Tag: hope

Gray

Its been a minute, I know.

The last post was nearly 4 months ago, when we heard a heartbeat that didn’t belong to either one of us, but then again sort of did.
I’ve struggled a lot with what this blog and our story would look like once we got our happy answer.

It been a fantastically wonderful difficult hard beautiful gross confusing 4 months.

As a quick update:
We’re having a boy.  His name is Truitt Charles Bush.  More on his name in another post, because that’s a meaty one.
Our boy is big, healthy, active, and we already see ourselves in him.

Struggle

I know, this may sound a little ridiculous and probably makes me look extremely hard to please.  It is what it is.
Being pregnant is hard.  Harder than I was prepared for.  If it were just the physicality of it, I’d probably not post about it.
Physically, I am mostly fine.  My body, however, was not “made for this” as so many crunchy folks like to say.  No judgement to the crunchy, i consider myself partially crunchy (as partially crunchy as one can be after taking the amount of hormones I did and excising weird stuff off my innards with laser beams).  If one more person looks at me and says “your body knows what to do!” I am going to give a very detailed explanation of how NO my body DOES NOT know what to do, it is VERY CONFUSED.  There is another HUMAN in there.
My migraines are now peaking at 5-6 days a week.  I am still able to work full time by keeping a watchful eye on the weather, my sleep schedule (lol at sleeping while pregnant, amirite?) and medicating (safely) often.  I am on a strict no-Botox diet until Truitt says hello from the outside (we listen to a lot of Adele, I’m not sorry), and since I’m bellybutton deep into the second trimester, it doesn’t look like they are letting up any time soon.  That’s difficult for me, because I feel like a flake.  Beyond work, I can’t make a lot of commitments,  because having migraines and hurting almost constantly is exhausting.
Beyond that and some scar tissue induced round ligament spasms, I’m a pretty perky prego.
Mentally, I’ve been a mess.
“WHY?!  You’re pregnant!  It worked the FIRST TIME!”
I know, it usually doesn’t.
“This is exactly what you’ve been praying for, working for, trying so hard for!”
Indeed.
“You must be so EXCITED!”
No doubt about it.  The English language is not adequate enough to explain how we feel.

But why us?

I decided to go public with our journey because I didn’t really know anyone who’d been through this.  I’d found some random faceless women on some message boards and online groups, and I’m thankful for them.  But I thought surely someone I know has done this, been through this.  And then I thought maybe I/we could be that someone that someone knew, when they dealt with this.  There had to be others.  I wanted to find the others that I already knew I knew, I just didn’t know.

Boy, did we.

We have been overwhelmed with the echoes of “me too” we have gotten after going public.  People who have told us publicly and in confidence.  People who are searching for community.  Families who are actively dealing with this hurt and struggle and journey and understand the hardship and just get it on a level that no one else can.
We have found so many great confidants in this journey.  People who are public with their journey, people who are not.  Several have reached out to us, as we are a bit ahead of them in the journey, just as we reached out to a few couples who have been instrumental in our own journey.
We were made for community.  Doing this alone is not healthy, I honestly don’t get how people do it.  We need one another – we are good for each other.  We would have been lost and overwhelmed without this little community that we scrounged up from the depths of the internet and high school and and friends of friends of friends.

In this community, not everyone wins.  Not everyone has the happy ending they set out to find, especially not on the first try.

Sweet friends that I knew that I knew (I just didn’t know) who are dealing with this are seeing more loss, failed cycles, bad news.  My heart is so broken for them.

They didn’t get to/haven’t yet heard their heart beat.  Or they heard their heart beat, and then have experience the death of their baby.

My heart hurts.  A lot.

I feel so guilty that it worked for us.  Like I should maybe hide my joy and excitement and annoyance with migraines and pregnancy discomfort because how dare I?  These friends still hold such a special place in my heart, and I want so much to follow their journey, hold their hand, be a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear.
But I am pregnant shoulder.  My ears still hear my baby’s heart beat.  My belly feels his kicks.  He is still “mine”, for now.

Solution

I don’t have one.  This post doesn’t really resolve into a great epiphany of understanding and enlightenment.
I don’t have it figured out.  I don’t know that I ever will.

I know that we are not pregnant because I ate enough pineapple, or took the right drugs at just the right time, or prayed hard enough with just enough faith.  I am pregnant with a healthy baby boy because of God designed science, and because God has a plan for this person.  It has nothing to do with me.  It is for His glory alone.

We are living in a weird gray area.  Yes, both Mister and I.  This is a family journey, not a female journey.

We are over the moon excited about our son.  We have a son.  I feel him move so much, he keeps me awake, he’s sassy and possibly left handed.  He parties all night and is a total grouch like his Daddy at early morning ultrasounds.  He is soothed and calmed down by listening to Mister snore.  Yes.  Snore.
Pregnancy is what we’ve gone through hell and high water to achieve.  I am so excited I get to experience it, I love it.  I thought it may never happen for us, for me.
Its gross and weird and sometimes it sucks and is hard and it hurts, a lot.  The anxiety we’ve both experienced during our short time with our boy is overwhelming, and he’s not even “here” yet.

We are broken over those who are still struggling.  When we see a friend get told “I’m sorry…”, again.  When another family learns that IUI isn’t enough.  When they don’t know why its not working.  When they don’t know what to do next.  When someone else tells them to “just relax” or “quit thinking about it” or “have enough faith.”

This community is still so important to us.  We are still very much a part of it.  We are attempting, again, a support group of sorts, beginning next month.  I have mixed feelings about leading a group of struggling families as a big ole pregnant lady.  This is too important to us to ignore just because we have our baby growing, but its something that must be handled with a grace and dignity I haven’t quite figured out yet in order to be sensitive and understanding to others.

We are overjoyed.  We are anxious.  We are broken.  We are thankful.  We are conflicted.

We are gray.

 

 

Dropping Genes and Making Babies

Ten years ago, MS high school graduates had to have 2 lab sciences under their belt in order to qualify for a 4 year university.  I think its more than that now.  I don’t know.  I’m done with that mess.  I ended up with 4 anyway, because I’m a nerd.  I took Biology I and II my freshman and sophmore year.  I broke my chemistry teacher’s heart and my mother’s heart (who is also a chemistry teacher…Sorry Mom and Mrs. Malone) when I took one year of that mess and had a strong “EW no thanks” response my junior year, and my senior year, I went back to my happy place of AP Biology.
One of the only things I remember from Biology II (sorry Coach) was a genetics unit we did where Coach had us “dropping our genes and making babies.”  Coach was so scandalous and punny.  We had different gene traits on paper slips, we’d drop our genes (ba dum ching), record the answers on our punnet square, and then end up with a randomized “baby”.

I feel like that’s what we’re doing this week.  I can’t drop my actual jeans, as I can’t get them past my hips these days, but we’re fixing to drop both of our genes off in a lab and in just over a week, we’ll be parents.  How crazy is that?  Science is so cool.  Medicine is wild.  And God is so, so big.
On Friday, after a green light from our doc, we started the twice daily hormone injections of Menopur and Follistim.  I’m taking 3 doses a day right now, but thankfully can mix two of those in one shot, so I only get stuck once in the morning and once at night.  I loath the shots, but Mister hands me a seasonal Little Debbie after every stick, and that makes me a little bit less of a grump.  I’ll start a 3rd medication later this week (an estrogen suppressant, joy!), and we’re on track to have our egg retrieval on February 3.
We’ll be going back and forth to Jackson every other day for ultrasounds, blood work, and monitoring.  Our first monitoring appointment was today.  Doc found 14 follicles on my right ovary, and 13 on my left.  One follicle houses one egg.  Math is hard sometimes (which is why me and chem didn’t jive), but that’s 27 follicles.  During IUI, I only ever had 2 follicles develop at one time, and I thought I was bloated then.  This probably explains why I feel like a blimp.  We are thrilled with that number, but also a little overwhelmed.  Of course that number will drop by the time we get to mature eggs, fertilized eggs, and embryos that continue to grow until Day 5, but we don’t know how much.  It could drop by 6-8, or it could drop by 15-20.  Either way, we’ve got a solid number to start with.

We’re really doing this and its blowing my mind.  The human body is blowing my mind.  What my body is doing is incredible, and I am super impressed with it.  I make sure to cheer on the belly button zip code every day, and apologize for the bruising.  I’m gaining 2 lbs a day.   I feel like an over inflated balloon.  I am eating ALL THE THINGS, and by 7:45 I’m yawning, by 8:00 I have crashed.  I couldn’t even hang with the girls Saturday night for an early dinner at our favorite spot.  Sorry, y’all.  But I know this (the stims) will be over in a week, and this whole cycle will have an answer by the end of February.

We are continually blessed by those who are praying for us, rallying with us, and constantly encouraging us.  After my “gangsta socks” post in early December, my mailbox was overwhelmed with ridiculous socks from some of my favorite people.  I think I have enough pairs to carry me through a full-term pregnancy, and each one reminds me specifically of the wonderful folks that sent them.

We are marveling at what God is doing now, and wait with great anticipation on what he has for us in February.

IVF – Cycle 1

Whelp, we’re doing this.

January 18 – discontinue birth control (lol)
January 22 – initial u/s, start stim protocol
January 26 – monitoring
January 28 – monitoring
January 30 – monitoring
February 3* – retrieval, 2 days bed rest.
February 8* – transfer, 3 days bed rest, begin post retrieval protocol
February 18* – beta 1

*give or take a day, subject to change, pending no OHSS

So, there’s that.
Its scheduled.  We had our teaching session today in Jackson after our initial baseline assessments.  All the tests, all the poking.  Four shots a day pre-retrieval, 1-2 shots a day post transfer.  Lots of supplements, lots of pills.
My doctor paid me the nicest compliment today:

Your uterus is boring and warrants no comment.

That’s seriously the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my uterus.  I was thrilled.  Usually I get a lot of “hmms…”, “uh-ohs”, and “yikes!”  Is now a good time to plug excision surgery?  Who am I kidding.  Its always a good time to advocate for efficient and effective treatment of endometriosis.
Educate.  Empower.  Advocate.
I wore new socks I got from my #ttcmugexchange2015 buddy, and boy did they give my doc a giggle.
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He didn’t see them until he was already in the middle of my exam.  Then he laughed so hard he had to stop what he was doing and get himself together.

You’re SO “gangsta”, Anna.

I KNOW, RIGHT?

As much as I hate the fact that I have to go to a fertility doctor to even have a chance at growing my family, I was reminded today what a rockstar team I have there.  My nurses both hugged me, gave me “real” advice (“you’re going to be emotional during all of this, because, well my God, look what it involves?  But the b**** factor of these meds is nothing like Clomid was…”), laughed with me, asked about my pups, and answered every question I had (all day… I’ve already emailed them twice since this morning).

As we’ve drawn closer and closer to appointments, and as we’ve started taking the first initial steps down the IVF road, my anxiety as skyrocketed to levels I didn’t even know I was capable.  The funny thing about my anxiety – its all somatic.  In my head, I’m totally fine.  I have NO freaking clue that I’m anxious.  But I’ll get off the phone with my clinic after scheduling and appointment or confirming a payment figure, and all of the sudden I can’t turn my head to the right, or its hard to breath, or I start to stutter, or I will talk 90 miles an hour.  After a somatic symptom pops up, I’ve learned (through some therapy) that I need to mentally recognize the fact that I am stressed, and take active measure of de-stressing, even though I don’t feel stressed.  Does that make sense?  Its been a weird couple of months.
I actually went to my GP about it after a severe stuttering episode, ready to seek a little pharmaceutical assistance.  I brag on my doctors all the time, and with good reason.  Doctors are so smart, so much smarter than me.  They know so much!  I have a fabulous team.  But they are exactly that – a team.  To get anything done, they all have to be in agreement.  My GP is not going to prescribe me anti-anxiety meds that maybe my FE has an issue with, or my OBGYN would not want me on while pregnant, or that could possible interfere with my migraine protocol my neurologist has given me. See what I mean?  Its like assembling the Avengers just to get some Zoloft.  This makes me Nick Fury, right?

SLJ

Turns out, not all of my Avengers saw eye-to-eye on this.  So yoga, the never ending grace of God, a new therapist, and a new coloring book it is.

Next week, Mister and I will celebrate our 4 year wedding anniversary.  Its a weird fact that we’ve been on this trying-to-conceive journey for 75% of that time.  My substitute hairstylist (long term stylist is on maternity leave, ironically) asked me last week if we had anything special planned for our anniversary, and before thinking about it too hard, I said,very excitedly:

Yes!  We’re doing IVF!

She paused, a little shocked I think, but to her credit her response was perfect.  Wow, congratulations, that’s huge, its a drag you have to do this but how exciting that you are able to, y’all must have been planning this for a while, etc.  PERFECT.  Stylists are like a special hybrid of therapists and sorority recruitment.  How many problems to they hear in a day?  They are NEVER short on small talk, they probably have dirt on half the town, all while balancing ridiculous expectations of “get the dead ends off” and “JUST a trim…”  I’m on a rabbit trail, I know, but clearly I’m comfortable in my salon, and clearly this woman is no stranger to weird answers to questions.
But yes.  IVF is our big anniversary present.  Its suppose to be the flowers and fruit anniversary, but we’re being modernly liberal about it, and going for “be fruitful and multiply.”

Through all of this, I’ve been shown time and time again the beautiful relationship between God’s sovereignty and modern medicine/science.  Its is absolutely ridiculous to me when we try to separate the two, only accepting one or the other.  God has revealed Himself so much to me through research and finding wonderful physicians and healers who work miracles under a microscope.  Another thing we’ve learned is how common this problem is, how many other families are hurting.  After some discussion with one of our pastors, Mister and I will be leading a co-ed “Fertility Care” group at our church.  This is meant to be a place for families struggling growing their family (infertility, secondary infertility, infant loss, miscarriage, etc.) to come and find peace and understanding in Christ.  Our goal this entire journey has been to bring glory to The Almighty, whatever His answers may be.  By investing in other families and shedding the shame and stigma that comes with infertility, particularly in the deep south, I think we can bring comfort and encouragement to others.  If you’re in South Mississippi and interested in a biblically based support group, shoot me an email at southernfertility@gmail.com; let’s talk.

We covet your prayers as we continue this winter.  Its going to be a surreal journey, one I’m looking forward to chronicling.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen!
Ephesians 3:20, 21

“I’m a little messed up.”

Hurry up, but wait.  Relax!  Keep tracking though, take good notes.  Have fun!  Don’t worry about this right now.  We’re “on a break”.  Ross, anyone?  But did I take my temperature today?  Log that in the app.

I thought the mood swings would stay away so long as the needles full of lady feelings stayed on top of the fridge and away from my belly/butt/arm. Wrong.

While this is the “summer of fun” and we have technically put our IVF worries concerns thoughts “on a shelf way up high where we can’t reach it” (courtesy of therapy), we know that we still have to be wise.  If we go back to Jackson to our FE for IVF, we want to have the best protocol targeted to our needs.  In order to get that on the first go ’round, we need information.  Lots of information.  Lots of data points, that have to be collected ahead of time.  Three months ought to do it, right?  Good.  We have eight.  Five post surgery, by the time its all said and done.

Ideally, we won’t go back to Jackson.  It will just *happen*.  But we’ve noticed some things with me that may be signaling that my body just won’t *happen* on its own.  It still may.  I’ve not lost all confidence in my parts.  I just have realistic expectations, I think.  Maybe.  Is anyone else confused?

Here are things I know for sure.

  1. We really want to be pregnant.
  2. I still have some lingering biological issues.
  3. “Relaxing” shouldn’t be this much hard work.
  4. I’m over the mood swings.
  5. We are not pregnant.

I have warred so much with myself over the last month, and increasingly over the last two weeks.  I bounce back and forth between states of being.  First I’ll stay off of the blogosphere (accept for sweet friends who’s stories I am invested in, y’all come right to my inbox), be still and know, live in the now, etc.  Then I’m getting restless, and I need to have my sad time, reading other stories of frustration, finding solidarity with women like me, both those that I know personally and those that I feel like I know thanks to the great wide interwebs.  After that, I usually binge on encouragement.  I am a fiend looking for wisdom and encouragement from Jesus, King David, Paul, Hannah, Rachel, Sturgeon, Lewis, Dumbledore, Aslan, Gandolf, Charlotte York, Pheobe Buffay, Amy Farrah Fowler, my best friend(s), all of the smartest and wisest and most encouraging people I know and don’t know and aren’t real.  Rinse, and repeat.  I am wiped just thinking about it.

So today, I’m going to cycle back to being still and knowing.  I’m going to take my vitamins with my red raspberry leaf tea (with ginger), when what I really want is a whiskey, neat with a twist.  I’m going to belly breathe my way through a lower back targeted yoga session instead of channeling my inner Grinch.  I’m going to laugh.

You’ve all been there.  Don’t tell stories.

I’m going to keep reminding myself that He knows my babies’ birthdays.  Every one of their days is planned even now.  I am going to be quieted with His love, and know that he will listen to me scream tomorrow.  Peace be with you, fellow sisters in the struggle, who are in the midst of one of these fertility-minded cycles of crazy.

Remission

“Good morning, Mrs. Bush.  You are endometriosis free.”

I don’t normally appreciate any greeting, in person or electronic, before 8:00am.  Particularly any that refer to me as formally as “Mrs. Bush”.  I also don’t normally hug and cry in front of grown men I’ve known for less than 36 hours.  Friday, April 17th was a weird day.

It’s been ten years since I was last in Atlanta.  Ten years ago, I was doing one of my first and biggest “grown up” things by hopping on a plane with my best friends and spending the next 3 weeks visiting friends in Germany.  While at the airport in Atlanta, I got super nervous, started pouring sweat, and then emptied my stomach into three (yes.  Three) “turbulence discomfort” bags, all before taking off.  I’ve done a lot of growing up since then, but my somatic anxiety tells haven’t changed one bit.

Last Wednesday, after meeting my parents at Big Bad Breakfast in Birmingham (excellent recommendation, Brittany!) for my last real-food meal (for a whole week), we hopped in Favre (my sweet new Southern Miss gold Jeep) and headed to Atlanta for my pre op appointment with the Center for Endometriosis Care.

I was given the opportunity to enroll in two separate studies regarding endometriosis, with one aiming to genetically link endometriosis and infertility.  All of the “awareness” noise we make is meaningless without action behind it.  I’m very excited to be a part of the action.  

After a conference with my wonderful doctor (he likes to meet you formally before he meets you on his exam table), I had a rather painful exam.  Doc diagnosed me with pelvic floor dysfunction.  I’m still learning what that is and what that means, but here’s the short (and Internet appropriate) version:  my pelvic muscles have been spasming like crazy for a long, long time.  When a part of your body feels pain, it contracts.  This part of my body has been feeling a lot of pain, for a long time.  It keeps contracting, over and over.  Now, it has a hard time knowing when that’s appropriate.  This is one of the main causes of my daily pain with things that shouldn’t be painful.  Next month, I will start a very specific form of physical therapy to help reprogram my muscles.  More on that at another time.

I was sent to our hotel with a lovely gift bag.  Inside was a humongous bottle of Miralax, some Dulcolax, lots of Gatorade, and a Fleet Enima.   This goes to show that with proper southern hospitality and etiquette, a colon cleanse can look like a spa gift basket.  Sounds like a party, right?  It wasn’t that bad.  Not something I’d actively choose to do on a Wednesday night, but I know it could have been a lot worse.  

As mentioned above, my anxiety lives in my tummy.  Occasionally, it pops up to make itself known to everyone else.  My anxiety heaves made their appearance once I was in the pre op area, putting on the awful gown and getting my IV Thursday morning.  More props to my nurse for being Johnny on the spot with the bag and ear sticker. Considering I had just emptied the contents of my entire digestive system a few hours earlier, there wasn’t much to put in said bag.  They started giving me ALL of the anti-nausea and anti anxiety drugs, which was super.  Shortly after, my doc came in, cracked a few jokes, and then did the most wonderful thing.   He took my hand and put a hand on Mister’s shoulder, and he prayed over us before surgery.  After a kiss from mama and daddy, they gave me the real good stuff, and I woke up a few hours later with searing pain in my right side.  This was odd to me, even very drugged, as 99% of my pain has always been on the left.

I have very vague memories of the remainder of Thursday.  I know I had a pain medicine pump with a button.  I know that button didn’t work for the first few hours, and Nurse Melinda was very impressed with my pain tolerance.  I know I made mama text Student Doctor Bestie and ask her why I could taste everything they put in my IV.  I know I hated those leg compression things, almost as much as I hated the hospital gown.  That thing went as soon as I had the faculties to sit mostly upright with some assistance, and on went my leopard print gown with matching robe.  Leopard is a neutral and is flattering on everyone.

I was informed later Thursday and again on Friday morning what all happened on the operating table.  I had a cystoscopy and a hysteroscopy (a look around inside my bladder and uterus, respectively), and those areas were clear and free of endometriosis, fibroids, or polyps.  I had three small incisions:  belly button and one near each hip, where my doc excisised all the endometriosis he found.  I had a presacral neurectomy, and a surprise appendectomy.  Turns out, my appendix had endo on it, and was “glued down” to my intestines.   Doc didn’t like how it looked, he was in the neighborhood, so PEW PEW!  There it went.  I’m sure God gave us those things for a reason, but I can’t say I miss mine.  This explains the pain on my right side when I woke up.

The presacral neurectomy has been the biggest adjustment for me, so far, and was my biggest obstacle in the hospital.  Nerves are important, and the ones down there are in charge of a lot of stuff.  It took me a solid 24 hours before I regained the noggin to muscle control that one needs to go to the bathroom.  It took some serious focus and a catheter at 3:00 am before my body figured out how to empty my bladder all by itself.  I got a high five from Nurse Melinda once I did figure it out, though.  Friday morning, my doc came in and gave me the only news worth waking up at 7:15 with a catheter taped to your leg to hear.  I am endo free.  He got it all.  The chance of recurrence (regrowth) is less than 5%.  My endometriosis is in remission.  The good news didn’t stop there.  Doc had originally told us that we could start IVF a month after surgery, so we scheduled our first cycle to start in June.  However, he has encouraged us to wait 3-4 months.  Not because of healing time or because I wouldn’t be able to handle the treatments, but because he thinks he has fixed our problems.  He has encouraged us to give the good old fashion way of conceiving a few months, because he believes it to be possible now.  He hugged me again, blessed us both, I cried, and then Mister took me home to nap where nurses wouldn’t bug me or poke me.  Saturday we went to Steak and Shake where I had a cookie dough milk shake, and on Sunday, Favre brought us home.

I went back to work yesterday.  I’ve gotten a lot of surprise about returning so soon, but I promise, doc said I could sit at my desk and do stuff.  It helps that I love my job.  It helps that my property is small, and I can plan my day around specific needs (like being still).  It also helps that I have a rock solid work family.  I work in a relatively new company that makes a point of rallying around each other and supporting their managers and properties in any capacity.  I knew this on the professional level already, but they have gone above and beyond anything I expected with this surgery and potential IVF.  I have personally heard from my direct supervisor, my counter parts at other properties, the president of my company, and a few of the owners, multiple times over the last week.  Each time they have made it a point to be encouraging, supportive, and to make this time as easy as possible.  They didn’t judge me when all the feelings came out and I cried after a simple “safe travels”, either.  

I am still sore and moving a little slow.  I probably will be for another week or so.  I come home from work and immediately sit down, with the intentions of doing nothing for the rest of the day.  So far, that’s working out great.  We have wonderful friends bringing us meals while I continue to heal and figure out what “normal” is.  I have hurt every day for so long, I have no idea what endo-free life is going to look like in practice, but I’m pretty excited to find out.

While this month has been immensely stressful, it has been full of encouragement and hope.  There are a few uncertains still, and I have a feeling that pelvic floor therapy is going to be another adventure.  We are healing.  We are encouraged.  We are hopeful.  We are well fed.  And we are His.  To God be the glory, great things He has done.

Case Review

It’s been two weeks since we started grieving our last negative test. Two weeks I have been “hormone free.” Emotionally, we are still healing. It took less than two weeks for my endometriosis to realize nothing is holding it back any more. It’s time for the moving on.

The last week has been difficult, physically. Daily cramping and strong consistent pain is back to the point that it’s occasionally difficult to eat and it’s often difficult to sleep. I am going to work, and that’s about it. I missed homecoming at Southern Miss, I’m not very social, and I stay still a lot. I carry a heating pad in my purse. If you don’t see me plugged in somewhere, I’ve probably got one of those stick-on disposable heating packs strapped on.

We have now taken the next step towards IVF. We are having our case reviewed by the Center for Endometriosis Care in Atlanta, GA. This includes nearly 40 pages of “Potential New Patient” forms (not even “actual” new patient forms, those come later??), a 2600 word “Personal Narrative” on my physical/emotional/psychological experience with endometriosis, a picture of me and the Mister, and 150+ pages of medical records that pertain to endometriosis. Basically a manuscript, everything but the kitchen sink and a DNA swab. I’m sure that will come later. Until then, 200ish pages are currently on their way to team at the CEC.

This wonderful facility is the leading research center on endometriosis and has the largest case study on the disease (5,000 patients followed over 20 years). If anyone knows this disease, it’s these guys. We are hoping for an aggressive conservative treatment option that focuses on removing the disease from all organs and tissues, while leaving the necessary organs in place and properly plumbed. We have the support of both our doctor in Hattiesburg and our doctor in Jackson. We are hoping that if our case gets accepted, we will be able to have surgery soon.

We came to the decision that if we were going to do IVF, we wanted to do it to the best of our ability. My insides between my belly button and my kneecaps “kind of look like a war zone.” That’s a direct quote from my radiology tech. Clearly, it’s not pretty. Things don’t hang out where they’re suppose to, they don’t function like they’re suppose to. It’s just a mess, really. With IVF, we will undoubtedly be creating life. Those little blobs of cells will be my children, whether or not we see them grow that far. From the beginning, we want to give them the best that we possibly can. Isn’t that what parents are programmed to do?
I don’t want to put my little embryos up in a sketchy “pay by the hour” motel. Right now, I’m afraid that’s my current condition. I at least want to be able to give them a Marriott or a Hilton. An extended stay suite, if you will. I have come to terms with the fact that God did not make me like a Four Seasons. I am not a Duggar. We feel like having this surgery and removing as much of the disease as we possibly can will not only significantly improve my quality of life, but give our children the best possible chance at healthy growth in-utero. It’s not a guarantee. Nothing is a guarantee. We do feel like it’s the best we can offer, and we do not want to go into IVF with less than our best.

Sometimes during weeks like this last one, it’s easy to get sucked into a sad-sop trap. I have been diagnosed with a disease for which there is no cure. No one even knows what exactly causes this disease. It’s easy to let myself get overwhelmed and exhausted with this constant battle for normalcy. My daddy would never claim to be a theologian, and most of the time our conversations are weird, bordering on inappropriate (burps are rated and those stupid Sonic commercials make us giggle every single time). However, when he slips into Serious Dad, his advice is normally on point.

Pray like everything depends on God, because it does. Act like everything expends on you, because it does.

I have based much of my personal theology around this simple (and paradoxical) idea that my father has repeated to me since I was a little girl. God has called us to walk in faith. We must actively do (the walk) and we must actively trust (the faith) that He is greater. We have not been given an easy walk, and He has not given us the option to “sit” in faith. We believe that, if our case and treatment plan are accepted, this is the final step that lies between us and IVF. It will be invasive. It will involve at least three different organ systems, possibly more. We will know by the end of the month if this surgery is in our immediate future. That is a little bit scary.

We are still grieving what wasn’t, but we are also ready to see what happens next. It’s a little frustrating that we can’t flip to the end of the book and make sure everything turns out ok (you know you did that to make sure Harry beat Voldermort…).

God has been good to us. He has provided for us and sustained us. We know He will continue this work in us until its completion.

And Harry doesn’t die.