Saturday, January 31, 2009
I visited with Wendi and her mom for 15 or 20 minutes and got to hear the whole story... wow, has she had a rough time of it! I will leave all of the details for her or JB to share with you later, I'll just say, it's a miracle! I am incredibly proud of you, Wendi.
It seems the little guy came out pretty hungry and breastfeeding is going well. I know this is a huge relief to Wendi.
Pray that they all have a good and somewhat restful first night together!
I'm hoping to see Wendi later tonight, but if she isn't rested enough, I'll wait until tomorrow, and you'll see pictures then.
We are so thankful for a safe delivery and a healthy baby boy! I know JB and Wendi appreciate All the prayers that have gone up on their behalf in the past 24 hours! God is good!
When I talked to John a few minutes ago, he said that Wendi was in quite a lot of pain, with the post delivery contractions. They were getting her some Morphine, I think, so hopefully she'll be more comfortable very soon.
They sent me a picture on my cell phone, but I can't get it off of there, pictures will have to wait until later today when Wendi feels up to me coming by the hospital.
There you have it, folks! Keep praying! This can't take much longer! =0)
Friday, January 30, 2009
She said that not much had changed between my last post and about 6:00. At that point, Dr. G decided to put in a foley bulb (a balloon that they place inside the cervix to help it dilate). This caused Elijah's heart rate to go a bit crazy, and Wendi's contractions very quickly sped up and got a lot more intense. At that point, she decided to get an epidural (which she said it is Wonderful!) This helped her relax a lot more and Elijah's heart rate went back to normal.
She made quite a bit of progress within an hour of having the foley bulb placed, and is now just hoping to get some rest and see how things go.
She also said both moms have made it into town, so everyone is primed and ready for this little guy to make his appearance!
Whoever said that the blog would get 1,000 hits today was right! So far, it's been at least 1,011!
I will likely not have anything else to post until Elijah is actually born... but I'll keep you posted as soon as I know!
She just called and her doctor has decided that since she is 80% effaced and 2 centimeters dilated, there's no point in dragging this out any longer. Besides, Elijah is due today, so it definitely seems like he's "cooked enough" and should just get on out here now! =) She's up in Labor and Delivery and all gowned up and ready to go! I'll keep you posted as JB give me more updates...
Please keep Wendi, JB and baby Elijah in your prayers - this is an exciting day!!
It was a rough evening. JB and Scrubs went for a run around 5pm, and while I had been having contractions all day, I started having some pretty intense contractions around 5:15pm. By about 7:30pm they had peaked into the worst set I have had yet. They continued until about 9:30pm at which time I felt that things were light enough that I could probably manage to get some sleep. I did. Relief. I manged to sleep for about six hours before being woken up by them again.
It is now 3:45am. JB would tell me not to be on my computer. The physician in him does not recommend computer or TV when you can't sleep. However, this bout of wakefulness doesn't have to do with the inability to fall asleep for any other reason than these darned contractions. I'm just waiting until they die down a bit before trying to get another hour or two of shut eye on the couch.
I so covet all the people that are praying for us right now. I am a little overwhelmed with the thought that if I am not "ready" this morning, I could be waiting four more days. Some hours/moments/days I think, "I can do this for another week. No problem." But some times I just feel that I do not have the ability to deal with even another moment of contractions. I know this doesn't compare to labor. I just didn't feel prepared for the idea that I could spend weeks having contractions before the real labor started. I know that I can do it. I know that I will do whatever I need to do. I just know I am getting a little weary. I realized that I have been fighting these things for nearly two weeks now. They started last Monday. Each day they get a little worse and the periods of relief a little shorter. But each day brings us closer to meeting Elijah.
It is in moments like these that I try to remember what is actually happening here. Somehow, and I still cannot even fathom this, JB and I are going to have a baby. How did we go from years and years and years of wishing, crying, hoping, pleading, praying, to preparing to bring a second little boy into our lives? Isaac was in such a fun mood last night and I couldn't help but start cracking up a few times, inbetween breaths, as I watched him and JB playing. At one point, Scrubs was lying down in front of Isaac with his head on JB's lap and his backside facing Isaac. His tail was right in Isaac's face. Our little boy kept his face right there so he could feel Scrubby's tail whapping him back and forth back and forth. JB and I were laughing so hard. We are so in love with this little boy (and the dog is pretty cool too) and so amazingly blessed to have the opportunity to meet his brother in a short period of time.
It is these thoughts that encourage me when it is 3:45 in the morning, and I am a bit weary. God has carried us through so much. Surely I can depend on him to just help me in these last few steps.
In addition to praying for me this Friday, would you say an extra prayer for those individuals reading this today who are grieving? My heart is heavy this morning for a few close friends in particular who I know are so excited for me and yet so burdened by their own sadness, frustrations, and seemingly unanswered prayers. I remember all to well how it felt to watch my friends, even those who had dealt with infertility, become parents, while JB and I continued to wait for our turn. It's amazing that you can be so happy and so sad all rolled into one. I am thinking of you this morning dear friends. You know who you are. And I pray that the prayers of everyone reading this post brings you a happy day in the Lord.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tomorrow morning we will go in to see how things look. If they look great, we will go ahead and induce right away. If I don't seem perfectly ready, we have made the decision to wait. We'll wait to see if I go into labor on my own. If I don't, we will schedule a final induction for Wednesday, February 4th. If I need it, I will go in the night before to have some cervical ripening done to help me progress.
I have mentioned c-section many times in my previous posts. I have no problem having a c-section. I am not afraid of it and know many of you have had a c-section. However, as most of you also know, we still have 7 embryos stored at Mayo. We have no idea if these embryos will continue to produce negative pregnancies or if something has changed in me with this baby, and we will instead be seeing positive results in future transfers.
Most physicians will recommend a woman not have any more than 3 c-sections (or 4 at a maximum). Now obviously people have done otherwise, and that's totally fine. However, in my case, we don't want to do anything that might jeopardize my ability to go back for all 7 of our embryos. I don't want to have to make a decision between my health and the chance of our embryos joining us on the earth. It is for that reason that we are really hoping to keep our chances of c-section as low as possible.
That being the case, we are trying to be as wise and cautious as we can. I'll post Friday afternoon to fill you in. Please pray that I look great on Friday morning!
The entry was about experience and how we related those experiences to others.
Everyone has experienced something in our lives, unique to our lives. Not completely unique mind you, but unique enough that we find ourselves in an exclusive club of people. Some of my life experiences, "unique" to me include:
- Growing up in south Florida
- Playing high school sports and traveling around the country with those sports
- Attending a Division I college on full basketball scholarship
- Being married to my high school sweetheart
- Waiting ten years to be parents
- Spending five years doing infertility treatments
- Living in Kentucky
- Living in Minnesota
- Adopting a baby (ISAAC!!!!!!)
- Adopting from China
- Being pregnant after infertility
- Owning a Dalmatian
- Being 6'3"
. . . Okay, okay. You get the idea. These are things that I consider myself "knowledgeable" about, or at least semi-knowledgeable, simply due to the fact that I participated in them.Let me jump to one of my life lessons. That life lesson involves the title of this blog: Life in the Polar North. As most of you know, I spent four long winters in Rochester, Minnesota. You'd think that that would entitle me to claim a bit of "club membership" to the exclusive group of Minnesotans. Right?
Ha! Yeah right! Even though I learned how to say "Out and about" regularly and agreed to call my Coke or Soda a "pop" . . . I left Minnesota four years later feeling that, alas, I was not welcome in their club at all!
I promise you that no matter how cold it got or how much snow there was or how far I drove off the road into that corn field in that snow storm, the Minnesotans would not allow me to feel if I was in their club, especially when it came to the weather.
An example. The first winter I was in Minnesota it reached 40 below with windchill. Pretty cold I think. I made the mistake of running out to my car after teaching and coaching without my hat on. I had left it in my classroom and just didn't feel like going all the way back upstairs to retrieve it.
As I sat behind the steering wheel, begging the Lord to take away the unimaginable pain in my ears from the exposure to the cold for just a mere fifteen seconds and, quite literally, trying very hard not to start sobbing uncontrollably in the fear of doing this for four more years, I thought: Okay. Now, I have experienced cold.
At least I thought that until I ran into some locals the next day. Their responses? Oh you think THAT was cold. You should have been here in the winter of '61 . . . or some other variation of that statement.
I had lived through forty below zero and I still wasn't in the club. Go figure!
The last winter we were in Minnesota, we had a snow storm in May. The record books even etched this one in as the largest snowfall ever recorded in the month of May in a 24-hour-period or something else of the like. Awesome! Now I am in the club! I lived in Minnesota for a record setting summer day.
Yeah right! For one reason or another, despite the fact that two feet of snow had fallen as my birth date neared, I still didn't belong. This record really didn't count. Why? Well it depended on who you talked to. One person told me that it didn't count because while there was a lot of snow that fell in that 24-hour period, there wasn't as much snow already on the ground to measure into accumulation. When he was a kid there was snow on top of snow on top of snow and that was worse. Another person told me that these records didn't go back long enough. If they had gone back to when he was a kid (he was really old), then our May total would be rather pitiful.
You get the idea.
Clubless. Left out completely.
Okay, so, my point. Sorry.
My point is that I realized we all, myself included, do what the local Minnesotans did to me during those long winters. We want our pain or our experience to be the worst or the most important. It's human nature.
I used a fun example. I mean, who really cares if I belong to the Minnesotan club, right? But on a more serious note, there are other clubs. There are clubs for those who have lost a child, lost a parent, lost a spouse. There are clubs for those who have gone through infertility like we did or for people who have battled a terminal illness.
An example: I cannot tell you the number of times I have had someone say to me: "My husband and I have been trying to have kids for ___ years and have not been successful."
At this point I have two options. The first option is to weigh their situation and determine whether their pain qualifies them to be in my club. I can do this by saying things like:
- “Oh, that’s nothing, I…”
- “Just you wait…”
- “When it happened to me…”
- “Toughen up…”
- “You’ll get over it…”
- “Trust me, I know…”
Or something similar.
But instead of trying to compare my pain . . . instead of trying to make sure that they are "allowed" or "justified" to feel the same pain as me, I could use a second option which sounds more like this:
- “I’m so sorry you’re experiencing so much pain…”
- “Keep hope, it’s hard but it will pass…”
- “Tell me more about it…”
- “How can I help?”
Or best of all, silence and a good set of listening ears.
I have had so many people write me emails or say to me in person that they feel guilty grieving their own infertility when they read how long and how hard the journey JB and I traveled. I am quick to tell them that grief is not something you can measure. My five years may seem like a lot. Four negative IVFs seems like a lot. But trust me. Somewhere there is someone who is looking at my little 'bout of infertility and feeling that I don't belong in the club.
The truth is, if you have dealt with infertility for even one month longer than you thought you should, you have a taste of this cruddy road. You understand my grief. You can sympathize. You can feel for me and for others like me. Your understanding may be different. It may less or more intense. But grief is grief. We can all sympathize and be there for someone no matter what. Heck, even if we haven't lived with infertility ourselves, we can be there for other people with understanding and kind words.
I leave you with the hope that the next time someone tries to join your club, you welcome them with a listening ear and words of encouragement -- not guilt that they aren't as worthy a member as you are. I also want to encourage those of you out there who are in the early months or years of struggling with infertility to feel free to email me as you deal with your grief. I will never think that you don't have a right to be frustrated, scared, grief-stricken, overwhelmed. There are no rules when it comes to grief, and if it's been one month, three years, or ten years, your understanding of what it is like to watch a dream slip away is real.
Oh and c'mon local Minnesotans . . . even if I only did four winters in Minnesota, I think I put in enough time to at least have a partial membership to your club. Don't you?!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
- Isaac's surgery date for his ear has been set. He will go in for his pre-surgery consult on February 18 and then have his surgery on February 19. If you aren't aware, our little Isaac was born with a skin tag that actually has cartilage in it on his left ear. Most likely my mother-in-law or Joan will be here during that time which brings me great comfort. JB has also already secured February 19th as a vacation day so he can be with us for the entire day. Please pray for peace regarding Isaac's surgery. I'll post more details as the date draws closer.
- Yesterday, JB found out that he has been elected Chief Resident for his last year here at Eglin AFB. These responsibilities will start during the summer as he transitions into his third year. Usually there are two chief residents, but as the program continues to grow, they have elected three for the upcoming year. I am especially excited that Joia's husband Philip will be doing it with him. The other gal, Kacey, is also fantastic so it should be a great team. There is usually one chief for every 10 people in the program and as this program nears 30 residents, they have added a third chief. This is some extra responsibility so your prayers for handling an extra piece to our already busy puzzle would be appreciated. Great job JB!
- I spoke with Dr. G. yesterday. I have an appointment at 8am on Friday morning. She said to make plans to go straight up to L&D if I am ready when she checks me on Friday. We have decided that if I am ready, we will proceed with the induction as there are no guarantees we wouldn't be in the same position if we waited another week -- only with a bigger baby. I am just praying the Lord's will be done in this situation. I am trusting his perfect timing, but of course, the sooner the better as well. Your prayers for this would also be appreciated. If I am not ready, we will most likely wait the weekend and see what early next week brings.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I've moved up 2 points on the Bishop scale which is good news. However, I am still a little shy of where Dr. G. would like me to get before considering induction. She was able to reach my cervix and therefore irritate it a bit in hopes that this would help move things along.
Elijah continues to get bigger, but so far, Dr. G's guess is that he hasn't broken the 9 pound mark! That's great news!
JB and I are continuing to pray about when the right time for induction is -- whether we should wait and see if I go on my own or whether inducing when things are favorable and Elijah is smaller is better. We have to weigh the chances of having a c-section due to induction against the chances of c-section due to his size. Your prayers for wisdom in that regard would be appreciated.
Pray that the irritation Dr. G. inflicted today would cause these contractions to skyrocket upward! I'll keep you all posted of course.
I had gotten a cramp in my calf, but when I went to stretch it, the top of my foot cramped. It's nearly impossible to get a cramp out of the top of your foot while getting one out of your calf since you need to stretch your leg in opposite directions to relieve each of the cramps. Trying to maneuver the possibility while still in bed immediately sent my quad into spasms. What a mess! When I jumped up to try to stretch all three parts of my legs, I found myself in the midst of another contraction. If it wasn't for the fact that I looked so comical, I probably would have started to cry.
I had a bit of a rough night again. I have been having contractions for over a week now. I'm starting to think that I am having them constantly but only noticing them when they get a little stronger.
I started having some pretty good contractions last night around 9pm and by 11pm was exhausted and propped up in bed praying that they would either stop or kick into full gear! JB and I finally decided to quit counting them, let him go to sleep, and hope that I could fall asleep. I did. I probably woke up about every 1 to 1.5 hours throughout the rest of the night in the midst of a contraction and having to go to the bathroom, but at least I slept! Even a little sleep helps your perspective.
My doctor's appointment is first thing this morning. I'll make sure to update everyone with any interesting details. I am hoping there are some!
Monday, January 26, 2009
So here was the question I received yesterday on the blog:
I know based on your upcoming arrival that this may not be the best time to ask, we'll certainly be patient! I found your blog through a friend's blog and it has been incredibly encouraging as my husband & I struggle with infertility. We're now discussing how far we will go down the fertility pathway. We're curious as to how you handled the ethical, biblical perspective as you approached IVF. There is obviously much to consider but with your experience we'd love to hear from you!
I'd like to answer this question, but I definitely want to begin with a disclaimer. What I write in the paragraphs to follow is only my opinion. This is a very deep topic with a lot of gray areas. I respectfully acknowledge that someone reading my blog may see things quite differently or may have even done things quite differently. In fact, I have very close friends and women in my support group in Minnesota who did things differently. I could not even begin to judge them. Each infertility situation is unique and requires its own set of praying and seeking the Lord's
will. Please keep this in mind as you read what I have to say.
Also, please help me out by answering my question at the end of the post. I'd like help from readers with things I left out or didn't touch on in this post so that I can make this as complete as possible.
So, without further ado . . . here goes.
* * * * *
The very beginning
I can vividly remember every detail of the day that the words "IVF" were first uttered in my direction. We were sitting in the Reproductive Endocrinologist's Office at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I never, ever, ever thought that I would be "one of those women" who had to do IVF. That was for other women. Not for me. It was completely shocking and overwhelming and upsetting all at the same time. I felt like I could not catch my breath. IVF? JB squeezed my hand in an attempt to comfort me from the news we truly thought we would never receive, but I could tell that the news was just as devastating to him as it was to me.
Not only is IVF extremely expensive, usually around $10,000 per attempt at a minimum, but it is racked with moral and ethical decisions and dilemmas. While the Catholic church unequivocally condemns any form of IVF as stepping outside of God's will for your life, most protestants, of which I am one, believe that infertility treatments and IVF is morally acceptable if done within strict limits. Where those limits actually lie is the big question.
In the two years that had preceded that visit where we first heard "IVF" come tumbling out of the nurse's mouth, we had done a myriad of other infertility treatments. I had had an MRI on my pituitary to determine why I didn't ovulate. I had had blood tests and taken shots and been tested in any and all ways the doctors could think of. JB had been tested. In the end, all they knew was that I didn't ovulate due to a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome. While I did not have the weight gain, hair growth, and acne usually associated with the condition, I did have the absence of cycles and the pearl like follicles in my ovaries that indicated PCOS was the reason we had been unable to conceive.
They started me on Clomid with the hopes that it would help me to ovulate. All it did was make me go crazy. To this day, JB says that Clomid was the worst drug I had to take. I don't remember that I was that difficult to live with, but JB would definitely beg to differ. Three cycles later and we were no better off.
Introduction to IUI
We then moved on to IUI (intrauterine insemination) or artificial insemination. IUI is a procedure where the sperm (either the husband's or a donor's) is injected directly into the woman with the hope that it will increase her chances of conception. In my case, I was given drugs to help produce follicles (which contain eggs) and then I would go in for the IUI procedure and take a shot to help release those follicles. Technically I could have just taken the drugs and skipped the actual IUI procedure -- just trying on our own instead. However, once you spend so much on the drugs needed to help you ovulate, the actual cost of the IUI procedure is quite minimal, and it makes sense to add it to the schedule.
Where IUI gets tricky is that you want to have a good number of follicles. A good number is usually 3 or 4. Too few and you feel your odds are incredibly low. Too many and you worry that your odds are incredibly high . . . not for success but for too much success: multiples.
We have all seen the stories on TV about families with 5, 6, 7, or even 8 babies born at once. Most of the time these occur during an IUI procedure -- where control of the number of embryos is limited. Or they occur during a cancelled IUI procedure -- where the physician will not do the IUI procedure due to the high number of follicles present, but the couple try on their own anyway. They may also occur during IVF -- especially at centers that are not cautious about the risk for multiples. I strongly encourage people to find a physician who shares or at least respects your viewpoint so as to prevent heartbreaking choices or consequences.
I just got finished reading John & Kate's book: Multiple Blessings on their brood of sextuplets. In her case, they had not seen what appeared to be 7 follicles (which hold the eggs) on ultrasound. It was only after she found out she was pregnant that they realized their count had been off. (One embryos did not survive resulting in 6 babies.) Figuring out how many are possible is not really a science. My doctor often told me it was more of an art. You have to be very careful when proceeding in order to prevent high order multiples.
IUI is a difficult procedure for a couple who, like JB and myself, do not believe in "selective reduction." Selective reduction is a procedure where a doctor goes in and aborts a certain number of babies in a pregnancy which has multiple babies. Usually this is only attempted when the number of babies is 4 or greater. With 3 babies, the risks of something going wrong with the selective reduction procedure is equivalent to that of carrying triplets so it is often not attempted. But in 4 or more, doctors will advise that 2 or more of the babies are killed so the others will survive and/or have a better chance at a healthy life.
For JB and myself, this was not up for debate. We would never, no matter what, consider selective reduction. This meant that we knew we had to be very cautious when doing the IUI procedure. Too many follicles could result in too many babies and a possibly heartbreaking outcome.
Four more BFN's
We attempted the IUI procedure four times. Two times we achieved a good number of follicles (3 or 4) and we did the procedure. Both times this procedure resulted in a BFN (big fat negative). One time they scrapped my cycle altogether as I had way too many follicles. This was incredibly disappointing as I had taken all the drugs to produce the follicles only to have to stop everything and start all over again. A fourth time, they refused to the IUI procedure but told us that we could take the shot and try on our own instead. This was done "under the table" so to speak. The doctor said he would never officially admit that he had told us to take the shot. But he kept reminding us that it was in our refrigerator.
This was the first point in our infertility journey that we reached our first sort of moral crossroads. Was it smart for us to attempt to get pregnant knowing that we could possibly have as many as 5 babies, knowing that that was not safe, and knowing that it could potentially harm one of our children? We met with our good friends Dave and Lesley and had a long talk. We weighed the odds that it would work and the odds that all of the follicles would work and did decide to try on our own. In the end, we did not get pregnant. However, this crossroads was the first time where we realized that what we wanted needed to line up with what God wanted. We knew that we could not put what we selfishly wanted ahead of what was in God's commandments at any point in this infertility journey.
It was after this fourth failed attempt with IUI that the nurse asked us if we had considered IVF (invitro fertilization). I remember her saying the words, and I remember wanting her to take them back. IVF is the granddaddy of all infertility treatments. It was thing we thought we'd never have to do. And now, here we were. IVF. I had remembered lying in bed at night saying to JB, "What if we have to do IVF?" He assured me that that wouldn't happen to us. We were just dealing with my own ovulatory disorder. IUI would be all we needed. Now, here we were. Prime candidates for IVF.
I asked my doctor what he thought my odds were with success through IVF. "You," he said, patting my arm, "Are the woman IVF was made for." I was the healthy girl with no real problems other than a minor ovulatory disorder.
Our moral absolutes regarding IVF
The issue with IVF is that you aren't just injecting sperm and letting "nature do it's thing." You are creating life. My husband and I believe that life begins at the moment conception occurs. We therefore believe that we are creating life when doing IVF.
That being the case, when we decided to do IVF, we set the following guidelines for ourselves:
- We would not rely on our own understanding. We would pray and seek the Lord's face in every decision we made.
- We would not move forward unless both of us were 100% on the same page.
- We would seek the opinion of others. Specifically, JB and I decided to follow the statements of Focus on the Family and the CMDA or Christian Medical and Dental Association. It was our hope that by aligning ourselves with two organizations and making sure we never stepped outside of their viewpoints, that we would be giving ourselves an extra bit of accountability. We never wanted what we wanted to move in front of what God's commandments were. We knew that with the money and pressure we could be swung into a faulty line of thinking if we didn't keep things in check. I strongly suggest that any Christian thinking of doing IVF finds an organization or two that can help guide them in their decision making.
- We would never create an embryo (life) that we did not plan on giving a chance for life outside the womb. We therefore would limit the number of embryos that we fertilized. In our case, this most likely was the reason we had to do a second harvest for IVF. But for us, the extra money and drugs and headaches were worth it. Some people even choose to go farther and not freeze any embryos. I completely respect this decision. As one person noted in the comments of this post, the rate of survival in freezing and dethawing can be low. My husband and I came to understand through our own research that if they did not survive the freezing/thawing process, they would not survive had they been in the womb either. This is another topic that we should have done more research on, and I felt we probably "zipped" through too fast.
- We would never contemplate selective reduction. Ever. This meant that we would be very cautious when considering how many embryos to transfer.
- If for any reason we could not use the embryos we had created, we would (a) find a surrogate to carry the embryos for us OR (b) donate the embryos to another infertile couple. Reasons that we could not use the embryos would include my death or health.
- None of our embryos would be discarded or used for research, no matter what. We went as far as to create an "advanced directive" that left the embryos to my brother if JB and I were to both die. We wanted to make sure these embryos were not discarded. My brother has strict directions to donate these embryos to a Christian couple who would raise our biological children for the Lord.
- Mayo assured us that in their laboratory, they freeze before genetic transfer occurs. They therefore believe conception has not actually occurred when the freezing takes place. We decided not to believe this. If we were being overly cautious, then we were being overly cautious. We felt that we would continue with the thought that each embryo was life. If we got to heaven one day and found out that we were wrong, then so be it.
IVF involves the "harvesting" of my eggs. After the eggs are harvested, they are fertilized in a test tube in a laboratory (thus the expression "test tube baby.") A select number of the fertilized embryos are then injected back into me in a process called a "transfer."
JB and I did 2 harvests and 4 transfers. For our first harvest, we decided to allow them to fertilize 12 eggs. Some couples do not have this luxury. They only manage to get a few eggs. However, in my particular case, I produced a large number of eggs when given the proper medication -- dozens actually. We therefore had to carefully contemplate how many eggs to allow the doctors to fertilize.
The doctors, of course, wanted to fertilize every single one. However, we held fast to our belief that we would only fertilize what we felt comfortable using. How did we decide on 12? For us this was based on "playing the numbers." I am having trouble recalling the exact odds that we were given, but we played with numbers on a pad of paper for days and weeks before deciding that 12 would be a good number for us. We were "banking" on approximately 10 of the embryos fertilizing, and of those 10, about 40% resulting in a successful pregnancy. This would give us approximately 4 children. That sounded about right to us.
Of course those of you following my story know that this wasn't the case at all. When they took those 12 eggs and fertilized them, to their great surprise, only 6 fertilized. They realized at this point that we were dealing with yet another infertility issue. We had a problem with sperm binding. We don't know if it was JB's fault or my fault or the fault of both of our materials put together, but either way, we only got 6 embryos. In the months and years to come, JB would insist that the problem was his just so that I would quit saying that our inability to have children was all my fault and he should go and find another wife. It was sweet of him.
We transferred 2 of those embryos and did not achieve a successful pregnancy. In addition, 1 of those embryos was kept out longer before it was frozen. This is called a "blastocyst." Supposedly, these "blasts" have a higher rate of success. In our case, our "blast" died before it could be frozen. This is another area of moral dilemma. Some people do not believe you should allow the docs to create a blast. It was our belief that these embryos would live or die based on how good they were and that they would live or die inside or outside of me. We therefore did not have an issue with the blastocyst. If I were ever going to do IVF again, however, I would, personally, spend more time researching this particular issue. I feel this is one area we were not as knowledgeable about as we could have been.
At this point we had 3 embryos left. We did a second transfer which also resulted in a negative pregnancy.
With just 1 embryo left, we decided to leave that 1 embryo frozen and do another harvest. This time we decided to fertilize 14 embryos. Twelve of them were successfully fertilized using a process called ICSI. This is where each egg is injected with a single sperm (instead of just throwing them in a tube dish together and seeing what happens.) Unfortunately, one of the blasts died this time again leaving 11 of embryos and 12 if you added our previous 1 to that batch. We transferred 2 more and did not have a successful outcome. We did one more with 3 embryos this time and did not have a successful outcome. This left 7 embryos remaining when we decided enough was enough! We currently have 7 embryos stored at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota that we are 100% committed to returning for at some point.
It is our belief that the Lord is the creator of life. He creates follicles and sperm and eggs and embryos. Even with all the help the doctors provide, the Lord controls the final outcome. In our case, that was eleven negative results. Eleven expensive and extremely disappointing results. This is where infertility treatments are so difficult. No amount of money or prestige or power can give you a biological child. Only the Lord can do that.
We felt that morally, we needed to remember, at all times, that the Lord is the maker of life. We needed to not be selfish and put what we wanted in front of what the Lord had ordained at any point. To this day, I cannot tell you 100% that we did everything perfectly. I feel peace about our decisions, but I know that there is a chance we did something that was not morally acceptable. But we did the best we knew how to do with prayer and guidance from people and organizations we trusted.
Resources and questions
As I write this, I am not sure that I have answered all questions on this topic. I wanted to share three additional documents that helped guide us in our decision making.
- CMDA's stance on IVF
- Standards for Life
- FOF's Views on IVF and embryo donation
- Nightlight Christian Embryo adoption
Do you have a useful article? I'd love to add it to my list. Here are three articles posted in the comments during the original draft of this blog entry.
- Embryo Ethics: Does discarding unused embryos constitute murder?
- Ethics: In Vitro Fertilization (One Christian Minister's viewpoint on IVF)
- National Embryo Donation Center
These documents have a lot of great information from the two organizations I talked about previously. They also break down the Bible's viewpoint on infertility, adoption, and artificial reproductive technology.
I wonder if any of you who have read this whole post could help me out. I'd like to make sure I was very clear about everything in this post so that I can post this on the side of my blog as a resource. What additional questions do you have after reading? Please ask away! I will then go back through the post and edit it to reflect your questions (and also answer them in the the comments section.)
Thanks to my anonymous question asker. I hope I did a good job sharing our own journey and how we attempted to stay in God's will as Christians while in the midst of a very gray and murky area. Let me know what else I need to add!
That 36 months was actually about 19 months or so when we got started. We have waited nearly 8 months, but the wait time had probably grown by 10 months during that period. So we are actually farther away than when we started. The good news is that Isaac and Elijah have joined our lives. It is difficult for me to fathom how frustrating this growing wait time would have been had our China daughter been the only thing we were waiting on.
Another thing this chart shows is that once we do get a referral (which will be years from now), things will move very quickly, and we will have very little time before we are in China picking up our daughter.
For now though, things are just creeping along without many updates to share with everyone. One of the most frustrating things is that there are certain things (home study and fingerprints specifically) that need to be renewed each year. We got an email yesterday that said our home study has to be updated in March. This will cost us about $750 for a social worker to drive from Orlando and make sure we are still a nice family. Fingerprinting has to be done in Jacksonville every 18 months and new fees paid. I am especially concerned if our next base is overseas. I don't know how we will continue to keep these things updated if we are thousands of miles away from the U.S.
I will, of course, continue to keep the blog updated. Your prayers for wisdom, timing, and guidance with our China adoption are something we covet. Between this and our seven embryos and Elijah's arrival and Isaac's addition, we have a lot of things to juggle.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Currently, Dr. G. has set a final induction date of Thursday, February 5. However, we are planning and hoping that I will go into labor by myself before that. There is also the possibility that if my Bishop Score is good enough at any point before February 5, we would consider induction sooner mainly based on Elijah's proposed size. As I have mentioned previously, inducing before you are ready exponentially increases your chances of a c-section. If I ended up going all the way to February 5 and my Bishop Score was still low, they would add a procedure called "cervical ripening" which would help improve my odds for a successful induction. The only downside to this is that it usually means an extra day in the hospital as they do the ripening and then do the induction the next day.
I'll keep you posted but as always, if you don't see news on the blog, assume I am still on the sofa, waiting (not-so) patiently for our second little boy to arrive.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Excuse the randomness of this post . . . lots of little things to report as I am feeling much refreshed after an event-free evening. Both JB and I went to bed an nine and slept the night through. I only awoke in the midst of a contraction a few quick times, and other than Scrubs scaring me half to death by jumping right up in my face with the sunlight, it was a peaceful evening.
So first things first . . .
I caught the clap on video! Not sure who I am more proud of: Mom the videographer or Isaac the clapper. Or, maybe Dad in the background helping show him what to do.
Some more randomness . . .
Yesterday, Brittney watched Isaac for me all day so I could try to get some rest. She put some great pics of their adventures on her blog. I love the one of Isaac "judging" the hoola hoop contest. I laughed out loud.
I also realized that this was the longest I have ever left our little boy. I was proud of myself for only calling Brittney's house one time, but by 4:30pm, I couldn't stand it anymore. Even though JB was supposed to pick him up, I called him and told him that: No, I cannot wait for you to finish your notes. No, thirty more minutes is too long. No, I have to go get my little Chubba Chubba now! So I swung by the hospital, picked up an almost-done-with-his-notes Dr. JB, and then went to get our little guy! I really missed him!
Chubba Chubba. That's more randomness to share with you. Bobbie's son Robert came up to us the other day, tickled Isaac and said, "Mom, isn't he just a Chubba Chubba?!" We laughed so hard and have slipped into calling Isaac this now even though he is starting to thin out a bit more. Don't worry. We'll change nicknames before he knows what this means.
(More Sunday School funnies. When I was teaching the 6 & 7 year old class at church, one of the kids asked me what was wrong with Isaac's wrists. They were concerned about the lines going across them. I assured them that this was just chub that he would outgrow! :)
Totally unrelated and random question. What does a doctor reply to the question of: "Are you really smart?" Those cashiers at the Commissary ask the darndest things. We stopped at the grocery store after getting Isaac. JB was still in uniform, and the cashier ascertained from reading his badges that he was a physician. "Are you really smart?" she asked. JB was thankful that I jumped in to help answer the question so he didn't have to try to answer it himself. Do you say, "Why yes. Actually, I am the smartest guy ever." Or do you say, "No, I just slinked my way through medical school?" Not sure what the right answer is to a question like this. I've always been good at keeping my hubby humble though. I assured her that he was just very average and that if she had a dream of medical school -- go for it! :)
In closing, I need to wish my hubby JB an awesome 33rd birthday! 33! Woah! How did this happen? I asked JB last night, "Are you really going to be 33?!" He replied yes and that he was so fortunate to have a "bride that always makes him feel young." (That was tounge and cheek due to my dropped jaw when I asked him if 33 was really how old he was.) Hard to believe I started dating this strapping young lad when he was just 17! Next year I will have been with him for half of his life. Scary. Wonderful but scary.
Want some more random?
For some reason, I can remember the year my Dad turned 33 when I was a child. I think it is because he told me this was an exciting year for him due to some parallel with Christ's life. I can't remember if it is when Christ started his ministry or when he died? Anyways, the scary thing was, when I asked my Dad that, I was like 9! Geesh my parents had me young. My mom was 21 when she had me! Ten years younger than I was when we had Isaac. Wow.
Happy birthday best friend! Maybe we can get Elijah to share your big day with you. C'mon little guy -- isn't the 24th a great day to join us in this world?
Friday, January 23, 2009
Wednesday night, Isaac clapped for the first time. Clapped and clapped back when we started doing it. Way fun. My mom wants it on video. It's hard to capture these tiny moments on camera, but I'll see what I can work out.
But even more fun than the clapping was that last night, Isaac did his first sign! We've been doing some basic sign language with him since he was four months old. If you aren't familiar with this, it basically works its way back to the fact that children of deaf parents are able to communicate long before the children of speaking children. I still remember being at my friend Beth B's house in Minnesota, and her daughter signed "please" when we were eating pie. Instead of throwing a fit because she wanted something and no one knew what it was, she was able to tell us, "I want that" or "please." At that moment I knew this was something I wanted to do with my child. Many people worry that it effects the language development of children, but there has been no research to show that to be the case.
The biggest sign I have been doing is "milk". I do this every time I give him a bottle in hopes that he can tell me he is hungry. Well last night, he started fussing. JB asked him if he wanted milk and gave him the sign. Isaac did it back! Way cool! The author of the book said that his son did his first sign at eight months old. Isaac is eight and a half months so not too far behind! This morning, Isaac proved it was not a fluke when he did it again! Go Chubba Chubba!
We are working on a few other signs including "eat" and "finished", "bath" and "more", "please" and "thank you" but I haven't introduced many more yet mainly because I wanted to see if this could work and also because I have trouble remembering too many signs myself. (This may go with my pregnancy Dory brain. The other day I mailed JB's medical board letter without the letter in it. It had a stamp. Had a return address label. But it didn't have the letter inside. Oh well. Resend.)
Anyways, the fact that Isaac might be able to tell me he is hungry way before he can talk is exhilarating! it's nearly as exciting as the moment that Scrubs connected ringing a bell with being let out to use the bathroom. Who needs words or barks in our house!? Yippeee!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Okay sorry for that little joke, but if I don't attempt a good laugh right now, I might attempt a good cry. Last night as we were getting ready for bed, JB asked me when Elijah was going to get here, and I surprised us both when I burst into tears! A bit of hormones I am sure but just also a bit overwhelmed with the thought that these contractions could continue on for quite some time longer.
Don't get me wrong. They are not to the point of being debilitating. Every once in awhile I have one that takes my breath away, but for the most part, right now, it just feels like I have a bad stomachache or bad menstrual cramps. (Although I think this non-ovulatory girl has only had bad menstrual cramps one time in my life so I can't really be sure.) The intense lower abdomen pain that brought me into L&D was a result of his head pressing down on my pubic bone so hard. Either he isn't pressing as hard anymore or my pubic bone has adjusted to that as that is no longer a major issue. I'm just uncomfortable and tired. But at the most, I have to do this for about fifteen more days. I can do that, right?! Right everyone?!
I have also been so blessed by the people who have volunteered to help me. This has totally taken the pressure off of me as a Mom. Tiff has offered for me to come over anytime just to sit and chill on her couch while our boys play. Bobbie has offered to come over for anything that I may need. Brittney is on ready call to take Isaac for some pre-labor playtime. And many others have offered their help as well. This has allowed me to relax and not stress if I just can't handle anything. Right now, I am doing well. I sleep when Isaac sleeps and am still getting a bit of work done for RLSF (just some finishing touches.)
I wanted to close with a picture from our wifia lunch yesterday which I went to. Why sit at home and feel a bit yucky when you can sit with friends and feel yucky? Here I am, quite ready to pop and having a ton of contractions, with Joia & Moriah (left) and Andrea & Chloe.
Our wifia lunches have turned into quite the circus. When we started them 1.5 years ago, there were just four little kids. Now there are seven with an eighth on the way. Isaac's mobility is the newest fun adventure for our gang.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Yesterday I got a blog request. This blog request pertains to pregnancy so if you are dealing with infertility, you may want to just skip this post and tune in tomorrow . . .
I don't get these everyday so I figured I should go ahead and answer this blog request. It's a good request, albeit anonymous, and one that I have been asked a lot and been thinking about writing about.
Here's the request posted via comment on yesterday's blog:
So, I've become addicted to your blog because of your amazing life story and beautiful writing... can I make a request?? Are you willing to write about how you feel about the upcoming labor and delivery? What is your plan, are you anxious, do you have any fears of the pain or recovery? I'm probably most interested because I am due with a baby myself in just three weeks after years of infertility, so our lives have parallelled just a bit and this is one area I would love for you to write about :) I hope it's not too personal...
It's not too personal as I still hold the power to say anything I do or do not want to. So with that . . . here goes . . .
Fear & Trust
One thing that I have not admitted to many people, but I'll share now for the sake of someone else finding understanding in their own feelings, is that I am fearful. Not of the actual delivery or bringing home the baby (although, now that I think of it -- yikes!) But fearful of whether this will actually happen. I think, because we spent so long dreaming of having a biological baby, that there is a part of me that believes that it just could never happen. That it just will never happen. That it just is not possible.
That same part of me has a fear that this mysterious Elijah, whom I feel move on a regular basis but have never seen in the flesh, doesn't really exist. I have an irrational fear of waking up and finding out this is all a dream. I fear something bad happening. I fear something going wrong. I know this fear is not from God and not something to dwell on. So I don't. I push the thoughts out of my mind as quickly as they come in. But they are there. Maybe this is a fear that all mothers-to-be feel. Or maybe it's because of the road we've travelled. Maybe it's a combo. Either way, it lurks.
I spent the first half of this pregnancy truly believing that this wasn't really happening. I was unable to convince my mind that there was actually a baby inside of me. I was almost embarrassed about the fact that I had gotten pregnant. I felt guilt that I had gotten pregnant. Here I was, the mother of one beautiful little boy already, preparing to usher in a second. And all the while friends and family members were still waiting for their number one. It felt unfair. And I felt unjustified in partaking in that celebration. I avoided talking about it. I avoided allowing people to see my bulging belly. I wanted to wear a shirt that explained to people who saw me my story so that they felt I had a right to actually be with child.
Once I started to show and I could see (and eventually feel) that there was actually a baby growing inside me, my mind began to wrap itself around the fact that yes indeed, I was pregnant. Yes indeed, somehow, JB and I had made a baby without a doctor assisting in any way. Well, of course, we know that it is God who makes life, not us, but you know what I mean. We still attribute every detail of this pregnancy to an unmistakable miracle -- a miracle that may happen only this one time.
So now that I am just days away from getting to meet this little guy, I am having trouble believing that he will actually come and live in our house. I finally admitted this fear to JB last week, and he reminded me that we felt the same way about Isaac before he was born. It wasn't that we doubted Bri's intentions or sincerity. Truly our fear had nothing to do with anything that was in the hands of Isaac's birthparents. It was more that we doubted the possibility that we, John and Wendi Kit., could actually be parents! How was this possible? Now that it is a birth and not an adoption, the same feelings have reemerged.
It is another lesson in trust. Trusting the Lord. He is the maker and giver of life. He is the knowledge in the heads of the doctors whom I will entrust my body and my child's body unto. He holds this situation and every situation I will encounter in life in his hands. I must trust him and must not allow fear.
Labor and Delivery
So speaking of fear . . . how do I feel about the actual labor and delivery. How do I feel? Hmmmm . . . Well, adjectives describe that best. Appropriate adjectives for a woman, especially this woman, just ten days away from delivering her first baby would include excited, scared, nervous, joyful, anxious, confused, concerned, and unprepared. I think those words pretty well wrap it all up for me.
I also feel blessed. Not only blessed that I am getting to have this opportunity, but blessed by other things as well. I feel very blessed that my husband is a physician -- and a physician that delivers babies at that. I don't feel that there will be a lot of unknowns for me as long as he is there with me. I feel blessed to deliver at a small hospital where I don't fear overcrowding or an M.I.A. anesthesiologist. I feel blessed by the great friends who are helping with Isaac (Tiffany) and Scrubs (Bobbie) and the list of others who have offered to help as well. I feel blessed that my in-laws and Mom are going to make the ten hour drive at first word Elijah is preparing to debut.
I don't really fear pain. Mainly because I believe in pain medication. Ha! No, but seriously, I think I feel like this is something that I can't quit half-way through. I have to keep going forward. People have done this for eons. I'm just one of those people. I have no plans regarding managing the pain except that I will do what I need to do, when I need to do it, to manage the pain. If that means an epidural, I will get one. If that means other narcotics, I will take them. This is where my wonderful husband comes into play. I trust him completely and know he will guide me in making the right decisions regarding my pain management.
On a side note, when I had my wisdom teeth out and got a dry socket, I had four different women who had birthed a child and had a dry socket tell me they would prefer to give birth again. (Any of those women still reading today? Please comment and tell all the other readers I am not crazy!) Now I had never given birth so I couldn't make that statement. But I have had a dry socket and to date, it was the most excruciating pain, (seconded by my fourth "mock transfer" for IVF) that I have ever had. I will let you know, post-delivery, which was worse. And I'll make sure to be honest.
Speaking of pain . . .
I know this is a touchy subject, but here is my viewpoint on pain. And please note that this is just my one, simple, opinion.
If I broke my leg and went into the hospital, I would allow them to give me pain medication before they set the bone. I request Novocain before getting a tooth pulled. I feel labor is the same. The argument people have for this is that our bodies were designed to handle this labor pain -- that years ago, people handled this labor pain without help. Well years ago, people also had their foot amputated without pain medication. They would get drunk or knocked out or just bite on a stick. People had their teeth pulled all the time without Novocain. But today, we have advanced. And I like advancement, personally. Years ago people lived without air conditioning or heat or electricity. But today, I live with all those things and enjoy them immensely.
I totally respect those of you who feel differently. If you are into doing labor naturally, I totally support you in that position and respect your ability to do so completely. If you have or want to accomplish labor without medication, I think that is fantastic! I am not promising what I am going to do. If I feel that I can do it without pain medication, I will. But if I feel that I need it, I will request it.
I do not have a formal birthplan. My plan, truly, is to rely on those around me to guide me. My husband has been a part of many deliveries. Dr. G. is a fantastic doctor as are the two doctors on back-up in case she can't be there due to her pending adoption. There is a fabulous team of nurses on the L&D floor. I plan to do my best, to allow JB to keep me focused and on track, and to take their advice as my needs arise. I have read a bunch on the topic, I've sought advice from friends, and I have had JB walk me through, repeatedly, each step that I will face. I feel as prepared as I can be for something I have never seen or participated in. As of right now, it will only be me and JB in the delivery room. My mother-in-law and mother may make it in time for some of the labor or delivery. I may allow them in for parts as I feel comfortable (if they even make it in time). This is another thing that I am just going to take as it comes.
This is the part that scares me the least. I have always been one that feels I can handle pain and discomfort after the fact. It's the during-the-fact that makes me a bit more nervous. I know recovery varies greatly. I know mine may be fantastic or horrible. I have people here to help us for the first six weeks and figure that is the most preparing that I can do. I'll take each day as it comes.
This is the question I seem to get more than any other. I guess because Isaac was not breastfed due to his adoption. Yes, I definitely plan to breastfeed. I also hope to be able to pump and utilize bottles in order to have some help with midnight feedings after the initial few weeks. (Yes, don't worry -- I'm aware of nipple confusion possibilities.) Breastfeeding is something that is very important to me. However, we have a wonderfully healthy little boy who loves his Target brand formula something fierce! :) While I think breastfeeding is integral to our new little one, I will not punish myself if, for any reason, I cannot or do not breastfeed as long as I hope. I plan to do my best and go from there.
So I think that basically sums up everything surrounding the fact that I am about to deliver a baby anytime now. If you would like to pray for me, I'd especially covet prayers for the following specific things:
- A safe and healthy baby boy. Most specifically, we are praying for a little boy who like his brother has a sweet disposition and loves sleep!
- An easy labor. (Seriously, let's all pray for this!)
- A well-behaved Scrubby and Isaac while I am gone for a few days.
- A safe drive for our family making the ten hour journey north.
- My ability to properly handle two small children at one time.
Thank to our anonymous requester for this blog suggestion. I enjoyed writing it and putting all my thoughts into one place. Again, please know that these are only my personal feelings and opinions on the birth process . . . since it's my blog, I guess I'm entitled to that! :)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Today I woke up and started my day but had some pretty intense pain that wouldn't go away in my lower abdomen. When Isaac got up from his nap, I could barely get him out of his crib and was really having trouble getting him from place to place. I called JB, he spoke to Dr. G. and she said to come on up to labor & delivery. JB came home to help me with Isaac and get me up there.
Well we just got home from labor & delivery. I am having some pretty regular contractions and there has been some cervical change. Dr. G. thinks I will be going sooner rather than later but because I am not dilated much at all yet, there was no need to stay at the hospital. However, being as I have never done this before, I wasn't sure what I am having is contractions. Sure enough, they are contractions.
Of course, the contractions could stop altogether and it could still be another week (or two! yikes!), but we are all hopeful that Elijah is preparing to make his debut. I will keep you posted and once I go in, JB will try to stay in touch with Joia and keep you posted since he doesn't have access to the blog from the hospital.
Please pray that Elijah doesn't decide to stay in his den too long. We feel very ready to get this show on the road!
Let's pray I don't go 16 more days. But at the most, 16 days it will be!
Monday, January 19, 2009
"Doctor JB" has nixed my "Moms in Motions" classes two times a week. I really enjoy the class, but by the time I get home, I am even more useless around the house than I am before the class. He said that since I am going to deliver "any day", it's okay to take a brief siesta from exercise. I had to agree. I am proud of myself for managing daily exercise through about thirty-six weeks and managing a few times a week through thirty-eight. I think I'll just lay low here for the last few days/weeks. Since walking is difficult, exercise has nearly become impossible.
I'm not sure what I would do if JB were on a difficult rotation right now. As it is, he is usually home by 5:30pm at the latest. What a Godsend! I do fairly well throughout the day, especially if I make myself lie down a few times and avoid "puttering" as my husband calls it. Those of you who know me personally, know that I am not the type of person to just sit around. I like to keep moving, and sitting in one place for too long really bores me. However, I have had to change this line of thinking the last few weeks and try to keep myself in one spot for longer periods so as to not be unable to walk by the end of the day. This seems to help with some of the lower back pain I have been having.
I have so longed to be pregnant that it is hard for me to admit that I am praying in incredible earnest for this pregnancy to reach its completion. Not only do I want to meet Elijah, but I really want to be able to maneuver easier. I want to get up and down off the floor to play with Isaac without having to plan my ascent! I want to be able to go for walks and runs with Scrubs and not have to ask JB for help with so many little things.
I have been assured that this is very typical for the end of pregnancy. John tells me that he can determine whether one of his patients is close to delivery simply by how they walk into the exam room. Are they comfortable and carefree? Or are they begging him to please allow the baby to come that day? Two weeks ago, JB told me he didn't think I was ready. "You are still too comfortable," he laughed. But yesterday he admitted that I now appear quite ready to go. We have good laughs watching me attempt to roll out of bed or get up from the couch. I've never been graceful, but I am even less graceful now.
My next OB appointment is on Friday. If you think of it, please pray that if I have not gone by then, that I am looking favorable for delivery and that we can schedule an induction for next week instead of the week after.
I will, of course, keep the blog posted!