Tuesday, December 30, 2008

DH says I'm a mom

The other night M and I were talking about the surgery and all that lies ahead next year. I told him God is helping me to trust Him, and I do trust God whatever the outcome. Even if that means no biological children for us, as hard as that would be. And God does not promise us children -- I am not entitled to have Him answer my prayer with a pregnancy.

M's response to this: "Yeah...but God made you a mom. You're already a mom and we don't have any kids. You'll be a mom."

Of course, tears followed. He has such calm, such confidence. I don't think he has insider info from God or anything, but he sees the way God created me and trusts that God will bless us with children.

I don't think I'm particularly "motherly" towards people. I am caring and nurturing but not more than a lot of women. Many small children do seem rather drawn to me which is always so fun and flattering. Our nephew (now 7) adored me as a toddler/ preschooler. :)

I think what M sees in me that is mom-like is the deep, deep desire I have to be a mom. It is probably what all of you have as well! I remember being in high school, dreaming of college and beyond...and beyond for me was to be a stay-at-home mom. I love the idea of taking care of all the little things for the kids, running errands, helping in the classroom, making dinner, reading books together, and welcoming dad when he gets home. (The only part I don't look forward to is the cleaning, but I already do a lot of that anyway...). Even now I enjoy my job but it feels temporary until I can fulfill my true career path of stay-at-home mom. I do feel like I was created to be a mom.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

On Christ the solid rock I stand...

We sang this hymn in church yesterday, and the words rested deeply in my soul. All of my hope is in Christ, and I have received more than I need, deserve, or desire in him. This reminder was like a loving hug from God that washed over me.

We were asked during the service to reflect on how God has been faithful in 2008 and to look ahead to God's faithfulness in 2009. I think it is through this suffering that I have been seeing God's faithfulness in my life in new ways, and for that I am thankful. He has been faithful to help me trust him and has given me a peace and joy that surpasses my circumstances. And I look ahead to 2009 and know that God could provide us with a pregnancy (the joy!). But I also know God will continue to grow and mold me even if that is not the case, and that is my true desire.... the greatest joy in my life.

At the end of the day I read this post from Walking the Journey (I hope it's ok to link your post, Beth!). A beautiful and heart wrenching reflection on the journey God has taken her on. As I read it, I felt like she put words to my deepest desires as I look ahead at the journey before me.

A final note to those of you who are not Christians: I hope this post and others like it do not make you uncomfortable reading my blog. My faith is who I am, so naturally these thoughts will seep out into this blog. And I know that suffering leads us to think about the important questions of life, and for me, those point me back to Christ. Please know that you are welcome here, and I enjoy reading your blogs as you ponder your own suffering. I hope I can be an encouragement and support to you.

I leave you with the words to the hymn, On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus' Name

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my Hope and Stay

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne

Chorus:
Oh Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas memories-to-come

M and I enjoyed our 6th married Christmas together (4 married, 1 engaged, and 1 dating). I can't believe we've had that many together!! We've always split the day between our families and experienced some of the traditions we each grew up with.

This year, like all the rest, was a wonderful Christmas. And it wasn't difficult to experience our first infertile Christmas (it's weird to admit that). The infertile part didn't fit into any of my memories or expectations of Christmas day celebrations, so it didn't really come to mind. No babies or pregnant bellies to remind me. Pretty simple.

But at the end of the day, I went to bed slightly dissatisfied. And tired. We're ready to create new Christmas memories with our own children. I want to wake up on Christmas morning in our home, read the Christmas story, open gifts, enjoy a breakfast. Maybe even sing a Christmas hymn, or start other new traditions...

I don't know what it will look like, but I long for the Christmas memories-to-come.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our first Christmas in our home

Merry Christmas!

I love decorating and I love Christmas, but this year has been even more fun because it is our first Christmas in our new home!

(We're not actually at our home on Christmas day, but you get the idea!)

Merry Christmas from our home to yours :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cycle 3, How I love thee...

As I moved on to cycle 10 of this TTC journey this weekend (yes, AF arrived), I have suddenly realized how very different this feels. I have left behind the excitement and anticipation of each cycle. Not that I am pessimistic or negative about each cycle...I think I'm rather neutral.

This realization made me reflect on some of my earlier cycles in that excited-I-might-be-pregnant phase.

Cycle 3. My favorite cycle because it was the one where I really, really thought I could be pregnant. I would seriously POAS to prove that I was pg, and with each BFN was frustrated that I would have to wait until the next day to get that confirmation. But it would happen.

Here it is: Ode to Cycle 3! Look at that amazing temp spike! Look at the beautiful EWCM and perfectly timed BD! (Ignore all the negative tests and the spotting, will you?)


But alas, cycle 3 came to an end. And for all the joy of that excitement, I am thankful I don't have to experience that let down. Cycle 3 ended with a crash that left me tear soaked, exhausted, and scared. What if we had an infertility issue? What if I can't get pregnant?

And here I am, only 7 cycles later. We do have an IF issue. I still wonder if I will get pregnant. But, we're ok. We're enjoying life. We keep trusting God and moving forward. I think my cycle 3 self would be relieved to see where my cycle 10 self is, in some strange way.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Infertility in Australia

We had a wonderful weekend! I felt like it was the first slow down in the month of December. Shopping's done, cards are sent, parties are over...so now it's just time with family and time off of work! Today's my last day of work for the week so I'm really excited!! :)

My IL's came up to visit and see our home decorated for Christmas. As I'm sure you could tell in an earlier post, we're really close to my DH's parents. We have a ton of fun together and they really are like close friends to us -- they just happen to be older than us and DH's parents.

We did some shopping, MIL helped me wrap gifts, ate out, went to church together (I love the service before Christmas!), and talked and laughed a lot. On Saturday night we went and saw the movie Australia and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was the perfect movie to see together (great for all ages & genders!) and it was a really likeable, well done movie. Interestingly, the main character is an infertile. It's a really minor point in the movie, but does play into her love for an unofficially adopted child. Maybe I just haven't looked for it until recently, but I can't say I've seen much about infertility in movies. It was interesting.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Non-IF melt down

Wow, I must be really PMS-ing. I had a complete melt down last night over some biscotti I made to give away as Christmas gifts to co-workers. The biscotti turned out great but then when I went to package them...

I had this idea in my mind of how beautifully they would be wrapped. Standing in clear glass mugs wrapped in cellophane and tied with a lovely Christmas ribbon.

I didn't have enough time. The biscotti looked too small for the big mug. I ran out of cellophane after making 2 (I had 6). I ran out of skinny ribbon. I feel so bad for M, but I could not hold it together. I haven't had a meltdown like that in a long time. M helped me make the best of what I had... and they came out fine. I thought about taking a picture to post here to show you, but I thought they were so ugly at the time I didn't even want them photographed to be remembered forever.

Honestly I do think I am hormonal (AF should be here this weekend). I've been very busy and stressed at work, and our social life has been so full. I'm tired. I've wondered today if my hysterics had anything to do with underlying IF stress, but as far as I can tell they weren't related.

This is so trivial -- you really don't need to post any comments of comfort. :)

Side note -- Thanks for all your suggestions and encouragement regarding my spotting/ progesterone/ doctor visit. You ladies are great!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Low progesterone?

I walked away from my appointment today with a slip for a 7dpo progesterone test. Hopefully that is all the testing I need -- especially because it's all I got. :)

Overall the nurse practitioner seemed to think it was unnecessary that I came in. On the one hand I was glad that she thought my spotting is not a big deal. Maybe our issue is purely male factor. On the other hand, I was a little frustrated that I had to do so much convincing just to get a progesterone test and didn't feel truly convinced that the spotting is not a problem.

I am very glad I did get a slip for a progesterone test and she said I should go on progesterone even if the test does not indicate that the levels are low. She said some women just need "extra support" through the luteal phase.

If I need any additional testing I think we'll wait until after the post-surgery SA results -- I think the progesterone test is enough to satisfy me for now. And maybe it would be better to go to an RE for more tests, anyway.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Shifting the focus to me

Now that DH's surgery is scheduled, I'm turning my attention back to where all of my infertility concerns originally lied: my crazy luteal phase full of spotting. The dream is to have my body ready to conceive once M's swimmers are *hopefully* moving full speed ahead. :)

So I made an appointment with my nurse practitioner for tomorrow (Tuesday the 16th) to try and figure out why I am spotting. I've already had a va.ginal ultrasound and blood tests for thyroid and prolactin levels which were all normal.

What is left to be tested?? I want to ask for the cycle day 3 bloodwork (FSH, E2, LH, TSH) and then the progesterone test 7 dpo. Should I ask for an HSG? Any other tests that I am not thinking of that I should request -- especially because of my heavy luteal phase spotting?? Thanks in advance for any help you lovely ladies can provide!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This roller coaster

I was so joyful on Thursday. I felt so much peace with our decision and trusted that God had guided us to it. I actually thought I might just sail through these next 4 months of surgery and waiting for the results. Sure, it would be difficult to wait the 4 months, but at least we could put TTC on the back burner and live like we did prior to last April.

Then I had time to sit and be still.

And in the quiet I thought about our journey....and wondered where it will end.

And some fears started creeping in. I've already imagined that day 4 months in the future when we get the post surgery SA results. I imagined both outcomes, and one would be very difficult.

But I pray that God will strengthen me, and I pray against fear. These emotions are like a roller coaster, yet I will trust him through each peak and valley.

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. " Isaiah 41:10

Friday, December 12, 2008

Varicocelectomy scheduled

We've decided to do the surgery.

We know there is a large chance it won't work, and that some studies show it to be ineffective. But we're not ready to give up on our only other option before IVF. An option that *might* allow us to conceive naturally and have future children.

What finally made us feel 100% sure about our decision was the wonderful support and research done by my IL's. They found many articles supporting the surgery. They also found studies showing that varicoceles can often get worse over time, so even if men father 1 child "naturally," secondary infertility is common. And -- this is a big one for us -- varicoceles can reduce men's testosterone (and, again, this can get worse over time), and testosterone effects SO MANY things from hair loss to heart disease to libido. M doesn't show any symptoms of lowered testosterone, but the surgery also seems beneficial from a medical prevention stand point.

It was so wonderful to have my IL's looking into all of this. It is amazing to have somebody who researches along side of you, knows the facts, and supports your decision.

After talking to them yesterday I felt so joyful because we have people who love us in our corner and we felt really good about our decision to have the surgery done.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Advent Season: Peace

My lovely friend surprised me again with this week's Advent theme in decorative form. Peace. These Advent reminders are so poingnant every Christmas, but particularly this year because of IF...

"Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:1

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The results are in

And they're the same.

I don't know exact numbers at this point (DH doesn't think to ask those kinds of questions!), but the nurse called to say that the results are "the same (as SA #1)and he has low motility."

Honestly I'm not upset. I think there was a small hope that the first test could have been an error, but really I just viewed SA #2 as a hoop to jump through so that we could confirm the diagnosis and move forward.

Low motility confirmed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Whew, I made it!

This morning it was my job to drop off DH's SA #2. I offered to do it, knowing that SA #1 was pretty unpleasant for him (M did the test at the lab). And my work schedule is more flexible, so it just made sense.

I get this thing that DH & I call "time stress" when I feel like I need to be somewhere but get worried that I'm going to be late. Driving an SA sample 20 minutes to the lab induced major time stress. To add to the stress, there was an accident at the exact exit I needed to take for the hospital which backed traffic up quite a bit. Fortunately, I still made it to the hospital and got the sample into the lab tech's hands by 8:55am. And the tech was so kind. She smiled at me and told me that she and her husband had struggled with infertility, so she is always sympathetic to those getting an SA. It made me happy to know that my husband's sample was in her hands!

I think it was about an hour after the drop-off before I felt normal again. (That makes it sound so traumatic, which it was not. I'm just highlighting how weird I am about my time stress issues.) :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Advent Season: Hope

Last week as I drove up to our home I saw a gift bag hanging from the door knob. A present! For us! How exciting!

I opened it up to find this beautiful reminder of the first week of Advent from an anonymous friend:

Each letter has a Bible verse reminding us of the ultimate hope we have in Christ. This amazing gift of love, time, and encouragement seriously made my week. Seriously.

Thank you to my anonymous friend who made this (and does not read this blog). I actually found out who made it over the weekend and thanked her profusely.

And in other news, DH is doing his second SA tomorrow morning!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

IF one-liners from DH

On Friday night we were walking down the street after a good dinner with friends. The Christmas parade had just ended and there were lots of fun sights and sounds around us. The air was cold (for here) and we walked briskly with our arms around each other's waists. We were in good moods that led us to silliness.

One liners from DH -- I love how he makes me laugh:

"You and me make the ultimate contraceptive."

"When they teach about contraception in school they could use a picture of us."

There were a few more that I don't remember. I just asked M right now what they were and he said in a false voice, "I don't remember those." (He knew I was going to put them here).

So they might not be that original or funny, but let me tell you there were hilarious on Friday night.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Answered prayer

Sorry this might be another long post, but I had some amazing experiences today that I want to share...

Today I went to the dentist for my regular cleaning. We go to a relatively new dentist who opened his own office a couple years ago. His wife is also a dentist who works at another office in town. Apparently he has enough patients now to have her work at his office two days a week, and today his wife cleaned my teeth.

It was my first time meeting her, and she was very nice and friendly. She had heard from her husband that we had bought a house, so we chatted about that and the condo that they had purchased. She goes on to say that the next thing for us must be having kids, right? Fortunately I couldn't really talk since she was polishing my teeth, so I just said a little yes and figured that the conversation will move on.

She then said something to the effect of, "Yeah, too bad that's not always as easy as you would think." Instantly I knew: another IFer! My first real life IFer!

As soon as I could talk I told her that we had been trying awhile, too. We chatted for a few minutes and I learn that she's been trying for two years and they have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility. She was pretty upbeat during the conversation, but part of me wondered if she had been dying for somebody to talk to.

I think I'm going to send her a card with a little note inviting her to talk more if she'd like.

As I was driving to work after the dentist I prayed that God would give me a real-life friend to walk this IF journey with. Not that I don't love you ladies (I do!), but there's just something extra nice about having a person give you a hug. Or cry with you. Or say something while looking you in the eyes... you know what I mean. :)

I did not expect my prayer to be answered so soon, but later that afternoon somebody came by who I rarely see but was in a Bible study with a couple years ago. I happened to be holding a 3 month old baby at the time (sorry, there is just too much background info already in this story to go into that...), so she asked me if holding that sweet baby made me want one of my own.

Now, I can totally understand how hurtful and insensitive comments like that can be to many of us. However, I felt like this was coming from a friend, and sometimes it opens the door for a really encouraging conversation. I told her that we had been trying for awhile and had recently had some testing done that showed it would be difficult for us to conceive.

She very sincerely said how sorry she was, and told me that just this morning she was talking to a co-worker of hers who is also struggling with infertility. Apparently she goes to our church, although I have not met her...and she told our mutual friend that she has been looking for somebody to talk to who understands what she's going through! How amazing is it that this all lined up!

I gave the mutual friend my phone number and email -- we'll see if this other IFer calls me. Even if she doesn't I felt so encouraged by how everything unfolded today.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The wait

I am still hopeful from our appointment on Monday, but I have been processing the situation and reality has sunk in a little more. It was difficult to take my mind off of everything today.

Waiting. I need to do more waiting. I'm waiting for M to get another SA. Then we wait for the results. If M gets the surgery done in January then we have to wait at least 3 months (maybe more) for the possibility of it working. And then if it works we start trying to conceive again...and we all know that that can involve lots of waiting. I almost feel like an optimistic view of all of this is that I could be a couple months pregnant by this time next year. And that's being optimistic, but it feels so far away.

And all of that rests on the surgery working...

If I knew a year from now I would be pregnant I could handle the wait. It would still be difficult to wait, since I wanted to be pregnant 9 months ago, but if I knew the outcome would be a baby I could wait. It's a little torturous to do all of this waiting with such an uncertain outcome.

One amazing comfort is that God does know the outcome, even if I don't. And the outcome He has planned is good -- even if it doesn't involve a baby.

Please, God, I pray it involves a baby.

Monday, December 1, 2008

So that's what it's like to go to a urologist

We made it out laughing and hopeful :)

Here's the scene: M is sick with a bad cold and I'm quietly nervous. We walk into the lobby of the urologist office and realize M is the youngest patient by about 50 years out of the 6 other patients we see throughout our time there. I fill out the forms for M since I kind of like to do that (is that weird?), and we only wait a few minutes for his name to get called.

He does a urine sample because they say every patient they see gets one (although it did seem highly unnecessary) and then we both wait together in the exam room. There are lots of posters/ diagrams of male anatomy and such which "entertain" us while we wait.

Dr. Urologist walks in and is kind, professional, dry humored, and all business. He takes being a doctor seriously and we like that. We explain why we're there and show him the original SA. At some point M mentions that he has a varicocele (he knew he had one because it is easily felt), which Dr. Urologist seems very interested in and leads us to a short anatomy lesson about how men get varicoceles.

Before the exam begins he asks me a few (rapid fire) questions about how long we've been TTC, etc. Understandably, he doesn't know how informed we are...but some of the questions were difficult to even answer with a straight face! Highlights that I remember:

*Are you ovulating?
*You're not using condoms, right?
*You know "it" has to go in you, not on you? (seriously!)
*Are you laying with your bottom elevated for 30 minutes? (no, I read this is not really necessary...right?)
*Are you timing it around ovulation?

Anyway, it's time for M to drop his pants. He told me afterwards that, in order not to laugh, he thought about war. Ha! However, I guess he ran out of war topics because when it was time for the lying down portion of the exam he starts cracking up. The kind of laughing where he couldn't make himself stop and that made me start. I even hit him on the shoe to try to get him to stop, but he and I couldn't and Dr. Urologist just keeps going. Dr. U did say it is a "normal" reaction and that he gets all kinds of reactions. Makes sense.

Dr. Urologist is certain there is a Grade 2-3 varicocele (3 being the largest, M's is borderline) and says that is the most likely cause for the low motility. He said a varicocelectomy surgery has a 60-70% chance of greatly improving M's motility rate, and then we may be able to get pregnant "the fun way". He also talked about IVF w/ ICSI and basically made it sound like that's our only other option. (The one question I forgot to ask is what are our chances of natural conception as they stand now? Is my 0.002% chance at all close?)

He brings in his partner, a young female urologist, and says that she is best trained in the most up-to-date techniques for the surgery so she would be the one to actually perform it. They then both examine M (which included more laughing) and agreed on the diagnosis and treatment, and tell us that if we decide to move forward we could do the surgery pretty quickly.

We're getting another SA this week before we proceed. Dr. Urologist said to definitely do this, but also didn't seem to think the 1st one would be wrong. We're researching the surgery.

I am hopeful:
*Maybe we can get pregnant "the fun way" someday
*Maybe we can get pregnant "accidentally" someday when we're not even trying (I dream of this now...)
*Maybe we could have IUI as an option instead of IVF if the motility goes up enough

Yes, we left hopeful.