Monday, March 28, 2016

Fear of the Unknown...

As mentioned once or twice I am a reform(ing) type A, control freak, plan-a-holic.  It was my attempt to have some feeling of order in a scary world of chaos.  Without a plan, it seemed like I would end up in a place I didn't want to be without a lot of options and I was trying to avoid that scenario like the plague.  If I didn't know what I wanted to do next, and then next, and then next, then I would begin to panic, would become fearful of the unknown that laid ahead, and would feel compelled to figure out a plan which in turn would make me anxious if parts of the plan could not be solidified right that moment.

Well since, it turns out even with a plan you can end up in a place you didn't want to be without a lot of (easy) solutions, that theory has been shot to hell.  So I can look at the future in one of two ways:  I can continue to fall into the habit of becoming panicked and scared or I can try on a new perspective.  The first option doesn't seem very appealing-been there done that, didn't serve me very well in the end, so let's see what's behind door number 2.

It's an interesting crossroads for us as a family and for me professionally.  J.T. is still working through whether he would like us to pursue donor eggs or embryo adoption, while at the same time we remain an active waiting family for domestic infant adoption.  I have been accepted into a doctoral program and have begun to consider and apply for some Graduate Assistant (GA) Positions. Each of these branches plays a significant role in our finances.  By the end of 2016 any number of scenarios may exist without major changes or additional effort on our part:

  • We could be expecting (or actual) parents to one (or more than once) child to which there is some form or absolutely no genetic connection (or maybe God has a miracle up his sleeve and it is fully genetically tied to each of us).
  • I could be a full time student and a full time principal; or I could decide after taking classes this summer that I can only handle being a part time student and a full time principal; I could be a full time student and a GA; a full time student, a GA and a tutor/babysitter/some other part time gig 
  • We could have increased our nest egg, it could be about the same as it is now or we could be starting over again with a Dave Ramsey bare bones savings scenario 
  • I could have run that 10k and half marathon I have been talking about or I could be starting over again with Couch to 5k for the umpteenth time.
  • I certainly hope none of these come into play, but...J.T. or I could lose our job, one of us or a family member could have a significant health concern or crisis and everything else goes on the back burner, Trump could win the presidency. and we would have to be making our plans to move to London (only partially kidding on that one!).
The bottom line is our life could be almost identical to what it looks like today (which I would be content with) or it could look totally and completely different!  So that brings us to door number 2...


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Together Forever

We had a verrrry lazy day at home today only venturing out once for wine, candy and takeout. While at the store the checkout guy asked if we were together to which J.T. replied "Together, forever." in a very sweet way.  It made me realize that for all we have been through and for everything unknown that lies before us we are in this 100% together, forever.

When we got married almost 7 years ago our wedding vows went something like this:
"In the name of God, I, Beth Marie, take you, James Thomas, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, all the days of my life. This is my solemn vow."

In hindsight the following may be more accurate:
"In the name of God, I, Beth Marie, take you, James Thomas, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward; for laughter in both good times and in bad; for richer with two incomes, for poorer with one and for even poorer as both scenarios are riddled with infertility and adoption expenses; in all the times you are sick, with my rotten eggs, and in health; to love and to cherish, all the days of my life. This is my solemn vow."

While I cannot change anything about the way we are building are family (and once our children are here I know I will not want to, but for now just wish it was faster and easier), I can say with 100% confidence that I made the absolute right decision with whom to start my family.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Let it Go, Let It Go

Yes, that song is one of THOSE songs that all you have to hear are those three words strung together and it is stuck in your head for the rest of the day!  So apologies for the annoyance factor, but it is currently my anthem.

Last night I googled Donor Egg timelines and I am beginning to prepare myself for this as our next possible step.  I spent some time on message boards and blogs trying to find others who were not necessarily gung ho on the subject out of the gate.

The bottom line is OUR children will come to us the way they are supposed to (look at me all cocky saying, children instead of child:).  So it is so important that I am open to any and all possibilities and remove my pride from the equation.  Notice I said pride and not feelings because ultimately I believe it is my pride in the form of jealousy that is bringing me down.  Not jealousy that our child will be genetically linked to my husband while I am not, rather some other lady gets the privilege of doing so.
However, if those two sets of DNA are meant to meld to form MY child then so be it.  I will have plenty of opportunity to blend myself into the equation as I carry and raise him or her.  Also, I will have the privilege of knowing, nurturing and carrying him or her from their very first moment of conception.

I am still somewhat weirded out by the idea of choosing my replacement, (ummm clearly need to work on finding a better word to fill that particular blank!) but I will cross that bridge if and when the time comes with support of my heavenly father, my husband, my family, my friends and virtually through the women who have walked this path before.

So to my doubt and trepidation I intend to Let it Go, Let it Go and to make up for the annoying tune now running through your head I leave you with my favorite version of the song:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Decisions, Decisions and Abounding Support

So instead of waiting until Monday we ended up talking (a lot) about our next steps.  We researched the embryo adoption site and donor egg sites.  We browsed donor egg profiles.  While it is completely overwhelming it is such a blessing to live in a time and place where these options are available to us and that we have the means by which to have such a choice.

I tried taking emotion out of the equation for a bit and developed the chart below.  My how I do love my charts.  J.T. felt it was a bit skewed to one side, but I truly did try to stay as objective as possible.

egg donor
embryo adoption
  • JTs genes with the donors
  • We choose
  • Paid donation
  • Local
  • Viable embryos still a question
  • $19,000 (only have one shot)
  • Books/ guidance exists for raising a child born from donor eggs
  • Genetic testing and demographic information available
  • no genetic link
  • Matches made based on preferences
  • Philanthropic donation motivated by a desire for embryos to have a chance at life
  • Next State Over (5 hour drive)
  • Embryos already formed
  • $7,500 (could theoretically do it more than once if it doesn't work the first time)
  • Books/ guidance exists for raising a child born from embryo adoption
  • Three generations of medical history available as well as the possibility for a semi open or open relationship should we so choose
Though the decision is daunting I am reminded of my vow at the start of the year--I am leaving family planning decisions to God and my J.T.  I have shared my heart and my mind, and am on the brink of handing over the reins on this decision completely.  I trust each with my life, but I'm not going to lie being in control is a life long habit that is hard to break, but I am getting there.

We are also so very blessed to have support from our family and friends.  Even though we do not know a single other person put in this exact position, and many of them do not know what to do or say the fact that they are always willing to listen and to pray for us is really all we can ask from them and are so fortunate to have each of them in our lives.  

They say when the chips are down that is when you know who your true friends are and I thank each and everyone of them from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Rotten Eggs

We met with our RE yesterday.  We came much better prepared than we did when we went two years ago.  I had a long list of questions and he was very patient and answered every single one.  He is such a nice man and presents things in such a straight forward, scientifically based manner that it is a good fit for both of us.  

Now as I said he answered every single question, but unfortunately the answers were less than great:(.

Though our official diagnosis remains unexplained my eggs have always been advanced/mature for my age which adds a new subtitle of Diminished Ovarian Reserve in my current state.   I currently have the eggs of a 40+ year old, at 30 they were more like that of 35 year old, etc.  What makes it unexplained is they don't know why they are like this or what caused the advanced aging.

Since our last visit they now have a program that allows them to input all of our data and it will spit out projections related to various scenarios specifically for us.  Two years ago he gave us a 25-30% probability that IVF would work for us the first time.  That number has decreased slightly (but probably with more accuracy) to 19%.  The really bad news (yep that 19% isn't the worst of it) is that he only projects, even with aggressive stimulating drugs, I am only likely to produce 2 eggs.  This would mean that both would be implanted and that there would be none left over for the possibility of a later transfer(transfer is only about 10% of the overall cost of IVF-therefore more eggs could theoretically allow for multiple attempts without incurring the full cost of IVF).  

Going into the appointment knowing things were not looking good, we also came armed with questions about Donor Eggs and Embryo Adoption given the fact that we can only afford one shot.

I have been contemplating the idea of Donor Eggs (DE) for two weeks now and still can't make my peace with the idea.  I have no problems having children to which I have no genetic ties; however, the idea of someone else's DNA mixing with my husband's kills me.  I hate the idea of robbing him of the opportunity of not have genetic links to his child since at the moment that is still a viable option, but I can't seem to shake the awful feeling that I associate with DE.  

I am much more at peace with the idea of embryo adoption which our current RE does not do, but there is another medical facility here that does.

With each of these options the Dr. gave us 50-50 odds.

We talked a little in the car on the way home--talk about a weird ass conversation (who ever thinks they are going to have discuss carrying a child to who is not biologically your own or whether your husband could be genetically tied to the child you are carrying but you are not!?!)   We are currently processing all of this information and will discuss after JT's certification test for work on Monday. 

So that's where we are at  one step forward, two steps back all because of my stupid, rotten eggs. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Be Still

So it has taken years, but I am kind of getting the hang of the whole Be Still and Know that I am God (Psalm 46:10) thing.

Surprisingly being still is not nearly as easy as it sounds and for a trying-to be-reformed controlling "go getter" it feels like I am doing something wrong.

I wonder if God meant "work 9-10 hours a day, come home surf the internet/watch Netflix/read, think about running, make dinner, talk to your husband, go to bed Monday-Friday and on the weekends try to have some fun and get your chores done".

I am trying hard not to obsess about plan too far into the future so with the ultra exciting activities (see above) with which I fill my days, it feels so...weird.

My brain is used to moving 100mph and without all the stress, worry, and frenetic planning, it feels...empty.

I suppose empty isn't the right word as I am assuming the reason for the space is to be filled with God and the Holy Spirit, but while I feel content more often than not recently, there are times like this afternoon when I feel...nothing.

So after stepping away from this post and doing some thinking I realized that this is not related to being still, rather it is related to my stupid, worthless cycle.  It's PMS--blah!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Hang On

We went to a concert last night-X Ambassadors.  They have a few songs I liked before we went and now there are even more.  One in particular struck a chord with me:

                                               "Hang On"                                                  

When you feel like Indiana, Indiana Jones
When they got you in a trap, dodging darts and boulders
When you're on the ropes, on the ropes
When they got you on the ropes, on the ropes

You know you got to hang on, hang on
Put your whole five fingers on, you got to hang on, hang on, yeah
Put your whole five fingers on, you got to hang on, don't let go
Like Indiana Jones, you got to hang on, hang on
Put your whole five fingers on, you've got to hang on

When they throw you down a hole with the snakes and scorpions
When they got you in their evil grips with those ancient forces
When you're on the ropes, on the ropes
When they got you on the ropes, on the ropes

You know you got to hang on, hang on
Put your whole five fingers on, you got to hang on, hang on, yeah
Put your whole five fingers on, you got to hang on and don't let go
Like Indiana Jones, you got to hang on, hang on
Put your whole five fingers on, you got to hang on

Put your whole five fingers on, you got to hang on, hang on
Put your whole five fingers on, you got to hang on, hang on, yeah
Put your whole five fingers on, you got to hang on and don't let go
Like Indiana Jones, you got to hang on, hang on
Put your whole five fingers on, you got to hang on

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How do I get there?

I began 2016 with the intention to turn everything under the family planning umbrella over to God and JT.  We are a mere 2.5 months in, have only completed step one of the process (updating my testing) and I am already failing.

My numbers have (not surprisingly) come back really low.  I keep running the same scenarios through my head (using donor embryos, somehow making my defective system work properly, getting a drop in the lap adoption call before we begin IVF, not doing IVF and adopting twins, rinse and repeat).  I cannot seem to just let it go and run its course under JT and God's direction.

I think part of it is habit.  I get new information and immediately feel like I have to do do something with that information (research, make a plan,etc).

That tendency has served me well for most of my life.  It has helped me accomplish goals.  It has brought me a lot of personal and professional success.  I think this cycle of data input, speedy processing, synthesizing and organized plan output is a big component of my leadership capacity.  I do see my ability to lead as one of my God given talents.  That being said just because God gave me this ability does NOT mean I have to use it ALL the time.  There can be too much of a "good" thing and in this arena I AM NOT THE LEADER.

As I was praying this morning, I said out loud that I was handing everything back over to God and J.T., and when my test came (the nurse called back with the rest of my results) I failed miserably by attempting to google each and every result AND by broaching the subject of embryo donation with J.T. AND by (respectfully) trying to share why I was not in favor of donor eggs.  In retrospect the last two are not as much the problem as they are on my mind and in my heart and I did present them calmly and respectfully; however, did it HAVE to be discussed in the waiting room minutes before J.T. went in for his colonoscopy? no.  Did something have to be said/done as soon as I finished listening to the nurse's message?  no.  Do I have to be the one running this show?  NO!

In fact, let's take a moment to consider a totally different scenario.  The nurse left a message.  I listen to the message and relay it to J.T.  Then I ask him what he would like for me to do next. He says "go ahead and make an appointment, I guess".  I call and make the appointment.

In reflection we land exactly in the same spot we are in now-with an appointment scheduled for next Friday to discuss next steps with the doctor, but in this new scenario I have not me brought complete needless myself stress and worry (what to choose?, what if it doesn't work?, what if?, what if?, what if?) in the process.   

I have come to realize at work that even though I am "in charge" I have very little actual control over anything.  It has brought me much peace without changing much else--teachers are still teaching, kids are still learning, and parents are still supportive.  If I could just apply this same line of thinking to this I would be all set, so why can't I?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Not exactly starting with a bang

Before we meet with our RE to determine a plan for IVF, we first wanted to get a new diagnostic workup since it has been 3-4 years.  So yesterday was my day three testing.  Our nurse, Denise, said they would be calling today with the results.

God bless Denise, she is such a positive, kind-hearted woman.  That being said she often describes my results in regard to normal (i.e. low end of "normal").  I am beginning to think that her definition of "normal" is skewed.  Wouldn't be surprising given the field in which she works, but I am now seeing her vernacular for what it is--sugar coating bad news.

So she left a message saying the doctor wanted to wait on my AMH test which had to be sent out (she had told me it would have to be sent out when we had talked on Friday).  She could tell me that my follicle count was 4 and our doctor likes it when there are 5 follicles on EACH side.  Womp, womp.

So out of the gate looks like this may be an uphill battle (shocking, isn't it?  things have been a piece of cake so far!).

After some quick Googling I found the following from Advanced Reproductive Center of Chicago:

So this was a true test of taking things one day at a time.  My mind automatically moved jumped through a bunch of future scenarios based on this one nugget of information.  I was able to quickly realize that I had fallen back into an old habit and shut it down relatively quickly.

Step one checked off my list.  Now I wait patiently for what lies ahead.