Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Arg! This cycle's a bust!

So close - and yet so far away!
   We went to the clinic this morning for bloodwork and an ultrasound to make sure we were on track for a Jan 3rd transfer.  They did the U/S and the nurse said my lining looked great (8.2mm) - so they taught us how to do the progesterone injections, gave us some last- minute prescriptions (valium, antibiotic,etc.) and our instructions for the procedure on Monday and sent us on our way.  We were so excited - I called my Asst. Principal to ensure that I'd have a substitute on monday (I'd already written sub plans) and we called our parents so they could be praying b/c Monday was the big day....

     A few hours later, the nurse called back with some "bad news."  My progesterone level was way too high; I must have ovulated so we'd have to cancel this cycle.  Apparently, they started me on a lower dose of Estrace b/c they were stretching it out over the holiday - and that dose was too low to suppress my ovaries.  She didn't want to take the risk of "wasting" the embryos; we canceled the cycle and I'll start over.  Now I have to stop all my meds, wait for my period to start and then we'll begin again, with a higher dose of Estrace this time.  I am SO disappointed.  I was so excited; we were moving forward - we were 5 days away from embryo transfer!  I felt like I was so close - and now I feel like it's so far away: like it'll never happen.

    I need to get some perspective here.  First of all, as far as "bad news" I could have gotten from a doctor, this is no big deal.  I'm okay.  M's okay (my husband.)  The embryos are ok.  (They've been frozen 10 years; another month is nothing!)  I'm actually grateful that the nurse views these embryos as precious life that shouldn't be wasted.  Even if this doesn't work, I want to be able to look back and say that I gave these 'snowflake babies' the best possible chance at life.  We've lost nothing - just a little time.  I haven't had any bad side effects from the meds either; just a little more difficulty keeping my emotions in check.  (It's like I've had PMS for 2 weeks straight.)  Really, losing a month is such a small part of the big picture.  We started 'trying' 20 months ago - what's another month?
       But yet, I'm so disappointed.  If I knew a month ago that we'd have to wait, it would have been okay - but it's much harder now that we've started the process.  I've taken meds, endured ultrasounds and bloodwork, and most of all: gotten my hopes up.  I was at an all-time high in hopefulness when they said we were good to go this morning.  Proverbs says "hope deferred makes the heart sick" - and that's exactly how I feel.  My hopes are deferred. Not dashed.  Not shattered.  Just deferred- and I'm sad about it.

   I think I finally have to tell my principals what's going on.  I don't really want to let them in on this personal piece of my life, but the last minute changes in substitute needs is probably getting old.  (This is the second time I've called in for a sub and then my appt was cancelled.)  My assistant principal is great; he'll be understanding and compassionate.  At the end of the month, though, the sub calls go to the principal instead - she's not so great.  She'll find some way to hold it against me.  I guess I don't have to tell her right away. 

    Now I'm just waiting for my period to show up. Yuck.  They told me that I should stop my meds today and my period will come in a week or two.  (So now I have to be prepared at every moment for that  Who would have thought I'd be so eager to have my period????

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What? ...... Why now?

So, we got an interesting phone call yesterday – from Bethany
Christian Services.  Months ago, before we began our embryo adoption
journey, we met with a social worker from Bethany to begin the process
of adopting an infant.  At that time, our Bethany branch wasn’t taking
new applications for adoptive couples.  (They only keep ~ 50 families on
file b/c they place ~50 babies a year.)  She told us she would call when
we had openings – probably in about 8 months.  It was partly the
discouragement that we couldn’t even begin the adoption process for
another 8 months that led us to do more research and consider embryo
adoption.  We are convinced that EA is the path God has chosen for us to
walk down.
       But then, Bethany called yesterday.  Why yesterday?  The social
worker told us that they need more families willing to adopt bi-racial
children.  We are actually excited about the possibility of bi-racial
kids.  In fact, M was a bit disappointed that our embryos are fully
Caucasian.  We are planning on adopting internationally or trans-racial
domestic at some point in the future.  But why now?  What is God up to?
   I don’t get the timing.  If they called last month, we probably
would have pursued that instead of praying for embryos.  If they called
next month, we’d know whether this FET (embryo transfer) worked.  But
yesterday?  I can’t understand God’s timing.  And I don’t know
what to tell the social worker.  If we say “not now,” we’ll go
back to the bottom of the waiting list.  If we start that process,
there’s a chance we could be chosen to adopt a child while I’m
pregnant with another adopted child, or shortly thereafter.  Or the
embryos won’t stick and we’ll be glad we started the infant adoption
process.  Or… Or…. I just don’t get it.  Why is God opening this door
right now?
       Then there’s the money issue.  We used all of our savings for
the embryo adoption – we have no money to start an infant adoption.
Infant adoption will cost ~$25,000.  If EA works for us, it’ll be a
much more cost effective way to build a family.  Of course, the concept
of embryo adoption is really cool to us; we’re giving life (we hope)
to babies that would otherwise be thrown away.  With infant adoption,
there is always another couple wanting the child.  It seemed so clear to
us that God was leading us to down THIS road.  So, why now is the door
to infant adoption open?  I just don’t get it.  What is God doing?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

And so it begins!

I'm officially *in* my cycle!  We're starting - we're doing something.  I could be pregnant a month from now.  It's so exciting.  After nearly 2 years of waiting, it all seems to be happening so fast!
    I got my period last weekend, so we called them and made an appt for monday morning.  On Monday, there was some confusion as one nurse (on the phone) said "it's too late to start now, we'll put you on birth control to stall your cycle for 2 weeks" but the nurse we actually saw said "never mind her, we'll make this work."  She was super great; I liked her.  In fact, I like everyone at our clinic: the receptionists, the nurses, the insurance specialist even, everyone has been so nice and so helpful.  You would have no idea that they deal with hormonal women everyday!
     So, I started Estrace last Tuesday and today the rest of my medicines arrived.  I was worried about ruining my Christmas season with hormones and medication, but it's not bad at all.  All I'm doing now is taking the Estrace, pre-natal vitamins and baby aspirin until after Christmas.  (I had to get new pre-natals vitamins; I had thrown a nearly-full bottle away in frustration and anger when we learned M's diagnosis.)  I've been told that the Estrace makes people crazy and emotional.  I've only been on it 6 days, but so far - I'm doing okay.  I think that's b/c I'm on the lookout for hyper-emotionalism.  As soon as I feel myself getting upset or emotional, I stop and remind myself that it's just the drugs and that I have to pull myself together.  It might get worse as I'm on it longer, but so far, I'm doing well.  I'd like to think I can keep my emotions under control, but I'm likely just fooling myself.
       I'm on the Estrace longer than usual; they are 'dragging it out' a bit b/c the Dr is away for Christmas.  I'll go back on the 29th to check my lining, do more bloodwork and then we'll start progesterone.  Originally, she was only going to prescribe Crinone, so I asked her if that's the best option.  She said "well, IM is best, but most people don't like to do the injections."  I told her I wanted to do whatever it takes to give this the best possible chance of working.  So, now she's giving me a combination of Crinone and Progesterone-in-oil (PIO.)  I might regret opening my mouth later, when I'm actually taking the shots, but I don't want to get a BFN (negative pregnancy test) and look back saying "I wish I had done ____."  Anyway, our tentative transfer date is Jan 3rd.  (I love having a date on the calendar!)
    Another very cool thing:  my insurance covers most of my medications!!!  I didn't expect that.  I paid ~$75 so far, and all my meds were delivered to my house.  The Crinone isn't covered ($400), so the insurance specialist at the clinic has some samples for me - we may have to pay some of that, but she's cutting down the cost significantly. 
     We have been so blessed every step of the way.  God really is providing for us as we walk down this road.  The FET cost we had to pay when we recieved our embryos was EXACTLY the amount we had saved.  The insurance is covering most of the meds.  The timing is working out beautifully.  I'm afraid to be too optimistic, but it does seem that perhaps God has special plans to give these embryos life.  I wonder what these children will do for the Kingdom!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Moving Forward... already

   It looks like we'll be moving forward much sooner than I thought.  I figured we'd probably be looking at a January transfer cycle, at the earliest, but when we talked to the clinic last week, they were in favor of us starting right away.  So now we're just waiting for my period to start - which should be tomorrow.  Tomorrow!!  Technically, we could start our cycle tomorrow.  Wow - that's happening fast.  (Not sure I wanted everyone in real life to know when my period is, lol.) 
   I don't think I've been this eager in nearly 2 years to see my period start.  When it does, we'll call the office for an appointment in the next day or 2.  (I have sub plans all ready for Monday, but if our appt ends up being Tuesday, I'll have to go write new plans.  I don't like this unpredictability.)  I'm very eager to have that appointment so I'll know what to expect in the coming months.  I've read so many EA stories, and everyone's medication protocol is different.  I'm eager to see what mine will be.  I like to know stuff - see the big picture, plan ahead and be prepared.  I'm a perfectionist.  God is slowly pointing out the sin in my perfectionistic tendencies - in my need for control, I often fail to submit to God's control. Perhaps this is just another lesson in letting go.
      On a different note, I'm a little hesitant about doing this all through the Christmas season.  I was hoping for a relaxing, fun, happy Christmas season.  Instead, I'm going to be amped up on fertility meds; from what I've been told, I'll be an emotional mess.  And I'll be anxious about the whole process.  (This is really my first fertility treatment; I'm so not looking forward to the actual procedure.)  My mom and sister are coming to visit this year and we have a big celebration with M's family too.  I don't want to ruin that time by being emotional and anxious. 
       But on the other hand, we're actually doing this!  I'm so grateful for God's blessings.  We know that He knows who are children will be and how He'll use them for the Kingdom.  Perhaps (hopefully) these little almost-discarded frozen babies will be those children!

Friday, November 26, 2010

We have embryos!!!

So, "Black Friday" came early for us this year.  We'd learned that our clinic would be posting the profiles of newly acquired embryos on Wednesday, so we diligently checked the website every hour.  2 profiles were posted ~11:30am; by the time we got through to speak with the Coordinator, only 3 embryos were left.  Those 3 are ours - one or more of those tiny clusters of cells could be the child(ren) that God has planned for us to raise!!
      I'm a little nervous b/c there are only 3 - and they've been frozen for many years.  (Does that affect success rate?)  I'm hoping that all 3 survive the thaw so we can implant all 3 of them.  And I don't even remember which traits it has b/c the profiles are all mixed up in my head.  (They were taken off the website once they were claimed, so we have to wait for the paperwork to see them again.)  There is nothing alarming about either of them.  We were actually kind of hoping for a mixed race baby, but these are Caucasian.  I think we'll still adopt internationally at some point.
    We've only told our immediate families - we don't want to answer everyone's questions until we know that there is really something to share (i.e. until we know if it's successful.)  But already, my mom is asking about baby names and my sister is thinking about the nursery.  I'm trying to withhold my excitement at this point.  There is a very long road ahead of us - a road that may or may not end up in pregnancy.  Still, I am thrilled to actually start walking down that path that I've only so far watched others travel.  (Thank you EA bloggy world - I so appreciate you all sharing your journeys!)  I know the road will be bumpy and there  may be setbacks, but I'm still excited to be going somewhere.
        I had to get a Rubella vaccine - apparently those teenage boosters aren't good for life as I'd thought. My fertility clinic told me when they first started testing that I'd need it, but I didn't think about it at all until this week.  They won't start a cycle until a month after I'm vaccinated.  I did that today, so - yay - I'm doing something productive.  (The nurse was all cute, trying to hide the needle so I wouldn't see it - I thought "lady, you have no idea what's to come." lol)  
     We'll set up an appt to meet with the doctor once we turn in the forms on Monday - I may be a little overly anxious, but I'm hoping we could even transfer in my Jan cycle.  Or maybe Feb.  I'll keep you all posted.
   Start praying for those three little embryos.  God knows the plans He has for them, as well as for us!

Monday, November 22, 2010

To Hope or Not to Hope

Is it even possible to NOT hope?

  We could possibly get some embryos donated to us in the next few weeks.  Maybe.  We called our clinic today to see if that other couple had decided to donate.  The donor coordinator said she hadn't heard from them, but we should be sure to check the clinic's website on Wednesday.  Apparently, a different couple HAS decided to donate - there are 25 embryos, frozen in groups of 5 and the donor profiles will be up wednesday - we can call her then.  (I was under the impression that we are currently the only patients interested in donor embryos, but maybe there are more if she can't tell us anything until she posts the profile on wednesday; perhaps it's a first-come, first-served scenario.  Which is weird to think about - we're talking about human life - potential babies, not Black Friday deals at Walmart.)
    Anyway, I'm trying so hard not to get my hopes up, but I think it's too late.  I so want to be patient and wait for God to bring us the babies that He has chosen us to parent.  I know that all good things are a gift from God, and I am trying so hard to wait for His plan.  I don't want to rush into the first available option just because it's there.  SO, how do I know what God's plan is?  Do I 'adopt' these, if we can?  (haven't even seen donor profiles yet....)  Do I sit and wait for the other couple that our doctor told us about?  (They have triplets from their IVF - it could be a while before they have time to do the paperwork.)   Or do we go with the clinic in Virginia that has embryos readily available?  (More $, way less convenient b/c of travel - but no waiting.)
   So, I guess nothing's changed.  I'm still just waiting.  I'm afraid to hope that these new possibilities are, in fact, the children for us - but yet I can't help it.   For now, I'm praying for wisdom and patience - and setting my alarm to check that website first thing wednesday morning!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How lucky I am

As I headed into Bible Study tonight, I walked past a woman who was talking with one of the leaders about her children.  I overheard her say "I got married in April and by June we found out I was a month pregnant."  She was seriously complaining about that.  I thought "she has no idea how lucky she is."  I hate it when people complain about having children or consider it an inconvenience.  I get so irritated when people complain about, or even just take for granted, things that I consider to be huge blessings.
   So then I started thinking about things that I may take for granted.  Are there things that I say or complain about that could irritate or hurt other people?  I think there might be.
    First of all, I have a solid, loving marriage to an amazing husband.  (I went through years of frustration and lonliness waiting for him - I didn't marry until I was 30.  Being single in a world built for couples feels an awful lot like being infertile in a world built for families.)  But that's not the point.  The point is that my husband is my best friend and our relationship is intimate, healthy and awesome.  I know that many marriages aren't as satisfying as ours.  People could be irritated with me for taking that for granted; they could look at me and thing "she doesn't know how lucky she is."
      Second, God has blessed us with a great home in His perfect timing.  It's very old - plaster and lath walls, etc. - but it's perfect for us and our future family.  It has a beautiful fenced in yard (that I may have complained about as it required lots of work this summer to level it out) and it's right near our church.  It's perfect for hosting baby/bridal showers or get togethers.  I could wish for something newer, but again - I have to remember how lucky I am.
    Also: M and I are financially on the same page.  We've been through some rough times, and things are still really tight (especially saving for EA) - but we have both learned to manage it well and we do it together.  (I highly recommend Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University!!!)  I know finances often cause huge strife and lots of stress.  I am so lucky to be where I am.
    So, maybe I'm not lucky - rather I'm blessed.  We are very, very blessed.  In fact, God has worked so many things out for us in recent years, that we have no reason to doubt that He has great plans for our family too.  Maybe that girl I overheard doesn't know how lucky she is, but I DO know how blessed I am!!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


We've done a lot of research.  We’ve found a few possible clinics that have donor programs.  Then we had an appointment with our own fertility doctor.  I was sure he was going to push for us to use donor sperm.  But he didn’t bat an eye when we said we wanted to give life to donated embryos.  He’s very new age-y – into meditation and acupuncture and eastern spirituality – he said that we should do whatever feels right for us.  They don’t have any embryos right now, but he just got a call from a woman considering donating her remaining embryos.  He has to call her back, but if she does decide to donate, those embryos would be ours.  He said often things ‘work themselves’ out like this.  In my worldview, that would translate into “in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.”
            Could this really be happening?  If that woman donates her embryos, we could start our cycle soon, and I could be pregnant within the next few months!  It seems too good to be true.  I’m trying not to get my hopes too high, but it might be too late for that! 
So, now we’re waiting.  Waiting on God.  Waiting on the fertility clinic.  Waiting on the donor.  It’s hard to wait.  It actually felt better when I was reading adoption books and researching fertility clinics.  I was DOing something.  It felt productive because it would eventually lead to our child.  But now all I can do is wait.  I’m not so good at that.


            I’d heard of snowflakes or embryo adoptions when I was in college, but didn’t think much of it until a friend encouraged me look into it.  When couples pursue in vitro fertilization and are successful, they often have leftover embryos that are cryopreserved (frozen.)  They are human life – not just eggs or sperm, but already-conceived embryos that have the potential to become babies.  Real people.  Sitting frozen in storage tanks.  The whole thing seemed kind of weird and sci-fi to me at first.  Some of those are donated to infertile couples, who can become pregnant and give birth to their adopted children. 
The more we prayed about it, the more we realized that we have a special gift to bring life to these babies-to-be.  I am completely healthy.  Those horribly yucky fertility tests confirmed that I have a completely healthy uterus and hormone system.  I am able to carry life.  Most infertile couples don’t have that possibility.  Usually, the woman has some sort of difficulty.  We are in a rare situation where our infertility is completely male-factor.  It seems almost as if our Omniscient God, who designed us to be together, set things up perfectly so that we can give life to some embryos that would otherwise be discarded.  Maybe He has a plan for those children to grow up and do great things for the Kingdom.  It’s all really cool to think about!!!

Adoption Options

            We are sure that God has a family planned for us.  So, it may not be a ‘traditional’ family where our kids share our genes.  There is some sadness that we’ll never get to see what our genetic children would be like.  I try to let that be overshadowed by the excitement that God has something miraculous and special planned for our family.  In His great Wisdom and Providence, God had placed the desire to adopt children in each of our hearts long before we met.  I read a book in 5th grade about a family that adopted 12 tansracial children (in the 50’s – when that was totally taboo) and I’ve felt compelled to adopt internationally ever since.  M visited an orphanage while on a missions trip in college, and has wanted to adopt since then.  We were amazed to discover what we shared the same dreams of adoption.  We thought we’d have a few children naturally and then adopt internationally.

            Upon hearing our diagnosis, we began researching domestic adoption. (For the first couple of children, we wanted to have them as infants.)  We met with 2 separate agencies; we are on the waiting list for both.  There are so many couples wanting to adopt infants that both agencies have a list of people waiting to begin  the process.  We can’t even start a homestudy or prepare a profile until it’s our turn.  It turns out that there are ~20 couples waiting for every infant that’s placed for adoption.  So much for wanting to do a good thing!  We really thought we’d be making a difference in a child’s life by adopting them.  But really, there are so many other parents also waiting for them, they don’t need us.  Even with international adoption: while there is a great need, there is also a great wait.  China has thousands of girls in orphanages, but wait to adopt those girls is 4 years!
            I got rather discouraged.  I felt that since we couldn’t have our own kids, it’s because God wanted to use us to bless children who needed a home.  But with the waiting lists and the hoops to jump through, it seemed that there weren’t actually children who need a home.  While I know that’s not true, it definitely feels that way right now.

About Us (Background)

            I married my dear husband 2 years ago, at the age of 30.  We both love and serve Jesus and we were both waiting (in every sense) for God to bring us the ‘right’ person to marry so we could serve together.  There is no doubt that we were meant for each other and God has had our family planned in His mind since the beginning.
            We originally thought we would wait a few years to have kids so we could take advantage of our freedom as newlyweds.  Yet, as we were enjoying the ‘simple, child-free’ life, we realized we were really longing for children.  We’d take a spontaneous trip to NYC to watch a Yankees game, only to find ourselves thinking “I can’t wait until we can take our kids to a baseball game.”  We started ‘trying’ a few months after the wedding – and I mean really trying: taking basal temp, counting cycle days, ovulation predictor kits, everything.  All to no avail.
            As the months wore on, I began to wonder if something was wrong.  After 11 months went by, M (my husband who wishes to remain unnamed) called the fertility clinic.  They set us up for an initial consultation 4 months later.  (They’re the only one within a huge radius, so they’re busy.)  We started the unpleasant infertility testing in September and learned very quickly that M doesn’t produce sperm.  A bit more testing revealed that he has Klinefelter’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder that leaves him completely infertile.  There is no hope, even with the best technology, of him producing sperm.
    There are so many things that we’re thankful for.  We’ve heard of others that tried for year before being diagnosed with Klinefelter's.  The syndrome itself has some crazy symptoms, all of which M was spared.  (No cognitive disabilities, etc.)  AND, it provides some insight as to why he can’t lose weight.  We’ve met with a genetic counselor and a urologist so now he’s on testosterone and he feels great.  He’s got more energy than he’s had in years.  So that’s a blessing!!

Why Blog?

            So, I’ve decided to start a blog to chronicle our journey in becoming the family that God has designed.  I’ve found much encouragement and camaraderie in reading the blogs of other families who are traveling down this same road of infertility and adoption options.  Hopefully, I can be an encouragement to others in similar situations.  Also, blogging will prevent me from driving my husband crazy with every thought I wrestle with along the way.  I have a wonderful husband who loves me and wants so much to listen to my thoughts and be supportive – but as a male, he has an “off” button for his thoughts, and I don’t.  Perhaps by blogging, I can ramble all of my thoughts to the blogger world and then share with him after I’ve processed it all.
            I’m not sure if I’m going to share the link to my “in real life” friends and family.  On one hand, it would be good for them to know what I’m thinking and going through (and I wouldn’t have to explain all the time.)  On the other hand, I don’t know if I would be so candid if I knew people I see regularly would read my thoughts.  I can be a very self-centered, whiney, wimpy person; things I try not to show people in real life.  Hmm…  I’ll have to think about that for a while!