an {un}official last post

this will be my last post… at least for a while.  i started this blog during a time when i needed it most.  i found hope, strength, and encouragement from so many of you.  it was fun to see many of us get pregnant and have babies within a few months of each other.  some of us have gone on to get pregnant again {whether planned or unplanned}, some have decided they are content with the baby or babies they gained from that long awaited successful cycle.  unfortunately for me, i’m sort of stuck where i was before.  even though i’m a mommy to brian, i have a longing to feel another baby stretching my belly, to hold another fresh little bundle, to smell that new baby smell.  and i want a sibling for brian {because life is easier when you have someone to discuss just how crazy your parents are with}.  but here i am, stuck being {in}fertile, only this time, our go-to treatment {FET} doesn’t seem to be working.  my womb is empty once again, and my heart has a hole that is longing to be filled.  i wanted to share one last update {or lack thereof} and provide some closing thoughts, mostly because i need closure.  stick with me if you can.

after brian, we had 7 frozen embryos left. i never really tracked my cycle, but imagined it would be much the same.  coupled with hubby’s awful sperm statistics, it just seemed easier to go back on birth control and try to get pregnant through a FET.  well, things are seldom what they seem.  our transfers post brian have been everything but successful and easy.  brian was our only AA embryo.  we had one AB, and 6 BBs.  when transferring our AA led to brian, i always imagined God set apart the AA and AB as our two children.  i imagined the AB would be successful, so naturally i was shocked and upset when the AB didn’t even survive the thaw.  we transferred a BB back in may, which led to a negative pregnancy test and an awful skin reaction called dermatographia for me.  after 2 weeks of pure hell crawling in my own skin, the dermatographia slowly improved over the next two months but never went away.  we waited the month of june out, but hubby and i agreed it was probably time to start the process up again in july.  of course my RE has never seen the skin reaction, the allergist told me it is what it is and the only treatment is an antihistamine which i already take daily, but my dermatologist offered a little more in at least trying to determine the cause.  he said the skin reaction is usually caused by a meciation, in my case he felt the antibiotic we used for the FET protocol, and that it usually takes a month to go away.  desperate for answers, i wasted a ton of money at my old acupuncturist who promised quick results with one or two treatments.  finally after 8, i accepted that his treatments were not making a difference for me.  i did seek the second opinion of another acupuncturist and traditional chinese medicine doctor.  her treatment plan seems more promising and easier on the budget, so i decided to stick with her.  she cleared us to try again and said we could fix the underlying cause of the dermatographia after another baby.  so, we were back at in july with another transfer scheduled for early august.  i wish this transfer had a happy ending, but it doesn’t.  we transferred one BB, which implanted, but is currently ending in a chemical pregnancy.  and, the dermatographia is worsening, despite changing the antibiotic in the protocol.  to say i’m frustrated would be an understatement.  i have so many emotions – resentment, anger, feelings of abandonment, sorrow, the list goes on.  while we still have 4 embryos left, i don’t feel that my body is in a state to accept them.  knowing nothing about the health of these embryos, it’s hard to keep putting them back in my uterus since we do know my body is upset, as evidenced by the dermatographia.  i’d like to say we will try again one day, but time will tell.

as for the emotional aspect – call it whatever you want, chemical pregnancy or not, there was a tiny baby in me, that i now choose to believe is in Heaven with the first baby we lost through ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.  i really felt like God was opening doors this last cycle, so it is hard for me to see the door close and to lose another baby.  i desperately do not want this to be my last experience and memory with pregnancy.  it’s hard to end on such a sour note.  i’ve had a hard time managing my grief this go around too.  how do i let myself grieve while experiencing so much joy from brian?  the two are separate but intertwined.  i see my bouncing little boy, with his full head of blonde hair and big blue eyes, but have this extreme sense of loss and sorrow.  i know time will bring healing, it did the first time.  but brian also brought healing to my first loss, and i pray that there is another baby to bring healing to the second loss.  in the meantime, feeling the twinges of my body trying to accommodate this life, but knowing there really isn’t life is hard.  hubby and i have framed every picture we received of our embryos on transfer day.  it sits on our nightstand, but like the last, this one will also be taken down and filed in my huge medical organizer.  i’m sure one day i will have the strength to look at the two embryos that never came to be again.

another reason i started this blog was to share my faith through this journey.  i have friends who are Christian, who also experience trials, and who also keep the faith.  i also have friends that can’t accept God and Jesus because of the injustices they experience and witness in the world.  how do you explain loosing a baby?  or when a child is born with a debilitating disease?  or when anyone gets a cancer diagnosis?  or when a loved one’s life is cut short because there should always be more time?  or when entire cities of people are harmed by natural disaster?  i hate when people try to bring comfort by saying “everything happens for a reason.”  i don’t think this is always true.  i don’t think there is a reason innocent babies have to suffer.  i don’t think there is a reason i have had two miscarriages {or at least i don’t know the reason yet}.  often times, there is no explanation.  stuff happens.  life happens.  life is not perfect, for any of us.  but i choose to believe in our Creator.  i choose to have faith and hope.  i choose to believe that one day, my aches and pains will be made better, that one day i will meet the two babies i never got to hold on this earth.  i also believe that God works all things together for the good.  the Bible tells me this, and it’s easier on the heart than to think there is no God or a God that doesn’t care.  while i hope and pray for healing on this side of Heaven, i look forward to complete restoration and perfection on the other side.

to all those waiting on babies or something else in life, don’t give up hope.  don’t lose faith.  the journey is tough, but there will one day be healing.

“for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” {Jeremiah 29:11}

those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. he who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him {Psalm 126:5-6}

and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose {Romans 8:28}

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taking a break

last cycle was not kind to me.  at all.  i think this can be attributed to emotional stress and lots and lots of drugs.  i am a different person since giving birth to brian – mainly, i have hypothyroidism, requiring the daily use of synthroid.  then i pumped low dose aspirin, birth control, lupron, estrogen patches, progesterone inserts, progesterone shots, medrol, and doxycycline… and a vallium on transfer day.  oh, and i almost forgot, my daily antihistamine for seasonal allergies, xyzal.  that is a lot of stuff.  but that’s not all my body was asked to process.  i was extremely stressed out {like to the point my shoulders and neck were in a big knot}, so my body had to process it’s own stress hormones too.  10 days after the transfer, i noticed my skin turned red when anything bumped it too hard.  this just escalated as the days passed to the point where any light scratch or even me resting one leg on the other too long results in a bright red spot that takes over an hour to disappear and is usually accompanied by itching.

i was hopeful this would disappear once i started my period and my hormones got back to baseline… no luck.  i asked my RE about it when i went in for my CD3 screening over the weekend.  he said to follow up with my allergist or dermatologist.  by memorial day, i was so desperate that i went to urgent care.  the diagnosis confirmed my google research… dermatographism.  cause unknown.  only treatment… antihistamines… which i take daily.  insert grumpy face here.  i called the allergist this morning, and there is nothing more they can do for me.  my dermatologist says they can help the itch and that’s it… more to come from them today.

i did see my acupuncturist yesterday as i am willing to try ANYTHING to help me at this point.  he said i have toxic heat, which is where the liver gets overburdened with too much stuff {like medications or natural hormones}, your body draws heat away from internal organs, and it manifests itself on the skin whenever it is touched.  logical.  he said he could get rid of it with one treatment, which was last night.  maybe it’s a smidge better, but not much.  i plan to stick with his protocol of treatment and herbs, coupled with lots of prayer in hopes that this horrendous presentation leaves me soon.  oh, and i am a bridesmaid in a wedding this weekend… i am going to look like a red streaked and splotchy freak.

anyway, i think my body was overloaded and is trying to tell me to hit the pause button.  i want my body to be as healthy as possible to receive another baby, both physically, mentally, and spiritually.  i am taking the minimum/usual prescription drugs right now.  i am seeking acupuncture treatments.  the stress is still very much a struggle.  i am guilty of overthinking and getting wrapped up in the “what-ifs” of the future… this is very much a constant struggle for me, but i am trying to pause and pray through those moments.  i have a follow up with my RE next week.  i will discuss my concerns with him and see if we can alter the protocol at all to try to avoid something like this in the future. 

God, please bring me peace and comfort.  please work through the physicians and therapists i have trusted for my care.  please help me to remember that worrying about tomorrow won’t benefit me today, and that your plan is perfect.  thank You for Your sovereignty, which You have shown me so many times throughout my life.  please heal me of this dermatographia, and if it is Your will, please allow us to have another happy, healthy baby.

not pregnant

the title says it all, but i documented how i felt along the way, mostly because i wish i had done this with brian to have a comparison.  some days i felt totally normal, and other days i swore i was pregnant. 

2 days after my transfer, i thought i felt implantation cramping, otherwise felt normal.

3 days after the transfer, i felt dizzy, saw dark brown/nearly black streaks exiting with leftover crinone, and could feel my heart beat in my uterus {sounds weird, but i could feel that with brian early on}.  but something strange happened.  my entire abdomen cramped up when getting up from laying down (this also happened  on transfer day at the fertility clinic and once on day 2).  WTH body?   WTH?  probably it’s way of making sure my embryo didn’t implant.  

tested 4 days after the transfer in the morning, definitely negative – mostly did this because with brian i thought the first two + tests were evap lines, so i wanted a clean control {and for the record i no longer believe in evap lines}.  no longer feel my heart beat in my uterus, and felt normal.

5 days after my transfer the lightheadedness returned, HPT still negative. 

6 days later, negative.  feel normal, but my emotions are fragile today.  i know not every cycle will work, that’s why we started “early.”  but i have this overwhelming fear that we will slowly deplete our frozen embryos with no success, and then i’m back to square one and need to do another egg retrieval. and will my insurance company let me?  or will we have to waste time with IUIs again?  and maybe my thyroid levels are off and that’s not helping?  this process is complex.  the human body is complex.  

7 days later, still negative.  still lightheaded.  had acupuncture, and chuck thinks i could be pregnant.  every time i give up, i get another wave of false hope.  definitely emotional torture.  and i’m starting to question chuck’s credibility. 

8 days later, still negative.  this is awful, but i’m going to remove the framed picture of our embryo from my nightstand.

day 9, negative.  and i’m done wasting HPTs.  blood test is on day 11.  i had it moved up a day so i had time to cancel my next shipment of PIO.  i think i’m depressed.  i mean, i poured myself into this process for 6 weeks to just lose two embryos.  i never imagined that i would be this upset.  after having brian, i felt so complete… i thought i would be ok if he were to be our only little.  but my heart is aching again.  and i’m bitter.  i’m tired of going to the doctor to try to get pregnant.   i’m tired of spending thousands and thousands of dollars on these efforts.  i cry at least once a day, usually two or three times.  i’m seriously a wreck.  

day 10… didn’t even test.  i honestly couldn’t face another negative.  i know the answer is negative, so no point rubbing it in my face unnecessarily.  emotionally, i’m doing a bit better today.  i had a long walk with a dear friend who is also embarking on the FET journey after years of {in}fertility, and it was good to just spend some time with someone who gets it.  in processing, i’ve come up with quite a long list of questions for dr. w.  mostly related to things that were different this cycle than with brian:

  1. were my thyroid levels good prior to the transfer?  
  2. could PCOS be at play here?  should i take metformin again?  what have my estrogen and FSH levels been at CD3?  
  3. could the mucus ball in my uterus at the start of the cycle impacted this?
  4. what about the crazy abdominal cramps i had right after the transfer?  have you heard of this before?  is this my body’s way of trying to prevent implantation?
  5. should we consider transferring more than one embryo in the future?  

i’m sure my questions won’t be well received… they never are.  i think my RE’s office wishes patients would play dumb and not think with their own brains.  i’ll probably ask nurse mary or whoever calls tomorrow to help me schedule a debrief appointment.  i don’t give a damn if they don’t like my questions… they will be answered, and if i must, i will take my business elsewhere.

day 11, negative.  no surprise here, but the phone call still crushed me.  mostly because nurse mary {still not my fave} acted like we will have to take a break between cycles.  say what?!  she is checking on this with dr. w, hopefully she actually does her job and gets back to me about this soon.

i probably will not recap FET take 3 unless there is new and different information to share.  best of luck to all those waiting on babies.

IVF recap – FET attempt #2

call me crazy, but brian is approaching one (will be one by the time i actually post this), and i feel the need to get the show on the road for number 2.  i’ve seen so many friends who battled infertility with their first to go on and wage war again for another baby, and i would rather have a bit of a buffer and not feel crunched.  hubby agrees, so we are proceeding with caution.

i’m writing this in real time, but will post later… sometime after the transfer.  i’m just not a post as i go kind of girl… maybe i’m slightly superstitious {which is totally ridiculous}.

  
hormone evening out: BCPs

it’s funny, details from my first transfer that i swore i would never forget, i’ve forgotten… like exactly how long i took birth control and lupron shots, how many progesterone shots prior to the transfer, etc.  good thing i {sort of} documented that here.  i don’t have an official day count of how long i have been taking BCPs, because i’ve been taking them since november in preparation for this.  i recently called my RE’s office to say i was ready to start the FET process again and they drafted up a protocol that seems like a good timeline.  during this time, we also signed consents for the transfer, coincidentally on brian’s birthday. 


trial transfer and sonohysterogram

apparently my bladder was too full again {sorry dr. w, took me 45 minutes to get to your office thanks to traffic and the morning hot tea moves quickly}.  dr. w explained that these tests were necessary again because after having a baby the uterus changes size and shape, and theoretically the measurements for embryo placement may be different. i also had some “retained products of conception” after delivering brian requiring a d&c, so dr. w wanted to make sure my uterus was clear.  i’m happy to report that all went well.  interestingly enough, this test was scheduled for brian’s original due date.  dates don’t line up often in my life, but this is just weird. 

lupron

i started lupron on trial transfer day {again, weird with the dates since this was my due date with brian}.  i actually did not want to give myself the shot even though it was a tiny baby one.  crazy how i would do almost anything to get pregnant the first time.  shots didn’t phase me in the slightest, but today it did.  it went well enough though.  lupron will continue until progesterone starts.  i don’t remember this happening for FET #1, but i started spotting on lupron and the last day of BCPs… the only thing i can think of is that i took BCPs one day longer than i normally would in a cycle.  guess we’ll see how my hormones look in a few days.  also, my boobs hurt the last few days of lupron only, before starting patches.  i don’t remember this happening last time {at least i didn’t document it}.  lupron is supposed to suppress, so who knows. 

also, seems these little shots are giving me little headaches most evenings.  all for a good cause, i suppose.

last BCP

after starting lupron, i only took BCPs for 5 more days.  i spotted on the last day (see above).  my period/withdrawal bleeding started two days after the last BCP, which is similar timing to FET number one.

cycle day 3 screening (somehow this is technically CD 1, i guess because it’s my patch start date)

my appointment went well today.  i had to bring brian with me, which is always awkward at an {in}fertility clinic.  hopefully the other patients who have yet to have a baby view it as a success story, instead of judging me for rubbing a child in their faces.  there were two other ladies who had kiddos with them, so that helped.  back to the appointment, i met one of the newer doctors today (two of the familiar faces from my IUI, egg retrieval, and first FET days have since retired).  this lady was very friendly, but either her techniques weren’t as great or i couldn’t relax because my bladder was full having no chance to pee bringing brian with me and brian was fussing during the ultrasound because he wasn’t a fan of the lights getting turned off.  either way, the ultrasound wasn’t comfortable, but my insides looked good.  nurse mary {still not my fave, and apparently she is the nurse manager now… gasp!  i could think of so many other better candidates for that position just from my limited interaction with other nurses} called later in the day to say my blood work was good too, so i start estrogen patches this evening and decrease my lupron dose.

estrogen patches

first patch was uneventful.  it gets traded out this evening for another single patch.  then i will work my way up to four patches by changing them out and adding one every other day.  

by the third day of patches (still only one patch), i have noticeable cervical mucus and my ovaries hurt.  i remember the cervical mucus from last time, not so much ovary pain.  i’m moving up to 2 patches tonight.  my next ultrasound and labs are scheduled for next week (scratch this – i ended up going sooner, see below), hopefully my ovaries will be quiet and my lining will be pretty. 

i’m up to four patches now.  holy mucus.

been at four for a few days, and i had my first emotional breakdown.  i’m sure the hormones don’t help my cause, but for the record this process still sucks.  relying on a doctor to conceive a baby for you sucks.  relying on estrogen patches and progesterone shots to stay pregnant sucks.  having to order said medications from the speciality pharmacy because my insurance plan makes me sucks.  crying helps me accept.  this is my journey.  everyone has something because life is imperfect.  instead of constantly striving for perfection, i need to say thanks for what i have and how far i’ve come.  for me, and probably for most, this is a never ending process.  also, my appetite is out of control and i’ve gained a couple of pounds quickly… i’m assuming this is from the patches?  i’ll blame it on them for now.

i’ve been at four patches for more than a week and all of the sudden i have red spots that will not fade when i change them out.  what the heck?  hopefully this is just a fluke or i will run out of real estate soon. 

mid-cycle check (CD 7)

had an impromptu visit with my RE this morning after 3-4 days of ovary soreness.  my doctor asked me why i was concerned… “because you have cervical mucus?”  while i wanted to reply with “i’m not that stupid,” i instead told him about how my ovaries have felt tender.  i was just supposed to have an ultrasound, but the ultrasound revealed several smallish follicles and fluid in my uterus, so my RE ordered blood work too.  there is no dominant follicle, so ovaries are not an issue, so now we will have to see if the fluid disappears.  i wonder if this is what’s causing my discomfort.  anyway, i’m told this happens sometimes and progesterone usually dries it up.  i’m kind of worried about this cycle now and am hesitant to transfer our next best embryo because i don’t have a whole lot of confidence in my uterus.

second mid-cycle check (CD 12)

well, no more fluid!  i honestly think the fluid was a giant ball of mucus because something that looked like a mucus plug and that was streaked with blood fell out of me over the weekend/CD 9.  anyway, back to my appointment this morning… i had the triple stripe, as pointed out by the doctor on duty and according to nurse mary, everything looks perfect.  i know all too well that just because things look good doesn’t mean you will actually get pregnant.  we have a fair amount of frozen embryos still, but next in line is our only AB embryo… the rest are BB.  i’m nervous to use our AB, but i’m praying that the right embryo will make it to my uterus.

day minus 5 (new medicine day)

i traded lupron for four new medicines:

  1. doxycycline 2x a day: uneventful.  just had to rearrange my prenatal time.
  2. crinone 2x a day: the real fun hasn’t even begun… give this puppy a few more days to work up some good funk.
  3. progesterone in ethyl oleate: first shot was just fine, however my butt muscle was sore the next day.
  4. medrol: loathed this one last time and still do.  i’m currently listening to my husband snore as i “rest” in hopes that sleep will come soon.


day minus 3

just not feeling good about this cycle.  i feel crampy every now and then… who knows.  got a wart on my finger frozen at my primary care doctor this morning, seriously worried that will interfere with the FET.  he started talking about how the freezy stuff triggers an immune response, pretty sure i do not need any immune responses.  still praying that all works out according to God’s plan, which i know it will.

update on crinone… this stuff is still gross.  i think it seriously irritates all of my lady parts and just makes them hurt.  i had the option of skipping crinone this time, but hubby and i decided it was best to keep the same protocol that worked with brian, even though my RE doesn’t use crinone as much anymore.  to think, i could’ve avoided this.  if this cycle is not a success, i may consider ditching crinone for future cycles.

oh, and PIO… how you are a pain in my {back}side, literally.  i forgot how sore i got from these shots the first time… natures way of tricking me in to doing this again.  while they suck, when i think about the fact that i only had to use them for ~9 weeks with brian, i know it’s worth it.  it’s such a short span of time relative to the rest of pregnancy {and life}.  i hope i’m lucky enough to get another babe on take 2 so i don’t have to have cycle after cycle of PIO.  

either i’m adjusting to the medrol, it’s being kinder to me, or i’m so exhausted that my body gave in, but sleep finally came easier (although i did wake up to pee in the middle of the night, which is unusual).

day minus 2

blood work only today.  the past two draws, it felt like the technician was trying to rip the vein out of my arm. anyway, nurse mary called to say everything looks “perfect.”  i don’t love that word, but whatever you say nurse mary… i will be there at 10 am for a 10:30 am transfer in two days. 

day minus 1

i’m nervous and excited.  over thinking everything.  and finding comfort in some of my favorite Bible verses today.  in less than 24 hours, i will be at my RE’s office for FET take 2!


transfer day

after an awful night of sleep, here we are.  prayers said, consents signed, valium taken, hospital gown on.  just found out our AB embryo didn’t survive the thaw, so now we’re down to 6 BBs, well 5 after the one that will be transferred today.   i’m disappointed and sad, but God is in control.  this process is so emotional, but i hope will be worth it. 

the transfer itself went well, although apparently my bladder was not full enough {i will likely never get this right}.  we got to see our embryo up on a big monitor before the transfer and watch it make its way to my uterus on another monitor.  then i rested for 30 minutes after {and maybe cried a little}.  the nurse had my doctor stop by after she saw me crying.  he probably thinks i’m nuts, but this process is just draining and full of the unexpected, and sometimes you just need to cry those emotions out.

i had acupuncture after my transfer, which is always relaxing.  now i’m just taking it easy at home – i plan to watch a little gilmore girls, search for some more house decorations, maybe nap. 

to keep the tradition alive, here is a picture of me and the hubs all suited up for the transfer {love the “artwork” in the background, ha}:




12 day wait

generally, i’m not a patient person.  infertility has helped me work on this a little, but there’s still room for improvement.  it’s only the first day of 12, but i don’t have a great feeling about this cycle.  with brian, i had so much peace.  it’s not coming easy this time.  i’m over analyzing every twinge and cramp, or lack thereof.  i haven’t decided if i will test before my beta.  i don’t want to drive myself crazy, but i want to be prepared if the results aren’t what i hoped for… so maybe i’ll test a couple of days before. 

5 days out now.  on day 3, i swore i was pregnant.  now i’m about 70% sure i’m not and the HPTs agree so far.  i know there’s still time, but my vote is not pregnant.  if anyone has success stories where you were still pregnant with negative HPTs 5dp5dt, i’m all ears.  i keep wondering where i went wrong.  with brian, so many people were praying… maybe i needed more prayer warriors.  then i realized 88% of the population just has sex without telling the whole world and asking for prayer, and they get pregnant.  wouldn’t that be nice.

anyway, here’s to baby g #2, whenever you come along!  

    health updates

    hypothyroidism… the pendulum has swung and my TSH is now double the normal range, almost 8x what my historical levels were… and free t4 is low.  synthroid it is… probably for the rest of my life.  could be worse, but definitely adds another layer of complexity for future pregnancies.

    never wrote about this one, but started getting random joint pain a couple of weeks after i went back to work (at the same time i had another psoriasis flare on my face).  at first it was mainly my wrists, which i attributed to using the keyboard for 8 hours a day after a 6 month break.  then my knees started hurting, then finger joints.  i spoke to my primary care, who was concerned that it could be psoriatic arthritis.  she ran some blood tests, most of which came back normal, although i am vitamin d deficient.  she referred me to a rheumatologist anyway, as blood work usually appears normal in psoriatic arthritis.  at first look, the rheumatologist thinks this is all related to my immune system going haywire postpartum (that’s what postpartum thyroiditis is caused by). he did order some additional tests to check for joint inflammation, i should get the results later this week.  he also put me on an anti inflammatory drug to see if it helped with the pain.  it did, but then i stopped taking it after a few days because i was taking every OTC medication under the sun for a cold, started synthroid, started an antibiotic, and drum roll please… started birth control again.  so, because the NSAID helped, i fear the worst that there is real inflammation.

    on to the next thing, finally got a normal pap smear after over a year of abnormal results with cell changes due to high risk HPV {thank you, husband – still not completely over this one yet}.  although, i’m not holding my breath as i will have HPV for life and it could show up again at any point unannounced.  you know what’s so messed up about this situation {besides me making the right decisions and dealing with the consequences of husband’s poor decisions}?  i got the gardisil shot in high school.  apparently it does not cover all strains of high risk HPV.  abstinence is the only thing that will do people, and you better believe i’m preaching this to my offspring.  i think another reason i’m having such a hard time getting over this one is that i could’ve made different choices too.  i knew some came before, but didn’t think it was a big deal.  wrong, it is a big deal.  it is a big deal because i have yet another health problem to deal with.  life is messy.  it just is.  prime example of my ever growing need to part with perfection.  and to forgive.  why is it hardest to forgive the ones you’re closest too?  including yourself?

    moving on, i went to see my RE thinking i would need metformon again since i have a history of PCOS.  and guess what, apparently research shows that it’s only really beneficial for ladies with PCOS that are overweight and boarderline diabetic, which so far is not me {i’ve learned to never say never}.  we discussed the goal of future FET(s) and decided it was best for me to resume taking birth control so that my body will be at baseline when we’re ready to move forward.  i have mixed emotions about this… after all that we’ve been through, it just seems wrong to prevent pregnancy.  however, i truly feel that God gave us the number of embryos we have for a reason and i do not want to waste them.  and to be honest, i don’t want to even think about having another ectopic pregnancy experience.  3 months of being fake pregnant and methotrexate to shut it all down, not fun.  further, the odds are against us for natural conception – even if my PCOS were magically cured, the husband has pretty terrible swimmers {a result of HPV?  kidding.  but really, he should have some sort of consequence}.  {also, if you know me in real life, i kindly ask you not to broadcast this whole HPV thing to the world, or anyone really.}

    oh, i almost forgot the best detail yet about this appointment with my RE.  i stopped breastfeeding 2 months ago, but still hadn’t started my period.  until the evening before my appointment with my RE, same day i had the repeat pap actually.  my OB was a bit concerned and told me that if i didn’t start by january, to give him a call.  life has a funny way of organizing events sometimes.  oh, and the first period after you’re done breastfeeding, it’s no joke.

    so back to doctor appointments.  daycare is rough.  especially the daycare germs.  they are super germs that don’t give up until they’ve got you pinned.  brian got a cold, turned double ear infection.  husband caught he cold next, but eventually got over it.  i thought i was going to sneak by.  false.  it got me, and it got me good.  it turned to a sinus infection, and i’m pretty sure the worst sinus infection i’ve had to date.  my primary care was off the day i felt the sickest, so i got luck of the draw at the doctor office.  the man i saw is an idiot.  he said “you just have a cold and giving you an antibiotic would be like killing a fly with a machine gun.”  he wrote a prescription for an antibiotic anyway, but told me not to fill it unless things got worse and lasted several more days.  so after two days of having a fever and feeling like crap, i decided to fill the antibiotic.  i made the right choice, because i kid you not, the biggest most disgusting ball of mucus i have ever seen managed to exit my right nostril about 30 minutes after i got back from the pharmacy.  it was green, streaked with blood, firm in the middle, and the size of a quarter in diameter.  so i started taking the antibiotic, until a family member tipped me off that this antibiotic wasn’t strong enough for a sinus infection.   after two days of taking it with no improvement other than the fever going away, i practically had to beg my primary care to switch the antibiotic.  she finally agreed, and it has literally taken an additional 4 days to feel human again.  everything that comes out of my face is green.  with that, i will just reiterate that daycare germs are super germs.

    i’m sure the world wide web isn’t all that concerned with what’s going on with my health, but on the off chance that someone is, there you have it, folks.

    happy transferversary

    one year ago today, my life changed forever.  while we had to wait several days to see if the transfer was successful, july 24th was the day i became pregnant with the baby i was unable to conceive on my own.  he had to start his life in a petri dish {or something other than my womb}, but i’m so thankful he did.  a year ago i knew nothing more about this baby other than it was our only AA embryo, embryo number 19.  it’s amazing to hold his little body, to kiss his cheeks, to be the recepient of his smiles and laughs, and to watch him grow before my eyes.  my little man and i have been on quite the journey already, and i look forward to the journey ahead.  God is good.

    weaning and another rant

    today is the day.  the day i administered my last dose of crinone, and the day i will remove my last little estrogen patch.  this makes me nervous as heck.  my RE has been weaning me off hormone support for the past 1.5 weeks as the baby’s placenta should start taking over hormone production {i hate the word should}.  two wednesdays ago, the progesterone in oil shot ceased.  i was nervous for that too, but i {and bitty baby} survived.  we got a good report this past wednesday; bitty baby measured 9 weeks 2 days and had a heart rate of 178 bpm.  dr. w said it was time to part with patches and crinone.  i get it, he’s the doctor and the one with the experience, but does he realize that i’m on the verge of a meltdown over this?  just getting to this point has been a process – growing 25 eggs, praying for blastocysts, freezing them, praying they survive the freezing and thaw, starting crazy medication again, transferring an embryo, waiting for it to grow, watching it every week since week 5, popping a blood vessel. now that we’re here, at week 9.5, i really don’t want to screw things up.  reluctantly, i’ve been following doctor’s orders – i’ve removed one of my four estrogen patches wednesday, thursday, and friday.  the last one comes off tonight.  and since wednesday, i’ve only used one dose of crinone {instead of the usual two}, with my last dose being this morning.

    IVF is amazing, but it may also qualify as emotional torture. of course, the weaning hasn’t been smooth. there’s been pink spotting and little cramps, both of which are things that i’ve experienced so far and are most likely normal… but timed with no more hormone support equals scary. i called denise and mary about my symptoms and they say the symptoms are normal. apparently spotting can happen as you peel off the patches.

    i go to acupuncture on monday, so hopefully my acupuncturist will be able to tell that all is well with bitty baby. last week, i shared my fear about dropping the meds, and my acupuncturist boldly stated that i no longer need them. also, i go back to my regular OB on thursday. not sure what the appointment will entail, but hopefully we’ll get a good report. until then, i’ll just continue to pray. God is still mighty and bigger than my fears.

    now for the rant. i have to vent about my brother again. one day, i plan to share this blog and journey with my “network,” so i’ll have to figure out what to do with these posts before then. or i’ll end up making some people grumpy. but hey, he made me grumpy today and maybe he should know. anyway, my step sister asked my brother when i would get pregnant today {she’s in town, so i picture this conversation taking place in person}. so my brother texts me and wants to know if he can share my news. is he serious? what a dumb question. of course you can’t, brother dear. do i even have to state the obvious that it’s not your news to share? i can just imagine the conversation now – she asks the question, he whips out his iphone to check with me… sketchy and not sure how you recover from that exchange without spilling the beans. so i have a feeling she knows. the point is not about who knows when, but that he thinks the news should be delivered from his mouth. further, just because he announced his pregnancy at 7 weeks on instagram and facebook, doesn’t mean i have to share a day before i’m ready. hubs and i are planning on waiting to announce until week 12-13, especially given that the journey has been rocky at times so far.

    this brings me back to a previous point. as thankful as i am for IVF and FETs, this is not how having a baby should be. this process is hard, something that i don’t think anyone can fully appreciate unless you’ve lived it. at least i got this super cute onesie from my RE’s office for my trouble.

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    “every good and perfect gift is from above” {James 1:17a}

    we are pregnant!  there is a baby g growing in me, or as i like to call it, bitty baby.  my womb is no longer empty, it is full.  and my heart is full too.  i’m so thankful to our Heavenly Father for this gift.  hubby and i both think it’s a boy, we have a 50% chance of being correct.  we definitely do not have a preference on gender, we just want a healthy, happy baby.

    this part of the journey hasn’t been a breeze though.  i’ve had a lot of spotting {possibly due to crinone}, angry muscles from the progesterone shot, pregnancy insomnia, and then this morning…. period like flow.  eek!  i panicked.  thankfully my RE was on duty and in the office this morning, so i got to visit him {for the 2nd time this week}.  i went on wednesday after continually complaining about spotting.  baby measured 5 weeks 1 day and was too little to see the heartbeat.  today baby measured 5 weeks 6 days and had a heartbeat of 97 bpm!  while i’d rather not have bleeding, i’m so thankful that we got to see our bitty baby today.  as for the bleeding, my RE said it just happens to 25-30% of his patients and there’s really nothing that can be done except stop worrying.  he’s probably getting tired of me, but this is what i pay him for.

    it’s easy to get trapped in fear and worry that this pregnancy will end early like the last.  but then i pray, and an overwhelming peace comes over me.  this journey is the Lord’s will for my life.  i’ve been reading these verses daily for i don’t know how long. the Bible is full of promises like these.  they keep me going and comfort me when i’m afraid.

    those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.  he who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.  {Psalm 126:5-6}

    ah, Lord God!  behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  there is nothing too hard for You.  {Jeremiah 32:17}

    behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh.  is there anything too hard for Me?  {Jeremiah 32:27}

    anything is possible at any time.  i know this all too well, and i’ve witnessed this firsthand in friends’ and family members’ lives.  there is something to worry about every step of the way – it doesn’t end after the first trimester or after the baby is born.  every day i have to choose to be happy and to keep the faith.  today, i’m pregnant with a little baby, and i’m beyond grateful to God.

    i feel like i’ve missed out on posting pictures of pee sticks and beta levels since i’ve kept quiet for so long, so here’s my update:

    i started testing 5 days post transfer using wondfos.  here are day 5’s and 6’s tests, which i actually assessed as negative and threw away.  later, i got the hunch to dig them out of the trash, and bam… two lines.

    image

     

    were these just evap lines?  or was this the real deal?  i confirmed with a first response 7, 8, and 10 days post transfer:

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    i had my first beta 11 days post transfer.  it was 373.  2nd beta was 14 days post transfer and was 1,037.  3rd and final beta was 18 days post transfer and was 3,111.

    as for symptoms, i sometimes get mild cramps, signifying a stretching uterus.  i also have to drug myself with benadryl to sleep.  i was so sleepy all the time with my 1st pregnancy – hasn’t really hit me yet.  i get occasional headaches and dizzy/light headed spells.  i also drink a ton of water, and pee constantly.  i’ve been a chocolate lover my whole life, but surprisingly could do without right now.  i haven’t been sick or nauseous yet, but i also don’t really enjoy eating.  it’s hard for me to think of something i really, truly want.  my boobs also hurt fairly often.

    big bro and sister-in-law are due in march.  bitty baby is due around april 12th.  so thankful we will have cousins to grow up with each other in our family.

    thanks to my friends, fellow bloggers, and support system for all of your prayers for our baby.  please keep them coming!!

     

    dear Heavenly Father,  please continue to watch over our bitty baby and keep it safe.  help it to grow healthy and strong and to develop normally.  help it to be born alive and at full-term.  thank you for his/her life and for all of the many blessings you have given us.

    IVF recap – FET attempt #1

    like the post on my first retrieval, i’m writing most of this in present tense and will publish later.  the prep for the frozen embryo transfer is just as time consuming and more lengthy than the prep for retrieval.  maybe it just feels that way because i’m waiting on a baby g.  we’ve been packing and preparing to move into our new house and to become landlords for our condo, so that has been a wonderful distraction.  i’m thankful our transfer will take place after we are settled into our new house so i don’t have to worry about house stress interfering.  anyway, here goes the recap.

     

    hormone evening out: 18 days

    you guessed it, birth control pills.  and after 14 days of the pill, daily tummy shots of lupron were added to the mix.  i currently have three more days of the pill left and then i should experience withdrawal bleeding, signifying cycle day 1.  my guess is that it is not a real cycle day 1 as i’ll still be shooting up lupron, which is supposed to suppress me.  during this time, i also filled most of the other prescriptions i will need – estrogen patches, antibiotics, an oral steroid, valium for transfer day, progesterone gel, and a smaller version of the intramuscular needle for the progesterone in oil shot.  i have to wait on ordering progesterone in oil since it only has a shelf life of 30 days.  when giving hubby and i a demo of how he will administer the progesterone shot to my rear end during our FET consult, nurse mary pitied me and gave me an extra prescription for 1″ 25 gauge needles instead of the standard 1 1/2″ 25 gauge.  thank goodness.  i look forward to that daily delight coming my way soon.

    regarding symptoms, i’m still dealing with constipation.  if i don’t eat salads twice a day and several servings of fruit, i’m uncomfortable.  although i haven’t weighed myself, i’d venture to guess i’m about 4-5 pounds heavier than when the retrieval process began {edit – this has been confirmed since my original drafting of this section. dang}.  i still don’t fit in my pants.  i’m sure birthdayversary week didn’t help my cause.  but i’m trying not to stress about it too much as hopefully i will have a baby g growing in me soon, which leads to more weight gain, and welcome weight gain at that.

     

    more hormone evening out: 3 days of lupron only

    this phase was relatively uneventful.  i simply took daily injections of lupron and waited for my menses.

    on the constipation front, i’m slowly becoming more regular.  maybe my pants fit a bit better now too.  i’ll be able to tell when i get dressed for work next week – so far this week i’ve been living in workout clothes {stretchy running shorts} since i’ve been off work and we’ve been moving.

     

    cycle day 1

    it only took 2 days of no birth control pills for a flow requiring protection to appear.  i’m not surprised as i spotted almost the entire time i took the bcps.  cycle day 1 is a friday {4th of july to be exact}, which i’m really thankful for.  this means my cycle day 2 or 3 screening can either be saturday or sunday and i don’t have to worry about going to my RE’s office on a weekday before work.  now that we live in the burbs {vs. our city’s uptown where home, work, and my RE’s office were all centrally located}, i have to factor in a lovely 20-45 minute commute, depending on traffic, to get to work.

     

    cycle day 2 screening

    you guessed it, internal ultrasound and blood work.  during the ultrasound the RE on duty asked me if i’d been taking birth control pills.  queue mini panic attack.

    here were my thoughts: why would you ask me that?  did they not work?  are my ovaries full of cysts leftover from the 25 follicles i had?  did acupuncture not help?  ahh!!!

    but instead i said: “yes, i took birth control.  hopefully it did what it was supposed to.”  then his nonchalant response was “yes, it did.”  um, ok, please do not scare me like that again!  you’d think he’d check the notes in my chart for some background info about the current protocol i’m following so he doesn’t have to look at my insides and guess what’s going on.  whatever.

    a different nurse mary called later in the day to say that everything looked good to proceed with the next phase of the protocol which consists of a lower dose of lupron and estrogen patches.

    switching to a slightly different subject, i’ve had cramps the past few cycles.  this worries me, but i shouldn’t let it.  after my septum was corrected, the ridiculous cramps i experienced every menstrual cycle prior to that point magically disappeared.  i read on the world wide web once {i know, fantastic source} that a septate uterus can cause cramping.  my septum was fixed, so made sense to me that the cramps were gone.  recently, my cramps have started to come back, so naturally my brain wonders if my septum came back.  many months ago, i asked my RE if septums can return.  he said no.  so why do i fret?  i personally think the evil one knows that worry is my weakness, and he wants me to worry.  i’ve seen the results of surgery via a HSG, my RE says i’m good to go, now i just need to relax and trust and pray for worry to go away.

     

    estrogen patch build up (& lupron shots still)

    on cycle day 2, i applied one patch to my lower abdomen.  it stays there until cycle day 4 when i will change it out for a new patch.  i will keep changing the patch(es) every other day but will add another until i get up to four patches every other day.  i don’t love the spot i picked for the first patch, but i’m committed for another day.  the patch is in the perfect spot for the top of my underwear to get caught on it.  i think i will try placing it an inch or so higher on my body next time.

    i’m up to two patches now.  no real side effects, except maybe i’m more emotional.  i cry a lot anyway, so hard to tell.  today i had an acupuncture appointment.  when the receptionist took me back to the treatment room and offered to schedule another appointment, i asked for an appointment on my transfer day, 7/24.  then she informed me my acupuncturist will be out of office that day, and the whole week of my transfer really, but his partner could see me.  super.  queue mini breakdown {again}.  there were tears.  i have no idea how much skill is involved, but i figured it takes some time for an acupuncturist to get to know my body.  i’ve been seeing chuck for over 3 months now.  he helped me through my first egg retrieval, and all i need him to do is see me through to transfer day.  a new acupuncturist on what i argue will be one of the most important days yet is unsettling.  i’m seriously considering calling nurse mary tomorrow to see how much flexibility there is in the timing of the transfer to see if i can reschedule when my acupuncturist will be in town.  guess i will pray about it first.

    well, i’m up to 3 patches now.  tonight i will be swapping them out for 4.  thank goodness because there were almost some patch casualties yesterday and this morning.  turns out sweat and patches don’t mix {learned this on my walk/run in 1,000% humidity yesterday}, but showering is ok.  then this morning, i woke up to one of my patches half sticking to my pj pants, half sticking to me.  i just pressed it back on my belly and carried on since they will be changed tonight anyway.

    the only noteworthy symptom from estrogen patches is cervical mucus, and lots of it.  kind of gross, but at least i know my body is doing it’s job.

     

    checkup 1

    i had a mid cycle checkup {ultrasound and blood work} this week.  it was relatively uneventful.  the good news is that the results were great so we are carrying on.

     

    last lupron shot

    i took my last lupron shot last night.  trading it for a scarier, more painful, but absolutely necessary shot tonight… progesterone in ethyl oleate.  i’m also adding crinone {progesterone gel, not my favorite, but again necessary}, antibiotics, and an oral steroid to my medication routine.  i’m still on estrogen patches – 4 a day now.  hubby’s mom is a nurse, so she’s coming over tonight to teach hubby how to correctly administer the intramuscular progesterone shot to my booty.  woooo!

     

    day minus 4 {4 days until FET}

    today is day 2 of all my new meds, and they aren’t treating me so nicely {well two of them at least}.  here’s the scoop:

    • doxycycline: antibiotic.  twice a day.  uneventful.
    • crinone: vaginal progesterone gel.  twice a day.  ick!  this stuff gives me funky discharge and makes me itch.  it did this when i used it for both of my IUIs, but i was hopeful this time would be different.  wrong.  upon administering this morning, there was a tiny bit of blood on the applicator afterwards.  um, earth to body, it’s not time to bleed yet!  hopefully my uterus gets the memo.  i tried google researching the different types of progesterone and which ones induce menstruation and which ones don’t.  no real luck there.  all i can do is pray right now.  God knows what i want, and i’m trusting that everything will work out according to His plan.
    • progesterone in ethyl oleate: intramuscular progesterone shot {aka a butt shot}. once a day.  surprisingly uneventful.  mama g {the mother-in-law} is a nurse; she came over and showed hubby how to give the shot last night.  he actually did a good job, but we’ll see how tonight goes.
    • medrol: oral steroid.  once daily at bedtime.  evil.  i took the thing at 9:45 last night, hopped in bed by 10:15, watched maybe 20 minutes of tv, begged hubby to turn the tv off because i was half asleep and drooling on myself, he reluctantly complied, and 15 minutes later i’m wide awake.  and i stayed wide awake until 2:30 am.  what a jerk {the medicine that is}.  i researched this drug a bit since i had some free time in the wee hours of the morning.  turns out a side effect is trouble sleeping.  this should be interesting with the work week coming up.  guess i literally need to take the thing 5 minutes before i intend to fall asleep.  oh, and it starts disintegrating in my mouth before i can get the sucker down.  it leaves a horrible aftertaste that lingers for a while.

    it’s just a few hours later, and i take back all of the kind words i said about progesterone in ethyl oleate earlier.  the injection site from last night {right butt muscle} hurts.  then, when hubby tried to administer tonight’s shot in the left butt, things didn’t go so smoothly.  for one, it hurt like heck {didn’t help that he was wiggling the needle around in my skin.  ouch!}.  then, after he removed the needle, a significant amount of the oily medication oozed out.  he wiped it several times and finally put a band-aid on.  then when i got to the bathroom to examine the site, i was greeted with a fully saturated band-aid of oil, an oil spot on my underwear, and an oil spot on my pj pants.  queue mini meltdown number 3.  i ended up speaking with the RE on call, who assured me i got enough progesterone {this was after i cried about it for 20 minutes}.  seriously, no one should have to go through this to have a baby.

     

    day minus 3

    talked to nurse mary about last night’s shot incident this morning.  she gave me several tips to try to prevent leakage going forward – roll the oil in a heating pad on low for 10 minutes before giving shot, leave needle in skin for 10 seconds, massage skin gently afterwards.  most importantly, mama g came back tonight and the process went off without a hitch.  too bad she’s skipping town in a few days!

    i also had acupuncture today.  my acupuncturist thinks i’m in the best shape possible, from his perspective, so that’s good news.

    one thing that surprises me is that my boobs aren’t really sore yet.  usually progesterone does that to me.  hope that’s not a bad sign, i’ll find out after blood work tomorrow.

     

    day minus 2 & checkup 2

    good news!  my hormone levels looked good, so my transfer is still scheduled to take place in two days.

    while at my RE’s office, i visited nurse mary.  she examined my shot sites {cleverly marked in black sharpie} and suggested slightly different areas {now marked in orange sharpie}.

    mama g came over again tonight.  she supervised hubby giving the shot, and all went well.  let’s hope day minus 4’s shot was a fluke.

     

    the big day!

    we had a scare the morning of.  upon waking up to urinate, i discovered blood.  fresh blood that was still nice and bright.  eek!  there wasn’t much, but more than day minus 4’s apperance.  i promptly called my RE’s office.  nurse mary called back and asked me to come in right away.  my RE needed to see whether the bleeding was coming from my uterus or cervix before my embryo could be thawed.  so to the office we went, and i had probably the fastest appointment on record with my RE.  he inspected my cervix and then performed an ultrasound for a lining check.  his assessment was that my cervix was oozing from all of the hormones {the crinone}.

    so after our morning detour, hubby and i returned home to get a quick workout in and shower before returning to my RE’s office for the transfer.  i popped a valium at 11:30 am, and then we loaded ourselves in the car.  i arrived at my scheduled time of 12 pm for a 12:30 transfer.  i signed some papers and then got to go back to the same pre/post-op area i’d been just 1.5 months earlier for my egg retrieval.  i also got to wear a super fashionable gown again, and hubby got suited up since he could be present for the transfer.  while we waited to be taken back, we prayed together.  here we are, all ready for the big moment:

    image

    the transfer itself went smoothly.  when we got back to the procedure room, the embryologist came in and told us that our chosen embryo survived freezing and the thaw.  she also gave us two pictures of our embryo {definitely a perk of IVF}.  then, i, again, had to lose all modesty as my legs got strapped in stirrups.  the nurse helping with the procedure ultrasounded my belly from the outside {for once, an external ultrasound} to make sure my bladder was full enough, but not too full.  i tried not to overdo it like i did for the trial transfer.  thankfully, it was just right.  my doctor came in, inserted a speculum, and got everything setup for the transfer.  we got to see our little embryo in its petri dish on a big monitor before the procedure began. the embryologist sucked it into something, brought it to my doctor, then they funneled it to my uterus.  the medical team waited exactly one minute, then removed the catheter.  the embryologist brought it back to her lab to make sure the embryo was no longer in her device and shouted “all clear.”  then my doctor relieved my bladder by draining it with a catheter.  that was an experience, but totally worth it so i didn’t have to think about how bad i had to pee as i rested in recovery for 30 minutes.  after my rest period was up, i went straight to acupuncture, then home to bed rest after that.

    i sure hope this time will be a success.  but i know that no matter the outcome, God is in control and He is fulfilling His plan.  a friend sent me this verse the morning of our transfer.  God actually showed me this verse when i was first diagnosed with the septate uterus.  coincidence?  … i think not :)

    there are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel – that will stand. {Proverbs 19:21}

     

    11 day wait

    i’m currently waiting for my beta.  i was on the fence about posting this because i didn’t want to jinx myself.  but i realized that was silly.  i will either be pregnant or i won’t.  and if i am pregnant, there is no guarantee i won’t miscarry or that our baby will be alive on this side of Heaven.  only God knows His plan for me, hubby, and baby g.  thank you to my support system for your prayers during this process.  i believe in the power of prayer, and i believe in a sovereign God, through Whom all things are possible.

    and this is why you don’t tell your family about your blog.

    so you can vent about them.  i love my family dearly, but my big brother decided it would be a good idea to call me while i was at work today.  to share some news.  news that he and my sister-in-law are expecting.  hellooooo dear brother, this is not something you do to your poor sister who can’t get pregnant to save her life.  you made me cry at work {and walking to my car, and on the way home, and the tears keep coming now that i’m here}.  thanks for that.

    after crushing my soul, he then proceeded to remind me that i’m doing IVF soon {obviously i don’t give him the full story} and that he’s praying that it works.  at least he’s praying.

    i’m happy for the bro and his wife.  they’ve been sans birth control for 1 year and 4 months, so they are due for a bundle of joy.  but my heart aches to be pregnant like them.

    my sister-in-law and i always said that we’d love to raise babies together.  here’s to hoping our first frozen embryo transfer will be a success.

    all i want right now is some frozen yogurt.  just what i need for my PCOS and 5 extra lbs i’m sporting from shooting up fertility drugs last month.

     

    dear Heavenly Father, please consider me and my embryo g this month.  please look on us with favor and bless us.  please help the transfer to be a success, and please help baby g to be healthy and strong.  please grant my heart’s desire, how fun it would be for me and sister-in-law to raise babies together.  if this cycle is not your will, Lord, please continue to grant me strength and peace.  amen.