Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Building our house on the Rock

Though this has a literal translation (our foundation is literally on bedrock, not soil), I'm referring to the Word.  I've heard of people placing Bibles in the foundation before it's poured, but we weren't able to do that.  My parents went through and wrote scripture on their walls before the texture went up, so we copied!

Below are the instagram pictures of the scriptures in various rooms...

Top Left: Guest Room
Top Right: Future nursery
Middle:  Laundry (though I should probably add in playroom!)
Bottom Left: Knox's room
Bottom Right: Foyer

Top Left: Kitchen
Top Right: Fireplace
Middle Left: Family Room
Middle Right: Breakfast Nook
Bottom Left: Master Bed
Bottom Right: Office

We're so excited to see such progress on the house.  We're slated to close mid-July...eeek!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Our Story: Infertility, Loss and Moving Forward in Faith

I've wanted to tell our story for some time, but allowing people to become part of the hardest story you've written leaves me a bit vulnerable.  We're still in pain.  Still working through the emotions of it all.  Finding the blessings...and I know now we always will be in this place.  Grieving what we desired and excited for the future and God's will for our family.  So now is the time to fill everyone in...and be warned:  It's LONG.

Stephen and I had the "talk" when we had been together for a year or so.  I wanted 4 kids, he wanted 2.  We "settled" on three while I secretly knew I could probably convince him for a fourth.  WHEN this would happen was always a point of contention. My answer:  NOW.  His:  Let's wait a few years.

We got married, transferred to Belgium and traveled as much as we could.  Though I tried the whole "if we have a kid maybe he could be a dual-citizen" trick, we didn't try to start a family until we were back on US soil.  In the month after moving home, we bought a house, two cars, and started trying for a baby.

The very next month I was pregnant.  Words cannot express how excited we were.  The next 9 months were the best 9 months of my life.  I wasn't sick, felt great (though in hindsight I probably could have exercised more) and delivered a perfectly healthy little boy.  The absolute light of our lives.

I breastfed for 6 months, and crazily we decided we'd like to "knock out" the next kid...meaning we started trying soon after.  But something wasn't right.  I wasn't getting "regular," and if you've tried to get pregnant, it's pretty important to know when certain things are occurring.  I casually asked my OB about it at my check-up, and she advised waiting until a year after Knox was born to get regular, then she would intervene if necessary.  The next 5 or so months were frustrating, as my cycle lengths were all over the map and very irregular.  At the year mark, I went back to my OB and she prescribed Clomid.

That day marked a 2+ year battle with prescription medication in an effort to get pregnant.  We did Clomid for 3 months with my OB, where she then advised I visit an RE, or Fertility Specialist.  We made the appointment, thinking it was the answer and we'd be pregnant in no time.  After our consultation, we were full of hope and excited about the future.  We continued on Clomid, while being monitored regularly to see how my body reacted.

After the first cycle, it was determined I had some cysts, and bloodwork confirmed I had PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  It's a rather common "syndrome" to have in the fertility world, and quite frankly I think it's handed out rather freely as a reason for infertility.  I didn't have too many other symptoms, other than the occasional cyst.  But I wasn't getting pregnant either.

After 6 (total) months on Clomid, our doctor decided to introduce some mild inject-able hormones to aid in egg growth.  This paired with regular sonograms should do the trick.  After three cycles, nada.  We then moved on to IUI, or intrauterine inseminations.  The success rates using IUI combined with Clomid/inject-ables was pretty high, and I knew a few friends who had great success with this route.  Again, we were excited.  The cost was increasing every month, and so was the stress...but we were excited.

5 months of this combo...nothing.  At this point, my doctor knew that something must be wrong internally.  I was responding well to all of the medications, and Stephen's reports were always above average, so something else must be at fault here.

Enter surgery. January of 2012 we opted to have the doctor go in and figure out what was wrong, with the understanding that he would fix what he could while in there.  His findings:  My uterus was in tip-top shape, my ovaries were great, but my Fallopian tubes were AWOL.  One was backwards and attached to my pelvic bone and the other was upside down and facing my back.  Ummmm...bingo!  See, when I was 13 I had an acute-appendicitis, and all of the infection and swelling reeked havoc on my organs...reproductive included.

When I was in recovery, the doctor came out to give Stephen the news.  Stephen casually asked how we had Knox if my tubes were in such bad shape.  The doctor quizzically asked if we had used fertility treatments to get pregnant.  When Stephen said no, he simply said "I have no medical reasoning or explanation for how you got pregnant with your son."  See...we knew he was a miracle all along!

So, back at square one.  Tubes work, they are just weak and limp.  My eggs are great, but they have to be picked up by my weak and limp tubes.  We tried IUI a few more times before decided to jump in the deep end and try IVF, Invitro-fertilization.

September 2012 was the "big day."  For months I had taken my medications, both orally and injections 2-3 times a day, and had constant monitoring to check my eggs.  Once they were ready to be removed, I went in to surgery and they came out with 26 eggs.  26!  We were so hopeful.  The next day they called to say that 24 had been fertilized.  The next 5 days they would check them every other day to see how they were progressing.  There's a lot of science involved...but basically the eggs double in size every day, with most dying off at various stages.  At the 5th day, the day they put them in, we had 2 great eggs and 2 that would be able to freeze.  They put both of the fresh eggs in and we waited 10 days to see if we would be pregnant.

10 long days...I couldn't stand it.  If you know me at all, you know I'm very impatient with things like this.  So I started testing.  6 days out, very faint lines.  8 days out...darker.  9 days out...same color.  10 days out...fainter??????

I had my beta blood test, and it was a low number.  Low HcG can mean a few things, but what it most likely meant was that I had had a chemical pregnancy.  The eggs attached, and then (most likely) due to a chemical imbalance they broke off and dissolved.  I had a repeat beta, and the number went down slightly.  The chemical pregnancy was confirmed, and then my cycle started to reconfirm.

The next month I had to have repeat blood tests until my HcG number went down to zero.  I waited out the month, and then the next for emotional reasons and then decided to move forward with putting the frozen eggs in.  Our last chance.

That month off was a mix of despair and hope.  Crazy juxtaposition, but it's where we were.  One day sobbing at the very real possibility we wouldn't have any more "natural" children, and the next excited at the possibilities of being pregnant within the next month.  If you ask anyone who has gone through fertility, they will tell you it's a complete roller coaster of emotions.  Up and down, up and down.  I like to think I'm a strong person, but will be the first to admit that I was a wreck.  And the added hormones didn't help.  I was just a mess.  And honestly, though cathartic, writing this all out brings back all of those emotions.  It's still so raw.

The time had come and we were on the medication prescribed to put the frozen eggs in.  It's a long cycle, around 7 weeks, so for someone like me I had a lot of time to process and freak out.  Ha.  The time came, and they unfroze the eggs only to tell us they didn't look great.  They were pretty damaged from the freeze, and both the embryologist and my doctor have us realistic expectations.  I was a mess...but hopeful.

The 10 days following the procedure were mind-numbing.  I just knew in my heart it didn't work.  The "beast" of IVF is that part of the hormones you are taking mimic pregnancy feelings.  Nausea, fatigue, cramps.  Your mind plays tricks on you, and you "feel" pregnant.  But this time I knew.

In January of this year my blood test was confirmed.  Negative.  I just crashed.  Heartbreak.  Loss.  Sadness.  Despair.  Stephen was such a constant, loving support system for me.  He allowed me to feel the emotions, but urged me to accept the future for what it was.  Our story.  It would be different than I what I had hoped for, and even selfishly expected, but it would be a story.  Our story.

The next few days were sad, but also so joyful.  We had our miracle in our arms.  Though squirmy, he allowed me to completely smother him while working through my emotions.  He loved me and allowed me to be a pitiful, pajama-wearing mom who preferred to sulk and watch movies while I processed.

As a young girl, I just figured my life would include a lot of kids.  I never questioned the fact that I would have problems getting pregnant.  In fact, I felt entitled to have more kids.  "I'm a good mom, why shouldn't I have more."  "If all of these 16-year-olds can get pregnant, why can't I?"  What I didn't realize is that God had a different plan.  One that started before I was born.  One that is better than I can imagine or deserve.  He knew that my appendix would burst and spill toxic infection into my reproductive organs.  He knew that we would have Knox and "think" it was all our doing.  He knew that through fertility pain and loss that I would have a life transformation that would allow me to see that my ways are all WRONG and His ways are always better.  More fruitful.  More blessed.  We're so broken, yet so blessed.

So, here we are.  I often get asked when we're going to have another.  Or if he is our "only one."  Though it still stings a little, I'm so proud and thankful and blessed to have experienced pregnancy.  Yes, he is our only one, for now.  And we will have another...it's just that our story is different from the usual.

Stephen and I are moving toward adoption.  We're narrowing our agency search and will be taking the first step once our house is completed.  We're excited, nervous, hopeful and blessed.  We both feel like this is where God wants us...and you can't beat that.

Please pray with us, that the adoption process goes smoothly.  That we find an agency that we feel comfortable with, that we follow God's lead in the process...and most importantly:

Pray for the mother of our future child.

I don't know what she looks like, where she is in her life or any of the details that will come to pass...but I know that she is giving us the biggest gift...life.  And I'm already so thankful for her.  I can't imagine the pain and heartache associated with such a brave decision, and I ask that you join us in praying for her now.  May she feel the body of Christ while going through the process.

Thank you for reading our story.  Though laced with sadness, my hope is that you see the blessings that we have through the process.  It's not easy, and we're still healing, but our hope and future is in the One who promised he would carry us in our times of need.  And He has!

"I know what I'm doing.  I have it all planned out...plans to take care of you, not abandon you.  Plans to give you the future you hope for.  When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I will listen.  Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed."  Jeremiah 29:11-14 (Message)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Three Year Stats

Yes, you read that correctly.  He weighs 26.8 pounds.  3 pounds up from his two year appointment.

Svelte is what the doctor predicted at his two year...I'm thinking he's still on track.

This check up was a really easy one.  No shots, well check and out the door.  Our doctor was out, and the doctor on call was pleased with his growth (though he's 4% in weight, he's growing on track) and verbal and gross/fine motor skills.  I thought it was funny, because she asked if he spoke in full sentences yet...I literally laughed out loud.  The negotiations and conversations we have often wear me out.  

He gets it honestly!  I distinctly remember getting a detention for talking, and then talking to the teacher the entire detention time.  He'll follow suit I'm sure!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

{Part One} - Knox is THREE!

Our sweet boy is THREE.  We often look at him and wonder how we got here...know what I mean?  It seems like yesterday we were eagerly awaiting his arrival.  Now he is a smart, witty, sassy and often stubborn little BOY.  God is so good, and we definitely feel blessed with our little man.

While in Dallas we were able to have a birthday celebration for him with Mimi, Papa and Kelly.  Mimi bought decorations, we blew up balloons and Aunt Kelly bought him an adorable cookie cake.  He is definitely spoiled, and lucky to have so many people that adore him as much as we do.

After blowing out his candles, he opened his presents.  Legos, puzzles and monster trucks stole the show...

We had a great time causing destruction with the monster trucks.  I probably should have put on makeup for the pictures, though.  Oh well.

On Saturday (his actual birthday) we got dressed and headed out to a patio to enjoy the weather.  Since I'm never in pictures, I made sure to snap one before we left of the little guy and I.

We took a few family photos at the restaurant, but Knox was over it.  The pictures below are his "Cheese...but please stop" face.

That night, we had planned on doing Chuck-E-Cheese or Dave 'n Busters, but quickly decided against it after seeing the crowds.  We settled on Benihana, and he loved it. 

He did great with the kid chopsticks, and ate his body weight (which incidentally isn't that much) in rice, veggies, shrimp and chicken.  He even ate most of my soup and salad, too!

After singing to the birthday boy, we headed out and relaxed at home before bed.  It was a full day, and we had so much fun celebrating our sweet boy!  Can't wait to see what this year holds for him.