ACCEPTANCE TO ELATION, GOD’S TIMING IS PERFECT

Josh and I met and started dating our senior year of college. After
graduation, we took jobs in different cities to pursue our careers; me in
marketing and Josh in communications as a District Executive for the Boy
Scouts. We became engaged and commuted for 3 hours on weekends to see each
other. After working a few years, Josh decided to go back to school for a
degree in nursing before we married. Josh received his Bachelors in
Nursing, and we married the following November. Thank goodness for the
demand in nursing jobs, we were finally able to relocate to the same
city!

We both worked for several more years, wanting to “get established” before
starting a family. We decided it would be best for him to get his master’s
degree so that we could afford for me to quit working and be a
stay-at-home mom. Josh was accepted into the master’s program which took
a little over two years to complete.

After receiving his masters, we relocated to Tennessee. We had found our
dream town, our dream house, and our dream church. Finally! We were
ready to start trying to have children. A family was everything we needed
to complete what we had worked so hard for all these years. It would be
so easy right? We didn’t realize while focusing on our careers, we were
using the few “good years” we had left to get pregnant on our own. We were
still so young.

After trying for a year on our own and with clomid, our ob/gyn referred us
to an infertility specialist. After numerous IUI attempts, and two failed
IVF attempts, our beloved doctor passed away from cancer. We had to start
over using his partner in the practice. This doctor informed us there
wasn’t anything more he could do and suggested third party reproduction.

Since moving to Tennessee, we had developed a close circle of friends.
Three of these dear friends offered to be a donor for us. Still believing
we could conceive on our own, we had never discussed third party reproduction
as a serious possibility. However, after much prayer and consideration, we
asked our friend who was most like a sister to me if she was still willing to
go through with her generous offer. She said yes, and excitedly we called the
doctor to make an appointment. He informed us he would not do “known donor”
transfers but only used donors provided by their clinic. We found a doctor
an hour away that would do the procedure.

We had 6 embryos with our donor. We transferred 3, which did not result
in pregnancy. Our 3 remaining embryos did not survive the thawing process.
Disappointed but determined to press on, we researched different options
online. We had previously come across the NEDC website while researching
IVF with our donor. We had also considered traditional adoption, but felt
embryo adoption gave us the possibility to become pregnant and bond with
the child from birth. We contacted the NEDC in March of 2011 and another
door opened for us.

Starting the process of embryo adoption seemed daunting at first. How do
we get started, how do we apply and go through the process of adoption,
how long will it take? After our 3rd failed IVF attempt with my friend’s
oocytes, Josh and I decided it was time to move on to embryo adoption. We
felt God led us here and it was the next logical step.

You see, going through the IVF with our friend was not an easy decision.
It was prayed about by all three of us, and many in our church were
standing in prayer with us. There were many things to consider. Would she
think we would be good parents? Would she feel like the child was really
hers and eventually want to be more involved? After all, we live in a
small community and are very close friends. But… God gave us a peace,
“Trust Me” is what would come over me when I prayed. The negative
pregnancy result was devastating because everyone who had been praying for
us felt this was God leading us. So how could it be negative? We were so
sure we had heard Him right. But, it was part of a “Greater” plan.

Many couples need a break after a failed cycle. For me, when I was not in
the middle of an IVF cycle it was torture. It felt like time was ticking
and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Being in the midst of an IUI or
IVF cycle was like therapy. It meant we were getting somewhere.. we were
making progress. Downtime was unbearable. So immediately after the
negative result I had to have a plan. I remembered coming across the NEDC
website when Josh and I were researching information on donor IVF.
We didn’t think much about it at the time, because we were so sure
this time it was going to work.

That is where looking back, I can see God’s hand in it all! Just coming
to the place where we were willing to use a donor meant acceptance. It
meant closure to a dream. A dream of a biological child of my own. It meant
never seeing my own eyes in my son or daughter. It meant knowing they
would never have my little quirks (which BTW can be a good thing). It
meant admitting that my body had failed me. Also, it meant all those
years preparing the nest to be more educated, more mature, and more
financially stable; didn’t exactly fall in line with our plan. But it was
not our plan, God was using those years for His vision and His timing. We
never questioned waiting. We never thought we’d have a problem conceiving.
We always had a peace that when the time came to start a family, we’d be
ready and everything would work out. And it did, just not the way we had
envisioned.

Had God never allowed us to go through this with our donor, we may not
have come across the NEDC. He used that time to prepare me. Not only would
I never see my eyes in my child, or my quirks, but my husband’s either.
But that we would come to the place where being a parent is more than
what you envision your child to be. It is embracing the child God had planned for
you all along, in His time. He used every clomid cycle (12 in all), 13
failed IUI’s and 3 IVF attempts (one more to come later) to bring us
to a place of acceptance of His plan. But it is more than acceptance. It
is elation, exuberance, and complete joy!! We are now 6 months pregnant
with our first child due in December.

I want to give you a “very basic” timeline of our first contact with the
NEDC to pregnancy, because if you are reading this you probably have a
similar story of heartbreak and disappointment. This timeline
will be different for everyone as there are many factors involved.

March 2011- We first contacted the NEDC
April 2011- NEDC initial application submitted
May 2011- Went to Bethany Christian Services
Discover Adoption Informational Meeting
June 2011- Started Homestudy Packet for Adoption
Aug 2011- Went to NEDC for mock transfer
Nov 2011- Homestudy walk through and individual interviews with
social worker
Dec 2011- Homestudy approved!
Dec 2011- Received donor selections and medical protocol
Jan 2012- Transferred 4 embryos
Jan 2012- Two weeks later, BFN
Feb 2012- Received new donor profiles for March transfer. No embryos
remained from January transfer
Feb 2012- Received medical protocol
March 2012- Transferred 3 embryos
March 2012- Two weeks later- We’re Pregnant!

If embryo adoption is the path God leads you, I hope you see just getting
started is often the hardest step. You can see the forest for the trees,
and there is beauty even while you are in the midst. I wish you success
on your journey to becoming parents.

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FIVE LITTLE KNOWN FACTS

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In the interest of levity… Five Little Known Facts about Me:

1. I wear slippers or fuzzy socks to bed every night. However, invariably, I slip them off after about 5 minutes. Into the covers. So, at any given time, there are at least six pairs of socks or slippers under the covers, at the foot of my bed. It causes my husband endless frustration.

2. I was a prep in high school. I went to a hippie college. I had a lot of trouble reconciling the two. I resolved it by wearing Grateful Dead shirts, ripped up jeans, and penny loafers. I rocked it.

3. I hate to cook. You would hate to eat what I cook. In high school, my parents made me cook a meal once a week. It didn’t last long. For enchiladas, did you know you are supposed to brown the meat before you put it in the tortillas, and then in the oven? Why you would need to cook it twice is beyond me.

4. I love 80s music. A great day for me is when I can hear Lionel Ritchie, Starship, and Peter Cetera on the radio in one sitting.

5. I have a pretty expansive vocabulary. I like using ridiculously commodious words whenever possible. And, when I can’t think of a word that works, I will make one up.

WELCOME TO OUR STORY

PhotobucketWe were married in November 2005. A little over a year after being married, we started talking about having kids. Like most couples, we assumed our problem would be making sure we had kids on OUR timeline. Many months after we started officially trying, doctors told us the doom and gloom: it would be very unlikely we could have kids without assistance. This completely rocked our world. We never discussed this in premarital counseling. We didn’t know how to deal with this.

Unfortunately, we did not seek God when we started down the next path. Looking back, our faith was not nearly as strong then as it is now. We proceeded ahead with some minor fertility intervention, but almost as promptly, we started looking into domestic infant adoption. My husband was much more interested in that than fertility treatment. And, because I wanted to be a mom more than I wanted to be pregnant, I went along with it. I think I held the fallible belief that if we started the adoption process, we’d get pregnant. And we did. And we miscarried.

Surprisingly, at the time of the miscarriage, I was much more interested in adopting than getting pregnant. God had tugged at my heart strings. And, little did we know, the same month I miscarried, our birth mom was just learning she was pregnant with our son.

While on the wait list, we went through 9 failed adoption leads. One was as close as I believed we were going to be driving to pick up our son at the hospital in a few hours. Then the birth mom chose the other couple. I was devastated. I felt like we were being punished. I felt so distant from God, and yet, I couldn’t get enough of Him.

During this waiting time, we pursued IVF. Again, looking back, it seemed like a good idea. I’m just not sure if it was a God idea. It failed. We weren’t getting any answers as to why we had difficulty conceiving, or why we miscarried. Theory upon theory was put to the test, and we passed each one. We know now God had set us apart for adoption.

Two weeks after our IVF failed, our son was born to us through the miracle of domestic infant adoption. He now is 2 years old. It is an honor and privilege to be raising him, and we know we could not possibly love a biological child any more. We maintain a healthy and open adoption arrangement with his birth family.

As we started thinking about #2, we knew we wanted that for any other child who joined our family — the ability to connect to his/her genetic roots. We had intended on doing domestic adoption again, when God started planting the seeds for embryo adoption. It was something we had briefly considered when in the process the first time around, but because I wanted certainty of being a mom more than taking a chance at a possible pregnancy, it was not the option we chose.

But this time around, God started laying the right people in my path, and the right people to lead us to NEDC.

And then, God spoke.

Last December, while on vacation, I went on a hike. I’d like to say it was up a big mountain, but it was mostly a large hill. In any case, I got to the top, pulled off my headphones, and just tilted my head back. I closed my eyes and let my face meet the sky. It was a cloudy day. In that moment, I asked God, out loud, if we were ever going to conceive and carry a child to term.

The clouds parted. The sun came out. And a soft breeze swept my face.

“Yes,” He said.

I was a little startled, but I smiled.

I trotted back down my large hill, went back to our hotel room, and told my husband I believed we were supposed to do embryo adoption.

We made all the necessary doctor appointments, signed all the right paperwork, filled out all the right forms, and then got on the NEDC wait list. That’s when I learned how “long” the wait was going to be. It was February. I was told our first consult could be in September, maybe. I was discouraged. So, being stubborn, I stayed on the wait list but also explored other facilities.

God closed every other door. It would be in the form of not returned phone calls, hurdle after hurdle to jump, no email responses, no promised paperwork in the mail, etc.

And then NEDC called. It was April. Late April. They said they had a cancellation and I could come in June 6. (Apparently, this happens a lot with NEDC).

I was so stunned, I told the coordinator I had to call her back. I immediately called my husband and said I thought this was it. I called the coordinator back and, in tears, told her the timing of this could not have been more perfect. After closed door after closed door with other facilities, God had confirmed what I’d suspected all along — He wanted us in Tennessee.

So we went.

Our appointment in June was brief, but informative and exciting. For the first time, we heard probable medical theories as to why we had difficulty conceiving. Something about my thyroid disorder affecting my egg quality. It didn’t matter what it was; the reason behind it was the same — God wanted us to adopt.

A few weeks later, we were matched with our embryo donors. It was an arduous process for us. We had prayed specifically for these people for many months now, and we just knew that we’d recognize them when we encountered them. The first 3 profiles came through. We declined them all. The next set came through. We declined the first two, and then we saw “our” couple. We “accepted” them only to learn they “accepted” us back the next day.

A bump came a few weeks later when we learned they only had 3 embryos (their profile said 9). NEDC wants us to be matched with at least 6. We were surprised. God was not.

We decided to continue the match with this couple, but also proceed with getting a second match. Again, an arduous process. The first set came through. We declined each. Then the second set came through, and we found our second couple. They had 4 embryos. We were set.

I desperately wanted to get to know these donors before flying to Tennessee. Thankfully, each was open to communicating freely. It remains so to this day.

We flew to Tennessee in September 2010. They thawed the 3 embryos from our first couple. 2 survived the thaw and were transferred.

I wish I could say it was a beautiful experience. In the ethereal sense, yes, it was. In the practical sense, it was very painful. I had to have a full bladder, and with a history of UTIs, this is most excruciating for me. And, my bladder wasn’t completely full, so they had to fill it up for me (ouch). Then, they may have well sat on my bladder, that was the amount of pressure I felt. Then, they squirted alcohol inside my vagina. (Think pouring alcohol on an open wound). I was squeezing every nurse’s hand I could find. I was fidgety. The nurse kept telling me to keep still, they were transferring the embryos. Tried as I might, I was like a flea on a hot skillet.

Then, it was over. I was wheeled into the recovery room where I was graciously given a bed pan that I proceeded to lay on for the next hour.

We were given a photo of our two embabies, and immediately texted it to all our family and friends waiting anxiously back home.

I was on bed rest for the next 48 hours, and then we flew back to Oregon. I took it relatively easy over the next 2 weeks, although I did pick up my son and carry him. I firmly believed this was going to work or not work regardless of what I did. I believed God was that much in control. (For that same reason, I declined to do things other women have done, such as acupuncture, eat a pineapple core, etc. Those were just not for me).

The night before we learned the results, God spoke again.

I was on my face in prayer, and I kept hearing God say the same thing I’d heard from Him throughout the process, “Trust Me.”

But then He said something else that night. He said, “You will get good news tomorrow.”

I paused. Did I just hear that right?

The next day, I went in for our blood test. I was a nervous wreck. I had told NEDC to please just call and leave a message on my cell phone, whatever the results were.

At 11 am our time, I saw the voice mail come on my phone. I was at work. I couldn’t wait. I called my husband and told him to meet me in a parking lot nearby.

On my drive to the parking lot, I was shaking and crying. I had a conversation with God and it went something like this:

Me: Jesus, was that really you that I heard last night?

Jesus: Yes. You will get good news today.

Me: Because, you know if it’s not, I’m going to question everything I’ve ever thought I’ve heard from you.

Jesus: I know that.

Me: Jesus, are you really here, talking to me right now?

Jesus: Yes.

I pulled into the parking lot and my husband got in my car. I’m shaking. I dialed into my voice mail. I turned down the speakerphone volume, thinking bad news sounds better when it’s quiet.

Then, we heard: “Britney, this is Nurse Mary. It’s good news.”

And here we are, now 9.5 weeks pregnant. It is surreal. It is a miracle. It is how God led us.

It has not been an easy journey to get here, and it has not been an easy 9 weeks. At our first ultrasound at 6 weeks, the baby’s heart rate was just 90 bpm. Depending on who you believe, that is on the lower side. We were concerned. We prayed. God told us to chill out. We had another ultrasound 4 days later, and it had climbed to 121 bpm. At our 9 week appointment, it was 174. God is good.

We know it is still early in the pregnancy, but we are praying believing with great faith and expectation that God has told us we will carry this child to term and deliver a healthy baby. We have no other choice but to hold fast to that.

So in the midst of nausea and vomiting, constant fatigue, getting up 5 x/night to go pee, I remember those words. God brought us here, and God will carry us through.

AN EVEN MORE SPLENDID BLENDED FAMILY

PhotobucketWelcome to With Child, I’m so thrilled you’ve made a visit!! If you are considering embryo adoption for your family, I truly hope that you find some of the answers and assurances that you’re looking for to lead you to this blessed decision.

I can’t say enough wonderful things about our experience, both with all the medical and adoption steps that led up to the embryo transfer, as well as the first sixteen weeks of pregnancy with our twins!! Since Scott and I first heard of embryo adoption about three years ago at an adoption seminar through our church and slowly began to explore and pray about it, we have had a consistently peaceful feeling… and now that we’re nearly mid-way through our pregnancy, we praise God that our hearts have never wavered. We couldn’t imagine a more perfect fit for our family, and everyone is over the moon with excitement.

Scott brought three wonderful children with him when we married nearly five years ago. Prior to and for the first few years of our marriage, we focused on their well-being and the blending of our family. Soon, the kids started asking us “are you guys going to have a baby??”. From the mouths of babes!! Scott and I hadn’t yet spent much time on that question, so we took a first step to explore our fertility options.

Pretty quickly, through a basic test, we discovered that assisted reproduction was not an option for us. Dr. Keenan explained that there didn’t appear to be a reason why we couldn’t conceive naturally, it’s just that the IVF route wouldn’t be very fruitful… my ovaries, at 40, with medical intervention wouldn’t release more eggs. We were pretty accepting of that news. Adoption had already been on our minds… I’ve had a notion since youth that I would adopt, I had already adopted Scott’s children into my heart and life, and Scott’s mom had been adopted… so we began to seriously consider the various adoption options.

Our hearts kept coming back to the hundreds of thousands of embryos frozen in time. Brothers and sisters having been born, families completed, dreams fulfilled yet additional lives remain, waiting to be born. Our hearts went out to the couples who created those embryos… their goal initially was to grow a family, a manifestation of love. Perhaps they had struggled for years, even a decade. Could they possibly, at that time, fully comprehend what it would be like to be completed with their family yet be left with the decision about remaining embryos?

Scott and I thank God every day for the road He placed us on and the decision He put in front of us. Rather than deciding what to do with life that has been started, we were given what has been such an easy decision… to bring that life to fruition, and help be a voice for a group of God’s children who are literally in darkness. Any fears or uncertainties we could have are completely covered by His love. Nearly everyone we encounter – not just family, friends, co-workers but even people we just meet in passing – we share that our babies are adopted through embryo donation and there are hundreds of thousands that remain. We have been met with nothing but genuine interest and pure amazement. I’ve never given birth to another child, but I can’t imagine it being any more precious than the miracle God has given our family. 2 Timothy 1:7