Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where There's A Will, There's A When

Hello Friends, it's been awhile. When I go this long without writing, something happens. Every wandering thought gets stored as a potential blog entry and my fingers start to twitch in anticipation of flying across a keyboard again. I needed some relief from the madness, so I decided that now was as good a time as any to share a little more about P's life, give an update about where P is now, and tell a bit about my life since his departure.

All I can really say about P's "before" story is that I have never met, and doubt if I ever will meet, a person with a more tragic story. Because of what he has faced, he now struggles academically, socially, and of course emotionally. Fortunately, P's brother has adjusted a little better and has found a wonderful foster home, but his sister's life has virtually mirrored his. She has yet to find her place in this world either. P and his sister are now both somewhere that provides the kind of help they should have gotten the moment the "after" part of their story started. The incompetence of certain DHS workers and even the agency in general has been beyond shocking, but that is for another blog.

P has a short call list and although that saddens me, it does mean that we get to speak with him quite often, usually daily. We also get to visit him for a few hours each weekend. We spend our time with him playing games, walking around in their little courtyard, and watching him enjoy his weekly treat of a pop and some candy. They allow visitors to hit up their vending machines and I'm convinced they make a killing off our guilt! I know that our visits are one of the highlights of his week (hopefully not JUST for the sweets). Unfortunately I don't see him being allowed to leave this place for quite some time. His outbursts, while completely understandable, are not under control yet. If you spend just a moment with him, however, anyone can see that his bravado is just fear, that his anger covers up debilitating pain, and that deep down he wants to be loved more than anything in this world. We are the ONLY ones on his side, and that is why we know that even though we still have no idea what our forever roles in P's life will be, we DO know that we want to be a part of it for as long as he wants us to be. Whether we're his cool aunt and uncle or just the people that take him to church every week, I'm confident that we will be permanent fixtures in his life.

Since he left, my range of emotions has been surprising to say the least. I've been extremely down, numb, angry, and everywhere in between. The thought of a child enduring even a portion of what he's gone through is enough to make you question everything you've ever known. So for the last month, that's where I've been. Questioning our decision to let P go, stewing in my "righteous" anger regarding his circumstances, and wallowing in the feelings of failure over something that I KNOW I had no hand in. I don't know why, after all I've been through, P's situation is what finally sent me over the edge, but it did.

Thankfully, I'm back from the abyss. Lots of reading, praying, talking, and renewing of the mind. It has been a hard, one-day-at-a-time climb. We are still childless, and DHS's "next on the list" evidently translates to months and months of waiting. Our worker went on maternity leave the same day our paperwork was finalized, so we anticipate a few more weeks of waiting before our advocate is back, well, advocating for us. Still, I remain in a good place. Waiting is something I'm used to. And this time the anticipation isn't a matter of will it happen? It's more a matter of when.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough...

Carousels. I enjoy watching them, and the opportunities to do so abound this time of year. Each one is unique and ornate; I think it’s so fun to watch a child get excited about the particular animal or horse they want. There’s something about a specific one that speaks to each person differently. Then, once everyone’s settled and the ride starts, it picks up speed and it becomes harder and harder to make out each individual outline and they begin to run together until the whole carousel is just a blur of swirling colors and breathless laughter. This year, watching such a simple thing evoked such strong imagery for me. Choices made, ups and downs, always spinning, not unlike our lives.

I suppose I also like the carousel because it seems secure. No chance of a car hurtling towards the ground in a 50 foot fall. Unlikely that you’ll get puked on by the person next to you. Our lives, as of a month ago, were safe, just the way I like them. We came home, we watched our shows, we ate what we wanted, did what we wanted, essentially only had ourselves to think about. P changed all that. My world changed quickly from carousel to roller coaster. Sometimes when we make choices in life and commit to them, later we can’t remember choosing them at all. The safe gray horse changes before your eyes into a 2-seater on a track, and you don’t know how you got there.

I know that my head knew that love wouldn’t be enough for P. I believe that my heart may even have believed it too. But somewhere, locked deep inside, was just enough arrogance to believe that maybe, just maybe, it could be. Arrogance plus ignorance is a very dangerous combination. I said before we were in over our heads, and we were. I said that we were learning, and we did. What I didn’t say was that this was the hardest thing we’ve EVER taken on, and that includes our miscarriages. I didn’t say that the more we loved, the more he pushed us away. And I didn’t say that my hair was starting to fall out and my heart would pound from stress anytime he walked into a room. Even with that, we were committed, even when the car started hurtling towards the ground. Love does crazy things.

In a perfect world, love would have been enough. In a perfect world, P would be in his room asleep right now, dreaming of the horses. And in a perfect world, people like us wouldn’t be needed at all. Choices would be as easy as picking your favorite steed and life’s ups and downs would be as smooth and seamless as a carousel ride. I pray that for P, one day his will be.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!!

Parenting is HARD. Nobody and nothing, not even the 27 mandatory hours of DHS training, could have possibly prepared us for how difficult it is to be a parent. The rose-colored glasses with baby-girl-etched lenses I’ve been wearing for so long are gone. In their absence, I have seen what it REALLY means to be a mom, the good, the bad and the ugly. This week we’ve experienced some of the ugliest moments yet. Once again, God is using our struggles to bring us closer to Him; my strength alone is just not sufficient to even get me through the day as of late.

A quick glimpse at some of the less glamorous parts of parenting: The money I used to set aside for clothes? Well, it still gets spent on clothes; they’re just not for me. The time I used to spend relaxing after school? It’s now spent throwing a football, jamming my fingers whilst trying to catch it, then fishing said football out of the poison ivy infested creek behind our house. My favorite shows? Replaced by SpongeBob and movies that involve talking animals (a bit creepy frankly). My Pioneer Woman cooking? Well, trips to Wal-Mart are yet to be well-received, so all experimental meals are on hold. (To be honest, I’m not super sad about that). Privacy? I’m going to need a definition; I’ve forgotten the meaning. I’ve had to really, REALLY work at perspective. Remember, we’re not used to having anyone in our home but the two of us, and on top of that this is not your typical child. PERSPECTIVE, PERSPECTIVE, PERSPECTIVE. No new clothes? Materialism combatant. Poison ivy exposure? Discovering once and for all if I’m really allergic. Movies with talking animals? Down time to turn off my brain and think about nothing. No Wal-Mart shopping? Well, those benefits are just obvious. No privacy? More exercise when racing to time my bathroom trips to match his.

I’ve also had to really hold on to the more beautiful parts of this journey and replay them in my head throughout the day, lingering on them when I’m feeling some major stress-induced eye-twitching coming on. For instance, one of my favorite times of the day is bedtime, when he’s FINALLY settled in (after the hundredth excuse to get out of bed), we sit together, and I read to him from Harry Potter as he falls asleep. Also, I know that it’s a little early for him to call me Mom, but as he couldn’t remember my name half the time, after the first few days we gave up and gave in; I don’t mind. I like helping him with his homework, all the while secretly helping him with his self-esteem too. He says he gets smarter every day here. Sometimes he says things that are totally hilarious and recalling them later can still make me laugh. I can pick his face out of a crowd of kids in a matter of seconds, and there are moments when the recognition that I have when looking at his face is both overwhelming and familiar. Also, surprisingly, buying clothes for someone else is ALMOST as fun as shopping for yourself! J

Thankfully, the good days are increasing in number, the bad days are turning into shorter, more manageable bad moments, and the ugly, well, it’s best when forgotten quickly. Every day is new, and God is good. I rest in the knowledge that God does not call the equipped. Rather, He equips the called. We have answered His call, and we have faith that He is still on the other end of the line.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Addition!


There are several versions out there of a quote that should be my bumper sticker as many times as I’ve lived it: “If You Want to Make God Laugh, Tell Him Your Plans.” Remember all of those things I wrote about us wanting a baby? Well, we do. And we believe with all of our hearts that we will adopt one someday soon. But as I write this, we have a child in our home who is much, much older than said baby. I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but it goes something like this…


God began a stirring in my heart for a child that I know personally - we’ll call them “P”. P was set to go to a shelter Tuesday night after the latest foster home said they were done with P. I knew that they would allow P to come to our home before our training was done because I knew P (a non-related kinship). I knew there were unspeakable things in P’s past, and a future of unsettling uncertainties. I also knew that P had a lot of issues that would cause most people to run the other way. This knowledge gave me ringside seats to my own internal knock-down drag-out. In this corner, weighing heavily on my mind: what I want to do!!!! And in this corner, weighing heavily on my heart: what I know I should do!!! As you’ve probably guessed, my heart won that fight. People have just been amazed at what we’ve chosen to do and have given us so much praise, but I just have to say, “It’s a God thing.” This weekend my pastor put into words exactly what I was thinking at that pivotal moment: “Somebody’s got to do something; it might as well be me!” We are so conditioned to not let in the hurt, because when we really allow ourselves to feel it, we can’t NOT act. I could have turned my back and then spent the rest of my life trying to ignore the guilt, or I could step into the unknown, let the pain of the burden fill me up, take a leap of faith, and change a life. Truth is, my head was never really in the fight after all.

I know people are wondering if this is permanent, and if not, how long we will have P. We are not planning on it being a permanent placement, but the truth is, we have no idea how long P will be in our home. Our first priority is getting P settled and helping P feel safe and secure. DHS’s goal is to eventually put P in a home with brother and sister and, well, we are just not willing to adopt 3 kiddos right now. We don’t know when or if they will find that home. Although we've already had really, REALLY tough days, our commitment to P’s well-being has not wavered, nor will it. We will do what is best for P first, and that is really the only way I know how to answer that question. There’s not much I can say about how I know P, came to get P, or really anything about P, due to the fact that DHS frowns upon divulging too much, and I’d rather be safe than sorry. Going into this whole process, I never imagined having a child that I couldn’t carry in my arms (or at least push in a stroller) at my age! I CAN say that we were in over our heads before P ever walked in the door, but we are all learning together.


A few lessons I, for one, have learned in the past few days (just thought I’d share):
1)      The word BEER on a root beer bottle is just too prominent. Inspires lots of inappropriate comments, usually spoken in a loud volume for the restaurant to hear. Note to self: ask for a cup instead!
2)    If you don’t specifically say WASH YOUR HAIR, it doesn’t happen. TAKE A SHOWER is just not detailed enough.
3)    Kids are expensive, and a Wal-Mart trip is not a good idea when they have a bad case of the “I wants.”
4)    Kids can melt your heart one minute and break it the next.
5)    The way they can get up each morning after the cards some of them have been dealt is nothing short of heroic (e.g. having everything they’ve ever owned stripped from them in an instant).
6)    Nothing makes you love your husband more than seeing him play with a child that worships him.
7)    Even this type of motherhood changes you instantaneously. It brings out all of your protective instincts, and you realize just how self-centered your life has really been.  
8)    Love isn’t enough, but it goes a long way. Also, singing a Taylor Swift song together at the top of your lungs helps with the bonding.
9)    Kids will surprise you when you least expect it, and often in the best ways.
10) Kids tell it like it is, whether you want to hear it or not.

Like I said, I’m learning a lot, and I know that when we DO get a baby, these lessons will prove invaluable. And who knows, P just might be around to see it!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fostering Q&A


I have seriously been neglecting my writing! With school starting, DHS classes every Saturday, and working my second job on Sundays, my free time is running into the negative. I know that everyone wants updates and I have received several of the same questions from various people, so I decided that this particular blog will be dedicated to answering such queries.

Q: How soon will you get a child?

A: We have another month of classes and our home study is set to be finalized any day. DHS could call anytime after that, so it could be very soon! In emergency situations, we may even get a call before we’re done!!

Q: What age/sex will you get?

A: Most people don’t realize this, but you tell DHS everything you are willing to accept as part of the process. Race, gender, age, behavioral issues, diseases, mental disorders, etc. We are asking for a baby. We prefer a girl, but if a boy is available first, we would definitely consider it. We are open to any race and have even said that we would consider twins!

Q: How long will it take for you to be able to adopt the baby?

A: This is a complicated question. When they call, they will let us know the baby’s history and let us know if it is likely to be adoptable. They usually have some idea of what will happen based on previous encounters with the parents. We have the option to turn down any call. Unless they indicate that the child is likely to be adoptable or the rights have already been relinquished, at this point in our lives we would probably say no. I could definitely see us welcoming older children into our home later in life, but right now we are preparing for a baby.

Q: At what point did you decide enough was enough and turn to fostering/adoption to complete your family?

A: I think anyone experiencing infertility or recurrent miscarriages faces this decision at some point and it’s a very personal thing. For myself, I felt strongly led towards making our tragedy into something powerful and uplifting. What better way to do that than to change the course of a child’s life forever? Also, I could not, in good conscience, continue spending money in the name of having a biological child. For some, spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to have a miracle baby is their testimony of love and enduring faith. It can give others in the same situation hope. That’s just not where my heart is. Not when unwanted babies are dropped off every day at hospitals needing a home.

Q: So are you totally done trying for “your own” baby?

A: Well, we’ve had the “one last test” and it revealed NOTHING. Big surprise. Dr. Impressive Credentials REALLY tortured me with that test, but all that pain yielded another “I couldn’t see anything that would cause your miscarriages.” He sent us on our way advising us to try, try again. I guess my answer is yes, I’m done. If it happens, it will be despite all efforts to prevent it. Those pink lines have given me nightmares for too long now, and I’m quite certain that I can do without seeing them while I’m awake! My desires are in a different place now.

Q: What will you do if you get a baby and then end up pregnant?!

A: Assuming that the baby in my belly decided to stay, well, the more the merrier! We would be ecstatic with our double blessing!

Q: Aren’t you scared about this whole process?

A: Anyone who is adopting in any fashion that says that they don’t have very real fears and concerns is either doing extensive meditation or lying. What do I do when the child wants to find his/her “real” parents? What happens when they struggle developmentally because their mom was on drugs or didn’t have good prenatal care? When do I tell them they’re adopted? How do I let them know that they are more loved than any child on earth when they feel abandoned by the one that was supposed to love them most? These are the questions that give me pause, that bring tears to my eyes, that put the gravity of what we’re doing into perspective.

Any time something this huge is on the horizon, questions abound. I may actually have more questions than answers at this point, but I firmly believe that when we hold our baby for the first time, those questions will answer themselves.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Checking My Baggage

Have you ever found yourself at the airport standing at the counter frantically trying to move clothes into your spouse’s suitcase to get it down to the acceptable weight while everyone behind you checks their watches? Or maybe you’re one of the smart ones who weighs your bag repeatedly at home, leaving behind things you’d rather not for the sake of saving money. The bottom line is that if you want to go somewhere, too much baggage weighs you down.

For all of you extra observant readers, you may have noticed that there have been long lengths of silence between my last few blogs. I know that I promised to stay busy this summer, and I have, but being occupied was not the reason for my procrastination. The reality is that I had some major “baggage” of my own to let go of before I could possibly move forward in this journey towards becoming a foster parent, namely anger, resentment, and a serious sense of entitlement.

A peek into my recent struggles: This whole DHS process is extremely disheartening to say the least. Being required to spend hours on paperwork and take parenting classes would probably deter all but the most dedicated applicants (which is probably the point). However, I can’t help but think if the parents of these babies had been required to do the same before they conceived a precious child, many children would not have to live through the horrors that they face every day. There is never a lack of sickening, inhuman stories in the news involving these innocent angels. (Case in point: http://www.newsok.com/woman-is-arrested-after-girl-5-found-living-in-closet/article/3587308?custom_click=lead_story_title). I could dwell all day too on how unfair it is that women get to birth these amazing gifts from heaven when they don’t even want them in the first place!  We have considered domestic adoption briefly, the price of which is an insult to injury in itself. It is just so wrong that not only am I being robbed of the joy of carrying a baby, watching it grow while seeing my features reflected in its little face, but that I also have to either pay an arm and a leg to have a baby or subject myself to months (possibly years) of being controlled by the state and its flawed system. I’m sure by now you see the dire situation that I was in last month…my baggage was controlling my life.

I defeated this unrelenting dialogue in my head by rewatching a sermon our church did several months ago on the dangers of comparison. When I was lamenting about how crappy my situation was, I was really saying that I was not satisfied with the blessings that I have been given. We are all blessed in different ways and we don’t really deserve any of it. We are not guaranteed anything in this life, and yet I have been given so much. Who am I to say how God should bless each of us? Comparison also leads to jealousy, which is an extremely destructive force. I was actually feeling resentment and anger towards others for being able to have a baby! That is humiliating to even admit, but it is so easy to succumb to and it’s different for all of us. It is impossible to get into someone’s new car or tour their beautiful home and not get a taste of jealousy. And who goes home afterwards and is more thankful for their junked-out vehicle or worn out furniture?

The most unfair thing of all would be for us to bring a baby into our home while I am still holding on to something else. After a month of grappling with all that extra weight, I can honestly say that I have come a long way in letting it go. I don’t HAVE to foster a baby because it’s my last resort; I GET to follow a higher calling than most people BECAUSE of what I’ve gone through. I GET to make a difference in a child’s life and I GET to rewrite that child’s story while doing it. Instead of seeing fostering to adopt as option #2, it is now my priority.  It doesn’t mean that these thoughts will never cross my mind again, but now I know that gratitude goes a long way in dissipating the resentment and anger. After a month of turbulence, we are hoping for clearer skies!




Monday, July 11, 2011

Waiting is the Hardest Part!

When is the last time you waited for something you really wanted? Not just in terms of minutes, but in years? I know, I know, it seems like you've been waiting years for my next blog. So sorry Friends! In all seriousness, when I look back through my life, I can honestly say that the cliché “Good things come to those who wait” has proven itself true time and again.

Silly Example: I can get a meal in a few minutes from McDonalds and regret it for hours, or cook a Pioneer Woman recipe myself (yes, I am indeed obsessed), spend an hour or so preparing, and reap the delicious benefits. 

Anxiety-Inducing, Faith-Testing Example: I could have taken a job I didn’t love and knew I wasn’t meant to have simply for the sake of having one. I stepped out in faith and turned it down, waited all summer, and lo and behold 4th grade had an opening at the last minute! 

So-Glad-We-Waited Example: Once we decided to move, we wanted to move THAT DAY. We could have taken out 2 mortgages as so many people do. However, we waited 6 months until we sold our house before we frantically searched for our dream home. The timing was perfect for us to get a great deal. If we hadn’t waited, this house would not have been attainable. 

Mega life-changing example: Yet to be written. 

As you know, we are still waiting (2 years later) on God to bless us with a baby. We don’t know when it will happen or what that will look like. We are continuing to move forward with the DHS process and will have our first home study soon. We will hopefully get the parenting classes knocked out in August. I am also planning to have the “one last test” Dr. Reshef recommended and depending on the results, we may try for our own again someday when I’m ready. No, I don’t know how much longer we will be asked to wait on God’s timing, but I do know that when our family 
increases in number, the waiting will have made it that much more “good.”

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Big Reveal

As proven by my lack of blogging lately, I have thus far managed to keep the promise I made to myself of staying inordinately busy this summer. A zoo visit here, lunch with friends there, working out every hour in between…it has been easy so far. However, this IS summer (a.k.a. Baby Season), and I can remain oblivious no longer to the growing bellies protruding beneath every tank top and dress worn by every woman between the ages of 20-50. Unless I send up prayers for temporary blindness (and please don’t), I cannot escape the fact that virtually everyone I know is pregnant at this very moment. No amount of working out or staring at jaguar spots can give me the amnesia I have been hoping for. This leads me to the big reveal…the cure to my maternal longing…


Tomorrow we are starting the long journey towards becoming foster parents. We are meeting with a lady from DHS to fill out what promises to be a mountain of paperwork. This will be followed by background checks, financial statements, fingerprinting, physicals…the list goes on. Once we pass all of that, we will begin working towards completing 27 hours of parenting classes on free evenings and/or weekends. The last step is having a home study in which they check and make sure your home is kid friendly - or something to that effect. Then, BAM, you get a phone call and suddenly, for all intensive purposes, you’re a parent.

As you can tell from the above paragraph, we have no clue what to expect, we are in no way prepared, and we have nothing, and I mean NOTHING, for kids at our house. This is our leap of faith. Opening our home to a child that we will pour our hearts into, only to have her returned to her parents, is sure to happen. And sure to be agonizing. Our ultimate hope is that we can foster an infant and eventually adopt - as a few of our friends have been blessed enough to do. We were informed that Canadian County is not the mecca of infant adoptions, but we aren’t just doing this to fulfill our desires. We are doing it to minister to a child that may never go to church except with us, to show a toddler the wonders of unconditional love that they may have never experienced, to give a newborn a warm embrace and a comforting place to sleep. No, we have no clue what to expect, but we do know what we have to offer…and that’s everything we are.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Those Glorious Days of Summer?

Summer. A word that makes every kid’s heart leap and all teachers sigh with relief. It signifies an end to a school year, a break, a rest from the daily grind. Summer when I was a kid seemed endless, with so much to look forward to: long, hot days spent swimming at White Water, screaming gleefully on rides at Frontier City, listening to my dad mow the grass while I read contentedly in my room, driving to Tulsa to visit my grandparents, and playing basketball with my neighborhood friends until it was too dark to see. The list, it seems, could go on forever. My favorite childhood memories are from those carefree summer breaks when the days stretched before me…each one a new possibility.

As a teacher, my outlook on summer has been a bit different. Every year I hear, “Must be nice having two months off,” spoken with a detectable trace of derision. Questions like, “What are you going to do with such a long break?” and “How long do teachers get off again?” are asked with a hint of incredulity. A teacher’s summer is spent a little differently than one might think. Most teachers, including myself, use those months to plan and shop for the upcoming year, actually get some things done around the house, and, oh yeah, work a summer job! The summer days no longer stretch out before me as a sea of memories waiting to be made…they fly by in a state of fast and furious “doing.”

As a non-mother, this summer will be unlike my previous “teacher” summers. I’ve spent the last 2 summers pregnant, full of hope, my mind occupied with what might be. This summer, despite my busy state, I am afraid the days will instead stretch out before me in a sea of memories I may never make. I plan to heap even more responsibility onto myself, in hopes that the days will, indeed, fly by as they have in past summers. A little SWITCH (youth group), maybe some dog training (working towards Koda’s Canine Good Citizenship), even a little baby-sitting. Somehow, I’m not sure if it will be enough to keep my mind off the shower I should be planning and the nursery I should be decorating.

With summer just a week away, the non-mother in me finds myself wishing I could stop time and hold at bay the day the teacher in me has been looking forward to for so long. Summer, that beautiful taste of freedom, suddenly feels too oppressive to face. What will I be doing with my two months off? Whatever it takes. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dexter-style

Dexter. I’ve been rewatching the first season, and I realize now one of the many reasons why I love it so much. I really identify with him. Not the serial killer part, but his emotional awkwardness. He has to fake emotions in order to fit in, as he has no feelings of his own. Now I wouldn’t say that I’m THAT far gone, but I do often feel as though my emotional responses aren’t “normal.” I have comforted many a friend as they cried about MY situation whilst I sat dry-eyed. I have recounted some of my darkest days to others while seeming as detached as if I were talking about the weather. I have stood in the diaper aisle of Wal-Mart wondering when the tears were going to come…reading about other women weeping over Pampers in their local grocery stores told me surely that was the “typical” miscarriage reaction. People have implored me to remember my babies through plants or trees or even through giving them names. The thought that none of those things ever crossed my mind…well, chalk another one up to my oblivious insensitivity.

Now believe me, I do cry. Put Marley & Me on television or give me a Nicholas Sparks novel, and I’m bawling unabashedly. It’s easy for me to cry for someone else’s situation (especially when it involves a furry, four-legged friend). There’s just something about the vulnerability and egocentricity of crying for myself when others are around that I just can’t handle. However, just because I can go out in public and talk about my situation without tearing up, Dexter-style, I’ve found that people think that means I’m “okay” enough to be subjected to all sorts of interesting commentary and advice. I’ve read numerous articles online regarding this verbal phenomenon, so I decided to consolidate the information (plus a few of my own gems) into a list of things NOT to say to me, or anyone else suffering through recurrent miscarriages or infertility, for your own personal safety. *Each faux pas is followed by my unspoken reaction for a little sarcastic relief. (Read at your own risk…)

10) Kids aren’t that great anyway. *Then give yours to me.

9) Maybe you’re just not meant to be a mom. *Ouch! Below the belt!!

8)8) You’ve gained some weight! *Yes after five pregnancies with no time in between, you tend to gain a few pounds. And the grief eating doesn’t help. Oh, and YOU’VE gained a few pounds. (I didn’t say the reactions were mature…) Haha

7) Have you tried XYZ? It worked for this lady on the internet… *Oh, I’ll tell my doctor with years and years of experience who has read just about every study known to man on fertility issues and attends all sorts of conferences. I’m sure he’ll be happy to have a cure.

6) Oh well, you can always adopt. *When this comes from someone with their own biological children, it’s a knife to the heart. The inability to have a child with mommy’s lips and daddy’s eyes is a huge grievable loss, a vanishing dream, not just some small inconvenience.

5) I know how you feel. *Not a good idea to say to ANYONE going through anything remotely tragic.

4) God has a plan. *Not helpful unless God has told you what it is and you’re about to impart that knowledge upon me. I know it’s true, but hearing it doesn’t change anything.

3) When are you going to give up on having a baby? *When you buy me a baby.

2) Well, there are worse things that could happen. *Great line for a new Hallmark sympathy card! You should submit the line right away before someone else steals it!

1) Nothing. *I’ve talked about this before – no need to say it again.

I don’t say ANY of this to induce guilt, because if you’re sensitive enough to think I might be writing about you, you’re sensitive enough that you wouldn’t have said any of these things! Also, I know that most of these comments and questions are born out of genuine concern or to fill the uncomfortable silence. I rarely take them to heart or hold them against anyone because God knows I’ve said some TRULY idiotic things when I didn’t know what else to say. The best things to say? I love you. I’m praying for you. Let me know if there’s anything I can do. That means more than all the well-meaning advice in the world.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Groundhog Day

“What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered? “ This is a quote from a movie called Groundhog Day; since I’m one of only 13 people who have seen it, I will give you a very short synopsis. Basically it’s about a weather man who wakes up the day after Groundhog Day only to find he’s reliving the day all over again…and again, and again before he finally wakes up to a tomorrow. I feel his pain. I’ve figured it up, and out of the last 21 months of my life (since the day of my first positive test), I have been pregnant for half of that, each time a Pregnancy Déjà vu.  I’m not reliving the fun parts of pregnancy over and over…the name choosing, feeling Baby’s first kick, nursery shopping, shower attending. No, I’m stuck with the morning sickness, the exhaustion, the anxiety, the overwhelming grief…you know, the really UNfun parts. When you’re stuck in the same 2 months over and over, sometimes your todays ARE your tomorrows…sometimes the future is obscured by the present.  

We relived another unfun day today…we found out that we have to have another D&C. Unfortunately, although the baby has passed, my sac, for whatever reason, has decided to hang around and even grow. The doctor told us today that if I continue to try to let this miscarriage take place naturally that when it finally happens it will feel more like labor…something I don’t wish to experience without a baby in my arms at the end of it.

Monday is my 30th birthday...I pray that this meaningful milestone will be my Groundhog Day awakening. That I will wake up one day soon to feel my round belly, breathe in my new baby’s sweet scent, or even eagerly sign adoption papers. When I blow out my candles this year, my request won’t be a secret…and my birthday toast? “Here’s to a new tomorrow.” 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Doctor, Same Story

As many of you know, today was our first visit with Dr. Best-in-the-State, who from now on shall be called Dr. Impressive Credentials. It was between that or Dr. Smooth Operator, and that just seemed strange and a little inappropriate. Anyway, Dr. IC and his staff were very thorough and kind. AND, much to my relief, Dr. IC actually had a good bedside manner. Not a bowtie in sight, and no grumpiness that I could detect. However, in around 40 minutes of questioning us and going over my extensive medical records, he came to the same conclusion as his practicing antithesis. He told us that 50% of recurrent miscarriages are without a known cause, and that based on all of the test results, the only conclusion is that we must try, try again and eventually we’ll “hit a home run” as opposed to “striking out.” He promised us that he was not just giving us a “Rah-Rah” speech, but that he truly believed what he was saying. His baseball analogies were somewhat strange, especially considering my distaste for the game, but the message behind them was clear. At some point, based on all that they’ve ruled out, we will probably have a baby of our own. The question is simply how much more we can take. We don’t know if the magic number is 6 or 10 or even 15. The only thing Dr. IC can provide for us really is his experience and reassurance.

I have to say that having Dr. GB’s results confirmed was both a relief and a bit of a surprise. I was so hoping to hear, “Oh, silly Dr. GB, he was so busy being old and grumpy that he forgot to run this test.” Then a few minutes later, “Yup, that’s what’s been causing this all along. Here’s the pill you need to fix it.” Not hearing anything of the sort did help ease some of the guilt, knowing that during this last pregnancy there was nothing I should or could have done differently.

This visit did spark something that I haven’t felt in awhile: HOPE. I haven’t written lately because, honestly, I’ve been too angry and sad to write anything the slightest bit uplifting. People ask me how I do it, how I come to work the day after bad news, how I keep from bursting into tears on one of my due dates, even how I can hold onto faith through it all. The truth is, sometimes, I don’t. I’m good at wearing masks on occasion, as I’ve shared before, and the “I’m fine” mask is one that I’ve become all too familiar with lately. Today though, this renewed hope has allowed me to refocus on the big picture of my life. It is as follows: I have an amazing, loving husband who works hard and supports me in all I do. I have a caring family who is full of faith and lifts me up in prayer daily. Although we work really hard, God has blessed Erik and me with great jobs and the ability to have a life without any debt except for our beautiful home. I’m fortunate to have lots of friends, and a few that I count close enough to be vulnerable with. I have security in my future because I know that God is in control and he DOES have plans that I can’t even fathom that DO involve kids, one way or another. I AM fine. I just needed a doctor’s “Rah-Rah” to remind me.  

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Crayon Time Machine

Do you ever have those instances when a memory is so clear and crisp it transports you back in time for just a moment? The smell of a rose always sends me to my Grandma’s house where a vase of fresh roses is as commonplace as the hummingbirds outside her window. There are many, many songs that trigger memories of different times in my life: high school graduation, a first date, road trips. There are kids in my class whose mannerisms are so like people from my past that for a moment I can see someone else standing in their place. Sometimes the memories are welcome, other times their intrusiveness and unexpectedness can bring you to your knees. Today, I experienced the latter.

I was teaching, walking the room, doing the same thing I do every day, looking at the same kids, the same everything. But for some reason, today, a box of Crayolas was my time machine. In the blink of an eye I was 9 years old again, jealously eyeing the girls around me with their big, fancy 64 count boxes of crayons. The other kids would go to them and ask to borrow one of their 10 shades of blue while I stared forlornly at my lowly 24 count box. When it came to school supplies, I ALWAYS got exactly what was on the list. No frills, no excess. Folders meant folders, not Trapper Keepers, and 24 count meant that anything more was unnecessary. I remember telling my mom way back then that someday I would buy MY kid the biggest box of crayons the store had so they could be “cool.” Problems are so simple as a kid…I’m sure that at 9, all I  knew was that one day I would get married and have babies because that’s what people do. Miscarriage was not in my vocabulary. Today, the crayons symbolized innocence...and a future that is just out of my grasp. 

We still have not decided exactly where we go from here. Adoption is still not an option unless anyone finds a few Gs floating around unclaimed. Fostering is not something that my husband feels comfortable with, therefore it is no longer on the table. We did make an appointment to see a different Reproductive Endocrinologist, Dr. Supposedly-Best-Around (name will be changed upon meeting him).  On April 12th I will present him with my history and the results of the battery of tests that I have been put through…we’ll see if maybe he can unlock my medical mystery. If not, well, being an aunt will have to be enough. And you’d better believe that when Auntie takes my nieces school supply shopping, their box of crayons will be bigger than they are...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This Roller Coaster Is Stuck! Refund Please...

I thought all of the way home on how to break the news to everyone. I know that so many people have invested their time and prayers into our story and our lives. The news wasn’t easy for me to hear despite all the doctor’s superfluous apologies, so I know that nothing I type will make it easier to read. There was no heartbeat found today. All the fervent prayers sent up and tortuous waiting just to hear those words. AGAIN. I don’t need to write about my emotions tonight…I’m sure you can make a list without my help because some of you are probably feeling the same things.  

I cannot coherently string together much more than the previous paragraph at this time. Once I’ve had time to process this and Erik and I have gotten to think about where we go from here, I will have plenty to say. I do know that at this time, we are considering other options. I don’t think that I can do this again. I’m sure that I can continue to survive miscarriage after miscarriage, but the cost to my emotional well-being is just too high.

Tonight we’re going to go out to a restaurant and try to forget this bad dream for a few hours. We’re going to plan a summer vacation and think about all the fun we will have. We’re going to take a break from our lives. Sometimes the realities of this world are just too much to bear. 

A quote that made me pause today: 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hanging by a Thread...of Hope

Well, we received news today, but it was ambiguous news at best. Isn’t that the most horrible kind? Good news puts you on top of the world, bad news allows the beginning of acceptance and healing, but uncertain news, in my experience, gives you just enough hope to hang yourself with later.

Today we went in for our first ultrasound. I can say that I have come to dread the whole production. I have never had an ultrasound in which I got to stare at the screen with a feeling of excitement and wonder. No, my first ultrasound was a disaster, and each one since has either mirrored the first devastating experience or set me up for one down the road. Today, I fear, was no different. The doctor did what doctors always do – they measure the baby. By all mathematical calculations I am 7 weeks 3 days on the dot. The baby, however, only measured 6 weeks 3 days. For those of you who don’t know, this is quite often a precursor to miscarriage. First the growth begins to slow, and then it stops completely. Now, on a positive note, there was a heartbeat, which means Baby is still alive and kicking. I am also still having all of the miserable (yet reassuring) symptoms as well. I go back on Wednesday for monitoring…in one long, LONG week we will know the fate of our baby.

I have had a whole range of emotions today. It has been a roller coaster…riding the optimism up to the top of the hill, looking out over the big picture, and then racing down into hopelessness so vast it takes your breath away. I know that my God is bigger than anything, that He can do all things, and that my faith is the ONLY thing I can hold onto right now. I also know that as a recovering pessimist/realist, I want to prepare myself for the worst; as if a horrible scenario replaying hourly in my mind will somehow cushion the ton of bricks should they rain down on me in a week. My faith and my mind are separate right now, warring over the right to control what I think and feel, leaving me feeling wrung out and numb.

My amazing friend reminded me today that everyone is on my side, and that no reaction is wrong to what I’m experiencing, despite my tendency to beat myself up over losing faith sometimes. Although I don’t know anyone who understands exactly what I’m going through, I know so, so many people are praying for us, shedding tears with us, and sending their love our way. Whether it pours bricks on Wednesday or God reveals a rainbow, know that your support and prayers have meant everything. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

No news is good news?

If it is true that no news is good news, consider this blog the bearer of AMAZING news. That’s right, I have not one scrap of new information to report. This is a good and bad thing, as I am very ready to share the news of my first appointment, but I’m even more thankful that I have no discouraging symptoms to report. I plan to go to the doctor next week – with or without my mysteriously absent insurance card – and then I’m sure I will have plenty of good to relay!

I know that to most I have sounded really upbeat and well, breezy (being that I said that was my intent) but if I’m really sincere I must admit that internally I’m struggling with a lot of anxiety. You see, all four miscarriages have occurred during a break from school… and Spring Break is rapidly approaching. It also just so happens that this break corresponds with my never-surpassed 7th week. Panic attack anyone? Seriously though, the fear surrounding next week has been trying to overtake my mind for the past several days. It would be so, so easy to let it. This time I’m not relying on the latest cure-all diets or even modern medicine. The only thing left to hold onto? FAITH.

Sometimes we drop to our knees as a last resort, when everything is falling apart and we don’t know what else to do. I have been there many times during the past two years. What if we decided to make that our first resort? What if we offered ourselves up to be God’s latest success story, a testimony to the world of what He can do through our faith?  If I was injecting myself with shots every night, who would get the glory from a healthy pregnancy? Doctors? My husband for braving and enduring the wrath the shots induced? Me for withstanding the pain and flood of crazy hormones? This time, I’m giving it all to God. Not after it’s over and I need Him to pick up the pieces, but NOW. I’m holding every thought captive until I’m sure that it’s not destructive…it’s okay to be scared, but it’s not healthy to dwell on it. Keep praying Friends; I believe with everything I am that they’re working. :-)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Change of Heart

I never wanted kids. An extreme statement, I know. For 5 ½ years I always answered the infamous and somehow automatic day-after-you-get-married question of “So, when are you having kids?” with a bright, fake smile and one word. “Never.” When that same nosy person would knowingly smile back and say, “I’m sure that one day you’ll change your mind,” I would respond with an irritated, “We’ll see.” It’s impressive how much annoyance I could convey through those small words. The aggravation did not stem from their intrusion into my private life; it came from the way they would call into question my life plans as silly and unlikely with a simple sentence. Finally, because I grew tired of bristling at everyone in my life, and since no one is exempt from the mandatory asking, I simply changed my answer. I would instead say, “I don’t know.” This was an effective reply to spring on the invasive questioner because the unsaid raised so many questions that their brain would go into overdrive. While they were thinking of which epiphany-inspiring inquiry to pose next, I was steering them to a new, less tricky subject.

I had a whole list of reasons why I didn’t want kids; I would frequently recite it to those closest to me. Pregnancy equaled getting fat, finding stretch marks, suffering from morning sickness, not to mention the pain of labor. Babies were noisy, stole your sleep, and created multiple dirty diapers a day. Toddlers threw fits, teenagers mouthed off, young adults left you broken hearted to start their own lives. This was the future I envisioned with kids.

All through the few short weeks of my first pregnancy I was angry and bitter. I didn’t want to be pregnant to begin with, especially not considering the state of our marriage. I felt as though it were a cruel joke for me to get pregnant during such a tumultuous time in our relationship. The joke was on me.

It is amazing how your whole outlook can change in an instant. The day that we found out we had lost Baby #1 was that day for me. So many times in life you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone, and then it’s the only thing you can think about. The day we lost the baby was the same day I knew that I just had to be a mom. Due to our situation, people don’t really ask me when we plan to have kids anymore. If they did though, I would have a new answer: “As soon as we’re blessed with them!” I am confident that that life-changing day is coming soon (October 31st to be exact)!!   

Sunday, February 20, 2011

SURPRISE!!!

Friday was one of the biggest days in our still young lives. We bought our dream house – the house we hope to raise a family in, grow older in, maybe even retire in! The day was exciting, but looonnnggg. We started out the morning closing on both houses, a surprisingly painless process (as long as you don’t think about the money you’re spending). I spent the entire afternoon loading and unloading boxes while my muscles screamed in agony. I felt muscles that I didn’t even know existed rebelling after a few hours. Now, during all of the frenetic activity that defines moving, there was a little thought nagging my brain. The more I tried to disregard it, the more it pushed other thoughts aside and yelled my name. I couldn’t help but think about the vivid dreams I’d been having all week, the all-too-familiar cravings I’d been indulging, and the extreme exhaustion I’d been succumbing to. After a week of denial, my subconscious would be ignored no longer. I finally took a test. Yes, that’s right, THE TEST. And as “luck” would have it, the test read pregnant, a word that when seen means something totally different to me than most. I won’t lie, my first thought was not a word I feel comfortable typing. It was quickly followed in rapid succession by disbelief, resignation, guilt over lifting boxes all day whilst ignoring my instincts, and a teensy bit of excitement. I can’t go to the doctor until March 1st due to some recent insurance changes - that’s right, we switched insurances in February…we’re rebels like that - so until then I have nothing else of note to report. As of now, my pregnancy plan is as follows…just keep living my life and pretend I’m not pregnant for awhile. Constant worrying, watching everything I eat and drink, injecting hormones into my body - none of that has worked. Maybe my new breezy outlook is the key? Maybe not. All I do know is that I’m pregnant once again, and I’m not in control. With that being said, please send some prayers up for me to the One who is! :-)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Moving On

In just a few short days, we will be the proud owners of a new home. As we get ready to put our stamp on the vacant residence, I can’t help looking back at the one we are leaving behind. It is amazing the nostalgia that a house can trigger. It’s a HOUSE. But these walls and rooms have seen so much joy, laughter, and even pain. It is the first big purchase we made together. We’ve had Thanksgivings here, Christmas Eve celebrations, and birthday parties. I’ve gone from giving my niece bottles at our kitchen table to watching her run around my living room. We’ve imagined nurseries that might have been in our guest room, cried tears of sorrow as we hung on to each other for dear life in our bedroom. I’ve said many prayers sitting out on our porch, watching the sunset and praising God for the beauty of His creation. I’ve read amazing books while relaxing in our bathtub, and filled our closet to capacity with my shopping addiction. We’ve enjoyed talking with the casual acquaintances that we have made on this street; they have been so warm and welcoming. This house was always going to be a stepping stone – we knew that. We know that God is leading us on to bigger and better things. But we are also thankful for the blessings we are parting with, all the while keeping those irreplaceable memories packed away in our hearts.

Now, I have had a few people point out that I have yet to post my promised pictures of the new home on here. I haven’t because I figured that most people had seen them on Facebook. So sorry for the assumptions! Without further ado…







Monday, February 7, 2011

Test Anxiety

I’ve always been a good test-taker. Not necessarily because I knew the material, but because test-taking is more about understanding the different strategies, ruling out answers, going with your gut…it’s almost an art form. Much to the chagrin of my parents, I relied heavily on this art form to get me through college. A few tests here and there versus attending class every day? No contest. (Kids, do NOT try this at home)! Anyway, although I can’t remember many tests in which I didn’t have a few butterflies beforehand, there is one test that still holds me captive in fear above all others. A test that most of the time I have failed rather than passed. The pregnancy test.

For someone who suffers from recurrent miscarriage, a plus sign on a stick does not inspire dancing in your underwear and calling every person you know to share the glorious news. Instead, a positive test encompasses hundreds of emotions at once: fear, trepidation, apprehension, nervous excitement, doubt, resignation…and all their cousins, uncles, and aunts. Once the emotional fog clears, it’s time to face your first pregnancy dilemma…to tell or not to tell? Option #1 gives you a community of support and prayer through good and bad. Sharing also allows you to experience morning sickness without people thinking you are spreading the plague to your coworkers. Option #2 is without a doubt, the easier route. When you don’t tell, you don’t have to deal with seeing people count mentally in their heads, “Now how many is this?” before they utter their bright-smiled “Congratulations!”  You don’t have to feel the disparity between now and the first time you told people, because even though you still don’t have a baby, others find it impossible to capture that “first time” excitement. And best of all, you don’t have to answer questions about how you’re feeling when it’s over, because no one knew to begin with.

Now I know I have a few more of these tests coming in my future, maybe even the near future. And because keeping that particular secret is painful for me, I’m sure you’ll be hearing all about the next plus sign. Just try not to judge too harshly for my written reactions, because I’m sure they will be anything but stereotypical. In the meantime, pray that whenever this next test comes that not only will I pass, but that one good test will be enough to pass the whole “class” with flying colors. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Writer's Block

I have to confess…writing is not always easy for me. Now that my “grief bubble” is gone, and the “baby stuff” is on hold, I have really been struggling with what to say in these posts, hence the decline in frequency. It is so easy when you FEEL the words, when they flow through you effortlessly, a conversation through the keyboard. It is not as easy when you have to force the words out just so the blank screen can no longer mock you. In high school, my aspiration was to one day be a novelist, but as someone who cannot always produce even a couple of paragraphs a day, I simply cannot imagine what that would take. Where do great authors get their ideas? How do they handle the stress of simply not being able to find the right words to convey what is in their very souls? And how do they stay true to themselves, ensuring that the words that they do write are what they wanted all along, not sacrificing quality for a quick buck?

I’m convinced that a great author doesn’t write a book – it’s so much more than that. That sentence actually makes me laugh on the inside. “I’m writing a book.” Anyone can write a book. In fact, I’ve read books that I’m pretty sure could have been written by anyone in any high school English class in America. No, I have to believe that a great author cares about their legacy; the New York Times Best Seller List is just a perk. They value their work so much that the validation of others is last on their list of reasons for writing. I started this blog for myself, and as I struggle to write lately, that has come back to me. I may never be a novelist, but I don’t need some masterpiece to be a good author. I only need to write something I’m proud of…and the rest will speak for itself.  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day Sparkle

I have to admit that I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic lately. I think the days off from school have gotten to me. I can remember mornings of bouncing into my Mom & Dad’s bedroom with crazy morning hair and pajamas still on, waiting hopefully to see if school had been cancelled. Memories of playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, building forts with friends, and making snow ice cream to share with my neighborhood buddies have resurfaced, causing some wistfulness. I spent some time yesterday going through my old photo albums, scanning the long-forgotten faces of my youth, the sights I have been so blessed to see, and the expressions of my teenage face. When I was done, my only thought was, “Man, things were so uncomplicated back then.” In every picture my face reveals EXACTLY what I was thinking in that moment. Sometimes annoyance, but mostly sheer, unadulterated joy. Joy for being alive, for having amazing friends, for everything! In every picture there is a sparkle in my eyes that unfortunately has waned over the passing years.

How often do we look at ourselves in recent pictures and think, “Wow, I look so happy. Not smiling for the camera happy, but I just won the lottery happy.” Shots are usually staged and smiles are often terse. I think a lot of the joy in those days gone by was simply excitement for the future. Everything was such a mystery, waiting to be revealed in each new day. That mystery, for the most part, has been unraveled, and its solving has taken its toll. Along the way we discovered our share of loss, pain, responsibility, and tedious routine. Now pictures that capture a moment of that elusive twinkle are worth a thousand posed shots. I long for more of those moments, seeing the world through a child’s marveling eyes. As I looked out last night over the perfect blanket of snow, still fresh and pure, I felt a sense of peace and a bit of wonderment, a little youthful perspective. Seeing as I’m trapped inside again today, it just might be the perfect day to find a little sparkle. Hot chocolate with extra marshmallows anyone? 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Queen of Excuses

I am the QUEEN of excuses. No, I don’t often use them on unsuspecting friends (as we prepare to move, I’m sure we’ll hear our fair share... “What? EVERYONE we know is working and/or ill this weekend? Wow!”). The excuses I’m referring to are the ones I tell myself. They occur when I’m thinking of the future, most notably when I don’t want to do something I know I should. For example, I have been talking about serving at SWITCH on Wednesday nights, the youth ministry of our church. I plan to minister to 6th grade girls. Enter excuse of the day here _______________. When we move and are settled… When I feel better…  When I’m not so tired by Wednesdays that I want to sleep for a week…  You get the idea. We have also been throwing around the idea (prayerfully of course) of hosting our own marriage LifeGroup. This would be a big step out of our comfort zone, but we both feel led to do so. Good thing the avalanche of excuses is ready and waiting to bury said idea. When we have more time… When our church has the training…  When we are settled and moved (I am particularly fond of this one obviously)… 

I have begun to realize that my whole life lately has been one big excuse, so much so that I am not living in the present. If I’m truly honest with myself, I have been consumed with one excuse in particular, my go-to excuse. When we have kids then I…  Forget the amazing life I have right now, it doesn’t start until we have kids. When we have kids then I will spend more time with Erik and with our families. When we have kids then I will stop working so hard. When we have kids then I will be happier, more fulfilled, more candy-and-hearts adjectives. Frankly, I am tired of living in the future. What exactly is so wrong with my present? I see so many people around me focusing on the next big step…marriage, kids, promotions, a NEW HOUSE! I have seen too much sadness around me to know that the next “when” is not guaranteed. I am done with being the queen of excuses…the only excuse I want to make from now on is “Sorry, I’m too busy living my amazing life right now!! Maybe tomorrow…”

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Doctor Update #4


As I sat today in Dr. GB’s office, pondering his lack of bowtie AND grumpiness, thereby making his nickname irrelevant, a movie quote came to mind. Amidst all of his brilliance, and he truly is brilliant, he does not have an answer for us. His hastily spoken suggestion the other day of using a sperm donor was just one in a list of things we can try. Key word being TRY. He confirmed today that based on all of our results, we will most likely have a baby at some point with or without medical intervention. If however, the problem is something beyond all doctors’ knowledge and awareness, then these miscarriages will keep happening. Either way, he doesn’t know and there’s no way to tell. This brings me back to the quote. It’s from one of my favorite movies, Rudy, and it’s spoken in the church when Rudy is asking the priest if there is anything more he can do (to get into Notre Dame). The priest answers back, “Son, in 35 years of religious studies, I’ve come up with only two, hard incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and I'm not Him.” Essentially, this is what Dr. No Longer GB is telling us.

I find it ironic that just as I’m starting to warm up to said doctor, we may never see him again. You see, because our insurance hates all persons having fertility trouble (proof being that they no longer cover ANY Reproductive Endocrinology visits at this point) we had to pay for this visit out of pocket. Considering the exorbitant prices of RE visits, this practice will not be continuing. No more tests, no more guesses, no more professorial lectures imparting his expertise. Seriously, I think I learned enough from him today to write a textbook. Like I said, brilliant. Anyway, we are going to try again, but this time we will weather the storm without any medical involvement. As we were leaving, Dr. No Longer GB said something that will forever endear him to me. With fervor that rivals my own, he said, “I see so many couples leave here with healthy pregnancies and I get their birth announcements. I just want you guys to be one of those couples.” *Tear!* So long good doctor…keep an eye on your mailbox. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Our "Marriage Masks"

I’m watching the Bachelor (lame I know), but I can’t help it. Must. Watch. Can’t. Look. Away. Anyway, one of the girls just said something that after 7 years, I know to be a lie. She said that marriage is all about finding the right person, and when you do, the rest just falls into place. I could go off on my soapbox right now, but I won’t. I prefer to speak from experience, from the heart.

I spoke in a previous blog about the “marriage mask” that Erik and I wore for too long. Why did we wear it? We had many different reasons through the years. No one told us the first year of marriage would be the hardest year of our lives. Surely when you found the "right person" you didn't fight everyday, especially during the reportedly blissful honeymoon stage!!  Masks on! Then we coasted for a few years, masks off and on at will, until BAM! We woke up one day and we were roommates. We had grown apart. A typical reason for a divorce these days. We could not see past the negatives in each other and our lists grew longer by the day. We were faced with a difficult choice…did we want to fight for our marriage or did we want to give up? Fighting for it meant taking off the masks permanently and getting real with others and harder still, ourselves. Giving up would have been so much easier, but for us, the hardest thing and the right thing were the same. (A little tribute to The Fray) I am so, so thankful that I didn’t believe the lies that we were exposed to everywhere. I heard over and over, “Just do what makes you happy.” “If he was the right person, you wouldn’t have to try so hard.” I am ashamed to admit I almost bought into this disposable mindset.

After a full year, yes, a YEAR, of marriage counseling and amazing support by our marriage-centered LifeGroup, I can tell you that he was, and still is the right person, not because he gives me butterflies, but because I choose every day to love him, and vice versa. Instead of letting things “fall into place,” we prefer to make sure they do. It’s not chance or chemistry, it’s work. And it’s worth it.

“I have no way of knowing whether or not you married the wrong person, but I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage and what it takes to make that marriage happy and successful. I'll be the first to admit that it's possible that you did marry the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all. On the other hand, if you marry the right person, and treat that person wrong, you certainly will have ended up marrying the wrong person. I also know that it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person. In short, whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you.”
Zig Ziglar

****LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this quote.****

Sunday, January 23, 2011

House Hunting Continued...

Decisions, decisions. When it comes to making decisions, I am your classic “I don’t care” answerer - all the while harboring very strong feelings that I keep to myself. You know, one of those people that you hate to decide where to eat with because you are certain that they have somewhere in mind, and indeed they do, but they insist that they don’t care, only to tell you AFTER you eat that they, in fact, HATE that restaurant, but they didn’t tell you because they knew you liked it. Again…working on it. :-)

Now, imagine trying to buy a house with that same annoying person! I definitely have my opinions, but ultimately, I don’t want to be the one responsible for a bad decision that just happens to cost a small fortune. I would prefer for any future resentment to land squarely on the shoulders of the final decision maker (anyone but me please). Alas, that passive approach does not work so well when purchasing a home.

Not surprisingly, my husband takes a different decision-making approach. He is more of a brain-storming analyzer, a list maker, a pros and cons pro. You know, one of those people that you love to decide where to eat with because they can name all of the restaurants in the area, explain to you how to get to each one (and tell you the fastest route), and warn you of the calories in each dish so as not to increase your waist-line. Hazards of this responsibility super power include frequent mind changes and stress over making the absolute right decision.

Now, imagine trying to buy a house with that same amazingly conscientious person! He definitely has his opinions, but ultimately, he doesn’t want to be the one resented for a bad decision later either, ever-wavering. Believe it or not, despite our massive decision-making differences, I think we have FINALLY come to the same conclusion. We want house #3. I am trying not to get my heart too set on said house just in case, but if all goes well, I will be posting pics of OUR NEW HOUSE in the next couple of days. Sometimes 2 heads (however border-line dysfunctional) really are better than one! :-)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Super Hero?

I am not a Super Hero. Shocking, I know. People have been commenting lately on my amazing strength and resilience. Well, it’s time to set the record straight. Despite my best efforts at seeming put-together and my “embrace the sunshine” goal, I still have melancholy days. Days where I listen to the same depressing songs over and over just to feel the tears run down my face. Days where my mood swings give Erik whiplash. Days where, if my outside actions matched my inner turmoil, there’s a good chance I would be in jail or a special hospital, complete with straight jacket.

There are times when hearing someone complain about their pregnancy weight gain or lack of sleep from their newborn baby is enough to cause me to make a scene (in my head). There are moments when the words, “We want to have a baby by the time I’m _______ years old” sets my teeth on edge. As if it’s just that easy. I want to scream out, “Don’t you think I used to say the same things!? And look at me now!!!” Usually I just settle for a laughing, “Sometimes God has a different idea!” hoping to remind them to use a little sensitivity.

Lately, however, I’ve realized that I’M the one being insensitive. People have the right to talk about their goals, grumblings and goings-on without walking on egg-shells around me! The only way that you develop hyper-sensitivity like mine is to live through something like this, and I certainly wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It is beyond selfish to expect others to analyze every word before they speak, trying to decide if it will offend me. I certainly wouldn’t want to be around someone like that for very long!!

Goal # 1,000,001 is as follows: Stop being a big fat baby every time you hear a sentence containing the aforementioned word!! (See, even I use it without thinking occasionally!) Thanks for the sincere compliments Friends; they are making me want to be the person you think I am. Love you all!! J

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Controlaholic

Last weekend our pastor preached another great message. One line in particular has been such a comfort to me this week. “Do what you can do, and let God do what you cannot do.” So simple, and yet so profound. It is very similar to the adage, “Let go and let God,” but for some reason his version just spoke to me more clearly. I have to admit that his statement goes against every bit of my hyper-controlling nature. Slowly relinquishing the idea of control has been very much a part of this whole baby (and even house-hunting) process.

I can control which doctors I see, which medicines I take or don’t take, even how many ultrasounds I get to have. But I have been exposed to many of the things that I cannot control through all of this this and they alone are enough to fill a few hundred books. We can also choose which house we make an offer on, which addition we want to live in, and how much we want to spend. However, we cannot keep people from buying a house out from under us or offering more money than we are willing to pay.

Control is an illusion, and an oppressive one at that. Deciding to let go of the idea that I have control (and therefore blame) over whether or not we have a baby has been very liberating for me. I can do what I can do...limiting caffeine, taking vitamins, even getting daily shots, but that’s all. Ultimately, it is not up to me. And that revelation is much, much more earth-shattering than I care to admit. My name’s Amber, and I’m a recovering controlaholic. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Doctor Update #3

So my husband has this autobiography by Hamilton Jordan entitled “No Such Thing as a Bad Day.” That title has been rolling around in my head this evening. Can you imagine the strength it would take for a person to live their lives in such a manner? He faced cancer (3 times no less), and was so grateful for his survival that he proclaimed that any day he woke up to see the sun could not be a bad day. That perspective and attitude towards life is my new goal, but it is not going to happen today.

As you’ve probably guessed, today was BAD. We were planning to make an offer on a house today at 3:30; we were told upon arrival that it was sold last night. LAST NIGHT!! Can you imagine? It is amazing how attached you can get to something that was never even yours. Stupid wood floors and theater room luring me in…

Then I got a phone call from Dr. GB (the Reproductive Endocrinologist) that shook me to the core. As if hearing his grumpy voice wasn’t bad enough…  He wanted to speak with me personally about my blood panels from when I was pregnant and about some of the research he has been doing. Evidently he has been poring over all of my results and looking through some newly published medical journals (since I am such a mystery) and just truly does not believe it is me. At heart, doctors are scientists, and he wants to change one variable at a time in order to see if the outcome will be different. Henceforth I am now a human guinea pig. Experiment #1: to see if I can have a healthy pregnancy with a sperm donor. Yes, I know. My mind is still reeling. I cannot even vocalize yet how this suggestion has affected me, so I won’t try. I’m sure you can imagine. Just for tonight, I need time to mourn the idea that a baby of our own may never be a reality. I’ve never, NEVER allowed that possibility to cross my mind. Tomorrow I will consider the alternatives: that Dr. GB could be wrong, that we can adopt, that God can do all things and heal all things. Tomorrow I will embrace the sun, but for tonight, just for tonight, the darkness seems more fitting. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Doctor Update #2

Confession time…I called my doctor first thing this morning. I am weak, I am impatient, I am working on it. Honestly, I found the notion of waiting on pins and needles for 2 weeks to find out if they even SENT for the genetic tests on the baby to be ludicrous. Thank goodness I did call, because 2 weeks would have been a long time to wait for nothing. Yes, that’s right, NOTHING. They did, in fact, fail to order the genetic tests. Pathology reports were clear, but genetic results will remain unknown. The nurse, while holding my chart, said, “Well, they usually don’t order them after the first miscarriage. This is your first, right?” Let us pause for a moment of silence for incompetence everywhere…

Because of these consistent problems with Dr. Never Again’s staff, and his love of the phrase “bad luck,” the use of which truly makes me want to strangle someone, I have made the decision to find a new doctor. Now, before, I ask for recommendations, let me preface this by saying, I LIKE Dr. Never Again. He has been delivering for many years, I hear nothing but the best things about him, he is very calm and sympathetic, I just LIKE him. This seems to be the #1 prerequisite for an OBG recommendation, and it’s just not enough anymore. I need someone who is familiar with these types of situations, who isn’t so busy that they can barely keep up with what labs go where, and who delivers out of Baptist or Mercy. I would love to hear your suggestions, keeping my needs in mind. There’s part of me that is very sad and worried about the unknown with a new doctor, but I’m hoping maybe this change will be the start of a new beginning. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Masks

Our pastor preached a message a few months ago on one word. Masks. Here are some of my own thoughts on the subject:

At some point or another in our lives, we all wear them. Masks shield us from judgment, they protect us from unwanted questions, and they keep other people at arm’s length. I have worn many masks in my life. There’s been the common “I’m Fine” mask, put on after grief, a big fight with someone, or even when I just didn’t feel well. It resembles a tight smile that warns others not to pry. The “½ of a perfect couple” mask was worn in the past to alleviate the stress of others sizing up our marriage. I knew that if the mask slipped, other people would see a mess. This mask is most effective when the other partner is wearing it too; throw in some hand-holding and you have a full-blown costume. Most recently, I have been trying on the “No, it doesn’t feel like a knife to the heart when I see your newborn baby/swollen tummy” mask. This mask is complicated because although I am TRULY happy for the person sharing such great news, this mask is only successful if the person is looking at your smile and not your eyes, because your eyes will show the pain behind them.

Because of my past expertise in mask-wearing, I have really begun to notice those around me lately. It makes me question everyone…what masks are they hiding behind? Is their marriage crumbling? Are they having financial stress? Is their child heading down the wrong path, while they sit by feeling helpless? Having been on both sides of the mask, it is tragic to me that we feel the need to put them on at all. When you are mask free, people open up to you. They share their pain and struggles. After reading my blog, virtual strangers have poured out their sadness and hurt to me. I have reconnected with friends that have gone through the same issues as I have; I never would have guessed had I not opened up first. Instead of hiding behind our masks thinking others will never understand, it is healing beyond words (not to mention a huge relief) to be real, for people to accept you as you are, and to truly begin to OWN your past. My mistakes and struggles do not define me, and they haven’t changed how my true friends feel about me either. If anything, they have made me more human and accessible. Being mask free is when the true renewal takes place, and I promise, it’s the best way to be.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Doctor Update #1

We went to the D&C follow-up visit on Wednesday afternoon. It was anticlimactic at best. For all of you wanting an update, it is as follows:

30 = # of minutes spent waiting to see Dr. Never Again
5 = # of minutes ACTUALLY spent seeing Dr. Never Again
4 = # of times Dr. Never Again used the phrase “bad luck”
4 = # of times he almost got punched in the face for using the aforementioned phrase
0 = # of times I cried
1 = # of times I ALMOST cried, especially upon hearing that he thinks the hospital lab “failed” to send off the baby for genetic testing
2 = # of weeks it will take to find out if the hospital did in fact fail (don’t ask me why)!
14 = # of days in those weeks that I will think about it with anger and resignation
14 = # of days in those weeks that I will use my steely resolve to NOT call and beg for results
Uncountable = # of people we have praying for and thinking about us
Immeasurable = # of ways in which we are blessed in this life