to us. We overheard Silverberg's conversation asking him if we could come into the lab and pray over them. Without hesitation, the man said yes and we got the thumbs up!! The picture I have is of Ezekiel prophecying over the dry bones. The bones began to move and come together, but there was no life until God told Ezekiel to prophecy the WIND. We want to pray for the Holy Spirit to come and breath His life where He may and withhold life where it should not be. We have also spent time putting together a prayer of blessing over our children. I feel so blessed and in awe that this is happening. Dr. Silverberg is a Jewish man with rich Jewish roots. His wife is President of the Texas Hillel (the Jewish student community at UT). From Silverberg's initial response we guessed that no one had ever asked him if they could go into the lab before. It's a multi-million dollar, clean-room embryology facility. They do a lot to protect it and the embryos. When I shared the story of Ezekiel with Silverberg, he wanted to make it happen. We have really grown to love Kaylen Silverberg a lot. He truly has been an amazing blessing for us.
I will write another post prior to the retrieval just to remind and ask everyone to pray. That is day our child(ren) will be conceived.
Please continue to pray for me and our little eggs. This time is crucial for them. Please pray that they don't release on their own (stay in there little buddies!). One more day of wheaties!! And please pray for endurance for me. My mind more than my body is growing tired of getting poked with needles :) Today I went to give blood for an estrogen test. The sweet man in the lab stuck me and missed my vein completely. So he had to stick me again. That makes 4 shots today instead of 3. I'll go again in the morning. Bummer. :)
Today we saw the doctor and got to see the little follicles (what they call them before they are mature eggs) in my ovaries. The dr said that I'm doing a lot better than he thought I would with the condition my ovaries are in. That's encouraging to us. There are a good number of follicles growing and they look strong. We will go again to the doctor on Saturday and if everything looks good, we'll take the "trigger shot" to make them release on Saturday night and go for the retrieval on Monday!! We are really encouraged.
We would love to ask as many of you who are willing to commit to pray for us regularly over the next 3 weeks. On Monday (or TBA) I'll go for the egg retrieval. This is a surgical procedure. Then the eggs will be fertilized and a few days later put back into my uterus. A couple of weeks after that we'll know if we're pregnant.
Things to pray for: 1) Our hearts, minds and souls and my body. I have a host of side effects from fatigue, to nausea, to bloating and just feeling crummy. This morning at 5am I woke up with what could only be called a migraine with nausea. Today, I'm feeling much better but really tired. We are both a little anxious and growing more so. It's so exciting and whoa-kind-of-crazy at the same time. 2) Please pray blessing over our little eggs. That they would grow big and strong. And for God to breath life where He may. 3) Please pray for my body to continue to respond well to the meds. This morning I gave myself my first shot. I just had to do it to get over the fear. And after last night's migraine it seemed like no big deal :) Felipe has been wonderful in giving me all the shots. He's now a pro as we've been doing 2 a day for the last week or so.
Thank you all so much for walking this path with us. We feel as though we are being lifted up by our friends and family. It's been amazing to know how many of you are rooting for us and cheering us on. Thank you for lifting us up to God. It's in Him alone we find peace. We love you all so much.
So, we saw the doctor yesterday and today I start taking the second injection... what I like to call injectable "Wheaties." This is the medicine that makes the eggs grow big and strong... like Mary Lou Retton. That's who was on my Wheaties box when I was a kid. Sidenote: she's who inspired me to become a competive gymnast for 7 years of my life. Who was on your Wheaties box?
Back from the bunny trail... so here we go. It all happens pretty quickly from here. I'll take these shots for the next 7-12 days depending on how quickly the eggs grow. I'll see the doctor again next Tuesday to see how I'm doing. The egg retrieval should happen on or somewhere around the 17th. Wow!
Another side note: This past Tuesday, I woke up with a bad sore throat which has now turned into a full fledged cold or something. The doctor is being very aggressive about making sure I stay healthy. (I haven't had a cold or anything in about a year and half... hmmm.) So, I'm on an antibiotic and I had to get a test to make sure it's not the flu. We won't know until tomorrow. Please pray that it's not the flu and that I'll get well ASAP!! My body needs all the energy it can muster plus all it's back-up reserves for this process. It's very important to get well. Plus I just feel crummy :(
But nevertheless, we are excited! It all feels a bit surreal that we are finally moving forward. Is this really happening?
This morning Felipe gave me the first of many to come injections! It's strange to be excited about that fact :) But I am. It means that we are getting started with the IVF process and in a matter of weeks, we could be pregnant. I got an ultrasound yesterday and that dumb cyst is still there. But the doctor thinks it won't cause any more problems. Let's all hope and pray for that to be the case.
So, I will get these injections for the next week or so, then as long as all is going well, I will begin getting a second injection starting next Friday. Then we'll be able to see the eggs growing. Smile.
Several people have asked me how I'm feeling about the process. You know, it's kind of hard to say, but I'll try. I feel hopeful, and a little anxious about the process. I feel sober that I don't know what will happen. And I feel peaceful about that fact. Today, anyways. I know that we could get pregnant through IVF and we might not. I think I may have written before that in the last few months, there has been some kind of surrendering process in my heart and soul. I no longer shake my fist at God and say "You better do this or else!" I'm barely beginning to trust him ever so slightly more and say, "I know you love me and I know you have good things for me." Without having my own plan for what the "good things" are. It sounds so simple in words on the computer. But it feels very powerful in my heart and mind... deep in my gut. Learning to sit in the mysteries and trusting. Jesus is King and yet Another rules in this world today. Only for now. Come Lord Jesus!
Here's what's on my mind today:
Proverbs 30: 15-16 Three things are never satisfied; four never say, "Enough": Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, "Enough."
Isaiah 54 (an excerpt from The Message) "Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby. Fill the air with song, you who've never experienced childbirth! You're ending up with far more children than all those childbearing women." God says so! "Clear lots of ground for your tents! Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big! Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep. You're going to need lots of elbow room for your growing family. You're going to take over whole nations; you're going to resettle abandoned cities. Don't be afraid—you're not going to be embarrassed. Don't hold back—you're not going to come up short. You'll forget all about the humiliations of your youth, and the indignities of being a widow will fade from memory. For your Maker is your bridegroom, his name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies! Your Redeemer is The Holy of Israel, known as God of the whole earth.
BTW: in case you didn't see the previous post, in it I included some specific prayer requests for all you prayer peeps. Thank you so much.
I got a call yesterday from my IVF nurse and she said we are ready to get started. Woo Hoo! Felipe and I will go in to the office next Tuesday for a sonogram (just to make sure the cyst is still shrinking and there's nothing new, we pray God). Then Felipe and I will meet with the nurse to go over all the details and for him to get a refresher course on giving his wife injections. :( Next Wednesday we will start the first medication. About a week later we will start the second medication which will be the "stimulation" phase of this process. The 2nd medication will stimulate the eggs in my ovaries to maturity. Wow, as I write all of this, I'm getting excited to just get started! I've done my best to prepare myself for the physical and emotional toll of "the process." And now, I'm just excited.
We need and would like your prayers as we go through this process. As I say often, we know we do not walk alone. I believe that prayer has sustained us over the last couple of years. I know God has been so gracious to us.
Here are a few specific things that we'd like prayer for: 1. That my body would continue to prepare for this process over the next 2 weeks: that my womb would grow stronger and that no cysts or endometrosis will grow and that what is there would diminish completely. 2. That Felipe and I be restful and not anxious during this time. That the peace of God would be in our hearts and minds. And that we would be very intentional about resting. Please pray for me that I would not stress. 3. That each step along the way be "successful." Each phase of the process prepares the way for the next, so we pray for my eggs to be strong, for life to concieve and then implant and remain in my uterus. 4. We call upon our Merciful Father and ask for life, for a baby... or two :) We would happily welcome twins.
For the last 2 weeks I've done everything I know to do to get rid of a cyst... seriously, it's been quite humorous! I've been to acupuncture and followed all their recommendations including: taking herbs, putting Castor oil on my belly while sitting with a heating pad, and rolling a rolling pin up my leg for 5 minutes 3 times a day. Along with that I've been praying and even went to theophostic prayer just for the cyst! And I'm still on the birth control pill. I guess when you've had this many cysts, you'll try it all right!? Though I still believe it's God alone who is the Healer.
And He is healing me. As of last Friday, the cyst has shrunk!! It's now small enough for us to get started with the In Vitro (IVF) process.
So, what the heck is IVF? IVF is a 6-8 week process where they will remove mature eggs from my ovaries and fertilize them with sperm outside of the womb (in vitro), watch them develop over a couple of days and return them to my uterus. The process is quite strenous for us, especially for me physically. Technically, since I've already been on the birth control pills we have already started the process, since the first step is to supress the women's current cycle. In a couple of weeks (due to the IVF lab being closed for 2 weeks) I will start taking 2 daily injections of medicine (one to stimulate the growth of the eggs and one to keep my ovaries from releasing the eggs). When they are ready, I will take a different medication to "trigger" ovulation. Then the eggs will be surgically removed and fertilized. After a couple of days, the embryos will be returned to my uterus in hopes of implantation occuring.
The IVF nurse is currently making a "schedule" to follow and next week, she'll tell us when to start the injections. Please pray for us as we prepare for this process emotionally, physically and financially.
We feel much peace surrounding this next step. One day, while I was in prayer I saw a picture that gave me lots of comfort around this seemingly "sci-fi" procedure. I saw a row of petri dishes with little eggs in them. And I saw the Lord's hands over the dishes protecting them. I heard him say to my heart: "Trust me with My children. I bring life where I bring life and I don't bring life where I don't. Trust me." I know He is taking care of us and he will take care of His children.
Over the last couple of weeks, Felipe and I have been doing lots of talking, lots of listening to each other and to God, and a bit of research on the 2 options before us: adoption and IVF. And we feel as though we've made a decision. We make our plans, but it will be the Lord who directs our path. I won't go into everything we've considered in order to make this decision, but I will say our deliberation has been laborious and we now feel at peace. We would like to go forward with the In Vitro Fertilization process.
Last week, we met with my doctor and brought him a list of about 20 questions. He patiently answered each one in a manner that left us feeling more confident about the process and what all is involved for our potential children and for me. After our conversation, he did another ultrasound. The one last cyst remains and has not shrunk. The dr. said he would like to see the cyst shrink a little more. I'll remain on the medicine I'm taking now for another 2 weeks. Then if it's not decreased in size, we'll try one other medication. If the cyst is not gone in 2 weeks, we are looking at another couple of months of waiting, waiting. ;) Felipe and I have an ongoing joke that at the end of almost every doctor's appointment for the last couple of years, the doctor walks out of the room and one us looks at the other and says: "Wait." So, last week was no different. We wait.
We will see the doctor again on Friday and will have a better idea of when we can get started. I'll keep you posted. In the mean time, please pray for this cyst to dissolve completely!! And for our hearts to wait patiently for what is to come next.
I'll give some highlights of our trip here on the blog. If you'd like to see all the pictures of our adventures, please click the web album link below. Enjoy!! http://picasaweb.google.com/leigheadams
Felipe and I spent 2 weeks in Israel with his Mom. I had never been before, but Felipe has been several times. Rita, Felipe's mom, has an apartment in Jerusalem and she spends a couple of months out of the year there. She has been going to Israel for the last 15 years and has fallen in love with the people and the land. We had our own personal tour guide!!
Our first stop: Jerusalem! I was excited about our trip, but didn't anticipate the emotional response I would have to being there. When we got off the plane in Tel Aviv, there was a big sign saying welcome to Israel and I teared up a bit. I didn't feel especially moved or anything, but something in me physically responded to just being there. As we drove into Jerusalem that first day, I just knew there is something special about this place. It's beautiful, ancient, modern.
Jerusalem: we ate amazing foods: cheeses, wines, shwarma, hummus! We toured the old city and the markets. We saw all the diversity of the city with Orthodox Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Americans (which we saw many), and modern living Israelis all sharing the same ancient streets. We arrived on Shabbat (Sabbath), so most of Jerusalem was shut down until sunset. Then we saw the streets fill with people. This was our first night in Jerusalem:
We visited the Western Wall where Jews go to leave their prayers. The wall is the closest place that Jews will go to the Temple Mount. They write their prayers and leave them at the wall. We left ours there as well. I cried there too just thinking of the Jewish people being separated from knowing their Messiah
We visited lots of the Holy Sites of Christianity: the place where Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem, the Holy Sepulcher Church, Gethsemane. I find it amusing that everywhere something important is thought to have happened, there is now a church. Which is better than a McDonald's or something :) But most of the churches don't seem to function as actual places of worship. They may, but it didn't feel that way. Most of them function as museums and places that make a little money over the history of the site. Though each one holds significance and beauty.
One of my favorite places we visited in Jerusalem was Succat Hillel, one of the 2 houses of prayer in the city. We walked in the door and I could tell that we shared some similar DNA with these Christians. It felt like home and I didn't even talk to anyone for the first 30 minutes we were there. I just knew... they feel what we feel over this city and the nations of the world. God is good and He is moving all over the Earth!! This is the only sign at the entrance:
We also visited with a Christian family who lives in the only Christian Kibbutz in Jerusalem. They are a beautiful young couple who have kiddo #6 on the way. They have chosen to live within radical community (a Kibbutz) b/c they know together they can accomplish so much more in Israel than if they lived separately. Living Kibbutz-style gives them many privileges and opportunities than they would not otherwise have. While we were with them, the children and mom sang a song for us. Felipe and I left Jerusalem for a few days to go into Egypt and join a group to go on a scuba diving safari in the Red Sea!! We did a 3-day live-aboard with 15 Israelis, 8 Egyptian Muslims, 4 Bulgarians and us!! It was amazing... most important to note that we were all living peacefully enjoying God's spectacular underwater creation! It was fabulous!! Felipe is so cute in all his gear!
We spent one night in Elat, the beach town on the southern border of Israel, after our Safari. We stayed in a quaint little hostel that was perfect. We happened to be there on the Global Day of Prayer so we didn't know of any large gatherings occuring there. Felipe printed out the prayers being prayed around the world that day and we sat on the coast of Elat overlooking the borders of Jordan and Egypt and prayed for the world. It was a significant time to pray right there.
After we got back from Elat, Felipe, Rita and I went on a 4-day tour of the Galilee, the northern part of Israel surrounding the Sea of Galilee, which is really just a lake :) It was beautiful! We stayed in a quaint and lovely Kibbutz overlooking the Sea, we visited 2 artist villages, we went to the towns of Haifa, Tiberias and several others. It is definitely the most scenic parts of the land... lots of farming. We also went to Capernaum, the Church of the Beatitudes where the Sermon on the Mount was preached, we saw an ancient boat from 2000 years ago. Lots to see!!
We got back from Israel this last Monday. It was a wonderful trip, which I'll write more about later and send out a link to our pictures. Honestly, it was nice to have a little break from the decisions that awaited us at home... though for me the heart ache and joy that come with those decisions tend to linger. I sometimes am annoyed by men's (or my husband's) ability to compartmentalize. But sometimes, I think it's a gift... one that keeps them steady.
We saw my doctor on Thursday and the final cyst on my ovary has shrunk to half its size! That's great news! The medicine is working and he expects the cyst to go away. He told us that it is small enough now that my body is ready to go forward with In Vitro fertilization. He has told us that this is probably our only chance of conceiving. In Vitro is a process where they surgically remove the eggs and fertilize them in a lab and then put them back into the uterus. I have several friends who have done it and now have babies! It can be a wonderful thing for parents who can't concieve on their own.
I told Dr. Silverberg that we are just not sure if we are going to try it. Right now, Felipe and I are deciding between in vitro or adoption. We feel the spiritual and physical importance of this decision. And the glorious weight of the calling to be parents, whether by in vitro or by adopting a child to be our own. I think for a while, we were waiting on some angel from heaven or glorious vision to show us the way. Now that someone is asking us for an answer, we are reminded that we walk by faith (sometimes including glorious visions and sometimes including steps of faith into the unknown). So, we have been sobered this week... sobered into the reality of actually making a decision, weighing the options, asking God for peace and courage to step into our fears, and faith... which honestly feels more like courage right now.
We have read packets of information on in vitro from varying perspectives and brainstormed as to how we might fund either choice. We may attend an info seminar on the topic in July. We have been reading about adoption and praying for God's clear direction. I'm looking for good books. The internet is so useful! We are attending an information meeting on adoption this Tuesday evening at an agency here in Austin and I'm researching other agencies.
Mostly, we want to be open to God's leading. We want to lay down what could have been or what might be. We've never been here before. And you know what? It's not as scary as I would have thought. He goes with us to the heights and also to the depths. He does not leave us.
Felipe came home the other day with a verse on his heart for us: "Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance." Phil 1:18-19
We trust God is doing a deep work in us. And today we stand at a crossroads, reminding us of Felipe's favorite poem. Please pray for us to find our path of faith.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence; Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. -- Frost
We saw the doctor on Friday. The cyst remains and has not changed at all. :( He said it still looks like a clot. Since we are leaving town for two weeks, I'll stay on the pill in hopes of something changing and things not getting worse. He said our next step is to have a discussion about what comes next. He said we could continue to "piddle around with IUI's and hope for the best." He reminded us that my endometriosis is very severe and it just probably won't work. He's the leading specialist in Central Texas. He writes books about endometriosis. We are growing to trust him and we don't take his words lightly. There is one other treatment we could try. It's invasive, intense, and expensive. And it would give us a much greater chance for a child (or two). I've never wanted to do it. The nurse gave me some literature about it the other day and as she handed it to me, I felt a wave of grief come over me. I almost broke down right there in the office. I just never thought it would come to this. That we'd reach this point and not have a child. At this point, we just aren't sure what's next. There is a lot to think about. And there is grief.
I'm having a difficult time. My hormones and moods remain "crazy." I'm tired. At each turn in this journey when I just don't think I have what it takes to keep going, the Good Shepherd arrives on the scene and gives me new grace, new peace, new courage... greater than it was just moments before. So I know He's Coming! As I read a friend's blog this morning (about her own journey of infertility) I was reminded that each thing God is doing in our lives is Good and Right for us in that moment. I am learning to trust Him more deeply. I've never known this depth of pain... and yet, God is real and trustworthy in it. I didn't know that before.
Please pray for us over the next couple of weeks as we pray to discern what is next. Pray for the fullness of surrender in our hearts. That we would completely relinquish this to God. I feel us holding on. And pray that we'd be refreshed and renewed in Israel. And that my hormones would calm way down!! It's bad. :) In a "it's not funny anymore" kind of way.
Thank you sweet friends and family. We know we do not walk alone.
Three weeks ago, I started taking birth control pills to see if the cysts on my ovaries would go away. We can't proceed with any treatments if I have cysts. It's really dangerous for my ovaries. But the pill is better than another surgery. (I never thought I'd take b.c. pills to help us get pregnant;) Actually, I never thought I'd take them ever again. I have a strong disdain for the pill and how it works. And they tend to turn me into a crazy person.
This time is no different. Yesterday, I had to go back to the Sprint store after dinner and apologize to the Sprint guy for snapping at him. I should have gone back to Walgreens yesterday morning too to apologize to the pharmacist. And my loving husband is a saint! I'm reminded that the Spirit of the Lord who brings Self Control lives in me.
We saw the doctor on Friday. One of the cysts has gone away!! Yay!! That's the first time ever that one of my cysts has gone away on medicine alone!! There still remains one more, so I'm taking the pill for a little while longer. The doctor said the cyst looks like it could be a blood clot, so draining it may not be possible. If the pill doesn't work, he may have to remove it surgically.
Felipe and I are leaving for Israel on May 22nd for a two-week trip with his mom. We'll stay in Jerusalem at her apartment. And we'll take a 3-day stint to Egypt to go scuba diving in the Red Sea! I've never been to Israel! This is exciting!
We have a few weeks to decide how to proceed with treatments. It's nice to have a little break. I realize that I haven't written much about my feelings. I think I just don't know what to say. It's difficult. I know the Lord is with us. He is near.
So, we got the awaited call a little while ago. We are not pregnant.
This week's roller coaster ride has taken more turns than we would have liked. After the last few days, we expected the result to be negative.
On Tuesday evening, I started what we thought was my period. Felipe and I cried and grieved and told our families. On Wednesday morning, I called the doctor and he wanted to see me that day. Wednesday afternoon, he did an ultrasound and said that my uterine lining was still too thick for him to be sure that this was an actual period. And it had come 6-8 days earlier than it should have so he thought it might be a baby implanting. He said that I might be pregnant and that he still wanted me to go for the blood test on Friday. So, we had a small inkling of hope return. Small... but it was there. And we called our families again and said "just kidding... maybe." But the bleeding continued and got worse. I knew. Though I really wanted to believe in a miracle. I suppose now, it's just not time for our little miracle yet.
The ultrasound revealed 2 new cysts on my ovaries. The medicine "the wheaties" overstimulated my ovaries and the follicles became cysts. So, we have to sit this month out. We knew this was a possibility. So, now we will wait for the cysts to go away. I'll probably start taking some other medicine to help that happen.
For those of you prayer peeps out there, here's my request: I'm tired. Though I know it's not time to give up on the medical side of this. This last little part of the race has exhausted me for a time. I need a refreshing from the Lord. I need to know that He is with us. And we are sad. Grieving what could have been. And what has not yet come. Hope deferred one more time. Pray for endurance, character, hope.
On the bright side: Felipe and I are in love. And we feel this bringing us closer. I feel God bringing us closer to Himself. For the next month, I will thank God that I get to do all the things that I couldn't do if I were pregnant like: take really hot baths, eat deli meat, drink wine, lift heavy things (well, watch Felipe lift heavy things and pretend that I can't lift them), and not be nauseas!!
We are so thankful to everyone who prays, waits and hopes with us. Thank you for your excitement and your sadness for us. And thank you for your hope. I'll keep you posted.
I was reminded today of a quote, ironically from the movie Parenthood with Steve Martin who plays Gil.
Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil:What a great story.
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
At the end of G-ma's story, Gil looks at her like she's crazy. But his wife says she thinks Grandma is a genius!
And it's a peaceful wait. I haven't had to go to the doctor in 5 days! Woo Hoo! The last few weeks have been full of dr. appointments every couple of days. It's nice to not have to go. And it's nice knowing that we can't know anything for a little while.
My sister-in-law, Deborah, is the sweetest thing. She's so nervous for us. And excited, anxious, and beside herself with hope. Throughout this process, every time I've had an appointment that would determine our path, she prays and prays and has butterflies in her stomach all day. She'll call: "Have you been to the doctor yet?" I say, "No, not 'til 2:30." Deborah: (Deep Sigh) "I'm so nervous I can't stand it. I've been praying all day! Please call me as soon as you know!" So, needless to say, this 2 weeks of waiting is hard for Deborah. Every time we have one of these conversations, I smile b/c I usually feel very peaceful at those times. I think, "How beautiful is it that God has given my sister-in-law, and many others, a little piece of my burden." And she willingly carries it for me. She is by no means having serious battles with anxiety or stress... but just carrying a small piece of what God is giving her for me. And she's beautifully innocent about it.
I've gotten many emails and messages letting me know that people are praying. And that you're reading the blog! :) Thanks.
At this point, if we do have a little sprout, it's called a zygote. And it's floating around looking for a home in the lining of the uterus. In my anatomy class right now, ironically we are learning about the reproductive system. And I find it hilarious that even after everything I've been through and the comfort level I've had to find to talk about all these things, I still feel 14 years old when my professor says the word "gonad" with a straight face. Go ahead, say it out loud and see! Jess, a girl in my class, and I look at each other and just smile, faces turn red and we try not to laugh. These are funny things.
The two procedures went very well. The doctor did an ultrasound yesterday and said that the 3 eggs from the right side (the ones we were counting on) have all released. Yay! However, there are 2-3 from the left side that did not release (as of yesterday at 11am). And they've grown causing me a considerable amount of pain. I kept praying for them to release just so that they don't become cysts :( This morning, the pain has lessened considerably, so hopefully they are outta there! It's of course not natural for the body to produce 7 mature eggs in one month... I mean, that's a whole litter! But that's what these meds do, right?.
A little reflection on our journey into the world of infertility treatments: Four years ago when I stepped into this journey, I never guessed that one day I'd be where I am now. And two years ago, when we got married and started trying to conceive, I had many strong opinions about what to do and how people should treat infertility. Honestly, I judged others who were walking through it and were making decisions I thought to be "faithless" or "unethical" and a little "sci-fi." Sometimes, just like with the treatments of other diseases these procedures still feel "sci-fi." It's just not supposed to be like this. Conception is supposed to be intimate, private, certainly without doctors!
Many people have asked us questions about our decisions. And many others have them, but haven't asked. I certainly don't expect everyone to completely agree with us or understand fully. I still question in my own heart some of the decisions others make in their own walk to parenthood. Though, I no longer have strong opinions. I don't know the answers anymore. We do our best to listen to God. And follow Him without doubt, without hesitation.
The longer I walk through this, I realize how unnatural it is for a woman not to be able to conceive. And how evil it is to have a disease in the place where Eve brings forth life. It is natural to fight to destroy the disease. To fight for our hearts to be free. And to fight for our children, whether they be our own biological ones or not.
On facebook, I did the "#25 things." Here are 2 random facts I wrote about this:
12. I know more than I ever thought I would about reproduction and women's health. I'm certainly not a professional on the subject nor do I consider myself a guru, but more friends call me to ask questions about this subject! In the last few years, I've visited at least 6 different doctor types about my own fertility (including a nurse specialist in Omaha, a wholistic/chiropractor, and an acupuncturist), been poked and prodded for tests far more than I would have liked, had 3 surgeries, been to the gyno with 4 other friends about their own stuff, read a couple of books, tried weird diets, been to 2 different Natural Family Planning classes (I have my own consultant), been a birthing coach and saw my beautiful nephew and neice being born, seriously considered becoming a doula or a midwife, and passed out books to my college students about why the pill sucks and why you should think so too! I'm sure there's more.
17. I regularly research adoption on the internet. This is also one of my great desires. Did you know that you can adopt other people's frozen embryos! In TX right now there are 391 children (many sibling groups, older children and special needs kiddos) free for adoption and hundreds more are in the system... getting ready to be adoptable. I'm so far unclear as to whether Americans can adopt Turkish infants, but I'll find out. I'm currently researching adoption of African American children here in TX. And I know someone who can help you go through an adoption in Brazil!
I thought I'd share some of that for those who wonder. We know for some it's difficult to process. It is for us too.
Yet, today, we are waiting, hoping for our little warriors to find their home in my womb! May they find life and safely snuggle in! Thank you for hoping with us!!
We go today for the first IUI! Yay! Yesterday, I was a nervous wreck. The night before, we ran out of the injectable "Wheaties" and we were supposed to have one more dose (long story about a mix-up with a nurse). The "Wheaties" are supposed to keep the little eggs growing and keep them from releasing on their own. Timing is very important you know! When I finally got in to see the doctor yesterday and he did the ultrasound showing the little guys still in place, I let out a huge sigh of relief. He looked at me and said, "It's okay, it's over now. No more stressing!" For some reason, his words were very comforting.
I had dinner with two friends last night who have both been trying to conceive for several years now. We talked about the fight to continually renew the mind to trust in Jesus. Yesterday, that was my constant conversation with the Lord. I want to trust You. In the end, the wanting is all I had. I was afraid. Yet still, I feel in my heart that the wanting is beautiful to Him. One day, we'll see Him face to face and the Wanting will be over. One day.
The IUI's will take place today at 5:30pm and tomorrow at 10:30am. There is more than one egg mature enough to make it! Three to be exact. He gave me an ultrasound picture of the eggs! I thought that would fun, right? Who gets to have a picture of their kids with only half their DNA? Please pray with us for the next couple of weeks. If the eggs conceive they have an 8-12 day journey to implant securely into the womb, their home for the next 9 months! We won't know anything for 2-3 weeks. Statistically, an IUI gives us a 25% chance of getting pregnant. With God, it's zero or 100% right? Please pray for His mercy. And for His little warriors (our kids!) to be sent to us.
The little eggs aren't big enough yet. I had an ultrasound this morning and they're still a wee bit small. So, one more day of injectable "Wheaties" and they should be big and strong! The IUI's should now take place on Friday and Saturday. Keep growing little fellas!
I didn't sleep well last night. I'm nervous, excited, anxious.
I had the thought yesterday that I've wanted the eggs of course to conceive and become life and then to hold on for dear life! But I realized yesterday that that is not at all what I want for my children. My prayer for this process is that they would be able to hide in the shadow of the Almighty. That He would ease their entry into this world with Love, Joy, and Without Pain and Struggle. Let the struggle be ours... to fight for our children and to cast our cares upon the Father. Please pray for us over the next few days. Please ask for the Lord's mercy.
One week ago Felipe began giving me injections of fertility medicine to help the ovaries do their thing. We had no idea that they would produce 7! I thought maybe 3. On Wednesday, I'll take a different medicine to cause the eggs to release into their journey through the fallopian tubes. If all goes as planned, on Thursday and Friday, we go into the doctor's office for a "procedure" called an IUI that will hopefully fertilize a couple of these (please not all 7!) little eggs. And then we wait.
I laugh telling Felipe that he has to come to the appointment with me so that we can at least hold hands while we possibly conceive our child! And I laugh telling the nurses in the office that I'm so glad we get to share the moment with them! :) They smile with compassionate eyes. Felipe has gotten so comfortable in the gynocologist's office that he regularly weighs and measures himself on the scales in the room. He opens drawers. But he dares never to touch the dreaded table!
This has been a journey!
Just recently there has been a new piece of art put up in our church. It's a wall with the words: I waited and waited and waited for the Lord.
In the midst of all the medicine, surgeries and doctors, I get confused and forget that we are waiting for the Lord. Science is not the Creator. That belongs to One. I'm glad to be reminded of the truth. And once again, I turn my eyes to Heaven and I wait. Wait for Hope. Wait for Mercy. Wait for God alone to move. Wait for God to use the tools we have before us.
And I remember that we have waited. Hope deferred. It really does make a heart grow sick. And just when you think you can't wait anymore, something. Something lifts you. This time, I feel like I was lifted by my friends. I cried out and asked some friends to hope for me. To pray for me. I just couldn't hope anymore. Today, I hope. Thank you friends. And sweet Jesus.
Please remember our little eggs this week as you pray. Grow little eggs grow!! And let there be life on the other side of all this! And don't worry about the 7! They are not all mature enough to release and the doctor tweaked my meds a little to keep that from happening. I'm not out to be on the cover of Entertainment Weekly! Just barefoot, pregnant and in my kitchen!