loss

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear

On January 22nd, 2010, Frank and I were blessed more abundantly than we could even fathom.  For the first time, we had a BFP: big freaking positive.

We couldn’t believe it.  We were in between fertility treatments.  This pregnancy was truly unexpected.

We had three ultrasounds, two that showed the perfect heartbeat of a sweet baby that we lovingly referred to as “Bean.”

Last night, after hours of unexplained cramping, an ultrasound technician was unable to locate the heartbeat of our sweet baby.

We are both crushed.

And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back
I know you are near

As I sat in the ER with my dear friend Meghan, I kept wondering:  “Is this really happening?”

Frank was in Atlanta and caught the first flight he could catch home, arriving in the ER at 12:30 a.m.

We held eachother for a long time.

And I wondered where God was.

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

And even though Jesus couldn’t physically come sit with us, He was there.  He was there in the form of friends who dropped everything to sit with me for 5 1/2 hours in the Emergency Room.  A sweet friend who sat with me during the ultrasound.  He graciously helped Frank make it home last night, on the last flight out.

During church earlier yesterday morning, the worship team played the song whose lyrics are interspersed in this post.  It was a song that carried me during our fertility struggles.  And God lodged that song in my head and my heart yesterday, a lyrical security blanket that I fell asleep singing and woke up singing and can’t get out of my head.

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare

Of course I wonder why this happens.  But this morning, while I was curled around Frank, wondering why 16 year olds who have no idea what they are doing have perfectly healthy babies, it occurred to me that this was all the life that this sweet baby was supposed to have.  God knew the number of days for this sweet baby before I even knew that I was carrying her (I’ve just always thought this baby was a girl).  This sweet baby only had a few weeks to live and I see it as a heartbreaking honor to have been able to be her Mom, even for just a short 9 1/2 weeks.  Of all the people who could have been chosen to give her a home and a soft place to live on this Earth, God chose Frank and me.

I took excellent care of us during these past 9 1/2 weeks.  I took all my vitamins and medication.  I didn’t drink my favorite beverage (Diet Coke) because I didn’t want the caffeine to negatively impact her. I gave this baby the best life I could possibly give her.

She wasn’t meant to be born.  I know that in my head, but my heart is still trying to make sense of it.  Something was probably wrong with her that would have made surviving outside of the uterus impossible.  But while she was here on this Earth, she was loved.  We talked to her, we dreamed of her, and we loved her, sight unseen.  She had a whole family that loved her and cared for her, even though they had never seen her.

And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth

I don’t know why these things happen.

But maybe it doesn’t matter why.

These things just do happen.

Frank and I were meant to be her parents, even though it was just for a short time.  And even though this breaks our hearts more than anything ever has, we know that she is with our Savior in Heaven and that we can one day hope to meet her face-to-face.

when to say when

Knowing when to say “when” is not my strong suit.  Ask my husband.

I am the queen of bad timing and timing misjudgments.

My timing issues tend to center around my inability to leave the office, but have also seeped into other areas, including when to leave a party, when to leave church, when to leave dinner, when to go to bed… etc, etc.

And when to let go in an argument.

I have to say I’m getting better at the last one.

Ask my younger sister Cait, she’ll tell you that I used to always try to get the last word in ALWAYS.  I’ve been like that since she’s known me.  Her first day home from the hospital as an infant and she was like, “darn, girlfriend, have a bottle and CHILL!”

When should I let go of the fertility biz?  When is enough truly enough?  How many shots, scans, opinions, tests and screenings can I handle?

This isn’t to say that I think we are at the end of our time in fertility treatment world.  I’m not ready to give up yet.  I know Frank isn’t ready to give up either.

But I know there is  a chance that a time might come where I might have to recognize that we fought the good fight and there is no more we can do or pray for, at least regarding having a biological child.

At the end of the day when I am beyond tired, that is usually when I decide to bake cookies, wrap Christmas gifts and wash the floor.  When I should rest, I find that I am too tired to sit still.

That is why I worry that God will give me all the cues that we cannot go any farther, and I will miss the cues because I am too tired to see them – too focused on searching for the solution, the next option and the next treatment to realize that the game is over and the crowd went home.

After reading a few blogs about women at varying stages of this process, with several of them undergoing treatment for three to five years, I just can’t even fathom what that is like to go through that emotional and physical marathon.

I am amazed by God’s tremendous grace and blessing.  God gave me a husband who is an expert at knowing when to say “when.”  Frank puts 100% into everything he does, but he knows when a situation is done.  He knows when the party is winding down, when the game is over and when it’s time to turn the lights out and go to bed.

So we’ll keep chugging along and I’m hopeful that if I miss God’s cues, Frank will see them.

infertility jokes are just not funny

So obviously I’ve been pretty sad lately (as in over the past few days).

But the Irish girl in me (about 1/4 to 1/8 of me… I’m a bit diluted) is fighting hard to find a joke in here.

I think about different conversations I have had or might have, and I try to work in a infertility  joke.

It’s not possible.

Infertility is the most unfunny topic ever.

And even when I think of something that sounds funny to me, I realize that if I say it out loud, I will put everyone else in a bad spot.  You can almost see the panic on peoples’ faces as they think: Laugh? Don’t laugh?  Is it funny?  I don’t know! I don’t know! HELP!

That’s not really fun for anyone.

I guess I’ll just have to honor the Belgian in me: chocolate and beer, please!

bah.

I don’t know what else there is to say about the BFN today.  I was hoping that some elegant words would come to mind, but most of the words that have come to mind have been less than elegant.

Mostly the words are born out of frustration and anger.  Oh, and a ton of sadness.

This month was more difficult than most.  It marked a full year of trying.  Yes, I totally understand that most people try for a year before they think something is wrong and get checked out.  We were just fortunate (or unfortunate?) enough that it was evident that we had a problem on our hands four months in to trying.

For the past eight months I have been on and off of Clomid.  I have been stuck and poked and prodded countless numbers of times.  I am pretty sure I could give myself an ultrasound if the technician were to accidentally pass out.

This is not how I imagined how this process would go.

I know that I am blessed beyond comprehension in so many ways.  I remind myself of that daily when I get sad or upset about this situation.

But this situation just sucks.

BFN

I’ve learned a lot of fertility lingo in the past year.

TTC = trying to conceive

Luteal Phase = time between ovulation and the next menstrual cycle

Trigger Shot = an injection of hormones to trigger ovulation

BFN = Big Freaking Negative pregnancy test

Today was another BFN.

I don’t even know how many BFNs we’ve had in 2009 because I had some weird cycles – 12? 13?

It’s getting old.

God's odds

I believe, as a Christian, that God is everywhere.  That God is in everything that is true and good.

And I also believe that something doesn’t have to be labeled “Christian” to be true or good.  If there is something true and/or good, then I believe that it is from God.  And not all things labeled “Christian” are guaranteed to be true or good.

So about five years ago I started reading this book called Fabric of the Cosmos – and I’m still reading this darned book! It’s basically quantum physics/mechanics explained.  The author does a wonderful job explaining why time moves in the direction it does and sparks great curiosity in me to understand why the world works the way it does.

I loved reading this book because  in the plainest possible English (which is still quite difficult to understand), this author explains (to the best of the scientific community’s knowledge) how the intricate fabric of our universe works, including space and time, and it left me in awe of the Lord who created everything.

One of the things the author talks about is possibility and probability, specifically when he was talking about why time moves in one direction only.  As a girl raised on science fiction novels about time travel (the first novel I read with my dad was The Time Machine by HG Wells), I was disappointed that the author of Fabric of the Cosmos hadn’t cracked the code for time travel – but I digress.

In Emily-speak, basically the author describes an egg falling off a counter and breaking when it hits the floor.  There is before, and there is after.  There is dispersion.  Now, according to quantum (as best as I understand it) physics, it is entirely possible that the egg will fall off the counter, hit the floor and NOT break.  There is a possibility that it will maintain its shape and continue on without  a problem.

It’s just that the probability of that happening is so slim, I don’t have enough time or energy to calculate that out.

Same thing when you open a can of soda.  The “Woosh” sound (mmm, I love that sound) is the sound of gas escaping from the can and dispersing into the air around the can.  There is a possibility that this gas could disperse into the exact shape of a can of soda.  Again, the probability of that happening is a small number.

All things are possible, but when you graph it on a probability curve, certain things are more probable than others.

That is a beautiful thing to me.

Why?

If all things are possible, although statistically some things are less probable, then nothing is impossible.

It’s like God saying, through science, anything can happen.

We’ve been riding this fertility roller coaster for almost a year now.  The odds of pregnancy are getting slimmer and slimmer.  If this IUI cycle doesn’t work, my current fertility doc is referring us to a whole different clinic because in her experience, the odds are better over there.  But really, anything is possible.  I’ve had friends who were told that the PROBABILITY of pregnancy was slim to none – and they have healthy children.  I know a woman with 1/8th of ONE ovary and she has 5 kids.

I know our probabilities are shrinking, but I also know that with God, anything is possible.

The other thing that I believe is that sometimes the thing we think we need is not the thing we actually need.

Take Jesus for example: the Jews thought they needed a political savior.  They believed Jesus was going to rescue them from their political oppressors.  Jesus, ever the big thinker, was actually meant to reconcile the world to God – to bring the world back into harmony with its creator.

I take comfort in that because it encourages me to think big.

Anything is possible.

Think big.

Got it.

great day with the doc

The results are in:

1x 22mm follicle (mature! ready to go! woot!)

1x16mm follicle (ready to go probably tomorrow!)

1x 14mm follicle (will probably go in the next few days)

Praise God!  Please keep praying, we have the IUI tomorrow at 10:30 a.m.

today

Today we have an appointment for a day 14 ultra sound to see if we have a mature follicle or two.  Last week we had one follicle at 12 mm and one at 10 mm.  If they are at 18mm, I will take the trigger shot and we will have IUI tomorrow.

Please pray for us!

More to follow later…

back in the saddle

So, after a month of testing, talking to doctors, praying and wondering what God has in store for us, it appears we have at least another 4 rounds of IUI in front of us.

The second opinion Doc looked at my results and didn’t have the same high-drama reaction my fertility specialist had.  The second opinion Doc thinks that with some adjustments to hormone medications, IUI might be able to work.  Good news for a Friday the 13th, hey?  And a pretty good birthday present, too.

I would think with news like that, I would be more enthusiastic.  But instead, I feel more… even.  Neither excited nor sad.  I am okay.  I am grateful that we still have a chance, but working very hard to stay even and level.  Extreme excitement or dread/sadness about possible failure are not helpful emotional swings for me or for Frank.

So yeah, I’m breathing in and breathing out – and praying with each breath.
That’s all I can do.

Oh, and for those of you who missed the hormone drug-induced crazies – hold on to your hats!  It’s back with a vengeance!!  yee haw!

choices

If I were to identify a theme for this year, it would be choices.

Not just the actual choices, but the process that goes into making choices and the choices that are available to us.

There are some choices where God is very specific in our lives and speaks clearly.

And there are some choices where God is silent.

We have been faced a lot of choices regarding our fertility treatments.  But we also had equally important choices to make regarding where to live, where to work  and, in a few instances, where NOT to work.  Last fall we went on a church finding mission and there were SO many great choices!  In some ways it was difficult to come to a final conclusion.

But I think what is even more important are the daily choices we’re been faced with, like

approaching God… or not

loving each other… or not

staying positive… or not.

It became so crystal clear to me this year that love is a choice, not an emotion.  Sure, I feel warm and fuzzy frequently, but as we’ve been going through some difficult challenges, the choice of loving is a daily decision.   It is a decision backed by action.

Frank brought me beautiful red roses today.  And I loved it.  But I didn’t love it because of the flowers, but rather I loved it because of the sentiment.  He drove out of his way to bring me the flowers and spend a few minutes with me.  Aside from being an incredibly sweet thing to do, it was such a demonstration of his decision to love me.

It is hard sometimes for me to choose to be happy.  My cycle is almost over for the month.  Since I haven’t been on medication this month, it is likely that the cycle will drag out about an extra week.  In the past, this was an incredible source of false hope.  And even right now, I find myself thinking, “Well, maybe it will be a miracle!”

At the same time that I am teeter-tottering at the end of my month and trying to prayerfully keep myself in check, I am fighting to stay neutral.  It is incredibly difficult because more and more people are pregnant around me.  Of course, I am very happy for them, but I am sad for me.  I want to be a part of this exciting time in their lives, but at the same time I find myself choosing to stay neutral and calm because too much involvement (read: giddiness and excitement) will only cause me to crash emotionally.  I’ve learned at least that much about myself.

Tonight, while I was working on a few things, I was trying to determine where I am on an emotional spectrum or how I would define my current emotional state.  Would numb be appropriate? Sad? Blah? A 5 on a scale of 1 to 10? Disappointed? Hopeless? Angry?

Most of the time, I choose to just be happy.  This is particularly easy for me at work.  I love my job, I enjoy the people I work with. Managing my emotions is more challenging for me in social areas.  I find that my reserves are depleted rather quickly and I don’t have a lot of space for individuals requiring extra grace or my own emotional availability.  I check out of parties sooner than I used to.  Does that make me depressed or just realistic in managing my emotional well-being?  I think aloud, but some of the people I usually rely on for wisdom and “out loud thinking time” are at a loss with our situation.  Those that know us especially well seem to be overwhelmed by their own emotions and burdened by the idea that they have to say SOMETHING – ANYTHING.

And I get that.  You can’t be all things to all people at all times.  I get that with my head.

But my little heart is as frustrated as our friends and family are: what are the magic words that will help me feel better? What is the bandaid that will fix this?

And as trite as this sounds, I know that Frank will say that I need to take it to God.

Nothing frustrates me more than that solution.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive considering that I am a Christian, but I don’t like that line of advice.  I want a solution now, darn it!  I want a remedy, a fix, a bandaid, a splint NOW.  If I take it to God, my very human heart worries that He might not give me an answer, He might be late with an answer or He will not comfort me.  “And then what?” I ask.  Now, in my opinion, I’ve wasted precious time and I’m still hurting.

But what if taking it to God is crazy enough to work?  My mother-in-law gave me this daily devotional called Streams in the Desert.  She gave it to me a few years ago and I accepted it, but promptly shelved it.  I’m not good with the daily stuff – let’s just be real here.  Anyway, I finally cracked that bad boy open.

I was immediately comforted by the scripture and reflections in the book.  Day after day I have been reading this devotional, experiencing comfort and peace when I open it.  One of the stories basically said (and I am SUPER paraphrasing here): Did you know that a brick of steel used to sell for $5?  But if you pounded it into a few horse shoes, it would sell for $10.  If you pounded it even further into sewing needles, it would sell for something like $500.  The more refining and shaping and molding that the brick of steel experienced, the more it was worth. So I guess Frank and I are getting a little bit pounded.

Being the quick study that I am, I found myself marveling out loud to Frank about how appropriate every day was for the struggles that we are going through – and then it occurred to me – this book is ALL about difficult times.  DUH!!!  Of course that’s why it is comforting.   ::slapping forehead:: The book is called Streams in the Desert , Emily, for a reason!

That ridiculous revelation aside, the same thing happens when I pray and receive comfort.  I am resistent to doing it, but once I do, I am amazed at the peace that God gives me.  A peace that surpasses all human understanding.  A peace that propels me forward or keeps me still.

I have no idea what our next steps are, if any.  Every day, I think about the fact that we are simply standing at a fork in the road.  My mind rolls this problem around, like a puzzle, trying to see a solution.

Have I ever admitted that I am terrible at riddles?  My brain so easily focuses in on the conflict of the riddle and completely misses the peripheral solution.  Most riddles are “here is a situation, here are all of the key players.”  The thing is, there is usually one subtle, but important aberration in the key players or the set up of the scene.  I sense the inconsistency, but the more I stare at the riddle, the more my brain tries to “normalize” the situation.  My brain will automatically try to explain why something is there instead of questioning its existence.

In the case of our fertility, I find myself trying to explain this situation instead of taking a step back and understanding why it exists in the first place.

Classic riddle that stumped me in 8th grade: two girls who are sisters that share the same birthday in the same year and parents, but are not twins.  How is this possible?

So I would answer that one was adopted.

But the answer is that the sisters are part of a set of triplets.

Just a simple exercise of stepping back and looking at the bigger situation.

Frank did a great job of doing that the other day.  He was reading through scripture and he came across a letter from Paul where he talked about a physical affliction that he had.  Frank read up more on the affliction and found out that it was what God used to humble Paul so that Paul wouldn’t start taking credit for all of the awesome things God was doing through him.

So if I step back from our situation, what is the bigger picture of what God is trying to accomplish in us and/or through us?

I know that I need to choose to take that step backward so that I can see the bigger picture.  I have to choose to do that every day, or this whole situation will drive me nuts.  I will roll it around and around in my brain, looking so closely for a solution, that I miss it.

And that’s all I got right now.