Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Latest Update and Prayer Requests

August through October are hereby declared the season of "Doctorall" in our household (or do you prefer "Doctorer" or "Doctoring" instead?)

Between the two of us, we have been (or will be) to the doctor:
August: 4 times
September: 6 times
October: 4 times (scheduled so far)

Keep in mind this is compared to the other typical months of the year:
Typically: 0 times

I don't want to do the math to figure out how much that is in co-pays...yikes, I did it anyway...geez

So here is the latest update on us:


Completed Appointments:
August 2 -- My annual checkup with my primary care physician, Dr. S., and to get a renewed progesterone cream prescription. He also ordered a blood test for me to check CBC (complete blood count) and progesterone levels again.

August 21 -- Unrelated to infertility, I had a cyst removed from my scalp. Fun, let me tell you...but Dr. S. did a great job, and thankfully there is no bald spot. I've since gotten a haircut to celebrate:


For those who haven't seen it yet...I got the length of it trimmed, the front angled, and now have side swept bangs instead of no bangs.

August 24 -- Fasting blood draw that Dr. S. ordered from the August 2nd appointment. This was on my cycle day 23 of 28 (optimal time to check progesterone levels). All CBC blood work was normal, except for a very slight vitamin D deficiency, so I've added that to the bunches of pills I swallow every day. :)
And I was so excited because my progesterone was 15.5!! (Previously in the 7-9 range)

August 29 -- Went to have my stitches removed, and could finally scratch my head normally. Hey, small things make a big difference, okay?

September 4 -- Another U.T.I. and so you know what that means...more Adventures of Peeing in a Cup!

September 5 -- Michael had a fasting CBC blood draw appointment.

September 10 -- Eye appointment. All looked great, and I was fitted with a trial pair of contacts to see if I can switch from Acuvue 2 to Air Optix Aqua.

September 13 -- Follow up eye appointment. Couldn't see as well, so he increased the prescription slightly to the really poor mild amount of -8.00 and -7.50 contacts (my natural eyesight is so good, that without the contacts, I couldn't make out the big E until I was inches away)...but at least I can see 20/10 with the contacts!

September 19 - A doctor appointment with my OB/GYN, Dr. H. This appointment was meant to be a discussion on the next plan of action to take (additional tests, procedures, etc.) and to discuss our options. I really love Dr. H. She is so nice. And what I love most is that she is not pushy at all. And when I say not pushy, I mean she says things like "Well, here are your options [lists them], but I just don't know what you guys feel is right for you..." It's so refreshing to hear a doctor say stuff like that.

So the consensus is that we have two options from here:
  1. Continue down the road of diagnostic testing (try to find a problem to explain why we haven't conceived); or 
  2. Begin basic fertility assistance treatments (drugs, IUI, IVF). 
After discussing the fine details of our particular situation, Michael and I feel like the best option at this point is to have one more diagnostic test done called an HSG test that will check to see if my fallopian tubes are open or blocked. It's not a very comfortable test from what I've been told. They insert a tube into your cervix, and then inject x-ray visible dye through the tube, then immediately x-ray your abdominal cavity to watch how the dye moves through the uterus and (hopefully) out both tube openings near the ovaries.

Dr. H. doesn't think there's any reason my tubes would be blocked, but the reason Michael and I (and Dr. H. agrees) want to just be sure my tubes aren't blocked is because we feel ready to take the next step under option 2) -- Clomid drug.

So if you recall from a previous post referring to a doctor's visit in the summer of 2011, Clomid was the drug that my first OB/GYN doctor wanted to put me on, but I didn't feel comfortable at that time because Clomid is a drug meant to stimulate ovulation. But at that time, I knew from my cycle tracking that I was already ovulating (and this fact was confirmed via vaginal ultrasounds with Dr. H. later). But Dr. H. thinks that even though I'm ovulating regularly, it might be a good first drug to start with because it may cause multiple eggs to be released, which might increase our "normal chances" each cycle. (So instead of us, say, having an average chance of 5% of conception, we may have 10%...just made those numbers up as an example.)

She also said that Clomid has been around for a long time (50 years) and that it's the cheapest fertility drug you can get. (There are injection type drugs that costs hundreds/month.) But, using Clomid is pointless if your tubes are blocked because there would be no way for the sperm to meet the egg no matter how many eggs there are, hence why we want to be certain my tubes aren't blocked before paying for and using Clomid.

The positives of using Clomid:
  • 45% of couples using Clomid get pregnant within 6 cycles (they recommend not using Clomid for more than 6 cycles) 
  • It tricks your brain into thinking it hasn't produced enough estrogen, so your body kicks it into overdrive to make more estrogen (estrogen is what makes cervical mucus and stimulates egg production)
  • Since I've been low in cervical mucus production, there's a chance my body may produce even more (hopefully)
But the negative side effects are:
  • Clomid can cause your body to make hostile cervical mucus - obviously not what I want, but they say that this risk is greater for higher doses (I'll be starting on a low dose) 
  • 10% chance of twins (although I would love to suddenly have two children instead of zero, twins create a complicated and potentially dangerous pregnancy)
  • Headaches 
  • Nausea 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Breast tenderness 
  • Hot flashes 
  • Mood swings 
Again, these are more likely to happen with higher doses, so hopefully I won't experience any of them. I also plan to use ovulation predictor pee sticks to facilitate our timing of intercourse, just in case the Clomid dries my cervical mucus to where I can't tell when I ovulate (since I don't track my temperatures anymore, I've only been watching my cervical mucus to determine when I'm about to ovulate).

September 20 -- Michael's annual appointment with Dr. S. to discuss the results of his blood draw from September 5. Overall his CBC looked great, just a slightly high cholesterol level. Dr. S. recommended we eat a wheat-free diet, which we are now moving towards. I may blog about this later because it's a lengthy topic on its own. :)

Upcoming Appointments:
September 27 -- Vet appointment. Obviously this doesn't involve us or infertility, but I just wanted you all to know that our pet children are getting the care they need. :)

October 3 -- Urology appointment for me. I've contracted 3 U.T.I.'s in the past year, and since the usual tips to avoid getting them have not been helping me, they want me to see a urologist to make sure there isn't some other reason I might be prone to getting them all of a sudden. (These 3 have been the only 3 U.T.I.'s I've ever had.)

October 4 -- HSG test to check my fallopian tubes.

October 10 -- Dermatology appointment to check possible skin allergies. Over the past 6 months or so (not really sure when I finally thought that it was strange), I've been getting very short-term (15-20 minutes) raised bumps along my jaw line that itch like crazy for a little bit and then disappear. I can't tie it to a particular product or food or anything because it also happens on days I don't wear anything on my face, eat different foods, and it happens at different times of day. Sometimes once a day, sometimes several times in one day. Maybe stress-related? I hope whatever it is would be easily identified and treated if necessary.

October 30 -- Dentist appointments. Unrelated to infertility, but still good to have done. Gotta maintain those purrty smiles! :)

Prayer Requests:
  • Urology appointment - that the results would be favorable, no serious cause for frequent U.T.I.'s. Or better yet, that I would simply stop getting them, period! (And while you're at it, you could pray that I'd stop getting periods for nine months...thanks!)
  • HSG test - I'm a little nervous about this test, because I tend to get a little squeamish when it comes to medical procedures, and this one does not sound like your ordinary OB/GYN checkup. As my mother can confirm, my first gynecology appointment at 18 years old was traumatic for me. I literally fainted. And this procedure is going to feel "uncomfortable" she said, and she also suggested I take 3 ibuprofens about an hour beforehand. So your prayers about this procedure for me to be calm and tough it out would be much appreciated. Dr. H. was wonderful in explaining all the details I can expect to happen that day, which brings me a lot of comfort that she takes the time to tell me everything. Also please pray for the result to be favorable (tubes would be open).
  • And the usual prayer request - For us to have patience and strength to wait for God's perfect timing and plan to unfold.

So that's where we're at. We both feel excited about this next step for some reason (trying Clomid). I'm surprised, especially because we both were so resistant to using Clomid back when my first doctor prescribed it last summer. My hope (not having expectations) is that God knew we needed to go through this past year of growing in Him, faith, and our marriage and that's why He didn't let us feel peace about Clomid the first time, but now we do. I know I definitely needed to learn that I cannot control everything, because there will always be some things that are simply out of our control. Creating a life is one of them. We are both so thankful for all of the humility and wisdom God has taught us through this, and we greatly appreciate your love, prayer, and support. This journey would be much more difficult to bear without it. Truly, we thank you!

Love & Hope,

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


The Lord has been consistently pressing this topic on my heart. You know how you will be sitting in church sometimes and you think, "Wow, it's like this sermon was written specifically for me and what I'm going through!" It's been kind of like that for me lately.

The first occurrence were the sermons on September 2nd, both at Anderson and Southwood. Both sermons are very similar, but I loved listening to both because each brought it from a slightly different perspective. The Scripture discussed is James 1:2-8.

The second occurrence was the book our team selected to study for our women's book study this year: Get Out of That Pit, by Beth Moore.

The third occurrence was the book that the church selected as this semester's growth groups topic: 1 Peter. Now, I know I had read 1 Peter several times before, but never all the way through in one sitting. It was a surprise to me how frequently the word suffer or suffering is mentioned (16 times in only 5 chapters). This book is all about suffering.

So the wisdom gained from all three occurrences boils down to this:
  • Suffering is inevitable
  • Suffering is meant to bring glory to God
  • Suffering will someday end

I will of course elaborate on these, because after all, it is my blog, and elaborating is what I'm here for.

Suffering is Inevitable
Because we live in a fallen world - a world with sin - all people will experience suffering in some form or another. Beyond that, as believers in Christ, we will inevitably experience the suffering of persecution.

1 Peter 2:21-24
21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

1 Peter 4:12
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.

2 Timothy 3:12
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

And don't be fooled into thinking that you're the only one suffering. Believer or non-believer, all people experience suffering because we live in a world ruled by Satan at the moment. Because of this, know that God does not cause the suffering.

1 Peter 5:8-9
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

It says it clearly above. The devil is prowling and seeking to devour. You are not alone in your suffering. Though your specific suffering may be unique, you are not alone or "unlucky" - the whole world suffers with you.

I love how both pastors in the sermon links above say that you're either just coming out of suffering, in the middle of it, or about to suffer. No one can escape it, because we are all human beings living in a world that contains and breeds suffering. Jesus Himself suffered, arguably the most of all.

But there is a purpose for your suffering. That phrase is almost cliche...perhaps this says it better:

Suffering is Meant to Bring Glory to God
Because everyone in this world experiences suffering, chances are, you will share a similar type of suffering with believers and non-believers alike. I don't mean to undermine your pain here, but rather point out something that wasn't immediately obvious to me: you have an obvious, immediate, and easy thing to connect with other people about.

In other words, by sharing about your suffering, and all that God has done for you through it (even if the suffering is still happening), you are getting a chance to share a testimony with non-believers.

It may sound strange, but I actually was not aware of this fact until last night. Sure, I realized that this suffering I'm experiencing has brought me closer to God, but I didn't realize until last night that this has been the one and only experience in my life that has given me an abundance of courage to bring up the subject of God to complete strangers. And lots of them! Talking about my desire to have children, the difficulty of waiting, but how God has taught us so much about being patient and faithful, and how I was convicted about being a control freak who thought I could "earn" my baby, when in reality you can't earn a baby, much like salvation. I've had those conversations with strangers, friends, and family...all because I've been experiencing this type of suffering. And even if my audience has never experienced this type of suffering themselves, they can still relate to my pain and hopefully hear my key points about faith.

Whatever your suffering is, I dare you to share it with others. Be open, and watch the beauty of what happens. Now, fair warning here: there have of course been some people that I've shared the above testimony with, and I've only received insensitive or unhelpful "wishy washy" replies from. But for the most part, it breaks the ice and establishes a deeper connection with people.

1 Peter 3:14-15
But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you...

The world is watching you. Since both believers and non-believers experience suffering, when a non-believer knows that you are a believer, they are watching how you respond to your suffering.

1 Peter 4:13
but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

Remember that you cannot avoid suffering. You can't find yourself smack dab in the middle of suffering, and then hit the Esc button and say, "Okay, that's it, I'm ready to be done!" (Believe me, I have tried...)

So choose to be an example to others around you, believers and non-believers alike. Since you cannot control the circumstances of your suffering, focus on the things you do have control over: how you respond to your suffering. Remember that the eyes of the world are on you.

I also love how both pastors stated that suffering righteously does not mean you put on a fake smile and pretend to be happy about your suffering. No, that would make you delusional and insane. It's perfectly okay and expected of you to feel sadness or grief as you suffer. Remember that Jesus wept when Lazarus died? And that was before He raised him from the dead! Jesus still experienced that suffering of losing a beloved friend, and grieved that loss. But He still had complete and perfect faith in God to resurrect him. (Read John 11 for the full story.)  Follow Christ's example and how He responded to moments of suffering. Have complete faith that God is with you, loves you, and that He will eventually end your suffering.

Suffering Will Someday End
God is always with you, through suffering and non-suffering moments in your life.

1 Peter 5:6-7
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

And it's not hard to find Scripture about how much God loves you. John 3:16 anyone? Anyone?

God is with you during the suffering. He never leaves you (Hebrews 13:5).

Romans 5:3-5
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

James 1:2-4
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

And finally, if the beginning of suffering is inevitable, so is the end. You have hope.

1 Peter 5:10-11
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, September 14, 2012

IF Statements

I've taken a few computer programming courses in my schooling career, and the first conditional programming you learn is the IF statement. It's pretty straight forward:

IF (condition statement is true)
    Do this.
    Do this instead.

It makes sense that this is the first kind of conditional programming that students learn. Why? Because that's how we, as humans, tend to operate in life.

If (whatever) happens to me, then I'll do (whatever). Otherwise, I'll do (whatever). In essence, it's your basic human being, forming a plan of their own. They have their plan clearly decided on, and they're ready with a back-up plan, just in case.

But life doesn't follow our plans. Perhaps it's better restated: Life doesn't initialize your planned program first, and then run with it. Sometimes, it just so happens that your plan and life actually do match up. But to think that it matches up because you wrote the program is asking for a humility software upgrade to be installed. I bet each and every person reading this right now has at some point in their lives known exactly what it feels like to suddenly realize that life happened not according to your plan. Ah, those wonderful moments of getting one of these in real life:


So what's a human being to do?

The point I'm trying to make is that you really have no choice when life throws something unexpected at you. Now, I'm not talking about predestination or free will here. I do believe we as human beings have free will, but it's a fact that we are limited beings and only have control over limited amounts. There will inevitably be moments in your life that will be unexpected and unplanned for you. That's what I mean by "you really have no choice". Get ready, it's coming.

A really inspiring example of this is found in Daniel 3. Daniel had three friends, abbreviated SAM for short (one for S, one for A, and one for M) because I don't want to try to type their crazy long names right now. ;)

So Daniel and SAM were all in the Babylonian kingdom because King Nebuchadnezzar had invaded and exiled the people of Judah and Jerusalem. Daniel just so happens to not be in this chapter I'm discussing.

So King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden statue idol, and he called for all the people to bow down and worship it. The decree was that any who didn't bow down and worship it would be immediately cast into a furnace of blazing fire. SAM were present and did not bow down and worship the idol because they loved and honored the Lord. Some tattle-tales went and told King Nebuchadnezzar that SAM did not bow down and worship the idol, so therefore they should be cast into the furnace, right? So King Nebuchadnezzar called SAM to his presence, and he asked them if it's true that they would not bow down and worship his golden idol. He also warned them: "But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?"

I'm going to just copy and paste their reply, because I could not restate it better:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."

The story is so fascinating and ends with the miraculous preservation of their three lives after being thrown into the furnace that was heated to 7x hotter than usual. Not a hair on their bodies was singed.

But the part I want to focus on is their response to the unexpected and unplanned situation that life threw at them. They had great faith.

They never doubted God's power or ability to deliver them from their bad situation or circumstances. They also recognized that though their God was perfectly powerful and able to save them, He might not choose to. But even if He did not, they were resolved to remain faithful until the end. Until the potential end of their lives.

Now if you're struggling with an unplanned detour in your life, you may struggle a lot like I have (am) with the thought that God might not choose to deliver you from what you're going through. In my case, God might not choose to give Michael and me biological children. Trust me when I tell you, that thought is incredibly hard to swallow. It is so difficult to admit that that may be our future, how our journey ends. But we are called to remain faithful...even if He does not answer our prayers according to our plans. We are called to love God, no matter how this journey ends. Can you do that? Can you remain faithful until the very end? Can I?

I hope so. I plan to live my life and eventually die trying -- no matter what unexpected events come my way. I think that's the one plan that God wants us all to keep. I hope these three men inspired you as much as they inspired me.

Love & Hope,