Friday, January 23, 2015

My Quest for Faith

January 20, 2014, I can remember standing in the parking lot of a CVS in central Dallas after one of three consultations that we were having with new Reproductive Endocrinologists, AKA “IVF doctors,” from Dallas to St. Louis.  Todd and I were alone and having one of the most difficult conversations I have ever had in my life.  I was struggling with my faith.  I began to feel as if God had left us to fight this fertility battle on our own.  I was beginning to doubt Him.  It was a low point for me.  Todd didn’t understand it.  He didn’t feel it.  His faith was surviving while mine was not.

It was at that point that we made some drastic changes.  We stopped talking about how we needed to go to church more often, and we did it.  We stopped talking about how it would be fun to join a LifeGroup, and we did it.  We stopped talking about how we should probably start getting involved in the church, and we did it.  We even went above the plan, attended our first Chazown seminar, and I started my Infertile Myrtles LifeGroup.

That conversation in the CVS parking lot was a pivotal moment in my life.

I started this year in a very different way.  Unfortunately, I was in similar but deeper anguish as I was starting 2014.  However, I handled it different.  I made a promise to start a new habit that would build my faith instead of tearing it down; I began reading the Bible daily.

One of the first tasks I completed was to pick my word for the year.  I have read several blogs about other’s words, so I thought it was time that I share mine.  After much study and prayer, I have felt that God is leading me to the word “trust.”  Duh.  I should have been able to figure that one out on my own.

Instead of making resolutions this year, I simply decided to start working on trusting God in everything I do. 
·         When I get sad about our situation…
·         When I start doubting that we will ever have a child or that I will find my joy…
·         When I don’t know what to do next…
·         When I feel I’m failing at being a stepmother…
·         When a friendship is struggling…
·         When work is overwhelming…
·         When I’m feeling unhappy with my body…

…I will stop and tell God about it.  Then, I trust that He will take care of us and that His plan is far better than any plan we could make for ourselves.

I’m still new at this and trying to remember this plan when the waves start rocking my boat.  However, I’m not perfect, yet.  This is just where I’m headed.  This is my goal for the year.

Feel free to help hold me accountable.  If you talk to me and I’m struggling, feel free to remind me that I need to stop, give it to God, and trust that He will take care of us.
 
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I am participating in a link-up with this blog today:  Deep Roots During Infertility
In case you would like to copy & paste the address:  http://www.amateurnester.com/2015/01/deep-roots-infertility.html

Thursday, January 15, 2015

He Feels My Pain - Bible Verse

I really wanted this Bible verse on my blog entry I submitted earlier today.  Blogspot was acting up, but I won't let it keep me from sharing it with you.  Happy Friday, now! 

He Feels My Pain

At some point in this process, I began to desire for people to be aware of infertility.  I wanted them to understand how many people around them suffered from it, and I wanted them to appreciate the pain that comes along with it.  The problem that I had was that others were just not aware of the struggles of infertility.  I wanted everyone around me to understand my pain.

When I crossed into that desire to make others aware, I stopped hiding as much.  I tried to be more honest when I was having a bad day.  I told those that asked how often I was crying.  I tried to tell them with my words how hard this journey was, and how much harder each step was becoming.

The problem there is that you can’t describe this pain.  You can’t make someone understand how far down the pain goes and how much it hurts to literally sob each and every day.  You can’t describe it, but you can feel it.  God feels it for me.  Todd feels it with me.

Wednesday, January 7, our miscarriage started.  I say “our” because this is not my journey.  This is not the fight of one woman trying to have a baby.  This is the struggle that Todd and I are in together.  When the miscarriage started, my world began to crumble. 

I thought it was hard when I had my first miscarriage in May of 2013. 
I thought it was hard when the second cycle failed.
I thought it was hard when the third cycle didn’t even make it to transfer. 
I thought it was hard when we heard we were going to have a miscarriage after the fourth cycle.

What I didn’t realize is how truly hard this miscarriage was going to be.  (For the record, if I could go back to December 19, I would have chosen a D&C over a natural miscarriage.)  I didn’t know that this miscarriage was going to leave me in physical pain and an emotional turmoil that I have never felt before.  For the last eight days, I have found myself sobbing uncontrollably at some point in the day.  Most of the time, I am wrapped in Todd’s embrace when it happens.  For that, I am blessed.

However, telling you that I have cried physically and audibly, until my body shakes and I don’t even recognize myself, will not let you fully understand it.  God feels it for me.  Todd feels it with me.

I just want everyone to understand…not just our struggle, but the struggle of so many other couples around them.

It was last night that I realized that I can’t help everyone understand.  I can’t tell you of the pain and help you to feel it with me.

This is something that Todd and I must continue to feel together and learn to pull out of together.  Right now, I have no other job.  Trying to make others aware and being honest about my emotional state will only keep me in the place of a victim of infertility.  Together, Todd and I will lean on our faith in God and allow Him to help us get to the point where we can find that peace and joy that we once had.

All of this is not to say that we don’t appreciate the love and kind words that friends and family have sent to us because we do.  This is just to say that I realize now that I can’t teach anyone how painful this struggle is.

My goal moving forward is to try to find my joy as often as I can.  Some days are harder than others.  However, I know that the way I have spent the last 8 days is a miserable, dark, lonely place.  It’s time to pull myself out of this hole and move forward.  Some of the time, I will have to fake happiness.  One day, though, the good days will outweigh the bad.  Then, I can answer honestly that I am “fine” and “having a good day.”  God will feel it for me.  Todd will feel it with me.
 
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I am linking-up with another blogger today: 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Photo Challenge...Or Naw

For some reason, teenagers like to say "or naw" and drag out the 'naw' instead of just saying "or not."  It's actually catchy.  You should make a resolution in 2015 to start using it.  You will thank me.  You are welcome.
 
On another unrelated note, I’m a terrible blog slacker because I said I would do a December Photo Challenge, and then I decided not to.  It’s been a rough month, so I won’t even apologize.  Instead, I will share a few pictures from this month that I have enjoyed taking.

I hope everyone has a blessed New Year.  I hope that 2015 fulfills dreams for many of us that 2014 failed to do. 

That sounds pessimistic.  I’ll try again.

I hope everyone has a blessed New Year.  I hope that 2015 isn’t as cruddy of a year as 2014 was.

Grrr, I messed it up, again.

I hope everyone has a blessed New Year.  Good riddance to 2014, which somehow ended up more wretched than 2013.

Apparently, this isn’t going to work.

I hope everyone has a blessed New Year.  The end.  J

(For the record, I did not take all of these pictures. However, they were sent to me, and I liked them. Therefore, I'm taking credit for them. True photo credit goes to someone else in my family. They won't really care.)
Thanksgiving...trying to get a picture with Bradette's daughter, Eleanor.
I don't think she liked my curls.

My handsome stag and me at Thanksgiving

I think Eleanor prefers fewer people in her pictures.

So many pictures...so little time for a nap!  Eleanor with the matriarch of the family...beautiful Mimi.

My awesome cousin, Matthew.

All of the cousins at bowling

Happy hour with college friends

Sushi with the girls

Todd and our buddy, Eddie, on their last day of "No Shave November."

How we decorate for Christmas...exterior lights by Dave, snow by God.

Our tree.  I would leave this up year-round if Todd would let me.

Our mantle.  The picture doesn't do it justice.

I took this picture to use for "cozy" on the photo challenge.

LifeChurch...decorated for Christmas

Our beloved LifeKids area

The church lobby

Headed to my company Christmas party

A girl party scarf exchange.  Such a fun night, Amy!
 
Right before our LifeGroup Leaders Christmas party...
I was a Griswold Christmas, and Todd was mistletoe.
(See his headpiece?)

At the LifeGroup Leaders Christmas party

Todd dressed as a present to God during class.
The little guy was saying, "You have no arms."

I'm sorry, but my uncle caught a goat at the golf course. 
You have to admit that's hilarious and worth sharing!

My sister, Jenny, and her family

My nieces with my parents.  (I don't have a picture of my nieces with their parents from this Christmas.  Poo!)

Our kids with their cousins from Todd's side

We attended 2 churches on Christmas Eve.  It was an amazing day of worship.

Christmas Eve at Mom & Dad's

More Christmas celebrations when my nephews made it back into town

Myself, Mom, and sister Jenny...We missed having my other sister's family in town!

This is how we SnapChat our kids' friends when they leave their accounts open on our phones.

What is this wet, white stuff falling from the sky?!

Home Sweet Home

Because it is...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Boys?!

Yesterday, we were spending our Sunday afternoon in a pretty normal fashion.  Two of our kids were playing ping-pong in the garage while the other had holed up in her room behind an iPad screen that was playing her latest teeny-bopper TV show obsession.  Todd and I had turned our kitchen into gift-wrapping central.  He wraps gifts as well as and probably better than anyone else I know.  I make pretty cute bows to dress them up.  Two of Gary Morris’ Christmas albums were setting the mood for our afternoon of Christmas fun.  (If you haven’t heard Gary and his son, Matt, sing together, you’re missing out on a beautiful treat.)

I stopped for a quick restroom break, and while I was away from my given duties, I had the idea that it was time to find out the sex of the two babies we just lost.  I ran back into the kitchen to make sure my handsome stag was on board with the new idea.  After assuring him that I would not turn into a complete pile of mush for the remainder of the day, he agreed that he was ready to see the answers.

We turned on my phone, opened my email, and found the PGS (pre-implantation genetic screening) results from Tulsa Fertility Center.  (Remember, we performed genetic testing on our embryos, so we actually have the chromosomal make-up of all 7 embryos from this cycle, including their sex.)

It quickly jumped out at us that both of the chromosomally normal embryos (the two that we transferred) had an XY chromosome in the 23rd spot.  It then quickly dawned on us that we had no idea what that meant.  For some reason, all of our training had left both of our minds.  After a search on Dr. Google, we found out that meant they were both boys.  Boys!

For years, we had assumed we would have girls.  Most of the IVF babies (not all, but most) that we know personally are girls.  We hadn’t dreamt of having boys any further than coming up with a family name we would use for one.  But standing there in our kitchen, surrounded by gifts, wrapping paper, bows, and Gary Morris singing “What Child is This?,” my world was turned upside down once again.

For the first time in this entire process, I knew that we could have ourselves a little, baby boy.  In fact, our most successful cycle to date was with a son.  I was overwhelmed with emotions, but as promised, I did not turn to mush…

… until I received a text from my sister, Jenny, saying that she knew we would be reunited with these babies someday.  I like to believe that all of the babies we have made through IVF are in Heaven with our Father.  Now, we know that there are definitely some feisty boys up there pulling their sisters’ hair.  I hope we meet all of our babies, someday.

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As a side note, my acupuncture doctor told me on November 26 that he could tell from my pulse that I was pregnant with a boy.  Even more ironic, my uncle announced to my cousin (before any of them knew we were pregnant) that we were pregnant with two boys.  Like my cousin said, he’s never been known to be clairvoyant; I guess some dreams are more real than others.

Todd and I have a long history with Gary Morris and Matt Morris music.  Therefore, I’m going to leave two videos that I would recommend everyone watch:
·         Gary Morris singing “My Son”
·         Matt Morris & Justin Timberlake singing “Hallelujah”  (For the record, Matt Morris was on The Mickey Mouse Club with Justin Timberlake.  Now, you know.)

Friday, December 19, 2014

No Promises

For a few years, we would take family vacations with Todd’s side of the family to Myrtle Beach.  It was a week-long vacation.  We would drive out there to save money…after all, flying 5 people gets pricey.  (We even had to walk Kaleb through a cost-analysis exercise one time, so he could see how much money we were saving.)  Anyway, the drive was 21 hours one-way when we lived in Dallas and the kids were in Arkansas.  In order to maximize our time there, we left Myrtle Beach at midnight and returned home around 10pm the next night.  This is all added information that is not important.

The point of the story is that we took the kids on an annual vacation.  The first year we did this, they started asking lots of questions about what we would do while we were there.  Quickly, we learned to answer them with, “We are making no promises.”  By the next year, we had shortened this to “No promises.”  By the final year, the kids had learned to answer their own questions with this answer.

We had our final ultrasound today.  Goodbye, Wandy…until next time?  The news is not good.  This was, indeed, not our cycle to have a baby.

What the next step is?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that I can make no promises.

I can make no promises that next time you see me, I will be happy-go-lucky.  However, I can make no promises that I will be sad, either.  My emotions will be unpredictable.  I could change how I feel at the drop of a hat.  When you’re dealing with something this painful, you deserve to have your mourning periods.  That being said, you also deserve the right to pull yourself out of the mourning slump and enjoy life when you can.  For the record, finding joy in life during a time like this does not mean that I’m over it or that it doesn’t hurt; it means that I cannot remain upset 24/7 or I could end up letting happiness slip through my fingers forever.

I can make no promises to be optimistic from this point forward.  There will be times that things will seem like they are never going to go our way.  I will do my best to only unload on Todd, though.  J  Lucky fella.

I can make no promises that I will respond to each and every text, email, voicemail, or Facebook message that I receive.  Sometimes, I have no words for what to say back.  I do appreciate any and every message that you send, though.  Just don’t be offended if you don’t hear back from me.

I can make no promises to what our future holds.  More IVF, donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos, adoption, no more Provence babies?  Who knows?  Todd and I have a lot discuss.  We have a lot to pray about.  Our next step used to be decided.  Then, we got pregnant, and things changed.
 
I can make no promises to stop making jokes about stealing babies.  Maybe those are a little off-color, but they make Todd and me laugh.  We enjoy dreaming up new ways to go to Walmart and bring home bread, eggs, and a baby.  That being said, I can make no promises to stop making jokes about taking friends' multiples off their hands.

As for now, we will take life one day at a time.  The kids get into town tonight, so we won’t be making any decisions until after they leave.  I will stop my Progesterone injections tonight and hope that I naturally miscarry.

At this time, the only thing that anyone can do for us is to pray.  We appreciate the support.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Handkerchief

When I was a little girl, my dad always had a handkerchief on him.  When I had the sniffles, he handed me his handkerchief.  When I cried, he handed me his handkerchief.  When I skinned my knee, he handed me his handkerchief.  He would put a handkerchief in his back pocket with the same importance of his wallet and watch.  I don’t remember a day that my dad didn’t have a handkerchief on him.
 
When a friend of mine passed away in college, my high school History teacher walked over to me at the funeral and handed me his handkerchief.  It reminded me of my father’s actions, and I was comforted.
 
When I got married, I had handkerchiefs monogrammed for him with my maiden initials.  It was symbolic of how I would always be his little girl.  I also had some made for Todd and myself because I knew that we would both cry on our wedding day.  Those handkerchiefs were meant for happy tears.
See the handkerchief in my hand in the bottom-left picture?
This week, I haven’t been without my handkerchief.  I have spent the better part of the last 3 days crying into one while curled up on my husband’s perfectly-made-for-me chest.

You see, 23 days ago, Todd and I received some of the best news of our lives.  We are pregnant.  We were elated!  We spent the next 3 weeks sharing the good news with friends and family.  (We chose for me not to post it to the blog because we were planning to tell our kids when they get here tomorrow night for Christmas.  We did not want to take a chance of them finding out via social media.  That would not have been a problem back when my mom was announcing she was pregnant with me!  Yes, kids, I’m that old.)
 
Anyway, our second pregnancy test at the doctor was on December 2, and we had a bit of a scare.  Our hCG levels were not rising as fast as they should have been.  However, by December 9, everything was on track, and we scheduled our first ultrasound on Monday, December 15.
 
We were so excited!  I asked Todd that week what he was most excited about, and he said, “Watching you be a mother.”  Awe!  So romantic.  Then, he quickly followed it with, “And freaking out over everything.”  Ha!  He knows me so very well.
 
As we sat in the exam room on Monday, we were like kids on Christmas morning, waiting for their parents to brush their teeth and get the video camera off the charger.  Dr. McKinney couldn’t take any longer to come into the room.  I was thrilled.  I even remember asking Todd if he was excited to see our baby for the first time.  We were all smiles and nerves…but good nerves.
 
The ultrasound started, and Dr. McKinney did a good job hiding that maybe things didn’t look quite copacetic.  It wasn’t until the nurse left the room without a word that I began to worry.  She could see that one of the embryos had implanted.  However, the gestational sac did not contain a yolk sac.  She proceeded to explain to us that this is called a blighted ovum.  She wanted us to return for a follow-up ultrasound on Friday (tomorrow).  It was at that point that she really burst our bubble.  She informed us that there was less than a 10% chance that this would turn into a viable pregnancy.
 
I was crushed.  Devastated.
 
I realize we still have a 10% chance that this will work.  I realize my God is bigger than this problem.  That doesn’t take away all of my pain.  There is a chance that this isn’t our cycle, and that hurts.  I am doing my best to remain positive and remember that God can fix this.  However, that doesn’t mean that He will.
 
I have spent the last 3 days crying into my monogrammed handkerchief.  That handkerchief comforts me a little, though.  It reminds me of when I was a child and life was so easy.