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I'm Still Here

I'm still here, just in case you all were wondering. Nothing new to report, just trying to be patient as my body gets back on track. Ten days ago I thought my Sarcoidosis was flaring up for the first time in about two years but I was actually diagnosed with pneumonia...go figure. I have been on a high dose of prednisone and a strong antibiotic, hoping this will clear up the pneumonia. Other than that, I am doing well, taking things one day at a time....trying, like I said, to be patient.....the hardest part because if I am anything at all, impatient is it. Some days it seems like time is standing still. We still appreciate all of your prayers as we wait. Prayers as each day without Jonah and Harper is still hard and still hurts.

And while I'm thinking about it, I have been so amazed lately at the amount of people that have come to me and Aaron to share with us their own loss(es). It serves to remind me that there are so many people that are affected by miscarriage, stillbirth, childloss, etc. There are so many people hurting and we may have no clue. I just want to leave you with that thought today. As you post on social media and converse with people on a daily basis, I hope that you will keep it in your mind that some people are silent about their struggles, especially with infertility, childloss, stillbirth, miscarriage....and it goes a long way when we are sensitive to others around us. You never know what someone is dealing with. You never know how your words, innocent as they may be, can sting. 



A Huge Prayer Request


See this little guy? Bingo showed up at the beginning of last year. We blew up Facebook trying to find him a home. Turns out, he is right at home between me and Aaron in the bed, in the little space that Ruby leaves him. Over the past year, Bingo has really tried our patience. Everyday for like, the whole past year, Bingo has found some way to squeeze his little self out of our fence. And almost every.single.time he would travel down the road to the same house.

So, Bingo is how me and Aaron came to know who Jay and Jo-Jo Roland are. The Roland Family lives in the house that Bingo used to visit on a daily basis. I recently learned that Jo-Jo went to the hospital the Wednesday following Easter to have a scope procedure done to look around because of some stomach issues Jo-Jo was having. Her stomach was full of food, because her body apparently wasn't digesting food like it is supposed to, and this caused her to aspirate when they ran the scope. Jo-Jo spent three weeks in a coma and about two weeks ago, they were able to take her completely off of the ventilator. Her family moved her to a long term care facility a little over a week ago. Jo-Jo has a very long road of recovery ahead of her. Since learning about what has happened, I have been extremely burdened for the Roland Family. I cannot get them out of my mind and I find myself constantly asking God for mercy on this family and asking for complete healing for Jo-Jo. 

This afternoon I was thinking about this family, about how Bingo used to always travel down the road to their house and how Bingo hasn't tried to get out of our yard in roughly two months...and I immediately thought about this blog. I have seen what your prayers and generosity can do, firsthand. That is why I am blogging about the Roland Family here tonight. They so desperately need our prayers and support. I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around what they are going through. Jay and Jo-Jo have two daughters. I cannot imagine how they must feel, how Jay must feel. From what I understand, Jay is working, taking care of his daughters and checking on his wife several times a day. I know he could use our prayers for strength.

Some friends of the Roland Family have started a Go Fund Me account to raise money to help out with expenses, bills and any other needs that need meeting for Jo-Jo and her family. If you can help in any way possible, I hope that you will. Here is the link to the Go Fund Me page: http://www.gofundme.com/apsknk. If you are not able to help at this time, please pray for the Roland Family and share this post to get the word out.





Jo-Jo's sister has also started selling "Pray for Jo-Jo" t-shirts. The shirts are available in both youth and adult sizes, for men and women. For men, the shirts are available in Royal Blue and Navy Blue. For women, the shirts are available in Ocean Blue and Violet. If you would like to order a shirt, please feel free to message me on Facebook or email me through this blog and I will get the information to the proper channels. Shirts are $15.00 each.

I have also heard that some ladies in town who do couponing are collecting staple items for the family. If you have any staple items or groceries that you would like to donate to the family, you can drop those items off at The Kirbo Law Firm here in Moultrie, Georgia. 

I do not know Jay and Jo-Jo very well, we are acquaintances really, all because of little Bingo...and I am in no way speaking for the family, although I did make sure it was okay before posting this. I just know that we can help the Roland Family. So many people read this blog and share it and have prayed for us and continue to do so. So, I know that you will also pray for this family in their time of great need.  And I know that if you were so willing to help me and Aaron, you will do the same for the Roland Family.   
 


Surgery

I had surgery a few weeks ago to correct my septated uterus. Dr. Duffy had told me that the only way to be sure that my uterus was septated and not bicornuate would be to have the laparoscopic/hysteroscopic surgery. And thankfully, my uterus was indeed septated. Dr. Duffy removed 90-95% of the septum and he also removed some endometriosis while he was in there. For different reasons, my surgery lasted about three and a half hours instead of 45 minutes like we thought. So, I felt rough for a solid two weeks. Dr. Duffy left a balloon catheter in my uterus for four days following surgery, to help make sure my uterus started to heal up properly and once it was removed I felt a little better but I honestly felt sore, drained, crampy and bloated for two weeks. 

I went back to Dr. Duffy recently for a checkup and everything looks really good via ultrasound. But, this is just the first step. I have been on lots of estrogen since the surgery and after my appointment Dr. Duffy also put me on progesterone for a little while. After all of this medicine is over, I will be on birth control for several months as my body adjusts and gets back to a normal cycle. We have quite a bit ahead of us before we can try for a baby, but I still can't believe that it is possible. Please pray that my body continues to heal and that God will prepare me me and Aaron for whatever lies ahead. Also, if anyone who reads this blog (even if it is 10 years from now) ever has any questions about the surgery and all, please message me or email me and I will gladly answer any questions I can. One of the purposes of this blog is to help others who may find themselves in a similar situation and there is not much information out there, believe me, I've searched!

I'm so thankful the surgery is behind me and I am so very thankful that God led me to Dr. Duffy! 

May 4

Fabric swatches from Jonah's bedding

May 4 was my due date with Jonah. And I am positive that no matter how many years pass by, that is the first thing that will come to my mind when I hear or see the date of May 4. It will always be the day that my Jonah was supposed to be in my arms. On May 4, 2012, Jonah had long been in the arms of The Lord, for three months to be exact. May 4 is a bittersweet day knowing Jonah is In Heaven and safe and loved...but oh how my arms ache on days like today.




What Is Next

So, I went a couple weeks ago to Jacksonville and had a Saline Sonogram done by Dr. Duffy. He wanted to look for himself at my uterus and he told me that this type of ultrasound would tell us much more than just a regular ultrasound. During the procedure, Dr. Duffy showed me, after looking for quite a while, that it appears to him as if my uterus is septated. He then looked at the images from the MRI that I had done in 2012 with me and Aaron and he showed us on those images why he thinks my uterus is septated and not bicornuate.

If you are confused, maybe this will help: If my uterus is bicornuate, the surgery to correct it is controversial at best and it will still not make it to where I can carry a pregnancy on my own, which is why we have been pursuing IVF with a gestational carrier, Kristi. We were doing this because this was the only way we could have our own child since surgery was not going to help. If my uterus is actually septated, this changes everything. Surgery to correct a septated uterus is done laparoscopically and vaginally so it is not as invasive. So, recovery is quicker and surgery is not quite as scary. On top of that, correcting my uterus (if it is septated) will make it possible for me to carry my own child and change my pregnancy outcomes to that of a normal 27 year old woman with a normal uterus. Like I said, this could change everything.

These days, from what Dr. Duffy has told me, 3D ultrasound is considered the gold standard when trying to distinguish between a bicornuate uterus and a septated uterus. The clinic I go to does not have the 3D equipment to do a 3D ultrasound though. But, Dr. Duffy was trying out the equipment in his office last week with the help of some sonographers and he invited me to come so that he could get a really good look at my uterus. So, me and Aaron went and Dr. Duffy was so thrilled with this new technology and the clarity the pictures provided. After the 3D ultrasound Dr. Duffy is certain that my uterus is septated, not bicornuate. And all hope is not lost.

I will be having surgery to correct my septated uterus. We are still working on the details of when. I have wrestled with thoughts of how all of this will sound to people. I have wrestled with thoughts about all that people have done for us and given to us so that we could do IVF four times with Kristi. But I have come to this conclusion: not one bit of any of it has been a waste. Not one dime. Not one minute of this IVF journey. We have met so many people and shared our story of hope and longing with so.many.people. We have seen over and over how much people care about us and every bit of help we have received has blessed our hearts and helped us get to this point. We have gotten to know all the nurses and lab techs at the FIRM in Jacksonville. They have all watched us smile through the tears and the hurt over this past year and I hope that the way we have lived out all of this, thus far, has done nothing short of point them to Jesus Christ and the hope that only He can give. We have gotten to know Eric and Kristi and their beautiful family over the past year and we are so grateful for this friendship. We will always be grateful for how Kristi has sacrificed so much over the last year to help us.  Kristi holds a special place in our hearts, and she will forever.

We are being cautiously optimistic. We are looking forward to surgery because of the hope it brings, but it will be no walk in the park. We do not know how long the healing process will take, as we are still sorting through all of the information and scheduling the surgery. So, we don't know when we will be able to start trying on our own to get pregnant. Typing this makes my heart skip a beat and sink at the same time. I never thought I would be able to try to get pregnant again. And while it is amazing to hear, it is terrifying. 

So, please keep praying for us. Please pray for Dr. Duffy as he will be doing my surgery. Please pray for me and Aaron because the days are long and too much sometimes, even despite the encouraging news of a septated uterus instead of a bicornuate one. 

What a journey this is.


Our Fourth Attempt at IVF

Some of you may remember that after our third round of IVF, I posted the results and that, because of God's provisions for us, we were still not done trying IVF with our gestational carrier, Kristi. We began our fourth and last fresh IVF cycle at the end of February. I was monitored during this round by Dr. Daniel Duffy. The doctor I have seen throughout the whole past year was in a boating accident. During my third IVF cycle, I saw all of the doctors in the practice but Dr. Duffy did my retrieval and the transfer.

Anyways, back to the fourth cycle. Dr. Duffy put me on Omnitrope which is a form of human growth hormone, as well as the maximum dose of all the other meds I normally take during an IVF cycle (Bravelle, Menopur and Cetrotide). The Omnitrope was supposed to make the eggs that I produced much better quality and Dr. Duffy has seen great results with adding it to women's IVF cycles. I also took a prenatal vitamin, OvaVite, that also has COQ10 because that is supposed to help with egg quality as well. Things seemed to be going really well. On my first monitoring appointment, I had seven follicles and then at my next appointment, I had fourteen! I had never had that many so I was very encouraged! 

When retrieval day came, ten eggs were retrieved, which I was happy with. I felt much worse recovering from the retrieval than I had in the past at all of my other retrievals but one of the nurses told me that the growth hormone was probably to blame. The office always calls me 48 hours after the retrieval to let me know how many embryos have formed and how they look. They called and told me that there were six embryos that were good and a few of those six were mediocre looking. They also said there were two more that they were watching in the lab that weren't progressing as well. I was SO encouraged by those six embryos.

Dr. Duffy decided to do a three-day transfer. So, me and Kristi and my Mama went down for the transfer. Me and Kristi met with Dr. Duffy before the procedure and he let us know that of the six embryos, we now only had three that survived. I fought the urge to panic and told Dr. Duffy that we would transfer all three then. Dr. Duffy was super nice, as he always is, and let me stay in the room for the transfer. We went home hopeful and nervous.

We found out the results on March 27. Suzanne, the nurse who always calls to give the results, got to call us one more time to tell us that once again, our blood pregnancy test was negative. We were so devastated and discouraged....and I just remember feeling so absolutely defeated. I cried and cried. And cried some more. I just could not believe that I held two of our babies in my hands and went through a year of IVF, filled with heartache and disappointment of its own, and I involved a sweet friend, Kristi....all to come out right where we started: with empty arms. I couldn't believe that after all that Kristi put her body through, for us, she couldn't even have the satisfaction of doing what she set out to do, carry our child. I couldn't believe that after all the many ways that people have reached out to us and gave of their time, money and efforts to help us even be able to do IVF that we were still left empty-handed. 

So, I was sad and discouraged and heartbroken and confused and so desperate. I called about an hour later and scheduled my follow-up phone consultation with Dr. Duffy, because they always do follow-ups if your cycle doesn't work. I got an appointment for April 7. Thursday afternoon, for some reason, all I could think about was my uterus. I could not get it off of my mind. My mind kept wondering back to the MRI report. I had to talk to Dr. Duffy. And I had to talk to him before April 7. I called Jacksonville and asked for Patti, a really sweet nurse who has been with us on this long journey. I left her a message that I am sure sounded insane! I mean, I was blubbering through most of the message telling her that "I know April 7 isn't that far away but to me it seems like an eternity," and all kinds of other things. Anyways, much to my surprise, she called this crazy psycho back. Patti was able to squeeze my phone consultation in with Dr. Duffy on the following Monday, March 31. I was SO very glad that I didn't have to wait almost two weeks.

When I spoke with Dr. Duffy, I explained to him everything that has happened in the past 2 years. I told him about Jonah, about everything in between Jonah and getting pregnant with Harper. I told him about Harper and how I wound up at Shands and how I went into preterm labor with Harper. I told him how I wound up at the F.I.R.M. and how the doctor I was seeing wanted me to have an MRI. I told him how I had the MRI done in Moultrie, my hometown, because it was just easier and I could get an appointment sooner than in Thomasville or Jacksonville. I told him about how I just keep thinking about my uterus and how the MRI report was sent to My doctor, not the images from the MRI. I told him how I thought I took a copy of the MRI on a disc to my previous doctor at my next appointment after my MRI so that he could have a copy to look at for himself. The radiologist in Moultrie read my MRI and said in the report that my uterus was bicornuate. And I honestly was starting to wonder if we have been missing something all along. Dr. Duffy was looking at my chart and listening to me and starting to wonder about my uterus himself, especially since I had no trouble at all getting pregnant with Jonah and Harper. He decided that I deserve a closer look at my uterus.

To be continued....




What Trusting God Really Looks Like

I have found since losing Jonah and Harper that the hardest part for our friends and family members to accept is that we are no longer the same as we used to be. And I guess I get it, I mean, no one likes change and to see two people that you love very much suddenly act different, it is hard. I'm sure most people think that things would be "better" and "easier" if we could just be who we once were. We were once both so carefree. We were pretty down to earth and both very sociable people. Anxiety was never something I really struggled with. Losing Jonah and Harper changed all of that. 

There are things we see, things we feel, things we experience in this life that forever change us, no matter how much we might have wanted to stay the same as we were before. No matter how much others might have wanted us to stay the same as we once were. And, honestly, I find myself just at a loss sometimes. I mean, what do people really think life is supposed to look like after holding your dead and dying babies in your arms? Do people really expect us to walk through this life, like nothing happened at all? I really don't get how some people think. 

Me and Aaron have trusted God. We do trust God. We have poured our hearts and souls out to God, crying for mercy, begging for relief that simply can't be found this side of Heaven. God has walked with us and He continues to walk right beside us, and even before us. And, He knows our hearts. He knows that we are trusting in Him no matter how hard it is to reconcile holding dead and dying babies in our arms. He has always known that we would stumble down this path that we must tread. And, He has never once left us or told us we need to be the old versions of ourselves, back before our babies came and went and life as we knew it was forever thrown into question. 

I feel as if I'm rambling now, not making the point I set out to make....or making any point at all...

I think Angie Smith says it better than anyone else, when talking about living without her daughter, Audrey:
     "I cling to the fact that Audrey is in her eternal home, enjoying the favor of her Savior, completely at peace with Him as her Father. I believe it, but I can't honestly say that it always comforts me the way I wish it would. I say that because I know that some of you who are reading are in the same place I am. I know you long to drop a weight off your back and carry on with life in complete joy, never doubting that everything will be set right one day. It's not easy, and I would be lying if I said that when I sit in my sewing room stairing at the bloodstains on the collar of her little dress, I am immediately filled with peace because I know where she is. I am not. I want her to be here with me, and on many nights that truth has failed to fill the void. I have beaten myself up many times, wondering why I was moping around when she was perfectly happy. What kind of Christian am I? The answer is pretty simple actually. One who is human. We aren't going to feel whole in this life, and we will long for something we don't have. Something that will fill the nagging void that intermittently stings and knocks us to our knees. And all the while, Satan taunts us, telling us our faith is small. To hurt so deeply is a sign that we live in a fallen world, not that we serve a small God. To love Him in spite of our pain is a gift He freely gives to those who will accept it." - p. 173, from I Will Carry You by Angie Smith

"The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: the faithful love of The Lord never ends! His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, 'the Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!' The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from The Lord. And it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline: Let them sit alone in silence beneath the Lord's demands. Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last. Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies. For no one is abandoned by The Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He also shows compassion because of His unfailing love. For He does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow." Lamentations 3:19-33 (NLT)

My God is SO mighty that He can use this messy, messy life that we are living to point back to His great faithfulness...SO mighty that He can make sense out of all of the confusion and complexities that come with burying our babies and trying to live in spite of it. Please continue to pray that we will not lose sight of God's faithfulness, especially on the hardest days.