Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Not Chosen

Adoption offers something unique that infertility treatment does not, a special feeling of sorts, that I had not experienced… until now. It's true that there can be certain parallels drawn between adoption and TTC, particularly if your adoption efforts are due to infertility, but there are also certain things that are just different. One of those things is the feeling of not being chosen… that's certainly unique. I guess the closest parallel to not being chosen would be a failed cycle, but it's a weak comparison. When your IUI cycle is a bust, it is devastating, but no one chose for your cycle to fail. Does that make sense? No, not really… I told you it was a weak comparison.

We've submitted out profile four times now. The first time was back in November, and the birth mother ultimately decided to parent. It was a whirlwind of a week as we waited for her decision, but I walked away feeling okay… she never chose any potential adoptive parents, so it wasn't like we were not chosen. Does that make sense? Since then, we've submitted on two situations but we've never heard from the agency at all. Not a "hey, thanks for your profile" or a "the birth mother picked another couple" or even a "your profile wasn't a good fit, so we didn't give her yours"… just nothing. We don't know if we were presented to the birth mother or not, if she made a selection, if she chose not to go through with the adoption. It's been the same agency both times, so needless to say, I'm not very impressed with them, and if we send our profile again, I wouldn't get my hopes up at all. But on Thursday of last week, there was a very real case and my hopes were very high.

I was on my lunch break when I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize. I typically take all phone calls these days as you just never know… it was the lady who completed our home study and she had a baby she'd like to tell us about. The baby was already born, so my initial instinct was "no"… I really want to be there for those early days. But as she went on, I had a "this could be it" kind of moment. She was excited… I was excited. At first it felt like we just had to say yes, like they needed someone for this baby. We had to make a decision as soon as possible. We'd need to have 100% of the money which we certainly don't have yet… so we'd be maxing out credit cards, taking out loans… that sort of thing. The baby also had some potential life altering health risks and there was no way to know anything before making a decision. We frantically called friends and family and doctors and nurses… everyone we could think of to get as much information as we could, but how much information can you get in half an hour? We both knew we'd ultimately just have to leap… and so we did. We eventually found out that we'd just be submitting our profile… one of an unknown number of other potential adoptive families. But still, adrenaline was coursing through me as I made preparations not to return to work… our social worker felt a decision would be made within 24 hours, so we'd need to be ready to go and soon. She even said to be by the phone all night as this group had been known to call with additional questions in the evening hours. She sent me his photo and I stared at his adorable little lips and prayed. And we waited.

I was a bundle of nerves Thursday night and Friday morning. There was a baby one state away from me, who was being released from the hospital that day and no one was going to be there to get him. He was being transitioned into what they call cradle care until arrangements could be made. My heart was breaking for this little boy and suddenly I stopped wanting a baby… I wanted THIS baby. I kept staring at his picture (probably not the wisest thing, but I couldn't help it). I could feel myself getting frustrated as we waited for the phone to ring. My focus once again began to turn inward, to me, to my needs. I'm telling you, not nice thoughts pop into your head while you wait. I went back and read the devotional from this blog post over and over again throughout the day as I tried to tune my heart towards this little boy and his birth mother. Waiting for LIFE CHANGING news is just so hard.

You can already see where this is going. We waited all day for news, but none came. By the end of the day, I was pretty sure that I knew what that meant. Sam was holding out hope that a decision just hadn't been made yet, but I was pretty sure we simply weren't chosen. I called yesterday to confirm. Apparently they had emailed our social worker with the news on Friday, but she had failed to pass it along to us. We were not chosen. 

I'd be lying if I said it doesn't hurt. It's like being picked last for some game in elementary school, only 10,000 times worse. A million thoughts run through my head… justifications for why she didn't choose us. We're too tall. She's blonde. She may not like dogs. Or cats. And the truth is that those are real things that may sway her one way or another. But under that, lies the true fear. The fear that she looked at us and found us lacking. That we're not good enough. Not beautiful enough. Not wealthy enough. Not worldly enough. Not vibrant enough. That we're simply not enough to be chosen as parents.

You often hear in the adoption world of people waiting for ages and ages, but I actually know quite a number of couples who were chosen the very first time they were presented. It happens. But it's not happening to us. There's certainly the danger for comparison and jealousy to creep in as I analyze why some are chosen so quickly and others "sit on the market," if you will. We've been told time and time again that the birth mothers are looking for a connection with the intended mother, that she is the one on display in the profile books. And so I feel even more disappointed. It's easy to say, "just as in infertility, it's me… I'm the problem. I'm the one preventing us from having a family." It's a terrible feeling. But of course, there's some personal reflection and analyzation needed in all of this. Are we simply not presenting ourselves well? Do we come across poorly in our profile book? Should we make changes? The profile book is just twenty pages… a tiny little glimpse into who we are. It's really just a tiny sliver of us. Is the tiny sliver leaving the wrong impression?

As in the case back in November, once the decision was known, my emotions have calmed down a bit. The frantic need to make a decision so quickly, plus the timeframe of this situation with the baby already born created quite the frenzy of emotions. Now that I've had a day to process, I'm doing better. Not being chosen stinks, but I have to trust that things are being orchestrated for our good beyond what I can see. We weren't chosen this time, but the next time will be a new situation all over again. A new mom. A new baby. A clean slate.

Maybe next time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sitting Pretty in the Midst of Adoption

It's been a while since I've updated about the adoption, so I figured now is as good of time as any! I wish I had tons and tons of secret info that I'd been hiding away for a big announcement but, well , really I haven't been updating because there's not much to say. I feel pretty frustrated when I think about it and overwhelmed if I dwell on it, so I choose the really mature option and watch Gilmore Girls reruns rather than think about adoption.

I feel like we missed out on a pretty good window back in October and November. During those two months we were seeing A LOT of cases, like between two and five a week. But we weren't ready to put our names forward yet because we were still finalizing our home study. One of the most frustrating parts is that we did complete our home study in October, but we didn't get the paperwork we needed for three and half weeks. It really seems like we got our paperwork, applied for the one situation, and then everything ground to a complete halt. We've been seeing about one to two (or less) cases a week since then, and for all intents and purposes, it's basically none because those we have seen have been so expensive... $38,000 for a stork drop last week, $55,000 for twins due later in January. In total, we've seen about five cases in the last four months that have been within out budget. I typically skim the cost analysis, see the total number and then delete the email... what in the world am I supposed to do with numbers like that?

We were told that the end of the year, with all of the holidays, is typically very slow in the adoption world. And man, that was the truth. It's now two weeks after the first of the year and we have seen a few cases come though, so maybe things will begin to speed up a bit now. It still feels like a slow time in general. It appears we missed a good time in the fall and now we'll have to wait it out. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated. Just about everyone we spoke with that used our adoption consultant was matched within five months of working with her... many brought their babies home within that time. We have also chosen to pay a little bit of extra money in order to become clients of two attorneys, one in Florida and one in Oklahoma. They were both referred to us from our adoption consultant, but we've yet to see any cases from either of them... it's just silent out there.

However, despite the lack of movement in getting matched, we're doing pretty well in other areas. Fundraising is going pretty well, for which I'm out of my mind with thankfulness. Towards the end of the year, we got a few really unexpected donations from supporters. You guys, people I haven't seen or spoken to since high school have donated. Cue sobs and uncontrollable ugly cries. We also had a really fantastic fundraiser back in November where one of Sam's patients offered to make wreaths for the front door and sell them. She donated all of her time, which was about the sweetest thing ever. And get this, we ended up getting $3,400 from that fundraiser. Be still my heart. Who would have thought?

So far, we've raised $15,927 and sold 630 puzzle pieces. That's 370 left to go. Eeeek! Speaking of the puzzle, it's done. We actually finished putting it together several weeks ago; I've just been dragging on getting the names on the back. It's a pretty tedious process, but I think it's going to look pretty cool when it's all done (I hope).

The back of the puzzle with a very measly number of names filled in.

If you add in the money that Sam and I have put in, we're at a total of $19,421. Our original goal was for this adoption to cost about $30,000. Truth be told, I'm currently hoping to stay under $35,000 as I'm seeing our expenses continue to add up, but we're not actually any closer to bringing a baby home. We were pretty close to running out of time with You Caring (it was set to expire on January 15th), but I contacted them and got an extension, so now we're set to expire on March 15th.

In other news, I made the most insane purchase of my life... a rocker. More specifically a rocker for the NURSERY. I feel like a woman possessed... who took hold of my body? Honestly, the nursery is 50% done in theory... we've picked out a crib, dresser, rocker, and bedding. I figure that amounts to at least 50%, right? Now that I sit here with an empty email inbox, and no sign of a match in sight, it feels a bit rash (understatement of the year).

When we submitted for the first baby back in November, I was really surprised by the time frame... just five days until the due date. It was a complete shock. And since then, we've seen more and more situations that have had a really quick time frame. Some where the baby is already born and others where the due date is just a day or two away. These scenarios were really not what I was expecting... I figured we'd have at least a month or more. As I began to think about the reality that things can change in the adoption world in the blink or an eye, I decided that I might at least need an idea of what I wanted to do for the nursery... a general plan so that I wasn't needing to make decisions and search for a crib in a frantic moment.

So one weekend in December, mom and I set out to go look at nursery furniture. It was quite an odd experience. At every single store the subject came up of my flat stomach. "Oh my, you're so tiny," she'd exclaim. "Getting an early start, huh?" he'd ask. Even after I said I was adopting and wanted to see pieces that wouldn't take half a year to arrive (did you know that some baby furniture is a 12-16 week order time?!?) I'd still get comments about my flat stomach. I was mostly just overwhelmed by the whole process and the 10,000 options, so the comments were really the least of my worries. I do think a T-shirt might be called for on my next trip out. I'm thinking "My stomach is washboard flat only slightly pudgy because there's no baby in this belly. We're adopting!" would work.

After quite a bit of deliberation and math, I think we've made our choices. We're not getting it yet, because hello, as all the salespeople so often pointed out, my stomach is super flat... no baby in the belly, and no baby on the horizon. But we went ahead and bit the bullet and ordered the rocker because, well, rockers/gliders are next to impossible to find that even semi-fit Sam and his 6'9 frame. But also, we got a great deal! The rocker that we LOVE is on sale for $100 off right now, and we had a 15% off coupon, AND $75 in reward points that expire this month. It seemed financially wise to go ahead and purchase rather than waste the savings opportunity, don't ya' think?

So that's where we sit... and if we don't have a baby by mid February, I'll literally be sitting in that rocker. That or the sight of it will drive me to hysterics and I'll have to cover it with a sheet... you know another really mature way of dealing with the hard stuff. Continue to hope and pray with us that the right opportunity, within our financial abilities, comes through soon!

Monday, January 12, 2015

One Year to Decide

Today marks one year since my IVF transfer in Jacksonville. It's not a particularly special moment, not like a due date or anything, but as this day has approached, I've been thinking a lot about next year. January 12, 2016 will mark two years since our first transfer, and more importantly two years since our remaining embryos were frozen for storage. FIRM, the clinic we used for IVF, requires an upfront payment as part of IVF for storage of any unused embryos or eggs. That payment covers two years, so you can see how this time next year becomes important... we're already halfway there (how can that be?!?). Essentially, we will need to either use our remaining embryos by this time next year, pay another storage fee, donate our embryos to another couple, or agree to discard our embryos.

Many couples face this decision at one time or another. It's often once a child (or more) comes home that the couple is faced with this decision. The decision is really personal, and as many posts have been written on this topic, I take it that it's a pretty hard decision for everyone. For us, the decision is already made (in part). We're using our embryos. We simply cannot discard them for moral and ethical reasons. And I also don't think we could donate our embryos, not because we are against embryos donation (we are strongly FOR), but because our embryos are of poor quality. I know if I was going through an organization like Snowflake Embryo Adoption and read our profile, I would scroll right past us. "Four embryos frozen on day 3, all grade 3, and 8, 6, 4, and 3 cells with no live births from the cycle" does not read like a winning profile. These embryos are our responsibility and we take that very seriously.

However, if I'm being honest, I don't really want to shell out another $800 to keep these embryos in storage, so I'm feeling the burden to transfer all of them before this time next year. For one, the embryos aren't a source of hope for me. For some, the thought of having embryos frozen is a source of hope either for another chance at the first bring home baby or a future sibling. But for me, these embryos feel more like a weight, like a duty, like something I have to get back to. And truthfully, the embryos don't feel like a real possibility of a child. I mean day 3, grade 3, and four cells??? That embryo is a full day behind in growth (embryos should reach four cells by day 2) and the cells are also unequal. If you google day 3 embryo grading, you'll find that, transfers are far more successful, no matter what the grade, if the embryo has between 6-10 cells at 72 hours after fertilization. I've got two that fall in that category (frozen in different groups), the other two are very, very, very unlikely to even make it to the blastocyst stage, let alone implant and become a viable pregnancy. But truthfully, none of them feel like a real shot because we've already transferred better embryos, both in grade and cell division, but all have (obviously) failed.

I say all of that to explain, paying for another year of storage doesn't really feel like a wise investment of money. Truthfully, it feels like delaying the inevitable. I'd really like to just bite the bullet and move forward with the FET(s) within the next 365 days. However, as always, finances play a big, big part in the decision making process. A single FET will cost approximately $1,500 not including medications or travel... so it's really more like $2,300. As I mentioned above, our two best chances (which still aren't great) are frozen in separate straws and there's no way to thaw one embryo within a straw... it's all or nothing.

In light of the odds, the costs, and the way in which our embryos are paired, I want to transfer all four at one time. I know that sounds scary, and maybe I'm crazy, but at this moment, it feels right. Dr. Duffy has agreed to it, mostly, I believe, because he's not really all that confident that the three cell embryo even fertilized correctly. He started yammering about meiosis and mitosis and lost me completely during that phone call (biology was so not my thing), but basically, he really feels like it would be a three embryo transfer, which he wanted to do on the original transfer. However, he also wants to do the Endometrial Function Test, before transferring the last of our embryos to ensure that we're providing the best possible environment for implantation. The test costs about $600 by itself, and then there are the additional costs of performing a mock cycle, the biopsy, and the overnight shipment of the sample. I'm guessing it'll round out at about $1,000. If I'm going to go through the expense and trouble of the EFT and the biopsy, I figure I might as well do the E-tegrity test (the one CCRM requires) at the same time if possible. That test is another $600, but if I could get the biopsy in the same cycle, I'd save some money in the long run.

I'll be honest and say I don't know exactly what the future holds for us in terms of family building (who's shocked?). If I had to make a plan today, I'd say that we'd complete this domestic adoption (please God), then we'd transfer our four embryos. If that fails, which it likely will (just being real), I think I'll be ready to jump back into TTC. I don't know which way we'll go though: IVF with my own eggs, IVF with donor eggs, or donor embryos. My hunch is that due to financial circumstances, we'll go the donor embryo route.

When I think about the expense of the tests in terms of the future, be that another round with my own eggs, donor eggs, or donor embryos, the tests don't seem to be so extreme. While I don't know that the outcome one way or another will change the chances for these four embryos, it will certainly be good information to have going forward... and I'm still confident that there will be a forward. I still believe that we will pursue a pregnancy in one way or another, even after adoption. And I imagine if we went the donor embryo route, the donors would probably be pleased to hear that my uterus is nice and cushy and full of the appropriate proteins. Maybe they'd be more likely to pick us and take a risk on us even though we haven't achieved a pregnancy.

All of that to say that, best case scenario appears to be that we complete one final Hail Mary transfer with our remaining embryos in Jacksonville before officially closing the door on that chapter forever. However, I'm completely stumped where the $4,000 will come from between now and then. I mean, it's not like we're shoveling all available money towards an adoption or anything like that, right? Oh well, I guess we've got a year to decide and figure it out.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Infertility Defines Me

A lot of people are quick to say that infertility doesn't define them. Other people say similar things about cancer or disabilities or any assortment of things. It comes from a place of empowerment... a desire not to be seen as weak due to a weakness or sick due to a sickness. A desire to be seen as an entire person, rather than the sum total of our parts. We often debate within the infertility community if we should call ourselves "infertile" or not. We discuss whether the inability to get pregnant within a year should become a noun we use to describe ourselves.

I get all of that, but I've always viewed infertility a little differently. I try not to offend anyone, but I use the term "infertile" with abandon. For one, it just simplifies life. The infertility community is rampant with acronyms. You don't have to hang out long to see that we have a love affair with the short and sweet. Message boards and blogs are filled with the likes of: BFN, BFP, IVF, FET, PIO, IUI, HSG, hCG, p4, E2, etc. It's like alphabet soup around here. So summarizing us as a group with a one word term rather than a description as "women who are dealing with infertility" or "couples who have been unable to conceive within a year/six months" just seems to make logical sense to me.

I often use the term for brevity, but I also regularly use the word to describe myself. If you ask me to describe myself, I'll probably tell you that I'm a witty, book reading, Jesus loving, infertile introvert or something along those lines. Sure infertility has only been a part of my life for a season, but it has really changed who I am. I view the world differently than I did four years ago. I view myself differently. I view hardship, marriage, loss, sickness, God, faith, finances... I view it all differently than I did before infertility. I would say other than my salvation, infertility has been the single most defining thing within my life. It has literally affected everything. So when I say infertile, I say it not as a component of my life, but as a descriptor of my life. I am infertile and infertility defines me.

Several months ago, I watched a message online that I really liked. It is in no way related to infertility, but rather a broader discussion of allowing your weakness to be seen… even boasting of it. I really enjoyed the viewpoint, so I thought I'd share. I know this can be a really controversial topic, so know that I'm not trying to step on toes or in anyway define anyone else. If you don't feel like infertility defines you, or if you have found a way for infertility not to encroach and creep into all aspects of your life, you may really disagree. That's fine. This is simply how I choose to view this thing that has infiltrated and colored my life.

Okay, so this message… you should really just go listen to the whole thing. I listened to the first five messages again last night… they are that good. The entire talk deals with the concept of "in the meantime" and asks the question "What do you do when there's nothing you can do?" I don't know about you, but that pretty much sums up infertility for me… nothing I can do. I mean, yes, absolutely, we have options to try: fertility treatments, diet, acupuncture, adoption, prayer, etc, but ultimately there's really nothing we can do to "solve" the problem. Doing all of the above may or may not bring the solutions we're hoping for (can I get an amen?). All six parts of the series are fantastic, but the second part focuses on the idea that God is most glorified in our weakness.

If asked to come up with some adjectives to describe my state of being right now, I would use words such as broken, discouraged, confused, inadequate… those are of course, separate from my identity in Christ, but that's kind of the point. I myself, do not portray nor boast a position of power. I feel completely helpless to remedy my circumstances. If you listen to part 2, you'll find that the Apostle Paul found himself in similar circumstances. He was imprisoned and dealing with a medical ailment that was debilitating, humiliating, and painful. He was completely unable to change his circumstances and he prayed over and over for the Lord to heal him, to remove the condition, to change his circumstances (sound familiar?). The Lord never removed the medical condition for Paul… He never healed him. That right there is encouraging to me. Paul was an integral part in the creation of the first century church; he is responsible for a large portion of the new testament text… if God was going to change the circumstances for someone, it should certainly have been Paul, and yet, He didn't.

I don't know about you, but I've found that trials in life often put our faith on trail. Infertility, for me, has proven to be both the greatest trial in my life and the greatest testing of my faith. I'm currently reading a new book, Every Bitter Thing is Sweet. I'm only one chapter in, but I can already tell that this is going to be good. The author Sara Hagerty struggled with infertility for years and within the first few pages, she writes "My question was not, Is God good? But instead, Is He good to me?" Mmm hmm, yes and yes. I've wrestled with that over and over again. But the story of Paul (and so many other new testament characters like John the Baptist and Lazarus) help to remind me that God is good. Period. Paul's story provides encouragement as Paul was surely important and dearly loved by God, yet God did not answer his countless prayers for healing. So we can draw a connection to our own circumstances. If God loved and valued Paul, but chose not to answer his prayers, then the lack of answers to my own prayers does not mean that God is absent, apathetic, or angry. I can still be dearly loved and valued. Paul ultimately came to this conclusion:
But he [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
So yes, I fully recognize that I am not solely an infertile woman. I am many, many more things: a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister, a Daughter of the King. I am a book loving, chronic writing, [almost] crazy cat lady. However, infertility is most certainly my weakness. It is the circumstance that I have pleaded for God to change. And infertility defines me in so many ways. Infertility has changed me so much; I feel like my high school classmates wouldn't even recognize me. It's a wonder to me that I don't have a giant flashing billboard over my head with an arrow and the word infertile. I am infertile and infertility is me. And I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, for it is when I am weak that His strength has the potential to be seen through me. So I will boast of my weakness, and use the term "infertile" to define myself. Not only because I find it simpler, nor because I find it to be inclusive and a term of endearment and camaraderie, but ultimately the Lord is most glorified when I am weak. Whether He chooses to say yes to my requests, or respond no, or offer no response at all, He is still good. And my weakness, my inability to provide and do for myself is the greatest platform I can offer for His goodness and grace to shine.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another Year Over and a New One Just Begun

It's apparently that time. Time to look back, reflect, remember, and ruminate. Honestly, these posts seem to occur a bit too frequently for my taste. I remember exactly where I was sitting this time last year. I was in Jacksonville, already on my fifth day of stims and thinking what a badass I was for surviving that many injections. Jacksonville and IVF and crushed dreams don't seem that long ago. It just doesn't seem possible that a whole year has passed. But it has; it did, and honestly, we've got some decent things to show for it. 2014 will always be the year of the failed IVF cycle (and FET), but it will also be the year we bought our first home and decided to adopt. We've done a lot of growing this year, and since the growing isn't just around our waistlines, I'll call that a win. 

Among infertility and TTC blogs, the end of the year can be a time of renewed hope in some ways. A way to say "sayonara" to the year that screwed you out of your dreams. You know, give it the ol' "don't let the door hit you" kind of thing. The past year may have sucked in the baby making department, but next year, oh baby, next year is going to be the year. We all say it, hoping that it turns out true. I've certainly done it year after year. I'll be honest and say that I really thought 2014 might be our year. First with IVF. And then I held out hope for adoption. I didn't necessarily think we'd bring a baby home that fast, but I have to admit that I was really holding out hope that we'd match before the year was out. It would have been nice to end the year on a note of anticipation and excitement. But we're here again, and this post sounds a lot sounds a like last year's, except maybe slightly less hopeful. Repetition is really only fun in certain forms, like alliteration. It's certainly zero fun to feel like déjà vu is a permanent feature of your life. So I'm hopping off this repeating record… let's end this year with a celebration!

I submitted my post Still in the Trenches for Mel's  2014 Creme de la Creme. I don't necessarily think it was my best post of the year, but rather the best summation of the year. Although I'm still stuck in the bottom of this stupid, stinking, mud-filled trench, but 2014 was a really good year for a ton of my friends. So here's to you ladies:

Emily @ The Empty Uterus: baby girl born February 6, 2014
Lindsey @ Operation Baby Gage: baby boy born February 11, 2014
Laura @ The Adventures of an Infertile Myrtle: baby girl born February 16, 2014
Lentil @ Lamenting the Lentil: twin boy and girl born February 19, 2014
Rain Before Rainbow: baby girl born February 27, 2014
Ali @ Here I Go Again: baby girl born March 1, 2014
dspence @ Donating Hope: baby boy born March 5, 2014
Kimberly @ No Good Eggs: twin boy and girl born March 27, 2014
Em @ Teach Me to Braid: twin boys born April 17, 2014
Erin @ Gypsy Mama's Magic Moments: baby girl born May 27, 2014
Aubrey @ Two Hearts and One Dream: twin boys born June 5, 2014
Rebecca @ The Road Less Traveled: baby girl born June 9, 2014
Amanda @ beloved burnt toast: baby girl born June 23, 2014
Mrs. Lost @ Where is That Bird?: twin boys born July 10, 2014
Hopeful and Hungry: twin girls born July 14, 2014
Erika @ Something Beautiful: baby girl born August 5, 2014
Emily @ Eat Love Procreate: baby boy born August 18, 2014
Annie @ Sweetest in the Gale: baby boy born August 22, 2014
Beth@ Beth & Harrison Slatery: baby girl born October 7, 2014
Allison @ Belle Haven Drive: twin girls born October 8, 2014, rest in peace Emmanuelle Mac
Julia @ Finding a Way Out of IF: baby boy born October 9, 2014
Conceptionally Challenged: baby girl born October 26, 2014
Infertile 625 @ Hidden Infertility: baby boy born October 30, 2014
Shay @ Sweet Silver Linings: baby boy born November 8, 2014
Holly @ Oh Baby, Baby: twin boys born November 14, 2014
The Unexpected Trip: baby boy born December 2014
Tracy @ Just Stop Trying and It Will Happen: baby girl born December 7, 2014
A Few Good Eggs: baby girl born December 28, 2014

Geez, did I miss anybody? I'd say it was a very, very good year. Congratulations again girls! 

I have a pretty good feeling about 2015 too. I mean, did you hear? Suzanne's got two solid betas  already and an ultrasound on the calendar. Quite a number of my friends have already announced 2015 due dates, so I'd say the year is off to a good start. So, so long to 2014. Hoping that 2015 is filled with an equal number of blessings. Love and hugs to you all, whether you'll be snuggling at home with your baby tonight in your PJs or anxiously awaiting a new year with the chance for renewed hope. And if 2014 was most definitely not your year due to miscarriage, or loss, or 10,000 BFNs, hang in there. If nothing else, the good fortune of so many in 2014 should bring us renewed hope that there are ladders aplenty in this trench. Let's find one and start climbing.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Season of Waiting

And so this is Christmas... or at least Christmas Eve. Another year over. Another year of waiting. This year, I can't help but connect Christmas and this entire season with IVF and Jacksonville, Florida. This time last year, we were preparing to travel the day after Christmas. My mind was almost entirely swallowed up with preparation for the trip: checking medications, then checking them again. Packing and repacking the suitcase. Honestly, Christmas was basically just a day standing between me and IVF. This year feels incredibly different. Instead of the rush and stress of preparing for IVF, I've got plenty of time to think and contemplate. Absolutely nothing is happening in the adoption world. In fact, just about everyone we're working with has said that typically birth mothers don't contact them during the holidays, so don't expect anything before the new year other than a rare "stork drop." So yeah, lots and lots of time to muse.

All of this free time as we approach Christmas has led me to see so many connections between Advent and my own season of waiting. I think many of us do that. We find some sort of comfort in the season of Advent because it feels good to know you're not alone, that others have waited (and waited, and waited) too.  I love the way Louie Giglio explains it in his new devotional specifically for this season, Waiting Here for You:
"But Jesus didn't arrive without a wait. While you and I simply turn the page, moving effortlessly from the end of the Old Testament promises to the opening of Matthew's Gospel, it wasn't quite that easy. Four hundred years of silence spanned the gap between the final prophecies spoken in Malachi (the last Old Testament book) and the birth of Christ."
I love that. And gosh, what a good reminder that we're so used to just flipping the page to reach the end of the story, but the truth is there was a lot of waiting in the middle. I can really resonate with the idea of waiting and sitting in silence. I can only imagine what the Israelites must have felt... waiting on all of these promises. All of their prophets dead and gone. This God was the God of their grandfathers... was He still their God? All too often, I can identify with the Israelites, particularly with their weaknesses. I'll be the first to admit that I would have been one of those quietly, internally asking, begging God to show up, to prove himself, to not allow another generation to die while waiting. Because that's the truth of the story... God's people died while waiting for Him to fulfill his promises. It's kind of a theme in the Old Testament... Moses, the guy who led the Lord's people out of slavery died before reaching the promised land. It was Joshua who completed the task and brought God's promise to fulfillment. Waiting is most certainly a continuous theme throughout the Bible. And this season of Advent is all about waiting, often in silence.

I think the interesting thing to note, is that there was no lead up to the birth of Christ. I mean other than a star and some angels it just happened. The whole nation wasn't awaiting a specific date and time. It was just another day, a day with a promise that might not come to pass for another 400 years. It was a day like any other. The fulfillment of the promise didn't come with lights and sirens and announcements that IT WILL HAPPEN ON THIS DAY. The month before everything changed, the people just thought it was any ol' month. Just another day, you know? Somehow that's encouraging. Last year there was just so much hope for me. IVF was supposed to be the answer to two years of infertility treatments, to months and months of saving. It was supposed to be the key to my October Baby. There was just so much hope and anticipation at this time last year. But this year, we're not matched, we're not funded we're just waiting. We certainly hope that 2015 will be the year we meet Baby Greavu, but there is less hope and certainly less urgency now than this time last year. So it's nice to remember that Bethlehem wasn't ablaze in light. There were no parties. No fanfare. The song is called "Silent Night" not, "Tumultuous, Exuberant, Expected Night." No one was waiting for the arrival of Mary and Joseph. And yet they came. Despite the lack of attention, despite the lack of rising action leading to the climax of the story, the promise was fulfilled. There is comfort in recognizing that though it feels like nothing is happening right now, we could be a few months or even weeks away from the climax of our own story. Just because we can't see it, just because we're not aware of it, the moment we're all waiting for could be just around the corner.

I know that Christmas, and really just the holidays in general, can be hard for so many. I'm certainly one who can identify with melancholy feelings each Christmas... we just want the day to be SO BIG and perfect with the family in matching PJs, and perpetually hot cups of cocoa, and snow falling, and crackling fires, and carolers strolling the neighborhood, and peace and rest and happiness... the day can often never live up to our expectations. The holidays are also hard for so many who are missing a loved one, mourning the passing of a mom or husband or child... days and seasons like this often bring the hard stuff to the surface. For me, this is the fourth Christmas of wishing for a bump or a baby. It's hard. Any infertile couple will tell you that the holidays just make it that much harder. So much of every holiday centers around children, and often our most favorite holiday memories are from when we were a child. The holidays just have a way of bringing forth the sadness and longing that we all feel. But I hope we can all extend ourselves and one another a little bit of grace. The season can be hard, but take heart. We are not the first to wait and long for tomorrow. And your day may be just around the corner and you'll look back thinking "if only I'd known what was coming."

Peace and Blessings, friends. Merry Christmas to all of my sweet friends who find their homes filled for the first time with their heart's greatest desire this year. And for those of you longing, hurting, hoping, I'm abiding with you as always. May the conclusion to your season of waiting be just around the corner. Merry Christmas, sweet friends.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's Time

I imagine we all have special relationships within this community. For one reason or another, some just burrow down deep into our hearts. Time, and distance, and course of treatment don't affect the relationship. You can be adopting in Georgia and she can be doing donor eggs via a gestational carrier in Colorado and it doesn't change a thing. I've had many of those friendships find me throughout this infertility journey. Every single woman behind every single blog has meant so much to me, but there are always some who are forever a part of my story. One of those women for me is Suzanne.

It was a late night in September 2013. Suzanne and I had been texting throughout the evening. She was really worried about her donor, "Goose, " and her response to stims. Things were going much slower than expected and we were all very worried about a cancelled cycle. I remember riding down Broad Street with my husband when the strangest words came out of my mouth: "I want Suzanne to get this [a baby] more than I want it for us." It sounded weird, but as I talked it out with him, I kept coming to the same conclusion. I wanted a baby with every fiber of my being, but there were some ladies who I had grown to love deeply over the years who just, I don't know "deserved" it more. That's not really the right word... reproduction is a basic faculty of humanity... we all "deserve" to have that work correctly, in between the bed sheets and not under paper ones or in a lab. So that's not the word, but I don't know what is... I just knew that I really, really, REALLY needed this to work for these special friends. I detailed the absolutely overwhelming circumstances that Aubrey and Suzanne and other friends were up against at that time and explained that they were so brave, so strong, so deserving. That I just needed this to work… it would be a healing force to my faith.

Thankfully, just a few months later, Aubrey got THE BEST NEWS EVER. I got the news from Aubrey while sitting in a Georgia Basketball game… I'll never forget it. As I read her news, tears streamed down my cheeks. This was exactly what I had wanted for her… the tears were 100% pure joy! If Suzanne could just transfer and bring home a baby, if Erika could bring home her daughter, all would somehow be right with the wold. But all was not right… as we've all seen, things go right for one person, and terribly horribly wrong for others with no rhyme or reason. Aubrey's good news was not the catalyst for more for my other sweet friends. Since then, the tears I've shed for Suzanne have not been for joy. They have been for frustration. For heart ache. For anger. The last year has not been kind to Suzanne. Thankfully her egg donor rallied after that night and some beautiful embryos were created from her precious gift of eggs. I thought I would be hearing similarly incredible news from Suzanne when I heard about her six embryos, but the months since then have been filled with more and more bad news.

I think I've cried just as many tears over her journey as my own. I mean, take a second and go read her TTC Timeline tab. Suzanne and I started trying to conceive just months apart... May 2011 for me and July 2011 for Suzanne. I stand here today, 44 months into the longest, hardest, battle of my life and I'm exhausted. I feel discouraged. I feel broken. I'm just so tired.... but I haven't been through one fraction of what Suzanne has. Natural BFPs, miscarraige, ectopics, oral meds, injectable medications, IUIs, failed IVF, donor eggs, scarred cervix, Asherman's Syndrome, failed FET... She's been through it all. I know Suzanne has felt as if the stars always align against her on 10,000 occasions. Can you blame her? I mean, gah, that's just crazy you guys. But Suzanne has been SO strong though all of this. She has never once heard bad news and let it crush her. She's been knocked down so many times, but every. single. time. she and her husband find a way, come up with a plan, push forward. Theres is a beautiful story of strength in the face of adversity. And through it all, no matter what she had going on in her own life, Suzanne was cheering me on, sending me gifts, being a true friend. And I know many of you have felt the same love and support for her. When she had every right to turn inward and be bitter and not care about others, she chose to love and support and cheer for her friends.

But you guys, it's time for that story to have a happy ending. Today, thanks to her incredible surrogate, K, Suzanne will have the opportunity to place two of her beautiful embryos into a healthy uterus. You guys, my heart my actually explode from pure joy. If I could reach K right now, I'd wrap her up in the biggest hug, and squeeze her tight. Her gift means so much to me. This year has been such a good year for so many of my precious friends. Well over half of my infertile sisters have crossed that illustrious line this year and they are now celebrating the holidays with beautiful, snugly, chubby cheeked little ones. There would be absolutely no better way to cap off this year than a positive pregnancy test for Suzanne. Today is step one. Join with me in praying for a successful transfer today and a long 40 weeks of pregnancy to follow. It's time.

Hop on over to Suzanne's blog and give her some love and support today. Send her an email. Shoot her a text. Let her know that we love her, we're proud of her, and we're rooting for her and and her husband every step of the way.