Our journey on the road of infertility

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I’d like to post Lydia’s adoption story this week, so I thought I’d start with the journey my husband and I have been on for almost 18 years. Wow! Our wedding anniversary is next week. Hard to believe it’s been 16 years of wedded bliss and 18 years of marriage. (If you only knew how hard those first two years were! My husband would testify.)

I’ve never been a real small girl. I was always “healthy.”  Actually most of my jeans in elementary school were labeled as husky. Anyone else remember those wonderful labels? Once, a boy I was dating said, “You’re bigger than most of the girls I date.” Thanks? I should have said, “Yeah? Well you’re no Judd Nelson.” (Since Matthew McConaughey and Doug Savant weren’t on the scene yet) I stayed the same size from high school until college. But after the hubs and I got married, I put on over 30 pounds in just under 3 months. I went from a size 12 to a size 18/20. It was distressing, but I chalked it up to being such a great cook. (Haha! Don’t ask my husband about his very first breakfast.)

I don’t really want to go into a lot of detail (I’m a prude that way.) But after being married for a couple of years we decided to start a family. We had just moved to Florida and I was looking for a Dr. I had been having some minor health issues and we figured we’d get it all checked out. After looking at my chart and asking me a couple of questions my new doctor diagnosed me with PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome). Back then it was relatively unheard of and it was hard to find information. Believe me, I tried. He said PCOS might be genetic, but that the birth control I had been on was, as he put it, “nasty stuff.” He believes that triggered, so to speak, my PCOS. He asked if we were wanting children and I answered in the affirmative. He told me I would have a very hard time getting pregnant and if I did, it would be even harder to carry a baby full-term.

For those that don’t know, there is no cure for PCOS. It can be controlled and it can be lived with, but doesn’t make you feel bad. In other words, you’re not nauseous, dizzy, muscle pain, etc. Fatigue is a big factor, though I think that has a lot to do with weight. It affects women differently, but the major manifestations of it are hirsutism (abnormal hair growth), weight gain, and infertility. Some women are lucky enough to have all 3. (hint, hint, that’s me) PCOS patients are at a greater risk of diabetes (due to the insulin issues and weight issues), heart disease (especially if you’re heavy), and uterine cancer (for those women whose bodies don’t function properly each month.) It’s not fun. But, if you can lose weight the chances of complications are less.

So we started the “we want a baby” journey. I spent numerous months on Clomid and Glucophage (Metformin). I have been through numerous tests including blood and dye tests. I have been to many doctors. (Dr. Madani, who was unsuccessful,  referred me to a doctor who was unsuccessful who referred me to an endocrinologist who was the best in the southeast.) We spent a lot of time and money on appointments and medications (oh yeah, and pregnancy tests). This was all in under two years.

I’d like to go on record by saying I did not always handle this well. I didn’t like baby showers and I tried to get out of going as much as I could. I have probably heard every question imaginable: “Aren’t you ever going to have kids?” “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want children?” “You’ve been married long enough. Why don’t you have any kids?” “You’re the career kind, huh?” I also loved the “We’ve been trying for two months so I know how you feel.” Even my father-in-law made the mistake one day of saying, “I don’t see you giving me any grandkids.” to which I responded, “Take it up with God. Your son and I are doing our part.” The conversation quickly ended. 🙂 I didn’t like Mother’s Day. I didn’t begrudge anyone else, but I didn’t like the reminder that I was “less than a woman.” I usually volunteered for nursery that morning. I wanted the mothers to be able to sit in on the service. I was sacrificial that way. (yeah, right.)

I may have put on a good front in public, but my husband knows better.  I was trying to fill a void only God could fill. Once I finally got over that and completely turned it over to God, I had such peace. God was in control. If He wanted me to have children, He’d make it happen. If not, that’s okay. I will say that the years my husband and I had together without kids were amazing. We could go away for a weekend at a moment’s notice. We could change our plans last minute. We only had each other and there are major benefits to not having kids right away. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.

We moved back to Oklahoma and my husband and I decided to take a break from all the hullabaloo. I waited a few years and then started the search for a PCOS doctor. I started with the OU Med Center. When I called and explained my situation, the lady immediately connected me with the “Best Dr. for PCOS patients.” Come to find out, he had trained my endocrinologist in Florida, so he knew her work quite well. He told me if I wasn’t pregnant by the time I was 35, he would no longer treat me. He did not believe it would be safe for me to have a child that late in life. (I was, ummmm, pretty close to that by this point, so time was ticking.)

Three months before I was 35, I called it quits. I had had enough. We had finally decided to go the adoption route. One of the best decisions we ever made. There is more to our story. It gets better and better. But you’ll have to read Lydia’s story and the ones to follow.

I believe God has a reason for everything. Due to my PCOS/infertility journey, I have some of the best friends in the whole world. My friend Pam was the first person I knew that had PCOS. She became my confidante and sounding board soon after my diagnosis. She had already been down that road for a while and offered great insight (and a broad shoulder.) My friend Rachel doesn’t have PCOS, but had trouble having children for a a few years. We had many conversations and cry sessions over the years. My friend Amy started our first conversation, and subsequent friendship, with  “Hi, I’m Amy. Can I ask you a personal question?” She had been told I had PCOS and she had just been diagnosed with it as well, so we shared stories. Unfortunately, I don’t live near these fabulous women. But, though for some we are states apart, I know I can call them any time. My friends are amazing.

My journey has not been easy. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. God has taught me many things through our trials:      1. Only He can fill the void in our lives. We have to find our sufficiency in Him. 2. Our trials are to draw us closer to the Lord. There is no one who can soothe the troubled soul like Him.        3. Our trials can and should be used to be a blessing to others. But we can only be a blessing if we have the right attitude during our trials. No drama, no self-pity, no self-glory, simply giving all the glory to God and God alone.

 

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The verdict is in…

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I had my follow-up appointment with the surgeon today and he had the results of my biopsy. At this point the follicular cells are atypical, (yeah, I sound real smart, but I’m just regurgitating what the Dr. said)  but they do not show cancer cells. Praise the Lord! My doctor said normally with this type of result they would wait 3 months and biopsy it again. The other option is to go ahead and remove the nodule and the half of the thyroid it is on. They would biopsy the nodule after it is removed and if the results came back normal, I’d be done. If the biopsy shows cancerous cells, they would go back and take out the rest of the thyroid and give me radioactive iodine to kill it off.

There is a possibility my nodule has grown a little, and so, because of its size (close to 4 cm), we agree with the doctor to take it out. So right now the plan is to have the surgery the 16th of June. We were going to do it the 9th, but OK Mozart is that week. Bartlesville Choral Society is singing at a couple of concerts and, selfishly, I’d like to participate. That would also give me three months to “bounce back” before our regular season started up again. Plus, the doctor said it doesn’t have to be done right now, we could wait until the fall if we needed to.

It could be an outpatient procedure depending on how well the surgery goes, the most it would be is an overnight stay. I would be back to normal in a day or two. (I know, some of you are thinking “are you ever normal?” The answer to that is no, but I would be as normal as I ever am.) I’m trying to figure out if I could get a doctor’s note for breakfast in bed, no cooking, and no ironing for a week or something. But who am I kidding? I don’t iron as it is. I think I’m allergic.

Now we are just praying the surgery goes well and the subsequent biopsy comes back normal. I am a singer, so surgery in that area makes me a little nervous, but God is in control. Nothing will happen that He doesn’t allow.

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. My family and I appreciate it. I received quite a few messages, calls, and texts and they were all very encouraging. I also appreciate those of you who shared your personal experiences with me. It was a blessing to be reminded that thousands of people before me have traveled this road.

God Will Make This Trial a Blessing

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So I have debated whether or not I should blog about our latest journey, but have decided to go ahead. Partly to keep all of this straight so I don’t forget something. More importantly, maybe through all of this it can be a blessing to someone, somewhere.

About a month ago, I found a knot on my throat. If I tilt my head back, it is very noticeable. It looks like a man’s Adam’s apple. Attractive, huh? 🙂 Not sure why I had never noticed it before, but there it was. I set up an appointment with my Dr., he said it was on my thyroid, and he ordered some tests. Blood tests to determine if my thyroid was functioning properly and an ultrasound to look at this mysterious lump. My blood work all came back normal, but he ordered more tests due to the ultrasound pictures. This new test was performed at the hospital in the nuclear medicine department on a Thursday and Friday. I had to swallow a radioactive iodine pill and then the technician would take pictures. The technician took out what looked like a small pipe bomb, opened it up, slid out a glass tube, took the only pill in that tube out and told me to swallow it. My thought was, “Seriously? You take that much care with one pill and you want me to put that into my body?” Haha. But I took it, only because she wasn’t wearing a hazmat suit. The first pictures were taken 4 hours after ingesting the pill, then the next morning, 24 hours after taking it. It felt like something out of some superhero movie. Some poor unsuspecting joe takes some pill and, poof, he has some weird super powers. (I have yet to figure out if I developed any. My husband wanted to take me to the airport and see if I could set off any sort of alarms. I think he was disappointed that I didn’t glow.)

Monday morning I received a call from my Dr’s office. The Dr. wanted me to come in that morning to discuss results. We found out I have what is called a cold nodule, which means it does not absorb any dye from the radioactive iodine pill. Cold nodules have a greater chance of thyroid cancer than a hot nodule. But just because it is a cold nodule does not guarantee it’s cancerous. They would need to do a biopsy. So I went to see a surgeon and he said they generally remove any nodule over 2 cm. and mine was 3 cm. (Which is just over an inch) But he wanted to do a biopsy first to see what we are dealing with. More than likely, due to its size, he will remove the half of the thyroid on which the nodule is located regardless of the outcome.

I had the biopsy this past Thursday. The radiologist told me my nodule was significantly large. (I can’t do anything on a small scale. Haha!) Modern technology amazes me. They used the ultrasound to locate the nodule and then the ultrasound helps guide the radiologist with his needle. They extracted some cells, then he used a different needle to “cut” a larger sample off. He thinks he got enough that we won’t have to do it again. They take samples of the nodule and will run the samples under the microscope to determine whether or not this is cancer. He told me he sees these nodules a lot (just maybe not as large as this one) and a majority of the time, they are benign. He said IF it is cancer, there are two major types. One is very curable, and one is not. The one that is not as curable is very rare and he said my nodule does not resemble that form of cancer. So now we wait. I have an appointment with the surgeon on Tuesday to discuss the results, so now I just hope they have the results by then.

I know that God is in control and He is not surprised by this new turn of events. I do have to pray my thoughts into captivity, though that part is getting easier. Job 13:15a says “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:” Job 23:10 says “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” If Job can go through all that he went through and still say that, who am I to complain? God has been so good to me and this situation does not change that. God is good. All the time. He has seen me through many medical situations and this is no different.

I’m sure some of you may want to know how to pray. God has given my husband and I a sense of peace during this. So I guess pray that God’s will be done and that the Lord will give my Drs. (and us) wisdom regarding the outcome of this biopsy. Whatever the Lord wants us to learn, we don’t want to miss it.

 

 

Orange slices and trophies

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So I guess the spoiled brat from New Jersey has withdrawn her lawsuit against her parents. Maybe because she had a revelation, maybe because she thought she might not win her case, maybe because she was becoming one of the least liked people in the country. She is just one of many today who have a sense of entitlement. They should get X, Y, and Z because of who they are, what their name is, who they know, how much money they have, blah, blah, blah.

Here’s the problem. We as a society are partly to blame. Now don’t get me wrong. Sometimes (just sometimes?) children are selfish. I get it. And as a parent, it is up to me to teach my girls. But society has begun to teach children mediocrity is ok. All you have to do is participate and at a minimal level at that.  No one should be left out, everyone should feel good, and no one should leave crying. That might hurt their psyche. It might make them feel bad about themselves.

I once taught in a school where every member of my class was to get an award at the end of the year. All 33 students (yes, 33 in one class) were to receive a certificate of achievement in some area for the awards assembly. (I guarantee this happens everywhere.) All 33? A certificate of achievement? Some I literally had to make up. I had one that was given the “most creative” award. She was always making up illnesses that she had: some minor, some serious, none real. So, I figured “that’s creative.” She didn’t know why she received that award, and I didn’t elaborate.

Think of all the little league sports teams where everyone wins, at the end of the game everyone gets orange slices and at the end of the year everyone gets a trophy. No matter how hard you played or how much you goofed off. Personally, I think it minimizes hard work. I think it trivializes rewards.  And don’t even think about keeping score. That’s not what sports are about. It’s about having a good time. It’s not even about doing your best. Just go out for the team. Coach John Wooden said, “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” Unfortunately, that’s what we are teaching thousands of kids.

I’m a music teacher. I taught for 15 years before staying home with my girls. One of my least favorite phrases to hear was, “Why do we have to do this? Music should be fun!” Says who? Music is hard work, or legitimate music is. Music is fun once you put in the hours of practice and hash out problem areas, once you perform a piece to the best of your ability and you walk off the stage with a sense of accomplishment. THAT’S fun. But it comes with a price.

What about academic areas, like science fairs, where there are no awards for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place, but everyone gets a trophy just for participating? Really? Where’s the reward for hard work? Where’s the reward for those who went the extra mile? Children are taught they don’t have to do much and they’ll get a trophy, they’ll get recognition, a pat on the back. If you do work hard, your recognition is the same as the kid who put their project together 30 minutes before the fair. But honestly, in the real world, it doesn’t work that way.

See, I’m a bad parent. When we play games with our kids, like Candyland or Chutes and Ladders, we play for real. (Just wait until they are old enough to play Scrabble. Bwahahaha!) No changing the rules so our kids can win. (Unless, of course, the game is dragging on. Sometimes we have to help it along.) They need to learn to lose. They need to learn to lose with grace. They need to be good sports. See, that’s what is important. Character. Having the right attitude even when things aren’t going their way. They can not grow up thinking everyone is going to just hand them whatever they want. Not everyone can win all of the time. I don’t want to placate to my children. I want them to know that hard work will pay off, and that people appreciate being able to count on them.

Life is not a spectator sport. It’s not just about getting by, it’s about getting in and doing your best. Sometimes you get recognition, sometimes you don’t. Have character. Be a good sport. Stop handing out orange slices and trophies.

Time sure flies when you’re having fun

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For years now I’ve wanted a front room without a TV. A front room where, when someone comes to the door, it’s already clean. A room that is free of toys, shoes, and “stuff.” Two years ago we bought a house with the perfect front room. The TV is downstairs in the “man cave.” In the bay window sits my baby grand piano (which is in desperate need of being tuned.) I have a couch and chair and there is a fireplace in the corner of the room. (It hasn’t worked for almost two months, during the coldest part of winter, but that’s another story for another day.)

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As I sat on the couch this morning, I saw the “parking lot” under my piano. The car, the train, the shopping cart, the airplane all sit underneath. My first thought was “Seriously? All I ask for is one room to be kid free and…” As soon as that thought entered my mind, it hit me: one of these days I will have that kid free room. The toys will all be put away, there will be no more shoes to pick up (well, except for my own), no more books to stack, and no more silly girlies chasing each other in circles, squealing like little piggies. Then I will lament the fact that I don’t have all their things all over my front room. I will miss the poor undressed dolls with ratty hair, I will miss the board books, I will miss the blanket forts and pillow pets on the floor.

I told my hubby a couple of months ago, “we only have 10 more Christmases before Lydia graduates from high school.” He didn’t appreciate my thinking. I didn’t have the heart to tell him we only have 18 family vacations before Courtney graduates. So for now, I will be content and not so obsessed with my front room. That time will come, much sooner than I want.