Monday, December 22, 2008

I Got An Early Christmas Gift

I got an early Christmas gift on Friday...I found out that I'M PREGNANT!!!! I cannot believe it...after three and a half years of what felt like PURE TORTURE...I have been given the gift of life!!! Here is the quick story:

I took a home pregnancy test on Friday (I was having a really long cycle, however I had already taken a test two weeks prior that came out negative), and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the second line slowly appear!!! I rushed to Craig to wake him up (a little too abruptly), and I showed him the test as I cried out, "What does this mean? This can't be right". We were both in a bit of denial and didn't know what to do with it.

I waited impatiently for the time to pass until the Dr.'s office opened up so I could schedule a time to come in for a blood draw to get a more accurate test result. They called me back a couple hours later saying, "Anything 25 and above is pregnant, and your levels are in the 700's. You are VERY pregnant." They called back the next day to tell me that my HCG level is 41,440 so there is no need for them to monitor that anymore, "You are definitely...definitely pregnant." There is only one thing that they have to monitor, my progesterone, that they put me on medications for...but my blood draw today showed that it is exactly where they want it to be now. After the blood draw, I had an ultrasound with the doctor to determine how far along I was. It didn't take long before we saw our little baby on the monitor...and it's heartbeat!! The doctor determined that we are already 8 weeks along.

Never, in a million years, would I have believed this is where my journey would take me. I think, I know...that I am still is dismay. I just don't believe it. Every time I look down at my belly, it kind of creeps me out that there is a little baby growing inside of me. Is that wrong?!?

Well, I guess this blog will be changing a bit...from my adoption journey to my pregnancy journey. Craig and I will never fully shut the door on adoption...we are actually going to still attend the "Intro" class for the Agency that we chose.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We Actaully Sat Down And Wrote "The Letter"

Still not sure as to what the "requirements" are for our adoption profile (size, # of pages, etc), I decided to sit down with Craig in an attempt to begin writing our DBML (Dear Birthmother Letter). I had no idea where to even begin. We started out by looking all over the internet and reading other couples DBML's. It gave us a small idea of things that we wanted to cover in our own letter.

This truly was a teamwork effort. We had an idea of what information needed to be covered, but we also knew that we somehow needed to try and stand out. (I actually read a blog from a mother searching for adoptive parents for her unborn child. She said that she had a pile of 300 letters to review...300.

I started writing the letter...deleting...and writing again. After I had a solid paragraph written, Craig took over and wrote a few paragraphs about each of us. Once he got tired, I took over one last time. I made a few slight alterations, added a few more paragraphs about our family and our personal lives, and then brought the letter to a closing.

I read it aloud to Craig...and we loved it!! I can't believe we actually completed it in one evening. I sent the letter in an email to each of our parents so they could read it over and catch any mistakes that I may have missed...but for the most part, it's done.

This was the one thing that I was dreading the most. It just feels like you are trying to sell yourself as future parents...that's exactly what it is. Well, hopefully the birthmother is able to get a true glimpse into who Craig and I are when they read our letter.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What not to say to your infertile friend

The Perfect T-Shirt Design For This Post:



I love you all...but seriously, some things that people say to me are just without common sense!!! I can't tell you how tired I am of hearing the CLASSIC story of "I know a person who"...

A: couldn't have children either. Once they relaxed...*POOF*
B: got pregnant as soon as they decided to adopt
C: adopted a child and then they were able to get pregnant on their own

And while I'm on the subject...if you do have kids, don't complain about them to me!! Make sure never to utter these words to me: "This is what you have to look forward to, are you sure you know what you're getting into?" Are you kidding me?!? Seriously!!! Really?!?

Whatever the story, whatever the circumstance, please don't compare it to me!! I am tired of the millions of stories. It sounds to me that...you all probably know the same one person. It is a small world out there after all. My situation is mine, and mine alone. Whatever happens to me on this journey is unique. It won't be because I am finally "RELAXING" or because I have finally decided to adopt. Not to be rude, but I really don't care to hear about who you know. As if I don't feel broken enough...how am I supposed to feel when I still don't get pregnant after adoption?!? Don't get me wrong, that is not why I am doing adoption, I'm just saying...what is the point of your story? What am I supposed to feel when I hear of someone else who had this miraculous pregnancy?

So...I found this post on the Do's and Don'ts of what to say to your infertile friend, written from someone with experience!! It is REALLY good!! Just click on the link below...enjoy!

Life in The Polar North Defrosts: What not to say to your infertile friend

Saturday, December 6, 2008

We Met With Another Couple Tonight

Craig and I just got back from meeting with a couple who have gone through the process of "foster to adopt". Even though we are pretty determined to do birth-mother adoption, we thought it would be a good idea to learn about all of our options. This couple was absolutely AMAZING!!! They have three boys of their own, and always knew that they would adopt someday...and someday came not so long ago. They chose to do foster-to-adopt because they had a few friends who have gone through it. With that said, they did know exactly what they wanted and they made their requests known to the state. I just loved their story, it was one that gives hope and encouragement.

They received a few calls from the state in hopes of placement, but after asking their list of questions, they had to turn down a few of the kids because the match would not have been a good one for their home. When they got the call for their, now, child...it was perfect. The child was only three weeks old at the time.

They shared how there is no difference in love for their "biological" children as there is for their "foster" child. They are amazed at how much their foster baby is a part of them, showing attributes that each of their family members have...the whole nurture versus nature debate. They confirmed for us how it doesn't matter whether your child is biological or adopted...they were chosen specifically for you.

They did say that if they didn't have three boys already, that going the "foster" route would not have been something they would have wanted to do, rather they would have worked with an agency. She talked about the potential of the child being taken away and placed back with the birth family. They were aware of that going into fostering, but already having three children made that situation more bearable.

All in all, Craig and I were extremely blessed to have met with them. As we left the Starbucks, she came over to Craig and I and gave us the biggest hug EVER!!! She was teary eyed and so excited for our journey. She made us promise to invite them to our adoption party. Craig and I didn't know that you give "adoption" parties...but hey, you can't say no to another party!! YEAH!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Finally, we got the application!!

OK...so I didn't actually get this application from the agency. By pure coincidence, I happen to have an old friend who is going through the same agency that we chose. When she found out that we were going with the same agency she offered to gather up copies of all of her paperwork: application, profile, release forms, etc. Well...it finally arrived in the mail on yesterday. I was like a small child on Christmas morning!!! I went straight to the back room, opened up the envelop and read through all the papers.

This will definitely be enough to keep me busy through the month, maybe even through to our "Intro" class in the middle of January...who am I kidding, I'll be done with everything by next week...seriously!! Since I'm being honest, I typed up all of the questions from the application onto a Word Document. I then emailed it to myself at work, so I could go through it during any "available" time...*wink*. Lets just say, I've already answered most of the questions.

Here is what I have left to do:

Create a family profile (which is basically a printed scrapbook), write up a "birth mother letter" (this seems like the hardest thing...I don't even know where to begin on this), and I have some specific numbers to gather (house appraisal and equity, student loan info, etc). I'm sure I could find some other things...but for now, this will keep me busy.

Hears to beginning the adoption process!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

PRIDE Training...AKA: BORING!!!

Yesterday the hubby and I started our PRIDE training. It is a required class in Washington for anyone who is considering adoption, or fostering. It is a total of about 30 hours, so basically all of my evenings are booked for the next week and a half. I feel like I am rushing home after work to eat a quick dinner and then head off to class. It begins at 5:30 and ends at 9:30...can anyone say "WAY TOO LATE", for a school night that is.

I was way too anxious as we were heading out to class the first night. I knew that I was being anxious for no reason, but still...it was the first "actual" step towards our adoption journey. Well, I think it goes without saying that the classes are BORING...BORING I TELL YOU!!! I think it is most frustrating because I can already tell that the majority of the classes are geared towards fostering rather than adoption. It would be great if there were two different forms of classes.

Well, it is what it is...unfortunately. I laugh because I had a ticker going for this class, and now I want to create a ticker to count down the days until this is over!!

Two classes down, five more to go!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Informative Meeting

Today, we were able to meet with a couple who has gone through the entire adoption process with the very agency that we have chosen...they were actually the couple that turned us towards this agency's direction.

The meeting went very well. They shared their own ups and downs of the process, what the birth mother was like and the agreements that they made in regards to the openness of the adoption. They shared with us what the home study was like in addition to a general time line for everything.

They were so nice and completely transparent with us, not glossing over the struggles that they encountered. It was nice to be able to actually talk to someone who has gone through this.

Monday...is the big day. We begin our "PRIDE" training!!! I can't wait...I'm sure that I am excited about nothing, but it just feels good to be able and finally DO something...work towards meeting our adoption requirements. I'll keep you posted.

Listen To Parts Of Our Pastor's Message: When Does Life Begin

Click on the title of this blog and it will link to the Pastor's Message titled: "When Does Life Begin"

A few weeks after our IVF procedure, our Pastor announced that he was going to begin a new series answering questions that the congregation had. All we had to do was to go to the church website, and submit a question. From there, he would choose a few to give a message on.

At the time, I was completely lost as to what I understood in regards to our procedure...more specifically the embryos that we lost. I had received a few different explanations from friends and families around us: "You have every right to mourn, you lost five children." "You need to move on, there was no life in those embryos." My husband and I have always believed that life begins at conception, therefore, we considered our five embryos to be life; whether they were in my uterus or in a petri dish. I think that it hit home for us, when the embryologist showed us the video of him fertilizing each egg and then watching them grow each day from two cells, to four, and finally to eight. It was truly amazing to watch.

Once we received the tragic news that we were not pregnant, my mind got the best of me. Considering that they were "life", a part of me wondered if they were in Heaven. Are they in an incubator in Heaven or are they already full grown? If they aren't full grown, then who is watching over them and taking care of them as a baby? What do they look like? I wondered if they were looking down on Craig and I. If they are in Heaven, I can't believe that they are in the presence of God right now. How amazing. I mean, if you think about it...our kids had to be pretty special for God to want them in Heaven as quickly as he did.

With so many questions...I decided to submit them to our Pastor, not thinking in a million years that he would choose my question to make a message out of. Well...he did...and I cried through the entire thing. Needless to say, I had to get a copy of the message so that I could actually hear it. I feel that our Pastor touched on an extremely difficult topic with much grace.

Having just received the CD, I couldn't wait to share it with you all. The original message is about 38 minutes long. I have edited it down to just under 20 minutes to share with you. If you would like to listen to entire message...my husband (the computer genius) is working on creating a link so that you can download it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm Thankful...

It was about two years ago when I began meeting with our previous Pastor's wife for counsel. One of the things that she wanted me to do was read a Psalm each day and then...in a sense, write my own Psalm that paralleled the one that I had just read. Today, I remember a Psalm that really stuck out to me. It was Psalm 42.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:

The Psalm continues as David lists out what he is thankful for. I realized that I have A LOT to be thankful for and that it is all easily forgotten when I place all of my focus, all of my heart, on the one thing that I can't have. It was then that I decided to list out what I was thankful to God for. Here is what I listed:

1. My wonderful, supportive, and loving Parents
2. Meeting and falling in love with the man of my dreams
3. A God who loves me and has a GRAND plan for my life
4. Going back to school and receiving a degree within my calling
5. My brother who would do just about anything for me
6. My beautiful dream house in the middle of my dream neighborhood
7. Two nice and dependable cars
8. My dream job and wonderful coworkers
9. A talented husband of many trades
10. Friends who deeply care about me
11. FInances that have always just "somehow" been enough
12. A support system through Maria and Joel

I know that I could continue my list to no end, but these are the things in my life that really stick out, that have made my journey a little bit more bearable...especially when you are surrounded with friends and family who won't let you give up. Who won't let you lose yourself in a struggle. Who won't let you be alone for too long. I don't know where I would be without everyone in my life, without their prayers. THANK YOU TO EACH ONE OF YOU!!!

At the end of Psalm 42, David says this in verse 11:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

I love the...."I will YET praise him". I know that God has a plan for my life. He knows the desires of my heart. One thing that has kept me going...is knowing that very thing. Jeremiah 29:4, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I know there is something better than this out there, and I don't want to set up camp in the "crappy" part of my life. In order to find out what God has in store for me, I have no choice but to keep on moving forward. OH...there have been MANY days, where I have "set up camp" because it was comfortable and easy. Some days, it was nice to sit down and have a pity party for awhile. Thank God for giving me the courage and the strength to get up and out of those traps.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Would Die For That...

I still can't make it through this video with dry eyes. Go ahead...give it a try.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Open Sesame

It didn't take long before the doors started to open.

Well, the following Monday, I went to work and told a select few about our new direction. I shared with them that even though I was ecstatic about the new decision, I was already feeling overwhelmed with trying to find information on agencies, attorneys, etc...I just didn't know where to begin. The internet almost had too much information, in a sense, I wasn't able to find anything local.

A few of my friends mentioned that they had known someone who has adopted and offered to ask them and see if they would like to meet with me and share their experiences. I loved the idea. It didn't take long before we got a response. A friend of a friend, emailed me with a quick blurb of their process and the agency that they went through. I found the agency online and it looked perfect!! It is a Christian Agency that was founded to help couples adopt without the huge financial burden. The Agency, Adoption Ministry, specializes in "foster to adopt" and "birth mother/infant adoption"

The next day, I met a friend for coffee and it turns out that her mother-in-law (whom my husband and I both know well) works for Youth For Christ, which is an organization that works directly with the agency we picked up. Her mother-in-law helps to license couples for "foster to adopt". So I immediately called her to talk to her and ask her a million questions.

Lastly, I had called an old girlfriend of mine who I knew had adopted previously. I thought it would be good to talk to her and ask her a few questions. When she was able to return my call, it didn't take long before she said that her and her husband were in the middle of adopting their 2nd child...and they were going through the same agency that we were considering. What are the chances?!? She had so much to share with us: experience, examples, stories, testimonies, etc. She was a wealth of information.

I finally ended up calling the agency and I signed us up for their next available "introductory" class on January 13th. It is such a different feeling to have an actual date to depend on. I feel like...I have been trying to start a family for about 4 years now, but these next 2 months are going to be the longest two months ever!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Waiting For Our Family To Grow

This "blogging" thing is so new to me, so bear with me until I get the hang of things.

My husband and I have been married for nine years, this past March. I was 19 years old and he was 22. After our first year of marriage, I decided to go back to school to finish my four year degree and work my way towards becoming a teacher. We had just bought our first house, so we were both a bit fearful of the finance aspect of things, but it ended up working out just fine. I was in school for a total of four years (three years to finish my BA and one more year to earn my teaching certificate). Towards the end of my final year, I had an interview with a school. They called me the next day, in the middle of my class, to offer me a position. I couldn't believe it!! I was so excited, I told the kids, "I can't focus right now. We have got to call my family and tell them the good news." I called my husband and both of my parents. As soon as they answered, I held the phone up to the class and they all shouted, "SHE GOT THE JOB!" Later that day, my parents had sent a bouquet of flowers to my room to congratulate me. My husband surprised me at the end of the day with flowers and a bouquet of balloons...as I looked at the balloons, I noticed that one of them said, "It's A Boy!" I was pretty puzzled by that...what was that supposed to mean? He shared with me that it was finally time for us. We have reached that part of life where we were both in a place to begin our family.I was speechless!!

About four years later...and here I am. My husband and I tried to conceive on our own for one year, the recommended amount of time before you are considered to be infertile. During that year, my OB/GYN put me on clomid for about five cycles...with no results. After that year, we were referred to a specialist. They took a few tests and we found out a lot about ourselves. I found out that I don't always ovulate, that my hormone levels are not at a place to sustain a birth even if I were to get pregnant...and, oh yeah, somehow my body has created antibodies to attack and kill any sperm that comes into contact with my body. As for my husband, he was great...at least for now.

When the doctor went over our results, he said that these are issues that can be overcome with certain procedures, namely putting me back on clomid and adding IUI. He had no doubt that we would be pregnant within the next three months. After two failed IUI attempts, I had to take a break during my third cycle because I had developed a large cyst in one of my ovaries. Finally, the third IUI attempt failed and the doctors response was to schedule me for a laparoscopy to make sure that my ovaries were in working condition. The laparoscopy showed that everything was in great working order. He saw that apparently I had endometriosis at one point due to some scarring on my ovaries, but it was no longer an issue. As a result, the doctor wanted to try a bit more aggressive procedure with me. He decided to put me on injections followed by two IUI's (two days in a row). After going through all of the shots for the first attempt, we decided to cancel the IUI because my ultrasounds showed that I had only produced one follicle. For the second cycle, the Dr. increased my dosage times 4. My ovaries responded very well to that. I had a number of follicles produced, I even remember the nurse getting a huge smile on her face. Everything was finally in my favor. We knew that my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to do, we had a large number of follicles, Craig's soldiers where high in number and stronger than ever...unfortunately...after the two week wait, I got the dreaded call from the nurse to tell me that my blood work was negative.

It was right around here that I found myself surrounded by depression. Well, let's be honest, it was long before this moment!!! However, it was at this point that I needed to get help from an outside source because I knew that I could no longer carry this burden on my own. I ended up calling on my Pastor's wife and asked to meet with her. She became my saving grace. Through a long process, and many meetings, she was able to help me find the part of "ME" that got lost and buried from the "INFERTILE" me. You see...I was the first of all of my friends to marry, however, the last remaining one to have a child. During this long journey of infertility, I would just sit by and watch each one of my friends announce their news of pregnancy...even to the point where a few of them began announcing their second pregnancies. I became extremely jealous and even bitter as I watched them tend to their new bundles of joy. It got to the point where I started to avoid all baby showers. Honestly, I think that I avoided babies, all together, for at least three years of this process. It didn't matter how close the friend was, if they had a baby, I began to isolate myself from them. It was too hard to watch them with their child. It was too hard to be in the same room with a baby and not wonder if I would ever have one to call my own. It helped to distance me from something that I wanted so badly, but couldn't have. Though...I know now that that was the opposite of what I should have done.

After our fifth negative procedure with the infertility clinic, the doctor decided to do one more test on my husband. It turned out that the results showed us that his sperm cannot penetrate an egg. Imagine that?!?! After all that we had gone through...after all of the hormones and injections that I shot up...it would have been nice to have had that test taken in the beginning rather than putting my body through all of that and finding out it was a wasted effort.

From my husbands results, the Dr. told us that our only chance of conceiving was through IVF with ICSI. We were blown away. We would have never imagined that our lives would have ever ventured in this direction. It took us months to be able to actually make a commitment towards this. Craig was all for it, he was all ready to move forward...EASY FOR HIM, he was the one administering the shots and standing next to my bedside during the retrieval and transfer. Me, on the other hand...I wasn't ready for it. I just thought of the pain that we went through with all of the other procedures, I imagined that IVF with be a million times harder to accept if it didn't work out. My prayers during that time were for God to change Craig's heart. I was ready to begin looking into adoption. However, you've heard it a million times, you ask God to change someone else's heart, and it is your own heart that eventually comes around. And so it was, my heart began to change and I felt that, in finding "ME" again, that I had become strong enough to move forward with IVF. I knew that we would regret it if we didn't try everything in our power. So, through much discussion, and hard work trying to save up all $14,000...we decided to go for it. Finally, in the summer of 2008, we did it.

Being a person that HATES shots with a passion, I can't believe that I made it through alive. My husband did so well in giving me my shots. They started out at just two shots a day for about a week, and then to four shots a day for the last week. I took my pills religiously and ate all of the recommended foods while trying to conceive. At the retrieval, they knocked me out with some good old anesthesia and the doctor went in with a HUGE needle to retrieve all of my eggs. We ended up having a total ten eggs retrieved, eight of which were mature enough. Of the eight, five of them were fertilized. The day finally arrived for the transfer (day #3). With the Dr.'s advice we transferred all five embryo's (that was a scary decision, but not all of them were of high grade. The Dr. said that they would just help to tell my body to do what it needs to do in order to sustain a pregnancy). It was absolutely amazing when the embryologist came in to show us the video of him fertilizing each egg and then watching the cells divide each day until the eventually reached a total of 8 cells. AMAZING, truly amazing. It was the first picture of our five little babies.

The "two week" wait was the worst...the longest two weeks of my life. The day came for my blood draw...and the results...NEGATIVE. As soon as I got off the phone, I dropped to my knees and cried on the floor for the rest of the day...and then some. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know why this was happening. I didn't understand why we had to go through all of this. I was broken, and I didn't want to be fixed.

After time had passed, and we were able to gain some sort of healing, we both came to an understanding that God must have a different plan for us in starting our family. It wasn't until November 1st (The first day of "National Adoption Month"...though we didn't know it at the time) that we made the decision official. Through it all, we knew that God had other things in mind for us and we felt ready to find out what they were. We felt that the doors were being closed through the fertility treatments and we were both curious to see if doors would start opening up for us with adoption.

Thus, our journey begins.