does it ever end?

well, just when i thought my {in}fertility journey was over, it’s not.  i overlooked one detail… what in the world are we to do with our extra frozen embryos?  our current election if both hubby and i were to die, is to donate these puppies to medical research.  i’m a little embarrassed to admit that.  when we had to make this election pre-brian, i think the thought of someone else {and possibly not a heterosexual married couple} having our biological children was appalling.  i reasoned with myself that “someone else had to donate their embryos to medical research for us to get to this point,” which may or may not be true.  the whole process of IVF is medical research in and of itself.  anywho, that’s neither here nor there now.  what matters is that {somehow, miraculously} God has been tugging on my heartstrings.  those little embabies may hold a viable life.  life.  if they are transferred, they may become a bouncing, giggly, living, breathing human being.  just like my blonde haired, blue eyed, sweet little boys.

two things in particular have been impactful to me about what to do with these embryos recently:

1. a friend and fellow IVF warrior mama and i had a conversation about our frozen embryos.  i think she plans to transfer all of hers.  but when i stated that our current election is to donate them to medical research, which i’m not so certain about, she brought up adoption.  she said her husband reminded her that we are all God’s children when they had this conversation.  that is truth.  “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.”

2.  i read an article about “the leftover {frozen} embryo crisis.”  i’m not sure how i stumbled upon this article, but one section grabbed my attention:

overall, however, the anti-abortion movement has largely stayed away from this issue. one rarely sees protests outside IVF clinics, or laws limiting the number of eggs that can be fertilized. most reproductive advocates believe this is because of the bad optics. these embryos are for family-building, for creating life; the narratives fueling the anti-abortion movement claiming carelessness and disdain for life don’t work here.

crap, whether or not the article intended this, it made me contemplate whether or not my current election is along the lines of abortion.  and now that i’ve really thought about our election, i feel that it is.  i’m pro-life, and i firmly believe we have to protect those that cannot protect themselves.  so how can i basically throw away my embryos by donating them to medical research?

as you can imagine {or maybe you can’t}, this has caused quite a stir in my emotions and prayer life.  i’m convicted, to use the traditional baptist word for God pulling on my heartstrings.  and i have a whole host of other feelings.  while i am beyond grateful for IVF, i can’t help but ponder maybe this is not what God intended.  not that IVF surprises Him, but maybe this is something i shouldn’t have pursued in the first place.  and of course i wouldn’t change it for the world, because through IVF we conceived brian.  and then there’s our successful pregnancy post-brian, which did not come from our pool of frozen embryos.  maybe i shouldn’t have attempted pregnancy in any other manner other than with our frozen embryos in effort to honor them and the life they represent.  but again, i wouldn’t change austin for the world {and having sex to conceive him was refreshing}.

i’ve been going to Biblical counseling since last fall.  it is helping me cope with my crazy {in}fertility journey and to snap out of my postpartum funk.  i brought up our conundrum about these embabies recently and my counselor was reassuring that God is indeed tugging on my heartstrings.  she has experienced IVF in her family through her daughter, and she had to defend IVF as a medical treatment for a disease {you know, infertility} for seminary.  her defense argument was simple: we treat every other disease from diabetes to cancer in order to preserve life, so why wouldn’t we treat infertility to create life?  okay, so this helps me feel a bit better about choosing IVF.  but now what?  what do i do with these embryos?  my counselor also told me that her daughter put a long-term plan in place for her embryos prior to her first transfer {we did too, just not a well thought out plan}.  if for some reason her daughter is not able to carry the embryos, they will be put up for adoption through a Christian organization called snowflake.

i’m not able to destroy the embryos or donate them to research.  i’m also not able to give them to a family member or friend in need for several reasons.  so, i’ve researched snowflake, and i’m becoming more open to adoption.  but here’s the rub, i want to make sure that we are 100% certain we only want two children before we pursue that.  hubby is, but i’m not so sure.  and not only am i not so sure now, but i’m not so sure i’ll ever be so sure.  it’s hard to imagine giving up our biological children to be raised by another family.  i would only entertain it for a heterosexual, married, Christian couple who would adopt all of our embryos as a group.  that’s the best case scenario, and even then, there are no guarantees.  and in my mind, if only one of our remaining embryos is healthy/results in a live birth, the child should be with our family and it’s biological siblings.  and this was our exact statistics between brian and austin.  we used 4 embryos and one resulted in a successful pregnancy and birth.  we have no clue if the other 3 were normal or abnormal, but this inclines me to pursue PGS for our remaining 4 embryos.  and this is where i’m stuck.  is PGS playing God?  if all 4 remaining embryos are healthy, i would say they need to go as a group to another couple.  even if 3 are healthy.  but after that it gets tricky.  and realistically, it’s impossible to plan as almost any outcome is possible.  hubby says we just need to decide the number of kids we want and go from there, and for him that number is two.  so there’s no need to PGS prior to donation in his mind.  i say we created these embryos and have a responsibility to deal with them in the manner God wants us to.  i’m not quite sure what that is yet, but i do know it would involve honoring potential life.  thankfully, hubby is supportive and understanding of my logic.

see, mind boggling, head spinning thoughts here.  something i wasn’t prepared for with IVF.  i never forced myself to think beyond a first successful pregnancy.  while undergoing stimulation, i did ask God to give us the number of embryos we were supposed to have, and i’m confident that He did.  the one truth that has brought me reassurance and peace throughout this process is remembering that God is omniscient and none of these events are surprising to Him.  He already knows how this will unfold.  i’m praying He guides us about PGS/going from there or putting them up for adoption without PGS.

if you’ve stuck with me this long, props to you.  this blog is a safe place for me to get messy thoughts out and to try to being organization to the chaos, and hopefully a place someone else living through {in}fertility can find some solidarity.



a dear friend sent me a link to a sermon {almost more like a conversation} on miscarriage recently.  having been through a loss herself, we both have many of the same emotions and thoughts.  we know that healing is a process, that there are many emotions, and you have to let yourself feel every single one.  we have discussed how loss is uncomfortable for those who haven’t experienced it – especially something like a miscarriage which is so real to the mom carrying the baby, but not tangible for many others.  we both agree that loss is magnified after a struggle with {in}fertility; just when you think the journey is over, it continues, but with more bruises and scars.  the church doesn’t talk about this kind of loss much, at least not mine, and we were both glad to hear the church addressing the early loss of a baby.

whether or not you have experienced miscarriage, i think this sermon is so important to listen to.  it validates the many emotions those who have experienced miscarriage feel: sorrow, grief, frustration, questioning of faith.  and the sermon also shares a few pointers on how you can support someone who suffered a miscarriage, even if you haven’t experienced it firsthand. 

i will admit that i struggle with miscarriage in the context of God.  the Bible promises that for the people who serve Him, God works all things together for the good {Romams 8:28}.  a miscarriage is not good – to me it makes no sense, at least not immediately.  the Bible also promises that we will have trials in this world {John 16:33}.  this is life and a result of the broken, sin-filled world we live in.  no one is immune.  at the end of the conversation, the pastor said that at its roots, miscarriage comes from sin in the world.  not necessarily my sins, but just sin.  that may be the only answer i have in this lifetime.  i have experienced God working all things together for the good after my first loss.  i don’t know why i had to have uterus surgery, an ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, 3 failed cycles, IVF, and a high risk pregnancy to get to brian, but i wouldn’t trade any of it leading to him for the world.  the pastor’s closing remarks ignite faith and hope that God will make this loss good too:

just never forget who our God is.  He is always in control.  He is never not in control.  and He is never not good.  He is always good, all the time.

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}

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.

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.