Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for the Valleys?

I should warn you that this is going to be one long post, but I promise it does have a happy ending!

Last night in our home fellowship group our pastor posed the question of why we ought to be thankful.  Being Thanksgiving and all, my mind automatically went to the “blessings” side of my brain and counted off all of the awesome things that God has done this year. 

The pastor then added, what about being thankful when we are in the midst of a trial, suffering or other unwelcome event which takes place in our lives.

Huh…well…um…that took some serious thought!

It is so easy to be thankful on the mountaintops, but it’s when God has us in the valleys that we lean into Him and grow the most. 

In thinking about what I am most thankful for this year, my heart doesn’t immediately thank God for dry valleys…the infertility, Tall man’s genetic disease, the chemical pregnancy and loss of our donated embryos earlier this year, or the fact that I spend 40+ hours a week away from my 2 year old while I’m at work.  Those things naturally don’t rise to the top of my praise report list…but they should. 

With some deeper conversations with the Lord, he has shown me that…

It was our journey of infertility that led us to finally discovering the truth about hubby’s genetic disease.  Praise God for His mercy that He did not allow us to conceive naturally and pass on the defective gene.  Praise God for His grace through the people and technology of PGD IVF (that He has gifted and equipped) that our miracle son was born. 

Praise God for infertility that led us to embryo adoption this year.  My heart grieves that loss, but we praise God that the embryos are no longer in that forever frozen state and have now gone on to heaven to be with our Creator.  I must also praise God for it was through the witness of that loss that my dear friend who saw my heartache first-hand and response to that situation, ultimately led her to give her life to Christ.

God’s word tells us to…count it all joy when you fall into various trials (James 1:2).  I have to constantly remind myself that it doesn’t say “some” or “when I feel like it.”  It says count ALL.  Really? 

And just to be certain that I get the point, it also says, In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Yep…pretty sure God means everything…including the desolate valley I’ve been walking.

Because…on the other side of this valley, lies a blessing…God’s perfect plan and purpose for my life. 

If you read some of my previous posts, you know that we’ve been waiting for quite some time for our embryo adoption/donation contract to be finalized.  It was taking a long time to hear anything from the donor family.  There was nothing else I could physically do to make the process go any faster. 

All I could do was pray.

The funny thing is…that’s what God wanted all along.  For me to pray…He simply wanted me to spend time with Him…alone, in His word.

So, for the past few weeks, I’ve been getting up at Oh-dark-thirty, grabbing my Bible and my blanket, heading out to my patio, and spending some amazing alone time with my Creator, my Friend and my Savior.  He is with me as the sun comes up and gives me thoughts to carry for the rest of the day.  I look forward to these moments as He breathes life into me.

What has been amazing was that as I spent more time with Him, the focus of my prayers shifted from me, the embryos, me, our family, me, me, me…to Him, His power, His might and His will and direction for our lives. 

And low and behold when I wasn’t expecting it, I got a call from our attorney.  The precious embryos we had been waiting for have now joined our family.  Poof, just like that --- the contract was finished.  Signed, sealed and delivered!

The twinkle babies are ours!

What a reminder that my perspective is so small, so tiny and shallow.  God’s word and His promises are true, but it’s because of this trial I can finally see that His hand is on me, has been on me and takes care of the entire span of the universe! 

So, am I thankful for valleys?  This is most certainly not a "bring-it-on" invitation for more trials to enter my life, but I will say that whatever the Lord is doing through our trials, I have faith that it is all because He loves me.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

Monday, November 15, 2010

Biopsy results are in...

After red tape with my insurance, the x-ray machine breaking and my original biopsy postponed...I finally had a stereotactic biopsy last Friday to check to see if the cluster of cells in my breasts was cancer. 

I slipped into a stylish turquoise (open-to-the-front) hospital gown, entered a room that quite honestly could have kept popsicles frozen, and hopped up onto a gigantic table for the procedure.

Picture this...

Picture a massage or chiropractor table (sound nice and relaxing, right?). was an examination table...except the hole wasn't up here for my face, it was lower and to the right a little.  Yep, a booby-hole...very strange.

So, there I laid, horizontal on the table, face down (bb through the strange opening) while the table was lifted up to the ceiling by a hydraulic lift.  I am seriously not making this stuff up!  It wasn't jiffy lube it was jiffy-boob.  That was where I stayed for the next hour!

The equipment and uncomfortable position allowed for the doctor, the tech and the assistant to pierce needles into my breast via ultra-fancy, high-tech machines, and retrieve samples for pathology.  Did I mention that they had me place my arm and shoulder through that same hole, too?  I am still bruised from those contorted poses!

While they were in there, they shot a titanium marker into "me" to mark the spot.  It is to help the doctor/surgeon locate the cells in the future.  The titanium maker stays a part of me no matter the outcome.  They assured me I won't be setting off any metal detectors at the airport. 

But now to the best news ever...

After waiting all weekend and most of Monday, the doctor called with the biopsy results...

...It was negative!  Hallelujah and praise God!  He is faithful and merciful. 

I used to be worried that road blocks were sending us off our path and self-imposed timeline to our frozen transfer (which if you'll remember we originally planned for late-October, early-November).  Well, everything happens for a reason and I am now thanking God for my life instead of worrying when the transfer will be.

Taking one day at a time.

I'm also concerned about our lack of a contract...still.  But that, my friends, is a topic for a different post.

Thank you for your prayers.  I definitely felt them!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

EA contract closer, but FET postponed til New Year

Today, we are one step closer to bringing our twinkle babies home.

I received a call from our attorney about our Embryo Adoption process. Contract is being finalized and coming to us for signatures!

Bear in mind that the process doesn't usually take this long for most people, but we had a few obstacles to overcome before moving forward. 

1) My biopsy - Part of the testing to prepare for a FET involved a mammogram since I am now 40 years old.  Results came back abnormal. The biopsy has been rescheduled twice; the appointment is tomorrow.

2) Slow going communication - Since the world of EA is so new, attorneys that do legal work for EA don't only do reproductive law.  Between our attorney (who is amazing), the donor attorney and the donor family, everything just takes longer to communicate back and forth.  We chose these twinkle babies back in August.

3) Additional testing for Donor dad - The list of infectious diseases that donors are tested for has expanded over the past few years.  Which is why our donor had to go back for additional testing even though the twinkle babies were created in 2007.

The good news is that we are closer.  Praise God for that.  He holds these babies in His hand whether they will be ours right now, in two months, or ever.  We are trusting in the Lord that He has a plan for their lives (and ours).  We do know that the babies becoming part of our family is only the beginning. 

When we met with Dr. K and the nurse in August, we (our plans) were to do a FET in October.  Well, October has come and gone and we are still a family of three without a signed contract for our twinkle babies.  God's plan is obviously outside of our teeny view and we wait on Him for our next steps.

Hubby and I have both been feeling like God has been asking us to WAIT to do this FET which is one of the most difficult things we've been faced with lately.  My heart so desperately wanted to do this NOW, which is why I couldn't understand why God put on my heart to "wait".  After all, we have waited years for this moment.

So, we have prayerfully decided to postpone our FET until the beginning of the year (2011) for the following reasons:

  • Hubby just got a new job in law enforcement and will be in academy/training for the next three months.
  • Biopsy and health holdups - biopsy is finally tomorrow
  • Holidays - I really want my two-year old (and us) to enjoy every moment together this Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We have alot to be thankful for.
  • Save more money for FET and legal costs.
  • New Flexible Spending Account begins again on January 1, 2011 (tax free dollars for FET replenished)
  • Little Mister's 3rd birthday in early February.
I've felt God confirm our decision by giving me peace in my heart.  I would normally get hung up on the "what ifs" and "if onlys" in life, but this time it's very different.  God has given me this "extra" time to prepare so that I can get deeper into His word, spent time with Him, rely on Him to provide my counsel and guidance and spend quality loving moments with hubby and little mister without the stress of treatments.

The Lord is my strength and my shield.  My heart trusted in Him and I am helped.  Psalm 28:7

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rest, Trust and Be Still

It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged, but if you’ve been following our journey, you know that there are a few things going on with our family and my health at the moment.

We are still in a holding pattern with the Embryo Adoption.  And come to find out that the testing that my RE had me do to prepare for the FET revealed abnormal cells that need a closer look.  As in…biopsy!

Despite the place of limbo I’m in at the moment, I have leaned on my Creator even more.  It is His peace that passes all understanding that I’m after. 

That said, I’ve felt like the Holy Spirit has been convicting me of a few things that have begun to take a greater hold on my life lately.

1) Keep God first in everything.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33) I will admit, I tend to struggle with this one because I get overloaded with life’s little checklists.

2) Not seek after my own solutions.  Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5,6)  When our EA attorney hadn’t heard back from the donor couple this week, I automatically went into “Plan B” mode. God has our best interests in mind and wants to bless His precious lambs.  Why on earth would I think my plans are so much better than His?

3) Decrease the amount of time I spend on “research.” I have gleaned so much from my amazing sisterhood of IVF sisters and currently from all of the beautiful EA sisters out there, but my weakness is that I tend to look to this information for answers.  Don’t get me wrong, I am so blessed by you amazing women who have charted the course before me, but I have to remember to “seek the counsel of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 18″4) first and foremost! Then and only then should I do my “research.”

4) Not get consumed.  It’s easy to get consumed with growing our family, how it will happen, or even if it will happen at all.  But I have to remember that unless I’m getting consumed with the Lord, then it’s probably time I check to make sure that I haven’t created an idol that takes away from my time with God.  You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

5) Love the family He has blessed me with. There is no greater joy than the joy I feel when I look at my miracle son.  No doubt the Lord has truly blessed us with this Little Mister conceived via PGD IVF.  A regret I don’t want to have is spending all of my time “longing for” or pining after another child and not spending that precious time with the miracle blessing that is right here.  My two-year old deserves 100% of his mommy.
I’ve felt the Lord saying to me (for a while now), “Come to Me, lay it at my feet and trust me”.  But my flesh has such a hard time just being still.  I’m a planner by nature, so the whole waiting thing is very uncomfortable for me.  Still, I know this is the area that I need to grow the most (hence, the reason it is uncomfortable).

I chose to share my thoughts tonight because I have felt this tug on my heart for a while.  I don’t know what else to do with the feeling other than to put it out there as a prayer request and lift it up to the Lord.

He has our family in this holding pattern for a reason.  And me trying to chart my own course, may only be getting in the way of an even greater blessing.  Which is the note I will end on…

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Princess...I will heal your heart

Yesterday was one of the difficult moments in my life.  You can read about it here.

In preparation of our FET, I'd been having my share of tests lately.

Two of my tests (my mammogram and ultrasound) came back with not-so-good news.  Since my mammogram and ultrasound revealed a cluster of cells that the radiologist was not comfortable with, he's sending me for a biopsy.  I just kept praying during this conversation.  Praying he would just tell me everything looked fine and that he'd made a mistake. 

Instead, he handed me a brochure (which I won't even get into here because it scared the bijeebers out of me), a pink lunchpail (in celebration of breast cancer awareness month), and sent me on my way.

When I got to my car after this news, I cried and prayed.  My prayers were met by the Lord.  I looked down at my phone and had received this text:

My Princess...
I will heal your heart. Don't get discouraged, my beloved.  Pain is a part of life. 

But I promise I will turn every tear you've cried into joy, and I will use your deep pain for a devine purpose.  Don't try to hide your hurts from me.  I know everything about you. 

You are mine.  My beloved!  I'm the only one who can handle your heart and restore you to health and wholeness again.  I, too, have felt great pain.  But we can go through every trial together. 

Hand in hand I will lead you back to my place of peace and joy after the storm.  The sun will shine on you again, and your heart will be healed. 

I promise you, my princess, that when you go through the deep waters of great trouble, I will be with you. 

When you go through the waters of difficulty you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression you will not be burned.  Isaiah 43:1-2

Your King and your Healer

God's timing is perfect.  He knew that I would need His comfort after walking out of my appointment.

He will heal my body and my heart, no matter what this biopsy reveals. 

I am so grateful for my dear sister in Christ who sent me this text.  She was sending it for one purpose, but God used it for another.  Her obedience to the Lord in that moment to hit the "send" button so that I would receive His message was amazing.  God is amazing!

I've had a feeling lately that our FET may have to be postponed, but I never dreamed it would be because of something like this.

So, for now...we wait.  Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Defining Moments in Life

Looking back on life, I can think of a few defining moments that have changed me forever.  Moments that I will never forget the who, what, when and where...the words that were said and how my heart felt.  Otherwise normal moments in time that were interrupted by life-changing news that I had never expected.  The worst part of each of these memories is that I felt like I was blindsided.

Today was one of those moments.

But before I get to that, these are the defining moments from my past:
  • The day that my mom told me that my dad had died and was never coming back home.  At the tender age of nine, I can still remember walking across our lawn hoping she was wrong.
  • The day my mother's doctor called and said, "She just left us."
  • The day I went in for "routine" tests at my ob/gyn's office, when I got a glimse of my chart with the word, "Infertility" written on it. The insensitivity of my (former) doctor and the shocking revelation that I had become part of the statistics.
  • The day our genetic counselor uttered the words, "Its not good news." That was the day we came face to face with our future and living with a neurological disease.
  • The day this past April that our RE called us to give us the results of our beta after our frozen embryo transfer (FET).  After four positive pregnancy tests at home, the doctor called to say, "I'm so sorry honey."
Which brings me to where we are now.

As you know, we have been on the amazing journey of embryo adoption/donation and can't wait to become the parents to three beautiful twinkle babies.  The contract is still not signed, but we are getting closer.

Part of Dr. K's orders to prepare my body for the transfer included blood tests for infectious diseases and regular girly tests like pap, breast exam and mammogram.  At 39 years old, this was my first mammogram!

All of the tests came back clear...except the mammogram.  Nurse A called to tell me that there were some slight "calcifications" in my right breast and I would need to go back for an ultrasound. She assured me that calcifications are quite common.

"Anything for baby," I said.  Whatever it takes.

I went in for the second mammogram and ultrasound today. Having heard that calcifications are common, I completely expected to walk in, have the test and walk out. 

After donning my stylish pink gown, the tech took some pictures and asked me to sit tight while the radiologist reviewed the films.  A few minutes later the radiologist came in to give me the results.

The radiologist said very plainly, "I don't like the cluster of cells that I'm seeing, so I am sending you for a biopsy."  Of course, there was so much more to this conversation.  But the bottom line is that the road to FET is being derailed by something that I never saw coming.  I am scared.

I got to my car, broke down in tears and prayed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Prayer of Encouragement as We Wait Upon the Lord

A dear friend reminded me of this beautiful prayer today.  It encouraged me greatly as I hope it does, you too:

Ephesians 3:14-21
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Starting BCP today and hoping EA contract is closer to complete!

My favorite family member, Aunt Flow, showed up on Saturday.  This time...I welcomed her arrival as it meant that I can finally start the BCP in anticipation of our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET).

Still no signed contract with the donor couple, but it is very close.  The attorneys are currently working on the draft and we may even receive it today or tomorrow.

The way I look at it...I have 21 days of the "active" pills to get it all ironed out.  We are so excited to be on this journey.  I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much because our hearts were crushed at our failed FET this past April (even after the initial +HPT).

So for now...I'm going to keep taking the pill and wait.  I want to take this time to search God's word and get to know His character deeper than ever.  I am still in awe that Embryo Adoption/Donation even exists and feel so grateful and honored that a family would give such an unselfish gift...and more importantly that God chose us to possibly be their parents.

God's timing is perfect!  And for now...I am resting in the knowledge of Him, the great Creator of the universe!  I hope to meet my little twinkle babies some day very soon. 

The nurse said today that she will discuss dates, etc after all of our bloodwork is completed.  I am anxiously awaiting for the snail mail to arrive to see exactly what all this bloodwork entails!  Let the needles begin!

So, it's looking like an October or November transfer date.  All I know is that today...we are one step closer.  Thanks for your prayers!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Got the call...moving forward!

What an exciting day!

We received a call today from the coordinator that the donor family responded and we will now enter the next step...the attorneys and contract.

I've said before that I've had a peace in my heart during this new journey.  I can only explain this peace as God-given, because I JUST KNOW it's not comin' from little ol' me!

We also got a call from the attorney tonight, which was reassuring (she's a mom of twins!).  She walked us through the process of what comes next.  The greatest news was that she said these precious little twinkle babies may be part of our family as soon as 10 days from now. 

So, for now we are just praying for God's timing in all of this.  We can't help but get excited over where He has us on our journey at the moment.

I guess alot can happen in just ten days!  Praising God for His miracles every day!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Yay! We are still a GO!

We just received a call from the coordinator (on a Saturday, no less) that they are still waiting to hear back from the donor couple.  I didn't expect a call on a Saturday, but that just confirms what I thought about how busy they are at the fertility clinic.

She said they had an over abundance of fertility procedures in the doctors office in the last two weeks, which hopefully means that many many couples are getting pregnant!

If all goes well, that will be us in a few months.  I am just praying that this FET works and that the precious twinkle babies stick around.

In my quiet time with the Lord today, He reminded me that He fashioned my heart individually.  This just spoke to my heart because he has also fashioned the heart of our (future) babies.  That just blesses me to no end!

I am so grateful that I am not on this journey alone and that He is leading me every step of the way.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Is no news really good news?

We have been in a holding pattern since meeting with our new doctor two weeks ago and have yet to hear anything from our coordinator regarding the (hopefully, “our”) twinkle babies.

I do have a peace in my heart that no news just means that they are super busy at the doctor's office.  God is definitely teaching me patience in all of this. 

That said, I still glance at my phone (like a teenager) hoping that it will ring!

We continue to pray for our Embryo Adoption process.  We pray that the donor family is 1) able to be reached, 2) still willing to give the precious gift of donating their twinkle babies, and 3) that the next steps go smoothly in adopting them into our family.

Thank you all for your prayers!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hoop-a-thon or Poop-a-thon?

Last night while my friends rubbed shoulders with a few of the Los Angeles Lakers and UCLA Bruin basketball players at the HDSA Hoop-a-thon,

I was at home potty training a two-year old at our very own Poop-a-thon! And, yes that is a mini-basketball hoop in the background!

First let me explain…while I am truly excited that Little Mister is finally interested in making this giant leap into big boy pants, it certainly doesn’t allow us to go very far from home without a little anxiety (on my part, of course)! Which is why we did not make the 45 mile trek to the north last night. Judging by the poop-a-thon that ensued with Little Mister last night…it sure was a good bet to stick around (Ew…tmi, right?).

Potty training aside, I am really bummed that I missed the Hoop-a-thon event last night becase it was the first appearance by UCLA Basketball Coach Ben Howland since going public with his family’s fight against Huntington’s Disease. Read the L.A. Times article here. The Hoop-a-thon was a fundraiser which raised money for research toward a cure and help for families who struggle with this devastating disease. I hope the fundraiser was a huge success and another step toward a future free of Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s Disease is the reason that Tall Man and I went through PGD IVF to conceive Little Mister, which you can read about here. We wanted to ensure that we did not pass on this deadly gene.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting more about Huntington’s Disease. It is just another factor in what led us to PGD IVF and now Embryo Adoption. Hopefully, I will also be posting an update on our current journey with Embryo Adoption. We are in holding pattern until we hear from our coordinator.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Consult with new RE

We met with Dr. K yesterday. I still think it is pretty unbelievable that God used someone in Kansas to get me to a doctor 80 miles to the north in Thousand Oaks! God’s ways definitely are not our ways!

The doctor spent more than an hour talking to Tall Man and me about our “goals” and our issues. We spent most of the time discussing two things…a) FET with donor embryos (our main focus for the meeting and reason we were there) and b) PGD IVF (figured we may as well discuss it since it was the way Little Mister was conceived).

Dr. K said this is OUR decision and we should consider three things in making that decision:
  1. Medical – Is what we are doing medically possible?
  2. Emotional – Can we endure the roller coaster of emotions in this process?
  3. Financial – Do we have the finances to go forward with our decision?
Fortunately, the medical outlook is good for me to carry a pregnancy; emotionally we have God holding our hands and a doctor who is an expert in the field; and financially, well…we don’t want this to break us. All things prayerfully considered, we are going with adopting embryos who are already babies waiting to be born rather than trying again with my (39 year old) eggs and creating more embryos.

Jen was so right. Dr. K is amazing, confident, calm and even gave us his cell phone number. Who does that? He truly cares. We were very impressed.

The best part about our visit was that they have a match for us. Hubby and I are a strange melting pot combination of ethnicities, which ended up making our biological son 25% Asian. Who would have ever guessed that Dr. K would have 25% Asian embies.

We are now headed on the path to adopt them and pray that everything goes smoothly from here on out. God is sooooo in control.

Today I am thanking God for everything and thanking my new friend and sister in Christ for her ministry.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

There's a Reason for Everything

Remember a few months ago when I posted our sad news about the negative beta? That post also contained a silver lining in that I was able to share the gospel of Christ to a non-believing friend who came to grieve the loss with me that night. You can read about it here.

Four months later (and after many victories of our Lord’s) my sweet friend committed her life to Jesus Christ for the first time. All because she now had the faith of a mustard seed that God has promised to grow.

I’ve learned that God uses the most difficult things to show His love and mercy to His people. While I can’t even explain how sad I was that we had to go through the failed transfer and the loss of those little lives, I am eternally grateful for my friend’s salvation that can never be revoked!

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Just got back from vacationing in San Diego! Had a great time at Sea World and the Zoo. It was such a joy to see Little Mister’s eyes light up from seeing the pandas or getting nose-to-nose with the hippos (through 12 inch plexiglass, of course). Even Tall Man was mesmerized by the polar bears and koalas!

One of the most memorable moments was at the Shamu Show at Sea World. For those of you who haven’t seen it, picture a gigantic killer whale playfully splashing the audience, twisting, turning and doing flips, and at times showing an almost human-like personality.

The name of the show was “Believe”, and I think that tagline pretty much sums up where our family is in our fertility journey. We “believe” that miracles can happen and “believe” that even though we have one miracle, all things are possible with Christ.

This weekend really made me think about how grateful I am to God for this precious time with my family. But, the thought did cross my mind that this may very well be the last hoorah for the Three Zees before we enter another round of cycling to (hopefully) grow us from the Three Zees to the Four Zees. Doesn’t have the same kind of ring to it though, does it?

After reading how another gal in in the EA “sisterhood” was matched in 9 days, we recently posted our family profile on the Miracles Waiting website. This was a first for us, but we are hopeful that God will lead the family of our future embryos to this site and find “us”.

I have to admit it was a bit of a challenge trying to summarize who we are in a couple of short paragraphs. I just have to remember that God is in full control of this whole process. Just like our Heavenly Father led my husband and I to each other nine years ago as if He hand-picked each of us and prepared our hearts…I truly believe that He is preparing a family for this major decision right now (the decision to allow another family to adopt their frozen embryos).

We are also waiting for our consult appointment with the new RE on August 19th. I am anxious for the day to arrive! I think about all of the teeny chilly babies and wonder if there is one out there for us. One who may someday be a baby in our arms. In the meantime, I just have to continue to ask God for patience and wisdom as we wait. We are open to wherever He is leading us next.

Prayer of my heart:
Dear Lord…you know how much my heart desires another child. You know my heart because you created it. Thank you God for the blessings of my family and the miracle of Little Mister. I pray that you continue to reveal your plan for our lives and show us which path you would like us to take next. I pray that it involves the blessing of chilly babies, but know that Your plan and Your will are always way better than mine.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Considering Embryo Adoption Options

I was inspired by this woman’s story of embryo adoption and how her journey gave God the glory every step of the way. You can read for yourself here.

I decided to reach out to her today and ask a few questions. Knowing that she’s out of state and has eight children including a newborn I didn’t expect to hear from her for a while.

Much to my surprise she emailed me right back and gave me information on her clinic (which is here in California), her doctor (Dr. K) and told me about the various routes to embryo adoption. One option (Snowflakes) I was aware of, but the others were new to me.

Miracles Waiting – a website where adopting couples and donor couples can post profiles and find matches. It is a non-profit organization, but to keep the site running they do charge adopting couples a $150 posting fee (well worth it, when you consider what it’s for).

National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) – non-profit organization for embryo donation and adoption. Their program handles the medical, legal and social (education and awareness) aspects of embryo adoption (including frozen transfer at their center if you choose not to ship embryos locally).

As a result of my email dialogue with my new EA sister, I contacted Dr. K to get a consult AND asked Tall Man if we could check out the Miracles Waiting site.

My new friend sent me a cyber hug as I started the EA journey. Sending hugs to all of you who are also on the journey of EA. I pray we are hugging our chilly babies one day soon.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another Route to Embryo Adoption

I have not forgotten about all of the chilly babies out there. God continues to put on my heart the desire for embryo adoption.

So, the other night while I was doing some more research on the subject, God led me to a blog which not only explained the whole process from a woman who went through it, but she also gave God all the glory. Talk about Spirit-lead!

Since the whole concept is still pretty new to me, I learned so much just from reading through her experience. She did not use an agency to adopt her embryos.

The funny thing was that I was stuck on part of the blog that described the embryo adoption and frozen embryo transfer process, but could not for the life of me find the current posts. Duh! I must have been tired. So…tired and inspired I went to bed without finding out how the story ended? Did it work? Did she get pregnant? Did she have the baby(ies)?

The next day I did find her current posts and was excited to see the BIRTH of her beautiful baby girl. Embryo adoption and God’s glory…what a perfect ending to that story.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Discouraged and Encouraged

Discouraged that this process is not easy. Discouraged that infertility and disease exist. Discouraged about the financial costs to do something that may not work. Still praying about using the agency, but it’s not looking promising.

Encouraged that God is still on the throne! Encouraged that we can lay our burdens at His feet. Encouraged that I do not walk alone for my Lord is with me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Program fees at embryo adoption agency

I contacted the Snowflakes embryo adoption program today about the Japanese-Caucasian embryos, specifically. Megan, the embryo adoption coordinator, was a sweet voice on the other end of the phone who took the “scary” out of this process.

Snowflakes pioneered uncharted territory when they ventured out into the world of embryo adoption in 1997. They really are the most professional and ethical agency around.

Their regular program fees for embryo adoption are $8,000 (much less than the $18,000 on the domestic adoption side of the agency). The program fee gets you matched up to three times. They use the number three because most couples will get pregnant within the matches. That fee also includes the legal process for the embryo adoption between the genetic couple and adopting couple.

What it doesn’t include is the home study fee of $2,500 which has to be done before any matching occurs. They really emphasize the adoption education process, which I completely understand and like. Since we live in their area, they would be doing the home study.

A new thing I learned………..

The good news is that the multi-ethnic embryos have a reduced program fee. Mainly because the couple is looking to adopt specific embryos from one genetic family (not matching with three genetic families like the regular program works).

So, fees for us would look like this if we chose to go this route:

$2,500 Home study
$4,900 Program Fee (multi-ethnic embryos)
$2,500 FET_____________________
$9,900 Total (not including meds and mock cycle)

I told her we are still praying about how to go forward (or not) with embryo adoption. We really want to be good stewards of the provision God has given us. Praying for God’s wisdom and guidance.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Snowflakes agency posts multi-ethnic embryos on their website

We are having a great summer with Little Mister! Between swimming lessons, birthday parties and camping trips…we’ve been having a blast.

I have to admit though, there are moments when I think about what life would be like right now if our FET in April had worked. Things would be different if I were five months pregnant. I sure would be wearing different jeans!

Confession…I took a peek at the Snowflakes website today for the first time in months. If you’ll remember, my first information “encounter” on embryo adoption was with Snowflakes. Read here for my eye opening experience about these precious little chilly babies. The Snowflakes program is the embryo adoption arm of Nightlight Christian Adoption (a full-service adoption agency) and they have an office right down the street in Anaheim Hills, California.

Snowflakes has a multi-ethnic embryos page which highlights the non-caucasian and/or mixed ethnicity embryos and gives them a chance to be seen. This is especially of interest to me and Tall Man because we are a mutt mix of ethicities which includes my half-Asian-ness (not a word, I’m sure).

My heart fluttered a little when I saw the Japanese-Caucasian embryos. Oh how I would love to honor my mother’s heritage by adopting embryos of Japanese decent. Another thing to pray about.

I do believe that God has a plan for us Zees. We are living out our little miracle every day with Little Mister.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One Door Closes as Another Opens

Yesterday, hubby and I received the awful news that our beta test was negative. After four positive home pregnancy tests and the hope that we would be parents again, the news during this phone call was really hard to take as we so expected completely different outcome today. I never expected this could fail and truthfully did not prepare my heart or mind for this kind of devastating news.

Two of my best friends came to my teary rescue to comfort me since hubby had to work his regular graveyard shift. It was hard to see him off to work, but that was his coping mechanism. Mine was at home.

Ready to hear about the miracle that ensued next? I thank God for these ladies:

•Sweet friend #1, sister in Christ, comforted me with God’s Word and assurance that He is still on the throne despite what I was going through here on earth. As heartbreaking as that was, I had peace about our embryos finally being released to heaven to be with the Lord. I had peace in my heart that I could not explain. I prayed for His plan all through our FET process and accepted this as His answer. I didn’t like it, but knew in my heart that God’s ways are not our ways.

•Sweet friend #2, not a believer yet (whom I love dearly and have never passed judgment on for her religious views) was amazed by the peace that I was sad but okay with not being pregnant. I think that she believed she was coming over to wipe me up off the floor, which was not the case at all. She also didn’t know that sweet friend #1 and I had been praying for her salvation for years.

So, there we were. The three of us friends…two at peace that God is still good and one friend still searching for answers.

She asked two questions that night…questions that she most likely thought would be cathartic and healing for ME to answer. Little did she know God was using this entire experience, my failed FET process to show HER his love and comfort. She asked us 1) how we knew when God was speaking to us, and 2) How we knew that peace in our hearts was from God?

I will tell you that the next two hours of talking with her about God’s great love for us was literally life changing. After she left for the night, sweet friend #1 and I cried and prayed and cried some more that it took something this powerful to reach into her heart and allow it to soften to God’s love. That night was a night of healing for both me regarding the embryos, and for my friend who had never heard the truth of the gospel.

Friday, April 16, 2010

We Still Believe

Many of you know what the Three Zees have been praying for these days…for God to grow our family. Thank you dear friends for your continued prayer. We are blessed to have you as friends.

After four positive home pregnancy tests, we were a bit deflated today when the blood test came back negative. Although we may never know what happened, we thank God for the process he allowed us to go through and all of the answered prayer along the way. We are just sad that this one did not have the ending that we were hoping for.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills,
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

We still believe…God is still on the throne…He is our strength and shield. Our babies are now in heaven with Him.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Little Mister

Today Little Mister turned TWO!

I cannot believe it has been two years since he came into the world crying his cute little head off and looking just like my mother.

How a newborn baby boy can look like an Asian grandMA is beyond me! Remember that sweet smile?

He’s grown a lot since that day.

Little Mister was happy to meet his first sundae at Farrell’s. What a great way to teach a lesson on sharing. Yum!

Thank you, Lord for giving me the joy of my heart!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Our IVF Journey, Part V – Bedrest, Believing & Beta Test

This is Part V of a five-part post. For the first few posts on our journey, read:

Our IVF Journey, Part I – The Two Zees, Infertility and IUIs
Our IVF Journey, Part II – Infertility, Disease and PGD IVF
Our IVF Journey, Part III – PGD IVF (needles and drugs)
Our IVF Journey, Part IV – Retrieval & Transfer

The first five days after the transfer I was on strict bedrest. I could only get up to go to the bathroom and that was it. Opinions on bedrest vary from RE to RE. The latest statistics show that any bedrest past the first few days does not improve pregnancy rates, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

Tall Man gave me my intramuscular progesterone and delestrogen shots while I laid on my side in bed. I iced my bootie for a few minutes before the shot and then used a heating pad after while we massaged the injection spot. I had to lay flat on my back most of the time, sitting up only to eat and then back down. My husband and friends were my angels helping to keep me company, keep me fed, and keep me busy. Electronic yahtzee was a lifesaver. I’m a geek, what can I say?

The sixth day post-transfer was shower day. Hooray! I never thought a shower could feel so good. Even so, I kept it short and rested for the remainder of the week. I won’t tell you that the resting was easy. My heart wanted this so badly and my mind was racing. I was on emotional roller coaster ride of my life. I wondered, will this little twinkle in my heart ever become a baby? It will. It will! I just had to trust in God and stay positive.

Eleven days post transfer we had our blood test to detect if a pregnancy had taken place. It took all of five minutes to draw the blood. The medical vampire, professionally known as a phlebotomist, calmed us down as we sat there rambling. We were in and out of the office in no time, but then came more waiting. After weeks of waiting, what was a few more hours, right?

Tall Man and I drove around for a bit until settling at home a few hours later to wait for the doctor’s phone call.

At exactly 11:14am, the doctor called and asked for “the infamous Ellie.” I told him it was me, then I heard him say, “one, two, three,” and the whole office shouted, “You’re pregnant, Ellie.” I was stunned, happy, giddy, and about a hundred other emotions. I said, “thank you” and we hung up. As if my little “thank you” could ever express the amount of gratitude I have in my heart for our RE and his team of beautiful professionals.

“Blessed be the Lord,
Because He has heard the voice of my supplications!
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him!”
(Psalm 28:6, 7)

I don’t think I was ever able to appropriately thank our friends, family, Dr. Werlin, his staff and so many others who showed such great love for us during this time. God answered our prayers. He is so merciful that we have a baby who did not inherit the deadly gene! He is now two and a half and his picture graces this post.

We are truly amazed by God’s love, grace and mercy. Blessed be the Lord!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Our IVF Journey, Part IV – Retrieval & Transfer

This is Part IV of a five-part post. For the first few posts on our journey, read:

Our IVF Journey, Part I – The Two Zees, Infertility and IUIs
Our IVF Journey, Part II – Infertility, Disease and PGD IVF
Our IVF Journey, Part III – PGD IVF (needles and drugs)

Retrieval Day – Exactly 35 hours after the trigger shot was egg retrieval day. My husband and I went to the surgery center, where I changed into an ever-so-stylish hospital gown, cap and booties. The nurse started an IV and within minutes my gurney was wheeled into the surgical room. The RE and anesthesiologist greeted me and comforted my nerves. The doctor turned my attention to the ultrasound screen to show that my follicles were still there. I prayed that they would all contain viable eggs. Counting backward from 100…99, 98, 97…I was out!

•I woke up in recovery with cramps and a strange hankering for chili fries. The doctor told me that everything went very well and they retrieved 22 eggs. Wow, what a day! I went home, gingerly walked up the stairs, and plopped into bed for the rest of the day. No chili fries for me.

1 day post retrieval – The doctor called to tell us that 21 out of the 22 eggs were injected with sperm. Still great numbers! We were happy.

2 days post retrieval – the doctor called to say that 12 of them fertilized, 2 were abnormal, 4 degenerated, and 3 were still iffy. We were so happy with 12 fertilized embryos. This would normally be when the embryos are returned to the uterus. Most IVF protocols without PGD are day 3 transfers. However, because of PGD, our journey would take an extra detour here.

3 days post retrieval – Our 12 embryos were biopsied. Each of the twelve embryos still growing and dividing in the lab would have one cell removed for PGD. This process does not harm the embryos. Those individual cells were then sent overnight to the Reprogenetics lab in New Jersey for the genetic probe test. Within 24 hours they notified our doctor which embryos were affected with the defective gene.

4 days post retrieval – Waiting day…no news at all.

5 days post retrieval – Embryo transfer day. I felt like a mother penguin who lays her egg, transfers it to the male to incubate and then returns after a long winter to reclaim her baby penguin. My eggs were retrieved and left to incubate at the fertility center and this was the day I could come back to reclaim my babies. Oh the joy!

We received a call that morning only hours before the transfer about the status of our embryos. The genetic tests revealed that 7 of the embryos were affected with the defective gene and 5 were free of disease. The tricky part is that these were just the biopsy results. This process also hinges on the hope that the embryos which don’t have the defective gene are still growing and dividing back in the lab.

The doctor gave us the great news that 3 of the embryos were of excellent quality and if we agreed, he would transfer all three blastocysts. Three was our number! Sadly, the other two stopped growing and went to heaven to be with Jesus.

So, Tall Man and I put on our hospital gowns (yes, he had to wear one too). They wheeled me into the room for the transfer. The doctor showed us the ultrasound screen where he inserted the thin catheter into my uterus…and voila…it was finished. The embryos were gently placed far back in my uterus into the lining. Home sweet home!

Then everyone in the room counted to three and said, Get pregnant, Ellie! I spent the next hour inverted on the gurney (head below my feet), so the embryos wouldn’t move. I was overwhelmed with emotion as Tall Man and I began to pray for our little “penguins” and prayed for God to protect them and grow them.

Hubby drove me home while I laid flat in the back seat of our car. I told him to be careful as he was driving a family of five!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our IVF Journey, Part III – PGD IVF (needles and drugs)

This is Part III of a four-part post. For the first few posts on our journey, read:

Our IVF Journey, Part I – The Two Zees, Infertility and IUIs
Our IVF Journey, Part II – Infertility, Disease and PGD IVF

Now, I’ll attempt to describe how my body was prepared for the IVF retrieval and transfer (needles and all). First, understand that an IVF cycle with PGD is very similar to a regular IVF cycle, with one major exception. The embryos are biopsied prior to embryo transfer. Even though women’s cycles and protocols may vary, here’s an account of our cycle to give you an idea of what can be expected.

Our RE started the entire process by putting me on the birth control pill. This is the first step to the doctor controlling my cycle. It is also protection because the drugs being injected will harm a fetus so they want no chance of pregnancy during an IVF cycle. About two weeks into the birth control pill, it was time to begin the injections. I was nervous at first because I had never done anything like this before. I don’t even like giving blood because needles scare me. My husband and I traded off doing the injections. The injections were subcutaneous, which meant tiny needles just under the skin. After a few days, my fears subsided. It was just another hurdle toward our beautiful goal. Anything for baby, I just kept telling myself.

The first injectable drug was Lupron. Lupron was used to fully suppress my cycle where everything and anything natural is stopped. About two weeks into the Lupron, I started the stimulation drug, Follistim. It does exactly what the name suggests, stimulate follicle growth. Normally, your pituitary gland naturally secretes the follicle stimulating hormone which tells your follicles to grow. However, since the Lupron had suppressed my entire natural cycle, I needed to inject the Follistim in order to grow my follicles “manually.” I also continued the Lupron injections so I wouldn’t accidentally ovulate before the egg retrieval.

At this time in the process I was going to the doctor every other day so he could see via ultrasound how the follicles were growing. I didn’t feel any side effects from the Lupron or Follistim. No hot flashes, nothing. At one point in the process, I even wondered if we were doing it right and if the drugs were getting into my system. Well, the ultrasound revealed something was happening because we saw all of the follicles on the ultrasound screen. It was then I knew the drugs were working.

On day 10 of the stimulation drugs I had an ultrasound and most of my follicles were between 18mm and 26mm, a good size for retrieval. I was warned that some eggs would be too mature and others would be immature to inject with sperm. The doctor told me to administer the trigger shot (HCG) at 9:00pm that night. It’s a timed shot, so it has to be exactly 35 hours prior to the retrieval. This is one shot that leaves no wiggle room for mistakes.

He prepared the syringe and I prepared the injection site by icing it for a few minutes. This shot was an intramuscular shot which had to go in my hip/bootie area. Not fun. My husband inserted the needle, and began injecting the HCG. I asked if he did the shot yet because I didn’t even feel it going in.

He was so excited that it went so well, he pulled it out rather quickly and a different angle. Ouch! I started bleeding and we both panicked. Did I get enough HCG? Why was I bleeding? What happened? I called a friend who recently went through PGD IVF and she and her husband walked us through our emotions and fears. She reminded me that my labwork the next day would reveal the HCG in my blood and that I had nothing to worry about. She was right.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Our IVF Journey, Part II – Infertility, Disease and PGD IVF

As we approach my son’s second birthday, I thought I would share the journey that led to his birth. For the first part of our journey, read Our IVF Journey, Part I – The Two Zees, Infertility and IUIs.

Here is Part II, which covers our continued infertility issues, genetic disease and PGD IVF.

After the three clomid cycles and two failed IUI cycles, we were frustrated and fearful that we may never be able to have a child. Our ob/gyn referred us to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) to consider the next logical step, which in our case was invitro fertilization (IVF).

However, there was one item we had to get clarity on before moving forward to IVF.

Disorders, disease and other single gene defects
In our case, our journey took a brief detour because we had one hurdle we needed to get past before continuing on to IVF. We had known for years that my husband was at-risk for a genetic disease, but moving on to IVF meant it was probably time to be tested. To protect my husband and our family, I won’t mention the specific disease by name, but it has devastating if not terminal effects.

We couldn’t help but ask God why we weren’t getting pregnant even after the IUIs. In the back of our minds was the possibility that Tall Man had inherited the gene. So, we prayed and the answer we received was that it was time to put the baby making on hold and get tested for this disease.

God’s plan was better than our plan and looking back, we can know see His mercy that he didn’t allow us to get pregnant on our own so the gene would not be passed on to our children.

Within months we were face-to-face with a genetic counselor who would read the results which would change our lives forever. The test came back positive. We knew how we would have to move forward.

Having this new information regarding the genetic disease was bittersweet. Yes, this meant my husband would eventually suffer this fate, but it didn’t mean my children would have to.

With a fairly new procedure called, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), my husband and I could go through the IVF process and use PGD to detect whether embryos had the defective gene or not. Our insurance did not cover the IVF procedure nor the PGD procedure. This was our only hope for a baby.

PGD IVF is an option for couples who face single-gene defects like cystic fibrosis, tay-sachs, sickle cell anemia and huntington’s disease. It is also used for recurrent miscarriage.

I will describe our entire PGD IVF process (needles and all) in my next post.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Our IVF journey – Part I (The Two Zees, infertility and IUIs)

As we approach my son’s second birthday, I rejoice in the fact that he is our little miracle. To celebrate the little twinkle in my heart that became our twinkle baby, I thought I would share our story of infertility, disease and PGD IVF which led to the birth of our son.

So, lets start at the beginning:

Our IVF journey – Part I (The Two Zees, infertility and IUIs)

Tall Man and I were married in 2002. In 2004 we began trying on our own to grow our family (I was 34 at the time). This was exciting at first, but after a year ovulation calendars, tracking basal body temperatures, and negative home pregnancy tests, I went to my doctor to have “the conversation”.

My OB/GYN was extremely blunt with not a warm fuzzy in sight. I caught a glimpse of my medical chart and she had written the word, “infertile” on the top page. It was then I realized we had a problem.

Tests revealed that I had an elevated FSH, which can be an indicator of diminished ovarian reserve. I had no idea a simple blood test on day 3 of my cycle could tell me that my pituitary gland was working overtime to produce Follicle Stimulating Hormone to grow my follicles each month. Who knew?

She sent me home with a prescription for Clomid and told us to get busy. We did this for three months and nothing changed.

She also recommended that Tall Man have his little swimmers analyzed to see if he was adding to our issues. Turns out we did have male factor issues (low sperm count and varicoceles).

Our chances of conceiving on our own were pretty slim, so I switched doctors (warmer and fuzzier) and we did two cycles of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) with clomid. During these cycles my follicle growth was monitored with ultrasounds. The insemination was a simple procedure done right there in the office. Still…nothing.

After three clomid cycles and two failed IUI cycles, the wind was knocked out of our sails. We took a break from trying and re-directed our prayers.