NICU- December 17, 2011-February 18, 2012

“It won’t happen to me!” That was my naive approach to my babies going into the NICU. Up until the moment our doctor said “today’s the day,” I genuinely thought I would go full term or almost full term, and I would walk out of the hospital with both of my babies. We would go home as a happy family of four, the girls would sleep through the night from the first day, my nursery would always look pristine, my dogs would suddenly become well behaved, and I’d lose the baby weight immediately. Life would be perfect. While I was at it, I should have ordered a side of world peace! But of course, none of it happened that way. Not by a long shot. But here it is now, a year since my girls did come home, and I honestly would not change a thing. It’s amazing how our plans are so narrow minded, but the reality is, God’s plan was to grow me, to teach me, and in His perfect will allow me to have joy like I could have never imagined. You’d have thought after all we’d been through that I would have learned that by now.

Nicole spent 54 days in the hospital and little Emily came home 10 days later on February 18, 2012. If my girls had come home immediately, I would have missed out on so many things. Again, writing about this experience a year later makes it hard to remember all of the details, but I’d like to highlight some of the beauty of the hospital.

I had the experience of watching my babies become newborn babies! Most moms have ultrasounds from weeks 30-40, I got to watch my daughters learn how to breathe, how to get used to being touched, and I got to see those hiccups I had heard during the numerous non stress tests.

I met so many amazing people. I met J & C and their precious baby girl. C went full term, but their baby wasn’t breathing and had to be air lifted to our pod in the NICU. What an amazing and strong couple. They often came over to check on us and our babies even in the midst of caring for their own little one.

There was a mom I “met” in the NICU. I don’t know her name, and I never found out her situation. She had a baby boy who was next to Nicole when I finally was allowed to visit the day after the girls were born. This mom had family gathered around their little baby and there were lots of tears.
The day I was finally released from the hospital was the day a dark reality hit; I was going home empty handed. There is something horrible about going into the hospital to have your children, and leaving without them! The afternoon of my release, Mike went to get the car, and I went to say goodbye. Oh the heartache! I sobbed! I was not nearly as strong as I’d once thought. And then, a stranger came up and hugged me so tightly. The anonymous mom held me, and cried with me as I said my goodbyes. That was the last time I ever saw her. I don’t know what happened to her baby, but the next morning, the bed was empty. I asked as many people as I could. A volunteer finally gave me hope when she said, that baby had probably been moved up to the next level NICU and that no babies had passed in quite some time. I wish I could thank that mom for who she was to me that day. I believe that God works in many different ways, and on that Wednesday evening, he used a heartbroken mom to literally hug me and tell me I would be ok!

I was able to get to know Charlene. She and I met on the High Risk Pregnancy floor where we were both on bedrest. I got to meet her beautiful twin daughters. And Charlene got me in touch with Megan who was also on the HRP floor with us. Thanks to technology, all 3 of us have kept in touched and watched as our 5 daughters grow.

I got to bond with a friend of mine from church. Stephanie moved into my room on HRP when I moved out. Near the end of our extended stay at the hospital, Stephanie’s little girl was born and she was in the same upstairs pod as Emily and Nicole. She is someone I now love and am so glad God gave us so many parallels in our lives at the same time!

I met some of the most wonderful nurses, doctors, and nurse practitioners. Elisha & Elisheba were twin nurses. They became two of our favorites while we were on the 2nd floor NICU. They always dressed alike and they seemed to have a genuine love our daughters. I would imagine that the nurses would get tired of the daily hearing, “how soon do you think my baby can come home?” Or even asking”what’s wrong? Why are these alarms going off? Is my baby going to be ok?” We asked hundreds of questions, and these very patient nurses answered every one of them, as though it were the first time they’d heard them! I am sitting here writing this, tears streaming down my cheeks so thankful that those nurses always always made my babies seem like the most important babies on the planet. After all, to my husband and me, they are! Elisha and Elisheba, thank you for doing your job, which to us made all the difference!

We moved up to the 7 floor NICU which we were told was 7th heaven! It’s the last step before the girls get to go home. Little did I realize that moving upstairs was the halfway point of the girls’ hospital time. But upstairs, so many wonderful things happened.

On January 13th, my babies finally got to share a room! I didn’t have to move from one location to another to see both of my babies. It took everything within me not to run down the hall when I saw my babies near each other for the first time! Then, when I didn’t think my day could get any better, the nurse, Vicky, asked if I had ever held both of my babies at the same time!! So Friday the 13th was one of the most joyful days, I finally was able to hold both my daughters, 28 days after they were born!

Whispering “Tis So Sweeet to Trust in Jesus” in my babies’ ears, Jim Brickman constantly playing on the iPod, walking into the girls’ room to find a nurse, not ours, sitting in our chair because she said it was so calm in there with our music, catching a volunteer rocking Emily because she just wanted to, Constance not only checking in on my girls, but also on me! Amazingly, my thoughts and memories of the NICU are mostly calm and positive! There are so many stories, so many names, so many memories. But there is one person who truly topped them all.

Every now and again, you make a connection with someone. Someone touches your life just by being herself. For me, that was Scarlett.

Published in: on March 4, 2013 at 11:07 am  Comments (1)  

Guest writing

A friend of mine asked me to write about my experience with embryo adoption. To say I was honored would be an understatement.

I wanted to include a link to her blog. Darcy is one of the most authentic strong Christian women I’ve ever known. She has a wealth of information and a heart of gold. I’m blessed to know her and to have her in my life, even if it is via technology these days.

http://graciousdaughteroftheking.blogspot.com/2012/11/adoption-guest-post.html

Published in: on November 9, 2012 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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An Instant Family- December 17, 2011

Watching movies and reading books about having a baby are nothing like the real experience.  No words I will write today will ever capture the emotions I felt on Saturday, December 17, 2011.

I got up that morning, and took my shower.  My daily shower was the part of my routine that made things seem almost normal.  I would always dress in my pajamas as it seemed most comfortable to me.  The shower was when I could get out of the bed, stand up for a bit, and it was where I had the most wonderful prayer times.  This Saturday didn’t start any differently.  My dear friend, K, was heavy on my heart this morning as she and her husband were dealing with fertility struggles.  I got in the shower and prayed that one day, God would give them the child that their hearts so desperately desired.  I also felt the need to plead my case to God.  I was 30 Weeks and 4 days.  Although I had no desire to spend Christmas in the hospital, I explained to God why my little girls needed to be born in 2012.  I knew what I needed.  I knew what my babies needed…until I was interrupted in the midst of my prayer.  A verse came to mind as I was praying, “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my

power is made perfect in weakness.'”  In an instant, I stopped telling God what I needed, and realized He knows exactly what He’s doing.

My sister-in-law and her family were in town for a visit.  That morning we had a make shift baby shower.  My mother-in-law and her closest friends sent a “shower” to the hospital room.  So we sat, opening precious baby gifts.  I don’t recall anything seeming different, but after everyone left, things did change.

My lunch came, and I didn’t have an appetite.  I had a new nurse that day, Elaine.  She had me on the monitor as I was starting to have contractions that I could actually feel.  Usually, the only way I knew there were contractions was seeing them on the monitors.  Elaine came in, and saw that I was having some pretty major contractions, and they were coming quite frequently.  I could not have asked for a more calm, caring nurse that day.  She spent most of the day in my room helping to keep me comfortable, getting doctors in to see me, and keeping the babies on the monitors.  At one point, I asked her if she needed to go see her other patients.  She told me that I was her top priority and that other nurses would take care of the other patients.

I called my husband and let him know that he should probably get to the hospital.  I was dilated more than I had been, and it was a great concern.  I had no idea that morning how much I would need the verse God showed me. By about noon, I was put on IV fluids, magnesium to stop the contractions, and steroid shots to help develop the babies’ lungs.

My OB, Dr. P, came into the room and examined me.  She looked at the clock, looked at the calendar, and said, “It’s December 17, 2011.  It’s a good day to have a baby!  Today’s the day.”  Even with all of the medications, we couldn’t stop these little babies from making their way into the world.  We decided to deliver via c-section.  I was concerned that if there were any complications, we would end up needing an emergency c-section anyway.  We felt it wasn’t worth the risk.

Phone calls were made, texts were sent.  My in-laws started their 5 hour drive into town.  I sent my brother a text telling him I was going into labor.  His response, “What do I do?!”  in the midst of the chaos, his text brought a smile to my face as I imagined him unsure of how to deal with his sister going into labor.

Elaine walked me down to the OR prep room.  I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else with me that day.  She was truly my rock.  She kept me strong, calm, and was the very person God placed, not on accident, to get me trough that day.

Everything else was a blur.  An epidural, wheeled into a room, TONS of people in the room, and then it was all happening.  My babies were here!  5:26 pm, Emily Kathryn arrived at 3 pounds 10 ounces and 16 inches long.  5:27 pm, Nicole Addison arrived at 3 pounds 11 ounces and 17 inches long.  I didn’t hear the loud cries that I had expected.  What I heard was very quiet, almost like kittens crying in the distance.  I didn’t get to hold my babies. I got to see them, and they were quickly rushed to the NICU.  My husband went off with our daughters, and they finished my operation.  Hours later, I was on a floor with other moms who had just given birth.  It would be another 18 hours or so before I would see my precious girls.  I knew they were safe and getting the best care.

God’s timing is perfect. All day I kept repeating those words, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”. He knew how much I would need those strong words. I’m so thankful that I have a God who knows me and cares enough to encourage me before I even know I need it.

Published in: on August 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Bump in the Road (September 2011-December 2011)

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On my laundry room wall hangs our family calendar. Although today it’s currently August 2012, that calendar still shows November 2011. That was when life changed. Everything changed, and it would never be the same.

There comes a point in a pregnancy when a woman will often times get a false sense of security. For me, it was after the first trimester. I honestly believed that everything would be ok. I mean, God allowed us to get pregnant, and with all we had gone through, there was no way He would allow anything else bad to happen. Has anyone else ever felt that way? God promises to see me through every life circumstance, but He doesn’t promise that nothing bad will happen. My husband and I learned first hand around 8:00 AM on November 22, 2011.

During every appointment, “Dr. H” would give us encouraging news. “You’re having twins!” “They’re both girls!” “Everything looks great.” Our 27 week appointment was a little different. We were informed that my cervix had shortened and I was having contractions. I needed to go to the hospital to be examined. We had never been there before, so we got a map, and drove down to the hospital that delivers more babies than any other in the United States. Oh how thankful I am that we chose a doctor who delivers at this specific location!

When we arrived, they got me in a room, gave me steroid shots to help the babies’ lung development and gave me magnesium to stop the contractions. I had the best ultrasound pictures taken that day by a wonderful lady. We made small talk with her, and by asking some hypothetical questions soon realized I wasn’t going home that day.

When everyone was certain that the girls were not going to be born they moved me to a room on the High Risk Pregnancy floor. I was put on strict bed. I could get up when necessary, but was only allowed to sit up for meals. I needed to remain laying down to prevent contractions.

Bed rest, oh, bed rest! I had heard of the term, and I thought I knew what it meant, but until I became a patient in a hospital, I truly had no idea. I also knew that bed rest was very common for women pregnant with twins, but my false sense of security led me to believe that I would never need it. I was fine! These babies were from God, and everything would be smooth sailing. Well, God is God, of that there is no doubt. God blessed me with this pregnancy, but he also gave me a body that only stands five feet tall. My doctor told me again and again that there was nothing I could have done to have prevented this preterm labor. A small body carrying two babies is bound to eventually need to be on bed rest.

I ended up in the hospital on bed rest from Tuesday, November 22 until Saturday, December 17. I experienced so many positive things in room 114. I’d like to share some of the highlights from those days.

  • Our Neonatologist who came in to tell me the survival rates from weeks 27 through 37. I was slapped in the face with reality: there’s a chance my babies may not survive! I was also grateful that at 27 weeks, survival rates are greater than 90%!
  • My family was in town for Thanksgiving and I was two days into my hospital stay. I got a plate of homemade Thanksgiving food in my room, and got to see family. What a treat!
  • I had a church baby shower via “Skype.” We had it scheduled for December 3rd. Since I was in the hospital and there wasn’t much we could do, my husband represnted our family in person, while I sat in my hospital bed and participated through a computer screen. It was really quite amazing.
  • I received care packages, letters, phone calls, text messages, and in room visits from more people than I ever would have imagined. The love and support I felt was truly overwhelming. There were only a handful of days that there were not any visitors in my room.
  • My church has online services. I could still hear the messages. Very thankful for my church family at North Point Community Church.
  • Every Friday, I would have the hospital dogs come to visit me. This was such a highlight.
  • Marcella visited me nearly every day. Marcella was my cheerful friend who came in to clean my room. She came with smiles and a positive attitude.
  • Verona came to my room every week day with the treat cart. She knew that I liked cheddar cheese and chocolate milk and would always have a bowl of cheese hidden away for me. Even the days I didn’t feel like eating, she’d always leave me some cheese, “just in case.”
  • Julie, my nurse, started playing “Words With Friends” with me. So while I was laying in bed, trying to ignore the tests or contractions, I’d try my best to make high scoring words.
  • Jessi knew the week I was going into true labor. She saw the signs and started getting me mentally prepared. That amazing nurse spent so much time in my room that week while I asked question after question after question. She patiently answered everything that I wondered and was so honest. I will always be so grateful for Jessi.
  • My dear friend Kristin, who had been my very faithful visitor, came by a few days before I went into labor. She sat down and said, “Ok, we need to get busy here. Let’s choose some middle names!” Using a book of names, tried to keep us on task. In the end she accomplisehd her goal. That very night, we officially decided on two names.
  • I learned how to do Sudoku puzzles….very well.
  • I got up to date on my celebrity gossip.
  • I read, re-read, and re-read the first few pages on Nicholas Sparks’ newest book, The Best of Me. I couldn’t get into it. As much as I wanted to read, I had a terrible time concentrating on anything other than monitors, ultrasounds, heart rates, contractions, and remaining pregnant. Nicholas Sparks would have to wait until January.
  • I met a man named Daniel. He came to my room to work on the computer system. He shared with me that his wife had just miscarried for the 2nd time. He was surrounded by pregnant women, and yet he had the best attitude. We had a great conversation, and I promised to pray for him. As I read this now, nearly 8 months later, I continue to pray for him.
  • Our friends Jason & Erin sent us a care package which included the game Farkle. My brother and his wife, Jen came to visit and we had a Farkle night. Jen beat us all in about two rolls! It was one of the most fun nights I had. I think the game kept messing up the monitoring though!
  • Girls nights, Date nights, homemade food, new friends (nurses), old friends visiting- some I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years all filled my 26 days My time in the hospital could have been miserable. Instead, it was filled with so many wonderful memories.

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Published in: on August 4, 2012 at 9:41 am  Leave a Comment  

PREGNANT! (May-August 2011)

The best way to cover this next time period is to just copy the emails I sent out. These show how I truly felt and how I shared our news with some of our closest friends.

Monday, June 13, 11:05 AM
Ladies-

I could use prayer. I took a home pregnancy test which came back positive. I already knew this from how my body has felt.

Today I have had some light “spotting” which my nurse told me can be a side effect of one of my medicines (after having used it for a period of time). I also have some cramping and I feel like [my symptoms of being pregnant] are lessening. This could be paranoia from our experiences, but rather than speculate what’s going on, I prefer to pray about it and ask for peace, no matter what is going on.

Tomorrow is my official blood pregnancy test, which if positive, will be followed by an additional test on Thursday which would show if my levels are doubling in order to sustain a pregnancy. The way I feel right now, I feel like we need another miracle!

Thank you all!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011, 5:01 PM

Well friends-

We got our test results this afternoon. We are definitely pregnant! If my BETA level is at 5 or above, it shows a positive pregnancy. At this point, they want to see 50 or higher. My level….657!

Now, I had a rough day yesterday, and felt like my body was beginning to miscarry again. We are asking for your fervent prayers. On Thursday we test again. If my levels increase, we are in great shape.
Ideally, they should be 1100 or higher. If the levels decrease, we
know we have lost another pregnancy.

Last night when I could not sleep, God placed the following verse on my heart:
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Please pray that we (especially me) would not be troubled or afraid. Also pray for our baby/babies because as of today, we are certain we are pregnant.

Much love,
Shannon

Date: Thu, Jun 16, 2011 10:21 pm

So this morning in my devotions, the same verse I put in my previous email was part of my devotional book. Then I get hit with this: Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to. -George Seaton

My blood test was at 8 am, and finally at 4:15 we heard results.
Levels on Tuesday: 657
Levels that would be good today: 1100
My levels today….. 1599!!!!

I’m not counting my children before they hatch, but friends, today we are pregnant. No promises for tomorrow or the day after, but I will praise God that today we are! I truly felt your prayers, especially yesterday. I cannot thank you enough!

Date: Fri, Aug 12, 2011 1:14 pm
To My Church Family, (the church I attended as a child and where my parents still attend)

I wanted to send out a prayer/praise! After a long struggle with infertility, my husband Mike & I are 12 1/2 weeks pregnant with twins!
We are asking for prayer for the rest of the pregnancy. We are due somewhere around the end of Jan/beginning of Feb. Since it is twins, it’s considered high risk. So we ask for protection over our precious little miracles. Please also pray for our children to grow into children who love the Lord with all their hearts, minds, and strength. This is our hearts’ desire. We are so thankful to have a church here in Atlanta which has a strong foundation in Jesus Christ in which to bring up these little ones.
We are so thankful, also, for the body of Christ which we believe has had a hand in praying these little ones into existance. We trust, we’ll be lifted in prayer for the remainder of our pregnancy! Thank you so much.

With Thanks,
Mike & Shannon

In August, I had no idea how high risk this pregnancy would be…

Published in: on May 22, 2012 at 5:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Colorado! (April/May 2011)

I am writing this almost a year after the fact.  I am using emails I sent, paperwork I have saved, and my memory, which is not as great as it used to be.  I want to get it written before all of the memories fade.  I can always go back and color this post with better wording and a more creative approach, but I really want to get to more recent events before those too are a year past.  I believe it’s important to keep a good record of this journey that I never want to forget.  So forgive my lack of creativity and the dry facts in this post.

Once a donor has been chosen, both the donor and the recipient need to begin taking medications to get both women in sync, cycle-wise. Believe it or not, when we chose our donor, she and I were already in sync. What this did was sped up the process and allowed us to have the egg retrieval (where they take the eggs from her) and embryo transfer (after they place the sperm in the eggs and create embryos, they transfer them, or place them inside of me and see if they implant, thus creating a positive pregnancy) within a month. This was absolutely amazing! Again, we felt that things were perfectly in place.

We went out to Colorado on a Monday with appointments during the day on Tuesday.  We knew that our  donor was there in the building.  My husband and I had sort of mixed emotions.  My husband wished that he could just see her- maybe just catch a glimpse.  I, on the other hand, wished I could have a quick conversation with her to let her know how truly appreciative I am for this amazing gift she was giving to our family.  The gift was not children, at  least not yet.  The gift was hope- a chance at having children.  This was something we did not have on our own.

We were thrilled to find out that with our egg donor in Colorado we would be allowed to give our thanks to her through gift and/or letter.  This was something that my husband and I had to think about.  We could buy her a nice sentimental gift, but she might not want a constant reminder of this.  We were fortunate that on her profile, she indicated that she really liked flowers.  We decided to give her flowers and a letter rather than a gift which she might not wish to have.  Part of me still wonders if we should have given her a token of sorts, something that lasts longer than flowers.  We gave her a hand written card, a baby pictures of my husband and me as well as a picture of our two beagles, and the following letter with a copy of this blog attached.

Dear Friend,

I’ve kept track of our fertility journey to share with our friends & family as well as to one day share with our child(ren) if we are so blessed.  I thought I would send you a copy in case you were wondering how we got to where we are.  You now are part of this story.  Soon, I’ll sit back down and write where we are now, how we chose you, and what happens during this chapter of the story.  I understand if you don’t wish to read this, but I thought I would at least give you the option to glance into the story which we hope you will one day be a very important factor.

I truly cannot thank you enough.

-A Thankful Heart

We made sure to get pictures of the building, pictures with our doctor, and pictures with our nurse, Christina.  We felt that if this works, we would want for our child to see and know all of the important people who made this possible.  We were going to get a picture taken with the donor’s nurse also, but she was not available on the day we stopped by.  Our nurse let us know what a great match our donor and I were.  She indicated that there are some matches that are ok, but that ours could not have been more perfect.

Tuesday, April 30, 2011 our donor gave us 18 eggs.  Out of those, 14 matured and on Wednesday we had 13 embryos.  Sunday, May 5, 2011 at 8:20 AM, we were to arrive at CCRM and have acupuncture followed by our day 5 transfer.  This transfer experience was different from any other we had been through.  Most different was that my husband was in the room with me the entire time.  The morning began with Valium and acupuncture, both of which made me completely relaxed.  After this, the embryologist arrived.  We had 7 embryos and decided to transfer two.  The embryologist asked us numerous times if we were sure that we wanted to transfer both.  He informed us that the quality of them was so great that there would be a high chance of both implanting and we would end up with twins.  We were certain we wanted both transferred.  After our discussion, he projected a magnified image of our embryos onto the wall for me to verify my name, making sure that these embryos were truly mine.  This was one of the most amazing moments I have experienced!   I was actually able to see my embryos…my babies!  How many women get this opportunity?  I was able to see my babies as double-digit celled embryos!  I am kicking myself now for not telling my husband to grab the camera and take a photo.  What I wouldn’t give to have that picture! 

We watched via ultrasound as our embryos were transferred. The acupuncturist returned to do a second round, and then we were released to go back to our hotel room where I would remain on bedrest for the next two days.

Choosing Our Donor (April 2011)

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

There are times when I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. Times I have felt that if I didn’t make the right choice, the world might crash down around me. It reminds me of the “choose your own adventure” books I used to read as a child. If I made the wrong choice, the story ended as I was eaten by a lion! Unfortunately, it seemed that I always made that one wrong decision and UGH!! I’d have to start the whole adventure again. That’s how I felt with making these ever so important decisions regarding my future children. How would I ever know which donor to choose? How would I know that it was the right one? After all, God doesn’t shine a light down on the computer and the angels don’t sing in harmony when I find the right donor! So how would I ever know?

Well, in April 2011, God spoke to us in a very clear and evident way. No, there was no Hallelujah Chorus, nor was there a blinding light that hit me when the right donor was found, but my husband and I became completely like minded, and an undeniable list illuminated the right path for us.

Once we made the choice to use an egg donor again, I jumped on the website for our sperm bank. Our donor, who had been sold out for quite some time, was back on the list with available sperm to purchase! We felt we were on the right path from the start. The next step was to choose our egg donor.

Our fertility clinic had an egg donor database. We decided that was the best choice because our clinic has such strict regulations for being a donor at their facility. We knew that anyone in their database would be fine to use, rather than choosing a donor through an agency and then hoping that they pass all of the testing required by CCRM.

I started my list of favorite donors, as did my husband. From our two lists we had 4 or 5 that we both agreed upon. I had my favorite donor, mostly based on her smile. My husband was not as sold on one particular donor yet. My husband, the detail oriented person that he is, started looking through the profiles with a fine toothed comb. We finally had it down to two donors: my favorite smile donor and one other. So, as Mr. Details is looking through the profiles he says, “You need to just listen to this,” and he proceeded to start reading off parts of the profile. I felt like I was listening to someone talking about me!

She’s 5’2″, blue eyes, brown hair. I’m 5’0″, blue eyes, brown hair.
She ran track and cross country in high school–so did I.
She volunteers at her church–I’m a middle school small group leader.
She is a reading tutor–I stopped teaching elementary school and became a tutor.
She grew up in a house with her siblings, and her parents still live in that house–same is true for me.
She met her same age neighbor when she was five. They are still friends. I had the same experience.
She loved to play house and Barbies as a child. Ask my sister how obsessed with Barbies I was!
She was the easiest going of her siblings. I am still the most easy going of all 5 of us.
Her favorite book is Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook. Sparks is my favorite author, and The Notebook is my favorite of his books.

After looking at the list of personality similarities, we knew we had our perfect, God chosen donor! Our next step was to get the two of us in sync so that we could do a transfer in the next few months.

A New Beginning (December 2010-February 2011)

We were yet again sitting with a blank page. Exciting because we get to start again. At the same time, a little frustrating because we never imagined that we’d need to begin a second time. We did our research, and finally decided to do consultations with four new and talk to our old clinic again before moving ahead with anything else.
We were hoping that someone would suggest some testing before we moved forward. With two miscarriages, one ectopic, and one failed attempt, we thought it would be smart to make sure there was no reason we might not be able to carry a pregnancy to full term. Out of the five clinic we talked to, two of them said, “Let’s see if we can figure out why you keep miscarrying.” Finally! Someone saw things the same way we did. And like that, we went from five possible clinics down to two.

When trying to decide between the two clinics, we went back and forth a few times. Although one of the two clinics was right down the street from where we lived, we chose The Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, CCRM. Our decision was not an easy one. Why travel across the country when we can have a doctor right in our backyard? For this we have our friend “G” to thank. G and her husband had used CCRM to get their miracle baby. She told me how impressed she was with the whole facility. She also suggested going out to CO to do their mandatory testing and after that, we could take the results they gave us and chose which ever clinic we wanted to use. G was completely right! Once we went out there and actually met the staff and saw the facility, we were certain, this was the place for us. After months of prayers, appointments, and some testing, we finally decided on our clinic. Nearly twenty-four hours away, but one of the top clinics in the country, we decided to work with Dr. G and our amazing nurse “C”.

Once we had decided on our clinic, we had one more vitally important decision. Should we/ could we use our own eggs & sperm, or do we go with donors again? Blood test after blood test, poked, and prodded, and lots of prayer, we had our answer. Our doctor called us with all of our results. There was absolutely no reason we could not carry our own children. There was no reason we shouldn’t be able to use our own DNA. However, due to the quality of my eggs, our chances of having a positive pregnancy would be 50% or less. If we wanted to use donor, we would have 80% + chance. Both my husband and I clearly saw the writing on the wall. Having babies that were genetically ours was not the issue. We wanted to have a baby. We also knew that a) we might only get one shot at it if we used our own DNA, where as using a donor, we should have plenty of embryos to work with and b) we did not qualify for the shared risk program. The shared risk is where we would pay a little bit more, but we were guaranteed to bring home a baby with 3 attempts covered. If we did not, we would get all of our money back. When we knew we did not qualify, we knew that our chances were slim if we went that route. Amazingly, both my husband and I felt the same way, using a donor was the best choice for us.

Does chosing a donor show a lack of faith on our part? If we had complete trust in God, shouldn’t we have gone with our own eggs & sperm? This is where I think my faith is a bit different. I believe God gives us discernment. I know God gave me a mind of my own and His Holy Spirit is within me. I do not believe that trusting in God means that I need to always take the riskier road. I feel that when I have absolute peace, when my husband and I are on the same page, and when an answer just makes more sense, God is speaking very clearly. So we had our decision which we knew had been God ordained, and we were yet again preparing to attempt to grow our family. This time, however, the journey would take us far from home but surrounded by an army of prayer warriors.

History: “Give Thanks in ALL Circumstance” (November 2010)

I’ve had experiences in my life where I’ve heard a story, a phrase, an example…a verse-so many times that I can’t even count.  I believe I know the meaning behind it, and therefore, don’t really need to focus on it because I have “already learned that.”  Then every now and again, I crash right into that story, phrase, example, or verse only to realize, sure I had heard it, but I did not have a complete and true understanding of what it meant.  This entry explains what I mean.

November 2010 -We were preparing for our final embryo transfer.  I had shared with my small group bible study that I really felt numb, and without hope.  The women of the group encouraged me to not be discouraged and to keep faith that God would indeed be faithful.  I believed I was putting up my guard so that I would not be too disappointed if we miscarried a 4th time.

My husband and I traveled to our out-of-state fertility clinic for the procedure.  Although I was only required to be on bed rest for the rest of that day, we decided not to take any chances and I remained on bed rest for TWO days!  AH HA!  We had the upper hand now!  We sure did know how to make a little embryo implant and stay in place!

By this time, it was no surprise to me when God placed a verse on my heart.  I was waiting for it this time.  How would He encourage me through this pregnancy?  This time, however, the message was slightly different.

James 1:2-4  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ”

‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME, GOD?! ‘ I immediately thought, ‘Waaaait!  That’s not God!  That’s me, and my lack of faith.  I need to just listen a little more closely for what God has for me, and make sure that I am not putting those thoughts there.”  Funny thing about it, I didn’t sit and listen for another verse at that moment.  Instead I relied on what He had told me before, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  Amazing how the very same verse doesn’t give the same peace that it once did .  This time, it was coming from me rather than from God.  I knew the truth….oh, I knew.

Still in denial,  I took about 6 at home pregnancy tests, all negative.  I would try to recall when I had gotten the positive results in the past, and told myself that I must be taking the at home tests too early.  The morning before I was to have my blood test, and my at home test was still negative, I finally faced the truth.  Our last little glimmer of hope was no more.

I got in the shower and began to think.  I do some of my very best thinking in the shower, some of the most meaningful praying as well.  Usually when I pray, I do all the talking.  This particular morning God had something to say to me.  For the first time in weeks, I was ready to listen.  “Pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  The words resonated.  Give THANKS in ALL circumstances.  I had memorized this verse as a child.  I had breezed over the impactful message behind these five simple words.  Give thanks in ALL circumstances.  I fell to my knees and began to weep.  I prayed the most powerful honest prayer of my adult life.

“Oh God!  You have made it very clear to me what I am to do.  I THANK you and PRAISE you that I am not pregnant with this precious embryo.  I do not thank you for what you will do through this.  I do not thank you for what you will teach me in the midst of this.  I thank you because you have clearly said, Give Thanks: no questions, no because, no promises.  I thank you.”

In my Christian walk, I’ve so often believed that “everything happens for a reason” and that when something bad happens it’s because God has something better planned.  On that November morning, I collided face first into a wall of reality.  I might not ever know why this embryo didn’t take.  Am I ok with that?  God’s plan for my life might not ever be as clear in my eyes as a well scripted movie.  I can thank God for what He will do through this, but what if there really isn’t anything He does through this.  What if it just is.  Am I still willing to praise Him and thank Him? 

That morning I learned what it meant to give thanks in ALL circumstances without any clauses: just straight up, give thanks.  If I could give thanks when I didn’t get pregnant, I could give thanks in ANY circumstance without any expectations of something good coming my way. 

Today as I write this, I am still without a child.  I have no guarantees that I will ever be a mom.  And I am not looking for sympathy, nor pity.  I’m truly at peace with whatever happens.  I am awfully happy in my life right now, so if this is as good as it gets, I’m a blessed woman.  But if I am one day graced with that honor of becoming a mother, oh how beautiful will my thanks be then!  And my heart will overflow with a different joy than I have ever experienced.  

Even still, God deserves my thanks no matter what my circumstances are.

History: For I Know The Plans I Have For You…(May 2010-September 2010)

Healing after my ectopic pregnancy surgery was a process, but I got through it.  Now, I have a scar which looks similar to a c-section scar.  I assume it does, but since I’ve not actually had a c-section, I can’t truly be certain. 

It has not even been a year since this all occurred, but I can honestly say that I hardly even notice the scar anymore.  It’s not a constant reminder of a lost baby.  It’s not an embarrassment.  No one sees it out in public, so it’s honestly up to me to decide what it means to me.  I’ve decided, it’s really not that big of a deal.  And why should it be?  My life has a purpose, with or without children.  If I get so hung up on a blemish on my body, I will certainly miss out on the beauty and blessing surrounding me.  I choose joy! 

In the meantime, my husband and I had relocated about six hours away to a new city and state.  We immediately got involved in a church and a small group.  We also had another embryo transfer in August, and yet again, God clearly placed a verse on my heart. 

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I took an at home pregnancy test which came back positive.  The blood test confirmed that we were pregnant, but when I went back for the second blood test, disappointment–we were no longer…. Another failed attempt.  Another child to join my ever-growing army of babies in heaven.  Yes, we were extremely disappointed, but at the same time there was a peace.  The verse was on my heart, in my mind, and I repeated the words over and over, “God has plans for me.  He knows those plans.  His plans are to give me HOPE & a FUTURE.”  I held strong to this promise. 

We were left with one final embryo.  One last attempt.  This final time, we chose not to tell anyone in our families.  It had gotten too difficult to share rollercoaster ride of excitement to disappointment, to answer the many questions everyone had,  and probably most difficult, repeating the dreaded news again and again.  We decided on our final attempt we would keep things private.  With many prayers, but not a whole lot of hope, we prepared for our baby to join our family.

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