Sunday, October 6, 2013

Waiting Patiently Upon the Lord and Trusting Him

We are thrilled to share here that this is my "baby bump" as of a few weeks ago.  I am currently in the second trimester of a healthy pregnancy.  WHAHOO!!!

I want to share the process we have gone through to be to this point.  My hope is this will be read by those with whom it resonates---That it will bring hope to those who feel their answer is to keep trying and to continue to wait patiently upon the Lord.

More than anything, I hope that those who read this can trust.  

If the answer is that it's still time to act, then trust that He is preparing the path before you...even if it appears that there is no path before you right now.  My experience has taught me that He will prepare a way when there is none.  Trust Him.

That if the answer is that it's time to be still whether that be a "no" or a "not yet," that you can trust that all is well.  That He has a plan and will use you to build up His kingdom where He needs you the most.  Trust Him.

We were blessed with 2 beautiful babies, followed by a miscarriage, and then our third son, our miracle baby.  We have been trying for an other little one for 2 1/2 years and have lost 3 more pregnancies in that time. I shared our most recent loss from February of this year in the previous post below.

After taking time to begin to recover physically and continuing to heal emotionally, I was ready to at least ask God if we were done having little ones.  I had it confirmed that we would try again.  As we prayed as a couple, we knew strongly that to be the case, but didn't know details yet.  We both also felt strongly that there would be more information and changes to be made to be able to have a healthy pregnancy.  I am young.  Believe it or not, I am still in my 20's...LATE...but 20's nonetheless.:)  We recognized that although it wouldn't have been what we would have chosen, even waiting 5 years or 10 years, I would still be in my childbearing years.

So we kept this in our hearts and we waited.

At times we heard outside voices that vocally expressed opposition to us trying again.  The thought of being done because we have given it our "best shot" has felt unsettling and confusing.  Taking steps to make change, then in the Lord's time trying again has brought peace.

 After a few months of this continued reassurance, Mark gave me a blessing.  He talked about how the desires of my heart are what Heavenly Father would have me pursue.  The path is not an impossible path.  I must be patient, but He would prepare the way.

In June, we read an article that was published in the Aug 1979 Ensign entitled "I Have a Question."  
by Dr. Homer Ellsworth.  I strongly recommend reading the entire article.  It is very balanced.  It gave us the reassurance to step forward with courage.  One paragraph in particular was an answer to what we had been feeling:
"I recall a President of the Church, now deceased, who visited his daughter in the hospital following a miscarriage.  She was the mother of eight children and was in her early forties.  She asked, 'Father, may I quit now?'  His response was, 'Don't ask me.  That decision is between you, your husband, and your Father in HeavenIf you two can face him with a good conscience and can say you have done the best you could, that you have really tried, then you may quite.  But, that is between you and Him.  I have enough problems of my own to talk over with him when we meet!'  So it is clear to me that the decisions regarding our children, when to have them, the number, and all related matters and questions can only be made after real discussion between the marriage partners and after prayer."

We knew we were not yet to a point that we could look Him straight in the eye and say we exhausted all of our resources, especially with the answer that had been confirmed several times that we needed to try again.  This was our answer.  I love that in the article the Dr. never says whether or not the mom tried again.  I truly believe his conclusion that [these] "matters and questions can only be made after real discussion between the marriage partners and after prayer," would therefore be unique to each couple.  We know families are central to Heavenly Father's plan and rather than seeking to excuse ourselves, we (as a couple) needed to figure out how to include ourselves in bearing & rearing more little ones.

Photo Source Here

Reading this article together called us to action.  We began to pray to be lead to find the answers we needed.

Our OB had offered for us to consult with a Reproductive Endocrinologist about a month after we lost the twins.  I had initially set the appointment, but once I was going through the tedious process to fill out history information for the office and spending time on their website, it just didn't feel like the right fit.  I am sure their office is able to help many women, it just didn't feel to be the place we would find our help.  I cancelled the appointment and began seeking for the right direction.

I began to look more closely at the miscarriage history.  All of my babies either stopped growing or I lost them at week 6.  As I began thinking about what was happening at that time, baby is beginning to rely on the placenta.  I found that interesting in considering the prenatal history with the miscarriages.  If either the placentas were not attaching properly or blood clots were inhibiting blood flow, then the miscarriages and pregnancies could all be related. I had not considered that before.

I had an interview with a potential doula client.  Within a week after the interview, out of the blue I felt very strongly to get more information about her health care provider.  He specializes in high-risk pregnancy.  She has struggled with infertility and I felt an urgency to find out if her current OB helped her with that or referred her to another office.  I called her back and she said he helped her with it.  It felt right to call their office and meet with him.

He was kind and knowledgeable.  He recommend aspirin, heparin (blood thinners), Progesterone, and high Folic Acid after discussing the placenta pulling away during my boys' pregnancies and the miscarriages.

Having a more holistic approach and realizing that there are usually alternatives to a medical intervention, I posed my history on an International Herb Group.  Most people said things like "she's already 'overpopulated' the earth with 3 kids," :) or "she should just call it quits."  There were a few who replied and I was intrigued that not a single one came back with an herb recommendation or any other holistic approach.  Every single one came back with heparin and aspirin.  Two sited a genetic mutation called MTHFR.

I was intrigued as I researched about it.  We knew blood clots had caused the placentas to pull away, but we didn't know what caused the blood clots.  During my last baby's pregnancy, I had 10 vials of blood drawn and it was tested for "clotting disorders."  Everything came back negative, which is such a relief, yet at the same time left it up in the air.  From a medical standpoint I had exhausted all of my resources to finding a reason for the abruptions of the placentas.  My intuition knew that wasn't the case.  That the thought of "that must just be how my pregnancies go" did not feel true.

Through Hypnobabies, I found the Brewer Diet, and specifically how low protein can cause blood clots, leading to placental abruption.  That resonated truth!  We took about 6 months to revamp our family's diet and even hired a dietitian to help in the process.  I had kept to the Brewer Diet faithfully with the past three pregnancies we have lost.  When we lost the twins, I knew there had to be something more.

I felt confirmed that this was the case and MTHFR was very possible.  I gathered my information and made an appointment with my OB.  One thing I really love about him is that he is not intimidated by a Mom who takes charge of her health care.  He has always been easy to approach and I love that we can talk openly and back and forth until we come to conclusions that we are both in agreement with and both on the same page.  I told him I was there to consult with him about the possibility of the pregnancies and the miscarriages actually being related.  I wanted to know what he knew about MTHFR and if he felt heparin would be too aggressive in a future pregnancy.

HIS FACE LIT UP!  He told me he had been doing a residency with an OB who specialized in genetics at the time  MTHFR was discovered.  He has kept up to date with the research as it has emerged and changed since that time.  We had discussed testing with our insurance prior to the appointment.  Although a simple blood test, it falls under genetic testing.  It would therefore be an out-of-pocket lab for several hundred dollars.  My OB has seen a lot of false positives.  There are two versions of MTHFR: a "bad" one and a "worse" one.  Women can have one version and be completely asymptomatic.  The versions can also be mixed-and-matched where we inherit two sets of DNA, one from each parent.  He felt that it would not be worth testing for where treatment would not change regardless of a positive or a negative with the history of pregnancies and miscarriages.  Another thing I love about my OB is that he is conservative (but he has also made sure to jump in and take timely action at needed times as well).  He said that heparin seemed too aggressive.  Where I have carried 3 babies to full term, he would be surprised if I had the "worse" strain.

He felt that a daily baby aspirin would be the best choice.  Also in my research I found those with MTHFR are unable to break down an amino acid (see...could be indirectly related to inadequate protein, eh?).  This leads to a build up that blocks the body from being able to absorb folic acid.  We discussed my increasing the intake of folic acid, upping the amount available in the bloodstream, in hopes leading to adequate levels being absorbed.  I also felt very strongly to bring up Progesterone.  We had not tested my hormone levels at all.  He talked about the double-blinded studies coming back with no changes as far as fetal outcomes to those who added Progesterone vs those who didn't.  He gave his "blessing" to do Progesterone if I chose.

Although a brief consult, it was very productive. :)  At this point, I felt to ask his opinion on the only remaining question: was there any reason to delay pregnancy?  He said no and gave the green light to go ahead when we were ready.  He would be there to support us.

As we discussed the research and opinions of the OB, and prayed as couple, we felt confirmed that this was the course to take.  We had been blessed with answers in such a short time.  They came so quickly that we needed to run to keep up!  Now it was time to act.

Another tender mercy, I had tried to get in with a nature path several month previous.  They usually book about 3 months out.  I was put on a call list and received a call the week of ovulation that they had a cancellation for the following day.  I was able to have a wonderful appointment.  We discovered my Progesterone actually was low and I've been taking drops ever since.  My body called for help with digestion in general, as well as protein specifically.  I have been taking digestive enzymes to help with that, as well as one that helps with blood clotting.  Interesting to have seen the same findings.

Photo Source Here

Now on a side note of being holistic. I took the Soul Mate Practitioner's course from the founder of Thetahealing this summer.  In the training she said something that really resonated with me.  She talked about how although we believe in alternative medicine, we also believe in doctors.  She said she goes to the Dr.  It has been amazing what I have been able to do for myself and my family in the past few years with a holistic approach.  Even just focusing on prevention alone has changed our healthcare.  It has been a blessing to be able to dig and figure out what the body is calling for by sending "messages" of being off balance with illness or ailments.  I have been aware, without completely realizing about MTHFR that my body has had issues with digesting and breaking down proteins.  I am actually pretty sure I may have even cleared the MTHFR after we lost the twins.  I know, I know...another post for another day.  So why are we choosing this course if we have the tools at our fingertips?  Because it feels right!  Just as I would ask a client to seek medical care for illness or cancer, etc. we are covering our bases and feel balanced in the decision to do all we can in our power and act conservatively for our little one.

So, basically you can probably guess how the story ends.  :)  We have been blessed with fertility and have literally been able to "pick our month" with all 8 of our pregnancies.  We conceived easily and knew within a few days that I was carrying a little one.

I cannot tell you the tears of joy and the dancing upon the positive pregnancy test!  The pride and enthusiasm of the kids!  Our humble gratitude as a couple.  And oh the thrill to see our little one on ultrasound! WITH A HEARTBEAT for the first time in years.  My daughter was able to come to the appointment with me and hear little eyes welled up with tears and she excitedly said, "I AM SO HAPPY!"

Everything looked fantastic on ultrasound.  We came on the early side and our OB offered another ultrasound in 2 weeks solely for emotional reassurance.  Although my views of ultrasound have changed from the past, I needed that reassurance to be able to see my baby once again and have my eyes and mind confirm what my heart already knew: that all is well.  This time my oldest son was able to be there and proudly held the strip of pictures of "his" baby, grinning ear to ear.

Now being in the second trimester and even feeling the baby move, we feel confident that this pregnancy is going to be normal and low risk and healthy.

As I look back at the journey of the past few years, it really feels like I just blinked and here we are.  Yes I remember we struggled and the losses hurt.  Yes I remember holding other people's babies and literally just sobbing.  Yes I remember the ache of feeling empty-armed, of feeling happy for those around me who announce a pregnancy yet feeling a tug at my heart that it wasn't me.  Yes.  I remember.  I have been grateful for the experiences for so many reasons.  Each loss taught me something and gave me another piece of the puzzle.  With each loss we have made a change or changes to be an even better candidate the next pregnancy.

But here I am now with a full womb once again. My empty arms soon to be filled again.  My aching heart healing.

God is so good!  
Alma 26: 11, 12, 16, 35,  "I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.  Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel... Now have we not reason to rejoice?" 

 Trust Him!  Trust that He truly is aware of your individual circumstances.  He knows the path for you and can see it all clearly from start to finish.  As we place our hand in His, we can find peace and comfort despite the current place in our journey we may be.

Katy Willis
RN, HCHI, HCHD, Thetahealing Practitioner

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