Friday, November 27, 2015

Finding out there are two

With Chandler and Paisley, we were able to go to our regular ob for our first ultrasound, but since then, my re clinic has apparently changed their policy, so we made another trip to Little Rock.  I think we both fully expected to see one baby on that screen, and really did not think two was in our cards.  Boy were we wrong!!

Our appointment was on September 15 at 10:00.  We were taken back for our ultrasound shortly after and I was so nervous.  After the last transfer ending in a chemical pregnancy, I was so scared there would only be a sac and no heartbeat.

Once we got settled in for the ultrasound, the screen was turned away from us where we couldn't see what was on there.  This was torture!  Last time, the second we saw the screen, I saw two sacs and knew both embryos had "stuck", but this time, we had no clue because we couldn't see anything.  It seemed like the doctor took 10 minutes before he said anything, but really, it was only about a minute.  The doctor asked me to remind him what happened with our fresh cycle, which I guess should have been a clue, but honestly, he's asked that nearly every single appointment, so I didn't think anything of it.

He finally started pointing out the yolk sac and fetal pole to the resident that was in the room with him.  I still wasn't breathing a sigh of relief until I heard or saw that heartbeat.  Finally my doctor played the heartbeat, and even then, I wasn't convinced!  I honestly thought for a second it could have been my own heartbeat, in some weird way, because my heart was pounding!  Dust was the first to speak, and said, "Praise God!" followed by, "I assume only one?"  To which Dr. M replied, "Well, no."  I honestly hardly remember anything from that point on.  I started crying and think I instantly went into shock.  If the doctor played both heartbeats, Dust and I don't remember it.  I vaguely remember Dr. M saying that there is such a thing as vanishing twin syndrome, but based on how our babies looked, he didn't think that would happen, and that the situation wasn't ideal.  

I honestly stayed in a state of shock for the first 24 hours, at least.  I remember waking up the morning of the 16th and just laying there, feeling caught between reality and this odd case of deja vu.  Obviously we knew there was a chance of twins again, but given the doctor's estimate of 15%, and given my beta numbers, we really didn't think both babies had stuck.  I feel terrible that my first reaction was to cry so much, but it is just so scary.

We instantly went into a mode of trying to figure out what we could possibly do to help make sure this time is different, which proved to be pretty frustrating!  My next blog will hopefully catch us up to where we are now and what we've done this pregnancy.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Christian Faith and Infertility Treatments

The social media world has blown up in the past week with the Starbucks Red Cup controversy.  Seriously, people, this is what we have to worry about?  Honestly, I’d love to know which “Christian” groups initially spoke out about it, because really, it sounds like a whole big stunt to just draw attention to something that should be a non-issue.  These kind of things are what gives Christians such a terrible name.  I honestly don’t know a single Christian that has an issue with what Starbucks holiday cups look like.  People, did you look at them last year?  It isn’t like they had a nativity scene on them and said “Starbucks Loves Jesus” or anything!  So why the big deal that this year it is just red?  These kind of things are why the whole world loves to bash Christians, and honestly, if Christians really are pitching a fit over the whole red cup, who could blame anyone for bashing Christians?

This whole controversy was a perfect intro to the next topic that has been on my mind for about a week that I wanted to blog about. 

Christian faith and infertility. 

Infertility is mentioned in the bible, several times, in fact, but you know what isn’t?  IUI, IVF, and any other treatments.  You know why?  Because the bible took place thousands of years ago and these treatments are new! 

In mine and Dusty’s infertility struggle, we were very open.  We didn’t hide any of our forms of treatment from any of our friends, or anyone in our church.  We were an open book.  And, thankfully, we received absolutely no push back from anyone, nothing but love and support.   But, sadly, this isn’t the case for everyone.  In fact, it is hitting pretty close to home for me now, with my sister-in-law.

My sister-in-law and her husband struggle with infertility, and are at the point where the only way they will get pregnant, short of a miracle from God, is through IVF.  This was hard for them to accept at first, as it is for most people that are handed this sentence, but they have accepted it, and have discussed repeatedly, and have a plan to move forward.  However, what’s been even harder is the push back they’ve received from certain family members, who have basically told them that IVF is a sin and they should not seek this treatment to grow their family. 

I can’t accept this.  I can’t figure out how anyone could say that, I really can't.  However; I’ve been through these treatments, these treatments gave us Chandler and Paisley, and the two little babies growing inside of me today.  So, I went to a dear sweet friend, Sarah, who is completely removed from having to make these type of decisions herself, but, has been one of the biggest cheerleaders in my infertility struggle.  Sarah was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, to give me an outside perspective on the topic of religion and infertility.  Here is my interview with Sarah.

1. Have you struggled balancing your faith with supporting friends who have gone through infertility treatments? You always seem to be such a cheerleader, but I realize I’ve never actually asked you this question.

Honestly, my faith has never even crossed my mind in regards to others' fights for babies. Growing up, I always worried I wouldn't be able to have babies. I don't know what made me feel that way, and even though I haven't had any trouble, my heart grieves for those who do because I know how badly we wanted kids and would be devastated had we not been able to have any. I honestly couldn't tell you whether or not we would have pursued something like IVF had we not conceived, just because we've never walked that road. I would say we would probably have tried all options had we needed to. When others are struggling, with fertility or anything, it's just in my nature to be supportive. I wouldn't not support someone who was struggling through a crisis like death, and I don't see infertility any differently as it is a struggle for whoever is facing it.

2. If yes, how have you managed to be so supportive? If no, can you tell me for what reason your faith does not cause you to disagree with fertility treatments?

I feel like the decisions each person makes is up to them. It isn't my business whether they do or don't do anything. They just have to feel at peace with the decisions they make, just like I do. God made the doctors who were able to engineer fertility treatments and I believe that God still creates the life that comes from fertility treatments - if He didn't want those lives to come to fruition, He wouldn't allow the treatments to work is how I see it.

3. What advice, or counter point, would you tell others who have faced opposition of those in the religious community regarding their choice in pursuing infertility treatments?

I think that they just need to remember that the decision is theirs and if they feel at peace with that decision, then that's all that matters. Others are always going to disagree with us on almost every aspect of our life - we can't let that dictate what we do or do not do. For someone going through infertility, they may have people who oppose their choice to seek treatment. If they do end up having children, they will most likely face opposition or disagreements with parenting choices, too. What is right for one person may not be right for another, so live for yourself. We each have to give our own account to God and it doesn't matter what someone else thinks, only Him.

4. What is the biggest piece of advice you have for somebody who is trying to balance their religious faith with seeking fertility treatments when perhaps their religion is against fertility treatments?

I think that no matter what religion, there is going to be some aspect that you may not particularly agree with. I doubt there is any one Christian who agrees with every single aspect of their particular religion. I would suggest that if they are trying to balance their religious faith and fertility treatments, they should seek counseling within their church. Our pastors are there to lead us, guide us, question us and encourage and pray for us. We should utilize that. Again, I truly think that in regards to treatments, people just have to follow their own hearts and be at peace with it and not let anyone else dictate how they feel.

Sarah really made some amazing points.  First of all, be supportive.  Whether or not you agree with what somebody is doing, this isn’t a time to not support them!  Second, and YES YES YES, God made the doctors who came up with fertility treatments, and ultimately, God creates that life (more on that later).  Third, and Sarah is exactly right, the decision is ours (whoever is going through it), and what truly matters is if we are at peace with that decision, not what others think.  And what a great follow-up point from an amazing mother of 3, there will be opposition with how parents chose to raise their children, so, that isn’t going to change!  And lastly, I love Sarah’s advice of using the church to guide us, that is absolutely what the church is there for, and sometimes, I think we forget that, and only think of the church as a place to go on Sunday’s, and we minimize its role in our everyday life.

Like I said, I wanted Sarah’s perspective because she hasn’t walked through infertility personally, and as a person who has, it is very easy to justify our decisions to get to the conclusion we want.  When I first began the IVF journey, I had dinner with a girl from my high school who has a sweet little boy from IVF treatments.  This topic came up, and she told me how she justifies it, which Sarah mentioned, and I completely agree with.  The thing is, these doctors can take my egg, and Dusty’s sperm, and that’s the extent of it.  No matter what doctors do, whether or not an egg fertilizes and becomes an embryo, and further, whether or not that embryo actually attaches, grows, and becomes a baby is in God’s hand, and God’s hand only!  In fact, in my opinion, if we really feel like going through IVF is “playing God”, then we are truly only minimizing God.  We are saying that there are doctors here that have the same ability to create life that God does.  And that, in my opinion, is a far worse issue than any fertility treatment we could seek.

*All of the above is my opinion, or the opinion of my friend Sarah.  This post isn’t written to try to start some big religious fight, but instead, to encourage anyone facing the challenge that my sister-in-law is*

Friday, November 6, 2015

More about my FET

To be 100% honest, I was one of those people that over analyzed every little twinge and twitch during my tww.  I am almost certain I can tell you the moments that the embryos implanted, actually.  I’m sure I’m completely wrong, but, that is what I think for now, anyway.  I remember feeling a distinct twinge/cramp in the evening of the transfer (August 21), and telling Dusty that I felt like implantation had just happened.  It was on my lower right side, and I was convinced that was what happened.  Then, in the middle of the next day, I felt the same thing on my left side, and again, told Dusty that I thought the 2nd embryo had just implanted as well.  I know medically speaking, that is probably impossible, but it is what happened, what I felt, and my non-medical theory. 

Leading into this transfer, I literally had no idea how to pray for this.  How do I pray for 1 embryo to stick, when to me, that feels like I’m praying for 1 embryo to not make it.  How do I pray for both, when I’m scared to death of twins?  That felt like I would doom this pregnancy from the beginning.  Maybe for the first time ever, I prayed to God that whatever His plan was, it would be done.  I tried my best to let go, and let God.

So, at 4 days post transfer, I gave in, and tested.  I had some test strips from my TTC Crate order, and they were just too tempting.  I tested the evening of 4 days after my transfer.  I knew evening wasn’t the ideal time to test, but I had had some nausea earlier in the day, and just had a “feeling”.  I googled and found that unless it was multiples, I likely wouldn’t see a 2nd line.  Well…there was the faintest of faint lines.  In fact, I’m still not sure if it was really there or if I made it up.  I didn’t even tell Dusty, because I just wasn’t even sure, and it was my first time using anything except a FRER (those things are expensive!!!).  I remember thinking, there is no way that I really felt both implant, this is too faint, there can only be one, if any.

The next morning, I took another strip test.  This one was a different brand as the one I had used the night before.  But, there was a line this time, no doubt.  It was faint.  I still didn’t think that both had actually implanted, and still thought I was completely crazy for feeling like I felt them implant.  In fact, now, if I hadn’t actually said it to Dust, I would probably deny that I actually felt that at the time. 

I took another test the evening of 5dp6dt, and the line was slightly darker, although, again, it was a different type of test strip, and hard to compare.  At this point, though, there was a line, so I confessed to Dust, and showed him all three. 

While I'm confessing, I also downloaded an app which “inverts” pictures of pregnancy tests, which, in the IF world, supposedly makes the 2nd line easier to see.  I couldn’t believe there was actually an app for doing that, but, really, I shouldn’t have been surprised. 

After last time, our chemical pregnancy in May, it was really hard to be excited.  We both basically looked at the tests, and thought, ok, there is a 2nd line, it doesn’t mean much.  There were 2nd lines on all my tests in May, and that ended badly.

The next day, I took one of those cheapo $.88 Walmart tests, and there was definitely a 2nd line, although it wasn’t as dark as I expected.  Of course, I frantically googled to see what others had looked like using the same test, and found that really, the 2nd line on those tests aren’t very dark at all, but of course, that did nothing to comfort me.   

Seeing as how I drove myself crazy with tests and comparing lines after my last transfer, Dust thankfully put a halt to that this time.  After taking 4 tests in 3 days, he hid the rest from me, and we decided I’d wait until my beta.  Honestly, I am SO glad we did this.  I went through the rest of the tww knowing I’d had positive pregnancy tests, and left it at that.  I was PUPO, with hopefully no “O” to come. 

On the morning of August 31, I went to my hospital to have my HCG labs drawn.  I think Dusty and I logged into my portal at least 50 times that morning waiting on the results to be posted.  Finally, around 1:30, the results were updated, and the HCG value was 308.  Wow!  I was pregnant, and not just a little pregnant, and my last beta level of 35, I was a lot pregnant.  To be honest, the number caught me off guard.  See, even though I was conviced both had implanted, by the time the beta day came around, I was fully conviced I only had one little embryo growing inside me. 

I quickly started comparing this result to Chandler and Paisley’s. 

With Chandler and Paisley, my first beta was at 11dp3dt (14 dpo) and was 374 (actually, that was what was email to me, but I’ve since then signed up for the online portal through my clinic, and the number was actually 379 per the lab results listed).  With this transfer, I was 10dp6dt (16 dpo) and was 308.  I was absolutely convinced that it was a single embryo at that point, and felt a little bit of relief.  I told myself that if I were comparing this to Chandler & Paisley’s number, it was essentially 150 at the same day Chandler and Paisley’s was 374, so there was no way there were two.

On September 2nd, I had my repeat HCG.  My value at that point was 660.  With Chandler and Paisley’s, my repeat labs was 4 days later (because it was over the weekend), and went up to 2,405.  At this point, I’m even more convinced there is only 1 because the HCG didn’t sky-rocket like it did with Chandler and Paisley. 

Well…I was clearly wrong.

This post has gotten long enough, so I’ll post more about finding out there was two soon!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

We've been keeping a secret...

It's about time we shared!  See, we've been keeping a secret since our last FET transfer in August.  It worked!  

And boy did it...

So, if the video doesn't play, we are pregnant, with twins!  

We are scared to death, to be completely honest.  I'll share more about how we found out, our reactions, and our current plan very soon!  

Sorry to keep ya'll in the dark, but we just announced to everyone on Monday, so I wanted to keep it a secret until then.