Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I'm Pregnant?!!

How did I find out I was pregnant, especially since I wasn't expecting it?

I have to thank our local McDonald's for that. Every time I saw that McDonald's I had to fight every fiber of my being not to go and order a greasy double cheeseburger. For someone who doesn't eat fast food, this was very unusual. I guess I should mention that I had been feeling "off" as well due to extreme lightheadedness and some nausea.

I was concerned there was something wrong with me, but I also knew that what I was feeling could be signs of pregnancy even though it would pretty much be impossible. So the morning of October 6th, I took a cheap little .88 cent pregnancy test just to excuse that very unlikely possibility. When I looked at the pregnancy test there were two very clear lines. A quick review of the instructions confirmed that two lines meant positive. My pregnancy test was positive.

Even with a positive pregnancy test in my hands I didn't believe it. I immediately googled all the possible reasons for a false positive. Nothing I could find really explained it so I just chalked it up to being a cheap little test. However, I was feeling weird and I had been having the most ridiculous vivid dreams...

Two hours later I found myself in Walmart looking at a shelf of pregnancy tests, but this time I was looking at the fancy expensive ones. I had no idea what I was doing so I grabbed one that had 2 tests and had a $2 off coupon attached to it. (Score!) I also bought the twins plastic pumpkins to hold their Halloween candy in because it's impossible to go to Walmart without picking up something you weren't planning on buying, am I right?

I got home, fed the twins lunch, and peed in a cup.

I think the video below pretty much explains what happened. It's embarrassing and my voice is annoying, but this is real life people!


What?
What?
What?

I'm pregnant!

No hours and hours of doctors appointments, no needles and medications, no ultrasounds to check on my follicles, no daily blood draws, no stressful bills, no ovaries the size of tennis balls. Nope. Just a beautiful miracle from God.

I couldn't wait to tell Chris, so when he got home from work I gave him a gift box with my two positive tests inside. I was still in utter disbelief, clinging onto a small bit of hope that this was really happening when I gave him the box. We were both so shocked, he made me take another pregnancy test. (Spoiler alert: it was another positive!) I actually asked him to type out his reaction so I could share it here on my blog, but it's so long that I'm going to make it my next post. He's an overachiever :)

I'm pregnant!!!

*Special thank you to McDonalds and Clearblue ;)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Part 5: The Year 2016

This is Part 5 of a series of posts telling the journey to our third little miracle baby.
Click the links to read Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4.

It's crazy to think that the previous parts of this story were written between August and November of 2015. Now it's the year 2017 and I'm trying to bridge the gap of what has happened since then.

After we found out the frozen embryo transfer didn't work I tried my best to cope around my pregnant friends and family. The holidays were especially difficult with one sister-in-law having a beautiful newborn and another sister-in-law announcing her pregnancy. I was happy for them, but in all honesty it was hard with the timing of it all. It was hard to know I could have been pregnant along with them. However, a couple weeks after we found out about the negative pregnancy test, a fire started burning within me to fight back. But I wanted to fight back on my own. I wasn't interested in going to fertility doctors anymore, or running more tests, and the last thing I wanted was the stress of another IVF. I started diving deeper into research that relates to me and my reproductive issues. I have never had a regular period in my life. The number of periods I've had without fertility medication can probably be counted on one hand. (You probably think having so few periods would be amazing! It kind of is, but definitely not worth the trouble and numerous hormone imbalances behind it.) But somehow I managed to have 3 periods within the first 8 months of 2016 all on my own. I didn't know if I was ovulating, but for me this was a huge step. Huge.

Somehow the stars all aligned and the timing of everything just worked. Turns out I got pregnant naturally in September of 2016!

What changed? What happened? Did going without any added sugars in my diet for 6 months do something? Did my body finally start to understand how it's supposed to function after I had the successful pregnancy and birth of my twins? Maybe those things helped, but I actually know the answer. It was my Heavenly Father and I know that to my core. It was so difficult exercising patience and moving forward with faith and hope in God's timing. I am very aware of all the intricacies that must happen for pregnancy to occur and with my reproductive issues, this pregnancy was nothing short of a miracle. I personally believe every pregnancy is a miracle, but this felt extra miraculous ;)

Waiting for my miracle wasn't all sunshine and roses. There were tears and sadness. I could sense my husband's yearning for another child stronger than ever. He kept asking when I would be willing to go back to our fertility doctor, but I didn't want to back...I didn't want to fail again. I started thinking about adoption, which is something I still really want to consider in the future. There was also a trial I faced that impacted me significantly, but now I can see God's hand in what happened and I believe its outcome helped me on the path to getting pregnant. However, that's a story for another time. I do want to share it, but I still feel too sensitive to talk about it.

Another important part of this journey is a priesthood blessing I received. Even though it was my sweet husband's voice I heard as I received this special prayer and blessing, I knew the words were coming from my Heavenly Father. The love I felt from my Father was so strong, especially as He told me I would have more children. I believed it. From that moment on I knew I would...just when was the question. That was September 4th, 2016. Two days later I conceived this precious child I am carrying, and 4 weeks later I found out I was pregnant. This might not mean much to you if you're not religious, but to me it just strengthens my testimony that much more of a loving Father in heaven.
I sent this to my hubby Oct 10th!

I remember reading stories of couples that went through IVF, had a baby, then went on to conceive naturally. I always wished their story could be my story, and now it is. Those stories gave me hope and now it's my wish that this journey of mine can do the same for others.

In the next post I'll share about finding out I was pregnant!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Part 4: I Will Wait for my Miracle

This is Part 4 of a series of posts telling the journey to our third little miracle baby.
More will be coming soon. Click the links to read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3.

I will wait...

Two days later the blood came.

My body is mourning through tears of scarlet. Every cramp, every drop, reminds me of what is not to come. I had a due date. It was July 10th, 2016. I was so excited, I got my hopes up, but nothing will happen when July arrives. No special delivery.

Part of me thinks I'm being over dramatic, making mountains out of mole hills. But I am hurting. I have thought of this embryo every day since I knew of its existence. Everyday I have thought that my precious little embryo would one day become part of our family. That Boston and Lyla would have a little brother or sister. So much thought, hope, and love has gone into something so small, small as the period at the end of this sentence.

Writing helps the pain pass. I have no idea what I'm supposed to learn from this. I am not angry at God, just confused. I still expect great miracles from Him. After many years my sister was able to conceive naturally. She might not believe that it was a miracle from God, I don't really know her stance on it, but I certainly do believe it was. And now I'm waiting for mine. Something needs to happen because even though I was afraid I would never have more children, I'm going to fight for it. I don't know my plan, I don't want to do IVF again, but I will figure something out. I will wait for my miracle.

Talking with Chris about what happened breaks my heart even more. He really thought this was going to work and that we would be celebrating. That the voicemail from my nurse would bring tears of happiness, not tears of great sorrow. We both viewed this embryo as our next child, that this embryo would become a part of our family forever. We both felt like we lost a child that day. Our hearts are devastated.

Again, to those who know how I am feeling, to those women who have had miscarriages, who have lost a baby, I do not know how you do it. You are so strong. You are my heroes.

A message I will never forget

I had some leftover Endometrin (a really expensive progesterone medication) after our frozen transfer so I decided to donate it to my fertility clinic. Everything was still so fresh and painful that when we pulled up to the clinic I couldn't go in. I asked Chris to give it to the receptionists for me. Attached to the Endometrin I included a note basically explaining that I wanted it donated to someone that couldn't afford it and that I will be praying for that person to be able to get pregnant. Chris dropped it off and we drove away.

The next day I got an email from my nurse that meant a lot, especially during this sensitive time.

Rachel,
I just wanted to send an email letting you know that I received the donated Endometrin. Your note with it was painfully sweet to read. I have that little note saved on my desk as a reminder to myself to show grace when faced with a hard situation, as you did. Your note of compassion really stopped me in my tracks, because I know your own heart is hurting. Your act of kindness will be appreciated by someone beyond measure. I hope you are doing okay. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

Her message is something I will never forget. Nurses truly are angels.

Each part of these posts were written over a year ago. I call them posts, but they really feel like personal journal entries. My journey didn't end with an unsuccessful frozen embryo transfer, it was actually just the beginning. I said I would wait for my miracle and that's just what I did. I can't wait to tell you about it.

More coming soon!


Click here for Part 5.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Part 3: The Results

This is Part 3 of a series of posts telling the journey to our third little miracle baby.
Part 4 will be published soon. Click the links to read Part 1 and Part 2

Fear and Faith

Monday morning, three days after my transfer, I woke up to find that I was spotting.

My heart sank. I was so scared.

I immediately prayed. As I was getting the twins up, I didn't know what to think. I almost felt like I was in shock and was putting that energy into doing all sorts of random chores. It wasn't bad, but of course I was really worried about what it meant. I had heard of implantation bleeding before, but fear of the worst came over me. I prayed, Chris prayed, and for a while it stopped and then started again. Part of me was saying that this was it, "game over." The other part of me was hoping that maybe this was a sign that this would work, that our little embryo implanted and I was experiencing implantation bleeding. I never bled when I got pregnant with the twins, but apparently it does occur in about 1 in 3 pregnancies. My nurse at the fertility clinic said it was probably just implantation bleeding and that I should take it easy.

There were many things pointing to this being a great sign, but I was still so scared. I stopped bleeding two days later, but late that night my mind wouldn't stop trying to figure out what all this meant. I prayed for peace and comfort until I was asleep. When I woke up the next morning I felt different. I was happy and hopeful again. And when I was alone, I didn't feel alone. Throughout this entire transfer process, every time I have sought after the Lord in faith I have felt His comfort and my fears were cast away.

The Results

One week later I had my blood test to see if I was pregnant. Fortunately Chris got to be with me and we spent the rest of the day together as a family. I hadn't decided how I wanted to receive the news, so I just left my phone in the other room. I ended up missing the call with the blood results at about 3:00pm. I checked my phone shortly after and noticed I had a voicemail from the clinic. I started to tremble a bit because I was so nervous. Chris and I decided to go for a drive and listen to the voicemail together. We ended up at the Oquirrh Mountain Temple. The air felt heavy as Chris pressed play. I'll add that before our drive began I had feelings of rejoicing, feelings of love. I didn't know what it meant but I embraced it. The moment the message started to playback I knew.

The only word I can remember is "Negative".

I wasn't pregnant.

It felt like a minute passed before I could breathe. Then came the sobs for what felt like hours. It was one of the most painful cries I have experienced. I was crushed. In situations like this it is so common to start asking God, "Why?" But this time was different. Even though my heart was so heavy, so broken, I prayed to my Heavenly Father. I thanked Him for the opportunity, thanked Him that I had a chance to give this embryo a home even though it was much too short. I thanked Him for Boston and Lyla. I pleaded with Him asking what I'm supposed to learn from this and what I'm supposed to do next. I then remembered what Chris had said in a blessing he gave me a couple weeks prior. In the blessing I was told to keep my head up. So that's what I did. With tears streaming down my face I held my head up and tried to focus on what I needed to do for my family, but I was unable to speak for 4 long hours.

At one point when the twins woke up from their nap I went in to get them, but the moment I saw them it just set me off. I fell to my knees in tears. I am so thankful for them. So thankful for their perfect little bodies and the chance I have to be their mother. With my hands on their cribs, Boston reached out and rested his hand on top of mine and Lyla gave me a smile. They are such precious gifts.

I feel so bad that Chris married a woman that has a hard time conceiving, even when all the conditions are almost perfectly controlled. He came to me wanting to add to our family. He wanted this so much. I wanted it too. You never know how much you want - no, need - something until you can't have it.

I'm fighting that urge. That horrible urge to give up. To sleep all day and not eat. My body wants to but my spirit is saying don't give up. Take care of your family. Hold your head up.
With my failed IUIs I would always pick myself up and try again. I've already said I never want to do IVF again. It is expensive and so stressful, emotionally and physically. And I can't deal with the thought of more frozen embryos waiting for a home - however temporary it may be. Though I held this embryo in my body for only a short time, I carried it in my heart for so much longer. The loss is devastating.

After I got pregnant with the twins I felt invincible against infertility. Like I couldn't be stopped again. I really thought this was going to work. We had so many answers to our prayers. It felt so right. I knew exactly how I was going to announce the pregnancy to everyone. I could imagine watching Boston and Lyla play while I held a newborn baby in my arms. I would think about our family of five. But the truth is, I still suffer from infertility. Before we started treatment I was terrified this wasn't going to work. Now I am terrified that because the transfer did not work that I won't be able to have more. I am terrified that I am done.

To those that have experienced miscarriages and still births...my heart aches for you. I cannot imagine your pain, your broken heart, your emptiness. I saw my embryo before it was carefully placed inside me. I have a picture of him or her. I don't know if it implanted or not. I'm almost sure I experienced implantation bleeding but it must have stopped developing after it implanted. I didn't experience a positive pregnancy test or hear a heartbeat and then lose the baby like so many have. I only know the pain and sorrow from knowing there was a precious living embryo inside me that didn't grow. To those that had a baby growing inside them but lost it, I am so sorry. I only know a fraction of your pain and it is some of the worst pain I've experienced.

I am mourning the loss of my embryo. The loss of the idea of a third child. The loss of a growing family. Of the defeat of infertility. And the despair of not knowing what to do next, that my call to motherhood begins and ends with Boston and Lyla. I don't want to be done, but I am so afraid I am.

Until I can pick myself up, that's all I have words to say.


The journey continues. Click here for Part 4.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Part 2: The Transfer

This is Part 2 of a series of posts telling the journey to our third little miracle baby. 
Part 3 will be published soon. Click here to read Part 1. 

Our frozen transfer is one week away. This treatment cycle has flown by! Last Monday I had my suppression check, which was an ultrasound and some blood work to confirm that I have no cysts and that I have low estradiol levels. I started taking baby aspirin to help blood flow to the uterus, and 3mg of estradiol three times a day. The main side effect from the estradiol that I can tell is bloat and a very small appetite. It's been so nice not having to give myself shots! The following Friday I had my SSG (saline sonogram). It really wasn't bad. They insert a catheter and fill your uterus will saline while doing a 3D ultrasound to make sure there are no uterine abnormalities. I felt like I kept peeing my pants for sometime after while remaining saline leaked out...awkward. Everything looked good, which was great!

We've been doing this completely privately again. The only ones aware of this transfer is our doctor, me, Chris, and God. I don't feel the need to tell friends and family only to have them come asking...honestly if I do get pregnant I plan on not telling anyone for as long as I can. I would wait to 20 weeks if I could. 

At the beginning of this treatment I would have bouts of doubt. All the questions would start to fill my mind. What do we do if this doesn't work? Will we ever have more kids? Why would God not want this to happen? Through many tearful prayers to my Father in Heaven I have seen this doubt fade away and be replaced with something much more powerful. My doubt has been replaced with faith. Not faith that I will get pregnant and that we'll all live happily ever after. Faith in God's will. That kind of faith is hard to obtain when we have our own desires in the way. I'm learning that if we truly desire and accept God's will, we will be okay with whatever the outcome. Yes I want to get pregnant. Yes I want this to work. Yes I hope that this is God's will. But if it's not I understand that He has some other plan for me. Everything will work out. I am comforted in that knowledge as I place full trust in Him. 

Fast forward one week to the transfer...

A few days before the transfer I had a routine ultrasound check, but was given that bad news that there was fluid in my uterus. If the fluid wasn't gone by transfer day they would not transfer our embryo. I was given some medication to help get rid of the fluid, but there was nothing else that could be done. A few days later was the big day! I had a difficult time sleeping the night before due to my anxiousness. Eventually the morning came and it was time to leave. We kissed the twins goodbye and left them in Grandma's care. Chris had asked her to watch the twins telling her that he took the day off work to pamper me and have a night alone at a hotel. I guess you could say that lounging around a hotel room all day was being "pampered" since that is what we did after the transfer.

Before we went into the clinic we each took a turn to pray. I remember writing that when we did IVF in 2014 that it was a spiritual experience for me, as if I was being watched over and carried through the entire stressful process. But this time...it's been like my eyes have opened to a whole new understanding of God. Of His love. Of faith. It has been a transformation in my life. If this transfer doesn't work I am at least so thankful for this unparalleled spiritual experienced I have witnessed in my life. Sitting in the car we prayed. We prayed that the fluid from my uterus would be gone without a trace. We prayed that our embryo would survive the thaw and that the transfer would be smoothly. We prayed for the nurses, doctors, and embryologists that have helped us in this journey.

As the ultrasound of my uterus began, I took a deep breath and held onto Chris's hand. I've had enough ultrasounds to have a good understanding of what I'm looking at. I didn't see anything. No dark spot in my uterus showing fluid. It was completely gone. Without a trace. Our first miracle for the day. With the good news, we were given the all clear to do the embryo transfer that day. I was also told to start drinking. Water that is! It helps straighten the uterus so the catheter containing our embryo will go in smoother.


Frozen Embryo Transfer

It takes an hour for the embryo to thaw, so we left and walked around a nearby Hobby Lobby. Chris loves that place! We explored while I chugged a few bottles of water. When we returned we waited in a room to sign some consents and hear an update on the embryo. For a while I was pretty scared a nurse was going to walk in and say the embryo didn't survive. But...it did! Our second miracle for the day. They offered me valium for relaxation, which I almost turned down since I turned it down when we transferred the twins. I was afraid it was going to make me too loopy to know what was going on, but it didn't hit me until after we left. We got changed and went into the OR, met with the embryologist who gave us a picture of our embryo, and then my doctor came in and it was go time. It's a pretty simple procedure, but there is so much that needs to be done leading up to it. We could see on the ultrasound this teeny tiny little embryo placed up inside my uterus. Our third miracle for the day! The embryologist did what's called Assisted Hatching, where he made a small hole in the zona pellucida to help the embryo hatch out of its outer shell and help with implantation in the uterine wall. You can see the hole at about 3 o'clock of the picture below.



Isn't that amazing? Boston and Lyla's first picture looked like this. Such a tiny bunch of cells has so much potential. Can you believe that you once looked like this?

After the transfer I eventually conked out in the car from the valium. When I took valium for my HSG in 2013, I was a total nut case and obviously drugged. This time I just slept for a little while. We checked into our hotel room, and I relaxed and watched some funny shows. It was nice to get away and just focus on taking it easy and letting my body do its thing. I missed my babies so much though. After breakfast in the morning we when straight home to squeeze them.

Since transfer day it's been pretty surreal thinking of the embryo I have inside me, just always hoping that this may be our next child. While the twins nap I go sit on my bed and ponder about my family, the great blessings we've received, and the chance we've given this embryo. There is a constant prayer in my heart that everything will work out the way we have hoped and prayed. At this point I am what you call 3 weeks pregnant, until proven otherwise. That is because pregnancy is measured from the first day of your last period. By now, the embryo should have implanted and I am praying it has. I know there is a science to everything, but I also believe that God's hand can control that science. I believe that God can make anything possible. I know because of Him we had several miracles: the fluid was gone, the embryo survived the thaw, and the transfer was flawless. I know that if it is His will, He will bless us with a fourth miracle in this process...a baby.


Click here to read Part 3 

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