To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Monday, January 31, 2011

Lumpity Bumps and Hyperventilating Over Hypodermics!

I have much to update you on, young Padawan!  Haha!

Mr. C and I just got home late last night after spending 9 days in Iowa visiting my parents.  Our initial reason for the visit was to help them out with their company (which has been CRAZY busy lately) and for me to help my middle sister, M, and my mom, K, reorganize and redecorate mom's sewing/craft room in the attic (a Christmas gift from my sisters and myself to my mother).  Unfortunately, it turned out to be much more than that.

A few weeks ago, M had come over to my house to say that she was concerned; because she had found a lump in her right breast.  She had checked and rechecked over the course of several days and in several different positions (lying down, in the shower, having her husband do a double-check); but sure enough, it was there.  She was getting concerned, especially since it was becoming painful to the touch - even having a bra on was uncomfortable.

We have a long history of breast cancer and fibroids in breast tissue on our dad's side of the family, the worst of which being our aunt (dad's oldest sibling) who died after spending over a decade fighting breast cancer.  Needless to say, I didn't think this was something M should mickey around with!

She and her husband, C, were already in Iowa helping out our parents; so, by the time Mr. C and I got there, M was already on her way to the doctor's office to see about her lump.  Sure enough, he was concerned.  (Did I mention M is only 25 years old?  Yeah, no bueno!)  He told her it was probably not cancer, but that it must come out so that it does not become cancer one day.  She wasn't happy about it, but knew he was right.  Within 48 hours M had her consultation with her surgeon, Dr. O, and had her surgery scheduled for the very next morning (yikes!).  She was nervous, but I think it was better that she got it over quickly rather having to wait around a week or so and fret about it all.

On Wednesday, the 26th M went in for her surgery to have the lump removed from her breast and the tumor biopsied.  Mom and M's hubby C went with her.  She got in early and the surgery only took about 45 minutes.  She even came out of recovery quickly (something we're not used to with her, because she doesn't normally do well with anesthesia, but this time they were prepared and gave her anti-nausea meds, etc. to ease her back to normalcy).

The next day in the early afternoon, while M was sleeping she got the phone call that the biopsy had come back NEGATIVE for any kind of cancer or pre-cancer!  Thank you, GOD!  The doctors all agreed that if she had left the tumor it would have been a perfect breeding ground for cancer in the future; so, we were all grateful that it was removed safely and that M is healthy!  Mr. C and I had to leave yesterday afternoon to head back to Missouri, but when we left M was feeling much better.  *thumbs up*

So, that's it for the "lumpity bumps"; now on to me..."hyperventilating over hypodermics"...ugh!

The main reason Mr. C and I had to leave Iowa was to get back in time for my follicle study with our fertility doctor, Dr. S today.  We were hoping and praying that our first round of Clomid and Estradiol were working!  D, the ultrasound technician who knows us by name now, said that two of my follicles were sized around 10 and 12, respectively; but that one in my right ovary was sized 14!  A good size for a healthy, ovulated egg/follicle should be anywhere from 18-24.  So, "Miss McFatty Follicle" on the right was close, but not quite.  Bummer!

We went back to talk to Dr. S, and he felt that we should try our hardest to get to ovulation this cycle (reminder: he thinks I may not have ovulated for at least 2 years, if EVER in my whole life! *Gulp!*).  So, starting tonight I will give myself FSH (follicle stimulating hormone, much like what Clomid is) injections (yes!  with a NEEDLE! me, the person who nearly faints at the site of needles to begin with!) in my stomach for three nights in a row, after which I go back in for another follicle study with Dr. S's assistant, nurse practitioner L (since Dr. S will be gone that day).  If the FSH "fertilizer" (haha!) works, then I will receive another shot that day (Thursday the 3rd), that will "trigger" ovulation to occur; then Mr. C and I have to get busy.  *cough cough*

To say that I'm nervous would be the biggest understatement of my life.  I'm horrified of needles, and I am dreading giving myself shots; but if this is what it takes, then this is what it takes, I guess.  *le sigh*  I was really hoping that we could make it happen without having to do this; but if this is all it takes and we don't have to do IVF or even the much less invasive IUI, then heck, I'll take it!

We recently totaled up all of the expenses we've paid thus far for fertility treatments and were shocked to see that with everything (meds and ultrasounds included) that we're still not even close to the amount we would have paid for just the home study for the adoption.  Something's gotta give, folks!  There are children out there who need forever homes, they need to be adopted and loved; and people like Mr. C and I are more than willing to adopt one or more of them, but cannot afford to do so...  It is a travesty.  Nobody suffers but the children - the most important people in the whole scenario.  I could go on  and on about this, but that is for another blog altogether, I'm afraid.

So, although this seems really odd to say or even think about, Mr. C and I could very possibly conceive a baby by this Friday.  W-O-W.  It almost doesn't even seem real to me, but it's happening.  I'm super excited, but I have to admit that the closer we get to pregnancy being a reality, the more anxious I become about things that are beyond my control: the overall health of the baby, the probability of a Clomid-induced pregnancy "sticking" and making it to 9 months, labor and delivery with half of my cervix gone after surgery, etc.  I know that there is nothing I can do about any of these things and that I need to leave them to God (after all, he's taken care of us thus far, right?), but I can't help but be a nervous wreck right now.  I need prayers for peace! :-)

On a much less nausea-inspiring note, Mr. C and I decided that the yellow baby nursery will be decorated in yellow, black, and white now, after being inspired by some truly fantastic nurseries of the same color scheme recently.  I look forward to starting in on the nursery...even if we don't get pregnant right away, it will be really fun to get started.  (Don't worry, I plan on documenting the whole process here on the TLAR for your viewing pleasure; well, or NOT - I mean, you may hate it!  Haha!)

Well, kids, that's all she wrote - I'm off to do a workout (blech! BUT much needed, trust!).  I hope you're having a lovely day in your part of the world.  We're hunkered down waiting for what the weather man is predicting will be one of the "worst winter storms to hit our area in 10 years" - hooray.  *sarcasmsarcasmsarcasmgalore*  So, stay warm and safe, my friends!  Maybe next time I write I'll have some very GOOD news to share with you!!!!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Yes, as in "polycystic ovary syndrome" - that's the news. Using a combo of my blood work (low progesterone and high testosterone), ultrasound, and history of chronic anovulation, Dr. S has decided that I do, indeed, have PCOS.

So, what now? Well, we have to get my body to ovulate; and Clomid seems to be the drug of choice for that. I'll also need to use an Estradiol pill along with the Clomid, because the very nature of Clomid is to reduce the constant call for testosterone and estrogen production by the hypothalamus and get my body to allow FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) to take over so I can ovulate and begin creating progesterone on my own.  If this happens, the estrogen I needed to build up a good layer of endometrium (uteran lining) will be greatly diminished; this isn't good, because the endometrium is where a newly fertilized egg implants for pregnancy.  So, there's much to be checked and re-checked in this process until we get the "formula" for my body just right.  Whew! That's a lot!

We're starting out with the lowest dose possible of Clomid and we'll go from there; so, we'll see. I will have another ultrasound on day 11-13 of my next cycle to see if the Clomid is doing it's job or if I need a larger dose. BUT, we're officially moving forward with me as a PCOS patient. This doesn't sound all that great, but PCOS is a very "fixable" issue to be concerned with. It affects about 5% of all women; so, there is a lot more known about it now than, say, 30 years ago.

Which, irony of ironies, was when my mom conceived me...via CLOMID! I'm convinced now that my mother had PCOS. PCOS is the leading cause of endometrial cancer. My mom and her biological mother both had endometrial cancer. It's absolutely crazy! PCOS also causes abdominal weight-gain (which I've been experiencing for about two years now and can't get rid of) and heart conditions (my mom had an unexplained heart attack in her late 20's and I have a slight heart condition that causes unoxygenated blood to leak back into my blood stream!). I feel like all of my sister W and my health issues that we're solving decades-long health mysteries for my whole family! God is really answering a lot of prayers!

No matter what comes of this current treatment, it's at least imperative that I begin to control this PCOS (via Clomid, BCP's, or progesterone cream) so that I don't fall prey to endometrial cancer as well. I am just so grateful that I am getting an answer now and not later when I could very well have been a cancer patient. Thank you, GOD!

If you have any questions about PCOS, I believe you can look up more information at the website for American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

I'm pretty sure that website is open to the public, but if not I would just Google it and take the information and your concerns to a doctor you can trust. 

I hope you're having a lovely day wherever you are in the world! 

Take care and be love!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Low Progesterone Websites

After sharing my recent discovery of having chronic low progesterone, I have been shocked at how many of my female friends and acquaintances have come out of the wood-work lately regaling their own stories of how low progesterone has caused all sorts of issues for them, not least of which is infertility and miscarriages.  It makes me so sad.  When I consider how long it took for myself and my sister W to get our answers about how low progesterone has affected our lives, I guess it shouldn't shock me that the medical community still seems to ignore this ever-common issue over and over again; but I can't help it, it does.

I'm by no means an expert, but I thought that I would list some websites that might point you in the right direction if you're wondering if you, yourself have a low-progesterone/estrogen dominance problem.  These are sites that pushed me and my sister, W, in the right direction.  I do not recommend self-diagnosing, but I do encourage you to do your research and then definitely seek out a doctor that will take the time to take your blood on the correct day (usually anywhere between days 19-22 of your monthly cycle, charting is a good thing to do so you know where you are exactly in your cycle, even if you have a history of previously having very normal cycles) and test it for your hormone, adrenal gland, pituitary gland, and thyroid functions (all of which can have a hand in low progesterone and other hormone issues).

I hope that if you stumbled across this blog while searching for information on hormone issues, that you will soon find an answer that restores your body to wholeness.  God created each of us to be healthy and whole in these bodies that we live in; so, don't give up, there is an answer for you out there!

"Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers." 3 John 1:2 (American King James Version)

Links to Hormone/Low Progesterone Websites:

I wish you blessings, peace, and hope on your journey!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Oh, hello again, Low Progesterone!

All of my tests are back - finally!  I think that is the most anxious I've been in a long time to hear back from a doctor's office; I just wanted to know so badly.

My sister, W, had been doing lots and lots of research about the symptoms of low progesterone since discovering that her seizures were due to catamenial epilepsy two days before Christmas.  She sent me a list via e-mail, and I was SHOCKED at how many of the symptoms I had been dealing with nearly since I had started my period at age 11.  So, needless to say, I had a pretty good idea that it was all going to bowl down to progesterone; and I was right.

My T4 Free and TSH which measure thyroid levels and function were both completely normal and healthy.  My prolactin was normal.  I was reactive for rubella (which is good, this means you have the antibodies in your system already).  The only thing left was progesterone.

Dr. S (our new fertility doctor) and Dr. K (his partner and my regular OBGYN) had long thought that progesterone might be causing me to continually miscarry and/or not ovulate at all.  My labs were taken on CD22 (cycle day #22), and my progesterone level was only .9 (yep, not even 1)!  At that point in my cycle, it should have been at least 15 or higher; but could/should have been upwards of 20-30!!!

When my sister W seized over and over again two days before Christmas a few weeks ago, her levels were .6; I was only 3 tenths higher than her!  Dr. S said it's amazing that I haven't been seizing myself, and that I'm very lucky that it hasn't caused more trouble than it already has.

Dr. S is calling me for a more in-depth consultation tomorrow about where to go from here, but essentially my severely low progesterone has probably not even been allowing me to ovulate.  If at some points I have ovulated, Dr. S and Dr. K both are convinced that I have had early miscarriages over and over and over and over again.  Mr. C and I were timing everything perfectly and doing everything right (charting, eating well, exercising, and taking vitamins); it feels so good to know that it wasn't "us", it was the hormones!

Dr. S and Dr. K are now thinking that my fast-growing cervical pre-cancer (which I had surgery to remove back in September) may have been a result of my low progesterone (it can cause cervical displaysia which turns to cancer); because they can find absolutely no other reason for it to have been there (I do not test positive for HPV or any other virus that increases your risk of female cancers).  They're also sure that my extremely painful PMS symptoms and completely irregular cycles (some lasting a mere 24 days, some lasting 46-50 days) are another symptom of my low progesterone; which also makes it difficult to ovulate properly or ever.

I am just so very, very glad to have an answer finally!  It feels to good to know that it's not "my fault"; it's just hormones.  This is fixable!  What an amazing way to start out the new year!

So, what's next?  Well, I'm not entirely sure of everything that Dr. S will want to do; but I do know that I will probably begin some sort of progesterone cream during this cycle.  I'm so excited to see how it changes things; I've heard a lot of women on online chat boards who are on progesterone creams talking about how much it helped them feel better overall.  And, of course, I can't wait to see if this increases our chances of getting pregnant!

Mr. C and I have known that we wanted to have both biological and adopted children in our family; we didn't know which would come first, and we didn't care either way.  I'm hoping that maybe this means we'll be able to get pregnant soon, and then add to our family through adoption for baby #2!  I finally feel as though we're going down a clear path that is leading to an answer and hope instead of wandering alone in a dark forest of despair.

I have been smiling all day...and I don't think it's going to go away any time soon!

Be well, Be blessed,

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Save Handmade!
One of my favorite blogs that I literally check every day is called Cool Mom Picks.  It's amazing what they post on this site; I'm always in awe of their abilities to be so effortlessly, well, cool!

Recently, I read their post about Congress passing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act; which could ban the selling of our favorite homemade goodies from places like Etsy and Ebay.  Where would we be without those sites?!  A pretty sad place, my friends!

I'm not going to even try to write about it myself when the cool kids at CMP have already done such a great job; so, I'll just give you the link, and you can check it out yourself.

Spread the word!  We need to stop this act from ruining my ability to shop at my favorite online stores - haha!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Closing the Door...

Still no word on my labs from Dr. S's office yet, but Mr. C and I did receive sad news today...

Our file at Gladney is being officially closed today. 

I know that we can no longer go down the Ethiopia path or adopt at this very moment, but I am still extremely heart-broken over the loss of this adoption.  I was so convinced that God was leading me down this road, and that we were finally going to get to be parents.  I was so excited!  It honestly feels as though I've lost a child...I have been dreaming of this brown-skinned baby for over a year. 

I have a room painted yellow for a boy or girl...I have a stroller and three boxes of diapers...I have some decorations...I had all of these dreams about what we would do, what I would read to Baby C and how I would play with him/her.  It's all gone now.

I realize that we could get pregnant soon, but maybe we won't.  Maybe not ever, like we've always suspected, and these past years have taught us.  I really couldn't care less how I become a mother; I will love my child whether born from my womb or from my heart...I would just like to somehow be able to move forward in some direction.

There is really nothing to be said today...only that I am feeling pretty sad.  I've been trying really hard to keep my spirits up, because I know that God has a plan; but sometimes I think it's okay to just be human and wallow in the tough feelings of loss and rejection...

After all, even Jesus was a Man of Sorrows.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My "Fault"

I got a call this morning around 10 a.m. from our fertility clinic.  Dr. S's nurse said that Mr. C's "little swimmer" analysis came back, and they just wanted us to know that everything looked really "good" and "normal".

"Great," was all I could think. "So, all of this is my fault then."

I know in reality there is no such thing as someone being "at fault" when it comes to fertility.  I eat right, exercise, take vitamins daily, always go to my yearly exams, and try to be a good person and follow Christ as best as a lowly human can - what else could I have done?  Nothing, of course; but it's still hard at times to not feel like I'm being punished for something somehow.

Since W was diagnosed with catamenial epilepsy, she's been doing lots of research on the effects of low progesterone, most all of my health concerns were on the lists of symptoms she found on several medical sites, including cervical displaysia and cancer, miscarriages, infertility, irregular periods, and extremely painful PMS symptoms.  I am hoping that my answer is a simple one like low progesterone that can be "fixed" with creams and/or pills.  I would be so grateful to at least have that under control, whether or not it leads to pregnancy.

Hopefully I'll have more answers tomorrow.  Dr. S's nurse said she thought she'd have the rest of my labs today, but since I never heard back I can only assume that they didn't get there before they closed.  Darn!  Guess I'll just have to wait until tomorrow!

*Patience is the most difficult virtue for me to try to master.*


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Prayer Request

Not for me, but a family member...

After suffering years of infertility and infertility-related health issues, A and her hubby adopted an adorable little girl.  The years passed, and both A and her hubby longed for another child - a brother or sister for their little girl.

Well, they got their wish a few months ago.  A family friend of theirs called to say she was four months pregnant and wanted to make an adoption plan for her baby.  They were ecstatic, of course, and accepted.  She called again on December 19th to say that the baby girl was for sure theirs if they wanted.  It was happening!

On December 24th, the baby girl was born and although she's doing well, she is in the NICU.  That, however, is the least of A and her husband's problems...the birth mom has been virtually MIA.  She met with A and her hubby's lawyers, and called to say that all went well; but there has been no communication between the lawyers and A and her husband yet; which is seeming suspicious.

Please pray that God's will and best comes out of this situation for A and her hubby.  I cannot imagine actually getting to the point where you've held a baby and taken them into your heart only to suffer the heartbreak of possibly having the hope of having that child in your life taken from you.  I know that sometimes doors close so that you can open the one that you're really supposed to open; but I just can't believe that God would put A and her family through such heartache, and at the beginning of a brand new, fresh year too!

I am praying for clarity and wisdom for all parties, for peace for the birth mother, and for love and peace to envelope A and her whole family as they await the answers.

Thank you for keeping them in your prayers and good thoughts - everything helps!

Have a Blessed Day,

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Bloodwork

Well, 2011 is in full swing, and to "celebrate" Mr. C and I officially started our fertility work-ups today.  Woo hoo?

Mr. C had his "little swimmers" analyzed today (I think I was more embarrassed about this than he was!); and I had several vials of blood drawn to check for all sorts of hormone, adrenal, and thyroid issues that are known to cause or add to infertility issues.

Dr. S says we should get answers within about 24 hours - wowza!  I just hope that there is an answer or answers in these easy solutions.  Otherwise, it's on to the big stuff like surgery to find out if I do, in fact, have endometriosis (which I REALLY don't want to have to go through)!

The weirdest thing of all was while we were checking Mr. C in at the lab where his "swimmers" were being checked out, the lady behind the counter who was African American started talking about how hard it can be to get pregnant.  Then she was going on and on about how she and her husband know that they're going to adopt one day through the bi-racial program through foster care; so, I told her our position and how we desperately still want to adopt. 

She gave us some names of some people in Springfield who are involved in helping to place bi-racial children in their forever homes here in Missouri.  We were so exited, because this is EXACTLY where we feel God is leading us on our path toward adoption!  I am convinced that we will be parents to a bi-racial child someday (maybe sooner, maybe later, but it WILL happen).  She was so uplifting and positive.  God knows when you need a boost, and he brought one in this super nice lady!

Next time I write, I should have some answers FINALLY!  We're so excited to learn some TRUTH!  Hooray!