Just writing the phrase, "family plans" makes me laugh. After the ups and downs of fertility treatments, exploration of adoption, paperwork, sort-of fostering, moving, and more - it still seems we are no closer to having kids as part of our family. Don't worry the thoughts and conversations haven't ceased we are merely just still trying to figure out what exactly God has for us. For now, it is some cute puppies, and loving our friends and family around us, and trusting that our story is this: God knows and loves us. We know that we are okay whether our family is just the two of us (or 4 counting puppies) or if it grows to 5, 7 or 10 through some crazy story yet to unravel.
For those of you who have been following along our family growth efforts, it has been like crickets for a little while. While we haven't much to share, along the family growing lines, we want to let you know the latest.
Nearly a year ago, we learned we could be traveling to Africa and wanted to take some time to enjoy that process and see what God had for us in that journey. When we came back we dived into ministry and life once again and started the conversations with our doctor of what to do next. In late summer we talked with our doctor about next steps and seriously considered moving through a process of embryo adoption. We carefully weighed the pros, cons, fears, hopes and everything else involved in this option. Ultimately in October 2016 we made the hard decision to conclude our medical efforts. There is a slight possibility we could consider trying again but at the same time we both feel a freedom and peace with ending a 10 year quest to naturally have children. During the past 6 years, we have tried 7 different procedures, including many IUIs and one IVF.
So what is next? We are still considering and exploring what it would look like to grow our family through the adoption process, either domestic or international. We also have wondered what life and ministry would look like if we could go anywhere and do anything because of the freedom and flexibility of not having kids. Right now we are deep in the midst of that process of asking God, "where do you want us to go next." We are in a season of transition as we look to move.
With each day, month, and year we have leaned into whatever God had for us. We have trusted in his ability to create life and give us wisdom in all kinds of possible options. We don't know what 2017 has in store for us but if it means we will gain more clarify for our future family, great - and if it just means that we continue to wait for what God has, that is great too. Of course, this journey is still a challenge and still creates heartache in expected and unexpected ways. We often question, "why" l and are learning more and more each day to be okay with the unknown.
First off. We have to say "Thank you" to so many who have shared their heart and care for us as a couple.
So sorry to our friends, family, and followers for leaving you hanging on that last post.
Once again our results were negative. Oddly, I wasn't surprised or nearly as sad as we were after the unsuccessful IVF. I think overall, we (especially me -Jenn), were feeling pretty lethargic after the spring's big hope let down. We were in a funk for a while — since then we have had some hope recovery.
I didn't realize how hard the last few months had been until I went to a doctor's appointment to begin the process of our second IUI this year (so far we have done one IVF, and now two IUIs). Josh was busy that day - and it really was a pretty routine check, so I went by myself for the ultrasound to see if I was ready for another round. Usually going places alone isn't a big deal, but this time it was particularly hard as all the emotions of the past few months hit me while sitting in the doctors office once again. I am sure this doctor's office has seen a few emotional ladies, but I still didn't really want to have a breakdown and tried pretty hard to stay calm. These few moments really surprised me though.
I left the office with my new schedule of dates, meds and appointments for the next few weeks of fertility medications and plans - still feeling a bit overwhelmed.
During the next few weeks, my body decided it didn't want to respond to the meds (Clomid) so the actual IUI procedure kept being delayed and my medications kept increasing (changed to Bravelle)
On Monday, September 21 we went in for our second IUI procedure this year. At the end the doctor said, "Think fertile thoughts" - which I thought to be particularly odd and entertaining all at the same time.
So I tried thinking positive. :)
So hear we are, once again sitting in the waiting and hoping window. This time (unlike the last IUI) my hope quotient has returned. We are hopeful for what might be in a few weeks. At the same time we are debating if this is our last attempt which is weird. How long do we stay on this hope roller-coaster of medical fertility treatments. Is it time to move on to adoption? These are all questions that linger.
Thanks for your continued support and prayers on this life adventure.
But as for me, I will hope continually.
And will praise You yet more and more.
— Psalm 71:14
It is hard to maintain composer in the midst of waiting at times. Yesterday, I had my blood test and found when the phone rang in the afternoon with my doctor's number that my heart was racing. Even after I heard the news, that the results weren't in yet I had a hard time calming down.
So in the next 24 hours we expect to get the results of our blood test (that I will take tomorrow). Yikes!
These past couple weeks after the IUI have moved slow! Even so, I have to say I don't feel any excitement or have any indications that the results will be positive. While I want to have hope and be excited at the potential, I am still skeptical. Maybe this is just my mind and heart's way of trying to protect by expecting a no. The thoughts adrift in my mind say that we've been down this road so often that it seems impossible.
In my faith however,, I hold to verses like, "Nothing is impossible with God." Yet even with this belief and knowledge in my back pocket, I still have reservations.
Tonight my prayer is two-fold. 1) That I will hold on to hope. 2) That I will hold all of this with an open hand and not become resentful whatever the outcome.
Who knows what will happen. Either way my God is faithful and has a plan. Today and tomorrow are big steps of faith once again.
Today we headed to the doc once again this time to do an IUI procedure. A completely different procedure that we, of course, still hope results in Baby Brown.
This occassion kind of snuck up on us - even though I realize it doesnt seem like sneaking as it has been about four months since our last IVF event.
Anyway, it still seemed quick. Now we sit in the waiting window to see if this works. This process was similar yet still unique and different than when we tried this in Dallas. Each office has different strategies. The biggest challenge in it all is the folks saying, just relax...
Today was another exercise of trust mixed with a different set of feelings coming from both Josh and myself -mostly awkward. We wanted the IVF to work so much and are still recovering from that unfullfilled hope and in the midst of that we move forward to a new hope (I keep hearing Star Wars music here).
Lord guide our hearts and help us cling to your hope.
It feels like it has been a long time since we shared any updates - that's because it HAS BEEN a long time. After finding out our IVF procedure didn't take, we intentionally pulled back and worked on processing this news both together as a couple, and individually. Honestly, it was a tough few weeks and months of heartache - that still hits us at random times.
For us, a negative IVF meant leaning into a process of grieving our hopes of what could have been - which was and still is a new type of grieving. We took time to get away and enjoy being together as a couple. We visited and shared with friends and family, and also traveled to grieve the loss of my grandpa, Reese, who lived a long and very loved life.
In May, we returned to the doctor's office to meet with our doc and get a better understanding of why IVF didn't work. While we still trust and belief the creation of life is completely in God's hands, there are still medical answers that help and guide next steps.
Our time with the doctor was hard but helpful as we learned that the IVF process went well from female side - good amount of eggs, healthy growth, etc. Sadly we also learned that while Josh did have recovery (in the test results) it appeared his "boys" just weren't quite strong enough to lead to a successful pregnancy. The doctor shared that since the four extra embryos all Arrested Development by Day 6, it is believed that this is what happened inside my body as well. (Leaving us with no more embryos to try again). Even though we did all we could to create a great environment, ideal timing, etc., in our case it seems the pieces and parts simply didn't work.
Sitting in this meeting was hard, but also reassuring as we experience time with a doctor who shared with us directly and honestly. We asked if we should try IVF again and the doctor said he didn't not recommend this unless we use half Josh and half donor specimen. Knowing the cost for IVF and the odds of it not working with Josh's parts again means this is not the best choice for us. We won't do IVF again. It is hard to say this, as this also means that our hopes of having kids with Josh and Jenn DNA are fading away (barring God's miracle option of course)
We both can clearly say we still have no regrets in trying IVF and would have done it again. Of course, we wish the results were different but still no regrets.
So what's next?
Understanding that IVF with a donor was not a cost we wanted to take on, the doctor did recommend trying IUI using donor specimen again (since the my female side seemed to respond well to the IVF cycle).
The perk of trying this is that the cost is significantly less - and it would be kind of one more (or three more) chances to see if pregnancy is an option.
We tried this three times in Dallas but it is recommended you try it for longer (maybe six times total) additionally we have had a few more procedures that may help in the process now. (Always a maybe of course). After processing, thinking, praying and more, we have decided to try IUI again this summer/fall. As the time-clock of age is ticking, we (and especially me, Jenn) want to see if pregnancy is an option.
While we pursue this medical option, we are still investigating other family growth options and praying through what God has for us as a family beyond the medical pursuits.
Thanks for your continued prayers as we enter back in a familiar process that feels a bit like a gasp for air mixed with a umbrella of hope.
For the past several days, I've been trying to think of a good title for this post, and also trying to figure out how to share the latest leg of our journey. It's much easier to share exciting news than it is to share sad or hard news. This post is the latter.
On Friday, we received the results of our blood tests. Both tests came back negative meaning our IVF procedure didn't take and we are not pregnant. There is a slight possibility that the tests were too early but very unlikely. (The hopeful part of me still wants to hang on to that possibility but maybe that's just denial.) For now, we are accepting the news that the results are negative.
When we entered this process a few months back, we knew this was a possible outcome. Yet upon hearing the words from the doctor's office Friday, we both stood stunned. Our anxiety built throughout last week and by Friday we could feel the seconds ticking by as we waited for the doctor's call. With so much hope and prayer surrounding us, we were also very expectant and hopeful. When the phone rang at 4:29 on Friday afternoon, April 17, we dropped what we were doing, took a deep breath and said, "Hello."
It wasn't long before the nurses' voice shifted and she shared the news, "I'm sorry to say, but we don't have good news . . . Both blood tests this week show negative . . . We ask that you schedule an appointment to talk with your doctor in the next couple weeks. I know it is disappointing ..."
All I could say was okay. Josh watched the conversation and knew the answer without hearing the nurse's words. When the call ended and we stood in shocked sorrow and hugged - while our tears stayed frozen.
The rest of Friday, Saturday and Sunday were weird, as we floated through our own grief cycles absorbing the news. Of course, we knew going in that IVF didn't come with a guarantee, but we continued forward in our own hope plus the hope and prayers of many friends and family. Each word of encouragement lifted our spirits, and we believed more and more that this could be the moment and time for us to see our family dreams come to life in this unique way. With the renewed news of Josh's recovery plus so much support, it was like our life-sized Jenga tower of hope just kept growing taller — fueling our hopes and wishes. Upon hearing the results, it felt like our hopeful tower had just crashed down on us.
We are still digging out . . . and it might be a while.
Don't get us wrong, it has been a joy to have so much support, prayer, encouragement, and excitement around us during the past several weeks, but this also makes it hard to share our news. Thanks for joining us now in this disappointment — we also need your prayers and encouragement now.
As we shared our news with people this weekend, questions like "what will you do now?" or "you'll try again, right?" have been prominent. Since the news is fresh, we have committed to not make any big decisions too quickly. In our story line, the decision to try again is a huge one. For us the IVF process, yielded six embryos but only two of the ones matured at the right rate for us to use. We used the two we could and the remaining four were unable to be frozen for future use. This means we don't have any more embryos at this point. Yes, we can go through the whole procedure again but the main cost for IVF is the egg retrieval and initial medications. Trying again means repeating some significant fees - which is a very hard decision on multiple levels. Therefore, the answer to those two main questions right now is, "We don't know."
HOW ARE WE?
We are disappointed, sad, mad, confused and grieving the "could be." We still remain hopeful for what God has for us as a couple and family. But Yes, THIS TOTALLY STINKS!! We still trust God, the creator of life, and are both confident that this was and is the journey we needed to take. There are no regrets in trying IVF but we still are experiencing all of the feelings listed above at different times and rates. Questions of all kinds swirl in our minds.
As we move forward to whatever is next, we ask for your continued prayers and encouragement. We hope by sharing this challenging chapter of our lives, that our friends, family (and those we don't even know) find encouragement. There are many people who have traveled this road. Some stories have resulted in children, some not — hearing each variation has been tremendous and a reminder of why we are sharing.
We still believe this is a topic that women, men, families and couples should be talking about. While ironic, that I wanted to hide from everyone this past weekend, instead of having to share this news, we both know it is important to share our adventure. And yes, it is still an adventure, just a weird, yucky one – kind of like crawling through a dark, muddy cave in search of a glorious cavern that hasn't yet been discovered.
We keep moving forward, one flashlight beam at a time. Hoping.
Well, it is official, there are embryos inside me. We had the implanting procedure yesterday afternoon. It was simple and pretty fascinating. We even got photos of our embryos, making it feel very scientific. In my hope, I imagine showing our kids pics and saying, "here you are as an embryo" - ha!
About the Writers
Typically posts on this page are written by Jennifer Brown and often include fun stories about Josh as well. Occasionally, Josh might post too (when he feels daring!)