Thursday, July 30, 2015

Moving on.....

I wrote this blog and it's been sitting for about a month.  I would read it and cry and change pieces here and there and let it sit but I'm ready to share it now......

These last four months have probably been the hardest James and I have ever gone through.  We went through our final IVF cycle.  I so wished I could say it was successful but it wasn't.  We started the process back in April and were nervous but hopeful. James and I decided we wanted to keep this VERY private.  Our parents, family and very few friends knew that we were doing IVF.   I had the greatest doctor in Dallas and came highly recommended.  After doing a lot of research and finding that he was a top 10 fertility doctor in the US, we felt he would give us an opportunity to expand our family.

The last IVF cycle I went through, Dr C had to cut my cycle short because I didn't respond the way I needed to.  This cycle Dr. C changed my medication and we were praying my body would respond better.  After four shots a day and blood work and sonograms every other day my body had indeed reacted very well to the new medication therapy.  Thankfully I was able to have most of my blood work and sonograms done here and not have to be in Dallas every other day. I was a little stressed about the shots!  If we messed up on the shots or missed a shot then the whole cycle was ruined.  After 56 shots in my stomach and thighs I was ready for a retrieval.

This cycle was the best cycle I had ever had with all the years of fertility treatments!  I had six follicles that looked healthy and ready.  In order to go retrieval, I had to have a minimum of three follicles.  Dr. C told us he was hoping that I would have 10-12.  The more follicles the better your chances are.

The day of the surgery I woke up super nervous and very emotional.  We have been trying for 15 years for a baby and it all came down to this.  IVF is VERY expensive and all the treatments leading up to IVF for 15 years was expensive too.  Just a lot of pressure and I didn't want to think about the what ifs.  We got up very early and headed to surgery.  I remember on the drive to the clinic James nor I said anything to each other.  Funny thing about infertility is the roller coaster ride.  One minute your sky high and loving life and the very next minute your rock bottom and feel very alone.

We checked in that morning.  Dr. C came to see us and he was very hopeful.  He explained the procedure and what to expect.  He told us about what laid ahead of us the next six days.  After the surgery, James was pretty nervous when Dr. C came in.  I was still pretty drugged, but I will never forget the look on Dr. C's face when he walked in.  The look of utter defeat and disappointment.  Dr. C got emotional and told us out of the six follicles only four had eggs.  Out of the four eggs, three were viable for fertilization.  Dr. C explained to us that we had to wait six days to see if the eggs would mature into embryo's.  The laboratory would call us on day two, four and day six to give us an update.

I remember after Dr. C left the room I just burst into tears.  I felt defeated.  I felt broke.  I felt like a failure.  It is so frustrating to sit there and not understand why your body won't do what it's made to do.  So may questions went through my mind but the question I asked most was "Where are you God?"  I had never felt so alone or so hurt in all my life.  I felt like God turned his back on me and I didn't understand why.  James and I had been so faithful for so many years. We never lost hope and we had faith!  After so many encouraging words and prayers we continued to trust God in all our fertility issues.

After the surgery we went back to the hotel to sleep and let me recover.  After some much needed rest we just laid in bed and cried out hearts out.  I told James all my feelings and fears but in the end I still had hope.  We still had three eggs and for the next 24 hours I prayed and begged God to make this work.  I got the call the next day and only one egg took to being fertilized.  Again I hit bottom.  Now we were left with the decision to freeze and bank this one embryo (if it made it that far) and do another IVF cycle or to send it for the genetic testing that had to be done before we could implant it.  The hard part was that if we sent it for genetic testing our chances of it being a normal embryo was slim to none.  Dr. C made it very clear that we needed to send off as many as we could for genetic testing to have better odds.  If we sent ten embryo's then three-four embryo's might be usable and out of those three-four embryo's hopefully one embryo might take and become a successful pregnancy.

After the call that one egg was fertilized we had to wait until day four for another phone call from the lab.  Waiting was so hard!  Trying to "act" normal when your life is on hold and your future is in a petri dish was something I wish I wasn't having to go through.  James and I stayed in Dallas a few more days just to rest and be with each other.  James and I had so many conversations on what we should do next.  Should we freeze the embryo and try again?  Should we just gamble and implant the embryo without the genetic testing?  Should we go ahead and send this one embryo for testing?  After a lot of questions and sleepless nights we still had no idea.

What I'm about to say is very confusing and I hope you understand what I'm saying and I will speak for myself and not James.  I was trying so hard not to get my hopes up because we only had one embryo but in the back of my mind it was my one one chance.  I remember thinking I serve a God of miracles and God can make this work with just one embryo!  James made a comment that I will never forget.  He said "I never knew I would feel so much responsibility for something so small."  It was true!

The next four days were a blur.  We stayed busy with Farrah and Brooks and that helped but James and I were both on edge.  We had decided that we were going to freeze the embryo if it made it that far.  If the embryo didn't make it then we felt it was God's way of saying to be done and move on.  We got the call on day four and the embryo was growing and made it to the next phase.  Now we just need the embryo to make it to day six and become an "official" embryo.

I was at work and I had my phoned glued to my hip.  The call came and I just remember "This was it!"  I didn't want to answer the phone because I was so scared of the answer I didn't want to hear.  The lady told me that as of that morning our one embryo was no longer.  It didn't survive to day six.  Yesterday on day five the embryo looked great but today when she checked it the embryo was no longer.  I called James immediately and just started crying.  All our hopes and dreams and prayers were gone!  For trying so hard not to get our hopes up for this one embryo, we had all our hopes up.  We had our answer....we were done.

I left the school in the middle of the day.  I just had to leave and be alone for a while.  I prayed and cried and prayed and cried.  I know I wasn't pregnant but it felt exactly the same way it felt with all of our miscarriages.  I was so mad and confused.  I can honestly say this was the one time I questioned if God was really real.  I wasn't sure anymore.  How can God who's word says He loves me so much let me go through all of this?  Have I wasted fifteen years believing in a God who really didn't love me?  After weeks of crying and refusing to pray and basically refusing to go to church, Farrah came to me and said "Mom, I sure miss church."

After some grieving and feeling like no one cared about me I looked at my children and knew the answer.  I knew God loved me.  He loved me so much that he sent me two beautiful children in a way that seemed impossible.  To tell you the truth I'm still coming to terms of not ever having children of my own.  I'm still very hurt and raw.  I have good days and some really hard days.  How does one move on from a life long dream and trying for 15 YEARS to have children of my own?  I look at my husband and wonder what our babies are..boy or girl.  I wonder what our children would have looked like.  Would they have James' brown eyes like all the other Fortner's have or would they have my green eyes?  One of the hardest things was telling Farrah that mom would never have a baby in her tummy and trying to answer her questions of why.  All I can say is I don't know but how incredibly blessed we are that God brought us you and Brooks!

I want to close with this one thing.  Infertility has been a part of us for so long that I'm not real sure how to move on.  We took a break from church just to rest and heal.  We are coming back but just needed some time away.  Please just know, we know all the prayers that have been prayed over us the last 15 years were precious.  We are heartbroken but not defeated.  I think for me personally the hardest part for me is I've lost some great friends in the process.  I know I haven't been easy to get along with but please understand if you had gone through what I've been through, you might not be either.  We have some incredible family and friends that love us and encourage us daily and I couldn't have survived this season without them.  I know this is a new season for our family and right now I just feel lost and confused.  I'm unsure what the next chapter holds but I do know one thing is I am blessed with a precious family!  When women go through infertility and when your friends or family become pregnant they start to avoid you.  Please, please don't do this!  This is the last thing we need.  Yes, we are happy for you and sad for ourselves but that's no reason to avoid us.

Farrah you will never know how much I love you and thank you for making me a mommy.  Brooks, you are our families answer to much are our joy!  James, I seriously wouldn't be here without you.  You make me a better person and challenge me everyday to be better and do better.  You truly are my best friend!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas 2014....Brooks' first Christmas!

We had a great Christmas and it was so much fun having Brooks here for Christmas!  He got super spoiled and loved on which he loved.  He did sleep through most of it but when he was awake he smiled a lot.

We had our first Christmas with the Fortner family.  We always have so much fun when the Fortner's get together!  Of course Jean always out does herself and we always leave feeling so blessed.

After the Fortner's we head to my parents house and have Christmas with the Caroland's.

As always my parents always go above and beyond at Christmas.  I love the easy traditions my parents keep.  We do a quick meal and watch all the kids tear into their presents.  The older Farrah gets the more she can't wait to open presents.  It's always fun to watch her and this year she was got to help Brooks open his presents.

Can't wait til tomorrow on Christmas day!  Farrah has no idea about her "Santa" gift.  I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep tonight just because I'm so excited for her.....She's going to Disney World!!!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Brooks 3 months!

Brooks is 3 months old! 

You weigh a little over 11pounds.

You sleep from 11pm-8:30am!

You are wearing size 3 months in clothes and finally starting to fill them out.  

You're in size 1 diapers,

You're eating 4 oz every 3-4 hours.

You met your great grandpa Caroland!

You also got to meet Santa Claus! 

You are just the happiest baby!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dallas Marathon....2014!

My whole life I've believed I wasn't a runner and that I hated running.  A couple of months ago I had some friends talk me into running a half marathon.  I could do a half but wasn't interested in a whole marathon.  I started training the week after Brooks was born. At first I wasn't to sure I could do this.  After weeks of training and adding to my miles a week I was starting to enjoy my runs.

I have the greatest running partner ever!!  Vanessa and I run the same pace which is rare with a running partner.  On the long runs Vanessa would come run with me.  There were weeks we would run four miles and the longest we ran was ten miles together.  We would get up super early on a Saturday, 4am or 5am depending how long the run was and if James was working.  If James was working we would go run and get back by 6 am before he had to leave for work.  There were some really cold mornings but it made those runs so much better when I had a friend run with me.

 During the training we ran some races just to get an idea what it was going to be like and it was great practice too!  One weekend I talked my niece, Reagan, to run with me.  We ran the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning and it was eight miles.

The day of the Marathon was so nerve wracking!  I was nervous and excited.  Vanessa and I had made sure we didn't wear out feet out the day before and we had our meal of pasta the night before the race.  That morning we woke up early and left the hotel by 6:30 am.  Vanessa had told me that she woke up with her stomach all messed up.  We just thought it was nerves from the race.

Once we finally got to the race there were a ton of people.  I think somewhere around 10 thousand plus people were running.  We made it to where we were to stay til the race started and Vanessa's stomach was still not right.  We started the race and off we went.  There were so many people to run around and about mile six or seven it finally cleared out to where we weren't having to run around people anymore.  We had trained to mile ten so when we reached mile ten I was surprised how great I felt.  I had been told the last three miles were the hardest.  For me I'd say the last two were the hardest.  I had some injuries that I was having to work through.  About two weeks before the race I really thought I had torn my ACL in my right knee.  It was bothering me but after mile five my knees finally went numb.  It wasn't til after the race I discovered how much pain I was really in.  At mile 10 Vanessa was telling me how bad she was hurting and cramping.  I looked at her and said "Come on V!  Only three more miles!!"  

We finished our half marathon at 2:20.  Our  goal was to finish under 2 hours and 30 minutes.  After the race Vanessa and I got our medals and pictures taken and just enjoyed the winners circle before we met up with Jason and James.  We headed back to the hotel to shower and get ready to head home.  When we were headed home, Vanessa told me she started throwing up.  I looked at her and felt so bad for her.  It was then we realized she had the stomach bug!  I nearly killed by friend and running partner by running 13 miles while being very sick.  We drove home from Dallas and stopped along the way for Vanessa to throw up.  By the time we got home Vanessa couldn't stand up straight and her whole body was cramped up and dehydrated.  After talking to Jason we highly encouraged him to drive Vanessa straight to the ER so she could get some fluids.  After two liters of IV fluid they let Vanessa go home.  Talk about feeling crappy and almost killing your friend!  I'm happy to say that Vanessa was a champ and we are running our next half marathon in February!

Through this whole training process I learned so much about myself.  I've always pushed through pain and this was no different.  I had a knee injury and a foot injury.  There were so many times I wanted to stop and walk but I wouldn't let myself do it.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this.  There was so much self talk to quit but I wasn't going to let that happen.  I might not run on one day just to let my body rest but I was training as hard as my body would let me.  If nothing else I wanted Farrah to see her mom do something that was hard and not give up no matter how much I hurt.  To teach her this is important to me.  To teach her that no matter how bad it hurts and if its really that important to her then she can do it.  I reminded her of the bible verse  from Philippians 4:13 I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Brooks' Gottcha Day!!!

December 12, 2014 will be a day I will always remember!  It is the day that Brooks legally became a Fortner.  It seemed like the last three months flew by.  Brooks is just the perfect addition to our family and we couldn't more proud of him!

Here we are getting sworn in before the judge.

Our lawyer asked us questions but Farrah's was my favorite.  She was asked if she promised to help, love and spoil Brooks for the rest of his life and she of course said YES!

It's official!!

Thank you to all our family and friends who came and supported us on a very special day!  Amy had to leave early so we missed her picture but she was there.

Monday, November 24, 2014

IVF Cycles - Part 1

After fourteen years of trying to have a baby we have finally reached our last option.....IVF.  This is both exciting and scary at the same time.  The IVF part doesn't scare me it the not knowing part that does.  I know with out a doubt that this is what we are suppose to do next.  I know God is in control but it's still scary to walk a path that you have no answers for.

First week of July we started the process of IVF.  I went to Dallas for routine sonograms but this time they had to do a scope to see if everything was alright.  There is a reason they put you asleep when you have scopes done.  This is the second time I've had this done in my doctors office, the first time being two years ago.  Let me just tell you it doesn't get any easier!  Thankfully everything turned out just fine and I was given the clear to start my shots.

I was a bit surprised when my box of medicines came was HUGE!  After I opened it I was relieved to find that most of it was packaging for the medicine to stay cold.  Don't get me wrong it was still a lot of medicine.

I started out with having to take one shot and two pills everyday for four days.  After that I had to wait for more testing, blood work and sonograms.  After that I started with two shots a day.  There was one drug that totally stressed me out.  We had to mix three different vials and put it into one syringe.  This was stressful because if we messed it up, we messed up the whole cycle.  This one type of medicine I had to take in the morning so James was brave enough to take on this task of mixing this medicine.  The only problem was he had to give me this shot before he left for work because once it is mixed you have to give the shot.  Every morning James would wake me up at 5:45 am to give me this shot then I would go back to bed.

This is James mixing one of the shots for me.

The evening shot was a different medicine that was refrigerated and let me tell you I learned quick to warm that one up!  Putting an ice cold shot in your stomach burned!!  I should say that my poor husband was the one giving me all my shots.  The one time I gave myself a shot I bruised so badly.  By the way every shot was given in my stomach.

After another a trip to Dallas for more blood work and a sonogram I learned that I had five follicles on my right side with two really big ones and three smaller ones and five smaller follicles on my left.  From what I understand this was a great thing!  Ten follicles was just what we were praying for!  Of course the more follicles the better our chances were.  After this appointment I was told I had to add another shot to my daily task.  Three shots a in the morning and two at night.  The only thing with the new shot was that it would slow down the growth of the follicles.  We needed all ten of these follicles to GROW!

We had to wait a couple of days for another sonogram and blood work.  James and I couldn't decide with this appointment what we should do.  Do I drive down and come back in one day or do we both go down and wait?  The hard part was with my appointment times being at 10:30 am every time.  That was the latest because of the blood work and that meant we had to leave the house by 4 a.m.  Thankfully, James decided to go with me and we would just stay til it was time for the retrieval.

We left the house bright and early and stopped in Abilene for breakfast at Chick-fil-a.  After breakfast James had to give me another shot.  So yes, James is mixing my syringe in the parking lot of Chick-fil-a!  The funny part was trying to hide what we were doing so no one would call the police on us!

We learned a log time ago you have to laugh through this process and find the things that are funny!  Mixing your fertility drugs in a parking lot is funny!  Another funny part was when James was giving me a shot one evening and I was watching The Big Bang Theory and started laughing while the needle was in my stomach....NOT a good idea!

After the sonogram and blood work we hung out til we got the results.  We weren't sure if we were staying in town or if we were going back home and wait til I was ready for retrieval.  After the blood work came back we received news that we weren't expecting.  We were told that the drugs I had been taking did not work like they had hoped.  What this meant was that the only two follicles that were big enough were the only two that grew to size.  We were pretty much told that this was a failed cycle and to stop the medicine and wait for a cycle then let my body rest one month.  After that my doctor would change my medicine and hope I would respond better to the new medicine.

To say that I was surprised is a huge understatement.  I never saw this coming and I never thought this could happen.  I know I'm not getting any younger and I know it's only going to get harder for me to get pregnant the older I get.

The only thought I have after this is I don't want any what if's.  What if we stopped?  What if this new medicine doesn't work? Are we disappointed.....yes!

I'm so thankful for our families who encourage us everyday!  We decided to keep our IVF cycles very private this time.  It's so hard going through this journey and with everyone knowing and asking you how things are going.  We just don't need the added pressure.

I want to leave you with this picture.  This picture will give you a glimpse of what I'm going through.  After twenty two shots this is how swollen my stomach is.  I tried to suck in but just couldn't...haha!!

Excuse the unmade bed and laundry basket....I was just about to climb into bed and took this picture.

Little did I know we were "pregnant" and Brooks would be born two months later!  I don't know why I'm always surprised by God's timing but I am.  Fertility is such a difficult and private process.  I just want to encourage you if you know someone going through fertility treatments, please be patient!  If you have never gone through this you really don't understand and please don't say you do.  All you need to do is love them and encourage them.

Brooks 2 months!!

Brooks I can't believe you're two months!  I seriously want to freeze time.  I can't even describe how sweet you are.  You are the easiest baby and the only time you cry is when you're hungry.  You do have a little temper when you're hungry and you pout which is seriously the cutest thing I've ever seen!

Here are some of the things you are doing these days.....

You weigh 10.7 pounds! 15th percentile.

You are 23.1 inches long!  60th percentile.

You are sleeping through the night.  I give you a bottle about 11 p.m. and you wake up around 5:45 a.m.  Mommy LOVES this!!

You are wearing size 0-3 clothes.

Size one in diapers.

You have to be swaddled to sleep.

You started rolling over from tummy to back.  You have done this three times and I still haven't seen you do it.  I put you on tummy time and leave the room and come back and you're on your back.  I've tried to record you rolling over but you won't do it....haha!!

You are cooing and talking.

You have the SWEETEST smile!!

You love your sister and she is CRAZY about you.  Anytime she is talking you look for her and just smile.

You love to grab her hair and then smile when she screams to let go.  I can only imagine what this will be like in the next year.

You love your momma! When you've been fussy for dad all I have to do is talk to you and you just smile and everything is ok again.  I love this by the way!

You went to your first Texas Tech football game and slept the whole time.

You have had your second haircut...haha!

There's not a day that goes by that we don't fall more in love with this little guy!  He is a perfect fit for our family!

Happy 2 months Mr. Brooks!