Saturday, July 23, 2016

Even If…

Back in January, we started stimulation shots for our sixth and final IVF cycle.  The morning of my first shot, I attended my weekly women’s Bible study.  I have a friend that was a small group leader for the group with me who I had built a deep relationship with over the previous months.  You see, she and her husband struggled for five years to get pregnant.  When they were told IVF was their only option, they gave their struggle to God and walked away from the reproductive endocrinologist.  Shortly thereafter, they were blessed with their miracle pregnancy…naturally.  Lindsay carried her sweet baby girl to full-term.  Aspyn was born on September 25, 2015.  She was a little angel, a healer of the hearts that had been broken by infertility.

On October 25, 2015, my dear friend went to feed her sweet baby and instead found her lifeless.  Aspyn Jane was exactly one month old when she left this Earth due to SIDS to be with our Heavenly Father.

Remember this picture from my last entry?
This is why this picture was so profound to me as my view on Transfer Day.

On the morning of January 23, 2016, Lindsay sat and told the Bible study a part of the story of the night Aspyn passed.  It was a part of the story I had not yet heard, and it changed me.
She said that she could remember running to her in-law’s house next door to get them, and as she ran back into her front yard, she collapsed, face first onto the ground.  In that moment, she turned to God, and she begged Him to bring Aspyn back to life.  And in the next instance, she prayed, “But even if you don’t, I will still know you are good.”  She suddenly remembered the Bible story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  They prayed to God to save them from the fires where they were being tossed but said that even if He didn’t, they would still only worship Him.

That was it.  That was the prayer that I knew Todd and I needed to pray during this final attempt to have a child that was half him and half me.

“Dear God.  Please, give us a baby.  We know you can.  But even if You do not, we will still know that you are good.”

I went home that day and told Todd the story.  With tears in both of our eyes, we agreed we would pray that through each step of this final cycle.

Fast forward to Friday, May 20.  I had blood work drawn to see if I was pregnant.  I left work at 1:30 in the afternoon, so I could be at home when our nurse called.  I was so used to taking phone calls at work, but we decided that this one should be done together.  After all, we both just knew this cycle had worked, so we needed to start planning how we would tell the kids immediately.

I will never forget sitting on our couch with Todd, staring at the phone that just would not ring.  I finally called CCRM because I couldn’t wait any longer.  For the first time since we had started talking to this clinic, they patched me through directly to the nurse.  We both sat and listened as she said, “I’m so sorry, but you are not pregnant.”  Todd took the phone as the look of horror and sadness overwhelmed my voiceless cry.  I remember her telling him that she understood we didn’t want to talk to her at that moment, I should stop taking my meds immediately, and they would contact us to setup a regroup appointment with Dr. Schoolcraft.

Our prayer was being put to the test.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Frozen Embryo Transfer: Take 1

It’s bitter sweet that all of this is finally coming to an end.  We have been saying that God was giving us our final embaby as a Mother’s Day gift.  No matter the outcome, we had decided this would be the last stop on the IVF train.  It ended up being a great way to spend Mother’s Day and our final week in Colorado for this cycle.  (Yes, we went for our transfer the week of Mother's Day.  I realize how late that means this entry is.  My sincerest apologies.)

We started the week by arriving earlier than I like to even be awake.  It was nice to get to fly this trip.  We ate at our favorite local breakfast place and cruised the mall until our condo was ready for our arrival.

Over the next week, we had the opportunity to spend time at The Royal Gorge, run through the rain to find sushi in downtown Denver, watch the Rockies play baseball, and view the spectacular sight that is Pike’s Peak.  We also had a chance to have dinner at my childhood friend's house; one of our favorite parts of our Colorado trips has been spending time with Millie and her family.

Now, a montage of pictures from our visit...

(By the way, we purchased a beanie baby monkey on the way home after our very first IVF retrieval.  He now travels with us on each of our cycles.)
*Our Little Monkey* about to board the Royal Gorge train.
Guess what state we are moving to because their flag is perfect?
See the A-frame across the way?  We are about to swing from it..
In some ways, riding in that swing is symbolic of our IVF journey together...
We were excited in the beginning...
...but quickly began gripping onto the man I love...
...followed shortly by screaming my head off from the sheer terror of it all...
...but finding a way to enjoy the ride...
...while ultimately never letting go of my rock.

Isn't he precious when he's trying to pretend he's tired of pictures?!

We had to run through the rain to get this girl some sushi!
I asked him to take me to see *The Rockies.*
What we have here is a failure to communicate.

On top of Pike's Peak
Y'all, I was not dressed for snow in May!
It wouldn't be a trip to Colorado without a wild hair picture.

*Our Little Monkey* on Pike's Peak

But this view...
Literally brought tears to our eyes as we stared and listened to Bethel Music serenade us with "It Is Well."

Obviously, we also had time for IVF appointments and a little thing we call a frozen embryo transfer (FET).  When we made it to our condo on Saturday, May 7, we unpacked our bags and setup “Preggo Central: Colorado Style.”

Preggo Central: Colorado Style

All of the meds for this cycle: 
Lupron & Progesterone injections – Vivelle patches –
Aspirin, Medrol, and Doxycycline pills – and Endometrin…uh, tabs
Sunday morning, we had a stop at CCRM for blood work for the both of us.  Our communicable disease labs had expired, so those had to be redrawn.  Plus, I needed my progesterone levels checked.  Unfortunately for Todd, his vein rolled.  In all of my dozens of blood draws over the last 5 years, I have never seen this happen.  I wish I could say that I still hadn’t.  Todd likes to say that she was moving the needle around so much that she almost clipped the carotid artery in his neck.  Ha!

The face of a man with a rolled vein.  Ouch!
On Wednesday, we arrived for the big transfer day.  I was handed Valium to calm my nerves and told to start drinking a bottle of water, which I did.  I also had blood work to check my estrogen and progesterone levels.  Then, they took us upstairs to the magical land of baby-making.

A nurse came in to complete a quick ultrasound to check my bladder.  She said it was almost full enough, so chug the rest of the second bottle of water I was currently sipping.  Being the good patient I am, I did.
Of course *Our Little Monkey* was with us!
Modeling my stylish anchor socks I have worn for every transfer.
Todd wearing his good luck charm, a Never Give Up shirt.

My view for the procedure -
anchors for our journey &
"Aspyn" trees to remind me of a friend that has
played a profound part in this recent step of our journey
The acupuncture practitioner came in and started my first round of acupuncture.  Studies show that acupuncture directly before and after a transfer increases your odds of success.  Bring on the needles!  (Heck, these weren’t hooked to any electric leads, so I thought it was pretty easy.)  I laid there for about 30 minutes (I think?) with Todd in the room.  He read me a devotional and some texts full of love and support from friends and family.  At one point, he made me laugh, which did hurt.  I had needles in my ears.  Who knew there were so many nerves inside the ears.  Ouch!
Acupuncture needles in my ears - Don't make me laugh!
By the time the acupuncturist removed the needles, my bladder was full, and I was getting close to uncomfortable.  Dr. Schoolcraft poked his head into the room and asked, “How are you doing?”  I responded with, “I hope I don’t pee on you.”  He said, “That makes two of us.”  Have we mentioned how much we like him?!

The next thing I knew, they were wheeling an incubator with a computer screen on top of it into the room.  Inside there was our embaby.  Todd was allowed to take pictures of the screen which displayed our little baby.  Todd said he|she looked like a diamond ring, but we of course realize how much more precious they are than diamonds.  This was our 35th and final baby that we would make with IVF.  It was pretty awesome.
The incubator keeping our baby nice and warm
Our sweet embaby
The transfer was the easiest I can ever remember.  When he said he was all finished, I said, “I didn’t even know you had really started.  That was easier than a pap smear.”  He replied, “Oh, if only they gave Valium for pap smears.”  (I’m going to talk to my doctor about that.)

By this point, I was about to burst.  Luckily for me, I was allowed to use a bedpan, as you’re not allowed to stand up for another hour after transfer.  I only tell that detail for ladies that will be doing transfers with doctors that want full bladders.  It can be difficult.  Good luck.

The acupuncturist reappeared for my second round of acupuncture.  Again, I had another 45 minutes to relax with Todd in the room.  I have to say that I really enjoyed having Todd by my side through the entire transfer day.  It was calming.

I spent the rest of that day and the next in the horizontal position at the condo.  I was allowed to recline to eat, but otherwise, I stayed flat.

On the way home, we were trying to upgrade one of us to board the plane early enough to get us seats together.  Todd told the ticketing agent that I was pregnant, which didn’t receive any feedback more than a quick “Congratulations,” but it made my heart soar.

A few mornings, he kissed my belly to say “good morning” to our little sweetness.

One night, my 5-year old niece had lost her tooth.  As she put it under her pillow, she told her mom/my sister, “This one is for Aunt Laura’s baby!”  <swooning>

I started having soreness and cramping, which we celebrated. 

I thoroughly enjoy getting to be pregnant.


I would just like to apologize for some of the formatting issues on this entry.  I am kind of over BlogSpot.  Le sigh.