Tuesday, May 31, 2016

{iPhone Rewind} :: May

These have been so helpful to me with my nausea. I don't usually like the taste of ginger, but these "mints" really aren't that bad!

Another flower popped up in our front yard. Apparently we have a pink rose bush :)

Our sweet niece Henley was dedicated at church, and it was such a joy to stand alongside her parents to commit this sweet one to the Lord!

My first Mother's Day flower :)

How is this even comfortable?? 

Date #15: Starbucks and Scrabble #wcsavethedate16 #heismycutie 

Each week at Shiloh, we were asked to memorize a verse. We would each share our verse with the group, and I really loved this! It forced me to memorize Scripture {which I admit I don't do as often as I should}, and I loved hearing all the verses each week. I have definitely repeated these verses over and over on numerous occasions.

So this happened. I'm not even big yet, and I am already feeling pretty uncomfortable when I sleep. So the next 5 months should be fun :) But this pillow is A-Mazing. Seriously, it helps so much, and I'm so thankful for my sweet husband for ordering it for me without hesitation.

Date #16: Picnic in the Park #wcsavethedate16

Monday, May 30, 2016

16 Weeks

How far along? 16 weeks 
Days since transfer: 94 days
Total weight gain: +5.2
Maternity clothes? Some. I have had a few people drop off some maternity clothes for me to borrow, which makes it so much easier to make the transition. I have a feeling I'm going to get big fast. When I went to my OB appointment and she prepared to use the doppler, she made the comment about how babies were sure making their presence known already {commenting on my growing belly}. I think it was her nice way of saying, "dang, girl. you're growing big fast!"  :)
Sleep: I definitely sleep better with my Snoogle. I am still waking up a couple times a night to pee, but am able to go back to sleep fairly quickly. I was feeling pretty tired this week, when I realized that I had missed taking my B-12 shot. So I am hoping that starts to make a difference as I gain some second trimester energy back.
Best moment of the week: Hearing our babies' heartbeats on the doppler at my OB appointment! That sound will never get old, and I am thankful they are growing strong. I also finished the baby quilts this week, which was kind of fun!
Cravings: I don't know if I would call this a craving, but it's certainly something I am really enjoying right now...a Caprese flat and mixed green salad with carrots and a pickle from Corner Bakery. If I had unlimited funds, I would eat that every day.
Symptoms: Other than being tired from lack of B-12, I feel good! My back has started to hurt and my body is aching a bit, but I am sure that's all growing pains.
Looking forward to: Heading to Chicago for a wedding. It will be a nice little getaway with my love in the windy city :)


Size of baby? About the size of an avocado, a dill pickle, or an action figure {about 4.5-5 inches}
Development:  Babies' ears are in place and they can hear my heartbeat and our voices! Their eyes are still closed, but they can detect light through my belly. They are growing like crazy now, and it's obvious by my growing belly.
Heartbeat: At 15 weeks + 1 day, both heartbeats were strong! Both measured in the 150-160 range, and it was the absolute sweetest sounds. 
Movement: I am anxiously awaiting when I can feel babies move! I am pretty sure anything I have felt this week has been gas, been I find myself paying attention to everything. Hopefully soon! When the OB was using the doppler, it was difficult to get a steady read because they were both moving so much :)
Gender: We're having a BOY and a GIRL :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fun Family Weekend

My parents came into town this weekend, and we got to have a fun family weekend! We only had my dad for a short time because he had a board meeting to attend, but we got to have some extended time with my mom.

When they got in on Saturday, we headed over to Adventure Landing for a little putt putt and batting cage competition. I had 4 holes in one, so I had a pretty decent putt putt day :) Then Mike and Michael decided to battle it out at the batting cages.

Saturday night I slipped away from the family fun and headed over to my friend Amy's lingerie shower. I am so excited for this sweet friend and cannot wait to see how the Lord uses her and her new husband. It was also fun to see and catch up with some old 20s group friends.

The rest of the weekend was filled with good food, hanging out, and of course, a round of Wizard :)

My mom was able to stay through today, so we had some good time to hang out just the two of us. We did some baby shopping {because why wouldn't you go baby shopping when your mom is in town??}, and my mom even tagged along for my OB appointment to check on the twins. We got to hang out with Lindsay and her girls, and we also got to have lunch with my aunts and cousins. They're a crazy bunch, but they're family. It's never a dull moment, for sure ;)

It was a fun weekend/beginning of the week, and I am so thankful for the sweet time with family. But now that everyone has gone home, and all the fun is over, this preggo is off to take a nap! :)

Monday, May 23, 2016

15 Weeks

How far along? 15 weeks 
Days since transfer: 87 days
Total weight gain: +4.0
Maternity clothes? Not yet. But things are starting to not fit like they used to...
Sleep: Sleep was actually a little more difficult this week. I think because I stopped taking my nausea medication {which is basically a combo of B6 and Unisom}, my body was adjusting to life without that extra sleep aid. I did seem to sleep better when my Snoogle pillow arrived. I'm a back sleeper {never intentionally}, and I was waking up increasingly more uncomfortable. I knew I needed to kick the back sleeping habit before I'm too big to move, so we made the investment in this glorious pregnancy pillow.
Best moment of the week: Getting to spend time and hang out with my parents and brother. Seeing my mom's excitement at my growing baby bump :)
Cravings: I think the cravings have passed...there's not much I really crave. I'm just trying to eat healthy!
Symptoms: No more nausea! I successfully weaned off my nausea meds, and I feel great! I am starting to gain back a little bit of energy, which is fantastic!
Looking forward to: Checking on our babies at my OB appointment tomorrow! 


Size of baby? About the size of a hass avacado or a navel orange, an eclair, or a yellow canary. Little baby canaries! :) {about 4 to 4.5 inches}
Development: Babies are looking more human and less alien-like :) They are inhaling amniotic fluid, practicing to help develop their lungs. Eyes and ears are moving into place, and babies are now sensitive to light. They can bend their knees and elbows, and I'm waiting to start feeling flutters!
Heartbeat: Little hearts are now capable of pumping 25 quarts of blood a day! I'm excited to hear their heartbeats tomorrow!
Movement: Nothing yet, but I am paying super close attention. I'm still in the, "is that a flutter or just gas" stage, but hopefully I will start feeling our little ones soon!
Gender: We're having a BOY and a GIRL :)

Friday, May 20, 2016

High Five for Friday!

{one} We have been on the hunt for a new family vehicle, and we finally found the right one! We knew we wanted a Honda Pilot, and we have been praying for the right deal. Mike has been faithfully scouring the internet for deals, so when this one popped up, we knew we needed to check it out. We had to drive out to Fort Worth, but it was totally worth the trip. Thanks to Justin at Moritz Chevrolet for making the process painless and simple! We will keep Peabody {my Mazda}, but Mike will primarily drive it now. We are so thankful for the Lord's provision, and we cannot wait to bring our babies home in The Babymobile :)

Proud owners of a new {to us} Honda Pilot! #startsomethingspecial

{two} I wrapped up the Shiloh Bible study this week. I am so thankful for this ministry, and especially the fact that they open it up to members outside their church. There are several infertility groups out there, but this is such an invaluable ministry. To walk alongside women who have walked the unique road of infertility/loss, and to dive deep into the Word together is so special. And desperately needed. I have learned so much from the brave women who have chosen to press into Jesus and find their joy and rest in Him, even when their worlds are shattering around them. So thankful for the opportunity to walk alongside and pray with them.

{three} I have been working a few more hours the past couple of weeks, because we have begun the insurance renewal process. It still makes me laugh that I left insurance, and yet it still follows me to this day :) But I am grateful for the extra hours, and I am still so thankful that I get to work most of those hours from home. I do have to say that telling the executives that I was pregnant with twins was probably one of the most fun things...they have been so incredibly sweet and supportive. Just another reason I have absolutely loved working for them.

{four} Yeah. So this has already happened.

We found cribs for a good price, and Mike has already put them together! And Sasha and I supervised :) It is SO fun to see the nursery already starting to come together. Mike said that the reality of twins sunk in when he worked so hard to put one crib together....and then looked over to see that he still had another one to put together. It might be early, but we have waited A LONG time for this...so don't judge us too harshly. And is anybody really surprised that I am working to get things together early?? :)

{five} We have a busy weekend ahead! Tonight we are heading to have Sushi {only veggie rolls for me!} to celebrate our sweet friend DJ's birthday, tomorrow I am heading to a lingerie shower for Amy, and Sunday we have our last Re|Engage discussion for community group. My dad has a board meeting in Dallas, so my parents are coming up for an extended weekend, and we'll be able to spend some time with my dad, but mostly with my mom. It will be a packed but fun weekend!

Monday, May 16, 2016

14 Weeks

How far along? 14 weeks {hello second trimester!}
Days since transfer: 80 days
Total weight gain: +3.8
Maternity clothes? Not quite yet, but I think we're getting closer! Stretchy anything is the way to go these days.
Sleep: I am still sleeping pretty well, but have noticed I am slowly starting to gain some energy back...thank goodness!
Best moment of the week: Seeing a definitive {tiny} little bump show up to stay. Even though I know there are 2 babies in there, I have to say that I just kinda feel fat haha.
Cravings: No real cravings this week. But I think all aversions have stopped, so that's a good thing. Just continuing to eat a WHOLE lot.
Symptoms: I have still been feeling pretty good. I am starting to wean off my nausea medicine again, so we'll see if the nausea is really gone for good.
Looking forward to: Seeing my parents this weekend!


Size of baby? About the size of a lemon or brilliant beet, a troll doll, or a house mouse {about 3.5 inches}
Development: Babies are making faces in the womb! They are figuring out how to control the muscles in their faces, so they're squinting, frowning, and even pouting. Babies are also starting to grow hair and eyebrows. Their immune systems are starting develop, producing white blood cells so they can fight infection after birth.
Heartbeat: The tiny hearts are beating away! It's still the most beautiful sound when we get to hear them.
Movement: Still too early to feel them, but they should be making more deliberate movements now. Mike says they're probably making faces at each other :)
Gender predictions? We know early...we're having a BOY and a GIRL!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Embryo Adoption :: Our Journey {2016 part 1}

And the journey continues in 2016...

January 4, 2016: We got word that our contracts arrived at our agency, so now we're just waiting on the signed contracts from our donor family.

January 15, 2016: You are Ours.

January 19, 2016: The signed contract from the donor family came in...the 4 precious embryos are legally ours! 

January 20, 2016: Shipping coordination began; sent embryo storage consent form to our clinic.

January 21, 2016: All paperwork is in, and we have the green light to ship from our clinic; just waiting on a ship date from the donor family clinic!

January 22, 2016: Winter Storm Jonas/Blizzard 2016/Snowpocalypse hits the East coast, so we will have have to wait for the weather to clear before shipping is safe.

January 27, 2016: Completely unexpected: we got a call today that our little ones had not only shipped, but had actually already made their trek from Virginia to Texas, and are safe and sound in our clinic!

February 1, 2016: FET protocol appointment with RE, blood work for hormone levels.

February 2, 2016: Blood work came back early. Stopped taking BCP.

February 6, 2016: Officially started transfer cycle...here we go again!

February 11, 2016: Rejoicing with Habakkuk

February 18, 2016: Lining check sonogram.

February 19, 2016: Secret Passage + Prayers

February 20, 2016: Started PIO injections. Not my favorite part of this process, but thankful for a hubby who helps me with these injections.

February 25, 106: Praying in Community

February 26, 2016: Transfer Day #3

March 4, 2016: Almost

March 7, 2016: Blood Pregnancy Test. We are PREGNANT!!

March 9, 2016: Beta #2.

March 14, 2016: 5 Weeks

March 21, 2016: 6 Weeks

March 24, 2016: First Ultrasound- Hello Babies!

March 28, 2016: 7 Weeks

April 4, 2016: 8 Weeks

April 7, 2016: Second Ultrasound- The Most Beautiful Sound

April 8, 2016: OB Orientation

April 10, 2016: Today Mike and I wandered around a baby store. We know it's really early, but we wanted to let ourselves dream a little for a bit. And he said we had to buy at least 1 thing before we could leave. So we bought a super soft baby blanket and some bibs. This might seem like a silly thing for some, but for us, it is what we have wanted to do for so long. It was a sweet day together, and I'm thankful that he helps me remember to enjoy what the Lord has done for us.

April 11, 2016: 9 Weeks + First appointment with my OB...definitely feeling blessed :)

April 18, 2016: 10 Weeks

April 20, 2016: ChromoMap blood draw

April 23, 2016: ER Visit

April 24, 2016: Ode to the PIO

April 25, 2016: 11 Weeks

April 26, 2016: Follow Up with OB

April 27, 2016: I recruited Lindsay to help me with baby quilts and we got started today! When you have been planning a nursery for 3+ years, it's SUPER fun to actually get to DO something :)

May 2, 2016: 12 Weeks

May 3, 2016: We got the results back form our ChromoMap genetic testing, and everything came back normal. So thankful for healthy babies!

May 6, 2016: Level II Ultrasound

**  I only provided links above for my first 12 weeks of a baby bump, since we didn't make any public announcements until after that. The rest of my pregnancy weeks can be found here - though you will have to scroll back a bit to get back to my twin pregnancy :)  **


Our embryo adoption journey is far from over, and in many ways has just begun. But that brings us up to date on our journey so far. We are thankful for this incredible gift, and we stand in awe of God's unique way of growing our family. We can't wait to see how He continues to write our story!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Embryo Adoption :: Our Journey {2015}

Our journey continued through 2015...

January 6, 2015: We {finally} finished our home study checklist!

January 7, 2015: I had a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy for the originally diagnosed hydrosalpinx. This surgery showed that there was not hydrosalpinx, but instead endometriosis and an orange-sized ovarian cyst {!} We were nervous about what this meant for our FET {Frozen Embryo Transfer}, but I went home to rest/recover and await the verdict.

January 15, 2015: Skype call with our home evaluation worker.

January 23, 2015: Post-op appointment with my RE, where we received {thankfully} confirmation that we were still good candidates for an FET!

January 31, 2015: Home visit for our home evaluation.

February 11, 2015: Approved for our home study!

February 19, 2015: Matching interview to start the matching phase.

February 24, 2015: We received our first potential match with a donor family {M&A}!

February 25, 2015: Embryology report sent to my RE.

March 4, 2015: We entered the contract phase for the embryo adoption.

March 10, 2015: FET protocol consult with my RE.

March 16, 2015: After some negotiation regarding future contact with the donor family, we received the contract.

March 17, 2015: We signed/notarized the contract, and my FET medications arrived in the mail.

Sadly, this is only a fraction of my meds...

March 25, 2015: Mock Embryo Transfer

March 26, 2015: Blood work showed hyperprolactinemia {big fancy word for high prolactin levels}, so I started medication to reduce my prolactin levels leading up to a transfer.

Such a tiny dose. I will take 1/2 a pill twice a week until we get a positive HPT.

April 3, 2015: The signed contract from the donor family came in...the 6 precious embryos are legally ours! {Good Friday}.

April 6, 2015: Shipping coordination began {donor family blood work recommended by the FDA + clinic release form}.

May 7, 2015: After a lot of difficulty and frustration, our donor family finally found a clinic that would do their blood draw.

May 10, 2015: A Different Kind of Mom {Mother's Day}

May 11, 2015: Because our embryos still have not shipped, I started taking birth control pills to help ward off endometriosis and prepare for our transfer cycle. {Anyone notice the irony of taking a birth control pill in an effort to get pregnant??}

May 13, 2015: Donor family went in for their blood draw...now we just wait for the blood test results to come back from the lab.

May 22, 2015: After a slight issue with the testing kit, the results came back clear. Now we just wait for the donor family to sign/notarize the clinic release form.

June 3, 2015: The donor family signed/notarized and mailed the clinic release form. Now we just wait for it to arrive so we can ship!

June 9, 2015: I had my second hysteroscopy to make sure that my endometriosis had not returned.

June 12, 2015: All paperwork is in!! Nightlight is finalizing shipping details, so our babies should ship first thing next week!!

June 16, 2015: Our embryos shipped today- our babies are {finally} on their way!! Hallelujah, praise Jesus! It has been a LONG 10 weeks...

June 20, 2015: Officially started transfer cycle.

July 2, 2015: Lining check sonogram...lining is 7mm, so we scheduled our transfer. I also started the dreaded Progesterone in Oil {PIO} shots.

One of these suckers in the rear every day for 12-14 weeks; and don't be fooled- that is most definitely thick, slow-injecting oil in that syringe...

July 10, 2015: Transfer Day!

July 20, 2015: Negative Pregnancy Test- transfer 1 failed. Jack & Jill.

July 21, 2015: Follow up appointment to determine next steps after failed FET.

July 23, 2015: I Stand for Life

July 24, 2015: Started transfer cycle #2.

August 7, 2015: Lining check #2.

August 13, 2015: Started PIO again {we had to push our transfer back several days in order to accommodate the embryology schedule}.

August 17, 2015: Thaw Day.

August 19, 2015: Transfer Day #2!.

August 20, 2015: Amy and Noah.

August 31, 2015: Blood Pregnancy Test- we are pregnant!!!

September 2, 2015: Beta #2- we are losing our babies...

September 7, 2015: I miscarried...

September 9, 2015: Beta #3, confirmation that we are no longer pregnant; Annie and Hope.

September 10, 2015: Post transfer and miscarriage follow-up appointment; started taking BCP again for endometriosis management.

September 14, 2015: Blood work to determine if there are any underlying autoimmune issues that could have caused my miscarriage.

September 17, 2015: Received test results back from autoimmune testing- everything is normal. Praise God!

September 18, 2015: Began the process of updating our file and home study with Nightlight so we could move forward with rematching.

October 13, 2015: Home visit #2.

October 20, 2015: Re-approved for our home study; officially entered into the re-matching process.

November 4, 2015: We received a potential match with another donor family {I&A}; embryology report sent to RE.

November 8, 2015: When the Tears Come.

November 13, 2015: Consultation with RE about embryology report; we needed to clarify details on the report, so we scheduled yet another follow up.

November 17, 2015: Trusting our RE's opinion and after much prayer, we made the decision to decline the match with I&A. We now wait for another one.

December 3, 2015: We received a potential match with another donor family {J&J}; embryology report sent to RE. I also attended my first Shiloh coffee.

December 11, 2015: We entered the contract phase for our second embryo adoption.

December 18, 2015: After approving the contract terms for future contact with our donor family, we received the embryo adoption agreement! Nightlight closes at the end of the year, so we will have to wait until January for any further progress.  My Christmas Wish List.

December 20, 2015: We signed and notarized the contracts, as well as the FET protocol paperwork. Now we wait for Nightlight to re-open in January to schedule shipping!

We have sent a lot of envelopes/packages to California this year!

December 25, 2015: Christmas was difficult this year with the loss of our babies. But I love the snowflake ornaments that we got for each of them, to represent the tiny lives that the Lord gave to us, if even for a short time.

December 30, 2015: The best is yet to come.


We closed 2015 grieving the loss of our first 6 babies, but hopeful for the life to come with our 4 new babies!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Embryo Adoption :: Our Journey {2007-2014}

I have been journaling about our embryo adoption throughout our journey. Because we knew it would be an emotional process, we chose to make the intimate details known only to our family and a few close friends. Now that we have made our long-awaited announcement and have shared how the Lord has chosen to build our family, I have published pieces of our story here on this blog. I dated each post according to our actual timeline, but have also provided links below, in case anyone is interested in reading these bits of our journey. Be forewarned: it has been a LONG journey, so I will break out our journey into a few posts {with more to come tomorrow!}

I have included our journey of infertility as well, because it's part of our story and how we came to know of embryo adoption in the first place. You can read more specific details about that part of our journey herehere and here.

So here is it is: Our Infertility & Embryo Adoption Journey/Timeline/Story...

May 2007: Our first set of precious embryos were formed and frozen. I was graduating from Baylor, and Mike was in graduate school working at Woodcreek as the high school pastor. We hadn't even met yet, but the Lord was already planning our family.

March 30, 2009: Our second set of precious embryos were frozen. I had started working at Wortham, but was still searching for event jobs, and Mike was working at Woodcreek as the youth pastor. We hadn't started dating yet, but {again} the Lord was already planning our family. It was a different time and a different situation, but I thought this prayer was fitting...

September 2012: Mike and I made the decision to begin growing our family {and therefore started praying for little ones...cue the day count!}, but we knew we needed to figure out what was up with my stomach issues first.

December 2012: I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, which put our plans on hold, as we learned about life with an incurable autoimmune disease.

May 2013: After achieving remission and getting the green light from my doctors, we officially began trying to conceive.

February 2014: We had been trying to get pregnant for 10 months without any success, and we were worried something might be wrong. As I began researching infertility treatment options, I came across embryo adoption for the first time and thought it was a really amazing option and began praying about it.

May 30, 2014: We reached the 1 year mark of trying to conceive and received our initial infertility diagnosis from my OBGYN. We were referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist {RE}.

June 20, 2014: First semen analysis. When the results came back, we were referred to a specialist.

July 15, 2014: First consultation and exam with the urologist {happy 3rd anniversary to us!}

July 23, 2014: Second semen analysis. The results were not good, so we were asked to repeat the test.

August 19, 2014: Third semen analysis. We received our final infertility diagnosis and were told we had less than 1% chance of conceiving on our own. The only option offered was IVF with ICSI, though our chances of success with that were limited as well.

August 31, 2014: We began discussing embryo adoption together for the first time and began praying about pursuing that instead of IVF with ICSI.

September 15, 2014: Before moving forward with a frozen embryo transfer {FET}, we had to be sure I was healthy enough to carry a pregnancy, so I went in for an HSG test {dye is inserted into the uterine cavity in order to identify issues}.

October 3, 2014: We met with the RE to discuss the results of my HSG test. The test showed a hydrosalpinx {Fallopian tube dilated with fluid...basically a blockage} in my right Fallopian tube. She said the scarring had to be removed to ensure the best possible chance at an FET, but she said it would not affect me carrying a healthy pregnancy, and that donated embryos were a great option for us {yay!}

October 6, 2014: After sending an inquiry for more information, we had our first phone call with Nightlight Christian Adoptions. We officially made the decision to pursue Embryo Adoption!

October 16, 2014: We mailed off our application to Nightlight...here we go! :)

October 27, 2014: Our application was accepted, and we officially started our home study checklist.

October 28, 2014: Fingerprints at Collin County jail...an adventure, for sure :)

October 30, 2014: First embryo adoption training session {How Open is Open Adoption?}

November 1, 2014: Second embryo adoption training session {How Do We Tell the Kids?}

November 2, 2014: Third embryo adoption training session {The Difference Between Secrecy and Privacy}

November 11, 2014: CPR/First Aid Training/Certification class.

December 26, 2014: Physicals for our medical evaluations.


We closed 2014 grieving the loss of genetic children, but excited about moving forward with embryo adoption!

13 Weeks

I can actually start posting these updates as they happen now! :)

How far along? 13 weeks 
Days since transfer: 73 days
Total weight gain: +3.0
Maternity clothes? I am still fitting in my normal clothes, but there is definitely a noticeable little bump {that I cannot suck in anymore}. I could hide it if I wanted to, but now that we have made our announcement, there's no need! I definitely prefer comfy pants or dresses/skirts.
Sleep: Still sleeping all the time. When I sleep, I pass out. And I can take a 2 hour nap, easy. Growing 2 babies is exhausting :)
Best moment of the week: Finding out that we are having a BOY and a GIRL! Also, sharing our news and our story publicly. It was such a fun day of celebrating! So thankful. Our hearts are full.
Miss anything? Not really.
Cravings: Nothing new...still the Eggo waffles and pickles {but not together}.
Symptoms: Other than feeling tired all the time, I feel good. I am still taking my nausea medicine for a little bit longer, but as long as I take that, I don't have any sickness. 
Looking forward to: Enjoying the week with our news out in the open. We have prayed a long time for this moment, and we plan to enjoy it :)


Size of baby? About the size of a peach, a jalapeno, a matchbox car, or a clownfish {about 3 inches}
Development: Babies have fingerprints and vocal cords are developing. Their lower bodies are catching up with their heads, and bones are growing stronger every day. Their ankles and wrists are forming, so all joints are in working order. The tiny lanugo hairs are also developing.
Heartbeat: The tiny hearts are beating away! It's still the most beautiful sound when we get to hear them :)
Movement: I can't feel it yet, but babies are constantly moving. When we saw them on our last ultrasound, neither could stay still for very long. They are still moving a bit like little jumping beans, but since their joints are formed, they will start to make more deliberate movements.
Gender predictions? We know early...we're having a BOY and a GIRL!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Motherhood Doesn't Always Come Easy

Today is Mother's Day. This day had brought so much grief and heartache over the past few years of our struggle to grow our family. I have wished and prayed and hoped that this Mother's Day would be different. That I would finally get to hear the tiny voice that calls me the one name I long to hear more than any other: mom. But for those who struggle with infertility and loss, this dream seems so elusive. There are many who fight so hard for their title of "mom." For them, motherhood just doesn't come so easy.

Last year, I was a different kind of mom, because I was the adoptive mom of 6 tiny embryos. We were preparing to meet them, and didn't know that they would all meet Jesus first.

Yesterday would have been my due date for 2 little ones we lost, so I had hoped to have a baby in my arms today. But instead, I am a grieving mom, mourning the loss of the little ones we never got to meet. 

This year is different, because I am able to rejoice over the new little lives that are growing in my belly. It's true that this joyful news made the day a little easier to face. And I look forward to holding my babies in my arms next Mother's Day.

But there was still a twinge of pain and loss, and there's always the fight against fear. It has been such a fight to get to this point, and our fight isn't over. But we praise God for all He has done, and we are thankful that He makes all things new. He takes our brokenness and our pain, and He makes it whole and beautiful. 

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there...the ones who sacrifice so much for their families. But I want to say a special Happy Mother's Day to those who have fought hard for their title. To those who know the struggles of infertility. To those who have lost their precious ones too soon. And to those who are still fighting. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Embryo Adoption :: God's Plan for Our Family

The day we were diagnosed with infertility was such a dark day for us. In an instant, our dreams of becoming parents to genetic children vanished. We couldn't understand why the Lord wouldn't allow us to have genetic children, and we felt so overwhelmed with that loss. But the Lord brought peace in the midst of the devastating news, and we have seen His grace pour out. While the initial shock of our lack of treatment options was difficult to process, we can look back now and see God's hand of protection in that diagnosis. While we were frustrated that He skipped all other options, we see now how He was protecting us from a possibly more heartbreaking process, but more importantly preparing us for the family He had always intended for us. Walking through infertility has been a difficult and trying season, but the Lord has been carefully and tenderly crafting our story. We wouldn't have chosen this road, but we also wouldn't change any part of it.

When we received our infertility diagnosis, the doctors gave us one option: IVF with ICSI. For those unfamiliar with it {we were, until we faced infertility}, it is in-vitro fertilization with intracytoplasmic sperm injection, where the sperm is injected directly into the egg, and then a resulting embryo is placed into the uterus in hopes of implantation and a pregnancy. We really had to seek the Lord in determining whether or not it was a viable option for us. There were health concerns with the intensity of hormone therapy required, and there were financial concerns as well, because we wanted to be good stewards of God's money {this treatment option is not inexpensive}.

Even before this was our only option, I had struggled with the ethical and spiritual concerns involved with IVF {number of embryos created/transferred/leftover, selective reduction, etc}. After a lot of prayer and research, we determined that with strict/specific guidelines, we could move forward with IVF with ICSI in a God-honoring, life-preserving way. But despite coming to a comfortable resolution with the IVF process, we really felt that this was not the plan God had for us in building our family.

Early in my research of assisted reproductive technologies {ART}, I had come across something called embryo adoption. Many couples who walk through IVF have embryos that were not transferred. Couples often freeze the embryos for a later IVF cycle {for additional transfers and/or siblings}, but sometimes there are still some remaining. Whether there are medical concerns or couples are simply done building their family, they must then decide what to do with these remaining embryos. They can keep them frozen indefinitely, donate the embryos to science, destroy them, or donate them to another couple. This last option is what really got us excited; what an incredible gift to bless another couple who was also walking the road of infertility!

So for embryo adoption, instead of adopting an infant or older child from their birth parents, you adopt an embryo and you become the birth parents. How incredible is that? It was an option that would allow us to not only experience pregnancy, but also provide an opportunity for life to tiny embryos. As followers of Jesus, we are both staunchly pro-life. We believe that even in this earliest stage of development, an embryo is a unique life, a person, created by God. These embryos are children, vulnerable and in need of a home, and we felt the Lord leading us to pursue this option.

There are many different ways to walk through embryo adoption {anonymous/open/semi-open, clinic/private/agency}. For a number of different reasons, we chose to do an open adoption with the help of an agency. We chose the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program through Nightlight Christian Adoptions, and we are grateful for our relationship with them. In each step of the process, we felt the Lord confirming our decision to pursue embryo adoption, and He was faithful to provide everything we needed at every step.

We knew this was something that the Lord wanted us to pursue, but it was not without its own set of heartaches and struggles. It was not a quick fix or the "perfect" answer, as we experienced such an emotional roller coaster and a pain/loss that we didn't think was possible. I shared last Fall about losing babies; at the time I was vague and didn't mention the fact that we had lost 6 of our precious babies, or that we had to start the embryo adoption process over again. And yet the Lord didn't forget us; He faithfully walked with us every step of the way, providing comfort, grace, and hope.

I will try to provide more details about the process in the future, but for now, we are just so thankful for all that the Lord has done. Of course, I will forever be thankful for embryo adoption because through it, the Lord has allowed me to experience pregnancy and become a mother. And there will never be enough words of gratitude to express to the donor families for the gifts they provided to us by making the decision to donate their embryos and entrust us with their care. 

It is incredible to me how the Lord was preparing our family, even way back in 2007 {when our first embryos were frozen}, and then again in 2009 {when our second set of embryos was frozen}. How He was walking with our sweet donor families as they experienced the struggles of infertility. How He led me and Mike to each other, walked with us in our road of infertility, and led us to embryo adoption and to each of our donor families. He allowed us to skip all other options so that we would discover and then choose this unique path to growing our family. I believe this is part of the reason we had to walk the road of infertility; because God always intended us to be the parents of these precious little ones {all 10!} How great is our God.

We Have Prayed for 1,345 Days...

1 Crohn's disease diagnosis. An abundance of ovulation tests. 33 negative cycles. Several invasive procedures. 1 infertility diagnosis. 1 laparoscopy. 1 endometriosis diagnosis. The gift of embryo adoption. Lots of paperwork. Multiple interviews. Fingerprinting. FBI clearance checks. Medical exams. CPR/First Aid certifications. Adoption education/training. 2 home evaluations. 2 generous families. 2 signed and notarized contracts. A few delays. Repeated blood work. 3 FET's. 0 insurance coverage. 6 little ones born into heaven. 101 PIO shots. So much waiting. Countless tears. Endless prayers. Through it all, 1 faithful God.

Today marks 1,345 days of praying for our miracle. We recognize that others have been praying for many more days, but this has been our journey. The Lord has heard our prayers and granted our hearts' desire! And the really fun part? We have been given the beautiful gift of 2 little ones, set to arrive in November 2016. That's right...TWINS!

It's not lost on us that today would have been the due date for our little ones that we lost last fall. That loss is still hard, and we will always grieve our babies. But the Lord truly has turned our mourning into dancing. And we're so thankful for the reminder of His grace.

"He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!" ~Psalm 113:9