November 30, 2009

One adorable family!

Last weekend Matt and I got to take pictures of a very adorbale family. Luke and Becky have two very cute boys, Boaz and Cainan. I loved taking these pictures. We had a blast hanging out with them! Here are a few of my favorites.

November 25, 2009

Attempting to be thankful on the eve of thanksgiving

Tonight I feel as sad as this panda looks.

Today would rank up there with one of those 'really rough not going to forget it in a while' days.

I started my day at 6:45 am with bloodwork, something that I despise. I should have known then what a crappy day this was going to be. I then went to school for professional development where we practiced lockdowns, evacuations, etc. Though these drills were meant to make us all prepared I left feeling overwhelmed at the fact that I have a key role on our "safety team" yet no one has told me how to fulfill that key role...ugh.

And then the day got really bad. We headed to Iowa City just before 2pm for my baseline ultrasound (an ultrasound at the beginning of a treatment cycle to make sure that everything "looks good" so that pills, shots, etc can begin). All week I've felt very anxious about this appointment, I attempted to brush off the feelings because I've never really had any issues at the start of a cycle. I guess I should have listened to my intuition after all.

Just a few minutes into the ultrasound the technician, who was SO sweet, located my right ovary. A little history on "righty", she has never once produced a single follicle (egg) and always just looks big and empty, so really when the technician started to look around at righty I didn't pay much attention. I looked up (at my very own flat screen on the ceiling, very cool!) to see righty in all her glory. It looked big and empty... but in reality the big empty space was a large cyst. My ovary was 2-3 times the size that it should be because it was filled with a huge cyst. Tears began to fill my eyes. I've read enough to know that large cysts at the beginning of a cycle usually mean canceling the cycle (which means no medicine, no ovulation, zero chance at conceiving, just sitting and waiting). She then went to the left ovary and started to count under her breath, she stopped at 20. That would be TWENTY small cysts on lefty. Disappointment struck me like a python strikes it's prey. Tears rolled, Matt sat silently, and the technician rubbed my leg.

After the ultrasound was over she asked if I was ready to go the waiting room so that the nurse could take my results to the Dr, and then I could head back to talk to them. I said yes, and then started to bawl again. She told us to wait there and she went and got the nurse so that we could go directly to a private room, instead of having to sit in the waiting room, I thought that was pretty darn sweet of her.

A while later the Dr came in to speak with us. Dr Davis was not in the office so we spoke with another really great Dr. She explained that my cyst was 4.5cm big. At 5cm they are VERY concerned for a condition that causes that ovary to flip over, so since mine was 4.5 she wanted us to be very aware of what could go wrong. Matt asked how we would know if this "condition" happens, she said I would be in such excruciating pain that I would want to head straight to the ER. If the ovary stays flipped over too long, the blood supply will be cut off and the ovary will have to be removed. Sweet... that all sounds like a lot of fun to me!

So we discussed the options for the rest of this cycle now that this huge cyst is present. She said that they usually recommend canceling the cycle. The cyst produces so many hormones that it usually counteracts all of the hormone shots (all $700 in medicines, plus several more hundred for visits) that I would be taking. About 90% of people that go on to do the shots with a cyst have very, very poor results. The shots can also cause the cyst to continue to grow, which could potentially cause harm. She told us that we could do "part" of the plan and take just the oral drugs and cross our fingers for the best. She said they can't make us do anything, so if we wanted to continue with the original plan we could.

I looked at Matt with tears in my eyes. We have not had a legitimate chance since July, when we ended up pregnant. July! Over 4 months ago. If this process doesn't teach me patience nothing will! She told us that we could talk over our options and call back Friday.

We stopped and filled my prescription for the shots in case we decided to go on. On the way home we talked about all of our options, what it meant for next month, and what we felt we should do. We came to the decision that I will take only the oral medications this month, and pray that a miracle happens. If we only take the oral medicines this month then we can still do shots next month (when the cyst is hopefully gone). You have to have a month break in between shots, so if we did shots this month knowing that they likely would do nothing, then that would put us into February before we had a real chance at evertything working like it should.

I'm trying to be okay with this plan. It at least feels like we are doing something, yet we are also sort of resting so that the cyst will hopefully shrink on it's own, and we would be completely set to do everything in January.

I'm definitely bummed, and very sad, but I'm attempting to remind myself that everything happens how God plans it, and be thankful that I at least know that much.

Happy Thanksgiving!

365 days of learning to trust

It has officially been a year, exactly, since we began trying to conceive. I never once thought we would be without a baby, or at least a baby belly by this Thanksgiving.

I am truly in shock that we are where we are. It has been an amazing, eye opening year. We have sold, rented, and bought a new house in this year. We have almost completely fixed up the house that we bought. We have joined an amazing group of Christian friends who we are so thankful for. I have learned that my husband, friends, and family are truly amazing. I learned an unbelievable amount about photography, and fallen in love with it. And most importantly, I have learned that God has blessed me with a phenomenal husband, for whom I am beyond thankful for. And just as importantly, I am beginning to learn to trust God's timing and plans for Matt and me. As I learn daily that I am not in control, I learn that God has a better plan for us.

In this past year I have gone from an uninformed, na├»ve, average woman trying to have a baby; to a knowledgeable, strong advocate for myself. I am proud of who I’ve become. Although I would not wish infertility on anyone, I can say that it has definitely shaped me in some positive ways. I am not afraid to ask for what I know is best for myself. I am not afraid to ask questions regarding decisions about my health. And I am not afraid to be “that girl” who calls for results of MY tests. I certainly hope that I don’t have to use these newly learned skills with another health issue, but I know that if I do I will be two steps ahead of where I could have been.

This year I am thankful that I am where I am, and that I am surrounded by some pretty incredible people.

**Prayers could be used today as we head to Iowa City for an appointment to make sure that there are no cysts and get the 'all clear' to move on with meds and shots. Thanks always!**

November 23, 2009

Awesome online group!

I recently participated in my first ever online christian infertility support group. It. Was. Amazing!

The amount of strength, support and PURE UNDERSTANDING that these women had of the situations that I am going through felt like Jesus had returned, the only true person who understands all that I am/have/will go through and all that I am/have/will feel through this process.

I would STRONGLY encourage the rest of you to head here and click on the front page (on the right side in the middle) where it says:

If you are interested in participating in a ONLINE INFERTILITY SUPPORT GROUP with SARAH’S LAUGHTER using LIVE VIDEO CHAT, contact us by clicking here.

And email Beth to join this fabulous group! I believe we are "meeting" (we use a great online chat forum) once a month, so hurry over and email Beth to join this great group!

*And sign up for their awesome Daily Double Portion email while you're at their site.

November 19, 2009

Jackee & Shane & Baby on the way!

Last weekend Matt and I were privileged enough to take some of our close friend's maternity pictures. We had a blast! Jackee and Shane were so great to take pictures of and they were SO cooperative with all of the crazy things we asked them to do. Here are just a few of my favorites from the shoot. Enjoy!

November 15, 2009

Christmas at the King's

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love Christmas! I love everything about it. The music, the sweets, the decorations, Christmas trees, and most importantly (well beside the fact that Jesus was born) I love yard decorations, more specifically, blowups! I have loved them ever since I can remember setting eyes on these beauties.

This weekend Matt and I did some Christmas decorating, which of course included blowups. So here are some pictures to get you in the Christmas mood! Enjoy!

My personal Christmas tree! =)

Matt and the cat working hard while I decorate the tree.

Our blowups and lights at night. We still have a few finishing touches to do this week.

My favorite part of our village.

Our entire Christmas village.

Our beautiful gold and red themed Christmas tree (notice all of the decorations have to be on the top 2/3 of the tree so that our kitties aren't tempted to take them off!)

**We took some ADORABLE maternity pictures today, check back later this week to see them!

November 7, 2009

New hospital, new Dr., new plan

We have a new plan, and I kinda like it. =)

Our appointment yesterday, which turned into a FOUR hour appointment, was good, bad, and great.

I’ll start with the good. We have a new plan for this cycle. It will look very similar to some of our previous cycles. I’ll have a baseline ultrasound, then start taking Femara, start Follistim injections, have a follicle tracking ultrasound, have an IUI, and then start prometrium progesterone tablets the day after the IUI. I’m excited for this plan. I’m excited to get going on it and see how I respond to the new type of injections. Which leads to the bad…

The first bad part of our new adventure is that Matt informed me last night the he will be in Michigan for 3 days in November. And the way my luck goes, those 3 days fall during our “hopeful IUI” time frame. So after a heated discussion ( =) love you Matthew!) it looks like we will have to push back this cycle by a week. Which of course seems like nothing, but to me it’s just 7 more days of not being able to try, which kills me. We are now officially at our one year mark of trying, which stings a little bit just to even type.

Another bad/sad part of yesterday’s appointment was when we were talking about all of the medicines that I’ve taken in the past. I told him that we had done Repronex and had gotten pregnant with that. He seemed a bit shocked that I was given that injection to take because people with PCOS have very high levels of LH (luteinizing hormone) and the Repronex shot has both FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH hormones. Therefore having a shot that had more LH in it was not helping me, because I already have crazy high levels of that hormone in my body. So the new injections will be pure FSH and will not have any LH in them.

Another thing that came from yesterday’s appointment that I’m not too excited about is that Dr. Davis wants me to have a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG). This is a pretty common infertility procedure, but I thought I had escaped it. During an HSG dye is inserted into the uterus and then pushed down through your fallopian tubes while being x-rayed to see if the fallopian tubes are completely open, all while fully awake. Sounds exiting doesn’t it?! =) I’ve heard it’s incredibly painful so I’m not looking forward to it. Dr. Davis is concerned that when we miscarried it was because the fetus was actually stuck, and growing in the fallopian tube. So he wants the HSG done to make sure that everything is clear. He is a worried that when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and had a surgery to drain an abscess that that may have created scar tissue that eventually caused a blockage in my fallopian tubes. So I will get this procedure done in a few weeks. Luckily Dr. Davis said that we could do the HSG in the same cycle that we start our treatments, so that’s exciting. Another startling bit of information that we learned yesterday is that we are pretty darn close to In Vitro Fertilization. We didn’t really think that we were very close, but this is really our last step. We have 3 tries with what Dr. Davis talked to us about yesterday, and then our next step is IVF. A bit scary to think about.

Now for the great parts of yesterday… we absolutely love Dr. Davis! He is super kind, funny, and caring. In fact, he is so humorous and relaxed, that as he was leaving this conversation went down:

Dr. Davis: “Just so you know, we don’t schedule ultrasounds for Thanksgiving day, so if you happen to need one that day we will just push it back to Friday.” (He then proceeded to leave the room).

A few seconds later…

Dr. Davis pops his head back into our room.

Dr. Davis: “We DO however, use the turkey baster that day!” (for you non infertility people- that is what a lot of people call an IUI, because of the similar apparatus that is used).

Matt and I died laughing! I think that’s the moment that we completely felt at home.

He is SO knowledgeable and just overall was a perfect fit for Matt and me. He is very hopeful that we will be able to get pregnant with these new steps. He said I’m 12 years younger than the clinic’s average patient so my age will be a huge help, also the fact that my body has previously responded to injections, and we were able to get pregnant before, even though it was only for a short time, is a positive for us. We will be able to try these shots 3 times, with a “rest month” in between each cycle. So we really have 6 total months to try with Dr. Davis.

I’m a little nervous about all of the appointments, getting off work, and traveling to Iowa City for everything, but I truly feel that we are where we are supposed to be. Thank you again for all of the prayers, we SO appreciate it!

November 5, 2009

Dan, Jenni, Hannah & Mia

Matt and I got to take our good friends family pictures last weekend. We had a blast! Hannah is quite an energetic girl, and Mia is such a laid back sweet baby. Here are just a few of my favorites.

Dan, Jenni, Hannah (18 months) & Mia (6 weeks).

Hannah holding Jenni's wedding ring to help keep her happy. I love this picture!

**Off to our appointment at the University of Iowa Hospital... I am
SO excited!!! I'll post more when we get back tonight.**

November 3, 2009

From tears to pure excitement!

It has been quite a week! We thought we were completely in the clear to head to the University Of Iowa Hospital's Infertility Clinic....apparently we were wrong.

On Monday I called my insurance company to ask if all of the referral paperwork had been sent in and approved. They told me that they had received nothing. I didn't panic too much yet, I figured they just were taking a while to get it done. When I went for another appointment on Tuesday I asked Dr. B (my old Dr, who is in the same office as Dr. O, my current infertility Dr.)if she had any idea how long a referral form should take to get sent in. She said she wasn't sure, but she would check on it for me. She did check on it, and what she had to tell me on Wednesday morning wasn't pleasant. She said that in my file it said that Dr. O had denied the referral to Iowa City. Tears began to roll down my cheeks. The only thing that had helped me move on from this cycle, and the fact that it was a complete bust, was that we were able to move onto Iowa City, which had brought renewed hope.

She said she had no idea why it would have been denied. I explained that we were very ready to move on, and that we have a limited amount of insurance money for infertility coverage, and that we needed to move on while we still had some money left. She completely understood and was on our side. She said she would go talk to Dr. O and find out what was going on. (I should mention at this point, that Dr. B was a COMPLETE life saver! She totally went to bat for us! I'm not sure why no one had informed me that it had been denied anyway, so likely I would have showed up to Iowa City with NO COVERAGE... and I can't imagine what a 3 hour appointment would have cost out of pocket!!!).

She called me back later in the day to tell me that the referral nurse at our office had asked Dr. O if he had referred me, he said no, so she denied the claim. Apparently Dr. O's nurse, who we had talked to after the ultrasound showed nothing, and who said she understood if we wanted to move on, we were at the end of the road for treatments at our local office, and she would get Dr. O to sign the papers had NOT done that. So Dr. O had no clue what was going on, and simply denied it. He agreed to approve it now that he knew the situation.

This leads us up to Thursday morning. Dr. O was leaving at noon for a week long conference, so I had to have the referral paperwork approved by NOON! At 10:30 I called and talked to a very rude referral nurse who told me that as far as she knew (she was gone the day before when Dr. B helped straighten it out) Dr. O had denied it, and "unless she heard him say to her face that it was approved, she knew no different". Needless to say I was now steaming. I had 90 minutes to get this nurse straightened out, and a stinking piece of paper signed so that we could go to the specialist. Some more tears were shed, and then I made another phone call to Dr. B. She told me that she would go talk to the referral nurse and Dr. O again. At 2pm I still hadn't heard anything and I was sure it hadn't been approved before he left. I decided for my sanity, and the rest of my co-worker's sanity, I needed to call and get the final verdict.

I called Dr. B and she told me that the paperwork had been signed! Hallelujah, I could hear angels singing I swear! I felt SO relieved! Now we had to wait for the insurance company to approve it, we were told we would know within 24 hours. So I sat alone (Matt was out of state for work) and waited. By Friday afternoon everything had been approved by everyone! We are now officially good to go to the University of Iowa Hospital's Center for Advanced Reproductive Care!!! Yahoo!!!

In 48 hours we will be in our first of 3 appointments in Iowa City, I can hardly contain myself! I am so excited! I have 3 pages of questions ready, a referral form ready, a HUGE file folder of my copied records ready, and tons of other "stuff" I have to bring all set out and ready. Our appointment is from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. We have an appointment with the head nurse, a 2 hour appointment with the head PCOS doctor, and a diagnostic ultrasound to finish off the day.

My hope and dreams are back... I am so hopeful that they have the answers and treatments that we need. Come on Iowa city... make us a baby!!!

**We took some friend's family pictures on Sunday, their pics will be posted this week, I promise they are adorable!**