The Great Reveal

 Parasite1

Well, I am blessed!  Yes, I’m pregnant.  I know as you’re seeing this picture, you probably realize I’ve known for a little while.  I’ve honestly not been able to relax until 1.)  I knew the baby was in my uterus.  2.)  I saw a heartbeat.  Call it the nurse in me.  Call it my grief at the recent miscarriage.  Call it fear.  But alas, God is good.  I heeded where he was guiding me and here we are.  I pray that I am able to sustain this pregnancy.  This is from yesterday at exactly 6 weeks.  Baby had a heart rate of 114.  Yippee!  I guess God knew exactly what I needed.

Can I just say…I AM SO HUNGRY ALL OF THE TIME!  That so far is my big pregnancy symptom.  I don’t seem to ever be satisfied.  Wow.  I don’t think I’ve ever been this hungry, this often.  I’ve always had a good appetite, but sheesh!

Parasite2

If you look really closely, you can see the head and fetal pole.  So exciting!  Thank you all so much for your prayers.  They mean so much to me.  We have nicknamed the baby “Parasite” because of my hunger…ha ha ha.  I guess my fur baby was right!  I really was pregnant when he peed on my belly after the embryo transfer!  Happy Friday!

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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

I won the lottery!!!

Well not literally, but statistically, it sure feels like I have!  Yesterday, my husband and I arrived at FCI hopeful, but fully prepared to receive the news that I had no normal embryos to transfer.  As 70% of my eggs would create a chromosomal abnormality, having only 2 embryos to test wasn’t in our odds.  However, God is good, and he shows us every time that he is great and what I can’t do, he can!

ControlLoss

I was happily shocked to hear that I had a normal embryo!!!  So yes, I had an embryo transfer yesterday morning.  Now I’m required to be a couch potato and rest for the next two days.  Writing this blog and letting the dog out are about as active as I’m allowed to get.  I was told I must be a princess.  My husband was even told he had to treat me like a princess…ha ha ha. 

There’s more.  Not only did I get a normal embryo, but that single lone embryo that we created from our IVF cycle this time has made it to blast.  Not only did it make it to blast, but it started hatching on it’s own, grading it a 5BA.  Wow.  I’m calling it my warrior embryo.  The chances of a single embryo surviving it to blast are so small.  It’s amazing.  They were able to biopsy that one and the freeze it.  I should get the results tomorrow.  We can’t transfer it, but that single embryo could be my next baby.

Embryo

This tiny little ball of cells, that is really the size of a spec of dust, is making a baby.  It blows me away.

Grow baby, grow!

Well, here goes!

Hope2

First, I would like to say Thank You all for your support and encouragement.  I got a phone call today with an update on my embryo.  That single embryo is still kicking (grow baby, grow!).  It’s not quite full blast yet, so they can’t to a biopsy for PGD/PGS testing quite yet.  As my ultrasound showed a perfect lining, they thawed my 4 frozen embryos from my last IVF cycle to do a biopsy and PGD/PGS testing on those.  Only 2 of the embryos survived the thaw and were able to be biopsied.  I will be arriving at FCI tomorrow morning and will receive the results of the PGD/PGS testing at that time.  If we have a normal embryo, we will do an embryo transfer in the morning.  As many of you know, the likelihood of having a normal with the low numbers I have is not very high, but I have to trust God has a plan for us.  My gut, my instinct was demanding to check and see what I have before doing another stimulation round of IVF.  I have to trust my instinct.  I have to trust God has a plan.  I don’t know what the outcome will be and my eyes are wide open.   This takes “it only takes one” to a whole new level for me.  I ask for prayers for us tomorrow.  I will post an update here as I know more.  Thanks friends.

Prayer1

Disappointment

“I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  Mark 11: 24 (NIV)

Well, we all have disappointment in life.  That is part of living.  I had my egg retrieval on Wednesday morning.  They were only able to retrieve 5 eggs this time.  This is a significant difference from my first round of IVF.  Of the 5, only 3 were mature, and of the 3 only 1 fertilized.  My initial thought and feeling was the waste.  I just went through all of that for nothing?  I only have one embryo that I have to hope makes it to the blast stage? 

My first IVF cycle was in February.  They were able to retrieve 14 eggs, 10 of which were mature, and 9 of which fertilized.  6 embryos made it to the blast stage.  Of the six, we transferred 2 embryos in a frozen embryo cycle in April.  I was able to achieve pregnancy, only to miscarry between 9-10 weeks of pregnancy.  I was pregnant with twins.  We did testing on the miscarriage and found each baby to have trisomy.  What does that mean?  It means I have old eggs, so they produce genetic abnormalities.  The exciting thing is that I make eggs, so it is likely I will have some normal.  At this stage in my life approximately 70% of my eggs are probably not the best.  With that in mind, though I had 4 more frozen embryos, we decided to do another egg retrieval in the hopes of making more embryos and then having genetic testing so that we could try and minimize my risk for miscarriage.  Here we are, not so many more eggs or embryos.  Disappointment.  The one good thing about this cycle is that my hormone levels seemed to have behaved themselves and I have a beautiful looking lining.  I asked my physician prior to the egg retrieval what her thoughts were on possibly doing a fresh transfer, since I had a nice uterine lining, and my hormones were behaving.  She definitely thought it was a possibility since we would have to thaw my frozen embryos to do the PGD testing along with anything fresh that survived.  So now, we wait.  We Pray.  I will hear tomorrow how that single embryo is doing in the lab.  Monday morning, I will go in to have labs and ultrasound to make sure everything still looks ok.  IF we have any normals, I will go in Tuesday for an embryo transfer. 

Please pray for me.  Pray for the hands caring for my frozen babies.  Pray for wisdom in our decision making.  Thank You.

“Again I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” Matthew 18: 19-20

There is nothing to do but leave it in God’s loving hands.  Blessings to all of you.

ApacheBlessing

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.

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.

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.