Great Expectations: The Journey

Great Expectations will be a series of posts about starting our family. Some of you may already know that the journey has been full of challenges, but I am resting in God's timing and His plan. My hope is that you would read this and pray with me and also that if you are facing similar challenges or just a time of waiting that my story could be an encouragement to you.It's been written for a while and its intentions have morphed over time since it was first written, but I hope you will pray with me and walk alongside me as I journey through this season of life.

Let's take a walk back in time to some of the milestones in the journey of starting our family...

July 23,2005
Adam and I made vows and our marriage began! We got married right out of college after dating for two years and one year of engagement. We knew we were young and we wanted to wait on starting a family. We wanted to enjoy our lives together just the two of us until we felt ready to embark on this next season of our lives together. (We always said that next season would begin around our five year anniversary when we were both out of school and hopefully earning a good living.)

July 23, 2010
Happy FIVE year anniversary. We had reached said mark for beginning a family and after seeing numerous friends go through pregnancy and welcome beautiful bundles of joy into their lives, I was beginning to get excited about that possibility of having a baby and starting a family. Adam and I talked and we were both on board, so we went off birth control and hoped the stars would allign while we were in Italy for our big five year anniversary trip, so we could meet our Italian bambino 9 months later.

The Waiting Game
Well, God had different plans for His timing and so began the waiting, praying, preparing and doctor visits. For whatever reason, my body did not adjust easily to coming off birth control, so I began visiting my doctor every couple months or so trying to figure out what was going on with my body and if it was preventing us from getting pregnant. I saw this waiting period as a season of preparation and tried to focus my efforts on preparing in whatever ways possible. I can look back at my prayer journal from the year and see God at work through the people He placed in my life and the promises He shared with me. I even had an aquaintance at church tell me she had felt prompted to pray for me though she didn't know exactly why or specifically for what. I was so touched when I recieved her message saying she had been prompted to pray for me. What an amazing God we serve who would prompt others to pray! The Lord knew I needed that encouragement right when it came.

I also decided to pursue National Teaching Certification while "waiting". I felt like I needed a project to take my mind off things and after praying about it and seeing doors open for funding, I took that as a sign that I should go for it, hoping it would lead to other opportunities and be good for our finances. Hey extra money is always helpful when you have a baby right!?

The Pit
By May 2011, I was beginning to get pretty frustrated with the process and after waiting almost a year I fell into what I have coined the pit. It was around this time I began feeling very dissappointed and down trotten. I knew I needed to make some changes to snap out of my funk. It was around this time that I finally decided to switch doctors and little did I know what a difference that would make. I had been seeing my doctor whom I had known for years since high school in fact, but I knew I would need to change once we became pregnant because her practice didn't delivery babies. Now was the time to make the move. That doctor had told me a battery of fertility problems I could be facing. Every appointment presented a new potential issue with no answers as to whether anything could be ruled out. Could it be PCOS, endometriosis, thyroid issues or hormonal imbalances that were the underlying problem? I became more and more frustrated.

A New Day
I called two doctors, one my mom had suggested and one I knew had delivered two sets of friends' twins and another friend's baby girl. The one my mom suggested was booked and I wouldn't get in for a few months, but Dr. Hughes could see me right away so I made the appointment. My mom came to the appointment with me to get a feel for the practice since she works in the medical field and to support me too. That first appointment was just what I needed...I met with the doctor first and explained what I had been through the past year. My fears about the different issues that had not been ruled out and my hope for getting pregnant. He assured me that it is very normal to wait a year to get pregnant and that the time it had taken shouldn't worry me, but he did want to check everything out to see what was going on with my irregularity. He did an ultrasound that very day and ruled out PCOS. He also ran tests that ruled out the thyroid issues and the hormonal imbalances though he set me up for a biopsy next to check my hormones further. I was so relieved to hear that we could rule out a number of the issues that had been thrown around so flipently at the previous practice.

My next appointment was not quite as joyful but necessary to continue ruling things out. I had a uterine biospy and boy was that an experience! The doctor said I would feel a slight cramp and I almost jumped off the table, but it was over soon enough and again things checked out beautifully! Again I was relieved, but the mystery still existed as to why I was experiencing such irregularity and why I was still not getting pregnant. The last test we'd persue before heading into the summer was having Adam's side of things checked and once again, praise God, everything checked out. No issues on his side of things.

Since everything had checked out and I had finally found a doctor who cared enough to get to the bottom of things, I decided to not focus on the whole getting pregnant thing for the summer. I would focus my energy on other opportunities for the moment. I spent the summer traveling. Traveling for church, traveling for fun, traveling for photography and even traveling for teaching when I had the opportunity to write standardized test items for the national ESL standardized test. All this travel really helped take my mind off things and gave me a renewed spirit to continue practicing patience in growing our family.

Over a year...
Once the new school year started, I began to feel like I needed to head back to the doctor. I had kind of been avoiding things because of how uncomfortable (painful) my last procedure had been and I really didn't want to go through anything similar again. The doctor had mentioned wanting to do another type of ultrasound that involved water called a histopinogram. I was under the impression that this too would be uncomfortable, so I was playing the avoidance game. However, the Lord kept putting things and people in my path that would point me towards getting back to the doctor. A couple friends asked on separate occasions if I was having a certain procedure, which I thought was what was coming next.

With all this prompting, I finally decided to call the doctors and get the ball rolling again. It's funny how God orchestrates things because when I called I was told I needed to come in during days 1-10 of my cycle, so I needed to get in that week if that was the case. They looked at the schedule and said I could come in that very afternoon or the next, so off I went to the doctor's office. I guess it was good because I didn't have time to get too worked up about the procedure. I asked the nurse if it would be as uncomfortable as the biopsy and she said for some people it could be, which made me pretty nervous. Then when the doctor entered I asked him the same question and he said, "Not at all!" Why couldn't the nurse just have said that!!! I guess better safe than sorry. The ultrasound really wasn't that bad and again everything looked good...but this also meant the mystery was still unsolved.

I met with the doctor and asked what was next. He suggested that when I became frustrated enough I'd have lapriscopic surgery to explore what was going on and to ensure there weren't any blockages or endimetriosis that could be causing my irregularity and my infertility. I was pretty shocked when I realized we had reached the end of that road, surgery! I headed home to process and decide if and when I would schedule this procedure. The doctor and my mom assured me it was minimally evasive, out patient and nothing to fear...though they would be putting me under. CRAZY!

I called that next week to schedule the surgery. The next twist was insurance. The scheduler explained that because there were notes of infertility in my file, the insurance company might decline even though that was not truly the reason the doctor was going in. He was looking for the cause of my irregularity since that was the true reason for the procedure.  Of course  if he happened to see any signs of fertility issues while performing the procedure he would also make note of it. It was now time to pray things would go smoothly with the insurance company if this was in fact the next step I was supposed to take.Two weeks before the scheduled procedure, I recieved news that the procedure had been approved. Thank God.

Complete Surrender
I was scheduled for a pre-op appointment the Wednesday following Thanksgiving and then my procedure would occur the first Monday in December. I had reached the point of surrender knowing that God was in control. If He wanted me to have surgery then that was what I would do.

Happy News!
When I went in for my pre-op appointment...I suspected I might be pregnant (there's a separate drafted post about these symptoms that I may embed, so I'll keep it brief here). How ironic would that be! I had not taken an at home pregnancy test for fear of seeing that little negative sign again. I had seen it once too many times already and refused to put myself through the disappointment again, so I'd ask for a test at the doctor's office just to be sure. I figured that was regular protocol anyway. There is a separate post on that appointment but the long and short of it...Adam came along to support in case of disappointing news and to celebrate in case of good news. As you may have predicted from the heading...we received GOOD news that day! We were pregnant!! God had answered our prayer! We were finally expecting our first baby!!! I was consumed with excitement and anticipation for what was in store with the pregnancy and our future child!

But wait, sadly that's not where the story of my fertility trials ends...

December 23, 2011
I would love to have begun writing posts related to that anticipation and excitement and I even began a few in my drafts, which I may share such as our first and then second ultrasound where we saw a flutter of a heartbeat, but then right before Christmas when we were almost ready to share our news with friends and family we went in for our third ultrasound. This was actually our first REAL appointment because everything up until this point was checking to be sure things were going well since it had taken a while for us to conceive. My doctor wanted to be sure the pregnancy wasn't ectopic and then they kept trying to date how far along I was which was a challenge because of my irregular cycle. It was at this appointment that we received the saddest news possible. As the doctor was searching for a heartbeat, he commented that things were deteriorating and there was debris. Adam and I could not understand what he was saying. We did not understand what he was implying with these words and then he said to meet him in his office. I was in SHOCK! What had just happened?! Where was the heartbeat we had so been looking forward to? In the doctor's office I began to cry as I began to comprehend the sad news that we had lost our baby. The doctor assured us that sometimes these things just happen. He also reminded us that the good news was that we HAD gotten pregnant meaning it was possible. I found my joy in that fact and I gripped that idea tightly for days to come as I shared the disappointing news with those few friends and loved ones I had already told.

The journey continues...
Even today I am holding on to the fact that we were able to get pregnant, the silver lining. My doctor said there was no need to wait to try again since the only reason had to do with dating the pregnancy for a due date if we conceived again before my next period, I would just go through the same process as before of having ultrasounds to date things.

I continue to be encouraged by what God is teaching me. A friend pointed out that perhaps God wanted to assure me that we could conceive without any medical interventions when we got pregnant right before my surgery. He wanted to remind me that it is truly all HIS timing and HIS creation. Why then were we not meant to meet our little one, perhaps I will never know until we meet in Heaven, but I know God has a plan and "His timing is always perfect" (I bought a plate at the apple festival this October that stated that quote as a helpful reminder and encouragement).

Not everyday is easy, in fact there have definitely been days of sadness. Days of wondering why God couldn't have allowed things to continue to develop. Days wondering WHEN it will happen and not allowing fear to creep in, but in between all those days there is also a joy and peace in knowing that it WILL happen.

No more than I can handle...
In February, just a few months later we found out we were expecting yet again. I was so relieved to know that getting pregnant the first time was not just a fluke thing, but I was experiencing spotting from day one. After seeing my doctor, he said that things were developing well, but he was concerned with the spotting and suspected I would miscarry again in the coming days. I never had time to truly get excited with this pregnancy because each day that passed and each week that went by as I went in for the next ultrsound I was just waiting for more sad news since the bleeding never ceased completely. I kept trying to hold on to hope knowing that the Lord is the sustainer of life and this baby could be a fighter. After four weeks of hoping, praying and many tears, I miscarried. Adam had thought it would be unwise to share our news this go round with anyone (family and friends) because it had been so emotional the last time, but thankfully my mom figured it out the week before nature took its course and THANK God she did because the other really sad part about the whole experience was that I was away from home visiting one of my best friends, Shelby, in Clarksville, TN. She has just become a new mom herself and my girlfriends and I had gone there for the weekend to love on her and the baby. Little did any of us know that I too would be needing their love and support in a major way. My mom also helped me know what to take to deal with the pain, so I was so thankful she knew ahead of time. If I had to be away from home and away from Adam dealing with the emotional and physical pain of the situation, at least I was with the girls who are like my sisters. They will never know how much their support over the course of that weekend meant to me.

Another Doctors visit...
The doctor had me come in to check on everything and make sure I was okay. My body had done what it needed to and things seemed to be getting back to normal. My doctor assured me that having back to back miscarriages could have been a fluke occurance, but he also said there could be some underlieing cause which he could look into, but insurance wouldn't cover the blood tests until it happened a third time. How crappy is that!?! The issues are related to autoimmune disease and your body rejecting the fetus because it thinks it's foreign to the body. I asked if this was in fact the cause of this new hurdle in our journey if there were any treatments or would that just be the end of that and onward to adoption we would go. He told me that sometimes something as simple as a baby aspirin a day can take care of these underlying potential issues and I should go ahead and start a baby aspirin regimen because it couldn't hurt a future baby, it could only help, so follow the doctor's orders I did. I also began a progesterone reginem as well because it was somewhat unclear as to whether I am dealing with a progesterone deficiency. My hormone levels have looked fine at certain points, but we still don't know if a change occurs that creates problems for sustaining a pregnancy. I guess we'll find out more down the road. This appointment was also my chance to ask Dr. Hughes if he knew of any good OBs in Boston since Adam and I would be moving there this summer. He did not know anyone to refer me to, but gave me some ideas for where to begin looking once I get up there. I hope that next practice is able to figure things out further. I definitely feel like we're on the right path and at least now we know we are able to get pregnant, but the newest hurdle in this journey is sustaining a pregnancy to term.

Please pray with me...
I continue to meditate on a verse a friend gave me, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." That is what I am striving to do...I am striving to delight myself in the Lord because we all know what my heart desires and He will give me the desires of my heart in His time. Please pray with me as I continue try and walk faithfully through this journey. I can see God working things out for our family's future in Adam's new ministry job and His provision for us and our family that will allow me to stay home and raise our children, now I just have to wait patiently for the opportunity to do so.My hope is that this whole experience would be glorifying to the Lord and that it would point others towards Him and allow me to encourage others in the future going through the same or similar experiences.

Retro post: spring break 2012

    Since Adam has Air Force Chaplaincy work four days of my spring break this year, I decided to take a trip out to Chicago to visit the Carters and hang out with Thais and the boys since Isaiah was on spring break as well. I am so in love with Sammy and Isaiah and I'm so grateful for the time I got to spend with them. I am also amazed at the many seasons Thais and my friendship (or more like sisterhood) has been through from college to marriage to the beginning of her completed family. I love that we pick up right where we left off (on the phone, haha) and get to continue creating memories.

    Here are some highlights from the trip, which was very kid-centric since we had kiddos on spring break to entertain and I LOVED it! Wouldn't have wanted the visit to be any different. So I got into town on a Tuesday after Easter weekend and Thais picked me up from the airport and whisked me off to brunch, one of my favorite city life requests. My mom and I found the perfect gift for a huge Spiderman fan and a fellow basket for that fan's bro.
Then I hung out with the boys and got reaquainted. 
My last visit was a few weeks after Sammy's arrival in the fall. Boy had he grown!
I snapped up tons of photos. Had to document my visit while the boys were happy to say cheese.
Isaiah was tons of fun around the camera.
He is the smartest, coolest kid you'll ever meet!

     That night Thais and I had a girls night to ourselves thanks to daddy Heath, so we grabbed sushi and went to see a play at a local theater. It was an intriguing show related to the season's theme of the effects of war and this one was oh so appropriate for me as it was about a photographer who was dealing with the consequences of her work, which was to photograph war torn countries, and the "baggage" she carried home with her.
The next day after a leisurely morning, Thais and I took the boys to Navy Peer.
We gave Isaiah the choice of riding the Ferris wheel or carousel and he went with the carousel.
After riding, we went for a nice stroll all the way to the end of the peer stopping along the way for some photo-ops of course!
Model Isaiah
Thais and her boys...well the young ones at least.
Then we grabbed lunch before the drive home during which the boys napped.

     That night I got to participate in community dinner since the Carters live in community with the DeCostanzas, their downstairs neighbors. Heath made a delicious curry and I found out about the Carter's eating habits of eating pretty much vegetarian at home. I learned some yummy veggie recipes while visiting too which I came home and cooked a few times since (mainly veggie tacos).
The boys enjoyed dinnertime too.

     We had lovely weather while I was visiting. In fact I got to go outside and help Isaiah with his new bike riding skills. He had just learned to ride without training wheels over the weekend and it was really impressive letting go and watching him continue down the driveway behind the house.

     Lunch was a highlight too since Thais lives in a predominantly hispanic neighborhood, we ate delicious Mexican food at a local spot and it was crazy how inexpensive and tasty my burrito was. I could have gone back for second visit.
 The Carter's lovely neighborhood.

    That night Thais and I hung out with the little boys because Heath was wrapping up his dissertation work and defending the Friday of my visit at Notre Dame. 
What an accomplishment Dr. Carter!
    Thais and I watched Rango that night with Isaiah and once again he amazed me with his inquisitiveness and curiosity. 
I:"Mom, what is Rango?" 
T:"A lizard." 
I: "Why?"
T:"Well honey that's how God made him."
I: "Why?"
T: "Well, that's like asking why God made you to be a boy."
Gotta love how young minds think and wonder.

    The next morning, we had some crafting time when Isaiah informed us that his mouse friend needed a house more his own size, so out of a cardboard diaper box a mouse house was born with wallpaper colored by Isaiah and a roof complete with story told by Isaiah as well. Too CUTE!
    I know I'm missing some of the details now that it's been a couple months since my visit, that's what I get for not keeping up with this here blog...but I'm remembering the highlights.The last activity I got to enjoy before heading to the airport to fly home was a visit to a neighborhood playground and good times were had by all.
 It was a fantastic visit as always because Thais and Heath are the host and hostess with the mostess.
Thanks for having me and making my spring break so entertaining.

Retro post: Easter 2012

     This Easter I volunteered to sing in the Easter choir like I had a couple years ago. Easter is one of the few Sundays when I do not have commitments in the SHED with our middle schoolers, so it works out perfectly to serve in the music ministry.

We sang at the Saturday night service and all three Sunday morning services, hence the outfit change.
 Saturday night

Easter Sunday
    Our most holy day, which was the theme of a number of Adam's sermons leading up to Resurrection Sunday. If Christ did not rise then our faith is meaningless. He not only had to die on the cross for our sins, but raise again to conquer death, the ultimate consequence of the fall.
 Adam and I looking dapper in our Sunday's best.

The girls and I hanging out between services since we attended Saturday night's entire service and stayed in the choice loft during the second Sunday morning service.
     Alicia is our choir connection. I'm so glad I got to sing with the choir again this year, especially since it will probably be my last Easter at Atlantic Shores since we're headed to a new ministry this summer.
     Easter was also Allyson's birthday. Happy Birthday girl...welcome to your mid twenties...I'm trying my hardest to call you by your adult name...Allyson, not Ally...since that was your birthday wish. Love you girl!

     After services, we headed over to the Barker abode for a delicious Easter dinner and we were joined by the Herndon parents as well. The food was delicious as always and the company was delightful. I can't believe next year at this time I'll be all settled into our new church life and family in Boston, MA.

Retro post: Girls weekend in Clarksville

We girls could not have been more excited to head out to Clarksville, TN for a girls weekend in honor of Shelby who had just recently become a new mommy. This would also be the moment when those of us who weren't there for Adrienne's delivery (should out to the lucky Lindsey) would get to meet Adrienne for the first time!

Courtney, Evely and Haley had the travel flexibility to arrive on Thursday and get started helping out and loving on mommy and baby. 
Yes, even Evelyn got to join in on the girl's weekend fun, starting her off young.
Isn't this the CUTEST photo of Haley with Adrienne...I must say I'm jealous I did not get such a shot of myself with her. I guess that just means there will have to be a future visit for a photo do-over, haha.

Lindsey drove in from Atlanta Friday morning and her first stop was swooping me up from the airport on her way into Clarksville.

This photo was taken moments after arriving and I had literally just met Adrienne. 
Meeting her brought tears to my eyes! 
I loved her so much already and I had only known her for minutes.
After checking out Shelby's beautiful home, we all got acquainted with her neighborhood which was perfect for pre-dinner walks.

That evening we cooked up a delicious dinner and continued catching up on life along with all its twists and turns.

The next day, after breakfast and some relaxation around the house we decided to head out for lunch and a visit to a local winery.
For lunch we went to this uno-esque pizzeria and it definitely hit the spot.
 Please note...Shelby was already back to being one hot mama!
From lunch we headed over to the winery for a tour and tasting.

The remainder of the weekend we relaxed at Shelb's, enjoyed holding and feeding Adrienne, continued catching up on the latest and just enjoyed each other's company.

Enjoying some auntie time
Ev too!
    There's no doubt that we're all like sisters and I am so glad we were able to come out and visit you Shelb while you were still navigating the early stages of mommyhood...though I must say you seemed to have things down pat and you amaze me! 

    The weekend's intention was simply to love on Shelby and Adrienne, but I have to also send out a big thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your love and support through everything the past year has held. I am looking forward to the future with anticipation for each of our lives and what God has in store!

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