24 October 2012

How NOT to be the Perfect Mom

A few weeks ago, I started looking comparing each area of my life to other mommies. And guess, what I found? I found that I was failing at everything! My house was a mess. My 2-year-old was disobedient and still throwing wild temper tantrums in public. I wasn't cooking every night, and  I wasn't being as loving a wife as my husband needs. I was falling down in my responsibilities as a volunteer leader in MOPS, and I wasn't blogging as regularly as I wanted to. And most importantly, I wasn't spending as much time with God as I should be.

Of course, after realizing how much of a failure I was, I started really getting down. With so many people who are desperately trying to have a baby, why did God trust me with children when I was just letting everyone down, especially myself.  I was so low, and I really didn't know how to recover. I started thinking about my "Super-mom" friends who seemed to have it all together, and I wondered why they were so capable of doing what I was incapable of doing.

Fortunately though, God reminded me of His grace by sending me the right messages through friends, speakers, articles, and Bible study. 

Here's the thing I realized: my friends aren't perfect either. No one is perfect!  And it is especially difficult to be perfect when you are adjusting to the constant changes of growing children.

So if none of us is perfect, why do we all pretend to be? Why do I feel like my house needs to be polished before someone comes over? Or why do I try to put my children in their cutest (or just matching) clothes before we get together with other mommies? Why do I feel like I have to make Naomi's baby food, and cook a full meal from scratch every day, all while still making time for a full house cleaning every day? 

AND WHO started this competition to be the most competent "Super-mom" around ANYWAY?!? 

If one mommy pretends to be perfect, her friends feel like they have to be perfect, and what we end up with is a bunch of imperfect mommy's pretending to have it all together and never completely opening up to each other. Some of us are drowning in our own chaos and afraid to let anyone know because we don't want to drop the facade of "Super-mom". That would mean admitting we aren't perfect...

Well here it is: I. AM. NOT. PERFECT!!! And I am going to stop pretending to be Super-mom.

So what if my toddler isn't potty-trained yet! She knows she is loved unconditionally, and she will get there. So what if my baby isn't getting her tummy time every day! She is adored and she is reaching her milestones despite my imperfect schedule. And So what if my home looks like a dirty toy box. It is filled with love.

Maybe this will help me open up more to my friends, and maybe it will turn some people off. And maybe, just maybe, it will help another mommy feel like she can let go of the "Super-mom" facade as well. But I know that it will give God an opportunity to show His strength through my weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 is such a beautiful reminder.

As it turns out, God's grace is big enough to cover my failures.

15 October 2012

In Our Shoes

Over the past 7 years, I have seen a lot of pregnancy tests. Each negative test was more devastating that the previous.  And the positives inspired sheer elation. Rarely do I think back to a time when I felt much differently...

When I was 19, I remember saying, "I never want children. A child is a life-time prison sentence!" I remember thinking that a child is the ultimate responsibility that you can never escape. I thought of all of the heart-ache I caused for my parents, and I new for sure I would never want kids of my own for fear of the pain they could cause me. I also remember thinking that I was way too selfish for children ...and at the time, I was right!

When I was 19, I was not ready for children, and I had NO idea how amazing it is to hold a baby in my arms and comfort her when she is unhappy. I had no idea how beautiful a smiling 2-year-old could be covered in yogurt and asking for a 'nackin'. I didn't understand how much love you could feel for a child or how difficult it could be to lose one.

Back then, a positive pregnancy test would have been devastating. Probably even more devastating than the many negative pregnancy tests I have taken in the past 7 years.

When we were trying to get pregnant with Abigail, I chatted with a friend online who was pregnant with her 4th child. She had gotten married after I had, and she had gotten pregnant pretty soon after getting married. I told her how devastated we were about not having a child on earth yet. And I will never forget her response. She told me she would trade places with me if she could ....

My blood began to boil, and I shook with anger and jealousy. How could anyone want to be in my shoes? I had just lost our first child, and I was desperately trying to get pregnant and carry a child to birth. And this woman had the gall to tell me she would rather be in my shoes than to have her 4th child!

I would have given almost anything to be in her shoes. God must love her more than He loved me because he had given her more blessings.

Sometime after Abigail was born, while I was dealing with her milk protein allergy, reflux, and colic, I thought back to my conversation with my friend and thought about how difficult it would be to care for my sick child with 3 other children to take care of. And it occurred to me that perhaps my friend had been speaking out of as much desperation as I was feeling while trying to have a child - maybe even more.

And it wasn't until a couple of years later that God has given me the ability to sympathize with people who considered a positive pregnancy test bad news - a teenager, woman whose marriage is falling apart, or someone who has more than she can handle. Once I learned that lesson, my jealousy of people with unplanned children seemed to just evaporate.

God has given each of us different paths, and we walk them IN OUR OWN SHOES! God knows the different speed bumps we will encounter on those paths, and He knows when we will be most desperate for His rescue and comfort.

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV) For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I have learned that if I can just mentally put on someone else's shoes, I can usually sympathize with their despair even if it hurts me to do it. God has now blessed me with 4 children - 2 in heaven, and 2 here on earth. And I know that He doesn't play favorites. He has blessed me so abundantly with my husband and children.

08 October 2012

Tips for Friends and Family when a Baby is Lost

This is a great list of tips for friends and family of someone who loses a baby during any stage of pregnancy or infancy. I copied this from Maddie's Footprints, a local organization committed to helping support families experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth or the loss of an infant:

Tips for Family and Friends

How do you express your grief and concern without saying the wrong thing? How can you be there for the family? These questions are asked frequently by family and friends.  The loss of a baby can be a very “taboo” subject and it can be a difficult topic to talk about for all people involved.  Do not assume that the parents don’t want to talk about it.  By letting parents talk about their pain, you can help them come to grips with it. Here are a few suggestions:

What to Say
  • “I’m so sorry. I know how much you wanted to have this baby."If you don’t know what to say – it’s better to say “I’m sorry” than nothing at all. 
  • “It’s okay to cry.”
    Often when people are grieving, they try to appear strong to others.  If you see that they are becoming emotional, it may be helpful to know that their feelings are validated and you can allow them to express them without embarrassment.
  • “Would you like to talk about it?”
    Usually, the parents want nothing more than to talk about their baby, so avoiding the topic can be viewed as being insensitive to the situation.
  • “Is there anything I can do for you?”
    Often times in these situations, families will enjoy a home-cooked meal or help with other children or running errands.  Offer it to them and let them know you are available to assist. 
  • “I don’t know what to say.”
    Honesty can be more comforting than words with less meaning.
  •  Silence can be nice as well.  Just hold their hand or give them a hug. Let them know that you are there for them.
What Not to Say
Remember that while positive words can help at times, sometimes it may sound like you’re making light of the loss.  It may make the parents feel that they don’t have a right to be sad about their loss. Sometimes statements with good intentions may cause resentment.  Try to avoid the following:

  •     “It was meant to be.”
  •     “I know exactly how you feel.”
  •     “Everything happens for a reason.”
  •     “It’s good it happened now.”
  •     “At least you didn’t get to know the baby.”
  •     “Thank goodness you are young and you can have more children.”
  •      “At least you have other children at home.”
  •     “You have an angel in heaven.”
What You Can Do
You can be the greatest gift to grieving parents.  By allowing parents to talk about the pain, you can help them accept it. Your caring gestures can provide positive memories as parents look back on their loss.  Here are some other suggestions that may be helpful:

  • Call the baby by name.  Never call a baby “it” or refer to him or her as a fetus.  To the parents, the infant was a baby, regardless of how long he or she lived.
  • Let parents make their own decisions about the funeral and what to do with the baby’s room or clothing.  Don’t deprive them of experiencing the reality of death
  • If there is a funeral, attending shows your care and supports. You are recognizing this baby was unique even though she or he didn’t live long.
  •  If you can’t attend the funeral, send a letter or a note to the parents.  Express your support and concern.  These acknowledgments may be a treasured part of the baby book many parents choose to keep.
  •  Give a special memento to the parents.
  • Write a poem or a letter to the baby.
  •  Remember parents on the infant’s special days – due date, birthday, and anniversary of the death. Acknowledge the baby at holidays. Remember that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have special meaning for these parents.
Remember that grieving is a process.  Be patient and understand that the grief does not end at the funeral. It may take years for parents to feel “normal” again.  Some need less, some need more.  Parents go on with their lives, but they’re never quite the same again.  Providing support to these parents may allow them to cope easier.  You are very important to the parents now and in the months to come.

03 October 2012


Sometimes as parents, we make mistakes. Maybe we forget to restock the diaper bag and have to come home from something fun early, or we say something that hurts our child's feelings. And other times, we accidentally hurt our children, which is what happened to us a little over a week ago.

We had a long day taking family to New Orleans to see the sights and eat some beignets. So after 4 hours in the car, and about 5 hours walking around in the intense heat of fall in Southern Louisiana, we were all pretty exhausted. We were settling down for the night, and I was preparing to nurse Naomi before bed.

I picked her up out of her crib and started walking toward the glider I usually nurse in, but somehow, along the way, I tripped and fell forward with Naomi in my left arm. Somehow on my way down she flew out of my arm. I don't have any recollection at all of how I landed, because I was watching her fall. It still plays through my head in slow motion.

She shot forward like a projectile, and the back of her head slammed into the second shelf from the bottom in a set of book shelves. Then the back of her head hit the corner of a milk crate holding my pumping supplies on the way to the floor. It looked like someone had thrown a plastic baby doll against the shelf, except that it was my precious 4-month-old daughter.

I screamed at my husband who was in the bed, "Oh, my God! HELP!"

And about half a second after the fall, Naomi started to scream and cry. I think I was laying across the ottoman of the glider when I scooped her off the floor and flipped her in one motion to look at the back of her head. There was no blood, but there was immediate swelling. two huge purple goose-eggs started to come out on the back of her head very quickly. And I started to panic and practically hyperventilate.

All at once, I handed the baby to my husband, started getting dressed, grabbed my phone and started to call the ER, all while crying and saying over and over again, "I don't know what to do. I am so scared!" I was completely out of breath while talking to the ER nurse and asking what to do, and my husband was getting his mother, who happened to be visiting at the time. I was actually a little surprised when the ER nurse told me to call the ambulance.

I never imagined I would ever have to call 911 for my infant. While I was panicked, I guess I thought I might be overreacting when I initially thought of calling 911. I mean ...she only cried for about 3 minutes before becoming calm and laid back like her normal self.

And after two EKGs, some oxygen, an ice pack and some other checks on the 15 minute ambulance ride, it seemed like the medics were not terribly alarmed, so I started relaxing. Then the doctor came in and said that she looked fine, but that he was going to do a CT scan of her brain to make sure she had no brain bleeds or skull fractures.

She came out just fine. She didn't enjoy laying on the back of her head for about 24 hours, but other than that, it didn't seem to bother her much. She has a lump in the back of her head that the pediatrician said will be there for a month or two, but other than that, she came out of it with no long-term effects.

Thank God for protecting my precious little girl!!

Once I knew she was ok, the guilt set in. I felt like a terrible mother. God had trusted me with this precious life, and my clumsiness could have changed or ended that life. I felt like I had let down my children, my husband, and God.

It took me a couple days to start moving around the house with her in my arms, and I am still nervous about carrying her. I also still cry when I remember her fall.

I was just starting to feel confident as a mother, and now I am struggling to feel like a stable mother.  I guess we all fail our kids and our spouses occasionally, and we have to ask God to restore our confidence and thank Him for protecting our loved ones from our mistakes and accidents.

24 August 2012

Best. Baby. Ever!

Long time, no blog! I have missed sharing the most difficult and wonderful moments of my life with yall, and so I am back again.

My little Naomi is truly the best baby I have ever experienced.

Of course she woke up every 3-4 hours and wanted to eat non-stop for the first 6 weeks, because she is still a baby, after all.  But she started sleeping longer and longer at night, until, at 3 months, she started sleeping 8-10 hours at night about 90% of the time!

Initially, her feeding skills were challenged, to say the least. She fell asleep about 3 minutes into each meal, which resulted in poor weight gain and drama with her pediatrician. It also meant a 20 minute pumping session every couple of hours, ugh! Now, with some maturity (and a new pediatrician), we are still exclusively breastfeeding. And while her weight gain has been slow, her development is perfect, and she is alert, content, and super smiley!

She is also just plain pleasant. She smiles, laughs randomly, and loves to watch activity. She especially loves to watch her sister! Abigail is the best entertainment for Naomi, and Abi enjoys making her sister laugh and smile too.

I am delighted to be sharing my life with my husband and these two little girls!

And, Naomi is such a good baby, we're ready for another!

29 June 2012

The Princess and the Pea

The Princess

The Pea

I can't possibly communicate how awesomely insane life is with these two ...but I'm going to try!

Abigail is two and one half year now, and while my original plan was to have her potty-trained by 18 months, our new goal is to keep her peeing IN the diaper instead of the bed. She only seems bothered by a wet diaper when she is in bed, at which time she removes her diaper and wets the bed. So we are now using super-tight, 24-mo-sized onesies  to prevent her from removing the diaper. However, since we only have three, and our laundry is a little behind ...imagine a 6-ft-high pile ...we have had to resort to taping the diaper on.

Abigail is really blossoming! She is talking non-stop, and her imagination is fascinating. She imagines castles and rivers where there are grocery stores and parking lots. She builds "big, Big, giant" boats and trains and houses from blocks. And she tells me the shspes, letters and colors of signs as we drive down the roads. Best of all, she loves her sister, and she tells me about it daily. 

Naomi is a pretty easy baby. She has been a very frequent nurser and has had a couple of medical challenges, but she is happy most of the time. What a joy! Her medical challenges do not scare me terribly. She has been a slow grower, and at 8 weeks is still not quite 9 lbs, but she's getting long and lean and is acting like a perfectly healthy 2-month-old! Because of her slow growth, I am having to pump and feed the extra to her by bottle after most feeds.

She has a mysterious lump on the side of her neck, for which she has had an ultrasound, lots of labs, and a day admitted to the pediatric ICU. All of the scary stuff has been ruled out, and the docs think it is muscular and resolvable.

And she has some type of allergy or sensitivity to something I am eating because her "output" isn't totally normal.

Our house is not doing nearly as well as our children! I mentioned the laundry. Our kitchen has dished piled around on the counters and is generally kind of hard to function in. I clean sections of it to cook, but it never seems done. The living room looks more like a toy box. And our bedroom is looking like a pumping room in a hospital - items of convenience near my nursing/pumping chair, baby laundry, a baby changing station, and a pack-n-play bassinet have all come to live in our room. Slowly, we will get back to the routine I had worked out before Naomi got here, but until, life is chaotic, to say the least.

The thing that has changed the most now that we have two is the amount of time I am focusing on children. Also, I have found that I am less worried about each child, and especially about the little things with Naomi. For example, the weird gurgles or odd chokes with Abigail sent us to the doctor almost twice weekly for the first month or two. With Naomi, we have only gone when they told us to come, or when a problem didn't resolve itself in a couple of weeks. I am significantly more confident in my mom-sense, and I trust my own judgement so much more! I actually feel like I know what I am doing with Naomi. Now, if I could just figure out how to do it all faster so I could clean my house!

Is this everything I thought it would be? Not even close!
It is SO much more.

More chaos for sure!
(I am wondering if I will ever recover to normal life again.)

And more passion than I could even fathom existed. I can love more passionately than I knew possible. And all in one day I can be passionately loving, protective, annoyed, afraid, and amused.

I wouldn't trade this for the world!

10 June 2012

From 3 to 4

In my last post, I talked about the fears that I experienced during the first trimester of my 4th pregnancy. To continue...

Once we got past the 13th week, I felt a little more sure that this pregnancy would result in a baby rather than heartbreak. I was still very much hypersensitive about every cramp or pain or weird feeling. I had been to Labor and Delivery at least 3 times by the end of the second trimester.

By 33 weeks, I was becoming accustomed to feeling like the baby was going to fall out, and stopped worrying so much about it. So the day of my OB appointment at 33 weeks, I was not terribly concerned that I felt terrible.

That morning, I took Abigail to a play group at the park, and it was unbearably hot. We went from there to Chic-fil-A for lunch and to wait for my appointment. I must have looked terrible because the Chic-fil-A workers were asking if I needed to go to the hospital.

Turns out, those ladies at Chic-fil-A knew more than me....

Just a few hours later, my OB found that I was 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. She sent me to the hospital for observation and determined that I was having regular contractions. So I got a series of shots: a set of steroids to boost the baby's lung maturity and a series of shots to stop the contractions. They told me I would likely only be pregnant for another week to 9 days.

Boy were they wrong! After lots of prayer and one week of bedrest, I stayed pregnant until 39 weeks.

I finally got to experience all of the parts of pregnancy I had always heard about but never experienced:

  • Growing obscenely large
  • Stretch marks
  • Bring SUPER emotional (just ask my closest friends and husband)
  • Wanting desperately to deliver because I was so uncomfortable

And then there was a new fear ...I was so afraid that the baby was going to be in danger in my womb. I cried a lot at 37 and 38 weeks because of that fear. It was a completely irrational fear because my OB and the high risk doc were monitoring the baby very closely.

Their only concern was that the baby was getting very large. At 33 weeks, the US tech told me that the baby was already about 5 lb, and the high risk doc said 6.5 lb at 35. They were predicting her weight to be around 9 lb if we managed to get to 39 weeks. 

At 37 weeks, I started having regular contractions about ever 10 minutes, and I thought for sure we would be having a baby within the day. Turns out the contractions weren't making any changes to my cervix, so I just kept having them with no change for about a week. Then at 38 weeks, they got closer together, to about every 5 minutes. Again, I thought I was going to have the baby within the day. But the change to my cervix was only very minor. 

I was 2 cm and 80% effaced and having regular contractions at my last appointment on Friday, April 27. Since the baby was expected to be large, we decided to induce the following Tuesday. I was excited, and SO ready after having contractions for 2 weeks.

On Tuesday morning we went into the hospital. I was already contracting regularly, but they gave me pitocin around 8:30AM to get the process jump started. My goal was to do it without pain medicine or an epidural. So I asked them not to break my water early on. However, since the pitocin wasn't doing much, I let the doctor break my water around noon. Things really got to moving at that point, and the pain started getting really harsh. I ended up demanding the epidural a couple of hours later because the pitocin contractions were too much to handle. The epidural started working about 10 minutes after they put it in, and I was much more comfortable. Then about 20 minutes later, around 2:45PM, the nurse checked me. I was already 8cm, so she started prepping the room. About the time she finished prepping the room, the pain changed, and the nurse checked me again. I was fully dilated and ready to go!

At 3:42PM, on May 1, Naomi Virginia Puckett joined our family. She was 7lb 5oz and 19.5 inches long. And our little family of 3 became 4. 

29 April 2012

Pregnancy #4 - Trimester 1

In my last post, I talked about finding out that we were pregnant with Pregnancy #4 and the fear that comes with pregnancy after losses. To continue ...

After the misdiagnosed ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and resulting emergency surgery that came with Pregnancy #3, Gabriel, I was very cautious about finding a good OBGYN whom I could trust. I found a doctor that came highly recommended and whom I thought might be a good option. She was a young female doctor, which is something I generally prefer, and she was also a partner of the doctor who saw me through the recovery from the last pregnancy.

I transferred to her and tried to schedule an appointment for 8 weeks. Unfortunately, her schedule was full, and they couldn't get me in until 11 weeks!!! That really made me nervous since I had already had two first trimester losses. So I also scheduled with another doctor who has a good reputation in the area.

I had an ultrasound (US) at 6 weeks before the fertility specialist would release me. However, I was happy that the new doctor was able to schedule me for another ultrasound at 8 weeks. That ultrasound came back great, and my lab results did as well. However, the office experience was terrible! I waited for SOOOOO long, and I wasn't terribly excited about the doctor being a man.

I saw that doctor again at 10 weeks and had another ultrasound, again confirming that all was well. However, my office experience was again, very bad, so I decided to keep the appointment with the female OBGYN for the following week.

Again, at 11 weeks, I had another ultrasound, and again, everything looked great! I was overjoyed that I was approaching the end of the first trimester. However, I was still afraid of what could happen.

My doctor scheduled me to start seeing the high risk specialist to manage my thyroid medication, because I have hypothyroidism. Also, since the pregnancy with Abigail had been so complicated, I would be seeing the high risk doctor about every 2-4 weeks throughout the second trimester to make sure the baby was growing appropriately and my cervix was staying closed. Each of these visits would involve an US, and for that I was very grateful.

So the first trimester had gone very smoothly, but my anxiety level was pretty high. And that made it hard to get excited about the pregnancy. I was afraid of a second trimester loss or another long bed rest stay or something else complicating the pregnancy.

And I was ashamed that I was afraid. I was ashamed of my feelings because I was supposed to be a strong, Godly woman. I am  a wife to an amazing husband, a mother of one earthly princess and two babies in heaven, a business woman, a manager of my household and our recent move, and a woman called by God to minister to other women who deal with infertility and pregnancy loss ..... I was supposed to be filled with faith and courage. I was not supposed to be worried about whether God would keep my child safe in my womb. But I was. And to be honest, as I write this, 39 weeks pregnant, with an induction scheduled in two days, I still have fear about the successful birth of this child.

I just know that no matter what happens, God loves me, and he has a plan that is far beyond anything I can understand. I will be ok, and eventually, maybe God will help me overcome these fears and anxieties around pregnancy. I know for sure that he will use my struggles to help other women through their infertility, losses, and fears.

04 April 2012

Fear That Comes from a Loss

In my last post, I talked about finding out that we were pregnant. To continue...

When most women find out they are pregnant, there is joy, excitement, and anticipation. But when you have lost a baby from a pregnancy that ends early, there is a tendency to have fear.

I was fearful.

Our first pregnancy ended with a miscarriage at 13 weeks. Our second pregnancy was filled with complications, and ended prematurely, at 33 weeks, with our little miracle, Abigail. Our third pregnancy ended in an emergency surgery because of a tubal pregnancy at 7 weeks. And all of them had started the same way that this one had, with a positive pregnancy test.

Statistically speaking, my fear was justified... But I felt like it was not very "Christian" of me to fear for the life of my child. God had it all under control, didn't He? He had it under control, and yet He still welcomed two of my children into His arms before I ever got to meet them.

The fear involved in early pregnancy, for me, includes things like:

  • Not doing any heavy work
  • No lifting, except for Abigail
  • Getting as much rest as possible
  • Taking prenatal vitamins religiously
  • Checking the toilet paper with every wipe
  • Being overly conscious of every little twinge or feeling of any kind anywhere in your body
  • Calling the doctor almost daily with a new concern
  • Etc .....
Because I had an ectopic/tubal pregnancy and a later-than-average miscarriage in my medical history, I knew that I would be monitored pretty closely during the 1st trimester. My fertility specialist had scheduled me for an ultrasound at 6 and 1/2 weeks to confirm that it was a viable pregnancy. However, I was so scared, and I called the nurses so many times, they bumped me back to 6 weeks, 0days. Fortunately, the baby measured 6 weeks exactly and had a very strong heartbeat. And I was so happy, but I was still fearful. 

While waiting for that 6 week ultrasound, I had called around to find a new OBGYN in the area and had scheduled a 1st trimester appointment for 8 and 1/2 weeks. So I knew I would get to see the baby again in just a couple more weeks, but I was still scared. I didn't have any morning sickness yet, and I was not feeling pregnant at all. I just wasn't ready to be joyful and confident that this child would make it to my arms.

Unfortunately, for those of us who have been through a pregnancy loss of any kind, the innocence of that first, joyful, positive pregnancy test is just kind of missing. The innocence goes away, and instead there is this fear of allowing yourself to be truly joyful until you know for sure that your baby will be ok. For some of us, that is when we reach the second trimester. For others, including me, that is when the baby reaches 24 weeks and has a good chance of survival if born prematurely. And for some, it is not until that precious baby is screaming in Mommy's arms. 

Don't get me wrong... I was happy to carry my Angel and Gabriel, even though I won't get to meet them until I get to heaven. And I still thank God for my two children in heaven and that they got to see Jesus face before anyone else, including Mommy and Daddy. I just really didn't know how much more heartbreak I could handle. But I had felt that way before. I thought I had reached my limit so many times before, and God's grace just carried me through all of the times I didn't think I could handle.

And so, the first several weeks of my fourth pregnancy were filled with fear, prayer, doubt, and memories of my other pregnancies. I just had to acknowledge that my God is more powerful than anything I could go through, and He has control. I had to keep reminding myself of that, and sometimes, fear still won out ...but I still reminded myself, over and over.

28 March 2012


In my last post about my story, I talked about the two week wait after our IUI treatment. To continue...

Twelve days after our IUI treatment, on a Sunday morning, I decided to take another pregnancy test. I was leaving the next day to go prepare our house in TX for the movers so we could move our stuff to our new house in Louisiana. Stan was going to have to move out of the temporary apartment and then drive to TX on Tuesday to help with the move. I was hoping to get a real answer before we had to part.

I knew it would likely have turned positive on day 11 if I was pregnant, so I wasn't terribly optimistic.

I got up at about 6AM and peed on a stick before Abigail or my husband woke up. I was groggy and tired and almost went back to sleep before checking the results. I carried the stick to my bedside table so I could wait for the results, and I laid my head down. A few minutes later, I looked, and had to do a double take. It looked like there was a faint line in the test spot.

I woke up my husband with a jolt of energy and danced around the room a little.

And then, doubt set in. Maybe the test was faulty. Maybe it was a super sensitive test and the HCG shot was still in my system. What if it was another ectopic or miscarriage? SO I decided to go to the the drug store and buy a pack of expensive early detection tests. The first was positive, and so were the second and third. But something didn't feel right. I was in the state of disbelief.

I don't know why, but I was so reluctant to fully except that I was pregnant again. I think I took 8 pregnancy tests in the first few days, and they were all positive.

I think fear was preventing me from really believing it. I was afraid that I would go to the doctor, and they wouldn't find a heart beat. Or that something would happen that would cause this baby to go to heaven before meeting us. And so I was reluctant to share the news of this pregnancy as quickly as I had with my other pregnancies.

The only thing I knew for sure this time was that I wouldn't be much help with the move, and so I delayed my trip for Monday. That would allow me to have a blood draw at the fertility specialists office to determine my HCG and progesterone levels. Normally, I would have a second blood draw on Wednesday morning to determine if my levels were doubling appropriately, but since I would be out of town, I wouldn't be able to have the test until Friday.That made me super nervous.

On Friday, as we were moving into our new home, I drove to the doctor's office with Abigail and had my blood drawn. And then I waited on pins and needles to get the call that I was waiting for. They called me with splendid news. My levels were great, and there was no need for concern. In fact, they had more than tripled, and I was thinking we might have twins! We scheduled an ultrasound for 4 weeks after the IUI, which would make me 6 weeks pregnant.

15 March 2012


In my last post, I described the IUI process  we went through trying to conceive #4. To continue ....

For anyone who has every actually tried to get pregnant, you know there is an up-and-down emotional roller coaster that you go through every month. The first two weeks of the cycle are filled with disappointment that you did not conceive the month before, AND your time and mind are consumed with the many things we crazy women do to try to increase the chances of conception. For some of us, these things may be as simple as a minor diet change or making sure to schedule love-making every other day. But the longer you are on the roller coaster, the more intense these preparations may become. For me, with a clear conscience because of a peace from God about fertility treatment, these two weeks were filled with medications, injections, vaginal ultrasounds, and lots and lots of prayer.

After possible conception, which usually occurs around day 14 of a normal cycle, the real gush of emotions begins because at that point, there is absolutely nothing you can do but pray. For anyone who has been on an infertility or trying-to-conceive (TTC) message board, this 2-3 week wait is called the TWO WEEK WAIT (2WW).

The 2WW is an extremely emotional time for someone who has been trying to conceive for a long period of time. For me, when I was not doing any kind of treatment, the 2WW would start with an initial positive, hopeful feeling that you "KNOW" that you have conceived and that a baby is growing inside. Then I would start searching for symptoms of pregnancy, like squeezing my breasts a little to see if they were sore, and thinking I might be feeling nauseous. That hopeful feeling starts to fade throughout that first week though when no symptoms surface.

By the beginning of the second week of the 2WW (actually the fourth week of the cycle), I would generally become very pessimistic and doubtful that I had conceived. And by day 8 or 9 after possible conception (day 22 or 23 of the cycle), I would start taking a daily pregnancy test. I have made many trips to the Dollar Store to buy 10 tests at $1 per test.

Then at some point later in the week, after I had convinced myself I was probably not pregnant, I would start feeling breast tenderness, increased discharge, and slight nausea (all of which can also be signs of  an impending period). And then the optimism was on again! If I hadn't gotten a positive pregnancy test by the 12th day after possible conception, I would go to the drug store to buy an expensive early detection pregnancy test because I was just SURE I was pregnant despite the 5-10 negative tests I had already taken.

And then when the bleeding would start, I would start the whole roller coaster cycle all over again.

Now, for a cycle with fertility treatment, things were definitely different. Not only did the doctors monitor things much more closely, but medications can effect symptoms and even the outcome of a pregnancy test. It was quite a significant difference, but the emotions were just as strong, sometimes stronger, and the hope ...and disappointment ...was just as real.

For this cycle, an IUI with injected medicines and an HCG trigger, the 2WW was interesting. Since the trigger shot is HCG, which is also what makes a pregnancy test positive, I could pee on a pregnancy test and get a very strong positive the day OF the IUI procedure, which should be the conception date, but it would be a false positive. The trigger shot stays in your system for about 10 days too, so taking pregnancy tests every day of the 2WW could just be misleading.

My plan was to pee on a stick every other day until it was negative to see when the trigger shot was gone from my system and then start taking them for real about 12 days after the IUI. Unbelievably, I did not do what I had planned to do. I was just so busy with getting our move scheduled and getting prepared for closing on the new house that I didn't constantly think about whether I was pregnant or not.

I was really pretty sure I was pregnant, and so, I was terribly disappointed when the pregnancy tests at 8 and 10 days after IUI were both negative, even though I shouldn't have been able to get a positive until 14 days after. I was just so sure that if I did conceive, I would have twins, which would make my levels higher initially.

So my wait continued at least for a couple more days. That Friday, 11 days after IUI we closed on our home in Carencro, and that Sunday, I was scheduled to leave for Houston to get ready for the movers on Wednesday. Life would go on whether I was pregnant or not, but I was hoping to have some clarity before Tuesday so I could handle some of the heavier preparation if I was not pregnant. Because of our previous 1st trimester pregnancy losses, if there was a possibility I was pregnant, I wouldn't lift anything heavier than our 24lb daughter, and that was definitely going to limit what I could do to prepare for the move.

I had very cautious hope and was really hopeful that I would find something out by Sunday.

06 March 2012


In my last post, I talked about trying to conceive Pregnancy #4 and using a more invasive fertility drug regimen. To continue ...

So after injecting myself with drugs for a week, I was given the clear to inject HCG, often called a trigger shot, to prompt my body to release any mature eggs into my fallopian tube. The body usually responds to the trigger shot at around 36 hours. So I was told to inject the trigger on Saturday night and come in for IUI on Monday morning.

Since we were doing intrauterine insemination (IUI), we also had to abstain from trying to conceive the natural way until after the IUI was complete. The abstinence for 48-72 hours would promote more healthy sperm available for the IUI procedure.

The HCG injection was actually pretty unpleasant. I had done a trigger shot before, but for some reason, the needles the drugstore provided for this one were very uncomfortable. The needle didn't want to slide into my flesh like a normal needle would, and because of that, it was very painful. The injection site was actually painful for about 2 weeks after.

On Monday, very early in the morning, I woke up in pretty significant pain on my left side. It was a pain I was somewhat familiar with. Because I have PCOS, I occasionally end up with cysts on my ovaries that generally grow and then rupture. And ruptured cysts on your ovary are excruciating! This pain was in the same location as a ruptured cyst but significantly more mild. Since I don't usually ovulate naturally, I can tell the difference when I do ovulate, and I the pain was me ovulating on the left side. My initial feeling was disappointment that it was on the left, because I don't have a tube on the left. Much to my delight, around the time the babysitter arrived to watch Abigail, I began to have significant ovulation pain on the right side. I don't know if I have ever been so excited about being in pain before!

Somewhat graphic detail alert!
The plan was for my husband to go to the office and leave a sample at 8AM and then head on to work. It would take them about an hour to prepare the sample. (They remove the extra junk in semen so the IUI injection is very concentrated, healthy sperm.) Then I would head to the office around 9AM for the IUI procedure.

The IUI procedure is where they insert a catheter through your vagina and cervix, directly into the uterus. Then they inject the sample through the catheter. The uterus is a sterile environment, and in the natural conception process, most of the semen never makes it through the cervix because a lot of it is not sterile enough to be in the uterus. Only strong sperm manage to get through to the uterus. The IUI process allows more healthy sperm to get through, and allows it to start its journey to the egg from a much closer starting point.

The timer looked a little like this except the back was an egg.
The procedure was actually a bit surprising. I went into the office and signed a consent. Then the doctor came in with a nurse, asked me if I had any questions, and told me to remove everything waste-down. When he and the nurse came back in, they asked me to verify my husband's name on the vial containing his sample. Then he told me to lay back with my feet in the stirrups, and he put in a speculum. About a minute later, he said, "Ok, all done." Then the nurse, set a timer for 10 minutes and told me to continue laying down until the timer went off, and then I was free to go. When I was getting dressed, I noticed that the timer was actually a sperm and an egg.

I prayed the whole 10 minutes. Mostly that I was conceiving at that moment, but also that if it was not God's will for us to get pregnant that month, that He would prevent it. I also prayed that God wouldn't allow us to have more than we could handle, and any more than triplets was more than I thought I could handle for sure!

I considered staying there for a while longer, but I decided to trust that 10 minutes was long enough. I saw a preview of a movie once where a woman walked out of the fertility office with her legs clenched together. Yea .... I was so much like that when I left the office.

IUI #1 was complete, and it would either work or not, only time would tell. Now for the two week wait ...

29 February 2012

Stabbing Myself with Needles

In my last post, I talked about trying to conceive again with the new fertility specialist, who recommended fertility medicine injections and IUI. To continue ...

So August 3, 2011, we started our next fertility cycle. This would be the first after the loss of our 3rd pregnancy. At this point, we were still living in temporary housing. However, we had begun the process of purchasing a home in Carencro, LA, which would be far enough north of Lafayette that my husband wouldn't have to drive quite as far to his job every day. I was scheduling the move of our household goods, and working on getting an extension to stay in the corporate apartment until the weekend we would close on the new house. Abigail was 19 months old, very active, and really starting to understand more of what was going on around her. So we were all very busy.

So busy in fact, that I didn't have much time to focus on getting pregnant. I was very happy for the distractions, actually, because it helped me avoid dwelling on what could happen, good or bad, with  this fertility cycle.

The Medicine
The medicine with this cycle was much more extensive than just taking 5 or 10 Clomid pills over 5 days. This time I was on three medicines:

  • Femara - I had to take 10 pills at one time on day 3 of the cycle. 
    I am not really sure what this medicine was for. 
  • Follistim - This was a medicine that I had to inject once per day for 7 days, starting on day 5 of the cycle. This medicine was administered by an injection "pen" that came with a case, a set of needles that were about half an inch long, and a vial of medicine that had to be refrigerated. I had to insert the vial, screw a needle on the pen, rub down my skin with an alcohol wipe, and then stab myself in the belly and inject. Then, of course, the needle went into a newly acquired "sharps" disposal container. This medicine didn't hurt too badly. The only part that hurt was the stabbing.
    This medicine promoted the formation of follicles in my ovaries, and hopefully at least one would fill with an egg.
  • HCG - This was a medicine that I had used before in Clomid cycles with previous pregnancy.
    The purpose of this medicine is to cause the ovaries to release one or more eggs into the dominant follicle or follicles.
So on day 3, which was a Friday, I took the Femara. Then on Sunday, I started the Follistim injections. The following Friday, day 10, I went into the doctor's office for a follicle scan. This is basically a vaginal ultrasound where they look closely at your ovaries to see if any follicles have formed, and if so, to make sure there are not too many dominant follicles. When there are an abnormally large number of follicles for someone with both fallopian tubes in tact, there is a high risk of multiples. If that happens, the doctor may call off the IUI and tell you to avoid intercourse so you don't end up with high-order multiples. 

I wasn't really sure what to expect. In all of my monitored Clomid cycles in which I had a follicle scan, there were either no follicles that were big enough, or only one. So I was very surprised when the US technician said "Wow, that's a lot of follicles!" She counted 6 or 7 in the left ovary and 7 or 8 in the right ovary. Not all were large enough or the best shape, but I was worried they wouldn't let me try this month because the medicine had worked too well. So I waited on the call from the nurse to let me know if and when to inject the HCG and when to come in for the IUI.

The coolest part about the medicines this time were that the side effects were unnoticeable. With Clomid, I would get headaches, hot flashes, and nausea. So the medicines actually worked much better, with less side effects. The medicine was pretty expensive as well, and without insurance would have cost about $500. Fortunately, my husband's insurance covered all but $35 of it. (We are so blessed!)

I got the call later that Friday afternoon from the doctor's office. They told me to inject the HCG on Saturday evening around 8, and to come into the office for IUI on Monday morning. 

We were on our way to another 2 week wait to find out if this cycle would result in our 4th pregnancy.

21 February 2012

Trying Again ...

Hi again, everyone! I took a 'holiday' break, and didn't realize it was going to take me until Mardi Gras to get back it!

In my last several posts, I talked about our 3rd pregnancy ending tragically and dangerously in a tubal pregnancy and emergency surgery. I also talked about trying to get into a new Fertility Specialist in the Lafayette area, where we had been living in a corporate apartment for a couple of months. And I discussed my confusion about why God was allowing my family to go through another pregnancy loss, as well as a disaster at our home in Texas and our inability to get anyone to buy our home quickly.

So at this point, we were still living in a temporary apartment in Lafayette, and we were restarting our home search in Lafayette, after having to bail on our original home choice. Our home in Texas had been sitting on the market for 3 months without much activity at all, and we had just paid out a significant amount of money for an insurance copay from a pipe situation and for some extra painting and upgrades to help market the house. And I was recovering from my 3rd surgery in 2011 by just mid July.

We had both had some testing done to determine what exactly was going on with our fertility, only to find out that while my husband was just dandy, my fertility situation had only become worse. My body wasn't ovulating properly, and my official diagnosis was PCOS with newly reduced chance for pregnancy because of the lack of ovarian tube on the left side of my body. So even if my body happened to ovulate, or even if we stimulated ovulation with medicine, any eggs coming from the left side would most likely never have a chance at getting fertilized. I was also now at a higher risk of having another tubal pregnancy because of my history.

After my last surgery, my first question was: "How soon until we can safely try again?" And the fertility specialist said I could try with my second period, but that my first would likely not happen for about 6-8 weeks. To my surprise, I started a period only 2 weeks later, but it was really light and kind of strange. So the doc let me take some progesterone to build up the lining of my uterus again. On August 3, just over 30 days after my last surgery, my period began again. I called the doc's office, and they cleared me to start trying ...THAT MONTH! I was surprised, but delighted and a little scared.

The doctor recommended that we use different, more potent fertility drugs this time (more on that in the next post) and that we do Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) to simply give us the best chance to conceive. I told them to go ahead and call in the prescriptions, but that I would have to call them back about the IUI part. I needed to pray about it, and I needed to give my husband time to pray about it as well. I had concern that because of his hesitation to pursue infertility treatment after we lost our Gabriel only 3 months before, he would not be a fan of going through with IUI.

After I prayed and felt peace about it, I called my husband at work. I told him how excited I was that we were going to be able to start trying immediately. I asked him if he was ok with the meds and trying now, and he said, "Sure!" Then, I hesitantly said that the doctor recommended IUI, and that our insurance covered it (which is unheard of). And I waited with anticipation ....for about 10 seconds. To my surprise, he said, "Sounds good." I was completely surprised. I told him the process and asked if he was sure, and he said, "Yep".

In my next post, I will go through the step-by-step process of the IUI cycle.