Baby Braden

This post is so long overdue. I apologize. Kind of. Things have been a little crazy around here.

A year ago, I was so emotionally drained after the holidays. Christmas was not full of joy for me, it was only full of reminders of the children we did not have.

My how things can change in a year. I am snuggling my 3 week old son (did I just type that…my SON?) as I write this post. My house is still decorated for Christmas and a bit of a mess. My shirt has been spit up and drooled on. Yes, I have showered but haven’t done my hair or makeup more than twice since Braden’s birth. And you know what? I don’t care. All I care about is taking care of our precious gift.

Our (brief) birth story:

On Christmas Eve, while celebrating with my in-laws, I started having contractions. I didn’t tell anyone at the time, until Brian and I were safely in the car and on our way to candlelight service at church. We began timing them and by the time church was over, they were 8 minutes apart. Then they abruptly stopped. I was disappointed, but so glad we made it through church…as was the music director since Brian was the choir accompanist!

Christmas Day evening was a repeat of Christmas Eve. I was wondering if I even knew what contractions were!

The morning of the 26th I was pretty certain this was the real deal. By 7:30 am I starting timing my contractions and they were 4:30 minutes apart. By 8:30 Brian and I headed to the hospital.

The nurses hooked me up immediately and confirmed that, yes, I was having real contractions! By 10:30, we knew we were staying and that we weren’t leaving the hospital without our baby! I was able to labor without drugs until 1:00 pm. Of course not without the help of my amazing husband. He was with my through every contraction and stayed very calm…though our nurse (another BS!) told me she was more worried about him than me! Several people said that…hmmm.

By 1:08, I had my epidural. The anesthesiologist is now my best friend! I was able to rest then. I only knew I was having a contraction by watching Brian’s face. Didn’t bother me in the least. 🙂

Of course, more events transpired, but I’ll spare you those details. Nothing bad or scary, I really had an awesome birth experience. One of the coolest things was that the house OB was the wife of RE #1, Dr. P! Mrs. Dr. P was just was kind and sweet as her husband. Kind of brought things full circle.

By 6:30, I was dilated 10 cm and ready to push. Nurse BS, who’d been with us all day, wanted me to practice pushing before calling the dr. Now, my regular OB was out of town, so after much discussion, we decided to have Brian’s uncle Fred, another OB in the practice, be the delivering dr. A decision I would make again if I had to. If we weren’t related, he would be my regular dr, no questions asked.

Well, it turns out I didn’t need to practice and nurse BS didn’t leave me until uncle Fred got there. 5 minutes after Fred’s arrival, our SON, made his arrival, at 7:04 pm. He was a big boy weighing in at 8 lbs 5 oz and 20.5 inches long. He came out with a pouty lip and a head of dark hair. Our years of pain, longing, tears, prayers, all culminated in this one moment. We had overcome. We had persevered, by God’s grace. Holding Braden for the first time was the most surreal, precious moment of my life. Seeing Brian hold him brought the exact same feelings. We are a family of three. What a blessing!

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Lessons Learned

I have learned many lessons from infertility. I have grown in ways I never thought possible and gained a different perspective on life that has honestly changed me for the better. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but would like to share the lessons I’ve learned with you. (Disclaimer: these are my PERSONAL lessons, I am in no way saying these are lessons you should apply to your own life. Take them or leave them.)

In no particular order:

1. Advocate for yourself. You know your body and mind better than anyone else-yes, better than your doctor, too. If you feel uncomfortable with a treatment plan, speak up. If you know that something else can be attempted before taking more drastic steps, say something until so done listens. Seek a second (or third, or fourth…) opinion. Doctors are human, too. Don’t do anything to your body until you are comfortable with it.

I’ve always been a bit quiet (shocking, I know!) when it comes to doctors. I figured I should trust them, “What do I know about medicine?” But, I’ve learned to trust my intuition and not take anything lying down…ask questions, question the plan, seek to more fully understand why, and don’t shy away from the medical terms. Which leads to …

2. Educate yourself and others. Before my OB/GYN sent me to an RE, I started researching: the different specialists, types of possible diagnoses, treatment plans, success rates, etc. While that initial appointment, and many subsequent ones, were still very overwhelming, I at least had an idea going in of what could be diagnosed, suggested as next steps, and in general what to expect. Once diagnosed (or not, in my case, for over a year after my first RE consult), I started researching more specifics, joined communities on Facebook and twitter with others struggling with infertility, and talking openly about it with my husband. Honestly, twitter gave me the most information of any any source, along with amazing support (I love my tweeps!). Twitter was a place to ask questions because someone had been in the very same, or at least similar, situation. Me when I just needed to vent, complain, whine, cry, celebrate, they were there for every situation.

3. It’s ok to take a break-temporary or permanent. It’s not giving up, it’s realizing you need time to refresh, refocus, set a new plan, or just not think about it for awhile. I learned I don’t have to be a hero. Everyone has limits physically, mentally, emotionally. In addition to this, I’ve learned not to judge those who never seem to take a break from treatment or those who choose a different path (adoption, child free, etc). No two people are the same-thanks be to God-and all deserve respect.

4. Stay close to God. Even if you’re mad at Him (He can handle it!). He’s your creator, He know you better than you know yourself, and He has a plan for you. It probably isn’t the plan you have. Along with this, though, God gave you a mind and free will. Use it wisely and be in prayer.

5. Life isn’t fair. When one of my nephews was about 8, he was having a particular difficult time and cried to me, “Aunt Sara, life isn’t fair!” While I was saddened by his realization at such a tender age and it still brings tears to this day, it’s a lesson we need to keep in mind. Life ISN’T fair. On this side of heaven there will be trouble and heartache. It’s called sin. Make a choice how you will handle this unfairness.

I know I’m sharing these lessons from the “other side” of infertility. However, they’ve been floating in my head for a long time before pregnancy. I also realize that when we want baby #2, it’s not a done deal. The likelihood that we will need assistance is great. I realize that this is a disease that won’t just go away. But right now, I’m thankful, living to enjoy each and every day of my mostly easy pregnancy and praising God for putting the supportive spouse, the doctors, nurses, and friends in my life that got me where I am today.

Sara

Bump pic

Since so many family and friends live far away, thought I’d post a quick “bump” picture. In 3 weeks I went from looking a little chubby to obviously pregnant. Amazing how fast the body changes! I’m feeling well and have energy to get through my bust school day, but then I crash in the evenings. Also feeling the little man move a lot more, which is so amazing! Thank you for all of your prayers and well wishes. We are so blessed and grateful!

Both of us have new blog posts to write, but the beginning of school is busy! We will get back to posting soon!

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Our Journey…Sara’s perspective part 2

If you are just beginning to read our journey, check our the previous post to get part one and some more background.

Another note, I am bearing my heart here, if you have your own beliefs about fertility treatments, you are welcome to them. I used to have strong beliefs against IVF, I’ve learned no one should make that decision unless you are facing the chance of never having biological children. Okay, I’m off my soapbox. 🙂

After our last failure in August 2012, we both needed a break. I was emotionally spent and just couldn’t do another month of injections, appointments, procedures and the ultimate possibility of another failure. We told Dr. P and his nurses that we would call when ready to discuss future options. It was much later in the fall before we made that phone call and we were asked to come in and visit.

Dr. P said that while there was no explanation for not becoming pregnant with the aid of the medications and procedures, he no longer thought continuing on the same path was going to help us achieve pregnancy. He recommended we consider IVF if we wanted biological children. We went into treatment agreeing we would not consider IVF and now were told that may be the only way. He, of course, said there was always a chance, but our chances didn’t look too promising. He recommended two other doctors to visit regarding IVF and suggested we look into mini IVF which involves less drugs, fewer eggs produced (thus little likelihood of having extra embryos), lower cost and far fewer risks for complications. We went home with a lot on our minds and a lot of praying to do.

Early in 2013, I contacted Dr. S, who works with Dr. P on IVF and scheduled an appointment. When the fateful day finally came, it turned out to be one of the lowest times in our journey. While this doctor is brilliant, world renowned and has had great success, he has no bedside manner. Whatsoever. He said I have PCOS. Okay, how have so many other doctors missed this? He said it is pointless for us to even try to have a baby without IVF and I must start birth control immediately until we can schedule the procedure (Who said we ever agreed to it?!?). I was obviously upset and emotional. I began to softly cry. To which he noted in his notes DICTATED IN FRONT OF US that “female is crying and I told her she is ridiculous.” Okay, we were done here. We politely listened to the sweet, apologetic nurse and went on our way. If IVF was the path we needed to take, it would most definitely NOT be under his “care.”

Our ride home was filled with tears and doubts. Little did we know that this horrific appointment would be the best thing that could’ve happened to us. God knew what he was doing (of course!) and this, I believe, was His way of leading us to the kindest, most caring doctor I have ever met.

Some good friends had recommended we see an RE at another hospital and while hesitant at first, I was willing to go anywhere that wasn’t near Dr. S. We found sweet Dr. W in March. After talking to him for only a few minutes he said, “You’ve been through too much, we will get started now and get this figured out.” He quickly diagnosed me with PCOS (here we go again!), but he showed me why and explained what new steps we could take that did NOT involved IVF! We would change from using clomid to using Femera, a $10 drug I would take ORALLY for 5 days, wait a few then check by ultrasound to see if my ovaries would wake up! Darn lazy ovaries! 🙂 In the meantime, it was spring break and Dr. W ordered us to go to Branson and have some fun. (Eye roll at the insuation that taking a vacay would automatically equal pregnancy, but I think he honestly wanted us to have time NOT worrying about getting pregnant.)

We did go to Branson, left the stressful world of infertility behind for 2 days and came back with some hope. I took Femera as directed and went back to see Dr. W the day after Easter. To our shock, there were 2 huge follicles – with a $10 drug, mind you, where $1000 of injectables got us ONE and he was ready to schedule our quick procedure for Wednesday. He told us “everything is perfect, we won’t miss!”

I went in nervously on Wednesday because Brian couldn’t go for the first time in dozens of appointments. Just as with Dr. P the procedure was quick, painless and I was back to school before the kids, that is, after he grabbed my hand and said, “This is going to work. It has to!” And sent me on my way. I prayed he was right, but I’d had enough heartache to know to protect myself a bit. Now, the dreaded 2 week wait. During these 2 weeks, Brian had a musical to get on stage and my parents were coming. Praise God for distractions!

2 weeks minus one day later I was screaming in the bathroom for Brian to come tell me if he saw one line or two! It was unbelievable…in fact, though I’m nearly 20 weeks pregnant now, I’m still often surprised by my protruding belly or strange flutters of movement. It’s true. Praise God. And thank you, Dr. W for believing it would work when I was convinced nothing would. And again, praise God!

Monday is our 20 week appointment. Prayers for a healthy baby are requested. Guesses for boy or girl are optional…no we are NOT having twins!

Thanks for reading.

The sweetest sound

Brian is better at looking back than I am. Right now, I just need to look forward. At some point, I will reflect, but for now, I’m going to keep you posted with the here and now.

Friday was our 2nd appointment with our OB. I (Sara) was extremely nervous since we hadn’t seen our baby since 11 weeks and I was now 15 weeks along. We knew there would be no ultrasound but we were anxious to HEAR our baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

We didn’t have to wait long. Our dr. immediately found our little squirt’s heartbeat and we heard the sweetest sound for the first time. It was a surreal moment. We had to ask her to keep the Doppler on for a bit longer so Brian could get my iPad set to record. She kindly obliged! I told Brian I needed it recorded for those days I worry (there are many), just so I can have a bit of reassurance that all is well in there!

I would post the video, but wordpress won’t let me…so if you’re a fellow wp blogger and can help a newbie out with this, I’d appreciate it.

For now, I am content that baby is healthy and thanking God for this new, tiny life!