Monthly Archives: June 2012

You Down with HRT…Yeah, You Know Me!

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I was down with Hormone Replacement Therapy when my infertility specialist thought I needed it.  My bloodwork in April came back showing Premature Ovarian Failure.  My FSH level was in the menopause stage and my estradiol level was as well.  All this blood work was taken on Day 3 and taken two separate times.  All levels led him to believe that I was in the early stages of menopause and to consider HRT, immediately.   At 32, I needed those hormones to keep my body functioning and productive.  I immediately began taking a variety of vitamins including: calcium, vitamin D, iron, Biotinin, fish oil, and a prenatal which includes lots of vitamins in one pill.  After getting this grim diagnosis, I also gave my rheumatiodologist the okay to put me on Plaquenil and Predisone.  He was reluctant to start me on these meds knowing I was trying to get pregnant, but after learning my hormone levels, I chose to go ahead accepting that having a baby bioligically was not meant to be.  Due to miscommunication, I never got an appointment with my gynecologist so I went three months taking medication and taking care of myself and praying…always praying.

Enter the month of June and I schedule my appt. with my gynecologist to discuss the need for Hormone Replacement Therapy.  I told her my concerns of the longterm side effects of cancer and my fear of a Lupus flare with hormones.  She assured me we would start on a low dose birth control (which I am skeptical to do because my odds of getting pregnant are statistically small and I want to allow God to be God…however, birth control could not stop God-just saying), anyway,  she needed to check my hormones to see if it was needed.  My gynecologist drives me crazy with her laidback “let’s wait and see” attitude, but this time it paid off.  I got the call this week that my hormones were normal.  Say what?  Yes…normal.  All of this was taken on Day 16, so she said don’t think anything has changed since your hormones fluctuate during your cycle, but for right now, no hormones are needed since the levels are normal.  Not menopausal-normal!

I can’t explain it and I don’t understand it.   I know my God is a healer and He not science determines my health.  However, I am also fully aware God works in mysterious ways and healing is not always the way He acts.  Even though someone stays sick does not mean God is absent.   Just because we have great lab results does not mean His answer has changed to me giving birth to a child.  I have really wrestled with that concept of knowing God is good even if we don’t get what WE want and accepting when He says “no”.  I know God is ABLE to give me a baby right now, but I question is that what is His best for me?   One of my prayers continues to be no miscarriages…so maybe to answer yes to one prayer then He has to say no to another.  The bottom line: my desire has always been to stay healthy and these results are a positive step in a healthier direction.

The good news: My levels right now show I am not in menopause and that is a blessing since I am 32.  Lupus has shown its strange head again as we have no idea what is happening in my body…how in four months I have gone from menopausal to normal.   Maybe God is healing me completely, maybe He is keeping me healthy for the adoption, maybe He is putting me in remission for now…who knows?  He does….so I will wait and see.

Summer Hates Me….

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This is my first summer after being diagnosed with Lupus and it is hard to say the least.  I LOVE the outdoors.  I love sunbathing, I love swimming, I love running outside, I love the beach and I love the lake.  Texas is hot, so water is a must to cool off and what better way to cool off than the pool or lake?  In the past, I have indulged in these things with little or no thought, but this summer is different.  This summer, I am aware I have Lupus which is activated in large part by the sun. Sucks to be me…

For the first time, I have to think about it and weigh the pros and the cons.  Today, I spent an awesome day with my friends at the pool.  I wore SPF 100 sunscreen, I wore a hat, I put on the lotion often and I spent some time in the shade…but I am sitting here tired, achy and little cold from what I think is a flare from being in the sun.  I did forget to take my medication, so I am hoping that some of this is my fault for being neglectful, but I am also accepting this could be my new normal.  Summer may never be the same as I contemplate this world of the sun being my enemy.

I cannot say 100% how my form of Lupus reacts to the sun.  Maybe I am just tired from playing all day or maybe it is more related to the lack of medication, but if it is related to the sun then I know I can do something to stop it.  The challenge is I love the beach and our friend has a lake house which makes the choices hard.  You want to go and have fun, but you have to put your health first and consider how irresponsible you are being when you don’t.  This disease does not have to kill me and I am very lucky-so don’t chance it.  I know what I should do, but it is still hard.  I hope the summers in the future get easier because it sure is difficult to make the healthy choice when for the past 32 summers you never had to question it.  On one hand the pool was fun, but on the other, I love my liver and kidneys.  Choices…choices.

The good news is: I may avoid wrinkles and aging with my new sun regimen.  I hope this disease helps me to age beautifully as I am more aware of the damaging effects of the sun.

Categories

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In the midst of identifying the categories for my last post I noticed a label “conceiving” lined up neatly with the other labels that have defined my life.   It got me thinking that I cannot imagine a post in the future that will involve writing about how we are trying to get pregnant.  Granted, I am not getting on birth control, but more because my hormone levels prove I don’t need it.  It is weird, but in that moment it was mind blowing to think how much life just changes.  At that time, that was my world and we waited month after month in anticipation of getting pregnant.  Now, we can look back and see with reflection we were waiting for the wrong thing.  It was never meant to be.

Which brings me to my next category we will no longer need (Lord willing) diagnosis.  In the process of conceiving we were led to a Lupus diagnosis.  Crazy how one unanswered prayer leads us to the answer of another.  As sad as I am about letting go of conceiving….I am filled with jubilation to let go of diagnosis.  That was also a tough time of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty.  We won’t have to endure that either.  You gottat take the good with the bad and we are fortunate to have answers.  So in honor of those two times in my life that will not likely be revisited in the future; I will label this post BOTH conceiving and diagnosis.  Farewell and good luck, but, also, thank you.

The Power of a Bible Study

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I have only recently started to attend Women’s Bible Studies.  I have tried five of them total, but only finished two of them so far.  The other three I either fell so far behind in the homework that I never went back or lost interest in the topic.  The two that I have finished made such an impact on me that I have started another one and I feel confident that I will complete this one.  First, I usually commit to completing them in the summer when I have the time to devote to reading and diving into the word (I know, I need to make time during the school year, but they sometimes begin to feel like one more thing I have to do…I am working on it) .  Second, I have found that in times of major change I follow through because I need it.  Right now is one of those times.

A few years ago, I was going through some hardships in my marriage and the Bible study saved my life.  I felt God leading me to join this one specifically and boy did He show up.  I gained so much wisdom and truth that it was like He was speaking to me through these words.  Other Bible studies I have not been so careful to choose properly and they have not been as effective.  This summer, I really prayed about it and chose a great topic, but the time was not ideal.  However, I felt led to do it anyway and the past two weeks have proven to be a good choice.

We just finished our lessons on the book of Joshua and God spoke directly to my heart about my situation with infertility, Lupus and adoption.  The bottom line: God is with me and is leading me, but I must be obedient to follow and trust Him.  A powerful message, but a difficult one to practice.  I want control.  I want it my way.  I want answers NOW with little to no effort.  I want things to be easy.  God doesn’t always work that way.  I have to learn that I have no idea how this will all end, but I know the One who does and that is enough.

The God of Moses and Joshua kept His promises to them and He will keep His promises to me.  I just have to trust Him and follow where He leads.  The only way I will know where He is leading me is by staying in His word and in His will.  Not easy to do when I busy my day with all kinds of projects or just being lazy declaring “I am on vacation!”.  However He chooses to get my attention I will take it because I know I need it.   So much of what is going on in my life right now is left unknown and it is easy to get scared, frustrated, discouraged and doubtful.  The only way to have peace about all this is to cling to Him and trust that He is in control and His plan is good. I get peace in knowing some of the greatest characters in the Bible felt afraid and they were speaking directly with God…I am not alone.

On a side note, I got teary eyed recently because I was reminded of a friend that is pregnant and her story is similar to mine.  She and her husband tried for quite awhile and they had almost given up thinking they could not get pregnant until the last month of trying she learned that she was having a baby.  The only part of her story that is like mine is “the trying for a long time” part.  The reason I got teary eyed is because I wanted her story to be mine.  I wanted in the pit of desperation and uncertainty to suddenly discover that our miracle had occured and we were indeed pregnant.  That is not the case.  Three years later…we still are not pregnant and likely will not be. Ever.

It is sad at times because finding out another friend is pregnant when you want to be is really hard.  You are happy for them, but reminded that you are not having a child in this way.  Their joy is your reminder that this is not for you.  It’s not like I want their baby or I don’t want them to ever have a child, but it is the reality that your story is different even when you wanted it to be the same.  It simply is not.  My husband says it best, “Our fairytale is different and when our time comes…it will be really great.” Which leads me to end this post on a positive note.

I read a devotional recently titled “It never mattered.”  It is about a woman that struggled with infertility and kept thinking if having an adopted baby would take the place of having a biological one.  She wasn’t sure if it would feel the same; the same connect and the same joy (beyond being happy).  When her adopted baby was placed into her arms and she saw her future she realized “It never mattered.”  It did not matter if she gave birth to it or not; this was her baby and it all felt the same.  The same joy. The same hope.  The same peace.  The same sense of wanting to be the best mother possible for this dearly loved child.  The lead characters would be different.  The setting would be different.  The conflict in the story would be different, but the ending will be the same.  They will live happily ever after with the love of a child that was prayed about it and well worth the wait.  I love happy endings!!

The good news is: The God of Moses and Joshua and Abraham is my God, too.  He led these men and other characters in the Bible through times of turmoil and peace and He will lead me through this.  His promises are true and His faithfulness is never ending.  I am in good hands.

Adoption Step Four

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After the initial orientation, the next step is a couple meeting with the social worker in the agency.  They call it an interview, but it is really their chance to really get to know you as a couple.  We had a list of questions that we had to answer individually before meeting with her.  The questions included: why are you adopting, how have you dealt with your infertility, what problems have you met in your marriage and describe your childhood.  This is the part where that determine your emotional stability to parent a child.  In short, have you dealt with your pasts appropriately or is this something you need to do before adding a child into the mix.  This meeting is only a couple of hours and is a big part in them getting to know us as a couple.

We were able to do this meeting in the summer when I was off work.  So, I was ready and able to drive.  We completed our answers separately the night before the meeting.  As always, we procrastinate and then stay up late to finish.  It was interesting because we answered them separately, but when we read them together we had very similar answers.  Nathan and I are an open book and we are not ashamed of our past experiences because we have learned from them.

On why we are adopting: it is time!  We have enjoyed our lives just the two of us, but we are ready for a family.  We would both make great parents and we feel children are a blessing from God to further his Kingdom for future generations to serve Him.

Dealing with infertility: he talked about how he wished it did not affect me the way it has and I talked about how I felt bad how much he was affected.  We both saw the other one as the strong one in the relationship and how we have leaned on each other to better understand God’s plan.

Problems in our marriage: that is a whole other blog, but we have had them and God has conquered them and made our marriage 100 times better than it ever was before.  We believe those experiences prepared us for this and that there is nothing we have not discussed together and conquered together.  We are stronger today because of our problems and we feel it makes us better parents.  We have stood the test and we chose to stay together…I don’t see anything that could tear us apart if we stay in Christ as the source of our strength.

Finally our childhood: Nathan grew up in a peaceful home with one way of handling conflicts.  My childhood was a little more “in your face” let’s hash this out right now.  Together, we are a mix of the two.  We know the importance of choosing our words wisely and to speak without anger, but we also know we need to speak and speak honestly.  Nothing is solved by pretending it did not happen or just ignoring it.  Our feelings are valid and should be shared and at no time is physical contact appropriate.  If we need a time out before we talk, then we take it.

We left that day knowing there are still things we need to work on, but we are ready to face them head on.  It felt like two hours of therapy, but in the end it was helpful to know we are on the same page.

The good news is: To be a parent through adoption, you have to prove you are ready…but to have a child biologically there are no requirements.  I don’t believe the govt. should be involved in family planning, but it is a huge contrast!  We are willing to do whatever they ask, but it is a lot of work!  It has become my job right now as I am on summer break!  Thank the Lord for a summer break because I have no idea how people do this while still working.  It truly is a full time job.

Adoption Step Three

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After the application, they invite you to an orientation so you can learn more about their agency.  You can go to as many orientations as you want, but it does cost around $50 for their time.  Here is where you ask all your questions and get all your details.  At this point, you feel like this agency is right, but you can easily change your mind on the agency or the adoption altogether.  It’s like choosing a college to go to…they have an orientation so you can get to know more about it and then make a more informed choice.

Back to our story, Nathan and I took off work so we could go on a Thursday morning.  Our agency is in Houston and we debated putting all this off until the summer, but they squeezed us in to the May orientation so we could move through the process faster.  Their next orientation would not be until the Fall because they had already had one in the Spring.  We were fortunate they were doing this for us, so we jumped at the chance to get started.  We left our house at 4:30 am to get there in four hours.  We learned it only takes us three hours (Nathan drives fast and it is on the outskirts of Houston) so we stopped for breakfast and then sat in our car for an hour.

The orientation was short and sweet and answered many of our questions and concerns that I will go into more details about with future posts.  We heard about the timeline, the court process, the paperwork, and the homestudy.  So much I could write about all this because each of those topics is a full post in itself.  The biggest aha is that the birthmom has 48 hours after the birth of the baby to change her mind.  After that she signs over her rights and there is no turning back.  The dad is given an ample amount of time to protest the adoption and then his rights are terminated.  That might not all be 100% accurate, but that is how we understand it to be in simple terms.

We get asked that a lot…what if she changes her mind?  If she does, then it wasn’t meant to be.  The truth is: I don’t blame her.  The agency counsels them throughout so they understand what they are doing and the relationship we build is important so she knows that the baby is going to a good family.  It is all built on trust.  Obviously, we are not this far into the process so we are speaking from how it is supposed to be and not from experience.  Ideally, all works out so that after 48 hours, the mother has signed over her rights, we can take the baby home, but we wait six months before it is finalized in court and the child is ours permanently. During this time, the families work together to decide how much visitation they are comfortable giving and receiving.

I felt overwhelmed with the travel and almost backed out of the process to choose an agency closer to Dallas.  However, this was my first reality check that it is not easy and I will be tired with a baby so get used to it.  We knew God was leading us here, but that doesn’t mean it would be easy and we had to accept He only promised that He would be with us.

The good new is: The orientation sealed the deal that this agency prayed about every step of this journey.  They knew each adoption personally, wanted to stay in contact in the future, and saw it more as a big family than a business.

Adoption-Step 2

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Now, that we’ve chosen the agency the next step is to start filling out an application to see if the agency accepts us.  The agency we chose is a Christian agency, so they want to be sure that we are a Christian couple.  Denomination does not matter and we all know that no one is perfect and a walk with Christ is a life long process , but they want to be sure that we believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

The most awkward part in this whole process is filling out the application.  They ask you a variety of questions that you never thought you would ever answer in planning for a family.  The first major shock is agencies charge different amounts for different races (there are debates about if this is moral or not…but I am just telling you what we learned).  We had to really examine how we saw our family and the challenges and triumphs that would come from raising a child from a different culture.  Interesting, but relevant conversation.  We chose Caucasian with a possibility of a Hispanic mix (since I am half Hispanic it wouldn’t be fair to exclude that race).  Culture is something that you really have to pray about and accept the responsibity in raising a child.  Many parents choose International adoption for this very reason.  Some families have a heart for children of a certain country or for saving a child from a life in an orphanage.

I am still praying about this, but there are times I feel selfish in my adoption.  I’ve read many books and have had many people talk about God’s calling to take care of the orphans, but I don’t see that in my situation.  I am not adopting a special needs child that is unwanted, I am not adopting an older child that was abandoned, I don’t have kids of my own and want to give another child a better life…we are unable to get pregnant and we are growing our family through adoption.  I have been praying about God to speak to my heart about this so I ask for your prayers as well.

Back to my original topic, so after identifying the racial criteria of your adoption you go next to the special circumstances of your adoption.  This is the crazy part.  You place a check next to each circumstance that you are willing to accept.  Would you accept: a father in jail, a mother in jail, known mental disorders, marijuana use, cocaine use, heroine use, smoking while pregnant, drinking while pregnant, history of abuse etc.  Very strange to place checks or leave off checks for those circumstances, but the more open you are to the fact that not all pregnancies are planned and perfect the more likely an adoption will work for you.

At the end of the day, you have to accept that the birthmom may or may not know who the father is and the father may or may not be involved in her life.  You hope she is honest about her past and histories, but there are no guarantees and you have to accept that fact.  Ideally, she came to the agency early and is receiving prenatal care, but not always.  You may get a long detailed list of both sides medical histories or you may get nothing.   In this situation, you have to put your hope and trust in God and accept that her situation is not perfect, but she would not be here if it was.  The ideal is to get to know the birth mom and as you grow in your relationship then you grow in your trust.  The trust will bring her to share details that she may not have shared otherwise.

So, Step Two filling out the application was a very surreal process, but it forced us to be real with what we are doing in choosing to adopt a child.  In short, your being is not made up of the mistakes you have made and we have all made some mistakes or done some things we wished we had not.  Same goes for these women.  Life happens and we must accept it and not define them by it, but know it may influence the life of the child they are carrying.  We can only hope that they are brave enough to be honest even though on paper it may not be pretty.

The good news is:  writing this portion of the blog has really forced me to pray about what God is teaching me through this.  My first inclination was to call my girlfriends and get their advice, but then I felt the calling to tell Him about it and pray for wisdom.  This whole process has been about God’s will and God’s wisdom and if at any time we are not following Him obediently to stop the process immediately.  Thoughts like today give me cold feet: are we using the right agency, should we keep trying to get pregnant, are we paying too much, should we just accept we won’t have kids, etc….but, these thoughts also bring me closer to God as I pray to Him for revelation and guidance.