Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Journey to Baby: JOY and PEACE

'Twas the first night of December, when all thro' the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
Gifts were placed neatly, but one wasn't there.
This gift exists, though it's still quite small;
But to our family, it is the most precious of all.

Inside one body, beats two hearts;
It will be a little while before they part.
We're trading our silent nights for a bundle of joy!
And are thankful to the Lord above for this baby girl or boy.
We can't wait to meet our sweet little one arriving in June,
The answer to many prayers, who we already love beyond the moon.


My heart could burst!  What a joy it is to announce our pregnancy.  A big, fulfilling, wholehearted joy.  To share with so many who have prayed for this very gift.  Who have lifted us up and encouraged us along on our journey.  It's truly humbling to sit where I sit today.  To see just how many readers my blog posts have reached.  To have a collection of letters and notes that have lifted us up in some of our darkest hours.  And now to be able to share this good news with each of you. There are moments when I just can't quite crying.  Happy tears.  He is good, y'all.  And He has blessed us tremendously with family and friends that have loved us so well through all of it.  Thank you for that.  You mean so very much to us.

To the girl reading this who has experienced the loss of a baby or is longing for one this very minute, my heart is with you.  Though no story is just alike, I know of the aching you feel.  Of the tears that fall.  Of the disappointment and anger and frustration and hurt.  Of the prayers you pray.  Of the hope you hang on to.  I like how Melanie Fisher worded it when she said, "We may not know the sleepless nights of the newborn stage or the messy days of the toddler years like so many of our friends right now, but we do know what it's like to love someone who is a part of each of us more than we ever thought possible.  And we do know the sometimes sleepless, sometimes messy ache of not being able to watch that child live and grow."

I've also read and reread this from Emily Ley time and time again: "The heartache of infertility is one I know all too well.  And the hope and the joy that's on the other side of it is indescribable.  I'm a big believer that God puts a baby shaped hole in our hearts with the full intention to fill that hole in one way or another.  I've seen it happen in so many different ways time and time again.  But waiting on His plan to unfold is hard.  Over the past five years, I've walked this road and held the hands of dear friends who've walked it also.  The most beautiful part is even though I walked it, I never walked it alone."

Yes, it hurts down deep to the core when your greatest desire and most fervent prayer seems so far away.  And the waiting is hard.  It's one of the hardest parts.  But sweet girl, God has a plan for you.  A BIG plan.  Seek Him first always.  Trust Him, even when you don't understand.  He is right there with you.  "The pain that you've been feeling can't compare to the joy that's coming!" (Romans 8:18)

I'm better off when I begin to remember
How You have met me in my deepest pain.
So give me glimpses now of how You have covered
All of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace.
Remind me now that you can make a way.
That Your love will never change,
That there's healing in your name,
That You can take broken things and make them beautiful.
You took my shame 
And You walked out of the grave,
So Your love can take broken things and make them beautiful
...
You say that you'll turn my weeping into dancing,
Remove my sadness and cover me with joy!
You say your scars are the evidence of healing
That You can make the broken beautiful. 
-Ellie Holcomb, The Broken Beautiful

The story of this baby began on Easter Sunday.  It marked the start of our in vitro journey.  Thirteen days later, on Saturday, April 18, after two full weeks of injections, ultrasounds, and bloodwork, the teeny tiny egg that formed this baby was retrieved from my body.  Five days after that, on April 24, I got a call from a nurse at RBA to let me know that this baby had grown into a beautiful five day old embryo (called a "blastocyst").  It was graded "A" based on appearance (tight cells) and after genetic testing showed no known chromosomal abnormalities.

Because we were doing IVF with a "freeze all" (to avoid hyperstimulation), it was June before we transferred our first embryo (also coming from this IVF cycle).  Sadly, that transfer resulted in a tubal pregnancy (talked about here).  We were in a season of grieving and waiting.  Our hearts were sadden by another loss (I preciously suffered a miscarriage at sixteen weeks early in 2014 and a chemical pregnancy later that year).  I was treated with methotrexate, a form of chemotherapy, two separate times for the ectopic pregnancy that meant we could not try to get pregnant again for at least three months.

With the first anniversary of our first baby's due date, the due date of our second baby, and what we had hoped would be a healthy pregnancy with baby three all falling during this time, we looked for a way to honor and remember our little loves in heaven and found it in the Lancaster Garden of Hope in Pennsylvania.  The garden was created as a place to remember precious lives lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, and early infant death with a memorial wall of plaques and those babies names.  The focal point of the garden features a beautiful life size sculpture of Jesus, sitting beside a mother as He cradles her baby safely in His arms.  We had a plaque made for our three and look forward to visiting the garden in a few months.

My prayer was a prayer for peace.  For a peace that would pass all understanding.  Peace for whatever would happen next on our journey.  For peace when we tried to get pregnant again.  For peace if we did get pregnant again.

I began to sense that peace all around me.  I felt a peace about moving forward.  I felt renewed.  Excited.  Hopeful.  Following a consultation with Dr. Slayden, I began prepping my body for pregnancy with a protocol that included Lupron injections, Estrace, Crinone, Baby Asprin, Doxycycline, Medrol, and Folate.

On October 8 we transfered our precious itty bitty one.  Much like our first transfer, I count it as one of the greatest days of my life.  It was magical when they displayed our embryo's photo on the television screen.  Happy tears!  Love at first sight!  Adornment!  The embryologist came in to talk with us and Dr. Robert Straub, who was on call this day, transferred the embryo to my uterus via a catheter, which we were able to watch on the ultrasound machine.  An incredible experience.



Sam began praying over my belly (one of my most favorite things ever!) and singing songs to our little one.  Peace continued in the days that followed.  We rested well and were well taken care of by family and friends that knew of our transfer.

On Monday, October 19, we went in for our beta hCG check.  Results came back with a good, strong number for which our doctor and nurses were very pleased and we were so grateful!  We toasted with 9 Months Love sparkling grape juice ;) and had dinner with some dear friends.


A more than doubling hCG level the next few blood draws were a good sign.  And we have since had three great ultrasounds with a quickly growing baby measuring right on track and a strong fetal heart rate!  Yesterday, Monday, November 30, we had our last appointment with Dr. Slayden and the sweet ladies who have taken such good care of us at RBA.  We "graduated" from our Reproductive Endocrinologist and have been released back to our OB/GYN.  It was a bittersweet afternoon saying "see you later" to the doctor, nurses, and staff we have come to love, but is also a super exciting step forward!

At 10 weeks, 3 days pregnant, God still surrounds me with His peace.  And I have been able to celebrate joyfully this pregnancy.  I'm human, and there have been moments, times occasionally, when I've allowed my wondering heart to stray with worry about things that have happened in the past happening again.  But those thoughts have NOT consumed me.  And through prayer, spending time being still in His presence, clinging to scripture, and encouraging words from family and friends, I've been able to focus on Him.  His peace.  And this sweet, sweet gift He has given us.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Your love and support have made us better.  You've prayed for, encouraged, lifted us up,  held our hands, cried along with us, and cheered us on.  For all of this and more, thank you.  From the bottom of our hearts.


"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."
Joy and Peace,
Sarah, Sam, and Baby Ball

Special thank you to Paige Knudsen for a fun photo shoot to celebrate our news!!
{Noteven A. Mouse stuffed animal: Beaufort Bonnet Company}
{fun confetti popper from our friends The Copelands}

6 comments:

Ashley Flo said...

Sarah, you and Sam are such a precious couple! What a blessing this baby is, and I am overcome with joy for you, Sam, and Baby Ball!! Your faith and spirit are an inspiration! I have prayed for you along your journey for peace, and will continue to pray for health during your pregnancy! I love you sweet Sarah, and there is no one on this earth that deserves this more than you! You and Sam are going to be AMAZING parents! Congratulations to ya'll!!!

Mary Hudgins Balicki said...

This is such awesome news, Sarah!!! Congratulations to your growing family!! Praying for you all. ❤️

paige said...

i am overjoyed for you sweet one & so tickled to be able to help share your story through capturing sweet images for you & that sweet sam!! merry merry christmas little mommy!!

Jennifer Stewart said...

Oh Sarah & Sam, we are so very happy for you! We will continue in prayer for both of you and this precious child. Merry Christmas, indeed!

Anne Young said...

Sarah and Sam, God's blessings abound!! As so many others, I am thrilled for you and thankful for your joy and peace. You both and Baby Ball will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Love you

Mary Elizabeth said...

Beautiful post!! Thanks for sharing your journey!

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