Monday, March 31, 2014

A Great Day

It's a great day. I received good news about a job, a much-anticipated package arrived, and we may have found a house to move into this summer. Oh, and the door is open to let in warm SUNSHINE! It's been cold and gray for too long.

I texted this to C earlier: "I have a mixture of the Doxology and 'Wahoo, wahoo, wahoo!' running through my head." For those of you unfamiliar with the Doxology, here are the lyrics:
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Some days, it feels really good to forget about infertility. This is one of them.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fine Meets Unfriendly

So, I was in the clinic for about ten minutes total and am just fine. The blood draw was quick and not bad.

On another note, I have decided to consciously be friendly. A simple smile, "please," and "thank you" really don't take much time or effort, but boy do they make a difference. When I called the clinic the other day, the lady said no unnecessary words. Zero. Rather than say, "May I have your name, please?" She demanded, "Name?" Then, "Date of birth." It was awkward, and I didn't feel cared about in the least.

Today, the phlebotomist was the same. "Sit here for me," she said. I said, "I haven't historically been great with needles." No response. No small talk. She just did her thing and left the room. Across the tiny room, another phlebotomist was making her patient feel comfortable by conversing with her. I awkwardly guessed how to exit. Hopefully, I wasn't supposed to check out or anything, because I didn't.

It's not that hard to be friendly. If you are in a job that deals with people, especially nervous people, you should make an effort to be friendly or at least warm. That's my two cents.

Anyway, I'm fine. The test results should be ready on Monday. I'll keep you posted.

I'm Going In

I'm going in for lab work today, even though the results may not be helpful. In my opinion, the point of the lab work is to determine what happens in a "normal" cycle. We already know this cycle is abnormal (I blame the HSG, but the nurse said it wouldn't mess things up), so how can we expect the test results to be normal? I guess it will be nice to have some results to review at the appointment next week.

After our first appointment, we scheduled a follow-up for two months later. Those two months were supposed to follow the "aggressive" plan. Instead, we are scrambling to pull together at least a wee bit of iffy information. At least the HSG finally happened. 

Anyway, you may remember that I'm not fond of needles. Due to a really busy day at work, C cannot come with me. I've never gone alone. This could be interesting. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Distractions and a Possible Delay

You may have noticed a lack of new posts lately. I apologize. At the same time, no new posts means I probably don't have new information and am not in need of typing therapy. So, the lack of new posts has been a good thing for me. I have been way too distracted to blog.

Last week, several friends came to town for an alumni event at C's law school. Although C ended up being out of town for the work part of the time, we both enjoyed several gatherings with friends.

On Sunday, my in-laws came to town. We were having far too much fun (in spite of another random snowstorm) for me to sneak away and blog.

Although infertility is a common topic of thought and conversation, distraction really helps. Who wants to mope around when there is something more fun to do? Not that moping is ever fun, but you know what I mean. Sometimes, we just need a distraction to snap us out of a downer mood.

In other news, the lab work that was supposed to happen soon may be delayed again. Maybe the HSG confused my body or maybe I got a little too distracted, but we might not be able to predict the right day to do the tests. I'm planning to contact my doctor today to see what he recommends. We are scheduled to meet with him next week to determine our next steps. Not having the lab results could prevent us from moving forward. It would be quite frustrating for a delay to directly be my fault, but there's nothing I can do about it now. We will see what happens.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hiding in the Corner Won't Help (Not Our News, Part 5)

Note: This post is Part 5 of the "Not Our News" series.  The events and feelings depicted actually occurred a few weeks ago but could not be shared until the news was public. Also, the people involved gave me permission to share. 

Five Days After the News

There have been times this week in which I want to just hide in the corner, pull a blanket over my head, and stay there. I didn't want to do this infertility thing anymore. I was done picking myself up and carrying on. I was done fighting. I just wanted to quit.

Then I realized that it wouldn't help. At the end of the day, I'd be in a sad, lonely heap in the corner. Then what? I could stay there, but what would that accomplish? I certainly wouldn't feel better. I only had one other option: get up and carry on. Stop focusing on how hard I have it or how miserable I am. I've had my cryfest; it's time to move on.

How can I move on? Count my blessings. Although Satan tries to distract me from seeing blessings and praising God, the blessings are still there. I still have the best husband on the planet. I am still part of two wonderful, godly families. We still have all of our needs met. We still owe everything to our Savior, whose suffering saved us from eternal suffering. Through Him, we get to leave suffering behind someday. Can I get an "amen"?

Another way I can move on is to stop thinking about myself and start thinking about others. Did I mention that my sister-in-law is pregnant?! My new little niece or nephew is being knit together by the Maker as I write this. Woohoo! In addition, my sister and brother-in-law are in the process of adding a third child to their family through adoption. Children are a blessing from the Lord. Period. Our children or otherwise. I will choose to recognize them as such and strive to be a great aunt.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Upon Further Review - An HSG Result Update

This blog is called "The Sea of TTC" for a reason. We were floating along yesterday and got sideswiped by an unexpected wave. It didn't tip us over, but we're a little less steady that we were before.

I received a call from my doctor yesterday. Apparently, the radiologist reviewed the results of my HSG again and noticed signs of abrasions (scar tissue) on the right side. Since the dye traveled through correctly during the test, the doctors are confident that the tube is not fully blocked. The scar tissue could be a sign of endometriosis, but doesn't look like it could be enough to cause infertility. Either way, the other side shows no signs of scar tissue.

So, what does this new information tell us? Good question. Basically, my doctor doesn't think our plan should change at this point. We still plan to check hormone levels in a few weeks. After that, we might try Clomid. However, if hormone levels are normal, no other red flags appear, and conception still does not occur, we may be faced with more invasive testing. First, we would probably do another ultrasound. If the ultrasound seems to also show scar tissue on the right side, our next step would be a laparoscopy.

Laparoscopy is one of those procedures we said we probably wouldn't do. It's an actual surgery involving anesthesia, incisions, and inflating the abdomen. Basically, it's a "let's get in there and see what's going on" procedure. On top of being very invasive and somewhat extreme, the procedure would be expensive. According to my estimations, our infertility expenses have already reached about $2,000 (the ultrasound was around $675, and the HSG was $900+ before insurance). The laparoscopy would be $1,000 to $5,000, although we don't know how much our insurance might cover. That money could be a great start to an adoption fund. In addition, the laparoscopy might not even fix anything. There is a chance they could open me up and find nothing interesting. So then, we would have spent a lot of money and put my body through surgery for nothing.

So, how much money should we spend and how much should we mess with my body? We don't know. Thankfully, we don't have to decide today. Maybe we will find a hormone problem. Maybe Clomid would work. If it doesn't, we will have some very difficult decisions to make.

I told C that I had two greatest fears in this process: 1) That we would receive the "unexplained infertility" diagnosis  2) That we would be presented with a next step and choose to walk away. While I am prepared to walk away if IVF ever becomes our only option, this one would be a little less clear.

And so, the process continues.

A Prayer for Joy and Fruit (Not Our News, Part 4)

Note: This post is Part 4 of the "Not Our News" series.  The events and feelings depicted actually occurred a few weeks ago but could not be shared until the news was public. Also, the people involved gave me permission to share. 

Four Days After the News

Dear Lord,

Psalm 126:5 says, "Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!" May we indeed reap with joy. May there be fruit from our tears.

Thank You for lifting our spirits and providing distractions. Please help us find the right perspective. Help us fight the urge to hide in sadness and self pity. Please be our comfort in ways that we have never experienced. May we come out of every trial looking more like You.

In Jesus' Name,

Psalm 126:5, tears, joy

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I'm A Dud (Not Our News, Part 3)

Note: This post is Part 3 of the "Not Our News" series. The events and feelings depicted actually occurred a few weeks ago but could not be shared until the news was public. Also, the people involved gave me permission to share. 

Three Days After the News

One purpose of this blog is to provide insight into infertility. I would be dishonest to put a positive or hopeful spin on everything. Sometimes, hope is elusive and we just cannot think of positives. In these times, sins of selfishness, bitterness, and envy are easy to fall into. Sometimes, they get the better of us.

Right now, I feel like a dud. We had almost six years to make C's parents into grandparents, but we failed. There is no excitement quite like the excitement produced by the first grandchild. We've been a part of it on my side of the family and always anticipated being the ones to give such joy to his side. When his younger sister got married last summer, we realized that they could have a baby before us. Every time they have called since then, we have wondered if they had news. This time, they did.

When my sister-in-law texted about doing a video call with us later that week, I knew instantly what it was about. My heart dropped into my stomach. I wasn't ready. I wasn't sure I would be able to respond graciously. I wasn't sure that I could feel joy for them in spite of my sorrow. I wasn't sure that I could hold a conversation without collapsing in tears. I didn't want to rob them of the joy that they should rightly feel, but I wasn't ready.

Thankfully, the Lord answered my prayers. C's sister and her husband have been very intentional about walking through infertility with us. They were just as intentional in announcing pregnancy. I was able to feel and express joy as long as I focused on them. As soon as my thoughts drifted to our situation, the tears started. One of the things I had prayed for was a transparent conversation with them. If we only showed joy and not pain, it wouldn't have been real. We would have put up a barrier, a false front. Instead, we were able to experience the joy and the pain together, complete with tears.

A few days later, I feel like a dud, a failure. I've never cried so much.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Prayer of Frustration (Not Our News, Part 2)

Note: This is Part 2 of the "Not Our News" series. View Part One hereIf you want to be notified of future posts, please subscribe or like the blog on Facebook (see sidebar). The events and feelings depicted actually occurred a few weeks ago but could not be shared until the news was public. Also, the people involved gave me permission to share. 

One Day After the News

Dear Lord,

I was right; they are expecting. Thank You for answering my prayers by providing us with grace to respond well. Today, I feel angry. I feel angry that nothing is going according to plan. While they get a surprise pregnancy, we get lousy tests and appointments canceled due to random snowstorms.

I am happy for them. I guess I just am not happy for us. I hate infertility. It's frustrating to have to go to the place of pregnant women in an effort to find why I can't join the club. It's frustrating to put ourselves through so much without knowing if it will pay off.

Help us to trust You and have right feelings. Please comfort our injured hearts and help us express thoughts well.

In Jesus' Name,


A Prayer of Pleading (Not Our News, Part 1)

Note: This is Part 1 of the "Not Our News" series. If you want to be notified of future posts, please subscribe or like the blog on Facebook (see sidebar). The events and feelings depicted actually occurred a few weeks ago but could not be shared publicly for obvious reasons. Also, the people involved gave me permission to share.

One Day Before the News
Dear Lord,

Thank You for the beautiful sunshine today. Thank You for waking us up and having new mercies for today.

Lord, I find myself entirely focused on a fear of something possible, but unknown. D (my husband's sister) asked via text if we would video chat with her and her husband tomorrow. My heart sank instantly, and I have a strong feeling that they will announce pregnancy. And why shouldn't they? They've been married for seven months. They aren't in school. If we weren't related or close to them, we would advise them not to wait because they don't even know if they can conceive.

It's different when it's family. C is the oldest. We have been married for five years longer than them. We planned to bring the first grandchild into the S family. The reasons are selfish, but I don't feel ready to graciously receive their news. If that is why they want to talk, please give us grace to receive it well. Help us to be transparent about the mixture of emotions the news would bring, and may they be transparent, too. May infertility not be a distance-causer, but a bonding experience. Please help us. Please be sanctifying us through the process; may the suffering not be wasted, but may we be refined.

Lord, I plead with You; please bless us with a child soon. May we not be one of those couples dealing with infertility for five to ten years. If adoption is our route, please get us there quickly. Help us say and mean, "Not our will, but Yours be done."

In Jesus' Name,


Monday, March 17, 2014

My HSG Story

If you have been following our infertility journey, you know that the HSG (hysterosalpingogram) has been a long time coming. Today was finally supposed to be the day.

Not to be dissuaded by snow and icy roads, we made the trek to the hospital this morning. After getting checked in, I was told to change into hospital gowns. Thankfully, these gowns were modest, because I was going to be in them for a long time.

The nurse did an initial X-ray, then we proceeded to wait for my doctor. He had been in the building early today, so they assumed he would show up. Nope. The nurse called the clinic and everyone tried paging him. Finally, they got him. Apparently, there had been a communication mixup, and he would arrive in forty-five minutes if we wanted to wait. Since this is the only day the procedure could be done this month, we were going to wait as long as needed.

I'm glad we did. My doctor showed up, and I have to say that he was worth the wait. They had suggested trying to get another doctor to perform the HSG, but I'm very glad we didn't go that route. I would guess that the doctor makes a huge difference in the experience. He is very good at explaining things and goes out of his way to make me comfortable, even in the midst of pain.

While this procedure is not a walk in the park, I can emphatically say it was NOT as painful as childbirth. I would describe it as awkward with a side of severe, localized cramping. Thankfully, the most painful part was pretty quick.

You may remember that I was hoping for slight blockage to be removed with minimal amounts of pain. Well, the test showed no problems. While relieved that no problems were found, we were a little disappointed to not get answers. The doctor explained that he is very encouraged to not find problems at the HSG phase, as any problems would be difficult to fix and would likely point to IVF as the only option. So, that makes us feel better.

I also told him about some random weird symptoms I've had. He listened and relieved a lot of my fears. A good doctor sure makes a difference. And so does a sympathetic, gentle, and patient husband. C has been the best today, even treating me to lunch on the way home.

Our next step will be testing hormone levels. Hopefully, we will eventually identify the problem(s).

Thanks for all the prayers! I'm confident that they helped me stay calm today.

Made It, Now Waiting

The roads were slippery, but we made it to the hospital. Now we are waiting in a big room with scary machines, tools, and vials. Anyone want to trade places with me?

We're Going

It's snowing and many places are closed, but we're going anyway. I'm nervous and thinking that adoption sounds like a much better option, but I'm sure it will be fine.

Thanks for the prayers!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

HSG: To Be Tomorrow or To Be Delayed?

The temperature nearly hit 70 yesterday. A few minutes ago, snow started falling and is expected to stack up to five inches. We live in an area where everything shuts down at the first sign of snow. My HSG is scheduled for tomorrow at 11.

A few weeks ago, we enjoyed several days of very warm weather before my lab appointment, only to wake up on that day to a snow storm and closed clinic. The HSG was supposed to happen even a few weeks before that, but was delayed due to the clinic and hospital schedules. So, we've officially made zero progress in our "aggressive plan."

I'm hopeful that the HSG will happen tomorrow. Obviously, the hospital can't close. We are determined to go unless they call and cancel. Ideally, we won't have to risk our lives on treacherous roads, but we are planning to try. 

Prayers are appreciated. I will try to post updates along the way. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Our Good, His Glory

I believe that God is sovereign and intentionally ordains suffering for our good and His glory. The suffering of infertility has made me see the difference between saying that and living it. I recently listened to a podcast that hit me where I am at.

On a Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Paul David Tripp was talking about the story in which Jesus walked on water. He notes that Jesus put the disciples in the boat and sent them off into a storm. Then, He goes walking across the water, intending to pass by them (Mark 6:48). When He sees them panicking, He gets into the boat with them and the wind stops.

Tripp says, "God will take you where you haven't chosen to go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own." Our goal shouldn't be to have easy lives. Our goal should be to know and become more like Christ. That is God's goal for us. My favorite quote from the podcast is this one: "The care is not just Jesus' presence in the storm, the care IS the storm."

Some people think that God just allows bad things to happen and scrambles around making the best out of it. I like to view God as an intentional author and story teller. Character development doesn't happen without adversity. Good guys can't rise up if there is no bad guy to rise up against. God wrote the story of my life before I came into existence. He inserted the infertility chapter on purpose. I can't see the whole book, so this chapter seems long and pointless. But it isn't. God is about His purposes, growing me, making me lean on Him, and aligning my will with His. It's not fun, but it is intentional.

I encourage you to listen to both parts of the podcast here and here. I will leave you with one more quote from Paul David Tripp: "Sometimes, you need the storm in order to see the glory."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"Aggressive Plan" - Take 2

If at first your test is delayed, try again the next month.

Last month, scheduling conflicts between the hospital and my doctor made the HSG (hysterosalpingogram) impossible.

This month, it is officially scheduled for next Monday, March 17, at 11 a.m (EST).

Please pray that the test would go well and that the Lord will guide our emotions. I have seen horror stories online about awful HSG experiences, like "it was as painful as childbirth" and other such encouragement. If you had one of those experiences, please don't tell me. My fear doesn't need to be fed.

On the other hand, I have also heard, "I got pregnant right away after having an HSG." I have mentioned before that hope is dangerous because it can lead to disappointment. I don't want us to expect too much from the HSG and be disappointed again.

I obviously would like for the HSG to involve minimal pain; however, that would likely mean a continued lack of answers. The HSG is supposed to show and possibly clear blockage in the fallopian tubes. If there is blockage, the test is more painful. If there is blockage and it is removed, chances for conception increase. If there is no blockage, we would still have no idea what is wrong.

All of that to say, maybe we should all pray that there is a tiny, loose bit of blockage that will move easily (and painlessly?) and that the test would be all the help we need. And yes, I would like fries with that.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Unrealistically Disappointed

I did it to myself. I got my hopes up unrealistically just in time to have them dashed. I should know better.

This morning, I woke up dizzy. Actually, it may have been the quick jump out of bed that made me dizzy. Either way, the dizziness stuck around. After about an hour, I made my first mistake: checking the internet to see if dizziness can be an early sign of pregnancy. Yes, it can.

I was already aware that my luteal phase is about 12 days. According to the smiley face on an ovulation predictor, today could have been day 14. My plan for the day included joining a gym and starting a new workout regimen. [Well, actually, just starting a workout regimen in general, not to be confused with replacing a previous one.] Logically, I wouldn't want to disrupt anything, so just HAD to take a pregnancy test first. I haven't let myself do that in the past year.

Even after multiple years of "no," I still dream of how to surprise C with pregnancy news. If he hasn't heard anything about cycle days, he will ask. Today could have been perfect. I could have taken the test in the morning and had all day to plan a surprise.

On the way to the store, all solid theology flew out of my head. I bargained with God, "If it's positive, you will get ALL the glory." I made guesses about His plan, "Good one. Way to postpone all of our tests the very month You choose to bless us with a child. I see what you did there. Clever!" Then, "I see why You had me start an infertility blog. So many more people will get to see you answer prayer this way. Great idea!" Then, I resorted to pleading, "Please, please, please, let it be yes."

By the time I got home, my confidence had been replaced by realism. I was almost prepared for a no. It was still disappointing, but I brushed it off and headed out to join the gym.

This afternoon, the no was officially confirmed. Just another day in the sea of TTC.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Math Problems and an Applicable Article

Last night, I was telling my husband about a recent thought. I realized that even if we conceive, I will not assume the pregnancy will result in taking home a baby. I think infertility has robbed me of some of the joy that would have come from a positive pregnancy test. A positive test should produce joy and excitement, but would likely lead me to fear of miscarriage.

I guess that infertility has thrown off my math. Before this phase, I thought that man + woman = baby, and that woman + pregnancy = "take home" baby. Now I know it's just not that easy. Many couples cannot conceive. Some couples that do conceive experience miscarriage. I don't have facts on this, but it seems like couples dealing with infertility often also experience miscarriages. Anyway, I guess I have turned into a bit of a pessimist.

This morning, I read a very applicable blog post. The post by Rebekah Hannah* is called "Pregnancy After Miscarriage," but I found it very helpful for my stage as well. She mentions wanting to feel nothing in order to avoid feeling pain. She mentions Satan trying to lure us from reading Scripture to seeking too much sleep, entertainment, or food. She explains that Jesus "doesn't promise life free of scars." But he has them too, and "he promises to steady us." If you can relate, I encourage you to read the post. I have already returned to it several times today.

*Hannah, Rebekah. "Pregnancy After Miscarriage." The Gospel Coalition Blog. The Gospel Coalition, n.d. Web. 6 Mar. 2014. <>.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Song for Today

This song by Jenny & Tyler was a good reminder to me today. Here is Psalm 46 (ESV) in entirety:
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. 
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
I hope the song and passage are a blessing to you today.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Not According To Plan

Remember how we chose the "aggressive" route for infertility testing and treatment? Guess how many of the things we planned to do this month actually happened. Zero. The HSG couldn't happen due to a scheduling conflict between our doctor and the hospital.

I was supposed to have several hormones checked through blood tests yesterday. On Sunday, it was about 70 degrees here. Yesterday, we had a snowstorm that caused the clinic to close, which meant that my test was canceled. Since yesterday was THE day to check those particular hormones, we have to wait another month for that one, too.

It feels like we are spinning our wheels. C and I had both been pretty down about infertility before my appointment in early February. Then, the appointment gave us hope. We had a plan and were going to be aggressive about the next steps. So far, nothing has gone according to plan. These road bumps are an extra reminder of other things that haven't gone according to plan, like having children.

One purpose of this blog is to provide an honest insight into infertility. If I put a positive or hopeful spin on everything, it won't be honest. Sometimes, hope is elusive and we just cannot think of positives. In these times, sins of selfishness, bitterness, anger, and envy creep in. Sometimes, the tears just flow.

Monday, March 3, 2014

"So That"

Yesterday, my husband and I separately read 2 Corinthians 1 in our devotions. We read it together last night. This morning, we found the same passage in a new email from my mother-in-law. The passage really struck me as I read it the first time. The second time, I tried to read it aloud to Caleb through my tears. If Romans 12:12 is our infertility theme verse, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 must be our infertility theme passage.

Here are portions from the passage:

portions from 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Praise the Lord for his comfort, for being a high priest that sympathizes with our weakness (Hebrews 4:15), and for giving us "so that." We don't know what our "so that" is, but this passage gives us two ideas: "So that we may be able to comfort those in any affliction" (vs. 4) and "so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many." We already feel that our suffering is making us more sensitive to the suffering of others. When a child joins our family someday, the prayers of MANY will be answered. I imagine that there are many more "so thats" in God's plan for us: so that all glory will go to God, so that we rely fully on Him, so we become more Christlike, etc.

Honestly, I don't want it right now. I want to be out of this phase. I want to bid adios to infertility NOW. But, I can't let myself get stuck there, so I will focus on "so that."

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Choosing Trust Over Fear

I rarely have a Bible verse stuck in my head. I wish it happened more often. Today, Psalm 112:6-7 has been on repeat in my mind:

Psalm 112:6-7

The righteous person is not afraid of bad news, but rather firmly trusts in the Lord. My tendency is to choose fear, not trust. 

If I receive bad news, God is good and worthy of trust. Disappointing test results and scheduling delays fall into this category.

If I receive good news that feels like bad news, God is good and worthy of trust. This category can include pregnancy announcements and test results that come back normal and lead nowhere.

If I am afraid of receiving bad news, I need to remind myself that God is good and worthy of trust. And I need to memorize more verses so they get stuck in my head more often.

Are you with me?