Encouragement In Life · Fertility Journey

There Is Beauty In the Weeds

Weeds grow rapidly, spread all over, pop up where unexpected, and choke out other plants – much like the struggles in our lives, right?

The struggles build on top of each other and grow quickly. You’re reminded often by the things around you, and hurt often.

The pain spreads into other areas of your life. You often let it affect your work, home, spiritual, and physical life. You take your hurt, anger, and frustration out on the important people in your life (spouse, parents, siblings, children, etc.) – even when you try not to. It spreads like weeds – fast, wide, and sporatic. You don’t always know when it’s going to affect you – where you’ll be, who you’ll be with, and what’s going on around you.

BUT through it all, there is beauty – if you allow it.

Beauty in the pain and suffering. Beauty in who you become when you come out on the other end. Beauty in the relationships built through it – the ones who love you, support you, and pray for you. I am thankful for our fertility struggle. “Wait, what did she just say?!” Yup, I just said that. I am thankful. I still struggle, I still have pain, and I still hope and dream of becoming pregnant, soon! BUT I am thankful the Lord is using our experience to help others through theres. I am thankful I have a better appreciation and understanding for others who go through infertility as well. I still have REALLY rough days, and events, words, etc. that trigger my emotions, but I am THANKFUL!

1 Thessalonians 5:18: Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT)

Philippians 4:6: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (NLT)

Psalm 106:1Praise the LordOh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (ESV)


Psalm 28:7: The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. (NLT)

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Check out those “weeds” above – they aren’t actually considered weeds, but they sure are invasive. Each year we pull as many as we can find, but somehow they come back in full force the next Spring. They reproduce and spread like crazy. All through our yard and garden (much like dandelions). This year, I chose to let them be with my tulips. They are beautiful – if only for a moment. I cherished them this Spring, and will appreciate them each year for the reminder they bring to me.

Fertility Journey

Ovulation?

Quick update:

Jake and I met with Dr. Sobel on Thursday at 3:30pm. Bloodwork was taken to see if I did end up ovulating or not. Received a call the next day – I did! So that’s great news. Doesn’t mean pregnancy, but means everything did what it should so far!

I am currently on a Progesterone Suppository.

He reviewed all of our testing with us. Jake’s counts look great! Really nothing showing for me in particular either. “Unexplained” at this point still.

Moving forward – praying for pregnancy this time around. I will not be posting immediately (regardless of pregnancy or not) when we find out. However, be in prayer through this waiting period. The “two-week wait” is so difficult. Thankful for the many distractions lately.

What’s next?: If not pregnant we will look in to another round of Letrozole ($1100) or the Pure FSH ($1550). The costs are like that since it is past the diagnostic stage – so insurance will not pay.

We are HOPEFUL for a miracle. Please pray with us and for us. Our “WHY” in business has become even more apparent – CHILDREN, and not allowing the financial burden of pursing what we feel the Lord is leading us to!

Thankful for our supportive friends, family, clients, and business friends! We value each and every one of you!

Fertility Journey

Finding Joy

We have hope – and we continue to find joy.

Sorry I did not update sooner, many of you have been asking about the appointment. This week has been a little crazy – with our youth Winter Retreat coming up, business meetings, my dad’s shoulder surgery and more fertility appointments.

I had a lot headaches/migraines, achey muscles and joints, light-headedness, and other symptoms with the Letrozole. Praying for a precious miracle so we can avoid further need for Letrozole or othermedications. There is an option for shots which are pure FSH – MUCH more natural, but more expensive. We may seek this route in the future if necessary.

Thursday, January 5th I had my appointment for the Saline HSG and Saline Sonogram. Everything went smoothly, until she needed to manually open my cervix to take a biopsy. Thankful Jake was there so I could squeeze his hand and not yell (too) loudly.
– Results: Lining looked great, tubes were clear/open, and they will be sending the biopsy out.

Jake had taken the day off for my appointment and an appointment he had later in the day. It was a blessing to spend the full day with him. He’s my rock! (“Moment of JOY”) Went out with the family for my early birthday celebration – Hibachi grill – great ending to the day!

Tuesday, January 10th I went in for a follow-up appointment by myself. They drew blood to see if I ovulated (she called later that day around 2:30pm to let me know that I did not ovulate on my own). Another ultrasound was performed: Dr. Sobel was VERY pleased with my lining (9mm), and extremely thrilled with how I responded to the Letrozole – “2 very beautiful follicles” – talk about an ego boost, haha! (“Moment of JOY”) The nurse gave me the Ovidrel that would force my body to ovulate – Letrozole drops your Estrogen in order to create great follicles, however, often times it cannot catch up quickly enough for ovulation.

Jake and I have another follow-up appointment on Thursday, January 19th at 3:30pm. Dr. Sobel would like to review all of our results these past few weeks, and establish a plan moving forward.

We treasure your prayers.

(Photo is of us in the waiting room on 1/5/17)

Fertility Journey

Fertility Appointment – Update

On Thursday, December 29th I had my most recent doctor appointment. Here is the update:

– Had blood drawn at appointment – they called later that day to let me know everything seemed great.

– Another ultrasound: so far everything looks great/normal. Normal amount of follicles and ovaries & lining looks good.

– Jake and I both went to Quest to have more bloodwork drawn. (Check out the photos for the comparison of our tubes.) I took note of how much the bloodwork itself would have cost, without insurance, for each of us.
Jake: $1356.99
Shelly: $2847.18
Jake: 11 tests (4 tubes)
Shelly: 22 tests (11 tubes)

– Started Letrozole on Friday, December 30th: This is very similar to Clomid, but less side effects. I have noticed a few, but have (thankfully) not noticed the severe moodiness like Clomid did to me in the past. I am taking 2 VERY tiny pills for 5 days (10 pills total) – tomorrow is my last day!

– My supplements from the Nutritionist provide almost every vitamin they specifically want me on, however, they require me to be on CoQ10 as well (Yay, Costco for the win on the price for a bottle!). 2 large softgels every day.

– Wednesday, January 4th: I will take my antibiotic – 2 in the morning and 2 in the evening. This is in preparation for the next step.

-NEXT STEP, Thursday, January 5th: Saline Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is scheduled for 9:45am. Thankfully, Jake has this day off of work so he is able to attend this with me. This is an updated and less-invasive version of the last one I had. It was extremely painful. They will be testing to see if my tubes are open. They are able to do this right in their office rather than having to travel to Paoli, PA like the last time. I will receive results immediately, and will be able to update soon after.

-NEXT STEP, same time as HSG, Saline Sonogram: This test is to evaluate the inside of my uterine cavity. They will take a small biopsy of the uterine lining during this procedure.

As we can, and as we feel comfortable, we will keep you updated.

Thank you for allowing me to use this as an outlet through this process. It is a blessing to be able to share our journey with you. Thank you for understanding that I have emotions that fluctuate – I choose to be honest with you about how we are feeling through the ups and the downs.

Fertility Journey

Walmart Run-in!

I don’t think my heart could be any fuller in moments like these:

I made a “Walmart run” today (Wednesday, Dec. 14th, 2016) – I felt the need to go there to buy gifts for my youth girls (Jake and I are youth leaders at Calvary Church). I was planning to go to Target, but I am so glad I was drawn here today.

When I got close to the checkout lines I was on the phone with one of my beautiful cousins (if she wouldn’t have called, I would have already checked out) when along came one of our best friend couples and their five sweet children! I cannot even begin to explain how much this family means to us! They are prayer warriors, encouragers, friends, supporters and genuine listeners. The excitement these children get when they see “Shake & Jelly” is so incredibly good for my soul. Today was a huge blessing to get hugs, hi’s, and kisses! Sweet little Lily reached out for me to hold her. Yup, I was quickly melted in to a puddle – a puddle of joy and love. Asher shared how excited he was to get a balloon pump for Christmas, Noah & Malachi sweetly smiled and chatted, and little Gracee slept in the car seat all snug. My heart grew a million times bigger in that moment.

The children in our lives – through family, friends, and patients – really have no idea how much the hugs, smiles, and excitement with seeing us really help in our healing process through this journey. If only they could truly know how much we love them!

We both would love the love of a child of our own, but for now – we’ll take glimpses of love from other little ones.

This journey is difficult, but God has placed very dear friends in our lives – and we are thankful!

* I attached a photo of one of my favorite ornaments. This was before the two little girls came along! *

Fertility Journey

Fertility Appointment – 12.8.16

We had our appointment with the Fertility Doctor today. Many of you reached out to us through texts and calls – we felt the love!

(Long post, I apologize in advance.)

Jake took a half-day from teaching today, and was able to be home by 11:40am – so we took advantage of the time together and went to my favorite restaurant for lunch – DJ’s A Taste of the 50’s! (They have Gluten Free buns!!!!)

We are very thankful for Dr. Sobel – thankful for his detailed explanations, genuine care, great bed-side manors, and making us feel comfortable (… and answering all of our questions – a few times if needed). He also understands that we want to stay as natural through this process as possible.

SUPPLEMENTS: I took all the supplements in to let him see everything I am currently on. He was pleased with Dr. Sheehan‘s recommendations, and was proud of me for seeking a natural way of health with Nutrition and Chiropractic (thanks Dr. Tai Scelfo!).

We had about a 30-minute consultation with him – updating current information and recapping past tests/findings. The last time we were in their office was February of 2014 – close to 3 years ago. Since it has been so long, he is wanted to run a few more tests again:
– Bloodwork/urine sample for both of us. Jake will be able to do his at any time, while I have to wait until a certain point in my next cycle (too far in to this one). Specifically checking the level of my eggs (Ovarian Reserve), the quality of my eggs, Thyroid levels, as well as my Vitamin D levels.
– Jake will be having another semen analysis, just to be sure everything is functioning correctly.
– HSG again (yippeee!) between days 5-12 of my next cycle. This is a much easier process then the last time (extremely painful for me), and will be able to be done in their office rather than having to go all the way to Paoli, PA. This procedure is done to confirm whether the Fallopian Tubes are unblocked or blocked.
– Shelly will also have a Saline Sonogram done. This procedure is to check the uterine walls.
– He will be trying me on a less invasive drug (I did not previously do well on Chlomid). Our plan is to not take this for any longer than absolutely needed. They do need to use this for the testing portion within my next cycle in combination with ultrasounds.

We have chosen not to have any genetic testing done on either of us. Something neither of us feels is necessary, and does not effect whether or not we conceive.

What was done today: ULTRASOUND
– I previously had a slightly heart-shaped uterus, which could cause a miscarriage if we ever conceived. He removed the septum that causes this a few years back during a Hysteroscopy done in Paoli. Dr. Sobel said it looked great today! PRAISE!
– 7 Follicles (“egg banks”) on left ovary and 7 on right ovary.
– Different cyst than the last ultrasound he did a few years back, which is a good sign. It means the other one went away, and this one does appear to be a Ovulatory Cyst – you need these to conceive!
– Overall, he was pleased with the ultrasound.

* * * * * *

Some of you have asked about costs:
– Most of what was mentioned above will be covered by insurance after our deductible is met – because this is all diagnostic. PRAISE!
– After the diagnostic tests there will be other expenses. This is why we are looking in to applying for those grants to help us along the way. Our DREAM is to give back to these organizations in the future to help others.
– If we have to do another round of that medication and ultrasounds it will be: $1000 for each round.
– IUI: $380 each time.
– IVF (In-Vitro): Did not get exact numbers at this point, praying we do not need to seek this route. (Especially with all the drugs involved.)

*He did mention that the fact that we have not conceived over a 5-year period it may be that IVF is in the future for us, but he is hopeful we will not need it. However, prepare ourselves emotionally for that.

Thankful for some clarity of what to do next.

Continuing my regular care with Chiropractic & Nutrition. We are still hoping to add Acupuncture (high success rates with infertility) to our wellness plan soon!

Fertility Journey

November 21, 2016

For a year or so, we decided to take a break from continuing the medical side of the infertility journey. Throughout this time we have been going to the Chiropractor for wellness care. We have also been seeing a Nutritionist regularly and are on supplements specific to each of our body’s needs. We have noticed improvement in our overall health, but no baby yet. We would love to begin Acupuncture in the near future – high success rate with infertility.

Within the past few months/weeks, we decided to continue with seeing our Infertility Doctor. I have an appointment scheduled for Thursday, December 8, 2016. Please pray for guidance in the next steps. Jake and I are trying to go the most natural route possible – my body does not do well on medications. We’re praying our Infertility Doctor will allow us to skip the injections step (which would typically be next), and move forward. Jake has requested a half-day personal day from school so we can go together.

I ran in to a woman on Saturday who shared about “Baby Quest” – a charity to help with the expenses of the infertility journey (AI, IUI, and Adoption). I have been researching online for grants the past few days – and cannot wait to give to these charities too!

Please pray:
– wisdom & guidance with decisions
– peace & understanding
– continued patience through all of this
– healing & comfort

Thank you in advance for all of your love, support, and prayers!