The things I’ve wanted to say… (Part 1)

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Oh my… where to start? If you’ve been following our Facebook page, you probably know by now that WE’RE PREGNANT!

No matter how much I try to put words to this journey, I’ll never be able to describe all that God has done. His love and His miracles continue to astound me into a place of awe and praise. And before you ask, YES! We are STILL adopting. Again… “Oh my… where to start?”

Buckle in. I’ve got a lot of updating to do, and even though I’m dividing all the info into 2 separate posts, this is going to be a long one.

Let’s start with the pregnancy. I know that Jordan and I have lived in 4 states in the last 4 years, and this has caused interrupted lines of communication with the MANY faces we’ve grown to love. Forgive me if this is the only method in which you are being brought up to speed. I hope our news brings encouragement to stories much like ours, and worship for those who cannot fathom it. Our God is a good and holy Creator of life, and our baby is of one these great, indescribable works!

So I’m just going to cut right to the chase and put it out there: We struggle with fertility. I also want to be up front and say that we MADE THE DECISION TO ADOPT WAAAY BEFORE we discovered these medical issues. Not that we see anything wrong with couples who turn to adoption as their last option, in fact we commend them! But in our story, we are grateful that God gave us a light of hope to ALREADY be excited about, despite the outcome of medical reports. He is sooo cool isn’t He? And the last thing I want to put out there is that “the problem” was me- not Jordan.

I want to be completely transparent here. I have had several friends come out of the woodwork, feeling SO alone, because they struggle with infertility and find shame in that. I hope my story in some way brings hope to you. You may not be able to directly relate to my EXACT situation, but I keep seeing The Lord shine through the eventual successes… and even paths that just seemingly continue to grow longer. HE IS THERE WITH YOU! He loves you and is enamored with your beauty- that even means the parts that may not be working the way they are “supposed to.” He loves the shape of your eyes, even when they cry… and He is longing to be invited into your thought-life. His love is the most SUSTAINING gift you can give yourself as you seek out doctors, hard results, and month-to-month disappointments. He is a good God. Let Him in.

So my story: If you’ve read past blogs, you may have caught wind that the last few years have been ones that I could not complete in a healthy state. My stress levels were off the charts and I SHOULD have been medicated. Yet, because I knew that I wanted to conceive, I held off on the medication (not wanting to harm an embryo). Little did I know, stress is one of the best birth controls out there. Month to month my cycle would return. I read the blogs, the medical journals with “early pregnancy symptoms,” what I should be eating… EVERYTHING a normal girl does when she’s ready to start a family. But a year went by with no pregnancy to report. This confused and hurt me. Women in my family are EXTREMELY fertile. They don’t HAVE to try. Shouldn’t I take after them?

I have always tracked my cycle and am very in-tune with my body. I quickly began to notice that about 1/3 of my cycles were extremely different from the others. NOW I know that these months I most likely WAS pregnant, but could not sustain a fertilized egg because of my stress. With the help of my doctor and MANY, MANY expensive tests, we discovered that my progesterone levels were pretty low. I know that there have been a few women in my family who have had to take some progesterone supplements, so this may be partly genetic… but a lot of my issue was also situational. Everyone produces a hormone called cortisol, which functions as our “fight or flight” chemical. We all rely on cortisol when we are stressed out. And in extreme situations (think PTSD patients, etc) our cortisol can RUN OUT. As women, God created a last resort so that we can still function…. we pull from our progesterone reserves. We need progesterone to PRODUCE eggs each month. I was ovulating, so obviously, thats where my fertile family history came into play- that despite my low levels, I still was releasing eggs. But there are two problems with that #1) Were my eggs mature enough? #2) If they were mature, was there enough progesterone to sustain a pregnancy.

In my case, no.

This is why some months I was experiencing a chemical pregnancy (this is when you’d pass a blood test if you took it, but wouldn’t pass your at-home kit). After months of blood work, PAINUL tests (want an example? Google the HSG test! It made me question HOW BADLY did I want a baby!!), some months where I was at peace with results… but many where there were LOTS of tears, my doctor finally approved me as a Clomid patient. This was my last resort before trying an IUI, and potentially in-vitro. My medical bills were piling up and I found myself in a place where I was asking God “Are you going to make me choose between a pregnancy and adoption? Lord, how can I be so sure that you have called me to both -and yet- pregnancy is turning up void?” You see, my issue was that I KNEW God called us to begin the adoption process just after Jordan graduated. My flesh feared that if we were obedient to that call, what would my body do in 3 years (once the adoption was complete)… as a 30 year old… when my fertility would be on the decline? We couldn’t afford infertility treatment, on top of our current medical bills, AND funding an adoption. We would have to choose. We really wrestled with if we had correctly “HEARD” the commands God had made so clear to us.

But isn’t that so like man? We bend scripture, impressions from the Lord, and clear instruction when God’s timeline doesn’t EXACTLY match our own. Were we going to be Pharisees and encourage others to take the hard path when we were too weak to do so ourselves? I get SOOO upset with my loved ones when they choose their paths over The Lord’s… I want to scream, “I know it’s tough, but don’t you know it will be better?!” Ugh… but this time I had to scream it to myself. But it was hard!! We were literally at that point of testing: Jordan’s graduation was only a few days away, I had a negative pregnancy test and we had an unstable, post-grad job opportunity (that has now evolved into a beautiful blessing– Jordan’s job at Oasis Church). But it was also that weekend, when we had no secure answers to give towards ANYTHING, and our barrel was going over Niagara, that we said “May Your will be done, Lord. Our bodies are for Your service… no matter WHERE that may be… no matter HOW that may be… we CHOOSE to praise you. Thank you for making us dependent on You.” We chose to proceed with the adoption once we landed in Florida and give up on conception until that process was completed.

It was in that state of submission that I took my first round of Clomid in Texas… I could feel a difference. I had strange cramps right before my cycle began the next month… but, yet again, I got another negative pregnancy test… meaning, another month closer to our adoption journey, void of a pregnancy.

Through the tears, “Your will be done, Lord.”

Month two, strange cramps again… I was supposed to have my routine scan of my ovaries in July, but I was afraid that it would be expensive with my cobra extension… so I was able to slide into my gyno for an early scan SO THAT I could get prescribed my next Clomid round (This was a huge oversight on THEIR end- normally this would have NEVER been accepted… but God had other plans!) I went into the tech’s room for my ultrasound and we mutually comforted one another in our commonality of conception difficulties. As she was moving her wand from one ovary to the next, she stopped in-between. Now, I’ve had enough of these scans that I have a trained eye for those little black and white images flashing across the screen. We both saw it… a TINY, almost microscopic dot in the lining of my endometrium. “Hmmm your endometrium is really thick right now.. much thicker than last time.” I told her that I hadn’t started my cycle, that I was able to “sneak” in early before the lining could shed. Then she looked at me and said, “Hmm… it’s good that you came in then… I’m going to get the Nurse Practitioner to look over these.” She then walked me to the Nurse’s OFFICE, gave me a quick hug and whispered, “Good luck, Brandi.”

Brittany, the NP, walked me into a little waiting room and left to go view my ultrasound images in a separate room. What you don’t know yet is that I WAS MOVING the next morning. This was my LAST chance to get Clomid or get pregnant. Clomid is only prescribed 3 times, and I was about to take my third… but I was ALSO about to move to Florida, and that means that  it was time to respond in obedience to God’s call for adoption. But as I waited, I felt a calm wave of peace cover me. It literally brought me to tears! I started to worship The Lord, and all I could say is “Holy, Holy are you Lord!! Have you created life in a place that was dead?! Worthy are YOU, Lord!! No matter what the answers may be… WORTHY are YOU for placing Your hand over my body!” I could FEEL the Lord!! I then looked over to my left and hanging on the wall was this picture:

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Because the image is small, you probably cannot read the text. It says:

“You are the God who performs miracles;

You display your power among the peoples.”

Psalm 77:14

 

That is when The Lord told me something special was happening. I shed a few more tears and soon Brittany, the nurse practitioner, came in. She told me to not get TOO excited, that the spot could be a little blood clot that I was about to release in my upcoming cycle… but that it could also be a little gestational sack. She then put in orders for me to have an HCG Test (blood pregnancy test) and a progesterone test (indicating on whether or not I could keep the baby, if that was, in fact, what it was developing to be). She gave me a hug and told me that she would get my results back as quickly as possible… hopefully that afternoon. Praise God for an EARLY morning appointment, right!?

I went on for a hair appointment and then my mom treated me to a pedicure. Ok– sorry to any men that may be reading this, but you’ve made it this far… you can handle it! As this fun part of my day progressed, I started bleeding. I had breakthrough bleeding every month, a sign of low progesterone and a period around the corner. My mind began to doubt, but something in my spirit was still hooked on the presence of God that I had just experienced in the waiting room that morning. Long story short, I kept missing calls from my doctor asking me to call her back to hear my test results. UGH! As I was getting my pedicure, I was just watching the clock tick closer and closer to the time that I knew my gyno’s office was closing, again… a last minute situation here!! When it was time to dry my toes, I instead opted to run to the restroom and called my nurse’s voicemail for the THIRD time that day! I BEGGED her to just leave me a voicemail… that I was MOVING 12 hours away the next morning, and I didn’t want to take Clomid if I was pregnant… and that If I couldn’t answer (knowing I was going to be with my MOM! HA! Hello, Jordan at least deserved to be the first to know!!) to please please pleeeeaaaseeeee just leave me a detailed message!!!

Sure enough. She called back… WHILE I WAS IN THE CAR WITH MY MOM! I cannot tell you the torture it was to silence my phone and just watch it ring and ring with the answers my heart was thumping to hear! I waited for the voicemail… please let it be a long one, please let it be a long one!… saw the notification and quickly slipped the phone up to my ear.

“Brandi, this is Brittany Rider again… I was really hoping I could talk to you in person… but umm… I wanted to be sure to tell you ya before I left for the day… that…. you are PREGNANT. BARELY pregnant, but PREGNANT!”

I literally felt an ELECTRIC BOLT SHOOT through my body! I had to hold my hands tightly in my lap so that my mom and Jordan wouldn’t notice them shaking! She proceeded to tell me that my progesterone levels were SUPER low and that I needed to get on progesterone (200 mg) THAT night in order to keep the pregnancy. (The follicle that releases your egg produces your progesterone levels until the placenta takes over in the 2nd trimester.. since I was having issues with strong follicles, I had to take a supplement until later in the pregnancy.) This meant that I was high risk for a miscarriage my first trimester, but BECAUSE I came in early we were able to find my little spot before I lost it. 🙂

As soon as we pulled into the garage I thought I was going to be sick! I ran upstairs as fast as I could and locked the doors to the bedroom AND bathroom…. I called the doctors office and sure enough, Brittany had gone home. Thankfully, there was a nurse still there and she was aware of my case. She assured me that if I took my progesterone I would be ok… that my bleeding would stop… and PRAISE THE LORD, I finally had a little baby inside! As soon as I hung up, I DROPPED to my knees and began to cry. Arms reaching to Heaven, the words from the morning came back, “WORTHY! WORTHY! AND HOLY, HOLY ARE YOU LORD!!! GOD THIS CHILD IS YOURS! WHETHER I GET TO KEEP IT FOR JUST TODAY, THROUGH NEXT WEEK, OR UNTIL IT’S 80TH BIRTHDAY, I AM GIVING IT RIGHT BACK TO YOU! THIS BABY IS YOURS TO TAKE. MAY IT ALWAYS BE AN INSTRUMENT TO SHOW YOUR GREAT WORKS! WORTHY, WORTHY, WORTHY!!! ALL THE PRAISE AND GLORY BELONG TO YOU O LORD!!”

Once I regained composure, my mind started racing. I had over a year and a half of planning on how to make the delivering of such news special… but what would I do now? We were about to eat our last dinner as a family before our move… then we had to pack… and.. and.. and.. THINK BRANDI! THINK! Oh how I wished I could pack a little picnic for Jordan! No time for that. OH! YES! My brother Zack was wanting help moving a couch into his house… ok cool… “since we’re moving in the morning and it’s about to rain” let’s get that moved “while Jordan could help”… then I could buy myself time between his house and my parent’s to slip off with Jordan and do something somewhat special on the fly!

The couch moving was a success… an awkward one, but hey- I sold it pretty well. Then I told Jordan that I wanted to drive up the mountain really quickly to take some “mental pictures” before I left home for good. Jordan, understanding my sentiment, agreed to a quick dash since it was on the way back to my parent’s anyway. I didn’t really know where I was going… I was just waiting for a clearing… a bluff.. just something beautiful and secluded. We passed this enormous house being built and I asked him if we could just pull in there… I told him that “OBVIOUSLY nobody was home” and I could see a cliff/overlook in their backyard. He nervously agreed… though, had we not been in a time crunch, he probably wouldn’t have (surprisingly, I tend to be more daring than he is).

Sure enough, it started to sprinkle… oh man… now I had no way to causally go into this… dang it! So I just decided to speak from my heart. I told him how much I loved him- how thankful I was for him- that I literally don’t know how I would have survived the last two years without him, and how thankful I was that he made me his priority amidst his many pressing responsibilities- that I respected and trusted him at all new heights, and that even though the future was a little scary for me, I knew I was safe to follow him to Florida… away from everything I know. That it was an honor to stand by his side, and that I’m so thankful that he picked me….. and… and…. “I have you a little gift. It’s really, really small… but something that I knew a man [like him] was perfect for.” I had him close his eyes and hold out his hands…. (something that I frequently do)… and I slipped a little jar of baby food into his palm.

Opening his eyes, and staring at it for a few seconds, I soon saw tears streaming down his face. In a slow, sweet voice he said, “You’re pregnant?” With a lump in my throat, I quickly nodded and a clap of thunder sounded out overhead. Head burrowed, he just pulled me close and we cried together in the pouring rain. No words. Just hugs. I then pulled back and told him that we better run to the car or else we would have a lot of explaining to do when we got home!

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 (You can’t see here, but there are tears welling up in those eyes!)

Once we got in the car I let him hear my voicemail from Brittany and he cried some more. Then he grabbed my hands and started praying almost exactly the same prayer I did to our Lord. It was such a beautiful, unscripted moment that even the best of my planning couldn’t ever beat! We then drove through Walgreens & grabbed my progesterone prescription and then headed home to tell my 110% non-expecting family.

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Long story short, and caught on camera (soon to be posted! haha!), I had special little gifts made LONG ago for our families for when this day would hopefully come. It was a hilarious and fun night… and how amazing that GOD WOULD GIFT ME with the chance to tell my family in PERSON. {Lord– I did not take that for granted!!} On top of that, my parents have their God-daughter staying with them right now, so the fact that I could get her to secretly capture everything so that Jordan and I could be in the moment too… {Jesus!! Why do you love me in the beautiful way that You do?!} To keep Jordan’s parents in the loop, after dinner, I ran upstairs to my laptop and ordered flowers to be sent to them the next day (in Brazil) from the baby. AND we have THAT conversation caught on camera too… don’t you just love technology?

(Until the videos are posted… basically, both of our moms freaked out in excitement annnnd both of our dads cried. HAHA! First grandchildren are always fun reactions to watch!!)

Sooo this is HALF of our big update! Are your eyes tired??? I’ll update you on our adoption progress within the next few days, that way you can take a break from all this Santos News!

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Our little miracle is now 13 weeks. I’m off of my progesterone and officially in my 2nd trimester. All my scans are good… “excellent” actually… and our baby is right on target. We are expecting our sweet gift to arrive on March 8th, and we will never have words to appropriately translate the blessing God gave us the night before our first steps to “move on.” Like I said before, The Lord keeps me in a state of wonder!

 

“You are the God who performs miracles;

You display your power among the peoples.”

Psalm 77:14

 

Our desire is to raise this child in the awareness of it’s appointed existence… that it’s very life was created to reflect the majesty of the Lord… that it has already been granted with a gift of purpose: To DISPLAY the power of the all consuming, everlasting, God Almighty, Lord of Glory!

Will you worship with us?!!

 

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