Friday, August 30, 2013

What's Your Problem, Anyway?

Warning: personal medical information below. Read on with caution and be respectful to how personal this is for me.

In the past I have been asked what the cause has been for our infertility, and I can honestly say that I have only really told a handful of people. Not because I wanted to keep it to myself, but it's just so darn complicated and I just figured people would tune me out after the first two sentences anyway, so why bother. But this has been bothering me a little in the back of my mind, that our story isn't truly shared and able to reach those in similar situations if the full scope isn't shared as well. So I am going to attempt the best explanation that I can here.

After two years of trying with no medical assistance and no results, we finally decided to see a specialist in Houston. I was careful to choose the best doc with the best stats and reputation, so we drove into the heart of Houston for every test under the sun. (I am choosing not to refer to my medical records for this post because, well, it just brings back too many sad memories for me. So I am trying to remember the best I can.) Dr. M came back to us after each and every single diagnostic test run (and some were unquestionably embarrassing) with the results: NORMAL. Some results were even better than normal. So our diagnosis was "Unexplained Infertility." Not something you want to hear after 2+ years of no baby. I think that is why my depression over it went so deep for so many do you explain nothing being wrong with still no baby?

I had laparoscopic exploratory surgery as well as a Hysterosalpingogram (HSGTest  completed in the summer of 2006. The laparoscopy is where a scope is inserted into the abdominal cavity to check the structure of the reproductive organs. The results of this test were that I had a few tiny spots of endometriosis that had adhered my uterus to my colon. The doctor burned the spots away and separated the two from one another and other than that, we were told that was quite normal and no big deal and shouldn't have any bearing on our fertility before or after. So needless to say, we were pretty hopeful after that. The HSG test is where they shoot dye into your uterus and into your tubes to check if the tubes are blocked. Mine were clear and had perfect structure. I had this test done twice over a span of several years, with same results.

In the summer of 2007 we moved to DFW area from Houston and decided that we just needed a break from all of it. At this point we had been TTC (trying to conceive) for over 3 years. I was so "over it" and just utterly devastated, and this is when I began to sink deeper into depression over it all. I was definitely in the denial phase. I got on the pill for a year or so here. When people asked "WHY??" I always felt like they were implying "It's obvious you don't need birth control..." But what they didn't understand is that to have true closure to a hard chapter in your life, you need that finality. It helped me to never wonder "Could I be???" and get me back into the vicious cycle of hope/let down/hope/letdown that just hurts so badly.

Well, after I turned my back on TTC and pushed onward with the other things in life that I dove into headfirst and with husband decided he wanted to try again. He was ready....I was NOT. But after some prayer and discussions, we did decide to get off the pill and just "see what happens." I was like "HA! See what happens. What a crock of you-know-what." But that was when God stepped in and began plowing the hardened droughted soil of my heart and spirit.

That very month that we stopped taking the pill, I got pregnant. We were absolutely shocked!!!!! No medical intervention, no doctor involvement, just "easy" like everyone else out there. Speechless was a good way of describing it. Well, at 6 1/2 weeks I began cramping terribly and had to be taken to the ER. When we got there, the bleeding began, and "inevitable miscarriage" was on our agenda for the day. Talk about a roller coaster. Highest of highs to lowest of lows in a couple week's time span. I won't go into the details of this time period today, and will save that for a future blog post. But just two months later, the SAME THING HAPPENED again. Another easy conception, only to lose this one at 5 1/2 weeks.

So the doctor sent me for labwork. Ten vials of blood drawn, and all results in: only 1 was abnormal. I happen to have elevated Antiphosphatidylserine iGm. The only symptom of this disorder is recurrent pregnancy loss. So I would have never known I had this if I hadn't ever conceived. Basically what this means is that ONLY in my capillaries I have a blood clotting issue. So when the placenta begins to form and attach to the uterine wall, blood flow is blocked and therefore all nutrition to the baby is lost, therefore killing the baby. There is treatment for this, which involves giving yourself blood thinner shots into your pregnant belly daily for your entire pregnancy. But the trick is catching a pregnancy in time to get the positive test from doc, the prescription filled, and begin administering the drugs all before the baby dies. Since the diagnosis I have had 1 other positive preg test at the doc, but lost the baby before I could even make it to CVS.

This was when we decided that we would rather not count on my body for carrying a baby. Someone with this issue I just don't see how it can be wise to try IVF and pay thousands for it to inevitably end in miscarriage and heartache. This is just how WE feel and what is right for us...I am not speaking on behalf of everyone else. The repro doctor we were seeing here in Plano, who repeated all the same tests that our Houston doc did, gave us "Unexplained Infertility" as a diagnosis as well, and KNEW we had the miscarriage diagnosis, yet he still pushed us towards IVF numerous times. This just made me sense in it other than the doctor trying to make several thousands of dollars off of us.

In the end, I am so grateful for the things that hurt us along the way. Without them, we wouldn't have chosen to adopt.  And without the beauty of adoption, I wouldn't have this precious little nugget who rocked our world, and hasn't stopped since! I know God's hand was in this all along, and am so grateful for the journey he had us walk.

 Let me know if you have any questions regarding our story, fertility questions, adoption questions, or anything at all. I don't mind helping other couples seek their path.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Birthday Boy

I'm a little late posting about Jake's birthday party. But not to worry...I want this blog post to be for many purposes. I want to commemorate my big boy, remember what the party was like and all the details, tell about how we did a lot of it on a budget, as well as give a shout-out to each person who helped it all come together! Believe me, there was no way I could have pulled this off without each of them!

It's really hard to believe that Jake is over a year old now! Where did the time go? So much has changed this year...what an amazing year it has been!
Jake is sitting in Anthony's vintage high chair from the 70's!

So handsome!

Our happy lil nugget!

Mommy made my cake, as well as the bunting banner!

There are no words for this cuteness.....
The above photos were all taken by my favorite photographer Maria Angeles Photography. She has done our Christmas card photos, as well as the 1-year photos above and the party too! We already have her booked again this year for Christmas! She also has a FB page too.

As far as the party goes, I put a ton of thought into it. I believe I began planning it when Jake was 5 months old. Ha! I may or may not have been excited to get to throw a first birthday shindig! Originally I wanted to have it at a location other than our home. But when I also thought of all the costs involved with my ideas, something had to give. So we had the party at home. It actually wasn't too bad!

The theme we went with was Vintage Rock. (It was easy to get Anthony on board with planning and helping since it involved guitars and rock.) It was easy to save money on decorations simply because Anthony collect guitars and amps anyway!

Mason Jar Snack Bar (not very healthy, but oh so fun!)

This right here is a CAKE, folks!!! That's right. We ate it.
My friend and neighbor Lauren made it in exchange for a design consultation!
Gotta love bartering!

Pom Pom balls made by Courtney Sanders. Pallets obtained at no cost and stained for $5.
Burlap bunting banner custom made $15.

I made the cupcakes. The guitar pick toothpicks were purchased on Amazon for $8.

Jake's Growing Timeline made by me!

Our favorite adoption book.

Popcorn! Get your popcorn!

Vintage Soda drink bar (sale items at World Market)

These labels were free printables online. I tied grosgrain ribbon and handwrote the names.
Mason jars were a new pack so very inexpensive for a dozen. 

Party favors from dollar store.

The world's most amazing pinata! For real.
My friend Jenna own The Merry Pop Shop on etsy and FB.
This was her gift to Jake! It even says Jake's greatest hits! WOW.

Wreath made by my momma! Isn't she rad?

A little unsure about this....

REALLLLLLY not happy with waiting while we sang to him!

Oh the wonder!!!

This is his "Let ME do it!" face.....

Annnnd look how tired that baby is. He missed quality sleeping time that weekend.

Three of my favorite women. My sisters and my cousin who might as
well be my sister. SO love them!
Overall, it was a hectic weekend and whirlwind day...but we had so much fun! My biggest shout-outs go to my husband, who actually got excited with me and helped me plan and set up and clean up and host and made three batches of homemade ice cream and parent well (He is a wonderful partner!), and my cousin Katy who LITERALLY worked her tail off all day with me while we got ready to celebrate. Thank you ALL for the hard work and help! And to all who came to celebrate with us, DEEP thanks! We love you all and can't wait to see how the next year unfolds!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Our Breast Milk Summary

One of Jake's milk donors writes for Dallas Moms blog, and highlighted our breast milk story on that blog today!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Birthday Reflections

Two years ago if you would have told me that this is what my life would be like now, I would have laughed in your face. Never in my wildest dreams, but obviously in God's, could I have imagined that I would be the mother to two boys, working from home, leading a support group, and running two book clubs. Obviously, I do more than just that...but this life holds such a stark contrast to what my life was like not so long ago.

What has been this year's biggest blessing? Falling in love. Not with just one person or idea or thing. With so many things! This past year has taught me selflessness from so many angles. I feel like I have grown so much this year. Richer relationships, supporting women who are walking my road, spreading the good news of the beauty of adoption, and making new friends all along those paths. But, I will say that 35 wasn't easy this year. I feel like I am just a breath away from 40. Which scares me. I don't look 35, I don't feel 35, I don't act 35. Do I?? 35 hit me hard, no doubt.

Forever I will share a birthday week with my youngest son now. You see, last year we brought Jake home from the hospital as a tiny newborn ON MY BIRTHDAY. You tell me God doesn't make beauty from ashes?! I have lived it. When we walked in that door carrying our newborn son in to meet my whole family, I can't even begin to tell you the indescribable joy that day brought us. After 8 years of longing and waiting, this happened.

Best. Day. Of. My. Life.

You want to talk about selflessness? Not only was that the best day of my life, it was the hardest for Haley. Walking out of that hospital with Jake was the most difficult thing to do. There was weeping on both sides. Weeping on her part for knowing that we were leaving with her newborn son, and weeping on my part to see her hurting. Falling in love this year not only happened with our new son, but it happened with her too. Having an open adoption isn't a hard thing like some imagine. She never wavered in her decision. She chose us to parent him. So why would we waver in our agreement to love her and come alongside her to love this boy as he grows?  Haley has taught me so much this year. And aren't I the old one?!?

The bottom line this year has been love. Loving our sons. Loving watching each other parent. Loving my new "job." Loving this season of life. While turning 35 was hard, it was honestly the best year of my life. I might still have a long life ahead of me, but this year has taught me to live it differently. Live it to the fullest. Seek out moments with God, because I can tell you right now...babies don't make THAT easy.  ;) Prioritize relationships, meet needs, look for ways to use your past hurts to help others heal. I am entering this next season of life  with an open  mind, a prayerful heart, and arms wide open. I can't wait to see how God blesses us this next year. Seriously, could it be any better than this precious little boy?

What are some personal goals you have for your life? I am in a time of deep self-reflection and change. I'd love to hear your goals, your heart, your desires for your life, if you don't mind sharing. I can pray with you.