Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Weekly Verse: 10/22

Soooo, I just realized today is Tuesday and I'm a little behind...oops.  I think my days got a little mixed up with all the events going on this weekend.  You see this weekend Barrett and I attended a wedding for two of our dear friends.

Casey started out as one of Barrett's college buddies, but once we met he soon became a very good friend to me as well.  I look at Casey, and Barrett, and their group of friends and I see so much more than that.  I see brothers.  Brothers who would do anything for each other.  Brothers who would fight tooth and nail for each other, their wives, their children, their families.  These "friends", these "brothers" have a connection that is unbreakable.
It is rare in life to find comradeship  like this and I am fortunate to have my own group of "sisters" as well.

When we are blessed with these relationships, we must thank God for that gift.  For only he knows the needs of our hearts and places these people in our lives to fulfill some void.  I am so thankful for the friendships and relationships that have continued to grow over the last few years.

I love each and every one of my friends, brothers, sisters.

This week's verse is:
"A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17, NKJV)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Our Baby Journey

Finally, the cat is out of the bag!  Barrett and I are expecting our first child in April of 2014.  We are beyond excited, in fact I don't think there is a word to describe how ecstatic we are.  After trying to conceive for almost 4 years, this pregnancy is a complete miracle.  I plan to script my pregnancy experience on this blog and I hope that is will serve man purposes:  giving infertile women hope, giving pregnant women a laugh while, and encouraging others to seek Christ when they are in a difficult place.  Welcome to the ADD Pregnant Woman's blog - it's sure to throw you for a loop ;-)

Let's start with the infertility journey.  Like every young couple, Barrett and I were under the impression that our pregnancy would happen quickly and easily.  Boy were we wrong.  After about 6 months of trying, I went to see my Gynecologist because in my heart I knew something was wrong (side note: ALWAYS trust your instincts).  My gyno blew off our efforts and told me that when we had tried for a year and were still not prego then I could come back and she would refer me to a fertility specialist.  I can't explain how angry I was.  My family does not have a history of infertility, the women in my family think about getting pregnant and wake up the next morning with a baby bump.  I knew something was wrong; so I took matters into my own hands.

I called the fertility clinic, Reproductive Endocrinology of Charlotte (aka REACH), and pretended to be my gynecologist's office and referred myself.  When REACH asked for my paper work to be faxed, I then called the gynecologist's office and told them that my information needed to be faxed over, STAT!   So our infertility journey began.

We started with simple testing, and everything came back fine.  The specialist's repsonse, "You should be pregnant and you're not, so we're going to make that happen."  Oh, I could finally see the sun shining again - this doctor wanted to help us conceive a child.  YAY!

So we began bloodwork and based on my hCG levels each month we would have more bloodwork and scheduled intercourse.  After a few months, the specialist decided to do a little digging to find out why my ovulation was off, I was ovulating around day 8 instead of days 12-14.  With more tests they found that I had Stage 4 Endometriosis.  Because of the advanced stage, I was immediately scheduled for a laparoscopic procedure to remove the endometriosis.  This was a procedure that they estimated to take about 30 minutes, as they simply remove the endometriosis with a laser and then close the 4 incisions.  My procedure took over 2 hours.  The endometriosis had spread so much, that it was on my uterus, cervix, stomach, bladder, and bowels.  Additionally, the endometriosis had caused my cervix to be angled backwards and they had to move it.  Needless to say, my recovery which was projected to be 1 day took an entire week.  But we were hopeful after having the endometriosis removed and ready to start fertility treatment.

With the endometriosis removed, it would still continue to grow and affect my ovulation timing as well as the maturation of my eggs.  So the specialist decided to treat the situation this way:
Step 1.  Follistim Injections: A commonly-prescribed fertility drug for women. Given by injection, FSH works by stimulating the ovaries to produce more follicles and thereby, more eggs.  I take this to help produce more eggs so there would be more of a chance of the sperm fertilizing one.
Step 2. Lupron Injections:  Ovulation cannot occur naturally while on Lupron because LH, which triggers ovulation, is suppressed. This prevents a premature surge of the LH before the retrieval, which could cause loss of the cycle.
Step 3. hCG Injection:  One injection given to trigger ovulation.
This is a very expensive treatment cycle and we were spending around $600/month on the injections and doctor's visits. We used this treatment cycle for several months but then stopped because my endometriosis levels were too high again.

I underwent treatment again and we sat down with our specialist who wanted to know whether we wanted to proceed with the same procedures or advance to IVF.  We weighed our options and after sitting with the financer and finding out that our IVF procedure would cost $26,000 we opted to not try it since it's not guaranteed.  We did not want to go through the months and months of injections again, so we told our specialist and his nurse that we would be putting our faith in God.

Eight months later, with no focus on ovulation or hCG levels we conceived naturally thanks to God's love and miraculous healing.  I have only been to the fertility specialist once since finding out we were pregnant, and that was just to "confirm" the pregnancy.  I have not had any levels taken but I truly believe 100% that God has healed my body of endometriosis and that is why we were able to get pregnant on our own without any fertility!

Soooo, now that we are preggers - I will be posting some updates of our Baby Journey!  Here's to a healthy baby and an exciting journey for our family!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekly Verse: 10/7 - Why Should We Tithe

A few months ago, our pastor spoke about tithing and while I've heard about tithing my entire life, I realized that my idea of giving money to the church was ALL wrong. Yes, I'm going to talk about money - please do not stop reading ;-) You see, for the longest time I gave to the church because it was expected. I didn't give the 10% but I gave what I thought I could afford. I did it because that is what the Bible says for us to do. I was being obedient. Bonus points, right? WRONG! According to the word, God doesn't want us to give our tithe, our 10% because we HAVE to. He wants us to give our tithe with a loving and giving heart. I learned more about this in April when Pastor Troy spoke about tithing and presented our church with a tithe challenge.

This is our tithe story: This spring Pastor Troy initiated the tithe challenge. My husband and I had been tithing each week, but it was a small amount as it's all we thought we could afford. While Pastor Troy talked about the challenge he asked those who currently tithe to increase to 10%. He said that in all of his years he had never seen someone take the challenge and not experience a miracle; we needed a miracle so we took the challenge. While Pastor Troy was talking about the tithe challenge, I wrote a message on my iPad to my husband ("what if a baby is our miracle?"). After almost 4 years of trying to get pregnant, and going through fertility treatments, my husband and I had been unsuccessful.

Through the 90 day challenge, we did not experience financial hardship like we thought we would, which was a relief, but we also didn't have a positive pregnancy test in that time either. However, we refused to stop tithing and continued with to tithe with faith. It felt great to give our money to the church and see how it was being used to help so many others!

Like I said, the challenge ended, but we continued to give in faith! I tithed one Monday after church; I texted my husband, like always, to let him know. Within 10 minutes, something spoke to my heart and told me to go get a pregnancy test, this is not something I was anticipating or even thinking about. I took the test on my lunch break and it was positive!

I had blood work the next day and my levels were 147, the doctor wanted me to come back a few days later and told me my numbers had to double for us to know if this was a viable pregnancy. We began praying for the number 300. When I had my blood test a few days later my number had more than TRIPLED to 500!

When we looked back on the calendar we saw that I conceived on the LAST WEEK of the tithe challenge! We continue to tithe and I have to say we continue to be blessed!

Please note: I am not saying that you should start tithing so you can witness a miracle, that's backwards. But I will say, that when you make a sacrifice for God you will be amazed at the things he can and will do in your life!

This week's verse focuses on tithing: "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9:6-7)