To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Praise God for Praise Reports!

Photo courtesy of Tainted Canvas.
In the midst of so much turmoil going on within my family with my mom being sick again and my sister battling catamenial epilepsy and our adoption, I think I forget to stop and just praise and thank God for all of the good gifts and wondrous protection He has given us.  I want to take some time and do that now.

First off, W is on a new hormone treatment for her catamenial seizures; and so far, so good!  *thumbs up*  Monday, she had a very small seizure (twitching fingers and feet); but it was NOTHING compared to the grand mals she had been having twice a month.  I just KNOW that the current treatment is working!

For those curious, catamenial epilepsy is marked by seizures that occur only around your period and/or ovulation in your cycle.  (I wrote about it previously here .) W's treatment is to be on very high doses of progesterone (a natural anti-convulsant) along with several other herbs and vitamins and minerals that build up the body and adrenal glands in the wake of seizures.  She is feeling and looking so much betterShe is almost completely off of the AED's (anti-epileptic drugs) that her previous (IDIOT) neurologists had put her on (and which did NOTHING but make her feel nervous and crazy all the time).  So, she is on her way to total healing; and we are all so grateful to God for answering that prayer for us!

As for myself, you might remember that  I had some ovarian cysts burst on me (three to be exact!).  It was certainly not fun.  To top it all off the Chinese herb regimen I had been on made me bleed continuously from October 3rd until...well, I'm still bleeding. I do think, however, that since this was my first cycle off of the herbs and my first cycle back on BCP's in literally years, that my body was just going through a lot.  I start this pack of pills on Sunday, if the bleeding hasn't stopped by next week, I'll have an u/s done to see if there's anything going on.  Also, a "persistent, drippy period" was a supposed side-effect of the Chinese herbs I took; so, I might order the herb they said would help end said non-stop period and go from there.

ANYWAY, Dr. K had done my one-year colposcopy  after my LEEP procedure.  I was a little upset, because just by looking at my cervix he was saying that it looked as though there was nothing to do be done - that I would have cervical cancer one day.  I was really upset with him for being so down and not even giving me a chance before jumping to conclusions.

I went home and began to pray.  I told God that, like David said in the Psalms, if He wanted me to be able to praise His name, He had to give me something to praise him about.  That a dead man cannot praise Him.  A sick person cannot be a light and witness of His strength and power.  A 30-year-old with cervical cancer is not a good example of what his might can do.  I prayed that the results of my biopsy would boggle the minds of everyone involved - from the lab techs to the nurses to my doctor.  And you know what?????

They came back completely NEGATIVE for EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!

I have no cancer.  I have no pre-cancer.  My cervix is healthy and looking good!  When Dr. K's nurse, C called to tell me the results her EXACT words were, "Well, Mandie, all of our minds are just BOGGLED by this; but it is the best possible result ever - you are completely healthy and are absolutely pre-cancer free."

YES!!!!!  Thank you, Jesus!  I just KNOW that He answered my prayers EXACTLY the way I wanted them answered!  What an amazing and wonderful God I serve.  He is truly the good daddy, the wonderful philosopher, the mighty physician!  How wonderful is His name in all the universe!

Right now we're going through some rough news with my mom.  She is sick, but God is mightier than any disease - no matter how hefty it may seem!  I KNOW He is healing her (she's already healed!), and that she will live out her many years to come praising His name and showing people how mighty He really is!

So, there you have it - Praise God for Praise Reports!  He is faithful and good and is always blanketing us in his unfailing love! :-)

May Blessings Be Poured Out Upon You,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where in the World is Baby C?

We're still not revealing which country we're adopting from, but I thought I'd give you these picture clues.  If you can decipher the country from these, then you deserve to know! :-)

What's your guess???


Purple Once Upon a Time/Little Princess Baby Shower

My sister M and I threw our first baby shower without the aid of our uber-crafty mother last Saturday, and it was a smashing success!  Mom had just had gall bladder surgery; so, she was pretty much out of commission when it came to helping us out.  Luckily, she had already finished several things before it got to crunch time; so, that was good.

B, the mommy-to-be, is having a little girl in December; and her favorite color (and consequently the baby's nursery) is purple; so, we took that as our main inspiration.  We wanted B to feel like the center of attention for the day, and who gets more attention than a princess or queen?!  So, a princess theme of "once upon a time" seemed perfect.

It's always better to see than describe; so, here are some pictures - we had so much fun putting this together!

My mom made this amazing castle diaper cake!  Isn't it incredible?!  It contains hundreds of rolled-up diapers, receiving blankets, rattles, little baby lotions and soaps, socks, teethers, bows, etc.  She did an incredible job!  (PS: If you think you might want to order one, message me on here; and I'll try to get her information to you!)
We kept the tables simple with "flowers" of different shades of purple M&M's, "bouquets" of baby socks and onesies, and paper princess crowns.

A PINK frog prince (he's strong in his masculinity!) greeted guests as they came in to the party.

The buffet reflected the purple theme.

The food carried out the princess theme as well.  This is the "pauper's porridge" (ie: tomato bisque and cheddar chowder).

"Royal Septres" (pretzel sticks), "Excalibur Cups" (dollops of ranch dressing with carrot, celery, and cucumber sticks), and "Crown Jewels" (purple rock candy, green Jelly Belly jellybeans, and cups of cubed grape Jello and green and red grapes).

"Let Them Eat Cake" pops!

"Diamonds in the Rough" (ie: homemade chocolate truffles).

My mom's famous sugar cookies are "the Queen's biscuits".

"Princess Potions" (coffee, lemonade, grape Crush soda), "Jester Juice" (grape Kool Aid), and "Fairest of Them All Elixir" (water).

Grandmama-to-be, Mommy-to-Be, M, and me standing in front of the silk and tulle covered gift tables.
The gift tables.
Everyone said they had a really good time, especially B; which was the most important thing to M and I.  So, we considered it a success!



October 18th, 2008. Mr. C and I walking to the theater (that's right, theater!) to get married.  It was a perfect day that I will NEVER forget.

I am obviously late (an ENTIRE week late, actually) in writing this; but Mr. C and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary on the 18th.  While we didn't get to go do anything particularly romantic, this was probably one of the most important anniversaries of our lives; because this anniversary made us officially eligible to adopt.  HOORAY!

Mr. C and I at the post office dropping our first big round of paperwork in the mail - exciting day!

Instead of some big, fancy dinner or tickets to see a show, we decided to drive from my parents' house in Iowa (where my mom had just had surgery), to the nearest Ikea store (this was our first visit to one EVER, by the way!) - 4 hours away.  It was a LOOOOOONG day but totally worth it.  We got a TON of things for the house and nursery that we really needed and wanted to get done before the the home study officially began; so, it worked out perfectly.

Mr. C in the cafeteria. Unfortunately, the only two photos we took at Ikea of ourselves were while eating - oops!
Me snarfling some of those famous meatballs (I know people make fun of them, but they were actually pretty good!).

So, there it is...three years.  I am so blessed to have a man like Mr. C in my life.  He always goes above and beyond for me - always.  He is selfless and kind and compassionate.  Everyone who meets him loves him, because his huge heart full of love just radiates out from his soul and everyone notices.  He's brilliant.  He's sexy.  He's funny.  He's my soul-mate.  We are twin souls, and I'm the luckiest girl in the world!

Thank you, God, for sending me this wonderful person to walk through life with; he is going to be the most amazing father ever.

Blessed Beyond Compare,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pop! Goes the Ovarian Cyst

So, I had an ovarian cyst burst on me Sunday.  I didn't write anything about it here, because there was so much other junk going on especially with my biopsy that I just didn't have the mental fortitude to blog about it at the time.

While mom, grandma, and W were all in the hospital last week, I had started to feel very odd.  My symptoms reminded me a bit of a bladder infection, but not quite - there was no burning sensation when urinating, there was no low-grade temp, there was no frequency in the urination either.  So, what was going on?  I didn't know, but I was about to find out.

M and I got back to Branson on Saturday night, and by Sunday my lower abdomen was throbbing and stabbing with pain.  My back and torso were radiating agonizingly as well.  I couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep; I just tossed and turned all through the night.

I told Mr. C that I was pretty sure I was in the midst of an ovarian cyst bursting.  He looked up all my symptoms online and soon agreed with me.  By Sunday night, Mr. C was convinced I needed to go to the ER; but I refused.  The adoption starts on the 18th, and the last thing we need is to spend $500 on an ER visit for nothing more than pain meds and an ultrasound, especially when I had the biopsy appointment set for Tuesday morning.

So I toughed it out...

I have to say, in all honesty, those were probably the most physically painful two days of my life.  I cannot remember anything else I've gone through physically that was that excruciating.  I definitely recommend avoiding having this experience to anyone.

By my appointment on Tuesday morning, my back was still throbbing but the pain was not as sharp and stabbing as before.  After going through all of my symptoms and relating the fact that I started my third period in 29 days (and it was a WEIRD period!), everyone was on the same page.

I think it was shocking that I didn't go to the ER.  By all accounts it is one of the most painful things a woman can go through, and normally someone enduring this would be given Vicodin to ease them through at least the first few days.  I hadn't taken anything other than extra strength Tylenol along with a heating pad.

Although, I did feel good knowing that the only thing they would have done for me in the ER is do an ultrasound and give me pain meds.  I felt glad that I saved us the cash for the adoption instead of running to the ER.

Today, I'm feeling much better.  I even tried to get a run in for my 1/2 marathon training.  I didn't make it two miles before I had to stop; but I was glad that I pushed myself to at least try.

According to the Dr. K and med sites on the Internet, the aftermath of a burst ovarian cyst can linger for up to 3 months (hooray.).  I'm just praying daily that God heals me up quickly.  I don't have time to be stuck dealing with these side effects with marathon training, the adoption, my mom's surgery coming up, and all the holidays on the way!

I'm curious if anyone else out there has had an ovarian cyst burst on them?  If so, how long did you feel out-of-sorts?  I'd be very interested to hear any and all of your stories!

Here's hoping you're all doing much better than I've been lately!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Switching Gears

Well, today was not the day I wanted it to be.  I had my one-year check-up with Dr. K to see how my cervix was looking after my LEEP surgery last September.  While I had colposcopies in December and March, nothing too intense was done at those times for the mild displaysia that was found both times since Mr. C and I were TTC with meds during those months.

Today, Dr. K found that the two areas that had shown up with displaysia before (in March) were gone; however, three more areas on the other side of my cervix were showing up as displaysia under the colposcope.


Actually, Dr. K's reaction made me pretty angry.  He essentially said that since my body just keeps allowing this to happen that I'll just end up with cervical cancer one day.

I REFUSE to believe that.

The biopsies today hurt like hell.  Mr. C came with me, and he said that Dr. K was taking large chunks of cervix for the biopsies - all this with NO pain medication - not even a topical.  Yeah.

Dr. K said he was going to test for all of the main HPV's that cause cervical cancer (mainly 16 and 18) as well as pre-cancer in the biopsies; so, he needed "a lot".

I suppose the other thing that bugged me about Dr. K today was the fact that he kept insisting that that I must have one of the cancer causing HPV's.   

(A little history: I contracted HPV after being raped in October of 2005.  While I know that I could have contracted much worse, it still makes me extremely angry knowing that my rapist left me this terrible disease which is now haunting me and causing me so much trouble, YEARS after he raped me.  It makes me very, very angry.) 

Anyway, what gets me is that Dr. K has tested me three previous times for these HPV's.  Each time, they have come back negative.  I don't understand why he's essentially giving up on me and resorting to believing it's cancer when we don't even have the results of my biopsies yet.  Mind you, my past two biopsies came back NEGATIVE for advanced pre-cancer.  Why are doctors like this?!  Argh!

To keep the current displaysia from getting any worse in the meantime, Dr. K went ahead and did an acid wash on my cervix (not as bad as it sounds).  It's essentially Compound W for cervical displaysia.  I didn't really even feel anything (again, NO pain meds); so, that was good.  He said that best case scenario, my biopsies will come back negative; which will make the next step maintenance and suppression with more of this acid washing. 


BUT, seeing how the alternative is another LEEP and even less of my cervix being left around, I'll take it!  (Any prayers that the biopsy results will be in my favor would be MUCH appreciated!)

OH, and I forgot to, I guess I'll just show you all:

That's right.  I'm back on BCP's.  You'll notice one is even gone already.  I started today.

I have to tell you, it was pretty emotional taking that pill today.  Even though I was in quite a bit of pain from the biopsies, this felt just as bad...well, maybe not "bad" but at least totally surreal.  It has really hit me that it's over.  Probably forever.

There are so many benefits to me taking the BCP's right now: they will help shrink the cysts on my ovaries, they will regulate my cycles, they will force my lining to shed properly each month (coming from a long line of endometrial cancer, this is important!), they will ensure we do not get pregnant (*gulp*) during the adoption (if we get pregnant during the adoption, it will immediately be terminated).

Mr. C and I had a long conversation about not only the BCP's, but my long-term fertility diagnosis.  It has become quite plain to me recently that I may have already lost my fertility.  My PCOS may have already gone too far to be fixed.  The probability of my never, ever being able to get pregnant - not even with ovarian drilling or IVF - is very real.  And although it may be hard to understand (even for myself at times), I am really becoming okay with this.  I suppose I am finally resigning to this reality, and (although this might change from time to time) I am not even angry about this.

It feels so strange to be out-right preventing something we have been desiring and working towards for nearly 3 straight years.  It's going to be incredibly odd to not get up and automatically take my temperature.  It's going to be weird to not document my cervical position and mucus.  It's going to be mind-boggling to no longer use OPK's or progesterone cream.

But also, it's going to be wonderful.  To be "normal".  To not have to analyze every twinge and twitch I feel my body make.  To not have to worry if what's I'm doing or eating or exposed to will hurt a potential egg, ovulation, embryo, pregnancy...

Also, I know that this is just step one on the path to making the adoption a reality.

Which brings me to another bit of fear for me.  Last year, Dr. K said he would NOT write my health release letter for our Ethiopian adoption until I had good biopsies come back after my LEEP.  Now, he seems more cooperative; but I just do not need anything else standing in our way.  I NEED the biopsies to come back good; so, Dr. K will write my medical release and the adoption can continue as planned.  PLEASE, GOD, PLEASE!!!!!

All that said, today marks exactly TWO WEEKS until our third anniversary and the adoption officially beginning!  HOORAY!  My sister, M, said to me that she had never seen me more happy than when I spoke of the adoption.  I know she's right.  I am so excited for this adoption to get going...I cannot wait to be a mommy - FINALLY!

So again: any prayers for good biopsy results and the adoption process in general would be GREATLY appreciated! :-)

It's really happening, the switching of gears.  The refocusing has begun - from infertility to a new kind of fertility of the heart.  I feel as though my soul could burst from joy!  I have walked through the fire, burned off the excess, and have come out on the other side whole, even in my brokenness, and ready to be the best mommy I can be.

Please, God, let it really happen this time...PLEASE.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Something's Gotta Give

So, M and I just got back from a hellacious week in Iowa...great way to start off a new blog post, right?

We went up to finish up as much as we could for B's baby shower on the 22nd of this month, but ended up spending nearly all of our time in hospitals.  Oh joy.

First, my grandmother (mom's mom) ended up in the ER, then ICU for what turned out to be e-coli poisoning; which threw off her insulin levels and messed with her heart.  (She's still in the telemetry unit, by the way.)  Then, my mom had to go to the ER an hour and a half away since no one near us knew what to do with her.  It ended up she had a bad bladder infection caused by a really bad bacterial infection which was probably caused by her STILL untreated nasty gall-bladder.  Last but not least, W, had to go see a new doctor who specializes in catamenial seizures to get new hormones prescribed to her - mind you, this was at a totally different hospital, 3 hours away.

Yeeeeaaaaahhh.  We were losing our minds.

When we left on Saturday afternoon around 3, we thought things were fairly under control.  At least, the sh*t storm seemed to be passing, and even mom was looking (if not really feeling) better.  We were all feeling a little relieved.

M needed to get back in time for her nephew, N's, 4th birthday party on Sunday; and I needed to get back for my one-year check-up from my LEEP procedure.  So, off we headed back to Branson...feeling much better about things and as though things were looking up.

Then, today happened.

Mom still isn't feeling well, and with all of her symptoms, her doctors are thinking she hurt herself badly when she fell in the shower a week and a half ago (did I mention that she FELL IN THE SHOWER?!  yeah, because she did.) OR her gall-bladder has wrecked havoc on her internal organs and is parading around amongst them leaving behind a ticker-tape barrage of infectious bacteria.  Delightful.

To make matters worse still, W wasn't able to get to the compounding pharmacy to get her new hormones until today...and of course, it was too late.  She had one seizure this morning around 7:30 a.m., then another one a few hours later on the way to the pharmacy to get her meds.  Dad got her to the back seat of the vehicle (this is the second time she's had a seizure in the car - ugh!), and she said they weren't as terrible as they normally are; but still not fun.

***UPDATE: While waiting for mom to get a room in the ER in Iowa City, W had her third seizure of the day.  She was admitted herself, and mom has had pretty much a full-body scan AGAIN to see what exactly is wrong - kidneys, liver, gall-bladder, etc.  My poor dad is all alone in the ER running back and forth between the two rooms trying to figure out what to do about it all.

Now, M and I are left wondering if we should have left at all.  Of course, I do understand the necessity of having my one-year exam.  I'm sure everything's fine, but I have had a really whack-a-doo cycle this past month...  Since this is the first cycle after finishing the Chinese herbs, I was cutting my body some slack; but I'm beginning to get a little worried now. 

First, I had a 5-day period.  Fairly normal, no big issues.  But, then, 6 days after that, I had a 9-day period.  Now, I'm a little over a week past that; and I'm spotting - just a little, not too much, but it does have me worried a bit. :-(   I'm trying not to freak out, because a "persistent, drippy period" was one of the side-effects of the herbs I was on; but if something is wrong, our adoption could be postponed again.  I will freaking lose my mind if that ends up being the case.  Literally...I might as well go buy a straight-jacket right now.


I guess I'll find out tomorrow...but seriously...something's gotta give.

Psalm 34:19-20 - "A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken."

I Peter 5:10 - "And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast."

Holding strong,