Monday, January 19, 2015

Infertility Journey: Amber's Story

Hi Friends! Last Monday I shared Elena's story of her infertility journey and today I have Amber.  You may remember me talking about her on this post as one of my favorite Mama Blogs.  I am so happy to have Amber here today and share a part of her life that is all too familiar to some of use.

Here is Amber's Story.

When Sydney approached me to share my story with her readers I was so flattered and really excited!  Through all this hurt and heartache, I have met so many other women dealing with or had gone through things of my similar story.  Looking back on this last year, as I prepare my heart and mind to write this post and share the 'tough stuff' that continues to break my heart on the regular - I found myself in a state of clarity.  It became apparent that so often I find myself feeling like I have the control.  I am in control, and my plans have been laid and I expect it to go my way.  So many things are wrong with that statement.  I know that they are not my own plans.  I know that God's plan is greater than my own (Isaiah 55:9).  I know this, yet it is so easy for lines to become blurred when things that I planned are not going my way.

God has his hands at 10 & 2 one-hundred percent of the time, steering me through this narrow road with confidence, and how often I make attempts to turn on the blinker and make a (wrong) turn.

Through this past year, I questioned God.  A lot. Everything that was happening.  There was more than enough hurt, disappointment, confusion - time and time again.  I prayed and prayed for a sweet baby, and although prayer was delivered (more than once) it all came crashing prematurely - a loss that I didn't think I could stand to deal with again.

I don't really know how or where else to start, but from the beginning to walk you through this last year. When I went in for my post-op check with Dr. Walsh about 6 weeks after Parker and Jolie were born, she advised and basically made me 'promise' for no pregnancies for at least a year.  My body after carrying twins and being bed rest for nearly 6 months couldn't tolerate another pregnancy (at least not very well) so soon.  We didn't have a problem with that 'agreement' .. I'm pretty sure we were running on fumes at that point with two newborn infants at home.

Over their first year, I successfully and exclusively nursed Parker and Jolie, and my period never returned.  No surprise there, as I had read this was normal.

At month thirteen, we were all ready to wean, and I was ready for my period to return, and Jordan and I were ready to start trying again.  I went in for my 'annual' with my OB and expressed our desire for more children.  It was then that she directed us back to Dr. Douglas (fertility specialist) for monitoring.  Based on my history before with tracking my periods and monitoring ovulation - I don't ovulate.  Her exact words: "I don't want you here 2 years later asking me what to do because you can't get pregnant - lets just do the right thing (in my opinion) from the start."

After a brief consultation with Dr. Douglas, we decided that when my period returns we will start 25mg Clomid (as we did before with Parker and Jolie.  Awesome feelings filled my heart and the excitement was nearly overwhelming.  This was going to be a piece of cake.. right?  So I thought.
By mid-January I still had not started my period (it had been a month of no breastfeeding), so the fertility specialist prescribed me Provera (a medication that induced menstruation - to be technical).
January 18th I filled the script and took the Provera as directed and waited, and waited and waited. Less than a week later I showed spotting, and I never thought I'd be so excited to see Aunt Flow return.  Except, she never came.  I spotted for a few hours, literally, but a full on period never came.  Disappointed, I called the office, and they just told me I had to wait.  Wait? UGH.  Fine.

February marked the start of a several busy months of travel for me and work - but it also marked the return of my period.  THANK YOU! Day three of my period, I started 25mg of Clomid.  I remember I was in Austin for a work conference, but the girls and Jordan traveled with me.  I just remember the excitement that was had thinking we were about to get pregnant with another to do all this over again.  

The first week of March I went in for egg measurement for the first time in almost two years.  The process was all too familiar, and I remember finding a weird comfort in that.  3 minutes into the sonogram, the doctor hopped up and said
'You're ready to go!' 
Wait- what? Okay!

After checking my surge levels, and as usual, zero signs of ovulation, I took my Ovidril shot home with me with instructions scribbled on a sticky note from the nurse.  Clomid had done its job this second time around, and while I had multiple eggs producing, only one was large enough for ovulation.  
I remember coming home on March 21st after taking a pregnancy test that morning showing positive with such joy and confidence in my heart.  I was going to be a momma again.  I snapped this picture and will never forget posting it to social media with the thought in the back of my mind - I'm pregnant, and all I want to do is shout it to the world.  Instead I posted it with a simple caption, 
"Today was a good, good day"
4 weeks pregnant.
At this point I needed to wait three more weeks before we were able to see this little thing.  My hormonal pregnancy numbers (hCG) weren't nearly as high as they were with the girls (understandably) because there was just one baby in there.  It went from 40mlU/ml to 90mlU/ml in the two days it was 'required' to double.  All was great! 
April was another month of travel for me.  I was exhausted and thankful for the exhaustion.  Scheduled for our first sonogram at 9am, I was called for meetings in Houston the day before, and while I was not ready to tell my boss about the pregnancy yet, I made it work anyway.  I was whipped to the core after multiple meetings back to back, so I stayed the night and woke up around 4am to make the trip back to the Dallas area.  I remember waking with a weird intuition.  I was in a really bad mood.  I was tired.  I was cranky.  I was supposed to be excited to see our teeny baby - but for some reason, I wasn't at all.  I almost dreaded it.  I shrugged it off as the dread being for the LONG and boring drive home alone from Houston.  
  7 weeks pregnant.
I pulled into the parking lot, and hopped out to meet Jordan who was waiting for me there already.  When I saw him, all was well.   I needed to see his face. His face of joy and excitement.  Enough for both of us - thank goodness.  Laying on the exam table, the silence in the room was deafening.  I didn't know what in the world I was supposed to be feeling at this point.  And then the doctor spoke.  
"Well.  You are only measuring 6 weeks along.  And because we know exactly when you ovulated, you should be measuring 7 weeks.  There is something wrong."  There was a heartbeat, but due to the size and strength of the heartbeat, it was just too slow to pick up. 

He didn't say miscarriage, but he didn't have to.  We got our little soon picture of our petite baby, and waited for the doctor to call us back to his office down the hall.  He explained over and over about the process I can expect.. and that there wasn't ANYthing I could have done differently to prevent this.  He told me to expect to start bleeding within the next couple days, and to return in a week if things hadn't progressed.
"Good new is, you got pregnant.  We can do this again."      
I clung to that statement.  I didn't cry.  I walked out of the office numb and in awe of seeing my baby, alive with a heartbeat, but was told it won't last long.  
How is this happening?
8 weeks pregnant.
We returned a week later to see the baby again.  It hadn't grown at all - still measuring just 6 weeks, but everything around it (including the yolk sac) had grown.  So at first glance, even the doctor thought it had grown.  But after true measurements, there was no growth.. and the heartbeat had slowed.  But I could see it.  I could see it beating.  This was even more heartbreaking than the first time I saw it.   I'm not sure what is worse than seeing your baby decline this way.  My baby that I hadn't even gotten a chance to hold or cuddle. Once again I was instructed to return if things didn't progress soon.
"I can't imagine it being much longer"
We left the office again.  And again, I had no tears.  Shouldn't I be so upset right now?  Shouldn't I be bawling?  At this point, my prayers to the Lord changed from "please save this baby for me to keep" to "please stop this short and carry on with the miscarriage."  
9 weeks pregnant | Easter Sunday
Still pregnant, and praying every day for no D&C, we went to church that morning with our sweet girls.  I quietly cried with glee over the fact that I had these two girls that made me a mother just a short year before.  Thankful everyday for that.  We made our way to Jordan's parent's house for lunch, and it came.  I felt sick all morning, and never having gone through this before, this wasn't what I was expecting TODAY on Easter Sunday when we were around EVERYone.  
I confess to nearly sighing with relief when I realized what was happening. 

After a quick call to the doctor that Monday morning after, I came in for a brief meet with Douglas and to draw my blood to make sure my levels were decreasing.  I was instructed to wait 4 cycles (periods) before we could try another round of Clomid.  My body needed the time to regulate after being 9 weeks along (technically) and then losing the baby before he was comfortable going for it again.  

He told me not to expect my period to return right away - and I remember thinking in my brain back over the years of struggling with PCOS and irregular periods.  
Dramatically I thought to myself- I was NEVER going to have my period again!  
"You seem to be dealing with this rather well.. how are you?" 
I truthfully answered that "I was fine."  
I really was.  I knew and was perfectly fine with the understanding that God was in control of all of this.  This was not my doing. This was nothing I had control over.  So I was fine.  Really.  
I still hadn't cried much.  Tears came randomly, but were very short lived.  We were going to make it through this.  I bled for a week.  The baby was just 6 weeks old, but my body thought and registered that I was much further a long than that.  
Surprise to me, but my period returned just a few short weeks after I stopped bleeding.  Whew.  May marked my second cycle down.  Two more to go.  Jordan and I went on a day-date to a Texas Ranger game, and stayed for the Mercy Me concert afterward.  I remember sitting in the stadium seat with thousands of people around me, crying on the shoulder of Jordan through the entire set of 'I Can Only Imagine'. Finally I was crying.  I hadn't cried through this entire process, and it felt good to just let it go.  
June | July 
Life carried on as usual.  I was 'regular' almost to the day with my periods (first time in nearly 15 years I could say that) and I was 'fine' - dealing with everything "on my own".  I didnt talk about any of it, and hadn't said anything about it in months.  Still in The Word every morning, but my prayers were about everything else and not about myself and my heart in dealing with the miscarriage just a few months before, and definitely not about pregnancy or having another baby.  My fourth period came, and the moment I started I put a call into Douglas' office.  It was time.  

"He wants you to have 4 cycles and THEN on your 5th period we will do Clomid."
Well, what's a month, right?  
My period didn't come when I thought it was going to.  I had been regularly starting about the first week of the month - give or take a couple days in between - but regularly for the last 4 months.
I was about 2 weeks 'late' and someone randomly 'liked' the photo of Parker and Jolie that I had posted 19 weeks prior, on March 21st.  The day we found out I was 4 weeks pregnant. 

For whatever reason looking back at that picture set me into a spin of frustration.  I was angry.  Angry like I had never been about any of this situation in the 8 months we had been dealing with all this. 
I am supposed to pregnant.  Approaching my third trimester. We would know the sex of this babe.  The bedroom down the hall would be filled with baby things and nursery plans would have been made.  We would have a name.  My belly would be showing, and everyone would know we were welcoming our third come December 4th.  
Tears came.  I cried and cried and cried.  Why this was hitting me so many weeks after the fact was beyond me.  Finally after about a week of this depression, Jordan sat me down and we pow-wow'ed it out over several hours.  I couldn't explain why I had all these emotions NOW, but I was.  And he understood.
Finally.  The end of August arrived, and my period came.  After a sono to check my 'stuff' and make sure all looked well, we started another round of Clomid, just as we did a few months before.
Back and forth to the doctor's office 3 times for egg measurement (sonograms are flipping expensive, by the way) there was nothing. Clomid didn't work this round.  
What do you mean??  
Again with loads of emotions and confusion and "why is this happening?" played over and over in my head.  My body was tired, and this low of a dose wasn't going to do the trick to get the eggs where we 'need' them to be.  
"We will just try again next month."  
I was so tired of hearing 'next month'
'just one more month'
'we can do this again'
Here we were again - 'the next month', and this time we bumped the dose to 50mg of Clomid.  I was elated to think about this AGAIN, but this time it was going to work.  It was going to be successful. We were going to have a baby.  My prayers over the last months changed from anger, question, and confusion, to thanksgiving, hope, and joy.
We knew the drill.  Eggs (there were a couple) were ready to go and trigger shot was had.  Waiting two weeks before I could take a pregnancy test felt like a million weeks to wait.  The day came.
4 weeks pregnant
I went in for a routine hCG check, per the usual, and waiting patiently to hear back from the nurse.
"Thats kind of low, right?"
"Yea, we want it to be at least 25.  Come back on Friday and we will run it again - it could double as normal, so don't fret." 
Friday came.  I went in for my labs, and got the call just a couple hours later.  
"Its dropped, Amber. I'm so sorry.  Since this is the second, we need for you to come in for a consultation with Douglas to talk about a plan of care for the next pregnancy, and also to rule out any kind of gestational issues that could be causing these miscarriages."  
2 miscarriages in 6 months.  
I scheduled my appointment with Dr. Douglas for October 17th - a Friday.
I started bleeding just hours after that call with the nurse | October 11th

The next Friday came, they drew my labs one last time to make sure they were less than 5 (meaning not pregnant) and we had a chat with the doctor.  He said that this pregnancy, since it was just barely at 4 weeks, didn't concern him.  It could easily have been a chemical pregnancy, or an egg that just didn't attach correctly.  He wasn't worried about testing for any genetic abnormalities on my end that was causing these miscarriages. We could try next month. 
I could have kissed him.
We would wait for my period to start and then go again with Clomid.  Since I was actually getting pregnant successfully on Clomid, there was no talk at this point about trying with anything different.  
I only bled with this miscarriage a couple days, and by the time we met with our fertility specialist on October 17th, I was done (I bled from October 11th-14th).  He gave us the clear for intercourse as we pleased as long as I wasn't bleeding anymore, and we happened to have a date night lined up and for Parker and Jolie to stay the night at their BB and Papa's.  
I expected my period to start pretty quickly again - just as it had back in April/May with the first miscarriage.  When it didn't come, I started to feel the emotional frustration as I had before, but nothing like what I had experienced previously.  My emotional stability was relied strictly upon God and his salvation.  I had such a peace about everything, and found it pretty hard to get 'angry' about any of this.  I knew He was in control.  Finding my joy in that, and laying that burden at His feet allowed me to be free of that anger I felt so strongly before.  Talk about relief.  
After weeks (I counted back nearly 6 weeks) since the miscarriage, I grabbed the cheapest pregnancy test off the shelf at Target after finishing my shopping for the week.  When I got home and unloaded everything, Jordan questioned me.
"You really think you are pregnant?"
"Not at all, but its been a long time, and I feel like I should have started by now." 
We had errands to run, and so while Jordan hopped in the shower, I nonchalantly took the test.  Before I could even finish peeing on that stick there were two thick blue lines.  
What does two lines mean?  What does THAT mean?  
I panicked because I had thrown the box and all the instructions away because I didn't think I needed them anyway. Of everyone, I was by far the most skeptical of taking this test, but I had to rule it out.  I busted out of the bathroom and dug through the trash in the kitchen to find that box and instructions. 
I then proceeded to run through the house to our bathroom where Jordan was showering and basically yell in his face (through the glass doors) that I was pregnant.  
We didn't have any reaction but to laugh.  No way.  Not a chance. 
We spent the rest of the weekend laughing in disbelief.
I called the doctor's office on Monday and made plans for me to come in for an hCG lab draw.  I had no clue how far along I was, but five tests said that I was at least 4 weeks. 
When the nurse called later that day, her first words (in almost a shout of her own disbelief) 
"When was your period?!" 
"I haven't had one. I took a test because I hadn't had one yet and I was trying to rule everything out before I called you guys."
"Well, your numbers are 3,800."
My first thought was that I had a couple babies in there.  These numbers were similar to that of what I had when I was tested with Parker and Jolie. Two days later my numbers jumped to 5,500. Pregnancy was real.  This was happening, and it seemed much different than the two other pregnancies I'd had this year already.  I was instructed to come in on Friday to see if we could figure out how far along I was - no one could understand these crazy high hCG numbers.

Friday came so quickly- everything was going so fast.  It was such a whirlwind. 
6 weeks pregnant - and there was just one (they checked and triple checked).
Heartbeat was strong.  Baby looked great, and measured to be exactly 6 weeks pregnant.
"Come back next week and we will measure again. If it grows a week's worth, all is well, and you have a 7 week old baby on your hands - or in your belly!"
The week of Thanksgiving.  The longest week of my life. So much unknown and so much FEAR.  I couldn't get over it.  
But, the symptoms started - literally - the moment I found out I was pregnant.  I forgot how tired I was with Parker and Jolie.  I forgot how BAD my boobs hurt almost three years ago when I was newly pregnant with two babies.  I was thankful for the exhaustion and soreness.  I wanted it.  It kept me going through this week until we got to see it again.  I couldn't help but jab myself in the boob here and there to make sure they still hurt.  
Yep.  They did.
7 weeks pregnant.
Heartbeat was strong(er), and the baby measured exactly 7 weeks.  Everything was perfect. 
I was released from the fertility specialist and instructed to call my regular OB for follow-up and natal care.  All this was amazing, and neither Jordan or myself still didn't believe what was happening.  But it was.
8 weeks pregnant.
My OB scheduled me for my first nurse visit (just basically to get the history and such since the last time I saw her) and then for a sonogram and well-check with her.  My nurse's visit and sonogram were a week apart from each other - and I was dying to get a peek at the little thing just for some sweet relief and confidence to get me through.  I begged the nurse to see if Dixie (the sonographer tech) was free to just let me see the heartbeat.  
I teared a little.  This was a huge milestone for me to be at.. we had made it, and that teeny baby is healthy. 
9 weeks pregnant. 
The week flew by, and it was time to see the babe again.  Everything looked good - measuring right on schedule at 9 weeks and 2 days.  I wasn't even expecting it when the tech went to check the heartbeat - with the sound: loud and fast at 173bpm.  THE sweetest pitter patter ever.
I didn't get to see Parker and Jolie at this size so early, or I don't remember how big they were at least. Of course because there were two, they were smaller, but measuring appropriately.        
14 weeks pregnant.
Although I still jab myself in the boob here and there to make sure they still hurt (because they do), we've made it to yet another milestone in this pregnancy - second trimester.  Finally leaving my frustration and questions at God's door and confidently allowing Him to be in control changed my outlook on everything - as they have successfully done so many times before. 

Thanks so much Amber for sharing your story with the Raising Southern Grace Readers.  Please head on over to her blog, 3 Ladies and Their Gent and give her some love.  If you are interested in sharing your story, please feel free to email me and we can work out dates. 
Hope your Monday is great!


  1. I loved this post and I am so happy to read another happy ending. We had to use Femara to get pregnant with Boston and we are trying for number 2 now. I go back to the fertility specialist tomorrow and hoping to get this show on the road. I am sorry for all the heartache that came before the happy but God's plan is always perfect. And you sharing your story will help so many who are silently struggling with the same thing.

    Summer Ann

    1. Isn't she wonderful? Such inspiration and I love it. It is crazy how similar our stories are but yet so different too. Had no clue you were trying for number 2. My prayers are with you and I hope things run smoothly for you!
      Happy Friday Summer.

  2. I am so glad I hopped over to your blog from Amber's! She and I became friends through the infertility world and I have been so blessed by her through our journey of heartaches and celebrations! I would love to share my story as well! Even as hard as the infertility road is I know that God brought us down it to encourage those who are going through it too. I can't tell you how many women I have met through my blog and have become good friends with even though we've never met face to face. I am so glad to have found your blog!

    The Mrs. & Co.

  3. I have been a regular follower of Amber's for while and have been in talked a few times over the joys of raising twin girls. What is funny is that I found you through the Tuesday Talk Link up and must have missed her post linking up to you. Small world but so glad I stumbled upon your blog.

  4. I loved reading this on her blog, and it was great to reread it here. It's always amazing to see a happy ending! I pray all couples dealing with IF get theirs.