Wednesday, April 28, 2010

St. Gianna Feastday and "Divine Mind Reading"

First of all, happy feastday of St. Gianna Beretta Molla!  For those of you who have never heard of her, the story is worth reading.  She was a wife, mother, doctor, and bravely gave her life to save her unborn child.

I haven't had much to say lately, as this in-between the IF and pregnancy world continues.  And I still feel guilty, wishing that so many other deserving people had this gift. Definitely, IF's effects continue through pregnancy.  Little aches and pains have scared me and made me wonder if something bad is imminent, although it's probably just gas.  :) This past week I purchased a St. Patrick's Day onezie (hey, gotta show the Irish spirit AND it was on sale) for the baby.  However, I currently have the baby stuff sitting in a bag in our downstairs spare bedroom.  I don't feel comfortable having such items on display, or preparing the nursery.  In my mind, I'm always asking, What if?  After hearing many recent stories of pregnancy loss and watching my friend lose her baby at 22 weeks, I'm rather gun-shy.

This past Saturday we had our monthly SHE (Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth) IF support group meeting.  Our chaplain gave an incredible talk about the spiritual and psychological effects of IF.  Did I mention that our chaplain is a priest and former OB/GYN?  :) Maybe I can get Father to post his lecture notes sometime.  Anyway, one of his key points really spoke to me.  He talked about the temptation to engage in "Divine Mindreading," such as thinking that IF was a consequence of past behavior or the like.  I find such thinking quite easy to fall prey to, unfortunately.

Later in his talk, Father showed a close-up of a painting.  That particular photo displayed an unorganized splash of colors that resembled a preschooler's fingerpainting.  The next photo showed the entire painting: a lush green hill with people of all ages milling around.  The messy part of the painting shown before was actually the pattern on a lady's dress.  Father's point was that we don't see the big picture like God sees.  Of course, the lack of that knowledge doesn't always ease the pain and sorrow of a particular cross or situation.  But knowing that a big picture does exist at least provides some hope.  Definitely food or paint for thought. :)

p.s.  The woman responsible for bringing St. Gianna's gloves to our SHE meeting last September wants me to send the pregnancy story to the National St. Gianna Shrine.  Oy vey!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Humbled and Thankful

I was truly moved and humbled at the many congratulatory posts.  Truly, the congrats from my fellow IF sisters mean the most to me.  Thank you!!  I really appreciate your prayers and encouragement.  Please know that I will continue to pray for ALL of you to come to this moment too, whether through adoption or pregnancy.  While the journey has been painful and bittersweet, I must say that the rejoicing has been far more full and happy than if we had just conceived when we wanted to.  Does that make sense?  One deacon's wife confided to me the other day, "I was more happy upon hearing the news of your pregnancy than of my own children's recent pregnancies."  Wow.  So many people were praying and rooting for us!! I can only imagine that the same holds true for all of you.

Since several friends have wondered about the NaPro treatment after pregnancy, here's some info about the progesterone that I've been taking.  Upon immediately telling our instructor of the positive home pregnancy test, she confirmed that at Peak + 20, we were most definitely pregnant (no blood test necessary). She gave us our NaPro doctor's cell number so we could call him for instructions. Thankfully, we caught him between Mass and a banquet. He also confirmed the pregnancy and said he would call in a prescription for Prometrium, a form of progesterone. He also instructed my husband to give me the final HCG shot in order to help things along.

So why the concern? When I had my hormone profile last year, the blood test revealed VERY low levels. That prompted the doctor to put me on HCG shots just to stabilize things. He said my levels could make me susceptible to miscarriage. Progesterone is vital in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy in helping the placenta grow.  Despite the pain caused by the 8 blood tests in 2 weeks (read my posts from last April of the adventures!), the hormone profile proved to be the most helpful part of the overall diagnosis.  And who knows, perhaps I would have never found out about sustaining a pregnancy until several miscarriages.   I'm grateful for the answers it provided.

Below is the rather comical story of how we discovered the pregnancy.  I saved it for the end in case today is not the day to read such things.  Oremus pro invicem! Let us pray for each other!

* * * * * * * * * *
I had always thought a home pregnancy test would include my husband and I watching the lines appear, hugging each other in joy, waxing poetically of the coming life.  (cue mushy music!).   Well, things didn't really go as planned.

On March 13th, after a long day of an Irish Festival and a 3K run, I complained to my husband, "Hon, I'm on Day 36.  Where in the heck is my next cycle? We have a big show on St. Patrick's Day. I don't want to spend it curled up on the couch in massive amounts of pain!  I've got to start taking some Ad.vil!" My husband, the sensible electrical engineer said, "Well, it may be a long cycle this time.  Just take a pregnancy test. You'll feel better. It's probably negative anyway."

Side note: Thankfully, I enjoyed a refreshing green A.le beer at the Irish festival earlier that day.  I will fondly remember that for the next few months!   

I sauntered upstairs and took the test. To my huge shock, a second line appeared on the little stick. Maybe I haven't waited the entire 3 minutes, I thought, and took a shower. When I was done, the double lines remained. My husband came upstairs, concerned that I had not come down to tell him the results. Shaking, I pointed to the stick. "It's p-p-p-positive," I stammered. "This can't be right." I think we both knew otherwise. My husband smiled and suggested that I take another test in the morning, as residue of the HCG shots could have made the test false.  He later told me that my facial expression resembled a deer-in-the-headlights.

The next morning I re-took the test and the same result appeared.  I called our Creighton practitioner in a panic, wondering if this could be right.  Also, the fear of miscarriage had already set in.  I had so completely given up on pregnancy that the idea of it happening just wasn't sinking internally.  In addition, the "magic cycle" occurred during the month when I broke out in hives on amox.icilan and got an infection.  Nothing added up. 

Weeks later, the pregnancy has sunk in, especially when my doctor banned me from caffineated coffee until the 1st trimester is over (NO!  Kill me now!).  As Finding Joy in Every Journey noted in her blog, I definitely feel caught in between the pregnant and IF world.  In addition, because of the past 3 years, I've watched multiple friends go through miscarriage and still birth.  Those memories haunt me and made it hard for me to bond with the baby until hearing the heartbeat.  "So many other women deserve this more than me, " I told the doctor.  "Perhaps," she said.  "But you've put in your time with infertility, and now it's time to go on a new journey."

Ok, end of story, my thanks to those of you who endured this post to the end.  :)  My husband and I are headed out of town this weekend to become godparents, so hopefully we will return with tans rather than burns!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Another Miracle in 2010

Impossible. This icon of my patron saint, St. Elizabeth, hangs in our house. Little did I know the words on her scroll would apply to me. Sure, the NaPro medications have been helping me, but I saw it more as a means to help my overall health, that a pregnancy would never happen.

The short story? Miracle of Miracles, I am pregnant. Did I really just type those words? Assuming everything goes well, the baby is due November 13th.

My husband and I were absolutely shocked when we saw the 2 lines on the home pregnancy test. I had completely oriented my thinking towards adoption, so the thought of a pregnancy took some time to sink in. Additionally, I immediately became fearful of miscarriage. As Living Advent thankfully resassured me, many women who get pregnant after IF still have to deal with anxiety and fear.

My whole world has been rocked since a couple weeks ago. Because several friends in real life read my blog, I did not want to reveal the pregnancy until we heard the heartbeat at the ultrasound. It has been hard to carry this silently, especially as I long for my IF friends to experience the same thing.

Yes, the "IF guilt" does exist. I felt especially bad as I had embraced adoption whole-heartedly, accepting the fact that pregnancy would probably not happen. Now that I've received this gift, my heart still aches for my dear friends who are waiting. As my mom (who endured Infertility 30 years ago) said, you never forget the IF journey. Never. I never will forget. And looking back, I appreciate the "fruits" that have come from the journey of IF: a stronger marriage, less fear of blood tests (thank you, NaPro hormone profile), getting to appear on Johnette Bankovich's show, meeting so many wonderful bloggers, the SHE group, and even more.

After announcing the joyful news on Facebook, I felt so humbled at the myriad of congrats and good wishes. Sure, every pregnancy is cause for rejoicing, but I was amazed that so many people have been "rooting" for us to become parents.

As a side note, many well-meaning people have been telling me, "It's because you pursued adoption." I answer with, "It's BECAUSE of adoption that I lost weight and became healthier, which probably helped the medication to work better." Besides, we want at least 2 children, so adopting from Korea is still a possibility.

I hope this post hasn't been too scrambled, because my thoughts have definitely resembled a messy omelet! I definitely plan on continuing this blog and will most likely create a separate blog when Baby Buford (in-utero nickname) comes. Grace in My Heart is my hero blogger; she finds time to post regularly amid taking care of gorgeous Baby E.

To copy Fertile Thoughts and Tucked Beneath His Wing, here's what I was doing when this miracle occurred.

Began eating a 1500-calorie diet
Weights 3 times a week
Cardio 3 times a week
A wonderful class of 4th grade girls
Excellent support from fellow SHE groupers

HCG shots
400mgs Time-released B6
Naltrexone (sorry, I don't recall the dosage)
Amoxic.illan (the evil drug that made me break out in hives)
Pre-Natal Vitamin (when I remembered)

Prayers that I did not merit:
So many family
So many friends
2 wonderful Prayer Buddies
quite a few priests & brothers
1 convent of Poor Clares (aka "The Big Guns")
1 awesome Carmelite sister
2 awesome Nashville Dominican Sisters

Thanks to all of you for walking with me. I have some funny stories to post, but this one is long enough already. Please stay with me in the months ahead; it's still a scary journey. And please know my prayers continue for all of my IF friends. God bless!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Easter to The Adoption Report

Alleluia! He is risen!! I hope everyone had a blessed Easter. My part of the country had an unseasonably warm Easter weekend, so that only added to the joy of the Resurrection.
This past Lent, over 40 Infertility bloggers participated in a prayer buddy effort. Each blogger was given the name of a fellow IF blogger to pray for throughout Lent. I had the pleasure of praying for K of "The Adoption Report." She is an incredible mom of 2 adopted children and seeking to adopt a third. Unfortunately, her blog went private halfway through Lent and I knew I would give myself away by emailing her to read it! Don't worry, K, your package will be mailed this week. Your perseverance really inspires me and I hope the prayers for you this Lent helped you.