Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Infertility Journey

Dealing with infertility is truly a journey. It's a journey that we pray will end with a baby, but I also think it is a journey to bring us closer to God and closer to each other. Unfortunately so many couples end up further apart because of infertility. I have found that this journey of ours is bringing us closer to God, causing us to be on our knees in prayer more, and strengthening our marriage. Our marriage hasn't been without it's trials in the past 5 years, but that's part of marriage. We've managed to grow stronger through medical school, illness, residency, severe family illness, and now infertility. I don't know why God chose us to have this problem. I don't know why he chooses anything to happen. I do know we live in a  fallen and sinful world and God promises to never leave or forsake us. I cling tight to his promises on the hard days. Not all days on the infertility journey are hard ones though. We have had so many good days too. I often times find myself thanking God for this. If we hadn't of had infertility we wouldn't have been foster parents now and wouldn't have known the children that we have or the families that we now call friends. However, I can't say that I always feel thankful for this. I try to remind myself that God's plan is bigger than mine, but sometimes that is hard to do.

Every families journey with infertility is different. Here is what our journey has looked like so far. We decided in the fall of 2008 that we were ready to stop preventing having a baby. We didn't expect to get pregnant right away but month's went by and soon we were approaching the 1 year mark to when we stopped birth control. I knew that something wasn't right before this 1 year mark, but I never really wanted to admit it. I was hoping it was just the stress of intern year and when my schedule slowed down things would get better, but that wasn't the case. We got our referral to a RE: reproductive endocrinologist (i.e.: infertility specialist) in the fall of 2009 and saw him for the first time in Jan of 2010. Let the fun begin :) We found out that I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) at that appointment. Our RE said that with some medication I should be able to ovulate and conceive so we started the medication called Clomid. We started out at the standard starting dose of 50mg per day for 5 days each month. This didn't work so we increased it 2 weeks later to 100, then 2 weeks later to 150, and so on until we got to 250mg, the max dose. This medication made me feel horrible. Hot flashes, dizziness, headaches, moodiness, but I stuck it out because we wanted a baby. The 250mg seemed to be the magic number and I finally ovulated. We waited the 2 weeks and were heart broken when we weren't pregnant. However, we pressed on. Tried the 250 again, and again, it worked, however again, 2 weeks later we were heart broken. After the third time we took the 250mg it stopped working. My RE added metformin, a medication for diabetics that helps with PCOS because it helps with hormone sensitivity. This added to our 250mg helped me to ovulate again and again but without becoming pregnant. By this time it's fall of 2010 and I'm tired. I'm tired of the doctors visits, ultrasounds every few weeks, tired of felling terrible and being moody. Jonathan and I thought it best to take a break for a little while. We discussed our decision with our RE, who also thought that a break may be good for us. This is also soon after we decided to do foster care. We had started the foster care journey in August of 2010 and stopped taking fertility medications in October of 2010. This allowed us to put our full focus on becoming licensed, albeit some of mine was still on residency :) We decided to wait to restart our medications until summer of 2011, so about a 9 month break. During this 9 months I actually ovulated on my own a few times but we still couldn't conceive. I went back to my RE in June of 2011 and we restarted my clomid. This time I only had to get up to 200mg for it to be effective, but the side effects were the same and still no baby. My RE decided that I needed to have a histerosalpingogram (where they look at your uterus and fallopian tubes with dye) to see if there were any anatomic reasons we weren't conceiving. I had this test in August and we found out that my right side seems to be occluded. That doesn't fully explain why we haven't been able to get pregnant since most of the time my left side is where I ovulated. We tried another month of the 200mg and ovulated but didn't get pregnant so we tried it again this past month. However, this time, once again, it didn't work and I didn't ovulate. My RE decided it was time to check my thyroid again because thyroid problems can make infertility worse, and we found out that I have hypothyroidism. This has led me to start taking medication for my thyroid, which hopefully is helping, and my RE also started another medication on top of the clomid to get me to ovulate. I go back in about a week for another ultrasound to see if these new medications have done there job. We continue to pray for God's direction in this journey and we would appreciate prayers from you as well.

Life in Full Swing

Life is busy here at our house. Busy and full of the people that we love the most. What more could I ask for? I am so thankful that we have had the blessing of D and A for 6 whole months now. We recently had a permanency planning meeting for them again. Basically to update everyone on how things were going for their parents and how the kids were doing in our home. When I was in college I really thought that everyone could change, regardless of their past. I still think that it's possible, since all things are possible with God, but I don't always think it's probable. I'm so proud of D and A's mom for doing her service plan and working hard to change her life so that she can be reunited with her family. However, their dads, are a different story. I want to get in their face and yell "what is your problem"? "Do you not see how wonderful your children are?" "Do you not see that your actions are hurting them?" But I don't do that, I sit back and watch and listen and feel sadness for these children that I love so much. However our CPS caseworker and mediator at the meeting basically said those things to them. I'm so glad to have people advocating for our children. Jonathan and I do our best to be our children's number 1 advocates, but it's nice to have other people in your corner, fighting for what's best for these precious little ones. As of right now they will be with us until spring, allowing their family to have time to right their wrongs and get the help they need to be whole again.

D is doing so amazingly well in school! Her school teaches a new character trait each 6 weeks and at the end of the 6 weeks they award a few students from each class for displaying that trait. She was picked this month and her assembly was yesterday. We were so proud to stand there with the other parents and clap for her success. She is blossoming into a beautiful, thoughtful, kind, responsible, loving girl and we couldn't be more proud of her. Soccer season is almost over for her, she's really sad about that. She has loved playing this fall and will play again in the spring. Soon she will be starting ballet lessons. We have told her that she can try anything she likes, however she can only do one activity at a time and she has to always have her school work done first. She's excited to try something new and she loves to dance.

A is also doing wonderfully. When he came to live with us he only spoke about 3 words. He understood both English and Spanish when he came here but didn't speak in either language. We have been working with him to improve his ability to communicate and he is now speaking in short sentences! His family still speaks to him in Spanish when he is at his grandmother's house and during his visits and we speak to him mostly in English. ECI has been a wonderful resource for helping us teach him. He has finally started to love going to daycare, or school as we call it. Everyone always comments on how sweet and smiley he always is and it's true. He almost always has a huge smile on his face, runs to give hugs, and laughs at everything. He is truly a joy to be around.

This was our first Halloween with children and it was so much fun! D went as Jasmine and A went as a monkey. I wish I could post a picture in their costumes, they were adorable. We went to a few fall festivals, one in Dallas over the weekend, and one here in town on Monday. The kids had a blast, got lots of candy, and loved every minute of it. We also carved pumpkins for the first time with kids and they loved pulling out the pumpkin "guts". We roasted pumpkin seeds for a yummy snack which they thought was really cool.

We've taught them about the great game of baseball this fall while watching the play-offs and World Series. A loves to watch sports and would yell "strike" during the games. He also would yell "baseball" and pretend to pitch every time he saw it come on TV. Hopefully we can take them to a game in the spring, I think they would have a blast.

Holiday planning is in full swing here. We are hosting Thanksgiving at our house for the first time this year and I'm excited to have all of my family in my home. We have lots of big plans for fun things to do the week before Christmas while the kids are out of school and lots of family time planned. I can't wait to  see their faces on Christmas morning. I also can't wait to show them our family traditions and start a few new ones now that we have children around. Christmas is my favorite time of the year and I am so excited to get to share it with little ones.