6.22.2014

What's New With the Smiths?

Well, it's been more than 8 months since we last updated this. Anyone we haven't seen recently may be wondering what ever happened after our first failed IVF procedure, especially since we were so open previously about our infertility struggles. Although opening up provided the peace and comfort of knowing so many people were supporting and praying for us, it was difficult feeling we had to then share our heartbreaking results so shortly after finding out ourselves. So we've kept things a little more private again.

Despite our disappointing first try, we were very blessed to have extra fertilized embryos from the original retrieval and insurance coverage for 3 future transfers. We had a "Round 2" attempt in December only telling close family and friends our plans this time.

(In the waiting room before the frozen embryo transfer. And yes, Mitch was in dire need of a razor!)



Round 2 worked!! . . . Well, initially. After celebrating the new year with positive pregnancy tests, we were devastated to learn Angela had an early miscarriage at 5 1/2 weeks pregnant. This was even harder than our first fail, but we felt we needed to keep trying.

Round 3 

March 1st was the date of IVF transfer attempt #3. This time, we kept it a secret from even our families as best we could, until we sent them this card:

We are so excited! The long wait will be well worth it, and we're thankful for all the support we've gotten along the journey. Below is us finding out the gender of our little one last week. 

video



10.20.2013

Transfer and Results

Well, our embryo transfer day came and went. This is us in the waiting room before getting called back to the procedure room. It was a very spiritual, yet stressful experience. The clinic really helps to make things somewhat calm with lots of smiles, relaxing background music, and dim lighting. But at the same time, we felt the stress of understanding reports and making quick, important decisions like how many embryos to transfer. We went with what we had discussed previously and transferred one embryo. Here he or she is at blastocyst stage (about 8 cells).  
It was a unique and tender experience to see a potential baby only a few days after fertilizing. Below, you can see the picture of the real time ultrasound after releasing it; the white dot is an air bubble around the too-small-to-see blastocyst. Modern technology and medicine have many truly miraculous advancements and procedures, and we're grateful that we even have this option to help us have the baby that we want so badly.
 We were hoping this precious embryo would stick and become our first child, but unfortunately, the odds were not in our favor this time. We found out on Thursday that we had an unsuccessful first transfer. As you would suspect, this was devastating news to us and the following days were difficult. This is a new chapter in what seems like our forever-long journey of infertility. We are holding onto faith and hope that our miracle will still come. We would appreciate your continued prayers in the upcoming weeks as we decide on our next steps and hopefully have good news to report in the future.

Here's a story that has helped us throughout this whole process.


10.06.2013

Hyperstimulation and Embryo Transfer

For any who may not have seen Mitch's post on Facebook, the doctor retrieved 51 eggs on Wednesday. 51 eggs?!?!  We were thrilled of course, but also a little nervous as this put me at high risk for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).  Basically, with OHSS your ovaries freak out, and as the follicles begin refilling with fluid so does your entire abdomen.  In women who have undergone IVF treatment, mild OHSS is actually quite common.  Given my situation, it was almost inevitable that I would experience this to some degree.  Wednesday I really felt pretty good as I rested during the day.  Thursday I went to work and felt a tad bloated, but nothing that seemed too bad.  Hooray!  Only mild OHSS for me!

That evening, after reassuring my sweet and concerned mom that my symptoms were not too bad and she had nothing to worry about, my tummy began to feel as if someone had blown me up like a balloon.  I looked like I was already pregnant, and can't remember ever feeling so full in my life. (Please someone tell me that's not what I'll actually feel like when I'm pregnant!) I had gained 2.5 pounds since the day before, and it hurt!   I eventually went to bed (as if I was going to sleep), and Mitch decided to make a quick run to the store to get some more things he thought might help me.  While he was gone, I became aware that someone had installed a splash pad in my belly.  Bursts of water, sloshing and splashing, and a whole lot of movement were going on inside of me.  I wondered if perhaps, my organs were starting to burst open!  Well, it turns out, as Mitch played my dashing and masculine nurse, my body worked some magic in the night.  I was in the restroom as much as I was in bed it seemed.  By morning, I was feeling about a million times better and had lost 3 pounds overnight after shedding my fluid build up.  Sometimes Heavenly Father takes His time to answer our prayers and sometimes he answers them overnight.  I was so grateful He answered quickly this time!

We received the news the day after the retrieval that 28 eggs had fertilized.  We were so happy to hear about our 28 little embryos working on a little mitosis (or would that me meiosis?).  According to the message the nurse left yesterday (Oct. 5), all our embryos were healthy and progressing well.  Grow babies grow!

Tomorrow (Oct. 7), we check in at 11:15 and will meet with the doctor at 11:30 to discuss the number of embryos, what will be transferred, and what we'll freeze.  More than likely about half of our embryos won't still be kickin' in the morning.  The transfer will follow our little pow wow and then it's lounging on the couch for the next several days for me.  I'm only supposed to get up to use the restroom, so I'll be doing some movie watching, book reading (shout out to Megan for the book and movie donations!), and a little dozing. If anyone wants to stop by for a chat...or to make a trip to the fridge for me....feel free!  The procedure is not invasive and isn't associated with any discomfort, so I should be in good spirits :)  Mitch will be home with me tomorrow and then will pop in and out the following days to check on me and make sure I'm doing well.

So to you dear friends and family, we thank you for your love, support, and prayers.  We've already seen so many miracles through this process and know they are due in large measure to your great faith.  We can't thank you enough.  We'd love continued prayers and good vibes that our sweet little embryo will think my uterus is an awesome place to hang out for the next nine months!


10.01.2013

"She's Like a Fine Wine"

Retrieval time has come.  Tomorrow morning at 10:30 I'll be unconscious and the doctor will be taking out all the little eggs I've been working hard to produce the last few weeks.  It's true, the retrieval should already have happened.  My tentative date was Monday the 30th, but I was certain I'd be ready early since I tend to be sensitive to medication.  Boy was I wrong!  Apparently I still need these little reminders about who's really in control here.  After increasing my medication dose last week, I still wasn't good to go at my ultrasound on Saturday.  They said I wouldn't be ready Sunday either so we scheduled my next ultrasound for Monday.  That meant the retrieval would be Wednesday at the earliest.  At first I was a bit miffed by the delay, but decided a few days was totally worth the wait especially if it resulted in a decent set of eggs.  As I left the office Saturday morning, one of the nurses said, "She's like a fine wine."  While I don't drink the stuff myself, I can appreciate that this might be "one of those things that gets sweeter with time." 

Mitch pulled the trigger last night at precisely 10:30 pm.  That is to say, he gave me my HCG "trigger" shot.  This injection should put my body in go mode so we can start the baby making process tomorrow morning. 


So while you go about work, school, or play tomorrow, think of me at 10:30 and be jealous that you too aren't having your ovaries aspirated :)  Fingers crossed for a happy, healthy batch of eggs!


9.17.2013

"Neither are your ways my ways"

WARNING:  This post is long. Really long. If you only read one paragraph, make it the last, not the first.  Here’s the short version if you don’t want to read it all:  We struggle with infertility.  We’re doing IVF at the end of the month.  We’d love for you to pray with us.  If you want the details, by all means, continue.    


About two and half years ago Mitch and I decided it was time to grow our little family.  Obviously, given the fact that we remain a party of two, things didn’t go as planned.  I could go into a lot of details about the ins and outs of our infertility: the frustration, the tears, the hope, and the incredible blessings we’ve received, but that’s a very lengthy story for another day.   Basically, we focused on trying to figure out what was going on with me for about a year and half before we found out that Mitch’s “normal” semen analysis actually wasn’t so normal.  Then our efforts turned to him, but there was a lot of waiting involved with insurance changes and moving.  After lots of testing and several doctors, we’re now looking at infertility issues coming from both sides and a whole lot of inconsistent results that leave us wondering what’s really going on inside these otherwise healthy bodies of ours.   

We were blessed to find that a well known infertility specialist was in our ward (church congregation) here in Reno, and we quickly got in to meet with him.  I wasn’t prepared for the news we received that afternoon.  I was sure that Mitch’s results would be normal and we’d be scheduling a round of IUI.  But, Mitch’s results weren’t normal and IUI wasn’t an option for us. We were told In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with ICSI would be our only course of action.  I cried in Dr. Foulk’s office, much to his bewilderment.  “You should be thrilled!” he said.  “30 years ago you’d have no choice but to adopt.  You’re young and healthy, and have great odds for success.”   He seemed incredibly confident that IVF would work for us despite the fact that success rates overall are really quite low. 

He was right; we are incredibly blessed. But, what he didn’t know—and I didn’t either in the moment—was that I was finally being stripped of my pride.   God was asking me to really rely on Him, not just pretend I was.  It took several days, a lot of prayer, scripture study, and profound conversations with Mitch for me to start realizing this.  I thought I had been relying on the Lord.  I thought I trusted Him, and had faith that He knew what was best.  I thought I was working on utilizing the atonement to help get through our adversity.   I suppose that I was trying to do those things, and I certainly was putting in some effort to seek the Lord’s will.  But God has a way of showing us how much more profound His grace can be and how much more wholly we can trust in Him. 

As I pondered on my attitude toward our infertility and the answers I was seeking, I realized that I had been looking for the Lord to deliver us in the way I wanted Him to, not in the way He knew was best.  I was set on being healed naturally.  Being a bit of a granola girl, I love green cleaning, herbal remedies, and food fresh from the garden.  Though I’m incredibly grateful for the advances of modern medicine, and the many life saving procedures and medications we have available, I typically view those as a last resort.  I virtually never use over the counter medications, as I prefer more natural healing methods.  In the beginning, I was determined to cure our infertility issues myself.  When nothing seemed to be working, I decided to meet with an OB and eventually an infertility specialist.  I thought maybe we would be able to pinpoint a problem, or perhaps just a round of Clomid would work for us (that wouldn’t be SO bad, I convinced myself).  As things began to appear more dismal, I decided that I would resort to IUI if necessary.  Anything for a baby, right?  I actually prayed that something, anything, would work before IVF was brought up.  Please don’t ask me to do IVF I thought.  I prayed for the will of the Lord to be brought to pass, but secretly hoped that His will was something non-invasive and toxin free.  God wants me to have a baby the way He originally designed it, right?  Babies aren’t supposed to be made in a lab. I was drowning in the sea, praying with faith, sure that the Lord would magically deliver me either via miraculous transport, or granting me strength to swim.  But, sometimes God sends a boat instead; a little boat called IVF.  I had a choice to make.  I could accept the rescue efforts of the boat, or wave it along, announcing I was sure God would save me any minute.  We climbed aboard. 

For all of the goodness and beauty in natural living, and for all the miracles of western medicine, we are not saved by what school of thought we employ.  Herbs and oils won’t get me to heaven, but trusting God will.  The issue is not one of natural versus conventional healing.  The Lord is not trying to tell me to stop making my own lotion and laundry detergent, he’s trying to tell me that He knows what is best, not me.  From the time we left the doctor’s office, until we had made our final decision, the words of a familiar scripture echoed in my mind, and surfaced in more than one lesson, conference talk, etc.: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

We are currently in the middle of our IVF cycle.  The retrieval will happen between the 28th and the 2nd with the transfer five days later.  As we are swiftly approaching these dates, we extend the invitation to anyone interested to join us in a fast this Sunday, September 22.  For any who are unable to join the fast, we would be incredibly grateful for added prayers.  We know that there is strength in numbers and that collective faith can bring about miracles! Here’s to hoping we got on board the right boat! 

9.14.2013

Part Dos - Update Pics

Here are some pictures from our time in Portland, OR. We loved it there, even though we picked the worst time to go (Fall, Winter). The green, the produce, the people, the weirdness, the restaurants, the smell of rain, and family; we enjoyed it all . . . just not the traffic. We are grateful to Mom and Pops Banks for letting us crash in their "North Wing" for the seven months.

We enjoyed the 2012 holiday season up in Oregon with Angela's parents, and then rang in the new year as the Smith clan visited Kimber's family for Eliana's baptism (Mitch's sister and niece).



Mitch cut down his first real Christmas Tree!





Here are more Portland Adventures including our Valentine's party, our favorite restaurant there (Trebol), Mitch's clinical rotation site on the waterfront, and Wakeena Falls Hiking. 








We took our three year anniversary trip to the place where we first met, Tacoma. It started off with a stressed Mitch taking (and Passing!) his boards in Puyallup, but then followed with a relaxing vacation where we enjoyed our bed & breakfast joint, good eats, beautiful scenery, and fond memories by the Puget Sound.


 The Restaurant of our first date (Anthony's)





Above is UPS where we were EFY counselors, as well as the steps where Heath Ledger once sang. Below is the highlight of the trip for us: a picnic on a random secluded beach we found on our way to Seattle!



In mid May, it was back to Vegas, where Mitch graduated from UNLV's Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. Can't believe three years came and went so fast.



And then, in June, came our fresh, new start in Reno, Nevada . . . 

9.01.2013

Two Year Update - Part I

Well, since it's been over two years since our last post, I think we are due for some updating. A lot has happened in the past two years, but we thought a few pictures and explanations of the major stuff would give enough detail to fill people in. I (Mitch) thought I'd give it a shot to get the ball rolling, and then Angela can get back to her regular (regular for us is like every few months) blogging soon without people wondering what the heck happened in 2012 and 2013. Because, of course, everyone is so curious and intrigued by our lives . . .

To start off, a quick reference to the last post we put on here back in August of '11. Some of you may be wondering if we actually stuck to that weird diet thing, and the answer is "You Betcha!" We continue to love our plant-based, minimally processed food as much as ever. We've added many more ideas and recipes over the past two years and are always (sometimes maybe more than necessary) looking for more or trying to stay current with nutrition research. Our odd way of eating has become something we truly enjoy together.


~A recent homemade pizza we made: Half barbecue chickpea with sweet potato, corn, onion, and pineapple; and Half tomato, basil, and mushroom, with hemp hearts and nutritional yeast in place of cheese and fresh avacado placed on some pieces. We thought it was quite delicious!~


Now back to an update of special events for us in the last two years. Shortly after our last post, Angela accepted her first (and only to this point) full-time teaching job at Somerset Academy - a charter school in North Las Vegas. She taught 1st grade to a class of 25 students. It was stressful at times, but rewarding at others, and we are grateful now for the experience and the financial support it was with me still in school.
She had a great class!


In October of that year, we completed our 1st triathlon as mentioned in the previous post. We were satisfied with our times even though the bike trail slowed us down a bit. We had foolishly trained on flat while the course was all up and down small hills. It was still memorable and something we hope to do again.




As 2012 began, Angela continued working hard at Somerset, and I finished up the classroom part of my graduate schooling and prepared for PT clinical rotations. We enjoyed finishing that busy and stressful school year by taking a few trips that spring and summer.

Mesa Pageant with Parker and Steph

           

Our 2 year Anniversary trip to Southern Cal. We visited Malibu, went to the beach, attended a few concerts, and finished it by attending Parker's graduation from law school in San Diego. 



Angela took two trips by herself to her last girl's camp as ward director and to her sister, Melanie's sealing to her husband, Brian. 

But the biggest trip of all in 2012 was our move to Portland, Oregon in October where we spent the next 7 months as I finished my final two clinical rotations. Check out all that stuff in our tiny Accent!



Well, Part II picking up from Oregon should be coming in the next few weeks.