Wow, it has been a long time since I have posted anything on here! We have had a lot going on, however.
Scott and I welcomed Ruth Abigail Bowden into this world on June 25. This is something that we have prayed for and tried for for 5 years. We made the decision early on in our journey through trying to conceive that we would share our problems with very few people. In some ways, we were protecting ourselves and in some ways we were protecting others from the pain of it. It was one wild and sometimes terrifying ride for sure. Just because we have one baby does not mean that this journey is over. We never know what will happen when we try for our next. But, for now we will praise God and be thankful for this little life that He has put us in charge of raising. I'd like to take the time here to share our journey from the beginning. This promises to be a long post, and probably difficult for me to write. I have actually been thinking about what to write since we found out we were expecting and had a draft out here for about 4 months.
God has been working in our hearts for a long time when it comes to children. When Scott and I got married, we both agreed that we wanted two children, no more no less. We didn't really think of children as a joy and a blessing, but just something you did as a married couple. We knew that some people enjoyed their children and some people did not, but most people around us complained about their kids, sent them off to daycare as much as possible, and talked about how coming back to work on Monday was a nice break from the kids. At church, all the kids were sent to the nursery or to children's church. Then, God worked in our lives by breaking our hearts, really. We left our church, along with quite a few other members due to some disagreements on Biblical truths. We visited other churches and had meetings with the other former church members who had left our church and soon we realized we needed to plant our own church. It was a very tough road but we all did what we could and God blessed us. Our new church was family integrated. I didn't realize at first that this was by design. I thought it was because we didn't have the space to send all the kids off to the nursery. Families in our church started growing and multiplying. We enjoyed being around their children. We began to see the blessing and joy that God intended for children to be. We both agreed that when we were ready to begin growing our family, we would see how many children God wanted us to have.
In December of 2007, Scott and I decided to begin trying to have children. Every month we felt excitement and then disappointment that nothing would happen. Then, I started researching fertility and trying to understand how things worked better. After much testing, research, and praying about God's will in all of this, we saw 2 different reproductive endocrinologists (RE), had several IUIs, one round of IVF, all interspersed with seeing a nutritionist/naturopath and 2 acupuncturists, losing 30 lbs, and trying a gluten free/dairy free diet for 1.5 years. We found out that I have an auto immune issue called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which means that my body's immune system is attacking my thyroid. Thankfully, we caught it before it could cause me to be hypothyroid. We learned that being on a gluten free/dairy free diet does not help this for me. In 2011, we went on a cruise in the summer and when we got back, we realized that I was pregnant, but miscarrying. Then, in 2012, our RE suggested immune testing (which is something I had asked him about more than a year previously and he said there wasn't enough proof that looking at that helped anything). He suggested we have a phone consultation with an RE in Chicago that specializes in immunology. She looked at our records and suggested a few more tests and came back saying that I have an auto immune issue called Natural Killer Cells. The type I have can be treated before, during, and after an IVF cycle with an IV treatment called intralipids. This is much cheaper than the alternative, IVIG. We got these results in September, I believe.
On Oct 3, 2012, I was working from home and I used a break to call my RE and schedule an appointment to have our initial consult to begin our second round of IVF. The consult was scheduled for the following Tuesday (this was a Wednesday). When I got off the phone, I knew that they were going to ask me the first day of my last menstrual cycle. I knew it was the Wed. before Labor Day, or was it the Wed after? I texted Scott to verify. I counted days. I counted two...three times. Hmmm...this didn't make any sense. It had been 36 days. I may not have been ovulating for the past 5 years, but I had never had a cycle longer than 33 days or shorter than 28 days, ever; even the month I was actually pregnant. My heart did some weird things. My stomach flipped over. I remained calm. I did not mention this to anyone, even Scott. The very last thing I wanted to do was suffer another miscarriage. But, I'd hate to be pregnant and NOT know it and NOT do everything in my power to keep the baby alive. The next morning I did the thing I dreaded most - I took a home pregnancy test. It was one of the ones you buy that was pretty expensive. It was positive. I checked the expiration date. Yep, it was still good. I went into the bedroom and rifled around in a drawer for one of the freebies that always came with my cheapo ovulation test strips (I always laughed about getting these - like I'd need them! Ha!). It was positive. I stood there in my bathroom holding my little cup of pee wondering what I should do next. So, I woke Scott up. He was annoyed "WHAT?!" I must say that earlier that week I had woken him up to tell him that there was water leaking into our closet (we never did find that leak, come to think of it) and it was not unusual for me to wake him up to come kill a bug for me. I laughed inwardly without breaking a smile outwardly. I asked him to come look at something for me. (He sighed loudly, more inward laughing). I picked up both tests and showed him and explained why I'd taken them. We both stood in the bathroom staring at them then at each other. We knew that either way, this would change us forever - whether we were about to have another miscarriage or have a baby. We agreed to call the RE. I called and left a message with his nurse on the way to work. She called me as soon as he got in and told me to get there that day, that morning. Scott and I both went, smiling, but nervous. I think we both had a kind of glassy-eyed shocked expression. We talked about normal stuff in the waiting area. We sat down in the RE's office and stared at him. We hung on every breath he took before he started talking. "Congratulations!" What? How could he say that yet? They didn't have any blood work or anything yet. He ordered blood work, and he started writing prescriptions. Scott had his iPad and was typing notes furiously. I sat there and stared, my mouth hanging open. He wrote me prescriptions for steroids, antibiotics, progesterone, baby aspirin, and the IV infusion of intralipids. Depending on the bloodwork (which he ordered for Scott and me both), I might have to do the intralipids once or once every two weeks. Thankfully, the blood work came back showing that I only had to do it once. What the intralipids does is coat all the cells in my body to look the same so that my body did not try to attack and kill the "foreign" matter that was our baby. We were optimistic and skeptical all at the same time.
Based on the bloodwork levels for HCG (the pregnancy hormone), my nurse estimated that my due date could not be calculated by counting the days since my last menstrual cycle. She suspected I had ovulated late. There was no doubt. Based on the fact that Scott had a stomach virus that month and I was working tons of long days for budget, I would have guessed no less than one week late. If we had gone based on counting days, our due date would have been June 8. Based on our ultrasound findings (early ultrasounds are very accurate for dating babies), our due date was June 15! As is turns out, we found out about our pregnancy early because I ovulated late! I think I was maybe 4 weeks when we found out...which is in reality 2 weeks after the conception date. What a miracle!
God orchestrated our pregnancy in a way that only He could take credit. Scott and I always knew that if we got pregnant, no matter how we got pregnant, it would be His doing. However, this way, no one could argue that. Our daughter's entire story is a testimony to God's plan.
3 months ago