Third time’s a charm.

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This is the story of baby #3. I will admit, Courtney’s story seems very average, very boring. It was a regular pregnancy, just like thousands of others each year. After she was born I remember one of my first doctors in Florida telling me: “I don’t think you’ll ever get pregnant, but even if you do, you’ll never be able to carry a baby full term.” To me she is still a miracle, as all babies are.

I have to be transparent here. When I found out I was pregnant a third time, just a year after Emma was born, I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down with joy at first. PLEASE don’t misunderstand me here. I was not angry I was pregnant. I was not in despair. I was nervous. I was scared. You have to remember, we spent 15 years on Infertility Road. 15. Quite a few of those years were spent in testings, medications, doctor appointments, disappointments, etc… And then, years after “giving up,” our first pregnancy happened. That pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Then Emma came along. What a journey that was (and still is to some degree.)  My biggest battles are in my mind. I don’t really struggle with outward vices, but I struggle sometimes keeping my thoughts captive. “I’m so old!” “What if this one ends in miscarriage?” “What if this one is a micro-preemie and things don’t go as well?” “What if…” “What if…” Once I settled in my mind and heart that God was in control, I knew we could face another miscarriage. My husband and I could face another micro-preemie. God had a plan, whatever it was. If Sarah and Abraham could have a baby at 90 and 100 respectively, I could certainly trust him when I was 41.

My first doctor appointment with Courtney’s pregnancy was a memorable one. My doctor’s new nurse was in the room with me doing all the preliminaries when she said, “I have to commend you.” I, looking confused, answered, “Why is that?” Her response was, “I just had to write down your age. Wow!” Haha! Geriatric pregnancy at its finest. My doctor did decide to take some extra precautions due to my history and age. He said the majority of his practice is spent trying to calm pregnant women down, but he was going to tell me just the opposite. “If anything doesn’t seem right, ANYTHING, you call immediately. Don’t wait. We don’t want to take any chances.” (He obviously knows me well. With all I’ve been through, I have to be dying before I call a doctor. I don’t usually freak out at the little things.) At week 22 I started taking a shot every week. It was supposed to help prolong the pregnancy. Normally it starts around week 24, but due to my history, the doctor started early. My doctor’s philosophy: “We want to do what we can humanly speaking, but God is in control.” So every Friday for fourteen weeks I went in to see Deidre. (Yes, one of the nurses has the same name, she just pronounces it wrong.)

My due date was December 5th, but my doctor had scheduled a c-section for December 2. (He told us if I went all the way to my due date she’d be at least a 9 lb baby)  He wanted to schedule it for the week of Thanksgiving, but the schedule at the hospital was full. I was not excited at the prospect of spending Thanksgiving Day in the hospital. Dr. Collins told me they had a real good Thanksgiving meal at the hospital, but that didn’t change my mind. Regardless, my hospital bags, as well as suitcases for the girls, were packed at week 25. I kept switching out outfits for Courtney. Once we passed week 32, I took out the preemie outfit and put in the newborn. When we found out about week 37 that she could possibly be a 9 lb + baby, I took out the newborn clothes and packed 0-3 months. I figured it wasn’t too early to start the whole I-don’t-know-what-to-wear routine. She is a girl after all.

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Her she is right after she was born. All 8.5 pounds of her. The nurses added her bow. She was such a chunky little thing.

Tuesday, November 26 was our Thanksgiving service at church. After church we went home, got the girls in bed, and went downstairs to watch TV while I finished working on Courtney’s stocking. Knowing my husband had the day off the next day and we had no plans, we figured we could stay up late watching a movie. If I remember right, we went to bed just after 1 am. At 3 am, two short hours after going to bed, my water broke and off we went. We called MeMaw (the girls have an adopted gramma here in town) and told her we were on our way. We dropped off the girls (who never went back to sleep), went to the hospital, and waited. My husband is the greatest because he fed me ice chips every time I had a contraction. I swear it made it better. It was probably all in my mind, but hey, whatever works. I love modern medicine and was able to get an epidural at 5 pm.  I’ll skip the unnecessary details, but sweet Courtney Elizabeth was born via c-section at 10:33 pm, Wednesday, November 27. (They made a room for me even though they were supposed to be full that week). She weighed in at a whopping 8 pounds 8.5 ounces. (Remember, my only other live birth was under 2 pounds. 8 1/2 pounds is huge!) There is no denying she belongs to me. She is the spitting image of her momma!

Ready to go home! Look at those boots! My friend Kari made them. I have the matching hat, but it covered up all that hair.

Ready to go home! Look at those grey crocheted boots! My friend Kari made them. I have the matching hat, but it covered up all that hair.

As you have probably figured out, we spent Thanksgiving at the hospital. I did have the hospital lunch, or at least part of it. We had some sweet friends bring up some meals, so we had home cooking after all. Courtney’s birthday will fall on Thanksgiving Day every 5 years I think. This year is one of those years. On the advice of a friend who finds herself in the same position, Courtney will not have pumpkin pie as her birthday cake.

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Courtney with Dr. Collins

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Courtney’s first Sunday at church. Black dress with white polka dots, white sweater, and a black and white striped bow that’s bigger than her head.

At her 9 month check up, her pediatrician made the comment, “She is too easy. That’s not fair.” Then she laughed and added, “But after all you’ve been through, I’d say you’ve paid your dues.” Courtney is now 11 months old and just over 22 pounds. (Lydia didn’t even weigh that much when we brought her home at 14 months.) She is right on target for everything. I have to remind myself that she is not a genius. When she started crawling I thought, “Oh wow! This is so early.” When she started pulling up on furniture I thought, “She is so advanced!” When she first said “Mama” I just knew she was the smartest kid ever. Not really. I just have to remind myself that Lydia was 14 months when we brought her home. We know nothing of when she started doing everything. Emma was developmentally delayed, so she was at least 4 months behind on everything. Courtney is not a genius. Not that we know of right now. She is developing right on schedule. She is a perfectly normal baby and I am one perfectly blessed mommy.

I never dreamed all those years ago when we first got our diagnosis of PCOS that we would be where we are today, but I am so thankful: thankful for God’s blessings, thankful for God’s timing, and thankful God is ultimately in control. I have no idea why God has directed our paths in this way, but I know I wouldn’t change anything. I have three beautiful blessings that I wouldn’t trade for the world, even if I will be drawing social security by the time the last one graduates from high school.

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My 3 beauties all pretty in pink.

 

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Just Call Me Sarah (continuing down infertility road)

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Hopefully by now you have read our story about Lydia and her miracle adoption. God’s hand is all over her story. Even our case worker said, “I have never seen a case go this quickly and this smoothly. I just can’t explain it.” I can! It was God’s timing and for whatever reason, He orchestrated the whole process to go like it did. I personally believe it is so that neither I nor my husband can claim any credit. Only God can do what He did.

Fast forward to 2010, two years after Lydia’s adoption was finalized. I had weighed in at my heaviest weight ever. At ?xx lbs (did you really expect me to admit to it?) I was tired and sluggish. With PCOS, the heavier you are the more complications can develop. I was tired of being tired and knew I had to do something about it before my health got worse. A friend encouraged me to start Weight Watchers, so I started that journey in late summer of 2010. By the end of April 2011, I had lost 49 lbs! I felt good and my body was starting to get back to normal.

The first week of May I had a funny feeling, so without telling my husband, I bought a pregnancy test. Mind you, I have bought tons of these and always with the same result, though I hadn’t bought one in years. I always threatened to just use a stick from the back yard. The result would have been the same! May 6th, 2011, just a couple of weeks before our 15th wedding anniversary, my husband was getting ready to walk out the door to go to work. He was getting his keys when I walked into the bedroom. “Honey, you need to sit down.” says I. “I have to get to work!” says he. I start laughing, which makes him more annoyed. “Deidre. What?!? I have to get to work!” (Did I mention he is the only one on staff at the church and we lived across the parking lot at this point?) With each question I laugh even more. The more I laugh, the more he gets annoyed. “Will you just spit it out?!?!”

“I’m pregnant.” The look on my husband’s face was priceless. I so wish I had a camera at that exact moment. Surprise!! When he finally came to, he said, “But you’re old!!” (I had just turned 39.) Needless to say we were both in shock. I now have a new perspective on Sarah and how the Bible said, “Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I am waxed old…?” Been there. Lol…out loud.  I found a little place here in town that did pregnancy tests and, yep, I was pregnant. We called and told just a few people, told our mothers on Mother’s Day, then we told our church that night. (My husband started out so serious, I think some people thought he was tendering his resignation.) Needless to say, word spread of this old lady being pregnant for the first time. I found a doctor and we started down pregnancy road. Our due date? January 8th.

We started picking out names, looking at bedding, and dreaming about the first of January and our miracle baby. We were very excited. I remember telling a friend of mine, “I can’t imagine God allowing me to get pregnant after all these years only to take the baby. I’m sure everything will be fine. But, God is sovereign and can do what He sees fit.” Little did I know then that my conversation would be put to the test.

The middle of June (17-18) we had a Purposeful Parenting Seminar scheduled at the church. I got up that Friday morning and started baking and getting things ready. Late in the morning, I started bleeding. I called the doctor and the nurse said as long as it didn’t get worse I was fine. (I was trying not to be a hypochondriac. Ain’t nobody got time for that!) We got to the church, starting talking with the pastor doing the seminar, and only one parent came. After that parent was done speaking with the pastor, we went out for ice cream. Unfortunately, things did get worse, and on our way home I told my husband we needed to get to the hospital. We spent the next 6-7 hours in the ER. A very long 6-7 hours.  I remember how compassionate the doctor on call was, how sweet the nurse was, and how they blew a vein in my left arm. (I had the bruise for over a week to prove it.) I also remember John Bishop’s chorus ringing through my ears that night. “God is good and God is right. God is good both day and night.” That’s actually all of the song I could remember, but it was enough.

I remember these dates because the day you find out you’re pregnant is a big deal. Plus, we found out Mother’s Day weekend and miscarried Father’s Day weekend. Were we sad? Yes. Were we disappointed? Absolutely. Were we in despair? No. Years before this we had given our fertility (and lack thereof) to the Lord. Our lives were in His hands. So are the lives of our children.

II Corinthians 1:4 states, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”  To those of you who reached out to me after those events, Thank You! Many of you have been through what we experienced and your testimony was a blessing to both of us. You lived out II Corinthians 1 and encouraged me to do the same. I may never know why God chose to take this baby, but I need to learn from it. The only way to be an encouragement to someone going through trials is to respond correctly through mine.

 

 

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.