Thursday, October 27, 2011

Santa, all I want for Christmas is a baby... not my period!

I shouldn't say Santa... as most of you know... shhh... Santa is not real... but it made for a good title. The real prayer goes up to Jesus.

It is kinda weird having everyone knowing my business with all this trying to get pregnant stuff. Most people don't even tell anyone they are pregnant until about 3 months pregnant. With this blog people know exactly when I am expecting a baby or my period... whichever may happen to come first. But since I started it, I might as well keep it going. I met with the doctor today in order to see what our next steps would be for our next IVF cycle. Well actually FET cycle.

Dr. Thomas and Dr. Martinez came into the room and Dr. Thomas said right away, "Well, I guess it didn't work! You had a 50/50 shot and we ended up on the wrong side!" I was like, "Yep!" Then he said that he would be doing my transfer this time as I had a rough time of it with the other doctor, Dr. Lindheim, who let's face is not as familiar with my lady parts! They have to rotate doctors and though I wanted Dr. Thomas to do the procedure it just didn't work out that way. I was so happy to hear that he will be doing it instead for this cycle, so happy that we high fived. It was kinda funny, but you might have had to be there. The conversation then took a funny turn to my wedding schedules for the rest of year as we were trying to decide when to transfer my little embabies around them. It is amazing they can actually pick the day. Anyway... they asked how weddings were and if the brides getting married were young. I said, "Yeah, pretty young you know 22ish." And Dr. Martinez said, "That's good, you might get some repeat customers!" Which was funny because completely unexpected. As a Christian, I am hoping though that all my brides that have said "I do!" will live long and happy marriages with Christ at the center and that they will not be one of the statistics to end in divorce.

The plan is to start injectable Lupron on my birthday, Nov. 8th.... Happy Birthday to Me! It will be my last year in my 20's. After 5 days on Lupron, I will take Estrogen pills this time... YAY! and no they do not cause Cancer in pre-menopausal women; however, I need to stop reading the pamphlets and blogs. These pills should be so much better than the injectable Bravelle that was used to hyper stimulate my ovaries to produce lots of eggs. This time around will be more natural than the last time since they will be implanting thawed, but once frozen embryos. It is less invasive, less expensive and overall so much better. My ovaries get to stay the size that they are meant to be as they will not have to grow any eggs. As I have already stated, we have 4 embryos to use. The embryologist will thaw them on Nov. 30th and see how they progress. Right now they are at pronuclear stage because they were frozen just after fertilization. We are hoping at least 2 will make it to 8 cells grade A/grade 1 (just like last time) and they will transfer 2 to my uterus and we will see what the Lord wants to do this time around. There is a 35% chance according to science and 50% chance with the fresh cycle. All based on my age and diagnosis. I don't believe in percentages though; I believe it is up to God. It is very possible that they may not make it and then we will have to proceed to the next fresh cycle. As I said before, we have 5 more cycles... and as much as I am ready to be done and just adopt (like I have always wanted anyway) I will most likely finish them all because if I don't, I may always wonder what would have happened. I am not positive, but I am pretty sure that once we quit we can't resume the rest of the cycles at another time. We have to do them all back to back unless there is a medical reason to wait.

The transfer will be Dec. 2nd and this time I WILL TAKE MY VALIUM! :) We are hoping for a baby not my period for Christmas, but still trusting in the Lord Almightly! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Are we pregnant or are we not pregnant?

I will try to make this post interesting since I know I have a few followers out there that are curious to know the results and maybe my reaction to the results. Are we pregnant or are we not pregnant? That has been the question for the last 2 very long weeks, but also surprisingly fast weeks.

We had been waiting patiently for this day to arrive – the day that I got my beta test/blood test to confirm or deny if we were pregnant. However, on Saturday (during Allison & Joe's Wedding) which I was photographing, I got what I thought was my period. Of course there is always hope that it is just implantation bleeding or something to do with a pregnancy, but in your heart of hearts you really know the truth. I was trying to remain positive as we still had 2 days before the blood test. I called my doctor to make sure that this was normal as I was under the impression that while taking progesterone, you wouldn't start your period until after you stopped taking progesterone. The on-call doctor confirmed that it was most likely my period, but that we wouldn't know until the blood test on Monday, which was today.

I went to the doctor at 9:15 am and I was pretty calm because I already knew what it was going to be and I was right. It was negative.

The fact of the matter is I just don't really have anything interesting to say about it. I am not a super emotional person. I rarely cry, especially over things like this. I don't think I stuff my emotions or try to avoid them, I just honestly know that God will do what He wants and I want Him to. I would be the biggest fool not to want what God wants. As humans, I know it is hard at times to understand what God wants and why He wants things to be a certain way, but through the last almost 29 years of my life (bday on Nov. 8th) I have learned to trust God with everything. As most of you know that is a very challenging thing to do and has to be done one day at time and some days are harder than the others.

The thing is if I could ask for anything in the world to happen and it would be granted like a jeanie; it wouldn't be that I would get pregnant. I would ask God to heal my mom's spasmatic tortacolis that she has been dealing with as long as I have been married (7 years) or that my aunt Vicki would not have died from brain cancer. It pains my heart to think of my 2 cousins, who I am very close with and know that their mom won't be there in physical form on their wedding day. That is not there with them everyday. She is in Heaven with Jesus. The only comfort from that experience. Vicki was like a second mother to me and reminds me very much of my own mother so I can empathize with my cousins, but never truly experience the pains that they have from it.

I have a very blessed life with or without children and when I get news that isn't what I would have picked, I can see the bigger picture. I have a wonderful husband who loves me despite the fact that I can't at least right now give him a child. We are best friends and have each other. Some people don't even have another person to pray with them each day and night or eat dinner with. I have an amazing family on both sides and extended family that love us so much they would do anything for us. I have a Savior in my Lord Jesus that loves me and allows me to live with Him in Heaven one day. I have an awesome house and other material, earthly possessions. We make a good living and have extra for fun times. We have awesome friends, even though most of them live far away from us. We have lots and lots to be grateful for. I refuse to let myself dwell on any of this experience with infertility negatively, that is until I have to take my "butt shots" again. :)

I had one bad day during the 2 week wait where I was less than positive, slightly emotional over this whole thing and quite crabby. Mostly it stemmed from doing those muscle injections and I was at my wits end. I was pretty sure it was going to be negative anyway and I kept thinking I was doing all these shots for nothing. Next time, I won't keep taking those stupid home pregnancy tests. Anyway, John and I went to Chipotle and I started to tell him about how I was feeling and through my emotion came his emotion and then I decided then and there that either way, the result would not bother me and it hasn't. I am really doing good. I will not say fine as one of the marriage workshops that we attended several years ago (very good study, changed our whole marriage. It was called "How we Love" by Milan and Kay Yerkovich) said that FINE is an acronym for Feelings Inside Not Expressed.

So the test was negative and I knew it this whole time. I wasn't being negative, sometimes you just have a feeling about things. Of course, I was hoping it would be positive and if it was I would have been thrilled and scared and have that oh crap, but still thrilled moment thinking: "this is going to change my whole life for ever!"

The question and feeling I have now is what are we going to do now? Yeah, we paid for 5 more of these stupid things (hey, I like a bargain) and I have four frozen fertilized eggs waiting for use. I will probably do a FET (frozen embryo transfer) as I don't like to give up. Also, I would like to use all of our embryos if we can. I don't think that they are people yet. They only have 2 cells and no organs, but potential people, yes, so I had to be okay at the beginning of all of this with throwing them out if needed, but I would rather not. We prayed a lot about this too. After going through IVF even once, you get a good understanding that it takes a miracle to make all this work. Very few embryos would have made it naturally anyway that is why it is such a miracle of life and so dependent upon God's blessing. I had 2 perfect embryos transferred to my uterus and they didn't make it. Neither did their potential brothers and sisters that were of less quality left to grow in the lab. We started with 10 and are now down to 4 and we still have no idea once thawed if they will even grow to a phase in which they are viable for transfer. So do I or do I not want to do IVF again is the new question? Honestly... no not really. I have had a passion for adoption since I was a child and all through the 2 week wait, I kept thinking about all those kids that are here, NOW, waiting for a family in the orphanages and waiting in foster care and that is what gets me emotional. I may be a weird one, but its true. It brings to me to tears to think that I have all the love, patience and a God who could help us give a child here, waiting the family they always wanted. Introducing them into a new family just as Christ does for those who accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

I will do IVF again. But, is it possible for us to adopt at the same time? Is smart? Is it too much to handle? Is that want God wants? Is that his calling for our life?

John's emotions are all his own. I can't share those... maybe he will write his own thoughts and feelings.

Hey, I did have more things to say than I originally thought! :)

Love,
Erin

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

1 week to go!

I was able to switch my meds from injectable Progesterone to the "up your crotch" kind? I am not sure how else to say that, but since this is an infertility blog I figure that it is ok. The meds are called crinone gel and it doesn't  hurt at all so YAY! I am feeling much better. But again I am getting myself into trouble by reading too much. I read too many blogs, forums, books, and drug facts pamphlets which list the side effects. I kinda wish I didn't read that on the crinone gel because it said it can cause birth defects if used early in pregnancy. Well, if I am pregnant it would be early in pregnancy. Why would a doctor prescribe medicine if it can cause birth defects? That seems a bit strange. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

PIO (progesterone in oil) injections

PIO (progesterone in oil) injections are absolutely the worst thing ever. My sides (love handles) and buttocks are so sore and bruised I can't stand it anymore. I can't sit at the computer to work on photos and design projects and I can barely walk not mention sleep. Right now, to be honest, I do not need to be pregnant that bad that I want to endure these shots. I miss working out and I hate getting fat! Another honest truth, the only thing keeping me going is how much money we spent on all of this. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

3dp3dt

Today is 3dp3dt (3 days past a 3 day transfer) the cells are now a blastocyst and are beginning to hatch out of their shell. There are so many things that I didn't know about what happens before you actually know you are pregnant than I do now.

I heard from the nurse today on the results of the other 4 morulas. The four of them did not make it to blastocyst. Which basically means that they are not viable for our frozen embryo transfer which we would start in the next 2 months if this cycle fails. It saddens me that they did not make it because it makes me think that the 2 inside me will not make it either. I asked my nurse and she said that is not necessarily true because of their better quality and number of cell division.

Still praying and hoping for the best – God's will to be done.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What happens after a 3-day transfer?


Once you complete your embryo transfer, you will have approximately 14 days to wait before a pregnancy can be detected. The following table outlines an approximate timeline for what happens during a successful pregnancy after a 3-day transfer (3dt). taken from http://www.nyufertilitycenter.org/ivf/embryo_transfer

Days Past
Transfer (DPT)
 Embryo Development
 OneThe embryo continues to grow and develop, turning from a 6-8 cell embryo into a morula
 TwoThe cells of the morula continue to divide, developing into a blastocyst
 ThreeThe blastocyst begins to hatch out of its shell 
 FourThe blastocyst continues to hatch out of its shell and begins to attach itself to the uterus
 FiveThe blastocyst attaches deeper into the uterine lining, beginning implantation 
 SixImplantation continues
 SevenImplantation is complete, cells that will eventually become the placenta and fetus have begun to develop 
 EightHuman chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) starts to enter the blood stream 
 NineFetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted 
 TenFetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted  
 ElevenLevels of hCG are now high enough to detect a pregnancy

I am at one day after transfer.
My embryos are below: Their first baby picture and hopefully not their last. 

This is them in the petri dish, which they gave me and called their first crib... haha!

This is them in me. It is hard to see but the thicker white blobs are them!



Monday, October 10, 2011

Successful Transfer!


I went to the doctor today to have my embryo transfer. It was actually extremely uncomfortable and painful. The trial transfer they did at the beginning of my cycle was not too bad, but this was awful. I was awake for the whole thing, which is typical. I was suppose to take a Valium and didn't because I was originally planning to drive myself home. My mom drove me instead just in case I needed someone to be there. It was nice to have her there. I didn't take the Valium because I didn't think that I needed it, but if I have to do this again I will most definitely take it.

The doctor explained the status of my embryos and gave me pictures of them. I will post them tomorrow. Of the 6 that were growing (2) 8-celled embryos, grade A/grade 1 were transferred. These 2 were the best they can be for a 3 day transfer. The other four measured at 8 cell/grade C; 6 cell/grade B, 6 cell/grade C, 4 cell/grade B and 4 cell/grade D. The 2 that were transferred will continue to incubate in my uterus so they become a 150 celled blastocyst which will hatch and implant by Thursday or Friday... hopefully! The other four will continue to grow in the lab and hopefully become blastocysts by Friday along with the ones in my uterus. Not all of them will make it to that stage and if they do not they would not have made it if we had done this whole thing the natural way. If they do make it, they will be frozen for the next cycle if we need it; and if not, then when we are ready to give these 2 or 1 a sibling in a few years we can use them then. I will always have to IVF to get pregnant because of my fallopian tube failure. It is nice to know that we do not have a problem with fertilization. And will soon find out if we have a problem with implantation.

I am feeling pretty good now. I am a little crampy, but that is most likely because my ovaries are still very large and I have a lot of pressure in that area. I kinda already feel pregnant, though I know I am not yet. I can't eat too much and there is constant pressure on my bladder. All of this is because of the hyper stimulation of the ovaries to grow multiple eggs. All in all I am excited and feeling surreal because I can't believe that we are actually doing this and could be pregnant in 2 weeks.

Thanks for all the prayers!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

God fights for us!

Beth Moore says in her Bible Study of the Psalms of Ascent, "Regardless of how long we have been Christians and how deeply we've studied God's Word, most of us don't really believe down in our marrow of our bones that God is entirely, wholeheartedly and unwaveringly on our side." Have you ever felt this way?

Most of us will try to convince ourselves that we actually do think God is on our side. If we really thought that, then we wouldn't have so many actions that suggest otherwise. Our fears, anxieties and insecurities admit it for us. We think that at best God just tolerates us and we are lucky enough to have Him do that.

I will admit that sometimes I feel this way.

Now, I know this is not true and a lie that Satan likes to tell us. God has proven time and time again that He does indeed care for us. And He has told us so in the Bible, if we just take the time to read and study it. I admit, I can do much better in this area.

I have friends who have been praying and trusting the Lord for a long time that He would bring along their other half. They truly desire to be married, as I desire to have children. I know other people that also desire to have children and it constantly consumes every thought and minute of their lives. I am sure that others also have "desires" that they desperately want and are waiting for God's timing. In the mist of the waiting, it is very natural to doubt that the Lord has good things for us. It is a good reminder: "The longer the Lord has us wait, the better the story will be" ~ Steve Monahan.

And even if God decides to bless us with children, the waiting never really ends. We will wait for our teenagers to come home from school, after school outings, dates, etc.; or wait at the doctor for good test results when our kids are little. Ultimately we will wait for the day when we can finally go Home to Heaven to be with Jesus. Life is unpredictable. Because of the unpredictable nature of life, it is so important to trust in the Lord daily and make Him our everything.

We must not fear that the Lord is out to get us or that He wants bad things for us. If we do, I am more fearful that we will MISS HIS BLESSING.

In Joshua 23:9-10, "God has driven out superpower nations before you. And up to now, no one has been able to stand up to you. Think of it, one of you, single-handedly, putting a thousand on the run! Because God is God, your God. Because He fights for you, just as he promised you!"

GOD FIGHTS FOR US! How cool is that! :) 

In Matthew 7:7-11 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
   “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

What a good reminder that God only has our best interests at heart! 


Again He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 "I know what I am doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hoped for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I will listen. When you come looking for me, you will find me. I will make sure you won't be disappointed."

Thankfully the Lord is always in control and there will be times when He asks us to trust Him and wait on His perfect timing. During these times we may feel like God is against us or just merely tolerates us; however, in those times we can rest assured that He is fighting for us!

John 13:7 "You do not understand now what I am doing but it will be clear to you soon enough."

Romans 8:28-39 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
   “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


These are just a few messages from God to us that He loves us and wants the very best for us. The Bible is full of God's love because God is love. I do not know exactly why God is allowing us to go through infertility when thousands of mothers abort their children. The only thing I do know is that I trust Him through this time in my life. I know we have something to learn through this and whether or not we have a baby, we will always have God and because of Him we also have each other. I wouldn't trade those 2 things for a baby any day.  

We have some fertilized eggs! YAY!

My egg retrieval went great. I had some twilight drugs which have made me forget most of it, but John got a few videos to capture the moment. The doctor got 14 eggs which is very good for IVF. He even hugged John which was cute. I guess he was very proud of his work. 10 of those eggs successfully fertilized. 4 were frozen and 6 were left in the lab to continue their cell division. They probably have about 4-6 cells right now. On Monday, 2 of the 16-cell hopeful blastocysts will be transferred into my – hopefully very fertile and hospitable – uterus. Not all 6 will reach blastocyst stage and the rest that do not will be frozen for another time. I still can not believe that we are doing IVF. It is so crazy to me that this is even possible. So far I haven't really believed it, but now that we have "almost embryos" it seems real.

For the next 2 weeks, I have to have John give me progesterone injections in my upper buttocks area. This will help make my uterus a wonderful place to grow a child. The first night he used the larger very long needle used to draw up the meds to inject me. Ouch! This drug has to reach my muscle. It hurt like heck! :) This was per the instructions, but I asked the nurse the next day and she said to use skinnier needle the next time. My future kids are already becoming a pain in my ass! j/k – I love them already, or at least the thought of them. We used the long, but slightly skinnier needle tonight and it doesn't hurt as bad. I could not sleep on my right side last night and it still feels like I did 1,000 wall sits, squats and any other butt exercise that you can think of. Or maybe like someone kicked me in both sides of my butt. The stomach injections were cake compared to these.

This first video is a message to my future kids... I feel kinda dumb putting it on here, but if I don't I am sure it will get lost in the shuffle of files that aren't client related. I am super organized with my client files, but not so much with my personal ones.

video

I got bored waiting to go in for my procedure, so John and I decided to have a little fun with my iphone video camera. I decided to imitate David goes to the Dentist from You Tube. I could only remember a few parts from it, but with my Valium kicking in, I thought it was the funniest thing ever. We were laughing hysterically. I hope we weren't disturbing the colonoscopy patients from their farting quartet. Here is my rendition...
video

I told John to really video tape me after the procedure because I wanted to see if I did or said anything funny or crazy. It was pretty funny. I am very curious to know what I did during the procedure because with the twilight drug you are still somewhat conscious, but just can't remember anything. My doctor came in singing and I wonder if I decided to continue with the serenade after I was kinda asleep. I fully plan to ask them on Monday at my embryo transfer.

video

Enjoy! Feel free to comment. I am not sensitive about my infertility and I would love to know what people think about all this. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

John

Hi this is John!  Erin has been asking me if I was ever going to write anything on here and I decided it was time.  I have been very stressed lately.  I started a new job that keeps me VERY busy trying to learn computer documentation.  I hate it!  I loved writing notes with pen at the hospital!  I am also teaching a 5 credit hour class and taking a 5 wk class titled "How to Teach Online."  While it is not hard, it just takes time out of my already busy week!

With all of this, I have not had as much time as I would like to sit and reflect on our "situation" lately.  I am EXTREMELY excited and scared about this whole process of IVF.  Kids are AWESOME!  I love hanging with my nieces and nephews ranging from almost 8 yrs old to 11 months.  My biggest dream and biggest fear was always am I going to get to be a father and would I be a good father?  I have watched and learned about being a father from my father and father-in-law and our grandfathers.  Not to leave them out, I have also learned from my three brothers that are fathers to all my nieces and nephews! These men have taught me things that I want to pass on to my kids and things that I want to change. As Erin has always reminded me my greatest example is our Heavenly Father. He gave the ultimate sacrifice and showed us what true love really means!  I hope I do not let Him or these men in my life down.

I will write again soon.  My studies are calling me!  Go Texas Rangers!

John  

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Bittersweet Business!

With infertility, the hardest thing I find is to balance normal life/working life with IVF. I have to remind myself that this is only a season of my life, not my whole life as it feels right now. With up to 2 injections each day, medication, vitamins and ultrasounds every other day it feels like that is all I can think about and find the energy to do each day. The medications make me tired and un-motivated to do anything, but sit on the couch and watch t.v. oh, and occasionally shop! Which I need to stop doing. At least now, I am buying clothes (non-maternity) for myself instead of baby items. I needed a few winter sweaters and things. I held off on buying any pants hoping to soon buy maternity pants. That is kinda funny though... most people don't hope to buy bigger pants. The sweaters I bought are long/dress sort of ones that could easily be converted to a maternity sweater, but if not needed, then would look great with a pair of jeggings or leggings and some cute boots! But back the the bittersweet business....

I love my business and working for myself! As many of you know, I have a design and photography business, Zeju Design and Photography, LLC. I graduated from DAAP at UC with a BS in graphic design. Having to take many photography courses, I decided to include both photography and design in my business. After working corporately for 2 years, I now have the autonomy that I always wanted.
I have worked for the last 2 years doing mostly wedding photography with my sister-in-law, Christy Connell from Connell Photo Studio. We have completed about 32 weddings together over the last 2 years and have had a blast working together.

With the onset of deciding we wanted children and discovering that we were infertile without treatment, I had to make some big decisions. It is extremely difficult to book weddings 9 months to a year in advance when you have NO IDEA if you will get pregnant. And if so, with how many babies and in what month you will actually deliver. If this cycle is unsuccessful, we have to wait 6-8 weeks before we can start the FET cycle (frozen embryo transfer). With the timeline so far, if this works, then I will deliver anywhere from May/June this cycle to August/Sept. with the FET cycle. As you can see this puts me right in the midst of wedding season. I have already had to turn down about 4-5 weddings for June alone. It makes me so sad to do this, especially when I can tell that couples are disappointed. It feels great that they wanted me so bad to shoot their weddings, but terrible at the same time that I can't.

This was my year! My 3rd year of business and it was gonna be a good one! I finally raised my prices to accommodate my overhead and actually make some decent money. I may never catch up to John... sometimes it seems like why bother... he brings home the bacon... and the steak and the lobster! :) I have invested in the biz the last 2 years and have basically broken even. This year I was excited to make some dough. But more than making $, I am extremely devoted to my clients. I want to make their wedding day extra special and do everything for them that I can do. I would NEVER cancel a wedding, unless I was in the hospital dying and even then I would find an even better photographer than myself to capture their day. So needless to say, I decided that I must not book weddings for the summer months of 2012 and possibly even into the later months of the year. I have to plan ahead and make sure that I do what I need to do first for our hopeful future children.

I have mixed emotions at how I want the future to go... Of course I want a family... but what else do I want and how am I going to be able to do it all?

At times, I am excited about the possibilities of getting into more real design work, not just "free"lance. I think about having this super successful business... graduating from my home studio to an actual studio/office with about 5-10 employees, growing to 20+ employees, working with great clients, making the big bucks and traveling the world developing good design solutions for ethical and life changing companies.

Then my mind wanders and I think that it would also be great to take some time off from trying to be successful by the worlds standards and be successful by God's standards. (Though, I am not saying that making money and having a successful design business isn't something of God's standards. It most certainly can be done to God's standards.) I am just talking about going down a different path and investing in the lives of children. Children who need families. I have a super high level of compassion for orphaned, abandoned and abused children. I could walk into an orphanage today and take them all. Or into planned parenthood and beg the mothers to give their unwanted babies to me before it is too late and they are aborted.

(Side Note: Every time I go to Christ Hospital for a doctor appt. or for an ultrasound, I have to drive by planned parenthood. I have to drive past the protestors with their signs and pictures of destroyed babies. It wrenches my heart. I would quit doing IVF now if I could save just one of them. On my way home I have contemplated many times standing outside and telling those mothers that they have another option - me.)

I would love to adopt both domestically and internationally and work with foster children (adopting them too, if needed). But, if they are not adoptable, then taking the time that they are with us to help them develop the life skills that they need: learning about Christ and what it means to be in a loving family and working through the pain of their past. With these skills and the Lord's help, they can hopefully help their biological family grow to a new place. Ultimately accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their life and helping their parents to come to the same decision. With this chain of events, the foster child can stop the cycle of abuse and neglect in their families. I would love to be a part of that! :) I make it sound easy... it wouldn't be... possibly more difficult than having a successful design business. If this was my path/calling in life as I do feel it to be... then it would be full time job. Would I have to give up my business? I just don't know... I would if that is what God called me to do.

I am not superwoman, I can not do it all, even if I want to. At times, it all seems so overwhelming and my mind wanders again to now... my life... which for the most part is calm and stress-free. John helps with this, of course, by providing for my needs: both emotionally and financially. I know even with one new baby (a biological baby) through IVF, as big a blessing as that is, it will change my life forever! It will change it both for the good and also be difficult at times. So now, I think just enjoy these moments: take time off to rest, relax and grow a baby in my belly! This may be the most peaceful time of my life. But those who have had children say that having children is the best times of their lives and I think that they are right! This time of relaxing would all include for me sleeping in, watching t.v., trying out new recipes (I made the best homemade egg rolls today), spending time with John and our families, swimming at the rec center and walking my dogs and I am also contemplating/praying about volunteering somewhere... maybe the Crisis Pregnancy Center. I am working too... so feel free to call me if you have any design or photography needs.

When/if the baby/babies come... then what? I have never wanted to be so tired from working full time and growing a successful business that I do not get to fully enjoy my children. I have also heard though that you need that adult time to fully enjoy your children. Maybe I am naive and it will all work out as so many things do. God is good! These are just thoughts that I think about sometimes. I admire women/moms that can work, keep house, do laundry, take care of kids/spouse/extended family, have a ministry, be in Bible studies, plan church events and everything else under the sun... but they are also often exhausted and I do not want to be exhausted all the time. Who does!

The amazing thing is with me finally making the decision to not book weddings the Lord has provided in so many ways. John has a new job 5 miles from the house making tons more money than he did before. With his Physical Therapy job and teaching job at Sinclair Community College, he has replaced my salary and then some. God has given me other jobs to do besides wedding. I have some paying design projects in the works and other smaller photography sessions too. I am amazed at how God provides for us exactly what we need when we need it. I am very thankful that He is in control of my life and no matter what I choose to do, wtih God's help, I can be successful in His eyes and that is all that matters.

I want to most importantly serve God, Christ and my family. I am most happy when I am making a difference for HIS kingdom. I will continue to pray that God guides us and that I can remain content in a time where many things are unpredictable and I feel like I am just waiting for the next big thing!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Infertile Women of the Bible


I recently found this interesting article about infertile women in the Bible and women who were infertile for a period of time. I found this article at http://www.infertilitysurvivalguide.com/issues/chapter13.htm it is an excerpt from a book called Infertility, Survival Guide for Couples and Those Who Love Them by Cindy Lewis Drake

She writes:
If infertility is hard to endure in the 21st century, think how helpless an infertile woman felt when the nearest fertility clinic was 2,000-6,000 years down the road. The chief value of a woman in biblical times was first her chastity and, after marriage, her reproductivity.

When I began looking for any woman in God’s Word who preceded us in the sisterhood of infertility, names like Rachel, Sarah, and Hannah came to mind quickly, but there were others. What can we learn from each woman? How did she cope with her plight? How did her story end?

Women’s names began filling my scribbled pages as I researched the 300-plus women mentioned in Scripture. The most easily identifiable women were barren temporarily, then later blessed with children. In most cases, their barrenness and how God resolved it appeared to be one of the main reasons she was present in Scripture. The point? God used infertility to show His miraculous power and to carry out His plan for human history. These women are described in Women who were temporarily infertile.The biggest surprise was I could find only one woman who was mentioned as never having children—Michal, first wife of King David. That certainly doesn’t mean there weren’t more, because surely there were. But the details are missing, so we’ll never know who they were. Read Michal’s lone story in A woman who remained childless. Hannah is the most notable infertile woman in the Bible. We see the depth of her pain physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Hannah’s story is told in more detail in this chapter because so many aspects of her plight call to us from the depths of our own pain. When I started my research, I intended to title this chapter “All the Infertile Women of the Bible,” thinking I could compile every woman who struggled with infertility. But digging in, I realized the lack of details on most biblical women prevented me from discerning if they were mothers or not. A large number of women are mentioned only once in Scripture, such as Job’s beautiful daughters, Jemima, Kezia, Kerenhappuch. They are listed only by name, not whether or not they became mothers eventually. Thus, an absolutely complete list of the infertile women of the Bible will have to remain open-ended. Their stories will remain untold, but the women whose stories we know have spoken to barren women through the ages.

Women who were temporarily infertile
Elizabeth Elizabeth and Zechariah “were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years” (Luke 1:6-7). A godly couple, barren, and old—the perfect setting for a miracle! And that’s just what happened. While performing his priestly duties, Zechariah is visited by an angel announcing that “your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord” (vv. 13-15). Elizabeth becomes the mother of John the Baptist, the long-prophesied one who would prepare the people for the coming of Christ. Had Elizabeth become a mother in her youth, the news of this post-menopausal baby probably would have been amazing, but not really in the miraculous category. God’s plan was to keep her womb closed until both Elizabeth and Zechariah (and everyone who knew them) had given up on their chance of children, and it was precisely the absence of previous children that made the coming of this one so remarkable. After John’s birth and naming (complete with a tongue-loosing miracle for the new dad), “the neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, ‘What then is this child going to be?’ For the Lord’s hand was with him” (vv. 65-66). (See Luke 1.)

Manoah’s wife, Samson’s mother It’s surprising that we’re never given this barren woman’s name, because her faith is certainly worth admiring. Twice an angel appeared to her to provide details of her upcoming pregnancy, and twice the angel explains that she will carry the burden of raising the child in strict accordance to the Nazirite vow, a consecration to God that would begin in the womb for this baby….

(Nine biblical women are highlighted in this section of this chapter.)
A woman who remained childless: Michal She was a princess and the wife of a king, but her life was no Cinderella story. The daughter of King Saul, she fell in love with handsome young David, the warrior destined to be king. As a prize for his military success, she was given in marriage to David. Her loyalty was wrapped up in their mutual love, and to protect him, she helped him escape Saul’s crazed vengeance in one memorable incident (1 Sam. 19). But once David was in hiding, Saul repossessed her to strike back at David.

An example to us all: Hannah’s story What a gift God has given us in the story of Hannah! Her 11th century B.C. journey closely resembles the struggles of 21st century infertile women. She was often consumed by her thoughts of infertility—she went alone to the temple and cried her heart out to God. She made drastic promises to the Lord in hopes she would be given a child. She was stabbed with the pain of watching other women bear children with no problem. In Hannah, we see a complete picture of the pain of infertility. 

Further research available online only! This list of women got their fair share of press in Scripture, but we’re never told if they were mothers. Because motherhood was central to a woman’s purpose in society, the absence of such defining information leads me to think perhaps these women were childless. Their presence in the Bible was based on who they were and what they did, not simply on whether or not they produced offspring.

Women who may have been childless This list doesn’t include every woman in Scripture whose motherhood was undetermined. Instead, these are the most significant women, the ones we can piece together something about their lives and contributions to the events of their time. The interesting thing is that their infertility is not the central point in their lives. Most of these women were faithful to their God and are prime examples of remarkable service. We can learn much from their commitment to give their lives purpose and meaning by searching out and fulfilling God’s plan for them, even though it appears children were not part of that plan.

Anna A prophetess who lived at the Temple in Jerusalem, our only insights about Anna are three verses, enough to let us know she was almost assuredly childless. Married for seven years, she was then widowed for the rest of her life. Some commentaries interpret the text’s wording of “a widow until she was eighty-four” to mean she was 84 when she encountered Jesus and His earthly parents in the Temple; others interpret the original Greek to mean she had been widowed 84 years. Either way, the lady was old, well past child-bearing years, and content to serve her Lord constantly and completely. She literally lived at the Temple, worshipping and praising God every day. She walked up to Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus at the Temple and immediately proclaimed that this was the long-awaited Christ. We can admire the depth of spirit she possessed after many decades of dedication to the study of God’s Word. She moved beyond her loss, filling her life with love and service. (See Luke 2:36-38.)

Dorcas (or Tabitha) This benevolent woman was known for her ministry in Joppa, a port town on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea which had its share of widows and fatherless children, probably due to the deaths of men who made their living on the sea. We don’t know her age, but we can wonder if she, too, was a childless widow, since neither husband nor children are mentioned. Her gift is her ability to sew clothing for the needy. When she dies suddenly, the disciples send for Peter, who had just arrived in nearby Lydda (10 miles east). He came to Joppa and restored Dorcas to life and ministry. (See Acts 9:36-42.)

Esther As a Jewish girl adopted by her cousin Mordecai, Esther probably had dreams of marrying a Jewish young man and having a half dozen kids. Yet her path took a radical, irreversible diversion when her beauty brought her to the Persian palace to be considered as the new queen for King Xerxes. The purpose of the book of Esther is to tell the story of how she rose to the throne for the divine purpose of rescuing the entire Jewish population from a ruthless plot to murder them. But since the book covers the events of several years, it seems logical that if she had birthed royal children, it would have been noted. A half-Jewish prince or princess in a Persian palace would be something to talk about! The book ends abruptly, leaving us wanting to know the rest of the story. (See Esther.)

Huldah Huldah was a woman in the right place at the right time to say the right thing for the Lord. She lived in Jerusalem, was married, and known as a Hebrew prophetess, like Miriam and Deborah were. No children are mentioned. She was a contemporary of prophets Zephaniah and Jeremiah, and Jewish tradition says she was a woman of academia who taught school. One day, a priest, a scribe, and some royal servants came knocking on her door. These men were sent by King Josiah to find someone who could interpret the Scriptures found hidden in the crumbling walls of the Temple. (Josiah had instigated massive refurbishing of the temple built by Solomon, which had fallen into neglect.) One commentary said that other prophets were too far away, so a prophet close at hand was needed immediately. She had distinguished herself as a woman of God, and when the visitors came, she spoke the truth from her Lord: Destruction and ruin would come upon the land, and Jerusalem will be destroyed. But because of Josiah’s heart for God, he would not see the devastation in his lifetime. Josiah immediately swept away the pagan temples, monuments, and altars built by his forefathers, some by King Solomon 300 years before. Passover was celebrated more purely, completely, and exuberantly than it had been in about 500 years (since the days of Samuel the prophet). Huldah must have rejoiced to know she had been a part of bringing revival to her people. But she knew it would be short-lived. As predicted, the reprieve from desolation was a mere window in time. Just 13 years later, Josiah was killed in battle. He rested in peace, but the country fell into ruins. (See 2 Kings 22-24 and parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 34.)

Jehosheba Every child should have a doting aunt like Aunt Jehosheba was to little Joash. Both of them were of royal blood, and little Joash was even one of the possible heirs to the throne. But they lived in savage times. The reigning queen had sat on the throne with her husband/king before he died, then ruled through her son/king before he died. Now, Athaliah claimed the throne as her own and set out to kill everyone who had any claim to it. This meant she tried to kill her own grandchildren (Joash was one) and other blood relatives. Godly Jehosheba managed to kidnap Joash, who was only about a year old, before Athaliah got to him. Joash was hidden in the Lord’s temple for six years since Jehosheba’s husband was the priest in charge of the entire temple. At age 7, Jehosheba’s husband, Jehoiada, brought forth the little king, gathered the armies, and overthrew wicked Athaliah in one day. Jehosheba and Jehoiada have no children listed, but what she did to protect her nephew brought godliness back to the kingdom of Judah, at least for a few decades while Joash reigned. (See 2 Kings 11:1-21; 2 Chronicles 22:10-24:1.)

Joanna As a follower of Christ, she joined with the disciples and women who went from town to town as Jesus preached. She was the wife of Cuza, who managed King Herod’s household, so she was likely a woman of considerable wealth. She and other women were helping to support Jesus’ ministry from their own pocketbooks. It’s unlikely she would have felt free to follow Jesus’ traveling ministry if she’d had children at home. She surely must have been one of the women who stood at the foot of the cross as Jesus died, because she is one of three named women who went to embalm Jesus at the tomb, only to find He had risen. (See Luke 8:1-3, 23:55-24:12.)

Miriam As the older sister of Moses, Miriam saw a lifetime of remarkable works of God, from the rescue of her infant brother from the Nile River by Pharoah’s daughter, to the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, to the opening of the Red Sea, to the encounters Moses had with God. Miriam saw it all. She was quite human, though, and her privileged role as sister of God’s chosen leader didn’t ensure she was always a bastion of unshakeable faith. Undoubtedly, though, Miriam was the most vocal female leader of the Israelite nation in her day. Though the Bible doesn’t mention her husband, “tradition has it that she became the wife of Hur, who with Aaron held up the hands of Moses.” (Edith Deen, All of the Women of the Bible, HarperSanFrancisco, 1983, page 353) Tradition doesn’t suggest any children, though, so we’re fairly safe in assuming Miriam was never a mother. Her life was far from empty because every day was full of matters related to helping Moses govern the people. Centuries later in the years of Micah the prophet, God sent this word to Israel, “I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam” (Micah 6:4). Miriam’s role as one of the top three leaders for the millions of wandering Israelites elevates her to a status untouched by any other woman in Scripture. (See Exodus 2, 15 and Numbers 12, 20, 26.)

Moses’ Egyptian mother We know her only as Pharoah’s daughter in Scripture, the woman who adopted Moses. And though she was surely a worshipper of Egyptian idols, God chose her to participate unknowingly in a divine plan to protect the Hebrew child who would be the liberator of His enslaved people. We have no record of her barrenness, but we also have no record that she bore or adopted additional children. When you consider her reaction to finding a three-month-old slave-child in a basket on the Nile, we can only wonder if her deep mercy was a result of her deep pain of infertility. Maybe she saw this baby as a benevolence handed down from her gods in answer to her prayers for a child. But why risk her life by sparing a slave’s baby? As a princess, she could have adopted an Egyptian baby any day of the week. And it wasn’t like she could hide the truth from Pharoah—Moses scampered around the palace like the other royal children and grandchildren. If she already had other children, her need to mother Moses would surely not have been so strong. We can only guess that Moses must have been one adorable baby for her to risk Pharoah’s wrath. Exodus 2:2 seems to support that, because Jochebed, Moses’ Hebrew mother, “saw that he was a fine child” so she hid him in the basket. In this case, royal infertility had a divine purpose. (See Exodus 2:1-10.)

Priscilla This woman from Italy and her husband, Aquila, became great friends with Paul and exceptional leaders in the new church. Though she is never labeled as barren, neither are her offspring ever mentioned. Five of seven times she is listed before Aquila, which may indicate she carried the greater responsibility in the church. In Romans, Paul sent his greetings to this couple and the church that met in their home, then he highly praises Priscilla and Aquila for risking their lives for his sake. “Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.” Their lives may have been childless, but they were not empty or purposeless. Instead, this couple made eternal contributions to the first century Christian church. (See Romans 16:3-5, Acts 18, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19.)

Samaritan woman at the well Jesus had one of His longest recorded dialogues with a woman as He spoke to the infamous woman in this passage. When He struck up a conversation with her, He knew He was going to change her life, but she didn’t. She only found it curious that a Jewish man would bother talking with the likes of her, the one probably known in her village as “that woman.” Jesus pegged her life and lifestyle when He said she’d had five husbands and was living with still another man. Was her barrenness one of the reasons for her marital dissatisfaction? Was she pushed aside for more fertile women once or twice until she became known as used goods, no longer appealing to men who would respect her? If she had children, Jesus never mentioned them, and neither did she. If she’d had children from other marriages, especially young children, it seems they would have looked forward to going to the well with Mama every day to draw water. But she was alone. Jesus offered her spiritual healing and “living water,” and she was so impressed, she ran to town with news of Jesus. She earned back her respect as a woman who could be trusted, because her neighbors later said, “‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world’” (v. 42). (See John 4:7-42.)

Sapphira Ananias and Sapphira were participants in the early Jerusalem church. In the eleven verses that tell their story (a significant amount for minor characters), nothing is mentioned of their offspring. The couple sold some property, and Ananias delivered the money to the church himself, claiming he was giving the total sum to God. Peter was given divine insight to know Ananias had in fact kept back part of the profit. The sin was not in keeping some back, but in lying that he was giving it all. Confronted with the truth, Ananias fell dead on the spot and was immediately buried by young men in the church (not by any of his own sons). A few hours later, Sapphira came to the church, unaware of her husband’s death. When asked the price of the land, she lied, too, which proves they made a prior agreement with each other to hide the truth. Peter revealed to her that her husband had been caught in the same lie and was now dead and buried. She died immediately and was buried beside him. (See Acts 5:1-11.)

Sheerah This daughter of Beriah lived in about 1450 B.C. and made herself notable because she directed the building of several towns, which was certainly not the average job for a woman who lived 3,500 years ago. We aren’t told if she was married or if she was a mother. (See 1 Chronicles 7:24.)

Vashti Formerly the queen of Persia, King Xerxes divorced her because she wouldn’t appear before him and his noblemen to parade her beauty at his feast, which was more like an orgy. Jewish sources indicate she was requested to appear naked before this crowd of drunken men, clothed with only the royal crown on her head. Persian wives were kept in seclusion in each other’s company during such festivities, so the king’s inebriated request was far from proper, even if she were to appear clothed. The king’s advisers offered poor advice, doling out much harsher consequences than the offense deserved. An irrevocable law was passed so that Vashti could never enter the king’s presence again. No reference is made to any children she may have born for the king, and we know nothing else of Vashti after this early reference in a book about Esther’s rise to the throne. Producing royal heirs would have made her a more valuable player on the royal scene, and the advisers might have had a harder time convincing the king to depose her. (See Esther 1-2.)

Widow with two mites
Jesus observed this unnamed widow as He and the disciples watched people in the Jerusalem temple. We know she was poor, because she gave all she had, only two small copper coins worth a fraction of a penny. We know she was a widow, though we don’t have a clue about her age. Finally, we know she was faithful, because Jesus praised her giving more than all the others. What we don’t know is if she was a mother. Adult children would have had some responsibility to provide financially for their widowed mother. If she were a young widow with children at home, Jesus might have said, “she put in all she and her children had to live on.” Giving what she would have spent on food for her children would be an important aspect of faith for Jesus to note. Her belief in God’s constancy to provide for her needs is unparalleled, so that “today the world knows more about the poor widow than about the richest man in Jerusalem in her day.” (All of the Women of the Bible, page 58) (See Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4.)

How do you like your eggs?...

...over easy, over medium, hard boiled, scrambled, poached, deviled...

I like my eggs to measure at 20mm and up! They are working on it. All 11 or 12 of them are measuring at about 14mm. A few more days of meds and then we are ready to crack them open and scramble them up with the secret ingredient. And if you don't know what the secret ingredient is, then you should consult your high school biology book! 

Measurements of my egg follicle growth

Here are 3 of my egg follicles in all their glory! And me looking pretty stupid. :)