Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Results are in

And they are negative.

Not pregnant.

I feel battered, betrayed even.  I felt pregnant this time.  And yet I'm not.  Apparently even my mother's intuition is jacked up.

Why would God call us so strongly to this path and then break me so many times?

I now have twelve babies in heaven, five from 2009 and seven from 2013 - 2014.

After each failed transfer or miscarriage, I ask how much more can I take???  I ask rhetorically, because that's not a question I want answered.  And then LOSS happens again.  Apparently God thinks I am so much stronger than I feel.

I wanted each of these children selfishly.  I want a baby to grow within my womb, to experience the joys of new life again, and share these joys with my husband and twins. 

I also wanted each of these children with the most noble of desires, to free them from their frozen stasis.  To return them, as much as possible, to a life of dignity.  Yes, Heaven is clearly a life of highest dignity.  I just wish they spent more time with me first.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Transfer

Today I am pregnant. Who know what tomorrow may bring?  I won't know anything one way or another until late next week.  But today I am pregnant.

We transferred one beautiful day six blastocyst.  One embryo did not survive the thaw.

I mourn the loss of that little one.

Even the kids feel that loss. "What, you mean there's only one baby?  I thought we each would get our own baby to hold!"

I'm sorry, I really am. I wish both had survived the thaw, that both were starting to nestle in.  It feels so cold and heartless, undignified even, that an embryo should reach its end in a Petri dish, rather than in a womb.  Not that I'd chose death at all, but when it happens, I'd prefer it to be with the utmost dignity.

I was fixating a lot on the one lost rather than the one inside me. And then I realized while praying with the kids tonight, that I am precisely where God means me to be.  I don't understand His ways, umm, pretty much ever.  But I keep trying. And I know that He has hand-picked this scenario for us, these adopted embryos for us.  I am their mother, even if it is for only the briefest of whiles.

Thank you all for your prayers, your kind words and encouragement.  I seemed to get little love notes all day long, through text, email, and Facebook.  Thank you.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Closer and Closer

Our last two transfers have not been successful.  May 2013 was a failed transfer (lost two embryos in the thaw and then the singleton transferred went straight to heaven).  December 2013 was initially positive and then I miscarried the day before my first ultrasound.  It's not illogical that I would be harboring fear/anxiety about tomorrow's transfer.

I'm in kind of a weird place emotionally.  I haven't spent too much time dreaming about what if's.  I haven't poured myself into frantic pleas to God, begging Him to let these babies live.  My life has gone on here and I have allowed myself to be carried along with it.  I cannot live distant from my current duties as wife/mother/friend.  And that has been helpful.  Given me mental distractions during the day.

But then when the house quiets down, I find myself a little more pulled in by the what if's.  By the doubts.  And I have to take firm steps towards optimism.  Towards hope.  I try to completely shut down/shut out fear.  Thanks be to God, I've been more upbeat than I anticipated.

During Lent I signed up for a daily devotional.  One quote resonated with me so much that I printed it and stuck it to my bathroom mirror.

"What is most important?  Jesus, You created me in love.  You redeemed me with Your blood.  Then why am I so full of fear?  My life is ruled by fear of failure, fear of what others think, fear of losing the love of those around me, fear of being forgotten, or fear of being lonely.  In the past, I've resisted giving You these fears.  The most important thing in my life is loving You, so I freely give You these fears.  Today I will look for ways to put You first.  If I start to wory again, I will stop, give it to You, and then continue my day.  May my constant acts of trust and surrender bring You joy."  (written by Fr. Leszek Czelusniak)

My fears are different than described in that meditation but the sentiment is the same.  I have gone for a much simpler approach this time around.  I am not begging or pleading with God.  Instead, I have chosen to simply TRUST, putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that God will provide the path beneath my feet.  Still terrifying at times. 

My friend sent me a message a little bit ago, saying her four year old son prayed for me during his bedtime prayers tonight.  "I pray for Mrs. __, because she is going to have a baby soon."  He doesn't know anything about tomorrow's transfer. 

We are called to have a faith like a child's.  Pure, simple, untainted by the world around.  I'm trying, Lord, I'm trying.

The transfer is scheduled for 11:30 tomorrow morning.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Countdown

1.  Three days until the transfer (June 17)

2.  Two embryos to thaw (after being frozen for seven years)

3.  Three estrogen pills to take each day (until weaned off at end of first trimester)

4.  Two Crinone applications each day (until weaned off at end of first trimester)  [additional progesterone will be added after transfer]

5.  Ten or eleven days until first pregnancy test (I have some flexibility with clinic orders)

6.  About one month until the first ultrasound (week seven of pregnancy)

7.  Countless prayers (on behalf of everyone: embryos, their genetic family, us, the clinical staff)

Friday, June 6, 2014

7 QT: Recommended Reading on Embryo Adoption

                                        7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about wearing triceratops hats, signing Kindles, and standing in the middle of Times Square wearing an epic selfie t shirt

7QT, linking up with Conversion Diary.

It's been a while since I've argued on behalf of embryo adoption.  Sure, I talk about it and share first-hand stories of living through it, but I haven't recently written any Catholic moral arguments on its behalf.  Maybe I'll do that soon.

In the meanwhile, here's a list of seven starting points if you want to know some of what the Church has to say about embryo adoption.  Be forewarned.  This is not a simple black or white issue.  In the particular issue of EA, there are not just two opposing schools of thought (one for and one against), but dozens of slightly differing schools of thought. 

1.  Dignitas Personae (DP). Published in December 2008, this is the only Vatican issue document that mentions embryo adoption (see sections 18 and 19 specifically).  While the wording is strongly negative, it does not label EA as illicit.  The Church knows how to be clear; there is no room to question her ruling on IVF, for example.  However, she has specifically chosen this somewhat ambiguous wording on EA for the time being.

Side note:  shortly after the Vatican released Dignitas Personae, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a short Q/A and summary in response.  While many theologians were questioning the openness of the EA debate following the release of DP, the USCCB's Q/A clearly indicated that the debate was still open.  (See page 3, question 5).

2.  While the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) was predominantly against embryo adoption, they did recognize that DP left room for personal interpretation, or "further theological reflection" as they put it.

3.  In November 2009, the USCCB released "Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology".  This is the ONLY time that the Church has mentioned embryo donation and embryo adoption as two separate courses of action.  I wish the document actually defined the two and clarified their differences.  I have my own ideas and perhaps one day will finish my draft and publish it, but I digress...  Page 12 specifically mentions embryo adoption as morally concerning, while egg/sperm/embryo donation is clearly condemned on page 5.

4.  If you want to get a feel for some of the differing schools of thought on EA, try to locate a copy of The Ethics of Embryo Adoption and the Catholic Tradition.  I first read this when a med school friend checked out a copy for me from his school library in 2008 or 2009.  And then I was blessed to receive a complimentary copy from the editor.  Though the compilation predates the release of Dignitas Personae, many of the arguments remain the same. 

5.  Ronald Conte is a Catholic moral theologian.  He wrote a lengthy essay arguing on behalf of the theory of embryo adoption.  I do take issue with his specific proposal for thawing/transferring (only a single embryo at a time), but that should be saved for another blog post. 

6.  I first "met" Dr. Gerry Nadal through his blog, actually his first installment on his embryo adoption series.  We even talked on the phone around the same time he wrote his three part series.  I'm pretty sure I was the first person with whom he'd interracted who had real-life experience rather than just theoretical experience with EA.  Click here for Part One, here for Part Two, and here for Part Three of his series on embryo adoption. 

7.  There is a blog called "Catholic Moral Theology" that is written by a "group of North American Catholic moral theologians".  In January 2013, they published a piece that examined embryo adoption from a different standpoint.  "Setting the Captives Free”: Is There Precedent for Embryo Adoption in Scripture and Medieval Christian Tradition?

This is not by any means an exhaustive list.  Since I personally am arguing on behalf of embryo adoption, many of the links above argue the same.  Just keep in mind that support for EA is in the minority among groups of "professional moral theologians".  If you do a little internet digging, you will undoubtedly find a long list of articles against EA, if you so desire.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

It's GO time!

Normally infertile couples dread cycle day one because it's a tangible reminder of everything that did not occur in the prior cycle.

No such dread this time!  I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to get this process started.  It will be almost exactly six months since our last transfer and we are READY.

As we're doing an unsuppressed, "natural" cycle, I don't have to take very many medications.  (Unsuppressed and natural mean this transfer cycle will follow my own natural cycle and the only hormones taken will be used to supplement those my body naturally produces.)

Right now, Bryan and I both are taking z-packs, in the middle of that five day regimen.

Today I started my thrice daily oral estrogen dosage.

I'll make a trip down to Austin probably either Tuesday or Wednesday for my baseline ultrasound.

The next dates are a little fuzzy, since I don't yet have my "official" FET calendar yet.  I can make a good guess at each date, though, since these embryos are Day 6, just like my December transfer.  So the protocol should be very similiar.

That means I'll head back down to Austin again around June 12 for my lining check.  If everything looks good (and by "good" I mean is my uterine lining nice and plump, am I still pre-ovulatory, and so forth) then I'll start progesterone the next day (crinone, in case you're curious).

By my estimates, the transfer will probably be June 18, give or take a day.

Both sets of embryos arrived safe and sound at our clinic last Friday.  In case you were wondering, we are only thawing/transferring one duo, the older set.  Well, I say older, but really I think there's only about six months between the creation dates of these two sets (one in 2007, the other set in 2008).  God willing, we will thaw and transfer the other set of two a few years down the line.

The kids and I had a long discussion at lunch, prompted by the reappearance of my estrogen pill bottle (I take one pill at each meal, so I keep it at my place on the table).  Cora and Mac have decided to resurrect the names Habeep and Bappio for these waiting embryos. 

I ask your prayers for Habeep and Bappio, for Cora and Mac, and for Bryan and myself.  For hope and joy and trust.