Sunday, July 26, 2015

Holy moly... I haven't posted since April - crazy! I'm not sure if it's because I don't "need" this blog in the same way I've needed it in past parts of this journey, busyness, laziness, or what, but I think I'd like to share an update.

My bubbies. Operation Bubbies progresses. I'm still taking the birth control pill and domperidone. It was crazy at first how much my boobs would hurt, and I definitely noticed an increase in size. Nothing huge, but it was noticeable to me (and my husband, haha). I started taking the drugs in early May, so I'm coming up on three months on the protocol.

The good of the protocol is that I'm hopeful that it's working at some level. The feelings of tenderness and change in breast size hopefully mean that something's going on that will lead to milk production of some level when I'm ready to try.

The bad is that like my experience on Clomid and Femara, I'm not really myself. My husband said he noticed it about 6 weeks ago, and a trusted coworker also shared her observations with me. At that time, I lost the distraction of studying for a big certification exam (I passed, phew!) and probably ended up with free brain space to ruminate about adoption and infertility again. I'm not as nutty as when I was on Clomid or Femara, but even I feel like my fuse is way shorter, and things that I could normally let roll off of me are sticking, and my pissed off, sarcastic side is coming out. I'm struggling to control that and stay "myself."

Being able to try breastfeeding our future child is so important to me that I'm not willing to change or stop the protocol right now. I feel like I've come this far, why stop now? I know that is a lot to ask of my husband and others around me, but that's where I am. KK and I have been in some dark places during these weeks. Right now, we're in a good place. I just hope we can keep it that way. I feel like the "in sickness and in health" part of our vows are coming into play in a whole new way right now. I'm not "well" emotionally, and I need my husband to be there for me. But at the same time, that doesn't mean I get to be a holy terror and expect him to just deal with it. It's easier said than done, of course. I just pray for grace to stay on the protocol, be a good wife, and for there to be fruit at the end of this journey.

Another part of the bad is my weight. It's not uncommon for women on the pill or domperidone to gain weight. I consider it a double whammy to be on both at the same time. For a while there, about 6-8 weeks ago, I had gained about 5 lbs. on a long business trip. Normally a week or two of good eating (with some treats on the weekend) would get me back to normal, but not this time. I know that was affecting my self-esteem and mood too. I decided to follow an eating and exercise plan to see if I could get back down to where I felt comfortable. I'm happy to say that today is the last day of that plan (21 days long), and I know when I step on the scale tomorrow morning, I will be pleased. I just hope I can keep it off and maintain peace/control in that one area of my life.

Adoption update. There isn't one. I know that's adding to everything right now. I've had some really tough situations that I don't care to go into, but they included another round of me asking God why good news is coming to others but not us. We appear to be farther in the adoption (waiting) process, more educated on all the challenges and issues, etc., yet situations fall into the laps of others. I know that there are more to the journeys of others that I know, but it really doesn't make it any less easier on my heart.

I've also found myself focusing on the "dark side" of adoption the last several months. Adoption isn't all loveliness. There is real loss to the birth parents and to the child, and not every adoption agency or attorney in the United States facilitates adoptions in ethical ways. I found myself really listening to the stories of jaded birth parents and adoptees. I'm glad I took the time to do that, but I also don't know if that's helping me emotionally right now. Last week, I stopped following the majority of those blogs and Facebook groups because I think I was exposed to what I needed to hear, I'm taking those perspectives seriously, but it's not healthy for me to be exposing myself to that on a daily basis.

In other news... I have been able to enjoy the majority of my summer with KK. We've took a weekend getaway to South Dakota after I finished my exam, and we hope to take a weekend to Colorado and to Wisconsin to see family before the summer gets away from us. So it's not all doom and gloom in life, but doom and gloom have funny ways of overshadowing everything, even the blessings.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Operation Bubbies: Inducing Lacation

Yep. I'm doing it. I'm going to try to induce lactation.

I've done a lot of reading, praying, soul-searching about it the last several months, and I've decided that I want to give it a shot.

There are a lot of things I'm worried about having a negative effect on my ability to produce milk, specifically smaller breasts and PCOS. And even though there are a lot of different ways to try to induce lactation, even ways without any sort of medications, I've decided to go the full-blown medicated route. And that means getting back on a birth control pill.

I know. I never thought I would be doing that ever again. But I am, and here's why:

  • As mentioned above, I am concerned that I have some obstacles that will make it hard or impossible to induce lactation. Using the birth control pill and domperidone to simulate pregnancy gives me the best chance for breast tissue to develop and my bubbies to get into the best condition possible.
  • I consulted a Catholic bio-ethics group, and given that I am not ovulating on my own, essentially "broken" when it comes to my reproductive system, I can go on it without having to worry about abstaining from marital relations. This certainly isn't about preventing pregnancy; it's about providing for our future child in a way that is very important to me.
  • Speaking of "broken," I'm already broken in the lady part area, so I essentially don't care about the possible side effects synthetic hormones might have on my body. It really can't get much more broken than it already is.
  • It would just be so awesome to be able to breastfeed. Chances are small that I will be able to produce 100% of baby's needs, but I've decided that if I can produce some, it will be worth any risk I'm incurring by choosing this lactation induction protocol.
Dr. K at PP.VI would not prescribe the BCP to me, and on one hand I see why, but on the other, I'm disappointed. Again, clearly my body isn't ovulating/functioning, I have factors that could make induction more difficult, and the goal is to provide life-sustaining food to my future child, not to prevent pregnancy or mask systems of a troubled reproductive system. We didn't even have a conversation about it, just an email from the nurse team that Dr. K "doesn't prescribe the birth control pill." End of story.

I went to my physician's assistant, who prescribed the BCP for me no problem. This actually made me uncomfortable, but relieved. We had a long discussion about which type to prescribe me. At one point, I asked about natural vs. synthetic hormones, and she said something about how she doesn't see a difference between the two, and she believes BCP to be an excellent "treatment" for "tons of things," including PCOS and acne. After really clinging to a philosophy and science that says the opposite is true for so long and still believing that BCP is not a treatment for anything, just a band-aid that masks symptoms, it was hard to hear that from someone I entrusting my health to.

So yes, I'm doing this. I'll start the protocol once my domperidone pills arrive, and I'll be in this stage of the protocol anywhere from 3-9 months. The timing of our match will determine how long I stay in this stage; I might not even make it to 3 months (squee!).

So yes, Operations Bubbies is underway. Please please please let this be successful. Please let my body do something motherly for once!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Babymoon I - The Netherlands & Belgium

After being awake for 22 hours as we made the long haul back from Europe, we are home from our fabulous vacation that we booked before we committed to adoption and slept in our bed last night for the first time in 12 days. There have been times where I have felt guilty about booking this trip and looking forward to it because of how much help we've needed to get ready to adopt sooner than later. In the end, I am very glad we went because we celebrated so many things, including our marriage and the blessings that make trips like these possible and finally getting to a place in this journey to parenthood that has us excited and filled with hope. The truth is, if we hadn't booked this before deciding to adopt, there's no way we would have planned a trip like this, and after all we've been through together the past 2+ years, we really needed to go. I do mean to use the word need. We have lived too long in a very painful "what-if" land of disappointing hope and serious grief. We needed this trip.

It seems silly that nearly 9 months ago, when we booked the trip, I allowed myself to worry that I might be pregnant and we'd have to cancel the trip or I wouldn't be able to drink alcohol or do anything too adventurous on the trip.

And why is the post titled "Babymoon I"? Because I have this feeling we'll be waiting long enough to have a Babymoon II. It won't be as extravagant as this trip, and I have no idea what it would be, but I see another trip in our future before we bring a baby home.

There are a million pictures and memories to sort through, but here are the highlights.

We spent 3 nights in Amsterdam in a rented houseboat on one of the canals in the Jordaan district. We rented bikes and got all around town. Sights we saw included the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Boom Chicago improv comedy troop. We also went to a real European spa day at a resort about a 30 minute bike ride out of Central Amsterdam (no clothes, no one caring, massages, and countless different pools/saunas, etc.).

Then, we went on a 7 night cruise and visited Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Brussels, and a few small towns that had windmills and beautiful countrysides. We were the youngest couple on the cruise by far and did our own thing away from the groups as much as possible, hopping on the bikes the ship had and finding our own adventures. Although we've decided that we will not be cruising again anytime soon (it's so not our style adventure-wise), we had a marvelous time. The cruise had a beer theme, so we were bombarded with lots of special (mostly Belgian) beers and a few really awesome brewery tours. I don't think I'll be drinking much for the next month as I am "beered out"!

I am also "fooded out." We. Ate. So. Much. It was all delicious, but man, I am DONE with three-course meals for a while! Another drawback of the cruise was the food. Holy cow, it was delicious, but there was so much, and when you've paid for it in an all-inclusive fee and it's in front of you all the time, it's hard no to eat it. I am up 6 lbs. from the trip!

Lastly, we found a very special beer in Brussels that we are saving for when we get "the call" (that we've been matched with a child to adopt). It is called Westvleteren 12, and it is made by the monks at the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus in Vleteren, Belgium. The beer is sold only to support the monastery and is rarely found anywhere in the US, and it was even a little hard to find on the trip.

The weather was not the best, but it was perfectly normal weather for The Netherlands in late March/early April. I did not pack appropriately, as 45 degrees in Nebraska feels much different than a rainy 45 degrees in The Netherlands. I did not bring enough warmer shirts and found myself picking out hideous additions to my wardrobe from H&M out of necessity.

Our first meal in The Netherlands - savory pancakes

Fish at an open market

The view from our houseboat (pardon the rain)

Houseboat buddies

Cogels Osylei neighborhood in Antwerp

Middleheim Park in Antwerp - really amazing park and sculpture garden

Cantillon Brewery in Brussels
Marzipan galore in Brussels

We told the cruise ship that we were celebrating a birthday and an anniversary. They threw in a honeymoon celebration too, so on three different nights, we had cake and song at dinner and stuff like this in our room!

Keukenhof Gardens in Amsterdam. We were a little too early for all the fields to be in bloom, but this garden attraction was beautiful.

I will forever see tulips in the US as lame compared to all the incredible varieties we saw.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

My Birthday Prayer

I turned 33 this week. In recent years, I have made little pomp around my birthday. KK always gets me something special (it was a massage this year), and my coworker and family remember in little ways, but that's about it, and I like it that way. I threw a party for myself when I turned 30 (and had two cakes!), and that was really fun, but that was for a big milestone. I even hide my birthday on Facebook because I don't care for the all the birthday wishes coming from people I barely know only because a computer prompted them to do it. I like to see who actually remembers my birthday, and I appreciate the small, intimate group of close loved ones that do.

Anyway, I spent a chunk of my birthday repeating this prayer:

God, please please PLEASE let this be my last childless birthday. Please let the waiting for parenthood be almost over. Please let me turn 34 with a sweet, beautiful baby in my arms.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hanging Up the Hat I Never Really Put On

It's CD 94, and I just got back from seeing Dr. K., and we had "the talk." Actually, it wasn't a talk as much as it was me informing her that my goal in seeing her is no longer to get pregnant, but only to be as healthy as a girl living with PCOS can be.

Maybe that's why I've been in a funky mood the last week or so. I've know this "talk" has been coming for at least 2 months. I deliberately put off scheduling my well woman's exam because I didn't want to have "the talk," maybe.

I'm not sure when I officially stopped caring. I think it was somewhere around Nov. 16 when I had finished my first (and only) "Femara Rage" and was waiting to see if I got a period or any sort of PMS/pregnancy symptoms. None came that week, so by the time I took a pregnancy test on P+16 and it showed up negative, I wasn't even disappointed. I just knew in my heart that none of this was going to work for me, and I still feel that way now.

Two surgeries, one beautiful, natural cycle a month to the date of my last surgery, a "cycle" that seemed to have no end, and then two rounds of drugs (Clomid, Femara) that turned me into a mega bitch and never brought a period. How depressing.

One might be reading this and think that we haven't tried very hard to conceive. I can see how it looks that way. Some couples do month after month of fertility drugs, including the expensive injectables, and other couples go even further and use artificial means. This seems like giving up during a marathon at mile 5. I get that.

But it's really hard to explain how in a way, I think I always knew this wouldn't work for us. I've never had a dream that included a biological child or a viable pregnancy. The only glimpse of hope I've received this whole journey was that single period after my second surgery, and 7 months later, I've still yet to experience that again.

So while this whole time, my body's never been to a healthy enough place to actually call it "trying to conceive," I guess that is what we were trying to do, and today, I told my doc that we are done with that, at least for now.

So, obviously treatment changes. I'll continue to chart (joy), and I'll get progesterone shots every month to trigger a bleed because there's no reason to believe my body will ever do this on its own again. I'm getting choked up as I type this part because even though I think I've been in acceptance for a little while now, it still hurts to acknowledge in some concrete way -saying it, writing it- that my body is broken and will probably never be fixed.

In the PP.VI office, there are a few giant tack-boards filled with "miracle babies" - all the children conceived and born with the grace of God and the help of PP.VI. As I walked out of the office today, I acknowledged that I'll never have a baby on that wall. And even though I accept that, it still really hurts.

Am I healthier because of PP.VI? No, I don't think I am. I still can't cycle, I still can't get pregnant. But I am grateful to PP.VI because they gave me my diagnosis and almost a year of hope that we could fix me. Dr. K. didn't encourage me to give up or keep trying today, which I appreciate, as we have made our decision. There are options out there for us to keep trying to achieve pregnancy, but with us going live with our adoption profile in the next 6 weeks (God willing), we really are at peace with not continuing, at least not right now.

So, enough of the sadness, because in reality, I've been filled with the most hope related to parenthood that I've ever experienced in the last 3 months. Our home study was completed last week. We will become parents through adoption, and that excitement and joy dwarfs the pain of infertility, even on a day like today where I do feel pangs of sadness. No, my baby won't be on the PP.VI miracle wall, but my baby, our child, is out there someone. Maybe she or he is known only to God right now, maybe he or she is conceived and on their way already, but they're out there and are already more precious to us than anything. We have drastically changed our lifestyle and asked our network of friends and family to help us however they can -spiritually, emotionally, financially- to bring our baby home to us, and to be this close to really putting ourselves out there is scary and exhilarating.

So, as I hang up the TTC hat that my body never really let me put on in the first place, I snuggle up in my "adoptive parent" blanket that is warm, inviting, comforting, and full of room for my growing family.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Where Have I Been?

It's been a bit since I posted. I haven't really been around here much, as I've placed my energy elsewhere lately.

My health. Taking that darn antibiotic for 21 days to treat my TEBB sucked! We had bad breath non-stop, and Kris Kringle had bad digestive issues. Hopefully, that did the trick for with the TEBB. I took a round of progesterone shots to start a cycle, and then I took my first round of Femara on CD 3. I was hellacious on it - several fights with KK that were just ridiculous. I was in rare form, and it was awful. I had a pretty decent round of fertile CM, no random bleeding like last cycle, but here it is, P+22 (CD 40-something, 50-something?) with no AF. I took a pregnancy test on P+16 and it was negative (naturally, I had no hope for anything else because I had 0 symptoms).

So, I was supposed to let the doctor's office know where I was at this Monday to probably get a pregnancy test (ha) and start another round of progesterone, but right now, I'm just waiting until mid-December. We have other stuff to focus on right now, and I really don't want to be on crazy fertility drugs during the holiday season. I'm due for my well-woman's visit in mid-December, so I think I'll take that opportunity to talk to Dr. K about where we are with TTC and how we can continue to work on my health without focusing on TTC anymore.

Adoption. We took a big step yesterday on Thanksgiving and announced our adoption plans to the world through Facebook. We made a cute little video that we posted after a week of teasers that we had a big announcement. Some folks made a few comments about it being a pregnancy, which we sort of asked for in a way, but all but one of them really had no idea we were struggling with IF. The wave of love that came from our networks when we released the video was incredible! There was tons of support and few folks let us know how adoption was a part of their story - we had no idea! If you would like to follow our journey on Facebook and our other blog that reveals our identities, please send an email to (remove all the dots before the @). I would like to keep this blog somewhat anonymous.

We have our last home study visit on Monday, and once all our background checks come back, we'll be done with that important step. Then, our agency needs to review the home study, and we have to get a few more references in order to comply with other states' requirements. We aren't sure when we'll go live, but we're hoping for February.

One thing that will impact how quickly we can go live is how well we can save money in the next few months. We put our house in the Kansas City area back on the market in early October. We've had a lot of showings and finally had a second showing (our first one) earlier this week. We are praying to St. Joseph to intercede and help us sell the house. If we can't get it sold or rented, we will be paying rent in Nebraska and a mortgage, and our adoption saving will pretty much grind to a halt.

It's funny how because adoption has become our new hope and our new focus, IF isn't bothering me a ton right now. Sure, I've had "flare ups" of emotion here and there (a "friend" who knows about our struggles told me in a very insensitive way that they are pregnant through IVF and I didn't take that very well), but all in all, the home study process and designing our new blog has really shifted my energy to a different process, a different journey. We know this path will be challenging and rewarding in its own, unique way, and we truly believe God has brought us here. This is our fiat, and we're going to try our best to embrace it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Remember how excited I was to enter into my first two week wait? Yeah... denied again. I started bleeding on CD 5, and I had a good 7 days of red stamps - most days were barely there brown spotting. Great. So I waited a few more days after that, took a pregnancy test at P+14 just to be sure (negative, duh), then sent in my chart. Here's what happened/is happened (note from the doctor):

Your progesterone is less than 0.20 and estradiol is 3.1. Dr recommend to do progesterone 100mg (2ml) intramuscular shots every 3 days for 3 doses. The progesterone shots will help induce a menses. Dr recommends next cycle to stop clomid and take Letrozole instead 25mg (10 tablets) on cycle day 3. Regarding having period shortly after peak day, Dr states hard to know, possibly drop in estrogen. Regarding the brown spotting, it can be inflammation, may be due to chronic endometritis (infection in uterus) Recommends Biaxin 500mg twice daily for you and your husband for 21 days with probiotic.

Great... so obviously I didn't respond well to Clomid. I took my third progesterone shot 2 days ago, and KK and I are about a week into our nasty antibiotic adventure: bad breath, digestive issues, zits everywhere, etc. KK is taking this especially hard, since he has not done much medically on this journey (other then the semen analysis and taking vitamins). Emotions were heightened around this a few days ago, and we had to take a big step back and remember that being with each other is more important than conceiving or becoming parents. So, we're in a good place with it all now, but it is always work to keep it a good place.

So yup... still haven't had a two week wait. Seriously, who are we kidding? Two years into this, and never a healthy cycle that gave us reason to hope. I'm fine with continuing with doctor's recommendations for now, because hopefully it will lead to a healthier me. But, I'm all about the adoption process now.

Adoption. That is where I find hope - real hope - in becoming a parent. It's so exciting to know that our birth parents already exist and already need our prayers, and it's also very exciting to think that the child we'll be selected to raise could already be conceived! That this might be our last holidays without a child gives me goosebumps. Our first home study visit is in two days - just two weeks after turning in our application! I am beyond excited, and so is KK. That we are on the same page and 100% into the adoption process makes me very happy. But the stress that comes along with all of this is tough, too.

Also, we put our house in Missouri on the market again in hopes that we can sell it! We couldn't sell it when we moved last year and have it rented out through November. We have no intention of buying another house in the future (we rent now), so we would use some of the money from the sale for our adoption costs.

God, please grant KK and me patience and understanding with each other during this adoption process. Help us to remember that parenthood isn't for us if we can't be good to each other. Please bless our social worker and help her to see how genuine our intentions are and how good of parents we will be. Bless our future child's birth parents, and if the little one is already conceived, please keep him or her healthy and safe.

St. Joseph, I'm sorry we buried a little statue of you last year and never dug you back up. Please intercede for us and help this house get sold!