Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cycle Day 8

This morning started off just like the other ones when having to get up early and head in to the Dr's office. Emma and I woke at 7am and got dressed and headed out. I got poked, prodded and violated and then we were off to run our daily errands.

I'm sitting at the computer looking for macaroni and cheese recipes for dinner tonight and I get the phone call from my nurse. My estrogen is 51. Down a point from two days ago. She talked to Dr. Lucas and he wants to cancel my cycle for the month. I'm on cycle day 8 and my estrogen isn't taking off but actually decreasing.

I was a little numb at first and like oh well. As I was holding Emma on the couch after her nap I sat there and let it hit me. I cried and got it out as much as I could. I know the Lord is with me holding my hand and wiping my tears. He will pick me up another day and carry me through.

Phillip called armed with more information about trials and questions. Fierce, protective, demanding a meeting with the doctor and on a mission to beat this. The more we talked the more the sinking feeling came over me that maybe we won't have the large family that I had always dreamed of. Maybe we will always be the family of 3.

God is good and we will remain faithful. We will continue to be optimistic and look forward to what 2008 will bring!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

December Cycle Day 6

After a late night last night of traveling home, we had an even early morning. Emma was my alarm clock this morning waking us up at 6:45am. I'd rather wake up to her any day over an alarm. I got her adjusted and snuggled with her for a few minutes on the couch watching cartoons and sipping juice. I ran to the shower and got both of us ready and we headed out the door for my monthly ritual.

This month I won't have my exact measurements and levels of bloodwork until the end of the cycle but I'll make do for now.

Cycle Day 6
Tuesday December 18
Returned to the office at 8am for ultrasound and bloodwork.

Left ovary-
20+ total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
20+ total follicles on the right side.

Estrogen level- 52
150iu's of Follistim for 2 more nights. Go back on Thursday for ultrasound and bloodwork.

I was actually a tiny bit bummed when I heard my estrogen was 52 but after looking back at my September cycle I was actually 2 points higher this month. Hopefully I'm on track for a great month like before except we will add progesterone at the end.

I remain in constant prayer and trust in God's timing. He is always good and faithful so I must remain as well.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hormonal? I Think So!

So after Christmas #1, Sunday we drove up to Jacksonville to attend my best friend's sister's wedding (Leanne's sister Debra was the bride). Are you still with me? Ok. The wedding was absolutely beautiful. First of all it was outside. When we walked up and sat down I realized that Mr. Dudley (Debra's dad) was standing at the front and it hit me. He was marrying them! Wow! I started tearing up immediately. I just think that is the neatest thing. So if Mr. Dudley was already standing at the front who is going to walk Debra down the aisle? The...flood...gates...open... Here comes Justin (Debra's brother) walking her down the aisle! Is that not the sweetest thing ever?

Mr. and Mrs. Dudley had five children! it was always so neat growing up around them. There was always someone over at their house and you were always welcome. It was a Christian home and you knew that if you ever needed anything or needed someone to talk to they would always be there for you. I have to say it was a priveledge to be a part of their family.

Here I am getting all sappy. What's happening to me? Thanks for letting me relive my teenage years and how great they were!

Back at the wedding. After the ceremony we went inside for the reception and it was like a big ole reunion! I've seen people that I haven't seen in years. I'm not a crier. The first person I run into we start hugging and I start crying. Who is this person that's living in my body? I do not know her. You have to realize that I'm usually not a person that cries easily. I'm just getting it all out today. Looking back it was actually quite funny. Then the person says to me, "Are you expecting again?" You thought reuniting with an old friend was emotional try having to listen to that question! I calmly reply, "No but we are trying and having a pretty hard time."

People just don't get it. Not only are you having a hard time getting pregnant, but you have a condition that helps you put on extra weight and is not partial to any type of diet. Getting asked if you are pregnant when you are not is pretty downright depressing. So that set the mood for the night.

Besides the few mishaps in the middle we had an absolute great time and loved visiting with everyone. I think I'm over the hormonal hump now. :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

December Cycle Day 3

So today I start my shots again. Round 3. Third times a charm!

I'm on the same protocol as last time. 100iu's of Follistim for 3 nights and come back for bloodwork and ultrasound.

It was 10pm eastern standard time (1 hour ahead of Birmingham's time) and I remebered that I needed to take my shot. I'm supposed to take it between 7-9pm. Luckily I wasn't to late. The only thing I did not bring was rubbing alcohol and cotton balls to clean and make everything sterile before giving myself the shot. Phillip and I couldn't find anything so I resorted to Emma's baby wipes! Boy are we living on the edge. As I was holed up in the bedroom I was trying to find a spot on my stomach that wasn't super sensitive when I poked at my skin. Usually it's easy but this time it wasn't. I think my body is scarred from the previous months. It's on strike but I have to cross the picket lines and I went for it. Ouch! I thought to myself, "Self, why do you keep torturing me? I don't know? Well, I take that back. I do know and we pray everyday that this month will be the month that we get our miracle baby."

By now it's about 10:30 and it's been a long day. Emma didn't sleep well the night before. She went strong until everyone left. Around 4:30 she had a fever of 101.6 and was asking to take a shower. Phillip put her in the shower with him and just a few minutes later she was asleep on his shoulder. She slept for 2 hours after and long and exciting day seeing that we just had Christmas #1 with Phillip's side of the family. It's been a great day and now it's time to try and get Emma to bed. I'm sick, have no voice left, glands swollen and my eyes are being held open with tooth picks. Sleepy land here we come.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Flip A Coin

So we do the treatments this month or not? That was the big question of the day Friday. So we flipped a coin. Heads we start them. Tails we don't. HEADS! Just kidding! We really didn't flip a coin but we did decide to start treatments this month. Everything seemed to work itself out. We are hoping that my last shot will be next Sunday December 23rd but if not we have a plan. I'll fill you in on those as we go along. One of the major factors of us being able to do them was if I could carry my medicine with me on the airplane. According to the the guidelines on Southwest you can carry on any liquid medication as long as it is less than 3oz. So I packed everything I needed in a clear zip lock bag and filled it with an ice pack so that it would stay cold. If it gets warm then the medicine is no longer usable. So I said some prayers, packed my needles in my suitcase and prayed that everything would go off without a hitch. We are talking $1000 worth of medicine that I was traveling with so if I got stopped in security or if I couldn't take my ice packs through then we would be in some trouble.

Turns out that neither my medicine or I were the problem getting through security but that Phillip was! Who knew that his driver's license had expired 4 days ago! Luckily for us they let him go through security and we were able to board the plane. It did make us think twice about those people that are less than honest traveling under an expired id that had other motives but that could be pondered on another day on another blog. :)

Cyst Free!

This morning Phillip woke me up at 6:30am so I could be at the Dr's office bright and early. When we went to bed last night the plan was for him to go on to work and I would take Emma with me. He told me that he was going to just ride in to work with us and then I could come back for him later in the day when we leave for out of town. You have to realize that Phillip is totally a morning person and rises with a smile on his face and I am the complete opposite. A total night person and when I have to wake up to an alarm I wake up with moans and groans and it still takes me about 2 hours to finally wake up after a shower if it's before 7:30am. Usually Emma is a morning baby too but this morning we went to wake her up and she pointed back to the bed and I sat her down. She then scurried back to her warm spot and pulled the covers back over her and proceeded to go back to bed. Sorry sweet pea. Today we aren't so lucky! Rise and shine! This is one of the hardest parts of fertility treatments espcially when I have to disrupt Emma's schedule. She's coming down with a cold and has a cough and runny nose.

The car ride in was actually nice this morning. A good way to start a great day. We were on the interstate and he passes the exit that we would normally take to go to his work and I ask him what he was doing. He decided to go with me to my appointment and watch Emma while I have my ultrasound done! Was that not the sweetest thing? He dropped me off at the Dr's office and I went to the ultrasound and low and behold.....NO CYST! God is good!

The nurse and I began to talk about the holidays and whether I was going to pursue the shots this month. I told her our schedule over the next couple of weeks and to my surprise she said it could be done. Hmmm! This totally changes the dynamics of things. I planned on taking the month off to enjoy the holidays and not stress. But if we did do the shots, which are sitting in my refrigerator calling out to me everytime I open the door, then we could be that much closer to getting pregnant.

I have only a small window of opportunity to make the decision since we will be leaving shortly for Christmas #1.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Forward Progress

So early this morning I started much to my surprise. Since last month's episode of me starting 10 days after finishing up the Prometrium (the medicine to make me start) I totally expected to take this route again. So I was pleasantly surprise to see it was back to my usual schedule of starting just two days after I finished up my medicine.

I woke up anxious to call the Dr.'s office to see when they want me to come in so they can do the ultrasound to see the status of my cyst. I feel like the darn thing is part of my family now. It's definitely a topic of conversation and it creeps it's way into my thoughts quite often. I'm thinking of naming it. Or would that just confirm that I am in fact crazy? I won't go that far.

My nurse has been slacking on returning my phone calls as promptly as I would prefer so I had the phone attached to my hip the whole morning. She finally called back at 11 and said that they prefer to check the status of the cyst on Day 3 of your cycle. This presented a problem because we are headed out of town tomorrow and day 3 would be Saturday. So we comprimised and I told her I would come in around 7ish tomorrow morning. I guess it's a good thing that I didn't have anything planned but laundry today because tomorrow is pretty much shot. Today will be spent packing and getting the house somewhat picked up. Tomorrow morning we will head downtown for my appointment and come home and finish whatever I didn't get done today and then head back downtown to pick Phillip up and catch our flight.

I'm not sure what the results will be tomorrow and I'm not really worried about it. The good thing is that we decided to take the month of December off for treatments since we would be traveling quite a bit. If it hasn't decreased then we will move forward and see what needs to be done to get it dissolve. If it has decreased we will enjoy the holidays and wait 28 more days to start on the Prometrium again and then hopefully start some shots again.

If I get the results early enough before we leave then I will post them. If not I'll try and post over the weekend.

I'm excited to see what God has in store for us tomorrow! His peace is with me. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

PostPartum Depression and Infertility Treatments

I'm even more convinced now that it is more common to experience postpartum depression after doing infertility treatments.

I've posted before that I had babyblues/postpartum depression after I had Emma. My theory was that since I was hyped up on hormones to get pregnant and then sucessfully conceived Emma which further hightened my hormones and then once I delievered her my hormones plumeted leaving me on the opposite end of the hyped up hormone girl.

More evidence points to my theory being correct. Of course this is all my own personal opinions and are not backed by any medical facts. Since I've completed two rounds of fertility shots and have had to sit out two months, I think I'm going through hormone withdrawals. The last couple of weeks I've had similar feelings as to what I experienced right after I had Emma. Thank the Lord they are not as bad as what I had with Emma but still it makes you feel not quite right. I started noticing the symptoms the day after everyone had left from Emma's Birthday weekend. I woke up feeling depressed. I tried to think of some things for Emma and I to do that would keep us moving and busy. I called Phillip and talked to him about it. "Maybe I'm sad because everyone left and the house is so quiet again." He thought that was it and suggested that we take a nap and keep busy.

The nap didn't help and we tried keeping busy but the feelings persisted. With the sun going down much earlier these days it also makes me feel sad. It's the strangest thing. I count down the hours until Phillip gets home so we are not by ourselves. I found things to focus on and keep us busy and things have been better lately but I truely think it's because I'm having hormonal withdraws from all of the medicine.

It's scary to think that all of the hormones they pump into you can have such an impact on your daily life. I guess I'm so used to running on low hormones that I don't know a difference until they pump me up and then deflate me.

Such is life and such the roller coaster I live on these days. I am thankful that I have a husband who somewhat understands me and what I am going through and how it all makes me feel. I thank God that he lets me talk things out without judging me or calling me crazy even though some days I feel like I am. Hopefully this roller coaster won't last much longer but I know that however long we are on it that the Lord is working through us so I find comfort in that.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Scripture Verse of the Day

He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.
Psalms 113:9

He Is Faithful!

When I sat down and started journeling I told Phillip, "Boy this is going to save big bucks on the cost of therapy!" It was the best form of release I could come up with. I know the Lord has a plan for us and there's a purpose for everything we do. He is faithful! He is good!

As we emerge out of the fog I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In my struggles with infertility and in turn my blogging, God has opened his doors to me. I am so thankful for those who read this, those who have called and those who have emailed. I am a living testimony of how God works in our lives and by faith he is healing me and hopefully you.

Thank you for your support!

Blessings,
Ashley

Friday, December 7, 2007

Desperate To Be A Mom- Dr. Phil Show

Thursday on Dr. Phil the show focused on people who are having trouble getting pregnant. I thought it was interesting and thought I'd share a couple of clips. It's not Christian based information but it's always interesting to hear other talk about the same thing you are going through.

"It makes me angry when he doesn’t understand how hard it is for me to get pregnant, and he doesn’t want to try," says Michelle, of her husband of one year, Eric. They both want to have children, but she hasn't been able to get pregnant.

Michelle was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, making conception more difficult. "I have to go through a lot of medications, and recently my doctor was wanting me to do injectables," she explains, noting that they've spent $5,000 on fertility drugs. "Eric definitely does not want to pay for any of it. Eric's main reason for not wanting to have children at this time was to purchase a house."

"I do understand Michelle’s urgency to have a child. I do not understand the rationale to go into debt for it though," Eric says. He's told Michelle to stop the procedures because he says they don't have the money. "I don’t think spending $2,500 with very little chance of it working is worth that at all," he explains. "Those extra expenses make it very difficult meeting a monthly budget."

"I would keep trying until I was broke," Michelle reveals. "We argue almost on a daily basis ... Emotionally, we’re both drained. Financially, we’re draining."

Eric hopes to heal their relationship. "I very much wish that I had the old Michelle back," he admits. "It is a fear of mine that I will end up having some resentment toward her. The future between my wife and me is definitely up in the air."

Michelle acknowledges, "It’s definitely a desperate situation."

“You have a sense of urgency here,” Dr. Phil says to Michelle. “Tell me about that.”

“I’ve wanted to have children since I was little, and it’s always been a dream of mine other than getting married, so I would do almost anything,” she says.

Eric agrees that he wants kids. “If I could have a child right now, it would be there,” he says.

“You’re objection is what?” Dr. Phil asks him.

“We can’t continue to spend money on something that has a very, very low success rate,” he says.

“You said you’d rather put that in an item you know you’re going to get, like a house,” Dr. Phil says, “because at least you’d make the investment. You’d get the item.” Michelle disagrees with her husband's beliefs. “I always say, ‘You can always buy a house. You can’t always have a child,’” she tells Dr. Phil. “I just want to have a child so bad, and it’s really hard because the doctors are telling me that the medication's not working so far, and I just want to do anything I can to be able to keep trying.”

“If you stop now because he doesn’t want to continue to spend the money on this, how are you going to feel about that?” Dr. Phil asks her.

“I think I’ll regret it. I don’t want to end up down the road in a divorce, and I don’t want to regret my decision to marry him,” she says.

Michelle has contemplated selling items on eBay or doing anything she can to obtain the money for fertility treatments. “I was ready to go behind his back and just charge it to my account, and he wouldn’t know,” she says.

“Do you understand that you’re not investing in a thing? You’re not even investing in the process that might bring you the thing. You’re investing in your relationship. You’re investing in your family. You’re investing in your future,” Dr. Phil tells Eric. He points out that Michelle didn't choose to have polycystic ovary syndrome. "She doesn’t have that. This couple has that.”

Dr. Phil addresses Michelle. “For every thought you have, there’s a physiological correlate,” he tells her. “Right now, you are stressed. You are angry. You are biochemically, physiologically, setting yourself up in the least fertile state you could possible get.” He explains that she must learn to calm herself down. “You’re putting yourself in a bad frame of mind for getting pregnant.”

“I cringe when I hear that, because with my condition I might only ovulate two to three times a year, which makes it really impossible to try to get pregnant,” she says. “I can relax all I want, and it’s not going to help me. I need to continue with the medications.”

“I’m not saying you don’t,” Dr. Phil tells her, but he reiterates that it is important for her to get herself into a better mental state to help her chances of conceiving.

Turning to Eric, Dr. Phil asks, “What are you thinking about what I’m saying here?”

“I understand that investing in, or paying for the procedures would definitely help our relationship. It would create a stronger bond than what we have," he says. “But I just have a hard time understanding the point of going into debt. I understand that you can never afford a baby.”

Dr. Phil says he understands Eric’s logic, but he asks him, “What are you going to do if you have a baby, and it has a problem, say, at 2 years of age, and they say, ‘We think we can fix this. The procedure is $20,000, but I don’t know. It might cure him, and it might not.’ What are you going to do?”

“At that point, we’re living on milk crates,” Eric says. “You wouldn’t deny the opportunity to try to fix the problem then, would you?” Dr. Phil asks. “No,” he says.

“You’re just trying to fix the problem now,” Dr. Phil points out. “You don’t want to spend the money on a house that she resents every time she walks in.”

“I guess we’ll have to talk about this some more,” Eric says.

At the end of the show, Dr. Phil asks Eric for his thoughts. “I definitely understand that I need to maybe understand her point and try to do my best to meet her at least halfway in this decision,” he says.

“Maybe what you have to do is sit down and negotiate some type of budget for this that you work out together, and you decide how the sacrifices are going to be made,” Dr. Phil suggests. “You don’t just bankrupt yourselves forevermore. You at least make a commitment and say, ‘We’re going to go this far, and we’ll see where we are at that point.’” He reminds them that a house is just bricks. “This is your life, and let me tell you, life is brief, and time is a thief, and it goes so, so quickly.”


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Another Infertility Video from my Dr.'s Office

Here is another link to a video from my UAB infertility Dr.'s office. The women working in the lab have been the ones drawing my blood every couple of days. Dr. Sites is one of the three Dr.'s in this practice and she's also done a few of my Saturday/Sunday ultrasounds.

http://uabhealthtv.photobooks.com/default.asp?ChannelID=2&ProgramID=118

UAB Fertility Specialist, John Lucas, M.D




Purpose Driven Life

I continue to be amazed at my God. Monday November 12, the day I received news about having a cyst I was sitting at my computer that afternoon and in comes my daily email from the Purpose Driven Life. As I sit here and reread the devotional again I'm floored at how direct it hits my heart.



2007/11/12

God’s Right to Rule
by Jon Walker

I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands ….” Daniel 9:4 (NIV)

God becomes real in your life when you submit to his sovereignty.

Sovereignty simply means God is in control, and that he has theright to be in control – the right to rule. No matter what you’ve thought or believed – in the past or even now -- the truth be told, God has always been in control; he remains in control; and he will always be in control. God rules from his heavenly throne, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).

If we’re serious about living a life according to God’s purpose, it’s essential we understand this issue of sovereignty. It is only within the context of God’s sovereignty that we can trust the Almighty is actively at work in our lives, no matter how good or bad things may appear (Romans 8:28).

If we don’t believe in the sovereignty of God, then we’re more likely to become plagued by worry, doubt, and fear. And, when we look across the world, we’re more likely to feel overwhelmed by the immense needs – of those who hunger, those who hurt, and those who desperately need to hear the Good News of peace with God.

You may feel inadequate for the mission, but God created you just for this moment, and he believes in you. Is it possible he knows more about your abilities than you do?

What now?

(This is the paragraph that really spoke to me!)
· God becomes real when you submit to his sovereignty -- Our God spoke the world into existence, and with the same power and creativity, he spoke you into your mother's womb, timing your conception perfectly so that you'd be in service to him at this very moment in time. Would God send you on a mission without providing everything you will need to succeed?

· God is sovereign and that means he is able -- He is ableto takewhat you giveand use it for his glory, andhe is able to handle any problem or concern you have as you complete your purpose: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him ….” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

· Talk to God about his greatness -- You can stay focused on God's sovereignty by talking to him about his greatness. We have a tendency to maximize our problems and minimize God's greatness. But when we do that, we also minimize - in our minds - God's ability to handle any problem. Instead, praise God for his greatness.

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.
Jon Walker is a pastor-advocate living in Tennessee and the former pastor of communications at Saddleback Church.
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© 2007 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved.

How's that for timing? :) I told you, God's good!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

November 2007

After the emotional and physical roller coaster that I/We have been on the past several months Phillip mentioned to me that maybe I should take the rest of the year off from any treatments.

What? October, November, December, 3 WHOLE months? Enjoy Emma's birthday and the holidays.

The thought was a bit enticing for the two seconds that I entertained it. Then I started thinking that I would be a whole 3 months behind trying to get pregnant. I don't really want to put it off for another 3 months if one of those months could be the month I could get pregnant. I banished the thought from my head.

Let me tell you a little bit about Phillip. He's the best husband ever. His family tells me he's the most like his Father. Sadly he passed away 17 years ago so I never got to meet him. Phillip is patient, kind, driven, dedicated, half full and has the biggest heart. He wants to provide for his family and never let us down. He hates to say "no" to me and I usually get whatever I am after at that moment. This I know about him. But if he really feels strongly about something, he'll let me know and we compromise.

I had my heart set on continuing on with my treatments the month of November and Phillip graciously went along with it.

Friday, October 26th I started my round of Prometrium taking 1 pill a night for 7 nights to start my period. I'm usually timely with starting several days after finishing the Prometrium but 3 days passed and nothing. Five days, eight days and nothing. I started freaking out. What else could possibly be wrong with me now? I could pretty much count on starting within a certain date after the medicine and now I can't even do that. I called my nurse and she said it could take up to 2 weeks after you've finished taking the medicine to start. Gee whiz that's a long time. So I continue to wait. Finally, day 10 after taking 7 days of the medicine I start. I've never been so excited to start a period.

Monday, November 12th I went in and had my baseline ultrasound excited to be starting the treatments again. I already had my medicine at home waiting for me in the refrigerator I was just waiting for the ok to start them again. I was on the table and they were scanning my right ovary and things were looking good. Nurse Michelle was assistanting on the ultrasound for the first time (I was her trial run) and she started to scan on my left ovary. She turned to the tech and said, "Oh my gosh, what's that big black spot?" The tech looks at the screen and immediately says, "Oh no! She has a cyst! Her cycle for the month is canceled."

As I lay on the table, feet in stir-ups, covered in a plastic drape, I stared at the screen knowing my fate as tears streamed down my face. I'll be sitting out yet another month. That makes two consecutive months of no treatments. I was so upset. Nurse Michelle talked to me and said that she would see what Dr. Lucas would want to do now and she would call me later to confirm.

I went to pick Emma up at Phillip's work and of course when I got there I cried some more. What am I going to do now. What does God have in store for us? I picked myself up and soldiered on. After all I still need to be a good Mom to Emma and not let her down. I can only be so sad and let it get me down. I'm a Mom. Put on your happy face and carry on. That's exactly what I did. I have 2-3 days where I am bummed but I get through them and then I'm fine after that until next go round. It's the in between and the not knowing either way whether we will be able to concieve another child. If I can't get pregnant I know in my heart I'll be ok. It's the struggle getting there.

God will not give us more than we can handle. I know that I am going through infertility for a reason and that the Lord will use me. I'm excited to be His tool and can't wait to see what comes of it.

My cyst was in fact 4cm and Dr. Lucas wants to wait another month to see if the cyst will dissolve on it's own. If it does not dissolve they will either give me medicine to help it dissolve or they will have to go in and do surgery. This is my first time knowingly having a cyst so I'm not sure what to expect or how my body will handle it. I do know that it will be atleast the first of the year until we try another round of treatments if my cyst does in fact dissolve on it's own.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

October 2007

October I had to sit out from a month of infertility treatments. They do this so that they do not hyper-stimulate my ovaries and cause me to have cysts.

So October was spent in reflection. September, Phillip and I started going to a new small group at church and we were starting a new Bible study titled "Abide."

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:3

We took pieces from John 15 and studied them more in depth each Wednesday night. The verse that struck me the most was:

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off ever branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15: 1-3

Lightbulb moment! God is pruining me so that I can bear more fruit. Wow! God is good! Now how am I going to use my situation and what I now realize is my testimony to reach others who are believers or may be a non-believer? I can share my testimony to other so I can tell them what God has done in my life and what he continues to do. He is faithful and true.

So my treatments had not worked in July or September but I no longer feel defeated. I am energized! I know this sounds a bit odd but it is so obvious. God has something else in store for us. Imagine! He has something bigger in store for us right now than getting pregnant. How exciting. I cannot wait to see what's in store. What could the Lord have for little ole us? It must be big!

September 2007

Dr. Lucas changed my protocol slightly and this month I will be using a different gonadotropin shot called Follistim. It is essentially the same medication as the Gonal F but made by a different manufacturer. I have no idea why it would make a difference in the end result but I'm trusting the Doctor.

August 26th I started on the Prometrium to get me to start my period. I would take 1 pill for the next 7 days.

Cycle Day 2
Wednesday September 5
Went in to the office to get my baseline ultrasound.

Left ovary-
1. less than 1.0
5-6 total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. less than 1.0
3-4 total follicles on the right side.

Endometrium- 0.67
Start Follistem on Thursday September 6 100iu's of Follistim for 4 nights

Cycle Day 6
Monday September 10
Returned to the office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.

Left ovary-
1. 0.7
2. less than 0.7
20+ total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. 0.75
2. less than 0.7
20+ total follicles on the right side.

Cycle Day 9
Thursday September 13
Returned to the office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.

Left ovary-
1. 0.7
2. less than 0.7
20+ total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. 0.7
2. less than 0.7
20+ total follicles on the right side.

Estrogen level- 50
Endometrium- 0.71
150iu's of Follistim for 2 more nights.

Cycle Day 11
Saturday September 15
Returned to the office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.

Left ovary-
1. 0.88
Many follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. 0.77
Many follicles on the right side.

Estrogen level- 114
Endometrium- 0.60
175iu's of Follistim for 3 more nights.

Cycle Day 14
Tuesday September 18
Returned to the office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.
Left ovary-
1. 1.35
2. 1.15
3. 1.05
4. 0.95
20+ total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. 0.95
2. 0.95
20+ total follicles on the right side.

Estrogen level- 524
Endometrium- 1.10
No Meds and need to come back tomorrow for another ultrasound and bloodwork.

Cycle Day 15
Wednesday September 19
Returned to the office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.

Left ovary-
1. 1.65
2. 1.3
3. 1.1
4. 1.05
20+ total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. 1.05
2. 1.0
3. less than 1.0
20+ total follicles on the right side.

Estrogen level- 1011
Endometrium- 1.34

HCG Shot!!! 5,000iu's

The HCG shot is the last shot given in the cycle. This is to trigger ovulation. Now starts the two week waiting period to take a pregnancy test.

I had such a good cycle and everything is super positive! Yea! This could definitely be the month. I'm feeling really good about it. My attitude is positive.

Cycle Day 21
Thursday September 27
Returned to the office for progesterone bloodwork to see if I ovulated.

The nurse called me that afternoon with my bloodwork results. My progesterone level came back at 5.4! 5.4? Did I hear her right? She then told me that the doctor likes to see a good progesterone level around 15-20 but they have seen pregnancies result in very low progesterone numbers. She told me not to get to upset yet and that we would check for a pregnancy on October 3rd.

As soon as I hung up the phone I began to sob. Self-pity set in. I wanted to be the Mom with lots of kids driving the mini-van since I was a little girl. I wanted to be the Mom with six kids running around and being in parental bliss. By the way, have you ever seen anyone in "parental bliss?" I'll save this question to ponder later. As I sat at the table and cried and feeling lonely a thought came to me. "I am the Great Comforter. I will sit here with you and hold your hand as you cry. As you cry, I cry. I weep for you. Trust me. In time I will give you what you ask of me."

I called Phillip and cried to him. He said he was sure the lab must have left a 1 out of the bloodwork and that it probably was 15.4. He thought I had such a great cycle and that he was feeling really good about it too. He's such the optimist! :) He told me to call the office back and see if I could come in tomorrow morning and have them run my bloodwork again.

The nurse said that she would have the lab rerun the bloodwork in the morning and give me a call. Ok. I had peace in my heart and knew that I had to trust the Lord. He had just spoken to me. He knows what I want and he will provide in HIS time.

Friday the nurse called back and indeed the lab was right the first time. My progesterone level was 5.4. We would wait and see. All I could do was pray.

No need for a pregnancy test. Saturday September 30 I awoke to my period. Atleast I had been somewhat prepared for not being pregnant since the shock of Thursday's results. I had two days to have it all sink in but there's really no preparing oneself for the fact that yet again, you are not pregnant and you cannot get pregnant on your own.

If I can't get pregnant on my own and I not getting pregnant on two rounds of shots then will I ever get pregnant again?

August 2007

August brought about a time of peace and reflection. One that was greatly needed. With the faith and confidence we had trying to get pregnant with Emma I was wondering where all that was this time around? It should be just as easy this time around. Dr. Lucas did not give me the 3 month time frame and at the end of the 3rd month I would be pregnant. This time my nurse consoled me by telling me that each month I have only a 20% chance of getting pregnant. It also doesn't mean that each month I go through treatments adds to my percentage of getting pregnant. Each month you have a flat 20% chance and that's that. I was confirmed again that Emma was a blessing from God above and it was all in his timing. I have no control over getting pregnant. I have to put my faith and trust in the Lord and let him work through me. I received the peace I needed going into my second round of shots.

Maybe September will be the month?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Positive or Negative?

Since I do not ovulate on my own and I so obviously need medical intervention for this to take place we do not get the element of "Surprise! I'm pregnant!" that most people get to experience. For that very reason we wanted to keep the fact that we were going through infertility treatments again quiet so we could also experience the "Surprise!" factor with everyone we told. Since it was fairly easy looking back getting pregnant with Emma we figured the second time would be easier.

July 22nd we were leaving to go on my family vacation for a week at Seacrest Beach. Everyone (Mom, Dad, Mike, Shannon, Brooks and Claire) had come in Saturday and spent the night with us before convoying down Sunday together.

July 22nd, two days before I was supposed to take a pregnancy test, the day we were leaving for vacation, I started my period.

Devastation.

Sadness.

Reality hits.

Tears come.

I go back to bed.

I finally got myself together, showered, prayed, and knew that God would get me through this. The week of vacation was a nice break to get away but was not an easy one. I was supposed to be checking for my positive pregnancy test that Tuesday but instead I was trying to deal with not being pregnant and not showing how upset I was.

Why was it all so much easier before? I know we are so blessed to have Emma and I thank God for her everyday. I ache so much in my heart to provide a brother or sister for her. A playmate. A best friend. Someone who she can talk about us to and the other will understand exactly.

August I will have to sit out and we will try again in September. Until next time...

June/July 2007

After going home from our appointment and had time to let things sink in I had this uneasy feeling that I couldn't settle. The internal debate had begun. Again... What is God leading us to do? Is it God's timing for us to have another child? If it is His timing couldn't he just let me ovulate on my own instead of having medicine help me? Is it in God's plan that I go to Dr. Lucas for help? Am I trying to have to much control over my life instead of giving it over to God? Should we wait?

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart..." Jeremiah 1:5

This is the verse that the Lord put on my heart. I knew then that we were not done having children.

Dr. Lucas suggested we follow the same protocol as last time when I got pregnant.

Results from each day I went for my ultrasounds and bloodwork:

Cycle Day 4
Monday June 25
Left ovary-
1. 0.6
2. 0.6
15+ total follicles on left side.

Right ovary-
1. 0.65
2. less than 0.6
15+ total follicles on right side.

Endometrium- 0.31
75iu's of Gonal F for 3 nights

Cycle Day 7
Thursday June 28
Returned to the office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.

Left ovary-
1. 0.75
2. less than 0.50

15+ total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. 0.70
2. less than 0.6

15+ total follicles on the right side.

Estrogen level- 49
Endometrium- 0.58
100iu's of Gonal F for 2 more nights

Cycle Day 9
Saturday June 30
Returned to the office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.

Left ovary-
1. 0.85

15+ total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. 0.8

15+ total follicles on the right side.

Estrogen level- 61
Endometrium- 0.72

112iu's of Gonal F for 2 more nights

Cycle Day 11
Monday July 2
Returned to the office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.

Left ovary-
1. 0.7
2. less than 0.7

15+ total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. 0.8
2. less than 0.8

15+ total follicles on the right side.

Estrogen level- 60
Endometrium- 0.71
150iu's of Gonal F for 2 more nights

Cycle Day 13
Wednesday July 4
Returned to the office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.

Left ovary-
1. 0.6
2. 0.51

15+ total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. 0.83
2. 0.80
3. 0.80

15+ total follicles on the right side.

Estrogen level- 119
225iu's of Gonal F for 2 more nights

Cycle Day 15
Friday July 6
Returned to the office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.

Left ovary-
1. less than 1.0

15+ total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. 1.3
2. 1.2
3. 1.0
4. 0.8
15+ total follicles on the right side.

Estrogen level- 100
Endometrium- 1.0
225iu's of Gonal F for 2 more nights

Cycle Day 17
Sunday July 8
Returned to the office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.

Left ovary-
1. less than 1.0
15 total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. 1.45
2. less than 1.2
20+ total follicles on the right side.

Endometrium- 1.1
225iu's of Gonal F for 2 more nights

Cycle Day 19
July 10
HCG shot!

The HCG shot is the last shot given in the cycle. This is to trigger ovulation. Now starts the two week waiting period to take a pregnancy test.

Cycle Day 21
July 17
Returned to the office at 7am for progesterone bloodwork to make sure I ovulated.

P4= 9.5

Dr. Lucas wants to see the progesterone level over 15-20. The higher the level the better chance you ovulated and the higher your progesterone levels the better chance at keeping a pregnancy if you were to be pregnant.

The nurse said not to be discouraged yet because they've seen low numbers before that resulted in a pregnancy.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Decision 2007

The birth of Emma was the most beautiful, amazing experience of my life that left me wanting to go through it again and again. Then the post delievery care came in and that was the worst of it all. I remember telling Phillip one night, "I hope you are okay with just one child because that's all we are going to have." He was so gracious and went with it.

Several months later passed and I was getting into a routine and was able to handle everyday life. We had somewhat of a schedule and I was actually getting a little bit more sleep. (I require atleast 9 hours of sleep to be fully functional.) My zomby state was slowly lifting. I began thinking about the possiblity of another child. We slowly began talking about it and when Emma was 6 months we new we wanted to have another child but weren't sure when. Now that we established that we wanted another child the big question on our minds was WHEN? We knew what we would have to go through to get pregnant. Looking back the process was fairly easy. Once we were ready to go forward we REALLY had to be ready because it happened to fast with Emma. So we talked and prayed about it and we figured we would start by talking to my OB/GYN on my next visit which was scheduled for January 2007.

I went in to talk to Dr. Damrich about wanting to have another baby and that I was diagnosed with PCOS at the Reproductive Endocrinology Clinic. We weren't 100% about the timing but we wanted to discuss options so we could mull it over. Dr. Damrich suggested that he try his protocol for PCOS before releasing me back to the infertility Dr. I was up for trying anything that would help us to concieve naturally. He started me on 500mg of Metformin and we would do a blood test in 21 days to measure the progesterone to see if I ovulated.

WebMd explains Metformin for PCOS:

How It Works

Metformin lowers blood sugar levels by:

Decreasing the amount of sugar produced by the liver.

Increasing the amount of sugar absorbed by muscle cells and decreasing the body's resistance to insulin (insulin resistance).

Lower blood sugar leads to a lesser need for insulin. The body then makes less insulin. Lower insulin leads to lower androgen ("male" hormone) production.

Why It Is Used

Metformin is a diabetes medicine sometimes used for lowering insulin and blood sugar levels in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This helps regulate menstrual cycles, start ovulation, and lower the risk of miscarriage in women with PCOS. Long-term use also lowers diabetes and heart disease risk related to high insulin levels.1

Metformin:1
Does not cause the pancreas to make more insulin. When taken alone, it will not cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Lowers the amount of fat (lipids) in the bloodstream and lowers (lipid and triglyceride) levels.

Reduces abnormal clotting factors and markers of inflammation that can lead to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

Decreases the level of androgens.

Metformin can be used to treat women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) to reduce insulin levels and promote normal ovarian function. Metformin is best used in addition to eating a healthy diet, losing weight, and exercising regularly.

How Well It Works

Metformin lowers insulin, androgen, and cholesterol levels. It also improves metabolism in women who are insulin-resistant.

Metformin treatment triggers ovulation in about 45% of women with PCOS.2

Metformin with clomiphene (Clomid) is more likely to start ovulation than either treatment alone.2 This combination treatment triggers ovulation in about 75% of women with PCOS.

Metformin may lower the risk of miscarriage and gestational diabetes in women with PCOS.1 But the safety of using metformin throughout pregnancy is not known.

January on 500mg (1 pill) of Metformin produced no ovulation. 5 days of Prometrium to start period

February bumped up to 1000mg (2 pills) of Metformin and day 21 come in for progesterone level test.
No ovulation. 5 days of Prometrium to start period.

March bumped up to 1500mg (3 pills) of Metformin and day 21 come in for progesterone level test.
No ovulation. 5 days of Prometrium to start period.

April we stayed on the same protocol as March. 5 days of Prometrium to start period.

May I still took 1500mg (3pills) of Metformin daily and added 50mg of Clomid for 5 days.
No ovulation.

The past several months taking the Metformin has caused my Interstitial Cystitis to flare up.

Webmd describes interstitial cystitis:

What is IC / PBS?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a condition that results in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region. The symptoms vary from case to case and even in the same individual. People may experience mild discomfort, pressure, tenderness, or intense pain in the bladder and pelvic area. Symptoms may include an urgent need to urinate (urgency), a frequent need to urinate (frequency), or a combination of these symptoms. Pain may change in intensity as the bladder fills with urine or as it empties. Women's symptoms often get worse during menstruation.


or

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic, painful inflammatory condition of the bladder wall characterized by pressure and pain above the pubic area along with increased frequency and urgency of urination. This occurs because of chronic inflammation of the lining of the bladder and swelling of the interior walls of the bladder. Affected individuals urinate frequently with pain even though there is no diagnosed bladder infection. In a small percentage of cases, people with interstitial cystitis also have scarring and ulcerations on the membranes that line the bladder. Interstitial cystitis typically affects young and middle-aged women, although men can also have this disorder. The exact cause of interstitial cystitis is not known.

Many things trigger flare ups for me such as particular medications like Metformin. It was getting worse by the day and Phillip and I discussed what we should do. I could not continue this protocol because it was making me physically miserable. If we were to conceive it was not going to be through Metformin. It was time to consult my Reproductive Endocrinologist.

May 31st we went back to see Dr. Lucas. We were a bit nervous but excited to see him again knowing how fast things went and how confident he was the first time around. He ran my bloodwork again and told me to come back in two weeks for the results and we would go from there.

June 14 we met with Dr. Lucas again. Great news! My hormone levels were normal! Praise the Lord! One thing normal on me now that wasn't back then. What made things change? He said if he knew that answer he could bottle it up and make millions! There was no need to take Prednisone and wait 30 days for that to get into my system. We could start the shots again right away! Woo Hoo! I went home with a prescription for Prometrium to start my period and one for the shots. We are on our way!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pinks and Blues

Birthing Classes prepare you for your pregnancy and your delivery and some of the basics of when you bring your baby home. As soon as I delivered Emma it was like everyone scattered! Phillip and I looked at each other and were like, "What are we supposed to do with her now? Where's her manual? Why did everyone just leave us?" From Day 1 we could tell Emma had a sweet spirit. She was such a good baby. But sometimes good babies do cry. "She's crying! What do we do?" This parenting thing isn't so easy. Boy are we in for it!

I think God heard our prayers because he sent the nurse in. She showed me how to nurse Emma and it quieted her down instantly. God is Good!!! It was the most amazing experience. I had what she needed and only I could give it to her. She took to nursing right away. Later on that night Emma was still fussing and another nurse came in. She looked at Emma and said, "this little girl is hungry!" So we introduced the bottle to her. This was to supplement her in the meantime while my milk was trying to come in. This seemed to help her.

We kept Emma in our room all night. There was no way we were ever giving this baby up! She is so precious! She might have slept nice and cozy swaddled in her blankie but Phillip and I sure didn't. Poor Phillip had to sleep on the make shift sofa/bed and I on the not so comfortable hospital bed where I was still attached to all my iv's, etc. By Tuesday morning we were so tired.

Wednesday was the welcome home day! Being the end of November the weather had taken a turn for the cold. It was about 30 degrees when we left. Emma fit nicely into her car seat but I did not! I was a little worse for the wear. After a 3rd degree episiotomy and hemroids, I was not doing so good down there. They let me have a tiny little "doughnut" to sit on for my ride home. Do they really think that was going to help? Not really. I was hurting so bad when I got home. But it was so awesome to come home and be welcome'd home by my Mom and Dad, Uncle Mike, Auntie, Brooks and Claire! We all got to visit for a little bit before everyone (but my Mom because she ended up staying for a few weeks) headed back to Florida.

Here's where the hard part came in. I ended up getting a bladder infection. Note to anyone after having a baby, get tested for a bladder infection before leaving the hospital. I had my catheter in much longer than usual because I was so swollen down below. So we had to deal with that and Phillip had to run back and forth to the pharmacy. After I was done with one medicine the infection would come back. I eventually got it fixed and felt better.

Saturday came. We had been living in the glorious land of everything pink until everything turned blue! I cried all day Saturday. For no reason. Cried and cried. The weird thing was that I would be fine one minute and all of a sudden I would just start to cry. Then it would go away. It continued into Sunday. I know was crying all the time because Phillip was supposed to go back to work the next day. I feared him leaving. I feared him driving his truck. I feared him on the interstates. I didn't want him to get hurt. I needed him more than ever now and I couldn't do it on my own. My Mom took Emma for us and we went into our room to have some quiet time. We took a nap with the radio on. Sunday's on "NPR" they usually have cool music playing and sometimes they read stories. It had started getting dark outside and I woke up with a start to this deep voice talking on the radio. I started to panic. Phillip woke up and I started crying and hyperventilating. I couldn't control myself. He ran to get my Mom and we just all sat together crying and trying to get me under control. I was having a panic attack. It was the scariest thing ever! This was the very first time that I have ever had a panic attack.

Phillip's work was so gracious to us. They let him have an extra couple of days off to take care of things at home. He ended up going back to work on Tuesday for a 1/2 day so I could get used to him being back at work and me handling things at home. Some of his co-workers could tell that he was upset and had a lot on his mind. They had kids at home too and so he opened up and told them what we were going through. They confirmed that it was normal and that their wives had also gone through similar situations. Ugh hello? Why hasn't anyone said anything before now? I was having baby blues/postpartum depression or whatever you want to label it as. What I was going through was normal. Then why did everyone talk about how having a baby is such bliss? This is not bliss.

Looking back at this I can now say that God is Good. He is always there for you. He used this situation to bring Phillip and I closer together. We prayed everynight together for healing and guidance about what to do and how to handle it. This was the only thing that seemed to make me feel better. Wednesday we decided to call my Doctor and they said they could see me right away. My Mom drove Emma and I up to the Dr.'s office and we met Phillip there. I went in first and told them what had been going on and how I had been feeling. They then brought Phillip in and we all talked together. They suggested that I start taking a low dose anti-depressant and she gave me some anxiety medicine for the panic attack as well.

It took several days to get into my system but each day I started to feel better and better and back to my normal self. This was what parenting was all about now. Bliss. Being able to fully function and be happy and ok with having a wonderful husband and baby. A week later I was self-sufficient and my Mom, to her regret, was able to go home.

I can honestly say that God did spare me from a terrible case of post-partum. I completely and fully loved Emma, took care of her, interacted with her, changed and bathed her everyday. I loved her. My anxiety was with Phillip and fearing that I would loose him. Being a full-time working woman previously to a stay-at-home Mom was a shocker too. I was used to a schedule and always running around with lists and things to do. Having a newborn in the cold months was hard in itself because you were told not to take them out in public places. I needed to get out of these four walls that I staired at 24 hours a day literally. It was too cold to walk her outside because it was 40-50 degrees outside. I was going nuts. That was the hardest adjustment.

Choosing to take medicine to help with my post-partum was a very hard and personal choice. I needed to be the best Mom I could be for Emma. To be able to do that I needed help. Help came in the form of Lexapro. This medicine was safe to take while nursing so I was able to continue to do that. Unfortunately at 3 weeks I tried pumping and realized that I could not cover the bottom of a bottle. I then realized that I needed to give up nursing and switch to 100% bottle feeding. I have no regrets not being able to nurse. I tried my best to nurse but my body physically could not produce enough to satisfy Emma and give her the nutrients she needed to grow healthy and strong. It was also nice because Phillip or whoever was around could help feed Emma which gave me a little bit of a break. Bottle feeding still gave us the ability to bond because you still hold your baby close, you still look into their eyes, you caress their heads and play with their fingers. It doesn't make you a better Mom if you nurse and it doesn't make you a bad Mom if you bottle feed. You need to do what allows you to be the BEST Mom you can be. In turn you will have a better relationship with your child.

I praise the Lord for the lessons I have learned during these very hard times. I pray that Post-Partum depression would be talked about more and addressed in birthing classes. I think it's important for girlfriends to talk to their girlfriends about post-partum if they've experienced it. But most of all I pray that you will be a friend to someone who may be going through it. I pray that you will be there to listen to them and be a support system for them. I feel extremely passionate about post-partum depression because we've all heard such tragic stories of the most extreme cases that if only someone could have listened more or helped them and not judge them, then hopefully we can keep this from happening to others and woman can get help earlier and faster.

If you know someone who has it or you would like to talk about it please feel free to email me at ashleybmartin@bellsouth.net.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November 2005

11/3/05 Appointment with Dr. Damrich. Gained 25lbs total. +1 Swelling.

11/10/05 Appointment with Dr. McKee. Gained 32lbs. 2cm dilated. Hopes that I will last 10 more days! +2 swelling. Ordered to only work 1/2 days.

11/14/05 Appointment 3cm dilated 70% effaced. +1 swelling Gained total of 30lbs. Emma's head is down. If by Thurs I'm 5cm he will induce Friday. Thinks she could be b/t 7-10 lbs!

11/24/05 Turkey Day! Phillip and I spent a quiet Thanksgiving together. It was so nice to be together and spend our last days together before becoming parents. We have a lot to be thankful for. We walked and walked and walked some more hoping we could walk this baby right out of me.

11/27 I was sitting on the couch and Phillip was in the other room on the phone and I felt tightening in my abdomen but it didn't hurt. It was very persistant and didn't let up. I started timing whatever it was that was going on. I figured if I was having real contractions that they would be really painful and I would know what was happening. They were 3 minutes apart. I called Phillip in the room and made him get a notepad and write out when they started, stopped and the time in between each. We decided to call the Doctor and they told us that we need to come in! Woo Hoo!!! This is it. It's so calm. My bags had been packed and in the car since the day I found out I was starting to dilate but we ran through everything again just to make sure. On the way we called our parents to let them know that we were headed to the hospital. We got there around 9ish and they hooked me up to monitor me. I was contracting. They finally admitted me around 11pm. I called my parents back and told them to pack their bags and head on up! We also called my sister and they were going to let the kids sleep a few more hours and then head up early in the morning.

11/28/05 5:30am we were awakened by the nurse who was armed with a bag of Pitocin ready to start my induction. (My contractions slowed down over the night so they had to jump start me again.) 6:30am my Mom and Dad arrived and were excited to be there for the big day. 7:30am the Dr came in and said that he was ready to break my water! It was the wildest sensation because when he broke the water it was a warm gush of water and it didn't hurt. But boy was I in for the shock of my life. The breaking of the water didn't hurt but not even 30 seconds after, I felt the worst contraction come over me. Luckily, the wonderful epidural man was only in the room next door so we had to wait for him for about 5 minutes. I was so scared of getting the epidural because it goes through your spinal column and could paralize you if it goes in the wrong spot. When they put the needle in they do it while you are experiencing a contraction and I had a hard time sitting still so they had to stick me 3 times to finally get it in. I highly recommend an epidural! It is the most wonderful invention ever. It doesn't make your legs feel paralized like I thought it would but it did make them heavy enough that I couldn't feel the pain but I could feel pressure. At 9:45 the Dr came back into my room and said that I had completly dilated and was 100% effaced so it was time to start pushing. Once they got everything ready I started to push and 30 minutes later at 10:19am Emma was born. I got to hold her for a few minutes before they took her for her measurements and bath which they did right there in the room. We both got to watch everything that they did with her. Emma came in weighing 8lbs 2oz and 20 1/2 inches and healthy as can be. Shortly after birth I started feeling sick to my stomach and not feeling so good. Phillip rushed over to my beside and before I know it I was laying flat on my back in the bed and they were rushing to get my blood pressure up. I had lost a lot of blood and fluid during delivery which caused my blood pressure to fall but once they got me stablized everything was ok again. My parents were waiting in the waiting room and were able to come in and see Emma laying in the warmer and they were so excited to be the first to greet their new Granddaughter.

We feel so blessed to have had me go through such a great labor.

October 2005

10/10/05 Went in for fetal monitoring. Not much movement over the weekend and today. Dr. said we have a strong and beautiful baby! Total weight gained 24pds.

10/13/05 Appointment with Dr. Przbyz Gained total of 18pds. Got flu shot.

10/14/05 Mom, Dad, Shannon, Brooks & Claire come to visit

10/16/05 Work threw me a wondeful baby shower. Very emotional.

10/21/05 Headache. So far I have experienced major swelling in my hands and feet. 10/15 Shannon noticed that my lips were swollen. Called nurse on 10/19 and she said this swelling was normal at this stage. If I see spots, dizzy or get a severe headache to call again.

Emma sure is an active baby now. I feel her moving all the time!

September 2005

9/1/05 Appointment with Dr. Przbyz. Had back pain on right side. Pulled muscle. Gained a total of 13.5 pds so far. Emma's heartbeat 160

9/9/05 Noticed both hands and feet were swelling. Phillip put Emma's crib and changing table together tonight.

9/15/05 Appointment with Dr. McKee Gained a total of 18 pds. Failed diabetes test. Should be no higher than 140 and I was 161. Safe to travel 4-6 weeks before due date. Went to Jacksonville for baby shower.

9/16/05 Had bad spasms in chest that went to my back. Shannon had sympathy pains with me!

9/17/05 Baby shower! Mom & Shannon threw a wonderful baby shower. Phillip felt her kick a lot this morning!

9/20/05 Took 3hr diabetes test and passed!

9/27/05 Very stressed out! I'm tired, emotional and irritable. Having visitors. We'll get through it.

9/29/05 Appointment with Dr. Smith Insulin resistant. Put on special diet. Allowed to have: 3 meals per day with 3 servings of sugar per meal. 15g sugar = 1 serving of sugar. Gained 20 pds total.

August 2005


I was kind of at a loss as to what I was thinking and feeling as the pregnancy progessed. I was sitting at the computer and I suddenly remembered writing notes in my pregnancy journal. In late July and August Emma was very active in the morning and at night. I craved brownies (shocker!) and salty foods.
8/21/05 The Dr. prescribed Nexium for my indigestion. This has helped tremendously and now I can eat fruit! I went to the store and bought fruit salad and a bag of grapes. Phillip already had watermelon cut up and I ate it for the first time in a long time. Very happy!
Ann and Willie stopped in overnight for a quick visit. She bought Emma a very pretty pink dress and some onsies. It was nice to visit with them although it was short.
8/23/05 Phillip and I went and registered for all of Emma's goodies at Babies R Us today. As always the decision making was as easy as ever. I spent lots of time researching product parental reviews and really narrowed down what we wanted. We had already picked out the stroller, pack n play so that was easy. While we were registering we came across an at home fetal monitor. We bought it and really enjoy listening to Emma kick and move around. We haven't been able to hear the heartbeat yet but we are still listening.
8/25/05 Feeling very worn out. Stayed home from work today to rest. Had a headache and a hard time catching my breath.
8/26/05 Picked up paint for Emma's room. Benjamin Moore- Nob Hill Sage #450
8/27/05 Phillip painted Emma's room.
8/28/05 Phillip felt Emma's first kick! He was so excited and had a big grin on his face. He was amazed at how hard she kicks.
8/29/05 Hurricane Katrina paid us a visit in Birmingham.

July 2005

IT'S A GIRL!!!




Notice the thumbs up!
How exciting is that? A baby girl! What a blessing the Lord has bestowed on us! Emma Brooke Martin will be her name! We can't wait to meet you!!!

June 2005


May 2005

Isn't our baby the most precious thing you've ever seen? I think Baby Martin has my eyes! What do you think? J/K! Looking back over the last year, boy things seem like they've been easy. If you asked me while we were going through the treatments I would have told you how long it took! There is hope for our future children. Now that we have figured out how to get me pregnant things will be a piece of cake for the future!

Once we got the ball rolling with my Infertility Doctor things went so fast. This pregnancy thing isn't so bad. We feel so blessed to be pregnant and healthy. God is good and faithful!

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

One positive and exciting thing about going through the infertility treatments is that you get more ultrasounds than others. How lucky are we to be able to see our baby and have so many pictures of her in the womb.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

April 2005

You are not supposed to test before your two week window is up if you take and HCG shot. This is because it is the very hormone that a pregnancy test picks up to test for pregnancy. I'm not known for my patience so I tested Sunday April 3rd, 2005. One day before I was supposed to take my test.

Results:
POSITIVE!!!

I cried. Phillp cried. We hugged and danced around the bathroom and then went to church. We were a bit nervous because I tested a day earlier than I was supposed to.

I called the Dr.'s office first thing Monday morning and told them that I had gotten a positive pregnancy result from a home test and they told me to come in right away so they could do a blood test to confirm the pregnancy. So I did just that and they called me back several hours later to confirm that in fact I WAS PREGNANT!!!

April 21 I had my first ultrasound at 6 weeks pregnant and we were able to hear the baby's heart beat! It was strong and healthy. Absolutely incredible and once you hear that you really know that life starts at conception and that it's a real live baby! We felt so blessed to be experiencing this. I was released to my OB/GYN and hopefully they would not see me hear again!


March 2005

We went back to Dr. Lucas in March and we went back to the Pregesterone to start my period, continue taking the Prednisone and we were going to start doing fertility shots. I thought this was so exciting! Every month it was getting closer and closer to getting pregnant and this just had to be the month. Month 3!

Day 3 of your period you are to go into the office and have an internal ultrasound and bloodwork. They do an ultrasound to take a picture of your ovaries and to make sure you do not have any cysts before you start the treatment.

Monday morning at 7am I was at the Dr.'s office waiting to have my ultrasound and bloodwork done. I had to be their first thing in the morning because I had to be at work by 8am and didn't want anyone there to know what I was going through. This was my first ultrasound and as soon as they saw my ovaries it confirmed that I was in fact a perfect PCOS patient. My ovaries looked like big chocolate chip cookies. All of the chocolate chips were little cysts on my ovaries waiting to be stimulated.

Seeing the results of my ultrasound and bloodwork Dr. Lucas started me on the Low and Slow schedule. Low dosage of medicine given slowly so we do not stimulate 40 follicles from both my left and right ovaries increasing the chances of multiple births and increasing the chances of overstimulating my ovaries which in turn could cancel this cycle of treatments.

Each cycle has a management fee of $250. This cost covers what the insurance does not pay of the ultrasounds and bloodwork and the Dr.'s reviewing my results and ultrasounds every two to three days.

Results from each day I went for my ultrasound and bloodwork:

Cycle Day 3
Monday 3-7-05
Left ovary- no follicles seen
Right ovary-
1- 0.4
2- 0.35
8 total follicles counted on right
Endometrium- 0.3
75iu's of Gonal F for 3 nights

I started my shots that night. I took 75iu's of Gonal F Pen for the next three nights. You take the medicine every night as instructed between 7-9pm. It was fairly easy to prepare the Pen to take the shot. You clean the end of the Pen with a cotton swab and then twist the needle onto the end. Then you "dial" up the dosage. After cleaning your skin with the cotton swab then you are to insert the needle and inject the medicine. We had planned on Phillip giving me the shot because I was so scared it would hurt. I prepared the Pen for him and handed it over. He wrapped his fingers around the pen and started laughing and joking around saying, "I am Dr. Martin here to give you your shot." This followed silly gestures which weren't very funny to me. I told him "thanks but no thanks. I can do this myself." I then sat on my bed for about 10 minutes trying to get up enough courage to inflict myself with pain. Once I did it it really wasn't that bad. I just had to do this for two more weeks. I can handle it.

Cycle Day 6
Thursday 3-10-07
Returned to the office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.
Left ovary-
1. 0.5
2. 0.45
3. 0.45
4. 0.3
10 total follicles on the left side.

Right ovary-
1. 0.5
2. 0.3
10 total follicles on the right side.

Estrogen level- 60
Endometrium- 0.5
75iu's of Gonal F for 2 more nights

Cycle Day 8
Saturday 3-12-05
Return to office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.
Left ovary-
1. 0.5
2. 0.6
16 total follicles on left side.

Right ovary-
1. 0.56
2. 0.59
20 total follicles on right side.

Estrogen- 84
Endometrium- .84
100iu's of Gonal F for 3 more nights.

Cycle Day 11
Tuesday 3-15-05
Return to office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.
Left ovary-
1. 0.55
2. 0.35
20 total follicles on left side.

Right ovary-
1. 1.0
2. 0.6
10 total follicles on right side.

Estrogen- 93
Endometrium- .75
150iu's of Gonal F for 2 more nights.

Cycle Day 13
Thursday 3-17-05
Return to office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.
Left ovary-
1. 0.55
2. 0.45
20 total follicles on left side.

Right ovary-
1. 1.45
2. 0.45
20 total follicles on right side.

Estrogen- 133
Endometrium- .8

150iu's of Gonal F for 2 more nights.

Cycle Day 15
Saturday 3-19-05
Return to office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.
Left ovary-
1. 0.7
2.
20 total follicles on left side.

Right ovary-
1. 1.45
2. 1.25
3. 0.95
4. 0.85
20+ total follicles on right side.

Estrogen- 478
Endometrium- 1.0

112iu's of Gonal F for 2 more nights.

Cycle Day 17
Saturday 3-21-05
Return to office at 7am for ultrasound and bloodwork.
Left ovary-
1. 0.9
2. 0.95
3. 0.7
4. 0.6
20 total follicles on left side.

Right ovary-
1. 1.7
2. 0.95
3. 0.8
4. 0.75
20 total follicles on right side.

Estrogen- 514
Endometrium- .95

HCG shot!

The HCG shot is the last shot given in the cycle. This is to trigger ovulation. Now starts the two week waiting period to take a pregnancy test.

February 2005

Back at Dr. Lucas's office we got great news! My hormones leveled out and the Prednisone had done it's job. Our next step was to continue taking the Prednisone and add Clomid to the mix. If I hadn't started then we would check for pregnancy.

No pregnancy.

January 2005

We met with Dr. Lucas to receive the results of my bloodwork. I don't have the exact results with me today but I did have high levels of testosterone in my system.

WebMd explains it further for us:

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition in which women produce a surplus of androgens. This causes irregular ovulation, or even a lack of ovulation.

Androgens are sometimes called "male hormones." Men have very high levels of androgens, which are responsible for male body changes like hair growth and muscle mass. In women, androgens are necessary to make estrogen. Women with PCOS have androgen levels in the "high normal" range (for women). The additional androgen in these women can cause excessive hair growth and acne.

Excess androgen production also leads to irregular or absent ovulation, which the women experience as irregular or absent menstrual periods. Because of the problems with ovulation, women with PCOS may have difficulty becoming pregnant.

Many women with PCOS are resistant to the action of the hormone insulin. This means that it takes larger than normal amounts of insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels. These women are at increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. High insulin levels caused by insulin resistance can lead to excessive androgen production.

Well this explains a lot. Dr. Lucas started me on a course of steroids, Prednisone was my drug of choice, that would level out my hormones. He would see me back next month to see how my levels were and then we would go from there.

Monday, November 12, 2007

November 2004

Once again we started on my regular regimen of Prometrium to start and then 150mg of Clomid a night for 5 nights to stimulate ovulation in the middle of the cycle. Mood swings are swinging and I'm packing on the pounds.

Result:
No pregnancy

This time Dr. Fowlkes recommend that I go to the world reknowned UAB Kirklin Clinic to see the Reproductive Endocrinologist Richard Blackwell. I called and made my appoint for a week later.

This whole time Phillip and I felt that the Lord was in control. We put our faith in God and knew that if we trusted in him, followed His will for us that everything would work out.

October 2004

I started out on my regimen of Prometrium to make me start. Once I started I then took 100mg of Clomid to get me to ovulate in the middle of the cycle. Day 28 if I haven't started check for pregnancy.

No pregnancy.

August/September 2004

I went to my OB/GYN, Dr. Fowlkes and he said that he was going to help me out. Starting September 2004 I started out on a regimen of taking Prometrium (Progesterone) once a night for 5 days to make me start. Then the first five nights of my cycle I would take 50mg of Clomid the month of September. Clomid is to used to make your body ovulate. Taking this medicine increases your risk of multiple births, mood swings and weight gain. 28 days later if I didn't start I was to check for pregnancy and then call Dr. Fowlkes.

Results:
No pregnancy.

My journey...

As a young girl coming into puberty I wasn't thrilled when I had my first menstral cycle. I thought I was one of the "lucky" ones because not every month did I have a period. At the tender age of 18 my pediatrician recommended that I start having my yearly checkups. Yes, I was still seeing my pediatrician. Dr. Soho and I were fairly close. I even babysat her 6 boys for her! She said she could do my first exam and as we talked I told her about my irregularity. Sometimes I could go 3, 4, even 6 months without having a period. She told me that this is fairly common and that we could fix this easily. We discussed the option of putting me on birth control at such a young age but she said that as a woman we need to have a monthly menstral cycle so that we can shed the lining of our cervix which would decrease the long term risk of cervical cancer. The treatment would last only 6 months and after I stopped the birth control I should return to having a normal monthly cycle. If it was only that easy. The medicine stopped and I never got a normal period. I was now frightened that if I didn't have a cycle that I was increasing the chance for cervical cancer down the road so I continued taking the birth control. Every once in a while I would stop taking the pill just to see if I ever started having regular cycles but never did. Deep down I had this fear that one day I would have trouble conceiving since I wasn't ovulating every month.

Seven years later when Phillip and I decided that we wanted to start thinking about having a baby. This was May 2004. I stopped taking the pill and to see what would happen. This was goign to plan out very well since I had my yearly visit coming up in August. Knowing deep down in my heart that I wasn't ovulating I started to chart my temperature every day before I got out of the bed. This meant that before my feet touched the ground or I sat up in the bed I would have to pull out my thermometer. I then would take out my charts and place a dot on the specific day and what my temperature was creating three months of charts. I even ordered a lipstick ovulation test. This required me to run straight to the bathroom after taking my temperature and spitting on a lens in a lipstick looking tube and then checking to see if my spit turned into funny shaped meaning that I was ovulating. My spit never turned into funny shapes.

December 2004

What an adventure our first fertility appointment ended up being. We had an early appointment with Dr. Blackwell and found out that in 20 years he's only called in sick twice and today happened to be that second time! The nurse asked if we would like to see Dr. Lucas instead. We said sure and sat in the exam room for the next several hours waiting to see him. As each hour passed we kept saying to ourselves, "well we've stuck it out this long we might as well wait it out for him." He was in the middle of doing a surgery so we sat and waited some more.

Knock knock! He's arrived! Dr. Lucas took one look at me and my chart and said that I was a poster child for PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome.) Huh?

WebMd says this about PCOS:

Polycystic ovary syndrome (say “pah-lee-SIS-tik OH-vuh-ree SIN-drohm”) is a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. It can cause upsetting changes in the way you look and problems with your periods. If it is not treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS) affects up to 1 in 10 women, and often the symptoms begin in the teen years. Treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent long-term problems.

How is it treated?
Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and weight control are key treatments for PCOS. Medicines to balance hormones may also be used. Getting treatment can reduce unpleasant symptoms. But more important, it can help prevent possible long-term health problems.

The first step in managing PCOS is to get regular exercise and eat a heart-healthy diet. This can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. It can also help you lose weight if you need to.

Try to get 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Walking is a great exercise that most people can do.

Eat a heart-healthy diet. In general, this diet has lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and whole grains. It also limits foods that are high in saturated fat, such as meats, cheeses, and fried foods. If you have blood sugar problems, try to eat about the same amount of carbohydrate at each meal. A registered dietitian can help you make a meal plan.

Most women with PCOS can benefit from losing weight. Even losing 10 lb may help get your hormones in balance and regulate your menstrual cycle. PCOS can make it hard to lose weight, so work with your doctor to make a plan that can help you succeed.

A doctor may also prescribe medicines, such as:

Birth control pills. They can help your periods be regular and can reduce symptoms such as excess facial hair and acne. An androgen-lowering medicine, spironolactone, may be used with birth control pills to help reduce symptoms even more. These medicines are not used if you are trying to get pregnant.

A diabetes medicine called metformin. It can help control insulin and blood sugar levels and reduce androgen levels. This lowers your risk for diabetes and heart disease and can help restore regular menstrual cycles and fertility.

Fertility medicines, if you are trying to get pregnant.


It is important to see your doctor for follow-up to make sure treatment is working and adjust it if needed. You may also need regular tests to check for diabetes, high blood pressure, and other possible problems.

It may take a while for treatments to help with symptoms such as facial hair or acne. In the meantime:

Over-the-counter or prescription acne medicines may help with skin problems.

Waxing, tweezing, and shaving are easy ways to get rid of unwanted hair. Electrolysis or laser treatments can permanently remove the hair but are more expensive. Your doctor can also prescribe a skin cream that slows hair growth for as long as you use it regularly.

It can be hard to deal with having PCOS. If you are feeling sad or depressed, it may help to talk to a counselor or to other women who have PCOS. Ask your doctor about local support groups, or look for an online group. It can make a big difference to know that you are not alone.

As far as managing PCOS I have lived in the gym pretty regularly these days.

Our diet... that has some improving to do. I am a fairly new married girl and my list of things I know how to make and the things that I can make that are edible is pretty small.

Losing weight. Ok, here's the kicker for me. Since I was a young girl I was always on the super thin side. So thin my Grandparents would always worry about me not eating enough. My choices in food were not the greatest and that one day it would all catch up to me. When I went away to college I started gaining weight and have continued ever since. Throughout my different sizes I've never been regular.

Taking birth control pills is the only way I will have a period every month. At some point though you get sick of taking pills all the time. But knowing that you will have a period every month by taking the pill gives you a piece of mind and helps you to feel somewhat normal. Not being on the pill and not having a period only reinforces every month that you are not normal. You just don't feel right even though it's really nice not having to worry about "that time of the month" and everything else that comes with it.

Other medicines such as Metformin and fertility medicines will come into the picture further down the road and I will talk about those when we get there.

After explaining what PCOS is and what it means to me he looks at me and says, "we'll have you pregnant in 3 months." Three months! Woo hoo! Holy cow that's not long from now! It's all starting to sink in. Dr. Lucas wants to start by running some blood work to measure all of my hormone levels and then we will meet again.

We left feeling so confident and truely believed that God had placed Dr. Lucas in our lives. We were so excited to see where this journey was going to take us.

My prayer for you...

Going through the infertility process has been both physically and emotionally exhausting. I've prayed a lot and I feel that the Lord is calling me to journal my experiences. I pray that it will touch those who are going through infertility and find a place of comfort.

I pray for those that do not have infertility problems that it will allow you to see the process that we go through and may be able to help you relate to a friend or family member.

Please bare with me. I am starting from the beginning and journaling from 3 years ago. I'm writing from the heart and bearing my soul. Thank you for wanting to read our blog and listen. Sometimes that's the best medicine.

I may refer to "myself" a lot while I write but please know that Phillip and I are a team and we are going through it together. This is my way of releasing a lot of stress and emotion as he has a different way of channeling his stress and emotions. This effects him just as much as if effects me.

Love,
Ashley