Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I am a GREAT secret keeper.  Seriously.

You can tell me something that you want to be kept secret, and it really will go NOWHERE.  Not even when you out yourself...I'll play dumb.

I have a few secrets too.  Some will go with me to the grave.  Some get shared every now and then down the road when I feel like they are no longer "secret-worthy" because really, I think keeping some secrets can make one sick, and I try not to have many.

I also try to be pretty transparent when writing on this blog because I'd like Luke to know it's ok to feel what one feels, but also because I realize other people read and have been very kind in sending me thanks for being 'real' and 'honest.'

I was planning on keeping a secret, though.  This morning, I got a phone call from Dr. K, with a report and his recommendations.  It made me nervous, but I trust him, especially since he is UBER conservative with me.

I know lots of people were watching FB for updates as to what we are doing, and so I made the post that we were transferring the two little engines that were still chugging along.

And we did.

We also transferred a third.  Three embryos.

I wasn't going to tell anyone that.  Dr. K recommended it, based on my age, history, the fact that the third was rescued, this is our last cycle etc...he, who has always said, "No more than two, no more than two," now said three.  The lab concurred.  The transferring doctor concurred.  No one feels like this is overly aggressive.

I don't either.

But I wasn't going to say anything publicly because frankly, people can be mean.  They can (and are) be very, very, very kind.  Very supportive.  Very encouraging.

They can also be very, very mean and judgmental and honestly, I didn't want to hear anything should there be any multiples and/or any issues.

I can see it now..."You brought this on yourself..."

That's not how I feel, but I can certainly see people throwing that at me.  So, in the interest of not hearing, "I told you so," down the road, I was just going to keep it very closely to a few that we transferred three.

I feel good about it.  I prayed for clear and purposed decisions and there was exactly that.  I am not feeling like multiples will be an issue, and I will not have the, "What if..." regrets.

This is the "No Regrets" cycle, and I feel really peaceful about it.  Would have liked less stress to get here, but this is just what I was praying for.

October 10 we find out.  A long time, but when looking at days left with John, I will not even think about wishing them away.  For now, we have time together and I was able to welcome some little embryos back 'home'.

Here they are....The two in each corner are the original little engines that could...and the one in the middle is quite a fighter.

The three pictures from my three 3-Day transfers...Matthew's in the middle and Luke is on the right.  Have NO clue how they compare, but hearing they look great is good enough for me.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I Need A Miracle...

I hate even saying that, though that's how I feel.  In light of all of the goings on of the last few days,  though, and despite  the constant churning my stomach has been enduring, there is a little girl named Marissa who is suffering and I am just so distraught over the ordeal that precious baby and her family has gone through.  SHE NEEDS A MIRACLE.  She's one of my 'adoption' friends...and she's precious.  She has had so many, many, many setbacks with her hydrocephalus that I can't imagine how her mother can even breathe sometimes, and literally, she needs a MIRACLE.  Please, please, please pray for her.

That said, the miracle I feel like I need is for guidance and peace and growth.  The original two that fertilized are still dividing and that's wonderful.  The other three that were rescued (can you believe that??????) all are also dividing.

So, we've gone from 2 to 5.  Which is a blessing.  Still, the stomach churning.  Dr. K now wants to do a Day 4 transfer.  This will allow the three rescued ones to have their extra day in the sun and show themselves to be strong and survivors or not.  The problem with that, for me, is that I worry about the two original ones...that needed no rescuing or anything.  If THEY are both beautiful and look good, I'd rather just put them back inside where they belong tomorrow and pray as I did with both Matthew's cycle and Luke's cycle that pregnancy will happen.  My hope in all of this was that we had at least two good looking embryos to transfer and feel like if meant to be, would be.

I know it sounds like I have over that, and in a way, I do...but it's more complicated than that in that though pregnancy can of course result from rescue fertilizations, the stats back those that don't need rescue more.  So, then we are also faced with the big issue of putting the two original ones back AND the best of the rescued in hopes that ONE will implant and stay.

Dr. K is worried about multiples.  As am I.  My husband is leaving very soon.  For a good bit of time.  I  have a busy toddler.  A multiple pregnancy that left me bedridden would be very, very, very tough in North Carolina.  Of course, it's done all the time.

But I'm not sure how many people actually would CHOOSE it that way if they didn't have to.

I'm not as worried about multiples.  We transferred two 8 celled-embryos with Matthew and Luke and both were singletons.  My body is older.  My eggs are older.  My embryos don't do as well at this age.  I can't for the life of me see how if there were no multiples THEN, there'd be now.

Then again...we all know how that thinking works for me.  Frankly, I am not really interested in losing any more babies in a higher risk pregnancy for the hope of bringing another child into our home to raise and love.

I've said it before and again and again...no child is interchangeable with another.  None.  Should a multiple pregnancy occur (and I'm doubtful), I'd want each heartbeat to beat as long as mine did...and longer.

So, driving today, I switched the station from the news to the Message.  Third Day's song "I need a Miracle" came on and I couldn't have needed to hear it more than right then...

That's pretty much been me today.  On my knees praying for the right things to be clear, clear, clear and for another brother or sister to raise to be in our home.

"There will come a time when you can’t make it on your own
And in your hour of desperation
Know you’re not the only one, praying
Lord above, I need a miracle
I need a miracle."

Thank you for praying with me...and please, add Marissa.  That precious girl needs a miracle and I am begging God for one for her.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

See What High Expectations Get You?

I was all excited last night because we got eleven eggs and surely, surely half of them would be ok, right?  That'd be great.

Yeah, well, not so much.  Five were mature.  Only TWO fertilized.

Please don't give me the "Only takes one..." line.  I know.  I know.  I know!  We've been down to bare minimum (or so we thought) with Matthew and Luke and those embryos obviously were perfect.

But we had more to start with.  More that we could bank on at least one or two making it to day three.  Not so much this time.

Three more became mature overnight, and the amazing lab did a procedure where they basically tried to fertilize those as well.  I won't know until tomorrow how the first two are doing (though initially looks are that they look good, thank God!) and how the other three are—whether they even fertilized.

So some prayers are appreciated...prayers that we have two, very clearly purposed embryos to transfer on Tuesday and that they stick around for a long time.

I'm going back to expecting it to be crappy.  I don't mind writing about how I was wrong in those situations.  I'm more than happy to eat humble pie if it means that I was pessimistic for nothing!

I don't love, however, writing about how wrong I was to be excited in the first place.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Keep Expectations Low And....

...be pleasantly surprised!

While some may see that as glass-half-empty thinking, I don't.

I think of it as survival thinking.  Even before we lost Matthew, I always felt like if I 'secretly' kept low expectations, then I could only be happily surprised!  I don't think many people would have guessed that about me before they really started reading my blog and seeing how some of my thoughts really were.  Most people would (and still do, I guess) consider me quite a positive and optimistic person.  Ha ha.

I did not in any way, shape or form expect to get pregnant with Matthew.  After 12 years of trying, all the adoption mishap, and it being our first IVF?  No way.

And yet...surprise!  Now that I've had several of these cycles under my belt, it's funny to see how really bad Matthew's cycle was!  I had NO idea then.  I was working full-time out of the home, so I had very, very little time to google or to question my doctors or anything.

But it was really near canceling a few times.  Just like Luke's was.

Anyway, expecting a lower number of eggs only made hearing a little bit higher a number better!  Sort of.  Dr. K and I were hoping for 6-8 and Dr. Levens (super nice guy!) got 11!  He said he was going to be as greedy as he could in the egg retrieval and I love it.  Again, sort of...because I just wonder if I'm going to be pretty disappointed tomorrow when they say, "Yeah...you got 11, but only 4 were mature an only one or two have fertilized."

That's what sort of happened with Luke.  Sixteen retrieved!  Woohoo!  FOUR fertilized normally.  Yeah, yikes.  By day 3, thankfully we had two beautiful to transfer, but I was nervous.  And yes, yes, it only took one.

I wonder if people really understand how much infertile women want to throw up when they hear that? Even when I say it—because it IS true—I always preface it with, "I know you'll want to slap me when you hear this, but it does only take one!" NO WOMAN WHO HAS BEEN WAITING FOR "THE ONE" FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME WANTS TO HEAR THAT.

They know it from a "It happens to OTHER people but not to ME" standpoint.

Even if they finally get to know it from personal experience, it sure doesn't take any of the months/years/decades of apprehension wondering if THIS time, THE ONE will exist away.

Sooo...coming down from my soapbox, I feel pretty good about things still.  I'll be on pins and needles waiting to hear how many eggs were mature and what the fertilization rate is.  Dr. K said we'd probably do a Day 3 transfer (Tuesday) but if I had four 8-celled embryos with no fragmentation on Tuesday, he'd push for a Day 5 (Friday) transfer.  We also talked about number to transfer since this is my last hurrah...while 3 could be justified with my age and other issues, he would not recommend it to me because he knows we are ADAMANT that there would be no discussion of reduction should a triplet pregnancy occur.

So, God willing, if we have two beautiful embryos to transfer, we will.  I'll be honest in saying that I am feeling a bit of apprehension about being SURE that this is our last cycle—we still have 4 more fresh cycles we could do (though not really another $25K in money for medicine!) and I keep thinking, "But what if...."

And I remember...EVERY woman goes through this.  EVERY woman, even those resolutely sure of her decision that her family is complete gets to my age and realizes that the childbearing days are ending.  They wonder if they are REALLY sure, regardless of whether they've had any fertility issues or not.  They have that final "What if..."

John and I are pretty sure.  So we are praying that it will be a non-issue in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Don't Really Need A Basket, But....

...we are going looking for eggs on Saturday. Tonight I will trigger (and hope not to do more nerve damage!) and the retrieval will be Saturday sometime. Not sure when, as I'm waiting to hear, but got a call from Dr. K about the way things are looking.

My estrogen has been better..1495 yesterday and 1837 today. I have several follicles but the
problem  is that those 4 bigger ones from the beginning are still that way and there is a decent enough discrepancy between them and the several smaller ones that we don't want to take the chance of me ovulating and losing them all in the name of waiting and hoping the others catch up some.  They still can, and we are hoping for 6-8 eggs. I have icky, icky fertilization rates, so if that's the case, then it could be chancy for what we can actually transfer, but....as much as I hate to say it because I hate hearing it, it really does only take one.

So that said, we appreciate your prayers for a big week...retrieval, transfer, John traveling a lot and just anxiety in general.  It's pretty weird....I'm very anxious about a lot of stuff.

But, feel good about things. Mainly because I know I control not a single one and worrying won't make a difference but to make me sick.

Besides, how can I not feel good when my sweet boy wakes me up at 5:15 am humming the tune to the BeeGees "Stayin' Alive," ???  That boy is pure bliss.

Monday, September 17, 2012

In Other News....

We are still chugging along in this cycle.  It's not as fabulous as in January, but oh-so-much-better than last month.  It's better than Matthew's and Luke's cycle, though probably not retrieving as many eggs as I did in either of those cycles.

That's ok.  It's quality over quantity and hopefully, the adjustments for extra maturity of the eggs will make a difference in the quality.  I went in Saturday and there were 4 follicles that were a decent size and dominant still and thirteen smaller ones.  My estrogen that day was 297, which is WAY better than Matthew's was on that cycle day (102) and Luke's (don't remember, but it was around 100ish).  As I predicted, my medicines were upped a bit (not all the way maxed yet, though!) and today was a recheck.

Much nicer.  About 8-10 follicles with promise; my estrogen was 635 and SO much better than at this point in Matthew's and Luke's cycles—with Matthew, it was 308 and with Luke, it was 321.  With Trey, it was 1282 (CRAZY) so 635 is a nice medium.  All seems well, and we are on target for a Saturday or Sunday retrieval and a transfer 3-5 days later.  I feel good about it all.

The other news, which has sort of been rumbling around for awhile, is that John will be switching the squadron with which he is working, and will be going out with a different squadron soon.  Much sooner than we've been planning.  I've never been one to worry about people knowing he was gone because I am A)naive and B) usually lived on base or in a neighborhood I felt very safe in.

I still am not worried about people knowing he is deploying, but in the interest of security for ALL, I will never publicly disclose anything about what he does or where he is.

While ALL who deploy put themselves in harm's way, suffice it to say that where he's going has not been pretty lately.  AT ALL.  Marines have been killed and are dying pretty regularly, and it's just so sad.  The nice part about him leaving earlier than expected is that if this cycle works, and we should be bringing another baby home sometime in the next year, he will hopefully be home not too long after that happens.  We also are planning on taking Luke to Disney a bit earlier than we thought.  We've always wavered about spending that crazy amount of money to take a child at an age that he may be able to get more out of it than when he's Luke's age, but frankly...we live to minimize regrets.  Going to Disney before John leaves works with that plan.

Thankful in advance for your prayers for us and all service members everywhere.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hindsight Is More Than Just Twenty-Twenty....

Wow.  Pretty funny how hindsight can really give insight.

I am in the middle of another cycle.  I've kept it pretty quiet (though thanks to the privacy of FB, everyone can see anything I post to my Shady Grove page, so it's not that quiet, I guess!) and mostly because I feel like less expectation = less disappointment.  Not making a big deal and then being pleasantly surprised is what I am going for now...

Anyway, I head up to Virginia tomorrow morning and the retrieval should be in about a week or so.  If it goes well.

We are doing exactly what we did with Trey's cycle.  Actually, less suppression.  I got my call today and it wasn't great.  In fact, my nurse said, "Don't worry, though...it's looking just like Matthew's cycle."

It was meant to be reassuring because one look at the picture up above and it's obvious that Matthew's cycle was far beyond successful.

It was reassuring, even though it was not what we were hoping for.  My estrogen was only 58.  Matthew's at this point was 39.  Trey's at this point was over 200.

Funny thing is that since she said it was like Matthew's cycle, I went back through this blog and reread all those days.

I think it's hilarious that I was tired of shots then.  Oh, if I only knew...I also find it funny that I was worrying then about it being canceled and hear I am hearing the same things three years later.  Mostly, I think being able to see how it all worked out (relatively speaking) is what is giving me some confidence now, even with not so great results just yet.

Then, I was talking about how my eggs were not as young as pretty as they were a few years earlier.

Ha ha!  I STILL say that, only that they are even uglier now...and yet...I have more follicles now than I did three years ago!  Each cycle I do seems to show more antral follicles than previously...as Dr. Greenhouse said, "Your fertility gets better with age!"

Not easy to believe, but apparently somewhat true.

So, I'm not worried right now.  Knowing that we are doing what we did the last time we had wild success (again, relatively speaking) is giving me great peace in feeling like this is what it's supposed to be.


In other news, there's other news in our lives.  There's not much to be able to share right now, but just prayer for our family and family time would be lovely.


Luke is loving 'pre-school', though he has, in just three sessions, developed the fun tendency to be spiteful when told, "No," and throws whatever he has in his hand down in a mini-fit.  If he doesn't have anything, he looks around for the nearest thing to pick up and then throw down for mad effect.  He also BIT me yesterday!  For the first time in TWENTY MONTHS, he bit!  We were hugging and he was leaning into my shoulder just snuggling, and then, "OUCH!", he bit!

And giggled.

Much like the giggle he gave tonight when he was tossing food to Dixie, and I told him, "Nein, Nein," and took the food away.  He asked for it back, nicely, so I gave it and said, "We don't give food to doggies."

He looked at me sweetly, as he proceeded to very quickly sneak Dixie the bread, and then giggled hysterically.

Seriously.  How does one not laugh at that?????

I love that boy.  Adore him.  Cannot imagine my  life without him and am so thankful for the fun (and challenges) he gives me.  I also love that three years ago, in this post on February 25, I said that I LOVED the name Luke.

Long before I knew I would ever be pregnant.  Before I knew I'd be a mom to boys.  Before I even dared to dream that once we lost Matthew, we could still know what healing and restoration felt like in the sweet giggles of a little boy tossing food to dogs.

I loved the name Luke.  Still do...and the sweet little boy to whom I gave that name.

We drove up to Maryland last weekend and were able to visit Matthew's spot.  I love this picture....

Friday, September 7, 2012

Enough With The Double Standard Already… | Still Standing Magazine

Enough With The Double Standard Already… | Still Standing Magazine

The article I wrote for this month's Still Standing Magazine was somewhat difficult for me to write.

Not so much because I was having a hard time with what I am feeling, because I am very sure about my feelings.

More because I am not fond of the venom that back them.

I've been really, really angry.

Angry with the ridiculous notion that we should not be attempting any more cycles because we already have more than we've ever dreamed we could with Luke.

While that is true, we wanted a big family from the beginning.

Whether or not any died.

Whether or not we had to go through hell on earth to get there.

Whether or not we finally were able to experience the bliss that comes with raising a little one.

We wanted a big family.

So, so many women I know feel as I do—as if we should just be grateful for the fact that we finally know what a living little boy or girl feels like in our arms, and that wanting more is outrageously greedy on our part.

Trust me.

We are BEYOND grateful.  No words describe the gratitude.

But I'm still a woman who dreamed of 4 children and two dogs and big family gatherings and oodles of grandchildren to "ooh" and "ahhhh" over one day.

I'm no different than any other woman who has dreamed of those very things...

Except I've had a lot more heartache in the process than some have.

I don't think it's unreasonable to just want to be treated as 'that' normal mother.

In fact, after what we've gone through, I think it's pretty reasonable to HOPE those things for me.

Not everyone does.  For me, and for many others.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

"Delay Is Not Denial...."

....but death sure is.

That's what I wanted to scream this morning at church.

I need to preface that statement with the fact that I LOVE the church I attend.  The pastor is amazing; young (2 weeks older than I am, so yes, YOUNG!), honest, relevant, evangelistic and not afraid to tell the truth.  There has not been a single week in over a year now that we've been back in Jacksonville where I've listened to him preach and thought, "Yep.  That's just what I needed to hear this morning."

Today was no exception in many ways, but I also found it a hard sermon to listen to.

It was on James 5, and specifically, on patience.

Now let's be honest.  I'm married to a wonderful man.  Who readily admits that he's as ADD as they come.

I taught elementary school children for over ten years.  Little guys.  Little guys who take a lot of patience.

I spent nearly twelve years trying to bring a child into our family, and though I admit I had the occasional pity party now and then, I have to say that I don't think I did too much complaining and was pretty patient.

When doing IUI or IVF cycles, I don't even really *want* to test before I am supposed to.

I *think* I am a pretty patient person.  Even being a military spouse—though God knows there are SO many things I just wish I knew about for planning purposes—I don't really worry too much about them because I've learned that I can't change them and worrying about them doesn't do anything but make me ill.

Which is sort of what Jason, the pastor, was talking about.  Being patient especially about things that are out of our control.

Another reason that our pastor is so great is that he is really open.  He shares his life and lets us all know he's no different than the rest of us humans.  He's often shared of his and his wife's struggles with infertility—16 years, which included the adoption of two little boys and the birth of a little girl they conceived with the help of IVF.

He used that example of being patient this morning—and he said, "Delay is not denial," as an example of how being patient allows God to do what will be done in His time.

Jason is so right.  Delay is not denial.  They, and many others who suffer through trials that eventually 'work out' with a somewhat happy ending are proof of that.

But while delay may not be denial, DEATH IS!

When Matthew died, I was denied.  I was denied the opportunity to kiss him and feed him and put him in cute outfits his dad calls "Man-Dresses" and show him baby lizards and watch his face light up when the bubble making machine goes crazy.  On the way to church, Natalie Grant's "Held" song came on, and as I always do when I hear it, I cried.

"To think that Providence would take a child from his mother while she prays is appalling..."

Yes, it is.

Not only were there 12 years of delay in my life—longing of my heart—when we finally, finally, FINALLY got to the end....

...there was death.  DEATH.

God and I still talk about that a lot.  Listening to Jason this morning just gave me a few more talking points.

Lest anyone think this is yet 'another' downer post (for the recent apparent outpouring of 'downer' posts, I guess I apologize.  I am a big believer in just not reading if you don't like something, but whatever....),  it's not.

The morning ended with the song "Beautiful Things" by Gungor.

Truer words could not be spoken:

"All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all?

You make beautiful things...beautiful things out of the dust.
You make beautiful things...beautiful things out of us."

There are no good explanations.  There's no reason I can accept.  There a million conflicting things and beliefs and questions that run through my mind every day.

But this, I know.  God can and does make beautiful things out of ANY situation.  Not replace people, but create new places in our hearts...new feelings we didn't even know we could have again.  He took the horrible, terrible ground that was my life after Matthew died and showed us joy again.  He gave us the most amazing little boy in the world.  Matthew's little brother and Trey's big brother.

Our sweet, sweet Samuel Luke.
So grateful.

Sweet boy helping Daddy brush his teeth before church this morning!  I adore that smile.  Literally, melts my heart.