Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Letter to my Heavenly Father

Dear Father,
Yesterday I went to Daily Mass again. You know-we talked quite a bit before Mass started. The reading from Samuel struck me. I was amazed at how Hannah's story parallels my own in places. She prayed and prayed for a child, and DH and I prayed for a child as well. You blessed her with a child, and now I'm pregnant, too. Then came the part in Samuel where Hannah takes her child, Samuel, to the temple to be dedicated to You. She promises Eli that Samuel will be consecrated to You all the days of his life, and she leaves him with Eli, the priest at Shiloh, and visited him yearly after that. You blessed her faithfulness after that with many more sons and daughters. I just want you to know, Father, that like Hannah, I commit to raising this child and any other children to be a part of your Kingdom. The times and place I live are a bit different than Hannah's, so I will do this in different ways than she did, but my goal is the same. I will teach this child about You, even as I am still learning about You. I will show him or her Your love, mercy, and what grace is. I will share with my child the stories of Your child, and his life of extraordinary love and sacrifice. I will show my child with my actions what it means to truly give, what patience means, and what it means to have servant's heart. My child, DH and I will celebrate your creation, your sacraments and the gifts you bestow on your people. I will teach my child how to talk to you, openly and honestly, how to listen to you, and how to obey you. I will share what it means to lay all his burdens at the foot of the cross and to trust in Your plan for him. In short, I will do everything I can to raise my child to be a godly man or woman, who serves, loves and trusts you. DH and I won't be able to do it alone, but will rely on your help and intercession to lead us in this greatest of tasks. But please know, Father, that we realize that this child is Your child, first and foremost. We will work daily to return this child to you by teaching him or her about his creator. We will also work daily to continue our spiritual walk. I know I am promising a lot, and I think I know what an incredible undertaking it will be. We will be working against our own humanness, and the humanness of our child to try and make ourselves more like you. I ask you now, in all humility and awe, that you bless our plans and walk with us each step of the way. Provide us with opportunities to discuss our faith with our child and children, to share our walk, and to speak openly and honestly as a family. Keep us strong when we only feel defeated and weak. Allow us to feel and see your presence regularly, and to appreciate all you've done for us. We love you so much, Father.
An Expectant Mother

Monday, December 21, 2009

Appointment change

I've been very focused on Tuesday, as it was supposed to mark my first ultrasound, at 6 weeks and 1 day, with the Fetal Medicine doctor. I've been praying a lot, blogging, lighting candles at church, spending time before the Blessed Sacrament, and attending Daily Mass. Today I got a call from the doctor's office, needing to reschedule the appointment because Dr. G needs to be out of the office tomorrow. So, my first ultrasound won't be until January 6, when I'll be about 8 weeks, which is a more "normal" time to have a first ultrasound. I have to say, I had mixed feelings after that call. More mixed than I would've realized. I was actually kind of disappointed that I am not going to get to see my baby tomorrow, and at the same time, a little relieved that I'll be having my first ultrasound at a later date. My fear about having an ultrasound at six weeks was that it was going to be too early to detect a heartbeat. So, now I have a few more weeks until we have our first ultrasound. A few more weeks to pray, attend Mass, spend time with Jesus and prepare for this ultrasound. I know it would be more natural to be excited, but with the label of "high risk", it's a bit of a scary step. I'm still working on focusing on God and not my worries, which sometimes is a minute to minute task.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

God's whisper and Mary's obedience

Tuesday marks an extremely important day for DH and me. I will be six weeks and 1 day pregnant, and we have our first appointment with the Fetal Medicine doctor, Dr. G. I am both excited and terrified about this. If I had to put a number on it, I'd say I'm about 10% excited and 90% terrified. I never realized how much pregnancy would increase my prayer life, but it feels like I have been praying almost nonstop since I saw that pregnancy test. I have a congenital heart condition, and because of that, Dr. G wants to monitor me closely. This means having my first ultrasound on Tuesday. When I first learned of this appointment, my first reaction was purely emotional. Emotionally, I wrapped all of the possible negatives of this early appointment, especially the negative "what ifs" around me, and wallowed in them. They seemed to be drowning me in desperation. For some reason, deep in my soul, I don't feel that I am worthy to have my dreams come true. Specifically, my dream of conceiving and bearing children with DH. Perhaps it's Lucifer himself putting these thoughts in my head, but I just have the hardest time believing that this wonderful thing is actually happening to me. Thus, I spend entirely too much time trying to "prepare" myself for the worst and fighting back my hopes with negativity if I feel they are getting too big for their britches, so to speak. This past week, however, I've really been trying to focus on God, and not on my worries. This is incredibly difficult to do. God is so quiet. God is so unimposing, unlike my raging, screaming emotions. Sometimes it feels like He's not even here. This, I know isn't true, but wow my feelings can drown Him out. Over the last two weeks, I've found much solace in praying my Rosary, asking Mary to pray for me, my husband, my child and some of my fellow pregnant friends. Especially in light of Christmas, I've been thinking about her. What an obedient, faithful woman. Her situation was unlike any other there's ever been. Yet look at her faith, her unfailing belief that her God was there for her. That He was going to bring her through this situation unscathed. I'm trying to learn from Mary, and to fashion myself into a woman with even just a portion of the faith that she had. Lately my prayers have been praising God, and thanking Him for this pregnancy, acknowledging that He loves this child more than I ever will (which is hard to fathom, considering what I already feel for this baby) and acknowledging that He knows what He's doing. I know that this baby is God's child, and that I am only its earthly caretaker. I've been praying that my baby is growing and developing normally and is in perfect health, and that my body can fully sustain this child for the duration. I've also been praying that God reveals a healthy, strong fetal heart beat on Tuesday, as it is my biggest fear that they will be unable to locate one. The last time I spoke to my good friend Maeve to tell her my news, after the initial excitement, she asked if she could pray for me. Her prayer was so touching and humbling, and one thing she said really struck me, "Please help Amelia to remember that her emotions are not reality, and that You are higher and bigger than any emotions she may be feeling." I'm holding on to all of these things, trying to tune out the screaming emotions in my head to focus on God's ever present, reassuring whisper. Please pray for us friends, especially in the next few days, especially Tuesday. I am planning to continue my Rosaries, along with daily Mass tomorrow. I selfishly ask for any and all prayers you can spare and appreciate all you can do.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Here it is, folks. In writing. I'm terrified to do it, but it's true.
I'm. Pregnant. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was totally shocking. It still feels like I'm in the middle of a dream, a dream that is so wonderful because I'm so happy but yet terrifying because of all of the unknowns, all of the "what ifs" and possibilities. So, let me back up. Last week, when I started this blog, I was at the end of my two week wait. DH and I just went for it in November as usual, but with all of these months of "no" and BFN, and my levels still not being quiiiiite what the doctor wanted them to be, I honestly didn't think there was a chance. I was already preparing myself for the appointment with the RE doctor and for the impending tests and procedures that would take place. Well, my cycle is typically 28-30 days long, and in the last few months, my period has come on day 28 without fail. Day 28 came and went this month, and I chalked it up to the fact that we'd been traveling, holiday stress, etc. Day 29, nothing. Day 30, nothing. Finally, I woke up at 4:45 Day 31 and I just couldn't get it out of my head. I just wanted to stop thinking about it-so I figured I'd take a test just to confirm that it was negative and that my period was coming any day. I peed on the stick, put it back on the toilet and went back to bed for 15 minutes. All I could do in those 15 minutes was pray, and say Hail Marys. My heart was racing and all I could ask was just that God be with me and support me when I saw the "not pregnant" words again. I asked that He helped me to accept the negative results, because I just "knew" that's what was going to show up.
At 5 am, I got back up, and walked into the bathroom. I think I actually did a double take and tried to wipe the sleep out of my eyes, because I thought they were blurry. "Pregnant." WHAT? ME? PREGNANT? IT WORKED? God has said, "Yes." ?????? I was shaking and crying and thanking Him. I had to run upstairs to wake up DH (he had fallen asleep on the couch in the TV room). Poor thing- I really tried not to scare him half to death when I woke him up at 5 in the morning. I made him read the stick again just to make sure it said what I thought it said. I kept looking at it, waiting for the word "not" to appear on the stick. He was so sweet and happy, and I just couldn't get my heart to stop racing. Even now, a week later, I still can't believe it. I'm 5 weeks and two days, and it's still incredibly early. Now I'm battling with many fears, anxieties, and worries, not to mention the fact that I'm trying not to get too excited, just in case the worst happens. I called my OB/GYN and considering my past history with low progesterone levels, and my family members' history with preterm labor and the need for progesterone injections, they prescribed me a progesterone supplement just to be cautious. I also have a congenital heart condition, so they told me they'd be consulting with a Fetal Medicine Specialist to make sure everything was going well and to monitor me carefully. So, you can imagine the fears swirling around in my heart and my head. In fact, I have an appointment next week (three days before Christmas) with the Fetal Medicine Specialist to do an ultrasound to check my baby's progress and to check my heart's progress, etc. This spun me into a major meltdown two days ago when the appointment was made. My meltdown centered around the worry that they wouldn't be able to find a heartbeat, because six weeks is still pretty early! My OB didn't want to see me until January when I was eight weeks because I'd be far enough along to detect a heartbeat. So what if they can't??? Does that mean that I've miscarried, or is is just too early to detect it? I asked my OB nurse and she reassured me that the Fetal Med ultrasound equipment is more high tech than theirs, and that this appointment was really to focus on how I'm doing. I'm just focusing now on being grateful for being pregnant, for the privelege of carrying this child, whom God loves more than I do, whom He has ordained me to carry. I'm also trying to focus on surrendering this to Him, reminding myself that He knows what He's doing, and asking Him to ensure that this baby continues to grow healthy and develop correctly. I'm also praying that we are able to detect this baby's heartbeat next week, and that my body continues to be able to sustain this life and give the baby everything it needs. Please, please, dear friends, pray for us. My appointment is next Tuesday and I can use all of the prayers and support that we can get.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My brokenness

Beyond all the medical steps, finding new doctors, blood work, medicine, side effects, and so on, my heart and spirit have struggled with this situation in my life. Like so many women, I never thought this would happen to me. I never thought I'd have trouble conceiving, especially after my charts showed that I was ovulating and that my luteal phases seemed long enough. I also never knew just how many women are affected by some level and degree of infertility. I have found extreme comfort in a handful of my girlfriends as we've been traveling this yellow brick road together. It seems now that the two I am closest with are a bit closer to Oz than I am- both are now pregnant. And that's okay. In fact, it is exciting and amazing as both of these women are two of the best human beings that I know and will be incredible mothers. It just gets a little lonely to feel as if I'm traveling this road alone. I've been struggling with my faith, with ugly feelings like jealousy and bitterness and anger at my Almighty. I think my biggest hurdle is changing my perspective. I know that on the inside, my emotions are that of a petulant two year old throwing a tantrum when she isn't given what she wants as soon as she wants it. I can't imagine how the Lord sees me right now, as I wrestle with unrighteous anger at the Author of Life. I keep seeing him as a Lord who is refusing to bless me and fulfill this desire of my heart for some reason. One of my two prego friends, Maeve, has such a good outlook compared to me. She sees Him as a God who is grieving along with me, working to fix my brokenness that originated with Adam and Eve and walking with me each step of the way. I just don't know why I can't get it out of my head that he is the All- Powerful God. Why doesn't he just say, "POOF!" and allow me to be pregnant, especially if he is grieving with me? Especially if He knows how my soul feels ripped to shreds each month that goes by without a positive pregnancy. I know I probably sound like one of the criminals on the cross next to Jesus- "If you're the Messiah, save yourself, and us, too!" But, it's the truth, the ugly truth, one I'm trying to change. I want to change how I see my Lord, but how do you balance out this all-powerful God with imperfect, broken circumstances? Why does he choose the hard way to fix us? The difficult way? I suppose I should look back on the cross. He chose such a difficult, strange way to save the world, didn't He? Through a baby, a human man, a perfect God-man who had no guilt, hanging on a cross. Having done nothing wrong to deserve any punishment, not to mention such a severe punishment, he suffered and died. Maybe we all suffer, in different ways, for what we want. Maybe it's the suffering that makes certain things all the more special, important, valuable. Maybe we'll never know why we suffer, especially for those things we most desperately want. But if we are to suffer for what we want, and the suffering is in direct proportion to our want, imagine how much Jesus wanted us to be saved.

The doctor

I feel so empowered these days, in some ways. Back in July when I first consulted with my ob/gyn, to say I was nervous would be an extreme understatement. Dr. X was always nice enough for my yearly visits, and I remember him trying to stifle his laughter when I told him of our plans to use natural family planning as birth control. It did always bother me that he never addressed me by any name- neither first nor last. It was always, "Hey, how are you?" as his greeting. Regardless, he is a very smart man and I was confident in first. I went in to the first meeting armed with months worth of my charts and a head full of phrases like "luteal phase" and "cervical mucus" that I was intimately familiar with. I had a list full of questions. Unfortunately, Dr. X wasn't too interested in my charts and what they showed or didn't show. He did answer some of my questions, and ordered some preliminary blood tests.
Then it came out that my prolactin levels were funky, so I went on Parlodel (Bromicriptine) to bring down the hormone. When the nurse called me to tell me my inital blood work results, I attempted to ask a few questions about what prolactin is in general, what my level was exactly, how it affects my chances for pregnancy. That woman couldn't get off the phone fast enough. When I went home to explain to DH about the bottle of pills I now had- I could barely offer an explanation. What's prolactin? Umm...a hormone? What are you taking? Ummmm....pills? After a little Internet research, I was a bit better informed, but was perturbed that I couldn't get answers to my questions straight from my doctor's office. After the first month, I went in on Day 24 to have my blood work done and waited patiently for a few days for the results. This would be my first set of results after being on Parlodel for a month. The nurse who called with my results was very sweet as she explained that I had a hormone called prolactin that was elevated, and that it could hinder my ability to get pregnant, so the doctor was going to put me on Parlodel. I had to stop her and explain that I was already on Parlodel, that this was my second month getting bloodwork done. My passive-aggressive-Irish-temper flared (inside my head ofcourse) WHY did this nurse NOT know that I was already on Parlodel? Didn't she have my chart in front of her? Didn't she know that this was my second round of bloodwork? THEN she asked me what dosage I was on. REALLY? CHECK. MY. CHART. Be informed, health professional!!!
The next month, I ended up in the emergency room with a severe pain on my right side that would not go away. It was unlike any pain I'd ever had before. It eventually subsided and I followed up with an ultrasound the next day at Dr. X's. His general attitude was unlike it'd ever been- rushed, snarky and a bit defensive when I tried to ask questions. He didn't find evidence of anything and said the pain might've been from when I ovulated, but he wasn't sure.
All of these things and more made me start the hunt for a new ob/gyn. After weeks of trying to get appointments with several recommended doctors, I finally got in with Dr. A. She is a world away from Dr. X. She allowed me to just explain my journey thus far and even laughed when I used the term "OPK kits". She said she felt like she was talking to an RE, which made me felt like she got it. That I have some knowledge and something just isn't right. Then, she said some scary words: "I think you need to see a specialist."

The background

Being what I considered to be an expert at fertility in general and my own fertility specifically, after 6 months of TTC using FAM, my anxiety about not being pregnant was steadily increasing. My poor, wonderful husband was and continues to be nothing but supportive, reassuring and sweet throughout our journey together. I am prone to anxiety anyway, and this was driving me crazy. I just couldn't understand why this was not happening for us. Yes, I know that each time there's only about a 20% chance of conceiving when timed correctly, and that it's perfectly normal that it takes couples 6 months or a year to conceive. But with everything we were doing- taking temperatures, using OPK kits, charting cervical mucus, etc., I was sure that we should've been able to get pregnant already. What didn't help my anxiety were my girlfriends. They were all seeming to get pregnant and have babies just fine, unlike me. One even got pregnant after reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility, a book she picked up off my shelf during my bachelorette party. Gee, I'm so glad I could help YOU achieve YOUR dreams of motherhood. Oh, and did I happen to mention that her husband travels 4 days a week? And that he just happened to be home one month during her fertile time? They have a two month old now. (Remember, one reason I have this blog is to work out all the crappy feelings built up. I am truly happen for my friend. It's not that I don't want to be a mother instead of her being able to be a mother, I just want to be a mother too.)
Anyway, DH and I finally decided to go and talk to my ob/gyn about our time trying to conceive. I was very hesitant to go, because it felt like asking for help was admitting there was a problem, and I didn't want there to be a problem. I just wanted to get pregnant easily, the good old fashioned way. But, we went. This man we will call Dr. X. Dr. X is a good ol' southern gentleman who never uses my first name when he comes into the examination room. He was reassuring, saying that I was only 27, let's check out DH's counts, do some bloodwork on me and see what happens. DH had gotten his counts checked the previous December (this was now July) so we gave the results to Dr. X, who said they looked to be within normal range. When my bloodwork came back, it seemed that my prolactin level was elevated, which can prevent a woman from becoming pregnant. Thus began my love/hate affair with Parlodel. At first, I only took one 2.5 mg pill a day. The resulting nausea, dizziness and constipation knit together the hate part of our relationship. On the other hand, the hope that this little pill brought me was worth each trip to the bathroom to wretch. As the months progressed, my prolactin has gone down, but is still "a little too high." I began feeling like I was moving in slow motion. There were several issues with my doctor that have since been fixed. ( I got a new doctor!) But, that's for another post....

The beginning

Well, actually, this is not the beginning. My DH and were married two years ago, this spring. We have never used any means of contraception, but instead used the "Fertility Awareness Model," introduced to me by my older sister. I remember the months before I got married, taking my temperature each morning, keeping meticulous charts, checking my CM on a daily basis and shaking off the scoffs of friends. One friend in particular kept warning me, "You'll be pregnant by the summer if you just stick to the charts!" If only it were that easy. My charts seemed normal enough, and my cycle is consistently regular. So, for several months, we depended on those charts to dictate my fertile times (aka- "Red light!" days) and non-fertile times (aka "Green light!" days.) then, last November, after much discussion, DH and I decided to turn the tables on my charts- former red light days were now green light days, because we were on the journey to parenthood!
Now, a year later, we are about to go to our very first appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist. Twelve months ago, when I got my first negative test, I had no idea what a gut wrenching journey this was going to turn out to be. Even now, not yet knowing what our issues and options are going to be, I can only imagine how gut wrenching this is going to continue to be. I want to be a mother more than I've wanted anything in the world. To feel our child in my womb, to grow round and full of life. So now, to deal with all of these feelings and to chronicle our journey, I've given birth to this blog.