Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pregnancy after Infertility & Adoption Q&A

Were you SO EXCITED when you found out you were pregnant? It's what you had always wanted, wasn't it?
Well, the short answer is no. When I found myself pregnant, I wasn't immediately jumping for joy. I always expected that I would be over the moon to get pregnant, but I was very surprised by all the mixed feelings I was having. I was kind of mad about being pregnant for a few reasons. One of them was that we were now the poster family for "just adopt and then you'll get pregnant," which is the thing I hated hearing most of all when we were looking to adopt. But, it was more complicated than that. I also felt a lot of "survivors guilt" about getting pregnant without really trying when I have so many friends trying so desperately to get pregnant. It also confused me about how I fit into the infertility community now that I had spontaneously gotten pregnant. The biggest factor, which took me months to figure out, is that I knew that now I had experienced pregnancy and knew that it could happen, that I was going to have to mourn the loss of the ability to get pregnant all over again if it turned out we couldn't get pregnant again in the future. I felt like I was going to have the fight the battle of infertility all over again when I just thought I had defeated it.

I spent a lot of time in denial about the fact that I might be pregnant. When I finally did take a pregnancy test, it took me a minute to process what two lines meant. My first reaction wasn't excitement, but a reaction of "ok, how is this going to get taken away from me?" I didn't sleep the first night after I tested because I spent all night googling different ways that you can get a false positive on a pregnancy test. The next day I got a blood test that confirmed that I had high levels of HCG, but I was still suspicious. My next reaction was to be worried about having cancer because I knew from Brent's experience that HCG can also measure cancer growth. When I finally had a viability ultrasound and saw that I was indeed growing a baby and the baby wasn't in my tubes, I allowed myself to be a little bit excited, but couldn't shake the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

My pregnancy was no walk in the park either. I was sick, tired, and in pain for most of the pregnancy. The joy in my pregnancy was kind of sneaky. I can't tell where it began, but I know toward the end of my pregnancy, I felt more secure and actually enjoyed seeing myself with a baby bump and feeling the baby moving and kicking.

How did you feel about abandoning your adoption search when you got pregnant?
I was relieved that we didn't have to come up with upward of $30,000 for another adoption, but I actually found myself mourning the loss of the adoption process. That really surprised me because I really had to mourn the loss of being pregnant in order to move forward with adoption, but I didn't expect the inverse of that to be true as well.

For years, I didn't just want a baby, I wanted the whole package: I wanted the positive pregnancy test, the morning sickness, the stretch marks, the flutter of baby kicks inside me, the baby bump, the braxton hicks, timing my contractions, the rush to the hospital..I wanted to be pregnant. I wasn't blind to the fact that pregnancy wasn't easy, but it felt like a rite of passage as a woman to have the opportunity to create life. I felt like I was missing out on an essential part of being a woman by not being able to.

When we were first diagnosed with infertility, we told the doctor we weren't interested in fertility treatments and thought we'd adopt. The grief I felt as we left the doctor's office that day was surprising. My life has always been filled with very positive adoption experiences, but I was feeling very distinctly that I was getting the "consultation prize" by moving forward with adoption. With every step we made toward getting ready to adopt, I kept hoping to be one of those couples who miraculously gets pregnant against all odds, to rescue me from "having to adopt."

We reached a roadblock in our adoption home study when we realized we did not have the necessary health insurance and that neither of the small businesses we worked for offered any. We faced the reality that we could not move forward with adoption until one of us changed jobs. We explored our options for fertility treatment more seriously, but nothing ever felt right. Eventually, we went to a doctor that a friend recommended for an IVF consult. At that appointment, I had an ultrasound on my ovaries that was pretty painful. The pain got worse over the next 10 days and I went back to see the doctor to find out why. In those 10 days, I had developed a cyst on my ovary. I was referred to an OBGYN for treatment and my thoughts of IVF were put on hold.

It took about 6 weeks of debilitating pain, and an ultrasound revealing that I had developed a second cyst, before I had a laparoscopy. I remember waking up from my surgery and being told that I not only had cysts removed, but a significant amount of endometriosis as well. Being diagnosed with endometriosis was the best and worst thing that happened to me. I was devastated because I  had just gotten excited about the possibility of finally being able to get pregnant only to have a new obstacle placed in our way. However, we felt that the endometriosis hurt our chances of conceiving enough that we didn't feel like we could risk our limited resources on trying IVF. Being diagnosed with endometriosis is what it took for me to finally accept that I was never going to be pregnant. After 3 1/2 years, I was finally ready to open my heart to adoption and not look back. Within a few months, we finally finished the homestudy we had started almost 2 years before. (Even after we had gotten the insurance in place, we lacked the motivation to finish until I had fully closed the door on pregnancy.)

Shortly after we finished our homestudy, we started witnessing the miracles that took place in order for us to adopt our son, Patrick. We were so in love with our new little baby and treasured the journey that took place for us to become a family. I went from feeling like adoption was the consolation prize to feeling so blessed and privileged to have the opportunity to experience the miracle of adoption.

When Patrick was just over a year old, we hopped on the bandwagon took advantage of the free profile the lds church was offering. We knew that when it was time to adopt again, things would fall into place like they had before. We'd had a live profile on for several months and we weren't getting any action. Patrick was scheduled to have his tonsils and adenoids out and tubes put in his ears in June. We had an action plan to start fundraising and advertising heavily after we got the surgery behind us. We were told to expect a 2 week recovery period before we really had our boy back again. Before he was feeling better, I started having pain like I did 3 years before with my endometriosis and cysts. I was really upset and was thinking that I would probably need surgery again. I had the thought, "maybe I'm pregnant" several times, but I mostly got mad at myself for thinking that way whenever I did. I took a pregnancy test so I could prove to myself that it was negative and to put an end to the those thoughts once and for all.

Once I passed the 12 week mark and stopped worrying so much about losing the pregnancy, I finally allowed myself to believe that maybe there was actually going to be a baby at the end of the entire process. It was a hard thing for me to wrap my head around. I had given up on believing that babies came from pregnancy and had moved on to my own reality that babies came phone calls and birth moms. Strangely enough, I found myself mourning the opportunity to adopt. I had fully expected that our next child was going to come to us through adoption and I was sad not to experience the same miracle journey of being brought to my child through nontraditional means. The biggest loss I was feeling was the over the absence of the overwhelming spiritual confirmation that we had when we adopted Patrick. It was very strange to feel 100% sure that the child I had had adopted was my son and was always meant to be, but to question if the child I was carrying inside me was really meant to be.

Did you feel a difference in how quickly you bonded to the child you gave birth to and the one you adopted?
The short answer is no. The processes that my two sons took to come to me are vastly different, but once they were here, the bonding process has felt pretty much the same: someone handed me a baby, told me I was his momma, and we worked on getting to know each other.

Here's the long answer: I spent a fair amount of time worrying about the fact that my relationship with Patrick was somehow going to be impacted by the fact that I was going to be giving birth to a baby after I had adopted him. I worried about feeling an instant connection with the new baby because I didn't feel an instant connection with him. It took a few days of caring for him to get out of my social worker/care taker mode and to really process the reality that I was his momma and that I was much more than someone who was there to schedule his doctor appointments and make sure he eats every 3 hours. I was worried that I would feel more connected to this baby.

But, the reality is that I had something Patrick son that I never really experienced with my Reuben. When we were presented our Patrick's profile, we looked at it and reviewed it with our logical minds and said to each other, "we aren't capable of caring for a child who will have so many needs." We talked about it together and fully intended to tell the social worker that we were not interested in adopting him. We were both at work that Monday morning and we called each other to confirm that we were saying no, and we both said to each other, "this will sound crazy, but saying no feels like the wrong thing to do." As we talked to each other on the phone, we both had this overpowering feeling that we needed to say yes to this little boy. We called the social worker together and told her that we had planned to say no to her, but that we were instead calling to say yes. The feeling stayed with us through the entire process and I can pretty much call that same feeling back any time I reflect on the miracle it took for us to adopt him. Even now as I am typing, I am overwhelmed with the same feeling we had that day.

When we found out we were pregnant, I kept craving that same overwhelming feeling that I had with Patrick. I wanted to feel a confirmation that the child I was carrying inside me was meant for me. I realized logically that I wasn't likely to have that kind of confirmation because the situation was different. You don't really God to tell you that the baby you got miracle pregnant with is meant for you, but I had a hard time not feeling a bit lost without it. In fact, the night before I went to the hospital to be induced, Brent gave me a priesthood blessing. In that blessing, he promised me that I would feel that this baby was my own, which was something I really struggled to do my entire pregnancy. (How backward is that? haha!)

When I saw the doctor pull my son out and hold him up, I burst into tears and felt something inside me finally click. I think that was really the first time I fully processed on all levels that there was a baby inside me and that I was a mom again. He didn't cry like they wanted him to, so instead of getting to do skin to skin time right away, he was taken over to the corner where a team of medical professionals worked on him for several minutes. Brent took a picture of him and brought the camera over to me so I could see what he looked like. After about 30 minutes, he was brought to me so I could hold him for a few minutes before he was taken to the nursery to make sure he was stable. I enjoyed holding him, but I didn't feel the "instant connection" that I wondered about, then they took him off the nursery.  I was exhausted, sharking, and starving, so the nurse brought me a sandwich. I honestly have to say I probably felt more of a connection to the sandwich at that point (but I was really hungry). 

I got to hold him again for a few minutes when they transferred us over to the postpartum unit, but as soon as we got settled again, a nurse came to take him away to do some kind of exam on him. By that point, it was 4 am and we decided to let him spend the night in the nursery so we could get some sleep.

My point in all this story telling is that the first time I really got to spend some quality time with my new baby was about 8 am the next morning when they brought him back to my room at my request. I was sitting in my bed when they wheeled in his little bassinet and parked it next to me. I remember being struck at that moment by how it felt exactly the same as the first time I saw Patrick. Like I said before, the experiences were pretty much the same from that point forward: someone brought me a baby, told me I was his momma, and we worked on getting to know each other. The differences were that in one I had just completed a great physical challenge to get there and in the other I had completed a great emotional challenge.

I had heard a lot of people compare adopting a child to having a c-section versus a vaginal delivery. The heart of the message was that, "they come in different ways, but it doesn't matter how they came once they're here." I always kind of wondered if people were just being politically correct when they said that, but now I'm here to add my own testimony to that. The journeys I had to become a mother to my two sons are very different from one another, but that doesn't impact how I feel about them as their mother. I imagine if/when we have another child, whether he or she is adopted or a child that I give birth to myself, my journey will be different then too. No two births are the same and no two adoptions are the same. I wouldn't love one child more than the other because their births or adoptions were different. So I don't love either of my sons more than the other because the way they came to me differs.

Now that you've both given birth and adopted, which did you prefer?
I've been asked some version of this question in real life a few times, and I think I might disappoint people a bit with my answer. There are elements of both my experience with birth and my experience with adoption that I prefer one over the other. But, if/when we add another child to our family, we can't expect that would could replicate either of the experiences we had with our two sons.

If I lived in a magical world, I would combine my favorite elements of both my birth and adoption experiences and have my ideal situation. I would take from our birth experience the financial cost and the security of not having to worry about a birth parent changing their mind and combine it with the lack of physical discomfort and the opportunity we had to travel from our adoption experience.

When the time comes to add to our family again, I think our hearts could be open to both adoption and pregnancy. And when the path that our next child is to come to us becomes clear, I know we will be excited about some elements of the path we will be taking and we will feel the loss of some elements of the path we do not take.

If you knew you would eventually get pregnant, would you still have adopted Patrick? Would you adopt again now that you've had a child of "your own?"
Absolutely 100% yes!  As I've reflected on the journey we've been through with our infertility, I believe that one of the main reasons we experienced infertility is so that we would turn to adoption and be able to adopt Patrick. I know that it is a part of God's plan for us to adopt Patrick and for him to be our son. I don't believe that if we decided not to adopt for some reason and that if we waited and eventually got pregnant that we would have the same little spirit in our family. I believe that the way that Patrick came to earth and to our family is how it was always meant to be.

 And if it's part of God's plan for us to adopt again, then we will! That being said, unless we get some spiritual juju that points us back to adoption right now, we'll probably try the pregnancy route again for the next baby. If that doesn't work out, we will prayerfully consider where we're supposed to go next. If it's adoption, then that's where we'll go.

Now that you've experienced pregnancy and birth, how do you feel about your infertility?
I feel like I'm in both a better and worse place with my infertility than I was before I got pregnant.
Before I saw those two pink lines, I was at peace with my infertility and at peace with the way I was planning to grow our family. Adopting didn't cure my infertility, but it did give me children which was what I really wanted. Getting pregnant threw me for a loop and I had to re-evaluate a lot of things, but it also validated a lot of things for me.

The first is that the way I was physically feeling when I was actually pregnant was exactly the same as the way I was feeling dozens of times when I was thinking I might be pregnant. All the years when I was hoping that some kind of miracle had happened when I was feeling nauseous for no apparent reason or when I was extra tired or had soreness in certain areas, I would beat myself up afterward for being so eager to be pregnant that I misinterpreted my symptoms. It was very validating to have a positive pregnancy test from the same symptoms that had caused me to test dozens of times before and it helped me let go of a lot of the shame and frustration I felt toward myself.

The second thing it validated was that losing the opportunity to be pregnant and give birth was something worth mourning. When people get wind of the fact you can't get pregnant, a lot of well meaning people will tell you that you're not missing out on much and start going on about how terrible it is to having morning sickness and to develop stretch marks and how your body is never the same after giving birth. I always knew that people were trying to help me feel better when they said stuff like this to me, but it always made me kind of wonder if I the grief I felt about the loss of the opportunity to experience those things was valid.

When I first got pregnant, I think I really fought those feelings internally again. I wasn't happy to be pregnant at first and mostly viewed it as a gateway to another kind of loss that I was likely going to be experiencing. And then there was the nausea, the vertigo, the fatigue, the mental fogginess, the pain I experienced with walking and bending, the sleepless nights, the inability to give my existing child the attention he deserved... but at the same time, I knew on some level that was I was experiencing was still special. Even in my grouchiness, I knew that I was finally experiencing the rite of passage that I had been mourning for such a long time. I was creating life within myself and that was worth experiencing, even if it was kind of miserable.

The idea of giving birth really scared me for a long time. I avoided thinking about it for the first half of my pregnancy, but as my due date drew closer, the reality that the baby was going to have to come out somehow set in and I felt more accepting of it as well, but in a "let's get this over with" kind of way. I was induced with Reuben so going to the hospital was actually a very peaceful experience. My labor and delivery went so much smoother than I had imagined. I spent several days after the birth replaying the day over in my mind again and again. I was left with lingering feelings of hoping that I have the opportunity to experience the process over again.

I am both excited and scared at the prospect of trying to get pregnant again in the future. Like I said before, I think losing the opportunity to be pregnant and give birth is something worth mourning. I am excited at the prospect of being able to experience the entire process over again, but at the same time, I'm scared because I know there is no guarantee that just because we got pregnant once that we'll be able to do it again. I don't look forward to the anxiety of taking a pregnancy test or the grief that comes each month that we don't have success and the fear of it never working out again. I was in a place of peace with the fact that it's not easy for us to get pregnant and I feel like I will have to work to get back to that place again.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Reuben's Birth Story

Confession time--I've seen birth stories shared all over facebook, but I've never read one before. I am basically winging this. A few people have been interested in hearing "the story" and I also want to write all of these details down before I forget. Sorry if it's long!

When we found out we were pregnant back in July, we were pretty terrified of losing the pregnancy. Since it was such a shock for us to get pregnant, we kind of assumed that the pregnancy would be some kind of high risk venture. We ended up seeing the same OBGYN that treated my endometriosis and cysts 3 years earlier. We really liked him because he is so down to earth and has a very calming presence. He assured us at our first visit that, in most cases, even if you struggle to get pregnant, once you GET pregnant, you're on the same plane as anyone else. 

I did the see-the-OBGYN-once-a-month gig and most visits were short and sweet. My doc would ask about my symptoms, I'd tell him I wasn't feeling awesome, he'd chuckle and say "welcome to pregnancy," he'd check the baby's heart beat, ask if I had any questions, and then tell me to come back in 4 weeks. I had plenty of aches and pains, but nothing out of the ordinary.

At my 20 week ultrasound, the tech told us that Reuben's kidneys looked every so slightly large and that there was a chance he had hydronephrosis. Since things are still developing at 20 weeks, they said they wanted to check him out again at 32 weeks. Patrick had hydronephrosis (among other things) and so I wasn't that worried about it because I knew it wasn't the end of the world and continued to have uneventful visits with the OB. 

 At my 32 week ultrasound, the tech told us that Reuben's kidney's looked great, but told us he was measuring 2 weeks ahead and asked how sure we were about our due date and asked if I had been tested for Gestational Diabetes. My doc got the results and sent me back for another ultrasound at 36 weeks. In the mean time, my doctor suggested that I take the 3 hour glucose test, even though I had passed my one hour test several weeks before.

I saw my doctor again at my 36 week appointment. He informed me that I had just failed my glucose test and that my ultrasound the day before showed the baby measuring large. Suddenly my uneventful pregnancy because a bit stressful. I got sent to the hospital for diabetic education, hooked up with a glucometer, a new diet and exercise regimen, biweekly non-stress tests, and increased visits and monitoring by my OBGYN.

My doctor was concerned about baby's size and well-being and my ability to deliver a large baby--at my 36 week ultrasound he was estimated to be 7 lbs 15 oz. Together we decided to have me induced on Thursday the 24th of February--38 weeks and 2 days. In the mean time I continued to have non-stress tests, which were thankfully non eventful.

It was kind of a relief to have my birth scheduled and to take the stress of having to be ready to go at any unknown time. We had time to figure out what to do with Patrick and get meals in the freezer and what not.

We called Thursday morning to make sure they were still ready for me and had to clear several inches of snow off our van in order to make get on the road. Brent doesn't love driving, so I drove myself to the hospital. I found that amusing since I assumed through most of my pregnancy that the trip to the hospital would be a lot more dramatic. We got a call from the University Hospital as we were driving asking us why we were delivering there because my doctor "doesn't deliver there." We explained that since Brent works at UNI we have the best benefits at University of Utah providers and while the U wasn't a hospital my doctor delivers at often, he DOES deliver there.

We got the the hospital a little bit later than we were supposed to--I was scheduled for 8:30 but didn't arrive until about 8:45/9:00 am due to being delayed by the snow. We checked in, they led us to a labor and delivery room, and we set up camp. Brent got cozy in his dad chair and I changed into a gown, and a few more people asked us why were were delivering at the U, and we again explained the my doctor DOES deliver there.

I hopped up in the bed and soon they came in and worked on placing my IV. I'm not a big fan of needles and having the IV placed with kind of a miserable experience, especially since I was  nervous about the entire birth process.  I started crying when they placed the IV and was feeling pretty pathetic and got scared that I wasn't going to survive the rest of the delivery very well. 

They started the pitocin about 10 am. I asked them to move my IV a little while later because it was still hurting in my hand. They poked my arm and that hurt even more than the first time they tried to place my IV. They weren't able to get my vein, so I told them I wanted them to just leave it in my hand after all. Then they brought in another nurse who looked at it and decided it "looked angry" in my hand and talked me into trying to place it one more time. Fortunately, even though I was in tears by the time they'd placed my IV three times, it immediately felt better and I was beyond relieved to have the pinchy IV pulled out of my hand. I was feeling pretty bashful for being such a woss about having my IV placed, but a few of the nurses said it was their least favorite part of having a baby and I felt a little better. 

The next several hours were pretty uneventful. The nurse came in and told me I was having contractions and I was like "oh, I am?" and she showed me on the monitor that the lines were peaking. I was feeling like I had it pretty easy  Brent and I learned that there isn't much on TV in the middle of the day. After surfing all the channels on the hospital's cable list, we settled on watching hoarders for a few hours and texting my birth groupies about how my progress was going. 

They checked me every 2 hours and I made fairly steady progress. They increased my pitocin bit by bit and came in about 3 pm to break my water and told me my contractions would start getting stronger. I had barely been feeling them at that point so I wasn't too worried about it.

Bit by bit, my contractions got stronger and more painful. I planned on going into the birth with an open mind about epidural and just seeing how things went before I decided for or against. I called the nurse in and told her I was getting pretty uncomfortable and thought I would go ahead with the epidural whenever the anesthesiologist was ready. She told me that he was in an emergency C section and wouldn't be available for a while. I had about 90 minutes worth of contractions that were very painful and rocked my world before they were able to get my epidural placed. The gave me some fentanyl to help with the pain and sent the doula in to help me cope with the pain. The doula had an adopted son so we talked adoption. Since the fentanyl made me a little loopy, I think she probably got more of an earful from me that I intended. I had a hard time holding still long enough for them to place the epidural since I was having strong contractions that were coming on fast. Once it was placed, it was like flipping a switch. I hand the tingly numbness in my legs, but the pain was gone! 

The next several hours I tried to rest, but that wasn't that productive the nurses coming in every so often to check my progress, take my blood sugar, etc. I also had to keep changing positions because baby's heart rate was dropping with contractions. It was pretty comical because I did not feel like I had any control over my lower body. I had to have Brent position my legs for me and the nurses had to heave-ho my legs from one side to the other to get me to turn. 

I was 6 cm at about 8 pm and they told me that it usually took another 4 hours to become fully dilated. I was expecting a longer night when they checked me at 10 and I was only 7 cm, but when they came in at midnight to check, they told me it was baby time. 

I had been chatting with the nurse about one of our favorite topics - traveling to Europe - and they had a hard time getting us to stop talking about London, Paris, and Ireland. 

Within 15 minutes, my doctor had arrived and there were suddenly a lot of people hanging out in my room - like 10 people not including me and Brent! And, for all the times we were told that my doctor didn't deliver there, the staff seemed to know him. There was my doctor, a resident doctor or two, a few nurses, people who seemed to be there just for when the baby was born, and someone who seemed like her job was to clean up as we went along. 

Before my doctor came, I asked the nurse how long I should expect to push. I told her that I heard the average was about 90 minutes and she told me that was true, but that they would let me push for up to 4 hours. So, I told myself to plan on at least 90 minutes but to be prepared for up to 4 hours of pushing.

Pushing with an epidural is an interesting experience. If you drew a line across my stomach through my belly button, I could feel everything from that line up. I could feel some of my contractions and I could only kind of feel to push. The doctors and nurses told me that it usually takes a few rounds of contractions and pushing for women to get it right with an epidural on their first delivery. 

My first contraction came and I had small crowd of people cheering me on, counting down from 10, and telling me to push harder! I pushed for 10 seconds, 3 times per contraction (I'm guessing that's standard.) A few contractions in, I started hearing things like "that's it!" and "almost there," "just a little harder!" I assumed they were telling me that I was almost getting the method of pushing down. I could feel some pressure and I asked what it was and someone told me it was the head. I pushed once more and suddenly saw the whole baby being held up. I heard a voice call out "time of birth 12:42 am." Somehow I managed to get him out in less than 30 minutes when I had spent weeks worrying about not being able to deliver him and needing a C section. 

He didn't cry the way they wanted him to, so they took him over to a little table to work on him instead of letting me hold him right away. They did some suctioning and told me they had to take him to the nursery. I did get to hold him for a few minutes before they took him to the nursery. 

I kept asking how much he weighed since his size had kind of been a big topic of discussion in the weeks leading up to his birth. My doctor said he guessed around 8 lbs. They didn't weigh him in my room so I had to wait for him to get weighed in the nursery. Finally they got back to me and told me he was 8 1bs, 13 oz. It wasn't until the next day that I finally got someone to tell me he was 20 inches long. 

One of the most memorable moments of the night was looking over at Brent after most of the hospital staff had cleared out. He was white as a sheet with a total look of shock on his face. The nurses had basically told Brent he was on his own for food and drink up until that point, but after seeing the state he was in, they brought Brent a sandwich and a coke. Brent made some kind of comment about how the only time he'd seen so much blood was when he was watching the walking dead, and got really quiet for a while as he processed what he'd just witnessed!

We got moved over to our postpartum room about 3:30 am and we spent the next two hours chatting about what just happened and trying to finalize a name. We had a short list and a long list of baby names we liked. Royal was on the short list, but I always preferred it as a middle name. Reuben was a name on the long list, but we'd never taken it very seriously. Right after he was born, Brent came over to me and told me he thought he looked like a Reuben. When I held him for the first time, I was pretty sure I thought his name was Reuben, but I needed some time to try it out before we committed to it long term. After we looked up the meaning of the name (Behold, a son) and tried it out a few times. it was pretty well decided.

We spent Friday in the hospital getting to know our new baby, entertaining visitors, and getting visited by doctors, nurses, specialists, etc.

My doctor came to see me Saturday morning and told me we could go home. I was feeling great and Reuben was doing great, so we gladly obliged. We packed up our things and took our sweet little peanut home!

We've been enjoying our time as a pack of 6 (4 human, 2 canine). It's been an adjustment, but overall Patrick has been doing pretty well. He's always very sweet to Reuben and is very curious about all the different elements of

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Miracle #2

There has been some interest in hearing the entire story of our little miracle. At first I said, "there's not much to tell. We were told we had a less than 1% chance of getting pregnant on our own and we got pregnant on our own."

But of course there is more to the story than that. 

To understand where we are today, you have to understand where we came from. 6 1/2 years ago, Brent and I decided it was time to start a family. We waited the obligatory year before anyone would take a look at what was keeping us from getting pregnant. Brent had a semen analysis and we learned that the 3% odds that Brent's chemo would impact our fertility had not been in our favor.

A semen analysis consists of a score that averages the count, morphology, and motility of the sperm. A normal man's score is about 30 million. Brent's score was just about 1 million. We were told we had a "significantly less than 1%" chance of getting pregnant on our own and were basically given the choices of doing IVF, using 3rd party reproduction, or adopting.

We dilly dallied in lots of different directions. After 3 years of going to various consults and never feeling right about anything, I was diagnosed with PCOS and endometriosis. It was a very painful and challenging time for us. But at the same time, it was just what we needed. With both our challenges combined, we didn't feel like it was worth gambling with our money on infertility treatments. It was really what it took for us to close the door to the idea of biological children, pregnancy, birth and open our hearts to adoption. 

In May 2014 we were blessed to adopt our little boy. After struggling to find a direction for years and years, our journey finally made sense.

Since we adopted Patrick, we've been pretty solidly on Team Adoption. We haven't really given infertility treatments or pregnancy another thought. 

Since it took us a few years to get from home study to placement the first time around. We completed another home study last October and have been passively trying to adopt again the past year, trusting that if it was meant to be it would happen. We were gearing up to really kick adoption search into high gear this summer, when we had the rug pulled out from under us. 

On June 10 Patrick had his tonsils and adenoids out and tubes put in his ears. It cost us a few thousand dollars out of pocket, but we had figured out how to make it work and were fairly confident we could get on top of our medical debt. Five days later, Brent lost his job. We lost our insurance, our HSA, and our income.

Brent is starting a Master of Social Work program next week and we decided to take this opportunity for him to try to change career paths again. On July 13, Brent was offered a job working with the social work department at the University of Utah Neuropsych Hospital. It is basically a dream job, but as is usually the case with moving from a field you have experience in to starting over at the bottom in another, we lost 1/3 of our monthly income with the change in salary.

We were wondering how on earth we'd come up with the $30,000 for another adoption before, and now with our significantly reduced income and stack of medical bills, it seemed impossible. I spent a few days wondering if Patrick was going to be an only child or if he was going to be 6 or 7 before we could afford to give him a sibling.

Two days later, on July 15, we went to Lava Hot Springs to spend a few days with Brent's family. I had been feeling pretty lousy for a few weeks and had passing thoughts about being pregnant. I was mostly just angry with myself that after 6 1/2 years of infertility, I was still thinking of pregnancy as an option. Since I wanted to get in the hot pools at Lava, I decided I should take a pregnancy test just to rule it out so I could enjoy my vacation.

We stopped at Walmart on the way to Lava and I picked up an 88 cent pregnancy test. We unpacked our bags when we got to the family cabin and I casually excused myself to visit the ladies room.

I'll clue you in: "C" is for Control and "T" is for test.
Since I had never used this specific brand of test before and it doesn't have the little key on it, it took me a few minutes of looking at the instructions and back at the test again to register what it was saying. After seeing dozens of negative pregnancy tests in my life, I was in shock to see a positive.

I pulled Brent into the laundry room of the cabin and showed him the test. We both stared at it stupidly and were like..."huh." I told him I thought I should probably test again. We made an excuse to go for a walk and wandered into the town grocery store right before it closed. We bought another test, and low and behold, two positives. 

Now this is the part where I realized just how scarred 6 1/2 years of infertility had left me. I think that most people would see two positive pregnancy tests and believe that they were pregnant, but not me. I was immediately skeptical and also a little scared. I couldn't sleep and spent the entire night researching what could cause a false positive on a pregnancy test, worrying that I had cancer (if Brent would have taken a pregnancy test when he had cancer, it would have been positive), and worrying that if I was pregnant, that it was ectopic (in my tubes instead of in my uterus) since I had been having some pain.

I was so afraid of getting my hopes up that I refused to believe anything until I had more proof. On Saturday, when we were home again, we went to several instacares and walk in clinics looking for someone who could confirm pregnancy with an ultrasound. I was feeling like if I had cancer or an ectopic pregnancy, I needed to find out right away.

After being told I had to go to the emergency room if I wanted an ultrasound, I decided to try another route. My sister worked at the lab at Davis Hospital, so I thought she might know where I could go to get a quantitative HCG test--something that would not just tell me if I was making HCG or not, but how much.

Luck was on our side, I was able to order an HCG test at Davis without a doctors order and was given a cash discount since we had just lost our insurance. An hour later, we found out that my HCG levels were around 22,000-too high for a false positive on home test. At that point I started to believe I was pregnant and didn't have cancer, but moved on to the fear that I had an ectopic pregnancy since I was still in considerable pain.

We talked about going to the emergency room, but decided it wouldn't really do anything other than satisfy our curiosity. We spent the rest of the weekend trying to keep our mind off what was going on and to hold off on getting too hopeful. 

Monday morning I called every OBGYN within driving distance to see if someone could get me in that same day. I explained my situation and shared my fear of losing my tube to an ectopic pregnancy. While they were all sympathetic, they simply could not help me.

I decided to try and see if the doctor that did my laparoscopy would be willing to help me. They were not able to get me in with the doctor that day, but since I was an existing patient, they were able to order an ultrasound for me at a nearby imaging center.

 We prepared ourselves on the drive over for the possibility of having a pregnancy that was over before it began. I was sure this pregnancy was too good to be true and that I was praying that I wouldn't lose my tube. 
A baby in the right spot!
This ultrasound turned out to be very informative. First of all, I saw with my own eyes that there was a baby growing inside my uterus, right where it belonged. It couldn't believe that we had actually gotten pregnant and that it actually implanted in the right place. It felt like I was back in the fantasy land I spent so much time in when we were first trying to have a family.

6 weeks 6 days
The ultrasound tech asked when my last period was and I told her June 2014, over 2 years ago. She directed the imaging to my ovaries and we saw the evidence of my PCOS: the tiny little follicles that never developed.  

She said she figures the ovulation that got me pregnant is the only time I have ovulated in the past 2 years. 

She also measured the size of the baby and told me she thought I was 6 weeks and 6 days pregnant and that I was due March 7. 

8 weeks
I've seen the doctor twice since then. I was sure that with my history I was going to have a high risk pregnancy, but the doctor informed me that even if you struggle to get pregnant, once you get there you're pretty much the same as anyone else. Other than the fact that I'm struggling with nausea and fatigue (which people keep telling me is a good thing) everything has been smooth sailing so far.

12 weeks. I spy a head, arms, and legs!
It's really taken me a while to grasp what's happened to us. I've struggled to be as excited as I thought I should be, but I've been feeling pretty sick and I've been working through my fears of how having a biological child is going to impact my sweet little Patrick. 

I told him I wanted to see what was on his shirt and he did his "I looked out the window" face
Sharing the news of our miracle has really helped me get excited and I have been so appreciative of people's sensitive responses so far. I read accounts of people who had miracle pregnancies after adopting and the insensitive comments they received. I don't fear these comments for my own sake; I'm an adult and I know people don't intend to say the wrong thing. But I fear for my very intelligent little boy who understands so much more than we give him credit for. He's forming such a positive identity and I have spent sleepless nights worrying that someone's comment about how this pregnancy was our reward for adopting or that this child is any more "our own" than Patrick would impact him.

I've been very grateful that, so far, people seem to grasp the concept that we need Patrick and he needs us. That I may not have carried him in my body, but that he is the little spirit that Heavenly Father intended to be our son. 

We feel very humbled to see the hand of God in our lives. There have been times I feel like I have a sliver of understanding what the Virgin Mary must have felt like. It is very humbling, and a little confusing, to be the vessel to a miracle. 

We are so grateful that he made it possible for us to grow our family when we would not have been able to afford to do so financially for many more years. There was a time where I would have believed that this was "better" than adopting. Now I know that it's just a different path. 

Brent has felt like it is his calling in life to be a counselor and we have been making sacrifices to make it possible for Brent to go to school and become involved in this career path. I feel like this pregnancy is Heavenly Father showing us that he truly does open a window any time he closes a door. 

We don't know why we have been so blessed -TWICE- while many of our friends and family are still waiting. All we can do is be grateful for our blessings and continue to have faith on behalf of our friends.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015

Merry Christmas

2015 has been a great year! We've grown a lot as a family and made lots of new memories. 

Brent is now working for a company he really enjoys. It's called Renatus. They create and market videos that teach about how to invest in real estate. He does customer service and QA. He works close to home and really enjoys the people he works with.

Brent is continuing to work on finishing his Bachelor's Degree. He has one more class! Wahoo!

M'Recia is still doing photography and enjoys the people she gets to meet and the events she gets to be a part of. She is also spending her time volunteering for a non profit that she is helping get off the ground. It's called Utah Infertility Resource Center ( She really enjoys the chance she has to use her Social Work skills and help others. 

Patrick is 20 months old and growing like crazy. He loves signing and signs about 30 words. He is also talking up a storm and repeats most of what we say to him these days. He loves Curious George, Trains, airplanes, cars, and our dogs.

We've had some fun opportunities this year. We went to California in the spring and Patrick got to experience the beach for the first time.

Brent got to go paragliding. 
and M'Recia and Brent both rode in a hot air balloon. 

Most of all, we've just enjoyed lovin' on our sweet little man this year. 

And just because people have been asking, we are hoping to adopt again. Please check out of profile and share it!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas! 
 2014 has been the best year of all!

In March of this year, Brent and I had the opportunity to travel to Ireland and Scotland with our friend Annie. 

Ireland is one of the most beautiful places we've ever been. We loved the history, the scenery, and the people!

Scotland was equally amazing! It was fun to see castles and kilts and hear bagpipes playing in the streets of Edinburgh. 

In May of this year, we got the surprise of a lifetime! A month old, preemie, baby boy was up for adoption in Arizona.The spirit told us that he was ours and we adopted him sight unseen. We packed the dogs in the car and drove to Arizona a family of 2 and came back a family of 3!

We love this little boy so much! He is the perfect addition to our family!


He is growing up so fast!

We had the opportunity to finalize our adoption and be sealed to our Paddy in November of this year.

Life is pretty grand.  Brent is working on finishing his bachelor degree in English and plans to pursue either a Master's Degree in Social Work or a Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling. He plans to be a counselor. He is currently working for an app company called "my time."

M'Recia quit her day job to be with the baby. He's had numerous trips to Primary Children's for testing and surgeries and she's been able to be with him. He is doing very well. He had kidney surgery this year and his health is great!

M'Recia has started doing photography professional to keep her active and to help support the family. People have been very supportive and have kept her pretty busy. Her work can be viewed at . 

The dogs have been adjusting to life with a baby boss around. We fenced our yard earlier this year, so they've had a place to go run around when crying babies get on their nerves. 

Hoping you have a magical Christmas and a wonderful 2015!


Brent, M'Recia, Patrick, Beast and Belle