Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Uncharted Territory...

I preface this post with the following disclaimer to anyone undergoing fertility treatments, or anyone who has, or anyone who will...because I've been there, I've done that, I know that, I've lived that. All in the past 11 years.

And I never dreamed, especially in light of the fact that we nearly cancelled this cycle a week ago, that I'd be here—wondering what in the world to do with ALL these AMAZING embryos.

So, if you read, and I sound ungrateful, I am not.  Anyone who knows me, or knows of us even in the last few years knows that I, of all people, do NOT take life for granted.  At all.  I realize that some people would give all they had to be faced with the issues we are.  I know.

Dr.  K called this morning and said all 9 were doing amazing.  Four were 8-celled (what we typically transfer on Day 3), one was 10-celled, two were compacting, one was early compacting and one was 6-celled, but with uneven division.

What in the world?????  This is so, so different from my previous cycles.

Dr. K said that he felt I had the best natural therapy in the world for my endometriosis, having both Matthew and Luke, and with two cycles under our belt, it was easier to adjust medicine for better egg maturity and quality.  Though he said no one could know for sure why this was so, so different...those were some of his theories.

We talked about how many to transfer.  John wants to do two.  He feels there's a better chance of a fresh cycle with two vs. a frozen cycle with one (or two) should this not work.  Dr. K said there was certainly science to back that.  John also adores being a dad, and secretly, he thinks twins would be AWESOME.  He has been able to bounce back from Matthew's death looking at life as if we've had our horrible, horrible tragedy and now, odds are, roses from here on out.  Twins would just be even more of a bounce-back.

Not so much me.

I am worried.  I am little.  I was 92 pounds at retrieval.  I am a quarter-inch shy of 4'11".  I am small and scrappy, but I have my limits.  I've had two major surgeries to my uterus in two years and to contemplate carrying another has put me on edge, but two?  Not to mention, John is going to be gone.  A LOT.  MONTHS.  I'm far from home.  I have a very busy little boy that I adore doing fun things with and I've already worried about what another pregnancy would steal from him, much less what a multiple pregnancy would do.

Oh, and did I mention, John will be gone A LOT?

So I'm leaning toward one, but felt that Dr. K would not lead me into anything he was not confident was the best thing for me and our family.  He has NEVER steered us wrong.  He has ALWAYS been conservative.  He told us in the very beginning that his goal was for us to build our family...however that happened.  He is NOT in it for the money.

And he said after thinking long and hard, taking our situation into account, looking at our previous history and using the SART guidelines as recommendation, he'd transfer two.

Shady Grove's pregnancy rate with one blast transfer is 61.2%.  Awesome!  With a 1.7% chance of multiples!  Their pregnancy rate with two blasts transferred is 61.1%.  (Notice how VERY near identical that is) but with a 42.7% chance of multiples.

That said, my assumption is that many of those women who did two are like me—advanced age.  Ugh. Advanced age is really getting my goat.

If I wasn't advanced age, this would not even be an issue, really.

I'd not worry about what I'd do with other embryos that made it to freezing.

I'd not worry about how my body is going to handle all of this at nearly 40.

I'd not wonder if I'll see my kid(s) graduate from high school.  Or grandchildren.


You know, people have often used my faith as a talking point for why I should NOT be doing IVF.  This very situation is probably just what they are talking about.

My logic has ALWAYS been that regardless of circumstance, God is the keeper of all life.  He gives it.  He takes it home with Him.  If a baby is not meant to be, it simply will NOT be, even if sperm is injected into egg by human hand.  I am not trying to play God by doing IVF.  I am simply using the technology He gave to help bring the lives HE ordained into our family.

So, the opposite must then be true.  If a baby (or two) is meant to be, he or she or they is/are meant to be.  Nothing I do or don't do will stop that, because again, God is in charge of it all.

And I guess I just have to stop being afraid.

Like I said, though...this is uncharted territory.  The waves are pretty big.

I'm not a very strong swimmer.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Incubator 6, Position 30

That's where 9 embryos of ours are happily (I assume?) growing and dividing.

When I got the call this morning, I'd outrageously expected to have maybe 6 doing what they are supposed to be doing at this point...to have doubled from yesterday and become 4-celled embryos.

So when the nurse (not Jackie, she's out today) said, "You had nine embryos with normal fertilization and they all look great.  They are all 4 cells," I about fell out of my skin.

She went on to say, "You'll be a 5 day transfer.  Thursday." and I got a little nervous.

I do 3-day transfers.

I do them well.

I told her 5 days makes me nervous and she said, "But that's the best chance for success."

Or total failure, because what if NONE of them get to 5 days?

Then again...what if ALL of them get to 5 days??????????????????

What in the WORLD are we doing?  I was walking Luke today with Lola and it was so gorgeous.  Warm and sunny, he was giggly and happy.

I have a pretty easy life.  A great life.  One might say a perfect life if they didn't know better.

This has all been unfolding so miraculously, for lack of a better word, I have to say that now I'm feeling like the water is very muddy.

IF we make it to 5 day and IF we have two blastocysts to transfer, that is where we will face a HUGE decision.

Transfer one or two.

We transferred two beautiful 8-celled embryos with both Matthew and Luke.

Transferring two embryos is not a guarantee that two will implant.

Heck, transferring one is no guarantee.  Or 8.  (NOT happening, though!)

There's a much higher chance of success, though, when there is a 5 day transfer, and to transfer two?

I have to say, I'm a bit sick to my stomach thinking about all of this.

So, if you pray, please pray for the right decisions, should we need to make them.  Pray for our little embryos in incubator number 6.

And remember, as much as I'd love two more children....a twin pregnancy is risky.  And carries a lot of opportunity for heartache.  Joy, of course...but more risk of heartache and I don't know that I'd really feel good in my skin knowing that we purposely brought more of that onto ourselves and into our family.

Anyway...hormonal rambling.  Thanks for your prayers and the many, many likes and messages on facebook and emails and blog comments.  So, so appreciated!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Better With Age?

...or so Dr. G says.

I just got the call from the nurse about my fertilization. (Of course, I was in the shower and John was walking the boy around the block, so missed it and only got a voicemail.  They weren't supposed to call until after 3!!!)

She said 17 follicles were retrieved. (Knew that.)  Seventeen were MATURE! (Did NOT expect that!)  NINE fertilized! (Shocked by that!)


With Matthew, I had 13 retrieved, 12 mature and 6 fertilize.

With Luke, I had 16 retrieve, 8 or 9 mature and 4 fertilize.

In the nurse's message, she said Dr. G wanted to relay a personal message.

"You get better with age."

Well, maybe, but my body sure doesn't, ha ha!

The retrieval yesterday was ok, but I was definitely more sore than I ever remember with Matthew or Luke.

The good news (well, more of it) is that I didn't cry after I came to.

With Matthew, I was crying and crying because they'd only retrieved 13. (And right before my retrieval, a woman had 24 retrieved, so I figured I was waaaayyyy behind the curve!)

With Luke, I was crying and crying because it was really pretty emotional. (Like I need a reason to cry anyway!)

Yesterday, I apparently was telling everyone how much I loved them...how much I loved Shady Grove...bragging about how I wasn't crying, ha ha.

Again, a few nurses came in and told us that they were so touched by our story when they were watching it at their annual retreat, and I started to tear up some then.  I think that's understandable!

So now we wait.  Tomorrow Jackie will call me and give me more of a breakdown and probable transfer information for Tuesday.

Wonders never cease.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Twenty-Six Months...

...that's how old he'd be tomorrow.  Really, I can't even imagine what he'd be like.

Sadly, he's forever etched in my mind as he was that day.

And images of what he might be are pretty much taken over by what Luke is and will be like.  What he's like now.  How I can base predictions on how he'll grow and change on the previous year's worth of life we've been blessed to experience with him.

You know what comes next.


The 28th day of the month always triggers one of those little, "There's something about today," things in my head, and tomorrow is no different, other than tomorrow is also the day we go in for our third retrieval in a little less than as many years.

I haven't really been nervous about it up until the last week and the whole estrogen/OHSS issues popping up.  I feel ok, though I look about 3 months pregnant already and really have no appetite at all.  I triggered last night, so all that HCG is adding to the mix.

But I am a little uneasy about what's going to be retrieved.  And whether or not they'll be mature.  And even if they are, they fertilize normally.  And then if they'll grow ok.  I don't have fabulous fertilization rates.

So, we'll see.

We'll see.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Never Easy, Is It?


Then again, I have to say that I KNEW this cycle (and the whole process from testing to now, really) was just going too well.  Too perfectly.  Too easy.

Now...it feels more comfortable to me.  More dramatic.  More uneasy.  More scary.

More "Are you kidding me?"

Dr. K called me earlier today.  (Yeah, never good to see the doctor's number on your ID.) This morning's appointment went so-so.  The sonographer and Dr. G felt like I had some pretty good looking follicles (though he did comment about what an estrogen over-achiever I am, ha ha!) and he told me that if I triggered today (IF as in IF we decided to go ahead with retrieval) it'd be him doing it on Saturday.

That made me feel tons better.  He did the transfer for Matthew and the retrieval for Luke, so he's got a pretty great track record with us.

Just needed to wait and see how my estrogen was.

Which was why Dr. K called.  My estrogen was high.  4534.  Even with yet another lowered dose (hardly anything, really), mega-estrogen.  Jackie feels like it's because of ALL the follicles I've got going round and round in there...which is great...except they are NOT all fabulously mature.

That's the problem.  Lots of follicles, way too much estrogen and not enough maturity as they'd like.

But, as Dr. K said, it only takes one.  I only had 4 mature enough (of 16 retrieved!) to fertilize with Luke and look how that turned out!  In fact, because I 'weathered the storm,' as they said, with a high estrogen at trigger with Luke and then subsequent pregnancy and warded off OHSS, they are feeling like I can do that again.

There is DEFINITELY a much more significant risk of OHSS right now, and that's mainly why he was letting us know he understood if we wanted to cancel this cycle, or to retrieve and maybe freeze  if need be instead of transfer.  OHSS is even more egged (ugh, what a pun) on by pregnancy (the irony, right?) so while pregnancy is the desired effect, it could also make things even worse and with a little one to run around after and a VERY busy military daddy...well, the fear of OHSS is there.

But since Matthew died, and I realized that I can't control everything, and that if I let fear drive my decisions, I'd never take Luke out of the house...I try not to let fear cloud my judgement.

God did not give us a spirit of fear.

So we are on for retrieval on Saturday.  We have to be there at 6:30 that morning (oy!) which will stink since John will be getting in around 1 that morning!  We'll go from there.

Nope, never easy.

Then again, who said it would be?

BTW—thanks everyone for the prayers and good thoughts and wishes. I really appreciate it.  It totally helps, and I think is one of the reasons I'm not going crazy right now.

Well...and I have an amazing and adorable little boy that definitely keeps me on my toes.  Who has time for worry?

(Totally off-topic but funny.  In doing a spell check, Blogger doesn't like sonographer.  Since every brain cell I've ever been proud of seems to have flown the coop since I got pregnant with Matthew, I always look at suggestions because I'm quite apt to be wrong.  Sonographer is not listed but the suggestion?  Pornographer.  Yep.  Totally the same, right?  Thanks for the help, Blogger!)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Was This The Shoe?

So, you know me...always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Well, it may just drop tomorrow.

Again, Jackie told me not to worry yet.  "We've come too far to cancel this cycle."

Yeah, well....This morning, when talking to the doctor (who is not my regular doctor, but has been seeing me since I've been monitoring at Fair Oaks) after she mentioned I was quite the estrogen over-achiever, I said, "Yeah...when I triggered with Luke's cycle, my estrogen spiked from like 1800something to 4000."

She responded with, "Yeah, but we didn't do that cycle, did we?"

Um.  Yes.  You did.  Remember?  We were just talking about how our news clip was played at your annual retreat and it had LUKE in it?

Anyway.  That was enough to tell me that she was not fond of that 4000 estrogen level.

It was 3385 today.  Even after my medicine being decreased AGAIN last night.

The doctor this morning also thought I'd very probably trigger tonight but I didn't.  My follicles are just not mature enough.  When I triggered with Luke, my leads/measurables were 21, 19, 19, 18, 17 mm ish.  I had 16 follicles retrieved.  FOUR fertilized.

Today, my leads/measurables were 18, 19, 19, 17, 16, 15 mm ish.  With THAT high an estrogen level.

Today it was confirmed that I am DEFINITELY stimming like a PCOSer.

Which really doesn't make any difference...that's why we are doing IVF, right?  To get that perfect, perfect little embryo to hang out and grow for about 9 months or so in my tummy.  Regardless of the diagnosis or symptomology or whatever.

I'm on a high-protein, low carb diet.  Milk and potato chips (for the salt!).  Gatorade.  Taking it easy.  Protecting my abdomen.  Making sure I take my asthma medicines and use my inhaler so my breathing doesn't get affected.

PRAYING that tomorrow my estrogen isn't so high that they cancel this cycle.

And that my follicles are mature enough. (Medicine was decreased again tonight.  Hope it's not decreased so much that it doesn't mature the follicles enough.)

Like I said...was this the other shoe?  It was all going so great and now at the last minute could crash?

Because I know what that is like, and frankly...
I'd rather not have more.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


No one is really saying anything certain yet.

But another night of medicine decreasing because though I have lots of good follicles that are nicely sized, even with the decreasing medicine dosages the last couple of nights, my estrogen just keeps hopping!

Up to 2533 right now.

Yeah, Jackie (who seriously has never steered me wrong, so I trust her) said not to worry about OHSS right now. (OHSS being Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome)

I'm not, much, but won't lie.  Today I started feeling that feeling.  The "ugh, I sure do feel like I have a lot of estrogen and follicles in my body" and I was pretty nauseated most of the day.  Sore stomach.  Dull headache that just won't go away.  Not terrible, mind you, but vaguely reminiscent of Luke's cycle toward the end...where the last day my estrogen spiked to over 4700 and I was freaking out that they'd cancel.

Vaguely reminiscent of when I was in the hospital years ago with OHSS.

Just vaguely, though, and even though my estrogen was high with Luke's cycle, they obviously didn't cancel and I obviously got pregnant and THANKFULLY, warded the OHSS off.  Somehow.

I know this sounds really petty, but it's not fun.  Worse, so much is different with this cycle with respect to how I handle it and what I do with it because of Luke!  OHSS by myself is one thing.  With a toddling one-year old?  Very different.  Not to mention I'd hate to hear all this is going great (which they all say) and then ends up being cancelled at the last minute because of that darned estrogen.

And...even though Dr. K told me with this latest blood work to qualify me for the shared risk program that he'd be very hesitant to label me as PCOS anymore just because of my LH:FSH ratio, I have to say that I am really, really, REALLY responding like a PCOSer in this cycle.

Which stinks.  Because that basically means lots of follicles that aren't great quality eggs.

And sounds familiar.

Anyway.  We'll see.  Tomorrow morning and then maybe trigger tomorrow or if not Thursday with a Friday or Saturday retrieval.

I know, I know.

It only takes one.

Preaching to the choir.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Back The Bus Up!

This morning I had 16 measurable follicles.

Holy moly.  As my nurse said this afternoon, "We're all chuckling a bit about you because you keep popping up with follicles!  You had 18 antral follicles to start with and now you have 16 measurables and several more that aren't measurable yet....that's pretty unusual."

I told her, "Well, you know me.  I like to have people talking."

So, my leads are 16 and 14, with several 12mm and several more that are 8-10.  My estrogen was 1382, so still high, though not as big a jump since I decreased last night's dosage.  We will probably lose the 16mm, and maybe the 14, but Jackie wasn't worried because I had so many 12ish.  She also said, "Didn't I tell you about that explosion?" and I couldn't help but think, "Yep...this is what I need.  More reassurances about why NOT worrying pays off!"  She has a feeling that I'll go in tomorrow and see several more that are 16mmish, and I guess we'll see.  The doctor this morning seemed to feel that I'd probably end up triggering maybe Thursday or Friday for a Saturday or Sunday retrieval, and honestly, either day will be fine because John should be able to come up either day (hooray!) before he goes out for a couple of weeks.  They are decreasing my medicine again (so strange, I'm always getting increased!) and I'm psyched because that's medicine I can return and for which I can get money back, ha ha!!

Spoke with Linda, my once-a-month counselor-by-phone and just love her.  Really.  Since Matthew died, I've spoken to her once a month, and since it's been over 2 years, she really knows me.  Knows a lot about my life.  Knows me on a good day and knows me on a bad day.  I told her that I've been having a lot of flashbacks to Matthew's birth...the point where Dr. Shonekan says, "Mr. Matthew has forced my hand," and things start going nuts.  Me being wheeled into the OR and just staring up at the ceiling, twisting my fingers, crying and praying for the hands that were about to touch my body and my baby's body.

Like it just happened.

She said that she figured a lot of that was hormone related—that my hormones (especially this high estrogen!) were making me pretty vulnerable and putting myself into this situation again is probably causing some post-traumatic stress flashbacks.  I agree.  I think this also happened when I started Luke's cycle, but it was so much newer then, and I guess I didn't expect that I'd have such intense flashbacks so often still.


She also said something that I really loved.  We were talking about how I'm not as stressed this cycle (though I am pretty worried that I'm being too confident in all of this and the shoe is going to drop and I'll be miserable.  She said that was only natural, since I've LIVED with the shoe dropping and life has taught me that when everything is going great...watch out!  She's SO smart!) and she told me that she was really proud of how healthy I sounded.  How great my attitude was.  How able I was to glean so much from Matthew's life and death that shapes me as a mother and wife and daughter and sister and friend and person.

I told her that I wasn't really thrilled that some of this new me came at such a high price.

She said that was completely understandable...and that too often, people will look at my life now and say, "See...you didn't understand it, but aren't you glad...." or "Told you, everything happens for a reason..." or "When you look at Luke, isn't it easier to understand this is how it was meant to be?"...and they'd be WAY off base.

(She's right.)  Just because I am able to recognize the blessings that have happened as a result of Matthew's life, I STILL would not choose for him to be dead just for the life I have now.

The reality is that there are two truths to my life that don't seem like they could possibly co-exist, but they do.

I'd never, never, never, NEVER choose for Matthew to be gone...for any lesson or reason or for any child.

I'd never, never, never, NEVER wish Luke wasn't here if it meant Matthew could be alive.

And that's just the way it is.  For the rest of my life.  Ambivalence.

So, I navigate the best I can, and frankly, I think I do a pretty decent job.  There should be no doubt about how my heart and soul still mourns what could have been with my beautiful little Matthew.

There should be no doubt about the love and fulfillment that Luke has brought into my life, and for which I am so grateful.

As should there be no doubt about the love that any little brother or sister will bring and will be given.

If those are 'lessons' learned as a result of Matthew's life, so be it.

To me, those are just the basics of being a mother.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 8 Strikes Again!

Yeah...so this morning  I admit, I was a tad anxious to see what the ultrasound would look like.  Wouldn't you know it?  Lining was up to 8 (from 4.5 Friday) and had the highly coveted 'triple-stripe' pattern going on.  The sono tech was measuring away and I walked out of there feeling much better!  When I left, I believed I had 2 or 3 that were 13 mm and maybe another 4-5 that were between 8-12mm, with 10 mm being the point at which they typically consider a follicle 'measurable.'

So when I got the call this afternoon, I was a bit surprised.

I had 11 measurable.  From ONE two days ago to ELEVEN now.  Several were 12-13 mm.  My estrogen was also a great deal higher.  A great deal...it spiked from 512 on Friday to 1252 today!  The nurse said, "Slow down there, tiger."

She's funny.  This IS slower, remember?  This is what they thought they'd see at day 6, ha ha!

But true to my form.  They decreased my medicine because there truly was that growth explosion my nurse predicted and want it to just slow a hair.  I'm going in tomorrow and every day until trigger from this point on now because follicles can grow 2-3 mm overnight!  The tentative trigger date before we started stimming was Wednesday, which would mean retrieval Friday.  Two days ago, Jackie said I might just be a day or two later.

I don't think that will be the case now.

Very interested to see what tomorrow brings.

I have to again say, though, that I am feeling super optimistic.  Maybe it's because this is following the same pattern that happened with Matthew and Luke, so it's somewhat familiar with success.

Maybe because now that we have a few under our belt, I feel less anxious about what is coming and I really and truly trust every.single.thing my doctor and nurse say and they are all sunshine and roses.

Maybe it's just because I know that if I don't get a positive in a few weeks, I'll be sad, but I won't be devastated.

I have Luke.

That desperation for success is not as intense and raw as it was after Matthew died.  I know it seems funny to think that I really wasn't desperate before Matthew, but I wasn't.

I was hopeful, but I really did not think IVF was going to work for me the first time, so I kind of took things with a grain of salt. Heck, 10 years of infertility treatments producing nothing will do that to a gal.

After Matthew, though, I knew what pregnancy was like.  I knew what a beautiful little boy who was a mix of his daddy and mommy looked like and felt like and I was desperate, desperate, desperate to hold just a tiny piece of that again...and fast.

Not to replace Matthew.  Unimaginable.  Just to taste again because everything about Matthew was delicious.  He was so good to his mama.  He was fun to dance with and sing to.  He was playful with Daddy.  He, like his brother, loved to have books read to him.  He made March to November the best time of my entire life and there is such joy in remembering those glorious and happy days.

I was desperate for more of that.  Another chance at that.

And Luke has brought it.  In such a monumental and enormous way!

Of course I'd like more!

But if it doesn't happen, trust me when I say that he will make that medicine in the form of a phone call go down so, so much easier.

So grateful for that little ham.  He is a riot, let me tell you.  He has this new game where he sticks his finger in his nose (just holds it there!) and then I pull it away and say, "Get that finger out of your nose!" and he just giggles and giggles and giggles to do it over and over.  I have a video, but will have to figure out how to get it on here from my phone.

Have I mentioned how I can't wait for him to grow up and show me how to use stuff???

Saturday, January 21, 2012

In Hindsight...

Those are the words Dr. K used with Luke's cycle on day 8.  Boy, was I having a DOWNER day when I wrote this!

In fairness, I didn't know then what I know now.

That it all worked out!  It really DOES only take one!

That my sweet, adorable, little ham of a boy is sleeping as soundly as can be...little tooshie in the air and pacis all around him like he'd just had a party.

That though they were a bit concerned, they weren't freaked out and I shouldn't have been either.

I know that now.

So that's why I am not worried about yesterday's appointment.

My estrogen was 512.  Great, right?

Well, except there was only one measurable follicle.

Of the 17, there was only one over 10mm.  Which is pretty surprising, considering how high my estrogen was.

Thank God for my nurse.  Thank God I have two cycles (successful!) already under my belt and am able to say, "Oh..well, this is just my pattern!"

Jackie said, "You are just a day 8 girl!" when I asked her if this was what Dr. K was talking about last year.

Essentially, I should have more maturity in my follicles, but don't.

But that's sort of the way I've been going, with both Matthew's and Luke's cycles and look how they turned out?!

So, I'm not worried yet.

Tomorrow morning I go in and Jackie said she felt like I'd see follicle growth explosion based on that estrogen.  She told me not to worry about overstimulation yet and just wait and see how tomorrow goes.  She told me not to worry about anything. (Except my iron, which is LOW and I believe it!)

You know what?

I'm not.  For real.  And I'm not just saying that.

Because you know how the old saying goes, right?  Hindsight is 20-20?

Hello perfect vision for this cycle!

I'm feeling ya.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shady Grove, I Love You!

Yes, it's true.

I love them.

I have loved them for nearly 3 years now, and every day—whether it's when I watch something amazing Luke does, or look at my pictures of Matthew, or just when someone from there tells me something nice—I just am so thankful we chose them.

We were going to go to Walter Reed.  We were all signed up, had plunked down the money for orientation and gone to it...all the testing done and everything.  Just when we were about to start, John said, "Let's adopt.  That's at least a sure thing."


ANYway...Mom knew friends who'd used Shady Grove (not to mention that if you live within a million miles of Northern Virginia/DC/MD area, you hear their ads on the radio ALL.THE.TIME) and suggested we at least look into them. Frankly, I didn't think we could afford it.  (And really, still very thankful for the blessing we have in the opportunities.)  And even if we could, I felt like we'd get just the same deal at Walter Reed for FAR less money (about 1/6th the money!)  But, when we just pretty much KNEW that Kyrgyzstan was not going to happen for us, I called.  I talked to Rhonda.  Yep, I remember her (and really love her!) because she talked to me like I was the only patient they had in the office...that she had all the time in the world for me.  I figured it must be some small outfit after all, if that could be happening, and when we went and saw how big a practice it was, I realized just how great Rhonda's customer service was!

When we were going through Matthew's cycle, they were amazing.  My nurse then was Sarah, and I liked her so much!  She was down to earth and smart, and though she recommended I HypnoBirth (ummmmm...I don't relax well AT.ALL!) I thought she was awesome.  Dr. Kipersztok treated us like he was a family member and I though I initially thought he might not be high-strung enough for me (ha ha), he obviously was perfect for us.

Hand picked by God.

I remember finding out that Sarah left shortly after we started and Jackie became our new nurse.  She too was amazing, and never ever makes me feel neurotic, contrary to the mass quantities of messages I leave her that would lead one to believe otherwise!  When Matthew died, it was Rhonda who answered the phone when I called.  She cried with us.  She put me through to Jackie, who also cried with us, and immediately put us through with Dr. K., who...you guessed it...cried with us.

And gave us hope.

They were amazing with our frozen cycle (sweet little Yellow Fish!) and just PHENOMENAL with Luke's cycle. (We are SO spoiled by amazing caregivers!)  When we had Luke, they came to visit us and they looked as if he was one of their very own family members!  It was like a family reunion when we met to do the tv interview back in April and May.  They kept saying, "Ok...we'll see you soon, right?!" like we'd do another cycle soon.  "Umm...yeah, right!" I said.

Again, Ahem.

So now I am staying with Mom and going to the Fair Oaks office.  Amazing there too!  I was waiting to check out this morning and the nicest gal (her name was also Lori...must be in the name?!) pulled me aside and said, "I just want you to know you are sort of like a celebrity to us!  We are so excited for you and so inspired by your story.  Just wanted to let you know how happy we were for you!"

I couldn't believe she had any idea of who I was, and when I said, "How do you know who I am?"  she answered, "We saw your news story at our corporate annual retreat!  There was not a dry eye in the house!  You are such an inspiration!"

I gave her thanks, of course...and then I teared up a good bit and bit my lip to try and keep it together!   Rhonda had told me that they had played our newsclip at their retreat, but I thought she was just talking about the Annapolis office.  Nope, their whole outfit's retreat, apparently!  And this woman recognized me, for Pete's sake!!

Unbelievable.  They are just too, too kind to us.

I saw Dr. Greenhouse this morning for the initial monitoring since I started the stims.  I told him he probably didn't know me, but that he was one of my favorite doctors since he'd done Matthew's transfer and Luke's retrieval.  He was very kind and said, "I know you!" (I guess I sort of know why now!)  He and the sono tech (who was super nice too, and a graduate of ECU, Lindsay Jones!) said that everything was looking fabulous.  I had 18 follicles (EIGHTEEN!!!!) and when Jackie called me today with my estrogen level, it was 182...which was the highest of any cycle I've done so far and anything over 100 is great for this point in the cycle.  I'm on track for a retrieval on or about the 27th (EEK!) and that'd be great because John should be able to come up after all (even for the day) and be with me a bit.

It all feels like a brand new sleeping bag that is just gently unrolling exactly like it should be.

Which, I won't lie, makes me a bit nervous.

I know of another situation that was just picture perfect until out of the blue, it wasn't.  In a big way.
That one haunts me.

In thinking about that, though, I have to say this.  I think the biggest thing that would upset me if this cycle didn't end in pregnancy would be losing the money we have had to pay for the medicine.  I know, I know..petty...just money...but still. (For the record, it's a good bit of money since TRICARE covers NONE of it.  Thanks, TRICARE!)

As much as I would LOVE (and I mean LOVE!) another baby in our lives...

...Luke is enough.

He is.  He is amazing and wonderful and fills my heart in the most precious way.

It feels weird to say that he's enough...like saying that means that I don't really even need Matthew to be happy because I have Luke.

Of course that is SO not what I mean.

I guess it just means I've accepted that Luke may be all I get to raise on this earth.

And that, in and of itself, is such a tremendous gift and honor and privilege and blessing.

It's enough.  Until I get to Heaven, it's enough.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bravery comes in all forms...

I am brave.

Not because I live every day without Matthew.

I had NO choice in that matter and I certainly would not choose it if I had.  When people give me the attribute of "Brave,"for that reason, I am always quick to tell them, "Not really.  I just have no choice."

I am brave because we are doing another IVF cycle and I am CHOOSING to do that.

To take on another cycle pretty much by myself since John is back in the fleet.  Not really by myself since Mom and Aunt Pretty are always willing to help with whatever, but it is sort of different in that I'd ask John to rub my feet (though he wouldn't.  I could still ask) if I just needed a breather in all of this, and would not ask Mom or Amy. (I'm sure they are both grateful for that!)

More, if this works (please, please, please let it work!), John will probably be around for most of the pregnancy and delivery (which is new...we thought he may be deployed), he will be gone shortly after the baby is born...leaving me with a newborn and a little boy under two, two golden retrievers and a house that is not mine and a good bit smaller than all my stuff would like.  And he'll be gone for a long time.  Like 7-8 months, I'm guessing.

So I won't lie and say that I'm a teeny bit worried about that.

I know people (especially we military families) do it all the time.  ALL.THE.TIME.

My guess is that most of the time, though, they don't necessarily choose to have children so close together, knowing that mom will be pretty much responsible for care-taking while daddy is gone, and therefore at least attempting to get timing a little better.

It is what it is.  It took nearly 11 years just to get pregnant.  And then we lost Matthew.  And then we went through it all over again and are so grateful to have Luke.

But according to medicine, I'm old.

Rather, my eggs are.  So if we are going to have any more children, we have to try NOW.  Timing or not.

I know, I know...we can't control everything and all that jazz about "the perfect time doesn't exist,"...maybe it doesn't, but I won't lie and say I'm not a bit bitter about having to wait so long to finally be a mother and being pushed into doing things I may not do if I had a bit more time.

(Like IVF right now instead of just enjoying Luke all by himself a bit more...continue to nurse him...etc.)

That's not to say, though, that I am not super excited about this cycle.  I am.  I am really feeling very confident.  John put an app on my phone today that's supposed to chronicle the cycle.

I can't wait until Luke grows up some more and can show me how to use apps and such on the phone.

Anyway, giving myself my shot tonight, I was telling mom that it wasn't that big a deal since I used to give myself allergy shots.

Then I thought, "But you know...it sort of is.  So many people take fertility for granted.  Like it's the most natural thing in the world."

Oh, wait...it's supposed to be.

And then I remember that this is not a world of 'shoulds' or 'supposed to bes' and just give thanks I have the opportunity.

So I'm excited.

And feeling brave.

I have about seven hundred and three posts of Luke that I need to make.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, his birthday...12 month check-up and more.  Poor boy...my only excuse is that my time is really taken up with him.

And I love it.

I love rocking him to sleep every night.  He doesn't depend on it; he'd go to sleep on his own if I just gave him his bottle and put him down, but I love rocking him as he drinks his milk and singing or humming to him.  I've started to tell him a Bible verse every night, hoping he'll have those words written on his heart forever.  Plus, it helps me remember Scripture too, which I'd like to do more.  I just think that time with him is precious.

What a blessing similar time with a little brother or sister would be.  As a friend reminded me tonight...worth it all.  Worth all the shots.  Worth all the stinging.  Worth all the worry and just worth it all...

Have to say...it's easy to be brave when he's what I get to hum to sleep and wake up to every day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Neonatal Death At Delivery...

We got into NoVA last night so I could head out to Rockville this morning for my Lupron Evaluation.  All this was to check was my estrogen level, my progesterone level and make sure I have quiet ovaries, thin lining and no cysts.

Estrogen: 32.4
Progesterone: less than .02

No cysts; nice thin lining.  All systems go, and the sono tech said it must be nice to have such a lovely start to this cycle.

It is.

But as I was leaving, I snuck a look at the computer (Which is cleverly disguised in the name of HIPPA to protect patient information with a piece of paper taped over the screen.  The piece of paper says, "Staff only.  HIPPA protection.")  I lifted the sheet of paper because I wanted to see what stuff she wrote in about me and maybe see what stuff has been written so far.

(And it IS my info, so I didn't feel like I was invading any privacy or anything.)

Lots of info.  Cycle try number.  Current doctor.  Current nurse.  Patient preferences for transfer doctors. Info from my saline sono last month.

And the info that never ceases to take my breath away each time I read it.

"11/09 Neonatal Death at Delivery."

I know.  I lived it.  I still live it.  I will live with it every day.

But there's something about seeing it in writing like that...in something so official and so clinical...that just makes me instantly begin to sob.

Which I did, right there in the office.

Could be the drugs.  Pretty powerful hormone stuff going on these days, obviously.

But doubtful.

More just how deeply seeing his entire little life summed up in a four-word fragment still sears my heart.

I just don't know how I'll ever be able to see such a succint representation of his life without breaking into tears.

Guess that's what I get for sneaking a peak.

In other news...started the Bravelle and Menopur tonight and took the last dose of Lupron this morning.  Starting me off a little higher from the bat so that I can get bigger/more mature follicles this time.  So, I take 225 of Bravelle and 150 of Menopur.  I don't remember it stinging as much as it did tonight.

There's a lot I don't remember about the last two cycles.

But there's more that I'll never forget.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I know I posted that we were in the middle of a cycle and it was very surreal because I wasn't really even obsessing a teensy bit.

That may have been an understatement.

I'm sort of on autopilot.

On one hand, I think, "This is a breeze.  Been there, done this...a couple of times.  This cycle has even BETTER blood work, BETTER optimism, etc... No need to worry."

I am walking around acting as if I'l be getting a phone call in about a month telling me a due date.

Which worries me because I fear that my lack of attention may be leading me to go about all of this a little less strictly than I should!

I started the lupron yesterday and as I got all of the stuff ready last night, I looked at the protocol to see how much I was to take.

20 units.

Ummm...crud.  My needles are all messed up.  Which ones go with which?  Is it 20 notches?  20 on this needle?  2 on that needle?

So, figured that out and then realized I was supposed to take it in the MORNING!

What?  I never took it in the morning with Matthew!

Nope, I didn't, as my nurse told me.  But this time, since I was over suppressed with the Lupron with Matthew's cycle, they want me to do it in the morning for monitoring purposes.


So, I had to take it in the afternoon today and then back on track tomorrow am.

Doggone it!  I know everyone (including me!) is glad that I'm too busy with life, and particularly with Luke, to be stressing over this cycle, but I have to be a little more obsessive, I think!!!

John and I talked about how after Matthew died, he and I switched extremes.  Like, I worry about hardly anything and he worries about pretty much everything.   I have to say, I get why people who don't worry about things much don't—there's a LOT more freedom to enjoy stuff!  Worrying about it, especially if it happens, just makes one twice as miserable.

But...when I do little dumb things like this because I am not even bothered by what has previously been so stressful...well...guess I have to work on being a little more diligent, huh?

My nurse said it was not a big deal at all, and I didn't think it would be, so again, one more instance where worrying about it (like John was last night!) wouldn't have helped one bit...hard to be more diligent in worrying (of all things, ha ha!) when even messing up wasn't a big deal!

Monday, January 9, 2012


I know.  It happens.

It should happen.  

I'm grateful...so, so grateful that it happens and I am honored and blessed beyond measure to WATCH it happen...to be a participant in it happening.

But it's too fast!

Too, too fast.

He's just turning into such a little BOY and less and less my sweet baby.

He's spunky.

He's funny.

He's clever.

He's fascinated with "catch me!" as he climbs stairs and we "chase" up after him.  He squeals like it's the best game EVER.

He's precious.

He's analytical.

He's determined.

He's purposeful.

He's persistent.

He's snuggly.

He's giggly.

He's amazing.

And he's growing so quickly I can hardly catch my breath.

Thank you, Lord, for his precious life.

Could you just help me figure a way out to freeze it for just a little longer?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Oh, Yeah...BTW....

So...we've been so busy with the holidays and Luke's birthday that I have not even had three seconds to really think about the other BIG deal going on in our life right now.

I am in the middle of another IVF cycle.

In about a week or so, I go back up to MD for the two weeks of stims/monitoring/retrieval and transfer process.  Two weeks later, I'll take a beta and see if it worked.  And then, God willing, about 9 months later, another little Ennis will come into our family.

Yep.  CRAZY, right?

I have not really focused on this AT ALL.  With Matthew's and Luke's cycles—obsession.  Obsession, obsession and more obsession.

With this one?

More like, "What?  What cycle?!"

Which is actually kind of freeing and nice, in a way.  Not stressing (we've already all agreed that another little one in our lives is truly icing on our already amazing family cake) and not believing how quickly it is all happening...which means that it will be over before I know it!

Sooo...if you read this and you pray...please pray for us.  Pray for a smooth cycle.  Much of it will be done without John.  (As in, "Sooo...do you want to hear the story of how mommy got pregnant when daddy was on the boat?)  I'm feeling SOOOO my age these days—achy back (that chunker of mine is heavy!), bunion feet (Don't laugh..okay, do...it's funny.  And hereditary.  Thanks, Mom.) and general fear of my pretty easy and smooth life about to turn into some major big changes.

But I keep reminding myself...God does not give us a spirit of fear.

So, please pray for us that I keep remembering that!

Also, my dear, dear friend Terri's mother died this morning.  Terri is a former parent, and has been such a support since we got pregnant with and lost Matthew, and she religiously tends to Matthew's grave (as do so many other dear friends!) and sends me pictures.  I know losing one's mother is devastating, so if you could keep her in your prayers, I know she'd appreciate it.  She's always such a prayer warrior for me!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One Year With A Little Piece of Heaven!

I really find it hard to believe I am writing about the last YEAR with my sweet Samuel Luke.

Especially because it is 4:02 in the morning and I am STILL trying to get a video of the past year I made put together.

Rather, it's put together but I need to clean space off my computer because my eight million and 4 pictures have stolen all my space.

Time consuming. But I'm still on Maui time, so it's ok.

Luke is back to regular time, though...so it could be rough in a few hours!

How is it possible that my sweet little boy is already a year old? How?

I just brought him home.

He just opened his eyes and saw his Mama.

He just mewed that sweet little Baby Kitty mew.

I just don't get it.

And because it is late, and I am tired, I don't have the energy to tell that precious boy of mine everything I want to tell him, but that's ok because I'll tell him the gist every day for the rest of my life:

He is precious.
He is healing.
He is magical.
He is bliss.
He is SUCH a good traveler.
He is not walking yet, but cruising all around and starting to stand on his own for a few seconds.
He has 6 teeth and working on two more...his bottom two and his top two and the two on either side of those are in, and the two on the side of THOSE are trying!
He is a great eater, when he wants to, and he'll at least TRY just about anything.
He'll immediately push right back out whatever he doesn't want.

His words are: Mama, Dada, Hi! Bye, Doggie, Bath and Baby.

Yep, pretty much the essentials, though I think he uses Doggie as much as mama and he also learned Zach (his cousin) this week.

He loved Maui. Not so much the sand, but eventually the pool and the little pebbles. They were delicious. BIG fan of the hot tub. The boy likes warm water! And loves, loves, loves fruity drinks with straws!

He is a great sleeper. He goes to sleep around 7ish and wakes around 7ish the next day. Sometimes wakes up in the night, but usually settles himself. We'll see how that goes when the paci goes bye-bye.

Naps are not on any schedule, but more certain periods of time since last wake-up. He really only fusses when he's ready for a nap, and then, it's not fussing as much as whining and clinging to mama.

Which I love. (Well, the clinging to mama part!)

His 12 month appointment is next week. He is 21 lbs, 7 oz. by our scale. Still low on the percentiles, but you'd NEVER know it by looking at him or picking him up. Someone in Maui called him a Sumo Baby.

He is just joy, joy, joy and more joy to my soul. He has helped my faith be restored.

Yes, I felt betrayed and disappointed by God. I think that would have been expected.

But if I hold God responsible for my feelings after Matthew died, then I must do the same for the last year with Luke.

And truly, my heart has been filled with a love so amazing and so deep that I simply cannot thank God enough.

I'll never know or understand why we've lived the years we've lived.

Or why they've been how they've been.

But I don't need to know.

Holding that precious little boy in my arms for the last year has been enough to tell me that God LOVES me so much.

How else could I have been so blessed with this amazing and wonderful little boy we call Luke?

Happy Birthday, sweet, sweet boy. You will never know what you mean to Mama, but I hope you believe that you are precious to me in a way that words simply can't do justice.

I love, love, love you.

I love you in the morning,
I love you in the night.
I love you when you're happy,
I love you when you fight.

I love you in the daytime,
And all the nighttime too.....
I love you, love you, love you...
I love you, YES I DO!