Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Number Five

We had our IUI today, and things went well.  I always have quite a bit of cramping and uncomfortableness after these procedures, so that's where I am right now.  I can't say I'm feeling too excited or anything, as I'm just a bit worn out by it all, but I'm sure excitement will set in soon.  Two weeks until I test, so we're playing the waiting game again.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Double the chances" -- I like that phrase!

We just got back from another doctor's appointment.  I have two follicles that are decent size, one on each ovary.  The one on my left ovary is 18 mm, and the one on my right is 15 mm.  Follicles typically grow about two mm each day, so they should be four mm bigger by the time we have the IUI, which is scheduled for Wednesday.  I'm finished with the Follistim injections, but I have to do my Ovidrel injection tonight to be ready for the IUI Wednesday morning.

Again, our nurse today couldn't help but show some excitement for us.  I think they get to the point where they want to see us have a successful month nearly as much as we do!  Like last week, she told us that our chances are nearly doubled on this new medication, and even though it may have produced less follicles than Clomid has, she has more hope in these follicles because they aren't estrogen-hungry like the ones that appear with Clomid.

So, if she is excited, you can imagine that I must be :)  I say this every month, but I'll say it again...this could be it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Poking along

We had another doctor's appointment today to see how the little follicles are growing with the help of this new medication.  The doctor said that things look good so far, but I am going to do four more days of injections.  My next appointment is Monday morning where they were check and see if the follicles are large enough.  If everything looks good, I will do the Ovidrel injection and have our fifth IUI next week sometime.

I didn't think much about this appointment, but the nurse gave me hope and said my chances of conceiving this month are doubled!  She said on Clomid, it's an 8% chance at its best (and really, she pointed out I was probably only at 4%), and on the injections, it's a 16% chance.  So, that was exciting to hear.  I'm excited to see how the follicles have grown on Monday.

Thanks for your continued prayers.  I am feeling better, but the flu-like symptoms come and go.  Also, I am still concerned about hyper-stimulating, so I appreciate your prayers for that, as well.

So we wait...and we hope!

Letting go -- even of the silly things

This may be silly, but I have purposely avoided using the phrase "letting go."  I don't know why.  I guess it just sounds so cliche.  Nevertheless, that is the only phrase that has been in my head for the last couple of weeks, so what can I do?  It is what it is.

I suppose I've been thinking about this for a long time, but I finally voiced it to Robby a couple of weeks ago when we were driving back from San Francisco.  I had taken the pregnancy test that morning, and of course it turned out to be negative.  We talked about how hard it is to let go of ideas we had about life and family and babies.  Some of the ideas are nearly silly, but that's how it goes sometimes.

One thing I'm having to let go of is the hope that we could have babies right along with our friends.  I wanted my kids and my friends' kids to be the same age, so we could all be in the same phase of life together.  As my friends' children grow, I feel more and more left behind, and sometimes I even feel panicked about the time that's passing, the opportunity that's leaving.

I also have to let go of the hope that I'd be a "young mom."  Sure, 28 is still young, I give you that.  But I wanted to be like my mom, all done with having kids at 30, still young when her kids are grown.  And I certainly didn't think I'd be 28 years old, wondering if babies were even in the near future.

I'm having to let go of what I thought my role at church would be by now.  I had hoped I'd have kids and get a break from ministry!  I thought we would be at the point where "our ministry is our family" and I would get to focus on my family and serve in the nursery once in awhile :)  I didn't expect things to still look as they are.

Perhaps more seriously, I'm having to let go of the belief that my children would be mine biologically.  I looked forward to the day when I would have a baby who looked like me or my husband.  As we continue in this struggle, the idea of adoption becomes more real and more welcomed, but that was never something we intended to do when we were married.

On that same drive, I asked Robby if he would have done the last six years differently, if we had known then what we know now, that it would be at least this long for us to begin our family, and perhaps much much longer.  We both "dreamed" awhile and talked about how we had wanted to live at the beach or we had wanted to do more school or we had wanted to pursue a different career.  But then we both realized that that is precisely why God doesn't let us know ahead of time what struggles we're going to face.  The spiritual life is about change, and change comes from dealing with trials and the unexpected and the difficult, allowing God to work in us when things don't go as we want them to go or planned them to be.  Some of these things I'm having to release may seem silly, but they're just one part of the change that's had to take place inside of me, whether I wanted it to happen or not.  And as my hope in these things has decreased, my hope in God alone has increased.  I'm understanding more and more what it means to allow God to lead us in our lives and let Him decide what the best life is for us.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Follistim Flu?

I have been taking my injections for three days now, and I am a bit disappointed with the horrible side effects I'm experiencing.  The nurse practitioner told me there should be less emotional side effects than Clomid, which is true, but physically, I feel like I have the flu.  Cramps, headaches, acheyness, fatigue, nausea.  This is not fun!  As I did a bit of research about this medication, it seems flu-like symptoms are a common side effect and are just part of the whole deal.

Because my body is responding so strongly to this medication, it does make me concerned about the possibility of ovarian hyperstimulation, which is always a possible side effect with any of these medications.  The second month I was on Clomid I experienced this and ended up in the ER.  It was terrifying.

As you pray for me, please pray about these side effects, especially the hyperstimulation.

*You may have noticed I edited my previous post.  I was wrong about the name of the medication: I am taking Follistim, not Gonal-F as I had written.  Gonal-F is the other type of FSH the doctor considered prescribing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another doctor's visit

Today I went in my usual beginning of the cycle visit. This month, we're actually changing things up a bit. It is high time I stopped using Clomid, as research shows that if it will help, it will help in the first three cycles. I have done it for 9 cycles, and I'm not quite sure my doctor just made the decision for me to switch. I also didn't appreciate the passing remark that women who stay on Clomid for longer lengths of time increase their risk of cervical cancer. Uh...hmm...what?? Well, that is one thing I cannot worry about, although it did remind me I need to have a pap smear.

So, onto what we're doing. Instead of Clomid, I will be doing a daily injection (yikes!) for six days, beginning tomorrow. The medication is called Follistim, and it basically is a FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). The difference between this and Clomid is in the way it works. Clomid stimulates follicle growth, as well, but it does so by limiting the estrogen in my body, thereby tricking the body into producing more follicles. Follistim just pumps in the hormone that stimulates follicles without messing with any other hormones. The good news is that I should have less negative side effects and my uterus will actually be happier because it needs estrogen. The bad news is that I have to give myself a shot everyday and the cost is about ten times more than Clomid.

After I use Follistim for a week, I go back in to the doctor, and he sees if my follicles have grown. At that point, I may either have to do more injections, or I may be ready for my Ovidrel injection. Once I take the Ovidrel injection, there are 36 hours until we do the IUI. Last month, I gave myself the injection on Thursday night, then went in for the IUI on Saturday morning. And then, we wait again.

I was pretty overwhelmed when I left the office today: I'm anxious about the injections, anxious about the timing, and anxious about the costs. We're in limbo, waiting for the insurance company to tell us how much of the surgery it is covering and if it will be covering any of these recent visits and procedures. So, things are getting expensive and complicated. Robby and I decided we need a vacation (a cheap one, of course) very soon. :)

If this month doesn't work out, I definitely need a break. I honestly feel like my life revolves around the next visit, the next medication, the next IUI, and the next pregnancy test. It is exhausting.

I can't say I feel much of anything in the area of hope right now. I'm just tired, tired in a way that a nap won't help (much, anyway). I need God's peace and rest. That is next on my to-do list today: sit at His feet and rest awhile.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Never crushed

A couple of weeks ago, as I was praying to God about our struggle and our hope to have a baby, I felt Him bring to me a verse in 2 Corinthians. It's one I know well in a chapter I know well, a chapter that is meant to encourage believers in their sharing of the Gospel, reminding them of the hope they have in Christ and the hope in the eternal life to come. It of course applies to us in many situations of life because our witness shines in the way we respond to trials.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Cor 4:8-9

I'll be honest: when that verse came to my mind, my first reaction was to push it away. This was not the verse I wanted to hear! I would have welcomed a verse that said something like, "Whatever your heart desires, that you will have." But of course, a verse like that is not in the Bible. That is something that would be found in a fortune cookie or a Disney song, not in Scripture.

I didn't want that verse because that verse reminds me that sometimes, an unwelcome struggle lasts a long time. Sometimes, life is hard, and it's hard to the very end. Sometimes, God doesn't give us what we want, at least not in the way we want it.

But I knew why God was giving me this verse. I was at a moment where I felt like this was going to crush me. I kept thinking, "How will I get through this, if this month is yet one more disappointment?" I was at my weakest, wondering where the strength was going to come.

And very clearly, I felt Him say to me, "This is not going to destroy you." I knew that He saw I was hard pressed and worn down, that I was perplexed and questioning how things could possibly be okay if my husband and I never have a baby. But I heard His truth, that no matter what, the things of this life will never crush me, will never destroy me, will never leave me in utter despair, all because of my God who never abandons.

Some people, meaning well, have said to me in more or less words, "I know God will give you a baby." That is just as untrue as saying to someone with cancer, "I know God will heal you." We do not know that God will ever choose to heal us or fix a problem while on this earth. What we do know is this: God never leaves us. He never forsakes us. He never decides that He's not going to save us afterall. He never stops moving us toward His holiness. And He never does anything that is not wholly good for His people.

In that same chapter, Paul goes on to give perhaps the most encouraging words in the letter.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Cor 4:16-18

I don't see anytime in my future when I will stop asking...sometimes even begging...God to give us a baby. I know that He tells us to come to Him with our requests and needs because He loves His children. But with that prayer must come the prayer for help in fixing my eyes on what is unseen and eternal, clinging not to anything of this world, but to the God who created the world. And because of that and because of that only, we don't lose heart.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wish I had better news...

Another negative this weekend. We are so disappointed again, but we aren't giving up. It's another week, another cycle, another chance. We did have a wonderful time visiting my sister in San Francisco, so it made the sadness much easier to bear. Hope is always there, but it's a bit dim right now.