Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Waiting Game (Surrogacy Day 2)

The question on everyone's mind today is NOW WHAT?

I continue to be on modified bed rest today and then get to resume normal activities tomorrow, although I still plan to take it as easy as possible!  I'm feeling good today, been able to get lots of rest, slept well last night, and so optimistic that these babies are making themselves at home with me!

I found this chart to find out what is going on with these precious little babies these next few days!


On July 7th (Day 13) at 8:30am, I go back to Dr. Milroy's office for a blood pregnancy test.   If (WHEN!) we get a positive result, I'll have to go back a couple more times so they can monitor the hCG levels and make sure they are increasing as appropriate.  When they deem that everything is progressing normally, they will transfer me to the care of my normal OBGYN, Dr. Wright!  

My understanding is that they may be able to *GUESS* if we're pregnant with 1 or 2 babies by the hCG levels, BUT we won't know for sure until we get our first ultrasound around 7 or 8 weeks!

So a whole lot of patience will be required these next few days.  Pray that Natalie and I can stay somewhat distracted and calm (and keep us from driving Eli & Adam crazy too!)!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Transfer Day!

Today was the big day!  Here's a little video I took of the kids this morning before we all left:

Big thanks to the Popes for taking care of them today!  They had the best 4 girls watching them, making marshmallow shooters, swimming in the pool... So thankful to all our friends & family for your support and love and prayers!  We have all been so absolutely blessed by your texts, Facebook messages, likes, comments, etc.  Amazing!

Anyway, today went very well.  The whole procedure was relatively simple and incredible to be part of.

When I got there, they had me go ahead and take my valium and put on my hospital gown, then Natalie scrubbed up to go back with me.   Meanwhile, Adam & Eli got to hang out in the waiting room together, and apparently even had time to slip out to QuikTrip for energy drinks!  ;-)

In the operating room, they had an ultrasound screen on so we could watch the catheter work it's way to my uterus.  The worst part of this was that my bladder was so full and the nurse had to press so much on it to see where they were going. Whew!  Anyway, after a few minutes, Dr. Milory had the catheter where she wanted it and pointed out where my uterus was on the screen to Natalie and me and commented that the lining looked nice and inviting (yay!).  Then the embryo specialist came in, and put in "Natalie Johnson's twins" as he called them!  He then walked out to confirm that the tube was empty, gave us the clear, and we were done!  I had to remain lying down for a few more minutes and then they wheeled me out in a wheelchair.  Eli drove the car around to pick me up, and then we all got to go to lunch.

For the next 2 days, I'm to be on modified bed rest - no aerobic exercise or lifting over 10 lbs as they put it - but can sit (blog, facebook, haha) and walk a little.

I took this photo of Eli and me as he was driving me home this afternoon, and I wanted to take this time to tell you all how amazing this man is!  He has been so supportive of this crazy surrogacy thing, so willing to follow God wherever He takes us, and has sacrificed no small amount putting up with me on hormones and steroids I'm sure!  And even now, while I'm on bed rest and can't lift either kid, he's joyfully and wonderfully taking care of Micah, McKenzie, and me!!!  I am so thankful for you and love you so much, Eli Casey!


Tomorrow at 11:30am, I have marching orders to arrive at Dr. Milroy's office with a full bladder and  my 1 valium pill in hand!  It's go time!  :-)  Tomorrow I officially become a "surrogate mother."

Natalie says it best here in this wonderful video - God knows what's going to happen and no matter what, I think he's teaching us all so much through this crazy adventure of what can happen when you say YES to God!

Please be praying for us, and the doctors, and those 2 precious embryos that are hopefully going to take up residence with me for the next 9 months!  :-)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Collaborating in the Miraculous (A Surrogacy Update)

Had a good ultrasound and blood work today! Estrogen levels are good and my uterus is nice and thick... getting ready for a baby or 2 in there!  LOL!

On June 19th, I get to add several pills to my regiment...  Right now, I'm just taking estrogen pills and patches.   On the 19th, I will add progesterone plus antibiotics and steroids to get my body ready!

 The big day is still June 24th!  It'll probably be around noon, but I'll post more details when we find out so
our prayer warriors can get busy!  :-)  The whole procedure is like 15 minutes, but I do have to remain lying down for an hour afterwards.  But still, in-and-out in 90 minutes!  Amazing world we live in!

We are transferring 2 blastocysts (5-day old embryos), and I learned something new today!  They have totally separate due-date calculators for IVF-conceptions!  So of course, I had to plug in June 24, 2014 just to see... praying all goes well, we'll all get to meet Adam & Natalie's precious baby(babies) around March 12, 2015!  Whew!  Here we go... it's getting more and more real every day!  :-)

I am so excited to be on the miraculous journey.  I'm so believing in God to do something beautiful here. I'm thankful for what he's already doing in my heart and teaching me in this big journey of faith and friendship.  I stole this beautiful graphic and quote from one of my favorite authors and bloggers, Ann Voskamp:  "Only those who believe in the beautiful can collaborate in the miraculous."  Read her blog here!

You can read more about all this on my post "The Back Story!"

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Book Review: "Notes from a Blue Bike"

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic WorldNotes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been a long time since I had a book that I found so inspiring! Seriously, I related to so much of what Tsh says here and kept thinking "yes, I want this life too!"

It is such a chaotic, busy life that we live in and it's almost impossible to NOT be going in a million directions at once. Her family's choices and goals to slow down and live simpler are so in line with what I would love to be able to do.

They have prioritized travel, books, and time together over expensive material things. She talks about her time living all over the world and encourages her readers to make sure their families get out of the US at least once. She's also very realistic about the finances (and financial sacrifices) a goal like that takes and references how they turned their life around with Dave Ramsey's advice.

She also talks a lot about shopping at the local farmer's market while living in Turkey and how she wanted to continue that fresh approach after moving back to the states. It's a lot harder, but can be done. She definitely sparked my interest in more local farmer's markets, the slow food movement, etc.

I so appreciated her style (honest, autobiographical) and could relate to her life...

"I cannot remember one day in five years when my to do list was completely finished. Not one." (For me, it might be closer to 4 years - Micah's age - but yeah!)

And here's one of my favorites - perfect justification for my obsession with children's books and the library...

"According to the US National Commission on Reading, the most significant factor in a child's educational success is an introduction to books."

Tsh asserts that the most important things we can give our kids are "books, open-ended toys, and access to the outdoors." Open-ended toys = LEGOS, art supplies, train tracks, cars, etc.

She shares many valuable lessons that her family has learned and what has worked and not worked for them (home schooling vs. public schooling, for example), and I just highly recommend this for any family that wants to really start simplifying and re-prioritizing life.

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Review: "A Woman After God's Own Heart"

A Woman After God's Own HeartA Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great book on sorting through our priorities as Christian women.

#1 God
#2 Husband
#3 Kids
#4 Home
#5 My Spiritual Growth
#6 My Ministry Activities
#7 Other Activities

The only thing I found a little disheartening about the book is that it definitely assumes stay-at-home mom. I'm sort of a hybrid work-at-home, work-outside-the-home mom in my life and career, so I did find some parts a little hard to reconcile. But, to be fair, she does address this in the updated version and comments that when she wrote it less than half of Christian mothers worked outside the home, and now over 70% do. My biggest failure in this area (I feel) is taking care of the home. I don't have fresh-cut flowers, perfectly clean rooms, or a home-cooked meal every night, though I would love to, it's probably just not too realistic this stage of our lives. Plus, Eli's not coming home for dinner every night (he's coming home for breakfast after 24-hour shifts!).

That being said, the basics are so timeless! Time with God helps us grow and impact others exponentially.

One of my personal favorite takeaways from this book is Elizabeth's advise to create "Five Fat Files" - to pick 5 areas that I want to grow in and fill it with articles, notes, etc. to help me learn that topic with the goal of becoming an EXPERT. Examples she gave include hospitality, health, child-raising, home-making, Bible-study methods, attributes of God, fruits of the Spirit, biblical counseling, teaching, heroes of the faith, parenting, organization, holiness, etc.

I think I am going to modernize the concept with either Pinterest boards or an Evernote notebook for my "Five Fat Files."

1. Raising Kids to Love Jesus
2. Intimacy in Marriage
3. Christian Leadership in the Workplace
4. Slow Food ( also inspired by another awesome book I'm reading - Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World - more on that later!
5. Time Management!

This is a read, but my favorite Elizbeth George book (so far) is still Life Management for Busy Women: Living Out God's Plan with Passion & Purpose!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Surrogacy Reads

OK, if you know me, you know I like to read... a lot... so of course, I've been reading up on surrogacy...

There are a lot of sites and forums out there on the world wide web that I've spent some time on.

And oddly enough, I was looking at a friend's Facebook wall, and noticed that one of her friends commented about having strange cravings being pregnant with a baby that wasn't hers genetically, so that peaked my interest, and I've been corresponding with her and following her blog too... "Their Pea in my Pod."

In books, I've read "Embryo Culture" by Beth Kohl and found it informative, but my favorite has probably been "Delivering Hope" by Pamela MacPhee.  The author of this one recounts her story being a surrogate mom for her cousin and his wife.  So it was nice to read a story from the surrogate mom's point of view, and helped me know what to expect... psychically, emotionally, etc.  "Everything Conceivable" is still on my to-read shelf.

Maybe one day this crazy journey of ours will be a book too!  For now, I'll just keep blogging away!  ;-)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Good Morning Girls - You Are Loved

I've shared with you here before how much I love the Good Morning Girls and their awesome Bible study ministry, I've done everything they offered over the last 9 months or so, but when they announced their summer study was a book study (albeit an awesome one written by 2 very awesome women, Angela Perritt & Sally Clarkson), I wasn't sure I'd be in.  Then, last Monday, I got my GMG email and I noticed they were still using scripture along with the book, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I thought a study on "You Are Loved" would be too basic for me to get anything out of.  This is so foolish I know.  Did I really think God couldn't speak to me through His Word and 2 very godly female authors?  But honestly, I was thinking to myself "I get that God loves me, I'm good on this."  Then, I started reading these first verses...


Check out Zephaniah 3:17 for yourself, but here it is:

The Lord your God is in your midst, 
a mighty one who will save; 
he will rejoice over you with gladness; 
 he will quiet you by his love; 
he will exult over you with loud singing.

All last week's verses were awesome, but this one really spoke to me. God rejoices over me and exults over me with singing? Singing? God? It's too amazing to take in really. And oh, how I need him to quiet me at times. I'm thanking God for this "simple" Bible study that I thought I would get nothing out of! Feel free to join along too, and let me know if you're doing it! (It's also available as a plan on the Bible app!).

Hormone Time!

My Regiment
Thursday morning at 8:30am, I went in for some blood work and an ultrasound to make sure I am where I should be to begin the hormones.  After a good report (thin uterine lining and low estrogen = good I guess), I got the green light to begin taking estrogen pills and wearing estrogen patches.

This is actually my 2nd attempt at this because I mixed up 2 of the hormones back in May.  I was very distraught at the time (just ask the poor nurse who I was crying to on the phone last month!), but this round is already going smoother, so I know it's all for the best that we were delayed a month.

For the curious, all of these special IVF/Surrogacy medications come via a mail-order pharmacy (Walgreens).  Natalie and I both got all our prescriptions delivered to our door.  I guess our local Spring Hill pharmacy doesn't carry all this stuff!  LOL!

Now, the goal is to get my body ready for the big embryo transfer day on June 24th!!!  After June 24th, I have to take it easy for 2 days, and then my understanding is that after 12 days, I will go back for a test to confirm pregnancy!  I already know those are going to be the LOOOONGEST 12 days ever for me, but also for Adam & Natalie and probably Eli too!

I will go back in on June 16th for more blood work and another ultrasound to see how everything is progressing.  After that, I will start adding additional hormones to my regiment.

So far, I'm feeling just fine.  I've had some headaches, but I'm attributing that to being a little worn out from a big fun weekend we just had in Iowa to see some friends (Eli's work partner & her now husband) get married!  Our kiddos partied hard and we had a pool in our hotel so we went swimming at least 4 times in 2 days!
Micah, McKenzie and Me on a Covered Bridge in Madison County, Iowa