Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Prayers needed!

I went with Tommy's Mom and Grandma to the doctor today (she has been battling lung cancer). She's gone rapidly downhill in two weeks since our trip. Basically the doctors think this is coming down to the end for her. They are just going to try to keep her comfortable. Please pray that she will be comforted and not in pain.

I'll be back later to update more. Now I'm off to live my "middle school" years again as my best friend and I go see Eclipse :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Vacations

It's always fun to get away but it's nice to come back home! Usually we take a big trip in March when I have spring break, but because of the adoption expenses this year we've scaled those trips back some.

Two week ago I went with Tommy's Mom and Grandma to Biloxi, Mississippi. They've always wanted me to come along but because of other trips or having to miss too many days of work, I haven't been able to go. They go to get away and to gamble. Now, I am not a gambling woman :) But I knew it would be fun to experience something different. Let me just say you would never know that our country is facing economic hard times if you could go inside one of these places! I had never been to Mississippi so that's another state I can mark off of my list. It was extremely hot down there but I made good use of the pool! It was nice just to sit back and relax. No agenda, no schedules, and no dinner to cook! We had a great time together and I enjoyed being with them. Tommy's Grandma has been battling lung cancer for almost 2 years now and she's not doing well so I treasure the time that I got to spend with her. Here are some pictures from our trip.
Where we stayed
The Hard Rock Casino next door to us

The beaches of Biloxi (the oil was 13 miles off the coast at this point)

Last week, Tommy, my mom, and myself went to the Outer Banks of NC. We had a great time! Tommy had never been so we gave him the tour! We started at Currituck on Monday and came down to Kitty Hawk. Then we went further south to Cape Hatteras and eventually made it to my favorite island of Ocracoke!

Tommy is afraid of heights but he rose to the challenge and climbed the lighthouses with us; you can only climb Currituck and Hatteras. The view from the top was beautiful and well worth the 12 story climb :) We also went to the Wright brothers memorial (first in flight) and did some fishing at Hatteras. Ocracoke is a small island, only 14 miles long. However, the "town" is only 1.5 miles long so everyone walks or rides a bike or has a golf cart. It was hot (heat index at 105) but it is so peaceful there. Everything closes around 6:00 at night, even the restaurants close at 10. You can hang out on the docks and talk to the locals which was a lot of fun. During the day we took a boat over to Portsmouth island and rode on ATVs. That was a lot of fun. We found a lot of shells, even the rare scotch bonnet, and saw the empty town of Portsmouth (basically the hurricanes ran everyone away).

The funny thing about being there, we had no cell phone coverage. It was so nice! Tommy's work constantly calls him when he is away so it was nice to not have to worry with the phone ringing. However, we did remember that we hadn't told our social worker we were going anywhere so we were relieved once we hit "land" and didn't have a call from her.
Currituck Lighthouse

The view from the top

Wright Brothers Memorial
Bodie Lighthouse (obviously under construction)

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

We made it!

The baby shark

The stingray (we actually caught 2 of these)

Ocracoke Lighthouse

Getting ready for the ATV riding at Portsmouth

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Catching up :)

I know I've been MIA for a few days! I tried posting through my great but it didn't work. I'll have to work on that.

I just returned from a "girls trip" to Biloxi, Mississippi. Tommy's Mom and Grandma invited me to come with them. Actually they've always wanted me to go with them but because of work or us being out of town, I could never get away. They go for the gambling; it's their little escape from reality I think. It doesn't really interest me but I had a great time lounging at the pool and taking in some new sights.

It really is beautiful there. The devastation left behind from Katrina is still very apparent. Our driver told us on the beach highway, out of 28 colonial homes, only 3 remain. Right now, the businesses are starving for tourists. Many people have changed their plans because of the oil. It wasn't there, yet.

All of that aside, we did have a great time and it was fun spending time with them. Tommy's Grandma has lung cancer and we don't know how much longer she'll be with us. I'll try to post some pictures tomorrow.

Tommy's on vacation now and on Monday we leave for the Outer Banks! He's never been and I'm excited to show him all the ropes there! :)

No news on the adoption front, with the exception that now we have been waiting 4 months.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The beginnings of the adoption journey

We started getting information packets from different adoption agencies. That was another job in itself, trying to determine which agency to use. We had settled on two and set up a meeting with one of them in June 2009. We met with the social worker there and she told us all about how their programs work. At this point, we had considered international adoption but we learned at this meeting that we would be rejected by almost every country because of Tommy's heart condition.

The plan was to begin everything in January 2010. She told us that although they can't give you a specific wait time, that we could be waiting for 2-3 years. Wow, we had no clue. We walked out of there and actually had a peace about everything. We were excited and that spark of hope and excitement that we had when we first started trying was back. Tommy said we should go ahead and get started. It also worked out great because I was out of school for the summer and the plan was to complete all of the paperwork before school started back in August.

Our agency is Beth.any Christian Services and so far we love them. With them, we had to fill out a preliminary application, a formal application, and then the homestudy would begin. We also had to attend 2 orientation meetings. We filled out the preliminary application and then learned that they would have to have letters from Tommy's doctors basically stating that he was capable of parenting with his heart condition. This took longer than expected and I had to track down these letters from a couple of his doctors. Once that was finished we were approved and then we were able to fill out the formal application. Every question you can think of, we answered. They probably know more about us than anyone else :) By this point we were already in August/September.

We went to our first orientation meeting in October. We walked away having learned so much. They had a panel of adoptive parents and a birthmother. It was pretty neat to hear all of the different stories of the adoption triad. One adoptive mother said, you need to treat this waiting time just like you were if you were pregnant, get things together etc. Enjoy it. We had debated back and forth about setting up a nursery especially after going through the miscarriage. But after we heard those stories we felt like we should go ahead and start. That way if we are matched and the expectant mother changes her mind, the nursery will already be there. It won't be like we've set it up for "that" particular baby.

We had 3 meetings with our social worker. One was a together meeting; the next individual interviews; and the last was the home visit. In the beginning I was really worried about these but things went really well. She's really easy to talk to and we basically answered all of the same questions we had filled out on all of the paperwork. We finished all of these meetings in the middle of January. I never knew it would take so long to go through all of that paperwork. Our social worker had 30 days to write up the homestudy and then we would be "officially" approved and waiting. We had everything ready for her on that last meeting and she checked over our profile book, made a few suggestions and that was it. We made the corrections on the profile book, had the copies made and sent them off.

On February 17, 2010 we received the email that everything had been received and we were "officially" waiting! So we are almost at month 4 of waiting. It hasn't been too bad, yet :) I think the infertility struggles and treatment got us used to the waiting game. The one downside is we basically get no information unless an expectant mom wants to meet with us or if one of the social workers has a question for us. We do know that we've been shown once but the expectant mom was early in her pregnancy and hadn't made a decision yet. Hopefully we'll hear something soon. In the meantime we'll just continue to prepare ourselves for the journey ahead.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Part 3

I'm rolling with these today, huh? Actually I'm headed out of town tomorrow and wanted to get caught up on the "history" part of our story.

After the miscarriage of our babies, I was in a dark place. I was sad, angry, and confused. I didn't know what God wanted us to do. I wanted to make sure we were following what He would have us do and not what we wanted to do based on our own emotions. I remember being at church one Sunday and singing this song. The part that resounded most to me "You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Blessed be Your Name."

We prayed and earnestly sought out what God would have us do. We then thought of those two frozen embryos we had in the "clinic." Both of us knew that we had to give them a shot. To us, these were "babies" and we needed to give it a try. We met with the doctor who said we could do all of the monitoring here in our town; then we would just head back down for the transfer. We prayed long and hard that they would both make it through the thaw. I started medicine once again along with those nice proges.terone shots. I don't miss those :)

We drove down for the FET and learned that one embryo had survived the thaw---this same day we would transfer was also our 9th wedding anniversary. We felt a huge peace surround us and we know God was with us in a big way. Actually, during this cycle we felt that way the whole time. About two weeks passed by and we learned that the FET didn't work.

It was different this time. We felt different. We weren't sure at the time where we were headed next but I think it was closure from everything that had happened before. We decided to schedule a consult with our doctor and find out what he thought about the cycles, what we could do differently, and what the chances would be. I'll never forget that day. It was close to Christmas. The doctor basically said that I had responded great. If we were to do this again, he would change one of the medicines basically to allow the eggs to become more mature. He told us he thought we'd have a 50% chance of this working but that it was going to take perseverance. Meaning it may not happen the next time or the time after that. He also told us that based on everything else, he thought we would have more of a risk of having a child with a chromosomal issue, an abnormality if you will. This shocked us to say the least. This was the first time we had heard these words.

We left, stunned. At first, before the appointment, we thought we'd try IVF again. When we walked out our hearts were heavy. We both had prayed that God would reveal to us what we should do. We felt like that was our answer. Now granted, if we conceived naturally and had a child born with a problem we would deal with that. However, we felt like if we "pushed" the envelope with the IVF and that happened, we would feel terrible. We knew this was the end of our road with infertility treatments. Again, we both were ready to step off the roller coaster.

During the next few months we prayed and sought out what God would have us do. We also enjoyed our time together and really looked at all of the blessings we had been given. We also took a wonderful trip to the caribbean! After that trip in March, we felt God was moving us towards adoption. We knew this would also be a roller coaster but we feel like if we hang on and trust, in the end there will be a baby coming home to us.

Part 2

So here we were on this new, exciting adventure of IVF. I was actually excited about all those meds, the shots, and the monitoring. I started birth control pills on June 11, 2008 (I know sounds weird to go on those when you're trying to get pregnant). Then came Lu.pron on June 25th. I did really well on the meds, no major problems. We had to wait a bit for my body to cooperate and then I started stims on July 11th. Now for those of you that haven't had the joy of infertility, I got to administer 3 shots a day, yeah fun times :) Everything looked great and my body responded wonderfully. We did a lot of driving during this time, back and forth for appointments. I think I was at the "clinic" every other day.

At the visit on July 20th, I had 28 follicles and we would pull out the "big gun" needle tonight! I'll never forget how nervous Tommy was that he had to do that one (someone who hates needles by the way). They retrieved 23 eggs on July 22nd and I remember praying that one of these, well maybe two, would become our children. The next day we learned that 15 of the eggs were mature and 10 fertilized with I.CSI. On the 25th, they scheduled a day 5 transfer. All 10 little embies were growing well. Then on July 27th, we transferred, 2 great looking blasts (AA and BB ratings). Out of the remaining 8, 2 survived and were frozen.

Then came the dreaded wait. Oh, how I hate to wait and this time was no different. I kept busy, trying not to think about it, but I knew what was inside of me at that time. The first beta was scheduled for August 5th and I remember counting down! Then the Friday before the beta, I started spotting. What? This isn't supposed to be happening. Why is this happening? I was scared and shocked. You see our "clinic" was great. They had filled our hopes up to the max, there was no reason to believe this would not work. Honestly, hadn't really even crossed our minds; better yet, it wasn't an option. I freaked out, I cried. Tommy tried to calm me down. We called the doctor and explained what was going on. The nurses and our doctors were great. They said "it's normal"; your estrogen was really high and this often happens. Take it easy, put your feet up and relax. It continued off and on all weekend. My doctor called on Saturday and said we'd move the beta up to Monday.

My mom went with me that Monday; Tommy had already missed a ton of work and I told him it would be ok because we were just going for the beta. I'll never forget that 3 hour drive of wondering what was going on inside my body. Once at the "clinic" I thought I would die before they called me back. We did the blood draw and they again told me not to worry that again it was common. They told me it would probably be close to lunch time before we knew the results. My mom and decided to do a little shopping while we waited and then the phone rang. My nurse said "Trisha, it's positive but the numbers are low. We'll have to watch it but it worked, Congrats." My hands were shaking and I didn't know what to think. Honestly, when the spotting started, my hope was gone. I thought it was over. I didn't expect to hear those words but oh how sweet they were to my ears. My mom was thrilled. When I called Tommy, I think he was in shock. My beta was 23.8.

We spent the night in Charles.ton and had a great time. And much to my disbelief, the spotting stopped. Oh thank you God, please let this little one stay with us. Another beta was scheduled for Wednesday to see if the numbers were doubling; this would be the tell-tell sign or so we thought. Wednesday's beta was 65.8 and I was thrilled; it had more than doubled. My nurse said things were looking better and that we'd still have to remain cautious to see what would happen. I remember taking what had become one of those dreaded home tests and it finally said that one word that I had longed to read for almost 2 years....."pregnant."

The next beta was scheduled for 5 days later. We were feeling good about things from the last beta. This beta was a bit disappointing though....140. Back to the drawing boards. My numbers weren't rising. I was ready to know one way or the other what was going on. Enough of the roller coaster, I'm ready to get off now. I had to twist my doctor's arm and break protocol to get another beta to see what was going on (the next one was supposed to be 2 weeks later). So, four days later the beta had risen to 403, ok now what?

By this time, school had started back (teacher workdays) and I had to tell my boss what was going on. He was great and totally supportive of whatever I needed to do. That day after the last beta, I remember sitting in the faculty meeting again wondering what was going on. Pregnancies run like rabbits at my school yet it seemed to pass by my class. Maybe this was going to be my chance to be like the "others", the ones who don't realize how blessed they are. Later that afternoon the spotting returned. I got home and sobbed. My emotions couldn't take this anymore. I tried to calm down and remain positive because there was a life inside of me. My doctor scheduled an ultrasound a week later. The news was one of our worst fears. Nothing... not a sack, not a pole, no heartbeat, no baby. My doctor wanted to make sure there was nothing in my tubes so I had to have another beta. She said if it was back down, the good news, my body had taken care of everything and we wouldn't have to go through more procedures. She called at lunch and it was under 5. There we sat, once again, with empty arms and with empty hearts.

I am blessed to have such a great husband. He was by my side and totally supportive. So now we were at a crossroads, what now God? What do you want us to do?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

As promised..."the" story-part 1

I know many of you have been or are going through what we've experienced and will experience. You know you always think getting pregnant is going to be easy. You'll stop taking the pill or whatever it may be and bam there you have it. Well for us, it didn't work like that. I'll be honest, for us, most things we've come across in our married lives have been difficult. I don't know why, I don't know why God chose us to go through these things, but what I do know is that from what I've experienced, I may be able to help someone who is experiencing what we have been through (and again, what we'll go through).

Like I said before, Tommy and I were married in 1999. We lived away from all of our families during the first part of our marriage and both of us, mainly me, wanted to move back closer to "our roots." In 2005, Tommy received a new job which allowed us to move "back home"; we prayed because we wanted it to be the right decision. Our house sold in 2 weeks and we packed up all of our belongings and moved them into storage. We built a new house and anxiously awaited what would be next for us.

We had talked about having children but never talked "seriously" about it until we moved "back home." We hosted a foreign exchange student in 2006 and loved having her with us so much that it was time to try for our own little family. This was in December of 2006. Days went by, then weeks, then months. What's wrong? What's happening? Why isn't this working? Then month after month mother nature played cruel tricks with my mind. This is it. This has to be it. Each month ended with a resounding, no.

I started reading a book and began taking my temperatures to chart my every move (well not really but that's what it felt like). Everything looked normal so why wasn't this working? After 9 months of trying, I saw the doctor for my yearly physical and asked her about it. She advised me to wait until the year mark and then we'd look into testing. If we wanted, she said, we could get Tommy tested first because it's easier and cheaper. So we waited and kept trying, still nothing.

A brief background on Tommy. He was born with a cogenital heart defect. Basically the weak side of his heart does the pumping. He's had a pacemaker since he was 5 and in 2002 went into cardiac arrest which resulted in a pacemaker/defibrillator now. This helps control irregular rhythms, along with a mound of medicine. But we're thankful he's here. He talked to his cardiologist about us trying and he offered to send him to a urologist to be tested. To make this story short, after much testing we learned it would be difficult for us to become pregnant on our own. The doctor told us that IVF was going to be our best bet, our only option. We really didn't know that much about it so they proceed to tell us a little intro and that it would cost, probably, around $15,000. Wow, really?

We thought about it, cried together, and decided to read more to educate ourselves. This was our problem together. We were in this together. We found a clinic (for those of you that aren't familiar, to go through IVF you go to an infertility "clinic"--I hate that word) in South Carolina (they don't do IVF cycles in our town). We made an appointment and went through all sorts of tests, blood draws, you name it, we had it done! Our doctor, Dr S, was great and she gave us a 65% chance of things working. The other good news is they had a progesterone study going on right now and we would qualify; even though we'd still have to pay, our costs would be much lower. It seemed like everything was lining up just the way it should. We felt like we were right where God wanted us. It felt like, for the first time in a long time, that this would work; that we would become parents, that our little family of two would become three or maybe even four.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A little about me

First, thanks for the warm welcome (thanks for the shout-out A)

It's so neat to see people come together with common interests and goals and I know for many of us it has meant the long road of infertility (but we'll save that story for another day)!

Tommy and I have been married for ten years-1999 (wow I feel old). When we were first married, we had both just completed college. I was working as a Speech Language Pathologist Assistant (that's a mouthful) and I loved working with the kids. The company....that's another story. We talked about things and decided I would quit working there. I knew I wanted to work with kids but I wasn't sure in what capacity. I was hired that school year as a Teacher's Assistant for a 1st grade classroom. I knew that if I could make it there, I would like to further my education with a teaching degree. Well, it turns out I loved it!

Then the hard task of deciding what to major in and what ages came into play. I have always had a love for Spanish and remembered a lot of it from high school (I became "instant" translator at the school I worked at). I thought about English as a Second Language but later decided I would major in Spanish; if I got tired of teaching I could always go into translating or something different.

I have been in the classroom for 10 years and I have just completed my 5th year of teaching at my current school. I teach middle school (7th and 8th grades)--no I'm not crazy...yet :)

We live on the coast and love it! We are surrounded by family and friends and share our home with our dog, Bailey.
Doesn't she have the sweetest face? This was after she ran back up on the dock from swimming last weekend.

So there you have it...just a little about me!

Here we go!

Well, here we go! After much discussion, I've decided to join the blogging community! If you are curious as to "why", well it's because I want to document our adoption progression. Of course there will be lots of other things to talk about along the way! Feel free to comment and encourage and I'm sure I'll be visiting around to some of your blogs as well!