It feels like the past few days have been pretty monumental. Bryan went in Thursday for his procedures and was a great sport through it all as you can see in the pic above. The doctors and nurses said Bryan was so much fun to have in, duh!! He ended up having 4 biopsies and they were able to get everything they needed (my husband is by far the toughest man I know and has endured more labour pains than any other man I have ever known!). Now he is 4 days into the recovery process and it is slow going. Thankfully he doesn’t have to fly till Friday. We are also so thankful that Bryan was put out for his procedure. Being under anaesthesia made it less traumatic than the first time.
Friday morning my Mom and I drove to Boise and it was my turn to go under. Anaesthesia is definitely the way to go for this kind of treatment. I didn’t feel a thing and don’t remember any of it, praise God! They were able to retrieve 20 eggs, 17 of those eggs were mature and out of the 17 eggs 15 fertilized and became embryos!!! We are over the moon with this outcome! Not all of the embryos will be good enough quality to transfer so this gives us a much better chance of having some strong embryos to use.
A little memory to share in the midst of all of this is when I got the call regarding the embryos. Friday night we had a slumber party for my Mom’s 70th birthday party. We were out at my oldest brother’s house, Brent and Trudy, when the call came Saturday morning. After I took the call I walked out and announced to many of my female family members the good news. Everyone screamed, we cried, there were hugs! Such a special memory to have and one that I am thankful for. Being with our families during this whole process has been such an incredible gift from God that we could not have planned.
So what next? Monday the clinic will call and let us know how many of the embryos look good enough to use. We will then go in for the transfer on Wednesday. My friend Kelly also arrives on Monday afternoon. Kelly is coming to be here for the transfer and to support us, so special! From Wednesday to the 10 day test mark feels like the hardest part. They transfer Wednesday, then we take a blood test 10 days later and during that time you just wait. You wait to feel any little thing, any hint that it has worked. You wait to start your period in a sign that it hasn’t worked, you wait in hope for the future all the while replaying the past. The line is hard to walk. We want to believe for the best and hope for that yet sometimes our past experience creeps in and reminds us of the previous hurt. So for this next season please pray for us. Pray the following:
Pray for at least 1 embryo that is good enough to transfer
Pray my womb is a safe and welcoming place for this potential new life to thrive and grow
Pray for Bryan’s continued recovery
Pray that we keep our eyes on Jesus and keep His perspective in all of this
Thank you for following our journey, for praying and partnering with us. We appreciate it so so so much!!!!!
Just a little extra pic so you have an idea of what the beginning of our family slumber parties look like!
Thank you everyone for your continued prayers, emails, text messages and encouraging verses that you have been passing on to us. We cannot imagine how much harder this process would be without each of you carrying us this way.
Yesterday we drove to Meridian for Bryan’s appointment with Dr Greer of IUI. After filling out what seemed like a mountain of paperwork we were taken in and met with the doctor. We went through our fertility history, he looked at Bryan’s sample records, gave him a health check and came to this conclusion: Bryan will be going in for another testicular biopsy this Thursday or Friday morning (taking as many sample tissues as they need till they arrive at the desired amount of sperm). The news was good news yet hard at the same time to hear. As we approached doing treatment again we did not want Bryan to have to endure another traumatic procedure. This news meant that once again he would have to go through something most men only have nightmares about. Yet it was good news because it meant that the doctor felt we could proceed with treatment. There is also a silver lining, Bryan will be put out this time unlike his first experience of being very awake and present. Now that we know Bryan has to have this procedure we were able to change his ticket back to Alaska. This has also brought about a positive spin within the whole journey. Bryan staying longer means that he will be here with me during egg retrieval (possibly happening this Friday or Saturday) and he will also be here for the transfer/implantation (most likely sometime next week).
I had another ultrasound and blood draw this morning. The staff have been so kind and helpful plus everything is looking good on my end. They were able to tell me that my uterine lining is at 8.5 which she said was perfect for right now. Upon examination they could see that I have potentially 13 eggs in the right ovary and 7 in the left. These eggs, once mature and ready for collection will be used to create the embryos. How many they use will be determined by the volume of sperm Dr Greer is able to collect.
Despite the fact that Bryan has to go through his procedure again we are feeling hopeful and optimistic. This time around we both will be under anesthesia for our procedures (me for both collection of the eggs and transfer). The simple fact that we will both fall asleep and wake up to things being done is a huge relief. Going through the procedures the first time fully awake was quite difficult. We are trying to keep our eyes up, focused on Jesus and the hope that He brings throughout all of this too. When we receive verses from people or songs we read/listen, soak and just thank God for His constant presence in a very unpredictable process.
As many of you know we had reached our target goal for the initial cost of our treatment. This goal was met by what has been committed, not necessarily by what we have received as we knew some people could not contribute till January after the holidays. Now however, with this additional procedure we will need additional funds. In total Bryan’s procedure is going to cost around $5000! I know, I can’t believe it either. So if you had thought about supporting us financially but hadn’t moved forward with it once we met our initial target, we would greatly appreciate you revisiting the thought. It is not fun to even write about this or be so direct but we have been blown away by everyone’s generosity and hearts for us, plus we know at the end of the day God is the one in charge of all the resources so He can help with this the way He has before.
The next few days are going to be exciting, nerve-racking and a continued roller coaster! Prayers are what we hope you continue to offer up on our behalf. Pray for the sample, pray for the egg retrieval, pray for the transfer and implantation. Each step of the way seems to only be made clear as we arrive to it that morning. There’s an old song we used to sing growing up ‘One day at a time, sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m asking from You’. It’s funny how some things from your childhood come back to bring you comfort and reassurance in your later years. That is exactly what this song has done for me. Jesus, one day at a time. Please help me be flexible, help me to actively trust you, help me to keep a good attitude today. I will pray this again tomorrow and the next day and the next.
We are back from the mountains of McCall, Idaho where we spent three nights in a beautiful home with my immediate family. This meant that for three days/nights we had fun! Our time included meals out, great coffees, games, puzzles, shaving my Dad’s beard as a family and much more. I am so thankful for the trip to McCall. It got our minds off of what lay ahead in this journey. It was relaxing and we were able to reconnect with my side of the family. One of my favourite memories of the trip though has to be sitting around the table working on a puzzle with Bryan. Our nieces and nephews gathered around the table as well and chatted flat out for at least 2 1/2 hours. One of our nephews was also renamed the ‘Man of a million voices’ by his big sister because of how much he talked that night. We laughed so hard and it felt so good! Lighthearted moments all together reminding me of the simple beauty that my family possesses. We are so thankful for each one of them!
Since the last blog post we have been into the clinic numerous times. Our first appointment included my baseline ultrasound, my uterine wash, my blood draw and Bryan’s first sample. Everything on my end looked healthy and good. Even though we have been through this before there are still things that catch you off guard. For example, my ultrasound was quite uncomfortable. I know this is true of any internal exam but the reality of how many more exams I will have before all is said and done is not a fun thought. The most difficult obstacle however has been Bryan’s samples. The first sample produced only 1 sperm that was worth freezing. Since then he has given two more samples and is now scheduled to see a eurologist as it looks like he may have to have another biopsy or possibly a more invasive procedure. Of course we knew this was always a possibility but we were strongly hoping for a different experience this time.
I have also started my injections which is the picture posted above. The first time I was quite nervous and was shaking. Bryan is a bit squeamish with the shots and he kept having to look away while capturing this in photos. I am in again tomorrow morning for an ultrasound that will show how my ovaries are responding to the treatment thus far. To be completely honest, I am not even thinking about that. I am thinking about Bryan’s evaluation on Monday with the other doctor to determine what they can do to help us continue with our treatment plan. From here on out the next few weeks will most likely be a blur of doctor’s appointments, procedures and I am sure a roller coast of emotions.
As we have processed the past few days and bad news regarding Bryan’s sample, our hearts have been heavy. I will not lie and say that we have not felt the impact of this. We have been sad, felt deflated and defeated. We have questioned God asking if not one part of this could be remotely easy? Yet our faith is not shaken; we hope in God not the treatment. The other morning I found myself once again singing Matt Redman’s song ‘Never Once’. The words ring true:
Never once have we ever walked alone,
never once did You leave us on our own.
You are faithful, God you are faithful.
Right now this where we are at. We are living life in the midst of our stormy hearts. We are enjoying the times with my family as they are rare and precious. We had our annual Carpenter gyoza making session on the 1st January and it was a blast! We ate till we felt ill and played games that made us laugh till we almost cried. We have moments of grief, frustration and emptiness mingled with moments of feeling full to overflowing. This is life. One of my favourite authors puts it this way…life is bittersweet. Yes it is.
Please keep praying for us and with us. Pray that we do not lose hope. Pray for the doctors and their ability to help us. Pray that we can move forward with our treatment. Thank you for your prayers already and long may they continue.
Christmas has come and gone, special memories were made in Alaska with the Chuds which I am sure will last a lifetime. They include incredible food, sledding down the family hills, releasing lit lanterns into the night sky, praying, singing and a lot of laughing. We cannot begin to express the deep gratitude in our hearts for every stage of this time back in the states. Each place, each family member and each friend have helped to create an album of moments that we will treasure. As Alaska came to a close we said our goodbyes and yes, there were tears. A sweet mental picture that we have is our nephew and niece sitting up in their beds as we exited to the garage to leave, both of their faces beaming with smiles, priceless!
We flew all through the night to land in Boise, Idaho this morning at 10am. We were greeted by my Papa at the airport. Thank you God that he came through his open-heart surgery so well and is on the road to recovery. He is getting stronger each day and is even sporting a very Mumford-esque beard right now! After a bit of sleep we celebrated Christmas with my parents which was very sweet and reminiscient of my growing up years. We will be heading up to McCall tomorrow afternoon for a few days in the mountains with the Carpenter clan and we are looking forward to seeing everyone again.
Tomorrow is our first in-house meeting at the clinic. Up until this point we have been doing everything by phone. I must admit, I am relieved that we will be seeing these helpful and kind people face to face. I think both of us are at the point of actually feeling excited to get the treatment underway. Much of the reason we are even able to feel excited is this: We have reached our financial target for the treatment cost!!!!!! We can’t fully express how overwhelmed, thankful and humbled we are. Bryan and I are stunned at your generosity. Although there are unforeseen costs that may occur, the stress of the financial burden has been lifted. That fact combined with the amount of prayer coming our way has prepared our hearts, minds and hopefully bodies to begin the treatment once again. So thank you!!!
We have started taking antibiotics but tomorrow begins procedures and injection instructions. Bryan gives his sample, I have an ultrasound, we sign the rest of the papers and then… let it begin. Oh man, that is a scary/exciting thought. Our appointment is at 8:30am so if you are up, have read this by then please pray for the following:
Everything to go smoothly
Once again, thank you for your extreme generosity towards us both by prayer and financial support! I wish I could hold each of your faces in my hands, look you in the eyes and say thank you in person. Although I am pretty sure it would take me years to do that and I would cry my way through most of it.
Abba, thank You for bringing us to this point. Thank You for Your provision through Your children. We are humbled, astonished and overjoyed at the many miraculous ways in which You move on behalf of Your children. We once again lay this dream at Your feet, our lives are Yours. Walk with us tomorrow and in the coming weeks. Amen.
First off I would like to start with an explanation of this picture. World, meet my niece Ava! Ava is a caring, strong and fun little girl who adds so much brightness to our lives. We have 7 nieces and nephews in total + one on the way and we love them all!!! This photo is from Ava’s dance recital in Anchorage. The Chud girls were able to go into town on Saturday for a girlie day and we started it with the performance. We may be biased but we thought Ava was the best dancer, smiled the most and simply lit up the stage! Saturday was one of those ‘normal life’ moments I have come to treasure during this extended time in the states. Soon I will be back in Idaho and making some more normal life moments with my side of the family. Right now I am thankful for it all!
To update you on where we are at with our fertility journey. This past Thursday we received an email from the clinic in Boise granting us 25% off all procedures and treatments!!!!! This doesn’t include meds, labs/bloods or anesthesia but still means they will take off a significant chunk from half of the procedure cost. We are also delighted, overwhelmed and shocked to report that as of right now we have $13,300 committed and $9300 actually in the bank. Some of the money committed will be coming after the new year. We estimated with the clinic that the treatment would cost around $20,000. Now that we have been granted the discount the figure is closer to $17,500. We cannot believe so many of you have been willing to not only support us through your prayers but also through financial gifts! Thank you from the deep places in us for your outrageous generosity!! Words feel very inadequate to truly express how we feel. Thank you!
The next step is our phone consult tomorrow morning to set up our Plan of Care. As I have explained before this is when we will find out the timeline of treatment. We will be informed of when we will start our drugs, when Bryan will give his sample, when the eggs will be retrieved and when implantation will occur. The schedule is set up but much of it has to do with how my body responds to the drugs. The clinic has already sent us an example plan. It was kind of intense to read over. If I am honest I got a little emotional. Reading through the schedule stirs up something inside of me that feels like a mixture of hope/anxiety/excitement/concern/etc; an emotional cocktail of sorts. It reminds me of our first attempts at achieving pregnancy through ICSI. It reminds me of the shots, ultrasounds, check-ups, uncertainty and the overall feeling of having no physical privacy left. It reminds me that we are going through all of this again in hope that it will work and turn into genuine and legitimate excitement, not just the idea of being excited. It reminds me of the days that followed our two unsuccessful rounds of treatment and the grief and sorrow during those times. It reminds me of the kindness of the staff at the hospital in Belfast who were so kind when I had hyper-stimulation. So many memories.
At church today I had the pleasure of helping lead worship with my husband, two brother-in-laws and a few other musicians. For those of you who don’t know, my brother-in-law Nate is a talented songwriter. He introduced a new song of his this morning called ‘Magnificat’. He wrote the song after being inspired by reading Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:26-55. Nate asked me to read the passage of Scripture. As I read the passage I nearly lost it emotionally. Read the passage yourself and you will understand why. Verse 31 was where I lost it. This is what it says:
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
The word ‘conceive’ gets me these days. There are so many verses that say something about women conceiving, there wombs being opened and having children. I am in no way comparing myself to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, a worshipped religious figure to many. Yet I find comfort in knowing that Mary conceived her first child in an extraordinary, divine way. I am looking at our experience of treatment as an extraordinary, miraculous opportunity to conceive. I am thankful for modern technology that can hopefully help us achieve our dream of starting our family. Mary had the angel Gabriel, we have angels too in my opinion. They are Dr Slater, Kara, Diane, the rest of the staff at the clinic, our family and friends.
To conclude this post I end with Psalm 27:8, a friend recently encouraged me to read it, thanks Grace.
When You said,”Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Abba, through all of this, help Bryan and me to seek Your face. It is You we seek. We long to bring You glory and the honor that is due Your name. Take our lives and this journey of having a family and use all of it however You will, but give us You. Amen.
Recently the Chud side of our family had a photo-shoot. This has become a bit of a tradition for both sides of our families when we come back to the states since everyone gathers together in one place for a brief window of time. This picture is one of my favourites even though it is probably not the one we will have printed on canvas or framed. I love this picture because it is just normal life. Not a posed moment but one that plays out daily in our marriage. Bryan is the funniest person I know and can make me laugh so hard it hurts. I have been incredibly thankful over the years for this trait in him because he has kept me from crying by making me laugh. When I was growing up my Mom would ask me what I was looking for in my husband, I always said I wanted someone who could make me laugh. I got exactly what I prayed for and I am glad I stuck to my guns because life is more fun with Bryan!
In the process of moving forward with our fertility treatment, the normal life I mentioned earlier occurs. We get up, have coffee, spend time with our families, read, exercise, make dinners, play cards, etc. Most recently though my Dad underwent a very successful open-heart surgery. In no way do I think his operation is normal life but it helps keep things in perspective that there are very real issues, very big problems that surround us. We are not the only drama taking place on the stage of life. So I am thankful for the normal day to day stuff that keeps me present and not running 10 years down the road. This journey of starting treatment again can put you on a fast track down the future lane if you let it. Yet normal life seems to be what keeps my feet firmly planted in thanking God for my daily bread. He has given enough for today and I will thank Him for today. I ask Him to help me handle whatever happens today and I will do the same tomorrow. Today I am thankful for my Dad being so strong and courageous and braving his operation with optimism and determination. Now maybe he can get back to a bit of the normal life that he craves.
For those of you who want to know how things are progressing, this is where we are at: I am still taking birth control. We should be finding out this coming Wednesday if we qualify for the Discount Program the clinic offers which would knock a chunk off the cost of the procedures. We also hope to find out an exact date of when we have to pay for all the treatment as it has to be paid in full on our first day of treatment which has yet to be determined. We have a phone consultation on Monday 16th December to set up my Plan of Care (this will be my schedule of treatment, ie. stimulation drugs,collection dates, implantation dates-much of which will be determined as we go and how my body responds). Right now we also have it in the calendar for Bryan to give his sample on the 27th December that will be used once my eggs are ready to be collected later in January. So that is where we are at right now.
We have felt loved and supported by so many as we have started this cycle of treatment. We have a committed amount of around $5400 right now and have received about $3900. This amount has been made up by the generosity of many and we constantly feel overwhelmed when we pause to think of how many people have invested into us both prayerfully and financially. We won’t stop saying it, THANK YOU!!!
Since last Saturday I have been taking birth control pills again. The fertility doctor says this is to keep me in a holding pattern that allows them to better calculate my treatment and dates of when egg collection and embryo implantation will be. It seems slightly strange though to once again, after an 8 year gap, be taking birth control. A few years into this journey I remember chatting on the phone with my good friend Kelly. We were talking about the irony of taking birth control pills when it didn’t appear that I could get pregnant. She said ‘Just think of all the money you could have saved if you would have known that!’ At the time I remember saying it was too soon to be laughing about just yet, but now I can see the humour in it. So back to the pill I go!
Today is Thanksgiving and it is the first time I have celebrated this holiday in years. The festivities began last night with the whole Chud clan staying under one roof. We woke up this morning to warm cinnamon rolls (Grandma Mary’s recipe, passed on to each of us girls by Lynda and made by Carla). Right now my first attempt at a proper apple pie is in the oven and we are all running around trying to get ready to leave for our Thanksgiving dinner at the Fray’s. This year I am thankful to be with family for such an extended period of time. I am thankful that God hears each of my breath-prayers. I am thankful for good food. I am thankful for the snow that transforms Alaska into a winter wonderland. I am thankful that I still have a good chunk of time with the Carpenter clan to look forward too. But most of all I am thankful for each family member and friend who is partnering with us through both prayer and finances. We feel strong right now and it comes from each of your prayers. Right now we are at $3500, and we know that more is coming. Each time a person responds to our letter with encouraging words and the desire to partner with us I am overwhelmed by God’s larger body. So thank you. Thank you for being generous. Thank you for loving us. Just thank you.