Friday, January 29, 2010
When it comes to real life, I don't really like statistics. They never do seem to tell the whole story. What matters, of course, is what side of them you happen to be on.
I've never cared for the statistic that says that people who come from divorced parents are twice as likely to get divorced. I'm not saying there's absolutely no data out there to support the claim, and it's true that statistics are only meant to be a sampling. There's no way they could apply to and be true for everyone. Still, I don't like the assumption that the odds are against me simply because my parents' marriage didn't work. I like knowing there is room for me to break that cycle. I realize that, like the first line of one of my favorite Caedmon's Call songs says, "I come from a long line of leavers." There is a lot of divorce in my family, but I don't for a second believe that it means our marriage is doomed. I believe we can change that trend. With that considered, I believe that sometimes it's a good thing to be on the "wrong side" of a statistic.
As I'm sure you can imagine, I'm also not a fan of infertility-related statistics. I know that sometimes they are used to try to make you feel better. Even at our last appointment, our doctor went through the run-down of miscarriage percentages. Right now I have about a 20% chance of miscarrying (considering the stage of this pregnancy only). If we see a heartbeat, that number will go down, and it will continue to decrease as we see more and more development, such as arm and leg buds, etc. And that's all wonderful to hear, except that I've been on the wrong side of those statistics, too.
It's hard for me to take comfort in those numbers. I've seen those wonderful baby heartbeats before. We even saw our baby's arm and leg buds on an ultrasound screen for our 4th pregnancy! But it doesn't mean much when you find out that you're still in the small percentage of people who will lose their baby. Some sources say that after 4 pregnancies and no live births, my chances of having this baby are between 0 and 5%. I haven't looked up one for 6 pregnancies and no live births because I just don't want to know. I think I'm much better off not knowing what the numbers say and hoping that I can beat the odds. This is definitely another trend I'm determined to break.
Fortunately I've reached a point where I'm simply annoyed by statistics. I don't put my trust in them; I put my trust in the Creator of heaven and earth, and the One who made me and loved me first. I know that nothing is impossible with God. (Interesting side note: Did you know that when that verse is used in Luke 1:37, the topic of conversation is that Elizabeth, who was barren, is having a child? I love that!)
To bring this post full-circle (and if you'll pardon me for the basketball analogy), something else I learned as a statistician is that the person who gets awarded is usually the person who took the most shots. Sure, the important part is making them. But you can't expect to make the shot if you aren't first brave enough to attempt it. I'm hoping that this time for me will be a lot like the time the guy in my class who played center, the biggest guy on the team, took that wild, one-in-a-million shot from behind the three-point line... and he made it.
The odds were totally against that shot, but boy, was it worth it -- to him and to everyone who was cheering him on!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I wanted to write a quick recap of my birthday on Monday. After our doctor's appointment that morning, I came home and Chuck returned to work for the afternoon. I spent my time updating the blog and checking e-mail and stuff while I waited for him to come home. We had plans for dinner and a movie that evening.
It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to eat and what movie I wanted to see, but I finally decided I was in the mood for shrimp pasta and a romantic comedy (nice combination, right?). We had considered seeing Avatar, but decided instead on seeing It's Complicated, which we thought was really funny. I do love films from writer/director Nancy Meyers.
It was so nice to get out and enjoy some time together, rather than sitting around feeling nervous! There was an elderly couple sitting in the row in front of us at the movie, and we couldn't take our eyes off of them. I think older couples are so precious! Chuck and I were imagining ourselves going on a similar dinner-and-movie date in about 40 more years. :)
After the movie we went to Chili's and shared one of my favorite desserts, the molten chocolate cake. I don't let myself get it all that often, so it was a nice birthday treat!
As soon as we got home I remembered that I still had a birthday present to open. My dear husband made me hide my eyes while he went out to the garage to get it. (The garage? I was going to be mad if he had gotten me a power tool!) When I opened my eyes, it was quite a shock! It wasn't a power tool. It was something I've wanted since we've been married. For almost 12 years I've had my eye on it and I couldn't believe it was sitting right in front of me! He had gotten me THIS:
I was (and still am) ecstatic! I cannot wait to break in this new mixer, and at the same time I'm afraid to use it because it's just so pretty! I have wanted a KitchenAid mixer for a very long time, but especially since this Anniversary Edition model was introduced. Also, I knew the color would look great in our kitchen! My sweet husband saved his Christmas bonus (which he kept entirely a secret from me) and some other cash here and there to buy this gift for my birthday. It was a wonderful surprise!
Just for fun, here is my look of genuine surprise:
And here is my look of genuine joy and complete adoration for the man that I married:
It was definitely a great day from start to finish, and certainly one of the most memorable birthdays I've ever had!
Now, what can I bake?
Monday, January 25, 2010
The doctor said everything is looking good! All we could see was the sac (and there was only one), but he said it was measuring right and everything looks normal. One step at a time, one day at a time, a little bit of good news at a time is really all we're asking for. We were so relieved to get a good report today.
Now is the hard part. We must wait another week and a half for another ultrasound. My next appointment won't be until February 4. It feels like an eternity to be in the dark about what is going on in there. Hopefully by then, though, we will see a tiny baby with a healthy heartbeat. Please, oh please.
All things considered, it has been a beautiful day so far! I couldn't have asked for a better birthday gift. Thanks for all of your prayers and well wishes! If all goes as hoped and planned, we are looking at a due date of September 25, 2010.
Please, Lord, let it come true. Let this be the one that sticks. Let this be the one we celebrate and hold in our arms.
Friday, January 22, 2010
I won't make you wait too long for the update. I went this morning for more blood work and heard the results around lunch time. It's good news! HCG was up to 1870. (For those who are interested in more specific information, today I'm 20 dpo.) The nurse said that sounded great, and I'm scheduled for our first ultrasound on Monday morning. Monday is my 33rd birthday. I'm really, really hoping it will be a good day, possibly even the best birthday ever.
Although I'm doing my best to focus on one day at a time, I can't help but spend a little bit of time reflecting on where we were exactly 3 years ago today. On January 22, 2007, I had a scheduled D&C after finding out at 10 weeks that our 6th pregnancy was a "blighted ovum." It was 3 days before my 30th birthday. And it was a very dark time for us.
At the end of pregnancy #4 in July of 2005, the fertility specialist we were seeing at the time basically had told us that there was nothing more she could do for us. (It still shocks me to even write that!) We weren't sure where to turn, so we began seeing a high-risk pregnancy doctor in the area (on the recommendation of my regular ob/gyn), who suggested after some testing that we try Lo.venox injections with the next pregnancy. We tried this for pregnancy #5 in July of 2006 to no avail. We were giving the injections another try for pregnancy #6, but with each ultrasound we just weren't seeing enough progress. My HCG levels were great, but at 7 weeks we were still only seeing a yolk sac. We waited another 2 weeks for a final u/s, but there was still no heartbeat. No baby. That was our first time to receive that kind of diagnosis. I realized that as awful as it is to be told that our baby's heart had stopped beating, it was equally devastating to be told that the baby we thought we'd been growing and nourishing for 10 weeks wasn't even there.
We were crushed. And to make matters much worse, my ob/gyn called me at home to tell me that her guess was that I had some sort of genetic problem that would never allow me to have biological children. If I was crushed before, this time I felt like my world had shattered into a billion tiny pieces. I couldn't believe she would call me up at an already vulnerable time to tell me such news on a hunch. Chuck and I were sent into a tailspin. We made an appointment with a genetic counselor, who told us she had no reason to think that we could never have a full-term pregnancy. After such an emotional roller coaster, we made it our mission to find a doctor who would take good care of us. We wanted someone who would take our gigantic stack of medical records and try to make sense out of it all. We wanted someone who was confident and took pride in his work, someone who would be eager to help us find a solution. Fortunately, we found Dr. G in the summer of 2007.
We have come a long way in the past 3 years, at least as far as getting good medical help is concerned. This is our first pregnancy under Dr. G's care and we feel like we are finally in good hands. I know that a doctor ultimately can't make a baby stick, but we truly feel as though we've been given a fresh start. And for now, that's all we can ask for.
I don't think that looking back and remembering where you've been is a bad thing. But as my dear friend reassured me today, this pregnancy is looking good today. Right now with the information we have, there is no reason to be worried. Today is where we are and today is what really matters!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
This month nothing worked right. Nothing seemed to come together. We felt stressed, frantic, and disorganized. We thought we were going to have IUI #2, but the timing didn't work out because of the New Year holiday. We were disappointed, frustrated, and feeling pretty negative about the whole thing. Those feelings, combined with being away from home for the holiday week, didn't exactly work in our favor for trying on our own.
Last night my husband and I were sitting in the living room, and with tears in my eyes I told him that sometimes it feels like we're fighting a losing battle.
This morning I awoke to something unexpected. It was a lot like nearly every other month for the past three years, but this time, the home pregnancy test was positive.
Deep breath. Here we go.
I composed myself, whispered a quick prayer (Please God, let this be it), called my husband at work, called the doctor's office, and called my mom. One thing I've learned after six pregnancies that ended too soon is that we don't spend a lot of time celebrating. We immediately kick into action mode. We needed to drive to Houston to get blood work done. I jumped in the shower and Chuck came home so we could go together. We were in and out of the lab in a few minutes and driving back home in the rain. Strangely enough, we've both been relatively calm today. I know that we are both nervous, but we're trying to stay level-headed. My sweet friends who have suffered from recurrent pregnancy loss will understand this. From here we proceed with caution. It's not that we aren't elated to have reached this point. We are! But when you have a long history of loss, you learn to keep your feelings in check.
It is hard to believe that we have been walking this long, arduous road for 9 years. In the first 6 years we had 6 pregnancies end in miscarriage. This week, January 22nd to be exact, is the third anniversary of my last loss. It has been 3 years of waiting and wondering if our time was over, if we'd missed our chance, if it would ever happen for us again. I know that seeing two lines on a pregnancy test is no guarantee that we'll be holding a real live baby in 9 months, but we are taking it for what it is. It's another chance. If there's one thing we know for sure at this point it's that today we are pregnant, and today we have another chance.
When I wrote the last post yesterday with the brief cycle update, I can tell you that I was about 99% sure that it was almost the beginning of a new cycle. I was so touched as all of your sweet comments came in hoping for that positive test. You guys truly amaze me. Thank you for hoping and believing even when I can't quite muster up the strength to do it myself.
Last month we did everything right and it didn't work. This month everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, but somehow it worked. I don't believe for a second that it's just a coincidence. I think that sometimes God knows that I need reminders that I'm not in control of this situation. He is. He always has been, even when I don't like how it turns out. And even when I think we've seriously messed everything up, even when I'm 99% sure we've failed, He can still come through with His perfect plan and His perfect timing.
I trust the Lord no matter what happens in the next few weeks, but I want you to know that I'm nervous. I'm human, and I have fears and worries galore. We still have a lot of waiting ahead of us and a lot of BIG hurdles. I did get a call back from the nurse today confirming the pregnancy. The lab results looked good: HCG 562, Progesterone 37.2. I'll go back in on Friday morning for more blood work to see if we have progress.
I've often wondered since I started this blog more than a year and a half ago what it would be like to experience a pregnancy with all of you on my team. Sharing this news this early on is so out of character for me! For years we went through these early days and weeks with a small group of family and even fewer friends, but somehow knowing that you're all standing with us and praying for us gives me peace of mind. Thanks so much, precious friends!
Just a few more words and I'll be done for tonight.
First of all, and most importantly, I pray every day for all of my sweet friends who are waiting in one way or another. I will continue to do this for as long as necessary. I'm still standing with all of you and hoping that your wait won't be much longer.
Please pray for us as our new wait continues.
And finally, for those of my real-life friends who read my blog, please, please don't mention this on Facebook or to anyone else just yet. It would mean a lot to us if you would just keep it under your hat for a while. Thank you! We love you guys.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Extreme Makeover Update:
(If you missed the first post about this, you can find it HERE.)
Thanks for all of your great comments about this sweet family's home makeover! Chuck and I got up early on Thursday to go out to the spectator area and get a good spot for reveal day. Fortunately we don't live far away, and we were able to park at our church nearby and walk rather than taking the shuttles that were provided. We were the first ones out there at 7:45 AM. We had a great viewing place right at the front of the barricade. It was really fun to be out there all day and watch the final touches going on the house!
We even got several glimpses of the design team throughout the day.
(Paul, who actually came over to say hi to the crowd!)
Chuck and I literally stood in the same spot all day long, until about 5:00 PM. I'm telling you, we didn't even take a bathroom break! Fortunately we had thought to pack a lunch. It got a little rough, I have to say, because it was chilly outside that day AND it was raining off and on all day. But we were so glad to be able to be there. By the time the family came home, our view was obstructed by a few rows of volunteers and VIPs that were lined up in front of the barricade, but we could still see a little of what was going on. The family looked so excited, and of course that was the best part! The show is expected to air in March. I'll let you know when to watch! We have heard that it will be a 2-hour episode. We can't wait to see how it will all come together.
(This is the only shot I got of Ty. It was just before we yelled "Move that bus!")
Although my birthday is almost a week away, several members of my family came to stay with us this past weekend to celebrate with us a little early. Doesn't that make it more fun when you can stretch it out like that? We had a great time and were grateful for the long holiday weekend. Friday night we celebrated my birthday and my oldest nephew's birthday together. I love sharing a birthday month with my sweet little guy! He turned 9 last week, which is so hard for me to believe.
Saturday evening we went to Benihana for a wonderful dinner. We met Chuck's sister and her roommate there as well, and it was great fun. I love that place! (By the way, if you like Benihana, go to their website and register and you can get a coupon to use during your birthday month. It covers your meal up to $30! They will also sing you a little birthday song and take a photo of your group as a keepsake.) :o)
There are still a few fun birthday things planned for the month. This Friday I'm looking forward to spending the day with my best friend since kindergarten. She moved to Texas (about 30 minutes away from me) last year. We have plans to work on scrapbooks during the day and then go out to dinner. I can't wait!
Today is CD 30, which means that I'll be testing in the next day or two and most likely starting a new cycle before the end of the week. I'm still holding onto a small sliver of hope that we may have a positive test this time, but I'm definitely ready to move ahead if not.
It has been a busy month for us so far, but definitely fun and memorable overall! Hope you're all doing well. I'm working on getting caught up with reading your blogs!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
But first let me back up a bit. There is a family in a neighboring town that we know has been in need. Although we don't personally know the young parents very well, two of the teenage kids go to our church. They are a very sweet family with four biological children and nine adopted children! The problem came when Hurricane Ike flooded and seriously damaged their home more than a year ago. The entire family (with the exception of one of the older sons who is serving in Afghanistan) has been living in temporary housing, most recently in a small travel trailer.
Last week we found out that this wonderful family had been chosen to receive a new home from Extreme Makeover Home Edition! We are thrilled for them! Our entire community has been buzzing with this news all week long. The family has been sent away on vacation to Disney World in Florida while construction began last week.
I'm sure you've figured out by now that my husband served as a volunteer at the construction site. It was such a neat experience for him. He took a late nap on Saturday and left home around midnight. After signing in and picking up his blue shirt and hard hat, he got there to discover that they were slightly behind schedule. He and some other guys that we know went to our church (which is only a block away from the construction site) to keep warm and get some sleep for a few hours before going out to work. I thought he might come home sometime during the night before I got up for church, but when I called at 7 AM, he was still busy working. It was a very cold night, especially for where we live, with temperatures in the low 20s. Chuck said it was much better after the sun came up! He worked straight through until noon and then rested for most of the afternoon and evening on Sunday. Oh yes, and he did get to see Ty Pennington just before leaving that day!
Here are a few pics of Chuck in his work gear. He looks a little lumpy because of the multiple layers of clothing. :)
I took these pics from our church parking lot. You can see the large cranes in the background at the work site.
Tomorrow will be an incredibly exciting day. It's reveal day! We're planning to go out there early and get a spot in the crowd to wait for the family to come home. We are both absolutely giddy about seeing the family come home to their wonderful new house!
Yesterday Chuck and I went by the site and hung out for a few minutes at the spectator area across the street. The house is looking pretty amazing. I can't believe how quickly the work gets done. Here's a sneak peek at the new home, as it looked yesterday. Everything will be completed by tomorrow!
(The house is more than 6,000 square feet!)
The episode is supposed to air on ABC sometime in March. I will be sure and post a reminder with the date so you can tune in to see this sweet family get their dream home! I know it will be a great episode, and those of you with a special interest in adoption and/or foster care may especially be interested in watching this one.
Until then, here's a link to the builder's website if anyone wants to see more pics and read about the family:
Friday, January 8, 2010
Below is my reading list for this year. This is just a list I've compiled of books, some old and some new, that I'm hoping to get to in the next 12 months. I'll put a button over in the sidebar if you're a reader too and want to look back at the list for any reason.
I would love to know what you're reading or planning to read, and whether you've read and liked any of the books on this list. Last year I read 25 of the 27 books on my list, so I'm carrying over the 2 that didn't get read. Also, these are in no particular order. I like to choose the next book based on what I feel like reading at the time. I won't be removing any books from the list, but I may add a few if there's time or if something interesting comes up.
Okay, here's the list:
2010 Book List:
Her Fearful Symmetry – Audrey Niffenegger (January)
2. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Lord of the Flies – William Golding (April)
The Great Gilly Hopkins – Katherine Paterson (August)
Sarah’s Key – Tatiana De Rosnay (June)
Frenchman’s Creek – Daphne Du Maurier (April)
The House at Riverton – Kate Morton (February/March)
9. Frankenstein (Book 3): Dead and Alive – Dean Koontz
Breathless – Dean Koontz (January)
11. A Grief Observed – C.S. Lewis
12. The Last Battle – C.S. Lewis
13. The White Queen – Philippa Gregory
14. The Constant Princess – Philippa Gregory
15. Watership Down – Richard Adams
16. Dracula – Bram Stoker
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman (July/August)
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman (February)
19. This is Where I Leave You – Jonathan Tropper
20. When You Reach Me – Rebecca Stead
The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton (May/June)
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (September)
23. A Sweet & Bitter Providence - John Piper
From Last Year’s List:
24. The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
25. The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
And as a bonus if I have time:
26. The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
First of all, today my husband and I were celebrating 14 years since our first date back in 1996. (Last year I wrote a post about our first date. You can check it out HERE if you'd like.) We didn't have big plans, but it's still a special memory for us and it had us both starting the day in a better mood.
Not long after lunch, Chuck called me from work to share some fantastic news. He just found out today that he has been chosen as Employee of the Year for his contract at NASA! I'm very proud of him and I think the award is very well-deserved. It has not been officially announced at work yet (so if you know him in real life, please don't mention it on Facebook or anything for a little while). He did come home this evening with the monetary award and he'll be recognized at the next all-hands meeting. I was so excited to get this news! I know he's great at what he does, but it is wonderful to see that appreciated by others.
This evening I was chatting with my mom on the phone when I got another call and noticed it was my doctor's office. I switched over and was surprised to hear my doctor's voice on the line. He said he was looking over my chart and wanted to ask me about what exactly had happened with this cycle. (You probably remember how upset I was about it in the last post.) I filled him in on all the details and he asked lots of questions. We were on the phone for more than 30 minutes and I told him how I honestly felt about the way it had been handled last week. I felt so much better after speaking with him, and he was very understanding about our disappointment. When I go in next month, we'll sit down and talk in more detail about all of our options and how we want to proceed, and he said if we wanted to do another IUI he wouldn't charge us for next time! Let me tell you, I was incredibly relieved. I was very honest and open with him over the phone about all of my concerns and I truly felt heard. I was beginning to feel like I was at the end of my rope and we desperately needed some good news around here. We are both so thankful that things are starting to look up, thank the Lord.
Chuck and I had to laugh when he came in with the mail shortly after that phone call and there was a reimbursement check for $30 for an overcharge at the same doctor's office! It was a day of good news at our house, and honestly it couldn't have come at a better time.
I just wanted to give you all a quick update. As always, thanks for your constant support and prayers!
Monday, January 4, 2010
I always find the New Year to be bittersweet. It's great to have a fresh start and to be hopeful about what may come, and it's also great to say goodbye to a year that seriously let you down. But after so many let-downs, it gets harder and harder to hope that this year will be different.
January is undoubtedly a hard month for many. I always hear on the news that it's the most depressing month of the year. When I was younger I liked it because it's my birthday month, but now even that has become tainted by my infertility struggle. I feel like I want time to stand still until I get all of this worked out, but it just keeps marching on, ready or not. Now when the new year starts, I can't help but be overcome by numbers and the milestones I now associate with January:
5 years since my first laparoscopic surgery in January 2005.
3 years since my sixth miscarriage in January 2007.
3 years since we were last pregnant.
2 years since my second laparoscopic surgery in January 2008.
This month I'll turn 33.
And we're now entering our 9th year of trying to add to our family.
I don't want to start the new year feeling burdened and defeated and frustrated. Honestly, I would love to be able to write about a much more positive outlook for 2010, but I just don't think I'm there yet.
As much as we loved being with family to ring in the New Year (and we truly did), it has been a rough start. As you know, just before Christmas I found out that the first IUI didn't work. I knew that the start of a new cycle was going to be crazy around the holidays, but we were committed to it. Our week in Louisiana was interrupted by a quick trip back to Houston for the CD12 ultrasound (which we had on cycle day 11, New Year's Eve, since the office would be closed on Friday). The trip was fine, but when we got there I was very unhappy to discover that Dr. G wasn't there and the person doing my ultrasound was my very least favorite nurse in the world. I was able to keep my composure and just get on with the scan, and we had 4 more great looking follicles, including one huge one that would be ready to ovulate on Saturday. I got the trigger shot and we drove all the way back to Louisiana and made it to my mom's by noon. On our way into town to go get lunch, the nurse called to tell me that there wouldn't be an IUI on Saturday after all. There would be no one available to do it that day.
Needless to say I was incredibly disappointed, not to mention angry. January 2nd? What is so important about that day that NONE of the doctors in that entire office are working? I could honestly understand if it had been Christmas Day. But the day AFTER New Year's Day? I still can't believe it. I felt like we'd been through all of the trouble and scheduling and anticipation for this entire cycle for nothing. And I know that it may not seem like such a big deal, but waiting another month and feeling like we've lost this one is huge to me. We get only 12 times a year to try (if we're lucky), and it is definitely hard to watch an opportunity pass us by.
Although I know it's really just a minor setback, I haven't been handling it well for the past couple of days. I have all kinds of ugly emotions going on and I know that I seriously need to put it behind me and move on. January is all about starting over, right? We're only four days in, but I really hope that 2010 will have much better things in store.