Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Came Early

Our Christmas wish for 2008 came early. Since we started the adoption process we've been telling everyone that we would really LOVE to have a baby in our arms for Christmas 2009. We figured in order for that to happen we would need to have all our paperwork in order by January 1, 2009. Well, thanks to the hard work of my wife, great support from friends and family, an amazing agency and some help from the Assistant Stork, and lots of answered prayer we got a great Email this morning. Our Dossier has been delivered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Here's the path it took: Springfield, Missouri >>> Alexandria, Virginia >>> Wilmington, Ohio >>> New York City Gateway, New York >>> Leipzig, Germany >>> Frankfurt, Germany >>> Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
12.23.08 - 2:36pm - package delivered

Merry Christmas to US!
Hope all of your Christmas wishes come true like ours did.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Giving

As Christmas quickly approaches, I find myself reflecting on how much I have to be thankful for, more this year than probably any other year. Even though we are all aware of the economic situation in our country today, we are still so incredibly blessed with basic necessities that are sometimes easily taken for granted: a roof over our heads and electricity to keep us warm, more than enough food and clean water to keep us fed, advanced medical care to keep us healthy, jobs to keep us prosperous, and loving friends and family that surround us. I found an unread email in my "extra" email account from World Vision and it kind of hit close to home. I invite you to take the time to read it and learn about it and consider making a donation. Along with providing food and nutrition to feed a family, the gift of an animal(s) gives children the opportunity to make money to pay for their schooling and basic necessities along with providing hope for a better future. I really believe this is a gift that keeps giving. You can learn more about this humanitarian aid program by clicking on the title of this blog entry, "Christmas Giving." Roger and I wish everyone a blessed Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Expecting from Africa

This is the necklace I got for Abby. It's beautiful and really sparkles when she wears it. We got it in the mail yesterday. If you want to find out more about it, or look for other great jewelry, please check out this site -- JUNKPOSSE.

On another note Abby and I got an awesome email last night. The "Assistant Stork" emailed us that our dossier is complete and has been shipped to Ethiopia. Yes, we've been online 4 times today tracking the package. (It left NYC @ 1:11pm) We're hoping it will be there on Christmas Eve. We'll keep you posted.

A funny thing happened last night. As we were reading the email from the "Assistant Stork" the song HOME by Daughty came on. Of course, that led to one of Abby's famous "Demi Moore in GHOST" tears....you know, where she's smiling and a single tear runs perfectly down her cheek. Yes, life is good.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Such Small Things"

"For a long time there were only
your footprints & laughter in our dreams
& even from such small things, we knew
we could not wait to love you forever."

This is a precious gift my friend Kelly from Iowa gave to me and Roger back at the beginning of November. It still brings me to tears sometimes when I read it; it's so accurate in capturing what it feels like to wait for your baby. The artist's name is Brian Andreas and his collection is called StoryPeople, if you'd like to see other pieces.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ethiopian Poster Child

This is our friend Caden. He is 2 and from Ethiopia and is going to get a little brother sometime very soon who is also from Ethiopia! Roger and I joke he could be the poster child for Ethiopian adoptions; he is so ridiculously cute! In the photo he is showing Roger his "tootie," aka cookie.

Baby Room

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Me. Baby furniture fully assembled. That's about it, besides the closet behind me becoming increasingly full of baby clothes and toys. I spend quite a bit of time doing exactly this. Standing in the middle of the room absorbing the reality of it all. It feels good.


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7,990. That is how many miles there are between Springfield, MO, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This is the T-shirt Roger and I designed for ourselves, friends, family, and anyone who is or has adopted a child from Ethiopia. If you are interested in purchasing this shirt, you can for a mere $15.oo. They are unisex and come in heathered green (as shown above), heather gray and heathered red. (Roger is wearing a Large shirt in the photo above -- they run SMALL!)Whatever profit we make will be donated to the orphanage from where we will receive our child.

Officially Waiting

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Yesterday we FedEx'd our dossier to Ethiopia. Well, actually to a courier, Assistant Stork, in Virginia and then she will ensure it gets sent on to Ethiopia. It feels awesome to be done with the paperwork, yet unnerving because everything is now out of our control. It felt strange to put that stack of paper in a box and let it disappear after all the hours we put into getting it ready. I guess it kind of feels like an extension of our baby. We just hope it gets to to where it needs to go all in one piece. So we are now officially waiting. There is nothing else for us to do -- except buy more baby stuff!

Roger in "Dad" mode

Okay, so we're a little delayed in getting these pictures posted. We actually put together all of our baby furniture two days before Thanksgiving (the day of and the day after it was delivered). It's a little premature, we know, but we're just so dang excited, as you can probably tell. It was the funnest, bestest Thanksgiving so far. We decided next year will hopefully be the best ever because if we're very, very lucky we will have a baby by then. We had a great time working on this project, though. The fact that Roger is good at following directions (mine and the furniture diagrams) is probably why it was such an enjoyable experience.

The picture below is Roger putting together our Quinny Buzz stroller that we ordered off of eBay. We were a little concerned when we received the box. It looked like IT had traveled to Ethiopia and back. But the stroller was unharmed and in brand new condition, so all was well. It's super fun; bright orange and red. Our baby is going to look so cute in it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

KC Masterpiece

This past Friday we made our journey to Kansas City for fingerprinting. It doesn't sound like much, and in fact the whole process took less than 15 minutes, but this is a big step that we've been looking forward to for a long time. When you start the adoption process (at least in the Southwest Missouri area) everyone talks about going to KC to get fingerprinted. It seemed like a long way off, but now it's done and behind us. We are collecting our final letters and triple-checking to be sure they are notarized correctly (sorry Lea Ann!). Our hope is to have everything done and sealed by the end of this week. Then we'll officially be "waiting".
Abby has promised to write more after we enter the "waiting" phase.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hot Dog, Hot Dog, Hot Diggity Dog!

We survived last week. Monday night was an awesome adoption fundraiser for our great friends that are hoping to go to Ethiopia in January to pick up their second boy. (lucky!) Tuesday was our final home study meeting. It went great -- much easier and more relaxed that we thought it would be. Friday night our agency had a "reunion" for all the couples that have gotten their babies from Ethiopia, as well as the couples that are waiting. Awesome experience because we got to share stories, learn about traveling to Ethiopia, and play with some of the cutest kids. Can't wait to go back to that meeting, some day soon, with our own child!

I know I'm way ahead of the game, but I had to start looking at airfare to Ethiopia. Any guess on what a flight from Springfield to Addis Ababa costs? Somewhere around $2500.00/person -- unless you want to go First Class. So far the best deal on First Class is $15000.00/person. What a deal.

All of our paperwork is basically done -- so hopefully we'll start updating more and share more fun stories. I just realized this blog is pretty void of photos and video. Right now this is the kind of stuff that cracks me and Abby up...Don't worry, we'll post OUR OWN child as soon as we can!

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers. Stay tuned...


Saturday, November 15, 2008

One step closer

No pun intended. But we finally got one of the biggest obstacles out of the way for the adoption. For our home study we were told that we would need a fire escape ladder for the second story of our house. The one area of our house that we never go to. The one area of the house the baby won't be in for 2-3 years. It took many hours of phone calls, internet searching and other means -- but we got the Fire Escape Ladder today. Just another hoop to jump through.

Final home study meeting this Tuesday. Stay tuned.
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Friday, November 14, 2008

And I'm Back

Okay, I'm finally back to add a blog. It's been a while, I know. After many comments (aka complaints) during our trip to Iowa last weekend from our very supportive and interested friends about us not keeping up with the blog, I thought I should get back on the horse, at least in an effort to appease our audience. By the way, it was so much fun seeing so many old friends last weekend. It was very therapeutic for me to go back to Des Moines and Garner and see so many faces I haven't seen in, oh, probably 8+ years.

Anyway, I'll try not to talk in circles here since Roger has already been so kind as to update the blog on what we're doing since our failed attempt at in vitro in August. No, we are not doing any more IVF. Yes, we have decided to adopt a baby from Ethiopia. For any Texans out there reading this, that is in Africa. (Sorry, inside joke.) I know it came as a somewhat shock to many people to hear that we decided so quickly to do an international adoption after only our first attempt at IVF, but we actually had been seriously contemplating adoption before we ever decided to do IVF. When we first realized we were having problems conceiving (like late '06) we said "if we can't do this naturally, we will adopt." Then we decided to try an IUI....and then a second time. Then I decided I should try IVF. See how nothing ever goes like you think it will? We set limits for ourselves and then busted right through them anyway. Well, after one round of in vitro, I realized enough was enough. AND, the funniest thing about all of this is way back this past spring (man, that seems like a long time ago) I told Roger we would take the year off and then start the adoption process at the end of '08. Well, we're still right on track with that original plan. We just ended up not taking '08 off and threw in the roller coaster ride of in vitro instead. So now we're off that roller coaster ride and have hopped on the adoption ride. So far this ride is much more fun. It involves me buying baby clothes and a Johnny jumper instead of poking myself with needles every day. Yes, shopping for our future baby may be a little premature, but I really just can't help it. I am limiting myself only to things that are exceptionally cute and also on sale.

Why Ethiopia, you ask? Well, if you had told me five years ago that I would someday adopt a child from Africa, I would have told you you're crazy. All I can say is God works in mysterious ways but ultimately has a plan for each one of us, and we finally feel that we (me and Roger) have realized what our plan is. As soon as we decided we weren't going to do any more IVF, we were introduced to some really amazing people and their really amazing kids who happen to be adopted from Ethiopia. All living here in Springfield, MO! We had no idea. There's actually quite a few families in our community who have/are adopting from Ethiopia, and it's been so much fun and so exciting to learn of this amazing support network that already exists! As one door shut, another door was opened to this wonderful opportunity. So that is how we came to learn of Ethiopian adoptions. And, of course, there's always the factual statistics of Africa -- like how there's literally millions of children orphaned by AIDS, hunger, tuberculosis each year, and the numbers just continue to rise. No, adoption is not the solution to this world crisis, but we can make a difference to at least one.

Okay, enough blogging for one day. I have a whole lot more to say. I have lots of different emotions and thoughts each and every day about the adoption process (good, bad, and scary), our future child, etc., and I promise to share more. For now I should get back to my real job so I can make some real money so we can continue to pay for this very real experience.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Another week

Another week. Another meeting. Another list of projects to do before the next meeting. We had a great meeting on Monday. Our first "home study" meeting. We are supposed to have 3 face-to-face meetings/"Interviews" -- but we somehow combined the first two meetings into the meeting on Monday. So only one more meeting (November 17th) at our house -- then we're done. We've been told that we should be ready and have everything complete by early-to-mid December.

Abby's rocked this whole project. We've heard stories of initial paperwork, referral letters, Doctor's appointments, etc taking 2-3 months. Abby got everything wrapped up in 2-3 weeks. I'm so lucky to have her as my wife. I'd still be on step 1 if she hadn't taken control.

Weirdest thing for this week: In order for us to adopt we have to be sure we have a rope ladder for our second-story window. Just a small thing to make sure the house is competely safe and secure. It's just another small hoop we have to jump through -- but they keep telling us to jump and we jump. It's getting exciting.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Just a quick note. We will do much better updating the blog after we are over this first step of paperwork. Saturday was 14 pages of answering questions. Monday/Tueseday was writing 5+ pages of Autobiographies -- one 5 pager for Rog, one 5 pager for Ab. We've already got our "homework" done for our November 3rd meeting -- so Ab is turning it in today and seeing about moving the meeting date up. Hurry up and wait. Hurry up and wait. We are hoping to get everything squared away by the first of the year, then we'll just be waiting. (Hopefully Ab can find time to write so you don't have to keep reading my posts!) -- Right now she had two jobs: Court Reporting and Adoption. Thanks for all of your continued support. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And away we go...

We've taken the plunge. After trying to direct our own lives we decided to LET GO AND LET GOD. And what a difference. For the first time in a long time we are both at ease and completely relaxed. I'm sure Abby will fill you in on more details as we go. My job is just to let everyone know we have started the paper work to adopt from Ethiopia. (That's in Africa, Pops). Our dream timeline is to have a new bundle of joy home for Christmas 2009. We know we have a long journey ahead but after all we've been through it feels great to be headed down a road we KNOW will have a successful outcome. We've filled out the first round of paperwork and had our first round of digital fingerprinting. The running joke so far is this: If everyone had to go through all this to have a baby the entire human race would have died off LONG, LONG ago. Here we go.

Friday, September 5, 2008

We Are Doing Fine

Yes, our first cycle of IVF did fail. After getting a second negative home pregnancy test on Tuesday morning, I kind of already knew what the news was going to be on Thursday, but of course we had to wait until yesterday afternoon to get the final say. Tuesday was definitely a much harder day for me than yesterday, but poor Roger, who is my eternal optimist, held out hope until we had the blood test results, so he was more than disappointed last night. It is of course devastating news, but both Roger and I concurred that we feel like a huge burden has been lifted off our shoulders. We didn't realize how all-consuming this process had become the last couple of months, and for now at least we feel free from it all. We haven't made up our mind completely about what we'll do next, but more than likely we'll try IVF at least one more time, maybe in October or November, and see if we can get a better result. We qualified for what is called the Outcome Based Plan which means this: You get three tries (cycles). If the first cycle fails, which it did, we can opt to not try anymore and get 100% of our cycle fee that we paid refunded back to us. We can try a second time and if it fails get 75% of our money back and then if we try a third time and it fails we get 50% of our money back. It's tempting at this point to take the money and run! But I'm sure we'll give it one more try before we throw in the towel. Right now I'm looking forward to a break from all the injections and doctor appointments.

I haven't talked to Dr. A yet, but I did talk to the embryologist yesterday, and I learned quite a bit of what might have contributed to our failed cycle. Apparently our embryos were not as good of quality as Dr. A led us to believe on the day of transfer. Embryos are graded on a 1 to 3 scale with 1 being the best and 3 being the worst. Even though we did a 5-day transfer, which is the most conducive for the embryos, the quality of both of the embryos used was actually a Grade 2 and not a Grade 1 like we thought. I guess I didn't ask specific enough questions, but Dr. A led us to believe that the embryos looked "perfect" and therefore we only needed to transfer two, not three. I also learned yesterday that we have no frozen embryos. We were told we would have at least one. We have none. The fact that we have no frozen embryos doesn't really bother me; the fact that there seems to be a communication problem between me and Roger and our doctor does. I understand the value in being optimistic, but I would like to know the whole story too. So, anyway, that may be the reason we are not pregnant. We'll hope for better embryos the next time around if we decide to try again.

Thank you , thank you, thank you so much for all the emails, phone calls, text messages, and blog comments from everyone. Your support has meant so very much to me and Roger. We have some amazing friends and family, that's for sure. I'm planning on leaving the blog open for now, although there will probably not be a whole lot of posts until we decide what we're going to do. Adoption is still very much in our mind and heart right now, and all of this could be leading us to that very place. You just never know.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Bearer of Bad News....

Well shit! That didn't work. Can't think of any other words at this point. We got the results back today and it appears that Round #1 of IVF was not successful. We appreciate all your kind words and prayers. For some reason this whole "prego" thing just isn't for us, yet. All is as well as can be expected around the house. Tomorrow is another day.
"This too shall pass"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"The Waiting"

I'm not quite as eloquent as Abby, but I thought I'd add a little something to the blog.

Tom Petty said it best:
The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

Big week this week. We'd appreciate all your positive thoughts and prayers.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Encouragement During this Long Wait....

Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:3-4

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Our Beautiful Embryos!

These are our two perfect embryos we transferred today! This is the actual picture Dr. A gave us which Roger then took a picture of the picture to post on the blog for everyone to see. Dr. A said they both look exactly like a healthy 5-day blastocyst is supposed to look, could have been a picture right out of a textbook. We actually had three blastocysts that could have been transferred today, but Dr. A is so confident in the quality of these two embryos that he said there's no reason to put back three and risk having triplets and all the potential pregnancy complications that can come along with that. I tried to talk him into it, but to no avail. It makes me sad to think of that one little embryo frozen all by itself, but I'll get over it. At least we have one frozen embryo for future use. The procedure only lasted about 10 minutes start to finish -- really easy. No pain or bleeding at all. Unlike my two IUIs last summer. Then I laid perfectly still for 30 minutes and was released to go to our hotel where I'm now vegging out horizontally until about noon tomorrow. A lot of reading, sleeping, eating, and movie-watching.
I'm down to one injection a day now (Lovenox -- a blood thinner) along with our progesterone injection Roger gives me every three days. I also take a prenatal vitamin, a baby aspirin, Dexamethasone, and now will be adding vaginal suppositories (to help keep my uterine lining thick) twice a day. Yuck, I know.
I will find out next Thursday, Sept. 4, if we are pregnant. I will do a blood pregnancy test on Sept. 2 and then again on Sept. 4 and if the number has at least doubled between the 2nd and the 4th that will be our confirmation that we have succeeded! Until then we wait and pray.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Art of Growing Embryos

We got a call from the Sher Institute this morning around 10:00 a.m. to let us know we still have teeny tiny babies growing in petri dishes! Out of the 6 embryos 2 look great, 2 look good, and 2 look not so good. So right now we are expecting four viable embryos to do a 5-day transfer on Tuesday! Once again, great news! We aren't writing the other 2 off yet as they may still catch up/improve by Tuesday, but we were told to expect 4. If, in fact, it is 4 embryos on Tuesday, our plan is to transfer the 2 best and freeze the other 2. IF somehow one or both of the lesser quality embryos catches up and we have more than 4 to work with, I would like to put 3 back. So that's it for now. We won't get any more phone calls between now and Tuesday unless something unfortunate happens. Our transfer is scheduled for around noon on Tuesday and we will come home early evening on Wednesday. Hopefully we'll have Internet service in the hotel room and I'll be able to post Tuesday night sometime. In the meantime I'm going to be eating two whole/fresh pineapples! The girl I talked to during my immune treatment last Monday who was pregnant with her sister's twins told me pineapples have some certain enzyme in them that's good for implantation. Anything to help the cause!

Friday, August 22, 2008

We Have Fertilization!

My nurse called at 3:00 this afternoon to let us know that 7 of the 13 eggs retrieved yesterday were mature and therefore appropriate to be fertilized. And of the 7.......6 fertilized! We are soooo excited to get this news! Roger has awesome swimmers who really know how to do their job! Now we wait until Sunday morning for our next phone call to let us know if we will do a 3-day transfer (on Sunday afternoon) or a 5-day transfer (on Tuesday). There's some varying opinions in the medical community about which day is better to transfer embryos back to the uterus, but my doctor believes a 5-day transfer is best case scenario because it allows the embryos time to develop a little bit more and reach blastocyst stage before transferring them back to me. I think it's just a case-by-case situation of watching each particular couple's embryos to see how well they're tolerating the petri dish and whether the embryologist thinks it would be beneficial to get them into the womb sooner. Either way, we won't know our transfer day until Sunday morning. And, of course, we still don't know how many we'll transfer back because we don't know how many out of the 6 will make it that far. I hope and pray all of them grow like they're supposed to so we can freeze some of them for a future cycle (the alternative is destroying them which I can't fathom doing), but we'll just have to wait and see. Once we go back to STL for the transfer we'll stay overnight since I have to be on bed rest for 24 hours afterwards to give the embryos the most hospitable conditions possible.

After being doubled over in pain last night due to my egg retrieval, I woke up this morning feeling almost 100%. I felt so much better, in fact, that I thought it would be perfectly fine to vacuum my bedroom and hardwoods. Big mistake. I had to cut my shower short and lay soaking wet on the bed for 30 minutes because I thought I was either going to pass out or throw up from the cramps I was experiencing. I guess when they said I would need a couple days to recover they meant it! But I am feeling much better now (thanks to two Advil and a couple hours with the heating pad....again) and realize I need to take it easy for the next week. I think my body is really starting to wonder, "What the *** is going on here?"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Egg Retrieval Accomplished

The egg retrieval went great today. IV drugs are amazing -- that's all I've got to say. In fact, I wish they were still streaming into my veins as I'm writing this to hide the intense abdominal cramps I'm experiencing right this minute. It's normal to have abdominal discomfort because they seriously jabbed a needle through my uterus and directly into both ovaries to aspirate the follicles. Ouch! But anyway, we were in and out of the office within an hour and a half, so no complications at all. They retrieved 13 eggs -- one more than I was expecting! The nurse reassured me that's a good number (because I'm paranoid and ask a million questions all the time). After it was all over I thought he only got 8, but I guess I was somewhat coherent during the procedure and heard Dr. A say something about 8 eggs, but he wasn't done retrieving yet, hence the confusion. Drugs do strange things to your mind. We will get a phone call sometime tomorrow (Friday) letting us know how many eggs fertilized. I can't believe Roger and I are potentially creating embryos right this minute. It's really quite amazing. I just hope my body will be nice to them when they're put back in.

Roger did my first IM (intramuscular shot) in my rear this evening. He did such a fantastic job! I'm so proud of him. I felt so bad for him when I handed him the 2-inch needle and saw the look of terror cross his face. It certainly is large and just a might bit intimidating! But we iced my butt cheek up really good and he took his time, and it went off without a hitch. The injection is progesterone in oil and we only have to do it every three days, so it's not too bad. I told him the hardest one was over, by far!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

880 miles...

Roger's take:
2 days + 2 trips from Springfield to STL = 880 miles. We can tell you where each "clean" gas station restroom is along I-44....and the ones to avoid. A couple of things I've learned over the past 2 days....Abby and I will NEVER live in a city with more traffic than Springfield (read previous post)....When your wife is hooked up to an IV getting meds it's best to do exactly what she says. Exactly. (Lesson #1 for pregnancy.) But this is the craziest thing I've learned the past 48 hours. Next time you have $45.00 burning a hole in your pocket don't take your wife out to a good dinner or any other type of date. Get in the car and drive to the nearest gas station. Put $35.00 in the tank, spend $10.00 on water, snacks, red bull and candy, and drive on the highway for 3+ hours with nothing but music on the radio. It really sucked that we had to come back yesterday and drive to STL today, but driving on the interstate is an awesome way to spend quality time with your wife. No TV. No computer. Nothing but each other, snacks, and an endless road. (However, if your wife is on meds and hates traffic, it's best to avoid rush hour in St.Louis)

In case you are like me and would rather watch a video instead of reading, here's a decent video I found about IVF. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WypK9TpD34

Thursday It Is!

Our egg retrieval is scheduled for noon this Thursday. After looking at the follicles again today, Dr. A decided sooner rather than later will work the best for us. He counted 12 follicles (how appropriate - a dozen eggs!) ranging in size from 14 all the way up to 24 which seems kind of strange to me, but he said that's normal and out of our control and we should expect a good number of good quality eggs. I sure hope so! I will do my trigger shot tonight at 11 p.m., which is exactly 37 hours before the retrieval, and then I am done with shots for a while, like a few days maybe. That's okay. I'll take whatever break I can get!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Looong Day...

So it's 8:52 p.m. and we're finally home from St. Louis....only to turn around tomorrow morning and drive right back for another ultrasound. Gotta love it. Nothing is wrong. In fact, everything is going as planned. Dr. A upped my Follistim dose from 225 mg to 300 mg for tonight's injection to get some of the follicles to grow a little bit more before the egg retrieval. They're ranging in size between 12 to 16 with two of them in the right ovary measuring 21. He wants the majority of them to be between 16 and 20(?) on the day of the egg retrieval, so the two 21s are most likely already out of the running. It's very normal to have your medication tweaked to get the perfect-sized eggs at the perfect time, hence all the ultrasounds so he can monitor them very, very carefully. We were warned we could have appointments back to back, but I think we kind of forgot and were a little surprised when we were told to come back tomorrow. Why didn't we just spend the night in STL tonight, you ask? Well, we didn't have any clean clothes with us for tomorrow, it's cheaper to sleep at our house rather than a hotel, and I didn't bring all my drugs and vitamins with me to get me through another day/night. Driving at this point is not that big of a deal. It gives us time together to regroup and digest everything that is happening.

As we were driving in horrendous rush hour St. Louis traffic this morning to get to my 8:00 a.m. appointment, I had a bit of an anxiety attack (thanks to my PTSD from my '03 car accident) and walked into the clinic with a red tear-stained face (thanks to my uncontrollable mood swings), so that started off the day with a bang. Then the first thing the receptionist does before she even greets us is informs us we have a $53.27 balance we owe, which just kind of rubs you the wrong way after we've already paid the amount of money we have to them. As if we're not good for it! Thank goodness we love our doctor as much as we do because the support staff leaves something to be desired once in a while. Oh, well. I think that can happen no matter where you receive your health care. BUT, anyway, my uterine lining is measuring 10.5 mm which is very good and right where it should be. I didn't ask exactly how many follicles I have, but the nurse who was in the room with us during the ultrasound told me "Good job!" after Dr. A got done counting and measuring, so I guess that means I'm doing something right.

I had my first (of hopefully many) immune treatments today which is called IVig. It was at a different office a couple miles from the Sher Institute. The transfusion consists of human blood product (like plasma) and is supposed to suppress my crazy overactive NK cells so my body won't kill off the embryos after the embryo transfer. Don't ask me how, but that's the theory behind it. My next IVIg treatment will be a few days after my positive pregnancy test and then once a month for the first six months of pregnancy. During the treatment all I have to do is sit in a recliner and receive an IV drip and drink lots of water. I was told it would take three to four hours and it took six and a half! Again, par for the course for the way today went. As of right now I have no side effects, so that is very, very good news. Some of the side effects I was warned about were headaches, nausea, body aches. Basically flu-like symptoms. I was instructed to drink lots and lots of water before, during, and after the treatment, which I've done, so that's probably why I'm symptom-free.

The very wonderful thing that happened today (besides the good report from Dr. A) was there was another girl sitting next to me receiving the same treatment as me, and she is eight months pregnant with her sister's twin boys! They're dealing with a problem called alpha matching rather than NK cells, but the same IVIg treatment can be effective for that problem as well. Anyway, we spent six and a half hours talking about our experiences and IVF in general (along with speculating amongst ourselves whether our nurse knew what the heck she was doing) and it was really, really awesome to talk so personally to someone else. Of course, it's a little different because she's a surrogate for her sister, but I learned so much information and got so much reassurance from her and her sister that Roger and I will be able to overcome our infertility with IVF. I just kept looking at her big belly thinking this will all be worth it if I can just look like that someday. After my treatment was finally over and we were ready to walk out the door we were instructed we needed to hand over $500 to pay for the treatment. A little warning would have been nice! It makes sense, of course, that there would be a charge, but no one bothered to tell us beforehand how much it would be or when it would be due, etc. Oh, well. At this point Roger and I have just learned to laugh at the insanity of it all rather than getting upset. It's a whole lot more fun.

So that basically wraps it up, I think. Dr. A is planning to do our egg retrieval this Friday but maybe Thursday. He'll tell us for sure tomorrow. Stay tuned for further details.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Grow, Eggs, Grow!!

Did my first injection of Follistim last night. This will help all 15 (or thereabout) follicles develop into mature eggs that will hopefully be capable of being fertilized next week. So now we're up to two injections a day, one in the morning (Lupron) and one at night (Follistim). It's going well, though, so I can't complain. In addition to the injections I'm taking the Dexamethasone every day with a prenatal vitamin AND a multitude of other vitamins: 1,000 mg Calcium+, 1,000 mg Vitamin C, and 1,500 mg DHA. I said something to my nurse last Friday about my daily headaches, and she said it was probably from the Dexamethasone and that it would be okay to take it only every other day. I verified this with Dr. A and he concurred it would be all right too, but I'd rather just play it safe and deal with headaches than have this cycle fail and wonder if it was because I didn't take the Dexamethasone every day. It wouldn't be prescribed for every day unless there was a very good reason; right?

Monday, August 11, 2008

T-minus 2 weeks?

Right now it feels like the calm before the storm. Like when you know you have to give a speech/presentation in two weeks. All you want to do is hurry up and give the speech -- but first you have to think about it and wonder about it for two weeks. It's all you can think about. And the more you try to think about something else, the more you focus on what's coming up...

Everyone keeps ask how everything is going. Well, so far it's just been a lot of driving and quick doctor appointments. (You gotta love when the doctor APOLOGIZES for making you wait -- and the wait was five minutes.) Dr. A is amazing. Here's just another example of his attitude and confidence:
Abby: We are thinking about putting three fertilized eggs back, when it's time.
Dr. A: Three would be the worst case scenario. I was thinking more along the line of two. And when I say three would be the worst case scenario, I was meaning triplets.
Abby & Roger: Oh, right. Two will be fine.

I couldn't ask for two better people to be going through this with.
Dr. A has the attitude and confidence that just puts you at ease and makes you optimistic.
Abby is rocking with the shots, side-effects, and all the other stuff that I have no idea about. She's an absolute stud! (Sorry, couldn't think of a better word).

Friday, August 8, 2008

So Far So Good

Our appointment went well today. It was super-fast. No better way to spend a Friday than driving six hours for a 15-minute appointment! Oh, well. As long as it's good news I'm fine with it. Dr. A says I have around 15 follicles. He also said my left ovary was more prolific than my right. Maybe it's because I'm left-handed! At any rate, that number is exactly where it should be for someone my age. He was also checking for ovarian cysts of which I have none. Also very good news. I had blood drawn to measure my E2 levels, but haven't heard back on that yet. I will assume it's normal for now until I hear otherwise. It was nice to meet our doctor again, though, as this is only the second time we've seen him face to face. Roger really likes him and is impressed with him so far. So am I, of course, but I'm so thrilled that Roger is happy with him.

I did have my first blunder this morning. In the midst of trying to leave for St. Louis on time (6:30 a.m.), I accidentally left my Lupron sitting on the bathroom counter after I did my injection rather than putting it back in the refrigerator like I'm supposed to. I called my nurse, Peggy, when we got home and she assured me that it is fine and will still be effective and I don't need to get a new vial FedEx'd overnight like I thought I would. Duh. Won't do that again.

P.S. I would like to give my husband HUGE props for being the absolute best husband a girl could ever ask for. I tell him this frequently, but I'm not sure he believes me sometimes. His support and patience has been absolutely limitless, and I don't know what I would do without his humor. He is going to make an incredible dad someday, but, of course, I knew that before I even married him. I am one very lucky girl.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Dreaded Dex

After a week of being on Lupron and Dexamethasone, I can officially say I am experiencing side effects. I was hoping to be one of the lucky few who wouldn't, but, alas, that is not the case.

Side effect No. 1: Extreme hunger -- the kind where you think you might throw up if you don't eat immediately. This is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. I'm just powering through with glass after glass of water trying to trick my brain into thinking I'm full.

Side effect No. 2: Hangover-like headaches every afternoon. I'm actually not sure if this is from (1) the Dexamethasone; (2) the fact that I quit taking BCP (birth control pill) Sunday night and therefore my body is adjusting to new hormone levels; or (3) from taking a depo every day for the past two weeks to try to compensate for our medical expenses. Whatever the cause is, it's annoying.

Side effect No. 3: Mood swings. Last Thursday I had myself a really good cry in the car for no apparent reason at all listening to "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban. Seriously.

Side effect No.4: Obsessive/compulsive disorder. I don't even want to know how many times I walk over to the refrigerator every day to check and recheck my drug calendar to make sure I've done the right injection in the right dose at the right time, didn't forget to start a new medication, etc., etc., etc.

Other than that, everything is going great!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Upcoming doctor appointment

This Friday I will go to St. Louis to have my first ultrasound done and also have blood drawn to measure my hormone (E2) levels. The purpose of this ultrasound is to look at how many follicles my ovaries are likely to produce this month so my doctor can get an idea of how many eggs to expect when he does the egg retrieval sometime the week of August 18th. Yes, I did say "follicles" as in plural. All healthy women of reproductive age produce multiple follicles naturally (as many as 10 to 20) each month. Of those follicles only one of them matures into one egg that is released each month (or, in the case of fraternal twins, two). Because we are doing IVF, I will take a follicle-stimulating hormone called Follistim to help ALL of my follicles mature and develop into eggs. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we hope to have lots of eggs retrieved for fertilization! This does not mean we will have 10 to 20 embryos when all is said and done. Some of the eggs retrieved will not be fully mature, even though that is the goal, and unable to be fertilized, and then, of course, some eggs once they are fertilized will not develop at all or start to develop and then arrest. So this is really a case of survival of the fittest. Our hopes are to grow at least two really great embryos to put back that will result in a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby/babies! I will post another blog after my doctor's appointment so we all know how healthy and productive my ovaries are.

Roger and I have had this question asked many times: "What if you have four or five babies?" I can assure you this will not be the case. By doing IVF you will only have as many babies as embryos put back into your uterus. It is a very controlled situation. For example, if we decide to put back three embryos, the maximum babies born would be three, but more than likely two, one, or none. There is that very, very unlikely chance we could get one more than expected IF one embryo divided after it was put back and resulted in identical twins, but neither Roger nor I have identical twins in our family, so that is the least of our worries at this point. As of right now we have no idea how many embryos will be used in our embryo transfer. We have to wait and see (right up to the day of transfer, even) to find out the quality and quantity of embryos Roger and I make together and what the appropriate number to put back will be.

If you've ever watched "Jon & Kate Plus 8" on TLC or have heard of the McCaughey septuplets from Carlisle, Iowa, those children were born through a fertility treatment called IUI (intrauterine insemination), NOT through IVF. Doing an IUI is a lot less expensive than IVF but also less controlled. Basically the mother takes a fertility medication (Clomid) to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs and then her doctor will inject sperm directly into her uterus at the opportune time of the month in the hopes that at least one egg will get fertilized and then implant successfully. The chance of having high-order multiples (four or more) as a result of an IUI is incredibly slim, but it does happen. And when it does we all hear about it which makes everyone paranoid about fertility treatments. It's a little misleading. But what isn't misleading when the media is involved?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Roger's Take...

Thought I would throw a quick comment or two up since I am halfway (more like 25%) involved in this whole ordeal. Yes, I missed out on Abby's first shot yesterday cause I was at the gym...so I decided to stay home this morning and help her out. I don't know if it's the side-effects of the drugs, or just nerves, but something has happened to my wife. She was up before me, gave herself a shot, and even made a Egg Sandwich for breakfast. (Keep in mind this is the same lady I usually kiss on my way to work -- as she's still in bed.)

She amazes me each day...

(Also, please notice we added Adalyn Grace's blog to our list -- Sorry about that Adalyn)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First Injection -- Easy Peasy!

So it's not nearly as bad as I thought it might be, although I did have to lay on the bathroom floor for just a quick minute after I was done due to a little light-headedness. I think it was just the mental stress and the anxiety build-up, though. I even managed to administer the injection by myself while Roger was at the gym. As I was laying in bed this morning half asleep, I kept having dreams of giving myself the first shot, so I figured it might be best to just get up and get it over with for real. So, anyway, I think the scariest injection is over with now and it will just get easier from here on out.

I also started the Dexamethasone, which is a low-dose steroid, this morning too. It's just a tiny little white pill that I will take daily for the next month or so. Actually, I'm not sure yet how long I take it. This is supposed to decrease inflammation and reduce the inflammatory response of my body to the embryos once they are placed in my uterus later this month. Apparently there can be side effects to Dexamethasone that include insomnia and increase in appetite. I'm hoping to ignore my hunger pains and avoid gaining 30 pounds this month!

Friday, July 25, 2008

In the Beginning....

After much encouragement (harassment) from Roger, I have finally decided to sit down and attempt to chronicle our IVF journey. Let me preface this by saying this blog is intended for our friends and family who are concerned/interested/curious/cheering us on in this complicated process, but, of course, we all know we are sharing our story with the whole world via the Internet. We thought this might be a more efficient way of keeping everyone up-to-date rather than retelling details to different people over and over again and things getting lost in translation. I realize this may seem to some like such a personal experience to be sharing with absolutely everyone, but as our close friends and parents have probably figured out by now, talking and sharing has actually proven to be a very therapeutic way for us to deal with our infertility. But that's just us. Different things work for different people, and I understand why some choose to keep this topic a private matter. And since this is a personal topic of conversation, you may learn very personal things about us, so I make no apologies if I offend anyone. There is no such thing as TMI (too much information) on this blog. I think we all know where babies come from.

A little history as to how we got here:

April 2006 -- went off the pill and actively started trying to get pregnant

January 2007 -- Roger's first test -- found out he has normal swimmers

April 2007 -- Abby's first diagnostic test -- HSG (dye test of the fallopian tubes) -- came back normal

July 2007 -- first IUI (intrauterine insemination) with the use of Clomid -- no luck at all

August 2007 -- second IUI -- second verse, same as the first

November 2007 -- Abby's second diagnostic test -- laparoscopic surgery with a diagnosis of mild endometriosis (grade 2) -- our "assumed" culprit, although women with endometriosis manage to get pregnant all the time.

After my laparoscopic surgery we decided we were done trying. Because if there's anyone out there reading this who has ever had the lovely experience of having to "try" to get pregnant, you know it takes all the joy out of Mudville. It's really only fun for a couple of months until you start feeling like something is wrong and you're convinced there just has to be a reason why you're not pregnant yet. Although, I will add this caveat: I firmly believe in women's intuition and just plain ol' gut feelings. So, needless to say, a year and half of timed sex was enough and we were ready for a break. We decided to take 2008 off as far as baby-making stuff went. Throughout this time we had discussions about what we would do if we were unable to conceive naturally, and at the beginning of 2008 we came to the conclusion (or so we thought) that we would rather adopt than do IVF.

Fast forward to May of 2008 when my Type A personality takes over and cannot leave the current topic of conversation alone. At least I made it almost halfway through the year before I started obsessing again. I took a trip to Barnes & Noble and purchased five books on adoption to prepare ourselves for the next steps we would take in becoming parents. After making it through one book I had a "moment" and realized I was not ready to give up on having a biological child. I guess I was sort of feeling like by adopting we were taking the high road. Instead of forcing something to happen that should happen naturally, we would be accepting our destiny and doing the "right" thing. At the ripe old age of 27 (okay -- practically 28), I have to admit: I am not ready to adopt. There may come a day when we are ready and the realization that adoption is and has always been our fate will be as obvious as the sun in the sky, but for now we still have a long road to walk to get there.

After much Internet researching and a suggestion from my OB/GYN, I found the Sher Institute whose Web site address happens to be haveababy.com. Pretty straightforward, don't you think? After one trip to St. Louis in June to do blood tests on both of us and another procedure on me (a hysteroscopy which came back normal), we feel we finally have the real answer as to why we are so reproductively challenged (or I should say "I" since Roger is the perfect picture of health). Apparently I have an immune disorder which in essence means this: My body (NK cells) is attacking early stage embryos and destroying them off as if they were cancer cells. So efficiently, in fact, that I have never even had a late period. I would love to be able to explain this medical phenomenon more thoroughly, but quite frankly it is too technical and complicated for me to do so accurately. If you want more information, I would suggest you Google NK cells (natural killer cells) and hopefully find an explanation that way. In the midst of researching NK cells I also learned this: 30% (I think I read that number somewhere; regardless, a large percentage) of women who are diagnosed with endometriosis also have an immune problem. Apparently endometriosis can be a sign/indication of an immune problem. Thanks to modern day medicine there is a very specific blood test you can have done to detect elevated NK cells, but you cannot go to your local doctor or clinic to have it done; I think it has to be done through a fertility specialist and then shipped to one of a very few labs in the country. The lab the Sher Institute uses is Millenova Laboratories out of Chicago. This blood test is relatively expensive (although in the whole scheme of IVF a drop in the bucket) but very worth it. So, after two years of being told by a bazillion well-meaning people that I'm young and healthy and anatomically normal and I will someday get pregnant when I quit worrying about it, we now have a different story. Luckily there is a treatment for this condition that I will explain later on. So, after all those years of being on birth control, the joke is on me. I've had it built in all along.

Let me get on my soap box for just one minute since this is my blog, after all. There are very strong and well-known recommendations out there for women my age to try to get pregnant naturally for at least a year before pursuing any type of testing, but I feel differently. If you're willing to spend the money and want the peace of mind, contact a fertility clinic to just get some basic tests done. You can get testing done through a fertility specialist without doing any treatments. As good as my OB/GYN may be, she did not explain that to me AT ALL. After two failed IUIs I asked if there were any more tests (i.e., bloodwork) I could have done and she told me that since my period is/was completely normal and regular, there would be no reason to have any other tests done since that's what they would be testing for. And that the only thing left to do would be a laparoscopic surgery to check for endometriosis. I beg to differ.

ANYWAY, here we are, July 25, 2008. I have been on birth control for almost three weeks now to keep my ovaries "asleep" until they will be manipulated with fertility drugs to do certain things as my doctor dictates. Today I received a very large refrigerated box via FedEx full of more drugs and needles than I can really wrap my mind around at this point. Next Wednesday, which happens to be one day after my birthday, I will give myself my first injection of Lupron, something I will do every day for approximately 20 days, and our first IVF cycle will have officially started. Happy Birthday to me! Needless to say, Roger and I are very, very excited and hopeful that this process will result in our child/children! At this point I have a hard time comprehending that, but I'm getting there. I have been called a pessimist in my day, but I prefer to call myself a realist. It's just who I am. ButI do have all the confidence in the world in our doctor and the Sher Institute, and I'm more than happy to hand our infertility situation over to them and let them work their magic.

Right now I'm still recovering from sticker shock. In the past week we have written checks to pay for the fertility medications and the cycle fee which insurance does not cover at all, of course. So as of right now we are paid up. IF our first try at IVF fails, we of course will fork over more drug money for the next cycle, whenever we choose to pursue that. We were well aware of what this was going to cost us, but it is still painful to hand the money over. Let me just say that I feel incredibly blessed Roger and I are even able to consider doing IVF. I'll just leave it at that. No need to be negative.

So there it is in a nutshell. I promise future postings will be shorter, but I felt the need to give as much background info as possible so we are all on the same page. I will do my best to blog in a timely fashion and give pertinent updates as things start to happen. Our egg retrieval is scheduled for the week of August 18th with the embryo transfer three to six days after that. That probably means nothing to anyone right now, but I'll explain later.

Roger and I would greatly appreciate everyone's prayers as we journey through IVF as we all know this is up to God no matter how much medical intervention we have access to.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008