And I thought getting pregnant was supposed to be the hardest part.
Today, the calender tells me I am five weeks pregnant. I've been waiting literally for years to get here, but now that we've been blessed with this crazy roller coaster of a pregnancy, I'm more anxious than ever.
I wake up every morning and grab my chest, just to see if it's sore. Some days it's more sensitive than others, but I'm never happy unless my touch is accompanied by a bruised-like sensation. Then I run to the bathroom, checking for any sort of spotting so I can categorized the color as dark yellow, brown, pink, red, or a mixture of them all, followed by a quick pregnancy test, and the realization that I sort of wish I was a boy.
Because my husband has no fear of colored bodily fluids.
And no uterus to over analyze.
On Wednesday, I woke up to a little pink spotting and some very tiny, almost invisible clots of red. They were so minuscule, I almost thought I'd imagined them, but I still emailed my nurse in a panic, requesting one more beta lab slip just in case. Understanding how I operate-and still feeling horrible about our second beta mix up I'm sure-she obliged and sent me our fourth and final beta request which I printed out and drove down to the lab to immediately fulfill.
My beta's are still more than doubling. I know it's normal for most girls to spot a rainbow of colors during the first few weeks of pregnancy. And I understand that every little twinge I feel in my uterus, every morning I wake up and realize my chest is less sore than it was yesterday, and every time I see a tiny bit of pink in my underwear does not mean this pregnancy is necessarily over.
So why can't I just feel relief? Why am I more anxious today then I was last week when thought I had already experienced a chemical pregnancy? Why are high rising beta numbers not enough to ease my mind? Why do I feel the constant need to remind everyone who knows about this pregnancy that my betas are low and it may not last, as if I'm preparing them-and myself-for bad news?
Because I over analyze, and I know way too much. Because I've seen and heard more sad than happy stories from low beta numbers like mine, more than doubling or not. Because I know that spotting is never good, no matter the shade.
And because google is the devil.
I'm incredibly frustrated with myself, because I know the real deal is that I'm experiencing a lack of faith. I'm ashamed to have had God show me so many amazing feet's in the past few months, yet I still question Him-and my situation-even when all signs are pointing to something worth celebrating. I almost feel like He'll end up punishing me for my unbelief in His ability to provide even more miracles instead of just trusting Him to have His way.
I do trust Him, I do know that God is powerful and omnipresent and capable of taking these low numbers and turning them into triplets. I know that He is watching over us and He has a great big plan for our lives. I know He can take this spotting, these low betas, and show the world His glory and power through this pregnancy.
But I also know that He may not choose to do that.
Fittingly, I'm reading through the book of Job right now, and I cringe as a follow the story of a faithful and righteous man who was robbed of his family, his riches, and his health yet still chose to follow the Lord and never once became angry with God or his situation. God allowed satan to utterly destroy Job's life, just to prove that Job would remain faithful; to show us all that it's possible to glorify God even in the worst of situations, leaving us no excuse to shake our fists at God when we get scared or angry.
I'm certainly not as faithful and righteous as Job was, but I can't help but compare myself to the possibility of his situation. No, God hasn't stripped me of my friends, family, earthly possessions or my health, but at times I feel so close to loosing the one thing I've wanted for years, and it terrifies me.
Although I haven't finished reading the chapter yet, I've read it before and I know how the story ends. After Job proves himself, continuing to praise God despite all he's endured, God restores all he had to start with, and then some.
I know that right now, I should spend more of my time praising God than worrying about what could happen with this pregnancy. I know I should be excited and hopeful, instead of leery and fearful. I should think freely about the possibility of holding a child in my arms this coming April, instead of the possibility of seeing nothing on our first ultra sound next Wednesday.
Right now my body is pregnant, but my head and heart still feel infertile, and it's a nasty place to be.
I understand that it's in my nature to worry, and that with low beta numbers that are still more than doubling-but slightly slowing down-coupled with random spotting, most girls in my situation would be feeling the very same things right now.
But I want more.
I want to celebrate and embrace this pregnancy. I want to wake up every morning and thank God for this gift, this enormous blessing, instead of fretting over symptoms and bodily secretions. I want to get crazy excited over a positive pregnancy test, instead of analyzing the darkness of the line or how fast it showed up as compared to the previous days test. I want to find that balance between being cautiously optimistic and ridiculously giddy, because we've waited so very long to get here.
I want to spend more time in prayer, and less time in fear.
Next Wednesday, I'll be five weeks and five days pregnant at our first ultra sound, and I'm anticipating seeing at least an appropriately sized gestational sac, yolk sac and a fetal pole at that time, since they should be visible between five and six weeks. By then, we'll know if this pregnancy is progressing as it should.
Some days are harder than others, and I've been told that it never really gets any easier. As the pregnancy progresses and each new milestone is crossed off, another rises and you hit a whole new level of anticipation. I also suspect this fear only increases once that precious child is birthed and placed in your arms, as your permanent responsibility for the rest of your life.
So I figure if I can't beat it, I may as well embrace it.
Today, I am a mother of a five week old fetus. My chest is sore to the touch, my beta levels are rising beautifully, my home pregnancy tests are turning positive for the first time in my life, and I've got more people praying for this tiny little blessing than I even know what to do with.
Last night, after our family pictures were over and everyone else had left, my husband and I stayed behind to capture a few shots of us holding our positive pregnancy test; which is something I've had my heart set on since two years ago. I already have a donated jogging stroller sitting in my garage, and I even know what brand of cloth diapers I want to use.
Despite my uncontrolled fear, it seems that God is right in the midst of making my dreams come true. It's way past time for me to bow out gracefully and let Him take it from here, trusting that He has this under control.
Because He certainly doesn't need my help.
Just my gratitude.
Friday, August 27, 2010
And I thought getting pregnant was supposed to be the hardest part.
Posted by Tabitha at 12:30 PM
Monday, August 23, 2010
God works in mysterious ways that I may never understand.
Wonderful, miraculous, unexplainable ways.
This morning, I woke up and decided it was time to clean up all of our IVF things. As I readied myself for work, I took the time to place our embryo pictures back in the drawer, shove the rest of the meds and needles into the closet, and even pulled out my thank you cards to send out to everyone who prayed fervently for us.
I spoke with God on the way to work, asking Him to continue to give us the grace and strength to move on, and to guide our next steps and give us wisdom as we continued on to our FET cycle. And as I sat at my desk a little while later, I began to make a list of all the questions I needed to convert into an email to send to Dr. Greene, seeking as many answers as possible to ease our mind about this chemical pregnancy and everything surrounding it.
Because that's the only way I know how to deal, OCD style.
But before I could transfer my sticky notepad full of scribbled words into a full email, my phone rang. It was SIRM, presumably calling me to set up a phone consult concerning the FET, and saving me the trouble of constructing an extremely long email that would probably have frustrated me anyway and brought up tears that still hadn't found their way out yet.
But my assumptions were wrong. The nurse wasn't calling me to set up a phone consult, she was calling to tell me that the lab had left a message on her phone explaining how they had messed up our second beta results on Saturday and were going to have to run them again, just in case.
And before I could stop it, hope crept in.
Then it faded just as quickly as it appeared as I realized I had already began spotting heavily, an I knew the original negative beta just had to be correct. Besides that, I was just mentally and physically exhausted, and had finally found peace with this chemical pregnancy. I was grateful to have been pregnant, thankful for the opportunity, but so incredibly ready to just move forward and see what God had in store for us next.
Little did I know that what God had in store for us next was yet another miracle.
My beta was in fact not negative on Saturday, it had more than doubled-it had tripled-and then some. But as the excitement hit, so did the fear, born mostly from the realization that I'd been starving my body of the necessary hormones and medication that was so vital during this stage of and IVF pregnancy for the last forty-eight hours. Was my current spotting a result of a possible chemical pregnancy-again-or the result of a lack of PIO shots? I was in fact pregnant on Saturday, but was I sill pregnant today? And although thirty seven was a tripled number, wasn't it still low for a beta at fifteen days past ovulation?
I had to stop myself before I went crazy, and instead soak up the fact that God had shown favor on us, and was blessing us with this new possibility. And if this new life that was still growing in me on Saturday was in His will, there was no stopping it; the lack of medicine, major spotting, or any other obstacle would never get in the way of His plan coming to pass.
Within minutes I was faxed over another lab slip for a beta blood draw and had rushed over to the nearest LabCorp to end this madness once and for all. Then I had my father stop by my house to pick up my bag of meds that had been shoved in the closet, and had my mother come to give me a much needed PIO shot after I quickly applied estrogen patches, praying I hadn't done any damage to the unborn life that could very well still be growing inside of me.
And just a few short hours and a million prayers later, we were given our third beta number.
I was told not to stress over the spotting, continue with my meds and wait for an email tomorrow that would schedule my first ultrasound. And even though it made me nervous, the nurse told me I also wouldn't be needing any more betas, the tripling numbers were enough for information for them.
It was all so surreal; like I was on the outside looking in. I suppose I'd feel the same way if someone told me that I had just won a million dollars after filling for bankruptcy. This morning, I was coping with a chemical pregnancy that I had finally come to accept, but this afternoon I was rejoicing for the blessing still growing inside of me.
And God had this planned all along.
He knew they would mess up my beta and give us the negative results when our real number had in fact tripled, and He knew we would be devastated. But maybe He was waiting to see how we'd react after receiving the news. Maybe it was all just a test that He was giving us, one to teach us even more patience and endurance to prepare us for difficult times that may lie ahead.
Either way, I wouldn't change a single second of the last forty-eight hours.
I hope that God continues to grow this life inside, and that our story will bring hope and peace to so many others out there that are struggling with infertility, loss, or any other trial and tribulation that life brings. We serve an awesome God who is capable of anything, and He's shown us today that He truly has no limits, He hears our prayers, He is faithful, merciful, and still just as capable of miracles today as He was over a thousand years ago.
We are still cautiously optimistic and will continue to be until we see a healthy heartbeat or two on that fuzzy black screen that has only brought us pictures of growing follicles and plump linings in the past, because we know that although we've experienced a true miracle today, God may not choose to allow this pregnancy to continue. He may have already proven Himself and shown us His power and glory, and it may not be in His will for this blessing to continue.
But no matter what happens, we will still praise Him, giving Him all the glory. Because it wasn't the acupuncture, the medicine, the yoga or the doctors that made this possible; they were merely tools He used to bring this to pass. God heard the prayers we've all been sending up for the last three and a half years, and He chose to answer them in His time, not ours.
And as always, His timing is perfect, His ways are perfect.
I can feel God working, and I suspect He hasn't shown us everything quite yet. I'm still trying to grasp the full effect of what has taken place here today, ashamed to be so amazed by what He's done for us when I knew He was capable of this all along. I feel humbled to be a part of this experience, and I'm so excited to start this new journey and to continue glorify Him for the many more miracles that He has in store for us and for this new life; waiting and watching for Him to continue to blow us away.
I'm so unworthy of this gift. So undeserving of this latest miracle. So in awe of God and how He continues to work in my life despite my stubborn, selfish ways, choosing to show His power and glory through my very own broken story in a way that can only be described as miraculous.
Thank you God, for this precious gift.
Posted by Tabitha at 8:05 PM
Saturday, August 21, 2010
I waited on pins and needles for nine hours for good beta news.
I kept telling myself to just relax, because I was pregnant. I could feel the tiny twinges and twitches of a growing uterus, and I was already lighting up with that healthy pregnancy glow. I was careful not to pick up anything weighing more than ten pounds for fear of putting my unborn child in danger, and I had finally brought out my collection of pregnancy clothes to stare at longingly until I was large enough to have to wear them.
They've been stuffed in the back of my closet for years; along with the pregnancy books, baby blankets, onsies and stuffed animals.
This entire cycle was an answer to prayers, this pregnancy was a miracle, and I just knew God was going to show us-and everyone else-great things through this little blessing. Because after two IUI's, four IVF's and a little over three and a half years, I was finally pregnant.
But then it was gone almost before it started.
I didn't know what to say when my nurse told me that she was calling with bad news, and I wanted to hang up the phone and make her call back when she had good news for me. I had almost forgotten how to receive bad news at this point, I was finally getting used to all of the good news for once, and I almost threw the phone down like it was a poisonous snake.
I asked what the number had dropped to, and she said it was already negative.
I didn't ask her out loud, but I couldn't help but wonder what this meant. Did I miscarry? Was this a chemical pregnancy? With a beta of eleven only thirteen days past ovulation, did that really count as a pregnancy?
I never even saw a positive pregnancy test; my numbers were never high enough to turn a second line pink.
It's almost as if it never really happened. If we wouldn't have had our blood drawn as early as we did, we would have never known we were pregnant at all. And it felt like someone was playing an awful, cruel joke on me, telling me I was pregnant and then taking it back less than two days later.
But I was pregnant, even if it was for a very short time. I really was. My beta of eleven was proof of that. Somewhere along the line, we were successful in attaining an embryo or two that God allowed to hatch and attach, snuggling into my uterus, and I was pregnant.
I have no idea what this means, and I have fifty-million questions to ask the doctor about when I get all of my thoughts in order; and of course I haven't forgotten that we still have two frozen embryos on ice and one more chance that we are so very grateful for. But I'm also scared because I know the odds of a frozen embryo transfer working are only about half of the odds of a fresh IVF cycle working, and we all know how well fresh IVF's have worked for us so far.
I also know the three best embryos were placed inside of me almost two weeks ago, so that-along with the realization that some embryos never make it through the thaw, let alone with out cell damage-makes me nervous as well.
But I'm trying my best to push these thoughts away and just move past this.
I know God has a plan, and He chose to give us these two embryos that were able to be frozen, so I know we have a chance. And I may never understand why our most perfect cycle and short lived pregnancy ended almost before it began, but I'm still praising God that we were able to get pregnant at all.
Even if it was only for a few days, it was still our miracle.
Posted by Tabitha at 8:37 PM
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Beta days have never been easy around here.
It all started last night when I could no longer handle the anticipation, and begged my husband to take me to get a pregnancy test. He wasn't thrilled with the idea because he feels like what he refers to as are pee sticks are as close as it gets to the devil, but he knew better than to start an argument over it, so to the closest store we went.
Less than ten minutes later I was in the guest bathroom with my cup and test stick in hand, knowing this was definitely not a good idea. Especially since I had just urinated less than two hours prior, it was 10pm, and everyone knows first morning urine works the best.
I picked apart that test, staring and searching for any sign of a second line until well after the ten minute time limit had elapsed; after which I was finally able to turn the test sideways under the harsh florescent light and squint hard to locate a very faint pink line.
And after much convincing, my husband was able to see it too.
My heart was breaking, but I tried to hold out hope until the next morning, because I knew that would make for a more accurate-and much more conclusive-test. I tossed and turned all night, unable to fall into that much needed deep, REM sleep, instead drifting in and out of restlessness until my alarm set me free at 6:15am.
At which time I marched sleepy eyed back into the guest bathroom to pee in a cup for the second time in less than eight hours. And as I set the capped test back on the sink and watched the control line deepen, I tried my best to locate the faint pink line I thought I saw last night. And finally, well after the allotted ten minutes had again passed and I had prayed over the toilet that God would please just let me be pregnant, that faint, hardly visible line forced its way into my line of vision as I twisted, manipulated, and glared at the test.
I pulled out last nights test from the trash for the millionth time to compare the lines, and it didn't take me long to make a conclusion about the lack of a darker shade of pink. I felt like breaking down in tears, but I just couldn't.
Instead, I tossed both tests into the trash-this time out in front of our house to avoid repetitive, obsessive dig through for re looks-and proceeded to get dressed, put on my makeup, and get ready for the day. And as I waited for my 7am blood draw in the cold, hard chair, I texted the few people that knew about this cycle and shared my somber news.
Work was bearable until a sweet elderly lady that I had been working with for the past few weeks came in to drop off some samples to our showroom. After doing my best to make the usual small talk, she bid me a nice day and turned to leave, but stopped just before reaching the door. She slowly turned around and asked me if I had any children.
I fought back the tears as I told her I didn't, but I sure would love too.
She stared at me a little longer, then smiled and told me she'd pray for me as she drifted gracefully out the front door, leaving me sitting there in hot mess of complete shock and self pity. I barely reached for a Kleenex in time before I lost it, running to hide in the bathroom as the dam broke loose and I realized for the first time that I was really, really, disappointed that this cycle didn't work.
I just knew I'd be pregnant this time, and I couldn't grasp the fact that I indeed wasn't.
And after a short but necessary sob fest in the bathroom, I wiped my face, adjusted my hair and headed back out to my desk, already feeling so much better just for letting my pent up emotions run free, if even for a few seconds.
And then my phone rang, and it was SIRM.
My original plan of action was never to answer it, I would have much rather allowed the bad news to run straight through to voicemail. But something inside me told me that I could handle it, so I picked up the phone and assured her I was doing well when the nurse asked me how I was. Then I politely asked her in return how she was, and she let me know that she was also doing well.
Then she told me my beta was eleven.
I don't remember how long of a pause there was after that, but I know that a million thoughts were running around as I contemplated what this meant. It could have been two seconds, two minutes, or even two hours, but it felt like an eternity to me.
She was giving me my beta number.
Because I am pregnant.
It felt like someone had just quickly stitched up my broken heart, placed a band aid over the wound, and then riped it right back open again before I even had a chance to enjoy the mend. Almost like that pure moment of bliss as they lay that warm, soft wax onto your body that's quickly interrupted by by an excruciatingly painful rip of both flesh and hair.
I asked her if realistically a baby could come out of this, and she assured me that she has indeed seen babies from beta numbers this low before. And of course after scouring the Internet for most of today I feel like I may have done more damage than good, but the overall consensus is that as long as the beta rises, doubling every forty-eight to seventy-two hours, it doesn't matter what your starting number was.
We could be in the middle of an early miscarriage, or we could have a late implanter.
Right now, all that matters is that there is life growing inside of me. God has heard our prayers and He's answered them; though it may not be the way I would have planned it-Lord knows I would have loved a positive pregnancy test and a super high beta-but for the first time in my life I am truly pregnant.
I'm not going to lie, this is hard. It's devastating to be so close, but so far away at the same time. We are rejoicing in our hearts for this new life, but we are also apprehensive to celebrate our long awaited pregnancy for fear of loosing blessing is as quickly as we found it.
God has shown us so many miracles in the last few months, giving us far more than we ever asked for when we found out that after a wildly successful final cycle, we even had two of our embryos make it to freeze. There is no doubt in my mind that He is watching over us right now, longing for us to trust Him and continue to understand that this blessing was never really ours anyway, this life inside of me belongs to Him.
And despite the anxiety and nerves of the unknown, something tells me that this newest adventure will cause our faith to increase and show us once again that God is deserving of all the glory and the praise. And what could be more special, more miraculous, than an extremely low beta that turns into a beautiful gift nine months later? After all we've witnessed this past month, how could I not be excited to see what He has in store, how He will answer this next wave of cries from us and everyone else involved?
It encourages me to hold on tight and stick around for the ride.
And pray for one more miracle.
Thank you for this new life, this tiny miracle, that you've created. We know it wasn't the doctors or any other modern medical marvel that led to this pregnancy Lord, but that Your hands alone fashioned this life and placed it exactly where it should be, when it should be.
I know You have a plan, God, and that everything happens for a reason. Please help me to glorify You, even in the midst of something this difficult, because I know that You are capable of growing this miracle and we praise You for that; weather You choose to do so or not.
But please Lord, we are asking that You do help this miracle grow, and allow us to bring a new life (or two) into this world and teach them to be a blessing to You. Thank you for all You've done, and all You are about to do,
Posted by Tabitha at 1:05 PM
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I can't find the right words to say.
And I've tried, believe me.
I could go in to a lengthy story about how I woke up on retrieval day with an eerie calm. Tell you all about how I was more concerned with making it to the acupuncturist down in Sacramento in time than I was about my precious embryos and their development. About how natural it felt to walk into the doctors office and know that everything would be perfectly fine, even before I knew if we had any embryos left to transfer.
But the truth is, I can't find the words to put it all together.
Yesterday, my husband and I were in Dr. Greene's office being told that out of our fourteen little fighters, three of them had developed into beautifully expanded blasts. Our two rockstars were a grade two, and our overachiever had actually spent the last twenty four hours defying science by developing from a grade two to a grade one.
The recommendation by Dr. Greene, Dr. Sher, and their two personal embryologists was that we go ahead and transfer all three of our expanded blasts. Given our history of transferring beautiful blasts-although less than this quality-but never achieving a pregnancy made the decision fairly easy for everyone involved, although a triplet warning was still set in place.
We were then shown a chart of our remaining embryos, and Dr. Greene pointed out that four other beautiful, excellent looking embryos had reached the blast stage but had not yet expanded, so they would be watched for one more day. If they were still healthy and happened to expand within the next twenty four hours, they would be frozen. And of course if any of the remaining seven embryos happened to do the same, they would be frozen as well.
I'd been in this office a million times before. I'd been in that exact chair, holding the exact same floppy piece of paper with pictures of our embryos on it, grateful to have any make at all after our first cycle was cancelled for a reason we may never know.
But this time was different.
Besides our first cancelled cycle, we'd never sat in those chairs having been told to be anything less than hopeful. Ironically, Dr. Greene would always smile, pat my leg, and tell us to think positive, but I never really could. I was too nervous about the little details, about the less than stellar quality of the embryos, or about the rocky road that led us to them.
But sitting there, holding that grainy photo of my babies and being told that we'd most likely have some to freeze, I was overcome with a million emotions. I had no idea it was possible to feel so much love for a group of cells, so much gratitude for a situation, and so much awe for God and His miracles.
Less than fifteen minutes later I was laying on the cot, legs up in stirrups with my mom, mother-in-law, husband, two nurses, two doctors, and two embryologist all crammed into a tiny room to watch our three precious blasts transfer from a petri dish into my womb. I know most people would think it strange, but I couldn't imagine the beginning of our babies lives happening in a more loving way.
And after one more post transfer acupuncture session was complete, the four of us-and the triplets-headed back to the hotel where I rested while the mothers stocked up on magazines, Ben & Jerry's, and fiber gummy bears.
While resting in the car on the way home the next day, I realized that even if this cycle didn't result in a pregnancy and none of our remaining embryos made it to freeze, I would truly survive. Of course I'd be devastated and incredibly sad, but I would no longer look back and wonder what if.
This last cycle has been so full of undeserved blessings, moments of absolute bliss and countless miracles, erasing all doubt and obnoxious head questions in the form of, maybe it would have worked if only we'd done this, or I wish I would have tried that. Sitting there in the car at that very moment, I knew without a doubt that we'd done all we could, the doctors had done all they could, and all that was left was a strong feeling of peace and completion that I'd never felt before.
The rest was in God's hands, and I wouldn't want it any other way.
They say that when your a child of God, we never really know the right words to say. We can't ever really petition to God with the correct phrases, and we certainly don't know exactly how to give Him the glory that He's due. But the Bible also says that the Holly Spirit takes our groanings-our inner thoughts and feeble attempts to do so-and brings them to God in a way that properly praises Him. So even when we don't have the words to say, God sees our hearts.
That's how I felt at that very moment. Like I was thankful, but at a loss for words, unable to truly explain to God how much gratitude I had bubbling up inside. I wanted to come up with some beautiful prayer that praised Him and thanked him for my precious babies, but that also asked Him for His will to be done but for that will to be a child or two or three in my arms in less than nine months; but I couldn't get the right words out without sounding selfish and shallow.
In the midst of this realization, this peace, this utter and complete awe for everything that I'd been blessed with in the last four weeks, God decided to add to my speechlessness even more with a phone call from my nurse.
Telling us that we had two frozen embryos.
And everything changed.
This cycle was no longer it. Up until this point, everything had gone right, everything was perfect, and everything was a blessing; and that was a good thing because this was our last attempt at our biological child. But with the news of two frozen embryos, our world has changed; because even if this cycle doesn't result in a pregnancy, we still get one more try. And if this cycle does result in a pregnancy, we'll still get one more try.
This cycle is no longer our last try.
I don't know why I was surprised by that call. There's nothing God can't do, and history shows that embryos with more than six cells on day three, healthy expanded blasts on day five and frozen blasts on day six are mild in comparison to parting a red sea, turning water into wine and raising the dead. And although God doesn't necessarily manifest showy miracles like He did back in the day, He's still just as powerful.
And I don't know about you, but a perfect on paper expanded blast and two frozen embryos are miracles in my book any day. So much so that I think this is going to be the shortest week of waiting I've ever had to face. I know God can make me pregnant, but He may not choose to do so. Either way, after watching all He's performed in the last three weeks, the three little ones inside of me, and the two precious ones waiting for us in the future, are nothing short of miraculous.
And even for a girl of many words, it leaves me speechless.
Posted by Tabitha at 8:05 PM
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
SIRM was calling with my embryo report, but I couldn't answer it.
It was just after 10am and I was right in the middle of a meeting to finalize cabinetry for a clients new home, so it would have been more than inappropriate to excuse myself into another room for what would most likely be a lengthy conversation, possibly followed by tears.
I would just have to wait.
I tried my best to keep my mind off of the voicemail waiting for me on the cell phone tucked away in my desk drawer, but it wasn't easy. Because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't clear my mind of the fact that I just let one of the most important phone calls of my life fade off to voicemail while I helped some clients view their new kitchen in 3D on my computer screen.
Embryos development trumps wood and stain color any day of the week.
The anxiety was almost overwhelming. The only thing I can think of to compare it to is when your playing hide and seek, and it's your turn to hide. You find the perfect spot, settle in, and then realize you have to go to the bathroom. And as you see the feet of your seeker coming toward you, you can hardly stand it any longer. It takes everything in you to hold still and await your fate, hoping they'll pass by and not hear your heart beating like a drum in your chest.
That, and getting pulled over by a cop, all at the same time.
But I managed to finish out the meeting just under two hours later, hardly containing my bundle of nerves as I pulled my cell phone out of my desk and grabbed the nearest pen and paper to document the results waiting on the voicemail.
And then another set of customers strolled in just seconds before my first appointment had shut their car doors, asking to take a look at an estimate I'd done for them last week on the computer to discuss a few changes.
About thirty minutes and at least ten deep breaths later, I had the front office all to myself. And before anyone else could walk in the door, I had my code typed in my phone and was listening to the voicemail with pen in hand, ready to write down the amount of embryos still alive, their cell counts, and their grades.
But instead of the usual report, I was given instructions to call my nurse back and we'd discuss the embryos and our transfer time, so I did.
But no one answered the phone at SIRM.
For two more hours.
And when they finally did, I was told that my nurse was unavailable at the moment but that she would return my call as soon as she could.
I spent the next few hours debating what the voicemail meant, listening to it several more times before I finally erased the darn thing out of fear of a mental breakdown. Was that pity I heard in her voice? Why wouldn't she just leave the information on my voicemail like she has in the past? Does she want to give me the bad news over the phone instead? But if it's such bad news, then why would she also be setting up my transfer time for Wednesday?
And after driving myself mad with unanswered questions for another hour or so, I called the office again, to make sure the secretary had passed along my message.
But no one answered the phone, again.
By that time, my work day was over. I figured the only way to ease my mind-and my severely bloated stomach-was to immediately locate some Sundried Tomato and Basil Wheat Thins and Garden Herb Cream Cheese. So I headed to the store and told myself that everything would be fine as long as I got my hands on as much sodium as possible, pronto.
And somewhere between the canned soup and taco sauce, my phone rang.
We have fourteen embryos still alive as of yesterday.
And eight of them have six cells or more.
I'm pretty sure that everyone in WINCO could care less about my embryos well being, because they were more concerned that I was blocking the isle and digging furiously in my purse to find a scrap piece of paper and a pen to write down the good news.
I was so enamored with the fact that all fourteen of our embryos were still alive and that two of them had eight cells, one had seven cells, and five had six cells-all grade two-that I actually told the nurse I didn't need the details on the other six embryos. I just kept blabbering to her that I'd never had more than six cells on day three, and that the middle grade of two was perfectly fine with me because I'd never had more than six cells on day three, and that I was so thrilled with this news because I'd never had more than six cells on day three.
I think all of WINCO was aware that I'd never had more than six cells on day three.
By the time I'd checked out and shared the good news with the few friends that know about this second secret cycle, my mind started over analyzing the situation, traveling back to the past and comparing this cycle to the three others.
Sure I'd had more eggs retrieved, more embryos fertilized, and more cells on day three, but I had no rockstar grade one embryos this time. Did that mean that none would make it to the coveted blast stage? Or that they would make it there, but continue to drop to the lowest grade three before reaching their destination?
It was ridiculous.
I quickly reminded myself that our news, our long awaited embryo report for our final cycle, was amazing. Wasn't our goal to retrieve more mature eggs? Wasn't it also to produce healthier embryos that held more cells on day three? Isn't that exactly where we were today? How could I be anything less than awestruck at this point?
I went to bed last night with a peaceful feeling, void of worry for our precious fourteen embryos. They are still alive, and they are thriving in culture, and God has blessed us beyond what we ever thought would be possible at this point.
Miracles have occurred, and hope has been restored.
And today, as we continue in this waiting game that never really ends, I received the news that the acupuncturist recommended by Dr. Greene is out on vacation and most likely even his associate won't be able to come to the office tomorrow and perform the pre and post transfer Paulus protocol on site that I've had my heart set on for the last few months.
It was that easy for my heart to sink again, and for my brain to become frazzled.
I know acupuncture is not what has brought on these miracles, and acupuncture will not be responsible for bringing us our babies. But today's events made me realize how frail my heart still is, and how desperate I am to make this perfect.
But it's not my job to make it perfect.
I'm still learning to give up control of this situation and let God handle the details. You'd think after all this time, and after all He's shown to us, I'd have learned my lesson, but I just haven't. I'm still struggling every day with trusting Him to take care of our every step, forcing myself out of the equation and instead attempting to sit back and just watch Him work.
So the waiting continues. I must wait for a call back from the acupuncturist office to find out if they can work with me. Wait for a phone call from my SIRM nurse to set up an exact time for transfer tomorrow. Wait to find out if my best friend's husband will be able to get us a room at the Sheridan at his crazy discount rate for a much needed vacation tomorrow night after the transfer. Wait until tomorrow to find out if we have any healthy blasts to transfer.
Then wait to find out if we are pregnant.
I don't think the waiting really ever ends.
So while I wait, I'll sit here at my desk and down an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Chuck, enjoying the last day of eating ridiculous concoctions before they give me my babies back tomorrow and everything goes back to organic goodness. I'll trust that God knows what He's doing, and that He'll continue to bless us like crazy.
And I'll wait for it.
When everything around me feels like it's falling apart and wrecking havoc on my perfect plans, remind me to turn to You. I know You control every situation and hold the most amazing plan for our lives, I just need to wait for You to manifest it all into place while I do my best to wait as patiently as possible.
Teach me Your ways, hold my precious embryos in your hands, and bless everyone who has taken the time to pour their hearts out to You on our behalf,
"As you put into practice the qualities of patience...you will have a better opinion of the world around you."
Posted by Tabitha at 12:08 PM
Sunday, August 8, 2010
I was woken up on Friday morning to several texts and missed phone calls from the few friends that actually know what's going on. These girls-most of which have never even met me in real life-were throwing out scripture, words of encouragement and prayers like it was no body's business. So while I was still a bit anxious for what was to come in the next few hours, my heart was too full of love and thanksgiving for the unbelievable support I was undeservedly receiving to be anything less than hopeful.
And as I started to get nervous while in the clinic bathroom, swapping out the perfect retrieval day outfit for my fourth over sized SIRM shirt, booties and cap, another quick out pour of texts to my girls delivered me several responses that once again calmed my heart.
I sat on the small cot, getting my blood pressure and temperature taken, when the newest IV nurse came in to do her thing. Having sat through this before, with three different nurses previously, my mind raced back to all the times they've said I've had beautiful veins, but because I'm not allowed to eat or drink anything for 10 hours prior to surgery, looks can be deceiving. I was relieved however when this nurse, with her bright orange lipstick, decided to torture a vein in my forearm instead of my hand. She tied the giant blue rubber band above my elbow, wiped me down with an alcohol swab, and marveled at the size and availability of my best vein.
Things were looking good.
But as she stuck me with what felt and looked like a much larger than normal needle that she called the "old school" method, nothing happened. She then proceeded to turn and twist the needle several times, attempting to hit my rolling vein that refused to cooperate.
She then broke the cardinal rule of blood draws when she admitted she was nervous, she'd been running late this morning, and she'd already downed two highly caffeinated monster drinks prior to sticking my arm with a large needle.
And just as I was about to scream desperately for help, she somehow managed to twist the needle in enough of an awkward position to bring on a fountain of blood that was meant to be controlled, but was instead spurting out of my arm and saturating everything in sight; turning my tiny cot into what looked like a murder scene.
And instead of trying to stop it, she just looked at me like it was my job to take care of this mess, exclaiming that I had a huge, healthy vein and she didn't have enough free hands to fix this.
It's a good thing I don't pass out when I see blood, especially when it's my own and it's all over the place.
Eventually, the nurse had completed her task and my IV was pouring a liquid diet of sodium, potassium, and other concoctions I can't pronounce into my blood stream as I waited to be wheeled into the room. And as my nurse continued to talk about her kids, her job, and everything else under the sun, my chest began to tighten and I began an extremely dramatic coughing fit.
My husband and I have had a chest cold for about a week now, but I'd never experienced anything like that before. I immediately thought that something in my IV was causing a reaction, but the nurse insisted that she was most likely the cause because she lived with several cats and I was probably allergic to cats.
So in between my painful coughing bursts, she continued her life story from a few feet back so that my cat allergies that I don't really have wouldn't be disturbed. In her defence, she was a very sweet lady and she's not the first nurse to bleed me out as they attempt my IV on retrieval day; it's actually a regular occurrence around these parts.
And she did say we were a beautiful couple several times, and flattery always fairs well with me when I'm in an unattractive outfit and a hair net while coughing my lungs out.
So with all of the drama going on in the back waiting room, I didn't have time to be nervous or over think our situation. And after a quick kiss goodbye for luck-as instructed by our nurse-I was sent into the tiny retrieval room and placed on the table, shifted around several times, and given a sleeping potion. I remember verbalizing that the walls were awfully pink in the room and arguing with the nurse when she referred to them as violet, because they were most definitely pastel pink, until my eyelids grew heavy and I drifted off.
I woke up alert as usual, and Dr. Greene was right there to let me know that we retrieved twenty six eggs. I remember giving him a high five, and asking how many were mature before he ran off to find out.
He came back with the news that we had fourteen M2's (mature eggs), six M1's (almost mature but not quite) and six that were no good.
Even in my loopy state of mind, I could comprehend that there was a possibility of up to twenty fertilizable eggs in that equation, and I was thrilled.
Never one to have a week fertilization report, I slept well that night, and was woken up to a phone call from my nurse then next morning. She informed us that out of the eighteen eggs mature enough to fertilize, every last one of them took.
However, two of them fertilized abnormally, and two more didn't survive. But we were left with fourteen perfect, precious, seemingly healthy and miraculous embryos growing in culture, and the most we've ever had before was eight.
But here's the problem. While I was amazed, full of awe and so very thankful for our fourteen embryo blessings, I was still slightly disappointed. Sad that we already lost four, and terrified of loosing more. These are already my babies, and while I know that God is holding them in His hands, I'm scared to death of the past repeating itself.
Tomorrow I'll get the call that in the past has brought us some bad news. Where they like to see embryos developed to at least six to eight cells by day three, we've never had more than a six celled embryo, and very few at that. And while a logical part of me is hoping and praying that our accusations a few days ago were correct and I've been producing over mature and less healthy eggs the past few cycles that very well could have led to our slow growing problems, I'm still scared that it will happen again.
I have no idea how my precious little ones are growing today. They won't look at them until tomorrow, for fear of disturbing an already unnatural process any more than necessary, but I'm trying to remain optimistic. This has been an amazing cycle full of countless blessings and numerous little miracles along the way, and I'm ashamed to be anything less than ecstatic at this point.
Because it wasn't the vitamins, the yoga, the diet or the acupuncture that gave us fourteen embryos this cycle. It wasn't coincidence that Dr. Sher was visiting and chose to stick around for our specific case, providing one more head to evaluate our every step. And it wasn't luck that every single one of our mature eggs fertilized.
It was God's plan.
And while I'm still very much aware that everything going perfectly this cycle certainly doesn't guarantee a pregnancy, I have to let go of my fear and understand that we have been amazingly, wonderfully, and miraculously blessed. No matter that this wasn't in my plan, that infertility has been a thorn in my flesh and that we are on our fourth and final cycle of the most evasive medical procedure imaginable after almost four years.
None of it matters.
All that matters right now is that we have fourteen of the most prayed for, loved, and desired embryos developing in culture, and even if this cycle doesn't result in a pregnancy, we've already been blessed beyond measure. We've seen the power of prayer, we've felt God's love, and we know He is faithful to continue the work He has began in us.
I've been told that God understands my fear, and that He accepts it. He knows I'm only human, and that not only am I pumped full of hormones and drugs that can have a major altering affect on my brain wave capacity, but that it's alright to be scared of what the future holds because those are my babies that are fighting for their lives in a petri dish right now.
As long as I hold onto a childlike faith. As long as I glorify Him for all He's done. And as long as I understand and believe that God is holding every single one of our precious embryos in His hands.
So as I wait and pray to hear tomorrows report and do my best to grasp desperatly at faith, I'll remember that my body is not my own. I am not my own. And these embryos do not belong to my husband and I; they belong to God. And if He allows them to flourish and develop inside of this vessel, I will still acknowledge that they are His, not mine. And if He allows them to be born onto this earth, to grow and experience life here with us, I'll still know that they never really belonged to me.
They always have been, and always will be, His.
Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing Psalms.
James 5:13 (KJV)
Dear Heavenly Father,
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Posted by Tabitha at 1:29 PM
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill) & Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Still holding steady-surprisingly-at the weight I started at; though it does fluctuate a bit given the fact that I'm growing multiple follicles and am already building up fluid. So that, plus the introduction of another antibiotic today and two pints of Ben and Jerry's over the last six days will no doubt lead to a shift in the scale sooner or later.
Lupron (5units, subQ injection): <>Today was my last Lupron shot, Monday was my last Follistim and Luveris Shots, and I'm still amazed that I have yet to experience even one bruise.
So is that fact that it's already time to trigger and retrieve.
At our first monitoring appointment on Monday, I was thrilled to discover that Dr. Sher himself-the guru of all things IVF-was visiting the Sacramento clinic from their previous annual protocol meeting and had chosen to stay behind for a while longer, specifically to oversee our more difficult case. And after my permission was granted, Dr. Sher was ushered into the small room and joined our large group as we stared at the fuzzy black screen, counting and measuring little black holes.
He was impressed with my lining, thrilled with my stimulation results, and bursting with compliments on my various follicular sizes and the amount of them present.
And because he was thrilled, I was thrilled.
As I finished dressing and met them out in the hallway, I was sent into the nurses office and given the instructions to continue with my stimming meds for one more night, and to come back in the next day for what would most likely be my final monitoring ultrasound. Everything was growing beautifully and right on track, so the prediction was that my trigger shot would be given Tuesday night and Thursday would be the retrieval.
Then my nurse turned the follicular monitoring paper towards me so I could take a look. Having worked with me in the past, she knew I'd be anxious to write down the amount of follicles, including which sides they were on and how large they were for my own personal records. But I surprised both her and myself when I simply glanced over to see that my largest follicle was at 18, turned the sheet back to her and let her know that I wouldn't be needing a copy this time.
She just sort of stared at me like I was nuts.
And I probably was.
But who in the world needs any more assurance than two of the most prestigious doctors specifically studying her case telling her that everything is going wonderfully? I knew the last thing I needed to do at that moment was take home a copy of my follicular count and obsessively compare it to my last three cycles, assuredly creating a recipe for disaster.
Or at least a mental breakdown.
Neither one of which I was interested in achieving at the time.
So instead, I told myself over and over again that God was in control. He's shown us several times already that He has His hands in this cycle, never failing to amaze us with little miracles and blessings along the way. And if Dr. Sher and Dr. Greene thought everything was fine, then it was, and I needed to leave it alone.
But by the time I had dropped my husband off at his parents and made the drive back home to attend another acupuncture session and yoga class, I had already decided that taking a quick peek at my past cycles follicular monitoring sheets wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.
You know, just in case Dr. Sher and Dr. Greene had missed something.
And sure enough, after flipping through my old files, I found that on my first day of monitoring in the past, I have always had at least three follicles ranging from 18 to 21. More specifically, my very first cycle I had four of them above 18mm, and we triggered the next night.
That cycle was cancelled due to a lack of mature embryos.
So as I made the drive back to Sacramento the next morning-with my mother this time-I shared my concerns and practiced the argument I would hold with the doctors if they insisted on triggering me that night; ready and rearing to go for a debate if necessary.
But as we all crammed into the tiny monitoring room for the second time, my heart softened as both Dr. Greene and Dr. Sher delighted over my progress on the grainy black screen once again. I was calmed by their genuine excitement over the vast array of gorgeous follicles, and soothed by Dr. Greene's assurance that Dr. Sher had been around the block a time or two and was never one to pass out compliments often, so I truly was an impressive responder with a rockstar lining.
If I wasn't already lacking modesty for being half naked with my legs up in stirrups in a tiny room with a large group of people staring at my lady parts on a small computer screen, it may have been enough to make me blush.
Until I was told to get dressed and meet back in the office for the final verdict.
Because as I pulled my panties back on and collected my things, I caught a glimpse of my blue folder containing my last three cycles worth of monitoring sheets, and I was reminded that I came here today on a mission. It was my responsibility to make sure that everyone in that building remembered that I had been triggered too early a year ago, and it cost me everything.
Including my passive aggressive attitude.
I was ready to break out the big guns as the nurse sat me down and told me that I wouldn't be needing to inject any more Follistim or Luveris. And I was about to pull out my sheets and let her have it, but Dr. Greene showed up instead, smile on his face and excitement in his voice. He told me that we wouldn't be triggering quite yet, but that it would be best to stop feeding my follicles and let them have one more day to just grow a little bit on their own, instead.
And knowing I had at least one more day, even if it was without injections, was enough to settle the crazy person in me down.
Dr. Greene assured me that they have definitely been looking back at my past cycles, but the fact is that what we've done so far just hasn't worked. I very well may be one of the small handfuls of rare women that are extremely high responders, similar to patients with PCOS, but without actually having PCOS, because my hormone receptors are super sensitive. And in the past we've pushed harder and longer, retrieving slightly more mature eggs in the process, but the quality of our embryos just hasn't improved by doing so.
So there is a very real possibility that by pushing me longer, we were actually retrieving some overly mature eggs instead of healthy ones.
But that's all in theory, of course.
Part of me was thrilled to hear the Doctor's exude excitement and optimism about the subtle changes in protocol, and the results of those changes that were apparent in our follicular monitoring. In all reality, these Doctors have seen it all, and if they say that this is the best way to go about getting me pregnant, then I have no reason to argue with them, their walls full of diplomas, or their years of expertise.
But there is still another part of me-though it is a smaller part-that is scared to death of the past repeating itself. Worried that the Doctors aren't looking at the bigger picture and doing all they can to make this work. Terrified that Friday's retrieval will produce a low number of mature eggs and our chances of having a biological child will be over.
So long story short, I'm no longer numb.
I'm definitely feeling the tug of war inside of me, and I'm torn between amazement at how God has worked everything out perfectly so far, and paralyzing fear that something will go wrong at any second; feeling extremely grateful yet overcome with anxiety, and my emotions are overflowing; running over and spilling out all over the place.
But the most important thing for me to remember right now is that I am,without a doubt, blessed. And if I could simply calm my head and heart long enough to stop living in the past and really look at how lovely the view is from where I'm sitting right now, I would be able to appreciate and accept that more often.
God's timing is perfect. People are praying. Extra doctors are consulting. Follicles are growing. Lining is plumping. Patience is being learned. Emotions are overflowing.
And God knows what He's doing.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.
Dear Heavenly Father,
As this cycle draws to an end, give me the grace I need to bring my fears to You instead of wallowing in the past and looking back instead of forward. Help me to trust the doctors and know that You are always in control, constantly leading and guiding them to make the right decisions on our behalf.
Remind me that no matter how crazy our circumstances get, You won't let the waters overflow me; I'm safe in Your arms,
"Don't be afraid of showing your feelings; be afraid of regretting it when you didn't."
Posted by Tabitha at 3:12 PM