Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Am I Less of a Man?

Empty Womb, Aching Heart: Hope and Help for Those Struggling With Infertility

Many times people think of infertility being the "woman's fault".  One article I read said that 40% of the time it is due to the male, 40 % female, and 20% both.

Focus on the Family has an article about the 40% of males.  Also taken from the book Empty Womb, Aching Heart: Hope and Help for Those Struggling with Infertility by Marlo Schalesky / Baker comes a story of infertility from a man's point of view.

Am I Less of a Man?

View this book: or Amazon

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How Could He Still Love Me?

Another article that I read on Focus on the Family really hit home.  It brought back a lot of memories and feelings.  It is taken from the book Empty Womb, Aching Heart: Hope and Help for Those Struggling with Infertility by Marlo Schalesky / Baker.
Empty Womb, Aching Heart accurately portrays the agony of infertility written by those who've been there. The first-person stories will reach you whether you're struggling with grief, anger or confusion. Not all the stories have happy endings, but you'll see how God consistently blesses lives, with or without children.

Empty Womb, Aching Heart: Hope and Help for Those Struggling With Infertility

I have not read this book so please do research into it before purchasing.  But the excerpt that I read was amazing - How Could He Still Love Me

View this book: or Amazon

Friday, January 15, 2010

Grief of Infertility

On the home page of Focus on the Family, I saw the title "Grief of Infertility" scroll by.  Of course I clicked.  I was glad that I did as I pray these will bless you.  I will be posting other articles in the new few blogs.

Here are a couple of the articles about infertility:

Grief of Infertility
Coping With Infertility

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Guest Post: Fourgiven Much #3

This is a guest post written by a sweet friend of mine. Thank you Tina for your honesty and for allowing me to share this with other women.

Read Part #1 and Part #2

Kyle and Cade were 3 years and 5 months apart to the day. Mike said that if you wanted to script a more perfect transition from one child to two and from Kyle being an only to a sibling you could not have done it. Kyle adored Cade from the beginning, in fact, I joked sometimes that I (not Kyle) was the jealous one because Kyle would say things like, "I love Cade 500 times around the world and I love you and daddy 5o times around the world." Things did get a little more interesting and a little more challenging when Cade got mobile, but it was still a really great little thing we had going. We adored being the parents of two little men and were so thankful that I got to stay home full-time with them.

There was never any doubt we would "try" with our remaining two embryos, our little "snow babies," we just weren't sure when. We didn't want to wait too long because we are not "spring chickens" and we were paying $50 a month to keep them frozen, not a major factor, but not a non-factor. We were pretty much ready any time but I absolutely had to be done nursing Cade before we could start our FET (frozen embryo transfer) process. I had let Kyle self-lead in weaning and he was about 17 months old when it happened. Cade was nearing that same age and didn't really seem be showing any signs of starting to wean. I was torn because on the one hand I was really ready to be pregnant again, but on the other hand I feared I would be really sad if I rushed him into weaning and then didn't get pregnant and never nursed another baby again. Ultimately, I gradually encouraged him to wean around 18 months. It wasn't traumatic for either of us thankfully.

I called the IVF clinic to let them know we wanted to begin the process and get in on the first available cycle available. (After I typed that I remembered that, no, I actually called the clinic first and they told me I would need to start meds in like 2 weeks and that is the point I began encouraging him to wean and it was a little traumatic for me, funny how we can gloss over things in our memories, ha).

Anyway, we were excited, scared, nervous, apprehensive, but definitely trusting God for the outcome. I realized early on in the process that God already knew the outcome so there really was nothing for me to worry about. There was nothing I was going to do or not do that would change whether or not I was meant to get pregnant with our little snow babies. That was tremendously comforting. I struggle with control and worry so it wasn't a one-time thing, but something I did need to repeatedly do in giving all my anxieties to God because He cares for me.

Leading up to the actual transfer there were some really neat ways that God protected me. Kyle got swine flu and 3 other families who are close friends of ours got the swine flu, in each case the entire family (sparing one person I think out of 14 if my math is right) got the flu, but in our family only Kyle got it. I was amazed at God's protection in that. Then Cade got Hand, Foot, Mouth disease (apparently highly contagious), but the rest of us were spared that. Next Kyle got a cold and passed it to Cade and I was spared that. At this point I was pretty convinced God was totally in my corner, protecting me for upcoming pregnancy.

At the same time, I was having doubts thinking could it really be possible to try 3 times and get pregnant 3 times? Come on, what are the odds? But I would remind myself, I am not a statistic to God. I told my doctor that I did not want to know my chances for success because I know myself and I know the mind games a number like that could play with me. She agreed, but had to throw in with a smile (my realist/pessimist doctor), "Okay, but I can tell you they are really good since you have a baby from this same set of embryos."

Transfer day came and I was so thrilled to have both our babies safely inside of me and as far as I was concerned, to be "pregnant" with them. I prayed for our two babies that they were growing and thriving inside me, that I would have the privilege and blessing of bringing them home in my arms and being their mom here on earth and raising them all for God's glory. I would always end my prayer with, but Lord Your will, not mine. Sometimes that last part was hard because sometimes what I really wanted to say was, "Please, please, please my will, LORD!!"

The twins' story: I went when the clinic opened for my blood test and prayed I would not have to wait long for the results. I had been wanting a chronological Bible so I went to the Christian bookstore, but it wasn't open yet. I noted that its Christmas hours meant I had 40 minutes to kill so I went to Walmart, which, of course, is always open. I bought some Matchbox cars for the boys' stockings and some treats for our dog who, sadly, we just found out has cancer and isn't expected to live much longer. I then headed back to the bookstore parking lot to wait the remaining 10 minutes. I had not thought to take either of the two magazines I had gotten in the mail the day before, but thankfully Mike reads his Bible at lunch and it was in his car which I was driving. I read a few passages (Proverbs 3: 5-6; Philippians 4:6-8; Psalm 118:23-29; Psalm 126).

When the doors opened I had a very educated salesperson help me look at my choices in chronological Bibles. I looked for a brief time before choosing one and heading up to pay. Just as he told me my total, my phone rang. I saw the number and new it was the IVF clinic. I looked at the salesperson, vaguely aware that there was another customer in line behind me and hoping the clerk would abandon my order when I said, "I'm sorry, I have to get this." I stepped to the side and there was a small storeroom with its door open, I stepped just to the opening of it to have a small amount of privacy.

For the third time following a blood test I heard the IVF nurse - Joni's voice and knew almost immediately it was not good. She was speaking way too slowly and without a hint of excitement. She said, "Tina (long pause) This is Joni (long pause) it's not good (pause) it was negative." I was thinking she must mean something else, she must mean there is still some kind of a chance, she can't really mean what she was saying. She went on to say that we were welcome to have a free follow-up appointment with our doctor, that I needed to stop all my medications and I would start my period. She said, "I don't know if you already know if you want to try again." This I was sure of, I knew it was our last try and told her so.

In a zombie-like state I hung up and returned to the register where inexplicably the cashier was still waiting for me and unfortunately I didn't have the presence of mind to apologize to the person behind me or just say I'm sorry I need to go. So I stayed and listened, staring blankly, as the salesperson described an Archaeological Bible I had also been interested just before The Phone Call. I nodded and um, hmm-ed appropriately, I think, until I was mercifully done and able to leave. He told me to have a great day and I said I would and told him to have one too.

I got to the car and dialed Mike's number, he was at home with 5 year old Kyle and 20 month old Cade. His voice mail picked up after several rings. I started driving. I tried Mike. Voice Mail. Tried Mike. Voice Mail. (repeat, repeat, repeat). At this point I was still not crying, partially because I was so ticked that Mike wasn't answering when he knew good and well where I was and what news we were awaiting. I briefly considered calling other people, but abandoned that idea when I realized that might mean Mike would find out through the grapevine rather than from me. I kept calling until I finally reached him when I was about 2/3 of the way home. When I heard his voice and knew what words needed to come from my mouth, that is when I lost it. I managed to sob out, "I'm not pregnant." I was briefly worried he would hear the word "pregnant" and think it was good news, but I'm pretty sure there was never any confusion.

He asked me if I was driving and if I could pull over. I told him I just wanted to get home. He told me to be careful and I said I would and then because there was really nothing else to say, I said, "I'm hanging up now."

The rest of the day was filled with many more tears, many hugs, support, and encouragement from sweet family and friends who had prayed with us and supported us through the process. The day also included much laughter thanks to my two clown-boys and a great movie (The Blind Side). Most assuredly and importantly the day brought many reminders of God's great, everlasting, unchanging love for me, the knowledge that He has a good plan for me and that all things work together for my good. I don't understand this, but I trust God with all my heart and know that he will make my path straight.

Tina is a stay at home mom with two precious little boys. You can follow more of their Fourgiven life.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Guest Post: Fourgiven Much #2

This is a guest post written by a sweet friend of mine. Thank you Tina for your honesty and for allowing me to share this with other women.

Click here to read Part #1

After we had Kyle we both thought we would not do IVF again. We felt very blessed to have one child and with the expense and tremendous time and emotional investment we thought it was not a road we would go down again. I also really thought that there was a chance, maybe even a good chance, that I would have one of those "surprise pregnancies" once I was more preoccupied, more relaxed, and less focused on trying to have a baby. Once Kyle was born we never didn't try for another baby. I laughed when the doctor asked me about birth control. If we were ever to get pregnant unexpectedly and for free we would jump for joy a million times over!

When Kyle was just over 2 I really started to desire strongly to have another baby. Mike was more on the fence (at least that is how I remember, correct me if I'm wrong, honey!) . We talked about it more and more often and prayed about it and one day I specifically prayed for a sign if we were supposed to go down the IVF road again. That day I got a letter in the mail from our fertility clinic inviting us to tour their new clinic (the first contact from them in over 2 years)! I was like, "Okay, I'm ready, that is all the sign I need!" Mike was pretty convinced as well.

This time we got 9 eggs, 8 fertilized and 4 made it alive and healthy all the way to day 5. We transferred two embryos back into me and froze the other two for down the road, hopefully for future babies in a few years, but also available in case the first two didn't make it. It felt like a huge luxury we had not had the first time. Of course we were still tremendously invested in it working the first time, but at least this time we didn't have all our eggs in one basket. This time because I (and my eggs) were 3 years older our chance of success had gone down to around 60%. I had a better chance of getting pregnant than not, I was okay with that percentage, afterall I didn't have much say in it. But I was convinced it had not worked because I didn't feel the same symptoms I had remembered feeling with Kyle.

The beginning of Cade's story: After the two week wait I went to the lab for a blood test while Mike stayed home with two and a half year old Kyle. I didn't anticipate getting the results very quickly so I made a trip to the bookstore to kill some time. As I was driving home my phone rang and I quickly grabbed it and answered it just as I was going over the railroad tracks and about to round the corner and cross a bridge (ha, that sounds like a setup for a car crash, but I'm just describing it because it is really clear in my mind exactly where I was when I heard the news) the same IVF nurse, Joni said, "I have some good news for you! You're pregnant, your number was 219!" I again started sobbing and she asked if I was driving and if I would be okay. I assured her I was fine and I arrived home just a couple of minutes later unable to wipe the smile from my face. Mike and Kyle were playing in the front yard and I beamed as I raced to hug Mike and tell him we were pregnant! We immediately told Kyle and let him call the grandparents and say in his sweet baby voice, "I'm gonna be a big brother." be continued...

Tina is a stay at home mom with two precious little boys. You can follow more of their Fourgiven life.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Guest Post: Fourgiven Much #1

This is a guest post written by a sweet friend of mine. Thank you Tina for your honesty and for allowing me to share this with other women.

Some of you who read this know that Mike and I struggled with infertility and some of you have no idea. We tried for 19 months before conceiving Kyle through IVF (invitro fertilization). I know to some people 19 months seems like nothing, I have certainly heard of people who went through a much longer time, but in the midst of it, not knowing when or if the time will ever come when you get to be the pregnant one, the one holding a child of your own, each month can seem like an eternity.

We both learned countless, priceless, eternal lessons which I would love to share at some point, but this story isn't about that right now. For memory-sake and catharsis I want to document some things. I think this will be a three-part writing.

The beginning of five year-old Kyle's story: Mike and I waited, on pins and needles, for the phone to ring. After going through weeks of shots, pills, ultrasounds, egg retrieval, daily updates on our embryos, embryo transfer and finally the roughly two week wait until the blood test, we were finally about to find out if I was pregnant for the first time ever. We began two weeks earlier with 6 eggs, 5 fertilized, 4 grew until the 5th day when only two still remained alive and growing, the doctor transferred both of those embryos back into me. We were given an 85% chance of success which I was thrilled with until my realist/pessimist doctor reminded me that 15% failure is still a big number! We literally had all our eggs in one basket and if it didn't work we would have to make the decision whether or not to start from scratch again, another $10,000+.

I had gone to the lab that morning and when the phone rang a couple of hours later my heart beat wildly. The IVF nurse Joni said, "Tina, we consider anything above 30 pregnant..." I was so accustomed to negative pregnancy tests and phone calls from nurses with negative blood test results that in my mind I thought, she's going to tell me my number was 29. But she continued, "Yours was 209! Congratulations!" I started sobbing and Mike didn't know if it was good or bad news, but finally figured it out and we were on cloud nine for pretty much the next 9 months and 5 years. be continued...

Tina is a stay at home mom with two precious little boys. You can follow more of their Fourgiven life.