Sunday, February 2, 2014

Why IVF?

Hopefully you've read the Our Journey So Far and About the Womacks sections in the tabs above for some background about our story.  It is the beginning of February...on Tuesday of this week Jonathan will turn 31 years old.  At the end of May we will be moving from the West Indies back to the USA.  And in June we will begin the process of IVF for the first time.  There are many many unknowns, yes.  But I've felt the need to answer a few questions that I know SO many of you might be asking.  Especially if this is the first time you've heard that Jonathan and I have decided to go this route.  It's not a "justification"...more just a sharing of information.  So that you can help pray for us and support us along the way.  There is nothing more valuable to us than the love and support of our friends and family.  In the coming months we will need you all more than ever.  To help encourage us when the going gets tough, to help hold us up when bad news comes or painful procedures are necessary, and to hopefully share in the unimaginable joy that will be hearing that our dreams have come true finally.  

IVF huh??  Shouldn't you try less invasive procedures first?  You guys are so young!

Well my friends, we actually *have* undergone several less invasive measures.  We have had 1 failed IUI, 2 additional natural cycles with the help of Clomid (a drug to help stimulate my ovaries to produce multiple eggs), 1 cycle with Letrozole (a less aggressive medication to stimulate my ovaries which is actually an oral form of chemotherapy for breast cancer recovery), and one round of Clomid with the intention of IUI which failed 3/4 of the way through the cycle.  I have had more blood drawn in the last 5 years than I can even remember.  Jonathan's soldiers have been evaluated and found to be more than ok.  I was misdiagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome...the blanket diagnosis for women who have irregular cycles with no other explanation).  Blood work just this past March revealed elevated Prolactin (that's the hormone your body produces when you're breastfeeding that signals your body to stop ovulating while you're caring for an infant).  That is the reason I was not ovulating without a trigger shot, so I've been taking medication which has restored my ovulation since June 2013.  Yet we are still not pregnant.  Yes, we are young...sort of.  A woman's egg count decreases and her risk factors increase exponentially after 35.  I am *only* 29, yes.  We want at least 3 children.  You do the math!  Not to mention, if it can't happen without help anyway, what does it matter what my age is?  Bottom line is that IVF was not a snap decision for us.  We have arrived at this decision after many years of trying and failing.  Many cycles of help from specialists.  Many many hours of prayer and consideration.  God *has* called us to be is our heart's desire...and right now we feel Him giving us the go ahead for IVF, and we've seen evidence of His provisions there...

Speaking of provisions...isn't IVF outrageously expensive?  You guys are in med are you affording this??

I don't really like answering this question.  Or rather, I really don't like it being asked.  But the short and sweet answer is that we have been *planning* this.  And by planning I mean we have been making sacrifices as necessary to be able to sock away enough savings to be able to pay for this procedure.  So no...we aren't taking out credit cards or "going broke".  God has provided for us in unimaginable ways in the past 8 months and we are being purposeful about our money management. It's a sacrifice yes...a constant one until we write that check in June.  But one we are more than willing to make in our quest to become parents...

Have you guys considered adoption?

Yes.  Most definitely.  We have seriously considered it for a long time.  Spent many hours in prayer about it.  Asked for prayer about it.  Consulted with friends who have adopted.  We are actually watching some dear friends of ours go through the process of adopting a child here in Dominica *right now*.  We have considered whether God's plan for us to become parents was through adoption.  The hard and fast truth about it is that we don't feel the calling.  We both feel strongly that the decision to adopt really has to come from a heart for adoption.  We feel it isn't right to adopt a child because you want a baby.  You have to be called to do it.  Called to make the choice to bring a child into your home either from an otherwise bad situation, abandonment, or just the choice of birthparents.  We think adoption is beautiful.  And we *do* have a heart for orphans and impoverished children.  But if we ourselves decided to adopt it would be because we desperately want a child.  Not because we have been called to adopt.  So for us, right now today, adoption is not the right choice.  We are trying to follow the plan!  

Ok, but what if you've put all your eggs in one basket and then this doesn't work...then what?

Well...per the title of this blog we are Thinking Positive.  But we are fully aware of the fact that a round of IVF by no means guarantees us a pregnancy.  And so yes, we will have spent a huge amount of money  and invested emotionally in a procedure that failed yet again.  If that happens, we will need your prayers and your encouragement.  We will need you to hold us up.  It won't be the end of the road for us though.  Assuming we are successful in creating a number of embryos in this first round, we will freeze the ones we don't use in this first transfer.  If this cycle fails we will try again when we've been able to come up with the funds to make it happen.  There we go with those sacrifices again!  The ultimate answer to that question is that we ask for your positive thinking too...and also for your support throughout our journey...wherever the road to Baby Womack leads...

Doesn't IVF put you at risk for multiples?  Will you be the new Octo-mom??

Lord let's hope not!  But yes, multiples is a "risk" that comes along with IVF.  The doctors at OU know what they're doing.  They know their stats and they will help us make educated decisions throughout this process.  We trust their judgment and we know that they are a practice of ethical and morally upstanding doctors.  The most likely multiple situation is twins.  Anything beyond that is not a likely scenario, but yes, it is certainly an outside possibility.  Jonathan and I have discussed this facet of IVF a lot and we feel confident that if twins or triplets are in our future, then so be it.  We will continue to trust that God will continue to provide as he has thus far.  I heard a woman speak at UBC several years ago about her infertility struggles.  She said "I prayed and begged God for children for years and His answer was wait.  I shook my fists at him and asked Him why.  And then unexpectedly I had two sets of twins within 2 years of each other.  And it was then that I realized that I wouldn't be able to be a mother without fully relying on Him.  I planned and He laughed.  And now I have 4 beautiful children!"  That speech has been in the forefront of my mind ever since.  If I am to be a mother of multiples, I have confidence that my God will hold my hand through it.  However if we do end up with *might* get called in as reinforcements my friends... ;)

Jonathan is getting ready to start a residency soon right?  Where does the whole medical school thing fit into this scenario?

Funny you should ask that.  Even within the last 10 days God has closed doors and opened others in this realm.  This was a major concern for us too.  Not so much the residency thing, but more the clinical sciences situation.  Jonathan is nearly finished with his basic sciences, but he still has 81 weeks of clinical rotations to complete in the US before graduation.  God has graciously reworked our original "plan" and made the process of IVF and pregnancy even more possible given our new schedule.  I know that's probably a fairly vague answer, so suffice to say, for now, that between May 1st and September 15th God has provided an awesome window for us to make this happen.  And beyond that we already see Him paving the way...

What can we do to help?  What do you guys need?

Right now today, we need your prayer and support.  We need your positive thinking!  We need your words of encouragement.  We want you to be involved in Project Baby Womack however you see fit.  Whatever that looks like for you.  When the day comes that we bring our sweet baby (or babies!) into this world, we will need you like crazy.  We will need your hands and feet.  We will need your compassion.  We will need your joy and excitement!  What we need from you is to join our army of support.  Wait patiently with us!  Ask us how the process is going!  We need you to help hold us up.  We want the volley of praise to be HUGE when God sees this through.  When He works his miracles and sends us our angel(s) we want you all to be a part of the roar of gratitude sent His way!  And we want to be able to tell our children that they had a multitude of people praying for their arrival.  It takes a village y'all...

In closing, if you have questions...ask!  We won't be offended.  Honestly, I'd rather you go ahead and ask instead of speculate or assume.  I've been guilty of that myself in the past.  So just ask and I'll answer.  Jonathan and I are boldly proceeding in the direction we feel God is leading us...come along with us for the ride!


  1. OMG! Your eloquent response about adoption is perfection. That's the critical one I get most often, and I also just say, "You just don't know how you'll respond until you're in the position to decide."

    1. It's SO true that you don't know how you'll respond until you're there. There might come a day when adoption *is* the right option for us, but for now, it just doesn't feel right. A few years ago I said IVF wasn't right for us either! God opens and closes doors and changes hearts according to His purpose!

  2. Rachel, I just wondered about what you might do with the rest of the embryos if any go unused. I had heard of Christians recently adopting out their unused frozen embryos rather than allowing them to be simply "discarded." You might end up using all of them, but I think as Christians it's an important question as we consider these little creations of the Father. Prayers that all goes smoothly for you.

    1. That is a beautiful bit of wisdom, Kendra, and it's actually something that has been kind of floating around in my head for a while. What *does* happen with all those tiny little lives? That's a great suggestion and I will do more research about that immediately.

  3. I hope being misdiagnosed with PCOS didn't cause any severe issues to you and your health. Misdiagnosis can be really difficult to deal with. In any case, I hope dealing with IVF hasn't been too stressful to you either. I know you'll come out of that well, Rachel. I believe in you! All the best! :)

    Modesto Culbertson @ D&Z Law Group