Journey to Parenthood

I want to be purposeful about journaling during this time in our lives as we watch our miracle micro preemie, Asher, continue to grow and thrive. I began this blog during my month of bed rest at the hospital while I was pregnant with Asher and his brother Titus. We continue to hope and trust the Lord for Asher's future. This blog begins with the story of how both of our boys came to be. They came about after many tears, many prayers, and many months of crushed hopes. On February 2, 2012, our boys Titus Bauer and Asher Mark were born at just 23 weeks and 2 days gestation. My water around Titus broke at 19 weeks, so his lungs were very underdeveloped. Titus lived 45 minutes and is now living a perfect life in heaven as he watches over his little brother Asher. Two and a half years later God redeemed our story of hurt with a precious full term baby brother for Asher. We are humbled by how the Lord has loved on us in our journey through parenthood.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


More coming later on this past week of roller coaster events..but here's some recent pics for now... my sweet hubby and new, shorter..easier- to- manage- on- bed- rest -hair. Plus, a much bigger room! A few bright spots among the hardest week yet. We were blessed by those who prayed Sunday night, the many messages, and continued love from everyone.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us Lord, our God, for we rely on You." 2 Chronicles 14:11

Well, we had a GREAT weekend..but the beginning of this week has been pretty hard. We had a hard conversation yesterday with the specialist. As we get closer to the boys being a viable age (they can survive outside the uterus), there are conversations we have to have and decisions to think about in event that baby A starts to not do well. We didn't expect to have this conversation and it just hit us hard Monday, and then today we had to talk about it all over again with the NICU doctor. Monday, I will be 23 weeks. Viablity is really past 23 weeks, closer to 24 but since we are almost there, we have to think about scenarios we'd rather not. In the middle of these conversations yesterday and rather calm uterus has started contracting more regularly..probably stress induced. So yesterday and today I have had 2 shots both days to stop them. The medicine in the shot is not with out side effects. It makes my heart race, and I feel very anxious and jittery. I also started a prescription today, that after a few days of building up, should help calm the uterus so I don't need the shots all the time. So, it has not been a fun 2 days. We had gotten used to no significant contractions, and really nothing eventful at all happening. So, all of this was a quick reality check and reminder of Who we rely on, and what a delicate situation we are really in.

Baby A was not given a lot of hope yesterday and today. The NICU dr feels his future looks bleak regardless of how long he stays in since he has no fluid to help with lung development. She pretty much thinks he has little chance of survival either way. So, for weeks 23-25 we will be digging in deep with the Lord- because if baby A gets stressed and his heartbeat drops, we will have to decide whether to take them both out (causing a healthy baby B to suffer preemie side effects), or not take either out. They have to come together. Impossible decisions where neither is the one we want to choose. So, we need prayer that we DON'T have to make a hard decision, and if we do, God will guide us. Now, we know.. THIS is the type of area God works in and loves to show His power! We know that, we are praying for that. We are praying baby A is one they tell other parents "I have seen this before...". But it is just hard to keep hearing the worst case swift kicks in the "gut" of your spirit. So, we are praying for an uneventful 2nd half of this week...and our same 3 prayers of NO labor, NO infections, and FLUID. And just TIME matter what, bigger babies are just better and can handle more when they come out. And PEACE for our minds and spirits. When we get worried and anxious, it means we are trying to carry the burden ourselves, and that it's up to us and the doctors. That is just not the Truth God has taught us.

We thank you more than we can say for praying with us..especially for protection of our minds. Life is so fragile, and healthy babies growing inside mommy's are such a miracle- never before have we appreciated and understood this like now.

We prayed for these boys, we have lost 2 babies before them, and we aren't ready to loose either one now. We know God is good no matter what, and we continue to pray He will show His glory and goodness through their healthy arrival 28 weeks or after. In 1 Samuel, the mother Hannah, has a story much like ours. She is barren for years..and then she is pregnant. She says "For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So, he will be given over to the Lord, for his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord."

Please pray that we remember this. Our boys are the Lord's- they always have been. He has planned their future. He has been in charge of every single day of their 22 1/2 weeks of existence. And God is still FOR us and NOT against us. His will is always GOOD.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Loving this quote today from One in a Million by Priscilla Shirer and this from a podcast from The Healing Place Church ....

"When I add up my miracle, I have double from all the wisdom, relationships, and blessings collected on the way. Look at the company traveling with you, and rejoice over the scenery of your 'long way around'. "

In this podcast by Charlotte Gambill, she explains that sometimes God gives us "instants" and blesses us right away, and sometimes He takes us on "the long way around" to get where we want to be. I listened to this sermon back in the spring, and loved it then. I love it now more because it is STILL speaking to me, and it's still something I need to hear. Do I wish I wasn't still on a "long way around" journey? Sure, a lot of days I do to be honest. But this gives me encouragement. There is much to be gained in this that would not have been- had I been given an "instant". I hope this can encourage you today if you are in an in between time, or on a long way around journey.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Update- 21 1/2 week Sono : Exodus 14:14 "The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still."

At our sonogram this morning the boys were measured. We were excited to hear that they both are at the 1 pound mark! Baby A is 1 lb 1 oz, and Baby B is 1 lb. Baby A still has no fluid, but his bladder is working well and producing fluid, and my doctor said she was very pleased with that, as well as their weight gain.

Also, we had really good conversation with the specialist. I prayed last night that God would soften his heart towards us. Most of our conversation was not about babies, but it was good just to have more "small" and "get to know" you talk. I guess he takes a while to warm up. He's still blunt, but hey, we'll take any improvement we can get! Bryan asked why he got into this profession, and he talked about wanting to be a surgeon, but there's not much patient interaction, and he enjoys that and wanted that. We thought, "REALLY?!" was a good sono, and we are so thankful for the little joys and gifts God's giving us along the way!

Thank you for the many many prayers you are sending up on our behalf. We TRULY understand prayer and it's power more now than we ever have before. What a blessing it is to have so many people committed to lifting us up. It's very humbling, and we don't feel deserving! Please continue to pray for the 3 biggies- no labor, no infection, and fluid! THANK YOU!!

Ps- I hit my 5 mo mark last week, and remembered I needed a belly pic for this month! Also, today is the first time I could SEE movement on the outside of my tummy! And I pushed in a little on baby B, and he kicked or punched back! It's still surreal to me they are really inside me. I'm praying for many, many more moments like these. :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Where We Sit Today

We have been here 2 1/2 weeks, and it's a blessing! We are praying for 2 more weeks, and then 2 more after that..and on and on until these boys are nice and big! Looking at time in 2 week chunks is easier to me than in months. :) We have gone through a lot of emotions, and mostly landed on being here one more day is a GREAT thing, because that means our boys are still doing well. Not that that is easy everyday..I do have to prep my mind each day for the life of bed rest and what I think I might do that day, or what might make that day stand out. Sometimes that may just be a visit from someone, washing and fixing my hair, having a sonogram, getting to go outside (only 2x a week right now) ...any little thing to make that day stand out, or be purposeful. And we have been so blessed SO much by our friends and family. It would be incredibly hard to go through this alone and without support.

So, we are just thankful, and waiting with expectant hope. We cling to the Truth posted all around our room and continue to pray for God to move and do big things in our hearts, and in developing the two boys inside me. Maybe the most simple verse that I have clung to over the past 2 years, and am still today is Mark 9:24-- "I DO believe! Help me with my unbelief!" Because most moments I do believe He's able, and will bless us. But I still need His grace often in other moments, because I do not know what the future holds. Bryan and I know regardless that God is GOOD, and does good, and that He is for us, NOT against us. (Romans 8:31)

Tomorrow we see the boys again and we get updated measurements of how they've grown in the last two weeks! We are also continuing to pray that some fluid shows up on the screen for baby A.
Thank you for whatever you have read of this blog- I know I am very long-winded...and more so we thank you for praying on our behalf. That is a blessing we never quite understood before this. There are many moments we feel and KNOW the prayers of the saints are carrying us!

A New Journey Begins- Baylor Hospital

I mentioned at the end of the last blog that Bryan and I had both prayed this New Years Eve prayers of desiring depth with the Lord. The following morning, I started feeling some intense back pain that would come and go. I mentioned this to one of my best friends, and she suggested I call the on-call nurse for the weekend. This was just 2 1/2 weeks ago... New Years Day. The nurse recommended a warm bath, and tylenol, and if nothing changed soon, then to just go ahead and go to the er. She said she'd rather me go, and it be nothing than not go at all. These wise words, from these two women turned out to be crucial in the lives of our boys.

We went to the er at my doctor's hospital- Baylor Grapevine. The er was doubt because the night before had been New Year's Eve! So, the nurse called up to labor and delivery to see if they could take me. They normally don't take pregnant women until they are at least 20 weeks. I was 19, but since I had twins, and they had room..they let me come up. The wait in the waiting room would have been 2 hours. By then, I would have had been experiencing full on labor with no intervention. We thank the Lord still for this gift in the beginning of what was about to unfold.

I was monitored for contractions and it was confirmed I was having them. This did not concern the nurse too much yet, as that can happen to a lot of women, and it's not always cause for concern. Then, someone was sent up to do a sono and check my cervix. She was a technician, and could not share what she found. In the mean time, my doctor was on the way. I can't remember if I was given the shot to stop contractions before or after the doctor saw my cervix. Once she examined me, we understood fully what was going on. I was in labor, my cervix was thin and open, and the doctor, just by looking could see Baby A's sack as it was being pushed further and further down. I was given a few shots to stop contractions. Then, I was taken to a different room..out of the trauma area, and into a sort of ICU room for labor and delivery where I would be monitored carefully. That night I was the only patient for my nurse. I had to lay back, with my head down in order to encourage gravity to help the sack move back up and away from the cervix. The plan was lay like this for a couple of days, until the doctor could put a stitch in my cervix to help it stay closed. Bryan and I were both in a little bit of shock, that's the only way I can describe that day and night.

The following morning, I still felt a little dull pain in my back. Suddenly- I felt a gush of fluid coming out of me. I knew that wasn't good..I didn't quite know it was fluid from baby A's sack. I just called Bryan over and he quickly got a nurse. This is when a real state of shock settled in..and it seemed time moved very slowly. A nurse confirmed with a test that my water had broken. We broke down. We thought that was it for the babies. Shortly after, a specialist came to sono me. He saw that both boys hearts were beating and they were still fine. He confirmed there was no fluid around Baby A, but B's was normal. He said my cervix had thickened a little because of the release of pressure. His outlook was bleak, and completely shocking. He discussed how we "probably didn't want to terminate because we had at least one healthy baby in there, and most people who do in-vitro don't want to terminate". I had very little words in this shocking moment to respond to this. Had I been on my game, and not traumatized...I'm sure my pregnancy hormones would have had a thing or two to say in response. :)

So, we just had to manage contractions, and see what happened in the next few days. I learned later that 75% of women who experience PROM (pre-mature rupture of membrane) deliver within 3-4 days of rupture (water breaking). Thankfully, the Lord blessed us in getting beyond that threshold. I took one more shot for contractions that day, and then I was on a prescription pill to also calm the uterus. That could only be taken for 3 days. I was also on 2 different antibiotics to help prevent any infection in the uterus since now Baby A was exposed and without his protective sack. I was allowed to sit up, thankfully, now that the pressure had been relieved off my cervix.

The next day, we had a sono again with the same specialist. He used the word "dumbfounded" to describe what he saw concerning my cervix. It was totally relaxed and back to a normal length! Praise the Lord! I love when God causes incredibly smart and experienced doctors to be surprised! So, the plan was to see how long I could avoid labor. This would be done by close monitoring of my vitals each day and my overall well being as well as 2 sonograms a week to check the boys and my cervix. I would be on full bed rest besides going to the bathroom and taking a 15 min shower a day. Our first goal was to get the boys to a viable age outside the uterus which is 23-24 weeks. He again, talked about us "being in this for the sake of Baby B" since a baby without fluid will have a harder time developing. Bryan quickly corrected Him that we are praying to take home 2 healthy baby boys at the end of this, and we believed God could and would do that for us.

Our newest "hard" season had begun..and it was way too close to the previous one in our minds. We had to battle a little with just being tired of "hard" and ready for easy, and we both at times had to throw a little fit at God wondering why we had to go through this. But, because of the faith He placed in us...we were quickly brought back in from those wandering thoughts and landed on solid thoughts and words from Him that were Truth. And those words of Truth are the ONLY thing that would lift, sustain, and carry not only our emotions, but the lives of our boys.

January 2, 2012 was the first day of this newest journey in our marriage where we had to purposefully choose to walk in faith every moment of every day that followed.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pregnancy!...."Behold, I am doing a new thing..I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" Isaiah 43:18-19

We went to the doctor at 5 1/2 weeks, and confirmed we had two healthy sacs with babies inside! Our doctor was a little worried one sack had 2 babies inside! We had to wait until 7wks to know for sure, and that is also when we could hear the heartbeats. We confirmed at 7 weeks that there were just 2 and we heard their precious heartbeats! This was a surreal moment. We had never gotten that far before..both of our eyes welled up with tears. Those tears meant more than we could probably say at the moment..relief, joy, excitement, many things. A hard 2 years of trying to have a baby was looking as though it was coming to a close. Right then we "graduated" from our fertility doctor..and were sent on to an ob! I didn't want to leave! I loved our doctor! But, I knew this was part of being "normal"..what I had wanted for so long, right?

The thing is, when you come from fertility and go to an ob..everyone's pregnant. You are no longer as special! My ob's office was like a pregnant cattle call every time I went. There are tons of people pregnant at the same time! Our first appointment was at 9 weeks. The babies still looked good, and we were set to come back at 13. We met and talked with our new doctor and liked her right away. I was still experiences had not left me, and so I was REALLY looking forward to 13 weeks when the chance of miscarriage or losing one twin really goes down.

From before 6 weeks pregnant all the way to 13..I still struggled with having the heart of an infertile girl. Just because I was pregnant, and it seemed to be going fine, didn't mean all the painful feelings I had experienced in the past 2 years had left. I struggled to find a balance of begin joyful and not fearful or protective in my heart. And all the books I had on infertility did not discuss how to deal with finally being pregnant. This was something I had never thought of before. There needs to be a book! Friends and my husband would get frustrated from time to time with me not letting myself go and just being "happy". They loved me, and wanted more than anything for me to be joyful in this. But I just wasn't ready. I been through too much pain to wisk that out the door and suddenly flutter about in pregnant bliss. I was no longer naive in this area, that had been taken from me. I ended up going to a christian counseling session during this time to deal with these emotions. What I walked away with was that it was okay for me and Bryan to not be in the same place at the same time. We needed to pray for each other, listen to each other's hearts...but not be frustrated we both weren't feeling all the same emotions. And that went for friends as well. I knew they were just waiting to jump for joy with me! But, being the sweet, gentle friends that they are..they patiently waited for me to catch up. My husband was the same way, patient and loving while I struggled to believe and trust. I prayed often through this time, and really just went at my own pace while anxiously awaiting the next appointment. The wait from 9wks to 13 wks was no doubt the hardest!

The week of Thanksgiving we were back for our 13 wk appt. Everything still looked great! We were thrilled! We had an announcement ready to go and made it officially public. That moment had seemed FAR away for so long. It was such a blessing to be there in that moment, and just feel the freedom to start enjoying the pregnancy and enjoying thinking about the future! God was giving us a little bit of "easy" in all the hard we'd been through. It was a nice change.

In December, we went back at 17 weeks and were going to find out the genders of the babies! We had a sneak peak at we know one was a boy for sure, but the other was hard to tell..although it also looked boy. But I wanted to hold out some hope for a girl so we just quietly waited until this appointment to know for sure. And so...TWO BOYS it was! WO! I wasn't sure if God was just really having a good ole laugh up there or not. I'm a pretty girly girl. But, I knew HE knew better than I did and knew what I needed. We were SO thankful to still have two healthy babies! I just decided I would completely spoil all my girl godchildren!! None of their moms protested. ;)

This is the point when I really "let go" in my mind..and just started to plan and think about things to buy, etc. It was easier to do all of that knowing what the babies were...and I was thankful that everything could just be similar since they were 2 of the same! We got some CUTE boy things around Christmas time, my tummy was growing and showing, and it was just a happy time.

Then, on New Years husband and I both prayed some powerful prayers. We didn't know how seriously God would take them. We'd prayed these kind of things before. We discussed how I had prayed for a better dependence on God..I had noticed now that things were getting "easier" that I wasn't depending on Him like I should. I feel like depending on Him daily is a life long roller coaster and lesson for me. Bryan shared he really wanted God to increase and deepen his prayer life.

And so- God did just those two things. Though not in a way we hoped for or ever imagined.

Fertility Treatments- Part 3- In-Vitro, Just Joy

"Behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards and make the valley of troubles a door of hope. And there she shall sing as in the days of her youth." Hosea 2: 14-15

After our trip, we came back refreshed..having seen many beautiful places and things, and just having sweet, fun times together and with my parents. During that trip I spent many moments by myself on the ship, just feeling the wind on my face, and watching the ocean..and looking for a word from God in it all. I was reading the book One in A Million at the time by Pricilla Shirer. This is an AMAZING book about struggling through any kind of wilderness. I read the first few chapters on the plane on the way to Rome, and knew this book was perfectly timed for me right then. It gave me hope, and insight into my current struggle. And it also talked about refreshment amidst the vast wilderness. It paralleled the story of the Isrealites wandering through the wilderness, and how God provided refreshment and what they needed, just when they needed it, and in just the perfect way. Bryan and I had begun discussing in-vitro as our next option, and also the topic of me working. I had been a teacher for 7 years. The last school year had been very tough with all the appointments, and then later..the stomach issues and doctor appointments for that. You can't be a good teacher and be gone all the time. It's just not that type of job. It's a lot of work when you are there, and a lot when you are gone! And I always felt a deep responsibility to my children- to make sure they were getting exactly what they needed. And my anal nature just didn't always trust someone else could do it "just like I could."

So, after much conversation, prayers, and tears-- we decided I should resign for the upcoming school year. We knew in-vitro would be a very involved process for me and it would all be taking place at the beginning of the year. And I kept hearing words from One In a Million about God providing refreshment in the wilderness just when you need it. I couldn't help but think that's what He was offering me. Financially, we could afford for me not to work. It was and is still now a huge blessing. I decided to take time to catch my breath, relax, do the regiment of treatment and just support our house and my husband hopefully in a way I could not when I worked. I bawled through every bit of resigning though! It was not an easy decision..and it was scary to give that up not knowing what the future held. But I felt God telling me to trust Him, and if having a family took more time, well that was ok. I no longer had a strict schedule to work around..not working just "opened up" time for me and I didn't feel near the pressure I had before to get pregnant around a certain time in the school calendar.

So, we began treatment in August of 2011. At one point I was doing 3 shots a night! I got very used to needles and shots. In September, we did the retrieval and implantation. The dr retrieved 20 mature eggs! Yikes! At the end of the 5 day growing/waiting period we had 7 embryos. The 2 with the best quality were put in me and we froze the remaining 5. This whole process was pretty smooth. Our good friends, the Widener's were going through in-vitro a month ahead of us and so Kelly gave me heads up and tips on everything! I was so thankful! I remember going through lots of emotions about doing all this to my body and spending all this money..just for nothing if it didn't work. But I kept myself sane by asking for "small" goals from God. I would ask for first that my body responded to the meds to grow follicles, and then for a good number of embryos to be of good quality so that if it didn't work, we could do a frozen embryo transfer and not have to go through all the meds again. And the back of my mind, I was asking God for a baby. Although honestly..I was a little scared of asking too much, for fear of being hurt. It's not the right view or heart to have in that, but it's the one I had. I'm in a similar place now, and I have to remind myself of Truth, and that I can't protect myself from hurt. I just need to ask and pray- and have the faith to keep doing it!

The time came for the blood test after implantation. We were ready to know!! Though 2 days before that I started feeling really sick. I felt nauseous and couldn't eat, and my tummy was beyond bloated, everything in my middle section hurt! I suspected I was hyper-stimmed, a side affect of in-vitro that can happen. Your body over reacts to all the hormones and a bunch of extra fluid is created, and all that fluid causes you to feel horrible. I went to the doctor on the day before our blood test and she concluded that was the case. I had to be "drained". After I was, I felt immediately better! And I was 4 lbs lighter! They drained 2 liters from my mid-section of excess fluid. And she decided to go ahead and take my blood for a pregnancy test. The doctor told me they only see hyper stimulation happen right after retrieval or at the onset of pregnancy. The pregnancy hormones stir everything she said she was almost positive I was pregnant but I'd have to wait until the next day to get the results back. She also told me my # would be lower because it was a day early and hyper stim makes the # lower too.

The next day she called with a positive test! And my hormone # was through the roof! A normal number for 4 weeks pregnant is 50-100. For twins, maybe around 200. Mine was 534! I was hoping to just be in the normal range and God wanted to bless with me with a number that was WAY more than normal or ok. She was actually concerned there could be more than 2 babies in there! We didn't care about that yet... we were just elated to have a strong number! Finally a pregnancy that was looking healthy. We were so excited, but still cautious...we had a long way to go still. But we praised God so much for His faithfulness so far!! (The picture above is of the two embryos we implanted!)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fertility Treatments- Part 2, More Joy, More Pain

So, as I mentioned at the end of the last post..the spring of 2011 was really a time of the Lord pressing down hard on me. The first month we tried after the miscarriage was March..we did everything the same as before and my follicles did not respond at all. I was beyond frustrated. So, the next month we added some follicle stimulating shots, as well as changing from clomid to letrazole. Apparently, after 4 months or so of the same treatment, your body can adjust and stop responding. We did this routine for April, May, and June. During the month of March, I became very sick to my stomach. I had all kinds of symptoms, the hardest being loss of appetite and extreme stomach cramps- a constant stomach ache. This continued off and on for 2 months, then at some point in May, I felt a little better and was dealing only with minor symptoms from then on throughout the summer. I did all kinds of tests, everything was normal. Some dr.'s thought that my symptoms were a result of the constant hormone treatments. The one thing we did find after a colonscopy was that I had SEVERAL pre-cancerous polyps- all of which they removed. This was unusual they said for someone of my age. I still to this day have to remind myself to wrap my mind around the fact that if none of this had happened...I would not have had a colonoscopy until I was 50 like most people, and I would have already had cancer by then. So, if I had gotten pregnant when I wanted to, I would probably have not had those stomach issues, and would not have discovered the polyps. So, I wouldn't have been able to be a mother nearly as long. God's sovereignty was beginning to blow up my world. But at this point..I still just wanted to get on with the fertility treatments. This time of my stomach being sick was just as challenging, if not more some days as the infertility. I would go to sleep each night with a stomach ache and when I woke up, it was still there. I wondered when the days would be that it would NOT hurt. Chronic pain, I realized, heavily affects a persons emotions. It wears on you and breaks you down. I never knew this feeling before. One verse I clung to is this time was Lamentations 3:22-24---
"Because of the Lord's great love, we are NOT consumed, for His compassions never fail.
They are new EVERY morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'the Lord is my
portion, therefore, I will wait for Him.' "

In June, I had a great response to the meds..almost too good. I had 5 follicles all capable of being mature. This made us all nervous, but we triggered and tried anyway. I was discouraged to see that the day before I could take a pregnancy test, I started bleeding. It was very heavy, and I had really bad cramping. I went to the doctor the next day, she took a urine sample to confirm I was not pregnant and we could begin the next round of treatment. I was confident I could not be because of the heavy bleeding! She confirmed, and we ordered more meds to take 2 days later. I woke up 2 days later with a thought..that now I would say was God, saying "take a test, see the no before you start a new month of meds". Now, this was slightly crazy because I had become SO bitter when it came to pregnancy tests. I didn't want to take them. Ever. And this morning, I was prompted to see the "no", so that I could move on. Well, MUCH to my surprise , it was positive! And so were the 4 I took after that. Yes, I took that many... see, once you get that positive, you are so happy that you are "good" at taking pregnancy tests that you don't want to stop!!!

I went to see the dr a few days later, and she confirmed I was pregnant with a blood test. She was dumbfounded at why the urine test showed up negative. My bleeding was also odd, but it did only last 2 days instead of the normal 4 or so. So, we did the routine of checking hormone levels every other day to make sure they were doubling. My first number was fine..but then the doubling quit happening. It was January all over again in my mind. But I still had hope. I still believed THIS was different. THIS was our miracle baby that by the grace of God I had discovered, right?!

We went in 5 1/2 weeks to confirm the yolk sac in the uterus. We went in with high hopes! We left devastated. More than ever before. The baby was not in the uterus. You cannot see on a sono if it is in the tube, but that is what the dr concluded because I had a "mass" show up on the sonogram between the uterus and the ovary..where my fallopian tube would be located. She went through all the risks with us. She said I had bleeding in my belly, she asked if I was dizzy at all- I hadn't been. She told us we could watch it carefully, or just go straight to surgery. There was really no way of knowing how bad it was until they got in there and looked. We could also take a highly toxic drug that would force the baby to miscarry. This medicine is so strong- a treatment for cancer- so you cannot try for another baby until 3 months after taking it.

Together with the doctor, we decided to watch my hormone #'s each day to see if they were dropping and the baby was miscarrying by itself. The tube does not have the ability to support a pregnancy very long, so often the body takes care of it without intervention, but not always. We were lucky to catch it so early. For the next several days we went back to the dr to check my numbers. This was emotionally go everyday not to try to GET pregnant, but to see if your baby is still dying on it's own. But, by the grace of God, the #'s were dropping on their own. We didn't have to do surgery or take any meds. That is a blessing, though not one we could really see at the moment. Waiting..for our 2nd baby to die was an incredibly painful experience of loss. So much more than before. It was just more twisted to me, and sad -- that our baby was lost, and was trying to grow in the wrong place. It was also the first time Bryan and I both realized that all the treatments were were doing to my body were not just affecting my ovaries and uterus. It was affecting all of me. The doctor warned us of the chance of the tube rupturing due to the pregnancy in there, and severe internal bleeding would follow. This would be an emergency situation. So, we watched and waited..and each day the hormone number got lower. I never felt any symptoms such as dizziness or any uncomfortableness. We were supposed to leave to go on a trip to Europe with my parents at this same time. We postponed our flight to leave 4 days later and hoped we would be all clear by then. We both, mentally, needed to go.

The day before our flight we went back to the doctor. My numbers had fallen low enough to be in safe from the risk of rupture. We decided we were leaving..and she agreed that would be fine. We left with the plan of taking some meds over the trip to help me start my next period so we could begin treatment after we got back. She left us with the idea of discussing in-vitro as our next option. Her reasoning was because of my PCOS, my body's response to meds was so unpredictable. Having 5 follicles mature is too many is too risky in regards to multiples...and now that I had had a tubal pregnancy, the risk of me having another had jumped up significantly. With in-vitro, we could bypass using the tubes at all.

And so...we left to go on a Mediterranean cruise leaving out of Rome. Sounds like an amazing trip right? It was...but we both boarded that plane and ship with broken hearts. It was again a time of asking God to pick us back up, and give us hope for His plan. This miscarriage not only broke me, but Bryan as well. We both initially had moments of sobs and tears and crying to to God asking Him to explain himself. I remember us driving home from the doctor that day and I said to Bryan, in tears, "What ELSE does He need to teach us?? We get it, we have learned a lot..what IS the purpose in this?" Psalm 13:2, 5-6 resonated with me a lot. Especially the beginning..

"How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me? BUT, I trust your unfailing love, my heart
rejoices in your salvation. I WILL sing the Lord's praise, for HE HAS BEEN

There was purpose. And mostly what I can say it was, was a deepening of our dependence on Him and a lesson in choosing to see what good is coming out of something so awful. As I said, after the first miscarriage I didn't see myself as someone struggling. I just saw it as a little set back, and we'd quickly move on. Now, it was different. That 4th of July was the saddest in my life, and just one of the saddest times in my life. I remember holding one of my goddaughters (I'm blessed to have 3 and one on the way!) as she slept in my arms and I was wondering..."when will I do this with my own child?"

PS---A GREAT book to read while struggling with infertility is Hannah's Hope. It's SO amazing, and packed with scripture. I underlined, highlighted and tabbed this book so I could reference it over and over again! It offered so much support to me, and really as I was reading..I felt like I had a friend who understood EXACTLY how I felt. It' a hard place to walk through with your friends and family. Especially with friends who never struggled with having children and just look at their husbands and their pregnant! This was 2 of my best friends. I will say..this time was the most challenging in our friendship. But, these two women are AMAZING women of God, and they pressed into Him and into loving me in my pain. I don't want to repeat this time in my life, but it did show just how tender their love was for me, and there aren't words to explain my thankfulness. I pulled away, and they stayed constant. Both were pregnant at some point in this time, which magnified how hard everything was. And what I've learned is going through that is not a one time event..I will always have to deal with the emotions of this path God chose for me..a path of struggling to have children. This is what he's choosing to teach me through. All of my close friends were such a blessing during this painful time. And one sweet friend was in the same place I was. That was SUCH a blessing. We talked all the time, for hours at a time, and I know God placed us together at the point in our lives that He did so that we could better bear the pain we were experiencing. I can't imagine not having friends like them. Love you girls. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Next Step- Fertility Treatments- Part 1, Joy and Pain

So, in Sept. 2010, we started using clomid to help my body with growing mature follicles. Nothing significant grew that month, so in Oct. the dr upped the dosage. This time I had a good size follicle or two (that is what holds the egg..never knew any of this before) and so it looked good! But, I never ovulated on my own. So, for the next month we added a trigger shot to the clomid. So, the dr would tell me when to take it, and that triggered ovulation for us. We did that in Nov. and then again in Dec. Both times we had about 2 healthy looking follicles that could produce a mature egg. Things were looking up!

In January, I took a home pregnancy test and was elated to see it was positive! We went to the doctor, she took blood and confirmed that along with the pregnancy hormone levels..all normal. We were so excited! We had so much fun telling our friends and family..I bought little shoes for when I broke the news to Bryan. (I took the test before he got home..hard to wait!) We printed off the verse 1 Sam 1:27-28-- "I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So, now I give him over to the Lord, for his whole life he will be given over to the Lord" and gave it to our parents and put one up in the future baby's room so we could be reminded of God's faithfulness. This verse, and prayer of Hannah, Samuel's mother, has even more profound meaning for us today.

Soon, our excitement was followed by some apprehension. The doctor was checking my hormone levels frequently to make sure the pregnancy was progressing into a healthy one. I was told my hcg numbers were not doubling as they should. They were, however...still going up, so our hope was not lost. We prayed and hoped, and I struggled with the week and a half wait until the first sonogram. I was literally a mess. I obsessed about the numbers and what that could mean. I really had no idea what God had in store for me for the year of of 2011.

At 5 weeks and 6 days, we had a sonogram to see if the baby was in the uterus. After that, the plan was to have another at 7 weeks and listen for the heartbeat. The hormone #'s are important, but a heartbeat is a definite sign of things progressing. At our sonogram, we had a yolk sac, with baby inside. It looked good for now! I still was not feeling super confident, but it was a start. The following day, I started bleeding in the morning. It got progressively heavier throughout the day. I had a sick feeling as the day progressed. I called a sweet friend who had experienced loss, and asked her what to expect if I did miscarry. It was a blessing to be able to call her. That night I had pretty bad cramping, and then passed our baby not long after the cramping. Based on my friends description, we were pretty confident that was what happened. I went to work the next morning, and Bryan called the doctor. They wanted me to come in right away to make sure I would not get an infection and to confirm what we thought had happened based on my hormone levels and a sonogram. We went to the dr that morning, had everything confirmed, then had lunch..both of us in a daze, and then I went back to work. I didn't want to go home and just "think about" what had happened. Even though we were just 6 weeks wasn't "just tissue" as some often say. It was life. It was our child. And the dream that we had been hoping for was dismissed way too soon. It was going to all the fun places in your mind that couples go when they see that positive test, only to have to retreat back to some state of protection and trying your hardest to not let those thoughts hurt you now that that baby is no longer reality. That's pretty the way-- to prevent yourself from hurting or try to protect yourself. But yet we all do it. It's just a human reaction I guess.

And so, we did our best to recover and pick ourselves back up. Bryan was more positive out of the two of us. I had a little harder time. I didn't want to hear all the time that everything was "going to be okay" because who really knows that but God? And I didn't want to wait long to try again...I just wanted to keep moving. I didn't consider myself someone who had a fertility issue...just a miscarriage, which happens often one time to couples, and expected we'd quickly bounce back with a second pregnancy in a few months. In the meantime...God was at work. On my heart. On Bryan's heart, and on our marriage. He wanted us to know HIM and seek HIM, not just to seek out what His schedule for our life was. And He wanted us to learn more about loving each other. This time was the beginning of me seeing myself as someone struggling with infertility. It was a slow process that God began and worked on over the course of that entire spring. And on top of that, He broke me down even more by plaguing me with intense stomach issues for 2 months, and then symptoms that trickled away, but still hung around several months after that.

Let me paint this for you a little clearer. I was not a girl who was used to struggle. Life had not been hard up to this point. I had never been very sick, never missed work or school for being sick, never really had a hard time attaining any life goals. I went to college, graduated, and was handed an amazing teaching position right away. I never struggled a lot with wanting to be married..even though I was 26 turning 27 when I did get married. (Old, by some standards!) By the time I knew I wanted that with Bryan..we were looking at rings shortly after, and engaged and planning it all out! Having "control" and "planning things out"...these were my my close "friends", and they were still there with me and cooperating for the most part. So, this was a process of God showing me He's in control, not me...and that He's GOOD regardless of what is stripped away or withheld from my life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Beginning, Our "Plans"

After being married a year in June 2009, Bryan and I started talking about when we would try to have a baby. We decided to start trying in September. We tried for almost a year only to get increasingly frustrated with how not only was it not working..but once I started trying to track ovulation, the elusive positive on those tests seemed to get farther and farther away. My cycle was doing weird things that following summer (2010), and so we decided to see a specialist. I had at least one friend go down this road, and so I thought "this won't be a big deal, we'll take some meds, and get this going". This was only just the beginning. Our first step was removing two lemon sized cysts that were growing around my fallopian tubes. They weren't preventing pregnancy..but were definitely not healthy to have in there as cysts can always pose a risk of rupturing and causing damage to something else. I had surgery in August of 2010. Our doctor told us we could discuss our first treatment options after recovering from that. She determined I had PCOS based on symptoms I had, and based on sonograms of my ovaries indicating ovulation was not happening regularly. And so...our fertility journey began. And so did a journey of the deepening of our marriage, and more importantly our relationships with the Lord, and our understanding of who He really is and how He operates. This is a life-long learning process...but nothing pushes you to the Lord quite like challenges and life just not handing you things as easily as it once did.