expecting not just a baby, expecting the rest of our lives

Our biggest concern was that with our next pregnancy, paranoia would rule our lives until we saw our baby’s heart flickering on the screen-really until the second trimester to be honest! We were worried that our anxieties would be so significant that they could hurt our babe. Because of these fears we had already decided that if when we were pregnant again we would share our news with our families right away so we could have their prayers. Their prayers to give us strength and peace each and every day.

With all three of our other babies my breasts were tender right away so I knew days before any test would show. I had nothing with this cycle. Nada. Still, I started the progesterone three times daily as the specialist instructed (and let me tell you, it feels like you have wet yourself all 24 hours of the day….every. day.-YUCK!). But, I did it. We truly felt we were not pregnant-so much so that we didn’t even do a pregnancy test 14 days after the IUI as they recommended. Day 15 was a Monday morning and while at the office I thought, “heck, my period is late after all”.

Holy crap. I was so shocked that I almost ran up and down the clinic halls screaming with a pee stick in my hand for all to see….almost. Instead, I showed it to three of our nurses and all agreed, we were pregnant! I took a picture and sent it to Adam and he didn’t believe me! He was working an hour away that day and his disbelief was so great that he drove home right then to see the test himself. He came into my office, I showed him, we shut my office door and hugged one another while crying. We were absolutely amazed. Adam was still so baffled that he made me do another test that simply said yes/no instead of the old fashioned line tests. FINALLY, he really believed.

Incidentally, I happened to open these two cans the week prior at work!

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James 1:17 says “Every good and perfect gift comes from above”. We sent this text to several family members announcing our news! We were elated. We asked for them to begin praying for us, praying for the peace that we so desperately needed. And, I know that they did because we felt it. I know that I at least, was more at ease with this pregnancy than any of the others. I felt that from the get-go it was different. We were actually surprised (well, as much as you can be surprised after an IUI!!!!) so I just knew that everything else would also be different. I felt great-no symptoms at all other than some slight breast tenderness that did eventually develop.

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Per the Tempfer protocol, I started the prednisone twice per day as soon as we found out and did fine with it to start with it. If you aren’t aware, some people do just fine on prednisone while others can have a myriad of side effects. It was tough having to take it twice daily as one of the biggest side effects is insomnia. I, personally, always try to prescribe it in the mornings for my patients to try to help avoid this but in my case that second dose separated from the morning dose was what had been researched and felt to be best for our situation.

I’ve had insomnia since my first year of nursing school (FOR.EVER.AGO!) so I am accustomed to having troubles anyway, but things did worsen. Anxiety, depression, confusion and even psychosis can also happen with prednisone. It is a necessary medication but can be an awful medication. We weren’t scheduled to be seen until we were about 7 weeks along-you know, to check for “viability” (there is that silly word again-GAH, I hate how it sounds!!!).

For eight days prior to that appointment things were definitely not good on the sleep front!

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ready for baby

We were so ready. So ready to make this baby! It had been the perfect amount of time to heal from losing Noelle-9 months.

We both took our antibiotics and I started Letrozole for the first time. I felt great on it other than a bad migraine on the last two days but heck, that is nothing! I was on the Folgard also in addition to my regular prenatal vitamin and DHA that I have taken with all of my pregnancies (we want our baby to be smart, ya know!). For the first time we used the ovulation predictor kits that you can buy over-the-counter. It was so silly. You are supposedly getting ready to ovulate when the line is at its darkest. What does that even mean? For pete’s sake….every morning we are both staring at this stick to see if that day’s line was darker than the previous day or not. Crazy. The specialist had me go in when we thought we were ovulating for an ultrasound with our OB to look at our follicles-I had three big ones (meaning we should be likely to conceive!). When I was leaving the OB said, “I think you are setting up for twins” and smiled at me. I received an HCG trigger shot (which as a side-note had to order out of Omaha as regular OB clinics are having a difficult time getting it now that so many people are using it for weight-loss. The price of it has gone up exponentially!). The trigger shot was supposedly supposed to tell my body to ovulate and they told us to go home and make a baby! Who knows what happened to those gorgeous follicles because we didn’t get pregnant and were so bummed.

I had all of the blood work repeated and Adam (God love him!) was re-tested and you guessed it! All normal. We took antibiotics again and I started the Letrozole again and had a migraine on the last two days again. Feeling like you are watching that obnoxious movie Groundhog Day yet?!

They told us to do the ovulation testing at home again and to call them when it said I was ovulating. We were smart this time! We got the darn test that smiles at you when you are ovulating-it cost more, yeah but was worth it. We got our smile on a Saturday morning and called their office and was told to be there the next morning at 8 for our IUI! We were on the road by noon, off to Denver again. And with this said, let me just say that not only have we been financially and emotionally emptied but our infertility has completely wreaked havoc on our jobs, especially mine. Imagine patients with appointments having to be called-literally last minute- and what could my poor staff say? “er, Shana is ovulating so needs to reschedule your appointment….”. We are both so very thankful that our employers have been as kind and patient with us as they have been, even when we have far surpassed our vacation time, etc.

When we arrived the morning of our IUI, there were all sorts of couples in the waiting room….on a Sunday. This just goes to show how fertility treatments are not a Monday-Friday thing. As with us, these other people probably had to just drop their lives to be there within a certain amount of time, considering you only have a short-precious window of time each month to conceive. The nurse took us to a private room to…ahem (to our Mother’s you can close your eyes now!) produce a sample from Adam. I kid you not. We were quite weirded out. This was an entirely different experience for us. There was a black leather couch and a TV with all sorts of videos. We were afraid to touch ANYTHING!! And, couldn’t stop laughing of course! What an experience! We were happy about how official it was, though. They did an official chain of custody with our sample just like we do for drug tests in our office, meaning it was highly unlikely they would insert some other gentleman’s swimmers into me!

When it was time for the IUI the nurse took us to an exam room and commented to Adam “your sample is the best I’ve ever seen!” (yada yada, he later told me that all he wanted to say in return to her was, “I bet you say that to all the guys”). HA!

As far as procedures go, this was the easiest I had been through. Nothin’ to it! I cramped off and on for about 48 hours after but otherwise easy peasy! As we left their office we took this picture and made the mistake of posting it to facebook. Everyone (I mean EVERY.ONE.) thought we were announcing a pregnancy. We wished! We felt so bad that we took the picture down within an hour.

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We’re a go!

Recovery went pretty good. The thing that lasted the longest was pain when I would empty my bladder. I understand this is normal as when the bladder decompresses it pulls away from the pelvic wall where there were many sutures and of course the endometriosis had been scraped.

Speaking of endometriosis, this was a whole new thing for us. The best way I can describe how I felt post-op is like a pumpkin would feel (not that they have feelings, but go along with me here) after we scrape them out to cut them. Raw, slow-moving. I took a little over three weeks off of work. At the beginning of week two I felt good enough to get a little bored and it is then that I decided I DID want to see my brother’s baby, Colt. We bought a last-minute ticket and I was off to Montana for a week. I had a very long lay-over on the way there but purchased a day-pass to one of the airline lounges so was able to have my feet up. Again, I cannot reiterate how important writing that letter to my brother and sister-in-law was in helping me cope. Going and holding that precious babe was incredible. I wept because I want that for us but I also wept because he was just perfect. I am so glad I went.

We had another (prepaid!) phone consult with the fertility specialist in Denver shortly after to discuss the results from my surgery. Again, he was not optimistic that the surgical findings had anything to do with our problems. He encouraged us to try again, though. I struggled with the info he gave us, though as I had done my own medical research as well as spoke with our local OB and had discovered that endometriosis, can indeed be an issue. It basically can decrease a woman’s egg quality. I was batting a zero! Not only did we have a hostile environment (all those masses and now scars) but crappy eggs, too? I mean, come on! Can we catch a break?! The specialist said that if, in fact, the endometriosis was a contributing factor that we had a year from the time of surgery of “goodness” per se. Basically, a year where I should produce good quality eggs but by that year mark the endometriosis would be back and we would have to readdress it by taking injections or have surgery again. Our time would be cut short because we had to wait the mandatory three months to try to conceive while my uterus was healing.

He also wanted me to have another hystersalpinogram (HSG) before we started trying again to be sure there was no damage to the fallopian tubes during surgery. The HSG was uncomfortable the first time I had it but this time it was painful. I imagine all of the healing scarred areas are why. But, things looked great! We were given the all-clear!

Because of my age (again, he brought that up!) and because of time-constraints due to the endometriosis he recommended the first time we try we do an IUI (intrauterine insemination). While this wouldn’t increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy, it would help us to get pregnant faster. He had one requirement, though. That I have ALL of my blood tests done again and Adam even be tested again as “things can change”. ALL. THE. TESTS. Are you kidding me? Thousands of dollars worth of blood work and poor Adam! I mean, my Husband is a stud but, come on! What do you do when you are in this situation, though. We were willing to do whatever it would take to have a baby. This is not to say that we weren’t conflicted with it all as we most certainly were. With all three of our other babies we conceived the first month we tried. As I said before, we felt like fertile myrtles! So, we came to a compromise with the specialist and that was that we would do the Tempfer protocol as he recommended including taking Letrozole to help make the entire environment “better” but would try naturally. If we did not conceive in September on our own, we would come to Denver for an IUI.

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on friends/family having babies

Shortly before losing Noelle we got a call. From my baby Brother. I remember him sounding nervous which was unlike him. He and his beautiful bride have been married for four years now. A little background….my brother is 10 years younger than I and when we were young….I did not like him. This is the truth. I was the baby when he came and was the “new” baby! It wasn’t until my late teens that I began to really appreciate having him in my life and in my 20’s became very close to him. Today I can say that other than my Husband, my little brother knows more about me than any other. I have two best friends in this world. My Husband and my brother. There is nothing I wouldn’t share with him. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for him. I have cried over the phone to him these past three years and he has listened with open ears, encouraging from afar (Montana to be exact!).

My brother and his wife became unexpectedly pregnant. They knew for some time before sharing their news with us, simply out of respect for what we were going through. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for them to tell us, knowing that we would do anything to be in their shoes! He called my Husband earlier that day to tell him first and to be sure that was a good day to share the news with me. My initial reaction was envy and jealousy. I cried. Then I laughed as it was a true shock! I didn’t see it coming although I knew they would be great parents someday I didn’t think so soon. In fact, since our older siblings children are essentially “grown-up”, we often would talk about how we were going to raise our kids at the same time, cousins growing up together!

I felt such guilt because of the way I felt. It was so very hard to keep in mind that feeling envious was simply my anger and grief at my own situation in disguise. My feelings were normal. Although I was frustrated and sad, I was genuinely excited and absolutely thrilled for this blessing. The blessing of a beautiful child for them and a new niece/nephew for me to spoil!!!

For the first time in decades (literally) my brother and I found our relationship….strained, I guess is the only way I can put it. This was simply because it was awkward for me to express excitement and to actually ask how my sister-in-law was doing with the pregnancy. It certainly wasn’t because I didn’t want to know because I did. I had so many things I wished I could say to my brother and sister-in-law but simply could not verbalize my thoughts.

I (we, as in my brother and his wife) struggled for months….literally. I have seen a Nurse Practitioner that specializes in mental health once a year since I was diagnosed with depression in 2003. She and I had a phone meeting as Adam and I were on our way to Conceptions in Denver about my situation with my brother. She reinforced that I was normal. She gave me one of the best recommendations I have ever received and I am so thankful for her. She recommended I write a letter to my brother and sister-in-law. You have to remember that although I was hurting and finding the whole “situation” difficult, they were undoubtedly also struggling. I knew that if I didn’t figure out how to cope with my feelings soon that they would be hurt by me….and that was the absolute last thing I wanted to happen. I love them so very much.

Writing them a letter and putting all of my thoughts on paper, good and bad, would help them to not only understand what was happening in my heart but would also help them to know that I was truly excited for this baby. And, to also reinforce that I held no feelings of resentment towards them whatsoever. It helped. I felt such a weight lifted and I hope they did as well. In fact, I know they did. I recommend that in any situation (even if is completely different from this one) that you are struggling with verbalizing, writing a letter is an awesome idea. Even if you never send it, writing it will be therapeutic for yourself.

Shortly after I mailed the letter, things began to return to normal between us. I was able to become more excited for this baby that was soon to come. I literally (they will vouch for me!) bought a onesie referring “I love my auntie” or some similar version for every age from newborn until age two…..IN BOTH GENDERS!!! I was out of control, I tell you! But, oh how fun it was to finally feel that excitement!

I was able to go stay with them for a week shortly after Colt was born. I wept when I held him for the first time. He was absolutely perfect. Beautiful.

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To this day I am so grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for the extreme respect they showed to my Husband and I during their pregnancy. They were very selfless and patient. We love you, both three!

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the most beautiful sound on earth

Typically after a loss, we tell our patients that they should wait until they have three normal cycles before trying to conceive again. Not this time. Our OB/GYN said get going. At this rate I would be well over 38 prior to delivering and tick, tock….

We were pregnant the next month. We started to think we were fertile myrtles! Lord knows we were having NO trouble getting pregnant.

Guess who we told? Yeah, her. She has been on this journey with me day in and day out so as I am one that definitely wears her emotions on her sleeve, she deserves that. Otherwise, no one knew. Once again I felt poorly from 4-6pm and had horrible heartburn, but otherwise felt great. We just knew this was it! This pregnancy was the one. 

For the first time, we read my favorite pregnancy book together every Sunday and really started dreaming. We talked about names and watched videos of what he/she looked like inside of me every week. I even subscribed to the same baby-site that Adam had used previously and we both got our routine emails talking about our gorgeous baby. I subscribed to a popular pregnancy magazine in the mail. When Adam would leave the house he would say “see you two later”, when he called to check on me, “how are you two doing?”. He talked to my belly, chanting “grow! grow! grow!”. We prayed together every night that God would bless our baby and help it to grow strong and to be healthy. We promised God that we would raise our child up in His ways, giving glory to Him alone. 

Because of the other two babies and my age they had us come in right away at 6 weeks to check for “viability”. Again, what the freak is that? I mean, come on. I put that in the same category as “products of conception”. Obviously, I understand but it is so cold feeling.

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So nervous and excited!!

So nervous and excited!!

We were terrified for our appointment but oh, so excited. When we saw that beautiful “flicker”, there were absolutely no words. None. At. All. We cried and laughed.

Press play for a beautiful song:

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Literal tears of joy.

Literal tears of joy.

We started dreaming of what the nursery would look like. Giraffes, definitely would be used! For some odd reason, I lurve me some giraffes! Maybe yellow and gray? Perhaps orange, teal and browns?

Adam, having such passion for photography, was bound and determined that we were going to document EVERYthing! Everyone has seen the pictures of fruit comparing how big your baby is each week. He came home from work one day with a grocery sack with peas, blueberries, lentils, raspberries, you name it and he made me stand holding these little fruits every week. Everyone has also seen how some women document their pregnancy on a chalkboard. This is something I wanted to do, too! Adam built me a chalkboard-that sucker is awesome, all five feet of it!!! It has yet to be used.

Adam continued to talk to my belly, counting down the days until he knew that it would hear him! He was so excited the week we knew it’s earlobes were developing!

We were in heaven on earth!

 

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