Monthly Archives: November 2012

And baby makes…four! (2010, 2011)

Our Oregon house was still not rented, but we had an interested couple.  They asked us to take it off the market and they’d rent it.  We did.  No one wanted to buy the house we’d put so much love and care into.  Thanks, Mr. Economy!  Mr. Crappy Economy.  Oh well.

Baby #2 came early.  I was sitting on the couch praying that my water would break since I didn’t really know what labor felt like!  This was my first full term pregnancy!  July 9, 2011 my water broke as I stood from the couch.  Jeff said, “Are you sure you didn’t pee yourself?”  Seriously.  He said that.  Always the compassionate person, this husband of mine.  He was not even close to being ready to go to the hospital because he is also a procrastinator.  This baby was not due til August 4th and I thought the 8th was more like it.  And…we had 138 miles to Dr. O!  It was 2:40pm.

About 45 minutes later we got in the car.  I was not having contractions, yet.  About an hour down the road we stopped at a rest stop and I asked to cut in front of a lady in line because I was in labor.  She replied with, “Oh God, yes!”  By then my contractions were every 4 minutes and getting harder.  We still had 60 miles to go!

We made it a little after 5:00pm and our dear friends from Tri Cities took Mason.  They checked me as soon as they got me in a room and I was six cm dilated.  This baby was coming tonight.  And you know what?  I think naivete is such a blessing sometimes.  My doula was available and Jeff was such a blessing.  My second boy was born at 8:44pm on July 9, 2011.

And he would lead me to some greater health decisions…

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And get healthy I did. (2010)

I took the chemicals off my face and body and replaced my products with healthy options.  I put Mason in cloth diapers and cloth wipes and safer bath products.  I ate whole grains and tossed Crisco, Velveeta, white flour, soy bean oil, anything processed.  I bought all kinds of nuts, beans and real cheese and real milk, berries and green things.  I made green salads for the first time in my life.  I weaned myself to a better white sugar level and eventually substituted honey and other sweeteners for sugar.  My family came along with me…but I didn’t pressure them.  I had to do this for me.  Otherwise, PCOS was going to kill me in the form of heart disease, diabetes, stress, etc.  The surgery taught me one lesson:  I feared a sick life.  It was up to me to get healthy.

The reviews on the Insulite program were good and I continued to take it and for the first time in my life I slept!  My acne subsided, although my skin was still greasy.  I added Evening Primrose Oil and Borage Oils and looked into Lunaception.  I took the green lights out of the bedroom and closed the shades so it was dark.

My doc found a lump in my breast the middle of August and I had a mammogram and ultrasound and nothing could really be deciphered from it.  My husband was a wreck as cancer runs rampant in his family and his aunt died from breast cancer at a very young age after being told it was “nothing”.  I was to keep an eye on it every six months.  My poor hubby.  He just got an offer for a transfer with his job to an area we have always been excited about and now this!

Jeff transferred with his job the end of August, so that halted our adoption plans.  I stayed behind to “sell the house”.  The house that to date 2  + years later has still not sold.

I was still not cycling and decided since I’d done so much weird stuff already (changing one’s diet is “weird” and I was about to get weirder) that I’d see an acupuncturist.  It helped my cousin with her testosterone issue.  On November 12th or around there I had my first appointment.  I was some 80 days into my cycle then.  After two treatments I ovulated.  We DTD and on Thanksgiving 2010 I had a positive pregnancy test!  My doc got me in right away given my history and gave me a shot of progesterone just to be sure.  My numbers all looked ok, but they continued to watch me once a week with ultrasounds and blood work for 14 weeks!

We spent most of the early winter apart with him returning on weekends and then he had to work overtime in February on a job that was supposed to last six weeks.  By April he was still working the same job.  Mason and I were traveling to spend weekends with him, but he only had Sundays off.  My daycare clients were dwindling and I was really missing my husband.

After 8 months of living apart, we found a place to rent and got under one roof.  May 2011 was a happy month!  I was 7 months pregnant and our bills were paid thanks to all the overtime my hubby worked.  I was unemployed by choice and preparing for a new blessing.

Here I go again. (2009, 2010)

My husband reminded me of the comment I said a few years back, “If I could just get one…” Meaning, child.  I had one and he was flabbergasted that I was not “happy” with one.  Oh, I was happy! I just wanted more!  And you know by now we were 32…2 years past that magical 30 where our fertility declines but we should try more treatments.

In September 2009 we entered fertility treatments again.  This time with ultrasound monitoring and some high powered drugs.

For the first two cycles (or was it three?) I took Femara, a breast cancer drug that cuts estrogen.  I made four follicles fairly consistently.  We had the post-coital test and Dr. O decided we should do IUI (Intrauterine Insemination).  So we did.  Once again, my husband entered the chambers of a sterile bathroom to deposit his donation.  It was “spun” and “separated” and then inseminated.  Two days in a row each month.  I was encouraged even though I didn’t become pregnant because for all I knew, I’d never made eggs before!  This was progress!

The next two cycles I used injectibles, but I’m not sure the names.  Pricey, but our Flex Spending Account covered them.  Our insurance covered the Femara at 50% and all the ultrasounds, just not the AI procedure and “sperm washing”.  I was still making follicles (potential eggs) but no pregnancy.

I had the HSG done the end of November, where they shoot the dye up your uterus into your tubes to see if they are open or shut.  My right one was definitely open, but my left looked blocked.  Dr. O said not to worry, he often sees eggs from the left go to the right.  I think he was just trying ot make me feel better.

We had done four cycles and had a trip planned back to Nebraska for Christmas so we took a break, but they encouraged us to keep testing for ovulation.  I did and the day after Christmas I got a positive and so we DTD (did the deed) and then I felt ovulation.  I tested two weeks later and was pregnant.  I made my appointment and then started cramping and bleeding.

I miscarried just before I could say I was 5 weeks along.  So sad.  But encouraging, too.  I was getting tired of treatments at this point, but this gave me hope.  I really didn’t feel like I should continue to spend much more money.  We intially said we’d try 3 times.  Well, we were now up to four.

We took another month off.  It was a clean miscarriage, so no surgery needed.  Then I started the big girl shots.  I gave myself a shot in the belly every day at noon for 5 days, went for ultrasounds 3-4 times in the first two weeks of the cycle then they gave me HCG in the rear to stimulate ovulation (since I had conceived on my own we didn’t need to do AI/IUI).  Try #5-no pregnancy

Try #6.  Same regimen.  No pregnancy.

Try #7.  Same regiment except I added soy isoflavones.  PEOPLE, DO NOT DO THIS!  I had unexplained bleeding mid cycle, the follicle sucked back in and I ended up in surgery to figure it all out.  Nothing was figured out except that I had polycystic ovaries and a blocked left tube.  And recovery was harder than I was told.  I was sick, sick, sick from anaesthetic and sore, sore, sore from the gas injected in my belly.

I got scared.  I knew I had to stop dreaming for a baby and could not go on this way any more.  I needed a break…again.  I needed to stop.  I needed to get on with life.  I needed to get healthy.  I needed to be off synthetic hormones for good.

And that’s what I did.  I got healthy.  I started with Master your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels and started chucking things out of my cupboards and eating more fruits and veggies.  I followed up with 12 Steps to Raw Foods by Victoria Boutenko for some new ideas on how to eat veggies and fruits.

I started the Insulite Program for PCOS, a regimen of natural supplements and herbs targeted to women with PCOS and I read everything I could get my hands on about alternative treatments.  In my mind I was too old for “the pill” and I just wanted to get healthy.

We enrolled in the State of Oregon foster/adopt training with the goal of adopting a sibling group.  This was the end of June 2009.

I quit…again. (2009)

In February 2009, the next year I was really lamenting the fact that my baby was in daycare when I had all the skills necessary not only to raise him, but to run my own child care.  I’d done it before!  My first degree was in Education and my second in Management.  So, after I convinced my husband it was going to be ok and the right thing to do, I started on my business plan.

I quit the end of March without a single child enrolled!  My boss told me I was wasting my brains.  I packed up the kid and went home to Nebraska for a week.  By the time I returned I had four kids enrolled.  🙂

Honestly, my decision was hard.  Or, rather, getting to that point was hard.  I wanted to be a stay at home mommy, but I just couldn’t see how we could make it on one income.  I wanted to be the one who took care of my child, and we both agreed that was the right thing to do.  In the end, this is how my decision-making logic went:

– There is more to life than work.

– God gave me this precious gift and he provided then, he will provide now (and he did).

– I will regret in 30 years not giving it a try.  It is doubtful I will regret staying home, but I will regret going to work.  I will never regret these moments spent with my child.

– I can work in 18 years.  Remember, I have that piece of paper.

Running a child care in this particular area was a lot more challenging than in Nebraska.  Me-ism runs deep and wide in this place and people are much more willing to fork out money for cell phones, alcohol, car payments and cable TV than they are quality child care.

But I managed to get 8 kids enrolled and didn’t need them all to be full time, either.  Remember, I’m doing this to stay home with my kid and help others.  I named my child care Little Blessings.  My Nebraska child care was Angel Acres.

Over the course of the next year the kids would come and go, but we always had enough.

And…I started wanting another baby…

Coming home with our new baby… (2008)

It took a little longer to be “cleared” and given permission to come home with our new baby, and we hadn’t told a whole lot of people at church, etc that we were doing this in case there was a change of mind so when we showed up with a baby some people were in awe that I hid it so easily and looked so good afterward!

Our Mason James was a blessing.  A healing gift on a day that I hated with all my heart for many years.  A reminder of God’s perfect timing and his unfailing love.  A reminder that even at a young age a person can make a pleasing decision for the Lord.  A reminder that blessing can come from a “mistake” and that God means Good for all things.

My Mason James changed me entire thought on abortion and teenage mothers.  I now believe that there is absolutely no room for abortion after being blessed from a right choice and knowing how few babies there are to adopt in our country (because so many are being aborted).  I do not discount the worldly fact that it is a woman’s choice, but above that, our Lord has the power to place babies in wombs or NOT to place babies on wombs and it is HIS life and HIS power that should not be trumped.

I now feel that teenage mothers are blessed.  Blessed with youth, blessed with the ability to obtain skills to parent their children and I have met several who have risen to the occasion and overcame their circumstances and are great mothers.  I do not speak poorly of them now because I am proud of them for choosing life-in a culture where children are burdens, expendable and legally able to be killed.

Our lives changed dramatically and we often laugh at ourselves through the lens of looking at our friends who become first time parents.  We had no idea how things would change.  I still remember Jeff sitting on the couch telling his mom that we were still going to make time to do the things we enjoyed.

“Gretchen will still ride her horse and I’ll still go hunting.”  There have been more than a few occasions that I’ve wanted to snarl at that comment retroactively.  There have been more than a few occasions when I brought that comment up.   I used to ride my horse at least twice a week.  Sometimes more.  I have ridden, to date, four time this year.  And it’s almost December, so the outlook isn’t looking real peachy.

Jeff still went hunting and life pretty much carried on as normal for him for quite some time and I was so jealous.  But I love being a mom!

Mason’s adoption was finalized in October of 2008 and we breathed a sigh of relief.  He kept growing and changing and we enjoyed every minute with him.  I was still working, I guess in my mind to “pay for the adoption.”  I was throwing some ideas around of how to be with my young child more.

The child I waited 10 years for.

The child that God gave me.

Oh, the adoption process… (2008)

We were not going through an agency, but we still had to have our homestudy completed by an agency.  I called two.  One never called back.  The other one, Catholic Charities, could be there in a few days.  After talking to the attorney it was my understanding that we needed to get on this paperwork ASAP as things had to be approved six weeks before the birth and this process could take up to two months.

We were under the gun!

Fingerprints, homestudy application, homestudy interviews, doctors appointments for health checks, FMLA applications, garage sales, Goodwill shopping, baby books, a baby shower, appointments with lactation specialists for adoptive breastfeeding…the list goes on…in 3 months time.

But we were ready and God showed his amazing love through it all.  He was giving us a child and if he could provide that, he could provide the timing that everything would work out.  And the long and short of it is that it DID work out.  I will have to have a different thread to talk about the amazing blessings during this time.

At what seemed like the last minute (a week or two before we were to leave to go get our baby) the birth father’s mother popped into the question.  Our Oregon attorney had other things on his mind and wasn’t a lot of help.  Our Nebraska attorney said we’d have to offer him the same we did for our birth mother.  So, when you are in love with your child you haven’t met yet, what do you do?

You sign some more agreements.

And then May 9, 2008 arrived and we headed for the flat land of Nebraska where our beloved birth mother was being induced in two days.

Late in the night of the 11th (Mother’s Day) they decided to take our baby by c-section and her sister called us to tell us to be at the hospital soon.  I’m going to skip some details and pick up with them later when I journey our adoption in closer detail.  We arrived at the hospital about 1am and this lady came from nowhere to hug me tightly.  It was our birthmother’s mother.  We waited in the waiting room until they had our son, Mason in the nursery.  They washed him and put drops in his eyes and wrapped him up snugly and then placed him in my arms.

Oh the joy!  Oh the tears!  Oh. My. Goodness!  We were both crying and so amazed, yet we had no idea of what parenthood was about.  We were just beginning!

The only thing that stays the same is that things change… (2007, 2008)

So, my mom wrote that letter (she’s really good at writing letters…it’s her favorite thing, I swear).  And then she called me that this young lady was going to place her child in an adoption and she wondered if I was interested. 

Of course I was interested!  But we’d been through this how many times before?  I would have to ask Jeff and I would be careful not to get my hopes up.  I immediately called Jeff and told him the scoop and asked if we should pursue it.  He said, “Go for it.”  I can’t really remember if I then called my mom back and she called the family or if I took the number down.  I did call Jeff’s mom at work and let her know what was going on and asked for prayers. 

I think it was a few days later that I worked up the nerve to call the family.  The young lady was too nervous to talk and so her mother did all the talking.  What I wouldn’t have done for my mother to do all the talking for me, too.  Ahhh…but I’m 30 now.  🙂  They were going to go to an agency and talk to a counselor and then they’d be in touch.  We offered our “standard package” and by what I mean is that the few people we’d talked to about adopting we offered to cover all legal fees (standard) and medical bills (standard).  So there is no cost to the birth mother.  They asked to see our “profile” so I quickly wrote up “A Story of Us” and thanked her that no matter which family she chose that she chose life for her child.  Something I would not have had the fortitude to do at that age.

I knew if they met with that state agency there was no way we were going to be able to adopt that baby because I knew that particular agency only takes care of Nebraska families and we were in Oregon. 

The counselor didn’t show up to their meeting.

Call it what you will, but I call it a GOD THING.

They called us late that night.  I was buck naked, just got out of the shower and knew in my heart they were not going to call back.  And said, “We would like you to be parents of this child.”  It still makes me cry to this day!  We called our parents and let them know and then finally got dressed. 

A baby boy, due May 11, 2008-Mother’s Day.

Jeff already had him named and ironically it was the same name our beloved birth mother had also chosen.

We did not get much sleep that night.  Nor would we for the next 3 months. 

Life was moving on…and it was good. (2006, 2007, 2008)

It was good!  I was singing on our church’s Praise Team, I was riding my horse, a few goats, keeping house, working at a job with some “upward mobility”, good pay and good benefits and I had conquered anxiety.

But age 30 was approaching…and it did approach.  The age that the last RE I saw told me to consider re-entering fertility treatments.  My husbands insurance covered a lot of the cost and it was something to consider…maybe next year.  I was happy that I had completed my college degree just a hair before turning 30!  Now, into the world I went…or so I thought.

My sister in law, who is my age, just announced her pregnancy and my own sister was pregnant and due any day with her second child.

About the time my degree was complete a teenager in my hometown became pregnant and several months later my mom wrote her a letter.

 

A truly new chapter begins… (2006, 2007)

So 2006 brought me healing in my heart.  I prayed for healing back in Nebraska but I never thought this would be the kind of healing I would get.  I even said it was better than physical healing.  Healing from panic and anxiety was wonderful.  It was a hard road and took me some hard mental work, but I’m not someone who is afraid of hard work!  And it paid off.  Praise be to God-he healed my mind.  WOW.  I could even be in public with other parents and children and not flip out on the inside.  I had a few days where I regressed, but nothing like the four years before.

I enrolled in college to complete my Bachelor Degree.  What do you do when you can’t have children?  I decided I’d be a career person after all and set my goals high on Human Resources, not home visiting.  🙂

I started meeting other people.  Couples who were either childless by choice (they chose not to have children.  What?  People like that exist?), or couples who wanted children but were content (content? what’s that?) not to pursue adoption or treatments and just live life.  Whoa!  That was a new concept and so freeing!  I re-read Sweet Grapes and embraced it.  I bought a horse and after getting bucked off bought a different horse.  I took some riding lessons and put a whole lot of time and love into this dear animal.  My husband and I worked on our place along the river and made it nicer than it was.  He focused on his work and waterfowl hunting and occasionally I would join him.

Every so often our parents would bring up how they “really wanted to be grandparents”, but we didn’t know what to do.

When a few kids I home visited came up for adoption I called a family meeting to discuss the possibilities.  Hubby was open to the idea but didn’t think this particular family (four girls!) was the right thing for us.  So, instead of wallowing in my grief, I picked up and moved on.

I changed jobs and went into banking and moved up fairly quickly.  I finished my degree and then got a job with the County Planning Department (how ironic) and learned land use and zoning regs and met other infertile women.

I got started training my horse (and myself) in Cowboy Mounted Shooting, bought a different saddle and dreamed of two six shooters and holsters.  I bought a horse trailer and became mobile with my horse.

My OB/GYN was also childless and we had great talks.  She said if I ever wanted to go further she could help me or refer me.  I was intrigued with her “spirit” and the peace she obviously felt in her heart while serving a very poverty-stricken, high rate of teenage pregnancy area.

Life was moving on and it was good…

A new chapter…so we hoped. (2005)

We arrived in Oregon and I had applied for a job at local Head Start, but didn’t hear back right away.  Still in my “plan everything to the death” mode, I fretted.  Nevermind, we had our move completely paid for and my husband was making more money than he did back in Nebraska.  I wanted to contribute. 

The Head Start was a little unorganized that particular year in figuring out where they were going to put me.  I was one credit shy of being a qualified teacher, so they were going to place me as a teacher’s aide in … of all places … the teen center.  The center where the unwed teen mothers brought their children.  I nearly collapsed.  I needed a job, but the tears were flowing.  I knew I couldn’t possibly do this and survive each day.  Oh my gosh.  Me, the one who had tried for now 3 years to conceive and been through a battery of tests…one where the OB did an ultrasound of my ovaries to reveal tons of tiny cysts (Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease/Syndrome)…and they wanted me to work with these mothers who, in my mind at the time, did not deserve the very gifts they were given.  For heaven’s sake!  I was much more fit to be a mother than they!  (or was I?)

Talk about entering depression.  Oh. My. Gosh.  Several weeks later they called and were putting me in a different position of Early Head Start Health Coordinator because of my nursing background.  I would be doing sight, hearing and other evaluations on the little ones rather than seeing their parents every day.  Or, so I thought.  Attached to my job description was five at-risk families that I was to home visit and provide education to.  In the 10 months I worked there, 3 of those families had their children taken away at some point, 1 was already a foster family and 1 was a family I really enjoyed visiting. 

This job was hell for me, but on the lighter side of things, proved to be my saving grace.  Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom in order to change. 

I remember sitting in the lunch room and co-workers asking if I had children.  This, after the standard questions of, “Where did you move from?”  “Where do you live now?”  “What’s your husband do?”  “How long have you been married?” (then an infertile person braces themselves because we know what’s next…)  “Do you have children?”  At this time in my life, I would feel panic in my chest and answer with, “No, we can’t have children.”  No one had ever told me point blank we couldn’t, but obviously, it wasn’t working out.  Usually that comment from my lips stopped any further discussion, because yes, I have considered adoption and IVF and all those other things, thank you very much.

The panic and anxiety grew and grew.  I don’t know how my husband survived. 

I remember we had a doctor (MD) visit our youth group in our Nebraska town who talked to them about STD’s and such.  He was making a point about STD’s and how they can cause infertility and many couples don’t know they are infertile until they get into it (i.e. “trying”).  He didn’t know our story.  I do remember some of his words and how I squeezed Jeff’s hand that night.  He said, “Very few marriages survive infertility, but if you can survive that, you can survive anything.”  Sometimes looking back, I honestly don’t know how we survived it.

So Oregon brought me more and more heart ache.  I cried…a lot.  I dwelt on it…a lot.  I longed for children…all the time.  I hated my job.  I hated the people I worked with.  I hated everything.  My heart hurt.  My soul was tired.  I trusted in God and I loved him, but I didn’t know what he was doing to me.  Torturous God?  Loving?  Why in the world can we not have children?

My dear, wonderful supervisor called me aside (she was my age and I’m sure was at a loss for words, but she knew it was tearing me up).  She suggested I see a counselor.  It was paid for by the office.  It was also covered by my husband’s new and awesome health insurance.  I made an appointment.  This was the first time in my life I had sought professional help.  I was embarrassed, relieved and ready for help. 

At that first meeting, my counselor asked me what I wanted out of her session(s).  I told her I just wanted to be happy.  We went through all the infertility stuff and she gave me some homework.  She had me write things down in three columns.  “What people say to me.”  “Why I believe it’s true.”  and then…”Prove it wrong.”  WOW!  This covered 28 years of anxiety for me and after 9 visits this infertile woman could hold her hands up in church and worship a Great Big God!  She could answer those questions and not freak out on the inside! 

She even started accepting infertility and moving on with life.  Not the life she planned…but a life she was given.