Who’s claiming who?

Dogs3

Oh yeah, he did!  Here you’ll find humor in a 2 week wait.  For those of you who aren’t aware, after an embryo transfer you are required to take it easy.  Bedrest or couch potato rest, it’s often called.  We have no children yet, but we do have a fur baby named Freddie.  He’s a wonderful boy.  I rescued him from A.D.O.P.T. Pet Shelter when he was 10 months old, but I digress.  We came home from our embryo transfer feeling like we’d won the lottery, so I sent my husband to go and buy a lottery ticket for kicks.  While my husband went out to get a lottery ticket…

Lottery

Freddie and I were snuggled up in bed.  I was laying on my side with a body pillow between my knees and talking to one of my best friends on the phone when suddenly Freddie stands on my hip and pees all over my belly!  It took me a second to realize what was happening (I was drugged for the procedure), and when I did I squealed “Freddie!”.  At which point he hopped off the bed, not  a drop of pee anywhere else.  Just all over my belly and the bed.  Of course my girlfriend was like “what happened?!?!”  So I explained…there was a long pause….then…”well, should we take it as a omen?”  I didn’t know what to think.  This is a fully potty trained dog who has NEVER peed on his or my bed and certainly not me.  This dog is so smart that there was a time I didn’t realize he was trying to get me up to let him out in the middle of the night one night and I heard water flowing in the bathroom; it was Freddie peeing down the shower drain.  He was able to get in because we had left the door open.  Smart and resourceful pup.  So I said to my girlfriend, well I guess he either just claimed me or the baby…I’m not sure which!

Kairos21

Here is my beautiful boy.  I’d love to hear thoughts from you all about this!

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’  The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”        Psalm 126: 2-3

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Take 2

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my journey. As you can imagine with a title of “Take 2”, we’re trying again.  It’s been a solid year since I started treatments for infertility at FCI.  I began the stimulation process for IVF last week and jokingly said to the phlebotomist, “are you sick of me yet?”  She sweetly said no, I love my job and proceeded to hand me a card with the quote you see above.  So here we are, trying again.  Tomorrow is a big day.  Tomorrow is my egg retrieval.  I ask for prayers as we continue this journey to parenthood.

It’s not exactly like this, it’s more like…

ICSI

However it happens, I trust God will guide the hands of those caring for us on our journey.  I will keep you posted on how things progress.  Thanks in advance for your prayers.

I must give you up to God…

Well, it’s official.  We are miscarrying.  I guess you’d call it impending fetal demise.  We went to the doctor on Thursday.  The fetal pole is smaller.  We could see cardiac activity on the ultrasound, but could no longer measure a heartbeat because it was so slow.  We have stopped all progesterones (life support for new life), and are waiting for things to progress naturally.  I will see my regular OB/GYN on Tuesday and see how things are looking/progressing.  Currently, my HCG is 18, 198.  We will be watching for this level to decrease as well.

We are heartbroken.

It has been a long journey just to achieve pregnancy, and now this is lost as well.  In my mind, I know there are reasons this happens.  It is God and nature’s way of protecting us.  In my mind, I know the positive is that we now know it is possible for me to achieve pregnancy.  In my mind, I know that in the end, all will be well.

But, my heart hurts at the loss.

We ask for your continued prayers for peace.

I am not a poet or a lyricist, but these words have come from my heart in this time and in this space:

Rock Me, Rock Me

Holy Spirit, God Divine

Come and hold this hand of mine.

Rock me, rock me in your peace,

Until my soul can find relief.

 

Holy Spirit guide and friend,

With a love that never ends.

Rock me, rock me from above,

Until I feel your endless love.

 

Holy Spirit, Father God,

Welcomes children from earth’s sod.

Rock me, rock me in your might,

Until I feel you hold me tight.

 

Holy Spirit’s boundless love

Fill my soul from up above.

Rock me, rock me in your grace,

Until my heart has found it’s faith.

Looking for Faith

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.  ~Mathew 21:22

Faith:  Complete trust and confidence in someone or something.  Belief that is not based on proof.

You may wonder why I’m reflecting on faith.  I’ve had a difficult time being still enough in body, mind, and heart to write these last few weeks.  It’s been a whirlwind rollercoaster with ups and downs.

Good Friday, April 18, 2014, really was a good day for me.  I went to the doctor’s office in the morning to have my pregnancy test.  I took Freddie (my dog) out when I got home, and while coming in was told that I had a flower delivery.  Really?  I wondered who on earth would send me flowers.  I got the package and opened the note.  My friend Karin had sent them to me with a note that said:  “Just because I’m thinking of you.”  I promptly burst into tears.

It was at this point that I began to wonder if I was pregnant.  I’ve never cried over flowers.  Gotten excited and full of smiles, yes.  Cried non-stop, not so much.  The phone rang at 11:50am and caller ID said it was FCI.  I’d never received a call so early with any lab results, so my first thought was “Oh no!  They need to do a re-draw.  Something was wrong with the specimen.”  “Hello?”  The other voice replied, “Congratulations!”  “Who is this?”  “It’s Fran, you’re pregnant!”  Me, I was speechless, and of course I started crying again.  I got off of the phone and texted my husband the great news, who was waiting at work with bated breath.  This is my very first pregnancy.  Ever.

It was Good Friday, and I had work to do as well.  I was to chant the Passion at CHN, my church.  It’s a beautiful service that ends in darkness and candlelight as we venerate the cross.

Veneration of the Cross

I did chant the Passion that night, and here at the foot of the cross Thanked Jesus for giving me life.  As I cried, my priest put her arm around me and I whispered, “I’m pregnant.”….and so we both cried and held each other.  Blessed.

Saturday, April 19th, came and with it The Great Easter Vigil.  We had no deacon this year, and I was honored to be asked to sing the Exultet, an opening proclamation of sorts, at our service at CHN.  I would like to share the words, so you can conceive what this newly-found pregnant woman was singing…

Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, and let your trumpets shout Salvation for the victory of our King.  Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth, bright with a glorious splendor, for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King.  Rejoice and be glad now, Mother church, and let your holy courts in radiant light resound with the praises of your people.  All you who stand near this marvelous and holy flame, pray with me to God the Almighty for the grace to sing the worthy praise of this great light; through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God, forever and ever, Amen.

It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind and voice to praise you, the invisible, almighty and eternal God, and your only begotten Son Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam’s sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people.  This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and lead them through the Red Sea on dry land.  This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.  This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.  How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.  How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away.  It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn.  It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord.  How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God.  Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this candle in your honor.  May it shine continually to drive away all darkness.  May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find it ever burning – he who gives light to all creation, and who lives and reigns forever and ever.  Amen.

All I can say about that is Thank You.

Fast forward to Wednesday, April 30th, our first ultrasound.  I was exactly 6 weeks to the day.

Twins!  One embryo had a definite yolk sac and the other did not.  I was to return for another ultrasound in 1 week.

The heartbreak began on our anniversary, Wednesday, May 7th.  I should tell you that my best friend’s mother-in-law who was on hospice had just passed away, and her funeral was scheduled for this day.  I pray she finds restful peace.

My husband had a deposition this morning and I had to be at FCI for my repeat ultrasound to check on progress.  Afterwards, we were to head to the Northern Suburbs to be with our close friends/family to honor Anita, and show our love and support as well.  So, we went our separate ways to start, but I thank God that my husband was made it in time for the ultrasound.  Baby A did have a heartbeat detected by ultrasound.  You could see the movement, however baby A was 1 week behind in measurements for gestational age.  Baby B was not making any progress and there was still no yolk sac.  I am exactly 7 weeks here.  The bright white spot is the heartbeat.

We were taken into a conference room and told to be “cautiously optimistic.”  We are both medical people, and in our world, that translates to; prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Has anyone ever said this to you before?  We had naught a moment to be excited about our baby’s heartbeat, and we were okay with one, but now taking in the news that our pregnancy might not be sustainable.  The goal has never been to have multiples, but to just have a baby.

So here we are, it’s our wedding anniversary, we are filled with fear and sorrow for our pregnancy, and now we are on our way to a funeral.  No time to take it all in.  Just keep moving.  Just keep going.  This is the heart of my silence.  I just want to be strong.  I don’t want to tell you I’m falling apart inside.

I was told to come and see the doctor the following day.  When I got there, she decided to check and see how things were looking and to do another ultrasound.  I was alone this time.  My husband was at work.  Baby A still had a heartbeat seen on ultrasound, but it was a little slower, 94.  I was told we were walking on a tight-rope.  The ultrasound tech was already giving me advice about what to do should I lose the baby.  I finally said, I’m not giving up.  As long as this baby has a heartbeat, I’m not giving up.  They assured me that they weren’t either.  I cried for the entire rest of the day, while my dog, Freddie, licked my tears.

So here I am, looking for faith.  In 2 days I will be 8 weeks, and 1 day.  I am scheduled for another ultrasound and a visit with the doctor.  I need optimism.  I need prayers.  I’m anxious.  I need faith.  In my heart, I know that all will be well, that I can rise above whatever this journey brings. But also in my heart, I hope for a child to tell stories, to sing songs, and to laugh with.  I still feel that this is a divine pregnancy.  God is with me now, just as he was when we walked together through Lent.

It’s OK to cry…

Tears1

Today has been a rough day.  I’ve felt very emotional and out of sorts.  I’d even say, a bit anxious.  This morning, I couldn’t seem to stop crying, and the urge to still lingers.  The slightest thought seems to bring it about.  Why is that?

I’m on steroids and hormones.  Tomorrow is a very big day.  It’s the FET day.  The day I hope to become pregnant.

Where every day in this process I’ve felt mostly at peace, full of calm and hope…today I feel disjointed.  Sad.  Yet underneath it all, I also feel strong.  Talk about contradictions.  This is me.  This is where I am, and it’s OK.

Reverend Aimee gave me a blessing today after church.  I was anointed with oil and hands, loving hands, were placed on my shoulders.  A child crying in the background.  A stern talking to for bad behavior as the prayer started.  Excited dogs running around the kitchen.  Lunch half eaten at the table.  Can you picture it?  The craziness?  The madness?  Parenthood?  …and this I hope to fill my life with myself.  How appropriate.  I recall saying under my breath, “awesome”.

DogBlessed

And then, regrouping, we prayed.  Now four hands…loving hands, strong hands, comforting hands.  I was feeling so weak, but with the sudden quiet, the hands, even the dogs still and underneath my chair.  I felt blessed.  I felt loved.  Yes, I was blessed by 4 hands and 8 paws in a kitchen, amidst the chaos of life.  Beautiful.

David

That said, something tragic happened this week.  David Lamb, a boy I grew up with, a boy who played with my brother, my late brother, died.  This was a young man, his whole life ahead of him.  A husband, a son, a brother, and a friend to many.  How is it that this one family, at some point or another, have children who have all been affected by cancer at some point in their lives?  I remember when Michael (David’s older brother, who is my age) had leukemia as a teen.  I’m thankful and happy to say, he survived.  Now years later David, also with leukemia, has lost his battle.

I suppose in many ways it reminds me of my own family…our own losses.  I’ve lost 2 bothers at separate times, in separate places, from tragic accidents.  You wonder…I wonder…   All in one family?  Why?  Then there’s that ugly, awful doubt that comes at me from behind wondering if more heartache is yet to come.

Of course, the answer is YES.  Where there is joy, there is sadness and despair.  But then I remember the security I have KNOWING, that God is always there.  God is always with me.  And yes…You can…I can…We must get through it.  Always, through the darkness there is light, love, and promises of a better tomorrow.

and the Journey rolls on…

Well, my injections are well underway in preparation for the FET (frozen embryo transfer).

I wasn’t able to make the Ash Wednesday service at CHN (Church of the Holy Nativity), my home parish, so Rich and I decided to go to the 2pm Mass at Holy Name CathedralThe Frances Xavier Warde School along with their own Monsignor Dan Mayall, lead the mass.  I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be.  The gathering hymn was Lord of all Hopefulness.  Singing, I felt like I was brining all of my own hopes and dreams to the altar.

As the Right Reverend Jeffrey D. Lee said in his Ash Wednesday devotion, “This is a day about the pilgrim way we all walk together toward the waters of new life awaiting for us at Easter.  I feel as though at every turn, God is reminding me that new life is awaiting us at Easter.

To make it even more interesting, I was asked just this week, to sing the Exultet (an Easter proclamation) at The Great Vigil of Easter at CHN.  Normally, this would be done by the deacon, but since we do not have one at this time, I’ve been asked and given this great honor.  I can’t think of a better time to meditate on these words and learn this piece.

I leave you with my devotions today, focusing on scripture meaningful to me in times of difficulty.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so you also share in our comfort.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

A Lenton Journey

fertility-goddess
A Lenten Journey
I had an epiphany yesterday as I received my schedule for our FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer).
Maybe I should back up and start at the beginning…
We got married May 7, 2011 and haven’t prevented conception since then.  In August 2013, we finally decided maybe we should get a full work-up and see if there’s a medical reason we’re not getting pregnant.  After said work-up, things seemed to be ok.  What we were left with is unexplained female infertility.
After four failed IUIs (Intrauterine Insemination), we decided to proceed with IVF (invitro fertilization).  After all, we all only have so many resources, we don’t want to use them all on something that doesn’t appear to be working.  Let me tell you, IVF is pretty intense.  Despite that, we’ve been handling it quite well.  Unfortunately, towards the end of my stimulation process, my hormone levels shot up much too high for a fresh embryo transfer.  Instead, we had to do a “freeze all” and wait for symptoms to subside and my body to calm down to a more normal state.
I am learning patience.
Yesterday though, and even more so this morning, what I feel is love, peace, and God’s presence with me.
Lets get back to that schedule.  As I was plugging all of the different treatments and medications required for this therapy into my calendar (and there are many…that’s the only way to sort it all out), I realized my injections begin March 6th, the day after Ash Wednesday, the start of LENT.  I paused, but continued plugging away until I noticed something else…though the Embryo Transfer will be on April 7th, treatment continues until the pregnancy test on April 18th, Good Friday.
I’ll admit, my first thought was, Oh no…is this a sign of death, gloom, and sadness?  Is this not going to work?
Then I felt an answer in my heart.  It said:  NO.  It is for you to remember I walk with you.  Christ died to give you LIFE.  Yes, LIFE.  God, your father, traveled with his precious son, and he is traveling with you.  He is always there, always aware, but sometimes can’t be seen in the darkness or make his presence known.  Darkness is required so that we may see light and life and look forward to the celebration of Easter.
Coincidence?  I don’t think so.  Two week wait?  Ha, who cares about the two week wait when I’m taking a Lenten journey with my God, with Jesus, that will lead me to Easter.  This is my Lent.