Just in case

Three powerful words

So I have been thinking about this blog post for a while. I will preface it by saying that this could be a trigger for some of you. I will also preface it by saying I am being so serious in writing about this topic. Some of you might disagree with me and that is completely fine. But I also feel like some of you are waiting for this conversation to start.  It’s a vulnerable and raw topic. It’s just something that’s constantly been on my mind these past few weeks even with the craziness of life. Oddly enough, it was brought up at our MOPS play date this week! I definitely feel like God is calling me to start the conversation. So here we go…..

A little back story:
So I was talking to a friend about two weeks ago and she told me that she was pregnant. It was a really good conversation and obviously, I am so excited for her and her growing family. But she was about 7 1/2 weeks along and she told me that she wasn’t telling very many people until after her first doctor appointment….. just in case. I think we all know what that means. In case you don’t, she wasn’t telling very many people in case something is wrong or something happens in the early part of the pregnancy. If you have ever been pregnant, most of you understand and are sensitive to this… and quite frankly, we all get it and would never blame anyone for waiting….. just in case.

But here is the problem with just in case, it doesn’t matter if we don’t wait and share right when we find out or wait for 12 weeks or 20 weeks; the fact is, anything can happen at anytime and we can’t control what happens. I think we use this idea of just in case as a protection and a way to guard ourselves from the potential of something so unbelievably painful if the pregnancy ends in miscarriage and/or stillbirth. And actually, for anyone to make it through an entire pregnancy without any complications is nothing short of a miracle. It truly is an amazing blessing to have a healthy pregnancy, even in this century filled with so much science and technology!

But why do we do this? Why do we feel like it’s better to wait just in case?

Is it because it’s easier on us if we should lose the pregnancy to have not told very many people? I would argue that it’s harder. In fact, it’s probably pretty lonely.

Is it because we wouldn’t want to bother anyone with our sadness in case of a loss? I would argue that our society would make us feel like our sadness is an inconvenience but the reality is that it’s not. The reality is that miscarriage and stillbirth happen every year in this country.

Now TRUST ME, I completely understand the just in case mentality. When we first started going through fertility treatments, I didn’t want anyone to know.

WHY?

Because I was ashamed. I was ashamed that my body couldn’t do the most basic task it was made to do: to make a child.

I was upset because I felt that my body failed me.

I was angry for feeling like I had done “everything right” and was being punished for waiting to have children until after I got married instead of when I was single after a college party.

I was resentful because others seemed to just “get pregnant” without even trying and I couldn’t.

I was sad that children are conceived every day by people who didn’t even want them in the first place and here I was longing for a child and couldn’t have one.

I couldn’t have a baby. I still can’t have a baby without help.

No matter what I wanted, it just wasn’t going to happen the way I thought it should happen. The way it was supposed to happen.

I imagine that if I lost a child. I would have a lot of confusion, anger, sadness, frustration and even more indescribable feelings. I imagine it would be one of THE most painful events in my life. I think about that. I think about if we can’t bring our next two embryos to term or if I don’t get pregnant the next time we try to transfer…. I think about that. Because to me, that inability to conceive our children in waiting…..would. crush. me. Because to me, they are already here waiting for us. To me, they are already mine. To me, they are apart of our family. So I understand, just A LITTLE BIT, of those feelings that people must go through when a child is lost in the womb. And when I say A LITTLE BIT, I mean A LITTLE BIT. Just a dash. It’s one of those things you would never wish upon someone else but you can only experience it to truly know how it feels. It’s definitely something I hope I never have to feel.

So what are we guarding ourselves from by saying just in case?

Is it vulnerability? Is it trying to control the uncontrollable? Is it not having to answer anyone when they ask you how you are feeling? Is it because we want to be alone in our sadness? I don’t really know.

What I do know is that in the last 2 years that I have started sharing about our infertility journey, I have helped a handful of women, who felt they were ALONE, not feel alone. I have had so many conversations with women – just. like. me. – trying to make sense of this painful (physically, emotionally, and mentally) infertility journey. These conversations wouldn’t have happened without me being open. Without me, being open to sharing our struggles, sharing our journey, and sharing the truth.

So this is my point: If you can share your journey – share it. Because I guarantee you will find that you are not alone. You are far from alone. Whether it’s a miscarriage, infertility or still birth, there is someone there fighting the good fight with you. There is someone there who can mourn with you. There is someone there who can support you and run along side you. There is someone there that can tell you that YOU WILL BE OKAY. YOU WILL SURVIVE.

Share your journey just in case you end up impacting someone else’s life more than you will ever know. 

 

Rachel

 

**This post is dedicated to the survivors.**

It’s time I spilled the Cheerios….

The pregnancy that never ends…

Wow. It’s been 3 months since I’ve written. How is that possible? Well I could give a number of reasons, pretty legitimate reasons, why it just hasn’t happened…. but the biggest reason is that I was avoiding it. Weird, right? But now it’s time to get real. Get vulnerable. It’s time I spilled the Cheerios.

Since I gave birth to Madison, I haven’t been doing so great. Sure, I’ve found a wonderful outlet with Rodan + Fields, gotten closer to friends, have watched my sons grow into little boys, have watched my daughter grow from a newborn to an infant, bought a new house and much more. Those things have been WONDERFUL (distractions).

Life seems great. Life is great. But something is wrong (with me). I mean it in the most sincerity…. something is wrong with me. Those of you that have followed our story know Madison’s pregnancy was “exciting”. It was full of ups and downs and I was emotionally a wreck. Then we had Hurricane Harvey just a few days before giving birth which made her birth story, crazy and slightly stressful. And really I thought it would end after that. I thought all I would have to do between her birth and now would be trying to keep my sanity and raise 3 kids under 3 years old and trying to lose enough weight before my sister’s wedding at the end of February.

Well, somehow different plans have been drawn and I am scared shitless.

Since Madison’s birth:

1. I have had two D&C surgeries.

2. I have been told I might need a hysterectomy after I woke up from my first D&C procedure.

3. AND TMI, I have worn a pad almost every day since she’s been born.

4. I have tirelessly thought about our future family plans.

5. I have considered surrogacy for our last two embryos.

All of these 5 things have consumed me over the last (almost) 5 months. CONSUMED ME. Now I am busy in my day-to-day so I can’t exactly think about it on and on BUT mentally it’s always there.

So what’s wrong? Well, essentially, I somehow have had retained placenta left in my uterus from Madison’s birth. Yep. I didn’t know it could happen with someone who’s had a c-section (let alone two), but it has. I am just as shocked that I was on day one when the OB told me that was a possibility. I really can’t even explain how it happened because honestly no one can explain it to me and I have seen many doctors. Essentially, I haven’t really stopped bleeding since I gave birth. It comes and goes in waves. But it never really stops. So how can you move on when this is happening? You can’t. Or, at least, I can’t.

To put it bluntly, it’s been a nightmare. A nightmare I don’t think I wanted to face or make real by writing it down. But I’m ready. 

Since my second D&C (that I slightly regret doing), I have changed doctors and received a tentative diagnosis. I have been diagnosed with sub-involution of the uterus. Basically, my uterus was having a hard time healing from the pregnancy. It’s a consequence of having retained placenta (go figure). The diagnosis is hard to come to and doing the D&C’s actually lengthened the time my uterus needs to heal because, hello, surgery just aggravates it. But I praise God for this new doctor. I have actually been treated with two  rounds of antibiotics because it was suspected I also had endometritis (inflammation of the uterus) and now am on an estrogen/progesterone treatment to hopefully heal my lining of my uterus. My last scan does show I have some more scar tissue or possible more placenta particles. But we won’t know the state of everything until I have a hysteroscopy sometime in March.

Curious about the pathology report from the second D&C I had – yep. More placenta. Did I tell you this was a nightmare?   

So March. Madison will be 6 months old before I know what is the outcome of all this treatment. I will be 6 months into this 3 children gig. Definitely not something I have been happy about. Definitely not something I have been able to really come to terms with until now.

The worst part is that I don’t know what’s going to happen. The worst part is that I don’t know how this will affect our future family plans until March and really, maybe not until we are ready to transfer the next embryo. The worst part is that I don’t know if my next pregnancy will be my last or if this one was my last one. The worst part is we just DON’T KNOW.

What I do know:

  1. My body is shot. I definitely need a big break until we try again.
  2. If there is an inch of belief that my next pregnancy could be my last, we will transfer the two embryos.
  3. If there is a compromise to my uterus that could affect me carrying, we will consider surrogacy.

Is this stuff easy to think about? HELL NO. I am scared out of my mind but I believe with my whole heart that all of the lives we created deserve a chance. I believe with my whole heart we are supposed to have 5 children. I believe with my whole heart that whatever happens, we will be okay. I will be okay. I do believe that. It doesn’t mean I’m not scared. It doesn’t mean I am not angry about it. It doesn’t mean I’m consumed by it. It doesn’t mean I have all the right answers or know how to fix it.

I just KNOW I have two more lives worth fighting for and that’s all I need to know. 

 

“This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
‘Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.’

He whispered, ‘My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.'”

— Excerpt from Footprints in the Sand

 

Until next time,

Rachel

Decisions

The road to IVF

The decisions Nick and I had to make after learning of our failed plan were not easy. You see, I was raised in the Catholic Church and very much still practiced my faith. As a Catholic, in-vitro-fertilization (also known as IVF), among other fertility treatments, are not accepted. In fact, they are considered morally wrong to engage in. I knew this, hence the reason we wanted to avoid it at all costs. And actually, at the time, I was completely against it. However, unless you’ve ever been faced with being told you have a less than 5% chance of conceiving naturally and your body is essentially working against you to have a biological child, please reserve your judgment. I’m not looking for a fight or an argument about “my sin” but merely just sharing how we got to that point.

In the next weeks (we really didn’t have time to make a choice as my condition was worsening by the second), we talked to a lot of people – Catholics, Protestants, priests, and people who went through the fertility process. My wonderful husband was willing to go to the ends of the Earth to make this happen for us and what was important to him was that we “gave it our all”; essentially “tried everything we could” to have a baby. If we still ended up with no baby, then we tried. We would look into other options, like adoption, if that was the path we were meant to be on. While what he said made sense and I just wanted to fall completely into that idea and not look back, I wanted to make sure my heart was in the right place. I wanted to make sure I would have no regrets. This was also an expensive decision and I was feeling super guilty I was the one that brought us to this place. I know it was out of my control, but the guilt was real.

While everyone was super great in listening to our concerns and helping us through this decision (as best as anyone could), we were directed to this great Catholic couple and via email she helped me more than anyone. She said TWO things to me that have stuck with me through these years:

1. Her and her husband made a decision BEFORE the IVF process started that however many children they were blessed with in the process, they vowed to transfer them all in their lifetime.

2. That no matter what they did as a couple, if God’s plans were for them NOT to have children, it won’t happen. Science is great but if science REALLY could circumvent God’s will, then everyone who went through IVF or fertility, in general, would have children.

Let me talk about the impact these two points made on us. The first one was right in line with how I felt about helping create these embryos. THESE EMBRYOS were going to be OUR CHILDREN and I couldn’t bear to not try to conceive them. I won’t go into every detail of the fertility process but many embryos are put up for adoption, abandoned, or given to science for testing. Neither one of these options were the paths that Nick and I wanted to go down so vowing to have however many children God will bless us with was something we felt we could commit to BEFORE we started. Let me tell you, we could have ended up with no children or eleven children, we had no idea! And even now, there are still no guarantees. 

The second point really hit home. We had no idea what we were really getting ourselves into and my naivety about the process led me to just believe we would have children. I mean we were going through all this and paying for it, why wouldn’t we have kids? Well, it’s about a 65% chance of conceiving when you transfer one embryo which is much better than what we were looking at naturally, but still not great. With the twins, we were looking at a slightly higher percentage of having one baby and a 25% chance of having twins. The process of taking all the medications and going through the procedures essentially had to be perfect to even get to the transfer of an embryo. What I am trying to say is that throughout the entire process, ANYTHING could have gone wrong. We could have faced financial hardship and not being able to afford the treatment which is in the tens of thousands of dollars range. My body could have failed to respond to the medications. The procedure to retrieve the eggs could have been unsuccessful. The combining of the sperm and egg could have failed and then the embryos themselves could have failed to multiply and grow correctly. Every single part had to work. Science is a wonderful gift but it’s not fool-proof. 

Nick and I confidently decided to go forth with IVF. The IVF journey is a beast and not one I will tackle in this post. However, we were blessed with 5 embryos. 5 children. Our children. Our family of 7. But this family of 7 has to wait a little bit.

Many people…..most people, go through this life not knowing how many children they will have but we do. We know. At that moment, when we got the call of how many embryos survived, we knew we had 5 beautiful children awaiting their lives with us. That knowledge right there was absolutely the hardest part for me to emotionally handle. You see, I knew I had 5 children but I could only transfer 2 of them the first time around. I was lucky enough that both the embryos took. But during that pregnancy (it was tough so I had a lot of down time), all I could think of were my other babies. I had a lot of guilt for not being able to have them at that moment. I know in my mind I couldn’t but it still hurt. I am their mommy and needed to protect them and I couldn’t. Now, I am sitting here feeling my little wiggle worm rolling around in my stomach – my 3rd baby. My baby girl. I couldn’t be more excited to have her with us now. But my heart is not yet complete. It hurts a little less this time around then when I was carrying the boys but it still hurts. It’s so unexpected how the pain of infertility continues to creep into my heart and mind. I have no regrets whatsoever.

Although, I am so excited to have the life I have with the twins and soon to be with little miss, there is not a single day that goes by I don’t think about my two children waiting for us. I always say to myself when I start thinking of them: “Daddy and I will come and get you one day. We will. We promise. You won’t be alone anymore. We love you so much.” In a way, it’s comforting because I feel like they are close but in another way it breaks me. And although it’s a pain I cannot even begin to describe and tears roll down my face, I know we will bring them home one day. That day, will be the best day of our lives because our family will finally be complete. 

 

Here’s to the loves of my life in waiting,

Rachel

So, who are we?

Background into us….

The journey into who we are is a LONG one. I’ll start with college. To go back any further would be way too long. But don’t worry, I’m sure my life will come out in pieces as we continue our journey together.

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This is me in 2007. These pictures were taken almost 10 years ago to the day!
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This is Nick in 2007. We met on a bus ride to Illinois.
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Baseball and Softball rode ONE BUS 18 hours! Why? Don’t ask me.

I met my husband, Nick, in college at the University of Dallas. He was on his 4th college following his dream to play baseball and he was the cutest, most rough around the edges type guy. I was there being my studious self and playing softball. Do I believe it was love at first sight? Not really. At least, not for him. 😉 Nick left UD after a year and off to LeTourneau University where he finished college and baseball. Fast forward to my last year of college when we FINALLY dated and had TONS OF FUN. One year later we were engaged and the year after that we were married on September 3rd 2011. I would say “Well, the rest is history.” Isn’t that what people say right about now? Maybe so but little did we know our lives were about to get a little more crazy.

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Our Engagement Pictures
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Our Wedding Day 9/3/2011

We started our married lives in Dallas, Texas. I was finishing up my teaching certificate and then became a nanny; Nick worked at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo and then got a job at Chase Bank. We weren’t making much and lived in a small apartment but we enjoyed life. Sometimes we look back and wish we could get away and go back to that “simple” life. Funny how perspective changes as you get older.

By August of 2012, we headed to Sugar Land, Texas (my hometown). I found a job teaching World History at Fort Bend Christian Academy and Nick transferred with Chase Bank. Ya’ll it was complete divine intervention that brought us back to Sugar Land. I applied for every job under the sun in Dallas and only one job in Sugar Land. YES ONLY ONE. I got ONE CALL BACK from this ONE JOB I applied to in Sugar Land! So off we went! 

This is really where the fun begins! Anyone a teacher out there? Talk about a whirlwind of a first year of teaching! That’s a whole another blog entirely but I have never had more heartache, pain (quite literally), and lessons learned in one year of my life (so far). I was also coaching a select softball team AND helping with our high school team. I look back and think WHAT WAS I THINKING! I think I may have come close to having a major panic attack a few times.

While I was doing all that, Nick decided he needed a change and found a new job at Frost Bank. While we were going through all of those transitions, we ended up taking in Nick’s mom. She was living alone and things were rough (to say the least) all the while trying to live with Parkinson’s. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (http://www.pdf.org/about_pd), Parkinson’s is a “is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time…..and it involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons.” She had this disease for about 10 or so years by this point but due to some unfortunate circumstances, her health was taking a turn for the worse. She lived with us beginning Jan 2013 through the summer of 2014. In that time, we found specialists in Houston and successfully got her on a new plan. We also bought another house actually in Sugar Land and we all moved in early 2014. We eventually moved her into a town home close by from that summer of 2014 until November 2015 when she moved to Greenville, Texas to live with her brother. She is doing fantastic now!

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Archannette, Nick’s Mom

But let’s get back to the story, we had bought our first house in a new city in Richmond Texas, I was in my first year teaching, coaching two softball teams and became a primary caretaker to my mother in law. Nick was learning a new job, learning a new city, and also the primary caretaker to his mother. Oh, did I mention he had to live in San Antonio for 8 weeks for training at Frost Bank during all of this! In 2014, we moved again to Sugar Land Texas and we adopted our dog Dakota! WOW! When we look back on this time in our lives, we don’t have ANY regrets but ya’ll it was SO HARD. Don’t forget, we were also in our first years of marriage! That honeymoon phase ended REAL QUICK.

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Dakota, when she was a puppy.

 

Are you tired yet? We are just getting started….. 😉

Here’s to everything in between,

Rachel

The Journey Here

The blog.

The journey here hasn’t been an easy one and not one I could even possibly share in one blog post. But here I am. Blogging! Who knew? It’s been on my mind for a few months. You know when you are bugged over and over by a thought but you brush it off? Yep! That’s this blog. Then something amazing happened. I connected with an organization called Caiden’s Hope (we will definitely be talking more about them throughout this blogging journey). Using my side biz with Usborne Books & More, we partnered together to raise funds for their organization (more to come later, promise!). One thing led to another and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the founder of the charity asked me to start this blog. BAM! The little thought was no longer brushed off and now 1 month later, we are here! This blog is intended to relate to a number of different journeys we are all on – marriage, kids and everything in between! It’s everything in between that life happens, am I right? So, take this journey of life with me…. I promise it’s an exciting one!

 

Until next time,

Rachel