Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Application Done!

Well, I mailed off our application finally. I feel like that was a big hurdle. Eric dragged his feet a little bit, but I understand why. We are both preoccupied with different aspects of the adoption. I am worried about getting the house ready, and figuring out who our child is, how we are going to get to him or her and what they will need. While Eric, at this point, is worried about how we are going to pay for everything. (Though secretly I can tell he's excited too, he just isn't ready to show it)

I feel like things are going well so far. We had a garage sale last weekend and made almost $500. I am hoping to have a repeat this weekend. If we make that every weekend, we will have this adoption paid for in no time! Realistically though, next weekend won't make as much. My lovely niece Katrina made cookies with her other grandma and then donated the proceeds to our adoption. I might make some goodies for this one too. It was a really good idea.

I am really proud of my young nieces and nephews for being so helpful with fund raising. My oldest niece has already offered to babysit, my other niece wants to help us name the child, and my oldest nephew just wants a boy to play with. We've been speaking about it a lot so they can be better prepared, but they are all excited to meet their new cousin.

I've also been busy reading. I have trouble staying focused enough to read non-fiction sometimes, but I'm trying to push through it. I would like to be as prepared as I can be.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Falling together

I feel like the broken pieces of my life are falling back into place. I am so excited for Eric and I to become parents again. We miss our little Gabriel knowing he/she is in heaven, but I am very hopeful for the future. 

I just pray that God watch over our other children until we find them, and finally bring them home. I wish they knew how much I loved them already. I wish I could make them feel it, and to feel safe. I wish more than everything that we were through all of the paperwork, interviews, and traveling so that I could see their little faces. I want to tell them, "it's ok, mommy and daddy are here now, and we are taking you home forever."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Demoralization of Infertility

I mentioned in the last post that I had an inkling about my infertility, so I will write about that today. If I get too detailed, I'm sorry in advance. In fact, if you don't want the details, you should probably just not read this post. Some of it will be graphic, but it's important to understand some of what women with fertility problems go through. It is demoralizing. I felt like a lab rat being poked and prodded, I have no shame left after all the embarrassing tests I've done.

PCOS. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This is the cause of my infertility. I've struggled with it since puberty, but I didn't know what I was fighting until I was 25.

While growing up, I knew I wasn't totally normal. Not just in my everyday life, but with my womanly functions. I very rarely had to deal with having a period, and when I did, it was very short. At the time, I thought it was a blessing, now I know better. Being young and idealistic, I figured it wouldn't be a problem. In these days they can fix almost anything by popping a few pills.

I tried to find out what was wrong a few times in high school, and the doctors I saw said, "Don't worry about it, you're young, you don't want to get pregnant. Here's some birth control. It will "normalize" you until you want to try to get pregnant. Then come back and we will figure it out." Even after high school, they just kept telling me, take birth control. Because I was young and foolish, I trusted these doctors, and against my religion, my morals and my upbringing, I tried to take the birth control. After all it was for medical purposes, I wasn't actively using it to prevent pregnancy, I was using it to regulate my body. I hated it. I hated how I felt on it, I hated what it did to my emotions. Each time I tried it, I turned into a basket case, so I never stayed on it for very long.

When Eric and I got married, I decided it was time for a real diagnosis. Late one night, I happened to be watching "Mystery Diagnosis". A woman on the program had a lot of the same things I had, irregular period, hair growth on her upper lips and chin, excess weight that was hard to get rid of. I thought, well maybe I have something like that. I went into the doctor determined to get a diagnosis, and sure enough, I finally found a doctor that would listen to me. A doctor who didn't think I was just a young girl looking for an excuse to get birth control. Unfortunately he moved to a different hospital before I could start treatments.

When the next doctor came in, I went back. We started with clomid, progesterone to force a period and frequent transvaginal ultrasound  I was always uncomfortable during my pap smears, let me tell you, the ultrasounds were much worse. It wasn't that they were painful, because they weren't. It was the fact that they started on the heaviest day of my period. At 25, I still found it difficult to buy my feminine products without a cart and a bunch of stuff to throw on top of them so people didn't see what I was buying. So now, having a man I hardly knew probe me, while I was bleeding all over the exam table ... I was mortified. It was necessary though, we were tracking the growth of my follicles to see if I was ovulating. I was not. I stayed with that doctor until he felt he could do no more, then I moved on to the next.

The next "doctor" was going to get me to an endocrinologist. This was good a good thing, I would get to the bottom of the problem and then be able to have a baby. I wanted to do some of the treatments, but not IVF. Being Catholic, IVF was not an option for me. Believe me I considered it, at first I didn't know it was not a pro-life practice, and I didn't know it went against what the Church teaches. As it was being presented to me, I began to have this feeling in my gut, that I just couldn't go through with it. I couldn't see having a 30% chance of success to be worth the life of my children. I believe life begins at conception, when the sperm and the egg meet. It was too risky for my children. At the same time that I was having my own epiphany about it, my mom was watching a program on EWTN which explained why it went against church teaching. It was a little bit heart breaking, but there was always adoption. Also, I got into a big fight with the "doctor" that was suppose to refer me to the endocrinologist. She accused me of trying to convince her to commit insurance fraud, when all I wanted her to do, were the treatments that my insurance covers.

I left my fertility alone for a little while and started checking out adoption agencies. Eric wasn't ready for it yet, so for a while we just went on with our lives.

Eventually a friend told me about the Pope Paul VI Institute in Nebraska. I found a doctor that worked with them, but she was almost two hours away. I loved her and the clinic she worked in, it was pro-life, pro-faith. This particular clinic had a picture of the Pope, Crucifixes on the wall, and played Christian music in the waiting room. It was everything I could have asked for in a clinic. I felt like I was home.

We started getting some of the tests done. Because it was a small clinic I had to go to different hospitals to get some of the tests done. I was getting a complete work up done. Top to bottom. If you thought the transvaginal ultrasound was bad, the next test I had was worse. Again, it was necessary. This test was called a hysterosalpingogram. The purpose was to x-ray my uterus and Fallopian tubes to make sure everything was clear. This test also had to be done on the heaviest day of my period. First, I had to gown, and then I waited in the waiting room, in the gown and with no underwear... It was probably one of the worst experiences of my life. When they finally came to get me for the procedure I couldn't have been more relieved, until they started the procedure. The nurses I had were great and very comforting, but it was so embarrassing. They insert a catheter, fill you up with dye and then take the x-ray. The poor man doing this test had to insert the catheter twice, because it slipped out the first time. It looked like someone had died when I finally was able to get up from the x-ray table, because of all the iodine, water and bodily fluids that were pretty much everywhere. I'm so glad I only had to do that once, and the test came back perfect.

By this time though, the two hour drive was too much to coordinate with work, and we stopped treatment. I tried one more time at our local clinic with the new OBGYN. My track record with women OBGYN's was not good. This one especially rubbed me the wrong way. She tried to force several vaccinations on me, one being Gardasil. I remember when Gardasil came out. I don't trust vaccines that are that "young", also it's a vaccine that adds to the objectification of women. Not to mention, I was married, if I got HPV from Eric, I'd have bigger problems I had to deal with. I kept telling her no, and she kept telling me I needed it. I was in the age group that should have had it. I just got the feeling that she was this feminist with a chip on her shoulder. She was not respectful at all. She even told me that if I didn't do IVF I would never get pregnant. She told this to me AFTER I explained to her that I was morally opposed to it. I think by the time I left she tried to get me on four different vaccinations, I don't even remember what they were all for. I have never wanted to punch anyone so badly, than when I was in that office. I refrained obviously, but she was so rude and insensitive. Don't get me wrong, doctors need to be able to convey what's going on, but they also have to be smart enough to handle sensitive situations.

Infertility is a sensitive situation, it's something you can never understand unless you've lived it. I am a strong person, and my infertility has brought me sobbing to my knees. I've gotten what should have been fantastic news about friends and family having babies of their own, and it crushed me. I still feel guilty for my reaction to finding out about my second nephew. My mom warned me ahead of time so I could adjust. When she told me I went home and I bawled like someone had died. My poor husband ran to the door I was leaning against, not knowing at all what happened. He actually thought someone had died. When I told him I was going to be an aunt again, he looked at me very confused and asked "That's it? You should be happy for them" I cried for the rest of the day as he tried his very best to comfort me, even though he didn't know how to. He has only seen me cry a handful of times, so when I do cry, it's a big event in our house.

Eventually I found another doctor closer to where we live and started up treatments again. Once I was only dealing with people from PPVI, I felt loved and cared for. The demoralization of infertility began to fade. I felt like a human again, and not a lab rat. I learned to understand my body, and what my body is telling me, I'm still learning, but I am much more confident about it now. I began to love being a woman. I still don't like getting my period (what woman does), but there is a part of me that embraces my femininity, the gift that it is to be woman, the protector, and bringer of life. So many good things have come out of my treatments. Even though I've had only had one pregnancy, which the child did not survive, I feel like it was a success for the most part. Before PPVI, I wouldn't have even had that one pregnancy. They focus on fixing what is wrong, and not on shocking my system into having a baby. I still feel like there is hope, and that eventually we will get my body figured out and I will be able to become pregnant again. So, I guess I'm not really giving up on my fertility, I'm accepting that God just may want me to adopt first. Perhaps, if I have a biological child that survives, it would cause us not to adopt for some reason, even though I have always wanted to.

I'm going to add some links for PPVI and another site that's connected to it, to help find a doctor in your area. I really truly believe this is the BEST place for couples with fertility problems. They have a very good track record, and the best success record I have seen in terms of achieving pregnancy. They are also good for couples who are pro-life and don't want to achieve a pregnancy. I believe their system is 99.9% effective when done properly, but don't quote me on that, it should be listed on their site. I know it's as effective as main stream birth control options.

Pope Paul VI Institute

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Beginning

 My name is Katie. My husband, Eric, and I are going to adopt. We are just at the beginning. It's scary, overwhelming, and exciting all at once. We can't wait until it's over and we have our own family, but taking that first step, it feels like our feet are encased in cement...

A little about us.

My biggest reason for wanting to adopt? My Grandmother was an orphan. I never got the chance to meet her, but I've always felt very connected to her. I was named after her, and my mom says I am very much like her. My mom also tells me, all my grandma ever wanted was someone to bring her home. Parents to love her, and her siblings. She wanted a family.

This knowledge has always been with me, and it's been a driving force in my life. The first time I met Eric, when we just began tossing the idea of dating around, I made it very clear if he wouldn't adopt, we shouldn't start a relationship. (He was 18 at the time and I was 23) It was a condition of our relationship, though at the time, we didn't think I would have issues with my fertility. Though I had an inkling that there was something wrong.

Eric and I met in 2006. I had just come out of two very difficult relationships in a row, and was trying desperately to push him away. He also was fresh out of a relationship. We were each other's rebounds gone wrong. I really was just humoring a young, delusional kid who didn't know what he wanted ... or so I thought. I had no interest in staying with him, and was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would only put up with my "crazy" for a few months. He sure showed me.

I remember we got into a fight about a month into our relationship. I secretly was thinking, "Good, now I can go back to my life of wallowing in my own self pity." I tried my best to ignore him, but he was persistent. Eventually he got me to talk to him about it. At the end of our fight he looked me square in the eye and said, "If we are still together in six months, I'm going to ask you to marry me."

Having my heart completely decimated not, but a few months earlier than this, I was freaking out inside. So, I did the one thing I knew would drive him away. I called his bluff and took him ring shopping that weekend. He was only 18, dreamer that he was, I knew if I showed him a gigantic diamond ring and focused solely on weddings for the next few weeks, he would certainly run in the opposite direction. Unbeknownst to me,  he picked out my engagement ring that weekend.

A few months later we purchased a house. I will be totally honest, I DO NOT suggest anyone move that quickly. My brother and I were in a very bad situation at a place we were renting, and we needed to get out. Eric was our saving grace.

Eric's persistence paid off, and I came to love the idea of staying with him forever. He was safe. My love for him, is like no other I have ever felt. We complete each other, and he is definitely my better half. I didn't get butterflies or feel the great lust I felt with others I had dated, I just felt safe and complete. That was enough for me, at that point in my life, passion was the least of my worries. However, I am very happily surprised to admit, that now, I do get butterflies when I'm with him. I am constantly amazed by his generosity and commitment to family. Eric is amazing.

Shortly after we were married, I went in to test my inkling about my fertility. I was officially diagnosed with Poly-Cyctic Ovarian Syndrome. We went back and forth between doctors and adopting after that. I finally got hooked up with the Pope Paul VI Institute, I couldn't be happier with the care I've received this far. I really suggest that anyone with fertility problems check them out. They really are amazing. I am still going through my treatments, and I am hoping that I am able to get pregnant again, (I've had one miscarriage, we've named that child Gabriel Leigh)

Despite how happy I am with my treatment and experience with PPVI, there is still a tug at my heart. There is a clarity around me and I really feel like God wants us to adopt. Maybe after adopting he will bless us with another biological child as well, but I know he wants us to adopt. God will give us the child or children he sees us worthy enough to be a parent for.

As for the adoption, we are currently planning on adopting from Ukraine. Right now we are shopping around for a home study, and figuring out where the money is going to come from. If any of you can find it in your heart to donate to our cause, I will be putting up a donation button soon. Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts, you don't know what it means to us. There really are no words that do justice to what we feel for your support.