Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Welcome to My Blog!

Welcome to my blog! I'm glad you found me.  This site was created towards the end of my four year journey through infertility and miscarriage.  I designed it to be devotional style and wrote about a specific topic related to infertility in each post.  I am so happy to have been blessed with a precious baby boy and at this point, the blog will remain dormant, at least until I start trying for #2.  I invite anyone struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss to read through my blog. 

If you want to keep up with where I am right now, you can read my new blog: http://john15-11.blogspot.com/. As a warning, this blog is full of pictures and gushing about my baby boy, so if you don't feel up for that, you may not want to hop over there. 

I continue to pray for those struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss each day.  Draw near to the Lord, He will draw near to you.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2 Months and a New Blog

It is hard to believe that this little guy

is already 2 months old!

Actually, this picture is from a couple weeks ago, but it is so cute I just had to post it.

Now that I am getting settled in, I am starting a new blog. It took several weeks to find a blog title. I guess I should have started thinking about a new title months ago, but that didn't happen. It doesn't help that there are so many bloggers these days that the few titles I came up with were already taken. For a little while I was tempted to just continue using this blog, but then I remembered that I do not want my family and fertile friends to read what amounts to my very personal (though public) diary from the last couple years.

After having no luck with a blog name, I finally decided to take a look at the readings from our wedding.  Since Jeremiah 29:11 was already taken...I looked at the gospel.  When I read it, two words stuck out:  Joy Complete!  I knew I had found my new blog's name. 

Having joy in the title is so appropriate because when we found out we were expecting, we both felt an overwhelming sense of joy.  This can be hard for an infertile in the first trimester, and especially for someone who has had a miscarriage.  We are so used to guarding our hearts.  Perhaps we both had some intuition that this was finally going to be our take home baby.  We felt so much joy about this pregnancy that we decided if the baby was a girl, her middle name would be joy. 

Of course, the blog address Joy Complete was already taken, so my new blog address uses the bible verse.  Come visit me at http://john15-11.blogspot.com/ if you would like to keep up with us. 

As for this blog, I feel that the devotionals I wrote are (this is not meant to sound conceited) "timeless" in that anyone who is experiencing infertility and pregnancy loss could relate to them.  So I will be keeping this site up and adding a welcome/explanation post for anyone who happens upon this blog in the future. You won't see this blog listed under my profile from here on out in an effort to continue keeping this little project a secret from my family/IRL friends!

For posterity's sake, I wrote out my IF history and added it to my sidebar for anyone who is interested.

I have always felt that God placed certain circumstances in my life and my friend's lives so that I could be a prayer warrior for those specific intentions.  I think I will always pray for those experiencing infertility and miscarriage because it has touched me so deeply. At one point I shared on this blog that I began to specifically pray for my healing from m/c and IF immediately after receiving the Eucharist.  I knew that this was the time I was physically closest to Christ, so I felt I should pray for my most personal intentions.  I conceived and lost our third baby only a few months after beginning that devotion, but I continued it and soon became pregnant again.  I prayed for my healing and the healing of others experiencing IF all throughout my pregnancy and I know that the Lord heard my prayer.  It is so engrained in me to pray for healing from IF/miscarriage after receiving the Eucharist, that I continue to do so even now, not for myself, but for all of you.  I'm amazed at how many miracles God has worked in this blogging community over the past year, and I know there are more to come.  I'll keep praying for you, please keep praying for me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

He's Here!!!

Philip Andrew

Born Monday, July 19, 2010
7 lbs. 1 oz.
20 inches

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us. I prayed for all of your intentions during labor, and prayed in general for all those suffering with infertility and pregnancy loss.

Here is the birth story:
I woke up at 1:45 last Monday morning and knew something was different. Within the hour I knew I was in labor. He was a week early which took me by surprise as both my sister and I were two weeks late. Being this was my first baby I figured I would follow suit. We went into the hospital around 8:00 am when contractions were only 3.5 minutes apart. When they hooked me up to the monitors they found that the baby's heart rate was decelerating down to about 50-60 during contractions, then going up to 160-200 afterwards. So, I was stuck to laboring in bed with constant fetal monitoring. I was only able to lay on my right side because the heart rate declerated in any other position. At around 4:00 pm I was up to 7 cm, but labor stalled. They tried Pitocin and laid me in different positions, but nothing was changing. The doctor decided to give me until 8:00 pm and wanted me to be about ready to push when she returned. At 8:00, I was still at a 7 and the heart rate declerations were very consistent, no matter what position they put me in. The doctor told us she was concerned that if we let the labor progress, the baby may be too exhausted to get through the pushing stage. She recommended that we consider a c-section as opposed to waiting it out and potentially having to go in for an emergency c-section. We knew this recommendation was coming and we were fine with having the surgery - we just wanted our baby. We were told we would have the baby in less than an hour - what an overwhelming feeling! Surgery went well. Hearing my sweet baby's first cries was amazing - I was in love and hadn't even seen him yet! My husband and the baby were whisked away while I was being stiched up. That is when the doctor told me that when he was delivered, they found his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck twice. He was also sunny-side up which could explain why my contractions felt so intense so early in the day. Needless to say, we are so happy that we decided to go with the surgery and that our baby was born with no complications!

The past week and a half have been amazing. I am so happy to be a mother and to hold my newborn. I cry for joy each day when holding him and looking at his sweet face. Ladies, I want to let you know that everything you are doing and going through is so worth it in the end. You will have a unique appreciation for pregnancy/birth or adoption and being a mother that you wouldn't have felt without bearing the cross of infertility. I will continue praying for you, and hopefully once I get my feet on the ground, I will be a lot more active on the blogs.

Here is one final picture of my first time seeing baby Philip:

"Those who sew in tears will reap with cries of joy." Psalms 126:5

Monday, July 12, 2010

Now Open for Prayer Requests!

It has been a long time, but it has gone by so quickly! I am now just two weeks shy of my due date (July 25th) and wanted to start collecting any prayer requests that you ladies have. I'll be keeping them with me to offer up during the pains of labor. If you have any specific intentions, please leave a comment or you can pull my email address off of my profile. I'll actually get started on the prayers right away as I am in a decent amount of pain throughout these days. It is amazing what an extra 30+ pounds will do to a body!

Everything has gone really smoothly with the pregnancy. It got much easier over time as I was able to wean off of various meds and relax some of my monitoring. I have found such peace and joy during this time. The pregnancy has helped to heal many wounds and I am praying that each of you get to experience the same thing one day. We are still in amazement that this is actually happening. Just the other weekend, the hubs and I got to talking about how different things are now than they were just a year ago. Our cat had emergency surgery on the 4th of July and was in rough shape. We lost our third baby a year ago this weekend. The day after I had my D&C, we left for family vacation and had to put on a happy face for the week admist 30-40 of our family members, about half of whom were babies and children. I cried myself to sleep the first night of our vacation because when we entered our bedroom, the first thing I saw was a crib that had not been in there the last time we had stayed in that room (my husband disassembled it and put it in the closet that night - God bless him!). It was such a difficult time and to think that it is just a year later and we are moments away from meeting our baby boy is so amazing!

In practical news, I was able to negotiate a 10-hour work from home gig after my maternity leave. I am so happy that my company was willing to work with me on this. I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom, and it is mind-boggling to think that I only have a couple more weeks left in the office! If things aren't working well, my husband is more than willing to let me quit my job, but it is nice to have the extra security right now.

You may recall that my sister was expecting a baby just a month before me. Baby Olivia Ann was born over a month early! She weighed just 4 lbs. 7 oz., but is absolutely perfect. She and my sister spent about a week in the hospital while they both worked through some medical issues. Olivia is now 7 weeks old and over 8 lbs! I have yet to meet her in person as they live halfway across the country. We are looking forward to meeting her this fall when we have our baptisms.

Although I have not been keeping up with commenting on blogs, I have been following what is going on. I am so excited about all the little blessings that are coming along right now! It is amazing how many lives have changed over the last year. I continue to keep everyone who is dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss in my daily prayers. May God bless each of you with the deepest desire of your heart!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Check This Out

I'm baack! At least for a few posts. I promise a full update soon, but I wanted to share the video at the link below with you. Someone dear to me has been working on this project and from the first time I saw this video, I wanted to share it on my blog. Although not the original intention of the video, it ended up referring subtly to infertility, the fruitfulness of married couples with and without children, and openness to adoption.

Here is the link: http://www.usccb.org/marriageuniqueforareason/index.shtml

The video is 12.5 minutes long, which is much longer than most anything I'll watch online, so if you want to cut to the chase, you can skip up to about minute 8. If you are going to do that, wait for the full video to load first.

As a brief update, everything is going well with me and the baby. I am only 3.5 weeks until my due date and the baby has been looking great at all of my appointments. More details coming soon! You are all in my daily prayers.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Signing Off...Temporarily

Wow! Has it already been a month since my last post? Things have been really busy lately and I am definitely having a hard time keeping up with the blogging/commenting. In fact, the only reason I have a chance to sit down and write this post today is that I accidentally booked my flight home from a business trip for the wrong day, and now I am stuck in Albuquerque until I can fly out later this afternoon.

I have decided to take a temporary blogging break. I have several projects I want to accomplish between now and July, so I want to try to focus my "free time" on those things. However, once the baby is born and I get adjusted, I fully intend to start a new blog. I will most definitely post any important updates on here, and of course a photo once the baby is born and link to my new site. And if I get so inspired, you may see a new devotional post in the meantime. I added my email to my profile page, so if anyone ever wants to send me a private message, please feel free. For those of you bloggers out there, you will still see me in your Comment boxes!

I hear you guys on the book idea. It has actually been swirling around in my mind from the beginning. I am thinking it may be a good project once I am (hopefully) staying at home. Anyone have any contacts in the Catholic book publishing world?

So before I sign off, I better leave you with one last update. My husband and I decided not to take the job that would allow us to move back to our home state. It was a hard decision, but we both feel at peace that this is the right decision for the time being. We are left with hope that in the next couple years, an opportunity may come up that would allow us to move. We will wait for God's timing.

And, I am now 21 weeks pregnant - halfway there! It's a little boy. I never knew how overwhelming that news would be until I experienced it. Perhaps it was a little more overwhelming for me because I only have an older sister and so the thought of raising a boy is a bit intimidating for me. But I keep being reassured that boys are much easier to raise than girls and that they have a special connection to their moms. My sister is expecting a little girl. My parents are thrilled to be getting one of each and at least I have someone to buy those cute little girl outfits for.

Thank you for all of your support and friendship over the past year. I keep all of you in my prayers each day and look forward to the day when God reveals His perfect plan for your families. God bless!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Blogiversary and What To Do About the Blog?

First of all, thank you to everyone for your comments and prayers since my last post. I was truly touched by all your support! I feel so grateful that God has led me to where I am today and I am trying to really enjoy this exciting stage of life. I am so thankful that I am able to experience this. At the same time, I am keeping all of you close in prayer. I heard from a few of you for the first time and still have to stop by a few of your blogs for a visit/comment – this is coming soon!

February 2nd marked my one year anniversary of becoming a blogger. What a year it has been! It was probably last January when I decided that I wanted to start a devotional-style blog for Catholic women struggling with infertility/pregnancy loss. The August before, I was having a very difficult time (my 30th birthday and 6th wedding anniversary were that month) and I decided to get a few books to help me cope. One was a devotional book, and though it was good, it was written by an Evangelical and I found it kind of hard to relate at times. There really is something different about Catholic spirituality and of course the values we hold as far as TTC. I briefly looked online at some of the Catholic infertile blogs, and didn't find anything with a devotional style, so I decided to go for it.

I immediately came up with all sorts of topics and fun titles for my blog posts. I found it interesting that although I started by using those initial brainstorm ideas, for the most part, life brought about topics for each week's blog posts and I rarely had to dig into my "blog brainstorm" file for an idea. I had a laparoscopy/hysteroscopy/selective HSG at the end of January, and starting this blog was one of my projects during my week off from work. I knew absolutely nothing about blogging and had only briefly visited a few blogs at that point. My how times have changed!

It has been great to meet so many of you online and to even meet a few of you in person! What a connection we share through our experiences even if we don't know each other IRL. It seems that every thought and emotion that you ladies have posted this year, I have experienced myself. On days when big news was coming, I would sit at work repeatedly refreshing your blog pages for the latest news. I have been so happy for some of you, your successes have brought tears to my eyes and for those who had difficult times, I found another types of tears pouring forth.

At times I wished I had another type of blog. One where I could just post about what was going on in my life, to pose questions that I knew I could get knowledgeable answers to from experienced women. But except for a few extenuating circumstances, I tried to keep to my format. I often wondered what people might think of me, if I was coming off as "holier than thou" in writing only devotional posts. If people thought that I had devotions to all the different prayers at the end of my posts, when in reality I had often just found them through a Google search moments before posting! I am certainly not a model of faith and have a lot of room for improvement – believe me. These blog posts were often the first time I really meditated on what God was trying to teach me through my sufferings. I suppose anyone who was turned off to my blog format doesn't read my posts anyway, so I need not worry.

At any rate, this anniversary comes at a critical time because obviously things are changing in my life. Although I still have a lot of feelings that I think I could work through, I am trying to decide what to do with this blog. I will certainly keep the blog active so that I can post comments on all of your sites; however, my news posts will probably be few and far between. I would like to keep up working through my post ideas and hopefully providing support to others through the blog, but it is time-consuming. I have a lot going on right now both personally and professionally that will keep me from my original goal of posting once a week. I am also a bit nervous about some new person finding my site one day and posting supportive comments, only to find out later that I am pregnant and feel like they were "lied" to.

Will I start a new blog? I'm not sure. I would like to be able to post some updates for anyone who would like to follow along with me. I know at times over the year, I had wished I had a "regular" blog so I could post about funny things that were happening in my life, but now, I'm not quite sure what I would write about in a new blog (other than the obvious). One of my IRL friends who blogs recently posted with questions about what purpose blogging serves. Does it do help me in any way? Am I a better person because of it? Does it make someone else's life better? The answers are different for each person/blog. This is part of my quandary about whether to start a new blog at this point. If I just post with pregnancy updates, would that really be helpful for me or others? I know all the comments/camaraderie are definitely helpful, but is the time spent worthwhile right now?

I wish there was some way to write posts that don't necessarily get posted on my main page, but that could be linked on the side. Anyone know how to do that? I tried to figure that out for my pregnancy announcement, but couldn't find anything. I'm sure that once this baby is born, I will start up a new blog, but I may go on a hiatus in the meantime as there is a lot to do, and I find it hard to keep up with blogging/commenting as it is now. So, what to do, what to do? Any thoughts are welcome.

On an unrelated note, I know that there are a lot of more urgent prayer requests right now, but if you happen to remember, please say a prayer for my husband and I's discernment. We are trying to decide whether my husband should take a new job position (if offered) which we had always thought would be the "dream job." Of course, nothing is perfect, and taking the job would involve a lot of risk and sacrifice. It would also mean we could move close to family which would be awesome at this stage of our life. Last week we were leaning one way, but this week we are leaning in the opposite direction, and both feeling at peace with it. However, we don't have the offer yet, and still want to get some questions answered and make sure we thoroughly think through all the benefits/drawbacks so that we come to the right decision. Thank you in advance for any prayers you can spare!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Miracle in 2010!?!

There has been a flurry of exciting news in the IF blogosphere recently and I am humbled to be able to add my own. The Friday before Thanksgiving I found out that I was pregnant! I had just gotten back in town from a business trip. I had expected to start my new cycle while on the trip. I filled up on all my medications for the month and packed my bag with feminine products, heating patches, and ibuprofen. The night I returned home, I pulled out my chart and realized I was already 20 DPO! Whoa, what infertile woman goes 20 DPO without noticing it (one who doesn't take her chart with her on business trips)! The next morning I went into the bathroom, thinking I had an extra test in the closet – nope, just a full pack of ovulation predictors. I went to the store, telling myself I couldn't be pregnant – a pregnant woman couldn't hold her first morning urine for long enough to go to the grocery store to pick up a test. But the test immediately came back positive!

So, here is the briefing of the info I know all of you will be most interested in, and if you want to read the full story of how I got through the first trimester, and how Dr. Kwak-Kim in Chicago helped me, you can read the longer post below.

We had started the month thinking it would be a break cycle. I had just had my surgery for Ashermans at the end of September and we thought we would wait one month to recover post-surgery and then hit things full force in November. Obviously that didn't happen. Dr. Stegman had ordered an ovulation ultrasound series. I wanted to make sure that my uterine lining was thick enough for a baby to implant (thin linings can be a symptom of Ashermans). It also meant I could check the ultrasound series off of my list of IF tests, as this was one thing that we hadn't done yet since we knew, with three conceptions, that I ovulate at least some months. During the ultrasound, everything looked great – my lining was measuring nice and thick, and I had several follicles growing. So we threw caution to the wind and gave it one shot…and it worked!

In the past, I have always gone a year-plus between pregnancies. This was the equivalent of getting pregnant two months in a row, though spaced out over a 5-month period due to pregnancy/miscarriage/post-miscarriage complications. I totally credit Dr. S for clearing my endo – I have gotten pregnant quickly two times since my laparoscopy in January. I credit Dr. KK for helping prevent a miscarriage this go round. It has been a crazy three+ months.

What I was doing:

  1. Eating really healthy
  2. Exercising a lot – increasing my variety and intensity
  3. Taking Folgard for the first time (because of my MTHFR blood clotting disorder)
  4. Baby Aspirin
  5. Multi-vitamin
  6. Flax Oil

What I wasn't doing:

  1. Femara
  2. Mucinex
  3. B6
  4. Amoxicillin
  5. Progesterone

As you can tell by this belated announcement, it has taken me awhile to get used to the idea that I might actually carry to term. I am finally starting to pull out pregnancy books that have long been banished to the basement and I am trying to stop saying "if we have a baby in July." It is hard to transition between the IF/miscarriage world into the pregnant world as other pregnant bloggers have stated recently. I am also feeling a lot of "post-IF" blogger guilt. I don't understand why me and not so many of you. I so very wish that all of you will be in my position soon. Please know that you are in my prayers daily and that now that my prayers for myself have changed, I am able to focus my prayers even more intently on each of you.

At mass this morning, this verse stood out to me thinking about the process of TTC and all of you. "It [love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:7 If that doesn't sum up what each of you ladies goes through day after day, I don't know what does.

The Full Story

Earlier this fall I started thinking that I wasn't too happy with how my NAPRO doctor was responding to my miscarriages. He had done some tests and even found a couple of things (MTHFR heterozygous mutation [a blood-clotting disorder] and slightly elevated Natural Killer Cells). However, he thought both were minor issues and didn't need treatment – not even baby aspirin or extra folic acid which is pretty standard for a MTHFR diagnosis. I got to thinking, I have had three miscarriages and my sister has had two. Between the two of us, we have had five miscarriages and have never carried out of the first trimester. I felt strongly that there was something going on – this was not just random.

For a few months, on the Catholic Fertility Yahoo! Group there has been a lot of talk about Dr. Joanne Kwak-Kim, a reproductive immunologist in Chicago. I knew that she takes miscarriages seriously, that she takes insurance, and is pretty easy to get into, so we decided to give it a shot. I wanted to try to get in before the end of the year because I had already spent so much money in insurance, I knew it would be way cheaper to get all of her tests run in 2009 than it would be if I waited until 2010. I sent in all my paperwork and records in October. Not two hours after getting my positive pregnancy test, I got a call from her office wanting to set up my initial visit! They could get me in around mid-December. I let the receptionist know that I had just found out I was pregnant and that I wasn't sure if I should still plan to come now, or just wait and see what happened (I know her treatments are best started pre-conceptually). She said she would have a nurse give me a call back. The doctor went ahead and looked through my files that day and a nurse called me shortly afterwards. She said that from the information they had, she definitely felt I needed to be on some different medicine and that mid-December would be too late. Dr. Kwak said that if I could come out to Chicago on Monday or Tuesday, they would work me into their schedule (this was a Friday). So, I got on the phone with my husband and we decided to go for it. God was obviously opening some doors for us. I spent the rest of the day at work booking flights, hotel, car rental, and getting directions. We took off on Sunday night and were in her office first thing Monday morning.

I loved everyone on her staff! We were basically the first people there for the day and they brought me right in for an ultrasound. We were able to see the fetal sac and the yolk sac and we were only 5 weeks, 2 days. This was huge for us, as with our first and third pregnancies the yolk sac never developed. They were also able to tell me within 15 minutes of getting to the office that the blood flow to the baby was not good – the pressure within the vessels was too high. Next, I got my blood drawn – 21 vials! Then they let us leave for about an hour to get some breakfast because Dr. Kwak had a phone consult with another patient – I love that they didn't waste our time. When we got back, Dr. Kwak came in for an exam – she said, "I'll do a quick physical and then we'll go into the conference room to get some real work done." They brought my husband in and we went to the conference room, joined by two other doctors. Dr. Kwak went over my records and was able to tell me three things off the bat that could be causing my miscarriages. 1. The blood flow to the uterus; 2. The MTHFR; 3. The high NK cells. She explained how they all affected the baby and wrote the orders for my medications then and there. Before I left, the nurse taught me how to give myself injections of Lovenox, gave me a shot in the butt of progesterone, and left me with some samples of medicines.

Her protocol was as follows:

  1. Lovenox for the blood flow to the uterus and MTHFR
  2. Baby aspirin for the same
  3. Metanx (folic acid/B vitamin combo – the 2nd generation Folgard) for the MTHFR
  4. Prednisone for the NK cells
  5. Prometrium – for progesterone support and for NK cells
  6. Calcium and Vitamin D supplements (because Lovenox can cause bone loss)
  7. Weekly blood work
  8. Weekly ultrasounds in first trimester
  9. Exercise was limited to only low-impact aerobics, swimming, or yoga; 5-7 lb. hand weights; no ab work

We were thrilled to finally have some answers as to why we were losing our babies! Also, my progesterone level was at a 30, unsupplemented which was huge for me. When I did my hormone profile a year ago, my progesterone averaged a 5 post-peak!

We went home for Thanksgiving and my parents took us on a getaway weekend to the Georgia mountains. While there, I started spotting. I waited until the evening to tell my husband and we never told my parents. The following Tuesday, I was still spotting. We had an ultrasound and saw the baby and the heartbeat! I had a second episode of spotting about a week later. All ultrasounds were showing a healthy baby, measuring with to-the-day accuracy and a strong heartbeat. Thank God!

I had an OB appointment at Tepeyac at 8 weeks and Dr. B was on board and excited about my treatment plan. I think he thought it was overkill (I wondered as well, but found out at week 10 that it was not), but he said why not throw in the kitchen sink? He also said he was going to present me as a case study at their next doctor's meeting. I am legend now!

The Monday after Christmas I had a follow-up phone consult with Dr. Kwak to go over all my bloodwork results. I was at 10 weeks. Two new issues were found: Elevated Th1/Th2 cells, treated with Prednisone which I was already on. A homozygous mutation of PAI-1 (a blood-clotting disorder). Over the summer, my sister found out she had PAI-1 and I requested to get tested. The results came back negative as you may remember from this post. I thought it was weird that my sister would have it and I didn't, and always wondered if I should get retested. Well, thank goodness Dr. Kwak ran the test! I have since found out that there are two PAI-1 tests that can be run. One is for the polymorphism (genetic disorder) and the other is a PAI-level (I'm guessing this is testing your blood-clotting rate). I only had my levels tested this summer and those came back normal. I had no idea that the genetic test was never run – once again, thank God for Dr. Kwak! Treatment for PAI-1 is Lovenox which I was already on and possibly Metformin. Because my glucose and insulin levels were in range, she didn't think I needed to go on Metformin, but had my levels retested to make sure they were still normal. She also said to cut back on carbs and sugars and to focus on good carbs (whole grains). This is exactly what I was doing pre-conceptually, but due to the holidays and some queasiness, I had not kept up with the program. Testosterone was also found to be a little high, but the Prednisone works to counteract that, so all that was needed was a retest.

The blood flow to the baby had not improved, though hadn't gotten worse, which is good considering that the baby had grown from imperceptible on an ultrasound to over 4 cm. We upped my dose of Lovenox to 60 mg twice a day.

Next we found out some bad news. The blood lab had not sent my results to her office since the end of November! Originally I was asking for my results, but they were coming back good and I didn't want to obsess, so I stopped asking about them. I have never had a problem with a doctor getting my lab results, so I was quite surprised. One of the nurses spent the entire time I was on the phone with Dr. Kwak calling the lab to get my results and during that time they only found the most recent lab (which was obviously most important). The results were not good. In the past month, my progesterone had dropped from 58 (excellent) to 14 (horrible). My estrogen had dropped from 480 (perfect) to 130 (bad). She ordered two forms of estrogen for me, had me up my Prometrium and add progesterone injections. It seemed like overkill with two forms of each hormone, but I knew my hormones would be tested a week later and my meds would be changed up. The next day, like clockwork, I started spotting – the first I had seen in weeks. We were able to get an ultrasound for that Thursday (New Year's Eve) and prayed that it would turn out okay, otherwise we were going to have a horrible start to the new year. Luckily everything was great – I didn't even realize just how nervous I was until after we saw the baby and heartbeat on the ultrasound. It took a while for the butterflies to go away.

We retested my hormones the next week, the lab actually sent the results on time, and everything had much improved. I was able to halve both progesterone supplements and she wanted me to stay on the same protocol for estrogen. An ultrasound showed that the blood flow to the baby had improved as well with the increased dosage of Lovenox. I am now starting to wean off of the estrogen, Prednisone, and progesterone. Hopefully I will be able to come off of all of them at some point this trimester.

In other exciting news, my sister is also pregnant and is due one month ahead of me (I'm due July 25). Being my older sister, I am glad that she is able to take her rightful place in the family as the first to have a baby, although I am not letting her have too much time in the spotlight!

For those of you who have read this far, I am guessing you wouldn't mind seeing a couple ultrasound pictures, so here is my two favorites from the past few months. These are both from 11 weeks. We are so lucky to have picture of our baby's development week by week, and now bi-weekly.

Monday, January 18, 2010

God Provides

I was quite curious as to how much money I spent on fertility testing/treatments this past year. I knew that it was more than we had ever spent before as I had three surgeries, tons of bloodwork, countless ultrasounds and more medications than ever. In all of this, I never knew how much insurance would be covering, and just had to trust. We are very lucky to have an amazing insurance plan. We have truly been blessed by this. Even with seeing three out-of-state doctors and having all surgeries at out-of-state hospitals, everything has been in-network! Being that we get our insurance through a Catholic organization, I am sure that they have a lot of restrictions on what is covered as far as fertility testing and treatment. Hats off to my doctors for always coding my visits and orders in ways that were chargeable under my insurance plan!

So, I spent a thrilling evening in front of my computer with all my insurance statements from the year to do some calculations. This may not be totally complete, but the gist is:

Insurance was billed about $63,000 for this year's events. They handily cut that down to only $17,500, of which I was charged $3,600. Medications kicked our out-of-pocket payments over the $4,000 mark. Overall, not bad at all! Considering that ART procedures could cost several times that amount and that I have REAL answers to my problems and will not have resort to expensive ART "treatments" every time I want a baby, working within the guidelines of the Church really pays off!

I am so thankful that God has provided for us this past year. Without insurance, there is no way we could have afforded this level of testing and treatment. God also provided so that we could afford to make out of town trips, some requiring hotel rooms and flights without breaking our budget. And he even allowed us to have flexible enough work schedules that we could literally take days off of work to make visits to doctors and recover from surgery, sometimes on just days notice!

Looking into our future, we know that at this time next year, we may have a different insurance plan. How expensive that plan will be and how flexible it will be in covering future fertility expenses is a total unknown. So it is amazing to see God's hand at work. I feel that we have covered so many bases and received so many answers over the past few years when we have had affordable and comprehensive insurance. We have been able to check so many things off of our list that we will not have to repeat in the future. How generous God has been with us. He knew what we would need at this time in our lives and He provided. Insurance, flexible work schedules, and access to excellent doctors are definitely not things that I thank God for on a regular basis, but what a gift they have been!

"If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?' All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides." Matthew 6:30-33

"If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him." Matthew 7:11

"Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:6-7

"My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Reflection Questions
1. In what ways has God provided for me on this journey?

2. What doors has He opened that I did not expect?

3. Do I remember to thank God for the mundane things in life – even insurance and doctors?

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


After mass on New Year's Day, we were blessed to be asked by friends to be godparents for their little boy (to be born a few days later). It is always humbling to be asked to be godparents, especially for people who you aren't related to, but this one was especially humbling. Why? Because I remember how I felt that day when they announced after mass that they were expecting. I remember the look my husband and I exchanged when another set of friends exited the church and we again witnessed to the pregnancy announcement. I remember trying to unsuccessfully tune out all the giddy talk that was exchanged between some of the girls while I tried to focus on a conversation with the guys. I remember not responding to the mass-emailed pregnancy announcement that was sent a couple days later (I had already said my congrats in person, no need to do it again via email, right?).

Were my feelings unwarranted? No, they were true to my situation. Was I wrong to focus inward on what I didn't have instead of on the joy of a birth announcement? Probably. I have a major tendency to be self-focused, especially related to anything having to do with pregnancies or babies. Was I putting up defense mechanisms to protect my aching heart? Definitely.

But God works with us despite our weaknesses. We see it throughout salvation history. God takes sinful and weak men and makes them the great leaders and figures of the bible. God can take us where we are and work through us as long as we allow ourselves to be His instruments. Sometimes He asks us to do things we do not wish to do, but when we take on His challenge, we find that we benefit more than we sacrifice.

How incredible to see God taking my weakness and turning it into something beautiful. This little boy and this family will always be connected to us. In fact, we will have responsibility towards this child – something we never expected that spring day.

"Have pity on me, Lord, for I am weak; heal me, Lord, for my bones are trembling." Psalm 6:3

"Those whose steps are guided by the Lord; whose way God approves, may stumble, but they will never fall, for the Lord holds their hand." Psalms 37:23-24

"Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.' I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me." 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

"For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work." Philippians 2:13

Reflection Questions
1. Have I fallen into focusing on myself instead of the joys and sorrows of those around me?
2. Am I open to God's call, even if it is something I do not want to do?
3. How is God using my weaknesses for good?

Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A New Year's Reflection

Happy New Year! The new year has always been a time of excitement for me. It helps to have a set time where I can think about what I want to accomplish in the year ahead, instead of letting life flash before my eyes. For me, last New Year’s was different. Instead of excitement about the year ahead, I felt…nervous. I had never sat up on New Year’s Eve feeling nervous about what may be in store in the year to come. It perturbed me because I knew that the nervousness was related to my infertility and miscarriages. Infertility had taken over so much of my life that instead of feeling hopeful anticipation about the year ahead, I was worried about what may be in store. I feared another pregnancy loss and how I would cope. I’m sure my laparoscopy that was scheduled for the end of January contributed to the nervousness as well.

But I made it through 2009. It was filled with lots of doctor’s appointments, three surgeries, one pregnancy loss, my sister’s loss of her second baby, a short-lived case of Asherman’s Syndrome, and diagnosis of endometriosis, two blood-clotting disorders, and hormonal issues. I also made it to the magic number of three miscarriages when doctor’s agree extensive testing must be done and they classify you as a recurrent miscarrier. But I found that even with three miscarriages, most doctors still blow off the issue unless they can find something significant in their testing.

When I went to write our Christmas letter this year, I gave up and decided to just write a short, hand-written note in each card. This isn’t exactly the type of news that Christmas letters are made of, and we didn’t do anything too exciting during the year other than some visits with family. Still, 2009 didn’t conquer me and I ended feeling thankful for the gifts that I do have. Some of our friends faced so many challenges this year, and even though last year wasn’t great, I am definitely thankful that I don’t have to bear the crosses that some of our friends have been asked to carry.

Looking into 2010, I am not nervous. I found that even though difficult things happened in 2009, there was still a lot of joy and happiness in our lives. I am blessed with an amazing husband who is perfect for me. We live comfortably, have secure jobs, enjoy close relationships with our families, and have developed some wonderful friendships. Most of all, I know that God is always with me, even when I don’t understand what He is doing with my life or why He is taking so long in answering my prayers. He is generous in the grace that He shares. His love is ever faithful, even when I am not. It is so easy to focus on this life, to think about what I do or do not have, the dreams that were not realized this past year. It is so easy to forget that I am living for the life to come. I will only find true contentment in heaven. I have cause for joy and hope in my Savior. May this year bring all of us closer to the joys of heaven!

“Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” Matthew 6:34a

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” Romans 8:18

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:18

Reflection Questions
1. How has the Lord worked in my life over the past year?
2. What non-fertility related goals can I set for myself in 2010?
3. What can I do this year to bring me closer to the goal of reaching heaven?

Opening Prayer from Mass
Father of light, unchanging God, today you reveal to men of faith the resplendent fact of the Word made flesh. Your light is strong, your love is near; draw us beyond the limits which this world imposes, to the life where your Spirit makes all life complete. We ask this through Christ our Lord.