Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 10 ultrasound

The results are in for this cycle...Month 20, Cycle 17, Day 10

Uterine Endometrium Lining: 8.7-9.4mm (supposed to be greater than 7mm)
Right ovary: 4 follicles: 14.5mm, 13.5mm, 7.5mm & 7.5mm
Left ovary: 5 follicles: 17.5mm, 16mm, 14.5mm, 14mm, & 8.5mm

Yeahhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I only need 1 or 2 mature follicles for a go ahead to give the trigger hCG shot. A mature follicle is 18mm or greater. Since none of mine are completely ready, but because I have NINE follicles, more than I ever had, the doctors will review my results and the result of my estrogen test and let me know this afternoon what to do. The ultrasound tech, Francie, the follicle fairy :) told me that I will likely have to give myself another FSH injection tonight, and begin intercourse, and then come in tomorrow morning for a followup ultrasound and see where we stand. I have an appointment scheduled at 9am 2-1-11.

I am feeling much more optimistic as last month there were only 4 follies total with 2 barely mature. Thank you to those of you who contacted me about my last post. I appreciate all of your thoughts. It is good to know that I have you all on my side. :~)

Father, thank you so much for technology and knowledge, without which I would be considered barren and dried up. I pray that you give wisdom to my doctors, life to my womb and love to those who are reading this. I pray that you continue to bless me so that I can be a blessing to others. I care about your people and thank you for the opportunity to minister to them. It is in you that I find my hope and strength and I am so very thankful that you are who you are. I pray for my pregnant friends to have long healthy pregnancies with successful births. I pray for my infertile friends to become pregnant quickly and see the pure miracle of life that you created. I pray for my followers on this blog to be a witness and testimony of what you are doing in my life that they may also recognize what you are doing in theirs. I pray for your will above all else. In Jesus' name, AMEN!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

IVF? Fostering? Adoption?

Month 20, Cycle 17, Day 6

Shaun and I spent some time with his parents last night. We hadn't seen them or talked to them much since Christmas. They don't have the internet, so anything that happens with our fertility, they learn only from our sharing details with them. So, while we sat in the veteran's bar having tacos and beer, I didn't want to say, "hey, we tried again last month and failed once again, but we are trying again this month." It is tough enough to write out my feelings here on a public blog, but to be THAT vulnerable, that frank with two people who hurt similarly that we have trouble conceiving and losing babies is difficult to say the least.

So, somehow I forced a joke into the conversation about not having kids yet -- a way to get the giant elephant in the room that all was ignoring, a voice. Shaun's dad didn't catch the humor in my tone and said, "Well, I know you don't want me to talk about this, but my wife and I have been talking and we want you guys to know that we know that it might not happen and if you want know...then we will accept them and love them just the same." I smiled and quickly changed the subject.

I am not sure how I feel about this. Essentially, Shaun's dad gave us permission to adopt, which means that their hope for us to have biological children is gone. We never wondered if they would accept an adopted child as Shaun's brother has an adopted child, foster children and biological children and we all love all of them just the same. Even the foster kids who were given back to their biological parents, we still feel love and acceptance for them. That has never been an issue. But, the fact that he has given up hope for our fertility hurts. Even when I, too, feel hopeless.

So, this has caused me to do some more research on what my choices are:
1-to pursue having a biological child through continued hybrid cycles (insurance covers the costs and I believe I am limited to these 2 last cycles for now)
2-to pursue having a biological child through IVF (approx. $15,000+ with a 30% success rate per tranfer, additional frozen transfers $3000 each)
3-to adopt through an agency (approx. $15,000+ with a much higher success rate)
4-to adopt through foster (approx. $2,000+ with a lower success rate and bio parents potentially having their child returned)
5-remain childless

Sad fact remains that my husband is unemployed, about to not receive any benefits, has 15 months left of school to finish his program, and this year we will make 1/2 of what we made 2 years ago. So, the options requiring financial burdens are low on the priority at this time. We feel it is important to not have debt for any reason but our home. At this time, we have a mortgage, minimal student loans, a 4-6 month emergency fund, and two small retirement funds.

Once these hybrid cycles are done...42 days from now, then we have to make another decision. I am leaning toward IVF, because I can't bear being childless. I had never planned for any of my married life to not have children. I wanted to be pregnant from day 1! Because I knew that marriage was a compromise, I allowed a certain period of time to go by without begging Shaun for children, but once that time period passed, I was angry that he still wasn't willing to compromise. He enjoyed not having children, but it was devastating to me. So, I bullied him into trying. Once we were close the end of my pregnancy, almost 4 years after we were married, he decided that he was comfortable to become a dad. And then when our child died 5 days after his birth, that left me in a traumatically ill position, we just didn't want to think about having kids. The doctor advised waiting 2 years and we did. And then we needed to make absolutely sure that the trauma wouldn't be repeated. And still we weren't ready. One year later, and 7 years after marriage, we still hadn't had children and I was not happy. Life was about existing, only. So, I bullied my husband again and we learned quickly that I was infertile. The last year and a half have passed with two more losses and months of wasted fertility drugs. I cannot imagine my life without kids, because, in almost 9 years of marriage, nothing fulfills that emptiness that childlessness brings. And finally, Shaun is devastated by this. So, the option of remaining childless is only an option of INDECISION. I will not CHOOSE childlessness. It has, thus far, chosen me.

So, IVF? Fostering? Adoption? Anyone have any thoughts about these options? Help me consider all angles as I need to have a plan in place IF the next month and a half go by without success. I covet your thoughts.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What I risk for an opportunity

It is day 3. Today, if I am planning to do this cycle, I need to have an ultrasound. In Ann Arbor. A normally 40 minute drive from my home took one hour and 15 minutes. The light dusting of snow and frigid temperatures were just the combination to make a slippery mess on the roads. Even though I left home an hour before my appointment in anticipation that I would be driving a little slower due to the weather, I was shocked when it was worse than I had thought. I am glad I brought my cell phone with me because when I noticed that it was the time of my appointment, I was still a good 15 minutes away. I called and let the office know that I was running late.

I met the sweet follicle fairy Francie in the exam room and she was training a medical student about what she was doing. She showed him what she was seeing on the monitor, "here is here uterus, which is retroverted. And here is her right ovary." She chuckled a little and said, "Sometimes I don't remember my patients by face, but I can tell you all about their uterus and ovaries! Sunshine has a retroverted uterus and her right ovary is always up here and her left is usually a little more difficult to it is! Is this a sign that I work too much? I know all about each woman's ovaries!" Francie let me know that my endometrium was a nice thin 2 mm, and that I had small follicles on my right ovary but nothing to stop this hybrid cycle from continuing.

So, I will take femara tonight through day 7, and Gonal F day 7-9 and come in for day 10 ultrasound on Jan 31, Monday at 9:30am to see how the follicles and endometrium progressed. Perhaps I will conceive on my 31st birthday, February 1!

On the drive home, the roads didn't seem so bad, so I drove a little faster. And then I came upon an accident scene where a truck and and SUV collided on one of the curves on US12 between Saline and Clinton. It must have just happened moments before I pulled up on it as there was not police there yet and several people were getting out of their cars to check on the victims of the crash. I saw people on their cell phones in an apparent call to 911. I prayed for them as I passed, but from what I could see, it didn't appear to have any severe injuries, as the passengers were talking out of their windows. But, I am grateful that the LORD spared me of that fate. Thank you Jesus. I am risking injury and death for this child.

And moments after I passed this accident, this song came on the radio and reminded me of this verse: "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6. Listen to this song about God's plan for redemption.

Father, thank you so much for your love. You are amazing!! In Jesus' name, AMEN!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The tide comes in again

Discouraged. Disappointed. Increasingly more anxious. Month 20, Cycle 17, Day 2.

I feel less than hopeful today. I had assumed for over a week that this was a dud cycle. My temperatures were low, my breasts were normal, my eating habits were the same. I started to get irritated at things early this week and when I began spotting slightly on Wednesday, I assumed that my period would come shortly. But, on Friday when I still hadn't gotten a flow, I called my doctor. You see, I am supposed to have a day 3 ultrasound each hybrid cycle and if I were to start my period Friday or Saturday, then I wouldn't be able to schedule the ultrasound, so I wanted to know what to do. Before calling the doctor I took a pregnancy test. It was surely negative, but when I turned it at just the right angle, I could see a faint line which may have meant I was faintly pregnant. I told the nurse this when I called and she said I could have my blood test done on Friday, if I wanted, but they wouldn't call me with results until Monday. Or wait to see if I get a period over the weekend and if not, take a blood test on Monday. Well, I decided that I didn't want to know if I had another chemical pregnancy, so I would wait until Monday to take a test. Hence, why I haven't posted anything on the blog yet.

Saturday afternoon, after a very intense few days of crying, pleading, disappointing emotions, I began my flow. I am somewhat relieved to know that I can start again and yet, I don't want any part of it. I feel like I am on a timeline. I have 46 days to prove that my body can get pregnant on these fertility drugs or else I will never have children of my own. I don't know how true this is, but I feel "less than hopeful." I know that the doctors said they were very hopeful that I would be pregnant in these 3 months, but when I asked what if I am not, then they told me that the next step is IVF. Unless there is a miraculous bounty of money to befall us, we will not be able to fund IVF and even then it is not guaranteed. So, we will put "all our eggs" into these next 46 days.

5 years ago today, I buried my son. It was a very cold day in 2006, much like today and my husband was the lone paul bearer of his casket. With pride, he carried his only son and laid him on an altar above his final resting place.

Today, I would be 34 weeks pregnant if I had carried my first chemical pregnancy I lost in June. I would be awaiting a couple weeks until I were to have my c-section.

Today, I would be 19 weeks pregnant with my daughter I miscarried. I would be close to her ultrasound in which I would learn that she was in fact a little girl.

I am heartbroken again. And need to find another little bit of strength left in me to keep trying. Less than hopeful.

Father, thank you for your love. You are the one constant in my life. When everything around me is empty, changing and unsure, you remain. I no longer want my life remembered as the one who has endured much loss, but rather the one who was redeemed for the losses she endured. Please, I ask you to give me some life. I pray that you continue to give me hope for my future that with children or without, you will help me to fulfill my god given abilities. Only you know what they truly are, as I am baffled once again. In Jesus Name, AMEN.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

One more week

Month 20, Cycle 16, Day 18, 8dpo

Yesterday was Ethan's 5th birthday. I cannot believe it has been that long since I was anxiously anticipating to bring my firstborn home from the hospital. Although I knew his birth was complicated from the delivery and that he has suffered brain injury, I was hopeful that the cooling cap study at U of M would completely reverse the effects of his injury and within a couple of weeks in NICU, after he learned to suck, swallow and breathe on his own, he would come home with us. Five years ago today, the day after his birth, I was recovering in a hospital bed from the most traumatic surgery and illness I had ever had and yet, I was praising my LORD for blessing me with such a wonderful family, friends and prayer support ever. The day after Ethan was born, I lay in my room and a single visitor came to see me before Church. David Town came in to pray for me and to ask me if there was anything I wanted him to pray for. I remember smiling and saying, "I only ask that you pray for God's will. I am willing to accept whatever it is that God has for me." David told me that a few people had arranged a prayer meeting in a conference room at our church. I later learned that many people attended this meeting, a hundred perhaps, who prayed desperately for mine and my son's lives. And I distinctly remember someone tell me that David was faithful to share that I wanted only what God would have for us, His Will ALONE! I thank David for his servitude despite the instinctual desire of many to pray for complete and utter healing of both mine and Ethan's bodies. I am so very thankful that God allowed me to carry my son full term and to allow his life to be honored by those who remember him and those who remember my service in dedication to him. Because when it comes down to it, it is all about the one who defeated death, Jesus, who makes God's will worthwhile.

It was this evening, the evening after his birth, that two women from my church, Lisa and Sharilyn, sneaked into the hospital at 1:30am and dropped off photos of my son to the nurse's desk. I had only seen my son from the side of an isolette three feet away from my bed for moments before he was whisked away to U of M and really was unable to see what he looked like. I remember the nurse who came in to check on my vitals was surprised to see me still awake, as I had not slept in two days. She smiled and said, I have a great surprise for you. She walked out of the room and brought back this picture. I was now IN LOVE with my son. Before this, it all seemed surreal. It seemed as if the last year of my life was a dream, but this baby that had grown inside of me was alive, however unwell, but he was REAL!

So, on Ethan's 5th birthday, yesterday, I received a card from my church's prayer team. In it was an unsigned poem, with a note, that read: Came across this and felt led to send it to you. May God bless you!

Thank you to whomever sent it as this was exactly what I needed yesterday. Read this poem about infertility and loss and feel the intensity of this writer as she longs for a child.

Thoughts on Becoming a Mother:

There are women that become mothers without effort, without thought, without patience or loss and though they are good mothers and love their children, I know that I will be better.

I will be better not because of genetics, or money or that I have read more books but because I have struggled and toiled for this child.
I have longed and waited.
I have cried and prayed.
I have endured and planned over and over again.

Like most things in life, the people who truly have appreciation are those who have struggled to attain their dreams.
I will notice everything about my child.
I will take time to watch my child sleep, explore and discover.
I will marvel at this miracle every day for the rest of my life.

I will be happy when I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of my child, knowing that I can comfort, hold and feed him and that I am not waking to take another temperature, pop another pill, take another shot or cry tears of a broken dream.
My dream will be crying for me.

I count myself lucky in this sense; that God has given me this insight, this special vision with which I will look upon my child that my friends will not see.

Whether I parent a child I actually give birth to or a child that God leads me to, I will not be careless with my love.

I will be a better mother for all that I have endured. I am a better wife, a better aunt, a better daughter, neighbor, friend and sister because I have known pain.
I know disillusionment as I have been betrayed by my own body. I have been tried by fire and hell many never face, yet given time, I stood tall.

I have prevailed.
I have succeeded.
I have won.

So now, when others hurt around me, I do not run from their pain in order to save myself discomfort. I see it, mourn it, and join them in theirs.

I listen.

And even though I cannot make it better, I can make it less lonely. I have learned the immense power of another hand holding tight to mine, of other eyes that moisten as they learn to accept the harsh truth and when life is beyond hard. I have learned a compassion that only comes with walking in those shoes.

I have learned to appreciate life.

Yes, I will be a wonderful mother.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Back into the two week wait

Month 20, Cycle 16, Day 11, Ovulation Day?

I was strong enough to give myself the Gonal-F (FSH) shots Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday morning, once I arrived at the clinic, before the ultrasound, I was supposed to have my blood drawn to check my estrogen levels. I had just had the diabetes test earlier this week and had 3 pokes in my arm which left 3 distinct bruises in my elbow space. I joked with the medical assistant showing her my arms and said, "which space you want to bruise some more today?" She laughed and picked the arm that had the least amount of bruising. She attempted to find a vein, and eventually did, but did not get very much blood from this vein. Another tech walked up and said, "are we trying to get a few drops at a time?" And still there was very little blood. The medical assistant insisted that I was dehydrated and needed to drink a cup of water. She had me drink water and said she would try the draw again after my scan. I drank 2 cups of water while I waited for the scan, because needles and I are not friends.

I was greeted in the room by my dear ultrasound tech, Francie. She looked into my uterus via vaginal ultrasound and discovered that my lining was 13mm thick. I asked her if this was too thick, since it was supposed to be over 7mm. She said, "no, this is great. Is has to be over 7 to be good enough and we like em thick." When I got pregnant in September it was just under 8mm. So, 13 sounds great.

Francie looked at my right ovary and found 4 follicles. She measured each one individually. The size the clinic likes to see is 18mm or higher at this stage in the cycle. If there are 1, 2 or 3 over 18, then chances are that they will allow me to give the trigger shot. Francie saw one at 18.5mm, one at 19mm, one at 15.5mm and one at 12.5mm. So I have two mature follicles on the right side. She looked at the left ovary and saw no follicles. But, from the looks of this ultrasound I was fairly confident that they would call later in the day to say that the doctor wants me to give myself Ovidrel to trigger the release of my eggs.

I then had to return to the area to give more blood. The same MA decided to try again, and still after digging around under my skin, was unable to locate a vein. She pulled the needle out and put a cotton ball on it and had me bend this elbow while she attempted again on the other arm. I told her that I didn't feel dehydrated and I had drank two cups of water and thought that I was so cold and that is why my veins are constricted. While I was telling her all of this, she stuck the needle into this other arm and again was unable to find a vein. I told her that maybe I need to have a warm compress to pop the veins out. She agreed and went to get a warm wet washcloth. In the meantime another MA saw me sitting there and asked if I needed help. I told her what was happening and she asked me which arm she was able to take blood from earlier this week. I told her the right one and I lowered my elbow, blood was gushing out of the site the other MA had tried two times earlier. So, this new MA takes out a needle and after cleaning my skin was able to get the draw on the first try. So glad that was over.

I got the call that I could give myself the ovidrel at 2pm. I knew I had to wait until evening to give it, and since I had to work 2nd shift, my hubby and I did what we needed to early in the day.

At 6:30pm, I was cramping and had a spot of blood in the toilet. I called the emergency number for the clinic because I knew that bleeding in between periods is not normal and I didn't want to give my ovidrel shot in case I was overstimulated or whatever. The doctor on call said he thinks it was from the intercourse earlier in the day, so not to worry. He told me to give the shot and he would look over my ultrasound in the morning and if he thought the uterine lining was unstable, he would prescribe me with Progesterone. I haven't heard from him yet, but hope that he was right about intercourse.

The plan is to 1)get busy each day this weekend 2)take a progesterone test on Friday to see if low progesterone is the culprit for miscarriages 3)test for Pregnancy the following Friday.

Father, I thank you so much for you love, your provision and your comfort. I am amazed at how you provide for me. Thank you for special people I have met as a result of my losses and infertility and thank you for allowing my story to help others. I pray that you allow me to conceive again this month and that you allow me to finally be a mother. In Jesus' name, AMEN!

After the scan,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Operation: Discover Sunshine's Uterus

Month 20, Cycle 16, Day 8

I had a very interesting visit to the Reproductive Endocrinologist office on Tuesday. Out of all the procedures that I have had done, this one rates at the top of the list for most intriguing. It was like watching the discovery channel. Or ER. Or something that wasn't happening inside of me....but it was.

First things first. My glucose tolerance test came back normal and shows that I still just need to eat healthy and exercise regularly and be sure that I don't develop diabetes in the future. So, this indicates that elevated sugar levels was not a cause for the miscarriage.

So, we arrived at the office at 11:30am. The parking lot was completely full. We had to drive around the block and return to catch a van leaving a space 100 yards away from the office, but thankfully we made it to the clinic on time. This year I have resolved to control my anxiety a little better than what I have been used to, so when the doctors still hadn't called me in for my appointment at 12:00pm, one-half hour after the scheduled time, I decided that I was not going to share with my husband how nervous I was getting. Instead, I asked the receptionist if they needed to test my urine, because I needed to go to the bathroom, pronto! She, of course, said yes so I had to wait patiently (or pretend that I was patient) while the Medical Assistant prepared my urine sample cup so I could finally go. She came to get me within a minute, but that time seemed so torturous for a person trying not to show her anxiety.

Five minutes later, the MA called me back to the room. Shaun and I got to see one of the last remaining rooms that I had not been in since I began coming to this clinic in May of 2010. This room was the hysteroscopy suite. Chuckling, I told the MA that I had never been inside of this room. She smiled, and when she left, Shaun said, "Pretty soon we will be able to give the tours of this building."

I responded, "Pretty soon I am going to get my nursing degree and ask them for a job here. I have already recruited three patients to this facility and sent two others to St. Joe's clinic as well."

I hopped onto the table which was covered in blue pads. There was an ultrasound monitor, a hysteroscopy television monitor (really old style computer monitor looking) and a cart with blue pads covering multiple metal pieces of equipment. Again, trying not to cry or make Shaun deal with my anxiety, I tried to contain my fears by talking a lot. And then I pretended to touch the buttons on the ultrasound monitor. "Ooooh, these things look like they are the equalizer on a stereo...maybe I can increase the base. Oh, this button says zoom. I bet I can zoom it in." And so I did. Back and forth, back and forth. I lay back on the table because I was not relaxed sitting with my behind hanging out. And, then I sat up because it seemed weird. Finally, twenty minutes later, a woman walked into our room.

"Hi, I am a resident, and I thought I would answer some questions for you while we wait for Dr. Randolph to finish up with the other patient. Do you have any questions for me?"

"Yes," I tell her, giggling. "Do I have time to go to the bathroom again, because my bladder is not going to take this procedure if I have to wait much longer?"

She allowed me to use the restroom and then moments after I was done, the doctor came in. He told me he was looking for abnormalities in the uterus or polyps or fibroids or scar tissue. I lay back and he inserted a long thin tube into my cervix with a lighted video camera on the end of it and Shaun and I were able to see the inside of my uterus on the monitor. It was Swwweeeeeeeeeeeeet!

Everything looked normal, he said, except there was a small spot of yellowish tissue near one of the openings to my fallopian tubes. He took the scope and scraped against this tissue and said he thinks it is probably where the baby had implanted this last time and it should come out with my next period or within the next few days. He didn't really say what it was, but that it wasn't diagnostic of anything.

So after this procedure was over, he told me that with all the tests I have had done and there was nothing else left to investigate, he is sorry to say that he cannot explain why I had two miscarriages and my baby Ethan died. There is nothing he can correlate it to expect dumb luck. He said, what we know is that we know HOW to get you pregnant, but we just don't know HOW to KEEP you pregnant. Statistically, he said, any pregnancy has 80% chance of live birth. And with all the knowledge that we have about me, such as no abnormalities, no known clotting issues, no diabetes, 3 previous pregnancies with 3 fetal demises, then we can say that my chance for a live birth in another pregnancy is slightly less than the average pregnancy, but not much, probably 75%. But this statistic he gave this time was much better than what he estimated in December when he thought it was clotting related. He said, 60% back then.

Anyway, I asked if I should wait until the next cycle to do the shots to wait for that yellow stuff to go away and he shook his head and said, no, go ahead and give this cycle a go. No reason not to try. And when I asked if intercourse was to be restricted because of this procedure, he said, feel free to be as romantic as you would like to be. (Just for the record, Shaun and I had a nice romantic lunch at the Olive Garden!!!!) Hehehe!

So, I gave myself my very first shot of this cycle. I will give myself a shot on Wednesday and Thursday and then I will have an ultrasound on Friday to see if my ovaries are ready to ovulate. Praying that all is well.

Father, thank you so much for you. I am so blessed to know you and to call you my Savior. I praise you because you are so crafty and creative. Thank you for designing the human body to be so complex. I want to pray that you will bless Shaun and me this time with a little one to hold and raise to be an adult. Please give us the desires of our hearts to raise a child for your kingdom. In Jesus' name, AMEN!