family · hope chest · how to · Infertility · iui · trying to conceive

IUIs and hope chests

I’ve been busy with moving and settling in to our new home; and I started an Instagram account to document our infertility journey (@baby_hope_chest) so that’s been more my focus than this blog…but here’s a quick update.

We had our third IUI on Tuesday; I only produced one follicle in response to the clomid this time around so I’m not feeling quite as hopeful (given that #2 failed and there’s one less egg) but I guess it’s better to keep my expectations low so I’m not as disappointed if it didn’t work. My doctor said if this round doesn’t work, we can continue with IUIs but she will switch me to injectable meds since I seem to be developing resistance to the clomid.

I’ve been eating a thick slice of pineapple every morning since Tuesday; and I didn’t stop taking the estrogen this time. So maybe. Obviously none of that will help the egg actually get fertilized/develop; but if it does I want the lining thick enough to support it.

I started my hope chest. It’s really been so helpful; my mom was afraid it would be more harmful but it really is keeping my focus more on what I hope to have (and waiting well) than on what I don’t have right now. Plus the idea of having things purchased/made for our baby before he/she even exists is just really neat.

I purchased three items for the three failed cycles since the miscarriage; newborn onesies, matching socks, and a set of swaddles. I also put several of my stuffed animals in there and books I remember from when I was really little. I’m also working on a quilt and have been writing letters to the baby. My mother-in-law gave me the two blankets she made; and my mom is working on a white baby outfit with embroidered olive branches on it.

This baby (whenever/if they come to be…) is so very loved and I think that knowledge is helping me wait a little better too.

after miscarriage · grief and loss · how to · missed miscarriage · pregnancy loss

Various wisdom

I’ve had a couple of very wise things spoken to me in the past weeks. I have been trying to check in with people I consider much more mature/spiritually wise than I am (one of our pastors, a family friend who has counseled a lot of women in various things)…and these conversations have been very helpful overall in just verbalizing what I’m feeling and working through thoughts etc. But they also result in a thought/idea or two jumping out especially and giving me something to mull over or be encouraged by.

So in the interest of trying to use this space to continue to process and hopefully be an encouragement to someone else…here’s a couple things I’ve had shared with me that have made a difference as I process this grief and this loss.

When I talked to my pastor, I was days out from realizing how angry and upset I really was over what had happened. I know in some capacity that it is okay to verbalize our feelings (even negative ones) to God, and that it’s even okay to feel negative ones towards him as long as we do not sin in those places. I mean, the Psalms are full of expressions of hurt and confusion and anger. And God already knows what we are thinking and feeling anyway, it’s not a surprise to him if we express it.

So naturally, my pastor encouraged me to wrestle out these questions and hurts with God. To allow the truths that I know to be the framework to which I return eventually, but to be willing to acknowledge what is *real* for me in this moment even if that is not consistent with what I know in my head to be true. And then he had this insight to share.

Often, in our sadness and grief, we withdraw. Most people who are sad just want to be alone to cry, or be held in silence. But when we are angry, it leads to expression. We move towards the person we are angry with; and we tell them so. In this sense…of being a means to move us back toward him, maybe God actually prefers (poor word choice) that we be in that place of anger because it means we aren’t just isolating ourselves anymore.  (though this is not a universal truth; if anger is what makes you withdraw then the opposite would perhaps be true…*shrug*). It made sense to me. I don’t get angry often; but in the times of being confused and hurting it is easier to go to God and simply be honest about those feelings and it usually feels better after getting them out.

Then, earlier this week, I talked to my family friend. Of her insights (and there were several), the one that made the most impact to where I was in that moment was the following observation.

For Christians, because we believe in a sovereign God, suffering in our lives can often be a harder thing to understand and deal with than it is for a nonbeliever. Because if God has control of everything in our lives, then when really hard things happen to us that don’t seem to have a reason it’s natural to think that “God could have stopped this from happening and I don’t know why he didn’t.” And even if there is the faith that there must be a reason we also know that we may never know it and it’s hard to be okay with that.

Granted, we obviously have a hope and a joy and a confidence in loss and pain that nonbelievers cannot have; so at the end of the day we don’t grieve as those without hope…but for the nonbeliever, there is usually just the “well, life happens and it’s all chance” mentality that at least takes away the internal struggle mentioned above.

Somehow hearing that made a huge difference. Christians are constantly told that suffering is good for our character, that we should expect it, that God works all things for good…and that is absolutely true. But it doesn’t mean that we should be expected to instantly be okay when we experience suffering; and that wrestling with the questions of “why” is actually part of the process of God producing a deeper faith and a deeper relationship with him.

So in a nutshell:

  1. When our anger prompts us to move towards God, it’s completely okay to express those feelings. It’s better than withdrawing and shutting him out.
  2. Suffering for the Christian is deeply hard, and it is completely okay to not immediately be okay.

 

 

 

how to · Infertility · iui · journal entry · Resolution update · trying to conceive

On ‘exciting’

Couple updates before the main content of the post.

  • I gave up on the resolutions. I found I didn’t have the motivation anymore once my cycle started; it was supposed to get me through a cycle and it did, and I’m not sure I want to continue it for now. It definitely helped get some better patterns in place though and I have been reminded of the variety of activities I can use to fill time when I am so inclined.
  • Took my last dose of Clomid today. No significant unpleasant side effects thus far; though I guess it maybe hasn’t started working yet. Had hot flashes one night; and the last 2-3 days I’ve been abnormally tired.

I noticed something at the start of this cycle that irked me. I shared with several people that we were beginning a medicated/timed IUI cycle (as my period had arrived)…and two of the responses (from someone who is currently pregnant and someone who had no trouble conceiving at all) were essentially, “Yay, that’s so exciting!!” 

No, it’s really not. It’s not exciting to be disappointed again, it’s not exciting to have to pursue assistance with getting pregnant. It’s not exciting to anticipate going on hormone meds with potentially nasty side effects; to anticipate having to go be inseminated at the doctor’s office just to increase our chances (not even a guarantee!) of conception.

I wanted to respond with, “oh yeah, it’s the best; isn’t it a bummer that you haven’t had the opportunity to do it too?” 

See, getting pregnant is exciting. Hearing the heartbeat is exciting. Getting to start decorating the nursery is exciting. Having a baby is exciting. Starting an IUI cycle? Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m so grateful that we have the resources to pursue this option right now. I’m hopeful that it’s just this little boost we need to finally make a baby.  But I’m also sad that we have to, and very afraid that the disappointment if it doesn’t work will be worse than all the ones before it.

As an aside; my mom and my sister responded much better to the initial news. My mom’s text was, “I’m sorry, that’s not what we were hoping for….are you feeling peaceful about this next step?” My sister echoed the apology, asked how I was holding up, and then when I shared the above ‘exciting!’ responses, she says, “yeah, careless choice of words; it’s emotional, heavy, and little (big) glimmer of hope to you.” 

I guess what I (re) learned here is that it is so important not to assume you know what others are feeling. Just ask them. Don’t project your emotions onto a situation; and realize that by doing this you risk simplifying a complicated emotional reaction. And this doesn’t just apply to infertility; though it’s my journey right now so I’m rather focused on that aspect.

 

how to · Infertility · journal entry · sermon takeaways

When your post has a mind of its own…

I don’t know if this counts as my ‘creative’ activity of the day since I’m just planning to vent a little bit…but I’m technically writing so I’ll probably count it.

I’m actually in pretty good spirits today. The sermon this morning was very encouraging and challenging; especially the bit about “rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.” More on that another day perhaps…

Or not. Suddenly I don’t think I should use today’s post to vent. I can save that for another time.

We’re going through Romans in church; and we finally reached Romans 12. That’s been a journey in itself; and we’ve been in Romans 12:9-16 for several weeks now. Today was focused on verses 14-16.

Paul calls us here to humility…humility being a state in which we consider others above ourselves. If we are considering others above ourselves, the natural result is that we sympathize with others. We take our eyes off our own situations and fully enter into the joys and the sorrows of others.

Rejoice with those who rejoice: as an early church father pointed out, perhaps Paul put this one first because it is actually harder than it sounds. Especially for a girl on a journey of infertility. I don’t want to rejoice with yet another acquaintance or friend or family member who is pregnant. But if I’m thinking of others above myself, then their joy should be mine as well.

Mourn with those who mourn: easier to understand. Not always easy to do; especially for the fixers who don’t know what to say or do to ease pain. But as I’ve already learned and experienced, in times of grief it is almost always more effective to just sit with, cry with, be with. Pastor read a reflection from someone who’d experienced loss, and the takeaway was the realization that people who come bearing platitudes and messages of hope and redemption are often the ones that we wish would leave. It’s the ones who “sit quietly, listen carefully, and pray simply” that bring the most peace and comfort.

And interestingly enough, that last bit leads into what I initially wanted to write about. I’ll close with this as a reflection instead of creating an unnecessarily long tirade. Perhaps the ‘sit quietly, listen carefully, and pray simply” is why I’m feeling so tired of all the people who want to tell me about every so-and-so they know who “tried for _____ and then got pregnant”, and especially when that includes a “maybe you should try ______.” I’m not in a place right now to hear that. It doesn’t help. I just want the people I share this struggle with to show up, listen to me vent, and then pray simply with me for patience in God’s timing (and for his timing to be soon!).

how to · Infertility · iui · trying to conceive

Resolved

Aunt Flo arrived today in all her unwelcome glory. I knew she was coming between the negative test at 12 dpo and a temp drop when I woke up. So I spent the morning between my hospice visits fighting back tears of disappointment and frustration and anger and longing and aching.

Then, somehow, it abated. Just like every cycle, hope begins to rebirth. I allow the grief to do it’s thing, then in his grace God reminds me that he is still faithful. I couldn’t even explain what did it this time. I didn’t even recognize it when it happened. Just, suddenly, I wasn’t overwhelmed by sadness.

I’ve (almost) decided that this upcoming cycle…our last one before we pursue assisted reproductive methods (IUI)…should be one without the pressure of tracking. I was initially so desperate to catch our fertile window, so hung up on knowing when I ovulated to know when I could test. I didn’t do well before with not tracking. But I think I can do it one more time. I think, for the health of my marriage and my own spiritual growth I need to let it all go and just be. We will do life, be intimate, enjoy each other…and if I haven’t started my period by February 1st, I’ll take a test. If I have, then we’ll proceed with IUI. Simple.

And to keep myself distracted, to productively fill the time, and to recognize what it can look like to enjoy my life in this child-free time…here are my “resolves” for the next 7 weeks. This blog space will be my accountability. I’ll try to check in at least once a week with updates on how well I’m doing. The list is long but some of the things could take as little as 5 minutes so it’s not really all that much. I’m even going to put the list on my refrigerator.

  • read my Bible: every day
  • read at least a chapter from a book: every day. (maybe I’ll resume my ‘alphabetical by author progression through my book collection. I’m somewhere in the D’s)
  • yoga or walk: at least every other day
  • something creative (drawing or other art, coloring, photography, scrapbooking, writing): every day
  • play the piano: at least every other day
  • clean something: every day. (will probably make a schedule for this)
  • intentional date night or memory-making activity with husband: at least once a week
  • do a jigsaw puzzle: at least once a week
  • list 5 things I’m thankful for: every day

Here’s to making this cycle the best one yet.

how to · journal entry · trying to conceive · ttc

On pregnancy announcements

Last month my sister-in-law found out she was pregnant. This week my sister told me she’s pregnant. As with any pregnancy announcement while you’re still trying, each one was a mix of emotions. Joy for them, excitement for the new lives (and future nieces or nephews), but also jealousy and that aching sadness that it still isn’t you. However, I noticed a few differences that has made one so much harder to process.

My sister-in-law and I were on the TTC journey together. They got married two months before we did, they conceived their first month of not preventing (which was a few months after our miscarriage), then they had an early miscarriage and had been trying unsuccessfully ever since. She and I were often in our FW and TWW together, and we shared every OPK and BBT shift and negative HPT.

She texted me within moments of taking that first test (with a barely noticeable line), which is understandable, given our history…but since that moment it is has been all her pregnancy and how she’s feeling. There was not (and still has not been) a single acknowledgement that this might be a little hard for me; especially since I’ve been trying longer. I don’t want to steal the joy out of it for her, and having walked through a miscarriage and month after month of failure as well I am happy that she finally has this. But I lost my TTC buddy and I now get to watch every moment of her pregnancy while still struggling to conceive.

My sister, on the other hand, called me up and spent a good 15-20 minutes letting me talk about how I was doing (she’s known about this struggle for some time) and letting me share my frustrations and emotions. She then chatted for a bit, and as the conversation was coming to a close she broke the news. She immediately followed it with, “I have a strong support network and plenty of people who can provide me what I need emotionally, I don’t need to you to fake that you are only happy for me, I know you are happy and I also know that you don’t want to be unhappy but I’m sure that you are hurting; this has got to be hard for you.” She absolutely and generously gave me the space and freedom to be that person who has to be told gently, because she understood and valued the complexity of emotions I was feeling.

I absolutely hate that I can’t fully rejoice with these dear people in something so beautiful and wonderful. I hate my selfishness that keeps me focused on what I don’t have. It’s something I’m trying to process.

But right now, that’s there. And being given the grace to have those emotions without judgment-and thereby having those emotions (and the TTC struggle) acknowledged-is making the transition to only being happy for them a lot easier.

—–

  • TTC: trying to conceive
  • FW: fertile window
  • TWW: two week wait
  • OPK: ovulation predictor kit
  • BBT: basal body temperature
  • HPT: home pregnancy test