Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Safest Place

Waiting. Hoping. Healing. 
These themes have seemed to repeat themselves over the past few years as we've walked this journey of infertility, adoption & faith.

 "I can feel Him nudging me to loosen my grasp on acceptance & to fix my eyes on hope. I can feel Him opening my heart again to the idea of healing." 
I wrote those words in June of 2015, two years ago. It's taken me a long time to be ready for where we are now... This place of trying for a biological baby after 4.5+ years of infertility & 2 adoptions. God has been so faithful & patient all this time. I know we are right where we are supposed to be.

Hurry up & wait... 3.5 weeks ago, I had laparoscopic surgery to remove endometriosis. Now that I'm recovered, our doctor has given us the go-ahead to start trying to conceive again. Since then, I've just been waiting & waiting to ovulate. Next will come the 2 week wait. And if we don't conceive, more waiting. After years of infertility, I know the drill. But this time...everything is different.

It seems I've finally come to a place where the trying, the waiting, the hoping & the surrendering are working together. There's an undeniable peace covering me that wasn't with me before. I am surprised by how calm & steadfast my heart has been. It's like the weight of the wait has been lifted from my shoulders. Without a doubt, He is covering me.
Of course, some days, the hard flares up. There are still occasional days when I look in the mirror to see sadness just one blink away from spilling out of my eyes. When these type of days or moments come, I now allow myself the space to feel my emotions freely, then I turn my heart over to the Lord & ask Him to draw me close. Even in the midst of the hard, His peace remains.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:6-7

In addition to peace, I'm also experiencing real hope that we could soon be pregnant.
That may not seem like a big deal, but for me, getting to this place emotionally & spiritually wasn't easy... It still seems too bold to even say it. To proclaim I have hope leaves me exposed, vulnerable. Vulnerable is a state I once fought hard not to be in. But vulnerable is where He is calling me to be... To be vulnerable before Him ushers me into intimacy with Him. So here I am, hoping. 

Before, the months & months of negative pregnancy tests & years of crushed spirits became too much. Pain & disappointment taught me to snuff out the hope before it had a chance to take root in my heart. If I didn't have any hope, it wouldn't hurt as much when it didn't happen, right? So I distanced myself from hope, first by holding it at arms length, then by burying it. I even renamed my lost hope & called it acceptance...anything to find relief from the crushing disappointment of hope deferred. For a time, it was simply easier to live & survive...& eventually, to move forward that way. 

This seemed to work for a while, seemed to shield me from the hurt & offer the relief I was so desperate for, but burying my hope came with a price... Bottled up emotions, detachment from the Father, dismissed desires...these things manifested themselves into thoughts & habits which have affected many parts of my life. Infertility consumed me & changed me, even when I distanced myself from it, in ways I am still uncovering. 

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life." ~Proverbs 13:12

Adoption brought incredible joy, healing & love back into my life. 
When the Father first spoke the word "adoption" to my heart, the door of my hope was reopened & intimacy with Him restored. With one powerful word, He breathed life back into my broken soul. 
When my Isabel Grace was born, I felt as if I was literally holding the faithfulness of God in my arms. Then Noah Griffin was born, another layer of my grief was peeled back & replaced with joy. It became impossible to deny the Lord's love & perfect plan with my children before me, but still there were wounded parts of my heart only He could heal.
Last Fall I started to feel the Lord bringing a season of change to my heart & to our situation. Winter came, seasonally & spiritually. This is the time I would typically like to bury everything, but instead He used the cold to cut through my defenses & strip me bare. It was there, in the dead of the winter season, where I could see the reach of the decay of infertility. It was there, with my undeniable brokenness exposed, that God met me & whispered, "I am doing a new thing." 
...A word that had been given to us an entire year before. I finally heard & believed it...

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. ~Isaiah 43:19

Since then, the Lord has continued to prune me & press into me. So many dead parts have fallen away & hidden wounds bound, but I know still have a road of emotional healing before me. Instead of burying, I am daily learning I must face the ups & downs that come with this journey of trying to conceive. I knew trying again would mean I have to become vulnerable & stay vulnerable. It hasn't been easy to be back in this place of requires constant surrender for me to live with my hopes outstretched. 
I often find myself wanting to turn back & hide in the space of disconnect, because it seems safer, less risky. But when my hands tremble, my strength waivers & my hope yearns to flee, thankfully, He is near. He whispers to my heart, "feel, hope, dream, believe." And so, I do. I keep pushing forward, keep grasping for the light, knowing that even in the dark, He is with me. I now know deep down in the unshakeable parts of my faith is that here, vulnerable before Him, is the safest place I could ever be.

Friends, infertility does change us, but the one thing that never changes is God's love for us. If you're hurting today, let that truth lead you back to Him. 

Thank you for loving us & praying for us as we walk this road. We are believing for "more than we could ever ask for or imagine" - Ephesians 3:20. Will you believe with us?
With love,

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life." ~Psalm 143:8

Thursday, June 1, 2017

What to Expect with Laparoscopic Surgery

If you've been following along with our fertility journey here on our blog & over on our Instagram @theadventuresofbabyk, you know I recently had two laparoscopic surgeries. The first was exploratory to check for endometriosis & the second to remove endometriosis. I was nervous for both, but more so for the first exploratory surgery because I was my first time having surgery since I was eight years old! For me, getting an idea of what to expect, feeling prepared & praying {a lot} is the best way for me to manage my fear & anxiety. Asking questions on social media & hearing about lots of people's experiences gave me great insight into how to prepare! So, if you're nervous & *need* to know what to expect, I totally get it! I'm going to share an overview of both surgeries + give you a list of tips below. I hope sharing my experiences with you helps better prepare you for your own surgery. Just know that recovery varies person to person & surgery to surgery. 

First surgery: 
Exploratory laparoscopy, hysteroscopy & hystersalpingogram to check for endometriosis, as well as check my tubes, uterus & surrounding organs

The day before the surgery I had to do a liquids only diet & bowel prep. 
Not fun, but not as bad as I thought. Once it was time to get started with bowel prep, I needed to be home & near a bathroom for the rest of the day. The evening before the surgery, I felt tired, emotional, overwhelmed & anxious. 
The next morning we arrived at the hospital for 10 a.m. to go over last minute paperwork & get prepped. They took me back to my outpatient room where I undressed & put on the hospital gown + socks. I expected to be freezing, but thankfully there was a heated blanket waiting for me :) A little while later a nurse came in to ask me questions, do bloodwork & put an IV in. After that they called my husband back to the room to sit with me. The waiting was no fun... Surgery was scheduled for 12 p.m., but ended up getting pushed back to 1:30, so I had to wait over 3 hours with my IV in before going back for surgery. I definitely recommend having something with you - book, phone, music to help you pass the time. Listening to worship music helped me stay calm. The anesthesiologist, nurses & my doctor came in & out to go over paperwork & answer any questions. 
Finally it was time to get rolled back. They gave me something to relax me & after that everything got hazy very quickly. I barely remember being rolled into the OR. Next thing I knew, I was waking up in recovery. I hadn't given much thought to this part, but it was one of the worst parts of the whole exerperience for me. I was freezing cold, shaking, in pain, everything was blurry & I couldn't talk. Pain meds & warm blankets helped calm me down & after about 20-30 minutes my vision got better & I was able to communicate. Not trying to freak y'all out, just wanted to share because I wish I would have been aware ahead of time what that would be like.
They rolled me back to my room where my husband & doctor were going over the surgery results. My doctor found endometriosis in multiple places at about stage 2.5 & an infection in my uterus. Other than that, my tubes & uterus & other organs looked good. She told us I would have to schedule another surgery to remove the endo & a fibroid. I was really bummed about having to go through it all again, but thankful to have answers after years of pain, wondering & infertility. 
In recovery, as soon as I was feeling good enough to get up to go to the bathroom, nausea hit me. They gave me nausea meds in my IV, which worked well...temporarily. I was in recovery for about 2 hours before being discharged.

sweetest hubby!

Definitely bring pillows & a blanket in the car with you for the ride home. I was so tired from the anetheisa & slept the whole hour long drive home. I also brought something to throw up in - just in case, but thankfully didn't need it in the car. Once I got home I went straight inside to get comfortable in a recliner. We had pillows, blankets & a heating pad ready. I was really tired, but stayed up long enough to eat & take pain meds. I didn't have much appetite & heard it was best to eat light the first few days, so I stuck with chicken soup & crackers for my first meal after surgery. Unfortunately, as soon as the nausea meds wore off I started throwing up...which hurt my incisions & was miserable! The nausea continued through the night {ugh} but thankfully let up by the next morning.
I took pain medicine for first 2 days. I definitely recommend taking meds 
for at least the first 24 hours. You don't want to be miserable & hurting, especially that first night. I was very sore, tired & weak for the first couple of days, but overall, recovery from the first lap wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. My husband was home with me Saturday & Sunday. He kept me fed, helped me get up + down, kept track of my medication, etc. He went back to work on Monday & I was fine by myself. By day 4 I felt much better & by day 5 I felt really good physically. Emotionally I was really down & depressed in the days following both surgeries, but thankfully that passed with time. My doctor said that's totally normal, so just wanted to share in case anyone else experiences it. My wonderful in-laws & parents kept + helped with the kids for both surgeries which was so crucial & appreciated! Within a week I was feeling pretty much back to normal besides my incisions needing more time to heal. 3 weeks later I went back for my second surgery.

Second surgery:
Laparoscopic surgery to remove stage 2.5 endometriosis & fibroid 

ready to get the endo out!

Everything was pretty much the same for my second surgery has far as bowel prep & hospital pre-op. I told my doctor about the nausea after the first surgery, so she had the anethesiaologist give me some anti-nausea medicine in the anesthesia & the nurses also put a 72 hour anti-nausea patch on me after surgery. Thankfully those things worked like a charm! 
My second surgery was longer than the first & I ended up being under anesthesia for almost 5 hours. The surgery went as planned & was very successful {so thankful!} 
My doctor used a robot to remove all of the endo & take out the fibroid. My recovery in the hospital wasn't as smooth & quick as the first time. I arrived at the hospital at 5 a.m. (for 7 a.m. surgery) & wasn't discharged until 8 p.m. Longgg day! The hold up was because of my bladder. Before you can be discharged, you have to be able to go to the bathroom on your own. Well, that just wasn't happening for me. Long story short, my bladder was basically still "asleep" from anesthesia. So after about 4+ hours of trying to go on my own & lots of tears, I had to have a catheter put in to drain my so fun, y'all {insert all the sarcasm}... Thankfully I was able to be discharged shortly after. 

let's go home! 

Even though my doctor warned me this recovery would be harder & slower, I was shocked by the pain & soreness. With the first surgery I only had 2 incisions, with this surgery I had 5. One through my belly button, two of either side of my belly button & 2 above my hips. I was more swollen & it was much harder to move around this time. I had to do everything -walking, sitting up & down, bending over, getting dressed- slower this time around. Cary was a great help & very sweet through it all. I also was surprised by how exhausted I was & how long it took for my energy to return after second surgery. Even after the kids came home, I {thankfully} still had a lot of help with them during the day because I was extremely tired {like still needing to nap or lie down for a significant part of the day}, dizzy & unable to lift them for the first week-week & a half. It took about 2 weeks for me to get energy back & start feeling "almost normal" both emotionally & physically again. I'm currently at the end of week 3 of recovery & still feeling tired, but other than that I feel good. 

  • Car ride home: Be sure to bring a couple pillows & a blanket in the car with you, especially if you have a long ride. I also brought a bowl to throw up in as a pre-caution 
  • What to Wear: I wore the same casual, super soft, loose & flowy dress & oversized cardigan on surgery days. If you wear pants, just make sure they have a soft, stretchy waistline because you will be swollen & tender. Be as comfortable as possible. You could totally wear pjs! 
  • Hospital Bag: Be sure to bring a hospital bag with a change of clothes, chargers & toiletries *just in case* you have to stay overnight
  • Trapped gas: A LOT of people have discomfort from trapped gas because they fill up your abdominal cavity with air during surgery. I was aware to expect gas pain & took preventive measures so thankfully mine wasn't bad either time! To help with trapped gas: Take gas-x, drink ginger/peppermint tea multiple times a day, use heating pad on neck & shoulders & sleep elevated - I made an incline with pillows & slept elevated in our bed first two nights after each surgery. I've heard some people sleep more comfortably in a recliner first couple of nights 
  • Bleeding: I had medium-very light bleeding for 4-5 days after first surgery & 2+ weeks after second surgery. Be sure to stock up on pads
  • Fluids: Drink lots of fluids first few days after surgery
  • Eating: Before your surgery, stock up on some light, easy to digest foods for after surgery. Soups, jello, healthy meals...avoid dairy & greasy foods 
  • Constipation: Pain meds will stop you up. Have stool softeners on hand 
  • Entertainment: I had a few shows & movies lined up to watch after surgery. This gave me something to look forward to & helped passed the time. If there are books you've wanting to read, get them before surgery so you'll be set. It also helped me emotionally to have friends come over to visit the week or two after surgery 
  • Help & Childcare: You are going to need to have someone come stay with you for the first couple days - week. If you have kids you're going to need to have help lined up for the first few days - a week+ depending on how well you're recovering 
  • Other: Be sure to go to the store before surgery to stock up on meds & food. I also recommend washing your sheets & catching up on laundry to ensure sure you have plenty of comfy, stretchy clothes clean 
I've linked a few other blog posts I found about this topic that are informative & helpful:

I am so thankful I found an awesome doctor & was able to have these surgeries done. I am relieved to know the endometriosis is gone! I am hopeful my monthly pain & discomfort will be lessened & my quality of life improved! We are also praying that we will be able to conceive in the next couple of months. 

Thanks for reading! I hope this info was helpful. If this post helps even one person prepare for their own surgery I'll be happy! :) Best of luck, you're going to do great! In my experience & from what I've read, recovery varies greatly person to person & surgery to surgery. Just prepare the best you can, take it one day at a time & be sure to allow yourself to rest! 

With love,

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 
~Isaiah 41:10