Tuesday, December 1, 2015

All Glory be to Christ Our King

God is good. We’re not pregnant. 
God has a perfect plan for us. This is not the plan we had for us.

Just under two weeks ago, we transferred our last three embies into Gabby.  We prayed, hoped, and thought this time might be different.  Yet, in God’s perfect, albeit painful, plan, we’ve now seen all eight of the embryos we started with go to heaven.

There are many unanswered questions in all of this, but we are confident, while heavy-hearted, that God has something better for us.

As we cried together, we talked about some of the many, many blessings God has lavished on us.  Through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection (and ONLY through this), not only can we avoid the eternal punishment in hell we deserve, but we can also have the hope of eternity in heaven.  Not only that, but God has called us His children and loves us!  We have so many other reasons to bless the Lord. Thank you so much for the many prayers you’ve prayed for us along the way. It's only through God's grace that we're able to have any type of comfort or composure in these situations.

And so we ask for your prayers again.  Please pray that God’s grace would cover us with comfort and peace.  Please mourn with us as we acknowledge the lives of these embryos, brief as they were (Let's acknowledge life!).  Please celebrate with us as we rest in the fact that God is good.

We’re not sure what we’re going to do next at this time (so no need to ask).  We still feel called to parent in some way, but we’re just not sure if that means adopting more embryos, seeking domestic adoption, foster to adopt, etc.  But for now, we’ll take some time to process everything together.  That’d be another prayer request, for God’s wisdom when we’re ready to move forward.

All Glory be to Christ our King.  God is our shepherd, we shall not want.

- Donny & Gabby

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This time tomorrow...

By this time tomorrow I will officially be PUPO! (Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise).

Our embryo transfer is scheduled for 8:30 AM on Thursday, November 19.

People keep asking how I feel and it's a hard question to answer. At any given moment, I'm feeling a variety of "feels." And depending on the moment some are stronger than others... I'm mostly excited, and definitely nervous. (Mostly nervous about peeing on Dr. Nelson during the procedure! They want my bladder super full and then the nurse presses down on my stomach to "open things up" or something... it's definitely a precarious situation for him to be in...)

But there's also moments of despair, "I just know this isn't going to work"; and sometimes even indifference, "whatever, who even cares if we have kids or not?"; and sometimes even panic, "I'm not ready to be a parent, I'm still just a kid myself!" But I think those moments tend to come more when I'm failing to trust in God and am relying on my own self-preservation methods instead.

Approaching this second transfer, we've been more purposeful about guarding our hearts. I was SO optimistic last time and it just made so much sense to us that God would allow us to get pregnant on our first try.  And I still think it's good to be excited and to ask God for very specific things, and we firmly believe that God is 100% capable of giving us a successful pregnancy.  But more specifically, we're praying for contentment whatever our circumstances.

Having walked through all this once before has prepared us to enter this second transfer with a little more caution and perspective.  Last time I was so wrapped up in EVERYTHING, it kind of took over my life. I was nervous about what I was eating, how much sleep I was getting, if I should be doing acupuncture, and if I was better off with the raspberry leaf pills or the tea... plus a myriad of other worries. And guess what - it didn't work! And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? (Matt 6:27) If I can't add a single hour to my life by worrying, I'm surely not going to be able to add a living human to my life!  But God has been SO gracious in the midst of my shortcomings.  Instead of just giving up on me and saying, "well, Gabby's a lost cause," He's continued to gently reveal to me the areas in my heart where I'm failing to fully trust Him, and has given me a second chance to do things better.
So yes, I am excited! I really want it to work! But this time around, instead of thinking about pregnancy symptoms, nursery decor and parenting methods, we're mostly focusing on just being still and knowing that God is our refuge and our fortress, and that He will be exalted regardless of what that pregnancy test says.

I can't thank everyone enough for their prayers and encouraging words.  Every time someone tells us that they've been praying, my heart just feels so full.  We are so grateful for God's church and the love we've felt. Thank you!

Friday, November 6, 2015

1 year blog-iversary

It's hard to believe that it's already been a full year since starting this blog and embarking on our journey through embryo adoption!

In many ways this year has gone really quickly, but then when I think about all of the things we've experienced (applications, background checks, interviews, matching process, hormone treatments, embryo transfer, 2-week wait, sad news, more waiting, more hormone treatments) it's kind of crazy that it's only been a year.

I would characterize this year, overall, as really good.  Donny and I have both grown closer together and closer to the Lord through this process.  We've had to make a lot of tough decisions, we've had to write some really big checks, and we've been forced to really think hard about our future - all of which has really helped us mature and just grow as people.

We've had a lot of fun this year too! Of course we would have loved to have a baby a long time ago - but this extended time of just Donny and Gabby has been just downright fun!  Since last November I've lost track of the times we've been to Disneyland, we've been to Ducks games, concerts, stayed out late, slept in and we even went to Disney World! We're definitely happy to lose that flexibility and freedom when it means we've added another little human...but I'm so glad God gave those memories in the meantime.

This year also had the obvious low points.  Did I ever tell the story about Donny passing out cold when the doctor's office messed up his blood draw by not finding his vein and then spilling blood in front of him?  It was terrifying (for me) and was definitely a low point (that at least we can laugh at now).  Losing one of our precious embryos in the thaw was something we knew was very possible, but was still hard to hear. Waking up one morning during the two-week wait and finding out that I was bleeding was scary and sad. And of course, the hardest day of the year, April 22 - the phone call telling us we weren't pregnant.

Ultimately, although a lot of this year looked very different than I might have imagined or would have planned it (had I been in control) - it's exactly how God wanted our year to look, and for that reason, I wouldn't change anything.

We're prepping my body for another transfer and are praying that year two of this blog will be full of pregnancy updates! But if that's not the case, if we hit November 6, 2016 and we still don't have a child, I know I can still say that it had been a good year because our God is good and our God is in control and our God promises contentment when we find our peace in Him.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3 ESV)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Insanity, Jonah, and the Will of God (Waiting for My Time to Come)

Hi Everyone,
Well, we haven’t updated the blog in quite awhile because…well…there haven’t been any updates for the blog.  After our first Frozen (Adopted) Embryo Transfer didn’t work, and our three little ‘embies’ went to heaven, the Lord made it clear that we were to take some time off and re-group.  Our Doctor had a successful heart surgery, we were able to visit Walt Disney World (by the Lord’s provision!), and another super busy summer came and went.  So now, here we are, just beginning to prepare for our second attempt at an F(A)ET.  Here are a few things on our hearts:

Have you ever heard that definition of Insanity that goes something like: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”? 

(Sometimes attributed to Albert Einstein.  But then again, “The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.” – Abraham Lincoln) 

Anyways, Gabby and I are feeling a little like that.  Not like Abraham Lincoln, mind you, but that we’re about to do the same long, tiresome, expensive, emotionally draining process in hopes of different results.  Now, I use the word ‘hope’ a little differently this time around.  For our first transfer, we had lots of good innocent hope.  I mean, we had never had a failed F(A)ET in our lives, so why shouldn’t we be hopeful that it would work?  We had so many people praying for us from all over!  God answers prayer, right?  Well, our transfer did not result in a viable pregnancy (although at least for some period of time, there were 2 living embryos in Gabby's womb).  Therefore, this time around, frankly it's harder to be hopeful that we’re going to get pregnant.  I mean, we’re pretty much doing the same exact thing (although we’re adding one additional hormone called Lupron. It's a shot that Gabby gives herself in the stomach every night for a couple weeks), so it’s hard to think we’ll get a different result.  But here’s the thing, friends.  More and more, God is focusing us on the point of this whole endeavor:

...and the point isn't necessarily to get pregnant.   

What?!  I know, I know.  Track with me.  The point of this whole endeavor is this: to glorify God.  All things are from Him, through Him, and to Him (Rom 11:36), so EVERYTHING should be about His glory.  So while it’s a little harder to be hopeful about actually getting pregnant this time around, (which is still something we’re praying for and asking you to pray for) we’re 100% hopeful (sure) that this is all for God’s glory.  No matter what happens.  He’s already been glorified so much in everything that we've experienced. We've even entertained the thought that us not getting pregnant might end up bringing Him the most glory, and we're preparing our hearts to be content with that. At the very least, we know that was the case for the first attempt!

With that being said, we are still trying to be hopeful this time around.  I mean, we don’t want to approach this next attempt as if Eeyore got married to a nice girl donkey, we’ll call her MarEeyore, and then they experienced infertility, only to learn about Embryo Adoption and get matched with a nice set of donkey embryos, and had an attempt that did not result in pregnancy, only to try again, but Eeyore had the mindset, “Well, it’s probably not going to work anyway.”  By no means!  We do want to approach this 2nd try with hope! (Gabby wanted to include this picture of her and Eeyore from Walt Disney World at this part in the story)

Ok, I promise this next thing relates: a few days ago, I learned it was the 10th anniversary of one of my favorite records, “Vhiessu,” by one of my favorite bands, Thrice.  One of the songs on that record is called “Hold Fast Hope,” and it’s about Jonah.  This record and song came back to my mind right around the time we were starting everything for this 2nd attempt.  And I got to thinking, you know who literally was in the ‘depths’ of despair?  Jonah!  After his disobedience to God, he found himself in a “great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up.”   Then, when God ordains that the lot was cast to Jonah (he still hadn't confessed at this point), He finally “mans ups" a bit and tells them to cast him into the sea.  Instead of dying, as you'd expect during a “great storm,” God appoints a “great fish” to swallow Jonah, and Jonah is stuck in the stomach of this fish three days and three nights.  Ok, I don’t know about you, but if all of this were happening to me, I would expect to die.  Think about it: huge storm, ship about to go down: I’m going to drown.  They’re throwing me overboard into the sea and I JUST GOT SWALLOWED BY A SEA CREATURE.. YEAH, I’M GOING TO BE EATEN.  And yet, at some point in all of this, Jonah truly “mans up” and prays these words:
 I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me.  I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.  For You had cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current engulfed me.  All Your breakers and billows passed over me.  So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight.  Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’  Water encompassed me to the point of death.  The great deep engulfed me, weeds were wrapped around my head.  I descended to the roots of the mountains.  The earth with its bars was around me forever, but You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.  While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.  Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness, but I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving.  That which I have vowed I will pay.  Salvation is from the LORD.
Wow.  Now, if you’ve read your Bibles, you know that Jonah would continue to have to learn tough lessons.  But at this point, Jonah recognized.  Jonah held fast to hope.  Maybe he didn’t necessarily hold fast to the hope of living through all of this, but he held fast to the hope of God’s sovereignty and glory.  And that’s what we want to do. 

Finally, here’s another reminder.  Gabby and I don’t know the will of God in all of this, and neither do you, our friends and family.  So we invite you to pray and to hope with us that we’d get pregnant!  AND, even though some people are trying to ‘think positive’ and ‘trust’ and ‘be kind’, sometimes it feels a little weird when we hear people say, “Oh, I just KNOW you’re going to get pregnant.”  Cause really, unless you’ve had some divine revelation from the Lord, you don’t know.  We don’t know, either.  That’s ok.  We DO know that God is glorified in all of this, so we invite you to start sending those prayers to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! 

If you’ve read this far, or skipped down below, our current timeline has us doing the actual transfer on or around November 19 or 20.  We really do covet your prayers for this, both that we’d get pregnant, but more importantly that God would be glorified. 

I’ll wrap up this post with another song lyric from one of our most favorite bands as of late, Colony House.  (featuring the sons of the ever-popular Steven Curtis Chapman: Caleb and Will Franklin Chapman) 

“I’ve tried.  I’ve failed. I thought I gave my all, now it’s hard to tell.

Is this the end of this dream I lost, or just an introduction to how much it may cost?

Oh, it seems so complicated, It feels like hope has faded.

When I know it’s just a way that we grow, I cannot control.

I’m still waiting for my time to come.”         
 - “Waiting for My Time to Come” by Colony House

Friday, May 8, 2015

Our Plans for Attempting FET #2

Just wanted to share a quick update about our future plans for growing our family...

We talked to our doctor last week to recap our transfer and talk about what went well, what didn't, and his recommendations for moving forward. He said that there are three things he looks at when a transfer doesn't work.

#1 How did the procedure go? Was it painful? Complicated? Hard to get the embryos where they needed to be?
#2 How were my hormone levels? Was my uterus "cooperating"?
#3 How did the embryos look? Did they thaw well?

He said that based on his notes and all the info we have #1 and #2 couldn't have been better. Everything went smoothly, my hormone levels and uterus were right where they needed to be - basically, there's nothing he or we could have done to make that better.

Regarding #3 though - he said the embryos were good, but they weren't great. It's hard to know how they'll look when they're still frozen, so it's really mostly a guessing game as to how they will thaw prior to the transfer.

He's optimistic that with our 5 remaining embryos we have a good shot - but of course, nothing is guaranteed.

He said that since my body responded well to the protocol, we probably won't change anything as far as dosage and types of meds when we try again. As far as when we'll attempt another transfer, he said that he usually recommends waiting about a month in order to let my body get back to "normal."

However, and this is quite interesting timing... our doctor just found out last week that he's going to have heart surgery this coming Tuesday! Apparently he went to the doctor for an unrelated issue, and found out he's got blockage and his doctor wanted to schedule surgery ASAP. Selfishly, this impacts our personal timeline.

My heart (ooh bad pun, not intended) dropped when he told us the news.  He said that his doctor said to plan on being out of work for a couple months because surgery and recovery are rather intensive. Our doctor did say that the other two Reproductive Endocrinologists in his office are happy to cover him and take care of his patients while he's out... but of course, he'd rather that we wait for him.

Donny and I talked and we agree that we really don't want to switch to anyone else at this point.  We love our doctor, he knows our story, he knows us, and we just feel more comfortable waiting for him.

So that's where we are, more waiting. He's expecting to be back in the office around July - but our summers get so busy, we'll probably have to wait until September before we start the whole process again.

Of course, I'm a little disappointed. I want to be pregnant like, NOW. But at the same time, it felt pretty obvious that God wanted us to wait.

I've had about a week now to process the plan, and I'm feeling good about it.  Since we started applying to adopt embryos last September, we've been kind of stuck in this unknown world of waiting...not sure how far in advance to make plans because we didn't know when things would start, how long they would take, how I would feel, etc. So being able to at least generally plan the next three months-ish has been kind of refreshing. I think I'll sign up to run a half marathon in July or August (my last race was 10 months ago!) and we'll keep saving money, having fun together, serving at church and just living out life as the DINKS (dual income no kids) couple that we've been for almost 5 years now.

I doubt I'll have much to post for the next few months - but thank you so much for reading and praying! We plan on picking up again when we have news to report :)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thank you!

Can I just say thank you so much everybody for all of the love and care and kindness and just general amazing-ness you have show me and Donny over the last few weeks? We are overwhelmed by you all.  Thank you.  So many people (some of you I haven't even met in person or seen in years!) have been contacting us to say that you're praying and it just means the world to us.  PRAYER WORKS! God is teaching us a lot of lessons through our infertility/adoption journey - and taking prayer seriously is one of those unexpected lessons.  People are praying and we feel good - we know those two things are related.  It's been a hard week since we found out that our transfer didn't work - but it's been a week that's also been filled with joy and love and peace. So yes, basically I just want to say we are so grateful to God and to you for loving us!

So what's next?
We're not quite sure yet.  The day we got "the" phone call our nurse said that our doctor wants us to wait about a month to let my body re-regulate.  I stopped all my meds cold turkey that Wednesday afternoon (that was fun) and am back to just being a regular ol' person.

I'm trying to take advantage of all the things I couldn't do when I hoped I was pregnant (coffee, rides at Disneyland, coffee, sushi, coffee, etc...) and have also resumed teaching classes at the gym.  My first real workout back after about 3 weeks of "taking it easy" was challenging, to say the least, but putting energy and focus into exercising has been good for my heart too.

This week's schedule of activities has been pretty light, which has been really good for Donny and I to just be together. After our relationship with the Lord, our relationship with each other as husband and wife is what's most important. If it ends up that we're not called to be parents, we still have Christ (which is all we need) and we'll still have each other (which is an awesome bonus) and we're still called to love, serve and put each other's needs before our own.  We don't ever want to lose sight of that in the crazy world of trying to get pregnant/parenting and we feel very grateful that the Lord has made that easier for us right now.
My Valentine's gift to Donny was 12 travel around the world themed stay-home date nights - so in April we went to Italy! Complete with pasta, pizza, gelato, water color painting and sculpting statues (with play dough). 

We have a phone appointment with our doctor tomorrow afternoon, so I'm assuming we'll get a better sense of the schedule after that.  We're sad about the loss of our embryos, but we're also anxious to try again.

One of our snowflakes didn't survive thawing, so that means that three of our children have now entered heaven.  A friend from my Embryo Adoption support group on Facebook sent me a very sweet message. She too has experienced failed pregnancies and I've taken a lot of comfort in her words in the last few days. She said that even though our hearts break at this loss, knowing that my body was a vessel to finally free these frozen lives to go meet Jesus, has been incredibly encouraging. Our embryos were frozen for 12 years before coming to us and who knows how much longer it would have been before they would have been adopted by another family.  So at the very least, we can rest in the knowledge that instead of being unaware in a petri dish - they're in heaven praising God.  What a blessing!

Again, thank you so much! We feel the affects of your prayers and feel so so loved!

I'll post again when we know more.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Soli Deo Gloria

(by Donny)

We’re not pregnant.  

Our little embryos were unable to hold on and result in pregnancies.  This is a bummer, this is a trial, this is hard, this is God’s perfect will.  

Can I ask something of you, reader?  Would you keep praying?  We’ve felt so, so blessed in hearing about and feeling your prayers over us, and so we would ask that you keep doing that in this time.  Instead of well-intentioned consolation with biblical references (which we’re totally holding onto right now), and/or asking about, “well, what’s next?”, would you simply weep with us (Rom. 12:15) for now?  That would be the best thing you can do.  That’s what The Church does.

If you believe that life begins at conception, then so far, 3 of our little lives have gone to be with Jesus (also assuming you believe that babies who die go to heaven, which I think there is very good reason to believe, but that’s for another topic).  During the thaw process, one went to be with Jesus, and now, two more went to be with Jesus.  (How cool it will be to see them in heaven!?) And so it’s hard, but we trust an amazing God with a perfect will that can often be hard to swallow.  Job said it well, “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

In the midst of this, we still have hope because we have God.  Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have hope in Salvation.  That’s all we need.  As a bonus, we also have each other.  We know that this will work together for our good and God’s glory.

“The road of disappointment runs where unseen mercies wait for us.  And all is well because of God’s great love…Through every failure, every fear, the Lord of comfort draws us near.  And all is well because of God’s great love.”
-From “All is Well” by Steve and Vicki Cook

To God alone be the glory (Soli Deo Gloria).

P.S. In time, we’ll post about “what’s next.”  But for now, we’re going to grieve, regroup, and worship God.