Today is the big day, I had my Beta drawn this morning at the clinic to find out if I’m pregnant.  After months of injections, many vitamins and medications,  not sleeping well, praying, wondering and hoping what our child will be like, anticipating the moment we would hear the words- you’re pregnant,…………….. the day has finally arrived.  I didn’t think it would ever come. 

There is part of me that is so excited I can hardly stand it and then the other part of me is terrified I will hear the words – I’m sorry, you’re not pregnant.  I just don’t know if I can handle hearing that again.  The past few days I have tried to prepare myself by taking home pregnancy tests, none of which have been positive.  I felt like it would emotionally prepare me before going in today so when we got the news I wasn’t totally caught off guard.  I guess going into it I’m not extremely hopeful.  I know the pregnancy tests aren’t definitive, but I know most women that end of being pregnant get a positive urine test before the blood test.  I tried to remain hopeful and I do know women that ended up pregnant and got negative urine test.  I know that God is ultimately in charge here and so it’s in his hands. 

Thankfully my day was extremely busy and it made time pass, even though in the back of my mind I was constantly reminded that they could leave a voicemail at any time during the day with our results.  Dave and I decided to pay the extra just to find out today, we felt like we’ve waited long enough and it was worth it to pay a little more to get the same day results.  Since we are apart all day at work, Dave and I promised each other we would wait to listen to our voicemail together when we got home from work. 

My drive home was full of anticipation and anxiety.  I didn’t feel like I was about to hear good news- perhaps the negative tests I had taken or the spotting that started a few days ago is what gave me this feeling, but regardless we were about to get our results- good or bad.  I got home and Dave was already home, so I put all my stuff away and Dave said let’s call.  So we sat down at the kitchen table, grabbed each other’s hands, and called our voicemail.  I could tell right away by our IVF nurse’s voice that it wasn’t good.  It was like she didn’t want to tell us.  But the words finally came out………………….I’m sorry, your HCG level was less than 10.  They like to see it above 50 to confirm pregnancy.  I wasn’t even close.  I didn’t cry right away, I felt like there weren’t even tears left to cry, until about 5 minutes later, I lost it.  I was crying and yelling and angry.  Very angry.  It just doesn’t make sense.    I can’t wrap my brain around NO.  God has closed every door up this point, and I know there are doors we haven’t ventured into, but so far, we’re striking out. 

There was such a part of us that wanted this to work and not to mention financially, emotionally, and physically what we put into this, we felt like it had to work.  We invested way too much for it not to work.  Most often in life, hard work results with good things- a reward.  This is just one of those things that doesn’t match up with this philosophy.  It doesn’t seem to matter what we’ve done or hard we try-it’s not working.    We are not perfect and I would never say we are.  But we have always tried to be faithful to the Lord and give back to him what he has given to us.  We were very intentional from the beginning in praying for a child and even adding to our family.  We waited until we were married to be intimate and saved ourselves for each other.  We have worked hard to build a home and establish a marriage that we feel will be strong enough to add children too.  We have done what we thought you do before  you have a child, but that’s not how it always works.  I have so many moms at the clinic who are upset they got pregnant because they  didn’t plan on it, or the teenage mom I have that is now expecting her second when her first is only 10 months old.  I see families every day that can’t provide for their children or don’t take care of their children.  I also have the moms that like us, have established a good marriage, have great jobs, and a great home and yet they adopted because they could not have their own.  I see both sides of it every day.    There are things on this side of heaven that don’t make sense and this is one of the things. 

The saddest part  to Dave and I is grieving the loss of a child we created- even though we don’t have a child here physically, we did create a child.  God created a child that started as an embryo and I even got to have that embryo put into my womb.  I can’t describe the feeling that was for us and even to experience that was such a blessing. Our grieving now is for the fact that we may never have a biological child one day.  I think one of the biggest joys of parenthood is to watch your child grow up and see the things in them that they got from you- their hair color, their eyes, their smile, their personality, their laugh, their goofiness.  Whatever it may be  that you gave them.  It’s incredibly sad to know that we may never get to experience that.  It’s grieving the loss of the children we could have had.  

The biggest challenge now is to move on.  We have been so consumed with this for quite some time now.  Our lives have been revolving around injections, doctor’s visits, medications, and we’ve got to get back to us.  We still believe that God is bigger than all of this and His plans are still perfect.  There is a reason we are where we are.  There is a reason it hasn’t happened yet.  There is a reason he has given us such a strong desire for a child.  There is a reason we built a home with 5 bedrooms.  There is a reason for all these closed doors.  I know that He has an open door waiting for us even if we haven’t reached it yet.  I know that God is still sovereign. 

Thank you for your prayers through our journey.  We continue to ask for your prayers as we have many decisions ahead of us.  Please pray for strength, a peace that exceeds all understanding, trust in the Lord, and a faith that is strengthened through this, and that our love for one another would be strengthened and renewed.

 Although it’s not over, we have a lot of praying to do as God leads us to our next step.  For now, we are going to focus on each other and the love God has given us and all the many blessings that are in our life right now.    We can’t just pretend this didn’t happen, this will forever be a part of our lives and very close to our hearts.  And for a while, I think the tears may come at any given moment that might remind us of our child we didn’t have, but we know that life goes on around us and we must go on too. 

So, I know they tell you not to test until your blood test due to the number of false negatives, but I just couldn't help myself.  I was going crazy.  This past week I have not slept well, I've had insane dreams, having weird stomach cramps, extremely emotional- (crying at just about everything), and waking up several times at night to pee.  I had to test.  Well, I started testing on March 24 which was 9 days past transfer.  I have tested everyday since then including this morning and every test has come back negative.  It's not very reassuring.  I just keep crying with this awful feeling of yet another failed attempt.  And to make things worse Friday morning I started spotting.  I know once again, spotting can mean period, or pregnant.  All these symptoms can be both and it's driving me mad.  I don't have any cramps and no other symptoms, just spotting for the past 3 days.  It's not heavy bleeding so I'm not sure what it means.  However, I've read that you don't really start bleeding until after going off the progesterone which I am currently taking.  Dave gives me a shot every night of progesterone oil.  So to confuse things even more, the spotting could be from the progesterone.  And this is why they tell you not to test- you put yourself through emotional abuse by doing it.  Of course if it was positive I would be feeling way different right now. 

Waiting for our blood test to confirm.......................................  
praying for a high HCG level which means positive pregnancy.  
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Today Dave and I went in for the embryo transfer.  I have to admit I was scared that we would get there and hear that the embryo had arrested growth and they wouldn't be able to do the transfer.  But, we prayed this morning multiple times and knew that whatever happened, God was in control today.  When we arrived to the clinic, we were called back fairly quick.  We were taken back to the surgery center again where they did my egg retrieval.  We had the same nurses today so that was neat.   Dr. H was my doctor today.  Very nice.  The best part of our day was our visit with the embryologist.  The embryologist came in the room with a picture of our embryo.  It was absolutely amazing- Dave and I were beaming with smiles as we realized this was our child on paper.  Absolutely beautiful.  The embryologist told us that the picture was taken at 66 hours and she was currently 4 cells.  She said at 72 hr they like the embryo to be between 6-12 cells.  So, our little embryo is growing but slowly.  But she reassured us that she looked beautiful and that they transfer 4 cell embryos before and they resulted in pregnancies.  So, we remain hopeful.  She left the room and Dave and I just sat there staring at this beautiful picture - we couldn't stop smiling.  The picture is on our refrigerator and will be prayed for over the next 2 weeks as we wait to find out if she continues to grow and implant. 

After our visit with the embryologist the OR nurse came in and wheeled me into the operating room.  It was so cute- Dave had to suit up in scrubs.  And he looked adorable in his scrubs.  He was so excited!   When we got into the OR room, Dave got to look at our embryo under the microscope.  So this is when it gets even better.  Dave comes back over to my bed where I am laying and he says, she's up to 5 cells.  Which means, in the past couple hours she had divided again.  This is great news!   Dr. H  did the transfer which was only a 15 min procedure.  He said it went smoothly and at the end of the transfer we got to see a picture of our embryo inside my uterus.  It's absolutely amazing to see this whole process take place.  It's truly a miracle!  

So, our little one is inside me now, and we are praying for continued growth and division and if God willing- a split.  We just don't know what God has planned and we're ready for whatever he has for us.  If our embryo decides to split we end up with two little babies.  And let me tell you we'd be happy with that too!  Healthy baby or babies is the main thing. 

I 've included a picture of our little embryo and some others of our day.  Wanted to capture these memories.  It was probably one of our most memorable days we've shared together thus far in our marriage and I don't want to forget any of it.
Daddy all suited up to go in for embryo transfer.
Before embryo transfer.
Our little embryo ready for implantation.
I am so bloated- I think I might explode.  They say it's normal after egg retrieval because even though the eggs were removed, the follicles remain very large and fluid filled.  Which means I have 9 golf balls inside of me.  No wonder I am feeling bloated.  Not to mention, the constipation from the progesterone oil shots I have been getting.  I look about 4 months pregnant right now.  Becuase of this tenderness and discomfort, I've been laying around a lot.  And tomorrow begins two more days of bedrest.  It's all worth it, but I'm ready for some good news. 

Last night proved to be an eventful night- I woke up twice screaming from nightmares.  Not sure if the antxb or the steroid I am on caused them or I am just not sleeping well because of the bloating.  Dave jumped up and thought something was wrong with me.  I told him I had a bad dream- the first dream- this spider was literally crawling on the bed- it was so real I thought it was happening- I jumped up to get away from it.  Then not even 2 hours later I woke up again screaming - I was walking down the move aisle with our popcorn and couldn't see - I lost my vision and couldn't make it to where Dave was sitting.  Then I was attacked by these men and Dave didn't know what happened to me. 

Talk about weird.  I hope tonight's sleep is much better.  We can only hope.  Or should I say, Dave can only hope.
No, I don't know the sex of our little embryo but it makes it easier to refer to the embryo as she or he, so I chose she.  I called this morning to get an update on her after Sunday School.  The report wasn't great but was good.   She is growing which is good, but she's not growing very quickly.  Not exactly sure what this means, but know that we are still scheduled for tomorrow at 10 am to put her in my belly.  I know that the embryos are ranked and so my guess is she's not going to get a good score or quality, but the good news is- she is growing.  I'm telling you this little one is holding on strong.  I can feel my heart swell with love for this child already.  It's amazing the amt. of love I find myself already developing as we go through this.
Well, We got our voicemail this morning at 11am.  Out of the three eggs I had they were able to ICSI all three.  However, out of the 3, only 1 egg fertilized.  So, we have one embryo.  Due to the low number of  embryos,  my transfer will take place Monday at 10am.   They feel it is best to put that embryo in the best environment which is my body.   I feel so horrible that I'm sad about only having one, but we worked so hard to get to this point.  It's so emotionally upsetting. 

I am so thankful we have one embryo and that child is already so loved.  My good friend Angi keeps telling me this is going to be one stubborn child.  It's fought so hard to live already, I can only imagine the personality it's going to have-lol.   My heart aches for the eggs that did not fertlize- for babies that could have been.  Somehow part of me feels like I deserved more than one just because I've gone through all of this.   

I am crying while I type and I just have to say life's not fair.  No one ever said it was, but this really gets me.  There are so many teenage mothers out there that didn't want their baby, and then I have to wonder why we're in this situation or other couples like us.  It simply is not fair and I will never understand it.  The odds were against us from the beginning- and I knew the chances were slim- my doctor put me on the highest dose of FSH, she told me she didn't expect me to get very many eggs.  Then they tell us to do ICSI- which I read 50-80% of eggs fertilize with this process.  So out of our 3 we're hoping for at least 2.  But that doesn't happen for us either.     I know God just needs one and we have an embryo growing and developing as I write this.  I am already imaging the little one and what they will be like.  Is is a boy or girl?  Who will they look like?  Will they survive the implantation process and implant into my uterus? 

I'm nervous about the next 2 days.  Our little embryo has to continue to grow and develop so we can implant on Monday.  I am praying this little one is strong and I know they are because they've made it this far.    We are actually praying for our baby now- that has been created.  Absolutely incredible.  They're here, they're just not inside me yet.  I can't wait to experience the feeling inside me.  Hold on baby, hold on.

Dear Baby Stanley,
You just have to stay with us now, we love you too much already to let go.  We have a name for you and your room is already picked out.  Once we find out your sex, we'll begin decorating it.  You're going to be incredibly spoiled because we've wanted you  for so long.  We've prayed for you more than anyone possibly could and your aunts, grandparents, and our friends have been praying too!  Everyone wants to meet you and so you're just going to have to make it through this implantation process.  We know you're already so tough becuase you've made it this far.  Hang in there.  We'll be there to get you very soon. 
So sweet.  After waking up from my nap I got a letter to Baby Stanley in my email.  Thought I would share it. 

Dear Baby Stanley (or should I say, babies) You aren’t here yet, but you are in the making! God, as I write this, is creating you in your mama’s belly. It’s by HIM, that you will bless us with your presence in a couple months- whooo hooo! We can’t wait to meet you, spoil you, kiss you, cuddle you, and absolutely adore everything thing you do! You have been quite the little stubborn person already, but you are a miracle that we will constantly be praising God for forever. I’m so excited that I will be your Aunt!

God has been carefully and patiently preparing your parents for your arrival. It has been a “long”(and painful) journey, especially for your mommy.  Your parents are by far amazing… they have been praying for you for almost 3 years! Parenthood definitely makes people “prayer warriors” and that is exactly what your mom and dad have been and will be for you.  Your mom has been through a roller coaster of emotions, tests, surgeries, injections, pills, medications, vitamins, etc. but one thing remained constant- her faith that God would bless her with you. Your dad has been by your mom’s side encouraging her and keeping her spirits up; doing the normal dad role of supporting! They love you and desire nothing more than to hold you in their arms! 

We all look forward to the day when mommy and daddy announce you are born! You have 3 cousins anxiously awaiting to teach you all the fun kids things to do (hopefully all good things).  While we wait for you, we will be praying and praising your Creator, your Heavenly Maker!

We love you! Christine and the boys
This morning we went in for the egg retrieval.  We were both excited for the day to finally arrive.  We got there about 8 am.  The whole office has gotten to know us since we were there everyday this week so they were all wishing us good luck.  We got called back quickly and were taken to the surgery center.  I gowned and got an IV and then they began my medications via IV.  Before I knew I was waking up.  It was so fast.  Waking up wasn't so bad this time- I didn't feel too groggy and had just a little stomach pain. 

The embryologist came in about 15 min after I woke up.  She reported that the retrieved 3 eggs.  They wanted to get more, but some of the follicles were empty.  She said at my age they usually are good quality eggs though and only one of those needs to fertlize well to implant.  She reviewed the embryos and told us we would be getting a voicemail tomorrow on the progress of the embryos.    I am praying that these 3 are perfect and that they all fertilize well.  She finally left the room and I began to tear.  I was dissapointed in the number they retrieved- Dr E reassured me that she did her best to get more, but there wasn't anything in some of the biggest follicles.  We just have to believe quality over quantity here.  All 3 eggs could be great.  As much as I want to know tomorrow, I'm scared of the worse case scenario which would be none were good enough or mature enough to be fertilized.  Until then, we wait.   More waiting. 
Karen just before egg retrieval.
Dave has been dreading this day for a while.  He knew when it came time for the progesterone shot  that he would have to give it to me, but he wasn't looking forward to it.  The reality of it hit him when I pulled the medication up and handed him the needle.  He took the needle cap off and his eyes bugged out of his head.  He looked at me and said, I have to put this whole needle in you?  I said,well yes. 

He's been incredible through this whole journey.  Most guys don't have to go through what Dave has gone through.  Not just the phsyical stuff with me, but the emotional wreck I've been and how amazing he's been to stand by my side even on the bad days.  This journey has def. strengthened our marriage and I know that God has taught us both so much through this.   He has blessed me with a strong man that has not withered through any of this.  He has kept me strong and kept strong in faith, which has been of upmost importance as he's constantly reminded me that God is in control and God has a plan, but more importantly that he believes it.  Dave's able to trust God much better than me sometimes, and in this situation, he has never doubted God had a plan for us and will continue to believe so no matter what.  That gives me such encouragement and strength.  Esp. on the days I have struggled with this. 

I had to put a picture on here to give you an idea of what Dave looked like with the needle and giving me the shot.  It's a classic. 
Oh my, that's a big needle.
There's no way........